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

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A DISTINGUISHED PROVINCIAL AT PARIS

(Lost Illusions, Part II)


By Honore De Balzac


Translated By Ellen Marriage



PREPARER’S NOTE

A Distinguished Provincial at Paris is part two of a trilogy. Part one,
Two Poets, begins the story of Lucien, his sister Eve, and his friend
David in the provincial town of Angouleme. Part two is centered on
Lucien’s Parisian life. Part three, Eve and David, reverts to the
setting of 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.



A DISTINGUISHED PROVINCIAL AT PARIS



PART I

Mme. de Bargeton and Lucien de Rubempre had left Angouleme behind, and
were traveling together upon the road to Paris. Not one of the party who
made that journey alluded to it afterwards; but it may be believed
that an infatuated youth who had looked forward to the delights of
an elopement, must have found the continual presence of Gentil, the
man-servant, and Albertine, the maid, not a little irksome on the way.
Lucien, traveling post for the first time in his life, was horrified to
see pretty nearly the whole sum on which he meant to live in Paris for
a twelvemonth dropped along the road. Like other men who combine great
intellectual powers with the charming simplicity of childhood, he openly
expressed his surprise at the new and wonderful things which he saw, and
thereby made a mistake. A man should study a woman very carefully before
he allows her to see his thoughts and emotions as they arise in him.
A woman, whose nature is large as her heart is tender, can smile upon
childishness, and make allowances; but let her have ever so small
a spice of vanity herself, and she cannot forgive childishness, or
littleness, or vanity in her lover. Many a woman is so extravagant a
worshiper that she must always see the god in her idol; but there are
yet others who love a man for his sake and not for their own, and adore
his failings with his greater qualities.

Lucien had not guessed as yet that Mme. de Bargeton’s love was grafted
on pride. He made another mistake when he failed to discern the meaning
of certain smiles which flitted over Louise’s lips from time to
time; and instead of keeping himself to himself, he indulged in the
playfulness of the young rat emerging from his hole for the first time.

The travelers were set down before daybreak at the sign of the
Gaillard-Bois in the Rue de l’Echelle, both so tired out with the
journey that Louise went straight to bed and slept, first bidding Lucien
to engage the room immediately overhead. Lucien slept on till four
o’clock in the afternoon, when he was awakened by Mme. de Bargeton’s
servant, and learning the hour, made a hasty toilet and hurried
downstairs.

Louise was sitting in the shabby inn sitting-room. Hotel accommodation
is a blot on the civilization of Paris; for with all its pretensions to
elegance, the city as yet does not boast a single inn where a well-to-do
traveler can find the surroundings to which he is accustomed at home.
To Lucien’s just-awakened, sleep-dimmed eyes, Louise was hardly
recognizable in this cheerless, sunless room, with the shabby
window-curtains, the comfortless polished floor, the hideous furniture
bought second-hand, or much the worse for wear.

Some people no longer look the same when detached from the background
of faces, objects, and surroundings which serve as a setting, without
which, indeed, they seem to lose something of their intrinsic worth.
Personality demands its appropriate atmosphere to bring out its values,
just as the figures in Flemish interiors need the arrangement of light
and shade in which they are placed by the painter’s genius if they
are to live for us. This is especially true of provincials. Mme. de
Bargeton, moreover, looked more thoughtful and dignified than was
necessary now, when no barriers stood between her and happiness.

Gentil and Albertine waited upon them, and while they were present
Lucien could not complain. The dinner, sent in from a neighboring
restaurant, fell far below the provincial average, both in quantity
and quality; the essential goodness of country fare was wanting, and
in point of quantity the portions were cut with so strict an eye to
business that they savored of short commons. In such small matters Paris
does not show its best side to travelers of moderate fortune. Lucien
waited till the meal was over. Some change had come over Louise, he
thought, but he could not explain it.

And a change had, in fact, taken place. Events had occurred while he
slept; for reflection is an event in our inner history, and Mme. de
Bargeton had been reflecting.

About two o’clock that afternoon, Sixte du Chatelet made his appearance
in the Rue de l’Echelle and asked for Albertine. The sleeping damsel
was roused, and to her he expressed his wish to speak with her mistress.
Mme. de Bargeton had scarcely time to dress before he came back again.
The unaccountable apparition of M. du Chatelet roused the lady’s
curiosity, for she had kept her journey a profound secret, as she
thought. At three o’clock the visitor was admitted.

“I have risked a reprimand from headquarters to follow you,” he said, as
he greeted her; “I foresaw coming events. But if I lose my post for it,
YOU, at any rate, shall not be lost.”

“What do you mean?” exclaimed Mme. de Bargeton.

“I can see plainly that you love Lucien,” he continued, with an air
of tender resignation. “You must love indeed if _you_ can act thus
recklessly, and disregard the conventions which you know so well. Dear
adored Nais, can you really imagine that Mme. d’Espard’s salon, or any
other salon in Paris, will not be closed to you as soon as it is
known that you have fled from Angouleme, as it were, with a young man,
especially after the duel between M. de Bargeton and M. de Chandour? The
fact that your husband has gone to the Escarbas looks like a separation.
Under such circumstances a gentleman fights first and afterwards leaves
his wife at liberty. By all means, give M. de Rubempre your love and
your countenance; do just as you please; but you must not live in
the same house. If anybody here in Paris knew that you had traveled
together, the whole world that you have a mind to see would point the
finger at you.

“And, Nais, do not make these sacrifices for a young man whom you have
as yet compared with no one else; he, on his side, has been put to no
proof; he may forsake you for some Parisienne, better able, as he may
fancy, to further his ambitions. I mean no harm to the man you love, but
you will permit me to put your own interests before his, and to beg you
to study him, to be fully aware of the serious nature of this step that
you are taking. And, then, if you find all doors closed against you, and
that none of the women call upon you, make sure at least that you will
feel no regret for all that you have renounced for him. Be very certain
first that he for whom you will have given up so much will always be
worthy of your sacrifices and appreciate them.

“Just now,” continued Chatelet, “Mme. d’Espard is the more prudish and
particular because she herself is separated from her husband, nobody
knows why. The Navarreins, the Lenoncourts, the Blamont-Chauvrys,
and the rest of the relations have all rallied round her; the most
strait-laced women are seen at her house, and receive her with respect,
and the Marquis d’Espard has been put in the wrong. The first call that
you pay will make it clear to you that I am right; indeed, knowing Paris
as I do, I can tell you beforehand that you will no sooner enter the
Marquise’s salon than you will be in despair lest she should find out
that you are staying at the Gaillard-Bois with an apothecary’s son,
though he may wish to be called M. de Rubempre.

“You will have rivals here, women far more astute and shrewd than
Amelie; they will not fail to discover who you are, where you are, where
you come from, and all that you are doing. You have counted upon your
incognito, I see, but you are one of those women for whom an incognito
is out of the question. You will meet Angouleme at every turn. There are
the deputies from the Charente coming up for the opening of the session;
there is the Commandant in Paris on leave. Why, the first man or woman
from Angouleme who happens to see you would cut your career short in a
strange fashion. You would simply be Lucien’s mistress.

“If you need me at any time, I am staying with the Receiver-General in
the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore, two steps away from Mme. d’Espard’s.
I am sufficiently acquainted with the Marechale de Carigliano, Mme.
de Serizy, and the President of the Council to introduce you to those
houses; but you will meet so many people at Mme. d’Espard’s, that you
are not likely to require me. So far from wishing to gain admittance to
this set or that, every one will be longing to make your acquaintance.”

Chatelet talked on; Mme. de Bargeton made no interruption. She was
struck with his perspicacity. The queen of Angouleme had, in fact,
counted upon preserving her incognito.

“You are right, my dear friend,” she said at length; “but what am I to
do?”

“Allow me to find suitable furnished lodgings for you,” suggested
Chatelet; “that way of living is less expensive than an inn. You will
have a home of your own; and, if you will take my advice, you will sleep
in your new rooms this very night.”

“But how did you know my address?” queried she.

“Your traveling carriage is easily recognized; and, besides, I was
following you. At Sevres your postilion told mine that he had brought
you here. Will you permit me to act as your harbinger? I will write as
soon as I have found lodgings.”

“Very well, do so,” said she. And in those seemingly insignificant
words, all was said. The Baron du Chatelet had spoken the language
of worldly wisdom to a woman of the world. He had made his appearance
before her in faultless dress, a neat cab was waiting for him at the
door; and Mme. de Bargeton, standing by the window thinking over the
position, chanced to see the elderly dandy drive away.

A few moments later Lucien appeared, half awake and hastily dressed.
He was handsome, it is true; but his clothes, his last year’s nankeen
trousers, and his shabby tight jacket were ridiculous. Put Antinous
or the Apollo Belvedere himself into a water-carrier’s blouse, and how
shall you recognize the godlike creature of the Greek or Roman chisel?
The eyes note and compare before the heart has time to revise the swift
involuntary judgment; and the contrast between Lucien and Chatelet was
so abrupt that it could not fail to strike Louise.

Towards six o’clock that evening, when dinner was over, Mme. de Bargeton
beckoned Lucien to sit beside her on the shabby sofa, covered with a
flowered chintz--a yellow pattern on a red ground.

“Lucien mine,” she said, “don’t you think that if we have both of us
done a foolish thing, suicidal for both our interests, it would only
be common sense to set matters right? We ought not to live together
in Paris, dear boy, and we must not allow anyone to suspect that we
traveled together. Your career depends so much upon my position that I
ought to do nothing to spoil it. So, to-night, I am going to remove into
lodgings near by. But you will stay on here, we can see each other every
day, and nobody can say a word against us.”

And Louise explained conventions to Lucien, who opened wide eyes. He had
still to learn that when a woman thinks better of her folly, she thinks
better of her love; but one thing he understood--he saw that he was
no longer the Lucien of Angouleme. Louise talked of herself, of _her_
interests, _her_ reputation, and of the world; and, to veil her egoism,
she tried to make him believe that this was all on his account. He had
no claim upon Louise thus suddenly transformed into Mme. de Bargeton,
and, more serious still, he had no power over her. He could not keep
back the tears that filled his eyes.

“If I am your glory,” cried the poet, “you are yet more to me--you are
my one hope, my whole future rests with you. I thought that if you meant
to make my successes yours, you would surely make my adversity yours
also, and here we are going to part already.”

“You are judging my conduct,” said she; “you do not love me.”

Lucien looked at her with such a dolorous expression, that in spite of
herself, she said:

“Darling, I will stay if you like. We shall both be ruined, we shall
have no one to come to our aid. But when we are both equally wretched,
and every one shuts their door upon us both, when failure (for we must
look all possibilities in the face), when failure drives us back to the
Escarbas, then remember, love, that I foresaw the end, and that at
the first I proposed that we should make your way by conforming to
established rules.”

“Louise,” he cried, with his arms around her, “you are wise; you
frighten me! Remember that I am a child, that I have given myself up
entirely to your dear will. I myself should have preferred to overcome
obstacles and win my way among men by the power that is in me; but if I
can reach the goal sooner through your aid, I shall be very glad to owe
all my success to you. Forgive me! You mean so much to me that I cannot
help fearing all kinds of things; and, for me, parting means that
desertion is at hand, and desertion is death.”

“But, my dear boy, the world’s demands are soon satisfied,” returned
she. “You must sleep here; that is all. All day long you will be with
me, and no one can say a word.”

A few kisses set Lucien’s mind completely at rest. An hour later Gentil
brought in a note from Chatelet. He told Mme. de Bargeton that he had
found lodgings for her in the Rue Nueve-de-Luxembourg. Mme. de Bargeton
informed herself of the exact place, and found that it was not very far
from the Rue de l’Echelle. “We shall be neighbors,” she told Lucien.

Two hours afterwards Louise stepped into the hired carriage sent by
Chatelet for the removal to the new rooms. The apartments were of the
class that upholsterers furnish and let to wealthy deputies and persons
of consideration on a short visit to Paris--showy and uncomfortable. It
was eleven o’clock when Lucien returned to his inn, having seen nothing
as yet of Paris except the part of the Rue Saint-Honore which lies
between the Rue Neuve-de-Luxembourg and the Rue de l’Echelle. He lay
down in his miserable little room, and could not help comparing it in
his own mind with Louise’s sumptuous apartments.

Just as he came away the Baron du Chatelet came in, gorgeously arrayed
in evening dress, fresh from the Minister for Foreign Affairs, to
inquire whether Mme. de Bargeton was satisfied with all that he had done
on her behalf. Nais was uneasy. The splendor was alarming to her mind.
Provincial life had reacted upon her; she was painfully conscientious
over her accounts, and economical to a degree that is looked upon as
miserly in Paris. She had brought with her twenty thousand francs in the
shape of a draft on the Receiver-General, considering that the sum would
more than cover the expenses of four years in Paris; she was afraid
already lest she should not have enough, and should run into debt; and
now Chatelet told her that her rooms would only cost six hundred francs
per month.

“A mere trifle,” added he, seeing that Nais was startled. “For five
hundred francs a month you can have a carriage from a livery stable;
fifty louis in all. You need only think of your dress. A woman moving
in good society could not well do less; and if you mean to obtain a
Receiver-General’s appointment for M. de Bargeton, or a post in the
Household, you ought not to look poverty-stricken. Here, in Paris, they
only give to the rich. It is most fortunate that you brought Gentil
to go out with you, and Albertine for your own woman, for servants are
enough to ruin you here. But with your introductions you will seldom be
home to a meal.”

Mme. de Bargeton and the Baron de Chatelet chatted about Paris. Chatelet
gave her all the news of the day, the myriad nothings that you are bound
to know, under penalty of being a nobody. Before very long the Baron
also gave advice as to shopping, recommending Herbault for toques and
Juliette for hats and bonnets; he added the address of a fashionable
dressmaker to supersede Victorine. In short, he made the lady see the
necessity of rubbing off Angouleme. Then he took his leave after a final
flash of happy inspiration.

“I expect I shall have a box at one of the theatres to-morrow,” he
remarked carelessly; “I will call for you and M. de Rubempre, for you
must allow me to do the honors of Paris.”

“There is more generosity in his character than I thought,” said Mme. de
Bargeton to herself when Lucien was included in the invitation.

In the month of June ministers are often puzzled to know what to do with
boxes at the theatre; ministerialist deputies and their constituents
are busy in their vineyards or harvest fields, and their more exacting
acquaintances are in the country or traveling about; so it comes to
pass that the best seats are filled at this season with heterogeneous
theatre-goers, never seen at any other time of year, and the house is
apt to look as if it were tapestried with very shabby material. Chatelet
had thought already that this was his opportunity of giving Nais the
amusements which provincials crave most eagerly, and that with very
little expense.

The next morning, the very first morning in Paris, Lucien went to the
Rue Nueve-de-Luxembourg and found that Louise had gone out. She had gone
to make some indispensable purchases, to take counsel of the mighty and
illustrious authorities in the matter of the feminine toilette, pointed
out to her by Chatelet, for she had written to tell the Marquise
d’Espard of her arrival. Mme. de Bargeton possessed the self-confidence
born of a long habit of rule, but she was exceedingly afraid of
appearing to be provincial. She had tact enough to know how greatly the
relations of women among themselves depend upon first impressions; and
though she felt that she was equal to taking her place at once in such a
distinguished set as Mme. de d’Espard’s, she felt also that she stood in
need of goodwill at her first entrance into society, and was resolved,
in the first place, that she would leave nothing undone to secure
success. So she felt boundlessly thankful to Chatelet for pointing out
these ways of putting herself in harmony with the fashionable world.

A singular chance so ordered it that the Marquise was delighted to find
an opportunity of being useful to a connection of her husband’s family.
The Marquis d’Espard had withdrawn himself without apparent reason from
society, and ceased to take any active interest in affairs, political or
domestic. His wife, thus left mistress of her actions, felt the need of
the support of public opinion, and was glad to take the Marquis’ place
and give her countenance to one of her husband’s relations. She meant to
be ostentatiously gracious, so as to put her husband more evidently
in the wrong; and that very day she wrote, “Mme. de Bargeton _nee_
Negrepelisse” a charming billet, one of the prettily worded compositions
of which time alone can discover the emptiness.


“She was delighted that circumstances had brought a relative, of whom
she had heard, whose acquaintance she had desired to make, into closer
connection with her family. Friendships in Paris were not so solid but
that she longed to find one more to love on earth; and if this might not
be, there would only be one more illusion to bury with the rest. She put
herself entirely at her cousin’s disposal. She would have called upon
her if indisposition had not kept her to the house, and she felt that
she lay already under obligations to the cousin who had thought of her.”


Lucien, meanwhile, taking his first ramble along the Rue de la Paix and
through the Boulevards, like all newcomers, was much more interested in
the things that he saw than in the people he met. The general effect of
Paris is wholly engrossing at first. The wealth in the shop windows, the
high houses, the streams of traffic, the contrast everywhere between the
last extremes of luxury and want struck him more than anything else. In
his astonishment at the crowds of strange faces, the man of imaginative
temper felt as if he himself had shrunk, as it were, immensely. A man of
any consequence in his native place, where he cannot go out but he meets
with some recognition of his importance at every step, does not readily
accustom himself to the sudden and total extinction of his consequence.
You are somebody in your own country, in Paris you are nobody.
The transition between the first state and the last should be made
gradually, for the too abrupt fall is something like annihilation.
Paris could not fail to be an appalling wilderness for a young poet,
who looked for an echo for all his sentiments, a confidant for all his
thoughts, a soul to share his least sensations.

Lucien had not gone in search of his luggage and his best blue coat; and
painfully conscious of the shabbiness, to say no worse, of his clothes,
he went to Mme. de Bargeton, feeling that she must have returned. He
found the Baron du Chatelet, who carried them both off to dinner at the
_Rocher de Cancale_. Lucien’s head was dizzy with the whirl of Paris,
the Baron was in the carriage, he could say nothing to Louise, but he
squeezed her hand, and she gave a warm response to the mute confidence.

After dinner Chatelet took his guests to the Vaudeville. Lucien, in his
heart, was not over well pleased to see Chatelet again, and cursed the
chance that had brought the Baron to Paris. The Baron said that
ambition had brought him to town; he had hopes of an appointment as
secretary-general to a government department, and meant to take a seat
in the Council of State as Master of Requests. He had come to Paris to
ask for fulfilment of the promises that had been given him, for a man of
his stamp could not be expected to remain a comptroller all his life;
he would rather be nothing at all, and offer himself for election as
deputy, or re-enter diplomacy. Chatelet grew visibly taller; Lucien
dimly began to recognize in this elderly beau the superiority of the man
of the world who knows Paris; and, most of all, he felt ashamed to owe
his evening’s amusement to his rival. And while the poet looked ill
at ease and awkward Her Royal Highness’ ex-secretary was quite in his
element. He smiled at his rival’s hesitations, at his astonishment, at
the questions he put, at the little mistakes which the latter ignorantly
made, much as an old salt laughs at an apprentice who has not found his
sea legs; but Lucien’s pleasure at seeing a play for the first time in
Paris outweighed the annoyance of these small humiliations.

That evening marked an epoch in Lucien’s career; he put away a good
many of his ideas as to provincial life in the course of it. His
horizon widened; society assumed different proportions. There were
fair Parisiennes in fresh and elegant toilettes all about him; Mme. de
Bargeton’s costume, tolerably ambitious though it was, looked dowdy by
comparison; the material, like the fashion and the color, was out of
date. That way of arranging her hair, so bewitching in Angouleme, looked
frightfully ugly here among the daintily devised coiffures which he saw
in every direction.

“Will she always look like that?” said he to himself, ignorant that the
morning had been spent in preparing a transformation.

In the provinces comparison and choice are out of the question; when
a face has grown familiar it comes to possess a certain beauty that is
taken for granted. But transport the pretty woman of the provinces to
Paris, and no one takes the slightest notice of her; her prettiness is
of the comparative degree illustrated by the saying that among the blind
the one-eyed are kings. Lucien’s eyes were now busy comparing Mme. de
Bargeton with other women, just as she herself had contrasted him
with Chatelet on the previous day. And Mme. de Bargeton, on her part,
permitted herself some strange reflections upon her lover. The poet cut
a poor figure notwithstanding his singular beauty. The sleeves of his
jacket were too short; with his ill-cut country gloves and a waistcoat
too scanty for him, he looked prodigiously ridiculous, compared with
the young men in the balcony--“positively pitiable,” thought Mme. de
Bargeton. Chatelet, interested in her without presumption, taking care
of her in a manner that revealed a profound passion; Chatelet, elegant,
and as much at home as an actor treading the familiar boards of his
theatre, in two days had recovered all the ground lost in the past six
months.

Ordinary people will not admit that our sentiments towards each other
can totally change in a moment, and yet certain it is, that two lovers
not seldom fly apart even more quickly than they drew together. In Mme.
de Bargeton and in Lucien a process of disenchantment was at work; Paris
was the cause. Life had widened out before the poet’s eyes, as society
came to wear a new aspect for Louise. Nothing but an accident now was
needed to sever finally the bond that united them; nor was that blow, so
terrible for Lucien, very long delayed.

Mme. de Bargeton set Lucien down at his inn, and drove home with
Chatelet, to the intense vexation of the luckless lover.

“What will they say about me?” he wondered, as he climbed the stairs to
his dismal room.

“That poor fellow is uncommonly dull,” said Chatelet, with a smile, when
the door was closed.

“That is the way with those who have a world of thoughts in their heart
and brain. Men who have so much in them to give out in great works long
dreamed of, profess a certain contempt for conversation, a commerce in
which the intellect spends itself in small change,” returned the haughty
Negrepelisse. She still had courage to defend Lucien, but less for
Lucien’s sake than for her own.

“I grant it you willingly,” replied the Baron, “but we live with human
beings and not with books. There, dear Nais! I see how it is, there is
nothing between you yet, and I am delighted that it is so. If you decide
to bring an interest of a kind hitherto lacking into your life, let
it not be this so-called genius, I implore you. How if you have made a
mistake? Suppose that in a few days’ time, when you have compared
him with men whom you will meet, men of real ability, men who have
distinguished themselves in good earnest; suppose that you should
discover, dear and fair siren, that it is no lyre-bearer that you have
borne into port on your dazzling shoulders, but a little ape, with
no manners and no capacity; a presumptuous fool who may be a wit in
L’Houmeau, but turns out a very ordinary specimen of a young man in
Paris? And, after all, volumes of verse come out every week here, the
worst of them better than all M. Chardon’s poetry put together. For
pity’s sake, wait and compare! To-morrow, Friday, is Opera night,” he
continued as the carriage turned into the Rue Nueve-de-Luxembourg; “Mme.
d’Espard has the box of the First Gentlemen of the Chamber, and will
take you, no doubt. I shall go to Mme. de Serizy’s box to behold you in
your glory. They are giving _Les Danaides_.”

“Good-bye,” said she.

Next morning Mme. de Bargeton tried to arrange a suitable toilette
in which to call on her cousin, Mme. d’Espard. The weather was rather
chilly. Looking through the dowdy wardrobe from Angouleme, she found
nothing better than a certain green velvet gown, trimmed fantastically
enough. Lucien, for his part, felt that he must go at once for his
celebrated blue best coat; he felt aghast at the thought of his tight
jacket, and determined to be well dressed, lest he should meet the
Marquise d’Espard or receive a sudden summons to her house. He must
have his luggage at once, so he took a cab, and in two hours’ time spent
three or four francs, matter for much subsequent reflection on the scale
of the cost of living in Paris. Having dressed himself in his best, such
as it was, he went to the Rue Nueve-de-Luxembourg, and on the doorstep
encountered Gentil in company with a gorgeously be-feathered chasseur.

“I was just going round to you, sir, madame gave me a line for you,”
 said Gentil, ignorant of Parisian forms of respect, and accustomed to
homely provincial ways. The chasseur took the poet for a servant.

Lucien tore open the note, and learned that Mme. de Bargeton had gone to
spend the day with the Marquise d’Espard. She was going to the Opera
in the evening, but she told Lucien to be there to meet her. Her cousin
permitted her to give him a seat in her box. The Marquise d’Espard was
delighted to procure the young poet that pleasure.

“Then she loves me! my fears were all nonsense!” said Lucien to himself.
“She is going to present me to her cousin this very evening.”

He jumped for joy. He would spend the day that separated him from the
happy evening as joyously as might be. He dashed out in the direction
of the Tuileries, dreaming of walking there until it was time to dine
at Very’s. And now, behold Lucien frisking and skipping, light of foot
because light of heart, on his way to the Terrasse des Feuillants to
take a look at the people of quality on promenade there. Pretty women
walk arm-in-arm with men of fashion, their adorers, couples greet each
other with a glance as they pass; how different it is from the terrace
at Beaulieu! How far finer the birds on this perch than the Angouleme
species! It is as if you beheld all the colors that glow in the plumage
of the feathered tribes of India and America, instead of the sober
European families.

Those were two wretched hours that Lucien spent in the Garden of the
Tuileries. A violent revulsion swept through him, and he sat in judgment
upon himself.

In the first place, not a single one of these gilded youths wore a
swallow-tail coat. The few exceptions, one or two poor wretches, a clerk
here and there, an annuitant from the Marais, could be ruled out on
the score of age; and hard upon the discovery of a distinction between
morning and evening dress, the poet’s quick sensibility and keen eyes
saw likewise that his shabby old clothes were not fit to be seen; the
defects in his coat branded that garment as ridiculous; the cut was
old-fashioned, the color was the wrong shade of blue, the collar
outrageously ungainly, the coat tails, by dint of long wear, overlapped
each other, the buttons were reddened, and there were fatal white lines
along the seams. Then his waistcoat was too short, and so grotesquely
provincial, that he hastily buttoned his coat over it; and, finally, no
man of any pretension to fashion wore nankeen trousers. Well-dressed
men wore charming fancy materials or immaculate white, and every one
had straps to his trousers, while the shrunken hems of Lucien’s nether
garments manifested a violent antipathy for the heels of boots which
they wedded with obvious reluctance. Lucien wore a white cravat with
embroidered ends; his sister had seen that M. du Hautoy and M. de
Chandour wore such things, and hastened to make similar ones for her
brother. Here, no one appeared to wear white cravats of a morning
except a few grave seniors, elderly capitalists, and austere public
functionaries, until, in the street on the other side of the railings,
Lucien noticed a grocer’s boy walking along the Rue de Rivoli with a
basket on his head; him the man of Angouleme detected in the act of
sporting a cravat, with both ends adorned by the handiwork of some
adored shop-girl. The sight was a stab to Lucien’s breast; penetrating
straight to that organ as yet undefined, the seat of our sensibility,
the region whither, since sentiment has had any existence, the sons of
men carry their hands in any excess of joy or anguish. Do not accuse
this chronicle of puerility. The rich, to be sure, never having
experienced sufferings of this kind, may think them incredibly petty and
small; but the agonies of less fortunate mortals are as well worth our
attention as crises and vicissitudes in the lives of the mighty and
privileged ones of earth. Is not the pain equally great for either?
Suffering exalts all things. And, after all, suppose that we change
the terms and for a suit of clothes, more or less fine, put instead a
ribbon, or a star, or a title; have not brilliant careers been tormented
by reason of such apparent trifles as these? Add, moreover, that
for those people who must seem to have that which they have not, the
question of clothes is of enormous importance, and not unfrequently the
appearance of possession is the shortest road to possession at a later
day.

A cold sweat broke out over Lucien as he bethought himself that to-night
he must make his first appearance before the Marquise in this dress--the
Marquise d’Espard, relative of a First Gentleman of the Bedchamber,
a woman whose house was frequented by the most illustrious among
illustrious men in every field.

“I look like an apothecary’s son, a regular shop-drudge,” he raged
inwardly, watching the youth of the Faubourg Saint-Germain pass
under his eyes; graceful, spruce, fashionably dressed, with a certain
uniformity of air, a sameness due to a fineness of contour, and a
certain dignity of carriage and expression; though, at the same time,
each one differed from the rest in the setting by which he had chosen
to bring his personal characteristics into prominence. Each one made the
most of his personal advantages. Young men in Paris understand the art
of presenting themselves quite as well as women. Lucien had inherited
from his mother the invaluable physical distinction of race, but the
metal was still in the ore, and not set free by the craftsman’s hand.

His hair was badly cut. Instead of holding himself upright with
an elastic corset, he felt that he was cooped up inside a hideous
shirt-collar; he hung his dejected head without resistance on the part
of a limp cravat. What woman could guess that a handsome foot was hidden
by the clumsy boots which he had brought from Angouleme? What young man
could envy him his graceful figure, disguised by the shapeless blue sack
which hitherto he had mistakenly believed to be a coat? What bewitching
studs he saw on those dazzling white shirt fronts, his own looked
dingy by comparison; and how marvelously all these elegant persons were
gloved, his own gloves were only fit for a policeman! Yonder was a youth
toying with a cane exquisitely mounted; there, another with dainty gold
studs in his wristbands. Yet another was twisting a charming riding-whip
while he talked with a woman; there were specks of mud on the ample
folds of his white trousers, he wore clanking spurs and a tight-fitting
jacket, evidently he was about to mount one of the two horses held by
a hop-o’-my-thumb of a tiger. A young man who went past drew a watch no
thicker than a five-franc piece from his pocket, and looked at it
with the air of a person who is either too early or too late for an
appointment.

Lucien, seeing these petty trifles, hitherto unimagined, became aware of
a whole world of indispensable superfluities, and shuddered to think of
the enormous capital needed by a professional pretty fellow! The more he
admired these gay and careless beings, the more conscious he grew of his
own outlandishness; he knew that he looked like a man who has no idea of
the direction of the streets, who stands close to the Palais Royal and
cannot find it, and asks his way to the Louvre of a passer-by, who tells
him, “Here you are.” Lucien saw a great gulf fixed between him and this
new world, and asked himself how he might cross over, for he meant to be
one of these delicate, slim youths of Paris, these young patricians who
bowed before women divinely dressed and divinely fair. For one kiss from
one of these, Lucien was ready to be cut in pieces like Count Philip of
Konigsmark. Louise’s face rose up somewhere in the shadowy background of
memory--compared with these queens, she looked like an old woman. He saw
women whose names will appear in the history of the nineteenth century,
women no less famous than the queens of past times for their wit,
their beauty, or their lovers; one who passed was the heroine Mlle. des
Touches, so well known as Camille Maupin, the great woman of letters,
great by her intellect, great no less by her beauty. He overheard the
name pronounced by those who went by.

“Ah!” he thought to himself, “she is Poetry.”

What was Mme. de Bargeton in comparison with this angel in all the glory
of youth, and hope, and promise of the future, with that sweet smile of
hers, and the great dark eyes with all heaven in them, and the glowing
light of the sun? She was laughing and chatting with Mme. Firmiani, one
of the most charming women in Paris. A voice indeed cried, “Intellect is
the lever by which to move the world,” but another voice cried no less
loudly that money was the fulcrum.

He would not stay any longer on the scene of his collapse and defeat,
and went towards the Palais Royal. He did not know the topography of his
quarter yet, and was obliged to ask his way. Then he went to Very’s and
ordered dinner by way of an initiation into the pleasures of Paris,
and a solace for his discouragement. A bottle of Bordeaux, oysters
from Ostend, a dish of fish, a partridge, a dish of macaroni and
dessert,--this was the _ne plus ultra_ of his desire. He enjoyed this
little debauch, studying the while how to give the Marquise d’Espard
proof of his wit, and redeem the shabbiness of his grotesque
accoutrements by the display of intellectual riches. The total of the
bill drew him down from these dreams, and left him the poorer by fifty
of the francs which were to have gone such a long way in Paris. He
could have lived in Angouleme for a month on the price of that dinner.
Wherefore he closed the door of the palace with awe, thinking as he did
so that he should never set foot in it again.

“Eve was right,” he said to himself, as he went back under the stone
arcading for some more money. “There is a difference between Paris
prices and prices in L’Houmeau.”

He gazed in at the tailors’ windows on the way, and thought of the
costumes in the Garden of the Tuileries.

“No,” he exclaimed, “I will _not_ appear before Mme. d’Espard dressed
out as I am.”

He fled to his inn, fleet as a stag, rushed up to his room, took out
a hundred crowns, and went down again to the Palais Royal, where his
future elegance lay scattered over half a score of shops. The first
tailor whose door he entered tried as many coats upon him as he would
consent to put on, and persuaded his customer that all were in the very
latest fashion. Lucien came out the owner of a green coat, a pair of
white trousers, and a “fancy waistcoat,” for which outfit he gave two
hundred francs. Ere long he found a very elegant pair of ready-made
shoes that fitted his foot; and, finally, when he had made all necessary
purchases, he ordered the tradespeople to send them to his address, and
inquired for a hairdresser. At seven o’clock that evening he called
a cab and drove away to the Opera, curled like a Saint John of a
Procession Day, elegantly waistcoated and gloved, but feeling a little
awkward in this kind of sheath in which he found himself for the first
time.

In obedience to Mme. de Bargeton’s instructions, he asked for the box
reserved for the First Gentleman of the Bedchamber. The man at the box
office looked at him, and beholding Lucien in all the grandeur assumed
for the occasion, in which he looked like a best man at a wedding, asked
Lucien for his order.

“I have no order.”

“Then you cannot go in,” said the man at the box office drily.

“But I belong to Mme. d’Espard’s party.”

“It is not our business to know that,” said the man, who could not help
exchanging a barely perceptible smile with his colleague.

A carriage stopped under the peristyle as he spoke. A chasseur, in a
livery which Lucien did not recognize, let down the step, and two women
in evening dress came out of the brougham. Lucien had no mind to
lay himself open to an insolent order to get out of the way from the
official. He stepped aside to let the two ladies pass.

“Why, that lady is the Marquise d’Espard, whom you say you know, sir,”
 said the man ironically.

Lucien was so much the more confounded because Mme. de Bargeton did not
seem to recognize him in his new plumage; but when he stepped up to her,
she smiled at him and said:

“This has fallen out wonderfully--come!”

The functionaries at the box office grew serious again as Lucien
followed Mme. de Bargeton. On their way up the great staircase the lady
introduced M. de Rubempre to her cousin. The box belonging to the First
Gentleman of the Bedchamber is situated in one of the angles at the
back of the house, so that its occupants see and are seen all over
the theatre. Lucien took his seat on a chair behind Mme. de Bargeton,
thankful to be in the shadow.

“M. de Rubempre,” said the Marquise with flattering graciousness, “this
is your first visit to the Opera, is it not? You must have a view of the
house; take this seat, sit in front of the box; we give you permission.”

Lucien obeyed as the first act came to an end.

“You have made good use of your time,” Louise said in his ear, in her
first surprise at the change in his appearance.

Louise was still the same. The near presence of the Marquise d’Espard, a
Parisian Mme. de Bargeton, was so damaging to her; the brilliancy of the
Parisienne brought out all the defects in her country cousin so clearly
by contrast; that Lucien, looking out over the fashionable audience in
the superb building, and then at the great lady, was twice enlightened,
and saw poor Anais de Negrepelisse as she really was, as Parisians
saw her--a tall, lean, withered woman, with a pimpled face and faded
complexion; angular, stiff, affected in her manner; pompous and
provincial in her speech; and, and above all these things, dowdily
dressed. As a matter of fact, the creases in an old dress from Paris
still bear witness to good taste, you can tell what the gown was meant
for; but an old dress made in the country is inexplicable, it is a thing
to provoke laughter. There was neither charm nor freshness about the
dress or its wearer; the velvet, like the complexion had seen wear.
Lucien felt ashamed to have fallen in love with this cuttle-fish bone,
and vowed that he would profit by Louise’s next fit of virtue to leave
her for good. Having an excellent view of the house, he could see
the opera-glasses pointed at the aristocratic box par excellence. The
best-dressed women must certainly be scrutinizing Mme. de Bargeton, for
they smiled and talked among themselves.

If Mme. d’Espard knew the object of their sarcasms from those feminine
smiles and gestures, she was perfectly insensible to them. In the first
place, anybody must see that her companion was a poor relation from the
country, an affliction with which any Parisian family may be visited.
And, in the second, when her cousin had spoken to her of her dress with
manifest misgivings, she had reassured Anais, seeing that, when once
properly dressed, her relative would very easily acquire the tone of
Parisian society. If Mme. de Bargeton needed polish, on the other
hand she possessed the native haughtiness of good birth, and that
indescribable something which may be called “pedigree.” So, on Monday
her turn would come. And, moreover, the Marquise knew that as soon as
people learned that the stranger was her cousin, they would suspend
their banter and look twice before they condemned her.

Lucien did not foresee the change in Louise’s appearance shortly to be
worked by a scarf about her throat, a pretty dress, an elegant coiffure,
and Mme. d’Espard’s advice. As they came up the staircase even now, the
Marquise told her cousin not to hold her handkerchief unfolded in her
hand. Good or bad taste turns upon hundreds of such almost imperceptible
shades, which a quick-witted woman discerns at once, while others will
never grasp them. Mme. de Bargeton, plentifully apt, was more than
clever enough to discover her shortcomings. Mme. d’Espard, sure that her
pupil would do her credit, did not decline to form her. In short, the
compact between the two women had been confirmed by self-interest on
either side.

Mme. de Bargeton, enthralled, dazzled, and fascinated by her cousin’s
manner, wit, and acquaintances, had suddenly declared herself a votary
of the idol of the day. She had discerned the signs of the occult power
exerted by the ambitious great lady, and told herself that she could
gain her end as the satellite of this star, so she had been outspoken
in her admiration. The Marquise was not insensible to the artlessly
admitted conquest. She took an interest in her cousin, seeing that she
was weak and poor; she was, besides, not indisposed to take a pupil with
whom to found a school, and asked nothing better than to have a sort
of lady-in-waiting in Mme. de Bargeton, a dependent who would sing her
praises, a treasure even more scarce among Parisian women than a staunch
and loyal critic among the literary tribe. The flutter of curiosity
in the house was too marked to be ignored, however, and Mme. d’Espard
politely endeavored to turn her cousin’s mind from the truth.

“If any one comes to our box,” she said, “perhaps we may discover the
cause to which we owe the honor of the interest that these ladies are
taking----”

“I have a strong suspicion that it is my old velvet gown and Angoumoisin
air which Parisian ladies find amusing,” Mme. de Bargeton answered,
laughing.

“No, it is not you; it is something that I cannot explain,” she added,
turning to the poet, and, as she looked at him for the first time, it
seemed to strike her that he was singularly dressed.

“There is M. du Chatelet,” exclaimed Lucien at that moment, and he
pointed a finger towards Mme. de Serizy’s box, which the renovated beau
had just entered.

Mme. de Bargeton bit her lips with chagrin as she saw that gesture,
and saw besides the Marquise’s ill-suppressed smile of contemptuous
astonishment. “Where does the young man come from?” her look said, and
Louise felt humbled through her love, one of the sharpest of all pangs
for a Frenchwoman, a mortification for which she cannot forgive her
lover.

In these circles where trifles are of such importance, a gesture or a
word at the outset is enough to ruin a newcomer. It is the principal
merit of fine manners and the highest breeding that they produce the
effect of a harmonious whole, in which every element is so blended that
nothing is startling or obtrusive. Even those who break the laws of this
science, either through ignorance or carried away by some impulse, must
comprehend that it is with social intercourse as with music, a single
discordant note is a complete negation of the art itself, for the
harmony exists only when all its conditions are observed down to the
least particular.

“Who is that gentleman?” asked Mme. d’Espard, looking towards Chatelet.
“And have you made Mme. de Serizy’s acquaintance already?”

“Oh! is that the famous Mme. de Serizy who has had so many adventures
and yet goes everywhere?”

“An unheard-of-thing, my dear, explicable but unexplained. The most
formidable men are her friends, and why? Nobody dares to fathom the
mystery. Then is this person the lion of Angouleme?”

“Well, M. le Baron du Chatelet has been a good deal talked about,”
 answered Mme. de Bargeton, moved by vanity to give her adorer the title
which she herself had called in question. “He was M. de Montriveau’s
traveling companion.”

“Ah!” said the Marquise d’Espard, “I never hear that name without
thinking of the Duchesse de Langeais, poor thing. She vanished like
a falling star.--That is M. de Rastignac with Mme. de Nucingen,” she
continued, indicating another box; “she is the wife of a contractor, a
banker, a city man, a broker on a large scale; he forced his way into
society with his money, and they say that he is not very scrupulous as
to his methods of making it. He is at endless pains to establish his
credit as a staunch upholder of the Bourbons, and has tried already to
gain admittance into my set. When his wife took Mme. de Langeais’ box,
she thought that she could take her charm, her wit, and her success as
well. It is the old fable of the jay in the peacock’s feathers!”

“How do M. and Mme. de Rastignac manage to keep their son in Paris,
when, as we know, their income is under a thousand crowns?” asked
Lucien, in his astonishment at Rastignac’s elegant and expensive dress.

“It is easy to see that you come from Angouleme,” said Mme. d’Espard,
ironically enough, as she continued to gaze through her opera-glass.

Her remark was lost upon Lucien; the all-absorbing spectacle of the
boxes prevented him from thinking of anything else. He guessed that he
himself was an object of no small curiosity. Louise, on the other hand,
was exceedingly mortified by the evident slight esteem in which the
Marquise held Lucien’s beauty.

“He cannot be so handsome as I thought him,” she said to herself; and
between “not so handsome” and “not so clever as I thought him” there was
but one step.

The curtain fell. Chatelet was now paying a visit to the Duchesse de
Carigliano in an adjourning box; Mme. de Bargeton acknowledged his bow
by a slight inclination of the head. Nothing escapes a woman of the
world; Chatelet’s air of distinction was not lost upon Mme. d’Espard.
Just at that moment four personages, four Parisian celebrities, came
into the box, one after another.

The most striking feature of the first comer, M. de Marsay, famous for
the passions which he had inspired, was his girlish beauty; but its
softness and effeminacy were counteracted by the expression of his eyes,
unflinching, steady, untamed, and hard as a tiger’s. He was loved and he
was feared. Lucien was no less handsome; but Lucien’s expression was so
gentle, his blue eyes so limpid, that he scarcely seemed to possess
the strength and the power which attract women so strongly. Nothing,
moreover, so far had brought out the poet’s merits; while de Marsay,
with his flow of spirits, his confidence in his power to please, and
appropriate style of dress, eclipsed every rival by his presence. Judge,
therefore, the kind of figure that Lucien, stiff, starched, unbending in
clothes as new and unfamiliar as his surroundings, was likely to cut
in de Marsay’s vicinity. De Marsay with his wit and charm of manner
was privileged to be insolent. From Mme. d’Espard’s reception of this
personage his importance was at once evident to Mme. de Bargeton.

The second comer was a Vandenesse, the cause of the scandal in which
Lady Dudley was concerned. Felix de Vandenesse, amiable, intellectual,
and modest, had none of the characteristics on which de Marsay prided
himself, and owed his success to diametrically opposed qualities. He had
been warmly recommended to Mme. d’Espard by her cousin Mme. de Mortsauf.

The third was General de Montriveau, the author of the Duchesse de
Langeais’ ruin.

The fourth, M. de Canalis, one of the most famous poets of the day, and
as yet a newly risen celebrity, was prouder of his birth than of his
genius, and dangled in Mme. d’Espard’s train by way of concealing
his love for the Duchesse de Chaulieu. In spite of his graces and the
affectation that spoiled them, it was easy to discern the vast, lurking
ambitions that plunged him at a later day into the storms of political
life. A face that might be called insignificantly pretty and caressing
manners thinly disguised the man’s deeply-rooted egoism and habit of
continually calculating the chances of a career which at that time
looked problematical enough; though his choice of Mme. de Chaulieu (a
woman past forty) made interest for him at Court, and brought him the
applause of the Faubourg Saint-Germain and the gibes of the Liberal
party, who dubbed him “the poet of the sacristy.”

Mme. de Bargeton, with these remarkable figures before her, no longer
wondered at the slight esteem in which the Marquise held Lucien’s good
looks. And when conversation began, when intellects so keen, so subtle,
were revealed in two-edged words with more meaning and depth in them
than Anais de Bargeton heard in a month of talk at Angouleme; and,
most of all, when Canalis uttered a sonorous phrase, summing up a
materialistic epoch, and gilding it with poetry--then Anais felt all the
truth of Chatelet’s dictum of the previous evening. Lucien was nothing
to her now. Every one cruelly ignored the unlucky stranger; he was
so much like a foreigner listening to an unknown language, that the
Marquise d’Espard took pity upon him. She turned to Canalis.

“Permit me to introduce M. de Rubempre,” she said. “You rank too high in
the world of letters not to welcome a _debutant_. M. de Rubempre is from
Angouleme, and will need your influence, no doubt, with the powers that
bring genius to light. So far, he has no enemies to help him to success
by their attacks upon him. Is there enough originality in the idea of
obtaining for him by friendship all that hatred has done for you to
tempt you to make the experiment?”

The four newcomers all looked at Lucien while the Marquise was speaking.
De Marsay, only a couple of paces away, put up an eyeglass and looked
from Lucien to Mme. de Bargeton, and then again at Lucien, coupling them
with some mocking thought, cruelly mortifying to both. He scrutinized
them as if they had been a pair of strange animals, and then he smiled.
The smile was like a stab to the distinguished provincial. Felix de
Vandenesse assumed a charitable air. Montriveau looked Lucien through
and through.

“Madame,” M. de Canalis answered with a bow, “I will obey you, in spite
of the selfish instinct which prompts us to show a rival no favor; but
you have accustomed us to miracles.”

“Very well, do me the pleasure of dining with me on Monday with M. de
Rubempre, and you can talk of matters literary at your ease. I will
try to enlist some of the tyrants of the world of letters and the great
people who protect them, the author of _Ourika_, and one or two young
poets with sound views.”

“Mme. la Marquise,” said de Marsay, “if you give your support to this
gentleman for his intellect, I will support him for his good looks. I
will give him advice which will put him in a fair way to be the luckiest
dandy in Paris. After that, he may be a poet--if he has a mind.”

Mme. de Bargeton thanked her cousin by a grateful glance.

“I did not know that you were jealous of intellect,” Montriveau said,
turning to de Marsay; “good fortune is the death of a poet.”

“Is that why your lordship is thinking of marriage?” inquired the dandy,
addressing Canalis, and watching Mme. d’Espard to see if the words went
home.

Canalis shrugged his shoulders, and Mme. d’Espard, Mme. de Chaulieu’s
niece, began to laugh. Lucien in his new clothes felt as if he were an
Egyptian statue in its narrow sheath; he was ashamed that he had nothing
to say for himself all this while. At length he turned to the Marquise.

“After all your kindness, madame, I am pledged to make no failures,” he
said in those soft tones of his.

Chatelet came in as he spoke; he had seen Montriveau, and by hook or
crook snatched at the chance of a good introduction to the Marquise
d’Espard through one of the kings of Paris. He bowed to Mme. de
Bargeton, and begged Mme. d’Espard to pardon him for the liberty he took
in invading her box; he had been separated so long from his traveling
companion! Montriveau and Chatelet met for the first time since they
parted in the desert.

“To part in the desert, and meet again in the opera-house!” said Lucien.

“Quite a theatrical meeting!” said Canalis.

Montriveau introduced the Baron du Chatelet to the Marquise, and the
Marquise received Her Royal Highness’ ex-secretary the more graciously
because she had seen that he had been very well received in three
boxes already. Mme. de Serizy knew none but unexceptionable people, and
moreover he was Montriveau’s traveling companion. So potent was this
last credential, that Mme. de Bargeton saw from the manner of the
group that they accepted Chatelet as one of themselves without demur.
Chatelet’s sultan’s airs in Angouleme were suddenly explained.

At length the Baron saw Lucien, and favored him with a cool, disparaging
little nod, indicative to men of the world of the recipient’s inferior
station. A sardonic expression accompanied the greeting, “How does _he_
come here?” he seemed to say. This was not lost on those who saw it;
for de Marsay leaned towards Montriveau, and said in tones audible to
Chatelet:

“Do ask him who the queer-looking young fellow is that looks like a
dummy at a tailor’s shop-door.”

Chatelet spoke a few words in his traveling companion’s ear, and while
apparently renewing his acquaintance, no doubt cut his rival to pieces.

If Lucien was surprised at the apt wit and the subtlety with which these
gentlemen formulated their replies, he felt bewildered with epigram and
repartee, and, most of all, by their offhand way of talking and their
ease of manner. The material luxury of Paris had alarmed him that
morning; at night he saw the same lavish expenditure of intellect. By
what mysterious means, he asked himself, did these people make such
piquant reflections on the spur of the moment, those repartees which
he could only have made after much pondering? And not only were they at
ease in their speech, they were at ease in their dress, nothing looked
new, nothing looked old, nothing about them was conspicuous, everything
attracted the eyes. The fine gentleman of to-day was the same yesterday,
and would be the same to-morrow. Lucien guessed that he himself looked
as if he were dressed for the first time in his life.

“My dear fellow,” said de Marsay, addressing Felix de Vandenesse, “that
young Rastignac is soaring away like a paper-kite. Look at him in the
Marquise de Listomere’s box; he is making progress, he is putting up
his eyeglass at us! He knows this gentleman, no doubt,” added the dandy,
speaking to Lucien, and looking elsewhere.

“He can scarcely fail to have heard the name of a great man of whom we
are proud,” said Mme. de Bargeton. “Quite lately his sister was present
when M. de Rubempre read us some very fine poetry.”

Felix de Vandenesse and de Marsay took leave of the Marquise d’Espard,
and went off to Mme. de Listomere, Vandenesse’s sister. The second act
began, and the three were left to themselves again. The curious women
learned how Mme. de Bargeton came to be there from some of the party,
while the others announced the arrival of a poet, and made fun of his
costume. Canalis went back to the Duchesse de Chaulieu, and no more was
seen of him.

Lucien was glad when the rising of the curtain produced a diversion. All
Mme. de Bargeton’s misgivings with regard to Lucien were increased by
the marked attention which the Marquise d’Espard had shown to Chatelet;
her manner towards the Baron was very different from the patronizing
affability with which she treated Lucien. Mme. de Listomere’s box was
full during the second act, and, to all appearance, the talk turned upon
Mme. de Bargeton and Lucien. Young Rastignac evidently was entertaining
the party; he had raised the laughter that needs fresh fuel every day in
Paris, the laughter that seizes upon a topic and exhausts it, and leaves
it stale and threadbare in a moment. Mme. d’Espard grew uneasy. She knew
that an ill-natured speech is not long in coming to the ears of those
whom it will wound, and waited till the end of the act.

After a revulsion of feeling such as had taken place in Mme. de Bargeton
and Lucien, strange things come to pass in a brief space of time, and
any revolution within us is controlled by laws that work with great
swiftness. Chatelet’s sage and politic words as to Lucien, spoken on
the way home from the Vaudeville, were fresh in Louise’s memory. Every
phrase was a prophecy, it seemed as if Lucien had set himself to fulfil
the predictions one by one. When Lucien and Mme. de Bargeton had parted
with their illusions concerning each other, the luckless youth, with
a destiny not unlike Rousseau’s, went so far in his predecessor’s
footsteps that he was captivated by the great lady and smitten with
Mme. d’Espard at first sight. Young men and men who remember their young
emotions can see that this was only what might have been looked for.
Mme. d’Espard with her dainty ways, her delicate enunciation, and the
refined tones of her voice; the fragile woman so envied, of such high
place and high degree, appeared before the poet as Mme. de Bargeton had
appeared to him in Angouleme. His fickle nature prompted him to desire
influence in that lofty sphere at once, and the surest way to secure
such influence was to possess the woman who exerted it, and then
everything would be his. He had succeeded at Angouleme, why should he
not succeed in Paris?

Involuntarily, and despite the novel counter fascination of the stage,
his eyes turned to the Celimene in her splendor; he glanced furtively at
her every moment; the longer he looked, the more he desired to look at
her. Mme. de Bargeton caught the gleam in Lucien’s eyes, and saw that
he found the Marquise more interesting than the opera. If Lucien had
forsaken her for the fifty daughters of Danaus, she could have borne his
desertion with equanimity; but another glance--bolder, more ardent and
unmistakable than any before--revealed the state of Lucien’s feelings.
She grew jealous, but not so much for the future as for the past.

“He never gave me such a look,” she thought. “Dear me! Chatelet was
right!”

Then she saw that she had made a mistake; and when a woman once begins
to repent of her weaknesses, she sponges out the whole past. Every
one of Lucien’s glances roused her indignation, but to all outward
appearance she was calm. De Marsay came back in the interval, bringing
M. de Listomere with him; and that serious person and the young coxcomb
soon informed the Marquise that the wedding guest in his holiday suit,
whom she had the bad luck to have in her box, had as much right to the
appellation of Rubempre as a Jew to a baptismal name. Lucien’s father
was an apothecary named Chardon. M. de Rastignac, who knew all about
Angouleme, had set several boxes laughing already at the mummy whom the
Marquise styled her cousin, and at the Marquise’s forethought in having
an apothecary at hand to sustain an artificial life with drugs. In
short, de Marsay brought a selection from the thousand-and-one jokes
made by Parisians on the spur of the moment, and no sooner uttered than
forgotten. Chatelet was at the back of it all, and the real author of
this Punic faith.

