By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Eve and David
Author: Balzac, Honoré de
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Eve and David" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.


(Lost Illusions Part III)

By Honore De Balzac

Translated By Ellen Marriage


  Eve and David is part three of a trilogy. Eve and David’s story
  begins in part one, Two Poets. Part one also introduces Eve’s
  brother, Lucien. Part two, A Distinguished Provincial at Paris,
  centers on Lucien’s life in Paris. For part three the action once
  more returns to Eve and David in Angouleme. In many references parts
  one and three are combined under the title Lost Illusions and A
  Distinguished Provincial at Paris is given its individual title.
  Following this trilogy Lucien’s story is continued in another book,
  Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life.


Lucien had gone to Paris; and David Sechard, with the courage
and intelligence of the ox which painters give the Evangelist for
accompanying symbol, set himself to make the large fortune for which he
had wished that evening down by the Charente, when he sat with Eve by
the weir, and she gave him her hand and her heart. He wanted to make the
money quickly, and less for himself than for Eve’s sake and Lucien’s. He
would place his wife amid the elegant and comfortable surroundings that
were hers by right, and his strong arm should sustain her brother’s
ambitions--this was the programme that he saw before his eyes in letters
of fire.

Journalism and politics, the immense development of the book trade,
of literature and of the sciences; the increase of public interest in
matters touching the various industries in the country; in fact, the
whole social tendency of the epoch following the establishment of the
Restoration produced an enormous increase in the demand for paper. The
supply required was almost ten times as large as the quantity in which
the celebrated Ouvrard speculated at the outset of the Revolution.
Then Ouvrard could buy up first the entire stock of paper and then the
manufacturers; but in the year 1821 there were so many paper-mills in
France, that no one could hope to repeat his success; and David had
neither audacity enough nor capital enough for such speculation.
Machinery for producing paper in any length was just coming into use
in England. It was one of the most urgent needs of the time, therefore,
that the paper trade should keep pace with the requirements of the
French system of civil government, a system by which the right of
discussion was to be extended to every man, and the whole fabric based
upon continual expression of individual opinion; a grave misfortune, for
the nation that deliberates is but little wont to act.

So, strange coincidence! while Lucien was drawn into the great machinery
of journalism, where he was like to leave his honor and his intelligence
torn to shreds, David Sechard, at the back of his printing-house,
foresaw all the practical consequences of the increased activity of the
periodical press. He saw the direction in which the spirit of the age
was tending, and sought to find means to the required end. He saw also
that there was a fortune awaiting the discoverer of cheap paper, and the
event has justified his clearsightedness. Within the last fifteen years,
the Patent Office has received more than a hundred applications from
persons claiming to have discovered cheap substances to be employed in
the manufacture of paper. David felt more than ever convinced that this
would be no brilliant triumph, it is true, but a useful and immensely
profitable discovery; and after his brother-in-law went to Paris, he
became more and more absorbed in the problem which he had set himself to

The expenses of his marriage and of Lucien’s journey to Paris had
exhausted all his resources; he confronted the extreme of poverty at
the very outset of married life. He had kept one thousand francs for the
working expenses of the business, and owed a like sum, for which he had
given a bill to Postel the druggist. So here was a double problem for
this deep thinker; he must invent a method of making cheap paper, and
that quickly; he must make the discovery, in fact, in order to apply the
proceeds to the needs of the household and of the business. What words
can describe the brain that can forget the cruel preoccupations caused
by hidden want, by the daily needs of a family and the daily drudgery of
a printer’s business, which requires such minute, painstaking care; and
soar, with the enthusiasm and intoxication of the man of science, into
the regions of the unknown in quest of a secret which daily eludes the
most subtle experiment? And the inventor, alas! as will shortly be seen,
has plenty of woes to endure, besides the ingratitude of the many; idle
folk that can do nothing themselves tell them, “Such a one is a born
inventor; he could not do otherwise. He no more deserves credit for his
invention than a prince for being born to rule! He is simply exercising
his natural faculties, and his work is its own reward,” and the people
believe them.

Marriage brings profound mental and physical perturbations into a
girl’s life; and if she marries under the ordinary conditions of
lower middle-class life, she must moreover begin to study totally new
interests and initiate herself in the intricacies of business. With
marriage, therefore, she enters upon a phase of her existence when she
is necessarily on the watch before she can act. Unfortunately, David’s
love for his wife retarded this training; he dared not tell her the
real state of affairs on the day after their wedding, nor for some time
afterwards. His father’s avarice condemned him to the most grinding
poverty, but he could not bring himself to spoil the honeymoon by
beginning his wife’s commercial education and prosaic apprenticeship to
his laborious craft. So it came to pass that housekeeping, no less than
working expenses, ate up the thousand francs, his whole fortune. For
four months David gave no thought to the future, and his wife remained
in ignorance. The awakening was terrible! Postel’s bill fell due; there
was no money to meet it, and Eve knew enough of the debt and its cause
to give up her bridal trinkets and silver.

That evening Eve tried to induce David to talk of their affairs, for she
had noticed that he was giving less attention to the business and more
to the problem of which he had once spoken to her. Since the first few
weeks of married life, in fact, David spent most of his time in the
shed in the backyard, in the little room where he was wont to mould his
ink-rollers. Three months after his return to Angouleme, he had replaced
the old fashioned round ink-balls by rollers made of strong glue and
treacle, and an ink-table, on which the ink was evenly distributed, an
improvement so obvious that Cointet Brothers no sooner saw it than they
adopted the plan themselves.

By the partition wall of this kitchen, as it were, David had set up a
little furnace with a copper pan, ostensibly to save the cost of fuel
over the recasting of his rollers, though the moulds had not been used
twice, and hung there rusting upon the wall. Nor was this all; a solid
oak door had been put in by his orders, and the walls were lined with
sheet-iron; he even replaced the dirty window sash by panes of ribbed
glass, so that no one without could watch him at his work.

When Eve began to speak about the future, he looked uneasily at her,
and cut her short at the first word by saying, “I know all that you must
think, child, when you see that the workshop is left to itself, and
that I am dead, as it were, to all business interests; but see,” he
continued, bringing her to the window, and pointing to the mysterious
shed, “there lies our fortune. For some months yet we must endure our
lot, but let us bear it patiently; leave me to solve the problem of
which I told you, and all our troubles will be at an end.”

David was so good, his devotion was so thoroughly to be taken upon his
word, that the poor wife, with a wife’s anxiety as to daily expenses,
determined to spare her husband the household cares and to take the
burden upon herself. So she came down from the pretty blue-and-white
room, where she sewed and talked contentedly with her mother, took
possession of one of the two dens at the back of the printing-room,
and set herself to learn the business routine of typography. Was it not
heroism in a wife who expected ere long to be a mother?

During the past few months David’s workmen had left him one by one;
there was not enough work for them to do. Cointet Brothers, on the other
hand, were overwhelmed with orders; they were employing all the workmen
of the department; the alluring prospect of high wages even brought them
a few from Bordeaux, more especially apprentices, who thought themselves
sufficiently expert to cancel their articles and go elsewhere. When
Eve came to look into the affairs of Sechard’s printing works, she
discovered that he employed three persons in all.

First in order stood Cerizet, an apprentice of Didot’s, whom David had
chosen to train. Most foremen have some one favorite among the great
numbers of workers under them, and David had brought Cerizet to
Angouleme, where he had been learning more of the business. Marion, as
much attached to the house as a watch-dog, was the second; and the third
was Kolb, an Alsacien, at one time a porter in the employ of the Messrs.
Didot. Kolb had been drawn for military service, chance brought him to
Angouleme, and David recognized the man’s face at a review just as
his time was about to expire. Kolb came to see David, and was smitten
forthwith by the charms of the portly Marion; she possessed all the
qualities which a man of his class looks for in a wife--the robust
health that bronzes the cheeks, the strength of a man (Marion could lift
a form of type with ease), the scrupulous honesty on which an Alsacien
sets such store, the faithful service which bespeaks a sterling
character, and finally, the thrift which had saved a little sum of a
thousand francs, besides a stock of clothing and linen, neat and
clean, as country linen can be. Marion herself, a big, stout woman
of thirty-six, felt sufficiently flattered by the admiration of a
cuirassier, who stood five feet seven in his stockings, a well-built
warrior, strong as a bastion, and not unnaturally suggested that
he should become a printer. So, by the time Kolb received his full
discharge, Marion and David between them had transformed him into a
tolerably creditable “bear,” though their pupil could neither read nor

Job printing, as it is called, was not so abundant at this season but
that Cerizet could manage it without help. Cerizet, compositor, clicker,
and foreman, realized in his person the “phenomenal triplicity” of Kant;
he set up type, read proof, took orders, and made out invoices; but the
most part of the time he had nothing to do, and used to read novels in
his den at the back of the workshop while he waited for an order for a
bill-head or a trade circular. Marion, trained by old Sechard, prepared
and wetted down the paper, helped Kolb with the printing, hung the
sheets to dry, and cut them to size; yet cooked the dinner, none the
less, and did her marketing very early of a morning.

Eve told Cerizet to draw out a balance-sheet for the last six months,
and found that the gross receipts amounted to eight hundred francs. On
the other hand, wages at the rate of three francs per day--two francs to
Cerizet, and one to Kolb--reached a total of six hundred francs; and as
the goods supplied for the work printed and delivered amounted to some
hundred odd francs, it was clear to Eve that David had been carrying
on business at a loss during the first half-year of their married life.
There was nothing to show for rent, nothing for Marion’s wages, nor for
the interest on capital represented by the plant, the license, and
the ink; nothing, finally, by way of allowance for the host of things
included in the technical expression “wear and tear,” a word which owes
its origin to the cloths and silks which are used to moderate the force
of the impression, and to save wear to the type; a square of stuff (the
_blanket_) being placed between the platen and the sheet of paper in the

Eve made a rough calculation of the resources of the printing office and
of the output, and saw how little hope there was for a business drained
dry by the all-devouring activity of the brothers Cointet; for by this
time the Cointets were not only contract printers to the town and the
prefecture, and printers to the Diocese by special appointment--they
were paper-makers and proprietors of a newspaper to boot. That
newspaper, sold two years ago by the Sechards, father and son, for
twenty-two thousand francs, was now bringing in eighteen thousand francs
per annum. Eve began to understand the motives lurking beneath the
apparent generosity of the brothers Cointet; they were leaving the
Sechard establishment just sufficient work to gain a pittance, but not
enough to establish a rival house.

When Eve took the management of the business, she began by taking stock.
She set Kolb and Marion and Cerizet to work, and the workshop was put to
rights, cleaned out, and set in order. Then one evening when David came
in from a country excursion, followed by an old woman with a huge bundle
tied up in a cloth, Eve asked counsel of him as to the best way of
turning to profit the odds and ends left them by old Sechard, promising
that she herself would look after the business. Acting upon her
husband’s advice, Mme. Sechard sorted all the remnants of paper which
she found, and printed old popular legends in double columns upon a
single sheet, such as peasants paste on their walls, the histories
of _The Wandering Jew_, _Robert the Devil_, _La Belle Maguelonne_ and
sundry miracles. Eve sent Kolb out as a hawker.

Cerizet had not a moment to spare now; he was composing the naive pages,
with the rough cuts that adorned them, from morning to night; Marion
was able to manage the taking off; and all domestic cares fell to Mme.
Chardon, for Eve was busy coloring the prints. Thanks to Kolb’s activity
and honesty, Eve sold three thousand broad sheets at a penny apiece, and
made three hundred francs in all at a cost of thirty francs.

But when every peasant’s hut and every little wine-shop for twenty
leagues round was papered with these legends, a fresh speculation
must be discovered; the Alsacien could not go beyond the limits of the
department. Eve, turning over everything in the whole printing house,
had found a collection of figures for printing a “Shepherd’s Calendar,”
 a kind of almanac meant for those who cannot read, letterpress being
replaced by symbols, signs, and pictures in colored inks, red, black and
blue. Old Sechard, who could neither read nor write himself, had made a
good deal of money at one time by bringing out an almanac in hieroglyph.
It was in book form, a single sheet folded to make one hundred and
twenty-eight pages.

Thoroughly satisfied with the success of the broad sheets, a piece
of business only undertaken by country printing offices, Mme. Sechard
invested all the proceeds in the _Shepherd’s Calendar_, and began it
upon a large scale. Millions of copies of this work are sold annually
in France. It is printed upon even coarser paper than the _Almanac of
Liege_, a ream (five hundred sheets) costing in the first instance about
four francs; while the printed sheets sell at the rate of a halfpenny
apiece--twenty-five francs per ream.

Mme. Sechard determined to use one hundred reams for the first
impression; fifty thousand copies would bring in two thousand francs. A
man so deeply absorbed in his work as David in his researches is seldom
observant; yet David, taking a look round his workshop, was astonished
to hear the groaning of a press and to see Cerizet always on his feet,
setting up type under Mme. Sechard’s direction. There was a pretty
triumph for Eve on the day when David came in to see what she was doing,
and praised the idea, and thought the calendar an excellent stroke of
business. Furthermore, David promised to give advice in the matter of
colored inks, for an almanac meant to appeal to the eye; and finally, he
resolved to recast the ink-rollers himself in his mysterious workshop,
so as to help his wife as far as he could in her important little

But just as the work began with strenuous industry, there came letters
from Lucien in Paris, heart-sinking letters that told his mother and
sister and brother-in-law of his failure and distress; and when Eve,
Mme. Chardon, and David each secretly sent money to their poet, it must
be plain to the reader that the three hundred francs they sent were like
their very blood. The overwhelming news, the disheartening sense that
work as bravely as she might, she made so little, left Eve looking
forward with a certain dread to an event which fills the cup of
happiness to the full. The time was coming very near now, and to herself
she said, “If my dear David has not reached the end of his researches
before my confinement, what will become of us? And who will look after
our poor printing office and the business that is growing up?”

The _Shepherd’s Calendar_ ought by rights to have been ready before the
1st of January, but Cerizet was working unaccountably slowly; all the
work of composing fell to him; and Mme. Sechard, knowing so little,
could not find fault, and was fain to content herself with watching the
young Parisian.

Cerizet came from the great Foundling Hospital in Paris. He had been
apprenticed to the MM. Didot, and between the ages of fourteen and
seventeen he was David Sechard’s fanatical worshiper. David put him
under one of the cleverest workmen, and took him for his copy-holder,
his page. Cerizet’s intelligence naturally interested David; he won
the lad’s affection by procuring amusements now and again for him,
and comforts from which he was cut off by poverty. Nature had endowed
Cerizet with an insignificant, rather pretty little countenance, red
hair, and a pair of dull blue eyes; he had come to Angouleme and brought
the manners of the Parisian street-boy with him. He was formidable by
reason of a quick, sarcastic turn and a spiteful disposition. Perhaps
David looked less strictly after him in Angouleme; or, perhaps, as the
lad grew older, his mentor put more trust in him, or in the sobering
influences of a country town; but be that as it may, Cerizet (all
unknown to his sponsor) was going completely to the bad, and the
printer’s apprentice was acting the part of a Don Juan among little work
girls. His morality, learned in Paris drinking-saloons, laid down the
law of self-interest as the sole rule of guidance; he knew, moreover,
that next year he would be “drawn for a soldier,” to use the popular
expression, saw that he had no prospects, and ran into debt, thinking
that soon he should be in the army, and none of his creditors would run
after him. David still possessed some ascendency over the young fellow,
due not to his position as master, nor yet to the interest that he
had taken in his pupil, but to the great intellectual power which the
sometime street-boy fully recognized.

Before long Cerizet began to fraternize with the Cointets’ workpeople,
drawn to them by the mutual attraction of blouse and jacket, and the
class feeling, which is, perhaps, strongest of all in the lowest ranks
of society. In their company Cerizet forgot the little good doctrine
which David had managed to instil into him; but, nevertheless, when the
others joked the boy about the presses in his workshop (“old sabots,” as
the “bears” contemptuously called them), and showed him the magnificent
machines, twelve in number, now at work in the Cointets’ great printing
office, where the single wooden press was only used for experiments,
Cerizet would stand up for David and fling out at the braggarts.

“My gaffer will go farther with his ‘sabots’ than yours with their
cast-iron contrivances that turn out mass books all day long,” he
would boast. “He is trying to find out a secret that will lick all the
printing offices in France and Navarre.”

“And meantime you take your orders from a washer-woman, you snip of a
foreman, on two francs a day.”

“She is pretty though,” retorted Cerizet; “it is better to have her to
look at than the phizes of your gaffers.”

“And do you live by looking at his wife?”

From the region of the wineshop, or from the door of the printing
office, where these bickerings took place, a dim light began to break in
upon the brothers Cointet as to the real state of things in the Sechard
establishment. They came to hear of Eve’s experiment, and held it
expedient to stop these flights at once, lest the business should begin
to prosper under the poor young wife’s management.

“Let us give her a rap over the knuckles, and disgust her with the
business,” said the brothers Cointet.

One of the pair, the practical printer, spoke to Cerizet, and asked him
to do the proof-reading for them by piecework, to relieve their reader,
who had more than he could manage. So it came to pass that Cerizet
earned more by a few hours’ work of an evening for the brothers Cointet
than by a whole day’s work for David Sechard. Other transactions
followed; the Cointets seeing no small aptitude in Cerizet, he was told
that it was a pity that he should be in a position so little favorable
to his interests.

“You might be foreman some day in a big printing office, making
six francs a day,” said one of the Cointets one day, “and with your
intelligence you might come to have a share in the business.”

“Where is the use of my being a good foreman?” returned Cerizet. “I am
an orphan, I shall be drawn for the army next year, and if I get a bad
number who is there to pay some one else to take my place?”

“If you make yourself useful,” said the well-to-do printer, “why should
not somebody advance the money?”

“It won’t be my gaffer in any case!” said Cerizet.

“Pooh! Perhaps by that time he will have found out the secret.”

The words were spoken in a way that could not but rouse the worst
thoughts in the listener; and Cerizet gave the papermaker and printer a
very searching look.

“I do not know what he is busy about,” he began prudently, as the master
said nothing, “but he is not the kind of man to look for capitals in the
lower case!”

“Look here, my friend,” said the printer, taking up half-a-dozen sheets
of the diocesan prayer-book and holding them out to Cerizet, “if you
can correct these for us by to-morrow, you shall have eighteen francs
to-morrow for them. We are not shabby here; we put our competitor’s
foreman in the way of making money. As a matter of fact, we might let
Mme. Sechard go too far to draw back with her _Shepherd’s Calendar_,
and ruin her; very well, we give you permission to tell her that we
are bringing out a _Shepherd’s Calendar_ of our own, and to call her
attention too to the fact that she will not be the first in the field.”

Cerizet’s motive for working so slowly on the composition of the almanac
should be clear enough by this time.

When Eve heard that the Cointets meant to spoil her poor little
speculation, dread seized upon her; at first she tried to see a proof of
attachment in Cerizet’s hypocritical warning of competition; but before
long she saw signs of an over-keen curiosity in her sole compositor--the
curiosity of youth, she tried to think.

“Cerizet,” she said one morning, “you stand about on the threshold, and
wait for M. Sechard in the passage, to pry into his private affairs;
when he comes out into the yard to melt down the rollers, you are there
looking at him, instead of getting on with the almanac. These things
are not right, especially when you see that I, his wife, respect his
secrets, and take so much trouble on myself to leave him free to give
himself up to his work. If you had not wasted time, the almanac would
be finished by now, and Kolb would be selling it, and the Cointets could
have done us no harm.”

“Eh! madame,” answered Cerizet. “Here am I doing five francs’ worth of
composing for two francs a day, and don’t you think that that is enough?
Why, if I did not read proofs of an evening for the Cointets, I might
feed myself on husks.”

“You are turning ungrateful early,” said Eve, deeply hurt, not so much
by Cerizet’s grumbling as by his coarse tone, threatening attitude, and
aggressive stare; “you will get on in life.”

“Not with a woman to order me about though, for it is not often that the
month has thirty days in it then.”

Feeling wounded in her womanly dignity, Eve gave Cerizet a withering
look and went upstairs again. At dinner-time she spoke to David.

“Are you sure, dear, of that little rogue Cerizet?”

“Cerizet!” said David. “Why, he was my youngster; I trained him, I took
him on as my copy-holder. I put him to composing; anything that he is he
owes to me, in fact! You might as well ask a father if he is sure of his

Upon this, Eve told her husband that Cerizet was reading proofs for the

“Poor fellow! he must live,” said David, humbled by the consciousness
that he had not done his duty as a master.

“Yes, but there is a difference, dear, between Kolb and Cerizet--Kolb
tramps about twenty leagues every day, spends fifteen or twenty sous,
and brings us back seven and eight and sometimes nine francs of sales;
and when his expenses are paid, he never asks for more than his wages.
Kolb would sooner cut off his hand than work a lever for the Cointets;
Kolb would not peer among the things that you throw out into the yard if
people offered him a thousand crowns to do it; but Cerizet picks them up
and looks at them.”

It is hard for noble natures to think evil, to believe in ingratitude;
only through rough experience do they learn the extent of human
corruption; and even when there is nothing left them to learn in this
kind, they rise to an indulgence which is the last degree of contempt.

“Pooh! pure Paris street-boy’s curiosity,” cried David.

“Very well, dear, do me the pleasure to step downstairs and look at the
work done by this boy of yours, and tell me then whether he ought not to
have finished our almanac this month.”

David went into the workshop after dinner, and saw that the calendar
should have been set up in a week. Then, when he heard that the Cointets
were bringing out a similar almanac, he came to the rescue. He took
command of the printing office, Kolb helped at home instead of selling
broadsheets. Kolb and Marion pulled off the impressions from one form
while David worked another press with Cerizet, and superintended the
printing in various inks. Every sheet must be printed four separate
times, for which reason none but small houses will attempt to produce
a _Shepherd’s Calendar_, and that only in the country where labor is
cheap, and the amount of capital employed in the business is so small
that the interest amounts to little. Wherefore, a press which turns out
beautiful work cannot compete in the printing of such sheets, coarse
though they may be.

So, for the first time since old Sechard retired, two presses were at
work in the old house. The calendar was, in its way, a masterpiece; but
Eve was obliged to sell it for less than a halfpenny, for the Cointets
were supplying hawkers at the rate of three centimes per copy. Eve made
no loss on the copies sold to hawkers; on Kolb’s sales, made directly,
she gained; but her little speculation was spoiled. Cerizet saw that
his fair employer distrusted him; in his own conscience he posed as the
accuser, and said to himself, “You suspect me, do you? I will have
my revenge,” for the Paris street-boy is made on this wise. Cerizet
accordingly took pay out of all proportion to the work of proof-reading
done for the Cointets, going to their office every evening for the
sheets, and returning them in the morning. He came to be on familiar
terms with them through the daily chat, and at length saw a chance of
escaping the military service, a bait held out to him by the brothers.
So far from requiring prompting from the Cointets, he was the first to
propose the espionage and exploitation of David’s researches.

Eve saw how little she could depend upon Cerizet, and to find another
Kolb was simply impossible; she made up her mind to dismiss her one
compositor, for the insight of a woman who loves told her that Cerizet
was a traitor; but as this meant a deathblow to the business, she took
a man’s resolution. She wrote to M. Metivier, with whom David and the
Cointets and almost every papermaker in the department had business
relations, and asked him to put the following advertisement into a trade

“FOR SALE, as a going concern, a Printing Office, with License and
Plant; situated at Angouleme. Apply for particulars to M. Metivier, Rue

The Cointets saw the advertisement. “That little woman has a head on her
shoulders,” they said. “It is time that we took her business under our
own control, by giving her enough work to live upon; we might find a
real competitor in David’s successor; it is in our interest to keep an
eye upon that workshop.”

The Cointets went to speak to David Sechard, moved thereto by this
thought. Eve saw them, knew that her stratagem had succeeded at once,
and felt a thrill of the keenest joy. They stated their proposal. They
had more work than they could undertake, their presses could not keep
pace with the work, would M. Sechard print for them? They had sent to
Bordeaux for workmen, and could find enough to give full employment to
David’s three presses.

“Gentlemen,” said Eve, while Cerizet went across to David’s workshop to
announce the two printers, “while my husband was with the MM. Didot he
came to know of excellent workers, honest and industrious men; he will
choose his successor, no doubt, from among the best of them. If he sold
his business outright for some twenty thousand francs, it might bring
us in a thousand francs per annum; that would be better than losing a
thousand yearly over such trade as you leave us. Why did you envy us the
poor little almanac speculation, especially as we have always brought it

“Oh, why did you not give us notice, madame? We would not have
interfered with you,” one of the brothers answered blandly (he was known
as the “tall Cointet”).

“Oh, come gentlemen! you only began your almanac after Cerizet told you
that I was bringing out mine.”

She spoke briskly, looking full at “the tall Cointet” as she spoke. He
lowered his eyes; Cerizet’s treachery was proven to her.

This brother managed the business and the paper-mill; he was by far the
cleverer man of business of the two. Jean showed no small ability in the
conduct of the printing establishment, but in intellectual capacity he
might be said to take colonel’s rank, while Boniface was a general. Jean
left the command to Boniface. This latter was thin and spare in person;
his face, sallow as an altar candle, was mottled with reddish patches;
his lips were pinched; there was something in his eyes that reminded you
of a cat’s eyes. Boniface Cointet never excited himself; he would listen
to the grossest insults with the serenity of a bigot, and reply in
a smooth voice. He went to mass, he went to confession, he took the
sacrament. Beneath his caressing manners, beneath an almost spiritless
look, lurked the tenacity and ambition of the priest, and the greed of
the man of business consumed with a thirst for riches and honors. In
the year 1820 “tall Cointet” wanted all that the _bourgeoisie_
finally obtained by the Revolution of 1830. In his heart he hated the
aristocrats, and in religion he was indifferent; he was as much or as
little of a bigot as Bonaparte was a member of the Mountain; yet his
vertebral column bent with a flexibility wonderful to behold before the
noblesse and the official hierarchy; for the powers that be, he humbled
himself, he was meek and obsequious. One final characteristic will
describe him for those who are accustomed to dealings with all kinds of
men, and can appreciate its value--Cointet concealed the expression of
his eyes by wearing colored glasses, ostensibly to preserve his sight
from the reflection of the sunlight on the white buildings in the
streets; for Angouleme, being set upon a hill, is exposed to the full
glare of the sun. Tall Cointet was really scarcely above middle height;
he looked much taller than he actually was by reason of the thinness,
which told of overwork and a brain in continual ferment. His lank, sleek
gray hair, cut in somewhat ecclesiastical fashion; the black trousers,
black stockings, black waistcoat, and long puce-colored greatcoat
(styled a _levite_ in the south), all completed his resemblance to a

Boniface was called “tall Cointet” to distinguish him from his brother,
“fat Cointet,” and the nicknames expressed a difference in character
as well as a physical difference between a pair of equally redoubtable
personages. As for Jean Cointet, a jolly, stout fellow, with a face from
a Flemish interior, colored by the southern sun of Angouleme, thick-set,
short and paunchy as Sancho Panza; with a smile on his lips and a pair
of sturdy shoulders, he was a striking contrast to his older brother.
Nor was the difference only physical and intellectual. Jean might almost
be called Liberal in politics; he belonged to the Left Centre, only went
to mass on Sundays, and lived on a remarkably good understanding with
the Liberal men of business. There were those in L’Houmeau who said that
this divergence between the brothers was more apparent than real. Tall
Cointet turned his brother’s seeming good nature to advantage very
skilfully. Jean was his bludgeon. It was Jean who gave all the hard
words; it was Jean who conducted the executions which little beseemed
the elder brother’s benevolence. Jean took the storms department; he
would fly into a rage, and propose terms that nobody would think
of accepting, to pave the way for his brother’s less unreasonable
propositions. And by such policy the pair attained their ends, sooner or

Eve, with a woman’s tact, had soon divined the characters of the two
brothers; she was on her guard with foes so formidable. David, informed
beforehand of everything by his wife, lent a profoundly inattentive mind
to his enemies’ proposals.

“Come to an understanding with my wife,” he said, as he left the
Cointets in the office and went back to his laboratory. “Mme. Sechard
knows more about the business than I do myself. I am interested in
something that will pay better than this poor place; I hope to find a
way to retrieve the losses that I have made through you----”

“And how?” asked the fat Cointet, chuckling.

Eve gave her husband a look that meant, “Be careful!”

“You will be my tributaries,” said David, “and all other consumers of
papers besides.”

“Then what are you investigating?” asked the hypocritical Boniface

Boniface’s question slipped out smoothly and insinuatingly, and again
Eve’s eyes implored her husband to give an answer that was no answer, or
to say nothing at all.

“I am trying to produce paper at fifty per cent less than the present
cost price,” and he went. He did not see the glances exchanged between
the brothers. “That is an inventor, a man of his build cannot sit with
his hands before him.--Let us exploit him,” said Boniface’s eyes. “How
can we do it?” said Jean’s.

Mme. Sechard spoke. “David treats me just in the same way,” she said.
“If I show any curiosity, he feels suspicious of my name, no doubt, and
out comes that remark of his; it is only a formula, after all.”

“If your husband can work out the formula, he will certainly make a
fortune more quickly than by printing; I am not surprised that he
leaves the business to itself,” said Boniface, looking across the empty
workshop, where Kolb, seated upon a wetting-board, was rubbing his bread
with a clove of garlic; “but it would not suit our views to see this
place in the hands of an energetic, pushing, ambitious competitor,”
 he continued, “and perhaps it might be possible to arrive at an
understanding. Suppose, for instance, that you consented for a
consideration to allow us to put in one of our own men to work your
presses for our benefit, but nominally for you; the thing is sometimes
done in Paris. We would find the fellow work enough to enable him to
rent your place and pay you well, and yet make a profit for himself.”

“It depends on the amount,” said Eve Sechard. “What is your offer?” she
added, looking at Boniface to let him see that she understood his scheme
perfectly well.

“What is your own idea?” Jean Cointet put in briskly.

“Three thousand francs for six months,” said she.

“Why, my dear young lady, you were proposing to sell the place outright
for twenty thousand francs,” said Boniface with much suavity. “The
interest on twenty thousand francs is only twelve hundred francs per
annum at six per cent.”

For a moment Eve was thrown into confusion; she saw the need for
discretion in matters of business.

“You wish to use our presses and our name as well,” she said; “and, as
I have already shown you, I can still do a little business. And then we
pay rent to M. Sechard senior, who does not load us with presents.”

After two hours of debate, Eve obtained two thousand francs for
six months, one thousand to be paid in advance. When everything was
concluded, the brothers informed her that they meant to put in Cerizet
as lessee of the premises. In spite of herself, Eve started with

“Isn’t it better to have somebody who knows the workshop?” asked the fat

Eve made no reply; she took leave of the brothers, vowing inwardly to
look after Cerizet.

“Well, here are our enemies in the place!” laughed David, when Eve
brought out the papers for his signature at dinner-time.

“Pshaw!” said she, “I will answer for Kolb and Marion; they alone
would look after things. Besides, we shall be making an income of four
thousand francs from the workshop, which only costs us money as it is;
and looking forward, I see a year in which you may realize your hopes.”

“You were born to be the wife of a scientific worker, as you said by the
weir,” said David, grasping her hand tenderly.

But though the Sechard household had money sufficient that winter,
they were none the less subjected to Cerizet’s espionage, and all
unconsciously became dependent upon Boniface Cointet.

“We have them now!” the manager of the paper-mill had exclaimed as he
left the house with his brother the printer. “They will begin to regard
the rent as regular income; they will count upon it and run themselves
into debt. In six months’ time we will decline to renew the agreement,
and then we shall see what this man of genius has at the bottom of his
mind; we will offer to help him out of his difficulty by taking him into
partnership and exploiting his discovery.”

Any shrewd man of business who should have seen tall Cointet’s face as
he uttered those words, “taking him into partnership,” would have known
that it behooves a man to be even more careful in the selection of the
partner whom he takes before the Tribunal of Commerce than in the
choice of the wife whom he weds at the Mayor’s office. Was it not enough
already, and more than enough, that the ruthless hunters were on the
track of the quarry? How should David and his wife, with Kolb and Marion
to help them, escape the toils of a Boniface Cointet?

A draft for five hundred francs came from Lucien, and this, with
Cerizet’s second payment, enabled them to meet all the expenses of Mme.
Sechard’s confinement. Eve and the mother and David had thought that
Lucien had forgotten them, and rejoiced over this token of remembrance
as they rejoiced over his success, for his first exploits in journalism
made even more noise in Angouleme than in Paris.

But David, thus lulled into a false security, was to receive a
staggering blow, a cruel letter from Lucien:--

               _Lucien to David._

  “MY DEAR DAVID,--I have drawn three bills on you, and negotiated
  them with Metivier; they fall due in one, two, and three months’
  time. I took this hateful course, which I know will burden you
  heavily, because the one alternative was suicide. I will explain
  my necessity some time, and I will try besides to send the amounts
  as the bills fall due.

  “Burn this letter; say nothing to my mother and sister; for, I
  confess it, I have counted upon you, upon the heroism known so
  well to your despairing brother,

                                               “LUCIEN DE RUBEMPRE.”

By this time Eve had recovered from her confinement.

“Your brother, poor fellow, is in desperate straits,” David told her. “I
have sent him three bills for a thousand francs at one, two, and three
months; just make a note of them,” and he went out into the fields to
escape his wife’s questionings.

But Eve had felt very uneasy already. It was six months since Lucien
had written to them. She talked over the news with her mother till her
forebodings grew so dark that she made up her mind to dissipate them.
She would take a bold step in her despair.

Young M. de Rastignac had come to spend a few days with his family.
He had spoken of Lucien in terms that set Paris gossip circulating in
Angouleme, till at last it reached the journalist’s mother and sister.
Eve went to Mme. de Rastignac, asked the favor of an interview with her
son, spoke of all her fears, and asked him for the truth. In a moment
Eve heard of her brother’s connection with the actress Coralie, of his
duel with Michel Chrestien, arising out of his own treacherous behavior
to Daniel d’Arthez; she received, in short, a version of Lucien’s
history, colored by the personal feeling of a clever and envious dandy.
Rastignac expressed sincere admiration for the abilities so terribly
compromised, and a patriotic fear for the future of a native genius;
spite and jealousy masqueraded as pity and friendliness. He spoke of
Lucien’s blunders. It seemed that Lucien had forfeited the favor of a
very great person, and that a patent conferring the right to bear the
name and arms of Rubempre had actually been made out and subsequently
torn up.

“If your brother, madame, had been well advised, he would have been on
the way to honors, and Mme. de Bargeton’s husband by this time; but what
can you expect? He deserted her and insulted her. She is now Mme. la
Comtesse Sixte du Chatelet, to her own great regret, for she loved

“Is it possible!” exclaimed Mme. Sechard.

“Your brother is like a young eagle, blinded by the first rays of glory
and luxury. When an eagle falls, who can tell how far he may sink before
he drops to the bottom of some precipice? The fall of a great man is
always proportionately great.”

Eve came away with a great dread in her heart; those last words pierced
her like an arrow. She had been wounded to the quick. She said not a
word to anybody, but again and again a tear rolled down her cheeks, and
fell upon the child at her breast. So hard is it to give up illusions
sanctioned by family feeling, illusions that have grown with our growth,
that Eve had doubted Eugene de Rastignac. She would rather hear a
true friend’s account of her brother. Lucien had given them d’Arthez’s
address in the days when he was full of enthusiasm for the brotherhood;
she wrote a pathetic letter to d’Arthez, and received the following

               _D’Arthez to Mme. Sechard._

  “MADAME,--You ask me to tell you the truth about the life that
  your brother is leading in Paris; you are anxious for
  enlightenment as to his prospects; and to encourage a frank answer
  on my part, you repeat certain things that M. de Rastignac has
  told you, asking me if they are true. With regard to the purely
  personal matter, madame, M. de Rastignac’s confidences must be
  corrected in Lucien’s favor. Your brother wrote a criticism of my
  book, and brought it to me in remorse, telling me that he could
  not bring himself to publish it, although obedience to the orders
  of his party might endanger one who was very dear to him. Alas!
  madame, a man of letters must needs comprehend all passions, since
  it is his pride to express them; I understood that where a
  mistress and a friend are involved, the friend is inevitably
  sacrificed. I smoothed your brother’s way; I corrected his
  murderous article myself, and gave it my full approval.

  “You ask whether Lucien has kept my friendship and esteem; to this
  it is difficult to make an answer. Your brother is on a road that
  leads him to ruin. At this moment I still feel sorry for him;
  before long I shall have forgotten him, of set purpose, not so
  much on account of what he has done already as for that which he
  inevitably will do. Your Lucien is not a poet, he has the poetic
  temper; he dreams, he does not think; he spends himself in
  emotion, he does not create. He is, in fact--permit me to say it
  --a womanish creature that loves to shine, the Frenchman’s great
  failing. Lucien will always sacrifice his best friend for the
  pleasure of displaying his own wit. He would not hesitate to sign
  a pact with the Devil to-morrow if so he might secure a few years
  of luxurious and glorious life. Nay, has he not done worse
  already? He has bartered his future for the short-lived delights
  of living openly with an actress. So far, he has not seen the
  dangers of his position; the girl’s youth and beauty and devotion
  (for she worships him) have closed his eyes to the truth; he
  cannot see that no glory or success or fortune can induce the
  world to accept the position. Very well, as it is now, so it will
  be with each new temptation--your brother will not look beyond the
  enjoyment of the moment. Do not be alarmed: Lucien will never go
  so far as a crime, he has not the strength of character; but he
  would take the fruits of a crime, he would share the benefit but
  not the risk--a thing that seems abhorrent to the whole world,
  even to scoundrels. Oh, he would despise himself, he would repent;
  but bring him once more to the test, and he would fail again; for
  he is weak of will, he cannot resist the allurements of pleasure,
  nor forego the least of his ambitions. He is indolent, like all
  who would fain be poets; he thinks it clever to juggle with the
  difficulties of life instead of facing and overcoming them. He
  will be brave at one time, cowardly at another, and deserves
  neither credit for his courage, nor blame for his cowardice.
  Lucien is like a harp with strings that are slackened or tightened
  by the atmosphere. He might write a great book in a glad or angry
  mood, and care nothing for the success that he had desired for so

  “When he first came to Paris he fell under the influence of an
  unprincipled young fellow, and was dazzled by his companion’s
  adroitness and experience in the difficulties of a literary life.
  This juggler completely bewitched Lucien; he dragged him into a
  life which a man cannot lead and respect himself, and, unluckily
  for Lucien, love shed its magic over the path. The admiration that
  is given too readily is a sign of want of judgment; a poet ought
  not to be paid in the same coin as a dancer on the tight-rope. We
  all felt hurt when intrigue and literary rascality were preferred
  to the courage and honor of those who counseled Lucien rather to
  face the battle than to filch success, to spring down into the
  arena rather than become a trumpet in the orchestra.

  “Society, madame, oddly enough, shows plentiful indulgence to
  young men of Lucien’s stamp; they are popular, the world is
  fascinated by their external gifts and good looks. Nothing is
  asked of them, all their sins are forgiven; they are treated like
  perfect natures, others are blind to their defects, they are the
  world’s spoiled children. And, on the other hand, the world is
  stern beyond measure to strong and complete natures. Perhaps in
  this apparently flagrant injustice society acts sublimely, taking
  a harlequin at his just worth, asking nothing of him but
  amusement, promptly forgetting him; and asking divine great deeds
  of those before whom she bends the knee. Everything is judged by
  laws of its being; the diamond must be flawless; the ephemeral
  creation of fashion may be flimsy, bizarre, inconsequent. So
  Lucien may perhaps succeed to admiration in spite of his mistakes;
  he has only to profit by some happy vein or to be among good
  companions; but if an evil angel crosses his path, he will go to
  the very depths of hell. ‘Tis a brilliant assemblage of good
  qualities embroidered upon too slight a tissue; time wears the
  flowers away till nothing but the web is left; and if that is poor
  stuff, you behold a rag at the last. So long as Lucien is young,
  people will like him; but where will he be as a man of thirty?
  That is the question which those who love him sincerely are bound
  to ask themselves. If I alone had come to think in this way of
  Lucien, I might perhaps have spared you the pain which my plain
  speaking will give you; but to evade the questions put by your
  anxiety, and to answer a cry of anguish like your letter with
  commonplaces, seemed to me alike unworthy of you and of me, whom
  you esteem too highly; and besides, those of my friends who knew
  Lucien are unanimous in their judgment. So it appeared to me to be
  a duty to put the truth before you, terrible though it may be.
  Anything may be expected of Lucien, anything good or evil. That is
  our opinion, and this letter is summed up in that sentence. If the
  vicissitudes of his present way of life (a very wretched and
  slippery one) should bring the poet back to you, use all your
  influence to keep him among you; for until his character has
  acquired stability, Paris will not be safe for him. He used to
  speak of you, you and your husband, as his guardian angels; he has
  forgotten you, no doubt; but he will remember you again when
  tossed by tempest, with no refuge left to him but his home. Keep
  your heart for him, madame; he will need it.

  “Permit me, madame, to convey to you the expression of the sincere
  respect of a man to whom your rare qualities are known, a man who
  honors your mother’s fears so much, that he desires to style
  himself your devoted servant,


Two days after the letter came, Eve was obliged to find a wet-nurse; her
milk had dried up. She had made a god of her brother; now, in her eyes,
he was depraved through the exercise of his noblest faculties; he was
wallowing in the mire. She, noble creature that she was, was incapable
of swerving from honesty and scrupulous delicacy, from all the pious
traditions of the hearth, which still burns so clearly and sheds its
light abroad in quiet country homes. Then David had been right in his
forecasts! The leaden hues of grief overspread Eve’s white brow. She
told her husband her secret in one of the pellucid talks in which
married lovers tell everything to each other. The tones of David’s voice
brought comfort. Though the tears stood in his eyes when he knew that
grief had dried his wife’s fair breast, and knew Eve’s despair that she
could not fulfil a mother’s duties, he held out reassuring hopes.

“Your brother’s imagination has let him astray, you see, child. It is so
natural that a poet should wish for blue and purple robes, and hurry as
eagerly after festivals as he does. It is a bird that loves glitter and
luxury with such simple sincerity, that God forgives him if man condemns
him for it.”

“But he is draining our lives!” exclaimed poor Eve.

“He is draining our lives just now, but only a few months ago he saved
us by sending us the first fruits of his earnings,” said the good David.
He had the sense to see that his wife was in despair, was going beyond
the limit, and that love for Lucien would very soon come back. “Fifty
years ago, or thereabouts, Mercier said in his _Tableau de Paris_ that
a man cannot live by literature, poetry, letters, or science, by the
creatures of his brain, in short; and Lucien, poet that he is, would not
believe the experience of five centuries. The harvests that are watered
with ink are only reaped ten or twelve years after the sowing, if indeed
there is any harvest after all. Lucien has taken the green wheat for the
sheaves. He will have learned something of life, at any rate. He was the
dupe of a woman at the outset; he was sure to be duped afterwards by the
world and false friends. He has bought his experience dear, that is all.
Our ancestors used to say, ‘If the son of the house brings back his two
ears and his honor safe, all is well----’”

“Honor!” poor Eve broke in. “Oh, but Lucien has fallen in so many ways!
Writing against his conscience! Attacking his best friend! Living upon
an actress! Showing himself in public with her. Bringing us to lie on

“Oh, that is nothing----!” cried David, and suddenly stopped short. The
secret of Lucien’s forgery had nearly escaped him, and, unluckily, his
start left a vague, uneasy impression on Eve.