Mme. d’Espard turned to Mme. de Bargeton, put up her fan, and said, “My
dear, tell me if your protege’s name is really M. de Rubempre?”

“He has assumed his mother’s name,” said Anais, uneasily.

“But who was his father?”

“His father’s name was Chardon.”

“And what was this Chardon?”

“A druggist.”

“My dear friend, I felt quite sure that all Paris could not be laughing
at any one whom I took up. I do not care to stay here when wags come in
in high glee because there is an apothecary’s son in my box. If you will
follow my advice, we will leave it, and at once.”

Mme. d’Espard’s expression was insolent enough; Lucien was at a loss to
account for her change of countenance. He thought that his waistcoat was
in bad taste, which was true; and that his coat looked like a caricature
of the fashion, which was likewise true. He discerned, in bitterness
of soul, that he must put himself in the hands of an expert tailor,
and vowed that he would go the very next morning to the most celebrated
artist in Paris. On Monday he would hold his own with the men in the
Marquise’s house.

Yet, lost in thought though he was, he saw the third act to an end, and,
with his eyes fixed on the gorgeous scene upon the stage, dreamed out
his dream of Mme. d’Espard. He was in despair over her sudden coldness;
it gave a strange check to the ardent reasoning through which he
advanced upon this new love, undismayed by the immense difficulties in
the way, difficulties which he saw and resolved to conquer. He roused
himself from these deep musings to look once more at his new idol,
turned his head, and saw that he was alone; he had heard a faint
rustling sound, the door closed--Madame d’Espard had taken her cousin
with her. Lucien was surprised to the last degree by the sudden
desertion; he did not think long about it, however, simply because it
was inexplicable.

When the carriage was rolling along the Rue de Richelieu on the way to
the Faubourg Saint-Honore, the Marquise spoke to her cousin in a tone of
suppressed irritation.

“My dear child, what are you thinking about? Pray wait till an
apothecary’s son has made a name for himself before you trouble yourself
about him. The Duchesse de Chaulieu does not acknowledge Canalis even
now, and he is famous and a man of good family. This young fellow is
neither your son nor your lover, I suppose?” added the haughty dame,
with a keen, inquisitive glance at her cousin.

“How fortunate for me that I kept the little scapegrace at a distance!”
 thought Madame de Bargeton.

“Very well,” continued the Marquise, taking the expression in her
cousin’s eyes for an answer, “drop him, I beg of you. Taking an
illustrious name in that way!--Why, it is a piece of impudence that will
meet with its desserts in society. It is his mother’s name, I dare say;
but just remember, dear, that the King alone can confer, by a special
ordinance, the title of de Rubempre on the son of a daughter of the
house. If she made a _mesalliance_, the favor would be enormous, only
to be granted to vast wealth, or conspicuous services, or very powerful
influence. The young man looks like a shopman in his Sunday suit;
evidently he is neither wealthy nor noble; he has a fine head, but he
seems to me to be very silly; he has no idea what to do, and has nothing
to say for himself; in fact, he has no breeding. How came you to take
him up?”

Mme. de Bargeton renounced Lucien as Lucien himself had renounced her; a
ghastly fear lest her cousin should learn the manner of her journey shot
through her mind.

“Dear cousin, I am in despair that I have compromised you.”

“People do not compromise me,” Mme. d’Espard said, smiling; “I am only
thinking of you.”

“But you have asked him to dine with you on Monday.”

“I shall be ill,” the Marquise said quickly; “you can tell him so, and I
shall leave orders that he is not to be admitted under either name.”

During the interval Lucien noticed that every one was walking up and
down the lobby. He would do the same. In the first place, not one of
Mme. d’Espard’s visitors recognized him nor paid any attention to him,
their conduct seemed nothing less than extraordinary to the provincial
poet; and, secondly, Chatelet, on whom he tried to hang, watched him
out of the corner of his eye and fought shy of him. Lucien walked to and
fro, watching the eddying crowd of men, till he felt convinced that his
costume was absurd, and he went back to his box, ensconced himself in
a corner, and stayed there till the end. At times he thought of nothing
but the magnificent spectacle of the ballet in the great Inferno
scene in the fifth act; sometimes the sight of the house absorbed him,
sometimes his own thoughts; he had seen society in Paris, and the sight
had stirred him to the depths.

“So this is my kingdom,” he said to himself; “this is the world that I
must conquer.”

As he walked home through the streets he thought over all that had
been said by Mme. d’Espard’s courtiers; memory reproducing with strange
faithfulness their demeanor, their gestures, their manner of coming and
going.

Next day, towards noon, Lucien betook himself to Staub, the great tailor
of that day. Partly by dint of entreaties, and partly by virtue of cash,
Lucien succeeded in obtaining a promise that his clothes should be ready
in time for the great day. Staub went so far as to give his word that
a perfectly elegant coat, a waistcoat, and a pair of trousers should
be forthcoming. Lucien then ordered linen and pocket-handkerchiefs, a
little outfit, in short, of a linen-draper, and a celebrated bootmaker
measured him for shoes and boots. He bought a neat walking cane at
Verdier’s; he went to Mme. Irlande for gloves and shirt studs; in short,
he did his best to reach the climax of dandyism. When he had satisfied
all his fancies, he went to the Rue Neuve-de-Luxembourg, and found that
Louise had gone out.

“She was dining with Mme. la Marquise d’Espard,” her maid said, “and
would not be back till late.”

Lucien dined for two francs at a restaurant in the Palais Royal, and
went to bed early. The next day was Sunday. He went to Louise’s lodging
at eleven o’clock. Louise had not yet risen. At two o’clock he returned
once more.

“Madame cannot see anybody yet,” reported Albertine, “but she gave me a
line for you.”

“Cannot see anybody yet?” repeated Lucien. “But I am not anybody----”

“I do not know,” Albertine answered very impertinently; and Lucien, less
surprised by Albertine’s answer than by a note from Mme. de Bargeton,
took the billet, and read the following discouraging lines:--


“Mme. d’Espard is not well; she will not be able to see you on Monday. I
am not feeling very well myself, but I am about to dress and go to keep
her company. I am in despair over this little disappointment; but your
talents reassure me, you will make your way without charlatanism.”


“And no signature!” Lucien said to himself. He found himself in the
Tuileries before he knew whither he was walking.

With the gift of second-sight which accompanies genius, he began to
suspect that the chilly note was but a warning of the catastrophe to
come. Lost in thought, he walked on and on, gazing at the monuments in
the Place Louis Quinze.

It was a sunny day; a stream of fine carriages went past him on the
way to the Champs Elysees. Following the direction of the crowd of
strollers, he saw the three or four thousand carriages that turn the
Champs Elysees into an improvised Longchamp on Sunday afternoons in
summer. The splendid horses, the toilettes, and liveries bewildered him;
he went further and further, until he reached the Arc de Triomphe, then
unfinished. What were his feelings when, as he returned, he saw Mme. de
Bargeton and Mme. d’Espard coming towards him in a wonderfully
appointed caleche, with a chasseur behind it in waving plumes and that
gold-embroidered green uniform which he knew only too well. There was
a block somewhere in the row, and the carriages waited. Lucien beheld
Louise transformed beyond recognition. All the colors of her toilette
had been carefully subordinated to her complexion; her dress was
delicious, her hair gracefully and becomingly arranged, her hat, in
exquisite taste, was remarkable even beside Mme. d’Espard, that leader
of fashion.

There is something in the art of wearing a hat that escapes definition.
Tilted too far to the back of the head, it imparts a bold expression to
the face; bring it too far forward, it gives you a sinister look; tipped
to one side, it has a jaunty air; a well-dressed woman wears her hat
exactly as she means to wear it, and exactly at the right angle. Mme.
de Bargeton had solved this curious problem at sight. A dainty girdle
outlined her slender waist. She had adopted her cousin’s gestures and
tricks of manner; and now, as she sat by Mme. d’Espard’s side, she
played with a tiny scent bottle that dangled by a slender gold chain
from one of her fingers, displayed a little well-gloved hand without
seeming to do so. She had modeled herself on Mme. d’Espard without
mimicking her; the Marquise had found a cousin worthy of her, and seemed
to be proud of her pupil.

The men and women on the footways all gazed at the splendid carriage,
with the bearings of the d’Espards and Blamont-Chauvrys upon the panels.
Lucien was amazed at the number of greetings received by the cousins;
he did not know that the “all Paris,” which consists in some score of
salons, was well aware already of the relationship between the ladies.
A little group of young men on horseback accompanied the carriage in
the Bois; Lucien could recognize de Marsay and Rastignac among them,
and could see from their gestures that the pair of coxcombs were
complimenting Mme. de Bargeton upon her transformation. Mme. d’Espard
was radiant with health and grace. So her indisposition was simply a
pretext for ridding herself of him, for there had been no mention of
another day!

The wrathful poet went towards the caleche; he walked slowly, waited
till he came in full sight of the two ladies, and made them a bow. Mme.
de Bargeton would not see him; but the Marquise put up her eyeglass,
and deliberately cut him. He had been disowned by the sovereign lords of
Angouleme, but to be disowned by society in Paris was another thing; the
booby-squires by doing their utmost to mortify Lucien admitted his power
and acknowledged him as a man; for Mme. d’Espard he had positively no
existence. This was a sentence, it was a refusal of justice. Poor poet!
a deadly cold seized on him when he saw de Marsay eying him through his
glass; and when the Parisian lion let that optical instrument fall, it
dropped in so singular a fashion that Lucien thought of the knife-blade
of the guillotine.

The caleche went by. Rage and a craving for vengeance took possession of
his slighted soul. If Mme. de Bargeton had been in his power, he could
have cut her throat at that moment; he was a Fouquier-Tinville gloating
over the pleasure of sending Mme. d’Espard to the scaffold. If only
he could have put de Marsay to the torture with refinements of savage
cruelty! Canalis went by on horseback, bowing to the prettiest women,
his dress elegant, as became the most dainty of poets.

“Great heavens!” exclaimed Lucien. “Money, money at all costs! money
is the one power before which the world bends the knee.” (“No!” cried
conscience, “not money, but glory; and glory means work! Work! that
was what David said.”) “Great heavens! what am I doing here? But I will
triumph. I will drive along this avenue in a caleche with a chasseur
behind me! I will possess a Marquise d’Espard.” And flinging out the
wrathful words, he went to Hurbain’s to dine for two francs.

Next morning, at nine o’clock, he went to the Rue Neuve-de-Luxembourg to
upbraid Louise for her barbarity. But Mme. de Bargeton was not at home
to him, and not only so, but the porter would not allow him to go up to
her rooms; so he stayed outside in the street, watching the house till
noon. At twelve o’clock Chatelet came out, looked at Lucien out of the
corner of his eye, and avoided him.

Stung to the quick, Lucien hurried after his rival; and Chatelet,
finding himself closely pursued, turned and bowed, evidently intending
to shake him off by this courtesy.

“Spare me just a moment for pity’s sake, sir,” said Lucien; “I want just
a word or two with you. You have shown me friendship, I now ask the most
trifling service of that friendship. You have just come from Mme.
de Bargeton; how have I fallen into disgrace with her and Mme.
d’Espard?--please explain.”

“M. Chardon, do you know why the ladies left you at the Opera that
evening?” asked Chatelet, with treacherous good-nature.

“No,” said the poor poet.

“Well, it was M. de Rastignac who spoke against you from the beginning.
They asked him about you, and the young dandy simply said that your name
was Chardon, and not de Rubempre; that your mother was a monthly nurse;
that your father, when he was alive, was an apothecary in L’Houmeau,
a suburb of Angouleme; and that your sister, a charming girl, gets up
shirts to admiration, and is just about to be married to a local printer
named Sechard. Such is the world! You no sooner show yourself than it
pulls you to pieces.

“M. de Marsay came to Mme. d’Espard to laugh at you with her; so the two
ladies, thinking that your presence put them in a false position, went
out at once. Do not attempt to go to either house. If Mme. de Bargeton
continued to receive your visits, her cousin would have nothing to do
with her. You have genius; try to avenge yourself. The world looks down
upon you; look down in your turn upon the world. Take refuge in some
garret, write your masterpieces, seize on power of any kind, and you
will see the world at your feet. Then you can give back the bruises
which you have received, and in the very place where they were given.
Mme. de Bargeton will be the more distant now because she has been
friendly. That is the way with women. But the question now for you is
not how to win back Anais’ friendship, but how to avoid making an enemy
of her. I will tell you of a way. She has written letters to you; send
all her letters back to her, she will be sensible that you are acting
like a gentleman; and at a later time, if you should need her, she
will not be hostile. For my own part, I have so high an opinion of your
future, that I have taken your part everywhere; and if I can do anything
here for you, you will always find me ready to be of use.”

The elderly beau seemed to have grown young again in the atmosphere of
Paris. He bowed with frigid politeness; but Lucien, woe-begone, haggard,
and undone, forgot to return the salutation. He went back to his inn,
and there found the great Staub himself, come in person, not so much
to try his customer’s clothes as to make inquiries of the landlady
with regard to that customer’s financial status. The report had been
satisfactory. Lucien had traveled post; Mme. de Bargeton brought him
back from Vaudeville last Thursday in her carriage. Staub addressed
Lucien as “Monsieur le Comte,” and called his customer’s attention to
the artistic skill with which he had brought a charming figure into
relief.

“A young man in such a costume has only to walk in the Tuileries,” he
said, “and he will marry an English heiress within a fortnight.”

Lucien brightened a little under the influences of the German tailor’s
joke, the perfect fit of his new clothes, the fine cloth, and the sight
of a graceful figure which met his eyes in the looking-glass. Vaguely he
told himself that Paris was the capital of chance, and for the moment
he believed in chance. Had he not a volume of poems and a magnificent
romance entitled _The Archer of Charles IX._ in manuscript? He had hope
for the future. Staub promised the overcoat and the rest of the clothes
the next day.

The next day the bootmaker, linen-draper, and tailor all returned armed
each with his bill, which Lucien, still under the charm of provincial
habits, paid forthwith, not knowing how otherwise to rid himself of
them. After he had paid, there remained but three hundred and sixty
francs out of the two thousand which he had brought with him from
Angouleme, and he had been but one week in Paris! Nevertheless, he
dressed and went to take a stroll in the Terrassee des Feuillants. He
had his day of triumph. He looked so handsome and so graceful, he was so
well dressed, that women looked at him; two or three were so much struck
with his beauty, that they turned their heads to look again. Lucien
studied the gait and carriage of the young men on the Terrasse, and took
a lesson in fine manners while he meditated on his three hundred and
sixty francs.

That evening, alone in his chamber, an idea occurred to him which threw
a light on the problem of his existence at the Gaillard-Bois, where he
lived on the plainest fare, thinking to economize in this way. He asked
for his account, as if he meant to leave, and discovered that he was
indebted to his landlord to the extent of a hundred francs. The next
morning was spent in running around the Latin Quarter, recommended for
its cheapness by David. For a long while he looked about till, finally,
in the Rue de Cluny, close to the Sorbonne, he discovered a place where
he could have a furnished room for such a price as he could afford to
pay. He settled with his hostess of the Gaillard-Bois, and took up his
quarters in the Rue de Cluny that same day. His removal only cost him
the cab fare.

When he had taken possession of his poor room, he made a packet of Mme.
de Bargeton’s letters, laid them on the table, and sat down to write to
her; but before he wrote he fell to thinking over that fatal week. He
did not tell himself that he had been the first to be faithless; that
for a sudden fancy he had been ready to leave his Louise without knowing
what would become of her in Paris. He saw none of his own shortcomings,
but he saw his present position, and blamed Mme. de Bargeton for it.
She was to have lighted his way; instead she had ruined him. He grew
indignant, he grew proud, he worked himself into a paroxysm of rage, and
set himself to compose the following epistle:--


  “What would you think, madame, of a woman who should take a fancy
  to some poor and timid child full of the noble superstitions which
  the grown man calls ‘illusions;’ and using all the charms of
  woman’s coquetry, all her most delicate ingenuity, should feign a
  mother’s love to lead that child astray? Her fondest promises, the
  card-castles which raised his wonder, cost her nothing; she leads
  him on, tightens her hold upon him, sometimes coaxing, sometimes
  scolding him for his want of confidence, till the child leaves his
  home and follows her blindly to the shores of a vast sea. Smiling,
  she lures him into a frail skiff, and sends him forth alone and
  helpless to face the storm. Standing safe on the rock, she laughs
  and wishes him luck. You are that woman; I am that child.

  “The child has a keepsake in his hands, something which might
  betray the wrongs done by your beneficence, your kindness in
  deserting him. You might have to blush if you saw him struggling
  for life, and chanced to recollect that once you clasped him to
  your breast. When you read these words the keepsake will be in
  your own safe keeping; you are free to forget everything.

  “Once you pointed out fair hopes to me in the skies, I awake to
  find reality in the squalid poverty of Paris. While you pass, and
  others bow before you, on your brilliant path in the great world,
  I, I whom you deserted on the threshold, shall be shivering in the
  wretched garret to which you consigned me. Yet some pang may
  perhaps trouble your mind amid festivals and pleasures; you may
  think sometimes of the child whom you thrust into the depths. If
  so, madame, think of him without remorse. Out of the depths of his
  misery the child offers you the one thing left to him--his
  forgiveness in a last look. Yes, madame, thanks to you, I have
  nothing left. Nothing! was not the world created from nothing?
  Genius should follow the Divine example; I begin with God-like
  forgiveness, but as yet I know not whether I possess the God-like
  power. You need only tremble lest I should go astray; for you
  would be answerable for my sins. Alas! I pity you, for you will
  have no part in the future towards which I go, with work as my
  guide.”


After penning this rhetorical effusion, full of the sombre dignity which
an artist of one-and-twenty is rather apt to overdo, Lucien’s thoughts
went back to them at home. He saw the pretty rooms which David had
furnished for him, at the cost of part of his little store, and a vision
rose before him of quiet, simple pleasures in the past. Shadowy figures
came about him; he saw his mother and Eve and David, and heard their
sobs over his leave-taking, and at that he began to cry himself, for he
felt very lonely in Paris, and friendless and forlorn.

Two or three days later he wrote to his sister:--


  “MY DEAR EVE,--When a sister shares the life of a brother who
  devotes himself to art, it is her sad privilege to take more
  sorrow than joy into her life; and I am beginning to fear that I
  shall be a great trouble to you. Have I not abused your goodness
  already? have not all of you sacrificed yourselves to me? It is
  the memory of the past, so full of family happiness, that helps me
  to bear up in my present loneliness. Now that I have tasted the
  first beginnings of poverty and the treachery of the world of
  Paris, how my thoughts have flown to you, swift as an eagle back
  to its eyrie, so that I might be with true affection again. Did
  you see sparks in the candle? Did a coal pop out of the fire? Did
  you hear singing in your ears? And did mother say, ‘Lucien is
  thinking of us,’ and David answer, ‘He is fighting his way in the
  world?’

  “My Eve, I am writing this letter for your eyes only. I cannot
  tell any one else all that has happened to me, good and bad,
  blushing for both, as I write, for good here is as rare as evil
  ought to be. You shall have a great piece of news in a very few
  words. Mme. de Bargeton was ashamed of me, disowned me, would not
  see me, and gave me up nine days after we came to Paris. She saw
  me in the street and looked another way; when, simply to follow
  her into the society to which she meant to introduce me, I had
  spent seventeen hundred and sixty francs out of the two thousand I
  brought from Angouleme, the money so hardly scraped together. ‘How
  did you spend it?’ you will ask. Paris is a strange bottomless
  gulf, my poor sister; you can dine here for less than a franc, yet
  the simplest dinner at a fashionable restaurant costs fifty
  francs; there are waistcoats and trousers to be had for four
  francs and two francs each; but a fashionable tailor never charges
  less than a hundred francs. You pay for everything; you pay a
  halfpenny to cross the kennel in the street when it rains; you
  cannot go the least little way in a cab for less than thirty-two
  sous.

  “I have been staying in one of the best parts of Paris, but now I
  am living at the Hotel de Cluny, in the Rue de Cluny, one of the
  poorest and darkest slums, shut in between three churches and the
  old buildings of the Sorbonne. I have a furnished room on the
  fourth floor; it is very bare and very dirty, but, all the same, I
  pay fifteen francs a month for it. For breakfast I spend a penny
  on a roll and a halfpenny for milk, but I dine very decently for
  twenty-two sous at a restaurant kept by a man named Flicoteaux in
  the Place de la Sorbonne itself. My expenses every month will not
  exceed sixty francs, everything included, until the winter begins
  --at least I hope not. So my two hundred and forty francs ought to
  last me for the first four months. Between now and then I shall
  have sold _The Archer of Charles IX._ and the _Marguerites_ no doubt.
  Do not be in the least uneasy on my account. If the present is
  cold and bare and poverty-stricken, the blue distant future is
  rich and splendid; most great men have known the vicissitudes
  which depress but cannot overwhelm me.

  “Plautus, the great comic Latin poet, was once a miller’s lad.
  Machiavelli wrote _The Prince_ at night, and by day was a common
  working-man like any one else; and more than all, the great
  Cervantes, who lost an arm at the battle of Lepanto, and helped to
  win that famous day, was called a ‘base-born, handless dotard’ by
  the scribblers of his day; there was an interval of ten years
  between the appearance of the first part and the second of his
  sublime _Don Quixote_ for lack of a publisher. Things are not so bad
  as that nowadays. Mortifications and want only fall to the lot of
  unknown writers; as soon as a man’s name is known, he grows rich,
  and I will be rich. And besides, I live within myself, I spend
  half the day at the Bibliotheque Sainte-Genevieve, learning all
  that I want to learn; I should not go far unless I knew more than
  I do. So at this moment I am almost happy. In a few days I have
  fallen in with my life very gladly. I begin the work that I love
  with daylight, my subsistence is secure, I think a great deal, and
  I study. I do not see that I am open to attack at any point, now
  that I have renounced a world where my vanity might suffer at any
  moment. The great men of every age are obliged to lead lives
  apart. What are they but birds in the forest? They sing, nature
  falls under the spell of their song, and no one should see them.
  That shall be my lot, always supposing that I can carry out my
  ambitious plans.

  “Mme. de Bargeton I do not regret. A woman who could behave as she
  behaved does not deserve a thought. Nor am I sorry that I left
  Angouleme. She did wisely when she flung me into the sea of Paris
  to sink or swim. This is the place for men of letters and thinkers
  and poets; here you cultivate glory, and I know how fair the
  harvest is that we reap in these days. Nowhere else can a writer
  find the living works of the great dead, the works of art which
  quicken the imagination in the galleries and museums here; nowhere
  else will you find great reference libraries always open in which
  the intellect may find pasture. And lastly, here in Paris there is
  a spirit which you breathe in the air; it infuses the least
  details, every literary creation bears traces of its influence.
  You learn more by talk in a cafe, or at a theatre, in one half
  hour, than you would learn in ten years in the provinces. Here, in
  truth, wherever you go, there is always something to see,
  something to learn, some comparison to make. Extreme cheapness and
  excessive dearness--there is Paris for you; there is honeycomb
  here for every bee, every nature finds its own nourishment. So,
  though life is hard for me just now, I repent of nothing. On the
  contrary, a fair future spreads out before me, and my heart
  rejoices though it is saddened for the moment. Good-bye my dear
  sister. Do not expect letters from me regularly; it is one of the
  peculiarities of Paris that one really does not know how the time
  goes. Life is so alarmingly rapid. I kiss the mother and you and
  David more tenderly than ever.

“LUCIEN.”


The name of Flicoteaux is engraved on many memories. Few indeed were the
students who lived in the Latin Quarter during the last twelve years of
the Restoration and did not frequent that temple sacred to hunger and
impecuniosity. There a dinner of three courses, with a quarter bottle
of wine or a bottle of beer, could be had for eighteen sous; or for
twenty-two sous the quarter bottle becomes a bottle. Flicoteaux, that
friend of youth, would beyond a doubt have amassed a colossal fortune
but for a line on his bill of fare, a line which rival establishments
are wont to print in capital letters, thus--BREAD AT DISCRETION, which,
being interpreted, should read “indiscretion.”

Flicoteaux has been nursing-father to many an illustrious name. Verily,
the heart of more than one great man ought to wax warm with innumerable
recollections of inexpressible enjoyment at the sight of the small,
square window panes that look upon the Place de la Sorbonne, and the Rue
Neuve-de-Richelieu. Flicoteaux II. and Flicoteaux III. respected the old
exterior, maintaining the dingy hue and general air of a respectable,
old-established house, showing thereby the depth of their contempt for
the charlatanism of the shop-front, the kind of advertisement which
feasts the eyes at the expense of the stomach, to which your modern
restaurant almost always has recourse. Here you beheld no piles of
straw-stuffed game never destined to make the acquaintance of the spit,
no fantastical fish to justify the mountebank’s remark, “I saw a fine
carp to-day; I expect to buy it this day week.” Instead of the prime
vegetables more fittingly described by the word primeval, artfully
displayed in the window for the delectation of the military man and his
fellow country-woman the nursemaid, honest Flicoteaux exhibited full
salad-bowls adorned with many a rivet, or pyramids of stewed prunes
to rejoice the sight of the customer, and assure him that the word
“dessert,” with which other handbills made too free, was in this case
no charter to hoodwink the public. Loaves of six pounds’ weight, cut in
four quarters, made good the promise of “bread at discretion.” Such was
the plenty of the establishment, that Moliere would have celebrated it
if it had been in existence in his day, so comically appropriate is the
name.

Flicoteaux still subsists; so long as students are minded to live,
Flicoteaux will make a living. You feed there, neither more nor less;
and you feed as you work, with morose or cheerful industry, according to
the circumstances and the temperament.

At that time his well-known establishment consisted of two dining-halls,
at right angles to each other; long, narrow, low-ceiled rooms, looking
respectively on the Rue Neuve-de-Richelieu and the Place de la Sorbonne.
The furniture must have come originally from the refectory of some
abbey, for there was a monastic look about the lengthy tables, where the
serviettes of regular customers, each thrust through a numbered ring of
crystallized tin plate, were laid by their places. Flicoteaux I. only
changed the serviettes of a Sunday; but Flicoteaux II. changed them
twice a week, it is said, under pressure of competition which threatened
his dynasty.

Flicoteaux’s restaurant is no banqueting-hall, with its refinements
and luxuries; it is a workshop where suitable tools are provided, and
everybody gets up and goes as soon as he has finished. The coming and
going within are swift. There is no dawdling among the waiters; they are
all busy; every one of them is wanted.

The fare is not very varied. The potato is a permanent institution;
there might not be a single tuber left in Ireland, and prevailing dearth
elsewhere, but you would still find potatoes at Flicoteaux’s. Not once
in thirty years shall you miss its pale gold (the color beloved of
Titian), sprinkled with chopped verdure; the potato enjoys a privilege
that women might envy; such as you see it in 1814, so shall you find
it in 1840. Mutton cutlets and fillet of beef at Flicoteaux’s represent
black game and fillet of sturgeon at Very’s; they are not on the regular
bill of fare, that is, and must be ordered beforehand. Beef of the
feminine gender there prevails; the young of the bovine species appears
in all kinds of ingenious disguises. When the whiting and mackerel
abound on our shores, they are likewise seen in large numbers at
Flicoteaux’s; his whole establishment, indeed, is directly affected by
the caprices of the season and the vicissitudes of French agriculture.
By eating your dinners at Flicoteaux’s you learn a host of things of
which the wealthy, the idle, and folk indifferent to the phases of
Nature have no suspicion, and the student penned up in the Latin Quarter
is kept accurately informed of the state of the weather and good or bad
seasons. He knows when it is a good year for peas or French beans, and
the kind of salad stuff that is plentiful; when the Great Market is
glutted with cabbages, he is at once aware of the fact, and the failure
of the beetroot crop is brought home to his mind. A slander, old in
circulation in Lucien’s time, connected the appearance of beef-steaks
with a mortality among horseflesh.

Few Parisian restaurants are so well worth seeing. Every one at
Flicoteaux’s is young; you see nothing but youth; and although earnest
faces and grave, gloomy, anxious faces are not lacking, you see hope and
confidence and poverty gaily endured. Dress, as a rule, is careless, and
regular comers in decent clothes are marked exceptions. Everybody knows
at once that something extraordinary is afoot: a mistress to visit, a
theatre party, or some excursion into higher spheres. Here, it is said,
friendships have been made among students who became famous men in after
days, as will be seen in the course of this narrative; but with the
exception of a few knots of young fellows from the same part of France
who make a group about the end of a table, the gravity of the diners is
hardly relaxed. Perhaps this gravity is due to the catholicity of the
wine, which checks good fellowship of any kind.

Flicoteaux’s frequenters may recollect certain sombre and mysterious
figures enveloped in the gloom of the chilliest penury; these beings
would dine there daily for a couple of years and then vanish, and the
most inquisitive regular comer could throw no light on the disappearance
of such goblins of Paris. Friendships struck up over Flicoteaux’s
dinners were sealed in neighboring cafes in the flames of heady punch,
or by the generous warmth of a small cup of black coffee glorified by a
dash of something hotter and stronger.

Lucien, like all neophytes, was modest and regular in his habits in
those early days at the Hotel de Cluny. After the first unlucky venture
in fashionable life which absorbed his capital, he threw himself into
his work with the first earnest enthusiasm, which is frittered away so
soon over the difficulties or in the by-paths of every life in Paris.
The most luxurious and the very poorest lives are equally beset with
temptations which nothing but the fierce energy of genius or the morose
persistence of ambition can overcome.

Lucien used to drop in at Flicoteaux’s about half-past four, having
remarked the advantages of an early arrival; the bill-of-fare was more
varied, and there was still some chance of obtaining the dish of
your choice. Like all imaginative persons, he had taken a fancy to a
particular seat, and showed discrimination in his selection. On the very
first day he had noticed a table near the counter, and from the faces of
those who sat about it, and chance snatches of their talk, he recognized
brothers of the craft. A sort of instinct, moreover, pointed out the
table near the counter as a spot whence he could parlay with the owners
of the restaurant. In time an acquaintance would grow up, he thought,
and then in the day of distress he could no doubt obtain the necessary
credit. So he took his place at a small square table close to the desk,
intended probably for casual comers, for the two clean serviettes were
unadorned with rings. Lucien’s opposite neighbor was a thin, pallid
youth, to all appearance as poor as himself; his handsome face was
somewhat worn, already it told of hopes that had vanished, leaving lines
upon his forehead and barren furrows in his soul, where seeds had been
sown that had come to nothing. Lucien felt drawn to the stranger by
these tokens; his sympathies went out to him with irresistible fervor.

After a week’s exchange of small courtesies and remarks, the poet from
Angouleme found the first person with whom he could chat. The stranger’s
name was Etienne Lousteau. Two years ago he had left his native place,
a town in Berri, just as Lucien had come from Angouleme. His lively
gestures, bright eyes, and occasionally curt speech revealed a bitter
apprenticeship to literature. Etienne had come from Sancerre with his
tragedy in his pocket, drawn to Paris by the same motives that impelled
Lucien--hope of fame and power and money.

Sometimes Etienne Lousteau came for several days together; but in a
little while his visits became few and far between, and he would stay
away for five or six days in succession. Then he would come back, and
Lucien would hope to see his poet next day, only to find a stranger in
his place. When two young men meet daily, their talk harks back to their
last conversation; but these continual interruptions obliged Lucien to
break the ice afresh each time, and further checked an intimacy which
made little progress during the first few weeks. On inquiry of the
damsel at the counter, Lucien was told that his future friend was on
the staff of a small newspaper, and wrote reviews of books and dramatic
criticism of pieces played at the Ambigu-Comique, the Gaite, and the
Panorama-Dramatique. The young man became a personage all at once in
Lucien’s eyes. Now, he thought, he would lead the conversation on rather
more personal topics, and make some effort to gain a friend so likely
to be useful to a beginner. The journalist stayed away for a fortnight.
Lucien did not know that Etienne only dined at Flicoteaux’s when he
was hard up, and hence his gloomy air of disenchantment and the chilly
manner, which Lucien met with gracious smiles and amiable remarks. But,
after all, the project of a friendship called for mature deliberation.
This obscure journalist appeared to lead an expensive life in which
_petits verres_, cups of coffee, punch-bowls, sight-seeing, and suppers
played a part. In the early days of Lucien’s life in the Latin Quarter,
he behaved like a poor child bewildered by his first experience of Paris
life; so that when he had made a study of prices and weighed his
purse, he lacked courage to make advances to Etienne; he was afraid of
beginning a fresh series of blunders of which he was still repenting.
And he was still under the yoke of provincial creeds; his two guardian
angels, Eve and David, rose up before him at the least approach of an
evil thought, putting him in mind of all the hopes that were centered
on him, of the happiness that he owed to the old mother, of all the
promises of his genius.

He spent his mornings in studying history at the Bibliotheque
Sainte-Genevieve. His very first researches made him aware of frightful
errors in the memoirs of _The Archer of Charles IX._ When the library
closed, he went back to his damp, chilly room to correct his work,
cutting out whole chapters and piecing it together anew. And after
dining at Flicoteaux’s, he went down to the Passage du Commerce to
see the newspapers at Blosse’s reading-room, as well as new books and
magazines and poetry, so as to keep himself informed of the movements
of the day. And when, towards midnight, he returned to his wretched
lodgings, he had used neither fuel nor candle-light. His reading in
those days made such an enormous change in his ideas, that he revised
the volume of flower-sonnets, his beloved _Marguerites_, working them
over to such purpose, that scarce a hundred lines of the original verses
were allowed to stand.

So in the beginning Lucien led the honest, innocent life of the country
lad who never leaves the Latin Quarter; devoting himself wholly to
his work, with thoughts of the future always before him; who finds
Flicoteaux’s ordinary luxurious after the simple home-fare; and strolls
for recreation along the alleys of the Luxembourg, the blood surging
back to his heart as he gives timid side glances to the pretty women.
But this could not last. Lucien, with his poetic temperament and
boundless longings, could not withstand the temptations held out by the
play-bills.

The Theatre-Francais, the Vaudeville, the Varietes, the Opera-Comique
relieved him of some sixty francs, although he always went to the pit.
What student could deny himself the pleasure of seeing Talma in one of
his famous roles? Lucien was fascinated by the theatre, that first love
of all poetic temperaments; the actors and actresses were awe-inspiring
creatures; he did not so much as dream of the possibility of crossing
the footlights and meeting them on familiar terms. The men and women
who gave him so much pleasure were surely marvelous beings, whom the
newspapers treated with as much gravity as matters of national interest.
To be a dramatic author, to have a play produced on the stage! What a
dream was this to cherish! A dream which a few bold spirits like Casimir
Delavigne had actually realized. Thick swarming thoughts like these, and
moments of belief in himself, followed by despair gave Lucien no rest,
and kept him in the narrow way of toil and frugality, in spite of the
smothered grumblings of more than one frenzied desire.

Carrying prudence to an extreme, he made it a rule never to enter the
precincts of the Palais Royal, that place of perdition where he had
spent fifty francs at Very’s in a single day, and nearly five hundred
francs on his clothes; and when he yielded to temptation, and saw
Fleury, Talma, the two Baptistes, or Michot, he went no further than
the murky passage where theatre-goers used to stand in a string from
half-past five in the afternoon till the hour when the doors opened,
and belated comers were compelled to pay ten sous for a place near the
ticket-office. And after waiting for two hours, the cry of “All tickets
are sold!” rang not unfrequently in the ears of disappointed students.
When the play was over, Lucien went home with downcast eyes, through
streets lined with living attractions, and perhaps fell in with one of
those commonplace adventures which loom so large in a young and timorous
imagination.

One day Lucien counted over his remaining stock of money, and took alarm
at the melting of his funds; a cold perspiration broke out upon him when
he thought that the time had come when he must find a publisher, and
try also to find work for which a publisher would pay him. The young
journalist, with whom he had made a one-sided friendship, never came
now to Flicoteaux’s. Lucien was waiting for a chance--which failed to
present itself. In Paris there are no chances except for men with a very
wide circle of acquaintance; chances of success of every kind increase
with the number of your connections; and, therefore, in this sense also
the chances are in favor of the big battalions. Lucien had sufficient
provincial foresight still left, and had no mind to wait until only a
last few coins remained to him. He resolved to face the publishers.

So one tolerably chilly September morning Lucien went down the Rue de la
Harpe, with his two manuscripts under his arm. As he made his way to
the Quai des Augustins, and went along, looking into the booksellers’
windows on one side and into the Seine on the other, his good genius
might have counseled him to pitch himself into the water sooner than
plunge into literature. After heart-searching hesitations, after a
profound scrutiny of the various countenances, more or less encouraging,
soft-hearted, churlish, cheerful, or melancholy, to be seen through the
window panes, or in the doorways of the booksellers’ establishments,
he espied a house where the shopmen were busy packing books at a great
rate. Goods were being despatched. The walls were plastered with bills:


                      JUST OUT.

     LE SOLITAIRE, by M. le Vicomte d’Arlincourt.
         Third edition.
     LEONIDE, by Victor Ducange; five volumes
         12mo, printed on fine paper. 12 francs.
     INDUCTIONS MORALES, by Keratry.


“They are lucky, that they are!” exclaimed Lucien.

The placard, a new and original idea of the celebrated Ladvocat, was
just beginning to blossom out upon the walls. In no long space Paris
was to wear motley, thanks to the exertions of his imitators, and the
Treasury was to discover a new source of revenue.

Anxiety sent the blood surging to Lucien’s heart, as he who had been so
great at Angouleme, so insignificant of late in Paris, slipped past the
other houses, summoned up all his courage, and at last entered the shop
thronged with assistants, customers, and booksellers--“And authors too,
perhaps!” thought Lucien.

“I want to speak with M. Vidal or M. Porchon,” he said, addressing a
shopman. He had read the names on the sign-board--VIDAL & PORCHON (it
ran), _French and foreign booksellers’ agents_.

“Both gentlemen are engaged,” said the man.

“I will wait.”

Left to himself, the poet scrutinized the packages, and amused himself
for a couple of hours by scanning the titles of books, looking into
them, and reading a page or two here and there. At last, as he stood
leaning against a window, he heard voices, and suspecting that the green
curtains hid either Vidal or Porchon, he listened to the conversation.

“Will you take five hundred copies of me? If you will, I will let you
have them at five francs, and give fourteen to the dozen.”

“What does that bring them in at?”

“Sixteen sous less.”

“Four francs four sous?” said Vidal or Porchon, whichever it was.

“Yes,” said the vendor.

“Credit your account?” inquired the purchaser.

“Old humbug! you would settle with me in eighteen months’ time, with
bills at a twelvemonth.”

“No. Settled at once,” returned Vidal or Porchon.

“Bills at nine months?” asked the publisher or author, who evidently was
selling his book.

“No, my dear fellow, twelve months,” returned one of the firm of
booksellers’ agents.

There was a pause.

“You are simply cutting my throat!” said the visitor.

“But in a year’s time shall we have placed a hundred copies of
_Leonide_?” said the other voice. “If books went off as fast as the
publishers would like, we should be millionaires, my good sir; but they
don’t, they go as the public pleases. There is some one now bringing out
an edition of Scott’s novels at eighteen sous per volume, three livres
twelve sous per copy, and you want me to give you more for your stale
remainders? No. If you mean me to push this novel of yours, you must
make it worth my while.--Vidal!”

A stout man, with a pen behind his ear, came down from his desk.

“How many copies of Ducange did you place last journey?” asked Porchon
of his partner.

“Two hundred of _Le Petit Vieillard de Calais_, but to sell them I
was obliged to cry down two books which pay in less commission, and
uncommonly fine ‘nightingales’ they are now.”

(A “nightingale,” as Lucien afterwards learned, is a bookseller’s name
for books that linger on hand, perched out of sight in the loneliest
nooks in the shop.)

“And besides,” added Vidal, “Picard is bringing out some novels, as you
know. We have been promised twenty per cent on the published price to
make the thing a success.”

“Very well, at twelve months,” the publisher answered in a piteous
voice, thunderstruck by Vidal’s confidential remark.

“Is it an offer?” Porchon inquired curtly.

“Yes.” The stranger went out. After he had gone, Lucien heard Porchon
say to Vidal:

“We have three hundred copies on order now. We will keep him waiting for
his settlement, sell the _Leonides_ for five francs net, settlement in
six months, and----”

“And that will be fifteen hundred francs into our pockets,” said Vidal.

“Oh, I saw quite well that he was in a fix. He is giving Ducange four
thousand francs for two thousand copies.”

Lucien cut Vidal short by appearing in the entrance of the den.

“I have the honor of wishing you a good day, gentlemen,” he said,
addressing both partners. The booksellers nodded slightly.

“I have a French historical romance after the style of Scott. It is
called _The Archer of Charles IX._; I propose to offer it to you----”

Porchon glanced at Lucien with lustreless eyes, and laid his pen down on
the desk. Vidal stared rudely at the author.

“We are not publishing booksellers, sir; we are booksellers’ agents,”
 he said. “When we bring out a book ourselves, we only deal in well-known
names; and we only take serious literature besides--history and
epitomes.”

“But my book is very serious. It is an attempt to set the struggle
between Catholics and Calvinists in its true light; the Catholics were
supporters of absolute monarchy, and the Protestants for a republic.”

“M. Vidal!” shouted an assistant. Vidal fled.

“I don’t say, sir, that your book is not a masterpiece,” replied
Porchon, with scanty civility, “but we only deal in books that are
ready printed. Go and see somebody that buys manuscripts. There is old
Doguereau in the Rue du Coq, near the Louvre, he is in the romance line.
If you had only spoken sooner, you might have seen Pollet, a competitor
of Doguereau and of the publisher in the Wooden Galleries.”

“I have a volume of poetry----”

“M. Porchon!” somebody shouted.

“_Poetry_!” Porchon exclaimed angrily. “For what do you take me?” he
added, laughing in Lucien’s face. And he dived into the regions of the
back shop.

Lucien went back across the Pont Neuf absorbed in reflection. From all
that he understood of this mercantile dialect, it appeared that books,
like cotton nightcaps, were to be regarded as articles of merchandise to
be sold dear and bought cheap.

“I have made a mistake,” said Lucien to himself; but, all the same, this
rough-and-ready practical aspect of literature made an impression upon
him.

In the Rue du Coq he stopped in front of a modest-looking shop, which he
had passed before. He saw the inscription DOGUEREAU, BOOKSELLER, painted
above it in yellow letters on a green ground, and remembered that he
had seen the name at the foot of the title-page of several novels at
Blosse’s reading-room. In he went, not without the inward trepidation
which a man of any imagination feels at the prospect of a battle.
Inside the shop he discovered an odd-looking old man, one of the queer
characters of the trade in the days of the Empire.

Doguereau wore a black coat with vast square skirts, when fashion
required swallow-tail coats. His waistcoat was of some cheap material,
a checked pattern of many colors; a steel chain, with a copper key
attached to it, hung from his fob and dangled down over a roomy pair of
black nether garments. The booksellers’ watch must have been the size
of an onion. Iron-gray ribbed stockings, and shoes with silver buckles
completed is costume. The old man’s head was bare, and ornamented with
a fringe of grizzled locks, quite poetically scanty. “Old Doguereau,” as
Porchon styled him, was dressed half like a professor of belles-lettres
as to his trousers and shoes, half like a tradesman with respect to the
variegated waistcoat, the stockings, and the watch; and the same odd
mixture appeared in the man himself. He united the magisterial, dogmatic
air, and the hollow countenance of the professor of rhetoric with the
sharp eyes, suspicious mouth, and vague uneasiness of the bookseller.

“M. Doguereau?” asked Lucien.

“That is my name, sir.”

“You are very young,” remarked the bookseller.

“My age, sir, has nothing to do with the matter.”

“True,” and the old bookseller took up the manuscript. “Ah, begad! _The
Archer of Charles IX._, a good title. Let us see now, young man, just
tell me your subject in a word or two.”

“It is a historical work, sir, in the style of Scott. The character
of the struggle between the Protestants and Catholics is depicted as a
struggle between two opposed systems of government, in which the throne
is seriously endangered. I have taken the Catholic side.”

“Eh! but you have ideas, young man. Very well, I will read your book, I
promise you. I would rather have had something more in Mrs. Radcliffe’s
style; but if you are industrious, if you have some notion of style,
conceptions, ideas, and the art of telling a story, I don’t ask better
than to be of use to you. What do we want but good manuscripts?”

“When can I come back?”

“I am going into the country this evening; I shall be back again the day
after to-morrow. I shall have read your manuscript by that time; and if
it suits me, we might come to terms that very day.”

Seeing his acquaintance so easy, Lucien was inspired with the unlucky
idea of bringing the _Marguerites_ upon the scene.

“I have a volume of poetry as well, sir----” he began.

“Oh! you are a poet! Then I don’t want your romance,” and the old man
handed back the manuscript. “The rhyming fellows come to grief when
they try their hands at prose. In prose you can’t use words that mean
nothing; you absolutely must say something.”

“But Sir Walter Scott, sir, wrote poetry as well as----”

“That is true,” said Doguereau, relenting. He guessed that the young
fellow before him was poor, and kept the manuscript. “Where do you live?
I will come and see you.”

Lucien, all unsuspicious of the idea at the back of the old man’s head,
gave his address; he did not see that he had to do with a bookseller of
the old school, a survival of the eighteenth century, when booksellers
tried to keep Voltaires and Montesquieus starving in garrets under lock
and key.

“The Latin Quarter. I am coming back that very way,” said Doguereau,
when he had read the address.

“Good man!” thought Lucien, as he took his leave. “So I have met with a
friend to young authors, a man of taste who knows something. That is the
kind of man for me! It is just as I said to David--talent soon makes its
way in Paris.”

Lucien went home again happy and light of heart; he dreamed of glory. He
gave not another thought to the ominous words which fell on his ear as
he stood by the counter in Vidal and Porchon’s shop; he beheld himself
the richer by twelve hundred francs at least. Twelve hundred francs! It
meant a year in Paris, a whole year of preparation for the work that he
meant to do. What plans he built on that hope! What sweet dreams, what
visions of a life established on a basis of work! Mentally he found new
quarters, and settled himself in them; it would not have taken much to
set him making a purchase or two. He could only stave off impatience by
constant reading at Blosse’s.

Two days later old Doguereau come to the lodgings of his budding Sir
Walter Scott. He was struck with the pains which Lucien had taken with
the style of this his first work, delighted with the strong contrasts
of character sanctioned by the epoch, and surprised at the spirited
imagination which a young writer always displays in the scheming of a
first plot--he had not been spoiled, thought old Daddy Doguereau. He had
made up his mind to give a thousand francs for _The Archer of Charles
IX._; he would buy the copyright out and out, and bind Lucien by an
engagement for several books, but when he came to look at the house, the
old fox thought better of it.

“A young fellow that lives here has none but simple tastes,” said he to
himself; “he is fond of study, fond of work; I need not give more than
eight hundred francs.”

“Fourth floor,” answered the landlady, when he asked for M. Lucien de
Rubempre. The old bookseller, peering up, saw nothing but the sky above
the fourth floor.

“This young fellow,” thought he, “is a good-looking lad; one might go
so far as to say that he is very handsome. If he were to make too much
money, he would only fall into dissipated ways, and then he would
not work. In the interests of us both, I shall only offer six hundred
francs, in coin though, not paper.”

He climbed the stairs and gave three raps at the door. Lucien came to
open it. The room was forlorn in its bareness. A bowl of milk and
a penny roll stood on the table. The destitution of genius made an
impression on Daddy Doguereau.

“Let him preserve these simple habits of life, this frugality, these
modest requirements,” thought he.--Aloud he said: “It is a pleasure to
me to see you. Thus, sir, lived Jean-Jacques, whom you resemble in
more ways than one. Amid such surroundings the fire of genius shines
brightly; good work is done in such rooms as these. This is how men
of letters should work, instead of living riotously in cafes and
restaurants, wasting their time and talent and our money.”

He sat down.

“Your romance is not bad, young man. I was a professor of rhetoric once;
I know French history, there are some capital things in it. You have a
future before you, in fact.”

“Oh! sir.”

“No; I tell you so. We may do business together. I will buy your
romance.”

Lucien’s heart swelled and throbbed with gladness. He was about to enter
the world of literature; he should see himself in print at last.

“I will give you four hundred francs,” continued Doguereau in honeyed
accents, and he looked at Lucien with an air which seemed to betoken an
effort of generosity.

“The volume?” queried Lucien.

“For the romance,” said Doguereau, heedless of Lucien’s surprise. “In
ready money,” he added; “and you shall undertake to write two books for
me every year for six years. If the first book is out of print in six
months, I will give you six hundred francs for the others. So, if you
write two books each year, you will be making a hundred francs a month;
you will have a sure income, you will be well off. There are some
authors whom I only pay three hundred francs for a romance; I give two
hundred for translations of English books. Such prices would have been
exorbitant in the old days.”

“Sir, we cannot possibly come to an understanding. Give me back my
manuscript, I beg,” said Lucien, in a cold chill.

“Here it is,” said the old bookseller. “You know nothing of business,
sir. Before an author’s first book can appear, a publisher is bound to
sink sixteen hundred francs on the paper and the printing of it. It is
easier to write a romance than to find all that money. I have a hundred
romances in manuscript, and I have not a hundred and sixty thousand
francs in my cash box, alas! I have not made so much in all these twenty
years that I have been a bookseller. So you don’t make a fortune by
printing romances, you see. Vidal and Porchon only take them of us on
conditions that grow harder and harder day by day. You have only your
time to lose, while I am obliged to disburse two thousand francs. If we
fail, _habent sua fata libelli_, I lose two thousand francs; while, as
for you, you simply hurl an ode at the thick-headed public. When you
have thought over this that I have the honor of telling you, you
will come back to me.--_You will come back to me_!” he asserted
authoritatively, by way of reply to a scornful gesture made
involuntarily by Lucien. “So far from finding a publisher obliging
enough to risk two thousand francs for an unknown writer, you will not
find a publisher’s clerk that will trouble himself to look through your
screed. Now that I have read it I can point out a good many slips in
grammar. You have put _observer_ for _faire observer_ and _malgre que_.
_Malgre_ is a preposition, and requires an object.”

Lucien appeared to be humiliated.

“When I see you again, you will have lost a hundred francs,” he added.
“I shall only give a hundred crowns.”

With that he rose and took his leave. On the threshold he said, “If you
had not something in you, and a future before you; if I did not take an
interest in studious youth, I should not have made you such a handsome
offer. A hundred francs per month! Think of it! After all, a romance in
a drawer is not eating its head off like a horse in a stable, nor will
it find you in victuals either, and that’s a fact.”

Lucien snatched up his manuscript and dashed it on the floor.

“I would rather burn it, sir!” he exclaimed.

“You have a poet’s head,” returned his senior.

Lucien devoured his bread and supped his bowl of milk, then he went
downstairs. His room was not large enough for him; he was turning round
and round in it like a lion in a cage at the Jardin des Plantes.

At the Bibliotheque Saint-Genevieve, whither Lucien was going, he had
come to know a stranger by sight; a young man of five-and-twenty or
thereabouts, working with the sustained industry which nothing can
disturb nor distract, the sign by which your genuine literary worker is
known. Evidently the young man had been reading there for some time,
for the librarian and attendants all knew him and paid him special
attention; the librarian would even allow him to take away books, with
which Lucien saw him return in the morning. In the stranger student he
recognized a brother in penury and hope.

Pale-faced and slight and thin, with a fine forehead hidden by masses
of black, tolerably unkempt hair, there was something about him that
attracted indifferent eyes: it was a vague resemblance which he bore
to portraits of the young Bonaparte, engraved from Robert Lefebvre’s
picture. That engraving is a poem of melancholy intensity, of suppressed
ambition, of power working below the surface. Study the face carefully,
and you will discover genius in it and discretion, and all the subtlety
and greatness of the man. The portrait has speaking eyes like a woman’s;
they look out, greedy of space, craving difficulties to vanquish. Even
if the name of Bonaparte were not written beneath it, you would gaze
long at that face.

Lucien’s young student, the incarnation of this picture, usually wore
footed trousers, shoes with thick soles to them, an overcoat of coarse
cloth, a black cravat, a waistcoat of some gray-and-white material
buttoned to the chin, and a cheap hat. Contempt for superfluity in
dress was visible in his whole person. Lucien also discovered that the
mysterious stranger with that unmistakable stamp which genius sets
upon the forehead of its slaves was one of Flicoteaux’s most regular
customers; he ate to live, careless of the fare which appeared to
be familiar to him, and drank water. Wherever Lucien saw him, at the
library or at Flicoteaux’s, there was a dignity in his manner, springing
doubtless from the consciousness of a purpose that filled his life,
a dignity which made him unapproachable. He had the expression of a
thinker, meditation dwelt on the fine nobly carved brow. You could tell
from the dark bright eyes, so clear-sighted and quick to observe, that
their owner was wont to probe to the bottom of things. He gesticulated
very little, his demeanor was grave. Lucien felt an involuntary respect
for him.

Many times already the pair had looked at each other at the Bibliotheque
or at Flicoteaux’s; many times they had been on the point of speaking,
but neither of them had ventured so far as yet. The silent young man
went off to the further end of the library, on the side at right angles
to the Place de la Sorbonne, and Lucien had no opportunity of making
his acquaintance, although he felt drawn to a worker whom he knew by
indescribable tokens for a character of no common order. Both, as they
came to know afterwards, were unsophisticated and shy, given to fears
which cause a pleasurable emotion to solitary creatures. Perhaps they
never would have been brought into communication if they had not come
across each other that day of Lucien’s disaster; for as Lucien
turned into the Rue des Gres, he saw the student coming away from the
Bibliotheque Sainte-Genevieve.

“The library is closed; I don’t know why, monsieur,” said he.

Tears were standing in Lucien’s eyes; he expressed his thanks by one of
those gestures that speak more eloquently than words, and unlock hearts
at once when two men meet in youth. They went together along the Rue des
Gres towards the Rue de la Harpe.

“As that is so, I shall go to the Luxembourg for a walk,” said Lucien.
“When you have come out, it is not easy to settle down to work again.”

“No; one’s ideas will not flow in the proper current,” remarked the
stranger. “Something seems to have annoyed you, monsieur?”

“I have just had a queer adventure,” said Lucien, and he told the
history of his visit to the Quai, and gave an account of his subsequent
dealings with the old bookseller. He gave his name and said a word or
two of his position. In one month or thereabouts he had spent sixty
francs on his board, thirty for lodging, twenty more francs in going to
the theatre, and ten at Blosse’s reading room--one hundred and twenty
francs in all, and now he had just a hundred and twenty francs in hand.

“Your story is mine, monsieur, and the story of ten or twelve hundred
young fellows besides who come from the country to Paris every year.
There are others even worse off than we are. Do you see that theatre?”
 he continued, indicating the turrets of the Odeon. “There came one day
to lodge in one of the houses in the square a man of talent who had
fallen into the lowest depths of poverty. He was married, in addition
to the misfortunes which we share with him, to a wife whom he loved; and
the poorer or the richer, as you will, by two children. He was burdened
with debt, but he put his faith in his pen. He took a comedy in five
acts to the Odeon; the comedy was accepted, the management arranged to
bring it out, the actors learned their parts, the stage manager urged on
the rehearsals. Five several bits of luck, five dramas to be performed
in real life, and far harder tasks than the writing of a five-act play.
The poor author lodged in a garret; you can see the place from here. He
drained his last resources to live until the first representation; his
wife pawned her clothes, they all lived on dry bread. On the day of the
final rehearsal, the household owed fifty francs in the Quarter to the
baker, the milkwoman, and the porter. The author had only the strictly
necessary clothes--a coat, a shirt, trousers, a waistcoat, and a pair of
boots. He felt sure of his success; he kissed his wife. The end of their
troubles was at hand. ‘At last! There is nothing against us now,’
cried he.--‘Yes, there is fire,’ said his wife; ‘look, the Odeon is on
fire!’--The Odeon was on fire, monsieur. So do not you complain. You
have clothes, you have neither wife nor child, you have a hundred and
twenty francs for emergencies in your pocket, and you owe no one a
penny.--Well, the piece went through a hundred and fifty representations
at the Theatre Louvois. The King allowed the author a pension. ‘Genius
is patience,’ as Buffon said. And patience after all is a man’s nearest
approach to Nature’s processes of creation. What is Art, monsieur, but
Nature concentrated?”

By this time the young men were striding along the walks of the
Luxembourg, and in no long time Lucien learned the name of the stranger
who was doing his best to administer comfort. That name has since grown
famous. Daniel d’Arthez is one of the most illustrious of living men
of letters; one of the rare few who show us an example of “a noble gift
with a noble nature combined,” to quote a poet’s fine thought.

“There is no cheap route to greatness,” Daniel went on in his kind
voice. “The works of Genius are watered with tears. The gift that is in
you, like an existence in the physical world, passes through childhood
and its maladies. Nature sweeps away sickly or deformed creatures, and
Society rejects an imperfectly developed talent. Any man who means to
rise above the rest must make ready for a struggle and be undaunted
by difficulties. A great writer is a martyr who does not die; that
is all.--There is the stamp of genius on your forehead,” d’Arthez
continued, enveloping Lucien by a glance; “but unless you have within
you the will of genius, unless you are gifted with angelic patience,
unless, no matter how far the freaks of Fate have set you from your
destined goal, you can find the way to your Infinite as the turtles in
the Indies find their way to the ocean, you had better give up at once.”

“Then do you yourself expect these ordeals?” asked Lucien.

“Trials of every kind, slander and treachery, and effrontery and
cunning, the rivals who act unfairly, and the keen competition of the
literary market,” his companion said resignedly. “What is a first loss,
if only your work was good?”

“Will you look at mine and give me your opinion?” asked Lucien.

“So be it,” said d’Arthez. “I am living in the Rue des Quatre-Vents.
Desplein, one of the most illustrious men of genius in our time, the
greatest surgeon that the world has known, once endured the martyrdom of
early struggles with the first difficulties of a glorious career in the
same house. I think of that every night, and the thought gives me the
stock of courage that I need every morning. I am living in the very room
where, like Rousseau, he had no Theresa. Come in an hour’s time. I shall
be in.”

The poets grasped each other’s hands with a rush of melancholy and
tender feeling inexpressible in words, and went their separate ways;
Lucien to fetch his manuscript, Daniel d’Arthez to pawn his watch and
buy a couple of faggots. The weather was cold, and his new-found friend
should find a fire in his room.

Lucien was punctual. He noticed at once that the house was of an even
poorer class than the Hotel de Cluny. A staircase gradually became
visible at the further end of a dark passage; he mounted to the fifth
floor, and found d’Arthez’s room.

A bookcase of dark-stained wood, with rows of labeled cardboard cases
on the shelves, stood between the two crazy windows. A gaunt, painted
wooden bedstead, of the kind seen in school dormitories, a night-table,
picked up cheaply somewhere, and a couple of horsehair armchairs, filled
the further end of the room. The wall-paper, a Highland plaid pattern,
was glazed over with the grime of years. Between the window and
the grate stood a long table littered with papers, and opposite the
fireplace there was a cheap mahogany chest of drawers. A second-hand
carpet covered the floor--a necessary luxury, for it saved firing. A
common office armchair, cushioned with leather, crimson once, but now
hoary with wear, was drawn up to the table. Add half-a-dozen rickety
chairs, and you have a complete list of the furniture. Lucien noticed an
old-fashioned candle-sconce for a card-table, with an adjustable screen
attached, and wondered to see four wax candles in the sockets. D’Arthez
explained that he could not endure the smell of tallow, a little
trait denoting great delicacy of sense perception, and the exquisite
sensibility which accompanies it.

The reading lasted for seven hours. Daniel listened conscientiously,
forbearing to interrupt by word or comment--one of the rarest proofs of
good taste in a listener.

“Well?” queried Lucien, laying the manuscript on the chimney-piece.

“You have made a good start on the right way,” d’Arthez answered
judicially, “but you must go over your work again. You must strike out a
different style for yourself if you do not mean to ape Sir Walter Scott,
for you have taken him for your model. You begin, for instance, as he
begins, with long conversations to introduce your characters, and only
when they have said their say does description and action follow.

“This opposition, necessary in all work of a dramatic kind, comes
last. Just put the terms of the problem the other way round. Give
descriptions, to which our language lends itself so admirably, instead
of diffuse dialogue, magnificent in Scott’s work, but colorless in
your own. Lead naturally up to your dialogue. Plunge straight into the
action. Treat your subject from different points of view, sometimes in
a side-light, sometimes retrospectively; vary your methods, in fact,
to diversify your work. You may be original while adapting the Scots
novelist’s form of dramatic dialogue to French history. There is
no passion in Scott’s novels; he ignores passion, or perhaps it was
interdicted by the hypocritical manners of his country. Woman for him is
duty incarnate. His heroines, with possibly one or two exceptions, are
all alike; he has drawn them all from the same model, as painters
say. They are, every one of them, descended from Clarissa Harlowe. And
returning continually, as he did, to the same idea of woman, how could
he do otherwise than produce a single type, varied only by degrees of
vividness in the coloring? Woman brings confusion into Society through
passion. Passion gives infinite possibilities. Therefore depict passion;
you have one great resource open to you, foregone by the great genius
for the sake of providing family reading for prudish England. In France
you have the charming sinner, the brightly-colored life of Catholicism,
contrasted with sombre Calvinistic figures on a background of the times
when passions ran higher than at any other period of our history.

“Every epoch which has left authentic records since the time of Charles
the Great calls for at least one romance. Some require four or five; the
periods of Louis XIV., of Henry IV., of Francis I., for instance. You
would give us in this way a picturesque history of France, with the
costumes and furniture, the houses and their interiors, and domestic
life, giving us the spirit of the time instead of a laborious narration
of ascertained facts. Then there is further scope for originality. You
can remove some of the popular delusions which disfigure the memories
of most of our kings. Be bold enough in this first work of yours to
rehabilitate the great magnificent figure of Catherine, whom you have
sacrificed to the prejudices which still cloud her name. And finally,
paint Charles IX. for us as he really was, and not as Protestant writers
have made him. Ten years of persistent work, and fame and fortune will
be yours.”

By this time it was nine o’clock; Lucien followed the example set in
secret by his future friend by asking him to dine at Eldon’s, and spent
twelve francs at that restaurant. During the dinner Daniel admitted
Lucien into the secret of his hopes and studies. Daniel d’Arthez would
not allow that any writer could attain to a pre-eminent rank without
a profound knowledge of metaphysics. He was engaged in ransacking the
spoils of ancient and modern philosophy, and in the assimilation of
it all; he would be like Moliere, a profound philosopher first, and a
writer of comedies afterwards. He was studying the world of books and
the living world about him--thought and fact. His friends were learned
naturalists, young doctors of medicine, political writers and artists, a
number of earnest students full of promise.

D’Arthez earned a living by conscientious and ill-paid work; he wrote
articles for encyclopaedias, dictionaries of biography and natural
science, doing just enough to enable him to live while he followed his
own bent, and neither more nor less. He had a piece of imaginative work
on hand, undertaken solely for the sake of studying the resources of
language, an important psychological study in the form of a novel,
unfinished as yet, for d’Arthez took it up or laid it down as the humor
took him, and kept it for days of great distress. D’Arthez’s revelations
of himself were made very simply, but to Lucien he seemed like
an intellectual giant; and by eleven o’clock, when they left the
restaurant, he began to feel a sudden, warm friendship for this nature,
unconscious of its loftiness, this unostentatious worth.

Lucien took d’Arthez’s advice unquestioningly, and followed it out to
the letter. The most magnificent palaces of fancy had been suddenly
flung open to him by a nobly-gifted mind, matured already by thought
and critical examinations undertaken for their own sake, not for
publication, but for the solitary thinker’s own satisfaction. The
burning coal had been laid on the lips of the poet of Angouleme, a word
uttered by a hard student in Paris had fallen upon ground prepared to
receive it in the provincial. Lucien set about recasting his work.

In his gladness at finding in the wilderness of Paris a nature abounding
in generous and sympathetic feeling, the distinguished provincial
did, as all young creatures hungering for affection are wont to do;
he fastened, like a chronic disease, upon this one friend that he had
found. He called for D’Arthez on his way to the Bibliotheque, walked
with him on fine days in the Luxembourg Gardens, and went with his
friend every evening as far as the door of his lodging-house after
sitting next to him at Flicoteaux’s. He pressed close to his friend’s
side as a soldier might keep by a comrade on the frozen Russian plains.

During those early days of his acquaintance, he noticed, not without
chagrin, that his presence imposed a certain restraint on the circle of
Daniel’s intimates. The talk of those superior beings of whom d’Arthez
spoke to him with such concentrated enthusiasm kept within the bounds
of a reserve but little in keeping with the evident warmth of their
friendships. At these times Lucien discreetly took his leave, a feeling
of curiosity mingling with the sense of something like pain at the
ostracism to which he was subjected by these strangers, who all
addressed each other by their Christian names. Each one of them, like
d’Arthez, bore the stamp of genius upon his forehead.

After some private opposition, overcome by d’Arthez without Lucien’s
knowledge, the newcomer was at length judged worthy to make one of the
_cenacle_ of lofty thinkers. Henceforward he was to be one of a little
group of young men who met almost every evening in d’Arthez’s room,
united by the keenest sympathies and by the earnestness of their
intellectual life. They all foresaw a great writer in d’Arthez; they
looked upon him as their chief since the loss of one of their number,
a mystical genius, one of the most extraordinary intellects of the age.
This former leader had gone back to his province for reasons on which
it serves no purpose to enter, but Lucien often heard them speak of this
absent friend as “Louis.” Several of the group were destined to fall by
the way; but others, like d’Arthez, have since won all the fame that was
their due. A few details as to the circle will readily explain Lucien’s
strong feeling of interest and curiosity.

One among those who still survive was Horace Bianchon, then a
house-student at the Hotel-Dieu; later, a shining light at the Ecole de
Paris, and now so well known that it is needless to give any description
of his appearance, genius, or character.

Next came Leon Giraud, that profound philosopher and bold theorist,
turning all systems inside out, criticising, expressing, and
formulating, dragging them all to the feet of his idol--Humanity; great
even in his errors, for his honesty ennobled his mistakes. An intrepid
toiler, a conscientious scholar, he became the acknowledged head of a
school of moralists and politicians. Time alone can pronounce upon the
merits of his theories; but if his convictions have drawn him into paths
in which none of his old comrades tread, none the less he is still their
faithful friend.

Art was represented by Joseph Bridau, one of the best painters among the
younger men. But for a too impressionable nature, which made havoc of
Joseph’s heart, he might have continued the traditions of the great
Italian masters, though, for that matter, the last word has not yet been
said concerning him. He combines Roman outline with Venetian color; but
love is fatal to his work, love not merely transfixes his heart, but
sends his arrow through the brain, deranges the course of his life, and
sets the victim describing the strangest zigzags. If the mistress of the
moment is too kind or too cruel, Joseph will send into the Exhibition
sketches where the drawing is clogged with color, or pictures finished
under the stress of some imaginary woe, in which he gave his whole
attention to the drawing, and left the color to take care of itself. He
is a constant disappointment to his friends and the public; yet Hoffmann
would have worshiped him for his daring experiments in the realms of
art. When Bridau is wholly himself he is admirable, and as praise is
sweet to him, his disgust is great when one praises the failures in
which he alone discovers all that is lacking in the eyes of the public.
He is whimsical to the last degree. His friends have seen him destroy
a finished picture because, in his eyes, it looked too smooth. “It is
overdone,” he would say; “it is niggling work.”

With his eccentric, yet lofty nature, with a nervous organization and
all that it entails of torment and delight, the craving for perfection
becomes morbid. Intellectually he is akin to Sterne, though he is not a
literary worker. There is an indescribable piquancy about his epigrams
and sallies of thought. He is eloquent, he knows how to love, but the
uncertainty that appears in his execution is a part of the very nature
of the man. The brotherhood loved him for the very qualities which the
philistine would style defects.

Last among the living comes Fulgence Ridal. No writer of our times
possesses more of the exuberant spirit of pure comedy than this poet,
careless of fame, who will fling his more commonplace productions to
theatrical managers, and keep the most charming scenes in the seraglio
of his brain for himself and his friends. Of the public he asks just
sufficient to secure his independence, and then declines to do
anything more. Indolent and prolific as Rossini, compelled, like
great poet-comedians, like Moliere and Rabelais, to see both sides of
everything, and all that is to be said both for and against, he is
a sceptic, ready to laugh at all things. Fulgence Ridal is a great
practical philosopher. His worldly wisdom, his genius for observation,
his contempt for fame (“fuss,” as he calls it) have not seared a kind
heart. He is as energetic on behalf of another as he is careless where
his own interests are concerned; and if he bestirs himself, it is for a
friend. Living up to his Rabelaisian mask, he is no enemy to good cheer,
though he never goes out of his way to find it; he is melancholy and
gay. His friends dubbed him the “Dog of the Regiment.” You could have no
better portrait of the man than his nickname.

Three more of the band, at least as remarkable as the friends who have
just been sketched in outline, were destined to fall by the way. Of
these, Meyraux was the first. Meyraux died after stirring up the famous
controversy between Cuvier and Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, a great question
which divided the whole scientific world into two opposite camps, with
these two men of equal genius as leaders. This befell some months before
the death of the champion of rigorous analytical science as opposed
to the pantheism of one who is still living to bear an honored name in
Germany. Meyraux was the friend of that “Louis” of whom death was so
soon to rob the intellectual world.

With these two, both marked by death, and unknown to-day in spite of
their wide knowledge and their genius, stands a third, Michel Chrestien,
the great Republican thinker, who dreamed of European Federation, and
had no small share in bringing about the Saint-Simonian movement of
1830. A politician of the calibre of Saint-Just and Danton, but simple,
meek as a maid, and brimful of illusions and loving-kindness; the owner
of a singing voice which would have sent Mozart, or Weber, or Rossini
into ecstasies, for his singing of certain songs of Beranger’s could
intoxicate the heart in you with poetry, or hope, or love--Michel
Chrestien, poor as Lucien, poor as Daniel d’Arthez, as all the rest
of his friends, gained a living with the haphazard indifference of
a Diogenes. He indexed lengthy works, he drew up prospectuses for
booksellers, and kept his doctrines to himself, as the grave keeps the
secrets of the dead. Yet the gay bohemian of intellectual life, the
great statesman who might have changed the face of the world, fell as a
private soldier in the cloister of Saint-Merri; some shopkeeper’s bullet
struck down one of the noblest creatures that ever trod French soil, and
Michel Chrestien died for other doctrines than his own. His Federation
scheme was more dangerous to the aristocracy of Europe than the
Republican propaganda; it was more feasible and less extravagant than
the hideous doctrines of indefinite liberty proclaimed by the young
madcaps who assume the character of heirs of the Convention. All who
knew the noble plebeian wept for him; there is not one of them but
remembers, and often remembers, a great obscure politician.

Esteem and friendship kept the peace between the extremes of hostile
opinion and conviction represented in the brotherhood. Daniel d’Arthez
came of a good family in Picardy. His belief in the Monarchy was quite
as strong as Michel Chrestien’s faith in European Federation. Fulgence
Ridal scoffed at Leon Giraud’s philosophical doctrines, while Giraud
himself prophesied for d’Arthez’s benefit the approaching end of
Christianity and the extinction of the institution of the family. Michel
Chrestien, a believer in the religion of Christ, the divine lawgiver,
who taught the equality of men, would defend the immortality of the soul
from Bianchon’s scalpel, for Horace Bianchon was before all things an
analyst.

There was plenty of discussion, but no bickering. Vanity was not
engaged, for the speakers were also the audience. They would talk over
their work among themselves and take counsel of each other with the
delightful openness of youth. If the matter in hand was serious, the
opponent would leave his own position to enter into his friend’s point
of view; and being an impartial judge in a matter outside his own
sphere, would prove the better helper; envy, the hideous treasure of
disappointment, abortive talent, failure, and mortified vanity, was
quite unknown among them. All of them, moreover, were going their
separate ways. For these reasons, Lucien and others admitted to their
society felt at their ease in it. Wherever you find real talent,
you will find frank good fellowship and sincerity, and no sort of
pretension, the wit that caresses the intellect and never is aimed at
self-love.

When the first nervousness, caused by respect, wore off, it was
unspeakably pleasant to make one of this elect company of youth.
Familiarity did not exclude in each a consciousness of his own value,
nor a profound esteem for his neighbor; and finally, as every member of
the circle felt that he could afford to receive or to give, no one
made a difficulty of accepting. Talk was unflagging, full of charm, and
ranging over the most varied topics; words light as arrows sped to the
mark. There was a strange contrast between the dire material poverty in
which the young men lived and the splendor of their intellectual wealth.
They looked upon the practical problems of existence simply as matter
for friendly jokes. The cold weather happened to set in early that year.
Five of d’Arthez’s friends appeared one day, each concealing firewood
under his cloak; the same idea had occurred to the five, as it sometimes
happens that all the guests at a picnic are inspired with the notion of
bringing a pie as their contribution.

All of them were gifted with the moral beauty which reacts upon the
physical form, and, no less than work and vigils, overlays a youthful
face with a shade of divine gold; purity of life and the fire of thought
had brought refinement and regularity into features somewhat pinched
and rugged. The poet’s amplitude of brow was a striking characteristic
common to them all; the bright, sparkling eyes told of cleanliness of
life. The hardships of penury, when they were felt at all, were born so
gaily and embraced with such enthusiasm, that they had left no trace to
mar the serenity peculiar to the faces of the young who have no grave
errors laid to their charge as yet, who have not stooped to any of the
base compromises wrung from impatience of poverty by the strong desire
to succeed. The temptation to use any means to this end is the greater
since that men of letters are lenient with bad faith and extend an easy
indulgence to treachery.

There is an element in friendship which doubles its charm and renders it
indissoluble--a sense of certainty which is lacking in love. These young
men were sure of themselves and of each other; the enemy of one was the
enemy of all; the most urgent personal considerations would have been
shattered if they had clashed with the sacred solidarity of their
fellowship. All alike incapable of disloyalty, they could oppose a
formidable No to any accusation brought against the absent and defend
them with perfect confidence. With a like nobility of nature and
strength of feeling, it was possible to think and speak freely on all
matters of intellectual or scientific interest; hence the honesty of
their friendships, the gaiety of their talk, and with this intellectual
freedom of the community there was no fear of being misunderstood; they
stood upon no ceremony with each other; they shared their troubles
and joys, and gave thought and sympathy from full hearts. The charming
delicacy of feeling which makes the tale of _Deux Amis_ a treasury
for great souls, was the rule of their daily life. It may be imagined,
therefore, that their standard of requirements was not an easy one; they
were too conscious of their worth, too well aware of their happiness,
to care to trouble their life with the admixture of a new and unknown
element.

This federation of interests and affection lasted for twenty years
without a collision or disappointment. Death alone could thin the
numbers of the noble Pleiades, taking first Louis Lambert, later Meyraux
and Michel Chrestien.

When Michel Chrestien fell in 1832 his friends went, in spite of
the perils of the step, to find his body at Saint-Merri; and Horace
Bianchon, Daniel d’Arthez, Leon Giraud, Joseph Bridau, and Fulgence
Ridal performed the last duties to the dead, between two political
fires. By night they buried their beloved in the cemetery of
Pere-Lachaise; Horace Bianchon, undaunted by the difficulties,
cleared them away one after another--it was he indeed who besought the
authorities for permission to bury the fallen insurgent and confessed to
his old friendship with the dead Federalist. The little group of friends
present at the funeral with those five great men will never forget that
touching scene.

As you walk in the trim cemetery you will see a grave purchased in
perpetuity, a grass-covered mound with a dark wooden cross above it,
and the name in large red letters--MICHEL CHRESTIEN. There is no other
monument like it. The friends thought to pay a tribute to the sternly
simple nature of the man by the simplicity of the record of his death.

So, in that chilly garret, the fairest dreams of friendship were
realized. These men were brothers leading lives of intellectual effort,
loyally helping each other, making no reservations, not even of their
worst thoughts; men of vast acquirements, natures tried in the crucible
of poverty. Once admitted as an equal among such elect souls, Lucien
represented beauty and poetry. They admired the sonnets which he read to
them; they would ask him for a sonnet as he would ask Michel Chrestien
for a song. And, in the desert of Paris, Lucien found an oasis in the
Rue des Quatre-Vents.

At the beginning of October, Lucien had spent the last of his money on a
little firewood; he was half-way through the task of recasting his work,
the most strenuous of all toil, and he was penniless. As for Daniel
d’Arthez, burning blocks of spent tan, and facing poverty like a hero,
not a word of complaint came from him; he was as sober as any elderly
spinster, and methodical as a miser. This courage called out Lucien’s
courage; he had only newly come into the circle, and shrank with
invincible repugnance from speaking of his straits. One morning he went
out, manuscript in hand, and reached the Rue du Coq; he would sell
_The Archer of Charles IX._ to Doguereau; but Doguereau was out. Lucien
little knew how indulgent great natures can be to the weaknesses of
others. Every one of the friends had thought of the peculiar troubles
besetting the poetic temperament, of the prostration which follows upon
the struggle, when the soul has been overwrought by the contemplation of
that nature which it is the task of art to reproduce. And strong as they
were to endure their own ills, they felt keenly for Lucien’s distress;
they guessed that his stock of money was failing; and after all the
pleasant evenings spent in friendly talk and deep meditations, after the
poetry, the confidences, the bold flights over the fields of thought or
into the far future of the nations, yet another trait was to prove how
little Lucien had understood these new friends of his.

“Lucien, dear fellow,” said Daniel, “you did not dine at Flicoteaux’s
yesterday, and we know why.”

Lucien could not keep back the overflowing tears.

“You showed a want of confidence in us,” said Michel Chrestien; “we
shall chalk that up over the chimney, and when we have scored ten we
will----”

“We have all of us found a bit of extra work,” said Bianchon; “for
my own part, I have been looking after a rich patient for Desplein;
d’Arthez has written an article for the _Revue Encyclopedique_;
Chrestien thought of going out to sing in the Champs Elysees of an
evening with a pocket-handkerchief and four candles, but he found a
pamphlet to write instead for a man who has a mind to go into politics,
and gave his employer six hundred francs worth of Machiavelli; Leon
Giraud borrowed fifty francs of his publisher, Joseph sold one or two
sketches; and Fulgence’s piece was given on Sunday, and there was a full
house.”

“Here are two hundred francs,” said Daniel, “and let us say no more
about it.”

“Why, if he is not going to hug us all as if we had done something
extraordinary!” cried Chrestien.

Lucien, meanwhile, had written to the home circle. His letter was a
masterpiece of sensibility and goodwill, as well as a sharp cry wrung
from him by distress. The answers which he received the next day
will give some idea of the delight that Lucien took in this living
encyclopedia of angelic spirits, each of whom bore the stamp of the art
or science which he followed:--


                    _David Sechard to Lucien._

  “MY DEAR LUCIEN,--Enclosed herewith is a bill at ninety days,
  payable to your order, for two hundred francs. You can draw on M.
  Metivier, paper merchant, our Paris correspondent in the Rue
  Serpente. My good Lucien, we have absolutely nothing. Eve has
  undertaken the charge of the printing-house, and works at her task
  with such devotion, patience, and industry, that I bless heaven
  for giving me such an angel for a wife. She herself says that it
  is impossible to send you the least help. But I think, my friend
  now that you are started in so promising a way, with such great
  and noble hearts for your companions, that you can hardly fail to
  reach the greatness to which you were born, aided as you are by
  intelligence almost divine in Daniel d’Arthez and Michel Chrestien
  and Leon Giraud, and counseled by Meyraux and Bianchon and Ridal,
  whom we have come to know through your dear letter. So I have
  drawn this bill without Eve’s knowledge, and I will contrive
  somehow to meet it when the time comes. Keep on your way, Lucien;
  it is rough, but it will be glorious. I can bear anything but the
  thought of you sinking into the sloughs of Paris, of which I saw
  so much. Have sufficient strength of mind to do as you are doing,
  and keep out of scrapes and bad company, wild young fellows and
  men of letters of a certain stamp, whom I learned to take at their
  just valuation when I lived in Paris. Be a worthy compeer of the
  divine spirits whom we have learned to love through you. Your life
  will soon meet with its reward. Farewell, dearest brother; you
  have sent transports of joy to my heart. I did not expect such
  courage of you.

“DAVID.”


                    _Eve Sechard to Lucien._

  “DEAR,--your letter made all of us cry. As for the noble hearts to
  whom your good angel surely led you, tell them that a mother and a
  poor young wife will pray for them night and morning; and if the
  most fervent prayers can reach the Throne of God, surely they will
  bring blessings upon you all. Their names are engraved upon my
  heart. Ah! some day I shall see your friends; I will go to Paris,
  if I have to walk the whole way, to thank them for their
  friendship for you, for to me the thought has been like balm to
  smarting wounds. We are working like day laborers here, dear. This
  husband of mine, the unknown great man whom I love more and more
  every day, as I discover moment by moment the wealth of his
  nature, leaves the printing-house more and more to me. Why, I
  guess. Our poverty, yours, and ours, and our mother’s, is
  heartbreaking to him. Our adored David is a Prometheus gnawed by a
  vulture, a haggard, sharp-beaked regret. As for himself, noble
  fellow, he scarcely thinks of himself; he is hoping to make a
  fortune for _us_. He spends his whole time in experiments in
  paper-making; he begged me to take his place and look after the
  business, and gives me as much help as his preoccupation allows.
  Alas! I shall be a mother soon. That should have been a crowning
  joy; but as things are, it saddens me. Poor mother! she has grown
  young again; she has found strength to go back to her tiring
  nursing. We should be happy if it were not for these money cares.
  Old Father Sechard will not give his son a farthing. David went
  over to see if he could borrow a little for you, for we were in
  despair over your letter. ‘I know Lucien,’ David said; ‘he will
  lose his head and do something rash.’--I gave him a good scolding.
  ‘My brother disappoint us in any way!’ I told him, ‘Lucien knows
  that I should die of sorrow.’--Mother and I have pawned a few
  things; David does not know about it, mother will redeem them as
  soon as she has made a little money. In this way we have managed
  to put together a hundred francs, which I am sending you by the
  coach. If I did not answer your last letter, do not remember it
  against me, dear; we were working all night just then. I have been
  working like a man. Oh, I had no idea that I was so strong!

  “Mme. de Bargeton is a heartless woman; she has no soul; even if
  she cared for you no longer, she owed it to herself to use her
  influence for you and to help you when she had torn you from us to
  plunge you into that dreadful sea of Paris. Only by the special
  blessing of Heaven could you have met with true friends there
  among those crowds of men and innumerable interests. She is not
  worth a regret. I used to wish that there might be some devoted
  woman always with you, a second myself; but now I know that your
  friends will take my place, and I am happy. Spread your wings, my
  dear great genius, you will be our pride as well as our beloved.

“EVE.”


  “My darling,” the mother wrote, “I can only add my blessing to all
  that your sister says, and assure you that you are more in my
  thoughts and in my prayers (alas!) than those whom I see daily;
  for some hearts, the absent are always in the right, and so it is
  with the heart of your mother.”


So two days after the loan was offered so graciously, Lucien repaid it.
Perhaps life had never seemed so bright to him as at that moment;
but the touch of self-love in his joy did not escape the delicate
sensibility and searching eyes of his friends.

“Any one might think that you were afraid to owe us anything,” exclaimed
Fulgence.

“Oh! the pleasure that he takes in returning the money is a very
serious symptom to my mind,” said Michel Chrestien. “It confirms some
observations of my own. There is a spice of vanity in Lucien.”

“He is a poet,” said d’Arthez.

“But do you grudge me such a very natural feeling?” asked Lucien.

“We should bear in mind that he did not hide it,” said Leon Giraud; “he
is still open with us; but I am afraid that he may come to feel shy of
us.”

“And why?” Lucien asked.

“We can read your thoughts,” answered Joseph Bridau.

“There is a diabolical spirit in you that will seek to justify courses
which are utterly contrary to our principles. Instead of being a sophist
in theory, you will be a sophist in practice.”

“Ah! I am afraid of that,” said d’Arthez. “You will carry on admirable
debates in your own mind, Lucien, and take up a lofty position in
theory, and end by blameworthy actions. You will never be at one with
yourself.”

“What ground have you for these charges?”

“Thy vanity, dear poet, is so great that it intrudes itself even into
thy friendships!” cried Fulgence. “All vanity of that sort is a symptom
of shocking egoism, and egoism poisons friendship.”

“Oh! dear,” said Lucien, “you cannot know how much I love you all.”

“If you loved us as we love you, would you have been in such a hurry to
return the money which we had such pleasure in lending? or have made so
much of it?”

“We don’t lend here; we give,” said Joseph Bridau roughly.

“Don’t think us unkind, dear boy,” said Michel Chrestien; “we are
looking forward. We are afraid lest some day you may prefer a petty
revenge to the joys of pure friendship. Read Goethe’s _Tasso_, the
great master’s greatest work, and you will see how the poet-hero loved
gorgeous stuffs and banquets and triumph and applause. Very well, be
Tasso without his folly. Perhaps the world and its pleasures tempt
you? Stay with us. Carry all the cravings of vanity into the world
of imagination. Transpose folly. Keep virtue for daily wear, and let
imagination run riot, instead of doing, as d’Arthez says, thinking high
thoughts and living beneath them.”

Lucien hung his head. His friends were right.

“I confess that you are stronger than I,” he said, with a charming
glance at them. “My back and shoulders are not made to bear the burden
of Paris life; I cannot struggle bravely. We are born with different
temperaments and faculties, and you know better than I that faults and
virtues have their reverse side. I am tired already, I confess.”

“We will stand by you,” said d’Arthez; “it is just in these ways that a
faithful friendship is of use.”

“The help that I have just received is precarious, and every one of us
is just as poor as another; want will soon overtake me again. Chrestien,
at the service of the first that hires him, can do nothing with the
publishers; Bianchon is quite out of it; d’Arthez’s booksellers only
deal in scientific and technical books--they have no connection with
publishers of new literature; and as for Horace and Fulgence Ridal and
Bridau, their work lies miles away from the booksellers. There is no
help for it; I must make up my mind one way or another.”

“Stick by us, and make up your mind to it,” said Bianchon. “Bear up
bravely, and trust in hard work.”

“But what is hardship for you is death for me,” Lucien put in quickly.

“Before the cock crows thrice,” smiled Leon Giraud, “this man will
betray the cause of work for an idle life and the vices of Paris.”

“Where has work brought you?” asked Lucien, laughing.

“When you start out from Paris for Italy, you don’t find Rome half-way,”
 said Joseph Bridau. “You want your pease to grow ready buttered for
you.”

The conversation ended in a joke, and they changed the subject. Lucien’s
friends, with their perspicacity and delicacy of heart, tried to efface
the memory of the little quarrel; but Lucien knew thenceforward that it
was no easy matter to deceive them. He soon fell into despair, which he
was careful to hide from such stern mentors as he imagined them to be;
and the Southern temper that runs so easily through the whole gamut of
mental dispositions, set him making the most contradictory resolutions.

Again and again he talked of making the plunge into journalism; and
time after time did his friends reply with a “Mind you do nothing of the
sort!”

“It would be the tomb of the beautiful, gracious Lucien whom we love and
know,” said d’Arthez.

“You would not hold out for long between the two extremes of toil and
pleasure which make up a journalist’s life, and resistance is the very
foundation of virtue. You would be so delighted to exercise your power
of life and death over the offspring of the brain, that you would be an
out-and-out journalist in two months’ time. To be a journalist--that is
to turn Herod in the republic of letters. The man who will say anything
will end by sticking at nothing. That was Napoleon’s maxim, and it
explains itself.”

“But you would be with me, would you not?” asked Lucien.

“Not by that time,” said Fulgence. “If you were a journalist, you would
no more think of us than the Opera girl in all her glory, with her
adorers and her silk-lined carriage, thinks of the village at home and
her cows and her sabots. You could never resist the temptation to pen
a witticism, though it should bring tears to a friend’s eyes. I come
across journalists in theatre lobbies; it makes me shudder to see them.
Journalism is an inferno, a bottomless pit of iniquity and treachery
and lies; no one can traverse it undefiled, unless, like Dante, he is
protected by Virgil’s sacred laurel.”

But the more the set of friends opposed the idea of journalism, the more
Lucien’s desire to know its perils grew and tempted him. He began to
debate within his own mind; was it not ridiculous to allow want to find
him a second time defenceless? He bethought him of the failure of his
attempts to dispose of his first novel, and felt but little tempted
to begin a second. How, besides, was he to live while he was writing
another romance? One month of privation had exhausted his stock of
patience. Why should he not do nobly that which journalists did ignobly
and without principle? His friends insulted him with their doubts; he
would convince them of his strength of mind. Some day, perhaps, he would
be of use to them; he would be the herald of their fame!

“And what sort of a friendship is it which recoils from complicity?”
 demanded he one evening of Michel Chrestien; Lucien and Leon Giraud were
walking home with their friend.

“We shrink from nothing,” Michel Chrestien made reply. “If you were so
unlucky as to kill your mistress, I would help you to hide your crime,
and could still respect you; but if you were to turn spy, I should shun
you with abhorrence, for a spy is systematically shameless and base.
There you have journalism summed up in a sentence. Friendship can pardon
error and the hasty impulse of passion; it is bound to be inexorable
when a man deliberately traffics in his own soul, and intellect, and
opinions.”

“Why cannot I turn journalist to sell my volume of poetry and the novel,
and then give up at once?”

“Machiavelli might do so, but not Lucien de Rubempre,” said Leon Giraud.

“Very well,” exclaimed Lucien; “I will show you that I can do as much as
Machiavelli.”

“Oh!” cried Michel, grasping Leon’s hand, “you have done it,
Leon.--Lucien,” he continued, “you have three hundred francs in hand;
you can live comfortably for three months; very well, then, work hard
and write another romance. D’Arthez and Fulgence will help you with the
plot; you will improve, you will be a novelist. And I, meanwhile, will
enter one of those _lupanars_ of thought; for three months I will be
a journalist. I will sell your books to some bookseller or other by
attacking his publications; I will write the articles myself; I will get
others for you. We will organize a success; you shall be a great man,
and still remain our Lucien.”

“You must despise me very much, if you think that I should perish while
you escape,” said the poet.

“O Lord, forgive him; it is a child!” cried Michel Chrestien.



When Lucien’s intellect had been stimulated by the evenings spent in
d’Arthez’s garret, he had made some study of the jokes and articles
in the smaller newspapers. He was at least the equal, he felt, of the
wittiest contributors; in private he tried some mental gymnastics of the
kind, and went out one morning with the triumphant idea of finding some
colonel of such light skirmishers of the press and enlisting in their
ranks. He dressed in his best and crossed the bridges, thinking as he
went that authors, journalists, and men of letters, his future comrades,
in short, would show him rather more kindness and disinterestedness than
the two species of booksellers who had so dashed his hopes. He should
meet with fellow-feeling, and something of the kindly and grateful
affection which he found in the _cenacle_ of the Rue des Quatre-Vents.
Tormented by emotion, consequent upon the presentiments to which men of
imagination cling so fondly, half believing, half battling with their
belief in them, he arrived in the Rue Saint-Fiacre off the Boulevard
Montmartre. Before a house, occupied by the offices of a small
newspaper, he stopped, and at the sight of it his heart began to throb
as heavily as the pulses of a youth upon the threshold of some evil
haunt.

Nevertheless, upstairs he went, and found the offices in the low
_entresol_ between the ground floor and the first story. The first room
was divided down the middle by a partition, the lower half of solid
wood, the upper lattice work to the ceiling. In this apartment Lucien
discovered a one-armed pensioner supporting several reams of paper on
his head with his remaining hand, while between his teeth he held the
passbook which the Inland Revenue Department requires every newspaper to
produce with each issue. This ill-favored individual, owner of a yellow
countenance covered with red excrescences, to which he owed his nickname
of “Coloquinte,” indicated a personage behind the lattice as the
Cerberus of the paper. This was an elderly officer with a medal on his
chest and a silk skull-cap on his head; his nose was almost hidden by a
pair of grizzled moustaches, and his person was hidden as completely in
an ample blue overcoat as the body of the turtle in its carapace.

“From what date do you wish your subscription to commence, sir?”
 inquired the Emperor’s officer.

“I did not come about a subscription,” returned Lucien. Looking about
him, he saw a placard fastened on a door, corresponding to the one by
which he had entered, and read the words--EDITOR’S OFFICE, and below, in
smaller letters, _No admittance except on business_.

“A complaint, I expect?” replied the veteran. “Ah! yes; we have
been hard on Mariette. What would you have? I don’t know the why and
wherefore of it yet.--But if you want satisfaction, I am ready for you,”
 he added, glancing at a collection of small arms and foils stacked in a
corner, the armory of the modern warrior.

“That was still further from my intention, sir. I have come to speak to
the editor.”

“Nobody is ever here before four o’clock.”

“Look you here, Giroudeau, old chap,” remarked a voice, “I make it
eleven columns; eleven columns at five francs apiece is fifty-five
francs, and I have only been paid forty; so you owe me another fifteen
francs, as I have been telling you.”

These words proceeded from a little weasel-face, pallid and
semi-transparent as the half-boiled white of an egg; two slits of
eyes looked out of it, mild blue in tint, but appallingly malignant in
expression; and the owner, an insignificant young man, was completely
hidden by the veteran’s opaque person. It was a blood-curdling voice, a
sound between the mewing of a cat and the wheezy chokings of a hyena.

“Yes, yes, my little militiaman,” retorted he of the medal, “but you are
counting the headings and white lines. I have Finot’s instructions to
add up the totals of the lines, and to divide them by the proper number
for each column; and after I performed that concentrating operation on
your copy, there were three columns less.”

“He doesn’t pay for the blanks, the Jew! He reckons them in though when
he sends up the total of his work to his partner, and he gets paid for
them too. I will go and see Etienne Lousteau, Vernou----”

“I cannot go beyond my orders, my boy,” said the veteran. “What! do you
cry out against your foster-mother for a matter of fifteen francs? you
that turn out an article as easily as I smoke a cigar. Fifteen francs!
why, you will give a bowl of punch to your friends, or win an extra game
of billiards, and there’s an end of it!”

“Finot’s savings will cost him very dear,” said the contributor as he
took his departure.

“Now, would not anybody think that he was Rousseau and Voltaire rolled
in one?” the cashier remarked to himself as he glanced at Lucien.

“I will come in again at four, sir,” said Lucien.

While the argument proceeded, Lucien had been looking about him. He saw
upon the walls the portraits of Benjamin Constant, General Foy, and the
seventeen illustrious orators of the Left, interspersed with caricatures
at the expense of the Government; but he looked more particularly at
the door of the sanctuary where, no doubt, the paper was elaborated,
the witty paper that amused him daily, and enjoyed the privilege of
ridiculing kings and the most portentous events, of calling anything
and everything in question with a jest. Then he sauntered along the
boulevards. It was an entirely novel amusement; and so agreeable did he
find it, that, looking at the turret clocks, he saw the hour hands were
pointing to four, and only then remembered that he had not breakfasted.

He went at once in the direction of the Rue Saint-Fiacre, climbed the
stair, and opened the door.

The veteran officer was absent; but the old pensioner, sitting on a
pile of stamped papers, was munching a crust and acting as sentinel
resignedly. Coloquinte was as much accustomed to his work in the office
as to the fatigue duty of former days, understanding as much or as
little about it as the why and wherefore of forced marches made by the
Emperor’s orders. Lucien was inspired with the bold idea of deceiving
that formidable functionary. He settled his hat on his head, and walked
into the editor’s office as if he were quite at home.

Looking eagerly about him, he beheld a round table covered with a green
cloth, and half-a-dozen cherry-wood chairs, newly reseated with straw.
The colored brick floor had not been waxed, but it was clean; so clean
that the public, evidently, seldom entered the room. There was a mirror
above the chimney-piece, and on the ledge below, amid a sprinkling of
visiting-cards, stood a shopkeeper’s clock, smothered with dust, and a
couple of candlesticks with tallow dips thrust into their sockets. A few
antique newspapers lay on the table beside an inkstand containing some
black lacquer-like substance, and a collection of quill pens twisted
into stars. Sundry dirty scraps of paper, covered with almost
undecipherable hieroglyphs, proved to be manuscript articles torn across
the top by the compositor to check off the sheets as they were set up.
He admired a few rather clever caricatures, sketched on bits of brown
paper by somebody who evidently had tried to kill time by killing
something else to keep his hand in.

Other works of art were pinned in the cheap sea-green wall-paper. These
consisted of nine pen-and-ink illustrations for _Le Solitaire_. The work
had attained to such an unheard-of European popularity, that journalists
evidently were tired of it.--“The Solitary makes his first appearance
in the provinces; sensation among the women.--The Solitary perused at
a chateau.--Effect of the Solitary on domestic animals.--The Solitary
explained to savage tribes, with the most brilliant results.--The
Solitary translated into Chinese and presented by the author to the
Emperor at Pekin.--The Mont Sauvage, Rape of Elodie.”--(Lucien though
this caricature very shocking, but he could not help laughing at
it.)--“The Solitary under a canopy conducted in triumphal procession by
the newspapers.--The Solitary breaks the press to splinters, and wounds
the printers.--Read backwards, the superior beauties of the Solitary
produce a sensation at the Academie.”--On a newspaper-wrapper Lucien
noticed a sketch of a contributor holding out his hat, and beneath it
the words, “Finot! my hundred francs,” and a name, since grown more
notorious than famous.

Between the window and the chimney-piece stood a writing-table, a
mahogany armchair, and a waste-paper basket on a strip of hearth-rug;
the dust lay thick on all these objects. There were short curtains
in the windows. About a score of new books lay on the writing-table,
deposited there apparently during the day, together with prints, music,
snuff-boxes of the “Charter” pattern, a copy of the ninth edition of
_Le Solitaire_ (the great joke of the moment), and some ten unopened
letters.

Lucien had taken stock of this strange furniture, and made reflections
of the most exhaustive kind upon it, when, the clock striking five, he
returned to question the pensioner. Coloquinte had finished his crust,
and was waiting with the patience of a commissionaire, for the man of
medals, who perhaps was taking an airing on the boulevard.

At this conjuncture the rustle of a dress sounded on the stair, and the
light unmistakable footstep of a woman on the threshold. The newcomer
was passably pretty. She addressed herself to Lucien.

“Sir,” she said, “I know why you cry up Mlle. Virginie’s hats so much;
and I have come to put down my name for a year’s subscription in the
first place; but tell me your conditions----”

“I am not connected with the paper, madame.”

“Oh!”

“A subscription dating from October?” inquired the pensioner.

“What does the lady want to know?” asked the veteran, reappearing on the
scene.

The fair milliner and the retired military man were soon deep in
converse; and when Lucien, beginning to lose patience, came back to the
first room, he heard the conclusion of the matter.

“Why, I shall be delighted, quite delighted, sir. Mlle. Florentine
can come to my shop and choose anything she likes. Ribbons are in my
department. So it is all quite settled. You will say no more about
Virginie, a botcher that cannot design a new shape, while I have ideas
of my own, I have.”

Lucien heard a sound as of coins dropping into a cashbox, and the
veteran began to make up his books for the day.

“I have been waiting here for an hour, sir,” Lucien began, looking not a
little annoyed.

“And ‘they’ have not come yet!” exclaimed Napoleon’s veteran, civilly
feigning concern. “I am not surprised at that. It is some time since
I have seen ‘them’ here. It is the middle of the month, you see. Those
fine fellows only turn up on pay days--the 29th or the 30th.”

“And M. Finot?” asked Lucien, having caught the editor’s name.

“He is in the Rue Feydeau, that’s where he lives. Coloquinte, old chap,
just take him everything that has come in to-day when you go with the
paper to the printers.”

“Where is the newspaper put together?” Lucien said to himself.

“The newspaper?” repeated the officer, as he received the rest of the
stamp money from Coloquinte, “the newspaper?--broum! broum!--(Mind you
are round at the printers’ by six o’clock to-morrow, old chap, to send
off the porters.)--The newspaper, sir, is written in the street, at
the writers’ houses, in the printing-office between eleven and twelve
o’clock at night. In the Emperor’s time, sir, these shops for spoiled
paper were not known. Oh! he would have cleared them out with four men
and a corporal; they would not have come over _him_ with their talk. But
that is enough of prattling. If my nephew finds it worth his while, and
so long as they write for the son of the Other (broum! broum!)----after
all, there is no harm in that. Ah! by the way, subscribers don’t seem to
me to be advancing in serried columns; I shall leave my post.”

“You seem to know all about the newspaper, sir,” Lucien began.

“From a business point of view, broum! broum!” coughed the soldier,
clearing his throat. “From three to five francs per column, according to
ability.--Fifty lines to a column, forty letters to a line; no blanks;
there you are! As for the staff, they are queer fish, little youngsters
whom I wouldn’t take on for the commissariat; and because they make fly
tracks on sheets of white paper, they look down, forsooth, on an old
Captain of Dragoons of the Guard, that retired with a major’s rank after
entering every European capital with Napoleon.”

The soldier of Napoleon brushed his coat, and made as if he would go
out, but Lucien, swept to the door, had courage enough to make a stand.

“I came to be a contributor of the paper,” he said. “I am full of
respect, I vow and declare, for a captain of the Imperial Guard, those
men of bronze----”

“Well said, my little civilian, there are several kinds of contributors;
which kind do you wish to be?” replied the trooper, bearing down on
Lucien, and descending the stairs. At the foot of the flight he stopped,
but it was only to light a cigar at the porter’s box.

“If any subscribers come, you see them and take note of them, Mother
Chollet.--Simply subscribers, never know anything but subscribers,” he
added, seeing that Lucien followed him. “Finot is my nephew; he is
the only one of my family that has done anything to relieve me in my
position. So when anybody comes to pick a quarrel with Finot, he finds
old Giroudeau, Captain of the Dragoons of the Guard, that set out as a
private in a cavalry regiment in the army of the Sambre-et-Meuse, and
was fencing-master for five years to the First Hussars, army of Italy!
One, two, and the man that had any complaints to make would be turned
off into the dark,” he added, making a lunge. “Now writers, my boy, are
in different corps; there is the writer who writes and draws his pay;
there is the writer who writes and gets nothing (a volunteer we call
him); and, lastly, there is the writer who writes nothing, and he is by
no means the stupidest, for he makes no mistakes; he gives himself out
for a literary man, he is on the paper, he treats us to dinners, he
loafs about the theatres, he keeps an actress, he is very well off. What
do you mean to be?”

“The man that does good work and gets good pay.”

“You are like the recruits. They all want to be marshals of France. Take
old Giroudeau’s word for it, and turn right about, in double-quick time,
and go and pick up nails in the gutter like that good fellow yonder; you
can tell by the look of him that he has been in the army.--Isn’t it a
shame that an old soldier who has walked into the jaws of death hundreds
of times should be picking up old iron in the streets of Paris? Ah! God
A’mighty! ‘twas a shabby trick to desert the Emperor.--Well, my boy, the
individual you saw this morning has made his forty francs a month. Are
you going to do better? And, according to Finot, he is the cleverest man
on the staff.”

“When you enlisted in the Sambre-et-Meuse, did they talk about danger?”

“Rather.”

“Very well?”

“Very well. Go and see my nephew Finot, a good fellow, as good a fellow
as you will find, if you can find him, that is, for he is like a fish,
always on the move. In his way of business, there is no writing, you
see, it is setting others to write. That sort like gallivanting about
with actresses better than scribbling on sheets of paper, it seems. Oh!
they are queer customers, they are. Hope I may have the honor of seeing
you again.”

With that the cashier raised his formidable loaded cane, one of the
defenders of Germainicus, and walked off, leaving Lucien in the street,
as much bewildered by this picture of the newspaper world as he had
formerly been by the practical aspects of literature at Messrs. Vidal
and Porchon’s establishment.

Ten several times did Lucien repair to the Rue Feydeau in search of
Andoche Finot, and ten times he failed to find that gentleman. He went
first thing in the morning; Finot had not come in. At noon, Finot had
gone out; he was breakfasting at such and such a cafe. At the cafe, in
answer to inquiries of the waitress, made after surmounting unspeakable
repugnance, Lucien heard that Finot had just left the place. Lucien,
at length tired out, began to regard Finot as a mythical and
fabulous character; it appeared simpler to waylay Etienne Lousteau at
Flicoteaux’s. That youthful journalist would, doubtless, explain the
mysteries that enveloped the paper for which he wrote.