“What do you mean by nothing?” she answered. “And where shall we find
the money to meet bills for three thousand francs?”

“We shall be obliged to renew the lease with Cerizet, to begin with,”
 said David. “The Cointets have been allowing him fifteen per cent on
the work done for them, and in that way alone he has made six hundred
francs, besides contriving to make five hundred francs by job printing.”

“If the Cointets know that, perhaps they will not renew the lease. They
will be afraid of him, for Cerizet is a dangerous man.”

“Eh! what is that to me!” cried David, “we shall be rich in a very
little while. When Lucien is rich, dear angel, he will have nothing but
good qualities.”

“Oh! David, my dear, my dear; what is this that you have said
unthinkingly? Then Lucien fallen into the clutches of poverty would not
have the force of character to resist evil? And you think just as M.
d’Arthez thinks! No one is great unless he has strength of character,
and Lucien is weak. An angel must not be tempted--what is that?”

“What but a nature that is noble only in its own region, its own sphere,
its heaven? I will spare him the struggle; Lucien is not meant for it.
Look here! I am so near the end now that I can talk to you about the

He drew several sheets of white paper from his pocket, brandished them
in triumph, and laid them on his wife’s lap.

“A ream of this paper, royal size, would cost five francs at the most,”
 he added, while Eve handled the specimens with almost childish surprise.

“Why, how did you make these sample bits?” she asked.

“With an old kitchen sieve of Marion’s.”

“And are you not satisfied yet?” asked Eve.

“The problem does not lie in the manufacturing process; it is a question
of the first cost of the pulp. Alas, child, I am only a late comer in
a difficult path. As long ago as 1794, Mme. Masson tried to use printed
paper a second time; she succeeded, but what a price it cost! The
Marquis of Salisbury tried to use straw as a material in 1800, and the
same idea occurred to Seguin in France in 1801. Those sheets in your
hand are made from the common rush, the _arundo phragmites_, but I
shall try nettles and thistles; for if the material is to continue to be
cheap, one must look for something that will grow in marshes and waste
lands where nothing else can be grown. The whole secret lies in the
preparation of the stems. At present my method is not quite simple
enough. Still, in spite of this difficulty, I feel sure that I can give
the French paper trade the privilege of our literature; papermaking
will be for France what coal and iron and coarse potter’s clay are for
England--a monopoly. I mean to be the Jacquart of the trade.”

Eve rose to her feet. David’s simple-mindedness had roused her to
enthusiasm, to admiration; she held out her arms to him and held him
tightly to her, while she laid her head upon his shoulder.

“You give me my reward as if I had succeeded already,” he said.

For all answer, Eve held up her sweet face, wet with tears, to his, and
for a moment she could not speak.

“The kiss was not for the man of genius,” she said, “but for my
comforter. Here is a rising glory for the glory that has set; and,
in the midst of my grief for the brother that has fallen so low, my
husband’s greatness is revealed to me.--Yes, you will be great, great
like the Graindorges, the Rouvets, and Van Robais, and the Persian who
discovered madder, like all the men you have told me about; great men
whom nobody remembers, because their good deeds were obscure industrial

“What are they doing just now?”

It was Boniface Cointet who spoke. He was walking up and down outside in
the Place du Murier with Cerizet watching the silhouettes of the husband
and wife on the blinds. He always came at midnight for a chat with
Cerizet, for the latter played the spy upon his former master’s every

“He is showing her the paper he made this morning, no doubt,” said

“What is it made of?” asked the paper manufacturer.

“Impossible to guess,” answered Cerizet; “I made a hole in the roof and
scrambled up and watched the gaffer; he was boiling pulp in a copper pan
all last night. There was a heap of stuff in a corner, but I could make
nothing of it; it looked like a heap of tow, as near as I could make

“Go no farther,” said Boniface Cointet in unctuous tones; “it would not
be right. Mme. Sechard will offer to renew your lease; tell her that you
are thinking of setting up for yourself. Offer her half the value of the
plant and license, and, if she takes the bid, come to me. In any case,
spin the matter out. . . . Have they no money?”

“Not a sou,” said Cerizet.

“Not a sou,” repeated tall Cointet.--“I have them now,” said he to

Metivier, paper manufacturers’ wholesale agent, and Cointet Brothers,
printers and paper manufacturers, were also bankers in all but name.
This surreptitious banking system defies all the ingenuity of the Inland
Revenue Department. Every banker is required to take out a license
which, in Paris, costs five hundred francs; but no hitherto devised
method of controlling commerce can detect the delinquents, or compel
them to pay their due to the Government. And though Metivier and the
Cointets were “outside brokers,” in the language of the Stock Exchange,
none the less among them they could set some hundreds of thousands of
francs moving every three months in the markets of Paris, Bordeaux, and
Angouleme. Now it so fell out that that very evening Cointet Brothers
had received Lucien’s forged bills in the course of business. Upon this
debt, tall Cointet forthwith erected a formidable engine, pointed, as
will presently be seen, against the poor, patient inventor.

By seven o’clock next morning, Boniface Cointet was taking a walk by the
mill stream that turned the wheels in his big factory; the sound of the
water covered his talk, for he was talking with a companion, a young
man of nine-and-twenty, who had been appointed attorney to the Court of
First Instance in Angouleme some six weeks ago. The young man’s name was
Pierre Petit-Claud.

“You are a schoolfellow of David Sechard’s, are you not?” asked tall
Cointet by way of greeting to the young attorney. Petit-Claud had lost
no time in answering the wealthy manufacturer’s summons.

“Yes, sir,” said Petit-Claud, keeping step with tall Cointet.

“Have you renewed the acquaintance?”

“We have met once or twice at most since he came back. It could hardly
have been otherwise. In Paris I was buried away in the office or at
the courts on week-days, and on Sundays and holidays I was hard at
work studying, for I had only myself to look to.” (Tall Cointet nodded
approvingly.) “When we met again, David and I, he asked me what I
had done with myself. I told him that after I had finished my time at
Poitiers, I had risen to be Maitre Olivet’s head-clerk, and that some
time or other I hoped to make a bid for his berth. I know a good deal
more of Lucien Chardon (de Rubempre he calls himself now), he was Mme.
de Bargeton’s lover, our great poet, David Sechard’s brother-in-law, in

“Then you can go and tell David of your appointment, and offer him your
services,” said tall Cointet.

“One can’t do that,” said the young attorney.

“He has never had a lawsuit, and he has no attorney, so one can do
that,” said Cointet, scanning the other narrowly from behind his colored

A certain quantity of gall mingled with the blood in Pierre
Petit-Claud’s veins; his father was a tailor in L’Houmeau, and his
schoolfellows had looked down upon him. His complexion was of the muddy
and unwholesome kind which tells a tale of bad health, late hours and
penury, and almost always of a bad disposition. The best description of
him may be given in two familiar expressions--he was sharp and snappish.
His cracked voice suited his sour face, meagre look, and magpie eyes of
no particular color. A magpie eye, according to Napoleon, is a sure
sign of dishonesty. “Look at So-and-so,” he said to Las Cases at Saint
Helena, alluding to a confidential servant whom he had been obliged to
dismiss for malversation. “I do not know how I could have been deceived
in him for so long; he has a magpie eye.” Tall Cointet, surveying the
weedy little lawyer, noted his face pitted with smallpox, the thin hair,
and the forehead, bald already, receding towards a bald cranium; saw,
too, the confession of weakness in his attitude with the hand on the
hip. “Here is my man,” said he to himself.

As a matter of fact, this Petit-Claud, who had drunk scorn like water,
was eaten up with a strong desire to succeed in life; he had no money,
but nevertheless he had the audacity to buy his employer’s connection
for thirty thousand francs, reckoning upon a rich marriage to clear off
the debt, and looking to his employer, after the usual custom, to find
him a wife, for an attorney always has an interest in marrying his
successor, because he is the sooner paid off. But if Petit-Claud counted
upon his employer, he counted yet more upon himself. He had more than
average ability, and that of a kind not often found in the provinces,
and rancor was the mainspring of his power. A mighty hatred makes a
mighty effort.

There is a great difference between a country attorney and an attorney
in Paris; tall Cointet was too clever not to know this, and to turn
the meaner passions that move a pettifogging lawyer to good account. An
eminent attorney in Paris, and there are many who may be so qualified,
is bound to possess to some extent the diplomate’s qualities; he had
so much business to transact, business in which large interests are
involved; questions of such wide interest are submitted to him that he
does not look upon procedure as machinery for bringing money into his
pocket, but as a weapon of attack and defence. A country attorney, on
the other hand, cultivates the science of costs, _broutille_, as it is
called in Paris, a host of small items that swell lawyers’ bills and
require stamped paper. These weighty matters of the law completely fill
the country attorney’s mind; he has a bill of costs always before his
eyes, whereas his brother of Paris thinks of nothing but his fees. The
fee is a honorarium paid by a client over and above the bill of costs,
for the more or less skilful conduct of his case. One-half of the bill
of costs goes to the Treasury, whereas the entire fee belongs to the
attorney. Let us admit frankly that the fees received are seldom as
large as the fees demanded and deserved by a clever lawyer. Wherefore,
in Paris, attorneys, doctors, and barristers, like courtesans with
a chance-come lover, take very considerable precautions against the
gratitude of clients. The client before and after the lawsuit would
furnish a subject worthy of Meissonier; there would be brisk bidding
among attorneys for the possession of two such admirable bits of genre.

There is yet another difference between the Parisian and the country
attorney. An attorney in Paris very seldom appears in court, though he
is sometimes called upon to act as arbitrator (_refere_). Barristers,
at the present day, swarm in the provinces; but in 1822 the country
attorney very often united the functions of solicitor and counsel. As
a result of this double life, the attorney acquired the peculiar
intellectual defects of the barrister, and retained the heavy
responsibilities of the attorney. He grew talkative and fluent, and
lost his lucidity of judgment, the first necessity for the conduct of
affairs. If a man of more than ordinary ability tries to do the work of
two men, he is apt to find that the two men are mediocrities. The Paris
attorney never spends himself in forensic eloquence; and as he seldom
attempts to argue for and against, he has some hope of preserving his
mental rectitude. It is true that he brings the balista of the law
to work, and looks for the weapons in the armory of judicial
contradictions, but he keeps his own convictions as to the case, while
he does his best to gain the day. In a word, a man loses his head not so
much by thinking as by uttering thoughts. The spoken word convinces the
utterer; but a man can act against his own bad judgment without warping
it, and contrive to win in a bad cause without maintaining that it is
a good one, like the barrister. Perhaps for this very reason an old
attorney is the more likely of the two to make a good judge.

A country attorney, as we have seen, has plenty of excuses for his
mediocrity; he takes up the cause of petty passions, he undertakes
pettifogging business, he lives by charging expenses, he strains the
Code of procedure and pleads in court. In a word, his weak points are
legion; and if by chance you come across a remarkable man practising as
a country attorney, he is indeed above the average level.

“I thought, sir, that you sent for me on your own affairs,” said
Petit-Claud, and a glance that put an edge on his words fell upon tall
Cointet’s impenetrable blue spectacles.

“Let us have no beating about the bush,” returned Boniface Cointet.
“Listen to me.”

After that beginning, big with mysterious import, Cointet set himself
down upon a bench, and beckoned Petit-Claud to do likewise.

“When M. du Hautoy came to Angouleme in 1804, on his way to his
consulship at Valence, he made the acquaintance of Mme. de Senonches,
then Mlle. Zephirine, and had a daughter by her,” added Cointet for
the attorney’s ear----“Yes,” he continued, as Petit-Claud gave a start;
“yes, and Mlle. Zephirine’s marriage with M. de Senoches soon followed
the birth of the child. The girl was brought up in my mother’s house;
she is the Mlle. Francoise de la Haye in whom Mme. de Senoches takes an
interest; she is her godmother in the usual style. Now, my mother farmed
land belonging to old Mme. de Cardanet, Mlle. Zephirine’s grandmother;
and as she knew the secret of the sole heiress of the Cardanets and the
Senonches of the older branch, they made me trustee for the little sum
which M. Francois du Hautoy meant for the girl’s fortune. I made my own
fortune with those ten thousand francs, which amount to thirty thousand
at the present day. Mme. de Senonches is sure to give the wedding
clothes, and some plate and furniture to her goddaughter. Now, I can
put you in the way of marrying the girl, my lad,” said Cointet, slapping
Petit-Claud on the knee; “and when you marry Francoise de la Haye,
you will have a large number of the aristocracy of Angouleme as your
clients. This understanding between us (under the rose) will open up
magnificent prospects for you. Your position will be as much as any one
could want; in fact, they don’t ask better, I know.”

“What is to be done?” Petit-Claud asked eagerly. “You have an attorney,
Maitre Cachan----”

“And, moreover, I shall not leave Cachan at once for you; I shall only
be your client later on,” said Cointet significantly. “What is to be
done, do you ask, my friend? Eh! why, David Sechard’s business. The poor
devil has three thousand francs’ worth of bills to meet; he will not
meet them; you will stave off legal proceedings in such a way as to
increase the expenses enormously. Don’t trouble yourself; go on, pile on
items. Doublon, my process-server, will act under Cachan’s directions,
and he will lay on like a blacksmith. A word to the wise is sufficient.
Now, young man?----”

An eloquent pause followed, and the two men looked at each other.

“We have never seen each other,” Cointet resumed; “I have not said
a syllable to you; you know nothing about M. du Hautoy, nor Mme. de
Senonches, nor Mlle. de la Haye; only, when the time comes, two months
hence, you will propose for the young lady. If we should want to see
each other, you will come here after dark. Let us have nothing in

“Then you mean to ruin Sechard?” asked Petit-Claud.

“Not exactly; but he must be in jail for some time----”

“And what is the object?”

“Do you think that I am noodle enough to tell you that? If you have wit
enough to find out, you will have sense enough to hold your tongue.”

“Old Sechard has plenty of money,” said Petit-Claud. He was beginning
already to enter into Boniface Cointet’s notions, and foresaw a possible
cause of failure.

“So long as the father lives, he will not give his son a farthing; and
the old printer has no mind as yet to send in an order for his funeral

“Agreed!” said Petit-Claud, promptly making up his mind. “I don’t ask
you for guarantees; I am an attorney. If any one plays me a trick, there
will be an account to settle between us.”

“The rogue will go far,” thought Cointet; he bade Petit-Claud

The day after this conference was the 30th of April, and the Cointets
presented the first of the three bills forged by Lucien. Unluckily, the
bill was brought to poor Mme. Sechard; and she, seeing at once that the
signature was not in her husband’s handwriting, sent for David and asked
him point-blank:

“You did not put your name to that bill, did you?”

“No,” said he; “your brother was so pressed for time that he signed for

Eve returned the bill to the bank messenger sent by the Cointets.

“We cannot meet it,” she said; then, feeling that her strength was
failing, she went up to her room. David followed her.

“Go quickly to the Cointets, dear,” Eve said faintly; “they will have
some consideration for you; beg them to wait; and call their attention
besides to the fact that when Cerizet’s lease is renewed, they will owe
you a thousand francs.”

David went forthwith to his enemies. Now, any foreman may become a
master printer, but there are not always the makings of a good man of
business in a skilled typographer; David knew very little of business;
when, therefore, with a heavily-beating heart and a sensation of
throttling, David had put his excuses badly enough and formulated his
request, the answer--“This is nothing to do with us; the bill has
been passed on to us by Metivier; Metivier will pay us. Apply to M.
Metivier”--cut him short at once.

“Oh!” cried Eve when she heard the result, “as soon as the bill is
returned to M. Metivier, we may be easy.”

At two o’clock the next day, Victor-Ange-Hermenegilde Doublon, bailiff,
made protest for non-payment at two o’clock, a time when the Place du
Murier is full of people; so that though Doublon was careful to stand
and chat at the back door with Marion and Kolb, the news of the protest
was known all over the business world of Angouleme that evening. Tall
Cointet had enjoined it upon Master Doublon to show the Sechards the
greatest consideration; but when all was said and done, could the
bailiff’s hypocritical regard for appearances save Eve and David from
the disgrace of a suspension of payment? Let each judge for himself.
A tolerably long digression of this kind will seem all too short;
and ninety out of every hundred readers shall seize with avidity upon
details that possess all the piquancy of novelty, thus establishing yet
once again the trust of the well-known axiom, that there is nothing so
little known as that which everybody is supposed to know--the Law of the
Land, to wit.

And of a truth, for the immense majority of Frenchmen, a minute
description of some part of the machinery of banking will be as
interesting as any chapter of foreign travel. When a tradesman living
in one town gives a bill to another tradesman elsewhere (as David was
supposed to have done for Lucien’s benefit), the transaction ceases
to be a simple promissory note, given in the way of business by one
tradesman to another in the same place, and becomes in some sort a
letter of exchange. When, therefore, Metivier accepted Lucien’s three
bills, he was obliged to send them for collection to his correspondents
in Angouleme--to Cointet Brothers, that is to say. Hence, likewise, a
certain initial loss for Lucien in exchange on Angouleme, taking the
practical shape of an abatement of so much per cent over and above the
discount. In this way Sechard’s bills had passed into circulation in the
bank. You would not believe how greatly the quality of banker, united
with the august title of creditor, changes the debtor’s position. For
instance, when a bill has been passed through the bank (please note
that expression), and transferred from the money market in Paris to
the financial world of Angouleme, if that bill is protested, then the
bankers in Angouleme must draw up a detailed account of the expenses
of protest and return; ‘tis a duty which they owe to themselves. Joking
apart, no account of the most romantic adventure could be more mildly
improbable than this of the journey made by a bill. Behold a certain
article in the Code of commerce authorizing the most ingenious
pleasantries after Mascarille’s manner, and the interpretation thereof
shall make apparent manifold atrocities lurking beneath the formidable
word “legal.”

Master Doublon registered the protest and went himself with it to MM.
Cointet Brothers. The firm had a standing account with their bailiff;
he gave them six months’ credit; and the lynxes of Angouleme practically
took a twelvemonth, though tall Cointet would say month by month to
the lynxes’ jackal, “Do you want any money, Doublon?” Nor was this all.
Doublon gave the influential house a rebate upon every transaction;
it was the merest trifle, one franc fifty centimes on a protest, for

Tall Cointet quietly sat himself down at his desk and took out a small
sheet of paper with a thirty-five centime stamp upon it, chatting as he
did so with Doublon as to the standing of some of the local tradesmen.

“Well, are you satisfied with young Gannerac?”

“He is not doing badly. Lord, a carrier drives a trade----”

“Drives a trade, yes; but, as a matter of fact, his expenses are a heavy
pull on him; his wife spends a good deal, so they tell me----”

“Of _his_ money?” asked Doublon, with a knowing look.

The lynx meanwhile had finished ruling his sheet of paper, and now
proceeded to trace the ominous words at the head of the following
account in bold characters:--


  _To one bill for_ one thousand francs, _bearing date of February the
  tenth, eighteen hundred and twenty-two, drawn by_ Sechard junior _of
  Angouleme, to order of_ Lucien Chardon, _otherwise_ de Rubempre,
  _endorsed to order of_ Metivier, _and finally to our order, matured
  the thirtieth of April last, protested by_ Doublon, _process-server,
  on the first of May, eighteen hundred and twenty-two._
                                                  fr.    c.
     Principal  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1000   --
     Expenses of Protest. . . . . . . . . . . . .   12   35
     Bank charges, one-half per cent. . . . . . .    5   --
     Brokerage, one-quarter per cent. . . . . . .    2   50
     Stamp on re-draft and present account. . . .    1   35
     Interest and postage . . . . . . . . . . . .    3   --
                                                  ____ ____
                                                  1024   20
     Exchange at the rate of one and a quarter
        per cent on 1024 fr. 20 c.. . . . . . . .   13   25
                                                  ____ ____
               Total. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1037   45

  _One thousand and thirty-seven francs forty-five centimes, for
  which we repay ourselves by our draft at sight upon M. Metivier,
  Rue Serpente, Paris, payable to order of M. Gannerac of L’Houmeau._

    ANGOULEME, May 2, 1822                         COINTET BROTHERS.

At the foot of this little memorandum, drafted with the ease that comes
of long practice (for the writer chatted with Doublon as he wrote),
there appeared the subjoined form of declaration:--

  “We, the undersigned, Postel of L’Houmeau, pharmaceutical chemist,
  and Gannerac, forwarding agent, merchant of this town, hereby
  certify that the present rate of exchange on Paris is one and a
  quarter per cent.

  “ANGOULEME, May 2, 1822.”

“Here, Doublon, be so good as to step round and ask Postel and Gannerac
to put their names to this declaration, and bring it back with you
to-morrow morning.”

And Doublon, quite accustomed as he was to these instruments of torture,
forthwith went, as if it were the simplest thing in the world. Evidently
the protest might have been sent in an envelope, as in Paris, and
even so all Angouleme was sure to hear of the poor Sechards’ unlucky
predicament. How they all blamed his want of business energy! His
excessive fondness for his wife had been the ruin of him, according
to some; others maintained that it was his affection for his
brother-in-law; and what shocking conclusions did they not draw from
these premises! A man ought never to embrace the interests of his kith
and kin. Old Sechard’s hard-hearted conduct met with approval, and
people admired him for his treatment of his son!

And now, all you who for any reason whatsoever should forget to “honor
your engagements,” look well into the methods of the banking business,
by which one thousand francs may be made to pay interest at the rate
of twenty-eight francs in ten minutes, without breaking the law of the

The thousand francs, the one incontestable item in the account, comes

The second item is shared between the bailiff and the Inland Revenue
Department. The six francs due to the State for providing a piece of
stamped paper, and putting the debtor’s mortification on record, will
probably ensure a long life to this abuse; and as you already know,
one franc fifty centimes from this item found its way into the banker’s
pockets in the shape of Doublon’s rebate.

“Bank charges one-half per cent,” runs the third item, which appears
upon the ingenious plea that if a banker has not received payment,
he has for all practical purposes discounted a bill. And although the
contrary may be the case, if you fail to receive a thousand francs,
it seems to be very much the same thing as if you had paid them away.
Everybody who has discounted a bill knows that he has to pay more than
the six per cent fixed by law; for a small percentage appears under
the humble title of “charges,” representing a premium on the financial
genius and skill with which the capitalist puts his money out to
interest. The more money he makes out of you, the more he asks.
Wherefore it would be undoubtedly cheaper to discount a bill with a
fool, if fools there be in the profession of bill-discounting.

The law requires the banker to obtain a stock-broker’s certificate for
the rate of exchange. When a place is so unlucky as to boast no stock
exchange, two merchants act instead. This is the significance of the
item “brokerage”; it is a fixed charge of a quarter per cent on the
amount of the protested bill. The custom is to consider the amount
as paid to the merchants who act for the stock-broker, and the banker
quietly puts the money into his cash-box. So much for the third item in
this delightful account.

The fourth includes the cost of the piece of stamped paper on which the
account itself appears, as well as the cost of the stamp for re-draft,
as it is ingeniously named, viz., the banker’s draft upon his colleague
in Paris.

The fifth is a charge for postage and the legal interest due upon the
amount for the time that it may happen to be absent from the banker’s
strong box.

The final item, the exchange, is the object for which the bank exists,
which is to say, for the transmission of sums of money from one place to

Now, sift this account thoroughly, and what do you find? The method of
calculation closely resembles Polichinelle’s arithmetic in Lablache’s
Neapolitan song, “fifteen and five make twenty-two.” The signatures of
Messieurs Postel and Gannerac were obviously given to oblige in the way
of business; the Cointets would act at need for Gannerac as Gannerac
acted for the Cointets. It was a practical application of the well-known
proverb, “Reach me the rhubarb and I will pass you the senna.” Cointet
Brothers, moreover, kept a standing account with Metivier; there was no
need of a re-draft, and no re-draft was made. A returned bill between
the two firms simply meant a debit or credit entry and another line in a

This highly-colored account, therefore, is reduced to the one thousand
francs, with an additional thirteen francs for expenses of protest, and
half per cent for a month’s delay, one thousand and eighteen francs it
may be in all.

Suppose that in a large banking-house a bill for a thousand francs is
daily protested on an average, then the banker receives twenty-eight
francs a day by the grace of God and the constitution of the banking
system, that all powerful invention due to the Jewish intellect of
the Middle Ages, which after six centuries still controls monarchs and
peoples. In other words, a thousand francs would bring such a house
twenty-eight francs per day, or ten thousand two hundred and twenty
francs per annum. Triple the average of protests, and consequently of
expenses, and you shall derive an income of thirty thousand francs
per annum, interest upon purely fictitious capital. For which reason,
nothing is more lovingly cultivated than these little “accounts of

If David Sechard had come to pay his bill on the 3rd of May, that is,
the day after it was protested, MM. Cointet Brothers would have met him
at once with, “We have returned your bill to M. Metivier,” although, as
a matter of fact, the document would have been lying upon the desk. A
banker has a right to make out the account of expenses on the evening of
the day when the bill is protested, and he uses the right to “sweat the
silver crowns,” in the country banker’s phrase.

The Kellers, with correspondents all over the world, make twenty
thousand francs per annum by charges for postage alone; accounts of
expenses of protest pay for Mme. la Baronne de Nucingen’s dresses, opera
box, and carriage. The charge for postage is a more shocking swindle,
because a house will settle ten matters of business in as many lines of
a single letter. And of the tithe wrung from misfortune, the Government,
strange to say! takes its share, and the national revenue is swelled by
a tax on commercial failure. And the Bank? from the august height of a
counting-house she flings an observation, full of commonsense, at the
debtor, “How is it?” asks she, “that you cannot meet your bill?” and,
unluckily, there is no reply to the question. Wherefore, the “account of
expenses” is an account bristling with dreadful fictions, fit to cause
any debtor, who henceforth shall reflect upon this instructive page, a
salutary shudder.

On the 4th of May, Metivier received the account from Cointet Brothers,
with instructions to proceed against M. Lucien Chardon, otherwise de
Rubempre, with the utmost rigor of the law.

Eve also wrote to M. Metivier, and a few days later received an answer
which reassured her completely:--

               _To M. Sechard, Junior, Printer, Angouleme._

  “I have duly received your esteemed favor of the 5th instant. From
  your explanation of the bill due on April 30th, I understand that
  you have obliged your brother-in-law, M. de Rubempre, who is
  spending so much that it will be doing you a service to summons
  him. His present position is such that he is likely to delay
  payment for long. If your brother-in-law should refuse payment, I
  shall rely upon the credit of your old-established house.--I sign
  myself now, as ever, your obedient servant,

“Well,” said Eve, commenting upon the letter to David, “Lucien will know
when they summons him that we could not pay.”

What a change wrought in Eve those few words meant! The love that grew
deeper as she came to know her husband’s character better and better,
was taking the place of love for her brother in her heart. But to how
many illusions had she not bade farewell?

And now let us trace out the whole history of the bill and the account
of expenses in the business world of Paris. The law enacts that the
third holder, the technical expression for the third party into whose
hands the bill passes, is at liberty to proceed for the whole amount
against any one of the various endorsers who appears to him to be most
likely to make prompt payment. M. Metivier, using this discretion,
served a summons upon Lucien. Behold the successive stages of the
proceedings, all of them perfectly futile. Metivier, with the Cointets
behind him, knew that Lucien was not in a position to pay, but
insolvency in fact is not insolvency in law until it has been formally

Formal proof of Lucien’s inability to pay was obtained in the following

On the 5th of May, Metivier’s process-server gave Lucien notice of
the protest and an account of the expense thereof, and summoned him to
appear before the Tribunal of Commerce, or County Court, of Paris, to
hear a vast number of things: this, among others, that he was liable to
imprisonment as a merchant. By the time that Lucien, hard pressed
and hunted down on all sides, read this jargon, he received notice of
judgment against him by default. Coralie, his mistress, ignorant of the
whole matter, imagined that Lucien had obliged his brother-in-law, and
handed him all the documents together--too late. An actress sees so
much of bailiffs, duns, and writs, upon the stage, that she looks on all
stamped paper as a farce.

Tears filled Lucien’s eyes; he was unhappy on Sechard’s account, he
was ashamed of the forgery, he wished to pay, he desired to gain time.
Naturally he took counsel of his friends. But by the time Lousteau,
Blondet, Bixiou, and Nathan had told the poet to snap his fingers at a
court only established for tradesmen, Lucien was already in the clutches
of the law. He beheld upon his door the little yellow placard which
leaves its reflection on the porter’s countenance, and exercises a most
astringent influence upon credit; striking terror into the heart of
the smallest tradesman, and freezing the blood in the veins of a poet
susceptible enough to care about the bits of wood, silken rags, dyed
woolen stuffs, and multifarious gimcracks entitled furniture.

When the broker’s men came for Coralie’s furniture, the author of the
_Marguerites_ fled to a friend of Bixiou’s, one Desroches, a barrister,
who burst out laughing at the sight of Lucien in such a state about
nothing at all.

“That is nothing, my dear fellow. Do you want to gain time?”

“Yes, as much possible.”

“Very well, apply for stay of execution. Go and look up Masson, he is
a solicitor in the Commercial Court, and a friend of mine. Take your
documents to him. He will make a second application for you, and give
notice of objection to the jurisdiction of the court. There is not the
least difficulty; you are a journalist, your name is well known enough.
If they summons you before a civil court, come to me about it, that
will be my affair; I engage to send anybody who offers to annoy the fair
Coralie about his business.”

On the 28th of May, Lucien’s case came on in the civil court, and
judgment was given before Desroches expected it. Lucien’s creditor was
pushing on the proceedings against him. A second execution was put in,
and again Coralie’s pilasters were gilded with placards. Desroches felt
rather foolish; a colleague had “caught him napping,” to use his own
expression. He demurred, not without reason, that the furniture belonged
to Mlle. Coralie, with whom Lucien was living, and demanded an order for
inquiry. Thereupon the judge referred the matter to the registrar for
inquiry, the furniture was proved to belong to the actress, and judgment
was entered accordingly. Metivier appealed, and judgment was confirmed
on appeal on the 30th of June.

On the 7th of August, Maitre Cachan received by the coach a bulky
package endorsed, “Metivier _versus_ Sechard and Lucien Chardon.”

The first document was a neat little bill, of which a copy (accuracy
guaranteed) is here given for the reader’s benefit:--

  _To Bill due the last day of April, drawn by_
       Sechard, junior, _to order of_ Lucien de
       Rubempre, _together with expenses of             fr.    c.
       protest and return_ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1037    45
  May  5th--Serving notice of protest and
            summons to appear before the
            Tribunal of Commerce in
            Paris, May 7th . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    8    75
   “   7th--Judgment by default and
            warrant of arrest. . . . . . . . . . . . .   35    --
   “  10th--Notification of judgment . . . . . . . . .    8    50
   “  12th--Warrant of execution . . . . . . . . . . .    5    50
   “  14th--Inventory and appraisement
            previous to execution. . . . . . . . . . .    16   --
   “  18th--Expenses of affixing placards. . . . . . .    15   25
   “  19th--Registration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     4   --
   “  24th--Verification of inventory, and
            application for stay of execution
            on the part of the said
            Lucien de Rubempre, objecting
            to the jurisdiction of the Court. . . . . .   12   --
   “  27th--Order of the Court upon application
            duly repeated, and transfer of
            of case to the Civil Court. . . . . . . . .   35   --
                                                        ____ ____
                Carried forward. . . . . . . . . . . .  1177   45

                                                         fr.   c.
                  Brought forward                       1177   45
  May 28th--Notice of summary proceedings in
            the Civil Court at the instance
            of Metivier, represented by
            counsel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    6   50
  June 2nd--Judgment, after hearing both
            parties, condemning Lucien for
            expenses of protest and return;
            the plaintiff to bear costs
            of proceedings in the
            Commercial Court. . . . . . . . . . . . . .  150   --
   “   6th--Notification of judgment. . . . . . . . . .   10   --

   “  15th--Warrant of execution. . . . . . . . . . . .    5   50
   “  19th--Inventory and appraisement preparatory
            to execution; interpleader summons by
            the Demoiselle Coralie, claiming goods
            and chattels taken in execution; demand
            for immediate special inquiry before
            further proceedings be taken . . . . . . .    20   --
   “   “  --Judge’s order referring matter to
            registrar for immediate special inquiry. .    40   --
   “   “  --Judgment in favor of the said
            Mademoiselle Coralie . . . . . . . . . . .   250   --
   “  20th--Appeal by Metivier . . . . . . . . . . . .    17   --
   “  30th--Confirmation of judgment . . . . . . . . .   250   --
                                                        ____ ____
                 Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  1926   45

  Bill matured May 31st, with expenses of                fr.   c.
     protest and return. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  1037   45
  Serving notice of protest. . . . . . . . . . . . . .     8   75
                                                        ____ ____
                 Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  1046   20

  Bill matured June 30th, with expenses of
       protest and return. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  1037   45
  Serving notice of protest. . . . . . . . . . . . . .     8   75
                                                        ____ ____
                 Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  1046   20

This document was accompanied by a letter from Metivier, instructing
Maitre Cachan, notary of Angouleme, to prosecute David Sechard with
the utmost rigor of the law. Wherefore Maitre Victor-Ange-Hermenegilde
Doublon summoned David Sechard before the Tribunal of Commerce in
Angouleme for the sum-total of four thousand and eighteen francs
eighty-five centimes, the amount of the three bills and expenses already
incurred. On the morning of the very day when Doublon served the writ
upon Eve, requiring her to pay a sum so enormous in her eyes, there came
a letter like a thunderbolt from Metivier:--

          _To Monsieur Sechard, Junior, Printer, Angouleme._

  “SIR,--Your brother-in-law, M. Chardon, is so shamelessly
  dishonest, that he declares his furniture to be the property of an
  actress with whom he is living. You ought to have informed me
  candidly of these circumstances, and not have allowed me to go to
  useless expense over law proceedings. I have received no answer
  to my letter of the 10th of May last. You must not, therefore,
  take it amiss if I ask for immediate repayment of the three bills
  and the expenses to which I have been put.--Yours, etc.,

Eve had heard nothing during these months, and supposed, in her
ignorance of commercial law, that her brother had made reparation for
his sins by meeting the forged bills.

“Be quick, and go at once to Petit-Claud, dear,” she said; “tell him
about it, and ask his advice.”

David hurried to his schoolfellow’s office.

“When you came to tell me of your appointment and offered me your
services, I did not think that I should need them so soon,” he said.

Petit-Claud studied the fine face of this man who sat opposite him in
the office chair, and scarcely listened to the details of the case,
for he knew more of them already than the speaker. As soon as he saw
Sechard’s anxiety, he said to himself, “The trick has succeeded.”

This kind of comedy is often played in an attorney’s office. “Why are
the Cointets persecuting him?” Petit-Claud wondered within himself, for
the attorney can use his wit to read his clients’ thoughts as clearly as
the ideas of their opponents, and it is his business to see both sides
of the judicial web.

“You want to gain time,” he said at last, when Sechard had come to an
end. “How long do you want? Something like three or four months?”

“Oh! four months! that would be my salvation,” exclaimed David.
Petit-Claud appeared to him as an angel.

“Very well. No one shall lay hands on any of your furniture, and no one
shall arrest you for four months----But it will cost you a great deal,”
 said Petit-Claud.

“Eh! what does that matter to me?” cried Sechard.

“You are expecting some money to come in; but are you sure of it?” asked
Petit-Claud, astonished at the way in which his client walked into the

“In three months’ time I shall have plenty of money,” said the inventor,
with an inventor’s hopeful confidence.

“Your father is still above ground,” suggested Petit-Claud; “he is in no
hurry to leave his vines.”

“Do you think that I am counting on my father’s death?” returned David.
“I am on the track of a trade secret, the secret of making a sheet of
paper as strong as Dutch paper, without a thread of cotton in it, and at
a cost of fifty per cent less than cotton pulp.”

“There is a fortune in that!” exclaimed Petit-Claud. He knew now what
the tall Cointet meant.

“A large fortune, my friend, for in ten years’ time the demand for paper
will be ten times larger than it is to-day. Journalism will be the craze
of our day.”

“Nobody knows your secret?”

“Nobody except my wife.”

“You have not told any one what you mean to do--the Cointets, for

“I did say something about it, but in general terms, I think.”

A sudden spark of generosity flashed through Petit-Claud’s rancorous
soul; he tried to reconcile Sechard’s interests with the Cointet’s
projects and his own.

“Listen, David, we are old schoolfellows, you and I; I will fight your
case; but understand this clearly--the defence, in the teeth of the
law, will cost you five or six thousand francs! Do not compromise your
prospects. I think you will be compelled to share the profits of your
invention with some one of our paper manufacturers. Let us see now. You
will think twice before you buy or build a paper mill; and there is
the cost of the patent besides. All this means time, and money too. The
servers of writs will be down upon you too soon, perhaps, although we
are going to give them the slip----”

“I have my secret,” said David, with the simplicity of the man of books.

“Well and good, your secret will be your plank of safety,” said
Petit-Claud; his first loyal intention of avoiding a lawsuit by a
compromise was frustrated. “I do not wish to know it; but mind this that
I tell you. Work in the bowels of the earth if you can, so that no one
may watch you and gain a hint from your ways of working, or your plank
will be stolen from under your feet. An inventor and a simpleton often
live in the same skin. Your mind runs so much on your secrets that you
cannot think of everything. People will begin to have their suspicions
at last, and the place is full of paper manufacturers. So many
manufacturers, so many enemies for you! You are like a beaver with the
hunters about you; do not give them your skin----”

“Thank you, dear fellow, I have told myself all this,” exclaimed
Sechard, “but I am obliged to you for showing so much concern for me and
for your forethought. It does not really matter to me myself. An income
of twelve hundred francs would be enough for me, and my father ought by
rights to leave me three times as much some day. Love and thought make
up my life--a divine life. I am working for Lucien’s sake and for my

“Come, give me this power of attorney, and think of nothing but your
discovery. If there should be any danger of arrest, I will let you know
in time, for we must think of all possibilities. And let me tell you
again to allow no one of whom you are not so sure as you are of yourself
to come into your place.”

“Cerizet did not care to continue the lease of the plant and premises,
hence our little money difficulties. We have no one at home now but
Marion and Kolb, an Alsacien as trusty as a dog, and my wife and her

“One word,” said Petit-Claud, “don’t trust that dog----”

“You do not know him,” exclaimed David; “he is like a second self.”

“May I try him?”

“Yes,” said Sechard.

“There, good-bye, but send Mme. Sechard to me; I must have a power of
attorney from your wife. And bear in mind, my friend, that there is a
fire burning in your affairs,” said Petit-Claud, by way of warning of
all the troubles gathering in the law courts to burst upon David’s head.

“Here am I with one foot in Burgundy and the other in Champagne,” he
added to himself as he closed the office door on David.

Harassed by money difficulties, beset with fears for his wife’s health,
stung to the quick by Lucien’s disgrace, David had worked on at his
problem. He had been trying to find a single process to replace the
various operations of pounding and maceration to which all flax or
cotton or rags, any vegetable fibre, in fact, must be subjected; and as
he went to Petit-Claud’s office, he abstractedly chewed a bit of nettle
stalk that had been steeping in water. On his way home, tolerably
satisfied with his interview, he felt a little pellet sticking between
his teeth. He laid it on his hand, flattened it out, and saw that the
pulp was far superior to any previous result. The want of cohesion is
the great drawback of all vegetable fibre; straw, for instance, yields
a very brittle paper, which may almost be called metallic and resonant.
These chances only befall bold inquirers into Nature’s methods!

“Now,” said he to himself, “I must contrive to do by machinery and some
chemical agency the thing that I myself have done unconsciously.”

When his wife saw him, his face was radiant with belief in victory.
There were traces of tears in Eve’s face.

“Oh! my darling, do not trouble yourself; Petit-Claud will guarantee
that we shall not be molested for several months to come. There will be
a good deal of expense over it; but, as Petit-Claud said when he came
to the door with me, ‘A Frenchman has a right to keep his creditors
waiting, provided he repays them capital, interest, and costs.’--Very
well, then, we shall do that----”

“And live meanwhile?” asked poor Eve, who thought of everything.

“Ah! that is true,” said David, carrying his hand to his ear after the
unaccountable fashion of most perplexed mortals.

“Mother will look after little Lucien, and I can go back to work again,”
 said she.

“Eve! oh, my Eve!” cried David, holding his wife closely to him.--“At
Saintes, not very far from here, in the sixteenth century, there
lived one of the very greatest of Frenchmen, for he was not merely the
inventor of glaze, he was the glorious precursor of Buffon and Cuvier
besides; he was the first geologist, good, simple soul that he was.
Bernard Palissy endured the martyrdom appointed for all seekers into
secrets but his wife and children and all his neighbors were against
him. His wife used to sell his tools; nobody understood him, he wandered
about the countryside, he was hunted down, they jeered at him. But I--am

“Dearly loved!” said Eve, with the quiet serenity of the love that is
sure of itself.

“And so may well endure all that poor Bernard Palissy suffered--Bernard
Palissy, the discoverer of Ecouen ware, the Huguenot excepted by Charles
IX. on the day of Saint-Bartholomew. He lived to be rich and honored in
his old age, and lectured on the ‘Science of Earths,’ as he called it,
in the face of Europe.”

“So long as my fingers can hold an iron, you shall want for nothing,”
 cried the poor wife, in tones that told of the deepest devotion. “When
I was Mme. Prieur’s forewoman I had a friend among the girls, Basine
Clerget, a cousin of Postel’s, a very good child; well, Basine told me
the other day when she brought back the linen, that she was taking Mme.
Prieur’s business; I will work for her.”

“Ah! you shall not work there for long,” said David; “I have found

Eve, watching his face, saw the sublime belief in success which sustains
the inventor, the belief that gives him courage to go forth into the
virgin forests of the country of Discovery; and, for the first time in
her life, she answered that confident look with a half-sad smile. David
bent his head mournfully.

“Oh! my dear! I am not laughing! I did not doubt! It was not a sneer!”
 cried Eve, on her knees before her husband. “But I see plainly now that
you were right to tell me nothing about your experiments and your hopes.
Ah! yes, dear, an inventor should endure the long painful travail of a
great idea alone, he should not utter a word of it even to his wife
.... A woman is a woman still. This Eve of yours could not help smiling
when she heard you say, ‘I have found out,’ for the seventeenth time
this month.”