Since the day, a hundred times blessed, when Lucien made the
acquaintance of Daniel d’Arthez, he had taken another seat at
Flicoteaux’s. The two friends dined side by side, talking in lowered
voices of the higher literature, of suggested subjects, and ways of
presenting, opening up, and developing them. At the present time Daniel
d’Arthez was correcting the manuscript of _The Archer of Charles IX._ He
reconstructed whole chapters, and wrote the fine passages found therein,
as well as the magnificent preface, which is, perhaps, the best thing
in the book, and throws so much light on the work of the young school
of literature. One day it so happened that Daniel had been waiting
for Lucien, who now sat with his friend’s hand in his own, when he saw
Etienne Lousteau turn the door-handle. Lucien instantly dropped Daniel’s
hand, and told the waiter that he would dine at his old place by the
counter. D’Arthez gave Lucien a glance of divine kindness, in which
reproach was wrapped in forgiveness. The glance cut the poet to the
quick; he took Daniel’s hand and grasped it anew.

“It is an important question of business for me; I will tell you about
it afterwards,” said he.

Lucien was in his old place by the time that Lousteau reached the table;
as the first comer, he greeted his acquaintance; they soon struck up a
conversation, which grew so lively that Lucien went off in search of the
manuscript of the _Marguerites_, while Lousteau finished his dinner. He
had obtained leave to lay his sonnets before the journalist, and mistook
the civility of the latter for willingness to find him a publisher, or
a place on the paper. When Lucien came hurrying back again, he saw
d’Arthez resting an elbow on the table in a corner of the restaurant,
and knew that his friend was watching him with melancholy eyes, but he
would not see d’Arthez just then; he felt the sharp pangs of poverty,
the goadings of ambition, and followed Lousteau.

In the late afternoon the journalist and the neophyte went to the
Luxembourg, and sat down under the trees in that part of the gardens
which lies between the broad Avenue de l’Observatoire and the Rue de
l’Ouest. The Rue de l’Ouest at that time was a long morass, bounded by
planks and market-gardens; the houses were all at the end nearest
the Rue de Vaugirard; and the walk through the gardens was so little
frequented, that at the hour when Paris dines, two lovers might fall out
and exchange the earnest of reconciliation without fear of intruders.
The only possible spoil-sport was the pensioner on duty at the little
iron gate on the Rue de l’Ouest, if that gray-headed veteran should
take it into his head to lengthen his monotonous beat. There, on a
bench beneath the lime-trees, Etienne Lousteau sat and listened to
sample-sonnets from the _Marguerites_.

Etienne Lousteau, after a two-years’ apprenticeship, was on the staff
of a newspaper; he had his foot in the stirrup; he reckoned some of the
celebrities of the day among his friends; altogether, he was an imposing
personage in Lucien’s eyes. Wherefore, while Lucien untied the string
about the _Marguerites_, he judged it necessary to make some sort of
preface.

“The sonnet, monsieur,” said he, “is one of the most difficult forms of
poetry. It has fallen almost entirely into disuse. No Frenchman can hope
to rival Petrarch; for the language in which the Italian wrote, being
so infinitely more pliant than French, lends itself to play of thought
which our positivism (pardon the use of the expression) rejects. So
it seemed to me that a volume of sonnets would be something quite new.
Victor Hugo has appropriated the old, Canalis writes lighter verse,
Beranger has monopolized songs, Casimir Delavigne has taken tragedy, and
Lamartine the poetry of meditation.”

“Are you a ‘Classic’ or a ‘Romantic’?” inquired Lousteau.

Lucien’s astonishment betrayed such complete ignorance of the state of
affairs in the republic of letters, that Lousteau thought it necessary
to enlighten him.

“You have come up in the middle of a pitched battle, my dear fellow;
you must make your decision at once. Literature is divided, in the first
place, into several zones, but our great men are ranged in two hostile
camps. The Royalists are ‘Romantics,’ the Liberals are ‘Classics.’ The
divergence of taste in matters literary and divergence of political
opinion coincide; and the result is a war with weapons of every sort,
double-edged witticisms, subtle calumnies and nicknames _a outrance_,
between the rising and the waning glory, and ink is shed in torrents.
The odd part of it is that the Royalist-Romantics are all for liberty
in literature, and for repealing laws and conventions; while the
Liberal-Classics are for maintaining the unities, the Alexandrine, and
the classical theme. So opinions in politics on either side are directly
at variance with literary taste. If you are eclectic, you will have no
one for you. Which side do you take?”

“Which is the winning side?”

“The Liberal newspapers have far more subscribers than the Royalist and
Ministerial journals; still, though Canalis is for Church and King,
and patronized by the Court and the clergy, he reaches other
readers.--Pshaw! sonnets date back to an epoch before Boileau’s time,”
 said Etienne, seeing Lucien’s dismay at the prospect of choosing between
two banners. “Be a Romantic. The Romantics are young men, and the
Classics are pedants; the Romantics will gain the day.”

The word “pedant” was the latest epithet taken up by Romantic journalism
to heap confusion on the Classical faction.

Lucien began to read, choosing first of all the title-sonnets.


               EASTER DAISIES.

  The daisies in the meadows, not in vain,
  In red and white and gold before our eyes,
  Have written an idyll for man’s sympathies,
  And set his heart’s desire in language plain.

  Gold stamens set in silver filigrane
  Reveal the treasures which we idolize;
  And all the cost of struggle for the prize
  Is symboled by a secret blood-red stain.

  Was it because your petals once uncurled
  When Jesus rose upon a fairer world,
  And from wings shaken for a heav’nward flight
  Shed grace, that still as autumn reappears
  You bloom again to tell of dead delight,
  To bring us back the flower of twenty years?


Lucien felt piqued by Lousteau’s complete indifference during the
reading of the sonnet; he was unfamiliar as yet with the disconcerting
impassibility of the professional critic, wearied by much reading of
poetry, prose, and plays. Lucien was accustomed to applause. He choked
down his disappointment and read another, a favorite with Mme. de
Bargeton and with some of his friends in the Rue des Quatre-Vents.

“This one, perhaps, will draw a word from him,” he thought.


               THE MARGUERITE.

  I am the Marguerite, fair and tall I grew
  In velvet meadows, ‘mid the flowers a star.
  They sought me for my beauty near and far;
  My dawn, I thought, should be for ever new.
  But now an all unwished-for gift I rue,
  A fatal ray of knowledge shed to mar
  My radiant star-crown grown oracular,
  For I must speak and give an answer true.
  An end of silence and of quiet days,
  The Lover with two words my counsel prays;
  And when my secret from my heart is reft,
  When all my silver petals scattered lie,
  I am the only flower neglected left,
  Cast down and trodden under foot to die.


At the end, the poet looked up at his Aristarchus. Etienne Lousteau was
gazing at the trees in the Pepiniere.

“Well?” asked Lucien.

“Well, my dear fellow, go on! I am listening to you, am I not? That fact
in itself is as good as praise in Paris.”

“Have you had enough?” Lucien asked.

“Go on,” the other answered abruptly enough.

Lucien proceeded to read the following sonnet, but his heart was dead
within him; Lousteau’s inscrutable composure froze his utterance. If
he had come a little further upon the road, he would have known
that between writer and writer silence or abrupt speech, under such
circumstances, is a betrayal of jealousy, and outspoken admiration means
a sense of relief over the discovery that the work is not above the
average after all.


               THE CAMELLIA.

  In Nature’s book, if rightly understood,
  The rose means love, and red for beauty glows;
  A pure, sweet spirit in the violet blows,
  And bright the lily gleams in lowlihood.

  But this strange bloom, by sun and wind unwooed,
  Seems to expand and blossom ‘mid the snows,
  A lily sceptreless, a scentless rose,
  For dainty listlessness of maidenhood.

  Yet at the opera house the petals trace
  For modesty a fitting aureole;
  An alabaster wreath to lay, methought,
  In dusky hair o’er some fair woman’s face
  Which kindles ev’n such love within the soul
  As sculptured marble forms by Phidias wrought.


“What do you think of my poor sonnets?” Lucien asked, coming straight to
the point.

“Do you want the truth?”

“I am young enough to like the truth, and so anxious to succeed that I
can hear it without taking offence, but not without despair,” replied
Lucien.

“Well, my dear fellow, the first sonnet, from its involved style, was
evidently written at Angouleme; it gave you so much trouble, no doubt,
that you cannot give it up. The second and third smack of Paris already;
but read us one more sonnet,” he added, with a gesture that seemed
charming to the provincial.

Encouraged by the request, Lucien read with more confidence, choosing a
sonnet which d’Arthez and Bridau liked best, perhaps on account of its
color.


               THE TULIP.

  I am the Tulip from Batavia’s shore;
  The thrifty Fleming for my beauty rare
  Pays a king’s ransom, when that I am fair,
  And tall, and straight, and pure my petal’s core.

  And, like some Yolande of the days of yore,
  My long and amply folded skirts I wear,
  O’er-painted with the blazon that I bear
  --Gules, a fess azure; purpure, fretty, or.

  The fingers of the Gardener divine
  Have woven for me my vesture fair and fine,
  Of threads of sunlight and of purple stain;
  No flower so glorious in the garden bed,
  But Nature, woe is me, no fragrance shed
  Within my cup of Orient porcelain.


“Well?” asked Lucien after a pause, immeasurably long, as it seemed to
him.

“My dear fellow,” Etienne said, gravely surveying the tips of Lucien’s
boots (he had brought the pair from Angouleme, and was wearing them
out). “My dear fellow, I strongly recommend you to put your ink on your
boots to save blacking, and to take your pens for toothpicks, so
that when you come away from Flicoteaux’s you can swagger along this
picturesque alley looking as if you had dined. Get a situation of any
sort or description. Run errands for a bailiff if you have the heart, be
a shopman if your back is strong enough, enlist if you happen to have a
taste for military music. You have the stuff of three poets in you;
but before you can reach your public, you will have time to die of
starvation six times over, if you intend to live on the proceeds of your
poetry, that is. And from your too unsophisticated discourse, it would
seem to be your intention to coin money out of your inkstand.

“I say nothing as to your verses; they are a good deal better than
all the poetical wares that are cumbering the ground in booksellers’
backshops just now. Elegant ‘nightingales’ of that sort cost a little
more than the others, because they are printed on hand-made paper, but
they nearly all of them come down at last to the banks of the Seine.
You may study their range of notes there any day if you care to make an
instructive pilgrimage along the Quais from old Jerome’s stall by the
Pont Notre Dame to the Pont Royal. You will find them all there--all the
_Essays in Verse_, the _Inspirations_, the lofty flights, the hymns, and
songs, and ballads, and odes; all the nestfuls hatched during the
last seven years, in fact. There lie their muses, thick with dust,
bespattered by every passing cab, at the mercy of every profane hand
that turns them over to look at the vignette on the title-page.

“You know nobody; you have access to no newspaper, so your _Marguerites_
will remain demurely folded as you hold them now. They will never open
out to the sun of publicity in fair fields with broad margins enameled
with the florets which Dauriat the illustrious, the king of the Wooden
Galleries, scatters with a lavish hand for poets known to fame. I came
to Paris as you came, poor boy, with a plentiful stock of illusions,
impelled by irrepressible longings for glory--and I found the realities
of the craft, the practical difficulties of the trade, the hard facts of
poverty. In my enthusiasm (it is kept well under control now), my first
ebullition of youthful spirits, I did not see the social machinery at
work; so I had to learn to see it by bumping against the wheels and
bruising myself against the shafts, and chains. Now you are about to
learn, as I learned, that between you and all these fair dreamed-of
things lies the strife of men, and passions, and necessities.

“Willy-nilly, you must take part in a terrible battle; book against
book, man against man, party against party; make war you must, and that
systematically, or you will be abandoned by your own party. And they are
mean contests; struggles which leave you disenchanted, and wearied, and
depraved, and all in pure waste; for it often happens that you put
forth all your strength to win laurels for a man whom you despise,
and maintain, in spite of yourself, that some second-rate writer is a
genius.

“There is a world behind the scenes in the theatre of literature. The
public in front sees unexpected or well-deserved success, and applauds;
the public does _not_ see the preparations, ugly as they always are, the
painted supers, the _claqueurs_ hired to applaud, the stage carpenters,
and all that lies behind the scenes. You are still among the audience.
Abdicate, there is still time, before you set your foot on the lowest
step of the throne for which so many ambitious spirits are contending,
and do not sell your honor, as I do, for a livelihood.” Etienne’s eyes
filled with tears as he spoke.

“Do you know how I make a living?” he continued passionately. “The
little stock of money they gave me at home was soon eaten up. A piece
of mine was accepted at the Theatre-Francais just as I came to an end
of it. At the Theatre-Francais the influence of a first gentleman of the
bedchamber, or of a prince of the blood, would not be enough to secure
a turn of favor; the actors only make concessions to those who threaten
their self-love. If it is in your power to spread a report that the
_jeune premier_ has the asthma, the leading lady a fistula where you
please, and the soubrette has foul breath, then your piece would be
played to-morrow. I do not know whether in two years’ time, I who speak
to you now, shall be in a position to exercise such power. You need so
many to back you. And where and how am I to gain my bread meanwhile?

“I tried lots of things; I wrote a novel, anonymously; old Doguereau
gave me two hundred francs for it, and he did not make very much out of
it himself. Then it grew plain to me that journalism alone could give me
a living. The next thing was to find my way into those shops. I will not
tell you all the advances I made, nor how often I begged in vain. I will
say nothing of the six months I spent as extra hand on a paper, and was
told that I scared subscribers away, when as a fact I attracted them.
Pass over the insults I put up with. At this moment I am doing the plays
at the Boulevard theatres, almost _gratis_, for a paper belonging to
Finot, that stout young fellow who breakfasts two or three times a
month, even now, at the Cafe Voltaire (but you don’t go there). I live
by selling tickets that managers give me to bribe a good word in the
paper, and reviewers’ copies of books. In short, Finot once satisfied,
I am allowed to write for and against various commercial articles, and I
traffic in tribute paid in kind by various tradesmen. A facetious notice
of a Carminative Toilet Lotion, _Pate des Sultanes_, Cephalic Oil, or
Brazilian Mixture brings me in twenty or thirty francs.

“I am obliged to dun the publishers when they don’t send in a sufficient
number of reviewers’ copies; Finot, as editor, appropriates two and
sells them, and I must have two to sell. If a book of capital importance
comes out, and the publisher is stingy with copies, his life is made a
burden to him. The craft is vile, but I live by it, and so do scores of
others. Do not imagine that things are any better in public life.
There is corruption everywhere in both regions; every man is corrupt or
corrupts others. If there is any publishing enterprise somewhat larger
than usual afoot, the trade will pay me something to buy neutrality. The
amount of my income varies, therefore, directly with the prospectuses.
When prospectuses break out like a rash, money pours into my pockets; I
stand treat all round. When trade is dull, I dine at Flicoteaux’s.

“Actresses will pay you likewise for praise, but the wiser among them
pay for criticism. To be passed over in silence is what they dread
the most; and the very best thing of all, from their point of view, is
criticism which draws down a reply; it is far more effectual than bald
praise, forgotten as soon as read, and it costs more in consequence.
Celebrity, my dear fellow, is based upon controversy. I am a hired
bravo; I ply my trade among ideas and reputations, commercial, literary,
and dramatic; I make some fifty crowns a month; I can sell a novel for
five hundred francs; and I am beginning to be looked upon as a man to
be feared. Some day, instead of living with Florine at the expense of a
druggist who gives himself the airs of a lord, I shall be in a house of
my own; I shall be on the staff of a leading newspaper, I shall have
a _feuilleton_; and on that day, my dear fellow, Florine will become a
great actress. As for me, I am not sure what I shall be when that time
comes, a minister or an honest man--all things are still possible.”

He raised his humiliated head, and looked out at the green leaves, with
an expression of despairing self-condemnation dreadful to see.

“And I had a great tragedy accepted!” he went on. “And among my papers
there is a poem, which will die. And I was a good fellow, and my heart
was clean! I used to dream lofty dreams of love for great ladies,
queens in the great world; and--my mistress is an actress at the
Panorama-Dramatique. And lastly, if a bookseller declines to send a copy
of a book to my paper, I will run down work which is good, as I know.”

Lucien was moved to tears, and he grasped Etienne’s hand in his. The
journalist rose to his feet, and the pair went up and down the broad
Avenue de l’Observatoire, as if their lungs craved ampler breathing
space.

“Outside the world of letters,” Etienne Lousteau continued, “not a
single creature suspects that every one who succeeds in that world--who
has a certain vogue, that is to say, or comes into fashion, or gains
reputation, or renown, or fame, or favor with the public (for by these
names we know the rungs of the ladder by which we climb to the higher
heights above and beyond them),--every one who comes even thus far is
the hero of a dreadful Odyssey. Brilliant portents rise above the mental
horizon through a combination of a thousand accidents; conditions change
so swiftly that no two men have been known to reach success by the same
road. Canalis and Nathan are two dissimilar cases; things never fall out
in the same way twice. There is d’Arthez, who knocks himself to pieces
with work--he will make a famous name by some other chance.

“This so much desired reputation is nearly always crowned prostitution.
Yes; the poorest kind of literature is the hapless creature freezing at
the street corner; second-rate literature is the kept-mistress picked
out of the brothels of journalism, and I am her bully; lastly, there is
lucky literature, the flaunting, insolent courtesan who has a house
of her own and pays taxes, who receives great lords, treating or
ill-treating them as she pleases, who has liveried servants and a
carriage, and can afford to keep greedy creditors waiting. Ah! and
for yet others, for me not so very long ago, for you to-day--she is a
white-robed angel with many-colored wings, bearing a green palm branch
in the one hand, and in the other a flaming sword. An angel, something
akin to the mythological abstraction which lives at the bottom of a
well, and to the poor and honest girl who lives a life of exile in the
outskirts of the great city, earning every penny with a noble fortitude
and in the full light of virtue, returning to heaven inviolate of
body and soul; unless, indeed, she comes to lie at the last, soiled,
despoiled, polluted, and forgotten, on a pauper’s bier. As for the men
whose brains are encompassed with bronze, whose hearts are still warm
under the snows of experience, they are found but seldom in the country
that lies at our feet,” he added, pointing to the great city seething in
the late afternoon light.

A vision of d’Arthez and his friends flashed upon Lucien’s sight, and
made appeal to him for a moment; but Lousteau’s appalling lamentation
carried him away.

“They are very few and far between in that great fermenting vat; rare as
love in love-making, rare as fortunes honestly made in business, rare
as the journalist whose hands are clean. The experience of the first man
who told me all that I am telling you was thrown away upon me, and mine
no doubt will be wasted upon you. It is always the same old story year
after year; the same eager rush to Paris from the provinces; the same,
not to say a growing, number of beardless, ambitious boys, who advance,
head erect, and the heart that Princess Tourandocte of the _Mille et un
Jours_--each one of them fain to be her Prince Calaf. But never a one of
them reads the riddle. One by one they drop, some into the trench where
failures lie, some into the mire of journalism, some again into the
quagmires of the book-trade.

“They pick up a living, these beggars, what with biographical notices,
penny-a-lining, and scraps of news for the papers. They become
booksellers’ hacks for the clear-headed dealers in printed paper,
who would sooner take the rubbish that goes off in a fortnight than a
masterpiece which requires time to sell. The life is crushed out of
the grubs before they reach the butterfly stage. They live by shame and
dishonor. They are ready to write down a rising genius or to praise
him to the skies at a word from the pasha of the _Constitutionnel_,
the _Quotidienne_, or the _Debats_, at a sign from a publisher, at the
request of a jealous comrade, or (as not seldom happens) simply for
a dinner. Some surmount the obstacles, and these forget the misery of
their early days. I, who am telling you this, have been putting the
best that is in me into newspaper articles for six months past for a
blackguard who gives them out as his own and has secured a _feuilleton_
in another paper on the strength of them. He has not taken me on as his
collaborator, he has not give me so much as a five-franc piece, but I
hold out a hand to grasp his when we meet; I cannot help myself.”

“And why?” Lucien, asked, indignantly.

“I may want to put a dozen lines into his _feuilleton_ some day,”
 Lousteau answered coolly. “In short, my dear fellow, in literature you
will not make money by hard work, that is not the secret of success; the
point is to exploit the work of somebody else. A newspaper proprietor
is a contractor, we are the bricklayers. The more mediocre the man,
the better his chance of getting on among mediocrities; he can play the
toad-eater, put up with any treatment, and flatter all the little base
passions of the sultans of literature. There is Hector Merlin, who came
from Limoges a short time ago; he is writing political articles already
for a Right Centre daily, and he is at work on our little paper as well.
I have seen an editor drop his hat and Merlin pick it up. The fellow was
careful never to give offence, and slipped into the thick of the fight
between rival ambitions. I am sorry for you. It is as if I saw in you
the self that I used to be, and sure am I that in one or two years’ time
you will be what I am now.--You will think that there is some lurking
jealousy or personal motive in this bitter counsel, but it is prompted
by the despair of a damned soul that can never leave hell.--No one
ventures to utter such things as these. You hear the groans of anguish
from a man wounded to the heart, crying like a second Job from the
ashes, ‘Behold my sores!’”

“But whether I fight upon this field or elsewhere, fight I must,” said
Lucien.

“Then, be sure of this,” returned Lousteau, “if you have anything in
you, the war will know no truce, the best chance of success lies in an
empty head. The austerity of your conscience, clear as yet, will relax
when you see that a man holds your future in his two hands, when a word
from such a man means life to you, and he will not say that word. For,
believe me, the most brutal bookseller in the trade is not so insolent,
so hard-hearted to a newcomer as the celebrity of the day. The
bookseller sees a possible loss of money, while the writer of books
dreads a possible rival; the first shows you the door, the second
crushes the life out of you. To do really good work, my boy, means that
you will draw out the energy, sap, and tenderness of your nature at
every dip of the pen in the ink, to set it forth for the world in
passion and sentiment and phrases. Yes; instead of acting, you will
write; you will sing songs instead of fighting; you will love and
hate and live in your books; and then, after all, when you shall have
reserved your riches for your style, your gold and purple for your
characters, and you yourself are walking the streets of Paris in rags,
rejoicing in that, rivaling the State Register, you have authorized the
existence of beings styled Adolphe, Corinne or Clarissa, Rene or Manon;
when you shall have spoiled your life and your digestion to give life
to that creation, then you shall see it slandered, betrayed, sold, swept
away into the back waters of oblivion by journalists, and buried out
of sight by your best friends. How can you afford to wait until the day
when your creation shall rise again, raised from the dead--how?
when? and by whom? Take a magnificent book, the _pianto_ of unbelief;
_Obermann_ is a solitary wanderer in the desert places of booksellers’
warehouses, he has been a ‘nightingale,’ ironically so called, from
the very beginning: when will his Easter come? Who knows? Try, to begin
with, to find somebody bold enough to print the _Marguerites_; not to
pay for them, but simply to print them; and you will see some queer
things.”

The fierce tirade, delivered in every tone of the passionate feeling
which it expressed, fell upon Lucien’s spirit like an avalanche, and
left a sense of glacial cold. For one moment he stood silent; then, as
he felt the terrible stimulating charm of difficulty beginning to work
upon him, his courage blazed up. He grasped Lousteau’s hand.

“I will triumph!” he cried aloud.

“Good!” said the other, “one more Christian given over to the wild
beasts in the arena.--There is a first-night performance at the
Panorama-Dramatique, my dear fellow; it doesn’t begin till eight, so you
can change your coat, come properly dressed in fact, and call for me. I
am living on the fourth floor above the Cafe Servel, Rue de la Harpe. We
will go to Dauriat’s first of all. You still mean to go on, do you
not? Very well, I will introduce you to one of the kings of the trade
to-night, and to one or two journalists. We will sup with my mistress
and several friends after the play, for you cannot count that dinner
as a meal. Finot will be there, editor and proprietor of my paper. As
Minette says in the Vaudeville (do you remember?), ‘Time is a great lean
creature.’ Well, for the like of us, Chance is a great lean creature,
and must be tempted.”

“I shall remember this day as long as I live,” said Lucien.

“Bring your manuscript with you, and be careful of your dress, not on
Florine’s account, but for the booksellers’ benefit.”

The comrade’s good-nature, following upon the poet’s passionate outcry,
as he described the war of letters, moved Lucien quite as deeply as
d’Arthez’s grave and earnest words on a former occasion. The prospect of
entering at once upon the strife with men warmed him. In his youth and
inexperience he had no suspicion how real were the moral evils denounced
by the journalist. Nor did he know that he was standing at the
parting of two distinct ways, between two systems, represented by the
brotherhood upon one hand, and journalism upon the other. The first way
was long, honorable, and sure; the second beset with hidden dangers,
a perilous path, among muddy channels where conscience is inevitably
bespattered. The bent of Lucien’s character determined for the shorter
way, and the apparently pleasanter way, and to snatch at the quickest
and promptest means. At this moment he saw no difference between
d’Arthez’s noble friendship and Lousteau’s easy comaraderie; his
inconstant mind discerned a new weapon in journalism; he felt that he
could wield it, so he wished to take it.

He was dazzled by the offers of this new friend, who had struck a hand
in his in an easy way, which charmed Lucien. How should he know that
while every man in the army of the press needs friends, every leader
needs men. Lousteau, seeing that Lucien was resolute, enlisted him as a
recruit, and hoped to attach him to himself. The relative positions of
the two were similar--one hoped to become a corporal, the other to enter
the ranks.

Lucien went back gaily to his lodgings. He was as careful over his
toilet as on that former unlucky occasion when he occupied the Marquise
d’Espard’s box; but he had learned by this time how to wear his clothes
with a better grace. They looked as though they belonged to him. He wore
his best tightly-fitting, light-colored trousers, and a dress-coat.
His boots, a very elegant pair adorned with tassels, had cost him
forty francs. His thick, fine, golden hair was scented and crimped into
bright, rippling curls. Self-confidence and belief in his future lighted
up his forehead. He paid careful attention to his almost feminine hands,
the filbert nails were a spotless pink, and the white contours of his
chin were dazzling by contrast with a black satin stock. Never did a
more beautiful youth come down from the hills of the Latin Quarter.

Glorious as a Greek god, Lucien took a cab, and reached the Cafe Servel
at a quarter to seven. There the portress gave him some tolerably
complicated directions for the ascent of four pairs of stairs. Provided
with these instructions, he discovered, not without difficulty, an open
door at the end of a long, dark passage, and in another moment made the
acquaintance of the traditional room of the Latin Quarter.

A young man’s poverty follows him wherever he goes--into the Rue de la
Harpe as into the Rue de Cluny, into d’Arthez’s room, into Chrestien’s
lodging; yet everywhere no less the poverty has its own peculiar
characteristics, due to the idiosyncrasies of the sufferer. Poverty in
this case wore a sinister look.

A shabby, cheap carpet lay in wrinkles at the foot of a curtainless
walnut-wood bedstead; dingy curtains, begrimed with cigar smoke
and fumes from a smoky chimney, hung in the windows; a Carcel lamp,
Florine’s gift, on the chimney-piece, had so far escaped the pawnbroker.
Add a forlorn-looking chest of drawers, and a table littered with
papers and disheveled quill pens, and the list of furniture was almost
complete. All the books had evidently arrived in the course of the last
twenty-four hours; and there was not a single object of any value in
the room. In one corner you beheld a collection of crushed and flattened
cigars, coiled pocket-handkerchiefs, shirts which had been turned to
do double duty, and cravats that had reached a third edition; while
a sordid array of old boots stood gaping in another angle of the room
among aged socks worn into lace.

The room, in short, was a journalist’s bivouac, filled with odds and
ends of no value, and the most curiously bare apartment imaginable. A
scarlet tinder-box glowed among a pile of books on the nightstand.
A brace of pistols, a box of cigars, and a stray razor lay upon the
mantel-shelf; a pair of foils, crossed under a wire mask, hung against
a panel. Three chairs and a couple of armchairs, scarcely fit for the
shabbiest lodging-house in the street, completed the inventory.

The dirty, cheerless room told a tale of a restless life and a want of
self-respect; some one came hither to sleep and work at high pressure,
staying no longer than he could help, longing, while he remained, to
be out and away. What a difference between this cynical disorder and
d’Arthez’s neat and self-respecting poverty! A warning came with the
thought of d’Arthez; but Lucien would not heed it, for Etienne made a
joking remark to cover the nakedness of a reckless life.

“This is my kennel; I appear in state in the Rue de Bondy, in the
new apartments which our druggist has taken for Florine; we hold the
house-warming this evening.”

Etienne Lousteau wore black trousers and beautifully-varnished boots;
his coat was buttoned up to his chin; he probably meant to change his
linen at Florine’s house, for his shirt collar was hidden by a velvet
stock. He was trying to renovate his hat by an application of the brush.

“Let us go,” said Lucien.

“Not yet. I am waiting for a bookseller to bring me some money; I have
not a farthing; there will be play, perhaps, and in any case I must have
gloves.”

As he spoke, the two new friends heard a man’s step in the passage
outside.

“There he is,” said Lousteau. “Now you will see, my dear fellow, the
shape that Providence takes when he manifests himself to poets. You
are going to behold Dauriat, the fashionable bookseller of the Quai des
Augustins, the pawnbroker, the marine store dealer of the trade, the
Norman ex-greengrocer.--Come along, old Tartar!” shouted Lousteau.

“Here am I,” said a voice like a cracked bell.

“Brought the money with you?”

“Money? There is no money now in the trade,” retorted the other, a young
man who eyed Lucien curiously.

“_Imprimis_, you owe me fifty francs,” Lousteau continued.

“There are two copies of _Travels in Egypt_ here, a marvel, so they
say, swarming with woodcuts, sure to sell. Finot has been paid for
two reviews that I am to write for him. _Item_ two works, just out, by
Victor Ducange, a novelist highly thought of in the Marais. _Item_ a
couple of copies of a second work by Paul de Kock, a beginner in the
same style. _Item_ two copies of _Yseult of Dole_, a charming provincial
work. Total, one hundred francs, my little Barbet.”

Barbet made a close survey of edges and binding.

“Oh! they are in perfect condition,” cried Lousteau. “The _Travels_ are
uncut, so is the Paul de Kock, so is the Ducange, so is that other thing
on the chimney-piece, _Considerations on Symbolism_. I will throw that
in; myths weary me to that degree that I will let you have the thing to
spare myself the sight of the swarms of mites coming out of it.”

“But,” asked Lucien, “how are you going to write your reviews?”

Barbet, in profound astonishment, stared at Lucien; then he looked at
Etienne and chuckled.

“One can see that the gentleman has not the misfortune to be a literary
man,” said he.

“No, Barbet--no. He is a poet, a great poet; he is going to cut out
Canalis, and Beranger, and Delavigne. He will go a long way if he does
not throw himself into the river, and even so he will get as far as the
drag-nets at Saint-Cloud.”

“If I had any advice to give the gentleman,” remarked Barbet, “it would
be to give up poetry and take to prose. Poetry is not wanted on the
Quais just now.”

Barbet’s shabby overcoat was fastened by a single button; his collar was
greasy; he kept his hat on his head as he spoke; he wore low shoes,
an open waistcoat gave glimpses of a homely shirt of coarse linen.
Good-nature was not wanting in the round countenance, with its two slits
of covetous eyes; but there was likewise the vague uneasiness habitual
to those who have money to spend and hear constant applications for
it. Yet, to all appearance, he was plain-dealing and easy-natured, his
business shrewdness was so well wadded round with fat. He had been an
assistant until he took a wretched little shop on the Quai des Augustins
two years since, and issued thence on his rounds among journalists,
authors, and printers, buying up free copies cheaply, making in such
ways some ten or twenty francs daily. Now, he had money saved; he
knew instinctively where every man was pressed; he had a keen eye for
business. If an author was in difficulties, he would discount a bill
given by a publisher at fifteen or twenty per cent; then the next day he
would go to the publisher, haggle over the price of some work in demand,
and pay him with his own bills instead of cash. Barbet was something of
a scholar; he had had just enough education to make him careful to steer
clear of modern poetry and modern romances. He had a liking for small
speculations, for books of a popular kind which might be bought outright
for a thousand francs and exploited at pleasure, such as the _Child’s
History of France_, _Book-keeping in Twenty Lessons_, and _Botany for
Young Ladies_. Two or three times already he had allowed a good book to
slip through his fingers; the authors had come and gone a score of
times while he hesitated, and could not make up his mind to buy the
manuscript. When reproached for his pusillanimity, he was wont to
produce the account of a notorious trial taken from the newspapers; it
cost him nothing, and had brought him in two or three thousand francs.

Barbet was the type of bookseller that goes in fear and trembling; lives
on bread and walnuts; rarely puts his name to a bill; filches little
profits on invoices; makes deductions, and hawks his books about
himself; heaven only knows where they go, but he sells them somehow,
and gets paid for them. Barbet was the terror of printers, who could
not tell what to make of him; he paid cash and took off the discount;
he nibbled at their invoices whenever he thought they were pressed for
money; and when he had fleeced a man once, he never went back to him--he
feared to be caught in his turn.

“Well,” said Lousteau, “shall we go on with our business?”

“Eh! my boy,” returned Barbet in a familiar tone; “I have six thousand
volumes of stock on hand at my place, and paper is not gold, as the old
bookseller said. Trade is dull.”

“If you went into his shop, my dear Lucien,” said Etienne, turning
to his friend, “you would see an oak counter from some bankrupt wine
merchant’s sale, and a tallow dip, never snuffed for fear it should burn
too quickly, making darkness visible. By that anomalous light you descry
rows of empty shelves with some difficulty. An urchin in a blue blouse
mounts guard over the emptiness, and blows his fingers, and shuffles
his feet, and slaps his chest, like a cabman on the box. Just look about
you! there are no more books there than I have here. Nobody could guess
what kind of shop he keeps.”

“Here is a bill at three months for a hundred francs,” said Barbet, and
he could not help smiling as he drew it out of his pocket; “I will take
your old books off your hands. I can’t pay cash any longer, you see;
sales are too slow. I thought that you would be wanting me; I had not
a penny, and I made a bill simply to oblige you, for I am not fond of
giving my signature.”

“So you want my thanks and esteem into the bargain, do you?”

“Bills are not met with sentiment,” responded Barbet; “but I will accept
your esteem, all the same.”

“But I want gloves, and the perfumers will be base enough to decline
your paper,” said Lousteau. “Stop, there is a superb engraving in the
top drawer of the chest there, worth eighty francs, proof before letters
and after letterpress, for I have written a pretty droll article upon
it. There was something to lay hold of in _Hippocrates refusing the
Presents of Artaxerxes_. A fine engraving, eh? Just the thing to suit
all the doctors, who are refusing the extravagant gifts of Parisian
satraps. You will find two or three dozen novels underneath it. Come,
now, take the lot and give me forty francs.”

“_Forty francs_!” exclaimed the bookseller, emitting a cry like the
squall of a frightened fowl. “Twenty at the very most! And then I may
never see the money again,” he added.

“Where are your twenty francs?” asked Lousteau.

“My word, I don’t know that I have them,” said Barbet, fumbling in his
pockets. “Here they are. You are plundering me; you have an ascendency
over me----”

“Come, let us be off,” said Lousteau, and taking up Lucien’s manuscript,
he drew a line upon it in ink under the string.

“Have you anything else?” asked Barbet.

“Nothing, you young Shylock. I am going to put you in the way of a bit
of very good business,” Etienne continued (“in which you shall lose a
thousand crowns, to teach you to rob me in this fashion”), he added for
Lucien’s ear.

“But how about your reviews?” said Lucien, as they rolled away to the
Palais Royal.

“Pooh! you do not know how reviews are knocked off. As for the _Travels
in Egypt_, I looked into the book here and there (without cutting the
pages), and I found eleven slips in grammar. I shall say that the writer
may have mastered the dicky-bird language on the flints that they call
‘obelisks’ out there in Egypt, but he cannot write in his own, as I will
prove to him in a column and a half. I shall say that instead of giving
us the natural history and archaeology, he ought to have interested
himself in the future of Egypt, in the progress of civilization, and the
best method of strengthening the bond between Egypt and France. France
has won and lost Egypt, but she may yet attach the country to her
interests by gaining a moral ascendency over it. Then some patriotic
penny-a-lining, interlarded with diatribes on Marseilles, the Levant and
our trade.”

“But suppose that he had taken that view, what would you do?”

“Oh well, I should say that instead of boring us with politics, he
should have written about art, and described the picturesque aspects
of the country and the local color. Then the critic bewails himself.
Politics are intruded everywhere; we are weary of politics--politics
on all sides. I should regret those charming books of travel that dwelt
upon the difficulties of navigation, the fascination of steering between
two rocks, the delights of crossing the line, and all the things that
those who never will travel ought to know. Mingle this approval with
scoffing at the travelers who hail the appearance of a bird or a
flying-fish as a great event, who dilate upon fishing, and make
transcripts from the log. Where, you ask, is that perfectly
unintelligible scientific information, fascinating, like all that is
profound, mysterious, and incomprehensible. The reader laughs, that is
all that he wants. As for novels, Florine is the greatest novel reader
alive; she gives me a synopsis, and I take her opinion and put a review
together. When a novelist bores her with ‘author’s stuff,’ as she calls
it, I treat the work respectfully, and ask the publisher for another
copy, which he sends forthwith, delighted to have a favorable review.”

“Goodness! and what of criticism, the critic’s sacred office?” cried
Lucien, remembering the ideas instilled into him by the brotherhood.

“My dear fellow,” said Lousteau, “criticism is a kind of brush which
must not be used upon flimsy stuff, or it carries it all away with
it. That is enough of the craft, now listen! Do you see that mark?” he
continued, pointing to the manuscript of the _Marguerites_. “I have
put ink on the string and paper. If Dauriat reads your manuscript, he
certainly could not tie the string and leave it just as it was before.
So your book is sealed, so to speak. This is not useless to you for
the experiment that you propose to make. And another thing: please to
observe that you are not arriving quite alone and without a sponsor in
the place, like the youngsters who make the round of half-a-score of
publishers before they find one that will offer them a chair.”

Lucien’s experience confirmed the truth of this particular. Lousteau
paid the cabman, giving him three francs--a piece of prodigality
following upon such impecuniosity astonishing Lucien more than a little.
Then the two friends entered the Wooden Galleries, where fashionable
literature, as it is called, used to reign in state.



PART II

The Wooden Galleries of the Palais Royal used to be one of the most
famous sights of Paris. Some description of the squalid bazar will not
be out of place; for there are few men of forty who will not take
an interest in recollections of a state of things which will seem
incredible to a younger generation.

The great dreary, spacious Galerie d’Orleans, that flowerless hothouse,
as yet was not; the space upon which it now stands was covered with
booths; or, to be more precise, with small, wooden dens, pervious to the
weather, and dimly illuminated on the side of the court and the garden
by borrowed lights styled windows by courtesy, but more like the
filthiest arrangements for obscuring daylight to be found in little
wineshops in the suburbs.

The Galleries, parallel passages about twelve feet in height, were
formed by a triple row of shops. The centre row, giving back and front
upon the Galleries, was filled with the fetid atmosphere of the place,
and derived a dubious daylight through the invariably dirty windows of
the roof; but so thronged were these hives, that rents were excessively
high, and as much as a thousand crowns was paid for a space scarce six
feet by eight. The outer rows gave respectively upon the garden and the
court, and were covered on that side by a slight trellis-work painted
green, to protect the crazy plastered walls from continual friction with
the passers-by. In a few square feet of earth at the back of the shops,
strange freaks of vegetable life unknown to science grew amid the
products of various no less flourishing industries. You beheld a
rosebush capped with printed paper in such a sort that the flowers
of rhetoric were perfumed by the cankered blossoms of that ill-kept,
ill-smelling garden. Handbills and ribbon streamers of every hue
flaunted gaily among the leaves; natural flowers competed unsuccessfully
for an existence with odds and ends of millinery. You discovered a knot
of ribbon adorning a green tuft; the dahlia admired afar proved on a
nearer view to be a satin rosette.

The Palais seen from the court or from the garden was a fantastic sight,
a grotesque combination of walls of plaster patchwork which had once
been whitewashed, of blistered paint, heterogeneous placards, and all
the most unaccountable freaks of Parisian squalor; the green trellises
were prodigiously the dingier for constant contact with a Parisian
public. So, upon either side, the fetid, disreputable approaches might
have been there for the express purpose of warning away fastidious
people; but fastidious folk no more recoiled before these horrors than
the prince in the fairy stories turns tail at sight of the dragon or
of the other obstacles put between him and the princess by the wicked
fairy.

There was a passage through the centre of the Galleries then as now;
and, as at the present day, you entered them through the two peristyles
begun before the Revolution, and left unfinished for lack of funds; but
in place of the handsome modern arcade leading to the Theatre-Francais,
you passed along a narrow, disproportionately lofty passage, so
ill-roofed that the rain came through on wet days. All the roofs of the
hovels indeed were in very bad repair, and covered here and again with
a double thickness of tarpaulin. A famous silk mercer once brought an
action against the Orleans family for damages done in the course of
a night to his stock of shawls and stuffs, and gained the day and a
considerable sum. It was in this last-named passage, called “The Glass
Gallery” to distinguish it from the Wooden Galleries, that Chevet laid
the foundations of his fortunes.

Here, in the Palais, you trod the natural soil of Paris, augmented by
importations brought in upon the boots of foot passengers; here, at all
seasons, you stumbled among hills and hollows of dried mud swept daily
by the shopman’s besom, and only after some practice could you walk at
your ease. The treacherous mud-heaps, the window-panes incrusted with
deposits of dust and rain, the mean-looking hovels covered with ragged
placards, the grimy unfinished walls, the general air of a compromise
between a gypsy camp, the booths of a country fair, and the temporary
structures that we in Paris build round about public monuments that
remain unbuilt; the grotesque aspect of the mart as a whole was in
keeping with the seething traffic of various kinds carried on within
it; for here in this shameless, unblushing haunt, amid wild mirth and a
babel of talk, an immense amount of business was transacted between the
Revolution of 1789 and the Revolution of 1830.

For twenty years the Bourse stood just opposite, on the ground floor of
the Palais. Public opinion was manufactured, and reputations made and
ruined here, just as political and financial jobs were arranged. People
made appointments to meet in the Galleries before or after ‘Change;
on showery days the Palais Royal was often crowded with weather-bound
capitalists and men of business. The structure which had grown up, no
one knew how, about this point was strangely resonant, laughter was
multiplied; if two men quarreled, the whole place rang from one end to
the other with the dispute. In the daytime milliners and booksellers
enjoyed a monopoly of the place; towards nightfall it was filled with
women of the town. Here dwelt poetry, politics, and prose, new books and
classics, the glories of ancient and modern literature side by side with
political intrigue and the tricks of the bookseller’s trade. Here
all the very latest and newest literature were sold to a public which
resolutely decline to buy elsewhere. Sometimes several thousand copies
of such and such a pamphlet by Paul-Louis Courier would be sold in a
single evening; and people crowded thither to buy _Les aventures de la
fille d’un Roi_--that first shot fired by the Orleanists at The Charter
promulgated by Louis XVIII.

When Lucien made his first appearance in the Wooden Galleries, some few
of the shops boasted proper fronts and handsome windows, but these in
every case looked upon the court or the garden. As for the centre row,
until the day when the whole strange colony perished under the hammer of
Fontaine the architect, every shop was open back and front like a booth
in a country fair, so that from within you could look out upon either
side through gaps among the goods displayed or through the glass doors.
As it was obviously impossible to kindle a fire, the tradesmen were fain
to use charcoal chafing-dishes, and formed a sort of brigade for the
prevention of fires among themselves; and, indeed, a little carelessness
might have set the whole quarter blazing in fifteen minutes, for the
plank-built republic, dried by the heat of the sun, and haunted by too
inflammable human material, was bedizened with muslin and paper and
gauze, and ventilated at times by a thorough draught.

The milliners’ windows were full of impossible hats and bonnets,
displayed apparently for advertisement rather than for sale, each on a
separate iron spit with a knob at the top. The galleries were decked
out in all the colors of the rainbow. On what heads would those dusty
bonnets end their careers?--for a score of years the problem had puzzled
frequenters of the Palais. Saleswomen, usually plain-featured,
but vivacious, waylaid the feminine foot passenger with cunning
importunities, after the fashion of market-women, and using much the
same language; a shop-girl, who made free use of her eyes and tongue,
sat outside on a stool and harangued the public with “Buy a pretty
bonnet, madame?--Do let me sell you something!”--varying a rich and
picturesque vocabulary with inflections of the voice, with glances, and
remarks upon the passers-by. Booksellers and milliners lived on terms of
mutual understanding.

But it was in the passage known by the pompous title of the
“Glass Gallery” that the oddest trades were carried on. Here were
ventriloquists and charlatans of every sort, and sights of every
description, from the kind where there is nothing to see to panoramas
of the globe. One man who has since made seven or eight hundred thousand
francs by traveling from fair to fair began here by hanging out a
signboard, a revolving sun in a blackboard, and the inscription in
red letters: “Here Man may see what God can never see. Admittance, two
sous.” The showman at the door never admitted one person alone, nor more
than two at a time. Once inside, you confronted a great looking-glass;
and a voice, which might have terrified Hoffmann of Berlin, suddenly
spoke as if some spring had been touched, “You see here, gentlemen,
something that God can never see through all eternity, that is to say,
your like. God has not His like.” And out you went, too shamefaced to
confess to your stupidity.

Voices issued from every narrow doorway, crying up the merits
of Cosmoramas, views of Constantinople, marionettes, automatic
chess-players, and performing dogs who would pick you out the prettiest
woman in the company. The ventriloquist Fritz-James flourished here in
the Cafe Borel before he went to fight and fall at Montmartre with the
young lads from the Ecole polytechnique. Here, too, there were fruit and
flower shops, and a famous tailor whose gold-laced uniforms shone like
the sun when the shops were lighted at night.

Of a morning the galleries were empty, dark, and deserted; the
shopkeepers chatted among themselves. Towards two o’clock in the
afternoon the Palais began to fill; at three, men came in from the
Bourse, and Paris, generally speaking, crowded the place. Impecunious
youth, hungering after literature, took the opportunity of turning
over the pages of the books exposed for sale on the stalls outside the
booksellers’ shops; the men in charge charitably allowed a poor student
to pursue his course of free studies; and in this way a duodecimo volume
of some two hundred pages, such as _Smarra_ or _Pierre Schlemihl_, or
_Jean Sbogar_ or _Jocko_, might be devoured in a couple of afternoons.
There was something very French in this alms given to the young, hungry,
starved intellect. Circulating libraries were not as yet; if you wished
to read a book, you were obliged to buy it, for which reason novels
of the early part of the century were sold in numbers which now seem
well-nigh fabulous to us.

But the poetry of this terrible mart appeared in all its splendor at
the close of the day. Women of the town, flocking in and out from the
neighboring streets, were allowed to make a promenade of the Wooden
Galleries. Thither came prostitutes from every quarter of Paris to “do
the Palais.” The Stone Galleries belonged to privileged houses, which
paid for the right of exposing women dressed like princesses under
such and such an arch, or in the corresponding space of garden; but the
Wooden Galleries were the common ground of women of the streets.
This was _the_ Palais, a word which used to signify the temple
of prostitution. A woman might come and go, taking away her prey
whithersoever seemed good to her. So great was the crowd attracted
thither at night by the women, that it was impossible to move except at
a slow pace, as in a procession or at a masked ball. Nobody objected
to the slowness; it facilitated examination. The women dressed in a way
that is never seen nowadays. The bodices cut extremely low both back and
front; the fantastical head-dresses, designed to attract notice; here
a cap from the Pays de Caux, and there a Spanish mantilla; the hair
crimped and curled like a poodle’s, or smoothed down in bandeaux over
the forehead; the close-fitting white stockings and limbs, revealed it
would not be easy to say how, but always at the right moment--all this
poetry of vice has fled. The license of question and reply, the public
cynicism in keeping with the haunt, is now unknown even at masquerades
or the famous public balls. It was an appalling, gay scene. The dazzling
white flesh of the women’s necks and shoulders stood out in magnificent
contrast against the men’s almost invariably sombre costumes. The murmur
of voices, the hum of the crowd, could be heard even in the middle of
the garden as a sort of droning bass, interspersed with _fioriture_ of
shrill laughter or clamor of some rare dispute. You saw gentlemen
and celebrities cheek by jowl with gallows-birds. There was something
indescribably piquant about the anomalous assemblage; the most
insensible of men felt its charm, so much so, that, until the very last
moment, Paris came hither to walk up and down on the wooden planks laid
over the cellars where men were at work on the new buildings; and
when the squalid wooden erections were finally taken down, great and
unanimous regret was felt.

Ladvocat the bookseller had opened a shop but a few days since in the
angle formed by the central passage which crossed the galleries; and
immediately opposite another bookseller, now forgotten, Dauriat, a bold
and youthful pioneer, who opened up the paths in which his rival was
to shine. Dauriat’s shop stood in the row which gave upon the garden;
Ladvocat’s, on the opposite side, looked out upon the court. Dauriat’s
establishment was divided into two parts; his shop was simply a great
trade warehouse, and the second room was his private office.

Lucien, on this first visit to the Wooden Galleries, was bewildered by a
sight which no novice can resist. He soon lost the guide who befriended
him.

“If you were as good-looking as yonder young fellow, I would give you
your money’s worth,” a woman said, pointing out Lucien to an old man.

Lucien slunk through the crowd like a blind man’s dog, following the
stream in a state of stupefaction and excitement difficult to describe.
Importuned by glances and white-rounded contours, dazzled by the
audacious display of bared throat and bosom, he gripped his roll of
manuscript tightly lest somebody should steal it--innocent that he was!

“Well, what is it, sir!” he exclaimed, thinking, when some one caught
him by the arm, that his poetry had proved too great a temptation to
some author’s honesty, and turning, he recognized Lousteau.

“I felt sure that you would find your way here at last,” said his
friend.

The poet was standing in the doorway of a shop crowded with persons
waiting for an audience with the sultan of the publishing trade.
Printers, paper-dealers, and designers were catechizing Dauriat’s
assistants as to present or future business.

Lousteau drew Lucien into the shop. “There! that is Finot who edits my
paper,” he said; “he is talking with Felicien Vernou, who has abilities,
but the little wretch is as dangerous as a hidden disease.”

“Well, old boy, there is a first night for you,” said Finot, coming up
with Vernou. “I have disposed of the box.”

“Sold it to Braulard?”

“Well, and if I did, what then? You will get a seat. What do you want
with Dauriat? Oh, it is agreed that we are to push Paul de Kock, Dauriat
has taken two hundred copies, and Victor Ducange is refusing to give him
his next. Dauriat wants to set up another man in the same line, he says.
You must rate Paul de Kock above Ducange.”

“But I have a piece on with Ducange at the Gaite,” said Lousteau.

“Very well, tell him that I wrote the article. It can be supposed that
I wrote a slashing review, and you toned it down; and he will owe you
thanks.”

“Couldn’t you get Dauriat’s cashier to discount this bit of a bill for
a hundred francs?” asked Etienne Lousteau. “We are celebrating Florine’s
house-warming with a supper to-night, you know.”

“Ah! yes, you are treating us all,” said Finot, with an apparent effort
of memory. “Here, Gabusson,” he added, handing Barbet’s bill to the
cashier, “let me have ninety francs for this individual.--Fill in your
name, old man.”

Lousteau signed his name while the cashier counted out the money; and
Lucien, all eyes and ears, lost not a syllable of the conversation.

“That is not all, my friend,” Etienne continued; “I don’t thank you,
we have sworn an eternal friendship. I have taken it upon myself to
introduce this gentleman to Dauriat, and you must incline his ear to
listen to us.”

“What is on foot?” asked Finot.

“A volume of poetry,” said Lucien.

“Oh!” said Finot, with a shrug of the shoulders.

“Your acquaintance cannot have had much to do with publishers, or he
would have hidden his manuscript in the loneliest spot in his dwelling,”
 remarked Vernou, looking at Lucien as he spoke.

Just at that moment a good-looking young man came into the shop, gave a
hand to Finot and Lousteau, and nodded slightly to Vernou. The newcomer
was Emile Blondet, who had made his first appearance in the _Journal des
Debats_, with articles revealing capacities of the very highest order.

“Come and have supper with us at midnight, at Florine’s,” said Lousteau.

“Very good,” said the newcomer. “But who is going to be there?”

“Oh, Florine and Matifat the druggist,” said Lousteau, “and du Bruel,
the author who gave Florine the part in which she is to make her first
appearance, a little old fogy named Cardot, and his son-in-law Camusot,
and Finot, and----”

“Does your druggist do things properly?”

“He will not give us doctored wine,” said Lucien.

“You are very witty, monsieur,” Blondet returned gravely. “Is he coming,
Lousteau?”

“Yes.”

“Then we shall have some fun.”

Lucien had flushed red to the tips of his ears. Blondet tapped on the
window above Dauriat’s desk.

“Is your business likely to keep you long, Dauriat?”

“I am at your service, my friend.”

“That’s right,” said Lousteau, addressing his protege. “That young
fellow is hardly any older than you are, and he is on the _Debats_! He
is one of the princes of criticism. They are afraid of him, Dauriat will
fawn upon him, and then we can put in a word about our business with the
pasha of vignettes and type. Otherwise we might have waited till eleven
o’clock, and our turn would not have come. The crowd of people waiting
to speak with Dauriat is growing bigger every moment.”

Lucien and Lousteau followed Blondet, Finot, and Vernou, and stood in a
knot at the back of the shop.

“What is he doing?” asked Blondet of the head-clerk, who rose to bid him
good-evening.

“He is buying a weekly newspaper. He wants to put new life into it,
and set up a rival to the _Minerve_ and the _Conservateur_; Eymery has
rather too much of his own way in the _Minerve_, and the _Conservateur_
is too blindly Romantic.”

“Is he going to pay well?”

“Only too much--as usual,” said the cashier.

Just as he spoke another young man entered; this was the writer of a
magnificent novel which had sold very rapidly and met with the greatest
possible success. Dauriat was bringing out a second edition. The
appearance of this odd and extraordinary looking being, so unmistakably
an artist, made a deep impression on Lucien’s mind.

“That is Nathan,” Lousteau said in his ear.

Nathan, then in the prime of his youth, came up to the group of
journalists, hat in hand; and in spite of his look of fierce pride he
was almost humble to Blondet, whom as yet he only knew by sight. Blondet
did not remove his hat, neither did Finot.

“Monsieur, I am delighted to avail myself of an opportunity yielded by
chance----”

(“He is so nervous that he is committing a pleonasm,” said Felicien in
an aside to Lousteau.)

“----to give expression to my gratitude for the splendid review which
you were so good as to give me in the _Journal des Debats_. Half the
success of my book is owing to you.”

“No, my dear fellow, no,” said Blondet, with an air of patronage
scarcely masked by good-nature. “You have talent, the deuce you have,
and I’m delighted to make your acquaintance.”

“Now that your review has appeared, I shall not seem to be courting
power; we can feel at ease. Will you do me the honor and the pleasure of
dining with me to-morrow? Finot is coming.--Lousteau, old man, you
will not refuse me, will you?” added Nathan, shaking Etienne by the
hand.--“Ah, you are on the way to a great future, monsieur,” he added,
turning again to Blondet; “you will carry on the line of Dussaults,
Fievees, and Geoffrois! Hoffmann was talking about you to a friend of
mine, Claude Vignon, his pupil; he said that he could die in peace,
the _Journal des Debats_ would live forever. They ought to pay you
tremendously well.”

“A hundred francs a column,” said Blondet. “Poor pay when one is
obliged to read the books, and read a hundred before you find one worth
interesting yourself in, like yours. Your work gave me pleasure, upon my
word.”

“And brought him in fifteen hundred francs,” said Lousteau for Lucien’s
benefit.

“But you write political articles, don’t you?” asked Nathan.

“Yes; now and again.”

Lucien felt like an embryo among these men; he had admired Nathan’s
book, he had reverenced the author as an immortal; Nathan’s abject
attitude before this critic, whose name and importance were both unknown
to him, stupefied Lucien.

“How if I should come to behave as he does?” he thought. “Is a man
obliged to part with his self-respect?--Pray put on your hat again,
Nathan; you have written a great book, and the critic has only written a
review of it.”

These thoughts set the blood tingling in his veins. Scarce a minute
passed but some young author, poverty-stricken and shy, came in, asked
to speak with Dauriat, looked round the crowded shop despairingly, and
went out saying, “I will come back again.” Two or three politicians were
chatting over the convocation of the Chambers and public business with
a group of well-known public men. The weekly newspaper for which Dauriat
was in treaty was licensed to treat of matters political, and the number
of newspapers suffered to exist was growing smaller and smaller, till a
paper was a piece of property as much in demand as a theatre. One of the
largest shareholders in the _Constitutionnel_ was standing in the midst
of the knot of political celebrities. Lousteau performed the part of
cicerone to admiration; with every sentence he uttered Dauriat rose
higher in Lucien’s opinion. Politics and literature seemed to converge
in Dauriat’s shop. He had seen a great poet prostituting his muse to
journalism, humiliating Art, as woman was humiliated and prostituted in
those shameless galleries without, and the provincial took a terrible
lesson to heart. Money! That was the key to every enigma. Lucien
realized the fact that he was unknown and alone, and that the fragile
clue of an uncertain friendship was his sole guide to success and
fortune. He blamed the kind and loyal little circle for painting the
world for him in false colors, for preventing him from plunging into the
arena, pen in hand. “I should be a Blondet at this moment!” he exclaimed
within himself.

Only a little while ago they had sat looking out over Paris from the
Gardens of the Luxembourg, and Lousteau had uttered the cry of a wounded
eagle; then Lousteau had been a great man in Lucien’s eyes, and now he
had shrunk to scarce visible proportions. The really important man for
him at this moment was the fashionable bookseller, by whom all these men
lived; and the poet, manuscript in hand, felt a nervous tremor that
was almost like fear. He noticed a group of busts mounted on wooden
pedestals, painted to resemble marble; Byron stood there, and Goethe and
M. de Canalis. Dauriat was hoping to publish a volume by the last-named
poet, who might see, on his entrance into the shop, the estimation in
which he was held by the trade. Unconsciously Lucien’s own self-esteem
began to shrink, and his courage ebbed. He began to see how large a part
this Dauriat would play in his destinies, and waited impatiently for him
to appear.

“Well, children,” said a voice, and a short, stout man appeared, with
a puffy face that suggested a Roman pro-consul’s visage, mellowed by
an air of good-nature which deceived superficial observers. “Well,
children, here am I, the proprietor of the only weekly paper in the
market, a paper with two thousand subscribers!”

“Old joker! The registered number is seven hundred, and that is over the
mark,” said Blondet.

“Twelve thousand, on my sacred word of honor--I said two thousand
for the benefit of the printers and paper-dealers yonder,” he added,
lowering his voice, then raising it again. “I thought you had more tact,
my boy,” he added.

“Are you going to take any partners?” inquired Finot.

“That depends,” said Dauriat. “Will you take a third at forty thousand
francs?”

“It’s a bargain, if you will take Emile Blondet here on the staff, and
Claude Vignon, Scribe, Theodore Leclercq, Felicien Vernou, Jay, Jouy,
Lousteau, and----”

“And why not Lucien de Rubempre?” the provincial poet put in boldly.

“----and Nathan,” concluded Finot.

“Why not the people out there in the street?” asked Dauriat, scowling
at the author of the _Marguerites_.--“To whom have I the honor of
speaking?” he added, with an insolent glance.

“One moment, Dauriat,” said Lousteau. “I have brought this gentleman to
you. Listen to me, while Finot is thinking over your proposals.”

Lucien watched this Dauriat, who addressed Finot with the familiar tu,
which even Finot did not permit himself to use in reply; who called the
redoubtable Blondet “my boy,” and extended a hand royally to Nathan with
a friendly nod. The provincial poet felt his shirt wet with perspiration
when the formidable sultan looked indifferent and ill pleased.

“Another piece of business, my boy!” exclaimed Dauriat. “Why, I have
eleven hundred manuscripts on hand, as you know! Yes, gentlemen, I have
eleven hundred manuscripts submitted to me at this moment; ask Gabusson.
I shall soon be obliged to start a department to keep account of the
stock of manuscripts, and a special office for reading them, and a
committee to vote on their merits, with numbered counters for those who
attend, and a permanent secretary to draw up the minutes for me. It will
be a kind of local branch of the Academie, and the Academicians will be
better paid in the Wooden Galleries than at the Institut.”

“‘Tis an idea,” said Blondet.

“A bad idea,” returned Dauriat. “It is not my business to take stock of
the lucubrations of those among you who take to literature because they
cannot be capitalists, and there is no opening for them as bootmakers,
nor corporals, nor domestic servants, nor officials, nor bailiffs.
Nobody comes here until he has made a name for himself! Make a name for
yourself, and you will find gold in torrents. I have made three
great men in the last two years; and lo and behold three examples of
ingratitude! Here is Nathan talking of six thousand francs for the
second edition of his book, which cost me three thousand francs in
reviews, and has not brought in a thousand yet. I paid a thousand
francs for Blondet’s two articles, besides a dinner, which cost me five
hundred----”

“But if all booksellers talked as you do, sir, how could a man publish
his first book at all?” asked Lucien. Blondet had gone down tremendously
in his opinion since he had heard the amount given by Dauriat for the
articles in the _Debats_.

“That is not my affair,” said Dauriat, looking daggers at this handsome
young fellow, who was smiling pleasantly at him. “I do not publish books
for amusement, nor risk two thousand francs for the sake of seeing my
money back again. I speculate in literature, and publish forty volumes
of ten thousand copies each, just as Panckouke does and the Baudoins.
With my influence and the articles which I secure, I can push a business
of a hundred thousand crowns, instead of a single volume involving a
couple of thousand francs. It is just as much trouble to bring out a new
name and to induce the public to take up an author and his book, as to
make a success with the _Theatres etrangers_, _Victoires et Conquetes_,
or _Memoires sur la Revolution_, books that bring in a fortune. I am not
here as a stepping-stone to future fame, but to make money, and to find
it for men with distinguished names. The manuscripts for which I give a
hundred thousand francs pay me better than work by an unknown author
who asks six hundred. If I am not exactly a Maecenas, I deserve the
gratitude of literature; I have doubled the prices of manuscripts. I am
giving you this explanation because you are a friend of Lousteau’s
my boy,” added Dauriat, clapping Lucien on the shoulder with odious
familiarity. “If I were to talk to all the authors who have a mind that
I should be their publisher, I should have to shut up shop; I should
pass my time very agreeably no doubt, but the conversations would cost
too much. I am not rich enough yet to listen to all the monologues of
self-conceit. Nobody does, except in classical tragedies on the stage.”

The terrible Dauriat’s gorgeous raiment seemed in the provincial poet’s
eyes to add force to the man’s remorseless logic.

“What is it about?” he continued, addressing Lucien’s protector.

“It is a volume of magnificent poetry.”

At that word, Dauriat turned to Gabusson with a gesture worthy of Talma.

“Gabusson, my friend,” he said, “from this day forward, when anybody
begins to talk of works in manuscript here--Do you hear that, all of
you?” he broke in upon himself; and three assistants at once emerged
from among the piles of books at the sound of their employer’s wrathful
voice. “If anybody comes here with manuscripts,” he continued, looking
at the finger-nails of a well-kept hand, “ask him whether it is poetry
or prose; and if he says poetry, show him the door at once. Verses mean
reverses in the booktrade.”

“Bravo! well put, Dauriat,” cried the chorus of journalists.

“It is true!” cried the bookseller, striding about his shop with
Lucien’s manuscript in his hand. “You have no idea, gentlemen, of the
amount of harm that Byron, Lamartine, Victor Hugo, Casimir Delavigne,
Canalis, and Beranger have done by their success. The fame of them has
brought down an invasion of barbarians upon us. I know _this_: there
are a thousand volumes of manuscript poetry going the round of the
publishers at this moment, things that nobody can make head nor tail
of, stories in verse that begin in the middle, like _The Corsair_ and
_Lara_. They set up to be original, forsooth, and indulge in stanzas
that nobody can understand, and descriptive poetry after the pattern of
the younger men who discovered Delille, and imagine that they are doing
something new. Poets have been swarming like cockchafers for two years
past. I have lost twenty thousand francs through poetry in the last
twelvemonth. You ask Gabusson! There may be immortal poets somewhere in
the world; I know of some that are blooming and rosy, and have no beards
on their chins as yet,” he continued, looking at Lucien; “but in
the trade, young man, there are only four poets--Beranger, Casimir
Delavigne, Lamartine, and Victor Hugo; as for Canalis--he is a poet made
by sheer force of writing him up.”

Lucien felt that he lacked the courage to hold up his head and show his
spirit before all these influential persons, who were laughing with
all their might. He knew very well that he should look hopelessly
ridiculous, and yet he felt consumed by a fierce desire to catch the
bookseller by the throat, to ruffle the insolent composure of his
cravat, to break the gold chain that glittered on the man’s chest,
trample his watch under his feet, and tear him in pieces. Mortified
vanity opened the door to thoughts of vengeance, and inwardly he swore
eternal enmity to that bookseller. But he smiled amiably.

“Poetry is like the sun,” said Blondet, “giving life alike to primeval
forests and to ants and gnats and mosquitoes. There is no virtue but has
a vice to match, and literature breeds the publisher.”

“And the journalist,” said Lousteau.

Dauriat burst out laughing.

“What is this after all?” he asked, holding up the manuscript.

“A volume of sonnets that will put Petrarch to the blush,” said
Lousteau.

“What do you mean?”

“Just what I say,” answered Lousteau, seeing the knowing smile that went
round the group. Lucien could not take offence but he chafed inwardly.

“Very well, I will read them,” said Dauriat, with a regal gesture that
marked the full extent of the concession. “If these sonnets of yours are
up to the level of the nineteenth century, I will make a great poet of
you, my boy.”

“If he has brains to equal his good looks, you will run no great risks,”
 remarked one of the greatest public speakers of the day, a deputy who
was chatting with the editor of the _Minerve_, and a writer for the
_Constitutionnel_.

“Fame means twelve thousand francs in reviews, and a thousand more for
dinners, General,” said Dauriat. “If M. Benjamin de Constant means to
write a paper on this young poet, it will not be long before I make a
bargain with him.”

At the title of General, and the distinguished name of Benjamin
Constant, the bookseller’s shop took the proportions of Olympus for the
provincial great man.

“Lousteau, I want a word with you,” said Finot; “but I shall see you
again later, at the theatre.--Dauriat, I will take your offer, but on
conditions. Let us step into your office.”

“Come in, my boy,” answered Dauriat, allowing Finot to pass before him.
Then, intimating to some ten persons still waiting for him that he was
engaged, he likewise was about to disappear when Lucien impatiently
stopped him.

“You are keeping my manuscript. When shall I have an answer?”

“Oh, come back in three or four days, my little poet, and we will see.”

Lousteau hurried Lucien away; he had not time to take leave of Vernou
and Blondet and Raoul Nathan, nor to salute General Foy nor Benjamin
Constant, whose book on the Hundred Days was just about to appear.
Lucien scarcely caught a glimpse of fair hair, a refined oval-shaped
face, keen eyes, and the pleasant-looking mouth belonging to the man who
had played the part of a Potemkin to Mme. de Stael for twenty years, and
now was at war with the Bourbons, as he had been at war with Napoleon.
He was destined to win his cause and to die stricken to earth by his
victory.

“What a shop!” exclaimed Lucien, as he took his place in the cab beside
Lousteau.

“To the Panorama-Dramatique; look sharp, and you shall have thirty
sous,” Etienne Lousteau called to the cabman.--“Dauriat is a rascal who
sells books to the amount of fifteen or sixteen hundred thousand francs
every year. He is a kind of Minister of Literature,” Lousteau continued.
His self-conceit had been pleasantly tickled, and he was showing off
before Lucien. “Dauriat is just as grasping as Barbet, but it is on a
wholesale scale. Dauriat can be civil, and he is generous, but he has a
great opinion of himself; as for his wit, it consists in a faculty
for picking up all that he hears, and his shop is a capital place to
frequent. You meet all the best men at Dauriat’s. A young fellow learns
more there in an hour than by poring over books for half-a-score of
years. People talk about articles and concoct subjects; you make the
acquaintance of great or influential people who may be useful to you.
You must know people if you mean to get on nowadays.--It is all luck,
you see. And as for sitting by yourself in a corner alone with your
intellect, it is the most dangerous thing of all.”

“But what insolence!” said Lucien.

“Pshaw! we all of us laugh at Dauriat,” said Etienne. “If you are in
need of him, he tramples upon you; if he has need of the _Journal des
Debats_, Emile Blondet sets him spinning like a top. Oh, if you take
to literature, you will see a good many queer things. Well, what was I
telling you, eh?”

“Yes, you were right,” said Lucien. “My experience in that shop was even
more painful than I expected, after your programme.”

“Why do you choose to suffer? You find your subject, you wear out your
wits over it with toiling at night, you throw your very life into it:
and after all your journeyings in the fields of thought, the monument
reared with your life-blood is simply a good or a bad speculation for
a publisher. Your work will sell or it will not sell; and therein, for
them, lies the whole question. A book means so much capital to risk,
and the better the book, the less likely it is to sell. A man of talent
rises above the level of ordinary heads; his success varies in direct
ratio with the time required for his work to be appreciated. And no
publisher wants to wait. To-day’s book must be sold by to-morrow. Acting
on this system, publishers and booksellers do not care to take real
literature, books that call for the high praise that comes slowly.”

“D’Arthez was right,” exclaimed Lucien.

“Do you know d’Arthez?” asked Lousteau. “I know of no more dangerous
company than solitary spirits like that fellow yonder, who fancy that
they can draw the world after them. All of us begin by thinking that
we are capable of great things; and when once a youthful imagination is
heated by this superstition, the candidate for posthumous honors makes
no attempt to move the world while such moving of the world is both
possible and profitable; he lets the time go by. I am for Mahomet’s
system--if the mountain does not come to me, I am for going to the
mountain.”

The common-sense so trenchantly put in this sally left Lucien halting
between the resignation preached by the brotherhood and Lousteau’s
militant doctrine. He said not a word till they reached the Boulevard du
Temple.

The Panorama-Dramatique no longer exists. A dwelling-house stands on the
site of the once charming theatre in the Boulevard du Temple, where two
successive managements collapsed without making a single hit; and yet
Vignol, who has since fallen heir to some of Potier’s popularity, made
his _debut_ there; and Florine, five years later a celebrated actress,
made her first appearance in the theatre opposite the Rue Charlot.
Play-houses, like men, have their vicissitudes. The Panorama-Dramatique
suffered from competition. The machinations of its rivals, the Ambigu,
the Gaite, the Porte Saint-Martin, and the Vaudeville, together with a
plethora of restrictions and a scarcity of good plays, combined to bring
about the downfall of the house. No dramatic author cared to quarrel
with a prosperous theatre for the sake of the Panorama-Dramatique, whose
existence was, to say the least, problematical. The management at this
moment, however, was counting on the success of a new melodramatic
comedy by M. du Bruel, a young author who, after working in
collaboration with divers celebrities, had now produced a piece
professedly entirely his own. It had been specially composed for
the leading lady, a young actress who began her stage career as a
supernumerary at the Gaite, and had been promoted to small parts for the
last twelvemonth. But though Mlle. Florine’s acting had attracted some
attention, she obtained no engagement, and the Panorama accordingly had
carried her off. Coralie, another actress, was to make her _debut_ at
the same time.

Lucien was amazed at the power wielded by the press. “This gentleman is
with me,” said Etienne Lousteau, and the box-office clerks bowed before
him as one man.

“You will find it no easy matter to get seats,” said the head-clerk.
“There is nothing left now but the stage box.”

A certain amount of time was wasted in controversies with the
box-keepers in the lobbies, when Etienne said, “Let us go behind
the scenes; we will speak to the manager, he will take us into the
stage-box; and besides, I will introduce you to Florine, the heroine of
the evening.”

At a sign from Etienne Lousteau, the doorkeeper of the orchestra took
out a little key and unlocked a door in the thickness of the wall.
Lucien, following his friend, went suddenly out of the lighted corridor
into the black darkness of the passage between the house and the wings.
A short flight of damp steps surmounted, one of the strangest of all
spectacles opened out before the provincial poet’s eyes. The height of
the roof, the slenderness of the props, the ladders hung with Argand
lamps, the atrocious ugliness of scenery beheld at close quarters, the
thick paint on the actors’ faces, and their outlandish costumes, made
of such coarse materials, the stage carpenters in greasy jackets, the
firemen, the stage manager strutting about with his hat on his head,
the supernumeraries sitting among the hanging back-scenes, the ropes
and pulleys, the heterogeneous collection of absurdities, shabby, dirty,
hideous, and gaudy, was something so altogether different from the stage
seen over the footlights, that Lucien’s astonishment knew no bounds.
The curtain was just about to fall on a good old-fashioned melodrama
entitled _Bertram_, a play adapted from a tragedy by Maturin which
Charles Nodier, together with Byron and Sir Walter Scott, held in the
highest esteem, though the play was a failure on the stage in Paris.

“Keep a tight hold of my arm, unless you have a mind to fall through
a trap-door, or bring down a forest on your head; you will pull down
a palace, or carry off a cottage, if you are not careful,” said
Etienne.--“Is Florine in her dressing-room, my pet?” he added,
addressing an actress who stood waiting for her cue.

“Yes, love. Thank you for the things you said about me. You are so much
nicer since Florine has come here.”

“Come, don’t spoil your entry, little one. Quick with you, look sharp,
and say, ‘Stop, wretched man!’ nicely, for there are two thousand francs
of takings.”

Lucien was struck with amazement when the girl’s whole face suddenly
changed, and she shrieked, “Stop, wretched man!” a cry that froze the
blood in your veins. She was no longer the same creature.

“So this is the stage,” he said to Lousteau.

“It is like the bookseller’s shop in the Wooden Galleries, or a literary
paper,” said Etienne Lousteau; “it is a kitchen, neither more nor less.”

Nathan appeared at this moment.

“What brings you here?” inquired Lousteau.

“Why, I am doing the minor theatres for the _Gazette_ until something
better turns up.”

“Oh! come to supper with us this evening; speak well of Florine, and I
will do as much for you.”

“Very much at your service,” returned Nathan.

“You know; she is living in the Rue du Bondy now.”

“Lousteau, dear boy, who is the handsome young man that you have brought
with you?” asked the actress, now returned to the wings.

“A great poet, dear, that will have a famous name one of these days.--M.
Nathan, I must introduce M. Lucien de Rubempre to you, as you are to
meet again at supper.”

“You have a good name, monsieur,” said Nathan.

“Lucien, M. Raoul Nathan,” continued Etienne.

“I read your book two days ago; and, upon my word, I cannot understand
how you, who have written such a book, and such poetry, can be so humble
to a journalist.”

“Wait till your first book comes out,” said Nathan, and a shrewd smile
flitted over his face.

“I say! I say! here are Ultras and Liberals actually shaking hands!”
 cried Vernou, spying the trio.

“In the morning I hold the views of my paper,” said Nathan, “in the
evening I think as I please; all journalists see double at night.”

Felicien Vernou turned to Lousteau.

“Finot is looking for you, Etienne; he came with me, and--here he is!”

“Ah, by the by, there is not a place in the house, is there?” asked
Finot.

“You will always find a place in our hearts,” said the actress, with the
sweetest smile imaginable.

“I say, my little Florville, are you cured already of your fancy? They
told me that a Russian prince had carried you off.”

“Who carries off women in these days” said Florville (she who had cried,
“Stop, wretched man!”). “We stayed at Saint-Mande for ten days, and
my prince got off with paying the forfeit money to the management.
The manager will go down on his knees to pray for some more Russian
princes,” Florville continued, laughing; “the forfeit money was so much
clear gain.”

“And as for you, child,” said Finot, turning to a pretty girl in a
peasant’s costume, “where did you steal these diamond ear-drops? Have
you hooked an Indian prince?”

“No, a blacking manufacturer, an Englishman, who has gone off already.
It is not everybody who can find millionaire shopkeepers, tired of
domestic life, whenever they like, as Florine does and Coralie. Aren’t
they just lucky?”

“Florville, you will make a bad entry,” said Lousteau; “the blacking has
gone to your head!”

“If you want a success,” said Nathan, “instead of screaming, ‘He is
saved!’ like a Fury, walk on quite quietly, go to the staircase, and
say, ‘He is saved,’ in a chest voice, like Pasta’s ‘_O patria_,’ in
_Tancreda_.--There, go along!” and he pushed her towards the stage.

“It is too late,” said Vernou, “the effect has hung fire.”

“What did she do? the house is applauding like mad,” asked Lousteau.

“Went down on her knees and showed her bosom; that is her great
resource,” said the blacking-maker’s widow.

“The manager is giving up the stage box to us; you will find me there
when you come,” said Finot, as Lousteau walked off with Lucien.

At the back of the stage, through a labyrinth of scenery and corridors,
the pair climbed several flights of stairs and reached a little room on
a third floor, Nathan and Felicien Vernou following them.

“Good-day or good-night, gentlemen,” said Florine. Then, turning to a
short, stout man standing in a corner, “These gentlemen are the rulers
of my destiny,” she said, “my future is in their hands; but they will be
under our table to-morrow morning, I hope, if M. Lousteau has forgotten
nothing----”

“Forgotten! You are going to have Blondet of the _Debats_,” said
Etienne, “the genuine Blondet, the very Blondet--Blondet himself, in
short.”

“Oh! Lousteau, you dear boy! stop, I must give you a kiss,” and she
flung her arms about the journalist’s neck. Matifat, the stout person in
the corner, looked serious at this.

Florine was thin; her beauty, like a bud, gave promise of the flower
to come; the girl of sixteen could only delight the eyes of artists
who prefer the sketch to the picture. All the quick subtlety of her
character was visible in the features of the charming actress, who
at that time might have sat for Goethe’s Mignon. Matifat, a wealthy
druggist of the Rue des Lombards, had imagined that a little Boulevard
actress would have no very expensive tastes, but in eleven months
Florine had cost him sixty thousand francs. Nothing seemed more
extraordinary to Lucien than the sight of an honest and worthy merchant
standing like a statue of the god Terminus in the actress’ narrow
dressing-room, a tiny place some ten feet square, hung with a pretty
wall-paper, and adorned with a full-length mirror, a sofa, and two
chairs. There was a fireplace in the dressing-closet, a carpet on the
floor, and cupboards all round the room. A dresser was putting the
finishing touches to a Spanish costume; for Florine was to take the part
of a countess in an imbroglio.

“That girl will be the handsomest actress in Paris in five years’ time,”
 said Nathan, turning to Felicien Vernou.

“By the by, darlings, you will take care of me to-morrow, won’t you?”
 said Florine, turning to the three journalists. “I have engaged cabs for
to-night, for I am going to send you home as tipsy as Shrove Tuesday.
Matifat has sent in wines--oh! wines worthy of Louis XVIII., and engaged
the Prussian ambassador’s cook.”

“We expect something enormous from the look of the gentleman,” remarked
Nathan.

“And he is quite aware that he is treating the most dangerous men in
Paris,” added Florine.

Matifat was looking uneasily at Lucien; he felt jealous of the young
man’s good looks.

“But here is some one that I do not know,” Florine continued,
confronting Lucien. “Which of you has imported the Apollo Belvedere from
Florence? He is as charming as one of Girodet’s figures.”

“He is a poet, mademoiselle, from the provinces. I forgot to present him
to you; you are so beautiful to-night that you put the _Complete Guide
to Etiquette_ out of a man’s head----”

“Is he so rich that he can afford to write poetry?” asked Florine.

“Poor as Job,” said Lucien.

“It is a great temptation for some of us,” said the actress.

Just then the author of the play suddenly entered, and Lucien beheld
M. du Bruel, a short, attenuated young man in an overcoat, a composite
human blend of the jack-in-office, the owner of house-property, and the
stockbroker.

“Florine, child,” said this personage, “are you sure of your part, eh?
No slips of memory, you know. And mind that scene in the second act,
make the irony tell, bring out that subtle touch; say, ‘I do not love
you,’ just as we agreed.”

“Why do you take parts in which you have to say such things?” asked
Matifat.

The druggist’s remark was received with a general shout of laughter.

“What does it matter to you,” said Florine, “so long as I don’t say such
things to you, great stupid?--Oh! his stupidity is the pleasure of my
life,” she continued, glancing at the journalist. “Upon my word, I would
pay him so much for every blunder, if it would not be the ruin of me.”

“Yes, but you will look at me when you say it, as you do when you are
rehearsing, and it gives me a turn,” remonstrated the druggist.

“Very well, then, I will look at my friend Lousteau here.”

A bell rang outside in the passage.

“Go out, all of you!” cried Florine; “let me read my part over again and
try to understand it.”

Lucien and Lousteau were the last to go. Lousteau set a kiss on
Florine’s shoulder, and Lucien heard her say, “Not to-night. Impossible.
That stupid old animal told his wife that he was going out into the
country.”

“Isn’t she charming?” said Etienne, as they came away.

“But--but that Matifat, my dear fellow----”

“Oh! you know nothing of Parisian life, my boy. Some things cannot be
helped. Suppose that you fell in love with a married woman, it comes to
the same thing. It all depends on the way that you look at it.”

Etienne and Lucien entered the stage-box, and found the manager there
with Finot. Matifat was in the ground-floor box exactly opposite with a
friend of his, a silk-mercer named Camusot (Coralie’s protector), and a
worthy little old soul, his father-in-law. All three of these city men
were polishing their opera-glasses, and anxiously scanning the house;
certain symptoms in the pit appeared to disturb them. The usual
heterogeneous first-night elements filled the boxes--journalists and
their mistresses, _lorettes_ and their lovers, a sprinkling of the
determined playgoers who never miss a first night if they can help it,
and a very few people of fashion who care for this sort of sensation.
The first box was occupied by the head of a department, to whom
du Bruel, maker of vaudevilles, owed a snug little sinecure in the
Treasury.

Lucien had gone from surprise to surprise since the dinner at
Flicoteaux’s. For two months Literature had meant a life of poverty and
want; in Lousteau’s room he had seen it at its cynical worst; in the
Wooden Galleries he had met Literature abject and Literature insolent.
The sharp contrasts of heights and depths; of compromise with
conscience; of supreme power and want of principle; of treachery and
pleasure; of mental elevation and bondage--all this made his head swim,
he seemed to be watching some strange unheard-of drama.

Finot was talking with the manager. “Do you think du Bruel’s piece will
pay?” he asked.

“Du Bruel has tried to do something in Beaumarchais’ style. Boulevard
audiences don’t care for that kind of thing; they like harrowing
sensations; wit is not much appreciated here. Everything depends on
Florine and Coralie to-night; they are bewitchingly pretty and graceful,
wear very short skirts, and dance a Spanish dance, and possibly they
may carry off the piece with the public. The whole affair is a gambling
speculation. A few clever notices in the papers, and I may make a
hundred thousand crowns, if the play takes.”

“Oh! come, it will only be a moderate success, I can see,” said Finot.

“Three of the theatres have got up a plot,” continued the manager; “they
will even hiss the piece, but I have made arrangements to defeat their
kind intentions. I have squared the men in their pay; they will make a
muddle of it. A couple of city men yonder have taken a hundred tickets
apiece to secure a triumph for Florine and Coralie, and given them to
acquaintances able and ready to act as chuckers out. The fellows, having
been paid twice, will go quietly, and a scene of that sort always makes
a good impression on the house.”

“Two hundred tickets! What invaluable men!” exclaimed Finot.

“Yes. With two more actresses as handsomely kept as Florine and Coralie,
I should make something out of the business.”

For the past two hours the word money had been sounding in Lucien’s ears
as the solution of every difficulty. In the theatre as in the publishing
trade, and in the publishing trade as in the newspaper-office--it was
everywhere the same; there was not a word of art or of glory. The steady
beat of the great pendulum, Money, seemed to fall like hammer-strokes
on his heart and brain. And yet while the orchestra played the
overture, while the pit was full of noisy tumult of applause and hisses,
unconsciously he drew a comparison between this scene and others
that came up in his mind. Visions arose before him of David and the
printing-office, of the poetry that he came to know in that atmosphere
of pure peace, when together they beheld the wonders of Art, the high
successes of genius, and visions of glory borne on stainless wings. He
thought of the evenings spent with d’Arthez and his friends, and tears
glittered in his eyes.

“What is the matter with you?” asked Etienne Lousteau.

“I see poetry fallen into the mire.”

“Ah! you have still some illusions left, my dear fellow.”

“Is there nothing for it but to cringe and submit to thickheads like
Matifat and Camusot, as actresses bow down to journalists, and we
ourselves to the booksellers?”

“My boy, do you see that dull-brained fellow?” said Etienne, lowering
his voice, and glancing at Finot. “He has neither genius nor cleverness,
but he is covetous; he means to make a fortune at all costs, and he is
a keen man of business. Didn’t you see how he made forty per cent out
of me at Dauriat’s, and talked as if he were doing me a favor?--Well, he
gets letters from not a few unknown men of genius who go down on their
knees to him for a hundred francs.”

The words recalled the pen-and-ink sketch that lay on the table in the
editor’s office and the words, “Finot, my hundred francs!” Lucien’s
inmost soul shrank from the man in disgust.

“I would sooner die,” he said.

“Sooner live,” retorted Etienne.

The curtain rose, and the stage-manager went off to the wings to give
orders. Finot turned to Etienne.

“My dear fellow, Dauriat has passed his word; I am proprietor of
one-third of his weekly paper. I have agreed to give thirty thousand
francs in cash, on condition that I am to be editor and director. ‘Tis
a splendid thing. Blondet told me that the Government intends to take
restrictive measures against the press; there will be no new papers
allowed; in six months’ time it will cost a million francs to start
a new journal, so I struck a bargain though I have only ten thousand
francs in hand. Listen to me. If you can sell one-half of my share, that
is one-sixth of the paper, to Matifat for thirty thousand francs, you
shall be editor of my little paper with a salary of two hundred and
fifty francs per month. I want in any case to have the control of my old
paper, and to keep my hold upon it; but nobody need know that, and your
name will appear as editor. You will be paid at the rate of five francs
per column; you need not pay contributors more than three francs, and
you keep the difference. That means another four hundred and fifty
francs per month. But, at the same time, I reserve the right to use
the paper to attack or defend men or causes, as I please; and you may
indulge your own likes and dislikes so long as you do not interfere with
my schemes. Perhaps I may be a Ministerialist, perhaps Ultra, I do not
know yet; but I mean to keep up my connections with the Liberal party
(below the surface). I can speak out with you; you are a good fellow. I
might, perhaps, give you the Chambers to do for another paper on which I
work; I am afraid I can scarcely keep on with it now. So let Florine do
this bit of jockeying; tell her to put the screw on her druggist. If
I can’t find the money within forty-eight hours, I must cry off my
bargain. Dauriat sold another third to his printer and paper-dealer
for thirty thousand francs; so he has his own third _gratis_, and ten
thousand francs to the good, for he only gave fifty thousand for the
whole affair. And in another year’s time the magazine will be worth two
hundred thousand francs, if the Court buys it up; if the Court has the
good sense to suppress newspapers, as they say.”

“You are lucky,” said Lousteau.

“If you had gone through all that I have endured, you would not say that
of me. I had my fill of misery in those days, you see, and there was no
help for it. My father is a hatter; he still keeps a shop in the Rue du
Coq. Nothing but millions of money or a social cataclysm can open out
the way to my goal; and of the two alternatives, I don’t know now that
the revolution is not the easier. If I bore your friend’s name, I should
have a chance to get on. Hush, here comes the manager. Good-bye,” and
Finot rose to his feet, “I am going to the Opera. I shall very likely
have a duel on my hands to-morrow, for I have put my initials to a
terrific attack on a couple of dancers under the protection of two
Generals. I am giving it them hot and strong at the Opera.”

“Aha?” said the manager.

“Yes. They are stingy with me,” returned Finot, “now cutting off a
box, and now declining to take fifty subscriptions. I have sent in my
_ultimatum_; I mean to have a hundred subscriptions out of them and
a box four times a month. If they take my terms, I shall have eight
hundred readers and a thousand paying subscribers, so we shall have
twelve hundred with the New Year.”

“You will end by ruining us,” said the manager.

“_You_ are not much hurt with your ten subscriptions. I had two good
notices put into the _Constitutionnel_.”

“Oh! I am not complaining of you,” cried the manager.

“Good-bye till to-morrow evening, Lousteau,” said Finot. “You can give
me your answer at the Francais; there is a new piece on there; and as I
shall not be able to write the notice, you can take my box. I will
give you preference; you have worked yourself to death for me, and I
am grateful. Felicien Vernou offered twenty thousand francs for a
third share of my little paper, and to work without a salary for a
twelvemonth; but I want to be absolute master. Good-bye.”

“He is not named Finot” (_finaud_, slyboots) “for nothing,” said Lucien.

“He is a gallows-bird that will get on in the world,” said Etienne,
careless whether the wily schemer overheard the remark or not, as he
shut the door of the box.

“_He_!” said the manager. “He will be a millionaire; he will enjoy the
respect of all who know him; he may perhaps have friends some day----”

“Good heavens! what a den!” said Lucien. “And are you going to drag
that excellent creature into such a business?” he continued, looking at
Florine, who gave them side glances from the stage.

“She will carry it through too. You do not know the devotion and the
wiles of these beloved beings,” said Lousteau.

“They redeem their failings and expiate all their sins by boundless
love, when they love,” said the manager. “A great love is all the
grander in an actress by reason of its violent contrast with her
surroundings.”

“And he who finds it, finds a diamond worthy of the proudest crown lying
in the mud,” returned Lousteau.

“But Coralie is not attending to her part,” remarked the manager.
“Coralie is smitten with our friend here, all unsuspicious of his
conquest, and Coralie will make a fiasco; she is missing her cues, this
is the second time she had not heard the prompter. Pray, go into the
corner, monsieur,” he continued. “If Coralie is smitten with you, I will
go and tell her that you have left the house.”

“No! no!” cried Lousteau; “tell Coralie that this gentleman is coming
to supper, and that she can do as she likes with him, and she will play
like Mlle. Mars.”

The manager went, and Lucien turned to Etienne. “What! do you mean
to say that you will ask that druggist, through Mlle. Florine, to pay
thirty thousand francs for one-half a share, when Finot gave no more for
the whole of it? And ask without the slightest scruple?----”

Lousteau interrupted Lucien before he had time to finish his
expostulation. “My dear boy, what country can you come from? The
druggist is not a man; he is a strong box delivered into our hands by
his fancy for an actress.”

“How about your conscience?”

“Conscience, my dear fellow, is a stick which every one takes up to beat
his neighbor and not for application to his own back. Come, now! who
the devil are you angry with? In one day chance has worked a miracle for
you, a miracle for which I have been waiting these two years, and you
must needs amuse yourself by finding fault with the means? What! you
appear to me to possess intelligence; you seem to be in a fair way
to reach that freedom from prejudice which is a first necessity to
intellectual adventurers in the world we live in; and are you wallowing
in scruples worthy of a nun who accuses herself of eating an egg with
concupiscence?... If Florine succeeds, I shall be editor of a newspaper
with a fixed salary of two hundred and fifty francs per month; I shall
take the important plays and leave the vaudevilles to Vernou, and you
can take my place and do the Boulevard theatres, and so get a foot in
the stirrup. You will make three francs per column and write a column
a day--thirty columns a month means ninety francs; you will have some
sixty francs worth of books to sell to Barbet; and lastly, you can
demand ten tickets a month of each of your theatres--that is, forty
tickets in all--and sell them for forty francs to a Barbet who deals
in them (I will introduce you to the man), so you will have two hundred
francs coming in every month. Then if you make yourself useful to Finot,
you might get a hundred francs for an article in this new weekly review
of his, in which case you would show uncommon talent, for all the
articles are signed, and you cannot put in slip-shod work as you can
on a small paper. In that case you would be making a hundred crowns
a month. Now, my dear boy, there are men of ability, like that poor
d’Arthez, who dines at Flicoteaux’s every day, who may wait for ten
years before they will make a hundred crowns; and you will be making
four thousand francs a year by your pen, to say nothing of the books you
will write for the trade, if you do work of that kind.

“Now, a sub-prefect’s salary only amounts to a thousand crowns, and
there he stops in his arrondissement, wearing away time like the rung of
a chair. I say nothing of the pleasure of going to the theatre without
paying for your seat, for that is a delight which quickly palls; but you
can go behind the scenes in four theatres. Be hard and sarcastic for a
month or two, and you will be simply overwhelmed with invitations from
actresses, and their adorers will pay court to you; you will only dine
at Flicoteaux’s when you happen to have less than thirty sous in your
pocket and no dinner engagement. At the Luxembourg, at five o’clock, you
did not know which way to turn; now, you are on the eve of entering a
privileged class, you will be one of the hundred persons who tell France
what to think. In three days’ time, if all goes well, you can, if you
choose, make a man’s life a curse to him by putting thirty jokes at his
expense in print at the rate of three a day; you can, if you choose,
draw a revenue of pleasure from the actresses at your theatres; you can
wreck a good play and send all Paris running after a bad one. If Dauriat
declines to pay you for your _Marguerites_, you can make him come to
you, and meekly and humbly implore you to take two thousand francs for
them. If you have the ability, and knock off two or three articles that
threaten to spoil some of Dauriat’s speculations, or to ruin a book on
which he counts, you will see him come climbing up your stairs like a
clematis, and always at the door of your dwelling. As for your novel,
the booksellers who would show you more or less politely to the door
at this moment will be standing outside your attic in a string, and
the value of the manuscript, which old Doguereau valued at four hundred
francs will rise to four thousand. These are the advantages of the
journalist’s profession. So let us do our best to keep all newcomers
out of it. It needs an immense amount of brains to make your way, and a
still greater amount of luck. And here are you quibbling over your good
fortune! If we had not met to-day, you see, at Flicoteaux’s, you might
have danced attendance on the booksellers for another three years,
or starved like d’Arthez in a garret. By the time that d’Arthez is as
learned as Bayle and as great a writer of prose as Rousseau, we
shall have made our fortunes, you and I, and we shall hold his in our
hands--wealth and fame to give or to hold. Finot will be a deputy and
proprietor of a great newspaper, and we shall be whatever we meant to
be--peers of France, or prisoner for debt in Sainte-Pelagie.”

“So Finot will sell his paper to the highest bidder among the Ministers,
just as he sells favorable notices to Mme. Bastienne and runs down
Mlle. Virginie, saying that Mme. Bastienne’s bonnets are superior to the
millinery which they praised at first!” said Lucien, recollecting that
scene in the office.

“My dear fellow, you are a simpleton,” Lousteau remarked drily. “Three
years ago Finot was walking on the uppers of his boots, dining for
eighteen sous at Tabar’s, and knocking off a tradesman’s prospectus
(when he could get it) for ten francs. His clothes hung together by some
miracle as mysterious as the Immaculate Conception. _Now_, Finot has
a paper of his own, worth about a hundred thousand francs. What with
subscribers who pay and take no copies, genuine subscriptions, and
indirect taxes levied by his uncle, he is making twenty thousand francs
a year. He dines most sumptuously every day; he has set up a cabriolet
within the last month; and now, at last, behold him the editor of a
weekly review with a sixth share, for which he will not pay a penny, a
salary of five hundred francs per month, and another thousand francs for
supplying matter which costs him nothing, and for which the firm pays.
You yourself, to begin with, if Finot consents to pay you fifty francs
per sheet, will be only too glad to let him have two or three articles
for nothing. When you are in his position, you can judge Finot; a man
can only be tried by his peers. And for you, is there not an immense
future opening out before you, if you will blindly minister to his
enmity, attack at Finot’s bidding, and praise when he gives the word?
Suppose that you yourself wish to be revenged upon somebody, you
can break a foe or friend on the wheel. You have only to say to me,
‘Lousteau, let us put an end to So-and-so,’ and we will kill him by a
phrase put in the paper morning by morning; and afterwards you can slay
the slain with a solemn article in Finot’s weekly. Indeed, if it is a
matter of capital importance to you, Finot would allow you to bludgeon
your man in a big paper with ten or twelve thousand subscribers, _if_
you make yourself indispensable to Finot.”

“Then are you sure that Florine can bring her druggist to make the
bargain?” asked Lucien, dazzled by these prospects.

“Quite sure. Now comes the interval, I will go and tell her everything
at once in a word or two; it will be settled to-night. If Florine once
has her lesson by heart, she will have all my wit and her own besides.”

“And there sits that honest tradesman, gaping with open-mouthed
admiration at Florine, little suspecting that you are about to get
thirty thousand francs out of him!----”

“More twaddle! Anybody might think that the man was going to be robbed!”
 cried Lousteau. “Why, my dear boy, if the minister buys the newspaper,
the druggist may make twenty thousand francs in six months on an
investment of thirty thousand. Matifat is not looking at the newspaper,
but at Florine’s prospects. As soon as it is known that Matifat and
Camusot--(for they will go shares)--that Matifat and Camusot are
proprietors of a review, the newspapers will be full of friendly notices
of Florine and Coralie. Florine’s name will be made; she will perhaps
obtain an engagement in another theatre with a salary of twelve thousand
francs. In fact, Matifat will save a thousand francs every month in
dinners and presents to journalists. You know nothing of men, nor of the
way things are managed.”

“Poor man!” said Lucien, “he is looking forward to an evening’s
pleasure.”

“And he will be sawn in two with arguments until Florine sees Finot’s
receipt for a sixth share of the paper. And to-morrow I shall be editor
of Finot’s paper, and making a thousand francs a month. The end of my
troubles is in sight!” cried Florine’s lover.



Lousteau went out, and Lucien sat like one bewildered, lost in the
infinite of thought, soaring above this everyday world. In the Wooden
Galleries he had seen the wires by which the trade in books is moved; he
has seen something of the kitchen where great reputations are made;
he had been behind the scenes; he had seen the seamy side of life, the
consciences of men involved in the machinery of Paris, the mechanism of
it all. As he watched Florine on the stage he almost envied Lousteau his
good fortune; already, for a few moments he had forgotten Matifat in the
background. He was not left alone for long, perhaps for not more than
five minutes, but those minutes seemed an eternity.

Thoughts rose within him that set his soul on fire, as the spectacle
on the stage had heated his senses. He looked at the women with their
wanton eyes, all the brighter for the red paint on their cheeks, at
the gleaming bare necks, the luxuriant forms outlined by the lascivious
folds of the basquina, the very short skirts, that displayed as much
as possible of limbs encased in scarlet stockings with green clocks to
them--a disquieting vision for the pit.

A double process of corruption was working within him in parallel lines,
like two channels that will spread sooner or later in flood time and
make one. That corruption was eating into Lucien’s soul, as he leaned
back in his corner, staring vacantly at the curtain, one arm resting on
the crimson velvet cushion, and his hand drooping over the edge. He felt
the fascination of the life that was offered to him, of the gleams of
light among its clouds; and this so much the more keenly because it
shone out like a blaze of fireworks against the blank darkness of his
own obscure, monotonous days of toil.

Suddenly his listless eyes became aware of a burning glance that reached
him through a rent in the curtain, and roused him from his lethargy.
Those were Coralie’s eyes that glowed upon him. He lowered his head and
looked across at Camusot, who just then entered the opposite box.

That amateur was a worthy silk-mercer of the Rue des Bourdonnais, stout
and substantial, a judge in the commercial court, a father of four
children, and the husband of a second wife. At the age of fifty-six,
with a cap of gray hair on his head, he had the smug appearance of a man
who has his eighty thousand francs of income; and having been forced to
put up with a good deal that he did not like in the way of business, has
fully made up his mind to enjoy the rest of his life, and not to quit
this earth until he has had his share of cakes and ale. A brow the color
of fresh butter and florid cheeks like a monk’s jowl seemed scarcely big
enough to contain his exuberant jubilation. Camusot had left his wife at
home, and they were applauding Coralie to the skies. All the rich man’s
citizen vanity was summed up and gratified in Coralie; in Coralie’s
lodging he gave himself the airs of a great lord of a bygone day; now,
at this moment, he felt that half of her success was his; the knowledge
that he had paid for it confirmed him in this idea. Camusot’s conduct
was sanctioned by the presence of his father-in-law, a little old fogy
with powdered hair and leering eyes, highly respected nevertheless.

Again Lucien felt disgust rising within him. He thought of the year when
he loved Mme. de Bargeton with an exalted and disinterested love; and
at that thought love, as a poet understands it, spread its white wings
about him; countless memories drew a circle of distant blue horizon
about the great man of Angouleme, and again he fell to dreaming.

Up went the curtain, and there stood Coralie and Florine upon the stage.

“He is thinking about as much of you as of the Grand Turk, my dear
girl,” Florine said in an aside while Coralie was finishing her speech.

Lucien could not help laughing. He looked at Coralie. She was one of the
most charming and captivating actresses in Paris, rivaling Mme. Perrin
and Mlle. Fleuriet, and destined likewise to share their fate. Coralie
was a woman of a type that exerts at will a power of fascination over
men. With an oval face of deep ivory tint, a mouth red as a pomegranate,
and a chin subtly delicate in its contour as the edge of a porcelain
cup, Coralie was a Jewess of the sublime type. The jet black eyes behind
their curving lashes seemed to scorch her eyelids; you could guess how
soft they might grow, or how sparks of the heat of the desert might
flash from them in response to a summons from within. The circles of
olive shadow about them were bounded by thick arching lines of eyebrow.
Magnificent mental power, well-nigh amounting to genius, seemed to dwell
in the swarthy forehead beneath the double curve of ebony hair that lay
upon it like a crown, and gleamed in the light like a varnished surface;
but like many another actress, Coralie had little wit in spite of her
aptness at greenroom repartee, and scarcely any education in spite
of her boudoir experience. Her brain was prompted by her senses, her
kindness was the impulsive warm-heartedness of girls of her class. But
who could trouble over Coralie’s psychology when his eyes were dazzled
by those smooth, round arms of hers, the spindle-shaped fingers, the
fair white shoulders, and breast celebrated in the Song of Songs,
the flexible curving lines of throat, the graciously moulded outlines
beneath the scarlet silk stockings? And this beauty, worthy of an
Eastern poet, was brought into relief by the conventional Spanish
costume of the stage. Coralie was the delight of the pit; all eyes
dwelt on the outlines moulded by the clinging folds of her bodice, and
lingered over the Andalusian contour of the hips from which her skirt
hung, fluttering wantonly with every movement. To Lucien, watching this
creature, who played for him alone, caring no more for Camusot than a
street-boy in the gallery cares for an apple-paring, there came a moment
when he set desire above love, and enjoyment above desire, and the demon
of Lust stirred strange thoughts in him.

“I know nothing of the love that wallows in luxury and wine and sensual
pleasure,” he said within himself. “I have lived more with ideas than
with realities. You must pass through all experience if you mean to
render all experience. This will be my first great supper, my first
orgy in a new and strange world; why should I not know, for once, the
delights which the great lords of the eighteenth century sought so
eagerly of wantons of the Opera? Must one not first learn of courtesans
and actresses the delights, the perfections, the transports, the
resources, the subtleties of love, if only to translate them afterwards
into the regions of a higher love than this? And what is all this, after
all, but the poetry of the senses? Two months ago these women seemed to
me to be goddesses guarded by dragons that no one dared approach; I was
envying Lousteau just now, but here is another handsomer than Florine;
why should I not profit by her fancy, when the greatest nobles buy a
night with such women with their richest treasures? When ambassadors
set foot in these depths, they fling aside all thought of yesterday
or to-morrow. I should be a fool to be more squeamish than princes,
especially as I love no one as yet.”

Lucien had quite forgotten Camusot. To Lousteau he had expressed the
utmost disgust for this most hateful of all partitions, and now he
himself had sunk to the same level, and, carried away by the casuistry
of his vehement desire, had given the reins to his fancy.

“Coralie is raving about you,” said Lousteau as he came in. “Your
countenance, worthy of the greatest Greek sculptors, has worked
unutterable havoc behind the scenes. You are in luck my dear boy.
Coralie is eighteen years old, and in a few days’ time she may be making
sixty thousand francs a year by her beauty. She is an honest girl still.
Since her mother sold her three years ago for sixty thousand francs, she
has tried to find happiness, and found nothing but annoyance. She
took to the stage in a desperate mood; she has a horror of her first
purchaser, de Marsay; and when she came out of the galleys, for the king
of dandies soon dropped her, she picked up old Camusot. She does not
care much about him, but he is like a father to her, and she endures
him and his love. Several times already she has refused the handsomest
proposals; she is faithful to Camusot, who lets her live in peace. So
you are her first love. The first sight of you went to her heart like a
pistol-shot, Florine has gone to her dressing-room to bring the girl to
reason. She is crying over your cruelty; she has forgotten her part, the
play will go to pieces, and good-day to the engagement at the Gymnase
which Camusot had planned for her.”

“Pooh!... Poor thing!” said Lucien. Every instinct of vanity was tickled
by the words; he felt his heart swell high with self-conceit. “More
adventures have befallen me in this one evening, my dear fellow, than in
all the first eighteen years of my life.” And Lucien related the history
of his love affairs with Mme. de Bargeton, and of the cordial hatred he
bore the Baron du Chatelet.

“Stay though! the newspaper wants a _bete noire_; we will take him up.
The Baron is a buck of the Empire and a Ministerialist; he is the man
for us; I have seen him many a time at the Opera. I can see your great
lady as I sit here; she is often in the Marquise d’Espard’s box. The
Baron is paying court to your lady love, a cuttlefish bone that she is.
Wait! Finot has just sent a special messenger round to say that they are
short of copy at the office. Young Hector Merlin has left them in the
lurch because they did not pay for white lines. Finot, in despair, is
knocking off an article against the Opera. Well now, my dear fellow, you
can do this play; listen to it and think it over, and I will go to the
manager’s office and think out three columns about your man and your
disdainful fair one. They will be in no pleasant predicament to-morrow.”