David burst out laughing so heartily at his own expense that Eve caught
his hand in hers and kissed it reverently. It was a delicious moment for
them both, one of those roses of love and tenderness that grow beside
the desert paths of the bitterest poverty, nay, at times in yet darker

As the storm of misfortune grew, Eve’s courage redoubled; the greatness
of her husband’s nature, his inventor’s simplicity, the tears that now
and again she saw in the eyes of this dreamer of dreams with the
tender heart,--all these things aroused in her an unsuspected energy
of resistance. Once again she tried the plan that had succeeded so
well already. She wrote to M. Metivier, reminding him that the printing
office was for sale, offered to pay him out of the proceeds, and begged
him not to ruin David with needless costs. Metivier received the heroic
letter, and shammed dead. His head-clerk replied that in the absence of
M. Metivier he could not take it upon himself to stay proceedings, for
his employer had made it a rule to let the law take its course. Eve
wrote again, offering this time to renew the bills and pay all the costs
hitherto incurred. To this the clerk consented, provided that Sechard
senior guaranteed payment. So Eve walked over to Marsac, taking Kolb and
her mother with her. She braved the old vinedresser, and so charming was
she, that the old man’s face relaxed, and the puckers smoothed out at
the sight of her; but when, with inward quakings, she came to speak of a
guarantee, she beheld a sudden and complete change of the tippleographic

“If I allowed my son to put his hand to the lips of my cash box whenever
he had a mind, he would plunge it deep into the vitals, he would take
all I have!” cried old Sechard. “That is the way with children; they
eat up their parents’ purse. What did I do myself, eh? _I_ never cost my
parents a farthing. Your printing office is standing idle. The rats and
the mice do all the printing that is done in it. . . . You have a pretty
face; I am very fond of you; you are a careful, hard-working woman; but
that son of mine!--Do you know what David is? I’ll tell you--he is a
scholar that will never do a stroke of work! If I had reared him, as
I was reared myself, without knowing his letters, and if I had made a
‘bear’ of him, like his father before him, he would have money saved and
put out to interest by now. . . . Oh! he is my cross, that fellow is,
look you! And, unluckily, he is all the family I have, for there is
never like to be a later edition. And when he makes you unhappy----”

Eve protested with a vehement gesture of denial.

“Yes, he does,” affirmed old Sechard; “you had to find a wet-nurse for
the child. Come, come, I know all about it, you are in the county court,
and the whole town is talking about you. I was only a ‘bear,’ _I_ have
no book learning, _I_ was not foreman at the Didots’, the first printers
in the world; but yet I never set eyes on a bit of stamped paper. Do
you know what I say to myself as I go to and fro among my vines, looking
after them and getting in my vintage, and doing my bits of business?--I
say to myself, ‘You are taking a lot of trouble, poor old chap; working
to pile one silver crown on another, you will leave a fine property
behind you, and the bailiffs and the lawyers will get it all; . . . or
else it will go in nonsensical notions and crotchets.’--Look you here,
child; you are the mother of yonder little lad; it seemed to me as
I held him at the font with Mme. Chardon that I could see his old
grandfather’s copper nose on his face; very well, think less of Sechard
and more of that little rascal. I can trust no one but you; you will
prevent him from squandering my property--my poor property.”

“But, dear papa Sechard, your son will be a credit to you, you will see;
he will make money and be a rich man one of these days, and wear the
Cross of the Legion of Honor at his buttonhole.”

“What is he going to do to get it?”

“You will see. But, meanwhile, would a thousand crowns ruin you? A
thousand crowns would put an end to the proceedings. Well, if you cannot
trust him, lend the money to me; I will pay it back; you could make it a
charge on my portion, on my earnings----”

“Then has some one brought David into a court of law?” cried the
vinedresser, amazed to find that the gossip was really true. “See what
comes of knowing how to write your name! And how about my rent! Oh!
little girl, I must go to Angouleme at once and ask Cachan’s advice, and
see that I am straight. You did right well to come over. Forewarned is

After two hours of argument Eve was fain to go, defeated by the
unanswerable _dictum_, “Women never understand business.” She had come
with a faint hope, she went back again almost heartbroken, and reached
home just in time to receive notice of judgment; Sechard must pay
Metivier in full. The appearance of a bailiff at a house door is an
event in a country town, and Doublon had come far too often of late. The
whole neighborhood was talking about the Sechards. Eve dared not leave
her house; she dreaded to hear the whispers as she passed.

“Oh! my brother, my brother!” cried poor Eve, as she hurried into the
passage and up the stairs, “I can never forgive you, unless it was----”

“Alas! it was that, or suicide,” said David, who had followed her.

“Let us say no more about it,” she said quietly. “The woman who dragged
him down into the depths of Paris has much to answer for; and your
father, my David, is quite inexorable! Let us bear it in silence.”

A discreet rapping at the door cut short some word of love on David’s
lips. Marion appeared, towing the big, burly Kolb after her across the
outer room.

“Madame,” said Marion, “we have known, Kolb and I, that you and the
master were very much put about; and as we have eleven hundred francs of
savings between us, we thought we could not do better than put them in
the mistress’ hands----”

“Die misdress,” echoed Kolb fervently.

“Kolb,” cried David, “you and I will never part. Pay a thousand francs
on account to Maitre Cachan, and take a receipt for it; we will keep the
rest. And, Kolb, no power on earth must extract a word from you as to my
work, or my absences from home, or the things you may see me bring back;
and if I send you to look for plants for me, you know, no human being
must set eyes on you. They will try to corrupt you, my good Kolb;
they will offer you thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of francs, to

“Dey may offer me millions,” cried Kolb, “but not ein vort from me shall
dey traw. Haf I not peen in der army, and know my orders?”

“Well, you are warned. March, and ask M. Petit-Claud to go with you as

“Yes,” said the Alsacien. “Some tay I hope to be rich enough to dust der
chacket of dat man of law. I don’t like his gountenance.”

“Kolb is a good man, madame,” said Big Marion; “he is as strong as a
Turk, and as meek as a lamb. Just the one that would make a woman happy.
It was his notion, too, to invest our savings this way--‘safings,’ as he
calls them. Poor man, if he doesn’t speak right, he thinks right, and
I understand him all the same. He has a notion of working for somebody
else, so as to save us his keep----”

“Surely we shall be rich, if it is only to repay these good folk,” said
David, looking at his wife.

Eve thought it quite simple; it was no surprise to her to find
other natures on a level with her own. The dullest--nay, the most
indifferent--observer could have seen all the beauty of her nature in
her way of receiving this service.

“You will be rich some day, dear master,” said Marion; “your bread is
ready baked. Your father has just bought another farm, he is putting by
money for you; that he is.”

And under the circumstances, did not Marion show an exquisite delicacy
of feeling by belittling, as it were, her kindness in this way?

French procedure, like all things human, has its defects; nevertheless,
the sword of justice, being a two-edged weapon, is excellently adapted
alike for attack or defence. Procedure, moreover, has its amusing side;
for when opposed, lawyers arrive at an understanding, as they well may
do, without exchanging a word; through their manner of conducting their
case, a suit becomes a kind of war waged on the lines laid down by the
first Marshal Biron, who, at the siege of Rouen, it may be remembered,
received his son’s project for taking the city in two days with the
remark, “You must be in a great hurry to go and plant cabbages!” Let
two commanders-in-chief spare their troops as much as possible, let them
imitate the Austrian generals who give the men time to eat their soup
though they fail to effect a juncture, and escape reprimand from the
Aulic Council; let them avoid all decisive measures, and they shall
carry on a war for ever. Maitre Cachan, Petit-Claud, and Doublon, did
better than the Austrian generals; they took for their example Quintus
Fabius Cunctator--the Austrian of antiquity.

Petit-Claud, malignant as a mule, was not long in finding out all the
advantages of his position. No sooner had Boniface Cointet guaranteed
his costs than he vowed to lead Cachan a dance, and to dazzle the paper
manufacturer with a brilliant display of genius in the creation of items
to be charged to Metivier. Unluckily for the fame of the young forensic
Figaro, the writer of this history is obliged to pass over the scene of
his exploits in as great a hurry as if he trod on burning coals; but a
single bill of costs, in the shape of the specimen sent from Paris, will
no doubt suffice for the student of contemporary manners. Let us follow
the example set us by the Bulletins of the Grande Armee, and give a
summary of Petit-Claud’s valiant feats and exploits in the province of
pure law; they will be the better appreciated for concise treatment.

David Sechard was summoned before the Tribunal of Commerce at Angouleme
for the 3rd of July, made default, and notice of judgment was served
on the 8th. On the 10th, Doublon obtained an execution warrant, and
attempted to put in an execution on the 12th. On this Petit-Claud
applied for an interpleader summons, and served notice on Metivier for
that day fortnight. Metivier made application for a hearing without
delay, and on the 19th, Sechard’s application was dismissed. Hard upon
this followed notice of judgment, authorizing the issue of an execution
warrant on the 22nd, a warrant of arrest on the 23rd, and bailiff’s
inventory previous to the execution on the 24th. Metivier, Doublon,
Cachan & Company were proceeding at this furious pace, when Petit-Claud
suddenly pulled them up, and stayed execution by lodging notice of
appeal on the Court-Royal. Notice of appeal, duly reiterated on the 25th
of July, drew Metivier off to Poitiers.

“Come!” said Petit-Claud to himself, “there we are likely to stop for
some time to come.”

No sooner was the storm passed over to Poitiers, and an attorney
practising in the Court-Royal instructed to defend the case, than
Petit-Claud, a champion facing both ways, made application in Mme.
Sechard’s name for the immediate separation of her estate from her
husband’s; using “all diligence” (in legal language) to such purpose,
that he obtained an order from the court on the 28th, and inserted
notice at once in the _Charente Courier_. Now David the lover had
settled ten thousand francs upon his wife in the marriage contract,
making over to her as security the fixtures of the printing office and
the household furniture; and Petit-Claud therefore constituted Mme.
Sechard her husband’s creditor for that small amount, drawing up a
statement of her claims on the estate in the presence of a notary on the
1st of August.

While Petit-Claud was busy securing the household property of his
clients, he gained the day at Poitiers on the point of law on which the
demurrer and appeals were based. He held that, as the court of the
Seine had ordered the plaintiff to pay costs of proceedings in the Paris
commercial court, David was so much the less liable for expenses of
litigation incurred upon Lucien’s account. The Court-Royal took this
view of the case, and judgment was entered accordingly. David Sechard
was ordered to pay the amount in dispute in the Angouleme Court, less
the law expenses incurred in Paris; these Metivier must pay, and each
side must bear its own costs in the appeal to the Court-Royal.

David Sechard was duly notified of the result on the 17th of August.
On the 18th the judgment took the practical shape of an order to pay
capital, interest, and costs, followed up by notice of an execution for
the morrow. Upon this Petit-Claud intervened and put in a claim for the
furniture as the wife’s property duly separated from her husband’s; and
what was more, Petit-Claud produced Sechard senior upon the scene of
action. The old vinegrower had become his client on this wise. He came
to Angouleme on the day after Eve’s visit, and went to Maitre Cachan for
advice. His son owed him arrears of rent; how could he come by this rent
in the scrimmage in which his son was engaged?

“I am engaged by the other side,” pronounced Cachan, “and I cannot
appear for the father when I am suing the son; but go to Petit-Claud, he
is very clever, he may perhaps do even better for you than I should do.”

Cachan and Petit-Claud met at the Court.

“I have sent you Sechard senior,” said Cachan; “take the case for me in
exchange.” Lawyers do each other services of this kind in country towns
as well as in Paris.

The day after Sechard senior gave Petit-Claud his confidence, the tall
Cointet paid a visit to his confederate.

“Try to give old Sechard a lesson,” he said. “He is the kind of man that
will never forgive his son for costing him a thousand francs or so; the
outlay will dry up any generous thoughts in his mind, if he ever has

“Go back to your vines,” said Petit-Claud to his new client. “Your son
is not very well off; do not eat him out of house and home. I will send
for you when the time comes.”

On behalf of Sechard senior, therefore, Petit-Claud claimed that the
presses, being fixtures, were so much the more to be regarded as tools
and implements of trade, and the less liable to seizure, in that the
house had been a printing office since the reign of Louis XIV. Cachan,
on Metivier’s account, waxed indignant at this. In Paris Lucien’s
furniture had belonged to Coralie, and here again in Angouleme David’s
goods and chattels all belonged to his wife or his father; pretty things
were said in court. Father and son were summoned; such claims could not
be allowed to stand.

“We mean to unmask the frauds intrenched behind bad faith of the most
formidable kind; here is the defence of dishonesty bristling with the
plainest and most innocent articles of the Code, and why?--to avoid
repayment of three thousand francs; obtained how?--from poor Metivier’s
cash box! And yet there are those who dare to say a word against
bill-discounters! What times we live in! . . . Now, I put it to
you--what is this but taking your neighbor’s money? . . . You will
surely not sanction a claim which would bring immorality to the very
core of justice!”

Cachan’s eloquence produced an effect on the court. A divided judgment
was given in favor of Mme. Sechard, the house furniture being held to
be her property; and against Sechard senior, who was ordered to pay
costs--four hundred and thirty-four francs, sixty-five centimes.

“It is kind of old Sechard,” laughed the lawyers; “he would have a
finger in the pie, so let him pay!”

Notice of judgment was given on the 26th of August; the presses and
plant could be seized on the 28th. Placards were posted. Application was
made for an order empowering them to sell on the spot. Announcements of
the sale appeared in the papers, and Doublon flattered himself that the
inventory should be verified and the auction take place on the 2nd of

By this time David Sechard owed Metivier five thousand two hundred and
seventy-five francs, twenty-five centimes (to say nothing of interest),
by formal judgment confirmed by appeal, the bill of costs having been
duly taxed. Likewise to Petit-Claud he owed twelve hundred francs,
exclusive of the fees, which were left to David’s generosity with the
generous confidence displayed by the hackney coachman who has driven you
so quickly over the road on which you desire to go.

Mme. Sechard owed Petit-Claud something like three hundred and fifty
francs and fees besides; and of old Sechard, besides four hundred and
thirty-four francs, sixty-five centimes, the little attorney demanded a
hundred crowns by way of fee. Altogether, the Sechard family owed about
ten thousand francs. This is what is called “putting fire into the bed

Apart from the utility of these documents to other nations who thus may
behold the battery of French law in action, the French legislator ought
to know the lengths to which the abuse of procedure may be carried,
always supposing that the said legislator can find time for reading.
Surely some sort of regulation might be devised, some way of forbidding
lawyers to carry on a case until the sum in dispute is more than eaten
up in costs? Is there not something ludicrous in the idea of submitting
a square yard of soil and an estate of thousands of acres to the same
legal formalities? These bare outlines of the history of the various
stages of procedure should open the eyes of Frenchmen to the meaning of
the words “legal formalities, justice, and costs,” little as the immense
majority of the nations know about them.

Five thousand pounds’ weight of type in the printing office were worth
two thousand francs as old metal; the three presses were valued at six
hundred francs; the rest of the plant would fetch the price of old iron
and firewood. The household furniture would have brought in a thousand
francs at most. The whole personal property of Sechard junior therefore
represented the sum of four thousand francs; and Cachan and Petit-Claud
made claims for seven thousand francs in costs already incurred, to say
nothing of expenses to come, for the blossom gave promise of fine fruits
enough, as the reader will shortly see. Surely the lawyers of France and
Navarre, nay, even of Normandy herself, will not refuse Petit-Claud
his meed of admiration and respect? Surely, too, kind hearts will give
Marion and Kolb a tear of sympathy?

All through the war Kolb sat on a chair in the doorway, acting as
watch-dog, when David had nothing else for him to do. It was Kolb who
received all the notifications, and a clerk of Petit-Claud’s kept watch
over Kolb. No sooner were the placards announcing the auction put up on
the premises than Kolb tore them down; he hurried round the town after
the bill-poster, tearing the placards from the walls.

“Ah, scountrels!” he cried, “to dorment so goot a man; and they calls it

Marion made half a franc a day by working half time in a paper mill as
a machine tender, and her wages contributed to the support of the
household. Mme. Chardon went back uncomplainingly to her old occupation,
sitting up night after night, and bringing home her wages at the end
of the week. Poor Mme. Chardon! Twice already she had made a nine days’
prayer for those she loved, wondering that God should be deaf to her
petitions, and blind to the light of the candles on His altar.

On the 2nd of September, a letter came from Lucien, the first since
the letter of the winter, which David had kept from his wife’s
knowledge--the announcement of the three bills which bore David’s
signature. This time Lucien wrote to Eve.

“The third since he left us!” she said. Poor sister, she was afraid to
open the envelope that covered the fatal sheet.

She was feeding the little one when the post came in; they could not
afford a wet-nurse now, and the child was being brought up by hand. Her
state of mind may be imagined, and David’s also, when he had been roused
to read the letter, for David had been at work all night, and only lay
down at daybreak.

               _Lucien to Eve._

                                                “PARIS, August 29th.

  “MY DEAR SISTER,--Two days ago, at five o’clock in the morning,
  one of God’s noblest creatures breathed her last in my arms; she
  was the one woman on earth capable of loving me as you and mother
  and David love me, giving me besides that unselfish affection,
  something that neither mother nor sister can give--the utmost
  bliss of love. Poor Coralie, after giving up everything for my
  sake, may perhaps have died for me--for me, who at this moment
  have not the wherewithal to bury her. She could have solaced my
  life; you, and you alone, my dear good angels, can console me for
  her death. God has forgiven her, I think, the innocent girl, for
  she died like a Christian. Oh, this Paris! Eve, Paris is the glory
  and the shame of France. Many illusions I have lost here already,
  and I have others yet to lose, when I begin to beg for the little
  money needed before I can lay the body of my angel in consecrated
                                     “Your unhappy brother,

  “P. S. I must have given you much trouble by my heedlessness; some
  day you will know all, and you will forgive me. You must be quite
  easy now; a worthy merchant, a M. Camusot, to whom I once caused
  cruel pangs, promised to arrange everything, seeing that Coralie
  and I were so much distressed.”

“The sheet is still moist with his tears,” said Eve, looking at the
letter with a heart so full of sympathy that something of the old love
for Lucien shone in her eyes.

“Poor fellow, he must have suffered cruelly if he has been loved as he
says!” exclaimed Eve’s husband, happy in his love; and these two forgot
all their own troubles at this cry of a supreme sorrow. Just at that
moment Marion rushed in.

“Madame,” she panted, “here they are! Here they are!”

“Who is here?”

“Doublon and his men, bad luck to them! Kolb will not let them come in;
they have come to sell us up.”

“No, no, they are not going to sell you up, never fear,” cried a voice
in the next room, and Petit-Claud appeared upon the scene. “I have just
lodged notice of appeal. We ought not to sit down under a judgment that
attaches a stigma of bad faith to us. I did not think it worth while to
fight the case here. I let Cachan talk to gain time for you; I am sure
of gaining the day at Poitiers----”

“But how much will it cost to win the day?” asked Mme. Sechard.

“Fees if you win, one thousand francs if we lose our case.”

“Oh, dear!” cried poor Eve; “why, the remedy is worse than the disease!”

Petit-Claud was not a little confused at this cry of innocence
enlightened by the progress of the flames of litigation. It struck him
too that Eve was a very beautiful woman. In the middle of the discussion
old Sechard arrived, summoned by Petit-Claud. The old man’s presence
in the chamber where his little grandson in the cradle lay smiling at
misfortune completed the scene. The young attorney at once addressed the
newcomer with:

“You owe me seven hundred francs for the interpleader, Papa Sechard;
but you can charge the amount to your son in addition to the arrears of

The vinedresser felt the sting of the sarcasm conveyed by Petit-Claud’s
tone and manner.

“It would have cost you less to give security for the debt at first,”
 said Eve, leaving the cradle to greet her father-in-law with a kiss.

David, quite overcome by the sight of the crowd outside the house (for
Kolb’s resistance to Doublon’s men had collected a knot of people),
could only hold out a hand to his father; he did not say a word.

“And how, pray, do I come to owe you seven hundred francs?” the old man
asked, looking at Petit-Claud.

“Why, in the first place, I am engaged by you. Your rent is in question;
so, as far as I am concerned, you and our debtor are one and the same
person. If your son does not pay my costs in the case, you must pay
them yourself.--But this is nothing. In a few hours David will be put in
prison; will you allow him to go?”

“What does he owe?”

“Something like five or six thousand francs, besides the amounts owing
to you and to his wife.”

The speech roused all the old man’s suspicions at once. He looked round
the little blue-and-white bedroom at the touching scene before his
eyes--at a beautiful woman weeping over a cradle, at David bowed down by
anxieties, and then again at the lawyer. This was a trap set for him by
that lawyer; perhaps they wanted to work upon his paternal feelings, to
get money out of him? That was what it all meant. He took alarm. He went
over to the cradle and fondled the child, who held out both little arms
to him. No heir to an English peerage could be more tenderly cared for
than this little one in that house of trouble; his little embroidered
cap was lined with pale pink.

“Eh! let David get out of it as best he may. I am thinking of this child
here,” cried the old grandfather, “and the child’s mother will approve
of that. David that knows so much must know how to pay his debts.”

“Now I will just put your meaning into plain language,” said Petit-Claud
ironically. “Look here, Papa Sechard, you are jealous of your son.
Hear the truth! you put David into his present position by selling the
business to him for three times its value. You ruined him to make an
extortionate bargain! Yes, don’t you shake your head; you sold the
newspaper to the Cointets and pocketed all the proceeds, and that was
as much as the whole business was worth. You bear David a grudge, not
merely because you have plundered him, but because, also, your own son
is a man far above yourself. You profess to be prodigiously fond of
your grandson, to cloak your want of feeling for your son and his wife,
because you ought to pay down money _hic et nunc_ for them, while you
need only show a posthumous affection for your grandson. You pretend
to be fond of the little fellow, lest you should be taxed with want of
feeling for your own flesh and blood. That is the bottom of it, Papa

“Did you fetch me over to hear this?” asked the old man, glowering at
his lawyer, his daughter-in-law, and his son in turn.

“Monsieur!” protested poor Eve, turning to Petit-Claud, “have you vowed
to ruin us? My husband had never uttered a word against his father.”
 (Here the old man looked cunningly at her.) “David has told me scores
of times that you loved him in your way,” she added, looking at her
father-in-law, and understanding his suspicions.

Petit-Claud was only following out the tall Cointet’s instructions. He
was widening the breach between the father and son, lest Sechard senior
should extricate David from his intolerable position. “The day that
David Sechard goes to prison shall be the day of your introduction
to Mme. de Senonches,” the “tall Cointet” had said no longer ago than

Mme. Sechard, with the quick insight of love, had divined Petit-Claud’s
mercenary hostility, even as she had once before felt instinctively that
Cerizet was a traitor. As for David, his astonishment may be imagined;
he could not understand how Petit-Claud came to know so much of his
father’s nature and his own history. Upright and honorable as he was, he
did not dream of the relations between his lawyer and the Cointets;
nor, for that matter, did he know that the Cointets were at work behind
Metivier. Meanwhile old Sechard took his son’s silence as an insult,
and Petit-Claud, taking advantage of his client’s bewilderment, beat a

“Good-bye, my dear David; you have had warning, notice of appeal doesn’t
invalidate the warrant for arrest. It is the only course left open to
your creditors, and it will not be long before they take it. So, go away
at once----Or, rather, if you will take my advice, go to the Cointets
and see them about it. They have capital. If your invention is perfected
and answers the purpose, go into partnership with them. After all, they
are very good fellows----”

“Your invention?” broke in old Sechard.

“Why, do you suppose that your son is fool enough to let his business
slip away from him without thinking of something else?” exclaimed the
attorney. “He is on the brink of the discovery of a way of making paper
at a cost of three francs per ream, instead of ten, he tells me.”

“One more dodge for taking me in! You are all as thick as thieves in a
fair. If David has found out such a plan, he has no need of me--he is a
millionaire! Good-bye, my dears, and a good-day to you all,” and the old
man disappeared down the staircase.

“Find some way of hiding yourself,” was Petit-Claud’s parting word to
David, and with that he hurried out to exasperate old Sechard still
further. He found the vinegrower growling to himself outside in the
Place du Murier, went with him as far as L’Houmeau, and there left him
with a threat of putting in an execution for the costs due to him unless
they were paid before the week was out.

“I will pay you if you will show me how to disinherit my son without
injuring my daughter-in-law or the boy,” said old Sechard, and they
parted forthwith.

“How well the ‘tall Cointet’ knows the folk he is dealing with! It is
just as he said; those seven hundred francs will prevent the father from
paying seven thousand,” the little lawyer thought within himself as
he climbed the path to Angouleme. “Still, that old slyboots of a
paper-maker must not overreach us; it is time to ask him for something
besides promises.”

“Well, David dear, what do you mean to do?” asked Eve, when the lawyer
had followed her father-in-law.

“Marion, put your biggest pot on the fire!” called David; “I have my
secret fast.”

At this Eve put on her bonnet and shawl and walking shoes with feverish

“Kolb, my friend, get ready to go out,” she said, “and come with me; if
there is any way out of this hell, I must find it.”

When Eve had gone out, Marion spoke to David. “Do be sensible, sir,” she
said, “or the mistress will fret herself to death. Make some money
to pay off your debts, and then you can try to find treasure at your

“Don’t talk, Marion,” said David; “I am going to overcome my last
difficulty, and then I can apply for the patent and the improvement on
the patent at the same time.”

This “improvement on the patent” is the curse of the French patentee.
A man may spend ten years of his life in working out some obscure
industrial problem; and when he has invented some piece of machinery, or
made a discovery of some kind, he takes out a patent and imagines that
he has a right to his own invention; then there comes a competitor; and
unless the first inventor has foreseen all possible contingencies, the
second comer makes an “improvement on the patent” with a screw or a nut,
and takes the whole thing out of his hands. The discovery of a cheap
material for paper pulp, therefore, is by no means the conclusion of
the whole matter. David Sechard was anxiously looking ahead on all sides
lest the fortune sought in the teeth of such difficulties should be
snatched out of his hands at the last. Dutch paper as flax paper is
still called, though it is no longer made in Holland, is slightly sized;
but every sheet is sized separately by hand, and this increases the cost
of production. If it were possible to discover some way of sizing the
paper in the pulping-trough, with some inexpensive glue, like that in
use to-day (though even now it is not quite perfect), there would be no
“improvement on the patent” to fear. For the past month, accordingly,
David had been making experiments in sizing pulp. He had two discoveries
before him.

Eve went to see her mother. Fortunately, it so happened that Mme.
Chardon was nursing the deputy-magistrate’s wife, who had just given the
Milauds of Nevers an heir presumptive; and Eve, in her distrust of all
attorneys and notaries, took into her head to apply for advice to the
legal guardian of widows and orphans. She wanted to know if she could
relieve David from his embarrassments by taking them upon herself and
selling her claims upon the estate, and besides, she had some hope of
discovering the truth as to Petit-Claud’s unaccountable conduct. The
official, struck with Mme. Sechard’s beauty, received her not only with
the respect due to a woman but with a sort of courtesy to which Eve was
not accustomed. She saw in the magistrate’s face an expression which,
since her marriage, she had seen in no eyes but Kolb’s; and for a
beautiful woman like Eve, this expression is the criterion by which men
are judged. When passion, or self-interest, or age dims that spark of
unquestioning fealty that gleams in a young man’s eyes, a woman feels
a certain mistrust of him, and begins to observe him critically.
The Cointets, Cerizet, and Petit-Claud--all the men whom Eve felt
instinctively to be her enemies--had turned hard, indifferent eyes on
her; with the deputy-magistrate, therefore, she felt at ease, although,
in spite of his kindly courtesy, he swept all her hopes away by his
first words.

“It is not certain, madame, that the Court-Royal will reverse the
judgment of the court restricting your lien on your husband’s property,
for payment of moneys due to you by the terms of your marriage-contract,
to household goods and chattels. Your privilege ought not to be used
to defraud the other creditors. But in any case, you will be allowed
to take your share of the proceeds with the other creditors, and your
father-in-law likewise, as a privileged creditor, for arrears of rent.
When the court has given the order, other points may be raised as to the
‘contribution,’ as we call it, when a schedule of the debts is drawn up,
and the creditors are paid a dividend in proportion to their claims.

“Then M. Petit-Claud is bringing us to bankruptcy,” she cried.

“Petit-Claud is carrying out your husband’s instructions,” said the
magistrate; “he is anxious to gain time, so his attorney says. In my
opinion, you would perhaps do better to waive the appeal and buy in at
the sale the indispensable implements for carrying on the business; you
and your father-in-law together might do this, you to the extent of your
claim through your marriage contract, and he for his arrears of rent.
But that would be bringing the matter to an end too soon perhaps. The
lawyers are making a good thing out of your case.”

“But then I should be entirely in M. Sechard’s father’s hands. I should
owe him the hire of the machinery as well as the house-rent; and my
husband would still be open to further proceedings from M. Metivier, for
M. Metivier would have had almost nothing.”

“That is true, madame.”

“Very well, then we should be even worse off than we are.”

“The arm of the law, madame, is at the creditor’s disposal. You have
received three thousand francs, and you must of necessity repay the

“Oh, sir, can you think that we are capable----” Eve suddenly came to a
stop. She saw that her justification might injure her brother.

“Oh! I know quite well that it is an obscure affair, that the debtors on
the one side are honest, scrupulous, and even behaving handsomely; and
the creditor, on the other, is only a cat’s-paw----”

Eve, aghast, looked at him with bewildered eyes.

“You can understand,” he continued, with a look full of homely
shrewdness, “that we on the bench have plenty of time to think over all
that goes on under our eyes, while the gentlemen in court are arguing
with each other.”

Eve went home in despair over her useless effort. That evening at seven
o’clock, Doublon came with the notification of imprisonment for debt.
The proceedings had reached the acute stage.

“After this, I can only go out after nightfall,” said David.

Eve and Mme. Chardon burst into tears. To be in hiding was for them a
shameful thing. As for Kolb and Marion, they were more alarmed for David
because they had long since made up their minds that there was no guile
in their master’s nature; so frightened were they on his account,
that they came upstairs under pretence of asking whether they could do
anything, and found Eve and Mme. Chardon in tears; the three whose life
had been so straightforward hitherto were overcome by the thought that
David must go into hiding. And how, moreover, could they hope to escape
the invisible spies who henceforth would dog every least movement of a
man, unluckily so absent-minded?

“Gif montame vill vait ein liddle kvarter hour, she can regonnoitre
der enemy’s camp,” put in Kolb. “You shall see dot I oonderstand mein
pizness; for gif I look like ein German, I am ein drue Vrenchman, and
vat is more, I am ver’ conning.”

“Oh! madame, do let him go,” begged Marion. “He is only thinking of
saving his master; he hasn’t another thought in his head. Kolb is not
an Alsacien, he is--eh! well--a regular Newfoundland dog for rescuing

“Go, my good Kolb,” said David; “we have still time to do something.”

Kolb hurried off to pay a visit to the bailiff; and it so fell out that
David’s enemies were in Doublon’s office, holding a council as to the
best way of securing him.

The arrest of a debtor is an unheard-of thing in the country, an
abnormal proceeding if ever there was one. Everybody, in the first
place, knows everybody else, and creditor and debtor being bound to meet
each other daily all their lives long, nobody likes to take this odious
course. When a defaulter--to use the provincial term for a debtor, for
they do not mince their words in the provinces when speaking of this
legalized method of helping yourself to another man’s goods--when a
defaulter plans a failure on a large scale, he takes sanctuary in Paris.
Paris is a kind of City of Refuge for provincial bankrupts, an almost
impenetrable retreat; the writ of the pursuing bailiff has no force
beyond the limits of his jurisdiction, and there are other obstacles
rendering it almost invalid. Wherefore the Paris bailiff is empowered
to enter the house of a third party to seize the person of the debtor,
while for the bailiff of the provinces the domicile is absolutely
inviolable. The law probably makes this exception as to Paris, because
there it is the rule for two or more families to live under the same
roof; but in the provinces the bailiff who wishes to make forcible
entry must have an order from the Justice of the Peace; and so wide a
discretion is allowed the Justice of the Peace, that he is practically
able to give or withhold assistance to the bailiffs. To the honor of the
Justices, it should be said, that they dislike the office, and are by no
means anxious to assist blind passions or revenge.

There are, besides, other and no less serious difficulties in the way
of arrest for debt--difficulties which tend to temper the severity of
legislation, and public opinion not infrequently makes a dead letter
of the law. In great cities there are poor or degraded wretches enough;
poverty and vice know no scruples, and consent to play the spy, but in
a little country town, people know each other too well to earn wages of
the bailiff; the meanest creature who should lend himself to dirty
work of this kind would be forced to leave the place. In the absence
of recognized machinery, therefore, the arrest of a debtor is a problem
presenting no small difficulty; it becomes a kind of strife of ingenuity
between the bailiff and the debtor, and matter for many pleasant stories
in the newspapers.

Cointet the elder did not choose to appear in the affair; but the
fat Cointet openly said that he was acting for Metivier, and went to
Doublon, taking Cerizet with him. Cerizet was his foreman now, and had
promised his co-operation in return for a thousand-franc note. Doublon
could reckon upon two of his understrappers, and thus the Cointets had
four bloodhounds already on the victim’s track. At the actual time of
arrest, Doublon could furthermore count upon the police force, who are
bound, if required, to assist a bailiff in the performance of his
duty. The two men, Doublon himself, and the visitors were all closeted
together in the private office, beyond the public office, on the ground

A tolerably wide-paved lobby, a kind of passage-way, led to the public
office. The gilded scutcheons of the court, with the word “Bailiff”
 printed thereon in large black letters, hung outside on the house wall
on either side the door. Both office windows gave upon the street, and
were protected by heavy iron bars; but the private office looked into
the garden at the back, wherein Doublon, an adorer of Pomona, grew
espaliers with marked success. Opposite the office door you beheld
the door of the kitchen, and, beyond the kitchen, the staircase that
ascended to the first story. The house was situated in a narrow street
at the back of the new Law Courts, then in process of construction,
and only finished after 1830.--These details are necessary if Kolb’s
adventures are to be intelligible to the reader.

It was Kolb’s idea to go to the bailiff, to pretend to be willing to
betray his master, and in this way to discover the traps which would be
laid for David. Kolb told the servant who opened the door that he wanted
to speak to M. Doublon on business. The servant was busy washing up her
plates and dishes, and not very well pleased at Kolb’s interruption; she
pushed open the door of the outer office, and bade him wait there till
her master was at liberty; then, as he was a stranger to her, she told
the master in the private office that “a man” wanted to speak to him.
Now, “a man” so invariably means “a peasant,” that Doublon said, “Tell
him to wait,” and Kolb took a seat close to the door of the private
office. There were voices talking within.

“Ah, by the by, how do you mean to set about it? For, if we can catch
him to-morrow, it will be so much time saved.” It was the fat Cointet
who spoke.

“Nothing easier; the gaffer has come fairly by his nickname,” said

At the sound of the fat Cointet’s voice, Kolb guessed at once that they
were talking about his master, especially as the sense of the words
began to dawn upon him; but, when he recognized Cerizet’s tones, his
astonishment grew more and more.

“Und dat fellow haf eaten his pread!” he thought, horror-stricken.

“We must do it in this way, boys,” said Doublon. “We will post our
men, at good long intervals, about the Rue de Beaulieu and the Place du
Murier in every direction, so that we can follow the gaffer (I like that
word) without his knowledge. We will not lose sight of him until he is
safe inside the house where he means to lie in hiding (as he thinks);
there we will leave him in peace for awhile; then some fine day we will
come across him before sunrise or sunset.”

“But what is he doing now, at this moment? He may be slipping through
our fingers,” said the fat Cointet.

“He is in his house,” answered Doublon; “if he left it, I should know. I
have one witness posted in the Place du Murier, another at the corner of
the Law Courts, and another thirty paces from the house. If our man came
out, they would whistle; he could not make three paces from his door but
I should know of it at once from the signal.”

(Bailiffs speak of their understrappers by the polite title of

Here was better hap than Kolb had expected! He went noiselessly out of
the office, and spoke to the maid in the kitchen.

“Meestair Touplon ees encaged for som time to kom,” he said; “I vill kom
back early to-morrow morning.”

A sudden idea had struck the Alsacien, and he proceeded to put it into
execution. Kolb had served in a cavalry regiment; he hurried off to see
a livery stable-keeper, an acquaintance of his, picked out a horse, had
it saddled, and rushed back to the Place du Murier. He found Madame Eve
in the lowest depths of despondency.

“What is it, Kolb?” asked David, when the Alsacien’s face looked in upon
them, scared but radiant.

“You have scountrels all arount you. De safest way ees to hide de
master. Haf montame thought of hiding the master anywheres?”

When Kolb, honest fellow, had explained the whole history of Cerizet’s
treachery, of the circle traced about the house, and of the fat
Cointet’s interest in the affair, and given the family some inkling
of the schemes set on foot by the Cointets against the master,--then
David’s real position gradually became fatally clear.

“It is the Cointet’s doing!” cried poor Eve, aghast at the news; “_they_
are proceeding against you! that accounts for Metivier’s hardness. . . .
They are paper-makers--David! they want your secret!”

“But what can we do to escape them?” exclaimed Mme. Chardon.

“If de misdress had some liddle blace vere the master could pe hidden,”
 said Kolb; “I bromise to take him dere so dot nopody shall know.”

“Wait till nightfall, and go to Basine Clerget,” said Eve. “I will
go now and arrange it all with her. In this case, Basine will be like
another self to me.”

“Spies will follow you,” David said at last, recovering some presence of
mind. “How can we find a way of communicating with Basine if none of us
can go to her?”

“Montame kan go,” said Kolb. “Here ees my scheme--I go out mit der
master, ve draws der vischtlers on our drack. Montame kan go to
Montemoiselle Clerchet; nopody vill vollow her. I haf a horse; I take de
master oop behint; und der teufel is in it if they katches us.”

“Very well; good-bye, dear,” said poor Eve, springing to her husband’s
arms; “none of us can go to see you, the risk is too great. We must say
good-bye for the whole time that your imprisonment lasts. We will write
to each other; Basine will post your letters, and I will write under
cover to her.”

No sooner did David and Kolb come out of the house than they heard a
sharp whistle, and were followed to the livery stable. Once there, Kolb
took his master up behind him, with a caution to keep tight hold.

“Veestle avay, mind goot vriends! I care not von rap,” cried Kolb. “You
vill not datch an old trooper,” and the old cavalry man clapped both
spurs to his horse, and was out into the country and the darkness
not merely before the spies could follow, but before they had time to
discover the direction that he took.

Eve meanwhile went out on the tolerably ingenious pretext of asking
advise of Postel, sat awhile enduring the insulting pity that spends
itself in words, left the Postel family, and stole away unseen to Basine
Clerget, told her troubles, and asked for help and shelter. Basine, for
greater safety, had brought Eve into her bedroom, and now she opened the
door of a little closet, lighted only by a skylight in such a way that
prying eyes could not see into it. The two friends unstopped the flue
which opened into the chimney of the stove in the workroom, where the
girls heated their irons. Eve and Basine spread ragged coverlets over
the brick floor to deaden any sound that David might make, put in a
truckle bed, a stove for his experiments, and a table and a chair.
Basine promised to bring food in the night; and as no one had occasion
to enter her room, David might defy his enemies one and all, or even

“At last!” Eve said, with her arms about her friend, “at last he is in

Eve went back to Postel to submit a fresh doubt that had occurred to
her, she said. She would like the opinion of such an experienced member
of the Chamber of Commerce; she so managed that he escorted her home,
and listened patiently to his commiseration.

“Would this have happened if you had married me?”--all the little
druggist’s remarks were pitched in this key.

Then he went home again to find Mme. Postel jealous of Mme. Sechard,
and furious with her spouse for his polite attention to that beautiful
woman. The apothecary advanced the opinion that little red-haired women
were preferable to tall, dark women, who, like fine horses, were always
in the stable, he said. He gave proofs of his sincerity, no doubt, for
Mme. Postel was very sweet to him next day.

“We may be easy,” Eve said to her mother and Marion, whom she found
still “in a taking,” in the latter’s phrase.

“Oh! they are gone,” said Marion, when Eve looked unthinkingly round the

One league out of Angouleme on the main road to Paris, Kolb stopped.

“Vere shall we go?”

“To Marsac,” said David; “since we are on the way already, I will try
once more to soften my father’s heart.”

“I would rader mount to der assault of a pattery,” said Kolb, “your
resbected fader haf no heart whatefer.”

The ex-pressman had no belief in his son; he judged him from the outside
point of view, and waited for results. He had no idea, to begin with,
that he had plundered David, nor did he make allowance for the very
different circumstances under which they had begun life; he said to
himself, “I set him up with a printing-house, just as I found it myself;
and he, knowing a thousand times more than I did, cannot keep it going.”
 He was mentally incapable of understanding his son; he laid the blame of
failure upon him, and even prided himself, as it were on his superiority
to a far greater intellect than his own, with the thought, “I am
securing his bread for him.”

Moralists will never succeed in making us comprehend the full extent of
the influence of sentiment upon self-interest, an influence every whit
as strong as the action of interest upon our sentiments; for every law
of our nature works in two ways, and acts and reacts upon us.

David, on his side, understood his father, and in his sublime charity
forgave him. Kolb and David reached Marsac at eight o’clock, and
suddenly came in upon the old man as he was finishing his dinner, which,
by force of circumstances, came very near bedtime.

“I see you because there is no help for it,” said old Sechard with a
sour smile.

“Und how should you and mein master meet? He soars in der shkies, and
you are always mit your vines! You bay for him, that’s vot you are a
fader for----”

“Come, Kolb, off with you. Put up the horse at Mme. Courtois’ so as
to save inconvenience here; fathers are always in the right, remember

Kolb went off, growling like a chidden dog, obedient but protesting; and
David proposed to give his father indisputable proof of his discovery,
while reserving his secret. He offered to give him an interest in the
affair in return for money paid down; a sufficient sum to release him
from his present difficulties, with or without a further amount of
capital to be employed in developing the invention.

“And how are you going to prove to me that you can make good paper that
costs nothing out of nothing, eh?” asked the ex-printer, giving his son
a glance, vinous, it may be, but keen, inquisitive, and covetous; a
look like a flash of lightning from a sodden cloud; for the old “bear,”
 faithful to his traditions, never went to bed without a nightcap,
consisting of a couple of bottles of excellent old wine, which he
“tippled down” of an evening, to use his own expression.

“Nothing simpler,” said David; “I have none of the paper about me, for I
came here to be out of Doublon’s way; and having come so far, I thought
I might as well come to you at Marsac as borrow of a money-lender. I
have nothing on me but my clothes. Shut me up somewhere on the premises,
so that nobody can come in and see me at work, and----”

“What? you will not let me see you at your work then?” asked the old
man, with an ugly look at his son.

“You have given me to understand plainly, father, that in matters of
business there is no question of father and son----”

“Ah! you distrust the father that gave you life!”

“No; the other father who took away the means of earning a livelihood.”