“So this is how a newspaper is written?” said Lucien.

“It is always like this,” answered Lousteau. “These ten months that
I have been a journalist, they have always run short of copy at eight
o’clock in the evening.”

Manuscript sent to the printer is spoken of as “copy,” doubtless because
the writers are supposed to send in a fair copy of their work; or
possibly the word is ironically derived from the Latin word _copia_, for
copy is invariably scarce.

“We always mean to have a few numbers ready in advance, a grand idea
that will never be realized,” continued Lousteau. “It is ten o’clock,
you see, and not a line has been written. I shall ask Vernou and Nathan
for a score of epigrams on deputies, or on ‘Chancellor Cruzoe,’ or on
the Ministry, or on friends of ours if it needs must be. A man in this
pass would slaughter his parent, just as a privateer will load his guns
with silver pieces taken out of the booty sooner than perish. Write
a brilliant article, and you will make brilliant progress in Finot’s
estimation; for Finot has a lively sense of benefits to come, and that
sort of gratitude is better than any kind of pledge, pawntickets always
excepted, for they invariably represent something solid.”

“What kind of men can journalists be? Are you to sit down at a table and
be witty to order?”

“Just exactly as a lamp begins to burn when you apply a match--so long
as there is any oil in it.”

Lousteau’s hand was on the lock when du Bruel came in with the manager.

“Permit me, monsieur, to take a message to Coralie; allow me to tell her
that you will go home with her after supper, or my play will be ruined.
The wretched girl does not know what she is doing or saying; she will
cry when she ought to laugh and laugh when she ought to cry. She has
been hissed once already. You can still save the piece, and, after all,
pleasure is not a misfortune.”

“I am not accustomed to rivals, sir,” Lucien answered.

“Pray don’t tell her that!” cried the manager. “Coralie is just the
girl to fling Camusot overboard and ruin herself in good earnest. The
proprietor of the _Golden Cocoon_, worthy man, allows her two thousand
francs a month, and pays for all her dresses and _claqueurs_.”

“As your promise pledges me to nothing, save your play,” said Lucien,
with a sultan’s airs.

“But don’t look as if you meant to snub that charming creature,” pleaded
du Bruel.

“Dear me! am I to write the notice of your play and smile on your
heroine as well?” exclaimed the poet.

The author vanished with a signal to Coralie, who began to act forthwith
in a marvelous way. Vignol, who played the part of the alcalde, and
revealed for the first time his genius as an actor of old men, came
forward amid a storm of applause to make an announcement to the house.

“The piece which we have the honor of playing for you this evening,
gentlemen, is the work of MM. Raoul and de Cursy.”

“Why, Nathan is partly responsible,” said Lousteau. “I don’t wonder that
he looked in.”

“Coralie_! Coralie_!” shouted the enraptured house. “Florine, too!”
 roared a voice of thunder from the opposite box, and other voices took
up the cry, “Florine and Coralie!”

The curtain rose, Vignol reappeared between the two actresses; Matifat
and Camusot flung wreaths on the stage, and Coralie stooped for her
flowers and held them out to Lucien.

For him those two hours spent in the theatre seemed to be a dream. The
spell that held him had begun to work when he went behind the scenes;
and, in spite of its horrors, the atmosphere of the place, its
sensuality and dissolute morals had affected the poet’s still untainted
nature. A sort of malaria that infects the soul seems to lurk among
those dark, filthy passages filled with machinery, and lit with smoky,
greasy lamps. The solemnity and reality of life disappear, the most
sacred things are matter for a jest, the most impossible things seem to
be true. Lucien felt as if he had taken some narcotic, and Coralie had
completed the work. He plunged into this joyous intoxication.

The lights in the great chandelier were extinguished; there was no one
left in the house except the boxkeepers, busy taking away footstools and
shutting doors, the noises echoing strangely through the empty theatre.
The footlights, blown out as one candle, sent up a fetid reek of smoke.
The curtain rose again, a lantern was lowered from the ceiling, and
firemen and stage carpenters departed on their rounds. The fairy scenes
of the stage, the rows of fair faces in the boxes, the dazzling lights,
the magical illusion of new scenery and costume had all disappeared,
and dismal darkness, emptiness, and cold reigned in their stead. It was
hideous. Lucien sat on in bewilderment.

“Well! are you coming, my boy?” Lousteau’s voice called from the stage.
“Jump down.”

Lucien sprang over. He scarcely recognized Florine and Coralie in their
ordinary quilted paletots and cloaks, with their faces hidden by hats
and thick black veils. Two butterflies returned to the chrysalis stage
could not be more completely transformed.

“Will you honor me by giving me your arm?” Coralie asked tremulously.

“With pleasure,” said Lucien. He could feel the beating of her heart
throbbing against his like some snared bird as she nestled closely
to his side, with something of the delight of a cat that rubs herself
against her master with eager silken caresses.

“So we are supping together!” she said.

The party of four found two cabs waiting for them at the door in the Rue
des Fosses-du-Temple. Coralie drew Lucien to one of the two, in which
Camusot and his father-in-law old Cardot were seated already. She
offered du Bruel a fifth place, and the manager drove off with Florine,
Matifat, and Lousteau.

“These hackney cabs are abominable things,” said Coralie.

“Why don’t you have a carriage?” returned du Bruel.

“_Why_?” she asked pettishly. “I do not like to tell you before M.
Cardot’s face; for he trained his son-in-law, no doubt. Would you
believe it, little and old as he is, M. Cardot only gives Florine five
hundred francs a month, just about enough to pay for her rent and her
grub and her clothes. The old Marquis de Rochegude offered me a brougham
two months ago, and he has six hundred thousand francs a year, but I am
an artist and not a common hussy.”

“You shall have a carriage the day after to-morrow, miss,” said Camusot
benignly; “you never asked me for one.”

“As if one _asked_ for such a thing as that? What! you love a woman and
let her paddle about in the mud at the risk of breaking her legs? Nobody
but a knight of the yardstick likes to see a draggled skirt hem.”

As she uttered the sharp words that cut Camusot to the quick, she groped
for Lucien’s knee, and pressed it against her own, and clasped her
fingers upon his hand. She was silent. All her power to feel seemed
to be concentrated upon the ineffable joy of a moment which brings
compensation for the whole wretched past of a life such as these poor
creatures lead, and develops within their souls a poetry of which other
women, happily ignorant of these violent revulsions, know nothing.

“You played like Mlle. Mars herself towards the end,” said du Bruel.

“Yes,” said Camusot, “something put her out at the beginning; but from
the middle of the second act to the very end, she was enough to drive
you wild with admiration. Half of the success of your play was due to
her.”

“And half of her success is due to me,” said du Bruel.

“This is all much ado about nothing,” said Coralie in an unfamiliar
voice. And, seizing an opportunity in the darkness, she carried Lucien’s
hand to her lips and kissed it and drenched it with tears. Lucien felt
thrilled through and through by that touch, for in the humility of the
courtesan’s love there is a magnificence which might set an example to
angels.

“Are you writing the dramatic criticism, monsieur?” said du Bruel,
addressing Lucien; “you can write a charming paragraph about our dear
Coralie.”

“Oh! do us that little service!” pleaded Camusot, down on his knees,
metaphorically speaking, before the critic. “You will always find me
ready to do you a good turn at any time.”

“Do leave him his independence,” Coralie exclaimed angrily; “he will
write what he pleases. Papa Camusot, buy carriages for me instead of
praises.”

“You shall have them on very easy terms,” Lucien answered politely.
“I have never written for newspapers before, so I am not accustomed to
their ways, my maiden pen is at your disposal----”

“That is funny,” said du Bruel.

“Here we are in the Rue de Bondy,” said Cardot. Coralie’s sally had
quite crushed the little old man.

“If you are giving me the first fruits of your pen, the first love that
has sprung up in my heart shall be yours,” whispered Coralie in the
brief instant that they remained alone together in the cab; then
she went up to Florine’s bedroom to change her dress for a toilette
previously sent.

Lucien had no idea how lavishly a prosperous merchant will spend money
upon an actress or a mistress when he means to enjoy a life of pleasure.
Matifat was not nearly so rich a man as his friend Camusot, and he had
done his part rather shabbily, yet the sight of the dining-room took
Lucien by surprise. The walls were hung with green cloth with a border
of gilded nails, the whole room was artistically decorated, lighted by
handsome lamps, stands full of flowers stood in every direction. The
drawing-room was resplendent with the furniture in fashion in those
days--a Thomire chandelier, a carpet of Eastern design, and yellow
silken hangings relieved by a brown border. The candlesticks,
fire-irons, and clock were all in good taste; for Matifat had left
everything to Grindot, a rising architect, who was building a house for
him, and the young man had taken great pains with the rooms when he knew
that Florine was to occupy them.

Matifat, a tradesman to the backbone, went about carefully, afraid
to touch the new furniture; he seemed to have the totals of the bills
always before his eyes, and to look upon the splendors about him as so
much jewelry imprudently withdrawn from the case.

“And I shall be obliged to do as much for Florentine!” old Cardot’s eyes
seemed to say.

Lucien at once began to understand Lousteau’s indifference to the state
of his garret. Etienne was the real king of these festivals; Etienne
enjoyed the use of all these fine things. He was standing just now on
the hearthrug with his back to the fire, as if he were the master of the
house, chatting with the manager, who was congratulating du Bruel.

“Copy, copy!” called Finot, coming into the room. “There is nothing in
the box; the printers are setting up my article, and they will soon have
finished.”

“We will manage,” said Etienne. “There is a fire burning in Florine’s
boudoir; there is a table there; and if M. Matifat will find us paper
and ink, we will knock off the newspaper while Florine and Coralie are
dressing.”

Cardot, Camusot, and Matifat disappeared in search of quills, penknives,
and everything necessary. Suddenly the door was flung open, and Tullia,
one of the prettiest opera-dancers of the day, dashed into the room.

“They agree to take the hundred copies, dear boy!” she cried, addressing
Finot; “they won’t cost the management anything, for the chorus and the
orchestra and the _corps de ballet_ are to take them whether they like
it or not; but your paper is so clever that nobody will grumble. And
you are going to have your boxes. Here is the subscription for the first
quarter,” she continued, holding out a couple of banknotes; “so don’t
cut me up!”

“It is all over with me!” groaned Finot; “I must suppress my abominable
diatribe, and I haven’t another notion in my head.”

“What a happy inspiration, divine Lais!” exclaimed Blondet, who had
followed the lady upstairs and brought Nathan, Vernou and Claude Vignon
with him. “Stop to supper, there is a dear, or I will crush thee,
butterfly as thou art. There will be no professional jealousies, as you
are a dancer; and as to beauty, you have all of you too much sense to
show jealousy in public.”

“Oh dear!” cried Finot, “Nathan, Blondet, du Bruel, help friends! I want
five columns.”

“I can make two of the play,” said Lucien.

“I have enough for one,” added Lousteau.

“Very well; Nathan, Vernou, and du Bruel will make the jokes at the
end; and Blondet, good fellow, surely will vouchsafe a couple of short
columns for the first sheet. I will run round to the printer. It is
lucky that you brought your carriage, Tullia.”

“Yes, but the Duke is waiting below in it, and he has a German Minister
with him.”

“Ask the Duke and the Minister to come up,” said Nathan.

“A German? They are the ones to drink, and they listen too; he shall
hear some astonishing things to send home to his Government,” cried
Blondet.

“Is there any sufficiently serious personage to go down to speak to
him?” asked Finot. “Here, du Bruel, you are an official; bring up the
Duc de Rhetore and the Minister, and give your arm to Tullia. Dear me!
Tullia, how handsome you are to-night!”

“We shall be thirteen at table!” exclaimed Matifat, paling visibly.

“No, fourteen,” said a voice in the doorway, and Florentine appeared.
“I have come to look after ‘milord Cardot,’” she added, speaking with a
burlesque English accent.

“And besides,” said Lousteau, “Claude Vignon came with Blondet.”

“I brought him here to drink,” returned Blondet, taking up an inkstand.
“Look here, all of you, you must use all your wit before those fifty-six
bottles of wine drive it out. And, of all things, stir up du Bruel; he
is a vaudevillist, he is capable of making bad jokes if you get him to
concert pitch.”

And Lucien wrote his first newspaper article at the round table in
Florine’s boudoir, by the light of the pink candles lighted by Matifat;
before such a remarkable audience he was eager to show what he could do.


                    THE PANORAMA-DRAMATIQUE.

  First performance of the _Alcalde in a Fix_, an imbroglio in three
  acts.--First appearance of Mademoiselle Florine.--Mademoiselle
  Coralie.--Vignol.


  People are coming and going, walking and talking, everybody is
  looking for something, nobody finds anything. General hubbub. The
  Alcalde has lost his daughter and found his cap, but the cap does
  not fit; it must belong to some thief. Where is the thief? People
  walk and talk, and come and go more than ever. Finally the Alcalde
  finds a man without his daughter, and his daughter without the
  man, which is satisfactory for the magistrate, but not for the
  audience. Quiet being resorted, the Alcalde tries to examine the
  man. Behold a venerable Alcalde, sitting in an Alcalde’s great
  armchair, arranging the sleeves of his Alcalde’s gown. Only in
  Spain do Alcaldes cling to their enormous sleeves and wear plaited
  lawn ruffles about the magisterial throat, a good half of an
  Alcalde’s business on the stage in Paris. This particular Alcalde,
  wheezing and waddling about like an asthmatic old man, is Vignol,
  on whom Potier’s mantle has fallen; a young actor who personates
  old age so admirably that the oldest men in the audience cannot
  help laughing. With that quavering voice of his, that bald
  forehead, and those spindle shanks trembling under the weight of a
  senile frame, he may look forward to a long career of decrepitude.
  There is something alarming about the young actor’s old age; he is
  so very old; you feel nervous lest senility should be infectious.
  And what an admirable Alcalde he makes! What a delightful, uneasy
  smile! what pompous stupidity! what wooden dignity! what judicial
  hesitation! How well the man knows that black may be white, or
  white black! How eminently well he is fitted to be Minister to a
  constitutional monarch! The stranger answers every one of his
  inquiries by a question; Vignol retorts in such a fashion, that
  the person under examination elicits all the truth from the
  Alcalde. This piece of pure comedy, with a breath of Moliere
  throughout, puts the house in good humor. The people on the stage
  all seemed to understand what they were about, but I am quite
  unable to clear up the mystery, or to say wherein it lay; for the
  Alcalde’s daughter was there, personified by a living, breathing
  Andalusian, a Spaniard with a Spaniard’s eyes, a Spaniard’s
  complexion, a Spaniard’s gait and figure, a Spaniard from top to
  toe, with her poniard in her garter, love in her heart, and a
  cross on the ribbon about her neck. When the act was over, and
  somebody asked me how the piece was going, I answered, “She wears
  scarlet stockings with green clocks to them; she has a little
  foot, no larger than _that_, in her patent leather shoes, and the
  prettiest pair of ankles in Andalusia!” Oh! that Alcalde’s
  daughter brings your heart into your mouth; she tantalizes you so
  horribly, that you long to spring upon the stage and offer her
  your thatched hovel and your heart, or thirty thousand livres per
  annum and your pen. The Andalusian is the loveliest actress in
  Paris. Coralie, for she must be called by her real name, can be a
  countess or a _grisette_, and in which part she would be more
  charming one cannot tell. She can be anything that she chooses;
  she is born to achieve all possibilities; can more be said of a
  boulevard actress?

  With the second act, a Parisian Spaniard appeared upon the scene,
  with her features cut like a cameo and her dangerous eyes. “Where
  does she come from?” I asked in my turn, and was told that she
  came from the greenroom, and that she was Mademoiselle Florine;
  but, upon my word, I could not believe a syllable of it, such
  spirit was there in her gestures, such frenzy in her love. She is
  the rival of the Alcalde’s daughter, and married to a grandee cut
  out to wear an Almaviva’s cloak, with stuff sufficient in it for a
  hundred boulevard noblemen. Mlle. Florine wore neither scarlet
  stockings with green clocks, nor patent leather shoes, but she
  appeared in a mantilla, a veil which she put to admirable uses,
  like the great lady that she is! She showed to admiration that the
  tigress can be a cat. I began to understand, from the sparkling
  talk between the two, that some drama of jealousy was going on;
  and just as everything was put right, the Alcalde’s stupidity
  embroiled everybody again. Torchbearers, rich men, footmen,
  Figaros, grandees, alcaldes, dames, and damsels--the whole company
  on the stage began to eddy about, and come and go, and look for
  one another. The plot thickened, again I left it to thicken; for
  Florine the jealous and the happy Coralie had entangled me once
  more in the folds of mantilla and basquina, and their little feet
  were twinkling in my eyes.

  I managed, however, to reach the third act without any mishap. The
  commissary of police was not compelled to interfere, and I did
  nothing to scandalize the house, wherefore I begin to believe in
  the influence of that “public and religious morality,” about which
  the Chamber of Deputies is so anxious, that any one might think
  there was no morality left in France. I even contrived to gather
  that a man was in love with two women who failed to return his
  affection, or else that two women were in love with a man who
  loved neither of them; the man did not love the Alcalde, or the
  Alcalde had no love for the man, who was nevertheless a gallant
  gentleman, and in love with somebody, with himself, perhaps, or
  with heaven, if the worst came to the worst, for he becomes a
  monk. And if you want to know any more, you can go to the
  Panorama-Dramatique. You are hereby given fair warning--you must
  go once to accustom yourself to those irresistible scarlet
  stockings with the green clocks, to little feet full of promises,
  to eyes with a ray of sunlight shining through them, to the subtle
  charm of a Parisienne disguised as an Andalusian girl, and of an
  Andalusian masquerading as a Parisienne. You must go a second time
  to enjoy the play, to shed tears over the love-distracted grandee,
  and die of laughing at the old Alcalde. The play is twice a
  success. The author, who writes it, it is said, in collaboration
  with one of the great poets of the day, was called before the
  curtain, and appeared with a love-distraught damsel on each arm,
  and fairly brought down the excited house. The two dancers seemed
  to have more wit in their legs than the author himself; but when
  once the fair rivals left the stage, the dialogue seemed witty at
  once, a triumphant proof of the excellence of the piece. The
  applause and calls for the author caused the architect some
  anxiety; but M. de Cursy, the author, being accustomed to volcanic
  eruptions of the reeling Vesuvius beneath the chandelier, felt no
  tremor. As for the actresses, they danced the famous bolero of
  Seville, which once found favor in the sight of a council of
  reverend fathers, and escaped ecclesiastical censure in spite of
  its wanton dangerous grace. The bolero in itself would be enough
  to attract old age while there is any lingering heat of youth in
  the veins, and out of charity I warn these persons to keep the
  lenses of their opera-glasses well polished.


While Lucien was writing a column which was to set a new fashion in
journalism and reveal a fresh and original gift, Lousteau indited an
article of the kind described as _moeurs_--a sketch of contemporary
manners, entitled _The Elderly Beau_.


“The buck of the Empire,” he wrote, “is invariably long, slender, and
well preserved. He wears a corset and the Cross of the Legion of Honor.
His name was originally Potelet, or something very like it; but to stand
well with the Court, he conferred a _du_ upon himself, and _du_ Potelet
he is until another revolution. A baron of the Empire, a man of two
ends, as his name (_Potelet_, a post) implies, he is paying his court to
the Faubourg Saint-Germain, after a youth gloriously and usefully spent
as the agreeable trainbearer of a sister of the man whom decency forbids
me to mention by name. Du Potelet has forgotten that he was once
in waiting upon Her Imperial Highness; but he still sings the songs
composed for the benefactress who took such a tender interest in his
career,” and so forth and so forth. It was a tissue of personalities,
silly enough for the most part, such as they used to write in those
days. Other papers, and notably the _Figaro_, have brought the art to
a curious perfection since. Lousteau compared the Baron to a heron,
and introduced Mme. de Bargeton, to whom he was paying his court, as
a cuttlefish bone, a burlesque absurdity which amused readers who knew
neither of the personages. A tale of the loves of the Heron, who tried
in vain to swallow the Cuttlefish bone, which broke into three pieces
when he dropped it, was irresistibly ludicrous. Everybody remembers the
sensation which the pleasantry made in the Faubourg Saint-Germain;
it was the first of a series of similar articles, and was one of the
thousand and one causes which provoked the rigorous press legislation of
Charles X.

An hour later, Blondet, Lousteau, and Lucien came back to the
drawing-room, where the other guests were chatting. The Duke was there
and the Minister, the four women, the three merchants, the manager, and
Finot. A printer’s devil, with a paper cap on his head, was waiting even
then for copy.

“The men are just going off, if I have nothing to take them,” he said.

“Stay a bit, here are ten francs, and tell them to wait,” said Finot.

“If I give them the money, sir, they would take to tippleography, and
good-night to the newspaper.”

“That boy’s common-sense is appalling to me,” remarked Finot; and the
Minister was in the middle of a prediction of a brilliant future for the
urchin, when the three came in. Blondet read aloud an extremely clever
article against the Romantics; Lousteau’s paragraph drew laughter, and
by the Duc de Rhetore’s advice an indirect eulogium of Mme. d’Espard was
slipped in, lest the whole Faubourg Saint-Germain should take offence.

“What have _you_ written?” asked Finot, turning to Lucien.

And Lucien read, quaking for fear, but the room rang with applause when
he finished; the actresses embraced the neophyte; and the two merchants,
following suit, half choked the breath out of him. There were tears in
du Bruel’s eyes as he grasped his critic’s hand, and the manager invited
him to dinner.

“There are no children nowadays,” said Blondet. “Since M. de
Chateaubriand called Victor Hugo a ‘sublime child,’ I can only tell
you quite simply that you have spirit and taste, and write like a
gentleman.”

“He is on the newspaper,” said Finot, as he thanked Etienne, and gave
him a shrewd glance.

“What jokes have you made?” inquired Lousteau, turning to Blondet and du
Bruel.

“Here are du Bruel’s,” said Nathan.


  *** “Now, that M. le Vicomte d’A---- is attracting so much
  attention, they will perhaps let _me_ alone,” M. le Vicomte
  Demosthenes was heard to say yesterday.


  *** An Ultra, condemning M. Pasquier’s speech, said his programme
  was only a continuation of Decaze’s policy. “Yes,” said a lady,
  “but he stands on a Monarchical basis, he has just the kind of leg
  for a Court suit.”


“With such a beginning, I don’t ask more of you,” said Finot; “it will
be all right.--Run round with this,” he added, turning to the boy; “the
paper is not exactly a genuine article, but it is our best number yet,”
 and he turned to the group of writers. Already Lucien’s colleagues were
privately taking his measure.

“That fellow has brains,” said Blondet.

“His article is well written,” said Claude Vignon.

“Supper!” cried Matifat.

The Duke gave his arm to Florine, Coralie went across to Lucien, and
Tullia went in to supper between Emile Blondet and the German Minister.

“I cannot understand why you are making an onslaught on Mme. de Bargeton
and the Baron du Chatelet; they say that he is prefect-designate of the
Charente, and will be Master of Requests some day.”

“Mme. de Bargeton showed Lucien the door as if he had been an imposter,”
 said Lousteau.

“Such a fine young fellow!” exclaimed the Minister.

Supper, served with new plate, Sevres porcelain, and white damask, was
redolent of opulence. The dishes were from Chevet, the wines from a
celebrated merchant on the Quai Saint-Bernard, a personal friend
of Matifat’s. For the first time Lucien beheld the luxury of Paris
displayed; he went from surprise to surprise, but he kept his
astonishment to himself, like a man who had spirit and taste and wrote
like a gentleman, as Blondet had said.

As they crossed the drawing-room, Coralie bent to Florine, “Make
Camusot so drunk that he will be compelled to stop here all night,” she
whispered.

“So you have hooked your journalist, have you?” returned Florine, using
the idiom of women of her class.

“No, dear; I love him,” said Coralie, with an adorable little shrug of
the shoulders.

Those words rang in Lucien’s ears, borne to them by the fifth deadly
sin. Coralie was perfectly dressed. Every woman possesses some personal
charm in perfection, and Coralie’s toilette brought her characteristic
beauty into prominence. Her dress, moreover, like Florine’s, was of some
exquisite stuff, unknown as yet to the public, a _mousseline de soie_,
with which Camusot had been supplied a few days before the rest of the
world; for, as owner of the _Golden Cocoon_, he was a kind of Providence
in Paris to the Lyons silkweavers.

Love and toilet are like color and perfume for a woman, and Coralie
in her happiness looked lovelier than ever. A looked-for delight which
cannot elude the grasp possesses an immense charm for youth; perhaps in
their eyes the secret of the attraction of a house of pleasure lies
in the certainty of gratification; perhaps many a long fidelity is
attributable to the same cause. Love for love’s sake, first love indeed,
had blent with one of the strange violent fancies which sometimes
possess these poor creatures; and love and admiration of Lucien’s great
beauty taught Coralie to express the thoughts in her heart.

“I should love you if you were ill and ugly,” she whispered as they sat
down.

What a saying for a poet! Camusot utterly vanished, Lucien had forgotten
his existence, he saw Coralie, and had eyes for nothing else. How should
he draw back--this creature, all sensation, all enjoyment of life,
tired of the monotony of existence in a country town, weary of poverty,
harassed by enforced continence, impatient of the claustral life of the
Rue de Cluny, of toiling without reward? The fascination of the under
world of Paris was upon him; how should he rise and leave this brilliant
gathering? Lucien stood with one foot in Coralie’s chamber and the other
in the quicksands of Journalism. After so much vain search, and climbing
of so many stairs, after standing about and waiting in the Rue de
Sentier, he had found Journalism a jolly boon companion, joyous over the
wine. His wrongs had just been avenged. There were two for whom he had
vainly striven to fill the cup of humiliation and pain which he had been
made to drink to the dregs, and now to-morrow they should receive a stab
in their very hearts. “Here is a real friend!” he thought, as he looked
at Lousteau. It never crossed his mind that Lousteau already regarded
him as a dangerous rival. He had made a blunder; he had done his very
best when a colorless article would have served him admirably well.
Blondet’s remark to Finot that it would be better to come to terms with
a man of that calibre, had counteracted Lousteau’s gnawing jealousy. He
reflected that it would be prudent to keep on good terms with Lucien,
and, at the same time, to arrange with Finot to exploit this formidable
newcomer--he must be kept in poverty. The decision was made in a moment,
and the bargain made in a few whispered words.

“He has talent.”

“He will want the more.”

“Ah?”

“Good!”

“A supper among French journalists always fills me with dread,” said
the German diplomatist, with serene urbanity; he looked as he spoke at
Blondet, whom he had met at the Comtesse de Montcornet’s. “It is laid
upon you, gentlemen, to fulfil a prophecy of Blucher’s.”

“What prophecy?” asked Nathan.

“When Blucher and Sacken arrived on the heights of Montmartre in 1814
(pardon me, gentlemen, for recalling a day unfortunate for France),
Sacken (a rough brute), remarked, ‘Now we will set Paris alight!’--‘Take
very good care that you don’t,’ said Blucher. ‘France will die of
_that_, nothing else can kill her,’ and he waved his hand over the
glowing, seething city, that lay like a huge canker in the valley of
the Seine.--There are no journalists in our country, thank Heaven!”
 continued the Minister after a pause. “I have not yet recovered from
the fright that the little fellow gave me, a boy of ten, in a paper cap,
with the sense of an old diplomatist. And to-night I feel as if I were
supping with lions and panthers, who graciously sheathe their claws in
my honor.”

“It is clear,” said Blondet, “that we are at liberty to inform Europe
that a serpent dropped from your Excellency’s lips this evening,
and that the venomous creature failed to inoculate Mlle. Tullia, the
prettiest dancer in Paris; and to follow up the story with a commentary
on Eve, and the Scriptures, and the first and last transgression. But
have no fear, you are our guest.”

“It would be funny,” said Finot.

“We would begin with a scientific treatise on all the serpents found
in the human heart and human body, and so proceed to the _corps
diplomatique_,” said Lousteau.

“And we could exhibit one in spirits, in a bottle of brandied cherries,”
 said Vernou.

“Till you yourself would end by believing in the story,” added Vignon,
looking at the diplomatist.

“Gentlemen,” cried the Duc de Rhetore, “let sleeping claws lie.”

“The influence and power of the press is only dawning,” said Finot.
“Journalism is in its infancy; it will grow. In ten years’ time,
everything will be brought into publicity. The light of thought will be
turned on all subjects, and----”

“The blight of thought will be over it all,” corrected Blondet.

“Here is an apothegm,” cried Claude Vignon.

“Thought will make kings,” said Lousteau.

“And undo monarchs,” said the German.

“And therefore,” said Blondet, “if the press did not exist, it would be
necessary to invent it forthwith. But here we have it, and live by it.”

“You will die of it,” returned the German diplomatist. “Can you not see
that if you enlighten the masses, and raise them in the political scale,
you make it all the harder for the individual to rise above their
level? Can you not see that if you sow the seeds of reasoning among the
working-classes, you will reap revolt, and be the first to fall victims?
What do they smash in Paris when a riot begins?”

“The street-lamps!” said Nathan; “but we are too modest to fear for
ourselves, we only run the risk of cracks.”

“As a nation, you have too much mental activity to allow any government
to run its course without interference. But for that, you would make
the conquest of Europe a second time, and win with the pen all that you
failed to keep with the sword.”

“Journalism is an evil,” said Claude Vignon. “The evil may have its
uses, but the present Government is resolved to put it down. There will
be a battle over it. Who will give way? That is the question.”

“The Government will give way,” said Blondet. “I keep telling people
that with all my might! Intellectual power is _the_ great power in
France; and the press has more wit than all men of intellect put
together, and the hypocrisy of Tartufe besides.”

“Blondet! Blondet! you are going too far!” called Finot. “Subscribers
are present.”

“You are the proprietor of one of those poison shops; you have reason to
be afraid; but I can laugh at the whole business, even if I live by it.”

“Blondet is right,” said Claude Vignon. “Journalism, so far from being
in the hands of a priesthood, came to be first a party weapon, and then
a commercial speculation, carried on without conscience or scruple, like
other commercial speculations. Every newspaper, as Blondet says, is a
shop to which people come for opinions of the right shade. If there were
a paper for hunchbacks, it would set forth plainly, morning and evening,
in its columns, the beauty, the utility, and necessity of deformity. A
newspaper is not supposed to enlighten its readers, but to supply them
with congenial opinions. Give any newspaper time enough, and it will
be base, hypocritical, shameless, and treacherous; the periodical press
will be the death of ideas, systems, and individuals; nay, it will
flourish upon their decay. It will take the credit of all creations
of the brain; the harm that it does is done anonymously. We, for
instance--I, Claude Vignon; you, Blondet; you, Lousteau; and you,
Finot--we are all Platos, Aristides, and Catos, Plutarch’s men, in
short; we are all immaculate; we may wash our hands of all iniquity.
Napoleon’s sublime aphorism, suggested by his study of the Convention,
‘No one individual is responsible for a crime committed collectively,’
sums up the whole significance of a phenomenon, moral or immoral,
whichever you please. However shamefully a newspaper may behave, the
disgrace attaches to no one person.”

“The authorities will resort to repressive legislation,” interposed du
Bruel. “A law is going to be passed, in fact.”

“Pooh!” retorted Nathan. “What is the law in France against the spirit
in which it is received, the most subtle of all solvents?”

“Ideas and opinions can only be counteracted by opinions and ideas,”
 Vignon continued. “By sheer terror and despotism, and by no other means,
can you extinguish the genius of the French nation; for the language
lends itself admirably to allusion and ambiguity. Epigram breaks out the
more for repressive legislation; it is like steam in an engine without
a safety-valve.--The King, for example, does right; if a newspaper is
against him, the Minister gets all the credit of the measure, and _vice
versa_. A newspaper invents a scandalous libel--it has been misinformed.
If the victim complains, the paper gets off with an apology for
taking so great a freedom. If the case is taken into court, the editor
complains that nobody asked him to rectify the mistake; but ask for
redress, and he will laugh in your face and treat his offence as a
mere trifle. The paper scoffs if the victim gains the day; and if
heavy damages are awarded, the plaintiff is held up as an unpatriotic
obscurantist and a menace to the liberties of the country. In the course
of an article purporting to explain that Monsieur So-and-so is as honest
a man as you will find in the kingdom, you are informed that he is not
better than a common thief. The sins of the press? Pooh! mere trifles;
the curtailers of its liberties are monsters; and give him time enough,
the constant reader is persuaded to believe anything you please.
Everything which does not suit the newspaper will be unpatriotic, and
the press will be infallible. One religion will be played off against
another, and the Charter against the King. The press will hold up the
magistracy to scorn for meting out rigorous justice to the press, and
applaud its action when it serves the cause of party hatred. The most
sensational fictions will be invented to increase the circulation;
Journalism will descend to mountebanks’ tricks worthy of Bobeche;
Journalism would serve up its father with the Attic salt of its own wit
sooner than fail to interest or amuse the public; Journalism will outdo
the actor who put his son’s ashes into the urn to draw real tears from
his eyes, or the mistress who sacrifices everything to her lover.”

“Journalism is, in fact, the People in folio form,” interrupted Blondet.

“The people with hypocrisy added and generosity lacking,” said Vignon.
“All real ability will be driven out from the ranks of Journalism,
as Aristides was driven into exile by the Athenians. We shall see
newspapers started in the first instance by men of honor, falling sooner
or later into the hands of men of abilities even lower than the
average, but endowed with the resistance of flexibility of india-rubber,
qualities denied to noble genius; nay, perhaps the future newspaper
proprietor will be the tradesman with capital sufficient to buy venal
pens. We see such things already indeed, but in ten years’ time every
little youngster that has left school will take himself for a great man,
slash his predecessors from the lofty height of a newspaper column, drag
them down by the feet, and take their place.

“Napoleon did wisely when he muzzled the press. I would wager that the
Opposition papers would batter down a government of their own setting
up, just as they are battering the present government, if any demand
was refused. The more they have, the more they will want in the way
of concessions. The _parvenu_ journalist will be succeeded by the
starveling hack. There is no salve for this sore. It is a kind of
corruption which grows more and more obtrusive and malignant; the wider
it spreads, the more patiently it will be endured, until the day
comes when newspapers shall so increase and multiply in the earth that
confusion will be the result--a second Babel. We, all of us, such as
we are, have reason to know that crowned kings are less ungrateful than
kings of our profession; that the most sordid man of business is not so
mercenary nor so keen in speculation; that our brains are consumed to
furnish their daily supply of poisonous trash. And yet we, all of us,
shall continue to write, like men who work in quicksilver mines, knowing
that they are doomed to die of their trade.

“Look there,” he continued, “at that young man sitting beside
Coralie--what is his name? Lucien! He has a beautiful face; he is a
poet; and what is more, he is witty--so much the better for him. Well,
he will cross the threshold of one of those dens where a man’s intellect
is prostituted; he will put all his best and finest thought into his
work; he will blunt his intellect and sully his soul; he will be guilty
of anonymous meannesses which take the place of stratagem, pillage, and
ratting to the enemy in the warfare of _condottieri_. And when, like
hundreds more, he has squandered his genius in the service of others who
find the capital and do no work, those dealers in poisons will leave him
to starve if he is thirsty, and to die of thirst if he is starving.”

“Thanks,” said Finot.

“But, dear me,” continued Claude Vignon, “_I_ knew all this, yet here am
I in the galleys, and the arrival of another convict gives me pleasure.
We are cleverer, Blondet and I, than Messieurs This and That, who
speculate in our abilities, yet nevertheless we are always exploited by
them. We have a heart somewhere beneath the intellect; we have NOT
the grim qualities of the man who makes others work for him. We are
indolent, we like to look on at the game, we are meditative, and we are
fastidious; they will sweat our brains and blame us for improvidence.”

“I thought you would be more amusing than this!” said Florine.

“Florine is right,” said Blondet; “let us leave the cure of public evils
to those quacks the statesmen. As Charlet says, ‘Quarrel with my own
bread and butter? _Never_!’”

“Do you know what Vignon puts me in mind of?” said Lousteau. “Of one of
those fat women in the Rue du Pelican telling a schoolboy, ‘My boy, you
are too young to come here.’”

A burst of laughter followed the sally, but it pleased Coralie. The
merchants meanwhile ate and drank and listened.

“What a nation this is! You see so much good in it and so much evil,”
 said the Minister, addressing the Duc de Rhetore.--“You are prodigals
who cannot ruin yourselves, gentlemen.”

And so, by the blessing of chance, Lucien, standing on the brink of
the precipice over which he was destined to fall, heard warnings on all
sides. D’Arthez had set him on the right road, had shown him the noble
method of work, and aroused in him the spirit before which all obstacles
disappear. Lousteau himself (partly from selfish motives) had tried to
warn him away by describing Journalism and Literature in their practical
aspects. Lucien had refused to believe that there could be so much
hidden corruption; but now he had heard the journalists themselves
crying woe for their hurt, he had seen them at their work, had watched
them tearing their foster-mother’s heart to read auguries of the future.

That evening he had seen things as they are. He beheld the very heart’s
core of corruption of that Paris which Blucher so aptly described; and
so far from shuddering at the sight, he was intoxicated with enjoyment
of the intellectually stimulating society in which he found himself.

These extraordinary men, clad in armor damascened by their vices, these
intellects environed by cold and brilliant analysis, seemed so
far greater in his eyes than the grave and earnest members of the
brotherhood. And besides all this, he was reveling in his first taste of
luxury; he had fallen under the spell. His capricious instincts awoke;
for the first time in his life he drank exquisite wines, this was
his first experience of cookery carried to the pitch of a fine art.
A minister, a duke, and an opera-dancer had joined the party of
journalists, and wondered at their sinister power. Lucien felt a
horrible craving to reign over these kings, and he thought that he had
power to win his kingdom. Finally, there was this Coralie, made happy by
a few words of his. By the bright light of the wax-candles, through
the steam of the dishes and the fumes of wine, she looked sublimely
beautiful to his eyes, so fair had she grown with love. She was the
loveliest, the most beautiful actress in Paris. The brotherhood, the
heaven of noble thoughts, faded away before a temptation that appealed
to every fibre of his nature. How could it have been otherwise? Lucien’s
author’s vanity had just been gratified by the praises of those who
know; by the appreciation of his future rivals; the success of his
articles and his conquest of Coralie might have turned an older head
than his.

During the discussion, moreover, every one at table had made a
remarkably good supper, and such wines are not met with every day.
Lousteau, sitting beside Camusot, furtively poured cherry-brandy several
times into his neighbor’s wineglass, and challenged him to drink. And
Camusot drank, all unsuspicious, for he thought himself, in his own way,
a match for a journalist. The jokes became more personal when dessert
appeared and the wine began to circulate. The German Minister, a
keen-witted man of the world, made a sign to the Duke and Tullia, and
the three disappeared with the first symptoms of vociferous nonsense
which precede the grotesque scenes of an orgy in its final stage.
Coralie and Lucien had been behaving like children all the evening; as
soon as the wine was uppermost in Camusot’s head, they made good their
escape down the staircase and sprang into a cab. Camusot subsided under
the table; Matifat, looking round for him, thought that he had gone home
with Coralie, left his guests to smoke, laugh, and argue, and followed
Florine to her room. Daylight surprised the party, or more accurately,
the first dawn of light discovered one man still able to speak, and
Blondet, that intrepid champion, was proposing to the assembled sleepers
a health to Aurora the rosy-fingered.

Lucien was unaccustomed to orgies of this kind. His head was very
tolerably clear as he came down the staircase, but the fresh air was
too much for him; he was horribly drunk. When they reached the handsome
house in the Rue de Vendome, where the actress lived, Coralie and her
waiting-woman were obliged to assist the poet to climb to the first
floor. Lucien was ignominiously sick, and very nearly fainted on the
staircase.

“Quick, Berenice, some tea! Make some tea,” cried Coralie.

“It is nothing; it is the air,” Lucien got out, “and I have never taken
so much before in my life.”

“Poor boy! He is as innocent as a lamb,” said Berenice, a stalwart
Norman peasant woman as ugly as Coralie was pretty. Lucien, half
unconscious, was laid at last in bed. Coralie, with Berenice’s
assistance, undressed the poet with all a mother’s tender care.

“It is nothing,” he murmured again and again. “It is the air. Thank you,
mamma.”

“How charmingly he says ‘mamma,’” cried Coralie, putting a kiss on his
hair.

“What happiness to love such an angel, mademoiselle! Where did you pick
him up? I did not think a man could be as beautiful as you are,” said
Berenice, when Lucien lay in bed. He was very drowsy; he knew nothing
and saw nothing; Coralie made him swallow several cups of tea, and left
him to sleep.

“Did the porter see us? Was there anyone else about?” she asked.

“No; I was sitting up for you.”

“Does Victoire know anything?”

“Rather not!” returned Berenice.

Ten hours later Lucien awoke to meet Coralie’s eyes. She had watched by
him as he slept; he knew it, poet that he was. It was almost noon, but
she still wore the delicate dress, abominably stained, which she meant
to lay up as a relic. Lucien understood all the self-sacrifice and
delicacy of love, fain of its reward. He looked into Coralie’s eyes. In
a moment she had flung off her clothing and slipped like a serpent to
Lucien’s side.

At five o’clock in the afternoon Lucien was still sleeping, cradled in
this voluptuous paradise. He had caught glimpses of Coralie’s chamber,
an exquisite creation of luxury, a world of rose-color and white. He
had admired Florine’s apartments, but this surpassed them in its dainty
refinement.

Coralie had already risen; for if she was to play her part as the
Andalusian, she must be at the theatre by seven o’clock. Yet she had
returned to gaze at the unconscious poet, lulled to sleep in bliss; she
could not drink too deeply of this love that rose to rapture, drawing
close the bond between the heart and the senses, to steep both in
ecstasy. For in that apotheosis of human passion, which of those that
were twain on earth that they might know bliss to the full creates
one soul to rise to love in heaven, lay Coralie’s justification. Who,
moreover, would not have found excuse in Lucien’s more than human
beauty? To the actress kneeling by the bedside, happy in love within
her, it seemed that she had received love’s consecration. Berenice broke
in upon Coralie’s rapture.

“Here comes Camusot!” cried the maid. “And he knows that you are here.”

Lucien sprang up at once. Innate generosity suggested that he was doing
Coralie an injury. Berenice drew aside a curtain, and he fled into a
dainty dressing-room, whither Coralie and the maid brought his clothes
with magical speed.

Camusot appeared, and only then did Coralie’s eyes alight on Lucien’s
boots, warming in the fender. Berenice had privately varnished them, and
put them before the fire to dry; and both mistress and maid alike forgot
that tell-tale witness. Berenice left the room with a scared glance at
Coralie. Coralie flung herself into the depths of a settee, and bade
Camusot seat himself in the _gondole_, a round-backed chair that stood
opposite. But Coralie’s adorer, honest soul, dared not look his mistress
in the face; he could not take his eyes off the pair of boots.

“Ought I to make a scene and leave Coralie?” he pondered. “Is it worth
while to make a fuss about a trifle? There is a pair of boots wherever
you go. These would be more in place in a shop window or taking a walk
on the boulevard on somebody’s feet; here, however, without a pair of
feet in them, they tell a pretty plain tale. I am fifty years old, and
that is the truth; I ought to be as blind as Cupid himself.”

There was no excuse for this mean-spirited monologue. The boots were
not the high-lows at present in vogue, which an unobservant man may be
allowed to disregard up to a certain point. They were the unmistakable,
uncompromising hessians then prescribed by fashion, a pair of extremely
elegant betasseled boots, which shone in glistening contrast against
tight-fitting trousers invariably of some light color, and reflected
their surroundings like a mirror. The boots stared the honest
silk-mercer out of countenance, and, it must be added, they pained his
heart.

“What is it?” asked Coralie.

“Nothing.”

“Ring the bell,” said Coralie, smiling to herself at Camusot’s want of
spirit.--“Berenice,” she said, when the Norman handmaid appeared, “just
bring me a button-hook, for I must put on these confounded boots again.
Don’t forget to bring them to my dressing-room to-night.”

“What?... _your_ boots?”... faltered out Camusot, breathing more freely.

“And whose should they be?” she demanded haughtily. “Were you beginning
to believe?--great stupid! Oh! and he would believe it too,” she went
on, addressing Berenice.--“I have a man’s part in What’s-his-name’s
piece, and I have never worn a man’s clothes in my life before. The
bootmaker for the theatre brought me these things to try if I could walk
in them, until a pair can be made to measure. He put them on, but they
hurt me so much that I have taken them off, and after all I must wear
them.”

“Don’t put them on again if they are uncomfortable,” said Camusot. (The
boots had made him feel so very uncomfortable himself.)

“Mademoiselle would do better to have a pair made of very thin
morocco, sir, instead of torturing herself as she did just now; but the
management is so stingy. She was crying, sir; if I was a man and loved a
woman, I wouldn’t let her shed a tear, I know. You ought to order a pair
for her----”

“Yes, yes,” said Camusot. “Are you just getting up, Coralie?”

“Just this moment; I only came in at six o’clock after looking for you
everywhere. I was obliged to keep the cab for seven hours. So much for
your care of me; you forget me for a wine-bottle. I ought to take care
of myself now when I am to play every night so long as the _Alcalde_
draws. I don’t want to fall off after that young man’s notice of me.”

“That is a handsome boy,” said Camusot.

“Do you think so? I don’t admire men of that sort; they are too much
like women; and they do not understand how to love like you stupid old
business men. You are so bored with your own society.”

“Is monsieur dining with madame?” inquired Berenice.

“No, my mouth is clammy.”

“You were nicely screwed yesterday. Ah! Papa Camusot, I don’t like men
who drink, I tell you at once----”

“You will give that young man a present, I suppose?” interrupted
Camusot.

“Oh! yes. I would rather do that than pay as Florine does. There, go
away with you, good-for-nothing that one loves; or give me a carriage to
save time in future.”

“You shall go in your own carriage to-morrow to your manager’s dinner at
the _Rocher de Cancale_. The new piece will not be given next Sunday.”

“Come, I am just going to dine,” said Coralie, hurrying Camusot out of
the room.

An hour later Berenice came to release Lucien. Berenice, Coralie’s
companion since her childhood, had a keen and subtle brain in her
unwieldy frame.

“Stay here,” she said. “Coralie is coming back alone; she even talked of
getting rid of Camusot if he is in your way; but you are too much of an
angel to ruin her, her heart’s darling as you are. She wants to clear
out of this, she says; to leave this paradise and go and live in your
garret. Oh! there are those that are jealous and envious of you, and
they have told her that you haven’t a brass farthing, and live in the
Latin Quarter; and I should go, too, you see, to do the house-work.--But
I have just been comforting her, poor child! I have been telling her
that you were too clever to do anything so silly. I was right, wasn’t
I, sir? Oh! you will see that you are her darling, her love, the god to
whom she gives her soul; yonder old fool has nothing but the body.--If
you only knew how nice she is when I hear her say her part over! My
Coralie, my little pet, she is! She deserved that God in heaven should
send her one of His angels. She was sick of the life.--She was so
unhappy with her mother that used to beat her, and sold her. Yes, sir,
sold her own child! If I had a daughter, I would wait on her hand and
foot as I wait on Coralie; she is like my own child to me.--These are
the first good times she has seen since I have been with her; the first
time that she has been really applauded. You have written something,
it seems, and they have got up a famous _claque_ for the second
performance. Braulard has been going through the play with her while you
were asleep.”

“Who? Braulard?” asked Lucien; it seemed to him that he had heard the
name before.

“He is the head of the _claqueurs_, and she was arranging with him the
places where she wished him to look after her. Florine might try to
play her some shabby trick, and take all for herself, for all she calls
herself her friend. There is such a talk about your article on the
Boulevards.--Isn’t it a bed fit for a prince,” she said, smoothing the
lace bed-spread.

She lighted the wax-candles, and to Lucien’s bewildered fancy, the house
seemed to be some palace in the _Cabinet des Fees_. Camusot had chosen
the richest stuffs from the _Golden Cocoon_ for the hangings and
window-curtains. A carpet fit for a king’s palace was spread upon the
floor. The carving of the rosewood furniture caught and imprisoned the
light that rippled over its surface. Priceless trifles gleamed from the
white marble chimney-piece. The rug beside the bed was of swan’s skins
bordered with sable. A pair of little, black velvet slippers lined with
purple silk told of happiness awaiting the poet of _The Marguerites_. A
dainty lamp hung from the ceiling draped with silk. The room was full
of flowering plants, delicate white heaths and scentless camellias,
in stands marvelously wrought. Everything called up associations of
innocence. How was it possible in these rooms to see the life that
Coralie led in its true colors? Berenice noticed Lucien’s bewildered
expression.

“Isn’t it nice?” she said coaxingly. “You would be more comfortable
here, wouldn’t you, than in a garret?--You won’t let her do anything
rash?” she continued, setting a costly stand before him, covered with
dishes abstracted from her mistress’ dinner-table, lest the cook should
suspect that her mistress had a lover in the house.

Lucien made a good dinner. Berenice waiting on him, the dishes were
of wrought silver, the painted porcelain plates had cost a louis d’or
apiece. The luxury was producing exactly the same effect upon him that
the sight of a girl walking the pavement, with her bare flaunting throat
and neat ankles, produces upon a schoolboy.

“How lucky Camusot is!” cried he.

“Lucky?” repeated Berenice. “He would willingly give all that he is
worth to be in your place; he would be glad to barter his gray hair for
your golden head.”

She gave Lucien the richest wine that Bordeaux keeps for the wealthiest
English purchaser, and persuaded Lucien to go to bed to take a
preliminary nap; and Lucien, in truth, was quite willing to sleep on the
couch that he had been admiring. Berenice had read his wish, and felt
glad for her mistress.

At half-past ten that night Lucien awoke to look into eyes brimming over
with love. There stood Coralie in most luxurious night attire. Lucien
had been sleeping; Lucien was intoxicated with love, and not with wine.
Berenice left the room with the inquiry, “What time to-morrow morning?”

“At eleven o’clock. We will have breakfast in bed. I am not at home to
anybody before two o’clock.”

At two o’clock in the afternoon Coralie and her lover were sitting
together. The poet to all appearance had come to pay a call. Lucien had
been bathed and combed and dressed. Coralie had sent to Colliau’s for a
dozen fine shirts, a dozen cravats and a dozen pocket-handkerchiefs
for him, as well as twelve pairs of gloves in a cedar-wood box. When
a carriage stopped at the door, they both rushed to the window, and
watched Camusot alight from a handsome coupe.

“I would not have believed that one could so hate a man and luxury----”

“I am too poor to allow you to ruin yourself for me,” he replied. And
thus Lucien passed under the Caudine Forks.

“Poor pet,” said Coralie, holding him tightly to her, “do you love me
so much?--I persuaded this gentleman to call on me this morning,”
 she continued, indicating Lucien to Camusot, who entered the room. “I
thought that we might take a drive in the Champs Elysees to try the
carriage.”

“Go without me,” said Camusot in a melancholy voice; “I shall not dine
with you. It is my wife’s birthday, I had forgotten that.”

“Poor Musot, how badly bored you will be!” she said, putting her arms
about his neck.

She was wild with joy at the thought that she and Lucien would handsel
this gift together; she would drive with him in the new carriage; and
in her happiness, she seemed to love Camusot, she lavished caresses upon
him.

“If only I could give you a carriage every day!” said the poor fellow.

“Now, sir, it is two o’clock,” she said, turning to Lucien, who stood in
distress and confusion, but she comforted him with an adorable gesture.

Down the stairs she went, several steps at a time, drawing Lucien after
her; the elderly merchant following in their wake like a seal on land,
and quite unable to catch them up.

Lucien enjoyed the most intoxicating of pleasures; happiness had
increased Coralie’s loveliness to the highest possible degree; she
appeared before all eyes an exquisite vision in her dainty toilette. All
Paris in the Champs Elysees beheld the lovers.

In an avenue of the Bois de Boulogne they met a caleche; Mme. d’Espard
and Mme. de Bargeton looked in surprise at Lucien, and met a scornful
glance from the poet. He saw glimpses of a great future before him, and
was about to make his power felt. He could fling them back in a glance
some of the revengeful thoughts which had gnawed his heart ever since
they planted them there. That moment was one of the sweetest in his
life, and perhaps decided his fate. Once again the Furies seized on
Lucien at the bidding of Pride. He would reappear in the world of
Paris; he would take a signal revenge; all the social pettiness hitherto
trodden under foot by the worker, the member of the brotherhood, sprang
up again afresh in his soul.