“Each for himself, you are right!” said the old man. “Very good, I will
put you in the cellar.”

“I will go down there with Kolb. You must let me have a large pot for
my pulp,” said David; then he continued, without noticing the quick look
his father gave him,--“and you must find artichoke and asparagus stalks
for me, and nettles, and the reeds that you cut by the stream side,
and to-morrow morning I will come out of your cellar with some splendid

“If you can do that,” hiccoughed the “bear,” “I will let you have,
perhaps--I will see, that is, if I can let you have--pshaw! twenty-five
thousand francs. On condition, mind, that you make as much for me every

“Put me to the proof, I am quite willing,” cried David. “Kolb! take
the horse and go to Mansle, quick, buy a large hair sieve for me of a
cooper, and some glue of the grocer, and come back again as soon as you

“There! drink,” said old Sechard, putting down a bottle of wine, a loaf,
and the cold remains of the dinner. “You will need your strength. I will
go and look for your bits of green stuff; green rags you use for your
pulp, and a trifle too green, I am afraid.”

Two hours later, towards eleven o’clock that night, David and Kolb took
up their quarters in a little out-house against the cellar wall; they
found the floor paved with runnel tiles, and all the apparatus used in
Angoumois for the manufacture of Cognac brandy.

“Pans and firewood! Why, it is as good as a factory made on purpose!”
 cried David.

“Very well, good-night,” said old Sechard; “I shall lock you in, and
let both the dogs loose; nobody will bring you any paper, I am sure. You
show me those sheets to-morrow, and I give you my word I will be your
partner and the business will be straightforward and properly managed.”

David and Kolb, locked into the distillery, spent nearly two hours
in macerating the stems, using a couple of logs for mallets. The fire
blazed up, the water boiled. About two o’clock in the morning, Kolb
heard a sound which David was too busy to notice, a kind of deep breath
like a suppressed hiccough. Snatching up one of the two lighted dips, he
looked round the walls, and beheld old Sechard’s empurpled countenance
filling up a square opening above a door hitherto hidden by a pile of
empty casks in the cellar itself. The cunning old man had brought David
and Kolb into his underground distillery by the outer door, through
which the casks were rolled when full. The inner door had been made
so that he could roll his puncheons straight from the cellar into the
distillery, instead of taking them round through the yard.

“Aha! thees eies not fair blay, you vant to shvindle your son!” cried
the Alsacien. “Do you kow vot you do ven you trink ein pottle of vine?
You gif goot trink to ein bad scountrel.”

“Oh, father!” cried David.

“I came to see if you wanted anything,” said old Sechard, half sobered
by this time.

“Und it was for de inderest vot you take in us dot you brought der
liddle ladder!” commented Kolb, as he pushed the casks aside and flung
open the door; and there, in fact, on a short step-ladder, the old man
stood in his shirt.

“Risking your health!” said David.

“I think I must be walking in my sleep,” said old Sechard, coming down
in confusion. “Your want of confidence in your father set me dreaming; I
dreamed you were making a pact with the Devil to do impossible things.”

“Der teufel,” said Kolb; “dot is your own bassion for de liddle

“Go back to bed again, father,” said David; “lock us in if you will, but
you may save yourself the trouble of coming down again. Kolb will mount

At four o’clock in the morning David came out of the distillery; he
had been careful to leave no sign of his occupation behind him; but he
brought out some thirty sheets of paper that left nothing to be desired
in fineness, whiteness, toughness, and strength, all of them bearing by
way of water-mark the impress of the uneven hairs of the sieve. The old
man took up the samples and put his tongue to them, the lifelong habit
of the pressman, who tests papers in this way. He felt it between his
thumb and finger, crumpled and creased it, put it through all the trials
by which a printer assays the quality of a sample submitted to him, and
when it was found wanting in no respect, he still would not allow that
he was beaten.

“We have yet to know how it takes an impression,” he said, to avoid
praising his son.

“Funny man!” exclaimed Kolb.

The old man was cool enough now. He cloaked his feigned hesitation with
paternal dignity.

“I wish to tell you in fairness, father, that even now it seems to me
that paper costs more than it ought to do; I want to solve the problem
of sizing it in the pulping-trough. I have just that one improvement to

“Oho! so you are trying to trick me!”

“Well, shall I tell you? I can size the pulp as it is, but so far I
cannot do it evenly, and the surface is as rough as a burr!”

“Very good, size your pulp in the trough, and you shall have my money.”

“Mein master will nefer see de golor of your money,” declared Kolb.

“Father,” he began, “I have never borne you any grudge for making over
the business to me at such an exorbitant valuation; I have seen the
father through it all. I have said to myself--‘The old man has worked
very hard, and he certainly gave me a better bringing up than I had a
right to expect; let him enjoy the fruits of his toil in peace, and
in his own way.--I even gave up my mother’s money to you. I began
encumbered with debt, and bore all the burdens that you put upon me
without a murmur. Well, harassed for debts that were not of my making,
with no bread in the house, and my feet held to the flames, I have
found out the secret. I have struggled on patiently till my strength is
exhausted. It is perhaps your duty to help me, but do not give _me_ a
thought; think of a woman and a little one” (David could not keep
back the tears at this); “think of them, and give them help and
protection.--Kolb and Marion have given me their savings; will you
do less?” he cried at last, seeing that his father was as cold as the

“And that was not enough for you,” said the old man, without the
slightest sense of shame; “why, you would waste the wealth of the
Indies! Good-night! I am too ignorant to lend a hand in schemes got
up on purpose to exploit me. A monkey will never gobble down a bear”
 (alluding to the workshop nicknames); “I am a vinegrower, I am not a
banker. And what is more, look you, business between father and son
never turns out well. Stay and eat your dinner here; you shan’t say that
you came for nothing.”

There are some deep-hearted natures that can force their own pain down
into inner depths unsuspected by those dearest to them; and with them,
when anguish forces its way to the surface and is visible, it is only
after a mighty upheaval. David’s nature was one of these. Eve had
thoroughly understood the noble character of the man. But now that the
depths had been stirred, David’s father took the wave of anguish that
passed over his son’s features for a child’s trick, an attempt to “get
round” his father, and his bitter grief for mortification over the
failure of the attempt. Father and son parted in anger.

David and Kolb reached Angouleme on the stroke of midnight. They came
back on foot, and steathily, like burglars. Before one o’clock in the
morning David was installed in the impenetrable hiding-place prepared
by his wife in Basine Clerget’s house. No one saw him enter it, and the
pity that henceforth should shelter David was the most resourceful pity
of all--the pity of a work-girl.

Kolb bragged that day that he had saved his master on horseback,
and only left him in a carrier’s van well on the way to Limoges. A
sufficient provision of raw material had been laid up in Basine’s
cellar, and Kolb, Marion, Mme. Sechard, and her mother had no
communication with the house.

Two days after the scene at Marsac, old Sechard came hurrying to
Angouleme and his daughter-in-law. Covetousness had brought him. There
were three clear weeks ahead before the vintage began, and he thought he
would be on the look-out for squalls, to use his own expression. To this
end he took up his quarters in one of the attics which he had reserved
by the terms of the lease, wilfully shutting his eyes to the bareness
and want that made his son’s home desolate. If they owed him rent, they
could well afford to keep him. He ate his food from a tinned iron
plate, and made no marvel at it. “I began in the same way,” he told his
daughter-in-law, when she apologized for the absence of silver spoons.

Marion was obliged to run into debt for necessaries for them all. Kolb
was earning a franc for daily wage as a brick-layer’s laborer; and
at last poor Eve, who, for the sake of her husband and child, had
sacrificed her last resources to entertain David’s father, saw that she
had only ten francs left. She had hoped to the last to soften the old
miser’s heart by her affectionate respect, and patience, and pretty
attentions; but old Sechard was obdurate as ever. When she saw him turn
the same cold eyes on her, the same look that the Cointets had given
her, and Petit-Claud and Cerizet, she tried to watch and guess old
Sechard’s intentions. Trouble thrown away! Old Sechard, never sober,
never drunk, was inscrutable; intoxication is a double veil. If the old
man’s tipsiness was sometimes real, it was quite often feigned for the
purpose of extracting David’s secret from his wife. Sometimes he coaxed,
sometimes he frightened his daughter-in-law.

“I will drink up my property; _I will buy an annuity_,” he would
threaten when Eve told him that she knew nothing.

The humiliating struggle was wearing her out; she kept silence at last,
lest she should show disrespect to her husband’s father.

“But, father,” she said one day when driven to extremity, “there is a
very simple way of finding out everything. Pay David’s debts; he will
come home, and you can settle it between you.”

“Ha! that is what you want to get out of me, is it?” he cried. “It is as
well to know!”

But if Sechard had no belief in his son, he had plenty of faith in the
Cointets. He went to consult them, and the Cointets dazzled him of set
purpose, telling him that his son’s experiments might mean millions of

“If David can prove that he has succeeded, I shall not hesitate to
go into partnership with him, and reckon his discovery as half the
capital,” the tall Cointet told him.

The suspicious old man learned a good deal over nips of brandy with the
work-people, and something more by questioning Petit-Claud and feigning
stupidity; and at length he felt convinced that the Cointets were
the real movers behind Metivier; they were plotting to ruin Sechard’s
printing establishment, and to lure him (Sechard) on to pay his son’s
debts by holding out the discovery as a bait. The old man of the people
did not suspect that Petit-Claud was in the plot, nor had he any idea of
the toils woven to ensnare the great secret. A day came at last when he
grew angry and out of patience with the daughter-in-law who would not
so much as tell him where David was hiding; he determined to force the
laboratory door, for he had discovered that David was wont to make his
experiments in the workshop where the rollers were melted down.

He came downstairs very early one morning and set to work upon the lock.

“Hey! Papa Sechard, what are you doing there?” Marion called out. (She
had risen at daybreak to go to her papermill, and now she sprang across
to the workshop.)

“I am in my own house, am I not?” said the old man, in some confusion.

“Oh, indeed, are you turning thief in your old age? You are not drunk
this time either----I shall go straight to the mistress and tell her.”

“Hold your tongue, Marion,” said Sechard, drawing two crowns of six
francs each from his pocket. “There----”

“I will hold my tongue, but don’t you do it again,” said Marion, shaking
her finger at him, “or all Angouleme shall hear of it.”

The old man had scarcely gone out, however, when Marion went up to her

“Look, madame,” she said, “I have had twelve francs out of your
father-in-law, and here they are----”

“How did you do it?”

“What was he wanting to do but to take a look at the master’s pots and
pans and stuff, to find out the secret, forsooth. I knew quite well that
there was nothing in the little place, but I frightened him and talked
as if he were setting about robbing his son, and he gave me twelve
francs to say nothing about it.”

Just at that moment Basine came in radiant, and with a letter for her
friend, a letter from David written on magnificent paper, which she
handed over when they were alone.

  “MY ADORED EVE,--I am writing to you the first letter on my first
  sheet of paper made by the new process. I have solved the problem
  of sizing the pulp in the trough at last. A pound of pulp costs
  five sous, even supposing that the raw material is grown on good
  soil with special culture; three francs’ worth of sized pulp will
  make a ream of paper, at twelve pounds to the ream. I am quite
  sure that I can lessen the weight of books by one-half. The
  envelope, the letter, and samples enclosed are all manufactured in
  different ways. I kiss you; you shall have wealth now to add to
  our happiness, everything else we had before.”

“There!” said Eve, handing the samples to her father-in-law, “when the
vintage is over let your son have the money, give him a chance to make
his fortune, and you shall be repaid ten times over; he has succeeded at

Old Sechard hurried at once to the Cointets. Every sample was tested and
minutely examined; the prices, from three to ten francs per ream, were
noted on each separate slip; some were sized, others unsized; some were
of almost metallic purity, others soft as Japanese paper; in color there
was every possible shade of white. If old Sechard and the two Cointets
had been Jews examining diamonds, their eyes could not have glistened
more eagerly.

“Your son is on the right track,” the fat Cointet said at length.

“Very well, pay his debts,” returned old Sechard.

“By all means, if he will take us into partnership,” said the tall

“You are extortioners!” cried old Sechard. “You have been suing him
under Metivier’s name, and you mean me to buy you off; that is the long
and the short of it. Not such a fool, gentlemen----”

The brothers looked at one another, but they contrived to hide their
surprise at the old miser’s shrewdness.

“We are not millionaires,” said fat Cointet; “we do not discount bills
for amusement. We should think ourselves well off if we could pay ready
money for our bits of accounts for rags, and we still give bills to our

“The experiment ought to be tried first on a much larger scale,” the
tall Cointet said coldly; “sometimes you try a thing with a saucepan and
succeed, and fail utterly when you experiment with bulk. You should help
your son out of difficulties.”

“Yes; but when my son is at liberty, would he take me as his partner?”

“That is no business of ours,” said the fat Cointet. “My good man, do
you suppose that when you have paid some ten thousand francs for your
son, that there is an end of it? It will cost two thousand francs to
take out a patent; there will be journeys to Paris; and before going to
any expense, it would be prudent to do as my brother suggests, and make
a thousand reams or so; to try several whole batches to make sure. You
see, there is nothing you must be so much on your guard against as an

“I have a liking for bread ready buttered myself,” added the tall

All through that night the old man ruminated over this dilemma--“If I
pay David’s debts, he will be set at liberty, and once set at liberty,
he need not share his fortune with me unless he chooses. He knows very
well that I cheated him over the first partnership, and he will not
care to try a second; so it is to my interest to keep him shut up, the
wretched boy.”

The Cointets knew enough of Sechard senior to see that they should hunt
in couples. All three said to themselves--“Experiments must be tried
before the discovery can take any practical shape. David Sechard must be
set at liberty before those experiments can be made; and David Sechard,
set at liberty, will slip through our fingers.”

Everybody involved, moreover, had his own little afterthought.

Petit-Claud, for instance, said, “As soon as I am married, I will slip
my neck out of the Cointets’ yoke; but till then I shall hold on.”

The tall Cointet thought, “I would rather have David under lock and key,
and then I should be master of the situation.”

Old Sechard, too, thought, “If I pay my son’s debts, he will repay me
with a ‘Thank you!’”

Eve, hard pressed (for the old man threatened now to turn her out of the
house), would neither reveal her husband’s hiding-place, nor even send
proposals of a safe-conduct. She could not feel sure of finding so safe
a refuge a second time.

“Set your son at liberty,” she told her father-in-law, “and then you
shall know everything.”

The four interested persons sat, as it were, with a banquet spread
before them, none of them daring to begin, each one suspicious and
watchful of his neighbor. A few days after David went into hiding,
Petit-Claud went to the mill to see the tall Cointet.

“I have done my best,” he said; “David has gone into prison of his own
accord somewhere or other; he is working out some improvement there in
peace. It is no fault of mine if you have not gained your end; are you
going to keep your promise?”

“Yes, if we succeed,” said the tall Cointet. “Old Sechard was here only
a day or two ago; he came to ask us some questions as to paper-making.
The old miser has got wind of his son’s invention; he wants to turn it
to his own account, so there is some hope of a partnership. You are with
the father and the son----”

“Be the third person in the trinity and give them up,” smiled

“Yes,” said Cointet. “When you have David in prison, or bound to us by a
deed of partnership, you shall marry Mlle. de la Haye.”

“Is that your _ultimatum_?”

“My _sine qua non_,” said Cointet, “since we are speaking in foreign

“Then here is mine in plain language,” Petit-Claud said drily.

“Ah! let us have it,” answered Cointet, with some curiosity.

“You will present me to-morrow to Mme. de Sononches, and do something
definite for me; you will keep your word, in short; or I will clear off
Sechard’s debts myself, sell my practice, and go into partnership with
him. I will not be duped. You have spoken out, and I am doing the same.
I have given proof, give me proof of your sincerity. You have all, and
I have nothing. If you won’t do fairly by me, I know your cards, and I
shall play for my own hand.”

The tall Cointet took his hat and umbrella, his face at the same time
taking its Jesuitical expression, and out he went, bidding Petit-Claud
come with him.

“You shall see, my friend, whether I have prepared your way for you,”
 said he.

The shrewd paper-manufacturer saw his danger at a glance; and saw, too,
that with a man like Petit-Claud it was better to play above board.
Partly to be prepared for contingencies, partly to satisfy his
conscience, he had dropped a word or two to the point in the ear of
the ex-consul-general, under the pretext of putting Mlle. de la Haye’s
financial position before that gentleman.

“I have the man for Francoise,” he had said; “for with thirty thousand
francs of _dot_, a girl must not expect too much nowadays.”

“We will talk it over later on,” answered Francis du Hautoy,
ex-consul-general. “Mme. de Senonches’ positon has altered very much
since Mme. de Bargeton went away; we very likely might marry Francoise
to some elderly country gentleman.”

“She would disgrace herself if you did,” Cointet returned in his dry
way. “Better marry her to some capable, ambitious young man; you could
help him with your influence, and he would make a good position for his

“We shall see,” said Francis du Hautoy; “her godmother ought to be
consulted first, in any case.”

When M. de Bargeton died, his wife sold the great house in the Rue du
Minage. Mme. de Senonches, finding her own house scarcely large enough,
persuaded M. de Senonches to buy the Hotel de Bargeton, the cradle of
Lucien Chardon’s ambitions, the scene of the earliest events in his
career. Zephirine de Senonches had it in mind to succeed to Mme. de
Bargeton; she, too, would be a kind of queen in Angouleme; she would
have “a salon,” and be a great lady, in short. There was a schism in
Angouleme, a strife dating from the late M. de Bargeton’s duel with M.
de Chandour. Some maintained that Louise de Negrepelisse was blameless,
others believed in Stanislas de Chandour’s scandals. Mme. de Senonches
declared for the Bargetons, and began by winning over that faction. Many
frequenters of the Hotel de Bargeton had been so accustomed for years to
their nightly game of cards in the house that they could not leave it,
and Mme. de Senonches turned this fact to account. She received every
evening, and certainly gained all the ground lost by Amelie de Chandour,
who set up for a rival.

Francis du Hautoy, living in the inmost circle of nobility in Angouleme,
went so far as to think of marrying Francoise to old M. de Severac,
Mme. du Brossard having totally failed to capture that gentleman for her
daughter; and when Mme. de Bargeton reappeared as the prefect’s wife,
Zephirine’s hopes for her dear goddaughter waxed high, indeed. The
Comtesse du Chatelet, so she argued, would be sure to use her influence
for her champion.

Boniface Cointet had Angouleme at his fingers’ ends; he saw all the
difficulties at a glance, and resolved to sweep them out of the way by
a bold stroke that only a Tartuffe’s brain could invent. The puny lawyer
was not a little amused to find his fellow-conspirator keeping his word
with him; not a word did Petit-Claud utter; he respected the musings of
his companion, and they walked the whole way from the paper-mill to the
Rue du Minage in silence.

“Monsieur and madame are at breakfast”--this announcement met the
ill-timed visitors on the steps.

“Take in our names, all the same,” said the tall Cointet; and feeling
sure of his position, he followed immediately behind the servant and
introduced his companion to the elaborately-affected Zephirine, who was
breakfasting in company with M. Francis du Hautoy and Mlle. de la Haye.
M. de Senonches had gone, as usual, for a day’s shooting over M. de
Pimentel’s land.

“M. Petit-Claud is the young lawyer of whom I spoke to you, madame; he
will go through the trust accounts when your fair ward comes of age.”

The ex-diplomatist made a quick scrutiny of Petit-Claud, who, for his
part, was looking furtively at the “fair ward.” As for Zephirine, who
heard of the matter for the first time, her surprise was so great that
she dropped her fork.

Mlle. de la Haye, a shrewish young woman with an ill-tempered face,
a waist that could scarcely be called slender, a thin figure, and
colorless, fair hair, in spite of a certain little air that she had,
was by no means easy to marry. The “parentage unknown” on her birth
certificate was the real bar to her entrance into the sphere where her
godmother’s affection stove to establish her. Mlle. de la Haye, ignorant
of her real position, was very hard to please; the richest merchant in
L’Houmeau had found no favor in her sight. Cointet saw the sufficiently
significant expression of the young lady’s face at the sight of the
little lawyer, and turning, beheld a precisely similar grimace on
Petit-Claud’s countenance. Mme. de Senonches and Francis looked at each
other, as if in search of an excuse for getting rid of the visitors. All
this Cointet saw. He asked M. du Hautoy for the favor of a few minutes’
speech with him, and the pair went together into the drawing-room.

“Fatherly affection is blinding you, sir,” he said bluntly. “You will
not find it an easy thing to marry your daughter; and, acting in your
interest throughout, I have put you in a position from which you cannot
draw back; for I am fond of Francoise, she is my ward. Now--Petit-Claud
knows _everything_! His overweening ambition is a guarantee for our dear
child’s happiness; for, in the first place, Francoise will do as she
likes with her husband; and, in the second, he wants your influence. You
can ask the new prefect for the post of crown attorney for him in the
court here. M. Milaud is definitely appointed to Nevers, Petit-Claud
will sell his practice, you will have no difficulty in obtaining a
deputy public prosecutor’s place for him; and it will not be long before
he becomes attorney for the crown, president of the court, deputy, what
you will.”

Francis went back to the dining-room and behaved charmingly to his
daughter’s suitor. He gave Mme. de Senonches a look, and brought the
scene to a close with an invitation to dine with them on the morrow;
Petit-Claud must come and discuss the business in hand. He even
went downstairs and as far as the corner with the visitors, telling
Petit-Claud that after Cointet’s recommendation, both he and Mme. de
Senonches were disposed to approve all that Mlle. de la Haye’s trustee
had arranged for the welfare of that little angel.

“Oh!” cried Petit-Claud, as they came away, “what a plain girl! I have
been taken in----”

“She looks a lady-like girl,” returned Cointet, “and besides, if she
were a beauty, would they give her to you? Eh! my dear fellow, thirty
thousand francs and the influence of Mme. de Senonches and the Comtesse
du Chatelet! Many a small landowner would be wonderfully glad of the
chance, and all the more so since M. Francis du Hautoy is never likely
to marry, and all that he has will go to the girl. Your marriage is as
good as settled.”


“That is what I am just going to tell you,” returned Cointet, and he
gave his companion an account of his recent bold stroke. “M. Milaud is
just about to be appointed attorney for the crown at Nevers, my dear
fellow,” he continued; “sell your practice, and in ten years’ time you
will be Keeper of the Seals. You are not the kind of a man to draw back
from any service required of you by the Court.”

“Very well,” said Petit-Claud, his zeal stirred by the prospect of such
a career, “very well, be in the Place du Murier to-morrow at half-past
four; I will see old Sechard in the meantime; we will have a deed of
partnership drawn up, and the father and the son shall be bound thereby,
and delivered to the third person of the trinity--Cointet, to wit.”

To return to Lucien in Paris. On the morrow of the loss announced in
his letter, he obtained a _visa_ for his passport, bought a stout holly
stick, and went to the Rue d’Enfer to take a place in the little market
van, which took him as far as Longjumeau for half a franc. He was going
home to Angouleme. At the end of the first day’s tramp he slept in a
cowshed, two leagues from Arpajon. He had come no farther than Orleans
before he was very weary, and almost ready to break down, but there he
found a boatman willing to bring him as far as Tours for three francs,
and food during the journey cost him but forty sous. Five days of
walking brought him from Tours to Poitiers, and left him with but five
francs in his pockets, but he summoned up all his remaining strength for
the journey before him.

He was overtaken by night in the open country, and had made up his
mind to sleep out of doors, when a traveling carriage passed by, slowly
climbing the hillside, and, all unknown to the postilion, the occupants,
and the servant, he managed to slip in among the luggage, crouching in
between two trunks lest he should be shaken off by the jolting of the
carriage--and so he slept.

He awoke with the sun shining into his eyes, and the sound of voices in
his ears. The carriage had come to a standstill. Looking about him, he
knew that he was at Mansle, the little town where he had waited for Mme.
de Bargeton eighteen months before, when his heart was full of hope and
love and joy. A group of post-boys eyed him curiously and suspiciously,
covered with dust as he was, wedged in among the luggage. Lucien
jumped down, but before he could speak two travelers stepped out of the
caleche, and the words died away on his lips; for there stood the new
Prefect of the Charente, Sixte du Chatelet, and his wife, Louise de

“Chance gave us a traveling-companion, if we had but known!” said the
Countess. “Come in with us, monsieur.”

Lucien gave the couple a distant bow and a half-humbled half-defiant
glance; then he turned away into a cross-country road in search of some
farmhouse, where he might make a breakfast on milk and bread, and rest
awhile, and think quietly over the future. He still had three francs
left. On and on he walked with the hurrying pace of fever, noticing
as he went, down by the riverside, that the country grew more and more
picturesque. It was near mid-day when he came upon a sheet of water with
willows growing about the margin, and stopped for awhile to rest his
eyes on the cool, thick-growing leaves; and something of the grace of
the fields entered into his soul.

In among the crests of the willows, he caught a glimpse of a mill
near-by on a branch stream, and of the thatched roof of the mill-house
where the house-leeks were growing. For all ornament, the quaint cottage
was covered with jessamine and honeysuckle and climbing hops, and the
garden about it was gay with phloxes and tall, juicy-leaved plants. Nets
lay drying in the sun along a paved causeway raised above the highest
flood level, and secured by massive piles. Ducks were swimming in the
clear mill-pond below the currents of water roaring over the wheel.
As the poet came nearer he heard the clack of the mill, and saw the
good-natured, homely woman of the house knitting on a garden bench, and
keeping an eye upon a little one who was chasing the hens about.

Lucien came forward. “My good woman,” he said, “I am tired out; I have a
fever on me, and I have only three francs; will you undertake to give me
brown bread and milk, and let me sleep in the barn for a week? I shall
have time to write to my people, and they will either come to fetch me
or send me money.”

“I am quite willing, always supposing that my husband has no
objection.--Hey! little man!”

The miller came up, gave Lucien a look over, and took his pipe out of
his mouth to remark, “Three francs for a weeks board? You might as well
pay nothing at all.”

“Perhaps I shall end as a miller’s man,” thought the poet, as his eyes
wandered over the lovely country. Then the miller’s wife made a bed
ready for him, and Lucien lay down and slept so long that his hostess
was frightened.

“Courtois,” she said, next day at noon, “just go in and see whether
that young man is dead or alive; he has been lying there these fourteen

The miller was busy spreading out his fishing-nets and lines. “It is
my belief,” he said, “that the pretty fellow yonder is some starveling
play-actor without a brass farthing to bless himself with.”

“What makes you think that, little man?” asked the mistress of the mill.

“Lord, he is not a prince, nor a lord, nor a member of parliament, nor a
bishop; why are his hands as white as if he did nothing?”

“Then it is very strange that he does not feel hungry and wake up,”
 retorted the miller’s wife; she had just prepared breakfast for
yesterday’s chance guest. “A play-actor, is he?” she continued. “Where
will he be going? It is too early yet for the fair at Angouleme.”

But neither the miller nor his wife suspected that (actors, princes, and
bishops apart) there is a kind of being who is both prince and actor,
and invested besides with a magnificent order of priesthood--that the
Poet seems to do nothing, yet reigns over all humanity when he can paint

“What can he be?” Courtois asked of his wife.

“Suppose it should be dangerous to take him in?” queried she.

“Pooh! thieves look more alive than that; we should have been robbed by
this time,” returned her spouse.

“I am neither a prince nor a thief, nor a bishop nor an actor,” Lucien
said wearily; he must have overheard the colloquy through the window,
and now he suddenly appeared. “I am poor, I am tired out, I have come
on foot from Paris. My name is Lucien de Rubempre, and my father was
M. Chardon, who used to have Postel’s business in L’Houmeau. My sister
married David Sechard, the printer in the Place du Murier at Angouleme.”

“Stop a bit,” said the miller, “that printer is the son of the old
skinflint who farms his own land at Marsac, isn’t he?”

“The very same,” said Lucien.

“He is a queer kind of father, he is!” Courtois continued. “He is worth
two hundred thousand francs and more, without counting his money-box,
and he has sold his son up, they say.”

When body and soul have been broken by a prolonged painful struggle,
there comes a crisis when a strong nature braces itself for greater
effort; but those who give way under the strain either die or sink into
unconsciousness like death. That hour of crisis had struck for Lucien;
at the vague rumor of the catastrophe that had befallen David he seemed
almost ready to succumb. “Oh! my sister!” he cried. “Oh, God! what have
I done? Base wretch that I am!”

He dropped down on the wooden bench, looking white and powerless as a
dying man; the miller’s wife brought out a bowl of milk and made him
drink, but he begged the miller to help him back to his bed, and asked
to be forgiven for bringing a dying man into their house. He thought
his last hour had come. With the shadow of death, thoughts of religion
crossed a brain so quick to conceive picturesque fancies; he would see
the cure, he would confess and receive the last sacraments. The moan,
uttered in the faint voice by a young man with such a comely face and
figure, went to Mme. Courtois’ heart.

“I say, little man, just take the horse and go to Marsac and ask Dr.
Marron to come and see this young man; he is in a very bad way, it seems
to me, and you might bring the cure as well. Perhaps they may know
more about that printer in the Place du Murier than you do, for Postel
married M. Marron’s daughter.”

Courtois departed. The miller’s wife tried to make Lucien take food;
like all country-bred folk, she was full of the idea that sick folk
must be made to eat. He took no notice of her, but gave way to a
violent storm of remorseful grief, a kind of mental process of
counter-irritation, which relieved him.

The Courtois’ mill lies a league away from Marsac, the town of the
district, and the half-way between Mansle and Angouleme; so it was not
long before the good miller came back with the doctor and the cure. Both
functionaries had heard rumors coupling Lucien’s name with the name of
Mme. de Bargeton; and now when the whole department was talking of the
lady’s marriage to the new Prefect and her return to Angouleme as the
Comtesse du Chatelet, both cure and doctor were consumed with a violent
curiosity to know why M. de Bargeton’s widow had not married the young
poet with whom she had left Angouleme. And when they heard, furthermore,
that Lucien was at the mill, they were eager to know whether the poet
had come to the rescue of his brother-in-law. Curiosity and humanity
alike prompted them to go at once to the dying man. Two hours after
Courtois set out, Lucien heard the rattle of old iron over the stony
causeway, the country doctor’s ramshackle chaise came up to the door,
and out stepped MM. Marron, for the cure was the doctor’s uncle.
Lucien’s bedside visitors were as intimate with David’s father as
country neighbors usually are in a small vine-growing township. The
doctor looked at the dying man, felt his pulse, and examined his tongue;
then he looked at the miller’s wife, and smiled reassuringly.

“Mme. Courtois,” said he, “if, as I do not doubt, you have a bottle of
good wine somewhere in the cellar, and a fat eel in your fish-pond, put
them before your patient, it is only exhaustion; there is nothing the
matter with him. Our great man will be on his feet again directly.”

“Ah! monsieur,” said Lucien, “it is not the body, it is the mind that
ails. These good people have told me tidings that nearly killed me; I
have just heard the bad news of my sister, Mme. Sechard. Mme. Courtois
says that your daughter is married to Postel, monsieur, so you must know
something of David Sechard’s affairs; oh, for heaven’s sake, monsieur,
tell me what you know!”

“Why, he must be in prison,” began the doctor; “his father would not
help him----”

“_In prison_!” repeated Lucien, “and why?”

“Because some bills came from Paris; he had overlooked them, no doubt,
for he does not pay much attention to his business, they say,” said Dr.

“Pray leave me with M. le Cure,” said the poet, with a visible change
of countenance. The doctor and the miller and his wife went out of the
room, and Lucien was left alone with the old priest.

“Sir,” he said, “I feel that death is near, and I deserve to die. I am a
very miserable wretch; I can only cast myself into the arms of religion.
I, sir, _I_ have brought all these troubles on my sister and brother,
for David Sechard has been a brother to me. I drew those bills that
David could not meet! . . . I have ruined him. In my terrible misery,
I forgot the crime. A millionaire put an end to the proceedings, and I
quite believed that he had met the bills; but nothing of the kind has
been done, it seems.” And Lucien told the tale of his sorrows. The
story, as he told it in his feverish excitement, was worthy of the poet.
He besought the cure to go to Angouleme and to ask for news of Eve and
his mother, Mme. Chardon, and to let him know the truth, and whether it
was still possible to repair the evil.

“I shall live till you come back, sir,” he added, as the hot tears fell.
“If my mother, and sister, and David do not cast me off, I shall not

Lucien’s remorse was terrible to see, the tears, the eloquence, the
young white face with the heartbroken, despairing look, the tales of
sorrow upon sorrow till human strength could no more endure, all these
things aroused the cure’s pity and interest.

“In the provinces, as in Paris,” he said, “you must believe only half
of all that you hear. Do not alarm yourself; a piece of hearsay, three
leagues away from Angouleme, is sure to be far from the truth. Old
Sechard, our neighbor, left Marsac some days ago; very likely he is busy
settling his son’s difficulties. I am going to Angouleme; I will come
back and tell you whether you can return home; your confessions and
repentance will help to plead your cause.”

The cure did not know that Lucien had repented so many times during the
last eighteen months, that penitence, however impassioned, had come to
be a kind of drama with him, played to perfection, played so far in all
good faith, but none the less a drama. To the cure succeeded the doctor.
He saw that the patient was passing through a nervous crisis, and the
danger was beginning to subside. The doctor-nephew spoke as comfortably
as the cure-uncle, and at length the patient was persuaded to take

Meanwhile the cure, knowing the manners and customs of the countryside,
had gone to Mansle; the coach from Ruffec to Angouleme was due to pass
about that time, and he found a vacant place in it. He would go to
his grand-nephew Postel in L’Houmeau (David’s former rival) and make
inquiries of him. From the assiduity with which the little druggist
assisted his venerable relative to alight from the abominable cage which
did duty as a coach between Ruffec and Angouleme, it was apparent to
the meanest understanding that M. and Mme. Postel founded their hopes of
future ease upon the old cure’s will.

“Have you breakfasted? Will you take something? We did not in the least
expect you! This is a pleasant surprise!” Out came questions innumerable
in a breath.

Mme. Postel might have been born to be the wife of an apothecary in
L’Houmeau. She was a common-looking woman, about the same height as
little Postel himself, such good looks as she possessed being entirely
due to youth and health. Her florid auburn hair grew very low upon
her forehead. Her demeanor and language were in keeping with homely
features, a round countenance, the red cheeks of a country damsel, and
eyes that might almost be described as yellow. Everything about her
said plainly enough that she had been married for expectations of
money. After a year of married life, therefore, she ruled the house; and
Postel, only too happy to have discovered the heiress, meekly submitted
to his wife. Mme. Leonie Postel, _nee_ Marron, was nursing her first
child, the darling of the old cure, the doctor, and Postel, a repulsive
infant, with a strong likeness to both parents.

“Well, uncle,” said Leonie, “what has brought you to Angouleme, since
you will not take anything, and no sooner come in than you talk of

But when the venerable ecclesiastic brought out the names of David
Sechard and Eve, little Postel grew very red, and Leonie, his wife, felt
it incumbent upon her to give him a jealous glance--the glance that a
wife never fails to give when she is perfectly sure of her husband, and
gives a look into the past by way of a caution for the future.

“What have yonder folk done to you, uncle, that you should mix yourself
up in their affairs?” inquired Leonie, with very perceptible tartness.

“They are in trouble, my girl,” said the cure, and he told the Postels
about Lucien at the Courtois’ mill.

“Oh! so that is the way he came back from Paris, is it?” exclaimed
Postel. “Yet he had some brains, poor fellow, and he was ambitious, too.
He went out to look for wool, and comes home shorn. But what does he
want here? His sister is frightfully poor; for all these geniuses, David
and Lucien alike, know very little about business. There was some talk
of him at the Tribunal, and, as judge, I was obliged to sign the warrant
of execution. It was a painful duty. I do not know whether the sister’s
circumstances are such that Lucien can go to her; but in any case the
little room that he used to occupy here is at liberty, and I shall be
pleased to offer it to him.”

“That is right, Postel,” said the priest; he bestowed a kiss on the
infant slumbering in Leonie’s arms, and, adjusting his cocked hat,
prepared to walk out of the shop.

“You will dine with us, uncle, of course,” said Mme. Postel; “if once
you meddle in these people’s affairs, it will be some time before
you have done. My husband will drive you back again in his little

Husband and wife stood watching their valued, aged relative on his way
into Angouleme. “He carries himself well for his age, all the same,”
 remarked the druggist.

By this time David had been in hiding for eleven days in a house only
two doors away from the druggist’s shop, which the worthy ecclesiastic
had just quitted to climb the steep path into Angouleme with the news of
Lucien’s present condition.

When the Abbe Marron debouched upon the Place du Murier he found three
men, each one remarkable in his own way, and all of them bearing with
their whole weight upon the present and future of the hapless
voluntary prisoner. There stood old Sechard, the tall Cointet, and his
confederate, the puny limb of the law, three men representing three
phases of greed as widely different as the outward forms of the
speakers. The first had it in his mind to sell his own son; the
second, to betray his client; and the third, while bargaining for both
iniquities, was inwardly resolved to pay for neither. It was nearly five
o’clock. Passers-by on their way home to dinner stopped a moment to look
at the group.

“What the devil can old Sechard and the tall Cointet have to say to each
other?” asked the more curious.

“There was something on foot concerning that miserable wretch that
leaves his wife and child and mother-in-law to starve,” suggested some.

“Talk of sending a boy to Paris to learn his trade!” said a provincial

“M. le Cure, what brings you here, eh?” exclaimed old Sechard, catching
sight of the Abbe as soon as he appeared.

“I have come on account of your family,” answered the old man.

“Here is another of my son’s notions!” exclaimed old Sechard.

“It would not cost you much to make everybody happy all round,” said
the priest, looking at the windows of the printing-house. Mme. Sechard’s
beautiful face appeared at that moment between the curtains; she was
hushing her child’s cries by tossing him in her arms and singing to him.

“Are you bringing news of my son?” asked old Sechard, “or what is more
to the purpose--money?”

“No,” answered M. Marron, “I am bringing the sister news of her

“Of Lucien?” cried Petit-Claud.

“Yes. He walked all the way from Paris, poor young man. I found him at
the Courtois’ house; he was worn out with misery and fatigue. Oh! he is
very much to be pitied.”

Petit-Claud took the tall Cointet by the arm, saying aloud, “If we are
going to dine with Mme. de Senonches, it is time to dress.” When they
had come away a few paces, he added, for his companion’s benefit, “Catch
the cub, and you will soon have the dam; we have David now----”

“I have found you a wife, find me a partner,” said the tall Cointet with
a treacherous smile.

“Lucien is an old school-fellow of mine; we used to be chums. I shall be
sure to hear something from him in a week’s time. Have the banns put
up, and I will engage to put David in prison. When he is on the jailer’s
register I shall have done my part.”

“Ah!” exclaimed the tall Cointet under his breath, “we might have the
patent taken out in our name; that would be the thing!”

A shiver ran through the meagre little attorney when he heard those

Meanwhile Eve beheld her father-in-law enter with the Abbe Marron, who
had let fall a word which unfolded the whole tragedy.

“Here is our cure, Mme. Sechard,” the old man said, addressing his
daughter-in-law, “and pretty tales about your brother he has to tell us,
no doubt!”

“Oh!” cried poor Eve, cut to the heart; “what can have happened now?”

The cry told so unmistakably of many sorrows, of great dread on so many
grounds, that the Abbe Marron made haste to say, “Reassure yourself,
madame; he is living.”

Eve turned to the vinegrower.

“Father,” she said, “perhaps you will be good enough to go to my mother;
she must hear all that this gentleman has to tell us of Lucien.”

The old man went in search of Mme. Chardon, and addressed her in this

“Go and have it out with the Abbe Marron; he is a good sort, priest
though he is. Dinner will be late, no doubt. I shall come back again in
an hour,” and the old man went out. Insensible as he was to everything
but the clink of money and the glitter of gold, he left Mme. Chardon
without caring to notice the effect of the shock that he had given her.

Mme. Chardon had changed so greatly during the last eighteen months,
that in that short time she no longer looked like the same woman. The
troubles hanging over both of her children, her abortive hopes for
Lucien, the unexpected deterioration in one in whose powers and honesty
she had for so long believed,--all these things had told heavily upon
her. Mme. Chardon was not only noble by birth, she was noble by nature;
she idolized her children; consequently, during the last six months
she had suffered as never before since her widowhood. Lucien might have
borne the name of Lucien de Rubempre by royal letters patent; he might
have founded the family anew, revived the title, and borne the arms; he
might have made a great name--he had thrown the chance away; nay, he had
fallen into the mire!

For Mme. Chardon the mother was a harder judge than Eve the sister.
When she heard of the bills, she looked upon Lucien as lost. A mother
is often fain to shut her eyes, but she always knows the child that
she held at her breast, the child that has been always with her in the
house; and so when Eve and David discussed Lucien’s chances of success
in Paris, and Lucien’s mother to all appearance shared Eve’s illusions,
in her inmost heart there was a tremor of fear lest David should be
right, for a mother’s consciousness bore a witness to the truth of his
words. So well did she know Eve’s sensitive nature, that she could not
bring herself to speak of her fears; she was obliged to choke them down
and keep such silence as mothers alone can keep when they know how to
love their children.

And Eve, on her side, had watched her mother, and saw the ravages of
hidden grief with a feeling of dread; her mother was not growing old,
she was failing from day to day. Mother and daughter lived a live
of generous deception, and neither was deceived. The brutal old
vinegrower’s speech was the last drop that filled the cup of affliction
to overflowing. The words struck a chill to Mme. Chardon’s heart.

“Here is my mother, monsieur,” said Eve, and the Abbe, looking up, saw a
white-haired woman with a face as thin and worn as the features of some
aged nun, and yet grown beautiful with the calm and sweet expression
that devout submission gives to the faces of women who walk by the will
of God, as the saying is. Then the Abbe understood the lives of the
mother and daughter, and had no more sympathy left for Lucien; he
shuddered to think of all that the victims had endured.

“Mother,” said Eve, drying her eyes as she spoke, “poor Lucien is not
very far away, he is at Marsac.”

“And why is he not here?” asked Mme. Chardon.

Then the Abbe told the whole story as Lucien had told it to him--the
misery of the journey, the troubles of the last days in Paris. He
described the poet’s agony of mind when he heard of the havoc wrought
at home by his imprudence, and his apprehension as to the reception
awaiting him at Angouleme.

“He has doubts of us; has it come to this?” said Mme. Chardon.

“The unhappy young man has come back to you on foot, enduring the most
terrible hardships by the way; he is prepared to enter the humblest
walks in life--if so he may make reparation.”

“Monsieur,” Lucien’s sister said, “in spite of the wrong he has done us,
I love my brother still, as we love the dead body when the soul has left
it; and even so, I love him more than many sisters love their brothers.
He has made us poor indeed; but let him come to us, he shall share the
last crust of bread, anything indeed that he has left us. Oh, if he had
never left us, monsieur, we should not have lost our heart’s treasure.”

“And the woman who took him from us brought him back on her carriage!”
 exclaimed Mme. Chardon. “He went away sitting by Mme. de Bargeton’s side
in her caleche, and he came back behind it.”

“Can I do anything for you?” asked the good cure, seeking an opportunity
to take leave.

“A wound in the purse is not fatal, they say, monsieur,” said Mme.
Chardon, “but the patient must be his own doctor.”

“If you have sufficient influence with my father-in-law to induce him to
help his son, you would save a whole family,” said Eve.

“He has no belief in you, and he seemed to me to be very much
exasperated against your husband,” answered the old cure. He retained
an impression, from the ex-pressman’s rambling talk, that the Sechards’
affairs were a kind of wasps’ nest with which it was imprudent to
meddle, and his mission being fulfilled, he went to dine with his nephew
Postel. That worthy, like the rest of Angouleme, maintained that the
father was in the right, and soon dissipated any little benevolence that
the old gentleman was disposed to feel towards the son and his family.

“With those that squander money something may be done,” concluded little
Postel, “but those that make experiments are the ruin of you.”

The cure went home; his curiosity was thoroughly satisfied, and this
is the end and object of the exceeding interest taken in other people’s
business in the provinces. In the course of the evening the poet was
duly informed of all that had passed in the Sechard family, and the
journey was represented as a pilgrimage undertaken from motives of the
purest charity.

“You have run your brother-in-law and sister into debt to the amount of
ten or twelve thousand francs,” said the Abbe as he drew to an end, “and
nobody hereabouts has that trifling amount to lend a neighbor, my dear
sir. We are not rich in Angoumois. When you spoke to me of your bills, I
thought that a much smaller amount was involved.”

Lucien thanked the old man for his good offices. “The promise of
forgiveness which you have brought is for me a priceless gift.”

Very early the next morning Lucien set out from Marsac, and
reached Angouleme towards nine o’clock. He carried nothing but his
walking-stick; the short jacket that he wore was considerably the worst
for his journey, his black trousers were whitened with dust, and a pair
of worn boots told sufficiently plainly that their owner belonged to the
hapless tribe of tramps. He knew well enough that the contrast between
his departure and return was bound to strike his fellow-townsmen; he
did not try to hide the fact from himself. But just then, with his heart
swelling beneath the oppression of remorse awakened in him by the old
cure’s story, he accepted his punishment for the moment, and made up his
mind to brave the eyes of his acquaintances. Within himself he said, “I
am behaving heroically.”

Poetic temperaments of this stamp begin as their own dupes. He walked up
through L’Houmeau, shame at the manner of his return struggling with
the charm of old associations as he went. His heart beat quickly as he
passed Postel’s shop; but, very luckily for him, the only persons inside
it were Leonie and her child. And yet, vanity was still so strong in
him, that he could feel glad that his father’s name had been painted out
on the shop-front; for Postel, since his marriage, had redecorated his
abode, and the word “Pharmacy” now alone appeared there, in the Paris
fashion, in big letters.

When Lucien reached the steps by the Palet Gate, he felt the influence
of his native air, his misfortunes no longer weighed upon him. “I shall
see them again!” he said to himself, with a thrill of delight.

He reached the Place du Murier, and had not met a soul, a piece of luck
that he scarcely hoped for, he who once had gone about his native place
with a conqueror’s air. Marion and Kolb, on guard at the door, flew out
upon the steps, crying out, “Here he is!”

Lucien saw the familiar workshop and courtyard, and on the staircase
met his mother and sister, and for a moment, while their arms were about
him, all three almost forgot their troubles. In family life we almost
always compound with our misfortunes; we make a sort of bed to rest
upon; and, if it is hard, hope to make it tolerable. If Lucien looked
the picture of despair, poetic charm was not wanting to the picture.
His face had been tanned by the sunlight of the open road, and the deep
sadness visible in his features overshadowed his poet’s brow. The change
in him told so plainly of sufferings endured, his face was so worn by
sharp misery, that no one could help pitying him. Imagination had fared
forth into the world and found sad reality at the home-coming. Eve was
smiling in the midst of her joy, as the saints smile upon martyrdom.
The face of a young and very fair woman grows sublimely beautiful at the
touch of grief; Lucien remembered the innocent girlish face that he saw
last before he went to Paris, and the look of gravity that had come over
it spoke so eloquently that he could not but feel a painful impression.
The first quick, natural outpouring of affection was followed at once
by a reaction on either side; they were afraid to speak; and when Lucien
almost involuntarily looked round for another who should have been
there, Eve burst into tears, and Lucien did the same, but Mme. Chardon’s
haggard face showed no sign of emotion. Eve rose to her feet and went
downstairs, partly to spare her brother a word of reproach, partly to
speak to Marion.

“Lucien is so fond of strawberries, child, we must find some
strawberries for him.”

“Oh, I was sure that you would want to welcome M. Lucien; you shall have
a nice little breakfast and a good dinner, too.”

“Lucien,” said Mme. Chardon when the mother and son were left alone,
“you have a great deal to repair here. You went away that we all
might be proud of you; you have plunged us into want. You have all but
destroyed your brother’s opportunity of making a fortune that he only
cared to win for the sake of his new family. Nor is this all that you
have destroyed----” said the mother.

There was a dreadful pause; Lucien took his mother’s reproaches in

“Now begin to work,” Mme. Chardon went on more gently. “You tried to
revive the noble family of whom I come; I do not blame you for it. But
the man who undertakes such a task needs money above all things, and
must bear a high heart in him; both were wanting in your case.
We believed in you once, our belief has been shaken. This was a
hard-working, contented household, making its way with difficulty; you
have troubled their peace. The first offence may be forgiven, but it
must be the last. We are in a very difficult position here; you must be
careful, and take your sister’s advice, Lucien. The school of trouble is
a very hard one, but Eve has learned much by her lessons; she has grown
grave and thoughtful, she is a mother. In her devotion to our dear David
she has taken all the family burdens upon herself; indeed, through your
wrongdoing she has come to be my only comfort.”

“You might be still more severe, my mother,” Lucien said, as he kissed
her. “I accept your forgiveness, for I will not need it a second time.”

Eve came into the room, saw her brother’s humble attitude, and knew that
he had been forgiven. Her kindness brought a smile for him to her lips,
and Lucien answered with tear-filled eyes. A living presence acts like a
charm, changing the most hostile positions of lovers or of families, no
matter how just the resentment. Is it that affection finds out the ways
of the heart, and we love to fall into them again? Does the phenomenon
come within the province of the science of magnetism? Or is it reason
that tells us that we must either forgive or never see each other
again? Whether the cause be referred to mental, physical, or spiritual
conditions, everyone knows the effect; every one has felt that the
looks, the actions or gestures of the beloved awaken some vestige of
tenderness in those most deeply sinned against and grievously wronged.
Though it is hard for the mind to forget, though we still smart under
the injury, the heart returns to its allegiance in spite of all. Poor
Eve listened to her brother’s confidences until breakfast-time; and
whenever she looked at him she was no longer mistress of her eyes;
in that intimate talk she could not control her voice. And with
the comprehension of the conditions of literary life in Paris, she
understood that the struggle had been too much for Lucien’s strength.
The poet’s delight as he caressed his sister’s child, his deep grief
over David’s absence, mingled with joy at seeing his country and his
own folk again, the melancholy words that he let fall,--all these
things combined to make that day a festival. When Marion brought in the
strawberries, he was touched to see that Eve had remembered his taste in
spite of her distress, and she, his sister, must make ready a room for
the prodigal brother and busy herself for Lucien. It was a truce, as
it were, to misery. Old Sechard himself assisted to bring about this
revulsion of feeling in the two women--“You are making as much of him as
if he were bringing you any amount of money!”

“And what has my brother done that we should not make much of him?”
 cried Eve, jealously screening Lucien.

Nevertheless, when the first expansion was over, shades of truth came
out. It was not long before Lucien felt the difference between the old
affection and the new. Eve respected David from the depths of her heart;
Lucien was beloved for his own sake, as we love a mistress still in
spite of the disasters she causes. Esteem, the very foundation on which
affection is based, is the solid stuff to which affection owes I know
not what of certainty and security by which we live; and this was
lacking between Mme. Chardon and her son, between the sister and the
brother. Mother and daughter did not put entire confidence in him, as
they would have done if he had not lost his honor; and he felt this.
The opinion expressed in d’Arthez’s letter was Eve’s own estimate of
her brother; unconsciously she revealed it by her manner, tones, and
gestures. Oh! Lucien was pitied, that was true; but as for all that he
had been, the pride of the household, the great man of the family, the
hero of the fireside,--all this, like their fair hopes of him, was gone,
never to return. They were so afraid of his heedlessness that he was not
told where David was hidden. Lucien wanted to see his brother; but
this Eve, insensible to the caresses which accompanied his curious
questionings, was not the Eve of L’Houmeau, for whom a glance from
him had been an order that must be obeyed. When Lucien spoke of making
reparation, and talked as though he could rescue David, Eve only

“Do not interfere; we have enemies of the most treacherous and dangerous

Lucien tossed his head, as one who should say, “I have measured myself
against Parisians,” and the look in his sister’s eyes said unmistakably,
“Yes, but you were defeated.”

“Nobody cares for me now,” Lucien thought. “In the home circle, as in
the world without, success is a necessity.”

The poet tried to explain their lack of confidence in him; he had not
been at home two days before a feeling of vexation rather than of angry
bitterness gained hold on him. He applied Parisian standards to the
quiet, temperate existence of the provinces, quite forgetting that
the narrow, patient life of the household was the result of his own

“They are _bourgeoises_, they cannot understand me,” he said, setting
himself apart from his sister and mother and David, now that they could
no longer be deceived as to his real character and his future.

Many troubles and shocks of fortune had quickened the intuitive sense
in both the women. Eve and Mme. Chardon guessed the thoughts in Lucien’s
inmost soul; they felt that he misjudged them; they saw him mentally
isolating himself.

“Paris has changed him very much,” they said between themselves. They
were indeed reaping the harvest of egoism which they themselves had

It was inevitable but that the leaven should work in all three; and this
most of all in Lucien, because he felt that he was so heavily to blame.
As for Eve, she was just the kind of sister to beg an erring brother to
“Forgive me for your trespasses;” but when the union of two souls had
been as perfect since life’s very beginnings, as it had been with Eve
and Lucien, any blow dealt to that fair ideal is fatal. Scoundrels can
draw knives on each other and make it up again afterwards, while a look
or a word is enough to sunder two lovers for ever. In the recollection
of an almost perfect life of heart and heart lies the secret of many an
estrangement that none can explain. Two may live together without full
trust in their hearts if only their past holds no memories of complete
and unclouded love; but for those who once have known that intimate
life, it becomes intolerable to keep perpetual watch over looks and
words. Great poets know this; Paul and Virginie die before youth is
over; can we think of Paul and Virginie estranged? Let us know that, to
the honor of Lucien and Eve, the grave injury done was not the source of
the pain; it was entirely a matter of feeling upon either side, for the
poet in fault, as for the sister who was in no way to blame. Things
had reached the point when the slightest misunderstanding, or little
quarrel, or a fresh disappointment in Lucien would end in final
estrangement. Money difficulties may be arranged, but feelings are

Next day Lucien received a copy of the local paper. He turned pale with
pleasure when he saw his name at the head of one of the first “leaders”
 in that highly respectable sheet, which like the provincial academies
that Voltaire compared to a well-bred miss, was never talked about.

  “Let Franche-Comte boast of giving the light to Victor Hugo, to
  Charles Nodier, and Cuvier,” ran the article, “Brittany of
  producing a Chateaubriand and a Lammenais, Normandy of Casimir
  Delavigne, and Touraine of the author of _Eloa_; Angoumois that
  gave birth, in the days of Louis XIII., to our illustrious
  fellow-countryman Guez, better known under the name of Balzac,
  our Angoumois need no longer envy Limousin her Dupuytren, nor
  Auvergne, the country of Montlosier, nor Bordeaux, birthplace of
  so many great men; for we too have our poet!--The writer of the
  beautiful sonnets entitled the _Marguerites_ unites his poet’s fame
  to the distinction of a prose writer, for to him we also owe the
  magnificent romance of _The Archer of Charles IX._ Some day our
  nephews will be proud to be the fellow-townsmen of Lucien Chardon,
  a rival of Petrarch!!!”

(The country newspapers of those days were sown with notes of
admiration, as reports of English election speeches are studded with
“cheers” in brackets.)

  “In spite of his brilliant success in Paris, our young poet has
  not forgotten the Hotel de Bargeton, the cradle of his triumphs;
  nor the fact that the wife of M. le Comte du Chatelet, our
  Prefect, encouraged his early footsteps in the pathway of the
  Muses. He has come back among us once more! All L’Houmeau was
  thrown into excitement yesterday by the appearance of our Lucien
  de Rubempre. The news of his return produced a profound sensation
  throughout the town. Angouleme certainly will not allow L’Houmeau
  to be beforehand in doing honor to the poet who in journalism and
  literature has so gloriously represented our town in Paris. Lucien
  de Rubempre, a religious and Royalist poet, has braved the fury of
  parties; he has come home, it is said, for repose after the
  fatigue of a struggle which would try the strength of an even
  greater intellectual athlete than a poet and a dreamer.

  “There is some talk of restoring our great poet to the title of
  the illustrious house of de Rubempre, of which his mother, Madame
  Chardon, is the last survivor, and it is added that Mme. la
  Comtesse du Chatelet was the first to think of this eminently
  politic idea. The revival of an ancient and almost extinct family
  by young talent and newly won fame is another proof that the
  immortal author of the Charter still cherishes the desire
  expressed by the words ‘Union and oblivion.’

  “Our poet is staying with his sister, Mme. Sechard.”

Under the heading “Angouleme” followed some items of news:--

  “Our Prefect, M. le Comte du Chatelet, Gentleman in Ordinary to
  His Majesty, has just been appointed Extraordinary Councillor of

  “All the authorities called yesterday on M. le Prefet.

  “Mme. la Comtesse du Chatelet will receive on Thursdays.

  “The Mayor of Escarbas, M. de Negrepelisse, the representative of
  the younger branch of the d’Espard family, and father of Mme. du
  Chatelet, recently raised to the rank of a Count and Peer of
  France and a Commander of the Royal Order of St. Louis, has been
  nominated for the presidency of the electoral college of Angouleme
  at the forthcoming elections.”

“There!” said Lucien, taking the paper to his sister. Eve read the
article with attention, and returned with the sheet with a thoughtful

“What do you say to that?” asked he, surprised at a reserve that seemed
so like indifference.

“The Cointets are proprietors of that paper, dear,” she said; “they
put in exactly what they please, and it is not at all likely that the
prefecture or the palace have forced their hands. Can you imagine
that your old rival the prefect would be generous enough to sing
your praises? Have you forgotten that the Cointets are suing us under
Metivier’s name? and that they are trying to turn David’s discovery to
their own advantage? I do not know the source of this paragraph, but
it makes me uneasy. You used to rouse nothing but envious feeling
and hatred here; a prophet has no honor in his own country, and they
slandered you, and now in a moment it is all changed----”

“You do not know the vanity of country towns,” said Lucien. “A whole
little town in the south turned out not so long ago to welcome a young
man that had won the first prize in some competition; they looked on him
as a budding great man.”

“Listen, dear Lucien; I do not want to preach to you, I will say
everything in a very few words--you must suspect every little thing

“You are right,” said Lucien, but he was surprised at his sister’s lack
of enthusiasm. He himself was full of delight to find his humiliating
and shame-stricken return to Angouleme changed into a triumph in this

“You have no belief in the little fame that has cost so dear!” he said
again after a long silence. Something like a storm had been gathering in
his heart during the past hour. For all answer Eve gave him a look, and
Lucien felt ashamed of his accusation.

Dinner was scarcely over when a messenger came from the prefecture with
a note addressed to M. Chardon. That note appeared to decide the day for
the poet’s vanity; the world contending against the family for him had

“M. le Comte Sixte du Chatelet and Mme. la Comtesse du Chatelet request
the honor of M. Lucien Chardon’s company at dinner on the fifteenth of
September. R. S. V. P.”

Enclosed with the invitation there was a card--

                     LE COMTE SIXTE DU CHATELET,
        Gentleman of the Bedchamber, Prefect of the Charente,
                         Councillor of State.

“You are in favor,” said old Sechard; “they are talking about you in the
town as if you were somebody! Angouleme and L’Houmeau are disputing as
to which shall twist wreaths for you.”

“Eve, dear,” Lucien whispered to his sister, “I am exactly in the same
condition as I was before in L’Houmeau when Mme. de Bargeton sent me
the first invitation--I have not a dress suit for the prefect’s

“Do you really mean to accept the invitation?” Eve asked in alarm, and a
dispute sprang up between the brother and sister. Eve’s provincial good
sense told her that if you appear in society, it must be with a smiling
face and faultless costume. “What will come of the prefect’s dinner?”
 she wondered. “What has Lucien to do with the great people of Angouleme?
Are they plotting something against him?” but she kept these thoughts to

Lucien spoke the last word at bedtime: “You do not know my influence.
The prefect’s wife stands in fear of a journalist; and besides, Louise
de Negrepelisse lives on in the Comtesse du Chatelet, and a woman
with her influence can rescue David. I am going to tell her about my
brother’s invention, and it would be a mere nothing to her to obtain a
subsidy of ten thousand francs from the Government for him.”

At eleven o’clock that night the whole household was awakened by the
town band, reinforced by the military band from the barracks. The Place
du Murier was full of people. The young men of Angouleme were giving
Lucien Chardon de Rubempre a serenade. Lucien went to his sister’s
window and made a speech after the last performance.

“I thank my fellow-townsmen for the honor that they do me,” he said in
the midst of a great silence; “I will strive to be worthy of it; they
will pardon me if I say no more; I am so much moved by this incident
that I cannot speak.”

“Hurrah for the writer of _The Archer of Charles IX._! . . . Hurrah for
the poet of the _Marguerites_! . . . Long live Lucien de Rubempre!”

After these three salvos, taken up by some few voices, three crowns and
a quantity of bouquets were adroitly flung into the room through the
open window. Ten minutes later the Place du Murier was empty, and
silence prevailed in the streets.

“I would rather have ten thousand francs,” said old Sechard, fingering
the bouquets and garlands with a satirical expression. “You gave them
daisies, and they give you posies in return; you deal in flowers.”

“So that is your opinion of the honors shown me by my fellow-townsmen,
is it?” asked Lucien. All his melancholy had left him, his face was
radiant with good humor. “If you knew mankind, Papa Sechard, you would
see that no moment in one’s life comes twice. Such a triumph as this can
only be due to genuine enthusiasm! . . . My dear mother, my good sister,
this wipes out many mortifications.”

Lucien kissed them; for when joy overflows like a torrent flood, we
are fain to pour it out into a friend’s heart. “When an author is
intoxicated with success, he will hug his porter if there is nobody else
on hand,” according to Bixiou.

“Why, darling, why are you crying?” he said, looking into Eve’s face.
“Ah! I know, you are crying for joy!”

“Oh me!” said her mother, shaking her head as she spoke. “Lucien has
forgotten everything already; not merely his own troubles, but ours as

Mother and daughter separated, and neither dared to utter all her

In a country eaten up with the kind of social insubordination disguised
by the word Equality, a triumph of any kind whatsoever is a sort of
miracle which requires, like some other miracles for that matter, the
co-operation of skilled labor. Out of ten ovations offered to ten living
men, selected for this distinction by a grateful country, you may be
quite sure that nine are given from considerations connected as remotely
as possible with the conspicuous merits of the renowned recipient. What
was Voltaire’s apotheosis at the Theatre-Francais but the triumph of
eighteenth century philosophy? A triumph in France means that everybody
else feels that he is adorning his own temples with the crown that he
sets on the idol’s head.

The women’s presentiments proved correct. The distinguished provincial’s
reception was antipathetic to Angoumoisin immobility; it was too
evidently got up by some interested persons or by enthusiastic stage
mechanics, a suspicious combination. Eve, moreover, like most of her
sex, was distrustful by instinct, even when reason failed to justify her
suspicions to herself. “Who can be so fond of Lucien that he could rouse
the town for him?” she wondered as she fell asleep. “The _Marguerites_
are not published yet; how can they compliment him on a future success?”

The ovation was, in fact, the work of Petit-Claud.

Petit-Claud had dined with Mme. de Senonches, for the first time, on the
evening of the day that brought the cure of Marsac to Angouleme with the
news of Lucien’s return. That same evening he made formal application
for the hand of Mlle. de la Haye. It was a family dinner, one of the
solemn occasions marked not so much by the number of the guests as by
the splendor of their toilettes. Consciousness of the performance
weighs upon the family party, and every countenance looks significant.
Francoise was on exhibition. Mme. de Senonches had sported her most
elaborate costume for the occasion; M. du Hautoy wore a black coat; M.
de Senonches had returned from his visit to the Pimentels on the receipt
of a note from his wife, informing him that Mme. du Chatelet was to
appear at their house for the first time since her arrival, and that
a suitor in form for Francoise would appear on the scenes. Boniface
Cointet also was there, in his best maroon coat of clerical cut, with a
diamond pin worth six thousand francs displayed in his shirt frill--the
revenge of the rich merchant upon a poverty-stricken aristocracy.

Petit-Claud himself, scoured and combed, had carefully removed his gray
hairs, but he could not rid himself of his wizened air. The puny little
man of law, tightly buttoned into his clothes, reminded you of a torpid
viper; for if hope had brought a spark of life into his magpie eyes, his
face was icily rigid, and so well did he assume an air of gravity, that
an ambitious public prosecutor could not have been more dignified.

Mme. de Senonches had told her intimate friends that her ward would meet
her betrothed that evening, and that Mme. du Chatelet would appear
at the Hotel de Senonches for the first time; and having particularly
requested them to keep these matters secret, she expected to find
her rooms crowded. The Comte and Comtesse du Chatelet had left cards
everywhere officially, but they meant the honor of a personal visit to
play a part in their policy. So aristocratic Angouleme was in such
a prodigious ferment of curiosity, that certain of the Chandour camp
proposed to go to the Hotel de Bargeton that evening. (They persistently
declined to call the house by its new name.)

Proofs of the Countess’ influence had stirred up ambition in many
quarters; and not only so, it was said that the lady had changed so
much for the better that everybody wished to see and judge for himself.
Petit-Claud learned great news on the way to the house; Cointet told him
that Zephirine had asked leave to present her dear Francoise’s
betrothed to the Countess, and that the Countess had granted the
favor. Petit-Claud had seen at once that Lucien’s return put Louise de
Negrepelisse in a false position; and now, in a moment, he flattered
himself that he saw a way to take advantage of it.

M. and Mme. de Senonches had undertaken such heavy engagements when they
bought the house, that, in provincial fashion, they thought it imprudent
to make any changes in it. So when Madame du Chatelet was announced,
Zephirine went up to her with--“Look, dear Louise, you are still in your
old home!” indicating, as she spoke, the little chandelier, the paneled
wainscot, and the furniture, which once had dazzled Lucien.

“I wish least of all to remember it, dear,” Madame la Prefete answered
graciously, looking round on the assemblage.

Every one admitted that Louise de Negrepelisse was not like the same
woman. If the provincial had undergone a change, the woman herself
had been transformed by those eighteen months in Paris, by the first
happiness of a still recent second marriage, and the kind of dignity
that power confers. The Comtesse du Chatelet bore the same resemblance
to Mme. de Bargeton that a girl of twenty bears to her mother.

She wore a charming cap of lace and flowers, fastened by a
diamond-headed pin; the ringlets that half hid the contours of her face
added to her look of youth, and suited her style of beauty. Her foulard
gown, designed by the celebrated Victorine, with a pointed bodice,
exquisitely fringed, set off her figure to advantage; and a silken
lace scarf, adroitly thrown about a too long neck, partly concealed her
shoulders. She played with the dainty scent-bottle, hung by a chain from
her bracelet; she carried her fan and her handkerchief with ease--pretty
trifles, as dangerous as a sunken reef for the provincial dame. The
refined taste shown in the least details, the carriage and manner
modeled upon Mme. d’Espard, revealed a profound study of the Faubourg

As for the elderly beau of the Empire, he seemed since his marriage to
have followed the example of the species of melon that turns from green
to yellow in a night. All the youth that Sixte had lost seemed to appear
in his wife’s radiant countenance; provincial pleasantries passed from
ear to ear, circulating the more readily because the women were furious
at the new superiority of the sometime queen of Angouleme; and the
persistent intruder paid the penalty of his wife’s offence.

The rooms were almost as full as on that memorable evening of Lucien’s
readings from Chenier. Some faces were missing: M. de Chandour and
Amelie, M. de Pimental and the Rastignacs--and M. de Bargeton was no
longer there; but the Bishop came, as before, with his vicars-general
in his train. Petit-Claud was much impressed by the sight of the great
world of Angouleme. Four months ago he had no hope of entering the
circle, to-day he felt his detestation of “the classes” sensibly
diminished. He thought the Comtesse du Chatelet a most fascinating
woman. “It is she who can procure me the appointment of deputy public
prosecutor,” he said to himself.

Louise chatted for an equal length of time with each of the women; her
tone varied with the importance of the person addressed and the position
taken up by the latter with regard to her journey to Paris with Lucien.
The evening was half over when she withdrew to the boudoir with the
Bishop. Zephirine came over to Petit-Claud, and laid her hand on his
arm. His heart beat fast as his hostess brought him to the room where
Lucien’s troubles first began, and were now about to come to a crisis.

“This is M. Petit-Claud, dear; I recommend him to you the more warmly
because anything that you may do for him will doubtless benefit my

“You are an attorney, are you not, monsieur?” said the august
Negrepelisse, scanning Petit-Claud.

“Alas! yes, _Madame la Comtesse_.” (The son of the tailor in L’Houmeau
had never once had occasion to use those three words in his life before,
and his mouth was full of them.) “But it rests with you, Madame la
Comtesse, whether or no I shall act for the Crown. M. Milaud is going to
Nevers, it is said----”

“But a man is usually second deputy and then first deputy, is he not?”
 broke in the Countess. “I should like to see you in the first deputy’s
place at once. But I should like first to have some assurance of your
devotion to the cause of our legitimate sovereigns, to religion, and
more especially to M. de Villele, if I am to interest myself on your
behalf to obtain the favor.”

Petit-Claud came nearer. “Madame,” he said in her ear, “I am the man to
yield the King absolute obedience.”

“That is just what _we_ want to-day,” said the Countess, drawing back
a little to make him understand that she had no wish for promises given
under his breath. “So long as you satisfy Mme. de Senonches, you can
count upon me,” she added, with a royal movement of her fan.

Petit-Claud looked toward the door of the boudoir, and saw Cointet
standing there. “Madame,” he said, “Lucien is here, in Angouleme.”

“Well, sir?” asked the Countess, in tones that would have put an end to
all power of speech in an ordinary man.

“Mme. la Comtesse does not understand,” returned Petit-Claud, bringing
out that most respectful formula again. “How does Mme. la Comtesse wish
that the great man of her making should be received in Angouleme? There
is no middle course; he must be received or despised here.”

This was a dilemma to which Louise de Negrepelisse had never given a
thought; it touched her closely, yet rather for the sake of the past
than of the future. And as for Petit-Claud, his plan for arresting David
Sechard depended upon the lady’s actual feelings towards Lucien. He

“M. Petit-Claud,” said the Countess, with haughty dignity, “you mean
to be on the side of the Government. Learn that the first principle
of government is this--never to have been in the wrong, and that the
instinct of power and the sense of dignity is even stronger in women
than in governments.”

“That is just what I thought, madame,” he answered quickly, observing
the Countess meanwhile with attention the more profound because it was
scarcely visible. “Lucien came here in the depths of misery. But if
he must receive an ovation, I can compel him to leave Angouleme by
the means of the ovation itself. His sister and brother-in-law, David
Sechard, are hard pressed for debts.”

In the Countess’ haughty face there was a swift, barely perceptible
change; it was not satisfaction, but the repression of satisfaction.
Surprised that Petit-Claud should have guessed her wishes, she gave him
a glance as she opened her fan, and Francoise de la Haye’s entrance at
that moment gave her time to find an answer.

“It will not be long before you are public prosecutor, monsieur,” she
said, with a significant smile. That speech did not commit her in any
way, but it was explicit enough. Francoise had come in to thank the

“Oh! madame, then I shall owe the happiness of my life to you,” she
exclaimed, bending girlishly to add in the Countess’ ear, “To marry a
petty provincial attorney would be like being burned by slow fires.”

It was Francis, with his knowledge of officialdom, who had prompted
Zephirine to make this set upon Louise.

“In the very earliest days after promotion,” so the ex-consul-general
told his fair friend, “everybody, prefect, or monarch, or man of
business, is burning to exert his influence for his friends; but a
patron soon finds out the inconveniences of patronage, and then turns
from fire to ice. Louise will do more now for Petit-Claud than she would
do for her husband in three months’ time.”

“Madame la Comtesse is thinking of all that our poet’s triumph entails?”
 continued Petit-Claud. “She should receive Lucien before there is an end
of the nine-days’ wonder.”

The Countess terminated the audience with a bow, and rose to speak
with Mme. de Pimentel, who came to the boudoir. The news of old
Negrepelisse’s elevation to a marquisate had greatly impressed the
Marquise; she judged it expedient to be amiable to a woman so clever as
to rise the higher for an apparent fall.

“Do tell me, dear, why you took the trouble to put your father in
the House of Peers?” said the Marquise, in the course of a little
confidential conversation, in which she bent the knee before the
superiority of “her dear Louise.”

“They were all the more ready to grant the favor because my father has
no son to succeed him, dear, and his vote will always be at the disposal
of the Crown; but if we should have sons, I quite expect that my oldest
will succeed to his grandfather’s name, title, and peerage.”

Mme. de Pimentel saw, to her annoyance, that it was idle to expect a
mother ambitious for children not yet in existence to further her own
private designs of raising M. de Pimentel to a peerage.

“I have the Countess,” Petit-Claud told Cointet when they came away. “I
can promise you your partnership. I shall be deputy prosecutor before
the month is out, and Sechard will be in your power. Try to find a buyer
for my connection; it has come to be the first in Angouleme in my hands
during the last five months----”

“Once put _you_ on the horse, and there is no need to do more,” said
Cointet, half jealous of his own work.

The causes of Lucien’s triumphant reception in his native town must now
be plain to everybody. Louise du Chatelet followed the example of that
King of France who left the Duke of Orleans unavenged; she chose to
forget the insults received in Paris by Mme. de Bargeton. She would
patronize Lucien, and overwhelming him with her patronage, would
completely crush him and get rid of him by fair means. Petit-Claud knew
the whole tale of the cabals in Paris through town gossip, and shrewdly
guessed how a woman must hate the man who would not love when she was
fain of his love.

The ovation justified the past of Louise de Negrepelisse. The next day
Petit-Claud appeared at Mme. Sechard’s house, heading a deputation of
six young men of the town, all of them Lucien’s schoolfellows. He meant
to finish his work, to intoxicate Lucien completely, and to have him in
his power. Lucien’s old schoolfellows at the Angouleme grammar-school
wished to invite the author of the _Marguerites_ and _The Archer of
Charles IX._ to a banquet given in honor of the great man arisen from
their ranks.

“Come, this is your doing, Petit-Claud!” exclaimed Lucien.

“Your return has stirred our conceit,” said Petit-Claud; “we made it a
point of honor to get up a subscription, and we will have a tremendous
affair for you. The masters and the headmaster will be there, and, at
the present rate, we shall, no doubt, have the authorities too.”

“For what day?” asked Lucien.

“Sunday next.”

“That is quite out of the question,” said Lucien. “I cannot accept an
invitation for the next ten days, but then I will gladly----”

“Very well,” said Petit-Claud, “so be it then, in ten days’ time.”

Lucien behaved charmingly to his old schoolfellows, and they regarded
him with almost respectful admiration. He talked away very wittily for
half an hour; he had been set upon a pedestal, and wished to justify the
opinion of his fellow-townsmen; so he stood with his hands thrust into
his pockets, and held forth from the height to which he had been raised.
He was modest and good-natured, as befitted genius in dressing-gown and
slippers; he was the athlete, wearied by a wrestling bout with Paris,
and disenchanted above all things; he congratulated the comrades who had
never left the dear old province, and so forth, and so forth. They were
delighted with him. He took Petit-Claud aside, and asked him for the
real truth about David’s affairs, reproaching him for allowing his
brother-in-law to go into hiding, and tried to match his wits against
the little lawyer. Petit-Claud made an effort over himself, and gave
his acquaintance to understand that he (Petit-Claud) was only an
insignificant little country attorney, with no sort of craft nor

The whole machinery of modern society is so infinitely more complex than
in ancient times, that the subdivision of human faculty is the result.
The great men of the days of old were perforce universal geniuses,
appearing at rare intervals like lighted torches in an antique world. In
the course of ages the intellect began to work on special lines, but the
great man still could “take all knowledge for his province.” A man “full
cautelous,” as was said of Louis XI., for instance, could apply that
special faculty in every direction, but to-day the single quality is
subdivided, and every profession has its special craft. A peasant or a
pettifogging solicitor might very easily overreach an astute diplomate
over a bargain in some remote country village; and the wiliest
journalist may prove the veriest simpleton in a piece of business.
Lucien could but be a puppet in the hands of Petit-Claud.

That guileful practitioner, as might have been expected, had written
the article himself; Angouleme and L’Houmeau, thus put on their
mettle, thought it incumbent upon them to pay honor to Lucien. His
fellow-citizens, assembled in the Place du Murier, were Cointets’
workpeople from the papermills and printing-house, with a sprinkling
of Lucien’s old schoolfellows and the clerks in the employ of Messieurs
Petit-Claud and Cachan. As for the attorney himself, he was once more
Lucien’s chum of old days; and he thought, not without reason, that
before very long he should learn David’s whereabouts in some unguarded
moment. And if David came to grief through Lucien’s fault, the poet
would find Angouleme too hot to hold him. Petit-Claud meant to secure
his hold; he posed, therefore, as Lucien’s inferior.

“What better could I have done?” he said accordingly. “My old chum’s
sister was involved, it is true, but there are some positions that
simply cannot be maintained in a court of law. David asked me on the
first of June to ensure him a quiet life for three months; he had a
quiet life until September, and even so I have kept his property out
of his creditors’ power, for I shall gain my case in the Court-Royal;
I contend that the wife is a privileged creditor, and her claim is
absolute, unless there is evidence of intent to defraud. As for you,
you have come back in misfortune, but you are a genius.”--(Lucien turned
about as if the incense were burned too close to his face.)--“Yes, my
dear fellow, a _genius_. I have read your _Archer of Charles IX._; it
is more than a romance, it is literature. Only two living men could have
written the preface--Chateaubriand and Lucien.”

Lucien accepted that d’Arthez had written the preface. Ninety-nine
writers out of a hundred would have done the same.

“Well, nobody here seemed to have heard of you!” Petit-Claud continued,
with apparent indignation. “When I saw the general indifference, I made
up my mind to change all that. I wrote that article in the paper----”

“What? did you write it?” exclaimed Lucien.

“I myself. Angouleme and L’Houmeau were stirred to rivalry; I arranged
for a meeting of your old schoolfellows, and got up yesterday’s
serenade; and when once the enthusiasm began to grow, we started a
committee for the dinner. ‘If David is in hiding,’ said I to myself,
‘Lucien shall be crowned at any rate.’ And I have done even better than
that,” continued Petit-Claud; “I have seen the Comtesse du Chatelet and
made her understand that she owes it to herself to extricate David from
his position; she can do it, and she ought to do it. If David had really
discovered the secret of which he spoke to me, the Government ought to
lend him a hand, it would not ruin the Government; and think what a fine
thing for a prefect to have half the credit of the great invention
for the well-timed help. It would set people talking about him as an
enlightened administrator.--Your sister has taken fright at our musketry
practice; she was scared of the smoke. A battle in the law-courts costs
quite as much as a battle on the field; but David has held his ground,
he has his secret. They cannot stop him, and they will not pull him up

“Thanks, my dear fellow; I see that I can take you into my confidence;
you shall help me to carry out my plan.”

Petit-Claud looked at Lucien, and his gimlet face was a point of

“I intend to rescue Sechard,” Lucien said, with a certain importance. “I
brought his misfortunes upon him; I mean to make full reparation. . . .
I have more influence over Louise----”

“Who is Louise?”

“The Comtesse du Chatelet!”

Petit-Claud started.

“I have more influence over her than she herself suspects,” said Lucien;
“only, my dear fellow, if I can do something with your authorities here,
I have no decent clothes.”--Petit-Claud made as though he would offer
his purse.

“Thank you,” said Lucien, grasping Petit-Claud’s hand. “In ten days’
time I will pay a visit to the Countess and return your call.”

The shook hands like old comrades, and separated.

“He ought to be a poet” said Petit-Claud to himself; “he is quite mad.”

“There are no friends like one’s school friends; it is a true saying,”
 Lucien thought at he went to find his sister.

“What can Petit-Claud have promised to do that you should be so friendly
with him, my Lucien?” asked Eve. “Be on your guard with him.”

“With _him_?” cried Lucien. “Listen, Eve,” he continued, seeming to
bethink himself; “you have no faith in me now; you do not trust me, so
it is not likely you will trust Petit-Claud; but in ten or twelve days
you will change your mind,” he added, with a touch of fatuity. And he
went to his room, and indited the following epistle to Lousteau:--

               _Lucien to Lousteau._

  “MY FRIEND,--Of the pair of us, I alone can remember that bill for
  a thousand francs that I once lent you; and I know how things will
  be with you when you open this letter too well, alas! not to add
  immediately that I do not expect to be repaid in current coin of
  the realm; no, I will take it in credit from you, just as one
  would ask Florine for pleasure. We have the same tailor;
  therefore, you can order a complete outfit for me on the shortest
  possible notice. I am not precisely wearing Adam’s costume, but I
  cannot show myself here. To my astonishment, the honors paid by
  the departments to a Parisian celebrity awaited me. I am the hero
  of a banquet, for all the world as if I were a Deputy of the Left.
  Now, after that, do you understand that I must have a black coat?
  Promise to pay; have it put down to your account, try the
  advertisement dodge, rehearse an unpublished scene between Don
  Juan and M. Dimanche, for I must have a gala suit at all costs. I
  have nothing, nothing but rags: start with that; it is August, the
  weather is magnificent, ergo see that I receive by the end of the
  week a charming morning suit, dark bronze-green jacket, and three
  waistcoats, one a brimstone yellow, one a plaid, and the third
  must be white; furthermore, let there be three pairs of trousers
  of the most fetching kind--one pair of white English stuff, one
  pair of nankeen, and a third of thin black kerseymere; lastly,
  send a black dress-coat and a black satin waistcoat. If you have
  picked up another Florine somewhere, I beg her good offices for
  two cravats. So far this is nothing; I count upon you and your
  skill in these matters; I am not much afraid of the tailor. But
  the ingenuity of poverty, assuredly the most active of all poisons
  at work in the system of man (_id est_ the Parisian), an ingenuity
  that would catch Satan himself napping, has failed so far to
  discover a way to obtain a hat on credit!--How many a time, my
  dear friend, have we deplored this! When one of us shall bring a
  hat that costs one thousand francs into fashion, then, and not
  till then, can we afford to wear them; until that day comes we are
  bound to have cash enough in our pockets to pay for a hat. Ah!
  what an ill turn the Comedie-Francaise did us with, ‘Lafleur, you
  will put gold in my pockets!’

  “I write with a profound sense of all the difficulties involved by
  the demand. Enclose with the above a pair of boots, a pair of
  pumps, a hat, half a dozen pairs of gloves. ‘Tis asking the
  impossible; I know it. But what is a literary life but a
  periodical recurrence of the impossible? Work the miracle, write a
  long article, or play some small scurvy trick, and I will hold
  your debt as fully discharged--this is all I say to you. It is a
  debt of honor after all, my dear fellow, and due these twelve
  months; you ought to blush for yourself if you have any blushes

  “Joking apart, my dear Lousteau, I am in serious difficulties, as
  you may judge for yourself when I tell you that Mme. de Bargeton
  has married Chatelet, and Chatelet is prefect of Angouleme. The
  precious pair can do a good deal for my brother-in-law; he is in
  hiding at this moment on account of that letter of exchange, and
  the horrid business is all my doing. So it is a question of
  appearing before Mme. la Prefete and regaining my influence at all
  costs. It is shocking, is it not, that David Sechard’s fate should
  hang upon a neat pair of shoes, a pair of open-worked gray silk
  stockings (mind you, remember them), and a new hat? I shall give
  out that I am sick and ill, and take to my bed, like Duvicquet, to
  save the trouble of replying to the pressing invitations of my
  fellow-townsmen. My fellow-townsmen, dear boy, have treated me to
  a fine serenade. _My fellow-townsmen_, forsooth! I begin to wonder
  how many fools go to make up that word, since I learned that two
  or three of my old schoolfellows worked up the capital of the
  Angoumois to this pitch of enthusiasm.

  “If you could contrive to slip a few lines as to my reception in
  among the news items, I should be several inches taller for it
  here; and besides, I should make Mme. la Prefete feel that, if I
  have not friends, I have some credit, at any rate, with the
  Parisian press. I give up none of my hopes, and I will return the
  compliment. If you want a good, solid, substantial article for
  some magazine or other, I have time enough now to think something
  out. I only say the word, my dear friend; I count upon you as you
  may count upon me, and I am yours sincerely.

                                                      “LUCIEN DE R.

  “P. S.--Send the things to the coach office to wait until called

Lucien held up his head again. In this mood he wrote the letter, and as
he wrote his thoughts went back to Paris. He had spent six days in the
provinces, and the uneventful quietness of provincial life had already
entered into his soul; his mind returned to those dear old miserable
days with a vague sense of regret. The Comtesse du Chatelet filled
his thoughts for a whole week; and at last he came to attach so much
importance to his reappearance, that he hurried down to the coach office
in L’Houmeau after nightfall in a perfect agony of suspense, like a
woman who has set her last hopes upon a new dress, and waits in despair
until it arrives.

“Ah! Lousteau, all your treasons are forgiven,” he said to himself, as
he eyed the packages, and knew from the shape of them that everything
had been sent. Inside the hatbox he found a note from Lousteau:--

                                             FLORINE’S DRAWING-ROOM.