Now he understood all that Lousteau’s attack had meant. Lousteau had
served his passions; while the brotherhood, that collective mentor, had
seemed to mortify them in the interests of tiresome virtues and work
which began to look useless and hopeless in Lucien’s eyes. Work! What is
it but death to an eager pleasure-loving nature? And how easy it is
for the man of letters to slide into a _far niente_ existence of
self-indulgence, into the luxurious ways of actresses and women of easy
virtues! Lucien felt an overmastering desire to continue the reckless
life of the last two days.

The dinner at the _Rocher de Cancale_ was exquisite. All Florine’s
supper guests were there except the Minister, the Duke, and the dancer;
Camusot, too, was absent; but these gaps were filled by two famous
actors and Hector Merlin and his mistress. This charming woman, who
chose to be known as Mme. du Val-Noble, was the handsomest and most
fashionable of the class of women now euphemistically styled _lorettes_.

Lucien had spent the forty-eight hours since the success of his article
in paradise. He was feted and envied; he gained self-possession; his
talk sparkled; he was the brilliant Lucien de Rubempre who shone for a
few months in the world of letters and art. Finot, with his infallible
instinct for discovering ability, scenting it afar as an ogre might
scent human flesh, cajoled Lucien, and did his best to secure a recruit
for the squadron under his command. And Coralie watched the manoeuvres
of this purveyor of brains, saw that Lucien was nibbling at the bait,
and tried to put him on his guard.

“Don’t make any engagement, dear boy; wait. They want to exploit you; we
will talk of it to-night.”

“Pshaw!” said Lucien. “I am sure I am quite as sharp and shrewd as they
can be.”

Finot and Hector Merlin evidently had not fallen out over that affair
of the white lines and spaces in the columns, for it was Finot who
introduced Lucien to the journalist. Coralie and Mme. du Val-Noble were
overwhelmingly amiable and polite to each other, and Mme. du Val-Noble
asked Lucien and Coralie to dine with her.

Hector Merlin, short and thin, with lips always tightly compressed, was
the most dangerous journalist present. Unbounded ambition and jealousy
smouldered within him; he took pleasure in the pain of others, and
fomented strife to turn it to his own account. His abilities were but
slender, and he had little force of character, but the natural instinct
which draws the upstart towards money and power served him as well
as fixity of purpose. Lucien and Merlin at once took a dislike to one
another, for reasons not far to seek. Merlin, unfortunately, proclaimed
aloud the thoughts that Lucien kept to himself. By the time the dessert
was put on the table, the most touching friendship appeared to prevail
among the men, each one of whom in his heart thought himself a cleverer
fellow than the rest; and Lucien as the newcomer was made much of by
them all. They chatted frankly and unrestrainedly. Hector Merlin, alone,
did not join in the laughter. Lucien asked the reason of his reserve.

“You are just entering the world of letters, I can see,” he said.
“You are a journalist with all your illusions left. You believe in
friendship. Here we are friends or foes, as it happens; we strike down a
friend with the weapon which by rights should only be turned against an
enemy. You will find out, before very long, that fine sentiments will do
nothing for you. If you are naturally kindly, learn to be ill-natured,
to be consistently spiteful. If you have never heard this golden rule
before, I give it you now in confidence, and it is no small secret. If
you have a mind to be loved, never leave your mistress until you
have made her shed a tear or two; and if you mean to make your way
in literature, let other people continually feel your teeth; make
no exception even of your friends; wound their susceptibilities, and
everybody will fawn upon you.”

Hector Merlin watched Lucien as he spoke, saw that his words went to the
neophyte’s heart like a stab, and Hector Merlin was glad. Play followed,
Lucien lost all his money, and Coralie brought him away; and he forgot
for a while, in the delights of love, the fierce excitement of the
gambler, which was to gain so strong a hold upon him.

When he left Coralie in the morning and returned to the Latin Quarter,
he took out his purse and found the money he had lost. At first he
felt miserable over the discovery, and thought of going back at once to
return a gift which humiliated him; but--he had already come as far as
the Rue de la Harpe; he would not return now that he had almost reached
the Hotel de Cluny. He pondered over Coralie’s forethought as he went,
till he saw in it a proof of the maternal love which is blended with
passion in women of her stamp. For Coralie and her like, passion
includes every human affection. Lucien went from thought to thought, and
argued himself into accepting the gift. “I love her,” he said; “we shall
live together as husband and wife; I will never forsake her!”

What mortal, short of a Diogenes, could fail to understand Lucien’s
feelings as he climbed the dirty, fetid staircase to his lodging, turned
the key that grated in the lock, and entered and looked round at the
unswept brick floor, at the cheerless grate, at the ugly poverty and
bareness of the room.

A package of manuscript was lying on the table. It was his novel; a note
from Daniel d’Arthez lay beside it:--


  “Our friends are almost satisfied with your work, dear poet,”
   d’Arthez wrote. “You will be able to present it with more
  confidence now, they say, to friends and enemies. We saw your
  charming article on the Panorama-Dramatique; you are sure to
  excite as much jealousy in the profession as regret among your
  friends here.                                 DANIEL.”


“Regrets! What does he mean?” exclaimed Lucien. The polite tone of
the note astonished him. Was he to be henceforth a stranger to the
brotherhood? He had learned to set a higher value on the good opinion
and the friendship of the circle in the Rue des Quatre-Vents since he
had tasted of the delicious fruits offered to him by the Eve of the
theatrical underworld. For some moments he stood in deep thought; he saw
his present in the garret, and foresaw his future in Coralie’s rooms.
Honorable resolution struggled with temptation and swayed him now this
way, now that. He sat down and began to look through his manuscript, to
see in what condition his friends had returned it to him. What was
his amazement, as he read chapter after chapter, to find his poverty
transmuted into riches by the cunning of the pen, and the devotion of
the unknown great men, his friends of the brotherhood. Dialogue, closely
packed, nervous, pregnant, terse, and full of the spirit of the age,
replaced his conversations, which seemed poor and pointless prattle in
comparison. His characters, a little uncertain in the drawing, now
stood out in vigorous contrast of color and relief; physiological
observations, due no doubt to Horace Bianchon, supplied links of
interpretations between human character and the curious phenomena of
human life--subtle touches which made his men and women live. His
wordy passages of description were condensed and vivid. The misshapen,
ill-clad child of his brain had returned to him as a lovely maiden,
with white robes and rosy-hued girdle and scarf--an entrancing creation.
Night fell and took him by surprise, reading through rising tears,
stricken to earth by such greatness of soul, feeling the worth of such
a lesson, admiring the alterations, which taught him more of literature
and art than all his four years’ apprenticeship of study and reading and
comparison. A master’s correction of a line made upon the study always
teaches more than all the theories and criticisms in the world.

“What friends are these! What hearts! How fortunate I am!” he cried,
grasping his manuscript tightly.

With the quick impulsiveness of a poetic and mobile temperament, he
rushed off to Daniel’s lodging. As he climbed the stairs, and thought of
these friends, who refused to leave the path of honor, he felt conscious
that he was less worthy of them than before. A voice spoke within him,
telling him that if d’Arthez had loved Coralie, he would have had her
break with Camusot. And, besides this, he knew that the brotherhood held
journalism in utter abhorrence, and that he himself was already, to some
small extent, a journalist. All of them, except Meyraux, who had just
gone out, were in d’Arthez’s room when he entered it, and saw that all
their faces were full of sorrow and despair.

“What is it?” he cried.

“We have just heard news of a dreadful catastrophe; the greatest thinker
of the age, our most loved friend, who was like a light among us for two
years----”

“Louis Lambert!”

“Has fallen a victim to catalepsy. There is no hope for him,” said
Bianchon.

“He will die, his soul wandering in the skies, his body unconscious on
earth,” said Michel Chrestien solemnly.

“He will die as he lived,” said d’Arthez.

“Love fell like a firebrand in the vast empire of his brain and burned
him away,” said Leon Giraud.

“Yes,” said Joseph Bridau, “he has reached a height that we cannot so
much as see.”

“_We_ are to be pitied, not Louis,” said Fulgence Ridal.

“Perhaps he will recover,” exclaimed Lucien.

“From what Meyraux has been telling us, recovery seems impossible,”
 answered Bianchon. “Medicine has no power over the change that is
working in his brain.”

“Yet there are physical means,” said d’Arthez.

“Yes,” said Bianchon; “we might produce imbecility instead of
catalepsy.”

“Is there no way of offering another head to the spirit of evil? I would
give mine to save him!” cried Michel Chrestien.

“And what would become of European federation?” asked d’Arthez.

“Ah! true,” replied Michel Chrestien. “Our duty to Humanity comes first;
to one man afterwards.”

“I came here with a heart full of gratitude to you all,” said Lucien.
“You have changed my alloy into golden coin.”

“Gratitude! For what do you take us?” asked Bianchon.

“We had the pleasure,” added Fulgence.

“Well, so you are a journalist, are you?” asked Leon Giraud. “The fame
of your first appearance has reached even the Latin Quarter.”

“I am not a journalist yet,” returned Lucien.

“Aha! So much the better,” said Michel Chrestien.

“I told you so!” said d’Arthez. “Lucien knows the value of a clean
conscience. When you can say to yourself as you lay your head on the
pillow at night, ‘I have not sat in judgment on another man’s work; I
have given pain to no one; I have not used the edge of my wit to deal
a stab to some harmless soul; I have sacrificed no one’s success to a
jest; I have not even troubled the happiness of imbecility; I have not
added to the burdens of genius; I have scorned the easy triumphs of
epigram; in short, I have not acted against my convictions,’ is not this
a viaticum that gives one daily strength?”

“But one can say all this, surely, and yet work on a newspaper,” said
Lucien. “If I had absolutely no other way of earning a living, I should
certainly come to this.”

“Oh! oh! oh!” cried Fulgence, his voice rising a note each time; “we are
capitulating, are we?”

“He will turn journalist,” Leon Giraud said gravely. “Oh, Lucien, if you
would only stay and work with us! We are about to bring out a periodical
in which justice and truth shall never be violated; we will spread
doctrines that, perhaps, will be of real service to mankind----”

“You will not have a single subscriber,” Lucien broke in with
Machiavellian wisdom.

“There will be five hundred of them,” asserted Michel Chrestien, “but
they will be worth five hundred thousand.”

“You will need a lot of capital,” continued Lucien.

“No, only devotion,” said d’Arthez.

“Anybody might take him for a perfumer’s assistant,” burst out Michel
Chrestien, looking at Lucien’s head, and sniffing comically. “You were
seen driving about in a very smart turnout with a pair of thoroughbreds,
and a mistress for a prince, Coralie herself.”

“Well, and is there any harm in it?”

“You would not say that if you thought that there was no harm in it,”
 said Bianchon.

“I could have wished Lucien a Beatrice,” said d’Arthez, “a noble woman,
who would have been a help to him in life----”

“But, Daniel,” asked Lucien, “love is love wherever you find it, is it
not?”

“Ah!” said the republican member, “on that one point I am an aristocrat.
I could not bring myself to love a woman who must rub shoulders with all
sorts of people in the green-room; whom an actor kisses on stage; she
must lower herself before the public, smile on every one, lift her
skirts as she dances, and dress like a man, that all the world may
see what none should see save I alone. Or if I loved such a woman, she
should leave the stage, and my love should cleanse her from the stain of
it.”

“And if she would not leave the stage?”

“I should die of mortification, jealousy, and all sorts of pain. You
cannot pluck love out of your heart as you draw a tooth.”

Lucien’s face grew dark and thoughtful.

“When they find out that I am tolerating Camusot, how they will despise
me,” he thought.

“Look here,” said the fierce republican, with humorous fierceness, “you
can be a great writer, but a little play-actor you shall never be,” and
he took up his hat and went out.

“He is hard, is Michel Chrestien,” commented Lucien.

“Hard and salutary, like the dentist’s pincers,” said Bianchon. “Michel
foresees your future; perhaps in the street, at this moment, he is
thinking of you with tears in his eyes.”

D’Arthez was kind, and talked comfortingly, and tried to cheer
Lucien. The poet spent an hour with his friends, then he went, but
his conscience treated him hardly, crying to him, “You will be a
journalist--a journalist!” as the witch cried to Macbeth that he should
be king hereafter!

Out in the street, he looked up at d’Arthez’s windows, and saw a faint
light shining in them, and his heart sank. A dim foreboding told him
that he had bidden his friends good-bye for the last time.

As he turned out of the Place de la Sorbonne into the Rue de Cluny, he
saw a carriage at the door of his lodging. Coralie had driven all the
way from the Boulevard du Temple for the sake of a moment with her lover
and a “good-night.” Lucien found her sobbing in his garret. She would be
as wretchedly poor as her poet, she wept, as she arranged his shirts and
gloves and handkerchiefs in the crazy chest of drawers. Her distress
was so real and so great, that Lucien, but even now chidden for his
connection with an actress, saw Coralie as a saint ready to assume the
hair-shirt of poverty. The adorable girl’s excuse for her visit was
an announcement that the firm of Camusot, Coralie, and Lucien meant to
invite Matifat, Florine, and Lousteau (the second trio) to supper; had
Lucien any invitations to issue to people who might be useful to him?
Lucien said that he would take counsel of Lousteau.

A few moments were spent together, and Coralie hurried away. She spared
Lucien the knowledge that Camusot was waiting for her below.

Next morning, at eight o’clock, Lucien went to Etienne Lousteau’s room,
found it empty, and hurried away to Florine. Lousteau and Florine,
settled into possession of their new quarters like a married couple,
received their friend in the pretty bedroom, and all three breakfasted
sumptuously together.

“Why, I should advise you, my boy, to come with me to see Felicien
Vernou,” said Lousteau, when they sat at table, and Lucien had mentioned
Coralie’s projected supper; “ask him to be of the party, and keep well
with him, if you can keep well with such a rascal. Felicien Vernou does
a _feuilleton_ for a political paper; he might perhaps introduce you,
and you could blossom out into leaders in it at your ease. It is a
Liberal paper, like ours; you will be a Liberal, that is the popular
party; and besides, if you mean to go over to the Ministerialists, you
would do better for yourself if they had reason to be afraid of you.
Then there is Hector Merlin and his Mme. du Val-Noble; you meet great
people at their house--dukes and dandies and millionaires; didn’t they
ask you and Coralie to dine with them?”

“Yes,” replied Lucien; “you are going too, and so is Florine.” Lucien
and Etienne were now on familiar terms after Friday’s debauch and the
dinner at the _Rocher de Cancale_.

“Very well, Merlin is on the paper; we shall come across him pretty
often; he is the chap to follow close on Finot’s heels. You would do
well to pay him attention; ask him and Mme. du Val-Noble to supper. He
may be useful to you before long; for rancorous people are always in
need of others, and he may do you a good turn if he can reckon on your
pen.”

“Your beginning has made enough sensation to smooth your way,” said
Florine; “take advantage of it at once, or you will soon be forgotten.”

“The bargain, the great business, is concluded,” Lousteau continued.
“That Finot, without a spark of talent in him, is to be editor of
Dauriat’s weekly paper, with a salary of six hundred francs per month,
and owner of a sixth share, for which he has not paid one penny. And I,
my dear fellow, am now editor of our little paper. Everything went
off as I expected; Florine managed superbly, she could give points to
Tallyrand himself.”

“We have a hold on men through their pleasures,” said Florine, “while a
diplomatist only works on their self-love. A diplomatist sees a man made
up for the occasion; we know him in his moments of folly, so our power
is greater.”

“And when the thing was settled, Matifat made the first and last joke of
his whole druggist’s career,” put in Lousteau. “He said, ‘This affair is
quite in my line; I am supplying drugs to the public.’”

“I suspect that Florine put him up to it,” cried Lucien.

“And by these means, my little dear, your foot is in the stirrup,”
 continued Lousteau.

“You were born with a silver spoon in your mouth,” remarked Florine.
“What lots of young fellows wait for years, wait till they are sick of
waiting, for a chance to get an article into a paper! You will do like
Emile Blondet. In six months’ time you will be giving yourself high and
mighty airs,” she added, with a mocking smile, in the language of her
class.

“Haven’t I been in Paris for three years?” said Lousteau, “and only
yesterday Finot began to pay me a fixed monthly salary of three hundred
francs, and a hundred francs per sheet for his paper.”

“Well; you are saying nothing!” exclaimed Florine, with her eyes turned
on Lucien.

“We shall see,” said Lucien.

“My dear boy, if you had been my brother, I could not have done more
for you,” retorted Lousteau, somewhat nettled, “but I won’t answer for
Finot. Scores of sharp fellows will besiege Finot for the next two days
with offers to work for low pay. I have promised for you, but you can
draw back if you like.--You little know how lucky you are,” he added
after a pause. “All those in our set combine to attack an enemy in
various papers, and lend each other a helping hand all round.”

“Let us go in the first place to Felicien Vernou,” said Lucien. He was
eager to conclude an alliance with such formidable birds of prey.

Lousteau sent for a cab, and the pair of friends drove to Vernou’s house
on the second floor up an alley in the Rue Mandar. To Lucien’s great
astonishment, the harsh, fastidious, and severe critic’s surroundings
were vulgar to the last degree. A marbled paper, cheap and shabby, with
a meaningless pattern repeated at regular intervals, covered the walls,
and a series of aqua tints in gilt frames decorated the apartment, where
Vernou sat at table with a woman so plain that she could only be the
legitimate mistress of the house, and two very small children perched
on high chairs with a bar in front to prevent the infants from tumbling
out. Felicien Vernou, in a cotton dressing-gown contrived out of the
remains of one of his wife’s dresses, was not over well pleased by this
invasion.

“Have you breakfasted, Lousteau?” he asked, placing a chair for Lucien.

“We have just left Florine; we have been breakfasting with her.”

Lucien could not take his eyes off Mme. Vernou. She looked like a stout,
homely cook, with a tolerably fair complexion, but commonplace to
the last degree. The lady wore a bandana tied over her night-cap, the
strings of the latter article of dress being tied so tightly under
the chin that her puffy cheeks stood out on either side. A shapeless,
beltless garment, fastened by a single button at the throat, enveloped
her from head to foot in such a fashion that a comparison to a milestone
at once suggested itself. Her health left no room for hope; her cheeks
were almost purple; her fingers looked like sausages. In a moment it
dawned upon Lucien how it was that Vernou was always so ill at ease in
society; here was the living explanation of his misanthropy. Sick of his
marriage, unable to bring himself to abandon his wife and family, he had
yet sufficient of the artistic temper to suffer continually from their
presence; Vernou was an actor by nature bound never to pardon the
success of another, condemned to chronic discontent because he was never
content with himself. Lucien began to understand the sour look which
seemed to add to the bleak expression of envy on Vernou’s face; the
acerbity of the epigrams with which his conversation was sown, the
journalist’s pungent phrases, keen and elaborately wrought as a
stiletto, were at once explained.

“Let us go into my study,” Vernou said, rising from the table; “you have
come on business, no doubt.”

“Yes and no,” replied Etienne Lousteau. “It is a supper, old chap.”

“I have brought a message from Coralie,” said Lucien (Mme. Vernou looked
up at once at the name), “to ask you to supper to-night at her house
to meet the same company as before at Florine’s, and a few more
besides--Hector Merlin and Mme. du Val-Noble and some others. There will
be play afterwards.”

“But we are engaged to Mme. Mahoudeau this evening, dear,” put in the
wife.

“What does that matter?” returned Vernou.

“She will take offence if we don’t go; and you are very glad of her when
you have a bill to discount.”

“This wife of mine, my dear boy, can never be made to understand that a
supper engagement for twelve o’clock does not prevent you from going to
an evening party that comes to an end at eleven. She is always with me
while I work,” he added.

“You have so much imagination!” said Lucien, and thereby made a mortal
enemy of Vernou.

“Well,” continued Lousteau, “you are coming; but that is not all. M. de
Rubempre is about to be one of us, so you must push him in your paper.
Give him out for a chap that will make a name for himself in literature,
so that he can put in at least a couple of articles every month.”

“Yes, if he means to be one of us, and will attack our enemies, as
we will attack his, I will say a word for him at the Opera to-night,”
 replied Vernou.

“Very well--good-bye till to-morrow, my boy,” said Lousteau, shaking
hands with every sign of cordiality. “When is your book coming out?”

“That depends on Dauriat; it is ready,” said Vernou _pater-familias_.

“Are you satisfied?”

“Yes and no----”

“We will get up a success,” said Lousteau, and he rose with a bow to his
colleague’s wife.

The abrupt departure was necessary indeed; for the two infants, engaged
in a noisy quarrel, were fighting with their spoons, and flinging the
pap in each other’s faces.

“That, my boy, is a woman who all unconsciously will work great havoc
in contemporary literature,” said Etienne, when they came away. “Poor
Vernou cannot forgive us for his wife. He ought to be relieved of her in
the interests of the public; and a deluge of blood-thirsty reviews and
stinging sarcasms against successful men of every sort would be averted.
What is to become of a man with such a wife and that pair of abominable
brats? Have you seen Rigaudin in Picard’s _La Maison en Loterie_? You
have? Well, like Rigaudin, Vernou will not fight himself, but he will
set others fighting; he would give an eye to put out both eyes in the
head of the best friend he has. You will see him using the bodies of
the slain for a stepping-stone, rejoicing over every one’s misfortunes,
attacking princes, dukes, marquises, and nobles, because he himself is
a commoner; reviling the work of unmarried men because he forsooth has
a wife; and everlastingly preaching morality, the joys of domestic life,
and the duties of the citizen. In short, this very moral critic will
spare no one, not even infants of tender age. He lives in the Rue Mandar
with a wife who might be the _Mamamouchi_ of the _Bourgeois gentilhomme_
and a couple of little Vernous as ugly as sin. He tries to sneer at
the Faubourg Saint-Germain, where he will never set foot, and makes his
duchesses talk like his wife. That is the sort of man to raise a howl
at the Jesuits, insult the Court, and credit the Court party with the
design of restoring feudal rights and the right of primogeniture--just
the one to preach a crusade for Equality, he that thinks himself the
equal of no one. If he were a bachelor, he would go into society; if he
were in a fair way to be a Royalist poet with a pension and the Cross
of the Legion of Honor, he would be an optimist, and journalism offers
starting-points by the hundred. Journalism is the giant catapult set in
motion by pigmy hatreds. Have you any wish to marry after this? Vernou
has none of the milk of human kindness in him, it is all turned to gall;
and he is emphatically the Journalist, a tiger with two hands that tears
everything to pieces, as if his pen had the hydrophobia.”

“It is a case of gunophobia,” said Lucien. “Has he ability?”

“He is witty, he is a writer of articles. He incubates articles; he does
that all his life and nothing else. The most dogged industry would fail
to graft a book on his prose. Felicien is incapable of conceiving a work
on a large scale, of broad effects, of fitting characters harmoniously
in a plot which develops till it reaches a climax. He has ideas, but
he has no knowledge of facts; his heroes are utopian creatures,
philosophical or Liberal notions masquerading. He is at pains to
write an original style, but his inflated periods would collapse at a
pin-prick from a critic; and therefore he goes in terror of reviews,
like every one else who can only keep his head above water with the
bladders of newspaper puffs.”

“What an article you are making out of him!”

“That particular kind, my boy, must be spoken, and never written.”

“You are turning editor,” said Lucien.

“Where shall I put you down?”

“At Coralie’s.”

“Ah! we are infatuated,” said Lousteau. “What a mistake! Do as I do with
Florine, let Coralie be your housekeeper, and take your fling.”

“You would send a saint to perdition,” laughed Lucien.

“Well, there is no damning a devil,” retorted Lousteau.

The flippant tone, the brilliant talk of this new friend, his views of
life, his paradoxes, the axioms of Parisian Machiavelism,--all these
things impressed Lucien unawares. Theoretically the poet knew that such
thoughts were perilous; but he believed them practically useful.

Arrived in the Boulevard du Temple, the friends agreed to meet at the
office between four and five o’clock. Hector Merlin would doubtless be
there. Lousteau was right. The infatuation of desire was upon Lucien;
for the courtesan who loves knows how to grapple her lover to her
by every weakness in his nature, fashioning herself with incredible
flexibility to his every wish, encouraging the soft, effeminate habits
which strengthen her hold. Lucien was thirsting already for enjoyment;
he was in love with the easy, luxurious, and expensive life which the
actress led.

He found Coralie and Camusot intoxicated with joy. The Gymnase offered
Coralie an engagement after Easter on terms for which she had never
dared to hope.

“And this great success is owing to you,” said Camusot.

“Yes, surely. _The Alcalde_ would have fallen flat but for him,” cried
Coralie; “if there had been no article, I should have been in for
another six years of the Boulevard theatres.”

She danced up to Lucien and flung her arms round him, putting an
indescribable silken softness and sweetness into her enthusiasm. Love
had come to Coralie. And Camusot? his eyes fell. Looking down after the
wont of mankind in moments of sharp pain, he saw the seam of Lucien’s
boots, a deep yellow thread used by the best bootmakers of that time, in
strong contrast with the glistening leather. The color of that seam had
tinged his thoughts during a previous conversation with himself, as
he sought to explain the presence of a mysterious pair of hessians in
Coralie’s fender. He remembered now that he had seen the name of “Gay,
Rue de la Michodiere,” printed in black letters on the soft white kid
lining.

“You have a handsome pair of boots, sir,” he said.

“Like everything else about him,” said Coralie.

“I should be very glad of your bootmaker’s address.”

“Oh, how like the Rue des Bourdonnais to ask for a tradesman’s address,”
 cried Coralie. “Do _you_ intend to patronize a young man’s bootmaker? A
nice young man you would make! Do keep to your own top-boots; they are
the kind for a steady-going man with a wife and family and a mistress.”

“Indeed, if you would take off one of your boots, sir, I should be very
much obliged,” persisted Camusot.

“I could not get it on again without a button-hook,” said Lucien,
flushing up.

“Berenice will fetch you one; we can do with some here,” jeered Camusot.

“Papa Camusot!” said Coralie, looking at him with cruel scorn, “have the
courage of your pitiful baseness. Come, speak out! You think that this
gentleman’s boots are very like mine, do you not?--I forbid you to take
off your boots,” she added, turning to Lucien.--“Yes, M. Camusot. Yes,
you saw some boots lying about in the fender here the other day,
and that is the identical pair, and this gentleman was hiding in my
dressing-room at the time, waiting for them; and he had passed the night
here. That was what you were thinking, _hein_? Think so; I would rather
you did. It is the simple truth. I am deceiving you. And if I am? I do
it to please myself.”

She sat down. There was no anger in her face, no embarrassment; she
looked from Camusot to Lucien. The two men avoided each other’s eyes.

“I will believe nothing that you do not wish me to believe,” said
Camusot. “Don’t play with me, Coralie; I was wrong----”

“I am either a shameless baggage that has taken a sudden fancy; or a
poor, unhappy girl who feels what love really is for the first time, the
love that all women long for. And whichever way it is, you must leave
me or take me as I am,” she said, with a queenly gesture that crushed
Camusot.

“Is it really true?” he asked, seeing from their faces that this was no
jest, yet begging to be deceived.

“I love mademoiselle,” Lucien faltered out.

At that word, Coralie sprang to her poet and held him tightly to her;
then, with her arms still about him, she turned to the silk-mercer, as
if to bid him see the beautiful picture made by two young lovers.

“Poor Musot, take all that you gave to me back again; I do not want
to keep anything of yours; for I love this boy here madly, not for his
intellect, but for his beauty. I would rather starve with him than have
millions with you.”

Camusot sank into a low chair, hid his face in his hands, and said not a
word.

“Would you like us to go away?” she asked. There was a note of ferocity
in her voice which no words can describe.

Cold chills ran down Lucien’s spine; he beheld himself burdened with a
woman, an actress, and a household.

“Stay here, Coralie; keep it all,” the old tradesman said at last, in a
faint, unsteady voice that came from his heart; “I don’t want anything
back. There is the worth of sixty thousand francs here in the furniture;
but I could not bear to think of my Coralie in want. And yet, it will
not be long before you come to want. However great this gentleman’s
talent may be, he can’t afford to keep you. We old fellows must expect
this sort of thing. Coralie, let me come and see you sometimes; I may be
of use to you. And--I confess it; I cannot live without you.”

The poor man’s gentleness, stripped as he was of his happiness just as
happiness had reached its height, touched Lucien deeply. Coralie was
quite unsoftened by it.

“Come as often as you wish, poor Musot,” she said; “I shall like you all
the better when I don’t pretend to love you.”

Camusot seemed to be resigned to his fate so long as he was not driven
out of the earthly paradise, in which his life could not have been all
joy; he trusted to the chances of life in Paris and to the temptations
that would beset Lucien’s path; he would wait a while, and all that
had been his should be his again. Sooner or later, thought the wily
tradesman, this handsome young fellow would be unfaithful; he would keep
a watch on him; and the better to do this and use his opportunity with
Coralie, he would be their friend. The persistent passion that could
consent to such humiliation terrified Lucien. Camusot’s proposal of a
dinner at Very’s in the Palais Royal was accepted.

“What joy!” cried Coralie, as soon as Camusot had departed. “You will
not go back now to your garret in the Latin Quarter; you will live here.
We shall always be together. You can take a room in the Rue Charlot for
the sake of appearances, and _vogue le galere_!”

She began to dance her Spanish dance, with an excited eagerness that
revealed the strength of the passion in her heart.

“If I work hard I may make five hundred francs a month,” Lucien said.

“And I shall make as much again at the theatre, without counting extras.
Camusot will pay for my dresses as before. He is fond of me! We can live
like Croesus on fifteen hundred francs a month.”

“And the horses? and the coachman? and the footman?” inquired Berenice.

“I will get into debt,” said Coralie. And she began to dance with
Lucien.

“I must close with Finot after this,” Lucien exclaimed.

“There!” said Coralie, “I will dress and take you to your office. I will
wait outside in the boulevard for you with the carriage.”

Lucien sat down on the sofa and made some very sober reflections as he
watched Coralie at her toilet. It would have been wiser to leave Coralie
free than to start all at once with such an establishment; but Coralie
was there before his eyes, and Coralie was so lovely, so graceful,
so bewitching, that the more picturesque aspects of bohemia were in
evidence; and he flung down the gauntlet to fortune.

Berenice was ordered to superintend Lucien’s removal and installation;
and Coralie, triumphant, radiant, and happy, carried off her love,
her poet, and must needs go all over Paris on the way to the Rue
Saint-Fiacre. Lucien sprang lightly up the staircase, and entered the
office with an air of being quite at home. Coloquinte was there with
the stamped paper still on his head; and old Giroudeau told him again,
hypocritically enough, that no one had yet come in.

“But the editor and contributors _must_ meet somewhere or other to
arrange about the journal,” said Lucien.

“Very likely; but I have nothing to do with the writing of the paper,”
 said the Emperor’s captain, resuming his occupation of checking off
wrappers with his eternal broum! broum!

Was it lucky or unlucky? Finot chanced to come in at that very moment
to announce his sham abdication and to bid Giroudeau watch over his
interests.

“No shilly-shally with this gentleman; he is on the staff,” Finot added
for his uncle’s benefit, as he grasped Lucien by the hand.

“Oh! is he on the paper?” exclaimed Giroudeau, much surprised at this
friendliness. “Well, sir, you came on without much difficulty.”

“I want to make things snug for you here, lest Etienne should bamboozle
you,” continued Finot, looking knowingly at Lucien. “This gentleman will
be paid three francs per column all round, including theatres.”

“You have never taken any one on such terms before,” said Giroudeau,
opening his eyes.

“And he will take the four Boulevard theatres. See that nobody sneaks
his boxes, and that he gets his share of tickets.--I should advise you,
nevertheless, to have them sent to your address,” he added, turning to
Lucien.--“And he agrees to write besides ten miscellaneous articles of
two columns each, for fifty francs per month, for one year. Does that
suit you?”

“Yes,” said Lucien. Circumstances had forced his hand.

“Draw up the agreement, uncle, and we will sign it when we come
downstairs.”

“Who is the gentleman?” inquired Giroudeau, rising and taking off his
black silk skull-cap.

“M. Lucien de Rubempre, who wrote the article on _The Alcalde_.”

“Young man, you have a gold mine _there_,” said the old soldier, tapping
Lucien on the forehead. “I am not literary myself, but I read that
article of yours, and I liked it. That is the kind of thing! There’s
gaiety for you! ‘That will bring us new subscribers,’ says I to myself.
And so it did. We sold fifty more numbers.”

“Is my agreement with Lousteau made out in duplicate and ready to sign?”
 asked Finot, speaking aside.

“Yes.”

“Then ante-date this gentleman’s agreement by one day, so that Lousteau
will be bound by the previous contract.”

Finot took his new contributor’s arm with a friendliness that charmed
Lucien, and drew him out on the landing to say:--

“Your position is made for you. I will introduce you to _my_ staff
myself, and to-night Lousteau will go round with you to the theatres.
You can make a hundred and fifty francs per month on this little paper
of ours with Lousteau as its editor, so try to keep well with him. The
rogue bears a grudge against me as it is, for tying his hands so far
as you are concerned; but you have ability, and I don’t choose that you
shall be subjected to the whims of the editor. You might let me have
a couple of sheets every month for my review, and I will pay you two
hundred francs. This is between ourselves, don’t mention it to anybody
else; I should be laid open to the spite of every one whose vanity
is mortified by your good fortune. Write four articles, fill your two
sheets, sign two with your own name, and two with a pseudonym, so that
you may not seem to be taking the bread out of anybody else’s mouth.
You owe your position to Blondet and Vignon; they think that you have a
future before you. So keep out of scrapes, and, above all things, be on
your guard against your friends. As for me, we shall always get on
well together, you and I. Help me, and I will help you. You have forty
francs’ worth of boxes and tickets to sell, and sixty francs’ worth of
books to convert into cash. With that and your work on the paper, you
will be making four hundred and fifty francs every month. If you use
your wits, you will find ways of making another two hundred francs
at least among the publishers; they will pay you for reviews and
prospectuses. But you are mine, are you not? I can count upon you.”

Lucien squeezed Finot’s hand in transports of joy which no words can
express.

“Don’t let any one see that anything has passed between us,” said Finot
in his ear, and he flung open a door of a room in the roof at the end of
a long passage on the fifth floor.

A table covered with a green cloth was drawn up to a blazing fire,
and seated in various chairs and lounges Lucien discovered Lousteau,
Felicien Vernou, Hector Merlin, and two others unknown to him, all
laughing or smoking. A real inkstand, full of ink this time, stood on
the table among a great litter of papers; while a collection of pens,
the worse for wear, but still serviceable for journalists, told the new
contributor very plainly that the mighty enterprise was carried on in
this apartment.

“Gentlemen,” said Finot, “the object of this gathering is the
installation of our friend Lousteau in my place as editor of the
newspaper which I am compelled to relinquish. But although my opinions
will necessarily undergo a transformation when I accept the editorship
of a review of which the politics are known to you, my _convictions_
remain the same, and we shall be friends as before. I am quite at
your service, and you likewise will be ready to do anything for me.
Circumstances change; principles are fixed. Principles are the pivot on
which the hands of the political barometer turn.”

There was an instant shout of laughter.

“Who put that into your mouth?” asked Lousteau.

“Blondet!” said Finot.

“Windy, showery, stormy, settled fair,” said Merlin; “we will all row in
the same boat.”

“In short,” continued Finot, “not to muddle our wits with metaphors,
any one who has an article or two for me will always find Finot.--This
gentleman,” turning to Lucien, “will be one of you.--I have arranged
with him, Lousteau.”

Every one congratulated Finot on his advance and new prospects.

“So there you are, mounted on our shoulders,” said a contributor whom
Lucien did not know. “You will be the Janus of Journal----”

“So long as he isn’t the Janot,” put in Vernou.

“Are you going to allow us to make attacks on our _betes noires_?”

“Any one you like.”

“Ah, yes!” said Lousteau; “but the paper must keep on its lines. M.
Chatelet is very wroth; we shall not let him off for a week yet.”

“What has happened?” asked Lucien.

“He came here to ask for an explanation,” said Vernou. “The Imperial
buck found old Giroudeau at home; and old Giroudeau told him, with
all the coolness in the world, that Philippe Bridau wrote the article.
Philippe asked the Baron to mention the time and the weapons, and there
it ended. We are engaged at this moment in offering excuses to the Baron
in to-morrow’s issue. Every phrase is a stab for him.”

“Keep your teeth in him and he will come round to me,” said Finot; “and
it will look as if I were obliging him by appeasing you. He can say a
word to the Ministry, and we can get something or other out of him--an
assistant schoolmaster’s place, or a tobacconist’s license. It is a
lucky thing for us that we flicked him on the raw. Does anybody here
care to take a serious article on Nathan for my new paper?”

“Give it to Lucien,” said Lousteau. “Hector and Vernou will write
articles in their papers at the same time.”

“Good-day, gentlemen; we shall meet each other face to face at
Barbin’s,” said Finot, laughing.

Lucien received some congratulations on his admission to the mighty army
of journalists, and Lousteau explained that they could be sure of
him. “Lucien wants you all to sup in a body at the house of the fair
Coralie.”

“Coralie is going on at the Gymnase,” said Lucien.

“Very well, gentlemen; it is understood that we push Coralie, eh? Put
a few lines about her new engagement in your papers, and say something
about her talent. Credit the management of the Gymnase with tack and
discernment; will it do to say intelligence?”

“Yes, say intelligence,” said Merlin; “Frederic has something of
Scribe’s.”

“Oh! Well, then, the manager of the Gymnase is the most perspicacious
and far-sighted of men of business,” said Vernou.

“Look here! don’t write your articles on Nathan until we have come to an
understanding; you shall hear why,” said Etienne Lousteau. “We ought
to do something for our new comrade. Lucien here has two books to bring
out--a volume of sonnets and a novel. The power of the paragraph should
make him a great poet due in three months; and we will make use of his
sonnets (_Marguerites_ is the title) to run down odes, ballads, and
reveries, and all the Romantic poetry.”

“It would be a droll thing if the sonnets were no good after all,” said
Vernou.--“What do you yourself think of your sonnets, Lucien?”

“Yes, what do you think of them?” asked one of the two whom Lucien did
not know.

“They are all right, gentlemen; I give you my word,” said Lousteau.

“Very well, that will do for me,” said Vernou; “I will heave your book
at the poets of the sacristy; I am tired of them.”

“If Dauriat declines to take the _Marguerites_ this evening, we will
attack him by pitching into Nathan.”

“But what will Nathan say?” cried Lucien.

His five colleagues burst out laughing.

“Oh! he will be delighted,” said Vernou. “You will see how we manage
these things.”

“So he is one of us?” said one of the two journalists.

“Yes, yes, Frederic; no tricks.--We are all working for you, Lucien, you
see; you must stand by us when your turn comes. We are all friends
of Nathan’s, and we are attacking him. Now, let us divide Alexander’s
empire.--Frederic, will you take the Francais and the Odeon?”

“If these gentlemen are willing,” returned the person addressed as
Frederic. The others nodded assent, but Lucien saw a gleam of jealousy
here and there.

“I am keeping the Opera, the Italiens, and the Opera-Comique,” put in
Vernou.

“And how about me? Am I to have no theatres at all?” asked the second
stranger.

“Oh well, Hector can let you have the Varietes, and Lucien can spare you
the Porte Saint-Martin.--Let him have the Porte Saint-Martin, Lucien,
he is wild about Fanny Beaupre; and you can take the Cirque-Olympique in
exchange. I shall have Bobino and the Funambules and Madame Saqui. Now,
what have we for to-morrow?”

“Nothing.”

“Nothing?”

“Nothing.”

“Gentlemen, be brilliant for my first number. The Baron du Chatelet
and his cuttlefish bone will not last for a week, and the writer of _Le
Solitaire_ is worn out.”

“And ‘Sosthenes-Demosthenes’ is stale too,” said Vernou; “everybody has
taken it up.”

“The fact is, we want a new set of ninepins,” said Frederic.

“Suppose that we take the virtuous representatives of the Right?”
 suggested Lousteau. “We might say that M. de Bonald has sweaty feet.”

“Let us begin a series of sketches of Ministerialist orators,” suggested
Hector Merlin.

“You do that, youngster; you know them; they are your own party,” said
Lousteau; “you could indulge any little private grudges of your own.
Pitch into Beugnot and Syrieys de Mayrinhac and the rest. You might have
the sketches ready in advance, and we shall have something to fall back
upon.”

“How if we invented one or two cases of refusal of burial with
aggravating circumstances?” asked Hector.

“Do not follow in the tracks of the big Constitutional papers; they have
pigeon-holes full of ecclesiastical _canards_,” retorted Vernou.

“_Canards_?” repeated Lucien.

“That is our word for a scrap of fiction told for true, put in to
enliven the column of morning news when it is flat. We owe the discovery
to Benjamin Franklin, the inventor of the lightning conductor and the
republic. That journalist completely deceived the Encyclopaedists by
his transatlantic _canards_. Raynal gives two of them for facts in his
_Histoire philosophique des Indes_.”

“I did not know that,” said Vernou. “What were the stories?”

“One was a tale about an Englishman and a negress who helped him to
escape; he sold the woman for a slave after getting her with child
himself to enhance her value. The other was the eloquent defence of a
young woman brought before the authorities for bearing a child out of
wedlock. Franklin owned to the fraud in Necker’s house when he came to
Paris, much to the confusion of French philosophism. Behold how the New
World twice set a bad example to the Old!”

“In journalism,” said Lousteau, “everything that is probable is true.
That is an axiom.”

“Criminal procedure is based on the same rule,” said Vernou.

“Very well, we meet here at nine o’clock,” and with that they rose, and
the sitting broke up with the most affecting demonstrations of intimacy
and good-will.

“What have you done to Finot, Lucien, that he should make a special
arrangement with you? You are the only one that he has bound to
himself,” said Etienne Lousteau, as they came downstairs.

“I? Nothing. It was his own proposal,” said Lucien.

“As a matter of fact, if you should make your own terms with him, I
should be delighted; we should, both of us, be the better for it.”

On the ground floor they found Finot. He stepped across to Lousteau and
asked him into the so-called private office. Giroudeau immediately put a
couple of stamped agreements before Lucien.

“Sign your agreement,” he said, “and the new editor will think the whole
thing was arranged yesterday.”

Lucien, reading the document, overheard fragments of a tolerably warm
dispute within as to the line of conduct and profits of the paper.
Etienne Lousteau wanted his share of the blackmail levied by Giroudeau;
and, in all probability, the matter was compromised, for the pair came
out perfectly good friends.

“We will meet at Dauriat’s, Lucien, in the Wooden Galleries at eight
o’clock,” said Etienne Lousteau.

A young man appeared, meanwhile, in search of employment, wearing the
same nervous shy look with which Lucien himself had come to the office
so short a while ago; and in his secret soul Lucien felt amused as
he watched Giroudeau playing off the same tactics with which the old
campaigner had previously foiled him. Self-interest opened his eyes to
the necessity of the manoeuvres which raised well-nigh insurmountable
barriers between beginners and the upper room where the elect were
gathered together.

“Contributors don’t get very much as it is,” he said, addressing
Giroudeau.

“If there were more of you, there would be so much less,” retorted the
captain. “So there!”

The old campaigner swung his loaded cane, and went down coughing as
usual. Out in the street he was amazed to see a handsome carriage
waiting on the boulevard for Lucien.

“_You_ are the army nowadays,” he said, “and we are the civilians.”

“Upon my word,” said Lucien, as he drove away with Coralie, “these young
writers seem to me to be the best fellows alive. Here am I a journalist,
sure of making six hundred francs a month if I work like a horse. But I
shall find a publisher for my two books, and I will write others; for my
friends will insure a success. And so, Coralie, ‘_vogue le galere_!’ as
you say.”

“You will make your way, dear boy; but you must not be as good-natured
as you are good-looking; it would be the ruin of you. Be ill-natured,
that is the proper thing.”

Coralie and Lucien drove in the Bois de Boulogne, and again they met the
Marquise d’Espard, Mme. de Bargeton and the Baron du Chatelet. Mme.
de Bargeton gave Lucien a languishing glance which might be taken as
a greeting. Camusot had ordered the best possible dinner; and Coralie,
feeling that she was rid of her adorer, was more charming to the poor
silk-mercer than she had ever been in the fourteen months during
which their connection lasted; he had never seen her so kindly, so
enchantingly lovely.

“Come,” he thought, “let us keep near her anyhow!”

In consequence, Camusot made secret overtures. He promised Coralie an
income of six thousand livres; he would transfer the stock in the funds
into her name (his wife knew nothing about the investment) if only she
would consent to be his mistress still. He would shut his eyes to her
lover.

“And betray such an angel?... Why, just look at him, you old fossil, and
look at yourself!” and her eyes turned to her poet. Camusot had pressed
Lucien to drink till the poet’s head was rather cloudy.

There was no help for it; Camusot made up his mind to wait till sheer
want should give him this woman a second time.

“Then I can only be your friend,” he said, as he kissed her on the
forehead.

Lucien went from Coralie and Camusot to the Wooden Galleries. What a
change had been wrought in his mind by his initiation into Journalism!
He mixed fearlessly now with the crowd which surged to and fro in the
buildings; he even swaggered a little because he had a mistress; and
he walked into Dauriat’s shop in an offhand manner because he was a
journalist.

He found himself among distinguished men; gave a hand to Blondet
and Nathan and Finot, and to all the coterie with whom he had been
fraternizing for a week. He was a personage, he thought, and he
flattered himself that he surpassed his comrades. That little flick
of the wine did him admirable service; he was witty, he showed that he
could “howl with the wolves.”

And yet, the tacit approval, the praises spoken and unspoken on which
he had counted, were not forthcoming. He noticed the first stirrings of
jealousy among a group, less curious, perhaps, than anxious to know
the place which this newcomer might take, and the exact portion of the
sum-total of profits which he would probably secure and swallow. Lucien
only saw smiles on two faces--Finot, who regarded him as a mine to be
exploited, and Lousteau, who considered that he had proprietary rights
in the poet, looked glad to see him. Lousteau had begun already to
assume the airs of an editor; he tapped sharply on the window-panes of
Dauriat’s private office.

“One moment, my friend,” cried a voice within as the publisher’s face
appeared above the green curtains.

The moment lasted an hour, and finally Lucien and Etienne were admitted
into the sanctum.

“Well, have you thought over our friend’s proposal?” asked Etienne
Lousteau, now an editor.

“To be sure,” said Dauriat, lolling like a sultan in his chair. “I have
read the volume. And I submitted it to a man of taste, a good judge; for
I don’t pretend to understand these things myself. I myself, my
friend, buy reputations ready-made, as the Englishman bought his love
affairs.--You are as great as a poet as you are handsome as a man, my
boy,” pronounced Dauriat. “Upon my word and honor (I don’t tell you that
as a publisher, mind), your sonnets are magnificent; no sign of effort
about them, as is natural when a man writes with inspiration and verve.
You know your craft, in fact, one of the good points of the new school.
Your volume of _Marguerites_ is a fine book, but there is no business in
it, and it is not worth my while to meddle with anything but a very big
affair. In conscience, I won’t take your sonnets. It would be impossible
to push them; there is not enough in the thing to pay the expenses of
a big success. You will not keep to poetry besides; this book of yours
will be your first and last attempt of the kind. You are young; you
bring me the everlasting volume of early verse which every man of
letters writes when he leaves school, he thinks a lot of it at the time,
and laughs at it later on. Lousteau, your friend, has a poem put away
somewhere among his old socks, I’ll warrant. Haven’t you a poem that you
thought a good deal of once, Lousteau?” inquired Dauriat, with a knowing
glance at the other.

“How should I be writing prose otherwise, eh?” asked Lousteau.

“There, you see! He has never said a word to me about it, for our friend
understands business and the trade,” continued Dauriat. “For me the
question is not whether you are a great poet, I know that,” he added,
stroking down Lucien’s pride; “you have a great deal, a very great deal
of merit; if I were only just starting in business, I should make the
mistake of publishing your book. But in the first place, my sleeping
partners and those at the back of me are cutting off my supplies; I
dropped twenty thousand francs over poetry last year, and that is enough
for them; they will not hear of any more just now, and they are my
masters. Nevertheless, that is not the question. I admit that you may be
a great poet, but will you be a prolific writer? Will you hatch sonnets
regularly? Will you run into ten volumes? Is there business in it? Of
course not. You will be a delightful prose writer; you have too much
sense to spoil your style with tagging rhymes together. You have a
chance to make thirty thousand francs per annum by writing for the
papers, and you will not exchange that chance for three thousand
francs made with difficulty by your hemistiches and strophes and
tomfoolery----”

“You know that he is on the paper, Dauriat?” put in Lousteau.

“Yes,” Dauriat answered. “Yes, I saw his article, and in his own
interests I decline the _Marguerites_. Yes, sir, in six months’ time I
shall have paid you more money for the articles that I shall ask you to
write than for your poetry that will not sell.”

“And fame?” said Lucien.

Dauriat and Lousteau laughed.

“Oh dear!” said Lousteau, “there be illusions left.”

“Fame means ten years of sticking to work, and a hundred thousand francs
lost or made in the publishing trade. If you find anybody mad enough to
print your poetry for you, you will feel some respect for me in
another twelvemonth, when you have had time to see the outcome of the
transaction.”

“Have you the manuscript here?” Lucien asked coldly.

“Here it is, my friend,” said Dauriat. The publisher’s manner towards
Lucien had sweetened singularly.

Lucien took up the roll without looking at the string, so sure he felt
that Dauriat had read his _Marguerites_. He went out with Lousteau,
seemingly neither disconcerted nor dissatisfied. Dauriat went with them
into the shop, talking of his newspaper and Lousteau’s daily, while
Lucien played with the manuscript of the _Marguerites_.

“Do you suppose that Dauriat has read your sonnets or sent them to any
one else?” Etienne Lousteau snatched an opportunity to whisper.

“Yes,” said Lucien.

“Look at the string.” Lucien looked down at the blot of ink, and saw
that the mark on the string still coincided; he turned white with rage.

“Which of the sonnets was it that you particularly liked?” he asked,
turning to the publisher.

“They are all of them remarkable, my friend; but the sonnet on the
_Marguerite_ is delightful, the closing thought is fine, and exquisitely
expressed. I felt sure from that sonnet that your prose work would
command a success, and I spoke to Finot about you at once. Write
articles for us, and we will pay you well for them. Fame is a very fine
thing, you see, but don’t forget the practical and solid, and take every
chance that turns up. When you have made money, you can write poetry.”

The poet dashed out of the shop to avoid an explosion. He was furious.
Lousteau followed.

“Well, my boy, pray keep cool. Take men as they are--for means to an
end. Do you wish for revenge?”

“At any price,” muttered the poet.

“Here is a copy of Nathan’s book. Dauriat has just given it to me. The
second edition is coming out to-morrow; read the book again, and knock
off an article demolishing it. Felicien Vernou cannot endure Nathan, for
he thinks that Nathan’s success will injure his own forthcoming book. It
is a craze with these little minds to fancy that there is not room for
two successes under the sun; so he will see that your article finds a
place in the big paper for which he writes.”

“But what is there to be said against the book; it is good work!” cried
Lucien.

“Oh, I say! you must learn your trade,” said Lousteau, laughing. “Given
that the book was a masterpiece, under the stroke of your pen it must
turn to dull trash, dangerous and unwholesome stuff.”

“But how?”

“You turn all the good points into bad ones.”

“I am incapable of such a juggler’s feat.”

“My dear boy, a journalist is a juggler; a man must make up his mind to
the drawbacks of the calling. Look here! I am not a bad fellow; this
is the way _I_ should set to work myself. Attention! You might begin by
praising the book, and amuse yourself a while by saying what you really
think. ‘Good,’ says the reader, ‘this critic is not jealous; he will be
impartial, no doubt,’ and from that point your public will think that
your criticism is a piece of conscientious work. Then, when you have
won your reader’s confidence, you will regret that you must blame the
tendency and influence of such work upon French literature. ‘Does
not France,’ you will say, ‘sway the whole intellectual world? French
writers have kept Europe in the path of analysis and philosophical
criticism from age to age by their powerful style and the original turn
given by them to ideas.’ Here, for the benefit of the philistine, insert
a panegyric on Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, Montesquieu, and Buffon.
Hold forth upon the inexorable French language; show how it spreads a
varnish, as it were, over thought. Let fall a few aphorisms, such
as--‘A great writer in France is invariably a great man; he writes in
a language which compels him to think; it is otherwise in other
countries’--and so on, and so on. Then, to prove your case, draw a
comparison between Rabener, the German satirical moralist, and La
Bruyere. Nothing gives a critic such an air as an apparent familiarity
with foreign literature. Kant is Cousin’s pedestal.