  “MY DEAR BOY,--The tailor behaved very well; but as thy profound
  retrospective glance led thee to forbode, the cravats, the hats,
  and the silk hosen perplexed our souls, for there was nothing in
  our purse to be perplexed thereby. As said Blondet, so say we;
  there is a fortune awaiting the establishment which will supply
  young men with inexpensive articles on credit; for when we do not
  pay in the beginning, we pay dear in the end. And by the by, did
  not the great Napoleon, who missed a voyage to the Indies for want
  of boots, say that, ‘If a thing is easy, it is never done?’ So
  everything went well--except the boots. I beheld a vision of thee,
  fully dressed, but without a hat! appareled in waistcoats, yet
  shoeless! and bethought me of sending a pair of moccasins given to
  Florine as a curiosity by an American. Florine offered the huge
  sum of forty francs, that we might try our luck at play for you.
  Nathan, Blondet, and I had such luck (as we were not playing for
  ourselves) that we were rich enough to ask La Torpille, des
  Lupeaulx’s sometime ‘rat,’ to supper. Frascati certainly owed us
  that much. Florine undertook the shopping, and added three fine
  shirts to the purchases. Nathan sends you a cane. Blondet, who won
  three hundred francs, is sending you a gold chain; and the gold
  watch, the size of a forty-franc piece, is from La Torpille; some
  idiot gave the thing to her, and it will not go. ‘Trumpery
  rubbish,’ she says, ‘like the man that owned it.’ Bixiou, who came
  to find us up at the _Rocher de Cancale_, wished to enclose a bottle
  of Portugal water in the package. Said our first comic man, ‘If
  this can make him happy, let him have it!’ growling it out in a
  deep bass voice with the _bourgeois_ pomposity that he can act to
  the life. Which things, my dear boy, ought to prove to you how
  much we care for our friends in adversity. Florine, whom I have
  had the weakness to forgive, begs you to send us an article on
  Nathan’s hat. Fare thee well, my son. I can only commiserate you
  on finding yourself back in the same box from which you emerged
  when you discovered your old comrade.

                                                        “ETIENNE L.”

“Poor fellows! They have been gambling for me,” said Lucien; he was
quite touched by the letter. A waft of the breeze from an unhealthy
country, from the land where one has suffered most, may seem to bring
the odors of Paradise; and in a dull life there is an indefinable
sweetness in memories of past pain.

Eve was struck dumb with amazement when her brother came down in his new
clothes. She did not recognize him.

“Now I can walk out in Beaulieu,” he cried; “they shall not say it of me
that I came back in rags. Look, here is a watch which I shall return to
you, for it is mine; and, like its owner, it is erratic in its ways.”

“What a child he is!” exclaimed Eve. “It is impossible to bear you any

“Then do you imagine, my dear girl, that I sent for all this with the
silly idea of shining in Angouleme? I don’t care _that_ for Angouleme”
 (twirling his cane with the engraved gold knob). “I intend to repair the
wrong I have done, and this is my battle array.”

Lucien’s success in this kind was his one real triumph; but the triumph,
be it said, was immense. If admiration freezes some people’s tongues,
envy loosens at least as many more, and if women lost their heads over
Lucien, men slandered him. He might have cried, in the words of
the songwriter, “I thank thee, my coat!” He left two cards at the
prefecture, and another upon Petit-Claud. The next day, the day of the
banquet, the following paragraph appeared under the heading “Angouleme”
 in the Paris newspapers:--


  “The return of the author of _The Archer of Charles IX._ has been
  the signal for an ovation which does equal honor to the town and
  to M. Lucien de Rubempre, the young poet who has made so brilliant
  a beginning; the writer of the one French historical novel not
  written in the style of Scott, and of a preface which may be
  called a literary event. The town hastened to offer him a
  patriotic banquet on his return. The name of the
  recently-appointed prefect is associated with the public
  demonstration in honor of the author of the _Marguerites_, whose
  talent received such warm encouragement from Mme. du Chatelet at
  the outset of his career.”

In France, when once the impulse is given, nobody can stop. The
colonel of the regiment offered to put his band at the disposal of the
committee. The landlord of the _Bell_ (renowned for truffled turkeys,
despatched in the most wonderful porcelain jars to the uttermost parts
of the earth), the famous innkeeper of L’Houmeau, would supply the
repast. At five o’clock some forty persons, all in state and festival
array, were assembled in his largest ball, decorated with hangings,
crowns of laurel, and bouquets. The effect was superb. A crowd of
onlookers, some hundred persons, attracted for the most part by the
military band in the yard, represented the citizens of Angouleme.

Petit-Claud went to the window. “All Angouleme is here,” he said,
looking out.

“I can make nothing of this,” remarked little Postel to his wife
(they had come out to hear the band play). “Why, the prefect and the
receiver-general, and the colonel and the superintendent of the powder
factory, and our mayor and deputy, and the headmaster of the school,
and the manager of the foundry at Ruelle, and the public prosecutor, M.
Milaud, and all the authorities, have just gone in!”

The bank struck up as they sat down to table with variations on the air
_Vive le roy, vive la France_, a melody which has never found popular
favor. It was then five o’clock in the evening; it was eight o’clock
before dessert was served. Conspicuous among the sixty-five dishes
appeared an Olympus in confectionery, surmounted by a figure of France
modeled in chocolate, to give the signal for toasts and speeches.

“Gentlemen,” called the prefect, rising to his feet, “the King! the
rightful ruler of France! To what do we owe the generation of poets and
thinkers who maintain the sceptre of letters in the hands of France, if
not to the peace which the Bourbons have restored----”

“Long live the King!” cried the assembled guests (ministerialists

The venerable headmaster rose.

“To the hero of the day,” he said, “to the young poet who combines the
gift of the _prosateur_ with the charm and poetic faculty of Petrarch in
that sonnet-form which Boileau declares to be so difficult.”


The colonel rose next. “Gentlemen, to the Royalist! for the hero of this
evening had the courage to fight for sound principles!”

“Bravo!” cried the prefect, leading the applause.

Then Petit-Claud called upon all Lucien’s schoolfellows there present.
“To the pride of the grammar-school of Angouleme! to the venerable
headmaster so dear to us all, to whom the acknowledgment for some part
of our triumph is due!”

The old headmaster dried his eyes; he had not expected this toast.
Lucien rose to his feet, the whole room was suddenly silent, and the
poet’s face grew white. In that pause the old headmaster, who sat on his
left, crowned him with a laurel wreath. A round of applause followed,
and when Lucien spoke it was with tears in his eyes and a sob in his

“He is drunk,” remarked the attorney-general-designate to his neighbor,

“My dear fellow-countrymen, my dear comrades,” Lucien said at last, “I
could wish that all France might witness this scene; for thus men rise
to their full stature, and in such ways as these our land demands great
deeds and noble work of us. And when I think of the little that I
have done, and of this great honor shown to me to-day, I can only
feel confused and impose upon the future the task of justifying your
reception of me. The recollection of this moment will give me renewed
strength for efforts to come. Permit me to indicate for your homage my
earliest muse and protectress, and to associate her name with that of
my birthplace; so--to the Comtesse du Chatelet and the noble town of

“He came out of that pretty well!” said the public prosecutor, nodding
approval; “our speeches were all prepared, and his was improvised.”

At ten o’clock the party began to break up, and little knots of guests
went home together. David Sechard heard the unwonted music.

“What is going on in L’Houmeau?” he asked of Basine.

“They are giving a dinner to your brother-in-law, Lucien----”

“I know that he would feel sorry to miss me there,” he said.

At midnight Petit-Claud walked home with Lucien. As they reached the
Place du Murier, Lucien said, “Come life, come death, we are friends, my
dear fellow.”

“My marriage contract,” said the lawyer, “with Mlle. Francoise de la
Haye will be signed to-morrow at Mme. de Senonches’ house; do me the
pleasure of coming. Mme. de Senonches implored me to bring you, and you
will meet Mme. du Chatelet; they are sure to tell her of your speech,
and she will feel flattered by it.”

“I knew what I was about,” said Lucien.

“Oh! you will save David.”

“I am sure I shall,” the poet replied.

Just at that moment David appeared as if by magic in the Place du
Murier. This was how it had come about. He felt that he was in a rather
difficult position; his wife insisted that Lucien must neither go to
David nor know of his hiding-place; and Lucien all the while was writing
the most affectionate letters, saying that in a few days’ time all
should be set right; and even as Basine Clerget explained the reason why
the band played, she put two letters into his hands. The first was from

  “DEAREST,” she wrote, “do as if Lucien were not here; do not
  trouble yourself in the least; our whole security depends upon the
  fact that your enemies cannot find you; get that idea firmly into
  your head. I have more confidence in Kolb and Marion and Basine
  than in my own brother; such is my misfortune. Alas! poor Lucien
  is not the ingenuous and tender-hearted poet whom we used to know;
  and it is simply because he is trying to interfere on your behalf,
  and because he imagines that he can discharge our debts (and this
  from pride, my David), that I am afraid of him. Some fine clothes
  have been sent from Paris for him, and five gold pieces in a
  pretty purse. He gave the money to me, and we are living on it.

  “We have one enemy the less. Your father has gone, thanks to
  Petit-Claud. Petit-Claud unraveled his designs, and put an end to
  them at once by telling him that you would do nothing without
  consulting him, and that he (Petit-Claud) would not allow you to
  concede a single point in the matter of the invention until you
  had been promised an indemnity of thirty thousand francs; fifteen
  thousand to free you from embarrassment, and fifteen thousand more
  to be yours in any case, whether your invention succeeds or no. I
  cannot understand Petit-Claud. I embrace you, dear, a wife’s kiss
  for her husband in trouble. Our little Lucien is well. How strange
  it is to watch him grow rosy and strong, like a flower, in these
  stormy days! Mother prays God for you now, as always, and sends
  love only less tender than mine.--Your

As a matter of fact, Petit-Claud and the Cointets had taken fright at
old Sechard’s peasant shrewdness, and got rid of him so much the more
easily because it was now vintage time at Marsac. Eve’s letter enclosed
another from Lucien:--

  “MY DEAR DAVID,--Everything is going well. I am armed _cap-a-pie_;
  to-day I open the campaign, and in forty-eight hours I shall have
  made great progress. How glad I shall be to embrace you when you
  are free again and my debts are all paid! My mother and sister
  persist in mistrusting me; their suspicion wounds me to the quick.
  As if I did not know already that you are hiding with Basine, for
  every time that Basine comes to the house I hear news of you and
  receive answers to my letters; and besides, it is plain that my
  sister could not find any one else to trust. It hurts me cruelly
  to think that I shall be so near you to-day, and yet that you will
  not be present at this banquet in my honor. I owe my little
  triumph to the vainglory of Angouleme; in a few days it will be
  quite forgotten, and you alone would have taken a real pleasure in
  it. But, after all, in a little while you will pardon everything
  to one who counts it more than all the triumphs in the world to be
  your brother,

Two forces tugged sharply at David’s heart; he adored his wife; and
if he held Lucien in somewhat less esteem, his friendship was scarcely
diminished. In solitude our feelings have unrestricted play; and a man
preoccupied like David, with all-absorbing thoughts, will give way
to impulses for which ordinary life would have provided a sufficient
counterpoise. As he read Lucien’s letter to the sound of military music,
and heard of this unlooked-for recognition, he was deeply touched by
that expression of regret. He had known how it would be. A very slight
expression of feeling appeals irresistibly to a sensitive soul, for
they are apt to credit others with like depths. How should the drop fall
unless the cup were full to the brim?

So at midnight, in spite of all Basine’s entreaties, David must go to
see Lucien.

“Nobody will be out in the streets at this time of night,” he said;
“I shall not be seen, and they cannot arrest me. Even if I should meet
people, I can make use of Kolb’s way of going into hiding. And besides,
it is so intolerably long since I saw my wife and child.”

The reasoning was plausible enough; Basine gave way, and David went.
Petit-Claud was just taking leave as he came up and at his cry of
_“Lucien!”_ the two brothers flung their arms about each other with
tears in their eyes.

Life holds not many moments such as these. Lucien’s heart went out in
response to this friendship for its own sake. There was never question
of debtor and creditor between them, and the offender met with no
reproaches save his own. David, generous and noble that he was, was
longing to bestow pardon; he meant first of all to read Lucien a
lecture, and scatter the clouds that overspread the love of the brother
and sister; and with these ends in view, the lack of money and its
consequent dangers disappeared entirely from his mind.

“Go home,” said Petit-Claud, addressing his client; “take advantage of
your imprudence to see your wife and child again, at any rate; and you
must not be seen, mind you!--How unlucky!” he added, when he was alone
in the Place du Murier. “If only Cerizet were here----”

The buildings magniloquently styled the Angouleme Law Courts were then
in process of construction. Petit-Claud muttered these words to himself
as he passed by the hoardings, and heard a tap upon the boards, and a
voice issuing from a crack between two planks.

“Here I am,” said Cerizet; “I saw David coming out of L’Houmeau. I was
beginning to have my suspicions about his retreat, and now I am sure;
and I know where to have him. But I want to know something of Lucien’s
plans before I set the snare for David; and here are you sending him
into the house! Find some excuse for stopping here, at least, and when
David and Lucien come out, send them round this way; they will think
they are quite alone, and I shall overhear their good-bye.”

“You are a very devil,” muttered Petit-Claud.

“Well, I’m blessed if a man wouldn’t do anything for the thing you
promised me.”

Petit-Claud walked away from the hoarding, and paced up and down in the
Place du Murier; he watched the windows of the room where the family
sat together, and thought of his own prospects to keep up his courage.
Cerizet’s cleverness had given him the chance of striking the final
blow. Petit-Claud was a double-dealer of the profoundly cautious
stamp that is never caught by the bait of a present satisfaction, nor
entangled by a personal attachment, after his first initiation into the
strategy of self-seeking and the instability of the human heart. So,
from the very first, he had put little trust in Cointet. He foresaw that
his marriage negotiations might very easily be broken off, saw also that
in that case he could not accuse Cointet of bad faith, and he had
taken his measures accordingly. But since his success at the Hotel de
Bargeton, Petit-Claud’s game was above board. A certain under-plot of
his was useless now, and even dangerous to a man with his political
ambitions. He had laid the foundations of his future importance in the
following manner:--

Gannerac and a few of the wealthy men of business in L’Houmeau formed
a sort of Liberal clique in constant communication (through commercial
channels) with the leaders of the Opposition. The Villele ministry,
accepted by the dying Louis XVIII., gave the signal for a change of
tactics in the Opposition camp; for, since the death of Napoleon, the
liberals had ceased to resort to the dangerous expedient of conspiracy.
They were busy organizing resistance by lawful means throughout the
provinces, and aiming at securing control of the great bulk of electors
by convincing the masses. Petit-Claud, a rabid Liberal, and a man of
L’Houmeau, was the instigator, the secret counselor, and the very life
of this movement in the lower town, which groaned under the tyranny of
the aristocrats at the upper end. He was the first to see the danger
of leaving the whole press of the department in the control of the
Cointets; the Opposition must have its organ; it would not do to be
behind other cities.

“If each one of us gives Gannerac a bill for five hundred francs,
he would have some twenty thousand francs and more; we might buy
up Sechard’s printing-office, and we could do as we liked with the
master-printer if we lent him the capital,” Petit-Claud had said.

Others had taken up the idea, and in this way Petit-Claud strengthened
his position with regard to David on the one side and the Cointets on
the other. Casting about him for a tool for his party, he naturally
thought that a rogue of Cerizet’s calibre was the very man for the

“If you can find Sechard’s hiding-place and put him in our hands,
somebody will lend you twenty thousand francs to buy his business, and
very likely there will be a newspaper to print. So, set about it,” he
had said.

Petit-Claud put more faith in Cerizet’s activity than in all the
Doublons in existence; and then it was that he promised Cointet that
Sechard should be arrested. But now that the little lawyer cherished
hopes of office, he saw that he must turn his back upon the Liberals;
and, meanwhile, the amount for the printing-office had been subscribed
in L’Houmeau. Petit-Claud decided to allow things to take their natural

“Pooh!” he thought, “Cerizet will get into trouble with his paper, and
give me an opportunity of displaying my talents.”

He walked up to the door of the printing-office and spoke to Kolb, the
sentinel. “Go up and warn David that he had better go now,” he said,
“and take every precaution. I am going home; it is one o’clock.”

Marion came to take Kolb’s place. Lucien and David came down together
and went out, Kolb a hundred paces ahead of them, and Marion at the
same distance behind. The two friends walked past the hoarding, Lucien
talking eagerly the while.

“My plan is extremely simple, David; but how could I tell you about it
while Eve was there? She would never understand. I am quite sure that at
the bottom of Louise’s heart there is a feeling that I can rouse, and I
should like to arouse it if it is only to avenge myself upon that idiot
the prefect. If our love affair only lasts for a week, I will contrive
to send an application through her for the subvention of twenty thousand
francs for you. I am going to see her again to-morrow in the little
boudoir where our old affair of the heart began; Petit-Claud says that
the room is the same as ever; I shall play my part in the comedy; and I
will send word by Basine to-morrow morning to tell you whether the
actor was hissed. You may be at liberty by then, who knows?--Now do you
understand how it was that I wanted clothes from Paris? One cannot act
the lover’s part in rags.”

At six o’clock that morning Cerizet went to Petit-Claud.

“Doublon can be ready to take his man to-morrow at noon, I will
answer for it,” he said; “I know one of Mlle. Clerget’s girls, do you
understand?” Cerizet unfolded his plan, and Petit-Claud hurried to find

“If M. Francis du Hautoy will settle his property on Francoise, you
shall sign a deed of partnership with Sechard in two days. I shall not
be married for a week after the contract is signed, so we shall both
be within the terms of our little agreement, tit for tat. To-night,
however, we must keep a close watch over Lucien and Mme. la Comtesse du
Chatelet, for the whole business lies in that. . . . If Lucien hopes to
succeed through the Countess’ influence, I have David safe----”

“You will be Keeper of the Seals yet, it is my belief,” said Cointet.

“And why not? No one objects to M. de Peyronnet,” said Petit-Claud. He
had not altogether sloughed his skin of Liberalism.

Mlle. de la Haye’s ambiguous position brought most of the upper town
to the signing of the marriage contract. The comparative poverty of the
young couple and the absence of a _corbeille_ quickened the interest
that people love to exhibit; for it is with beneficence as with
ovations, we prefer the deeds of charity which gratify self-love. The
Marquise de Pimentel, the Comtesse du Chatelet, M. de Senonches, and
one or two frequenters of the house had given Francoise a few wedding
presents, which made great talk in the city. These pretty trifles,
together with the trousseau which Zephirine had been preparing for the
past twelve months, the godfather’s jewels, and the usual wedding
gifts, consoled Francoise and roused the curiosity of some mothers of

Petit-Claud and Cointet had both remarked that their presence in
the Angouleme Olympus was endured rather than courted. Cointet was
Francoise’s trustee and quasi-guardian; and if Petit-Claud was to sign
the contract, Petit-Claud’s presence was as necessary as the attendance
of the man to be hanged at an execution; but though, once married, Mme.
Petit-Claud might keep her right of entry to her godmother’s house,
Petit-Claud foresaw some difficulty on his own account, and resolved to
be beforehand with these haughty personages.

He felt ashamed of his parents. He had sent his mother to stay at
Mansle; now he begged her to say that she was out of health and to give
her consent in writing. So humiliating was it to be without relations,
protectors, or witnesses to his signature, that Petit-Claud thought
himself in luck that he could bring a presentable friend at the
Countess’ request. He called to take up Lucien, and they drove to the
Hotel de Bargeton.

On that memorable evening the poet dressed to outshine every man
present. Mme. de Senonches had spoken of him as the hero of the hour,
and a first interview between two estranged lovers is the kind of scene
that provincials particularly love. Lucien had come to be the lion
of the evening; he was said to be so handsome, so much changed, so
wonderful, that every well-born woman in Angouleme was curious to see
him again. Following the fashion of the transition period between the
eighteenth century small clothes and the vulgar costume of the present
day, he wore tight-fitting black trousers. Men still showed their
figures in those days, to the utter despair of lean, clumsily-made
mortals; and Lucien was an Apollo. The open-work gray silk stockings,
the neat shoes, and the black satin waistcoat were scrupulously drawn
over his person, and seemed to cling to him. His forehead looked the
whiter by contrast with the thick, bright curls that rose above it
with studied grace. The proud eyes were radiant. The hands, small as
a woman’s, never showed to better advantage than when gloved. He had
modeled himself upon de Marsay, the famous Parisian dandy, holding
his hat and cane in one hand, and keeping the other free for the very
occasional gestures which illustrated his talk.

Lucien had quite intended to emulate the famous false modesty of those
who bend their heads to pass beneath the Porte Saint-Denis, and to slip
unobserved into the room; but Petit-Claud, having but one friend, made
him useful. He brought Lucien almost pompously through a crowded room
to Mme. de Senonches. The poet heard a murmur as he passed; not so very
long ago that hum of voices would have turned his head, to-day he was
quite different; he did not doubt that he himself was greater than the
whole Olympus put together.

“Madame,” he said, addressing Mme. de Senonches, “I have already
congratulated my friend Petit-Claud (a man with the stuff in him of
which Keepers of the Seals are made) on the honor of his approaching
connection with you, slight as are the ties between godmother and
goddaughter----” (this with the air of a man uttering an epigram, by
no means lost upon any woman in the room, for every woman was listening
without appearing to do so.) “And as for myself,” he continued, “I am
delighted to have the opportunity of paying my homage to you.”

He spoke easily and fluently, as some great lord might speak under the
roof of his inferiors; and as he listened to Zephirine’s involved reply,
he cast a glance over the room to consider the effect that he wished
to make. The pause gave him time to discover Francis du Hautoy and the
prefect; to bow gracefully to each with the proper shade of difference
in his smile, and, finally, to approach Mme. du Chatelet as if he
had just caught sight of her. That meeting was the real event of the
evening. No one so much as thought of the marriage contract lying in
the adjoining bedroom, whither Francoise and the notary led guest
after guest to sign the document. Lucien made a step towards Louise de
Negrepelisse, and then spoke with that grace of manner now associated,
for her, with memories of Paris.

“Do I owe to you, madame, the pleasure of an invitation to dine at the
Prefecture the day after to-morrow?” he said.

“You owe it solely to your fame, monsieur,” Louise answered drily,
somewhat taken aback by the turn of a phrase by which Lucien
deliberately tried to wound her pride.

“Ah! Madame la Comtesse, I cannot bring you the guest if the man is in
disgrace,” said Lucien, and, without waiting for an answer, he turned
and greeted the Bishop with stately grace.

“Your lordship’s prophecy has been partially fulfilled,” he said, and
there was a winning charm in his tones; “I will endeavor to fulfil it to
the letter. I consider myself very fortunate since this evening brings
me an opportunity of paying my respects to you.”

Lucien drew the Bishop into a conversation that lasted for ten minutes.
The women looked on Lucien as a phenomenon. His unexpected insolence
had struck Mme. du Chatelet dumb; she could not find an answer. Looking
round the room, she saw that every woman admired Lucien; she watched
group after group repeating the phrases by which Lucien crushed her with
seeming disdain, and her heart contracted with a spasm of mortification.

“Suppose that he should not come to the Prefecture after this, what talk
there would be!” she thought. “Where did he learn this pride? Can Mlle.
des Touches have taken a fancy for him? . . . He is so handsome. They
say that she hurried to see him in Paris the day after that actress
died. . . . Perhaps he has come to the rescue of his brother-in-law, and
happened to be behind our caleche at Mansle by accident. Lucien looked
at us very strangely that morning.”

A crowd of thoughts crossed Louise’s brain, and unluckily for her, she
continued to ponder visibly as she watched Lucien. He was talking with
the Bishop as if he were the king of the room; making no effort to find
any one out, waiting till others came to him, looking round about him
with varying expression, and as much at his ease as his model de Marsay.
M. de Senonches appeared at no great distance, but Lucien still stood
beside the prelate.

At the end of ten minutes Louise could contain herself no longer. She
rose and went over to the Bishop and said:

“What is being said, my lord, that you smile so often?”

Lucien drew back discreetly, and left Mme. du Chatelet with his

“Ah! Mme. la Comtesse, what a clever young fellow he is! He was
explaining to me that he owed all he is to you----”

“_I_ am not ungrateful, madame,” said Lucien, with a reproachful glance
that charmed the Countess.

“Let us have an understanding,” she said, beckoning him with her fan.
“Come into the boudoir. My Lord Bishop, you shall judge between us.”

“She has found a funny task for his lordship,” said one of the Chandour
camp, sufficiently audibly.

“Judge between us!” repeated Lucien, looking from the prelate to the
lady; “then, is one of us in fault?”

Louise de Negrepelisse sat down on the sofa in the familiar boudoir. She
made the Bishop sit on one side and Lucien on the other, then she began
to speak. But Lucien, to the joy and surprise of his old love, honored
her with inattention; her words fell unheeded on his ears; he sat like
Pasta in _Tancredi_, with the words _O patria!_ upon her lips, the music
of the great cavatina _Dell Rizzo_ might have passed into his face.
Indeed, Coralie’s pupil had contrived to bring the tears to his eyes.

“Oh! Louise, how I loved you!” he murmured, careless of the Bishop’s
presence, heedless of the conversation, as soon as he knew that the
Countess had seen the tears.

“Dry your eyes, or you will ruin me here a second time,” she said in an
aside that horrified the prelate.

“And once is enough,” was Lucien’s quick retort. “That speech from Mme.
d’Espard’s cousin would dry the eyes of a weeping Magdalene. Oh me! for
a little moment old memories, and lost illusions, and my twentieth year
came back to me, and you have----”

His lordship hastily retreated to the drawing-room at this; it seemed
to him that his dignity was like to be compromised by this sentimental
pair. Every one ostentatiously refrained from interrupting them, and a
quarter of an hour went by; till at last Sixte du Chatelet, vexed by the
laughter and talk, and excursions to the boudoir door, went in with a
countenance distinctly overclouded, and found Louise and Lucien talking

“Madame,” said Sixte in his wife’s ear, “you know Angouleme better than
I do, and surely you should think of your position as Mme. la Prefete
and of the Government?”

“My dear,” said Louise, scanning her responsible editor with a
haughtiness that made him quake, “I am talking with M. de Rubempre of
matters which interest you. It is a question of rescuing an inventor
about to fall a victim to the basest machinations; you will help us.
As to those ladies yonder, and their opinion of me, you shall see how I
will freeze the venom of their tongues.”

She came out of the boudoir on Lucien’s arm, and drew him across to sign
the contract with a great lady’s audacity.

“Write your name after mine,” she said, handing him the pen. And Lucien
submissively signed in the place indicated beneath her name.

“M. de Senonches, would you have recognized M. de Rubempre?” she
continued, and the insolent sportsman was compelled to greet Lucien.

She returned to the drawing-room on Lucien’s arm, and seated him on
the awe-inspiring central sofa between herself and Zephirine.
There, enthroned like a queen, she began, at first in a low voice, a
conversation in which epigram evidently was not wanting. Some of her
old friends, and several women who paid court to her, came to join the
group, and Lucien soon became the hero of the circle. The Countess drew
him out on the subject of life in Paris; his satirical talk flowed with
spontaneous and incredible spirit; he told anecdotes of celebrities,
those conversational luxuries which the provincial devours with such
avidity. His wit was as much admired as his good looks. And Mme. la
Comtesse Sixte du Chatelet, preparing Lucien’s triumph so patiently, sat
like a player enraptured with the sound of his instrument; she gave him
opportunities for a reply; she looked round the circle for applause so
openly, that not a few of the women began to think that their return
together was something more than a coincidence, and that Lucien and
Louise, loving with all their hearts, had been separated by a double
treason. Pique, very likely, had brought about this ill-starred match
with Chatelet. And a reaction set in against the prefect.

Before the Countess rose to go at one o’clock in the morning, she
turned to Lucien and said in a low voice, “Do me the pleasure of coming
punctually to-morrow evening.” Then, with the friendliest little nod,
she went, saying a few words to Chatelet, who was looking for his hat.

“If Mme. du Chatelet has given me a correct idea of the state of
affairs, count on me, my dear Lucien,” said the prefect, preparing to
hurry after his wife. She was going away without him, after the Paris
fashion. “Your brother-in-law may consider that his troubles are at an
end,” he added as he went.

“M. le Comte surely owes me so much,” smiled Lucien.

Cointet and Petit-Claud heard these farewell speeches.

“Well, well, we are done for now,” Cointet muttered in his confederate’s
ear. Petit-Claud, thunderstruck by Lucien’s success, amazed by his
brilliant wit and varying charm, was gazing at Francoise de la Haye;
the girl’s whole face was full of admiration for Lucien. “Be like your
friend,” she seemed to say to her betrothed. A gleam of joy flitted over
Petit-Claud’s countenance.

“We still have a whole day before the prefect’s dinner; I will answer
for everything.”

An hour later, as Petit-Claud and Lucien walked home together,
Lucien talked of his success. “Well, my dear fellow, I came, I saw, I
conquered! Sechard will be very happy in a few hours’ time.”

“Just what I wanted to know,” thought Petit-Claud. Aloud he said--“I
thought you were simply a poet, Lucien, but you are a Lauzun too, that
is to say--twice a poet,” and they shook hands--for the last time, as it

“Good news, dear Eve,” said Lucien, waking his sister, “David will have
no debts in less than a month!”

“How is that?”

“Well, my Louise is still hidden by Mme. du Chatelet’s petticoat.
She loves me more than ever; she will send a favorable report of our
discovery to the Minister of the Interior through her husband. So we
have only to endure our troubles for one month, while I avenge myself on
the prefect and complete the happiness of his married life.”

Eve listened, and thought that she must be dreaming.

“I saw the little gray drawing-room where I trembled like a child two
years ago; it seemed as if scales fell from my eyes when I saw the
furniture and the pictures and the faces again. How Paris changes one’s

“Is that a good thing?” asked Eve, at last beginning to understand.

“Come, come; you are still asleep. We will talk about it to-morrow after

Cerizet’s plot was exceedingly simple, a commonplace stratagem
familiar to the provincial bailiff. Its success entirely depends
upon circumstances, and in this case it was certain, so intimate was
Cerizet’s knowledge of the characters and hopes of those concerned.
Cerizet had been a kind of Don Juan among the young work-girls, ruling
his victims by playing one off against another. Since he had been the
Cointet’s extra foreman, he had singled out one of Basine Clerget’s
assistants, a girl almost as handsome as Mme. Sechard. Henriette
Signol’s parents owned a small vineyard two leagues out of Angouleme,
on the road to Saintes. The Signols, like everybody else in the country,
could not afford to keep their only child at home; so they meant her to
go out to service, in country phrase. The art of clear-starching is
a part of every country housemaid’s training; and so great was
Mme. Prieur’s reputation, that the Signols sent Henriette to her as
apprentice, and paid for their daughter’s board and lodging.

Mme. Prieur was one of the old-fashioned mistresses, who consider that
they fill a parent’s place towards their apprentices. They were part of
the family; she took them with her to church, and looked scrupulously
after them. Henriette Signol was a tall, fine-looking girl, with bold
eyes, and long, thick, dark hair, and the pale, very fair complexion
of girls in the South--white as a magnolia flower. For which reasons
Henriette was one of the first on whom Cerizet cast his eyes; but
Henriette came of “honest farmer folk,” and only yielded at last to
jealousy, to bad example, and the treacherous promise of subsequent
marriage. By this time Cerizet was the Cointet’s foreman. When he
learned that the Signols owned a vineyard worth some ten or twelve
thousand francs, and a tolerably comfortable cottage, he hastened to
make it impossible for Henriette to marry any one else. Affairs had
reached this point when Petit-Claud held out the prospect of a printing
office and twenty thousand francs of borrowed capital, which was to
prove a yoke upon the borrower’s neck. Cerizet was dazzled, the offer
turned his head; Henriette Signol was now only an obstacle in the way
of his ambitions, and he neglected the poor girl. Henriette, in her
despair, clung more closely to her seducer as he tried to shake her off.
When Cerizet began to suspect that David was hiding in Basine’s house,
his views with regard to Henriette underwent another change, though he
treated her as before. A kind of frenzy works in a girl’s brain when she
must marry her seducer to conceal her dishonor, and Cerizet was on the
watch to turn this madness to his own account.

During the morning of the day when Lucien had set himself to reconquer
his Louise, Cerizet told Basine’s secret to Henriette, giving her to
understand at the same time that their marriage and future prospects
depended upon the discovery of David’s hiding-place. Thus instructed,
Henriette easily made certain of the fact that David was in Basine
Clerget’s inner room. It never occurred to the girl that she was doing
wrong to act the spy, and Cerizet involved her in the guilt of betrayal
by this first step.

Lucien was still sleeping while Cerizet, closeted with Petit-Claud,
heard the history of the important trifles with which all Angouleme
presently would ring.

The Cointets’ foreman gave a satisfied nod as Petit-Claud came to an
end. “Lucien surely has written you a line since he came back, has he
not?” he asked.

“This is all that I have,” answered the lawyer, and he held out a note
on Mme. Sechard’s writing-paper.

“Very well,” said Cerizet, “let Doublon be in wait at the Palet Gate
about ten minutes before sunset; tell him to post his gendarmes, and you
shall have our man.”

“Are you sure of _your_ part of the business?” asked Petit-Claud,
scanning Cerizet.

“I rely on chance,” said the ex-street boy, “and she is a saucy huzzy;
she does not like honest folk.

“You must succeed,” said Cerizet. “You have pushed me into this dirty
business; you may as well let me have a few banknotes to wipe off the
stains.”--Then detecting a look that he did not like in the attorney’s
face, he continued, with a deadly glance, “If you have cheated me, sir,
if you don’t buy the printing-office for me within a week--you will
leave a young widow;” he lowered his voice.

“If we have David on the jail register at six o’clock, come round to M.
Gannerac’s at nine, and we will settle your business,” said Petit-Claud

“Agreed. Your will shall be done, governor,” said Cerizet.

Cerizet understood the art of washing paper, a dangerous art for the
Treasury. He washed out Lucien’s four lines and replaced them, imitating
the handwriting with a dexterity which augured ill for his own future:--

  “MY DEAR DAVID,--Your business is settled; you need not fear to go
  to the prefect. You can go out at sunset. I will come to meet you
  and tell you what to do at the prefecture.--Your brother,

At noon Lucien wrote to David, telling him of his evening’s success.
The prefect would be sure to lend his influence, he said; he was full of
enthusiasm over the invention, and was drawing up a report that very day
to send to the Government. Marion carried the letter to Basine, taking
some of Lucien’s linen to the laundry as a pretext for the errand.

Petit-Claud had told Cerizet that a letter would in all probability
be sent. Cerizet called for Mlle. Signol, and the two walked by the
Charente. Henriette’s integrity must have held out for a long while, for
the walk lasted for two hours. A whole future of happiness and ease and
the interests of a child were at stake, and Cerizet asked a mere trifle
of her. He was very careful besides to say nothing of the consequences
of that trifle. She was only to carry a letter and a message, that was
all; but it was the greatness of the reward for the trifling service
that frightened Henriette. Nevertheless, Cerizet gained her consent at
last; she would help him in his stratagem.

At five o’clock Henriette must go out and come in again, telling Basine
Clerget that Mme. Sechard wanted to speak to her at once. Fifteen
minutes after Basine’s departure she must go upstairs, knock at the door
of the inner room, and give David the forged note. That was all. Cerizet
looked to chance to manage the rest.

For the first time in twelve months, Eve felt the iron grasp of
necessity relax a little. She began at last to hope. She, too, would
enjoy her brother’s visit; she would show herself abroad on the arm of a
man feted in his native town, adored by the women, beloved by the proud
Comtesse du Chatelet. She dressed herself prettily, and proposed to
walk out after dinner with her brother to Beaulieu. In September all
Angouleme comes out at that hour to breathe the fresh air.

“Oh! that is the beautiful Mme. Sechard,” voices said here and there.

“I should never have believed it of her,” said a woman.

“The husband is in hiding, and the wife walks abroad,” said Mme. Postel
for young Mme. Sechard’s benefit.

“Oh, let us go home,” said poor Eve; “I have made a mistake.”

A few minutes before sunset, the sound of a crowd rose from the steps
that lead down to L’Houmeau. Apparently some crime had been committed,
for persons coming from L’Houmeau were talking among themselves.
Curiosity drew Lucien and Eve towards the steps.

“A thief has just been arrested no doubt, the man looks as pale as
death,” one of these passers-by said to the brother and sister. The
crowd grew larger.

Lucien and Eve watched a group of some thirty children, old women
and men, returning from work, clustering about the gendarmes, whose
gold-laced caps gleamed above the heads of the rest. About a hundred
persons followed the procession, the crowd gathering like a storm cloud.

“Oh! it is my husband!” Eve cried out.

_“David!”_ exclaimed Lucien.

“It is his wife,” said voices, and the crowd made way.

“What made you come out?” asked Lucien.

“Your letter,” said David, haggard and white.

“I knew it!” said Eve, and she fainted away. Lucien raised his sister,
and with the help of two strangers he carried her home; Marion laid her
in bed, and Kolb rushed off for a doctor. Eve was still insensible when
the doctor arrived; and Lucien was obliged to confess to his mother that
he was the cause of David’s arrest; for he, of course, knew nothing of
the forged letter and Cerizet’s stratagem. Then he went up to his room
and locked himself in, struck dumb by the malediction in his mother’s

In the dead of night he wrote one more letter amid constant
interruptions; the reader can divine the agony of the writer’s mind from
those phrases, jerked out, as it were, one by one:--

  “MY BELOVED SISTER,--We have seen each other for the last time. My
  resolution is final, and for this reason. In many families there
  is one unlucky member, a kind of disease in their midst. I am that
  unlucky one in our family. The observation is not mine; it was
  made at a friendly supper one evening at the _Rocher de Cancale_ by
  a diplomate who has seen a great deal of the world. While we
  laughed and joked, he explained the reason why some young lady or
  some other remained unmarried, to the astonishment of the world
  --it was ‘a touch of her father,’ he said, and with that he unfolded
  his theory of inherited weaknesses. He told us how such and such a
  family would have flourished but for the mother; how it was that a
  son had ruined his father, or a father had stripped his children
  of prospects and respectability. It was said laughingly, but we
  thought of so many cases in point in ten minutes that I was struck
  with the theory. The amount of truth in it furnished all sorts of
  wild paradoxes, which journalists maintain cleverly enough for
  their own amusement when there is nobody else at hand to mystify.
  I bring bad luck to our family. My heart is full of love for you,
  yet I behave like an enemy. The blow dealt unintentionally is the
  cruelest blow of all. While I was leading a bohemian life in
  Paris, a life made up of pleasure and misery; taking good
  fellowship for friendship, forsaking my true friends for those who
  wished to exploit me, and succeeded; forgetful of you, or
  remembering you only to cause you trouble,--all that while you
  were walking in the humble path of hard work, making your way
  slowly but surely to the fortune which I tried so madly to snatch.
  While you grew better, I grew worse; a fatal element entered into
  my life through my own choice. Yes, unbounded ambition makes an
  obscure existence simply impossible for me. I have tastes and
  remembrances of past pleasures that poison the enjoyments within
  my reach; once I should have been satisfied with them, now it is
  too late. Oh, dear Eve, no one can think more hardly of me than I
  do myself; my condemnation is absolute and pitiless. The struggle
  in Paris demands steady effort; my will power is spasmodic, my
  brain works intermittently. The future is so appalling that I do
  not care to face it, and the present is intolerable.

  “I wanted to see you again. I should have done better to stay in
  exile all my days. But exile without means of subsistence would be
  madness; I will not add another folly to the rest. Death is better
  than a maimed life; I cannot think of myself in any position in
  which my overweening vanity would not lead me into folly.

  “Some human beings are like the figure 0, another must be put
  before it, and they acquire ten times their value. I am nothing
  unless a strong inexorable will is wedded to mine. Mme. de
  Bargeton was in truth my wife; when I refused to leave Coralie for
  her I spoiled my life. You and David might have been excellent
  pilots for me, but you are not strong enough to tame my weakness,
  which in some sort eludes control. I like an easy life, a life
  without cares; to clear an obstacle out of my way I can descend to
  baseness that sticks at nothing. I was born a prince. I have more
  than the requisite intellectual dexterity for success, but only by
  moments; and the prizes of a career so crowded by ambitious
  competitors are to those who expend no more than the necessary
  strength, and retain a sufficient reserve when they reach the

  “I shall do harm again with the best intentions in the world. Some
  men are like oaks, I am a delicate shrub it may be, and I
  forsooth, must needs aspire to be a forest cedar.

  “There you have my bankrupt’s schedule. The disproportion between
  my powers and my desires, my want of balance, in short, will bring
  all my efforts to nothing. There are many such characters among
  men of letters, many men whose intellectual powers and character
  are always at variance, who will one thing and wish another. What
  would become of me? I can see it all beforehand, as I think of
  this and that great light that once shone on Paris, now utterly
  forgotten. On the threshold of old age I shall be a man older than
  my age, needy and without a name. My whole soul rises up against
  the thought of such a close; I will not be a social rag. Ah, dear
  sister, loved and worshiped at least as much for your severity at
  the last as for your tenderness at the first--if we have paid so
  dear for my joy at seeing you all once more, you and David may
  perhaps some day think that you could grudge no price however high
  for a little last happiness for an unhappy creature who loved you.
  Do not try to find me, Eve; do not seek to know what becomes of
  me. My intellect for once shall be backed by my will.
  Renunciation, my angel, is daily death of self; my renunciation
  will only last for one day; I will take advantage now of that
  day. . . .

                                                       “_Two o’clock_.

  “Yes, I have quite made up my mind. Farewell for ever, dear Eve.
  There is something sweet in the thought that I shall live only in
  your hearts henceforth, and I wish no other burying place. Once
  more, farewell. . . . That is the last word from your brother


Lucien read the letter over, crept noiselessly down stairs, and left
it in the child’s cradle; amid falling tears he set a last kiss on the
forehead of his sleeping sister; then he went out. He put out his candle
in the gray dusk, took a last look at the old house, stole softly along
the passage, and opened the street door; but in spite of his caution, he
awakened Kolb, who slept on a mattress on the workshop floor.

“Who goes there?” cried Kolb.

“It is I, Lucien; I am going away, Kolb.”

“You vould haf done better gif you at nefer kom,” Kolb muttered audibly.

“I should have done better still if I had never come into the world,”
 Lucien answered. “Good-bye, Kolb; I don’t bear you any grudge for
thinking as I think myself. Tell David that I was sorry I could not bid
him good-bye, and say that this was my last thought.”

By the time the Alsacien was up and dressed, Lucien had shut the house
door, and was on his way towards the Charente by the Promenade de
Beaulieu. He might have been going to a festival, for he had put on his
new clothes from Paris and his dandy’s trinkets for a drowning shroud.
Something in Lucien’s tone had struck Kolb. At first the man thought of
going to ask his mistress whether she knew that her brother had left
the house; but as the deepest silence prevailed, he concluded that the
departure had been arranged beforehand, and lay down again and slept.

Little, considering the gravity of the question, has been written on
the subject of suicide; it has not been studied. Perhaps it is a disease
that cannot be observed. Suicide is one effect of a sentiment which we
will call self-esteem, if you will, to prevent confusion by using the
word “honor.” When a man despises himself, and sees that others despise
him, when real life fails to fulfil his hopes, then comes the moment
when he takes his life, and thereby does homage to society--shorn of
his virtues or his splendor, he does not care to face his fellows.
Among atheists--Christians being without the question of suicide--among
atheists, whatever may be said to the contrary, none but a base coward
can take up a dishonored life.

There are three kinds of suicide--the first is only the last and acute
stage of a long illness, and this kind belongs distinctly to pathology;
the second is the suicide of despair; and the third the suicide based on
logical argument. Despair and deductive reasoning had brought Lucien to
this pass, but both varieties are curable; it is only the pathological
suicide that is inevitable. Not infrequently you find all three causes
combined, as in the case of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Lucien having made up his mind fell to considering methods. The poet
would fain die as became a poet. At first he thought of throwing himself
into the Charente and making an end then and there; but as he came
down the steps from Beaulieu for the last time, he heard the whole town
talking of his suicide; he saw the horrid sight of a drowned dead body,
and thought of the recognition and the inquest; and, like some other
suicides, felt that vanity reached beyond death.

He remembered the day spent at Courtois’ mill, and his thoughts returned
to the round pool among the willows that he saw as he came along by the
little river, such a pool as you often find on small streams, with a
still, smooth surface that conceals great depths beneath. The water is
neither green nor blue nor white nor tawny; it is like a polished steel
mirror. No sword-grass grows about the margin; there are no blue water
forget-me-nots, nor broad lily leaves; the grass at the brim is short
and thick, and the weeping willows that droop over the edge grow
picturesquely enough. It is easy to imagine a sheer precipice beneath
filled with water to the brim. Any man who should have the courage to
fill his pockets with pebbles would not fail to find death, and never be
seen thereafter.

At the time while he admired the lovely miniature of a landscape, the
poet had thought to himself, “‘Tis a spot to make your mouth water for a

He thought of it now as he went down into L’Houmeau; and when he took
his way towards Marsac, with the last sombre thoughts gnawing at his
heart, it was with the firm resolve to hide his death. There should be
no inquest held over him, he would not be laid in earth; no one should
see him in the hideous condition of the corpse that floats on the
surface of the water. Before long he reached one of the slopes, common
enough on all French highroads, and commonest of all between Angouleme
and Poitiers. He saw the coach from Bordeaux to Paris coming up at full
speed behind him, and knew that the passengers would probably alight
to walk up the hill. He did not care to be seen just then. Turning off
sharply into a beaten track, he began to pick the flowers in a vineyard
hard by.

When Lucien came back to the road with a great bunch of the yellow
stone-crop which grows everywhere upon the stony soil of the vineyards,
he came out upon a traveler dressed in black from head to foot. The
stranger wore powder, there were silver buckles on his shoes of Orleans
leather, and his brown face was scarred and seamed as if he had fallen
into the fire in infancy. The traveler, so obviously clerical in his
dress, was walking slowly and smoking a cigar. He turned as Lucien
jumped down from the vineyard into the road. The deep melancholy on
the handsome young face, the poet’s symbolical flowers, and his elegant
dress seemed to strike the stranger. He looked at Lucien with something
of the expression of a hunter that has found his quarry at last after
long and fruitless search. He allowed Lucien to come alongside in
nautical phrase; then he slackened his pace, and appeared to look along
the road up the hill; Lucien, following the direction of his eyes, saw a
light traveling carriage with two horses, and a post-boy standing beside

“You have allowed the coach to pass you, monsieur; you will lose your
place unless you care to take a seat in my caleche and overtake the
mail, for it is rather quicker traveling post than by the public
conveyance.” The traveler spoke with extreme politeness and a very
marked Spanish accent.

Without waiting for an answer, he drew a cigar-case from his pocket,
opened it, and held it out to Lucien.

“I am not on a journey,” said Lucien, “and I am too near the end of my
stage to indulge in the pleasure of smoking----”

“You are very severe with yourself,” returned the Spaniard. “Though I
am a canon of the cathedral of Toledo, I occasionally smoke a cigarette.
God gave us tobacco to allay our passions and our pains. You seem to be
downcast, or at any rate, you carry the symbolical flower of sorrow
in your hand, like the rueful god Hymen. Come! all your troubles will
vanish away with the smoke,” and again the ecclesiastic held out his
little straw case; there was something fascinating in his manner, and
kindliness towards Lucien lighted up his eyes.

“Forgive me, father” Lucien answered stiffly; “there is no cigar that
can scatter my troubles.” Tears came to his eyes at the words.

“It must surely be Divine Providence that prompted me to take a little
exercise to shake off a traveler’s morning drowsiness,” said the
churchman. “A divine prompting to fulfil my mission here on earth by
consoling you.--What great trouble can you have at your age?”

“Your consolations, father, can do nothing for me. You are a Spaniard,
I am a Frenchman; you believe in the commandments of the Church, I am an

“_Santa Virgen del Pilar_! you are an atheist!” cried the other, laying
a hand on Lucien’s arm with maternal solicitude. “Ah! here is one of the
curious things I promised myself to see in Paris. We, in Spain, do not
believe in atheists. There is no country but France where one can have
such opinions at nineteen years.”

“Oh! I am an atheist in the fullest sense of the word. I have no belief
in God, in society, in happiness. Take a good look at me, father; for in
a few hours’ time life will be over for me. My last sun has risen,” said
Lucien; with a sort of rhetorical effect he waved his hand towards the

“How so; what have you done that you must die? Who has condemned you to

“A tribunal from which there is no appeal--I myself.”

“You, child!” cried the priest. “Have you killed a man? Is the scaffold
waiting for you? Let us reason together a little. If you are resolved,
as you say, to return to nothingness, everything on earth is indifferent
to you, is it not?”

Lucien bowed assent.

“Very well, then; can you not tell me about your troubles? Some little
affair of the heart has taken a bad turn, no doubt?”

Lucien shrugged his shoulders very significantly.

“Are you resolved to kill yourself to escape dishonor, or do you despair
of life? Very good. You can kill yourself at Poitiers quite as easily
as at Angouleme, and at Tours it will be no harder than at Poitiers. The
quicksands of the Loire never give up their prey----”

“No, father,” said Lucien; “I have settled it all. Not three weeks ago I
chanced upon the most charming raft that can ferry a man sick and tired
of this life into the other world----”

“The other world? You are not an atheist.”

“Oh! by another world I mean my next transformation, animal or plant.”

“Have you some incurable disease?”

“Yes, father.”

“Ah! now we come to the point. What is it?”


The priest looked at Lucien. “The diamond does not know its own value,”
 he said, and there was an inexpressible charm, and a touch of something
like irony in his smile.

“None but a priest could flatter a poor man about to die,” exclaimed

“You are not going to die,” the Spaniard returned authoritatively.

“I have heard many times of men that were robbed on the highroad, but I
have never yet heard of one that found a fortune there,” said Lucien.

“You will hear of one now,” said the priest, glancing towards the
carriage to measure the time still left for their walk together. “Listen
to me,” he continued, with his cigar between his teeth; “if you are
poor, that is no reason why you should die. I need a secretary, for
mine has just died at Barcelona. I am in the same position as the famous
Baron Goertz, minister of Charles XII. He was traveling toward Sweden
(just as I am going to Paris), and in some little town or other he
chanced upon the son of a goldsmith, a young man of remarkable good
looks, though they could scarcely equal yours. . . . Baron Goertz
discerned intelligence in the young man (just as I see poetry on your
brow); he took him into his traveling carriage, as I shall take you very
shortly; and of a boy condemned to spend his days in burnishing spoons
and forks and making trinkets in some little town like Angouleme, he
made a favorite, as you shall be mine.

“Arrived at Stockholm, he installed his secretary and overwhelmed him
with work. The young man spent his nights in writing, and, like all
great workers, he contracted a bad habit, a trick--he took to chewing
paper. The late M. de Malesherbes use to rap people over the knuckles;
and he did this once, by the by, to somebody or other whose suit
depended upon him. The handsome young secretary began by chewing blank
paper, found it insipid for a while, and acquired a taste for manuscript
as having more flavor. People did not smoke as yet in those days. At
last, from flavor to flavor, he began to chew parchment and swallow
it. Now, at that time a treaty was being negotiated between Russia and
Sweden. The States-General insisted that Charles XII. should make peace
(much as they tried in France to make Napoleon treat for peace in 1814)
and the basis of these negotiations was the treaty between the two
powers with regard to Finland. Goertz gave the original into his
secretary’s keeping; but when the time came for laying the draft before
the States-General, a trifling difficulty arose; the treaty was not to
be found. The States-General believed that the Minister, pandering
to the King’s wishes, had taken it into his head to get rid of the
document. Baron Goertz was, in fact, accused of this, and the secretary
owned that he had eaten the treaty. He was tried and convicted and
condemned to death.--But you have not come to that yet, so take a cigar
and smoke till we reach the caleche.”

Lucien took a cigar and lit it, Spanish fashion, at the priest’s cigar.
“He is right,” he thought; “I can take my life at any time.”

“It often happens that a young man’s fortunes take a turn when despair
is darkest,” the Spaniard continued. “That is what I wished to tell you,
but I preferred to prove it by a case in point. Here was the handsome
young secretary lying under sentence of death, and his case the more
desperate because, as he had been condemned by the States-General, the
King could not pardon him, but he connived at his escape. The secretary
stole away in a fishing-boat with a few crowns in his pocket, and
reached the court of Courland with a letter of introduction from Goertz,
explaining his secretary’s adventures and his craze for paper. The Duke
of Courland was a spendthrift; he had a steward and a pretty wife--three
several causes of ruin. He placed the charming young stranger with his

“If you can imagine that the sometime secretary had been cured of his
depraved taste by a sentence of death, you do not know the grip that a
man’s failings have upon him; let a man discover some satisfaction for
himself, and the headsman will not keep him from it.--How is it that the
vice has this power? Is it inherent strength in the vice, or inherent
weakness in human nature? Are there certain tastes that should be
regarded as verging on insanity? For myself, I cannot help laughing at
the moralists who try to expel such diseases by fine phrases.--Well, it
so fell out that the steward refused a demand for money; and the Duke
taking fright at this, called for an audit. Sheer imbecility! Nothing
easier than to make out a balance-sheet; the difficulty never lies
there. The steward gave his secretary all the necessary documents
for compiling a schedule of the civil list of Courland. He had nearly
finished it when, in the dead of night, the unhappy paper-eater
discovered that he was chewing up one of the Duke’s discharges for a
considerable sum. He had eaten half the signature! Horror seized upon
him; he fled to the Duchess, flung himself at her feet, told her of his
craze, and implored the aid of his sovereign lady, implored her in the
middle of the night. The handsome young face made such an impression on
the Duchess that she married him as soon as she was left a widow. And
so in the mid-eighteenth century, in a land where the king-at-arms is
king, the goldsmith’s son became a prince, and something more. On the
death of Catherine I. he was regent; he ruled the Empress Anne, and
tried to be the Richelieu of Russia. Very well, young man; now know
this--if you are handsomer than Biron, I, simple canon that I am, am
worth more than a Baron Goertz. So get in; we will find a duchy of
Courland for you in Paris, or failing the duchy, we shall certainly find
the duchess.”

The Spanish priest laid a hand on Lucien’s arm, and literally forced him
into the traveling carriage. The postilion shut the door.

“Now speak; I am listening,” said the canon of Toledo, to Lucien’s
bewilderment. “I am an old priest; you can tell me everything, there
is nothing to fear. So far we have only run through our patrimony or
squandered mamma’s money. We have made a flitting from our creditors,
and we are honor personified down to the tips of our elegant little
boots. . . . Come, confess, boldly; it will be just as if you were
talking to yourself.”

Lucien felt like that hero of an Eastern tale, the fisher who tried
to drown himself in mid-ocean, and sank down to find himself a king
of countries under the sea. The Spanish priest seemed so really
affectionate, that the poet hesitated no longer; between Angouleme
and Ruffec he told the story of his whole life, omitting none of his
misdeeds, and ended with the final catastrophe which he had brought
about. The tale only gained in poetic charm because this was the third
time he had told it in the past fortnight. Just as he made an end they
passed the house of the Rastignac family.

“Young Rastignac left that place for Paris,” said Lucien; “he is
certainly not my equal, but he has had better luck.”

The Spaniard started at the name. “Oh!” he said.

“Yes. That shy little place belongs to his father. As I was telling
you just now, he was the lover of Mme. de Nucingen, the famous banker’s
wife. I drifted into poetry; he was cleverer, he took the practical

The priest stopped the caleche; and was so far curious as to walk down
the little avenue that led to the house, showing more interest in the
place than Lucien expected from a Spanish ecclesiastic.

“Then, do you know the Rastignacs?” asked Lucien.

“I know every one in Paris,” said the Spaniard, taking his place again
in the carriage. “And so for want of ten or twelve thousand francs, you
were about to take your life; you are a child, you know neither men nor
things. A man’s future is worth the value that he chooses to set upon
it, and you value yours at twelve thousand francs! Well, I will
give more than that for you any time. As for your brother-in-law’s
imprisonment, it is the merest trifle. If this dear M. Sechard has made
a discovery, he will be a rich man some day, and a rich man has never
been imprisoned for debt. You do not seem to me to be strong in history.
History is of two kinds--there is the official history taught in
schools, a lying compilation _ad usum delphini_; and there is the
secret history which deals with the real causes of events--a scandalous
chronicle. Let me tell you briefly a little story which you have not
heard. There was, once upon a time, a man, young and ambitious, and a
priest to boot. He wanted to enter upon a political career, so he fawned
on the Queen’s favorite; the favorite took an interest in him, gave
him the rank of minister, and a seat at the council board. One evening
somebody wrote to the young aspirant, thinking to do him a service
(never do a service, by the by, unless you are asked), and told him
that his benefactor’s life was in danger. The King’s wrath was kindled
against his rival; to-morrow, if the favorite went to the palace, he
would certainly be stabbed; so said the letter. Well, now, young man,
what would you have done?”

“I should have gone at once to warn my benefactor,” Lucien exclaimed

“You are indeed the child which your story reveals!” said the priest.
“Our man said to himself, ‘If the King is resolved to go to such
lengths, it is all over with my benefactor; I must receive this letter
too late;’ so he slept on till the favorite was stabbed----”

“He was a monster!” said Lucien, suspecting that the priest meant to
sound him.

“So are all great men; this one was the Cardinal de Richelieu, and his
benefactor was the Marechal d’Ancre. You really do not know your history
of France, you see. Was I not right when I told you that history as
taught in schools is simply a collection of facts and dates, more than
doubtful in the first place, and with no bearing whatever on the gist of
the matter. You are told that such a person as Jeanne Darc once existed;
where is the use of that? Have you never drawn your own conclusions from
that fact? never seen that if France had accepted the Angevin dynasty
of the Plantagenets, the two peoples thus reunited would be ruling the
world to-day, and the islands that now brew political storms for the
continent would be French provinces? . . . Why, have you so much as
studied the means by which simple merchants like the Medicis became
Grand Dukes of Tuscany?”

“A poet in France is not bound to be ‘as learned as a Benedictine,’”
 said Lucien.

“Well, they became Grand-Dukes as Richelieu became a minister. If you
had looked into history for the causes of events instead of getting the
headings by heart, you would have found precepts for your guidance in
this life. These real facts taken at random from among so many supply
you with the axiom--‘Look upon men, and on women most of all, as your
instruments; but never let them see this.’ If some one higher in place
can be useful to you, worship him as your god; and never leave him until
he has paid the price of your servility to the last farthing. In your
intercourse with men, in short, be grasping and mean as a Jew; all that
the Jew does for money, you must do for power. And besides all this,
when a man has fallen from power, care no more for him than if he had
ceased to exist. And do you ask why you must do these things? You mean
to rule the world, do you not? You must begin by obeying and studying
it. Scholars study books; politicians study men, and their interests and
the springs of action. Society and mankind in masses are fatalists; they
bow down and worship the accomplished fact. Do you know why I am giving
you this little history lesson? It seems to me that your ambition is

“Yes, father.”

“I saw that myself,” said the priest. “But at this moment you are
thinking, ‘Here is this Spanish canon inventing anecdotes and straining
history to prove to me that I have too much virtue----’”

Lucien began to smile; his thoughts had been read so clearly.

“Very well, let us take facts that every schoolboy knows. One day France
is almost entirely overrun by the English; the King has only a single
province left. Two figures arise from among the people--a poor herd
girl, that very Jeanne Darc of whom we were speaking, and a burgher
named Jacques Coeur. The girl brings the power of virginity, the
strength of her arm; the burgher gives his gold, and the kingdom is
saved. The maid is taken prisoner, and the King, who could have ransomed
her, leaves her to be burned alive. The King allows his courtier to
accuse the great burgher of capital crime, and they rob him and divide
all his wealth among themselves. The spoils of an innocent man, hunted
down, brought to bay, and driven into exile by the Law, went to enrich
five noble houses; and the father of the Archbishop of Bourges left the
kingdom for ever without one sou of all his possessions in France, and
no resource but moneys remitted to Arabs and Saracens in Egypt. It
is open to you to say that these examples are out of date, that three
centuries of public education have since elapsed, and that the outlines
of those ages are more or less dim figures. Well, young man, do you
believe in the last demi-god of France, in Napoleon? One of his generals
was in disgrace all through his career; Napoleon made him a marshal
grudgingly, and never sent him on service if he could help it. That
marshal was Kellermann. Do you know the reason of the grudge? . . .
Kellermann saved France and the First Consul at Marengo by a brilliant
charge; the ranks applauded under fire and in the thick of the carnage.
That heroic charge was not even mentioned in the bulletin. Napoleon’s
coolness toward Kellermann, Fouche’s fall, and Talleyrand’s disgrace
were all attributable to the same cause; it is the ingratitude of a
Charles VII., or a Richelieu, or ----”

“But, father,” said Lucien, “suppose that you should save my life and
make my fortune, you are making the ties of gratitude somewhat slight.”

“Little rogue,” said the Abbe, smiling as he pinched Lucien’s ear with
an almost royal familiarity. “If you are ungrateful to me, it will be
because you are a strong man, and I shall bend before you. But you are
not that just yet; as a simple ‘prentice you have tried to be master
too soon, the common fault of Frenchmen of your generation. Napoleon’s
example has spoiled them all. You send in your resignation because you
have not the pair of epaulettes that you fancied. But have you attempted
to bring the full force of your will and every action of your life to
bear upon your one idea?”

“Alas! no.”

“You have been inconsistent, as the English say,” smiled the canon.

“What I have been matters nothing now,” said Lucien, “if I can be
nothing in the future.”

“If at the back of all your good qualities there is power _semper
virens_,” continued the priest, not averse to show that he had a little
Latin, “nothing in this world can resist you. I have taken enough of a
liking for you already----”

Lucien smiled incredulously.

“Yes,” said the priest, in answer to the smile, “you interest me as much
as if you had been my son; and I am strong enough to afford to talk to
you as openly as you have just done to me. Do you know what it is that
I like about you?--This: you have made a sort of _tabula rasa_ within
yourself, and are ready to hear a sermon on morality that you will
hear nowhere else; for mankind in the mass are even more consummate
hypocrites than any one individual can be when his interests demand a
piece of acting. Most of us spend a good part of our lives in clearing
our minds of the notions that sprang up unchecked during our nonage.
This is called ‘getting our experience.’”

Lucien, listening, thought within himself, “Here is some old intriguer
delighted with a chance of amusing himself on a journey. He is pleased
with the idea of bringing about a change of opinion in a poor wretch
on the brink of suicide; and when he is tired of his amusement, he will
drop me. Still he understands paradox, and seems to be quite a match for
Blondet or Lousteau.”

But in spite of these sage reflections, the diplomate’s poison had sunk
deeply into Lucien’s soul; the ground was ready to receive it, and the
havoc wrought was the greater because such famous examples were cited.
Lucien fell under the charm of his companion’s cynical talk, and clung
the more willingly to life because he felt that this arm which drew him
up from the depths was a strong one.

In this respect the ecclesiastic had evidently won the day; and, indeed,
from time to time a malicious smile bore his cynical anecdotes company.

“If your system of morality at all resembles your manner of regarding
history,” said Lucien, “I should dearly like to know the motive of your
present act of charity, for such it seems to be.”

“There, young man, I have come to the last head of my sermon; you will
permit me to reserve it, for in that case we shall not part company
to-day,” said the canon, with the tact of the priest who sees that his
guile has succeeded.

“Very well, talk morality,” said Lucien. To himself he said, “I will
draw him out.”

“Morality begins with the law,” said the priest. “If it were simply a
question of religion, laws would be superfluous; religious peoples have
few laws. The laws of statecraft are above civil law. Well, do you care
to know the inscription which a politician can read, written at large
over your nineteenth century? In 1793 the French invented the idea of
the sovereignty of the people--and the sovereignty of the people came to
an end under the absolute ruler in the Emperor. So much for your
history as a nation. Now for your private manners. Mme. Tallien and Mme.
Beauharnais both acted alike. Napoleon married the one, and made her
your Empress; the other he would never receive at court, princess though
she was. The sans-culotte of 1793 takes the Iron Crown in 1804. The
fanatical lovers of Equality or Death conspire fourteen years afterwards
with a Legitimist aristocracy to bring back Louis XVIII. And that same
aristocracy, lording it to-day in the Faubourg Saint-Germain, has done
worse--has been merchant, usurer, pastry-cook, farmer, and shepherd. So
in France systems political and moral have started from one point and
reached another diametrically opposed; and men have expressed one
kind of opinion and acted on another. There has been no consistency in
national policy, nor in the conduct of individuals. You cannot be said
to have any morality left. Success is the supreme justification of all
actions whatsoever. The fact in itself is nothing; the impression that
it makes upon others is everything. Hence, please observe a second
precept: Present a fair exterior to the world, keep the seamy side
of life to yourself, and turn a resplendent countenance upon others.
Discretion, the motto of every ambitious man, is the watchword of our
Order; take it for your own. Great men are guilty of almost as many
base deeds as poor outcasts; but they are careful to do these things in
shadow and to parade their virtues in the light, or they would not be
great men. Your insignificant man leaves his virtues in the shade; he
publicly displays his pitiable side, and is despised accordingly. You,
for instance, have hidden your titles to greatness and made a display of
your worst failings. You openly took an actress for your mistress, lived
with her and upon her; you were by no means to blame for this; everybody
admitted that both of you were perfectly free to do as you liked; but
you ran full tilt against the ideas of the world, and the world has not
shown you the consideration that is shown to those who obey the rules of
the game. If you had left Coralie to this M. Camusot, if you had hidden
your relations with her, you might have married Mme. de Bargeton; you
would now be prefect of Angouleme and Marquis de Rubempre.

“Change your tactics, bring your good looks, your charm, your wit, your
poetry to the front. If you indulge in small discreditable courses, let
it be within four walls, and you will never again be guilty of a blot on
the decorations of this great theatrical scene called society. Napoleon
called this ‘washing dirty linen at home.’ The corollary follows
naturally on this second precept--Form is everything. Be careful to
grasp the meaning of that word ‘form.’ There are people who, for want
of knowing better, will help themselves to money under pressure of want,
and take it by force. These people are called criminals; and, perforce,
they square accounts with Justice. A poor man of genius discovers
some secret, some invention as good as a treasure; you lend him three
thousand francs (for that, practically, the Cointets have done; they
hold your bills, and they are about to rob your brother-in-law); you
torment him until he reveals or partly reveals his secret; you settle
your accounts with your own conscience, and your conscience does not
drag you into the assize court.

“The enemies of social order, beholding this contrast, take occasion
to yap at justice, and wax wroth in the name of the people, because,
forsooth, burglars and fowl-stealers are sent to the hulks, while a man
who brings whole families to ruin by a fraudulent bankruptcy is let off
with a few months’ imprisonment. But these hypocrites know quite well
that the judge who passes sentence on the thief is maintaining the
barrier set between the poor and the rich, and that if that barrier
were overturned, social chaos would ensue; while, in the case of the
bankrupt, the man who steals an inheritance cleverly, and the banker who
slaughters a business for his own benefit, money merely changes hands,
that is all.

“Society, my son, is bound to draw those distinctions which I have
pointed out for your benefit. The one great point is this--you must be a
match for society. Napoleon, Richelieu, and the Medicis were a match for
their generations. And as for you, you value yourself at twelve thousand
francs! You of this generation in France worship the golden calf; what
else is the religion of your Charter that will not recognize a man
politically unless he owns property? What is this but the command,
‘Strive to be rich?’ Some day, when you shall have made a fortune
without breaking the law, you will be rich; you will be the Marquis de
Rubempre, and you can indulge in the luxury of honor. You will be so
extremely sensitive on the point of honor that no one will dare to
accuse you of past shortcomings if in the process of making your way you
should happen to smirch it now and again, which I myself should never
advise,” he added, patting Lucien’s hand.

“So what must you put in that comely head of yours? Simply this and
nothing more--propose to yourself a brilliant and conspicuous goal, and
go towards it secretly; let no one see your methods or your progress.
You have behaved like a child; be a man, be a hunter, lie in wait for
your quarry in the world of Paris, wait for your chance and your game;
you need not be particular nor mindful of your dignity, as it is called;
we are all of us slaves to something, to some failing of our own or to
necessity; but keep that law of laws--secrecy.”

“Father, you frighten me,” said Lucien; “this seems to me to be a
highwayman’s theory.”

“And you are right,” said the canon, “but it is no invention of mine.
All _parvenus_ reason in this way--the house of Austria and the house
of France alike. You have nothing, you say? The Medicis, Richelieu, and
Napoleon started from precisely your standpoint; but _they_, my child,
considered that their prospects were worth ingratitude, treachery, and
the most glaring inconsistencies. You must dare all things to gain
all things. Let us discuss it. Suppose that you sit down to a game of
_bouillotte_, do you begin to argue over the rules of the game? There
they are, you accept them.”

“Come, now,” thought Lucien, “he can play _bouillotte_.”

“And what do you do?” continued the priest; “do you practise openness,
that fairest of virtues? Not merely do you hide your tactics, but you
do your best to make others believe that you are on the brink of ruin
as soon as you are sure of winning the game. In short, you dissemble, do
you not? You lie to win four or five louis d’or. What would you think of
a player so generous as to proclaim that he held a hand full of trumps?
Very well; the ambitious man who carries virtue’s precepts into the
arena when his antagonists have left them behind is behaving like a
child. Old men of the world might say to him, as card-players would say
to the man who declines to take advantage of his trumps, ‘Monsieur, you
ought not to play at _bouillotte_.’

“Did you make the rules of the game of ambition? Why did I tell you to
be a match for society?--Because, in these days, society by degrees
has usurped so many rights over the individual, that the individual
is compelled to act in self-defence. There is no question of laws now,
their place has been taken by custom, which is to say grimacings, and
forms must always be observed.”

Lucien started with surprise.

“Ah, my child!” said the priest, afraid that he had shocked Lucien’s
innocence; “did you expect to find the Angel Gabriel in an Abbe loaded
with all the iniquities of the diplomacy and counter-diplomacy of two
kings? I am an agent between Ferdinand VII. and Louis XVIII., two--kings
who owe their crowns to profound--er--combinations, let us say. I
believe in God, but I have a still greater belief in our Order, and our
Order has no belief save in temporal power. In order to strengthen and
consolidate the temporal power, our Order upholds the Catholic Apostolic
and Roman Church, which is to say, the doctrines which dispose the world
at large to obedience. We are the Templars of modern times; we have a
doctrine of our own. Like the Templars, we have been dispersed, and
for the same reasons; we are almost a match for the world. If you will
enlist as a soldier, I will be your captain. Obey me as a wife obeys
her husband, as a child obeys his mother, and I will guarantee that you
shall be Marquis de Rubempre in less than six months; you shall marry
into one of the proudest houses in the Faubourg Saint-Germain, and some
day you shall sit on a bench with peers of France. What would you have
been at this moment if I had not amused you by my conversation?--An
undiscovered corpse in a deep bed of mud. Well and good, now for an
effort of imagination----”

Lucien looked curiously at his protector.

“Here, in this caleche beside the Abbe Carlos Herrera, canon of Toledo,
secret envoy from His Majesty Ferdinand VII. to his Majesty the King
of France, bearer of a despatch thus worded it may be--‘When you
have delivered me, hang all those whom I favor at this moment, more
especially the bearer of this despatch, for then he can tell no
tales’--well, beside this envoy sits a young man who has nothing in
common with that poet recently deceased. I have fished you out of
the water, I have brought you to life again, you belong to me as the
creature belongs to the creator, as the efrits of fairytales belong to
the genii, as the janissary to the Sultan, as the soul to the body. I
will sustain you in the way to power with a strong hand; and at the same
time I promise that your life shall be a continual course of pleasure,
honors, and enjoyment. You shall never want for money. You shall shine,
you shall go bravely in the eyes of the world; while I, crouching in
the mud, will lay a firm foundation for the brilliant edifice of your
fortunes. For I love power for its own sake. I shall always rejoice in
your enjoyment, forbidden to me. In short, my self shall become your
self! Well, if a day should come when this pact between man and the
tempter, this agreement between the child and the diplomatist should no
longer suit your ideas, you can still look about for some quiet spot,
like that pool of which you were speaking, and drown yourself; you will
only be as you are now, or a little more or a little less wretched and

“This is not like the Archbishop of Granada’s homily,” said Lucien as
they stopped to change horses.

“Call this concentrated education by what name you will, my son, for you
are my son, I adopt you henceforth, and shall make you my heir; it is
the Code of ambition. God’s elect are few and far between. There is no
choice, you must bury yourself in the cloister (and there you very often
find the world again in miniature) or accept the Code.”

“Perhaps it would be better not to be so wise,” said Lucien, trying to
fathom this terrible priest.

“What!” rejoined the canon. “You begin to play before you know the rules
of the game, and now you throw it up just as your chances are best, and
you have a substantial godfather to back you! And you do not even care
to play a return match? You do not mean to say that you have no mind to
be even with those who drove you from Paris?”

Lucien quivered; the sounds that rang through every nerve seemed to come
from some bronze instrument, some Chinese gong.

“I am only a poor priest,” returned his mentor, and a grim expression,
dreadful to behold, appeared for a moment on a face burned to a
copper-red by the sun of Spain, “I am only a poor priest; but if I had
been humiliated, vexed, tormented, betrayed, and sold as you have been
by the scoundrels of whom you have told me, I should do like an Arab of
the desert--I would devote myself body and soul to vengeance. I might
end by dangling from a gibbet, garroted, impaled, guillotined in your
French fashion, I should not care a rap; but they should not have my
head until I had crushed my enemies under my heel.”

Lucien was silent; he had no wish to draw the priest out any further.

“Some are descended from Cain and some from Abel,” the canon concluded;
“I myself am of mixed blood--Cain for my enemies, Abel for my friends.
Woe to him that shall awaken Cain! After all, you are a Frenchman; I am
a Spaniard, and, what is more, a canon.”

“What a Tartar!” thought Lucien, scanning the protector thus sent to him
by Heaven.

There was no sign of the Jesuit, nor even of the ecclesiastic, about
the Abbe Carlos Herrera. His hands were large, he was thick-set and
broad-chested, evidently he possessed the strength of a Hercules; his
terrific expression was softened by benignity assumed at will; but a
complexion of impenetrable bronze inspired feelings of repulsion rather
than attachment for the man.

The strange diplomatist looked somewhat like a bishop, for he wore
powder on his long, thick hair, after the fashion of the Prince de
Talleyrand; a gold cross, hanging from a strip of blue ribbon with
a white border, indicated an ecclesiastical dignitary. The outlines
beneath the black silk stockings would not have disgraced an athlete.
The exquisite neatness of his clothes and person revealed an amount of
care which a simple priest, and, above all, a Spanish priest, does not
always take with his appearance. A three-cornered hat lay on the front
seat of the carriage, which bore the arms of Spain.

In spite of the sense of repulsion, the effect made by the man’s
appearance was weakened by his manner, fierce and yet winning as it was;
he evidently laid himself out to please Lucien, and the winning manner
became almost coaxing. Yet Lucien noticed the smallest trifles uneasily.
He felt that the moment of decision had come; they had reached the
second stage beyond Ruffec, and the decision meant life or death.

The Spaniard’s last words vibrated through many chords in his heart,
and, to the shame of both, it must be said that all that was worst in
Lucien responded to an appeal deliberately made to his evil impulses,
and the eyes that studied the poet’s beautiful face had read him very
clearly. Lucien beheld Paris once more; in imagination he caught again
at the reins of power let fall from his unskilled hands, and he avenged
himself! The comparisons which he himself had drawn so lately between
the life of Paris and life in the provinces faded from his mind with the
more painful motives for suicide; he was about to return to his
natural sphere, and this time with a protector, a political intriguer
unscrupulous as Cromwell.

“I was alone, now there will be two of us,” he told himself. And then
this priest had been more and more interested as he told of his sins
one after another. The man’s charity had grown with the extent of his
misdoings; nothing had astonished this confessor. And yet, what could
be the motive of a mover in the intrigues of kings? Lucien at first was
fain to be content with the banal answer--the Spanish are a generous
race. The Spaniard is generous! even so the Italian is jealous and a
poisoner, the Frenchman fickle, the German frank, the Jew ignoble, and
the Englishman noble. Reverse these verdicts and you shall arrive within
a reasonable distance of the truth! The Jews have monopolized the
gold of the world; they compose _Robert the Devil_, act _Phedre_, sing
_William Tell_, give commissions for pictures and build palaces, write
_Reisebilder_ and wonderful verse; they are more powerful than ever,
their religion is accepted, they have lent money to the Holy Father
himself! As for Germany, a foreigner is often asked whether he has a
contract in writing, and this is in the smallest matters, so tricky are
they in their dealings. In France the spectacle of national blunders has
never lacked national applause for the past fifty years; we continue to
wear hats which no mortal can explain, and every change of government is
made on the express condition that things shall remain exactly as they
were before. England flaunts her perfidy in the face of the world, and
her abominable treachery is only equaled by her greed. All the gold of
two Indies passed through the hands of Spain, and now she has nothing
left. There is no country in the world where poison is so little in
request as in Italy, no country where manners are easier or more gentle.
As for the Spaniard, he has traded largely on the reputation of the

As the Canon of Toledo returned to the caleche, he had spoken a word
to the post-boy. “Drive post-haste,” he said, “and there will be three
francs for drink-money for you.” Then, seeing that Lucien hesitated,
“Come! come!” he exclaimed, and Lucien took his place again, telling
himself that he meant to try the effect of the _argumentum ad hominem_.

“Father,” he began, “after pouring out, with all the coolness in the
world, a series of maxims which the vulgar would consider profoundly

“And so they are,” said the priest; “that is why Jesus Christ said that
it must needs be that offences come, my son; and that is why the world
displays such horror of offences.”

“A man of your stamp will not be surprised by the question which I am
about to ask?”

“Indeed, my son, you do not know me,” said Carlos Herrera. “Do you
suppose that I should engage a secretary unless I knew that I could
depend upon his principles sufficiently to be sure that he would not rob
me? I like you. You are as innocent in every way as a twenty-year-old
suicide. Your question?”

“Why do you take an interest in me? What price do you set on my
obedience? Why should you give me everything? What is your share?”

The Spaniard looked at Lucien, and a smile came over his face.

“Let us wait till we come to the next hill; we can walk up and talk out
in the open. The back seat of a traveling carriage is not the place for

They traveled in silence for sometime; the rapidity of the movement
seemed to increase Lucien’s moral intoxication.

“Here is a hill, father,” he said at last awakening from a kind of

“Very well, we will walk.” The Abbe called to the postilion to stop, and
the two sprang out upon the road.

“You child,” said the Spaniard, taking Lucien by the arm, “have you ever
thought over Otway’s _Venice Preserved_? Did you understand the profound
friendship between man and man which binds Pierre and Jaffier each to
each so closely that a woman is as nothing in comparison, and all social
conditions are changed?--Well, so much for the poet.”

“So the canon knows something of the drama,” thought Lucien. “Have you
read Voltaire?” he asked.

“I have done better,” said the other; “I put his doctrine in practice.”

“You do not believe in God?”

“Come! it is I who am the atheist, is it?” the Abbe said, smiling. “Let
us come to practical matters, my child,” he added, putting an arm round
Lucien’s waist. “I am forty-six years old, I am the natural son of a
great lord; consequently, I have no family, and I have a heart. But,
learn this, carve it on that still so soft brain of yours--man dreads
to be alone. And of all kinds of isolation, inward isolation is the most
appalling. The early anchorite lived with God; he dwelt in the spirit
world, the most populous world of all. The miser lives in a world of
imagination and fruition; his whole life and all that he is, even his
sex, lies in his brain. A man’s first thought, be he leper or convict,
hopelessly sick or degraded, is to find another with a like fate to
share it with him. He will exert the utmost that is in him, every power,
all his vital energy, to satisfy that craving; it is his very life. But
for that tyrannous longing, would Satan have found companions? There
is a whole poem yet to be written, a first part of _Paradise Lost_;
Milton’s poem is only the apology for the revolt.”

“It would be the Iliad of Corruption,” said Lucien.

“Well, I am alone, I live alone. If I wear the priest’s habit, I have
not a priest’s heart. I like to devote myself to some one; that is my
weakness. That is my life, that is how I came to be a priest. I am not
afraid of ingratitude, and I am grateful. The Church is nothing to me;
it is an idea. I am devoted to the King of Spain, but you cannot give
affection to a King of Spain; he is my protector, he towers above me. I
want to love my creature, to mould him, fashion him to my use, and love
him as a father loves his child. I shall drive in your tilbury, my
boy, enjoy your success with women, and say to myself, ‘This fine young
fellow, this Marquis de Rubempre, my creation whom I have brought into
this great world, is my very Self; his greatness is my doing, he speaks
or is silent with my voice, he consults me in everything.’ The Abbe de
Vermont felt thus for Marie-Antoinette.”

“He led her to the scaffold.”

“He did not love the Queen,” said the priest. “HE only loved the Abbe de

“Must I leave desolation behind me?”

“I have money, you shall draw on me.”

“I would do a great deal just now to rescue David Sechard,” said Lucien,
in the tone of one who has given up all idea of suicide.

“Say but one word, my son, and by to-morrow morning he shall have money
enough to set him free.”

“What! Would you give me twelve thousand francs?”

“Ah! child, do you not see that we are traveling on at the rate of four
leagues an hour? We shall dine at Poitiers before long, and there, if
you decide to sign the pact, to give me a single proof of obedience, a
great proof that I shall require, then the Bordeaux coach shall carry
fifteen thousand francs to your sister----”

“Where is the money?”

The Spaniard made no answer, and Lucien said within himself, “There I
had him; he was laughing at me.”

In another moment they took their places. Neither of them said a word.
Silently the Abbe groped in the pocket of the coach, and drew out a
traveler’s leather pouch with three divisions in it; thence he took a
hundred Portuguese moidores, bringing out his large hand filled with
gold three times.

“Father, I am yours,” said Lucien, dazzled by the stream of gold.

“Child!” said the priest, and set a tender kiss on Lucien’s forehead.
“There is twice as much still left in the bag, besides the money for
traveling expenses.”

“And you are traveling alone!” cried Lucien.

“What is that?” asked the Spaniard. “I have more than a hundred thousand
crowns in drafts on Paris. A diplomatist without money is in your
position of this morning--a poet without a will of his own!”

As Lucien took his place in the caleche beside the so-called Spanish
diplomatist, Eve rose to give her child a draught of milk, found the
fatal letter in the cradle, and read it. A sudden cold chilled the damps
of morning slumber, dizziness came over her, she could not see. She
called aloud to Marion and Kolb.

“Has my brother gone out?” she asked, and Kolb answered at once with,
“Yes, Montame, pefore tay.”

“Keep this that I am going to tell you a profound secret,” said Eve. “My
brother has gone no doubt to make away with himself. Hurry, both of you,
make inquiries cautiously, and look along the river.”

Eve was left alone in a dull stupor, dreadful to see. Her trouble was
at its height when Petit-Claud came in at seven o’clock to talk over
the steps to be taken in David’s case. At such a time, any voice in the
world may speak, and we let them speak.

“Our poor, dear David is in prison, madame,” so began Petit-Claud. “I
foresaw all along that it would end in this. I advised him at the time
to go into partnership with his competitors the Cointets; for while
your husband has simply the idea, they have the means of putting it into
practical shape. So as soon as I heard of his arrest yesterday evening,
what did I do but hurry away to find the Cointets and try to obtain such
concessions as might satisfy you. If you try to keep the discovery to
yourselves, you will continue to live a life of shifts and chicanery.
You must give in, or else when you are exhausted and at the last gasp,
you will end by making a bargain with some capitalist or other, and
perhaps to your own detriment, whereas to-day I hope to see you make
a good one with MM. Cointet. In this way you will save yourselves the
hardships and the misery of the inventor’s duel with the greed of the
capitalist and the indifference of the public. Let us see! If the MM.
Cointet should pay your debts--if, over and above your debts, they
should pay you a further sum of money down, whether or no the invention
succeeds; while at the same time it is thoroughly understood that if it
succeeds a certain proportion of the profits of working the patent shall
be yours, would you not be doing very well?--You yourself, madame, would
then be the proprietor of the plant in the printing-office. You would
sell the business, no doubt; it is quite worth twenty thousand francs. I
will undertake to find you a buyer at that price.

“Now if you draw up a deed of partnership with the MM. Cointet, and
receive fifteen thousand francs of capital; and if you invest it in
the funds at the present moment, it will bring you in an income of two
thousand francs. You can live on two thousand francs in the provinces.
Bear in mind, too, madame, that, given certain contingencies, there will
be yet further payments. I say ‘contingencies,’ because we must lay our
accounts with failure.

“Very well,” continued Petit-Claud, “now these things I am sure that I
can obtain for you. First of all, David’s release from prison; secondly,
fifteen thousand francs, a premium paid on his discovery, whether the
experiments fail or succeed; and lastly, a partnership between David and
the MM. Cointet, to be taken out after private experiment made jointly.
The deed of partnership for the working of the patent should be drawn
up on the following basis: The MM. Cointet to bear all the expenses, the
capital invested by David to be confined to the expenses of procuring
the patent, and his share of the profits to be fixed at twenty-five per
cent. You are a clear-headed and very sensible woman, qualities which
are not often found combined with great beauty; think over these
proposals, and you will see that they are very favorable.”

Poor Eve in her despair burst into tears. “Ah, sir! why did you not come
yesterday evening to tell me this? We should have been spared disgrace
and--and something far worse----”

“I was talking with the Cointets until midnight. They are behind
Metivier, as you must have suspected. But how has something worse than
our poor David’s arrest happened since yesterday evening?”

“Here is the awful news that I found when I awoke this morning,” she
said, holding out Lucien’s letter. “You have just given me proof of your
interest in us; you are David’s friend and Lucien’s; I need not ask you
to keep the secret----”

“You need not feel the least anxiety,” said Petit-Claud, as he returned
the letter. “Lucien will not take his life. Your husband’s arrest was
his doing; he was obliged to find some excuse for leaving you, and this
exit of his looks to me like a piece of stage business.”

The Cointets had gained their ends. They had tormented the inventor and
his family, until, worn out by the torture, the victims longed for a
respite, and then seized their opportunity and made the offer. Not every
inventor has the tenacity of the bull-dog that will perish with his
teeth fast set in his capture; the Cointets had shrewdly estimated
David’s character. The tall Cointet looked upon David’s imprisonment
as the first scene of the first act of the drama. The second act opened
with the proposal which Petit-Claud had just made. As arch-schemer,
the attorney looked upon Lucien’s frantic folly as a bit of unhoped-for
luck, a chance that would finally decide the issues of the day.

Eve was completely prostrated by this event; Petit-Claud saw this, and
meant to profit by her despair to win her confidence, for he saw at last
how much she influenced her husband. So far from discouraging Eve, he
tried to reassure her, and very cleverly diverted her thoughts to the
prison. She should persuade David to take the Cointets into partnership.

“David told me, madame, that he only wished for a fortune for your sake
and your brother’s; but it should be clear to you by now that to try
to make a rich man of Lucien would be madness. The youngster would run
through three fortunes.”

Eve’s attitude told plainly enough that she had no more illusions left
with regard to her brother. The lawyer waited a little so that her
silence should have the weight of consent.

“Things being so, it is now a question of you and your child,” he said.
“It rests with you to decide whether an income of two thousand francs
will be enough for your welfare, to say nothing of old Sechard’s
property. Your father-in-law’s income has amounted to seven or eight
thousand francs for a long time past, to say nothing of capital lying
out at interest. So, after all, you have a good prospect before you. Why
torment yourself?”

Petit-Claud left Eve Sechard to reflect upon this prospect. The whole
scheme had been drawn up with no little skill by the tall Cointet the
evening before.

“Give them the glimpse of a possibility of money in hand,” the lynx had
said, when Petit-Claud brought the news of the arrest; “once let
them grow accustomed to that idea, and they are ours; we will drive a
bargain, and little by little we shall bring them down to our price for
the secret.”

The argument of the second act of the commercial drama was in a manner
summed up in that speech.

Mme. Sechard, heartbroken and full of dread for her brother’s fate,
dressed and came downstairs. An agony of terror seized her when she
thought that she must cross Angouleme alone on the way to the prison.
Petit-Claud gave little thought to his fair client’s distress. When
he came back to offer his arm, it was from a tolerably Machiavellian
motive; but Eve gave him credit for delicate consideration, and he
allowed her to thank him for it. The little attention, at such a
moment, from so hard a man, modified Mme. Sechard’s previous opinion of

“I am taking you round by the longest way,” he said, “and we shall meet

“For the first time in my life, monsieur, I feel that I have no right
to hold up my head before other people; I had a sharp lesson given to me
last night----”

“It will be the first and the last.”

“Oh! I certainly shall not stay in the town now----”

“Let me know if your husband consents to the proposals that are all but
definitely offered by the Cointets,” said Petit-Claud at the gate of
the prison; “I will come at once with an order for David’s release from
Cachan, and in all likelihood he will not go back again to prison.”

This suggestion, made on the very threshold of the jail, was a piece of
cunning strategy--a _combinazione_, as the Italians call an indefinable
mixture of treachery and truth, a cunningly planned fraud which does not
break the letter of the law, or a piece of deft trickery for which there
is no legal remedy. St. Bartholomew’s for instance, was a political

Imprisonment for debt, for reasons previously explained, is such a rare
occurrence in the provinces, that there is no house of detention, and
a debtor is perforce imprisoned with the accused, convicted, and
condemned--the three graduated subdivisions of the class generically
styled criminal. David was put for the time being in a cell on the
ground floor from which some prisoner had probably been recently
discharged at the end of his time. Once inscribed on the jailer’s
register, with the amount allowed by the law for a prisoner’s board for
one month, David confronted a big, stout man, more powerful than the
King himself in a prisoner’s eyes; this was the jailer.

An instance of a thin jailer is unknown in the provinces. The place, to
begin with, is almost a sinecure, and a jailer is a kind of innkeeper
who pays no rent and lives very well, while his prisoners fare very ill;
for, like an innkeeper, he gives them rooms according to their payments.
He knew David by name, and what was more, knew about David’s father,
and thought that he might venture to let the printer have a good room on
credit for one night; for David was penniless.

The prison of Angouleme was built in the Middle Ages, and has no more
changed than the old cathedral. It is built against the old _presidial_,
or ancient court of appeal, and people still call it the _maison de
justice_. It boasts the conventional prison gateway, the solid-looking,
nail-studded door, the low, worn archway which the better deserves the
qualification “cyclopean,” because the jailer’s peephole or _judas_
looks out like a single eye from the front of the building. As you enter
you find yourself in a corridor which runs across the entire width of
the building, with a row of doors of cells that give upon the prison
yard and are lighted by high windows covered with a square iron grating.
The jailer’s house is separated from these cells by an archway in the
middle, through which you catch a glimpse of the iron gate of the prison
yard. The jailer installed David in a cell next to the archway, thinking
that he would like to have a man of David’s stamp as a near neighbor for
the sake of company.

“This is the best room,” he said. David was struck dumb with amazement
at the sight of it.

The stone walls were tolerably damp. The windows, set high in the wall,
were heavily barred; the stone-paved floor was cold as ice, and from
the corridor outside came the sound of the measured tramp of the warder,
monotonous as waves on the beach. “You are a prisoner! you are watched
and guarded!” said the footsteps at every moment of every hour. All
these small things together produce a prodigious effect upon the minds
of honest folk. David saw that the bed was execrable, but the first
night in a prison is full of violent agitation, and only on the second
night does the prisoner notice that his couch is hard. The jailer was
graciously disposed; he naturally suggested that his prisoner should
walk in the yard until nightfall.

David’s hour of anguish only began when he was locked into his cell for
the night. Lights are not allowed in the cells. A prisoner detained on
arrest used to be subjected to rules devised for malefactors, unless he
brought a special exemption signed by the public prosecutor. The jailer
certainly might allow David to sit by his fire, but the prisoner must go
back to his cell at locking-up time. Poor David learned the horrors
of prison life by experience, the rough coarseness of the treatment
revolted him. Yet a revulsion, familiar to those who live by thought,
passed over him. He detached himself from his loneliness, and found a
way of escape in a poet’s waking dream.

At last the unhappy man’s thoughts turned to his own affairs. The
stimulating influence of a prison upon conscience and self-scrutiny is
immense. David asked himself whether he had done his duty as the head of
a family. What despairing grief his wife must feel at this moment! Why
had he not done as Marion had said, and earned money enough to pursue
his investigations at leisure?

“How can I stay in Angouleme after such a disgrace? And when I come out
of prison, what will become of us? Where shall we go?”

Doubts as to his process began to occur to him, and he passed through
an agony which none save inventors can understand. Going from doubt to
doubt, David began to see his real position more clearly; and to himself
he said, as the Cointets had said to old Sechard, as Petit-Claud had
just said to Eve, “Suppose that all should go well, what does it amount
to in practice? The first thing to be done is to take out a patent, and
money is needed for that--and experiments must be tried on a large scale
in a paper-mill, which means that the discovery must pass into other
hands. Oh! Petit-Claud was right!”

A very vivid light sometimes dawns in the darkest prison.

“Pshaw!” said David; “I shall see Petit-Claud to-morrow no doubt,” and
he turned and slept on the filthy mattress covered with coarse brown

So when Eve unconsciously played into the hands of the enemy that
morning, she found her husband more than ready to listen to proposals.
She put her arms about him and kissed him, and sat down on the edge of
the bed (for there was but one chair of the poorest and commonest kind
in the cell). Her eyes fell on the unsightly pail in a corner, and over
the walls covered with inscriptions left by David’s predecessors, and
tears filled the eyes that were red with weeping. She had sobbed long
and very bitterly, but the sight of her husband in a felon’s cell drew
fresh tears.

“And the desire of fame may lead one to this!” she cried. “Oh! my angel,
give up your career. Let us walk together along the beaten track; we
will not try to make haste to be rich, David.... I need very little
to be very happy, especially now, after all that we have been through
.... And if you only knew--the disgrace of arrest is not the worst....

She held out Lucien’s letter, and when David had read it, she tried to
comfort him by repeating Petit-Claud’s bitter comment.

“If Lucien has taken his life, the thing is done by now,” said David;
“if he has not made away with himself by this time, he will not kill
himself. As he himself says, ‘his courage cannot last longer than a

“But the suspense!” cried Eve, forgiving almost everything at the
thought of death. Then she told her husband of the proposals which
Petit-Claud professed to have received from the Cointets. David accepted
them at once with manifest pleasure.

“We shall have enough to live upon in a village near L’Houmeau, where
the Cointets’ paper-mill stands. I want nothing now but a quiet life,”
 said David. “If Lucien has punished himself by death, we can wait so
long as father lives; and if Lucien is still living, poor fellow, he
will learn to adapt himself to our narrow ways. The Cointets certainly
will make money by my discovery; but, after all, what am I compared with
our country? One man in it, that is all; and if the whole country is
benefited, I shall be content. There! dear Eve, neither you nor I were
meant to be successful in business. We do not care enough about making a
profit; we have not the dogged objection to parting with our money,
even when it is legally owing, which is a kind of virtue of the
counting-house, for these two sorts of avarice are called prudence and a
faculty of business.”

Eve felt overjoyed; she and her husband held the same views, and this is
one of the sweetest flowers of love; for two human beings who love
each other may not be of the same mind, nor take the same view of their
interests. She wrote to Petit-Claud telling him that they both consented
to the general scheme, and asked him to release David. Then she begged
the jailer to deliver the message.

Ten minutes later Petit-Claud entered the dismal place. “Go home,
madame,” he said, addressing Eve, “we will follow you.--Well, my dear
friend” (turning to David), “so you allowed them to catch you! Why did
you come out? How came you to make such a mistake?”

“Eh! how could I do otherwise? Look at this letter that Lucien wrote.”

David held out a sheet of paper. It was Cerizet’s forged letter.

Petit-Claud read it, looked at it, fingered the paper as he talked, and
still taking, presently, as if through absence of mind, folded it up and
put it in his pocket. Then he linked his arm in David’s, and they went
out together, the order for release having come during the conversation.

It was like heaven to David to be at home again. He cried like a child
when he took little Lucien in his arms and looked round his room after
three weeks of imprisonment, and the disgrace, according to provincial
notions, of the last few hours. Kolb and Marion had come back. Marion
had heard in L’Houmeau that Lucien had been seen walking along on the
Paris road, somewhere beyond Marsac. Some country folk, coming in to
market, had noticed his fine clothes. Kolb, therefore, had set out on
horseback along the highroad, and heard at last at Mansle that Lucien
was traveling post in a caleche--M. Marron had recognized him as he

“What did I tell you?” said Petit-Claud. “That fellow is not a poet; he
is a romance in heaven knows how many chapters.”

“Traveling post!” repeated Eve. “Where can he be going this time?”

“Now go to see the Cointets, they are expecting you,” said Petit-Claud,
turning to David.

“Ah, monsieur!” cried the beautiful Eve, “pray do your best for our
interests; our whole future lies in your hands.”

“If you prefer it, madame, the conference can be held here. I will leave
David with you. The Cointets will come this evening, and you shall see
if I can defend your interests.”

“Ah! monsieur, I should be very glad,” said Eve.

“Very well,” said Petit-Claud; “this evening, at seven o’clock.”

“Thank you,” said Eve; and from her tone and glance Petit-Claud knew
that he had made great progress in his fair client’s confidence.

“You have nothing to fear; you see I was right,” he added. “Your brother
is a hundred miles away from suicide, and when all comes to all, perhaps
you will have a little fortune this evening. A _bona-fide_ purchaser for
the business has turned up.”

“If that is the case,” said Eve, “why should we not wait awhile before
binding ourselves to the Cointets?”

Petit-Claud saw the danger. “You are forgetting, madame,” he said, “that
you cannot sell your business until you have paid M. Metivier; for a
distress warrant has been issued.”

As soon as Petit-Claud reached home he sent for Cerizet, and when the
printer’s foreman appeared, drew him into the embrasure of the window.

“To-morrow evening,” he said, “you will be the proprietor of the
Sechards’ printing-office, and then there are those behind you who have
influence enough to transfer the license;” (then in a lowered voice),
“but you have no mind to end in the hulks, I suppose?”

“The hulks! What’s that? What’s that?”

“Your letter to David was a forgery. It is in my possession. What would
Henriette say in a court of law? I do not want to ruin you,” he added
hastily, seeing how white Cerizet’s face grew.

“You want something more of me?” cried Cerizet.

“Well, here it is,” said Petit-Claud. “Follow me carefully. You will be
a master printer in Angouleme in two months’ time . . . but you will not
have paid for your business--you will not pay for it in ten years. You
will work a long while yet for those that have lent you the money, and
you will be the cat’s-paw of the Liberal party. . . . Now _I_ shall draw
up your agreement with Gannerac, and I can draw it up in such a way that
you will have the business in your own hands one of these days. But--if
the Liberals start a paper, if you bring it out, and if I am deputy
public prosecutor, then you will come to an understanding with the
Cointets and publish articles of such a nature that they will have the
paper suppressed. . . . The Cointets will pay you handsomely for that
service. . . . I know, of course, that you will be a hero, a victim
of persecution; you will be a personage among the Liberals--a Sergeant
Mercier, a Paul-Louis Courier, a Manual on a small scale. I will take
care that they leave you your license. In fact, on the day when the
newspaper is suppressed, I will burn this letter before your eyes. . . .
Your fortune will not cost you much.”

A working man has the haziest notions as to the law with regard to
forgery; and Cerizet, who beheld himself already in the dock, breathed

“In three years’ time,” continued Petit-Claud, “I shall be public
prosecutor in Angouleme. You may have need of me some day; bear that in

“It’s agreed,” said Cerizet, “but you don’t know me. Burn that letter
now and trust to my gratitude.”

Petit-Claud looked Cerizet in the face. It was a duel in which one man’s
gaze is a scalpel with which he essays to probe the soul of another,
and the eyes of that other are a theatre, as it were, to which all his
virtue is summoned for display.

Petit-Claud did not utter a word. He lighted a taper and burned the
letter. “He has his way to make,” he said to himself.

“Here is one that will go through fire and water for you,” said Cerizet.

David awaited the interview with the Cointets with a vague feeling of
uneasiness; not, however, on account of the proposed partnership, nor
for his own interests--he felt nervous as to their opinion of his work.
He was in something the same position as a dramatic author before his
judges. The inventor’s pride in the discovery so nearly completed left
no room for any other feelings.

At seven o’clock that evening, while Mme. du Chatelet, pleading a sick
headache, had gone to her room in her unhappiness over the rumors of
Lucien’s departure; while M. de Comte, left to himself, was entertaining
his guests at dinner--the tall Cointet and his stout brother,
accompanied by Petit-Claud, opened negotiations with the competitor who
had delivered himself up, bound hand and foot.

A difficulty awaited them at the outset. How was it possible to draw
up a deed of partnership unless they knew David’s secret? And if
David divulged his secret, he would be at the mercy of the Cointets.
Petit-Claud arranged that the deed of partnership should be the first
drawn up. Thereupon the tall Cointet asked to see some specimens of
David’s work, and David brought out the last sheet that he had made,
guaranteeing the price of production.

“Well,” said Petit-Claud, “there you have the basis of the agreement
ready made. You can go into partnership on the strength of those
samples, inserting a clause to protect yourselves in case the conditions
of the patent are not fulfilled in the manufacturing process.”

“It is one thing to make samples of paper on a small scale in your own
room with a small mould, monsieur, and another to turn out a quantity,”
 said the tall Cointet, addressing David. “Quite another thing, as you
may judge from this single fact. We manufacture colored papers. We buy
parcels of coloring absolutely identical. Every cake of indigo used
for ‘blueing’ our post-demy is taken from a batch supplied by the
same maker. Well, we have never yet been able to obtain two batches of
precisely the same shade. There are variations in the material which
we cannot detect. The quantity and the quality of the pulp modify every
question at once. Suppose that you have in a caldron a quantity of
ingredients of some kind (I don’t ask to know what they are), you can do
as you like with them, the treatment can be uniformly applied, you can
manipulate, knead, and pestle the mass at your pleasure until you have
a homogeneous substance. But who will guarantee that it will be the same
with a batch of five hundred reams, and that your plan will succeed in

David, Eve, and Petit-Claud looked at one another; their eyes said many

“Take a somewhat similar case,” continued the tall Cointet after a
pause. “You cut two or three trusses of meadow hay, and store it in a
loft before ‘the heat is out of the grass,’ as the peasants say; the
hay ferments, but no harm comes of it. You follow up your experiment by
storing a couple of thousand trusses in a wooden barn--and, of course,
the hay smoulders, and the barn blazes up like a lighted match. You are
an educated man,” continued Cointet; “you can see the application for
yourself. So far, you have only cut your two trusses of hay; we are
afraid of setting fire to our paper-mill by bringing in a couple of
thousand trusses. In other words, we may spoil more than one batch, make
heavy losses, and find ourselves none the better for laying out a good
deal of money.”

David was completely floored by this reasoning. Practical wisdom spoke
in matter-of-fact language to theory, whose word is always for the

“Devil fetch me, if I’ll sign such a deed of partnership!” the stout
Cointet cried bluntly. “You may throw away your money if you like,
Boniface; as for me, I shall keep mine. Here is my offer--to pay M.
Sechard’s debts _and_ six thousand francs, and another three thousand
francs in bills at twelve and fifteen months,” he added. “That will be
quite enough risk to run.--We have a balance of twelve thousand francs
against Metivier. That will make fifteen thousand francs.--That is
all that I would pay for the secret if I were going to exploit it for
myself. So this is the great discovery that you were talking about,
Boniface! Many thanks! I thought you had more sense. No, you can’t call
this business.”

“The question for you,” said Petit-Claud, undismayed by the explosion,
“resolves itself into this: ‘Do you care to risk twenty thousand francs
to buy a secret that may make rich men of you?’ Why, the risk usually is
in proportion to the profit, gentlemen. You stake twenty thousand francs
on your luck. A gambler puts down a louis at roulette for a chance of
winning thirty-six, but he knows that the louis is lost. Do the same.”

“I must have time to think it over,” said the stout Cointet; “I am not
so clever as my brother. I am a plain, straight-forward sort of chap,
that only knows one thing--how to print prayer-books at twenty sous and
sell them for two francs. Where I see an invention that has only been
tried once, I see ruin. You succeed with the first batch, you spoil the
next, you go on, and you are drawn in; for once put an arm into that
machinery, the rest of you follows,” and he related an anecdote very
much to the point--how a Bordeaux merchant had ruined himself by
following a scientific man’s advice, and trying to bring the Landes
into cultivation; and followed up the tale with half-a-dozen similar
instances of agricultural and commercial failures nearer home in
the departments of the Charente and Dordogne. He waxed warm over his
recitals. He would not listen to another word. Petit-Claud’s demurs, so
far from soothing the stout Cointet, appeared to irritate him.

“I would rather give more for a certainty, if I made only a small profit
on it,” he said, looking at his brother. “It is my opinion that things
have gone far enough for business,” he concluded.

“Still you came here for something, didn’t you?” asked Petit-Claud.
“What is your offer?”

“I offer to release M. Sechard, and, if his plan succeeds, to give him
thirty per cent of the profits,” the stout Cointet answered briskly.

“But, monsieur,” objected Eve, “how should we live while the experiments
were being made? My husband has endured the disgrace of imprisonment
already; he may as well go back to prison, it makes no difference now,
and we will pay our debts ourselves----”

Petit-Claud laid a finger on his lips in warning.

“You are unreasonable,” said he, addressing the brothers. “You have seen
the paper; M. Sechard’s father told you that he had shut his son up,
and that he had made capital paper in a single night from materials that
must have cost a mere nothing. You are here to make an offer. Are you
purchasers, yes or no?”

“Stay,” said the tall Cointet, “whether my brother is willing or no, I
will risk this much myself. I will pay M. Sechard’s debts, I will pay
six thousand francs over and above the debts, and M. Sechard shall have
thirty per cent of the profits. But mind this--if in the space of one
year he fails to carry out the undertakings which he himself will make
in the deed of partnership, he must return the six thousand francs, and
we shall keep the patent and extricate ourselves as best we may.”

“Are you sure of yourself?” asked Petit-Claud, taking David aside.

“Yes,” said David. He was deceived by the tactics of the brothers, and
afraid lest the stout Cointet should break off the negotiations on which
his future depended.

“Very well, I will draft the deed,” said Petit-Claud, addressing the
rest of the party. “Each of you shall have a copy to-night, and you
will have all to-morrow morning in which to think it over. To-morrow
afternoon at four o’clock, when the court rises, you will sign the
agreement. You, gentlemen, will withdraw Metivier’s suit, and I, for my
part, will write to stop proceedings in the Court-Royal; we will give
notice on either side that the affair has been settled out of court.”

David Sechard’s undertakings were thus worded in the deed:--

  “M. David Sechard, printer of Angouleme, affirming that he has
  discovered a method of sizing paper-pulp in the vat, and also a
  method of affecting a reduction of fifty per cent in the price of
  all kinds of manufactured papers, by introducing certain vegetable
  substances into the pulp, either by intermixture of such
  substances with the rags already in use, or by employing them
  solely without the addition of rags: a partnership for working the
  patent to be presently applied for is entered upon by M. David
  Sechard and the firm of Cointet Brothers, subject to the following
  conditional clauses and stipulations.”

One of the clauses so drafted that David Sechard forfeited all his
rights if he failed to fulfil his engagements within the year; the
tall Cointet was particularly careful to insert that clause, and David
Sechard allowed it to pass.

When Petit-Claud appeared with a copy of the agreement next morning at
half-past seven o’clock, he brought news for David and his wife. Cerizet
offered twenty-two thousand francs for the business. The whole affair
could be signed and settled in the course of the evening. “But if the
Cointets knew about it,” he added, “they would be quite capable of
refusing to sign the deed of partnership, of harassing you, and selling
you up.”

“Are you sure of payment?” asked Eve. She had thought it hopeless to
try to sell the business; and now, to her astonishment, a bargain which
would have been their salvation three months ago was concluded in this
summary fashion.

“The money has been deposited with me,” he answered succinctly.

“Why, here is magic at work!” said David, and he asked Petit-Claud for
an explanation of this piece of luck.

“No,” said Petit-Claud, “it is very simple. The merchants in L’Houmeau
want a newspaper.”

“But I am bound not to publish a paper,” said David.

“Yes, you are bound, but is your successor?--However it is,” he
continued, “do not trouble yourself at all; sell the business, pocket
the proceeds, and leave Cerizet to find his way through the conditions
of the sale--he can take care of himself.”

“Yes,” said Eve.

“And if it turns out that you may not print a newspaper in Angouleme,”
 said Petit-Claud, “those who are finding the capital for Cerizet will
bring out the paper in L’Houmeau.”

The prospect of twenty-two thousand francs, of want now at end, dazzled
Eve. The partnership and its hopes took a second place. And, therefore,
M. and Mme. Sechard gave way on a final point of dispute. The tall
Cointet insisted that the patent should be taken out in the name of any
one of the partners. What difference could it make? The stout Cointet
said the last word.

“He is finding the money for the patent; he is bearing the expenses of
the journey--another two thousand francs over and above the rest of the
expenses. He must take it out in his own name, or we will not stir in
the matter.”

The lynx gained a victory at all points. The deed of partnership was
signed that afternoon at half-past four.

The tall Cointet politely gave Mme. Sechard a dozen thread-pattern forks
and spoons and a beautiful Ternaux shawl, by way of pin-money, said he,
and to efface any unpleasant impression made in the heat of discussion.
The copies of the draft had scarcely been made out, Cachan had barely
had time to send the documents to Petit-Claud, together with the three
unlucky forged bills, when the Sechards heard a deafening rumble in the
street, a dray from the Messageries stopped before the door, and Kolb’s
voice made the staircase ring again.

“Montame! montame! vifteen tausend vrancs, vrom Boidiers” (Poitiers).
“Goot money! vrom Monziere Lucien!”

“Fifteen thousand francs!” cried Eve, throwing up her arms.

“Yes, madame,” said the carman in the doorway, “fifteen thousand francs,
brought by the Bordeaux coach, and they didn’t want any more neither!
I have two men downstairs bringing up the bags. M. Lucien Chardon de
Rubempre is the sender. I have brought up a little leather bag for you,
containing five hundred francs in gold, and a letter it’s likely.”

Eve thought that she must be dreaming as she read:--

  “MY DEAR SISTER,--Here are fifteen thousand francs. Instead of
  taking my life, I have sold it. I am no longer my own; I am only
  the secretary of a Spanish diplomatist; I am his creature. A new
  and dreadful life is beginning for me. Perhaps I should have done
  better to drown myself.

  “Good-bye. David will be released, and with the four thousand
  francs he can buy a little paper-mill, no doubt, and make his
  fortune. Forget me, all of you. This is the wish of your unhappy

“It is decreed that my poor boy should be unlucky in everything, and
even when he does well, as he said himself,” said Mme. Chardon, as she
watched the men piling up the bags.

“We have had a narrow escape!” exclaimed the tall Cointet, when he was
once more in the Place du Murier. “An hour later the glitter of the
silver would have thrown a new light on the deed of partnership. Our
man would have fought shy of it. We have his promise now, and in three
months’ time we shall know what to do.”

That very evening, at seven o’clock, Cerizet bought the business, and
the money was paid over, the purchaser undertaking to pay rent for
the last quarter. The next day Eve sent forty thousand francs to
the Receiver-General, and bought two thousand five hundred francs of
_rentes_ in her husband’s name. Then she wrote to her father-in-law and
asked him to find a small farm, worth about ten thousand francs, for her
near Marsac. She meant to invest her own fortune in this way.

The tall Cointet’s plot was formidably simple. From the very first
he considered that the plan of sizing the pulp in the vat was
impracticable. The real secret of fortune lay in the composition of the
pulp, in the cheap vegetable fibre as a substitute for rags. He made up
his mind, therefore, to lay immense stress on the secondary problem of
sizing the pulp, and to pass over the discovery of cheap raw material,
and for the following reasons:

The Angouleme paper-mills manufacture paper for stationers. Notepaper,
foolscap, crown, and post-demy are all necessarily sized; and these
papers have been the pride of the Angouleme mills for a long while past,
stationery being the specialty of the Charente. This fact gave color to
the Cointet’s urgency upon the point of sizing in the pulping-trough;
but, as a matter of fact, they cared nothing for this part of David’s
researches. The demand for writing-paper is exceedingly small compared
with the almost unlimited demand for unsized paper for printers. As
Boniface Cointet traveled to Paris to take out the patent in his own
name, he was projecting plans that were like to work a revolution in his
paper-mill. Arrived in Paris, he took up his quarters with Metivier,
and gave his instructions to his agent. Metivier was to call upon the
proprietors of newspapers, and offer to deliver paper at prices below
those quoted by all other houses; he could guarantee in each case that
the paper should be a better color, and in every way superior to the
best kinds hitherto in use. Newspapers are always supplied by contract;
there would be time before the present contracts expired to complete all
the subterranean operations with buyers, and to obtain a monopoly of
the trade. Cointet calculated that he could rid himself of Sechard while
Metivier was taking orders from the principal Paris newspapers, which
even then consumed two hundred reams daily. Cointet naturally offered
Metivier a large commission on the contracts, for he wished to secure a
clever representative on the spot, and to waste no time in traveling to
and fro. And in this manner the fortunes of the firm of Metivier, one
of the largest houses in the paper trade, were founded. The tall Cointet
went back to Angouleme to be present at Petit-Claud’s wedding, with a
mind at rest as to the future.

Petit-Claud had sold his professional connection, and was only waiting
for M. Milaud’s promotion to take the public prosecutor’s place,
which had been promised to him by the Comtesse du Chatelet. The public
prosecutor’s second deputy was appointed first deputy to the Court of
Limoges, the Keeper of the Seals sent a man of his own to Angouleme,
and the post of first deputy was kept vacant for a couple of months. The
interval was Petit-Claud’s honeymoon.

While Boniface Cointet was in Paris, David made a first experimental
batch of unsized paper far superior to that in common use for
newspapers. He followed it up with a second batch of magnificent vellum
paper for fine printing, and this the Cointets used for a new edition of
their diocesan prayer-book. The material had been privately prepared by
David himself; he would have no helpers but Kolb and Marion.

When Boniface came back the whole affair wore a different aspect; he
looked at the samples, and was fairly satisfied.

“My good friend,” he said, “the whole trade of Angouleme is in crown
paper. We must make the best possible crown paper at half the present
price; that is the first and foremost question for us.”

Then David tried to size the pulp for the desired paper, and the result
was a harsh surface with grains of size distributed all over it. On the
day when the experiment was concluded and David held the sheets in his
hand, he went away to find a spot where he could be alone and swallow
his bitter disappointment. But Boniface Cointet went in search of him
and comforted him. Boniface was delightfully amiable.

“Do not lose heart,” he said; “go on! I am a good fellow, I understand
you; I will stand by you to the end.”

“Really,” David said to his wife at dinner, “we are with good people;
I should not have expected that the tall Cointet would be so generous.”
 And he repeated his conversation with his wily partner.

Three months were spent in experiments. David slept at the mill; he
noted the effects of various preparations upon the pulp. At one time
he attributed his non-success to an admixture of rag-pulp with his own
ingredients, and made a batch entirely composed of the new material;
at another, he endeavored to size pulp made exclusively from rags;
persevering in his experiments under the eyes of the tall Cointet, whom
he had ceased to mistrust, until he had tried every possible combination
of pulp and size. David lived in the paper-mill for the first six months
of 1823--if it can be called living, to leave food untasted, and go
in neglect of person and dress. He wrestled so desperately with
the difficulties, that anybody but the Cointets would have seen the
sublimity of the struggle, for the brave fellow was not thinking of his
own interests. The moment had come when he cared for nothing but the
victory. With marvelous sagacity he watched the unaccountable freaks of
the semi-artificial substances called into existence by man for ends of
his own; substances in which nature had been tamed, as it were, and
her tacit resistance overcome; and from these observations drew great
conclusions; finding, as he did, that such creations can only be
obtained by following the laws of the more remote affinities of things,
of “a second nature,” as he called it, in substances.

Towards the end of August he succeeded to some extent in sizing the
paper pulp in the vat; the result being a kind of paper identical with
a make in use for printers’ proofs at the present day--a kind of paper
that cannot be depended upon, for the sizing itself is not always
certain. This was a great result, considering the condition of the paper
trade in 1823, and David hoped to solve the final difficulties of the
problem, but--it had cost ten thousand francs.

Singular rumors were current at this time in Angouleme and L’Houmeau.
It was said that David Sechard was ruining the firm of Cointet Brothers.
Experiments had eaten up twenty thousand francs; and the result, said
gossip, was wretchedly bad paper. Other manufacturers took fright at
this, hugged themselves on their old-fashioned methods, and, being
jealous of the Cointets, spread rumors of the approaching fall of that
ambitious house. As for the tall Cointet, he set up the new machinery
for making lengths of paper in a ribbon, and allowed people to believe
that he was buying plant for David’s experiments. Then the cunning
Cointet used David’s formula for pulp, while urging his partner to give
his whole attention to the sizing process; and thousands of reams of the
new paper were despatched to Metivier in Paris.

When September arrived, the tall Cointet took David aside, and, learning
that the latter meditated a crowning experiment, dissuaded him from
further attempts.

“Go to Marsac, my dear David, see your wife, and take a rest after
your labors; we don’t want to ruin ourselves,” said Cointet in the
friendliest way. “This great triumph of yours, after all, is only a
starting-point. We shall wait now for awhile before trying any new
experiments. To be fair! see what has come of them. We are not merely
paper-makers, we are printers besides and bankers, and people say that
you are ruining us.”

David Sechard’s gesture of protest on behalf of his good faith was
sublime in its simplicity.

“Not that fifty thousand francs thrown into the Charente would ruin
us,” said Cointet, in reply to mute protest, “but we do not wish to be
obliged to pay cash for everything in consequence of slanders that shake
our credit; _that_ would bring us to a standstill. We have reached the
term fixed by our agreement, and we are bound on either side to think
over our position.”

“He is right,” thought David. He had forgotten the routine work of the
business, thoroughly absorbed as he had been in experiments on a large

David went to Marsac. For the past six months he had gone over on
Saturday evening, returning again to L’Houmeau on Tuesday morning. Eve,
after much counsel from her father-in-law, had bought a house called the
Verberie, with three acres of land and a croft planted with vines, which
lay like a wedge in the old man’s vineyard. Here, with her mother and
Marion, she lived a very frugal life, for five thousand francs of the
purchase money still remained unpaid. It was a charming little domain,
the prettiest bit of property in Marsac. The house, with a garden before
it and a yard at the back, was built of white tufa ornamented with
carvings, cut without great expense in that easily wrought stone, and
roofed with slate. The pretty furniture from the house in Angouleme
looked prettier still at Marsac, for there was not the slightest
attempt at comfort or luxury in the country in those days. A row of
orange-trees, pomegranates, and rare plants stood before the house on
the side of the garden, set there by the last owner, an old general who
died under M. Marron’s hands.

David was enjoying his holiday sitting under an orange-tree with his
wife, and father, and little Lucien, when the bailiff from Mansle
appeared. Cointet Brothers gave their partner formal notice to appoint
an arbitrator to settle disputes, in accordance with a clause in the
agreement. The Cointets demanded that the six thousand francs should be
refunded, and the patent surrendered in consideration of the enormous
outlay made to no purpose.

“People say that you are ruining them,” said old Sechard. “Well, well,
of all that you have done, that is the one thing that I am glad to

At nine o’clock the next morning Eve and David stood in Petit-Claud’s
waiting-room. The little lawyer was the guardian of the widow and orphan
by virtue of his office, and it seemed to them that they could take no
other advice. Petit-Claud was delighted to see his clients, and insisted
that M. and Mme. Sechard should do him the pleasure of breakfasting with

“Do the Cointets want six thousand francs of you?” he asked, smiling.
“How much is still owing of the purchase-money of the Verberie?”

“Five thousand francs, monsieur,” said Eve, “but I have two

“Keep your money,” Petit-Claud broke in. “Let us see: five
thousand--why, you want quite another ten thousand francs to settle
yourselves comfortably down yonder. Very good, in two hours’ time the
Cointets shall bring you fifteen thousand francs----”

Eve started with surprise.

“If you will renounce all claims to the profits under the deed of
partnership, and come to an amicable settlement,” said Petit-Claud.
“Does that suit you?”

“Will it really be lawfully ours?” asked Eve.

“Very much so,” said the lawyer, smiling. “The Cointets have worked
you trouble enough; I should like to make an end of their pretensions.
Listen to me; I am a magistrate now, and it is my duty to tell you the
truth. Very good. The Cointets are playing you false at this moment, but
you are in their hands. If you accept battle, you might possibly gain
the lawsuit which they will bring. Do you wish to be where you are now
after ten years of litigation? Experts’ fees and expenses of arbitration
will be multiplied, the most contradictory opinions will be given, and
you must take your chance. And,” he added, smiling again, “there is no
attorney here that can defend you, so far as I see. My successor has
not much ability. There, a bad compromise is better than a successful

“Any arrangement that will give us a quiet life will do for me,” said

Petit-Claud called to his servant.

“Paul! go and ask M. Segaud, my successor, to come here.--He shall go
to see the Cointets while we breakfast” said Petit-Claud, addressing his
former clients, “and in a few hours’ time you will be on your way home
to Marsac, ruined, but with minds at rest. Ten thousand francs will
bring you in another five hundred francs of income, and you will live
comfortably on your bit of property.”

Two hours later, as Petit-Claud had prophesied, Maitre Segaud came back
with an agreement duly drawn up and signed by the Cointets, and fifteen
notes each for a thousand francs.

“We are much indebted to you,” said Sechard, turning to Petit-Claud.

“Why, I have just this moment ruined you,” said Petit-Claud, looking at
his astonished former clients. “I tell you again, I have ruined you, as
you will see as time goes on; but I know you, you would rather be ruined
than wait for a fortune which perhaps might come too late.”

“We are not mercenary, monsieur,” said Madame Eve. “We thank you for
giving us the means of happiness; we shall always feel grateful to you.”

“Great heavens! don’t call down blessings on _me_!” cried Petit-Claud.
“It fills me with remorse; but to-day, I think, I have made full
reparation. If I am a magistrate, it is entirely owing to you; and if
anybody is to feel grateful, it is I. Good-bye.”

As time went on, Kolb changed his opinion of Sechard senior; and as for
the old man, he took a liking to Kolb when he found that, like himself,
the Alsacien could neither write nor read a word, and that it was easy
to make him tipsy. The old “bear” imparted his ideas on vine culture and
the sale of a vintage to the ex-cuirassier, and trained him with a view
to leaving a man with a head on his shoulders to look after his children
when he should be gone; for he grew childish at the last, and great were
his fears as to the fate of his property. He had chosen Courtois the
miller as his confidant. “You will see how things will go with my
children when I am under ground. Lord! it makes me shudder to think of

Old Sechard died in the month of March, 1929, leaving about two hundred
thousand francs in land. His acres added to the Verberie made a fine
property, which Kolb had managed to admiration for some two years.

David and his wife found nearly a hundred thousand crowns in gold in the
house. The department of the Charente had valued old Sechard’s money at
a million; rumor, as usual, exaggerating the amount of a hoard. Eve and
David had barely thirty thousand francs of income when they added their
little fortune to the inheritance; they waited awhile, and so it fell
out that they invested their capital in Government securities at the
time of the Revolution of July.

Then, and not until then, could the department of the Charente and David
Sechard form some idea of the wealth of the tall Cointet. Rich to the
extent of several millions of francs, the elder Cointet became a deputy,
and is at this day a peer of France. It is said that he will be Minister
of Commerce in the next Government; for in 1842 he married Mlle.
Popinot, daughter of M. Anselme Popinot, one of the most influential
statesmen of the dynasty, deputy and mayor of an arrondissement in

David Sechard’s discovery has been assimilated by the French
manufacturing world, as food is assimilated by a living body. Thanks to
the introduction of materials other than rags, France can produce paper
more cheaply than any other European country. Dutch paper, as David
foresaw, no longer exists. Sooner or later it will be necessary, no
doubt, to establish a Royal Paper Manufactory; like the Gobelins, the
Sevres porcelain works, the Savonnerie, and the Imprimerie royale, which
so far have escaped the destruction threatened by _bourgeois_ vandalism.

David Sechard, beloved by his wife, father of two boys and a girl, has
the good taste to make no allusion to his past efforts. Eve had the
sense to dissuade him from following his terrible vocation; for the
inventor like Moses on Mount Horeb, is consumed by the burning bush. He
cultivates literature by way of recreation, and leads a comfortable life
of leisure, befitting the landowner who lives on his own estate. He has
bidden farewell for ever to glory, and bravely taken his place in the
class of dreamers and collectors; for he dabbles in entomology, and is
at present investigating the transformations of insects which science
only knows in the final stage.

Everybody has heard of Petit-Claud’s success as attorney-general; he is
the rival of the great Vinet of Provins, and it is his ambition to be
President of the Court-Royal of Poitiers.

Cerizet has been in trouble so frequently for political offences that
he has been a good deal talked about; and as one of the boldest _enfants
perdus_ of the Liberal party he was nicknamed the “Brave Cerizet.” When
Petit-Claud’s successor compelled him to sell his business in Angouleme,
he found a fresh career on the provincial stage, where his talents as
an actor were like to be turned to brilliant account. The chief stage
heroine, however, obliged him to go to Paris to find a cure for love
among the resources of science, and there he tried to curry favor with
the Liberal party.

As for Lucien, the story of his return to Paris belongs to the _Scenes
of Parisian_ life.


Note: Eve and David is the part three of a trilogy. Part one is entitled
Two Poets and part two is A Distinguished Provincial at Paris. In other
addendum references parts one and three are usually combined under the
title Lost Illusions.

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

       Two Poets
       A Man of Business
       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
       The Middle Classes

     Chardon, Madame (nee Rubempre)
       Two Poets
       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life

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

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

     Cointet, Boniface
       Two Poets
       The Firm of Nucingen
       The Member for Arcis

     Cointet, Jean
       Two Poets

     Collin, Jacques
       Father Goriot
       A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
       The Member for Arcis

     Conti, Gennaro

       Two Poets

     Courtois, Madame
       Two Poets

     Hautoy, Francis du
       Two Poets

     Herrera, Carlos
       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life

       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life

     Marsay, Henri de
       The Thirteen
       The Unconscious Humorists
       Another Study of Woman
       The Lily of the Valley
       Father Goriot
       Jealousies of a Country Town
       Ursule Mirouet
       A Marriage Settlement
       A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
       Letters of Two Brides
       The Ball at Sceaux
       Modeste Mignon
       The Secrets of a Princess
       The Gondreville Mystery
       A Daughter of Eve

       The Government Clerks
       The Middle Classes

       The Muse of the Department

     Nucingen, Baron Frederic de
       The Firm of Nucingen
       Father Goriot
       Cesar Birotteau
       A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
       Another Study of Woman
       The Secrets of a Princess
       A Man of Business
       Cousin Betty
       The Muse of the Department
       The Unconscious Humorists

     Nucingen, Baronne Delphine de
       Father Goriot
       The Thirteen
       Eugenie Grandet
       Cesar Birotteau
       Melmoth Reconciled
       A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
       The Commission in Lunacy
       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
       Modeste Mignon
       The Firm of Nucingen
       Another Study of Woman
       A Daughter of Eve
       The Member for Arcis

       Two Poets

     Pimentel, Marquis and Marquise de
       Two Poets

       Two Poets

     Prieur, Madame
       Two Poets

     Rastignac, Baron and Baronne de (Eugene’s parents)
       Father Goriot
       Two Poets

     Rastignac, Eugene de
       Father Goriot
       A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
       The Ball at Sceaux
       The Commission in Lunacy
       A Study of Woman
       Another Study of Woman
       The Magic Skin
       The Secrets of a Princess
       A Daughter of Eve
       The Gondreville Mystery
       The Firm of Nucingen
       Cousin Betty
       The Member for Arcis
       The Unconscious Humorists

     Rubempre, Lucien-Chardon de
       Two Poets
       A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
       The Government Clerks
       Ursule Mirouet
       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life

     Sechard, Jerome-Nicholas
       Two Poets

     Sechard, David
       Two Poets
       A Distinguished Provincial At Paris
       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life

     Sechard, Madame David
       Two Poets
       A Distinguished Provincial At Paris
       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life

     Senonches, Jacques de
       Two Poets

     Senonches, Madame Jacques de
       Two Poets

     Touches, Mademoiselle Felicite des
       A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
       A Bachelor’s Establishment
       Another Study of Woman
       A Daughter of Eve
       The Muse of the Department

       Massimilla Doni
       Letters of Two Brides
       Gaudissart II

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Eve and David" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.