“Once on that ground you bring out a word which sums up the French men
of genius of the eighteenth century for the benefit of simpletons--you
call that literature the ‘literature of ideas.’ Armed with this
expression, you fling all the mighty dead at the heads of the
illustrious living. You explain that in the present day a new form of
literature has sprung up; that dialogue (the easiest form of writing)
is overdone, and description dispenses with any need for thinking on
the part of the author or reader. You bring up the fiction of Voltaire,
Diderot, Sterne, and Le Sage, so trenchant, so compact of the stuff of
life; and turn from them to the modern novel, composed of scenery and
word-pictures and metaphor and the dramatic situations, of which Scott
is full. Invention may be displayed in such work, but there is no room
for anything else. ‘The romance after the manner of Scott is a mere
passing fashion in literature,’ you will say, and fulminate against the
fatal way in which ideas are diluted and beaten thin; cry out against a
style within the reach of any intellect, for any one can commence author
at small expense in a way of literature, which you can nickname the
‘literature of imagery.’

“Then you fall upon Nathan with your argument, and establish it beyound
cavil that he is a mere imitator with an appearance of genius. The
concise grand style of the eighteenth century is lacking; you show that
the author substitutes events for sentiments. Action and stir is not
life; he gives you pictures, but no ideas.

“Come out with such phrases, and people will take them up.--In spite of
the merits of the work, it seems to you to be a dangerous, nay, a fatal
precedent. It throws open the gates of the temple of Fame to the crowd;
and in the distance you descry a legion of petty authors hastening to
imitate this novel and easy style of writing.

“Here you launch out into resounding lamentations over the decadence
and decline of taste, and slip in eulogies of Messieurs Etienne Jouy,
Tissot, Gosse, Duval, Jay, Benjamin Constant, Aignan, Baour-Lormian,
Villemain, and the whole Liberal-Bonapartist chorus who patronize
Vernou’s paper. Next you draw a picture of that glorious phalanx of
writers repelling the invasion of the Romantics; these are the upholders
of ideas and style as against metaphor and balderdash; the modern
representatives of the school of Voltaire as opposed to the English and
German schools, even as the seventeen heroic deputies of the Left fought
the battle for the nation against the Ultras of the Right.

“And then, under cover of names respected by the immense majority of
Frenchmen (who will always be against the Government), you can crush
Nathan; for although his work is far above the average, it confirms
the bourgeois taste for literature without ideas. And after that, you
understand, it is no longer a question of Nathan and his book, but
of France and the glory of France. It is the duty of all honest
and courageous pens to make strenuous opposition to these foreign
importations. And with that you flatter your readers. Shrewd French
mother-wit is not easily caught napping. If publishers, by ways which
you do not choose to specify, have stolen a success, the reading public
very soon judges for itself, and corrects the mistakes made by some five
hundred fools, who always rush to the fore.

“Say that the publisher who sold a first edition of the book is
audacious indeed to issue a second, and express regret that so clever a
man does not know the taste of the country better. There is the gist of
it. Just a sprinkle of the salt of wit and a dash of vinegar to bring
out the flavor, and Dauriat will be done to a turn. But mind that you
end with seeming to pity Nathan for a mistake, and speak of him as of
a man from whom contemporary literature may look for great things if he
renounces these ways.”

Lucien was amazed at this talk from Lousteau. As the journalist spoke,
the scales fell from his eyes; he beheld new truths of which he had
never before caught so much as a glimpse.

“But all this that you are saying is quite true and just,” said he.

“If it were not, how could you make it tell against Nathan’s book?”
 asked Lousteau. “That is the first manner of demolishing a book, my
boy; it is the pickaxe style of criticism. But there are plenty of
other ways. Your education will complete itself in time. When you
are absolutely obliged to speak of a man whom you do not like, for
proprietors and editors are sometimes under compulsion, you bring out
a neutral special article. You put the title of the book at the head of
it, and begin with general remarks, on the Greeks and the Romans if you
like, and wind up with--‘and this brings us to Mr. So-and-so’s book,
which will form the subject of a second article.’ The second article
never appears, and in this way you snuff out the book between two
promises. But in this case you are writing down, not Nathan, but
Dauriat; he needs the pickaxe style. If the book is really good, the
pickaxe does no harm; but it goes to the core of it if it is bad. In the
first case, no one but the publisher is any the worse; in the second,
you do the public a service. Both methods, moreover, are equally
serviceable in political criticism.”

Etienne Lousteau’s cruel lesson opened up possibilities for Lucien’s
imagination. He understood this craft to admiration.

“Let us go to the office,” said Lousteau; “we shall find our friends
there, and we will agree among ourselves to charge at Nathan; they will
laugh, you will see.”

Arrived in the Rue Saint-Fiacre, they went up to the room in the roof
where the paper was made up, and Lucien was surprised and gratified no
less to see the alacrity with which his comrades proceeded to demolish
Nathan’s book. Hector Merlin took up a piece of paper and wrote a few
lines for his own newspaper.--


  “A second edition of M. Nathan’s book is announced. We had
  intended to keep silence with regard to that work, but its
  apparent success obliges us to publish an article, not so much
  upon the book itself as upon certain tendencies of the new school
  of literature.”


At the head of the “Facetiae” in the morning’s paper, Lousteau inserted
the following note:--


  “M. Dauriat is bringing out a second edition of M. Nathan’s book.
  Evidently he does not know the legal maxim, _Non bis in idem_. All
  honor to rash courage.”


Lousteau’s words had been like a torch for burning; Lucien’s hot desire
to be revenged on Dauriat took the place of conscience and inspiration.
For three days he never left Coralie’s room; he sat at work by the fire,
waited upon by Berenice; petted, in moments of weariness, by the silent
and attentive Coralie; till, at the end of that time, he had made a
fair copy of about three columns of criticism, and an astonishingly good
piece of work.

It was nine o’clock in the evening when he ran round to the office,
found his associates, and read over his work to an attentive audience.
Felicien said not a syllable. He took up the manuscript, and made off
with it pell-mell down the staircase.

“What has come to him?” cried Lucien.

“He has taken your article straight to the printer,” said Hector Merlin.
“‘Tis a masterpiece; not a line to add, nor a word to take out.”

“There was no need to do more than show you the way,” said Lousteau.

“I should like to see Nathan’s face when he reads this to-morrow,” said
another contributor, beaming with gentle satisfaction.

“It is as well to have you for a friend,” remarked Hector Merlin.

“Then it will do?” Lucien asked quickly.

“Blondet and Vignon will feel bad,” said Lousteau.

“Here is a short article which I have knocked together for you,” began
Lucien; “if it takes, I could write you a series.”

“Read it over,” said Lousteau, and Lucien read the first of the
delightful short papers which made the fortune of the little newspaper;
a series of sketches of Paris life, a portrait, a type, an ordinary
event, or some of the oddities of the great city. This specimen--“The
Man in the Street”--was written in a way that was fresh and original;
the thoughts were struck out by the shock of the words, the sounding
ring of the adverbs and adjectives caught the reader’s ear. The paper
was as different from the serious and profound article on Nathan as the
_Lettres persanes_ from the _Esprit des lois_.

“You are a born journalist,” said Lousteau. “It shall go in to-morrow.
Do as much of this sort of thing as you like.”

“Ah, by the by,” said Merlin, “Dauriat is furious about those two
bombshells hurled into his magazine. I have just come from him. He was
hurling imprecations, and in such a rage with Finot, who told him that
he had sold his paper to you. As for me, I took him aside and just said
a word in his ear. ‘The _Marguerites_ will cost you dear,’ I told him.
‘A man of talent comes to you, you turn the cold shoulder on him, and
send him into the arms of the newspapers.’”

“Dauriat will be dumfounded by the article on Nathan,” said Lousteau.
“Do you see now what journalism is, Lucien? Your revenge is beginning to
tell. The Baron Chatelet came here this morning for your address.
There was a cutting article upon him in this morning’s issue; he is a
weakling, that buck of the Empire, and he has lost his head. Have you
seen the paper? It is a funny article. Look, ‘Funeral of the Heron,
and the Cuttlefish-bone’s lament.’ Mme. de Bargeton is called the
Cuttlefish-bone now, and no mistake, and Chatelet is known everywhere as
Baron Heron.”

Lucien took up the paper, and could not help laughing at Vernou’s
extremely clever skit.

“They will capitulate soon,” said Hector Merlin.

Lucien merrily assisted at the manufacture of epigrams and jokes at the
end of the paper; and the associates smoked and chatted over the day’s
adventures, over the foibles of some among their number, or some new bit
of personal gossip. From their witty, malicious, bantering talk, Lucien
gained a knowledge of the inner life of literature, and of the manners
and customs of the craft.

“While they are setting up the paper, I will go round with you and
introduce you to the managers of your theatres, and take you behind the
scenes,” said Lousteau. “And then we will go to the Panorama-Dramatique,
and have a frolic in their dressing-rooms.”

Arm-in-arm, they went from theatre to theatre. Lucien was introduced
to this one and that, and enthroned as a dramatic critic. Managers
complimented him, actresses flung him side glances; for every one of
them knew that this was the critic who, by a single article, had gained
an engagement at the Gymnase, with twelve thousand francs a year, for
Coralie, and another for Florine at the Panorama-Dramatique with eight
thousand francs. Lucien was a man of importance. The little ovations
raised Lucien in his own eyes, and taught him to know his power. At
eleven o’clock the pair arrived at the Panorama-Dramatique; Lucien with
a careless air that worked wonders. Nathan was there. Nathan held out a
hand, which Lucien squeezed.

“Ah! my masters, so you have a mind to floor me, have you?” said Nathan,
looking from one to the other.

“Just you wait till to-morrow, my dear fellow, and you shall see how
Lucien has taken you in hand. Upon my word, you will be pleased. A piece
of serious criticism like that is sure to do a book good.”

Lucien reddened with confusion.

“Is it severe?” inquired Nathan.

“It is serious,” said Lousteau.

“Then there is no harm done,” Nathan rejoined. “Hector Merlin in the
greenroom of the Vaudeville was saying that I had been cut up.”

“Let him talk, and wait,” cried Lucien, and took refuge in Coralie’s
dressing-room. Coralie, in her alluring costume, had just come off the
stage.



Next morning, as Lucien and Coralie sat at breakfast, a carriage drove
along the Rue de Vendome. The street was quiet enough, so that they
could hear the light sound made by an elegant cabriolet; and there was
that in the pace of the horse, and the manner of pulling up at the door,
which tells unmistakably of a thoroughbred. Lucien went to the window,
and there, in fact, beheld a splendid English horse, and no less a
person than Dauriat flinging the reins to his man as he stepped down.

“‘Tis the publisher, Coralie,” said Lucien.

“Let him wait, Berenice,” Coralie said at once.

Lucien smiled at her presence of mind, and kissed her with a great rush
of tenderness. This mere girl had made his interests hers in a wonderful
way; she was quick-witted where he was concerned. The apparition of the
insolent publisher, the sudden and complete collapse of that prince
of charlatans, was due to circumstances almost entirely forgotten, so
utterly has the book trade changed during the last fifteen years.

From 1816 to 1827, when newspaper reading-rooms were only just beginning
to lend new books, the fiscal law pressed more heavily than ever
upon periodical publications, and necessity created the invention of
advertisements. Paragraphs and articles in the newspapers were the only
means of advertisement known in those days; and French newspapers before
the year 1822 were so small, that the largest sheet of those times was
not so large as the smallest daily paper of ours. Dauriat and Ladvocat,
the first publishers to make a stand against the tyranny of journalists,
were also the first to use the placards which caught the attention of
Paris by strange type, striking colors, vignettes, and (at a later time)
by lithograph illustrations, till a placard became a fairy-tale for the
eyes, and not unfrequently a snare for the purse of the amateur. So much
originality indeed was expended on placards in Paris, that one of that
peculiar kind of maniacs, known as a collector, possesses a complete
series.

At first the placard was confined to the shop-windows and stalls upon
the Boulevards in Paris; afterwards it spread all over France, till
it was supplanted to some extent by a return to advertisements in the
newspapers. But the placard, nevertheless, which continues to strike the
eye, after the advertisement and the book which is advertised are both
forgotten, will always be among us; it took a new lease of life when
walls were plastered with posters.

Newspaper advertising, the offspring of heavy stamp duties, a high rate
of postage, and the heavy deposits of caution-money required by the
government as security for good behavior, is within the reach of all who
care to pay for it, and has turned the fourth page of every journal
into a harvest field alike for the speculator and the Inland Revenue
Department. The press restrictions were invented in the time of M. de
Villele, who had a chance, if he had but known it, of destroying the
power of journalism by allowing newspapers to multiply till no one
took any notice of them; but he missed his opportunity, and a sort
of privilege was created, as it were, by the almost insuperable
difficulties put in the way of starting a new venture. So, in 1821, the
periodical press might be said to have power of life and death over the
creations of the brain and the publishing trade. A few lines among
the items of news cost a fearful amount. Intrigues were multiplied in
newspaper offices; and of a night when the columns were divided up,
and this or that article was put in or left out to suit the space, the
printing-room became a sort of battlefield; so much so, that the largest
publishing firms had writers in their pay to insert short articles in
which many ideas are put in little space. Obscure journalists of
this stamp were only paid after the insertion of the items, and not
unfrequently spent the night in the printing-office to make sure that
their contributions were not omitted; sometimes putting in a long
article, obtained heaven knows how, sometimes a few lines of a puff.

The manners and customs of journalism and of the publishing houses have
since changed so much, that many people nowadays will not believe what
immense efforts were made by writers and publishers of books to secure a
newspaper puff; the martyrs of glory, and all those who are condemned to
the penal servitude of a life-long success, were reduced to such shifts,
and stooped to depths of bribery and corruption as seem fabulous to-day.
Every kind of persuasion was brought to bear on journalists--dinners,
flattery, and presents. The following story will throw more light on the
close connection between the critic and the publisher than any quantity
of flat assertions.

There was once upon a time an editor of an important paper, a clever
writer with a prospect of becoming a statesman; he was young in those
days, and fond of pleasure, and he became the favorite of a well-known
publishing house. One Sunday the wealthy head of the firm was
entertaining several of the foremost journalists of the time in the
country, and the mistress of the house, then a young and pretty woman,
went to walk in her park with the illustrious visitor. The head-clerk of
the firm, a cool, steady, methodical German with nothing but business in
his head, was discussing a project with one of the journalists, and as
they chatted they walked on into the woods beyond the park. In among the
thickets the German thought he caught a glimpse of his hostess, put
up his eyeglass, made a sign to his young companion to be silent,
and turned back, stepping softly.--“What did you see?” asked the
journalist.--“Nothing particular,” said the clerk. “Our affair of the
long article is settled. To-morrow we shall have at least three columns
in the _Debats_.”

Another anecdote will show the influence of a single article.

A book of M. de Chateaubriand’s on the last of the Stuarts was for some
time a “nightingale” on the bookseller’s shelves. A single article in
the _Journal des Debats_ sold the work in a week. In those days, when
there were no lending libraries, a publisher would sell an edition of
ten thousand copies of a book by a Liberal if it was well reviewed by
the Opposition papers; but then the Belgian pirated editions were not as
yet.

The preparatory attacks made by Lucien’s friends, followed up by his
article on Nathan, proved efficacious; they stopped the sale of his
book. Nathan escaped with the mortification; he had been paid; he had
nothing to lose; but Dauriat was like to lose thirty thousand francs.
The trade in new books may, in fact, be summed up much on this wise.
A ream of blank paper costs fifteen francs, a ream of printed paper is
worth anything between a hundred sous and a hundred crowns, according to
its success; a favorable or unfavorable review at a critical time often
decides the question; and Dauriat having five hundred reams of printed
paper on hand, hurried to make terms with Lucien. The sultan was now the
slave.

After waiting for some time, fidgeting and making as much noise as
he could while parleying with Berenice, he at last obtained speech
of Lucien; and, arrogant publisher though he was, he came in with the
radiant air of a courtier in the royal presence, mingled, however, with
a certain self-sufficiency and easy good humor.

“Don’t disturb yourselves, my little dears! How nice they look, just
like a pair of turtle-doves! Who would think now, mademoiselle, that
he, with that girl’s face of his, could be a tiger with claws of steel,
ready to tear a reputation to rags, just as he tears your wrappers,
I’ll be bound, when you are not quick enough to unfasten them,” and he
laughed before he had finished his jest.

“My dear boy----” he began, sitting down beside Lucien.--“Mademoiselle,
I am Dauriat,” he said, interrupting himself. He judged it expedient to
fire his name at her like a pistol shot, for he considered that Coralie
was less cordial than she should have been.

“Have you breakfasted, monsieur; will you keep us company?” asked
Coralie.

“Why, yes; it is easier to talk at table,” said Dauriat. “Besides, by
accepting your invitation I shall have a right to expect you to dine
with my friend Lucien here, for we must be close friends now, hand and
glove!”

“Berenice! Bring oysters, lemons, fresh butter, and champagne,” said
Coralie.

“You are too clever not to know what has brought me here,” said Dauriat,
fixing his eyes on Lucien.

“You have come to buy my sonnets.”

“Precisely. First of all, let us lay down our arms on both sides.” As
he spoke he took out a neat pocketbook, drew from it three bills for a
thousand francs each, and laid them before Lucien with a suppliant air.
“Is monsieur content?” asked he.

“Yes,” said the poet. A sense of beatitude, for which no words exist,
flooded his soul at the sight of that unhoped wealth. He controlled
himself, but he longed to sing aloud, to jump for joy; he was ready to
believe in Aladdin’s lamp and in enchantment; he believed in his own
genius, in short.

“Then the _Marguerites_ are mine,” continued Dauriat; “but you will
undertake not to attack my publications, won’t you?”

“The _Marguerites_ are yours, but I cannot pledge my pen; it is at the
service of my friends, as theirs are mine.”

“But you are one of my authors now. All my authors are my friends. So
you won’t spoil my business without warning me beforehand, so that I am
prepared, will you?”

“I agree to that.”

“To your fame!” and Dauriat raised his glass.

“I see that you have read the _Marguerites_,” said Lucien.

Dauriat was not disconcerted.

“My boy, a publisher cannot pay a greater compliment than by buying your
_Marguerites_ unread. In six months’ time you will be a great poet. You
will be written up; people are afraid of you; I shall have no difficulty
in selling your book. I am the same man of business that I was four days
ago. It is not I who have changed; it is _you_. Last week your sonnets
were so many cabbage leaves for me; to-day your position has ranked them
beside Delavigne.”

“Ah well,” said Lucien, “if you have not read my sonnets, you have read
my article.” With the sultan’s pleasure of possessing a fair mistress,
and the certainty of success, he had grown satirical and adorably
impertinent of late.

“Yes, my friend; do you think I should have come here in such a hurry
but for that? That terrible article of yours is very well written, worse
luck. Oh! you have a very great gift, my boy. Take my advice and make
the most of your vogue,” he added, with good humor, which masked the
extreme insolence of the speech. “But have you yourself a copy of the
paper? Have you seen your article in print?”

“Not yet,” said Lucien, “though this is the first long piece of prose
which I have published; but Hector will have sent a copy to my address
in the Rue Charlot.”

“Here--read!”... cried Dauriat, copying Talma’s gesture in _Manlius_.

Lucien took the paper but Coralie snatched it from him.

“The first-fruits of your pen belong to me, as you well know,” she
laughed.

Dauriat was unwontedly courtier-like and complimentary. He was afraid of
Lucien, and therefore he asked him to a great dinner which he was giving
to a party of journalists towards the end of the week, and Coralie was
included in the invitation. He took the _Marguerites_ away with him
when he went, asking _his_ poet to look in when he pleased in the Wooden
Galleries, and the agreement should be ready for his signature.
Dauriat never forgot the royal airs with which he endeavored to overawe
superficial observers, and to impress them with the notion that he was
a Maecenas rather than a publisher; at this moment he left the three
thousand francs, waving away in lordly fashion the receipt which Lucien
offered, kissed Coralie’s hand, and took his departure.

“Well, dear love, would you have seen many of these bits of paper if you
had stopped in your hole in the Rue de Cluny, prowling about among the
musty old books in the Bibliotheque de Sainte-Genevieve?” asked Coralie,
for she knew the whole story of Lucien’s life by this time. “Those
little friends of yours in the Rue des Quatre-Vents are great ninnies,
it seems to me.”

His brothers of the _cenacle_! And Lucien could hear the verdict and
laugh.

He had seen himself in print; he had just experienced the ineffable joy
of the author, that first pleasurable thrill of gratified vanity which
comes but once. The full import and bearing of his article became
apparent to him as he read and re-read it. The garb of print is to
manuscript as the stage is to women; it brings beauties and defects to
light, killing and giving life; the fine thoughts and the faults alike
stare you in the face.

Lucien, in his excitement and rapture, gave not another thought to
Nathan. Nathan was a stepping-stone for him--that was all; and he
(Lucien) was happy exceedingly--he thought himself rich. The money
brought by Dauriat was a very Potosi for the lad who used to go about
unnoticed through the streets of Angouleme and down the steep path into
L’Houmeau to Postel’s garret, where his whole family had lived upon an
income of twelve hundred francs. The pleasures of his life in Paris must
inevitably dim the memories of those days; but so keen were they, that,
as yet, he seemed to be back again in the Place du Murier. He thought of
Eve, his beautiful, noble sister, of David his friend, and of his poor
mother, and he sent Berenice out to change one of the notes. While she
went he wrote a few lines to his family, and on the maid’s return
he sent her to the coach-office with a packet of five hundred francs
addressed to his mother. He could not trust himself; he wanted to sent
the money at once; later he might not be able to do it. Both Lucien and
Coralie looked upon this restitution as a meritorious action. Coralie
put her arms about her lover and kissed him, and thought him a model son
and brother; she could not make enough of him, for generosity is a trait
of character which delights these kindly creatures, who always carry
their hearts in their hands.

“We have a dinner now every day for a week,” she said; “we will make a
little carnival; you have worked quite hard enough.”



Coralie, fain to delight in the beauty of a man whom all other women
should envy her, took Lucien back to Staub. He was not dressed finely
enough for her. Thence the lovers went to drive in the Bois de Boulogne,
and came back to dine at Mme. du Val-Noble’s. Rastignac, Bixiou, des
Lupeaulx, Finot, Blondet, Vignon, the Baron de Nucingen, Beaudenord,
Philippe Bridau, Conti, the great musician, all the artists and
speculators, all the men who seek for violent sensations as a relief
from immense labors, gave Lucien a welcome among them. And Lucien had
gained confidence; he gave himself out in talk as though he had not to
live by his wit, and was pronounced to be a “clever fellow” in the slang
of the coterie of semi-comrades.

“Oh! we must wait and see what he has in him,” said Theodore Gaillard,
a poet patronized by the Court, who thought of starting a Royalist paper
to be entitled the _Reveil_ at a later day.

After dinner, Merlin and Lucien, Coralie and Mme. du Val-Noble, went to
the Opera, where Merlin had a box. The whole party adjourned thither,
and Lucien triumphant reappeared upon the scene of his first serious
check.

He walked in the lobby, arm in arm with Merlin and Blondet, looking
the dandies who had once made merry at his expense between the eyes.
Chatelet was under his feet. He clashed glances with de Marsay,
Vandenesse, and Manerville, the bucks of that day. And indeed Lucien,
beautiful and elegantly arrayed, had caused a discussion in the Marquise
d’Espard’s box; Rastignac had paid a long visit, and the Marquise and
Mme. de Bargeton put up their opera-glasses at Coralie. Did the sight
of Lucien send a pang of regret through Mme. de Bargeton’s heart?
This thought was uppermost in the poet’s mind. The longing for revenge
aroused in him by the sight of the Corinne of Angouleme was as fierce
as on that day when the lady and her cousin had cut him in the
Champs-Elysees.

“Did you bring an amulet with you from the provinces?”--It was Blondet
who made this inquiry some few days later, when he called at eleven
o’clock in the morning and found that Lucien was not yet risen.--“His
good looks are making ravages from cellar to garret, high and low,”
 continued Blondet, kissing Coralie on the forehead. “I have come to
enlist you, dear fellow,” he continued, grasping Lucien by the hand.
“Yesterday, at the Italiens, the Comtesse de Montcornet asked me to
bring you to her house. You will not give a refusal to a charming woman?
You meet people of the first fashion there.”

“If Lucien is nice, he will not go to see your Countess,” put in
Coralie. “What call is there for him to show his face in fine society?
He would only be bored there.”

“Have you a vested interest in him? Are you jealous of fine ladies?”

“Yes,” cried Coralie. “They are worse than we are.”

“How do you know that, my pet?” asked Blondet.

“From their husbands,” retorted she. “You are forgetting that I once had
six months of de Marsay.”

“Do you suppose, child, that _I_ am particularly anxious to take such
a handsome fellow as your poet to Mme. de Montcornet’s house? If you
object, let us consider that nothing has been said. But I don’t fancy
that the women are so much in question as a poor devil that Lucien
pilloried in his newspaper; he is begging for mercy and peace. The Baron
du Chatelet is imbecile enough to take the thing seriously. The Marquise
d’Espard, Mme. de Bargeton, and Mme. de Montcornet’s set have taken up
the Heron’s cause; and I have undertaken to reconcile Petrarch and his
Laura--Mme. de Bargeton and Lucien.”

“Aha!” cried Lucien, the glow of the intoxication of revenge throbbing
full-pulsed through every vein. “Aha! so my foot is on their necks!
You make me adore my pen, worship my friends, bow down to the
fate-dispensing power of the press. I have not written a single sentence
as yet upon the Heron and the Cuttlefish-bone.--I will go with you,
my boy,” he cried, catching Blondet by the waist; “yes, I will go; but
first, the couple shall feel the weight of _this_, for so light as it
is.” He flourished the pen which had written the article upon Nathan.

“To-morrow,” he cried, “I will hurl a couple of columns at their heads.
Then, we shall see. Don’t be frightened, Coralie, it is not love but
revenge; revenge! And I will have it to the full!”

“What a man it is!” said Blondet. “If you but knew, Lucien, how rare
such explosions are in this jaded Paris, you might appreciate yourself.
You will be a precious scamp” (the actual expression was a trifle
stronger); “you are in a fair way to be a power in the land.”

“He will get on,” said Coralie.

“Well, he has come a good way already in six weeks.”

“And if he should climb so high that he can reach a sceptre by treading
over a corpse, he shall have Coralie’s body for a stepping-stone,” said
the girl.

“You are a pair of lovers of the Golden Age,” said Blondet.--“I
congratulate you on your big article,” he added, turning to Lucien.
“There were a lot of new things in it. You are past master!”

Lousteau called with Hector Merlin and Vernou. Lucien was immensely
flattered by this attention. Felicien Vernou brought a hundred francs
for Lucien’s article; it was felt that such a contributor must be well
paid to attach him to the paper.

Coralie, looking round at the chapter of journalists, ordered in a
breakfast from the _Cadran bleu_, the nearest restaurant, and asked
her visitors to adjourn to her handsomely furnished dining-room when
Berenice announced that the meal was ready. In the middle of the repast,
when the champagne had gone to all heads, the motive of the visit came
out.

“You do not mean to make an enemy of Nathan, do you?” asked Lousteau.
“Nathan is a journalist, and he has friends; he might play you an ugly
trick with your first book. You have your _Archer of Charles IX._ to
sell, have you not? We went round to Nathan this morning; he is in a
terrible way. But you will set about another article, and puff praise in
his face.”

“What! After my article against his book, would you have me say----”
 began Lucien.

The whole party cut him short with a shout of laughter.

“Did you ask him to supper here the day after to-morrow?” asked Blondet.

“You article was not signed,” added Lousteau. “Felicien, not being
quite such a new hand as you are, was careful to put an initial C at the
bottom. You can do that now with all your articles in his paper, which
is pure unadulterated Left. We are all of us in the Opposition. Felicien
was tactful enough not to compromise your future opinions. Hector’s shop
is Right Centre; you might sign your work on it with an L. If you cut a
man up, you do it anonymously; if you praise him, it is just as well to
put your name to your article.”

“It is not the signatures that trouble me,” returned Lucien, “but I
cannot see anything to be said in favor of the book.”

“Then did you really think as you wrote?” asked Hector.

“Yes.”

“Oh! I thought you were cleverer than that, youngster,” said Blondet.
“No. Upon my word, as I looked at that forehead of yours, I credited you
with the omnipotence of the great mind--the power of seeing both sides
of everything. In literature, my boy, every idea is reversible, and no
man can take upon himself to decide which is the right or wrong side.
Everything is bi-lateral in the domain of thought. Ideas are binary.
Janus is a fable signifying criticism and the symbol of Genius. The
Almighty alone is triform. What raises Moliere and Corneille above the
rest of us but the faculty of saying one thing with an Alceste or an
Octave, and another with a Philinte or a Cinna? Rousseau wrote a letter
against dueling in the _Nouvelle_ Heloise, and another in favor of it.
Which of the two represented his own opinion? will you venture to
take it upon yourself to decide? Which of us could give judgement for
Clarissa or Lovelace, Hector or Achilles? Who was Homer’s hero? What did
Richardson himself think? It is the function of criticism to look at a
man’s work in all its aspects. We draw up our case, in short.”

“Do you really stick to your written opinions?” asked Vernou, with a
satirical expression. “Why, we are retailers of phrases; that is how we
make a livelihood. When you try to do a good piece of work--to write a
book, in short--you can put your thoughts, yourself into it, and cling
to it, and fight for it; but as for newspaper articles, read to-day and
forgotten to-morrow, they are worth nothing in my eyes but the money
that is paid for them. If you attach any importance to such drivel, you
might as well make the sign of the Cross and invoke heaven when you sit
down to write a tradesman’s circular.”

Every one apparently was astonished at Lucien’s scruples. The last rags
of the boyish conscience were torn away, and he was invested with the
_toga virilis_ of journalism.

“Do you know what Nathan said by way of comforting himself after your
criticism?” asked Lousteau.

“How should I know?”

“Nathan exclaimed, ‘Paragraphs pass away; but a great work lives!’ He
will be here to supper in two days, and he will be sure to fall flat at
your feet, and kiss your claws, and swear that you are a great man.”

“That would be a funny thing,” was Lucien’s comment.

“_Funny_” repeated Blondet. “He can’t help himself.”

“I am quite willing, my friends,” said Lucien, on whom the wine had
begun to take effect. “But what am I to say?”

“Oh well, refute yourself in three good columns in Merlin’s paper.
We have been enjoying the sight of Nathan’s wrath; we have just been
telling him that he owes us no little gratitude for getting up a hot
controversy that will sell his second edition in a week. In his eyes at
this present moment you are a spy, a scoundrel, a caitiff wretch; the
day after to-morrow you will be a genius, an uncommonly clever fellow,
one of Plutarch’s men. Nathan will hug you and call you his best friend.
Dauriat has been to see you; you have your three thousand francs; you
have worked the trick! Now you want Nathan’s respect and esteem. Nobody
ought to be let in except the publisher. We must not immolate any one
but an enemy. We should not talk like this if it were a question of
some outsider, some inconvenient person who had made a name for himself
without us and was not wanted; but Nathan is one of us. Blondet got some
one to attack him in the _Mercure_ for the pleasure of replying in the
_Debats_. For which reason the first edition went off at once.”

“My friends, upon my word and honor, I cannot write two words in praise
of that book----”

“You will have another hundred francs,” interrupted Merlin. “Nathan will
have brought you in ten louis d’or, to say nothing of an article that
you might put in Finot’s paper; you would get a hundred francs for
writing that, and another hundred francs from Dauriat--total, twenty
louis.”

“But what am I to say?”

“Here is your way out of the difficulty,” said Blondet, after some
thought. “Say that the envy that fastens on all good work, like wasps
on ripe fruit, has attempted to set its fangs in this production. The
captious critic, trying his best to find fault, has been obliged to
invent theories for that purpose, and has drawn a distinction between
two kinds of literature--‘the literature of ideas and the literature of
imagery,’ as he calls them. On the heads of that, youngster, say that to
give expression to ideas through imagery is the highest form of art. Try
to show that all poetry is summed up in that, and lament that there
is so little poetry in French; quote foreign criticisms on the
unimaginative precision of our style, and then extol M. de Canalis and
Nathan for the services they have done France by infusing a less prosaic
spirit into the language. Knock your previous argument to pieces by
calling attention to the fact that we have made progress since the
eighteenth century. (Discover the ‘progress,’ a beautiful word to
mystify the bourgeois public.) Say that the new methods in
literature concentrate all styles, comedy and tragedy, description,
character-drawing and dialogues, in a series of pictures set in the
brilliant frame of a plot which holds the reader’s interest. The Novel,
which demands sentiment, style, and imagery, is the greatest creation of
modern days; it is the successor of stage comedy grown obsolete with its
restrictions. Facts and ideas are all within the province of fiction.
The intellect of an incisive moralist, like La Bruyere, the power of
treating character as Moliere could treat it, the grand machinery of a
Shakespeare, together with the portrayal of the most subtle shades of
passion (the one treasury left untouched by our predecessors)--for all
this the modern novel affords free scope. How far superior is all this
to the cut-and-dried logic-chopping, the cold analysis to the eighteenth
century!--‘The Novel,’ say sententiously, ‘is the Epic grown amusing.’
Instance _Corinne_, bring Mme. de Stael up to support your argument. The
eighteenth century called all things in question; it is the task of the
nineteenth to conclude and speak the last word; and the last word of the
nineteenth century has been for realities--realities which live
however and move. Passion, in short, an element unknown in Voltaire’s
philosophy, has been brought into play. Here a diatribe against
Voltaire, and as for Rousseau, his characters are polemics and systems
masquerading. Julie and Claire are entelechies--informing spirit
awaiting flesh and bones.

“You might slip off on a side issue at this, and say that we owe a
new and original literature to the Peace and the Restoration of the
Bourbons, for you are writing for a Right Centre paper.

“Scoff at Founders of Systems. And cry with a glow of fine enthusiasm,
‘Here are errors and misleading statements in abundance in our
contemporary’s work, and to what end? To depreciate a fine work, to
deceive the public, and to arrive at this conclusion--“A book that
sells, does not sell.”’ _Proh pudor_! (Mind you put _Proh pudor_! ‘tis
a harmless expletive that stimulates the reader’s interest.) Foresee the
approaching decadence of criticism, in fact. Moral--‘There is but one
kind of literature, the literature which aims to please. Nathan has
started upon a new way; he understands his epoch and fulfils the
requirements of his age--the demand for drama, the natural demand of a
century in which the political stage has become a permanent puppet show.
Have we not seen four dramas in a score of years--the Revolution,
the Directory, the Empire, and the Restoration?’ With that, wallow in
dithyramb and eulogy, and the second edition shall vanish like smoke.
This is the way to do it. Next Saturday put a review in our magazine,
and sign it ‘de Rubempre,’ out in full.

“In that final article say that ‘fine work always brings about abundant
controversy. This week such and such a paper contained such and such an
article on Nathan’s book, and such another paper made a vigorous reply.’
Then you criticise the critics ‘C’ and ‘L’; pay me a passing compliment
on the first article in the _Debats_, and end by averring that Nathan’s
work is the great book of the epoch; which is all as if you said nothing
at all; they say the same of everything that comes out.

“And so,” continued Blondet, “you will have made four hundred francs in
a week, to say nothing of the pleasure of now and again saying what you
really think. A discerning public will maintain that either C or L or
Rubempre is in the right of it, or mayhap all the three. Mythology,
beyond doubt one of the grandest inventions of the human brain, places
Truth at the bottom of a well; and what are we to do without buckets?
You will have supplied the public with three for one. There you are, my
boy, Go ahead!”

Lucien’s head was swimming with bewilderment. Blondet kissed him on both
cheeks.

“I am going to my shop,” said he. And every man likewise departed to his
shop. For these “_hommes forts_,” a newspaper office was nothing but a
shop.

They were to meet again in the evening at the Wooden Galleries,
and Lucien would sign his treaty of peace with Dauriat. Florine and
Lousteau, Lucien and Coralie, Blondet and Finot, were to dine at the
Palais-Royal; du Bruel was giving the manager of the Panorama-Dramatique
a dinner.

“They are right,” exclaimed Lucien, when he was alone with Coralie.
“Men are made to be tools in the hands of stronger spirits. Four hundred
francs for three articles! Doguereau would scarcely give me as much for
a book which cost me two years of work.”

“Write criticism,” said Coralie, “have a good time! Look at me, I am
an Andalusian girl to-night, to-morrow I may be a gypsy, and a man the
night after. Do as I do, give them grimaces for their money, and let us
live happily.”

Lucien, smitten with love of Paradox, set himself to mount and ride
that unruly hybrid product of Pegasus and Balaam’s ass; started out at a
gallop over the fields of thought while he took a turn in the Bois, and
discovered new possibilities in Blondet’s outline.

He dined as happy people dine, and signed away all his rights in the
_Marguerites_. It never occurred to him that any trouble might arise
from that transaction in the future. He took a turn of work at the
office, wrote off a couple of columns, and came back to the Rue de
Vendome. Next morning he found the germs of yesterday’s ideas had sprung
up and developed in his brain, as ideas develop while the intellect
is yet unjaded and the sap is rising; and thoroughly did he enjoy
the projection of this new article. He threw himself into it with
enthusiasm. At the summons of the spirit of contradiction, new charms
met beneath his pen. He was witty and satirical, he rose to yet new
views of sentiment, of ideas and imagery in literature. With subtle
ingenuity, he went back to his own first impressions of Nathan’s
work, when he read it in the newsroom of the Cour du Commerce; and the
ruthless, bloodthirsty critic, the lively mocker, became a poet in the
final phrases which rose and fell with majestic rhythm like the swaying
censer before the altar.

“One hundred francs, Coralie!” cried he, holding up eight sheets of
paper covered with writing while she dressed.

The mood was upon him; he went on to indite, stroke by stroke, the
promised terrible article on Chatelet and Mme. de Bargeton. That morning
he experienced one of the keenest personal pleasures of journalism; he
knew what it was to forge the epigram, to whet and polish the cold blade
to be sheathed in a victim’s heart, to make of the hilt a cunning piece
of workmanship for the reader to admire. For the public admires the
handle, the delicate work of the brain, while the cruelty is not
apparent; how should the public know that the steel of the epigram,
tempered in the fire of revenge, has been plunged deftly, to rankle
in the very quick of a victim’s vanity, and is reeking from wounds
innumerable which it has inflicted? It is a hideous joy, that grim,
solitary pleasure, relished without witnesses; it is like a duel with an
absent enemy, slain at a distance by a quill; a journalist might really
possess the magical power of talismans in Eastern tales. Epigram is
distilled rancor, the quintessence of a hate derived from all the worst
passions of man, even as love concentrates all that is best in human
nature. The man does not exist who cannot be witty to avenge himself;
and, by the same rule, there is not one to whom love does not bring
delight. Cheap and easy as this kind of wit may be in France, it is
always relished. Lucien’s article was destined to raise the previous
reputation of the paper for venomous spite and evil-speaking. His
article probed two hearts to the depths; it dealt a grievous wound to
Mme. de Bargeton, his Laura of old days, as well as to his rival, the
Baron du Chatelet.

“Well, let us go for a drive in the Bois,” said Coralie, “the horses are
fidgeting. There is no need to kill yourself.”

“We will take the article on Nathan to Hector. Journalism is really very
much like Achilles’ lance, it salves the wounds that it makes,” said
Lucien, correcting a phrase here and there.

The lovers started forth in splendor to show themselves to the Paris
which had but lately given Lucien the cold shoulder, and now was
beginning to talk about him. To have Paris talking of you! and this
after you have learned how large the great city is, how hard it is to
be anybody there--it was this thought that turned Lucien’s head with
exultation.

“Let us go by way of your tailor’s, dear boy, and tell him to be quick
with your clothes, or try them on if they are ready. If you are going to
your fine ladies’ houses, you shall eclipse that monster of a de
Marsay and young Rastignac and any Ajuda-Pinto or Maxime de Trailles or
Vandenesse of them all. Remember that your mistress is Coralie! But you
will not play me any tricks, eh?”

Two days afterwards, on the eve of the supper-party at Coralie’s house,
there was a new play at the Ambigu, and it fell to Lucien to write the
dramatic criticism. Lucien and Coralie walked together after dinner from
the Rue de Vendome to the Panorama-Dramatique, going along the Cafe Turc
side of the Boulevard du Temple, a lounge much frequented at that
time. People wondered at his luck, and praised Coralie’s beauty. Chance
remarks reached his ears; some said that Coralie was the finest woman in
Paris, others that Lucien was a match for her. The romantic youth
felt that he was in his atmosphere. This was the life for him. The
brotherhood was so far away that it was almost out of sight. Only two
months ago, how he had looked up to those lofty great natures; now
he asked himself if they were not just a trifle ridiculous with their
notions and their Puritanism. Coralie’s careless words had lodged in
Lucien’s mind, and begun already to bear fruit. He took Coralie to her
dressing-room, and strolled about like a sultan behind the scenes; the
actresses gave him burning glances and flattering speeches.

“I must go to the Ambigu and attend to business,” said he.

At the Ambigu the house was full; there was not a seat left for
him. Indignant complaints behind the scenes brought no redress; the
box-office keeper, who did not know him as yet, said that they had sent
orders for two boxes to his paper, and sent him about his business.

“I shall speak of the play as I find it,” said Lucien, nettled at this.

“What a dunce you are!” said the leading lady, addressing the box-office
keeper, “that is Coralie’s adorer.”

The box-office keeper turned round immediately at this. “I will speak to
the manager at once, sir,” he said.

In all these small details Lucien saw the immense power wielded by the
press. His vanity was gratified. The manager appeared to say that the
Duc de Rhetore and Tullia the opera-dancer were in the stage-box, and
they had consented to allow Lucien to join them.

“You have driven two people to distraction,” remarked the young Duke,
mentioning the names of the Baron du Chatelet and Mme. de Bargeton.

“Distraction? What will it be to-morrow?” said Lucien. “So far, my
friends have been mere skirmishers, but I have given them red-hot shot
to-night. To-morrow you will know why we are making game of ‘Potelet.’
The article is called ‘Potelet from 1811 to 1821.’ Chatelet will be a
byword, a name for the type of courtiers who deny their benefactor and
rally to the Bourbons. When I have done with him, I am going to Mme. de
Montcornet’s.”

Lucien’s talk was sparkling. He was eager that this great personage
should see how gross a mistake Mesdames d’Espard and de Bargeton had
made when they slighted Lucien de Rubempre. But he showed the tip of his
ear when he asserted his right to bear the name of Rubempre, the Duc de
Rhetore having purposely addressed him as Chardon.

“You should go over to the Royalists,” said the Duke. “You have proved
yourself a man of ability; now show your good sense. The one way of
obtaining a patent of nobility and the right to bear the title of
your mother’s family, is by asking for it in return for services to be
rendered to the Court. The Liberals will never make a count of you. The
Restoration will get the better of the press, you see, in the long run,
and the press is the only formidable power. They have borne with it too
long as it is; the press is sure to be muzzled. Take advantage of the
last moments of liberty to make yourself formidable, and you will have
everything--intellect, nobility, and good looks; nothing will be out of
your reach. So if you are a Liberal, let it be simply for the moment, so
that you can make a better bargain for your Royalism.”

With that the Duke entreated Lucien to accept an invitation to dinner,
which the German Minister (of Florine’s supper-party) was about to send.
Lucien fell under the charm of the noble peer’s arguments; the salons
from which he had been exiled for ever, as he thought, but a few months
ago, would shortly open their doors for him! He was delighted. He
marveled at the power of the press; Intellect and the Press, these then
were the real powers in society. Another thought shaped itself in his
mind--Was Etienne Lousteau sorry that he had opened the gate of the
temple to a newcomer? Even now he (Lucien) felt on his own account that
it was strongly advisable to put difficulties in the way of eager and
ambitious recruits from the provinces. If a poet should come to him
as he had flung himself into Etienne’s arms, he dared not think of the
reception that he would give him.

The youthful Duke meanwhile saw that Lucien was deep in thought, and
made a pretty good guess at the matter of his meditations. He himself
had opened out wide horizons of public life before an ambitious poet,
with a vacillating will, it is true, but not without aspirations; and
the journalists had already shown the neophyte, from a pinnacle of the
temple, all the kingdoms of the world of letters and its riches.

Lucien himself had no suspicion of a little plot that was being woven,
nor did he imagine that M. de Rhetore had a hand in it. M. de Rhetore
had spoken of Lucien’s cleverness, and Mme. d’Espard’s set had taken
alarm. Mme. de Bargeton had commissioned the Duke to sound Lucien,
and with that object in view, the noble youth had come to the
Ambigu-Comique.

Do not believe in stories of elaborate treachery. Neither the great
world nor the world of journalists laid any deep schemes; definite plans
are not made by either; their Machiavelism lives from hand to mouth, so
to speak, and consists, for the most part, in being always on the spot,
always on the alert to turn everything to account, always on the watch
for the moment when a man’s ruling passion shall deliver him into
the hands of his enemies. The young Duke had seen through Lucien at
Florine’s supper-party; he had just touched his vain susceptibilities;
and now he was trying his first efforts in diplomacy upon the living
subject.

Lucien hurried to the Rue Saint-Fiacre after the play to write his
article. It was a piece of savage and bitter criticism, written in pure
wantonness; he was amusing himself by trying his power. The melodrama,
as a matter of fact, was a better piece than the _Alcalde_; but Lucien
wished to see whether he could damn a good play and send everybody to
see a bad one, as his associates had said.

He unfolded the sheet at breakfast next morning, telling Coralie as
he did so that he had cut up the Ambigu-Comique; and not a little
astonished was he to find below his paper on Mme. de Bargeton and
Chatelet a notice of the Ambigu, so mellowed and softened in the course
of the night, that although the witty analysis was still preserved, the
judgment was favorable. The article was more likely to fill the house
than to empty it. No words can describe his wrath. He determined to have
a word or two with Lousteau. He had already begun to think himself
an indispensable man, and he vowed that he would not submit to be
tyrannized over and treated like a fool. To establish his power beyond
cavil, he wrote the article for Dauriat’s review, summing up and
weighing all the various opinions concerning Nathan’s book; and while
he was in the humor, he hit off another of his short sketches
for Lousteau’s newspaper. Inexperienced journalists, in the first
effervescence of youth, make a labor of love of ephemeral work, and
lavish their best thought unthriftily thereon.

The manager of the Panorama-Dramatique gave a first performance of a
vaudeville that night, so that Florine and Coralie might be free for
the evening. There were to be cards before supper. Lousteau came for the
short notice of the vaudeville; it had been written beforehand after the
general rehearsal, for Etienne wished to have the paper off his mind.
Lucien read over one of the charming sketches of Parisian whimsicalities
which made the fortune of the paper, and Lousteau kissed him on both
eyelids, and called him the providence of journalism.

“Then why do you amuse yourself by turning my article inside out?” asked
Lucien. He had written his brilliant sketch simply and solely to give
emphasis to his grievance.

“_I_?” exclaimed Lousteau.

“Well, who else can have altered my article?”

“You do not know all the ins and outs yet, dear fellow. The Ambigu
pays for thirty copies, and only takes nine for the manager and box
office-keeper and their mistresses, and for the three lessees of the
theatre. Every one of the Boulevard theatres pays eight hundred francs
in this way to the paper; and there is quite as much again in boxes and
orders for Finot, to say nothing of the contributions of the company.
And if the minor theatres do this, you may imagine what the big ones do!
Now you understand? We are bound to show a good deal of indulgence.”

“I understand this, that I am not at liberty to write as I think----”

“Eh! what does that matter, so long as you turn an honest penny?” cried
Lousteau. “Besides, my boy, what grudge had you against the theatre? You
must have had some reason for it, or you would not have cut up the play
as you did. If you slash for the sake of slashing, the paper will get
into trouble, and when there is good reason for hitting hard it will not
tell. Did the manager leave you out in the cold?”

“He had not kept a place for me.”

“Good,” said Lousteau. “I shall let him see your article, and tell him
that I softened it down; you will find it serves you better than if it
had appeared in print. Go and ask him for tickets to-morrow, and he will
sign forty blank orders every month. I know a man who can get rid of
them for you; I will introduce you to him, and he will buy them all up
at half-price. There is a trade done in theatre tickets, just as Barbet
trades in reviewers’ copies. This is another Barbet, the leader of the
_claque_. He lives near by; come and see him, there is time enough.”

“But, my dear fellow, it is a scandalous thing that Finot should levy
blackmail in matters intellectual. Sooner or later----”

“Really!” cried Lousteau, “where do you come from? For what do you take
Finot? Beneath his pretence of good-nature, his ignorance and stupidity,
and those Turcaret’s airs of his, there is all the cunning of his father
the hatter. Did you notice an old soldier of the Empire in the den at
the office? That is Finot’s uncle. The uncle is not only one of the
right sort, he has the luck to be taken for a fool; and he takes all
that kind of business upon his shoulders. An ambitious man in Paris is
well off indeed if he has a willing scapegoat at hand. In public life,
as in journalism, there are hosts of emergencies in which the chiefs
cannot afford to appear. If Finot should enter on a political career,
his uncle would be his secretary, and receive all the contributions
levied in his department on big affairs. Anybody would take Giroudeau
for a fool at first sight, but he has just enough shrewdness to be an
inscrutable old file. He is on picket duty; he sees that we are not
pestered with hubbub, beginners wanting a job, or advertisements. No
other paper has his equal, I think.”

“He plays his part well,” said Lucien; “I saw him at work.”

Etienne and Lucien reached a handsome house in the Rue du
Faubourg-du-Temple.

“Is M. Braulard in?” Etienne asked of the porter.

“_Monsieur_?” said Lucien. “Then, is the leader of the _claque_
‘Monsieur’?”

“My dear boy, Braulard has twenty thousand francs of income. All the
dramatic authors of the Boulevards are in his clutches, and have
a standing account with him as if he were a banker. Orders and
complimentary tickets are sold here. Braulard knows where to get rid of
such merchandise. Now for a turn at statistics, a useful science enough
in its way. At the rate of fifty complimentary tickets every evening
for each theatre, you have two hundred and fifty tickets daily. Suppose,
taking one with another, that they are worth a couple of francs apiece,
Braulard pays a hundred and twenty-five francs daily for them, and takes
his chance of making cent per cent. In this way authors’ tickets alone
bring him in about four thousand francs every month, or forty-eight
thousand francs per annum. Allow twenty thousand francs for loss, for he
cannot always place all his tickets----”

“Why not?”

“Oh! the people who pay at the door go in with the holders of
complimentary tickets for unreserved seats, and the theatre reserves
the right of admitting those who pay. There are fine warm evenings to be
reckoned with besides, and poor plays. Braulard makes, perhaps, thirty
thousand francs every year in this way, and he has his _claqueurs_
besides, another industry. Florine and Coralie pay tribute to him; if
they did not, there would be no applause when they come on or go off.”

Lousteau gave this explanation in a low voice as they went up the stair.

“Paris is a queer place,” said Lucien; it seemed to him that he saw
self-interest squatting in every corner.

A smart maid-servant opened the door. At the sight of Etienne Lousteau,
the dealer in orders and tickets rose from a sturdy chair before a large
cylinder desk, and Lucien beheld the leader of the _claque_, Braulard
himself, dressed in a gray molleton jacket, footed trousers, and red
slippers; for all the world like a doctor or a solicitor. He was a
typical self-made man, Lucien thought--a vulgar-looking face with a
pair of exceedingly cunning gray eyes, hands made for hired applause,
a complexion over which hard living had passed like rain over a roof,
grizzled hair, and a somewhat husky voice.

“You have come from Mlle. Florine, no doubt, sir, and this gentleman
for Mlle. Coralie,” said Braulard; “I know you very well by sight. Don’t
trouble yourself, sir,” he continued, addressing Lucien; “I am buying
the Gymnase connection, I will look after your lady, and I will give her
notice of any tricks they may try to play on her.”

“That is not an offer to be refused, my dear Braulard, but we have come
about the press orders for the Boulevard theatres--I as editor, and this
gentleman as dramatic critic.”

“Oh!--ah, yes! Finot has sold his paper. I heard about it. He is getting
on, is Finot. I have asked him to dine with me at the end of the week;
if you will do me the honor and pleasure of coming, you may bring your
ladies, and there will be a grand jollification. Adele Dupuis is coming,
and Ducange, and Frederic du Petit-Mere, and Mlle. Millot, my mistress.
We shall have good fun and better liquor.”

“Ducange must be in difficulties. He has lost his lawsuit.”

“I have lent him ten thousand francs; if _Calas_ succeeds, it will repay
the loan, so I have been organizing a success. Ducange is a clever man;
he has brains----”

Lucien fancied that he must be dreaming when he heard a _claqueur_
appraising a writer’s value.

“Coralie has improved,” continued Braulard, with the air of a competent
critic. “If she is a good girl, I will take her part, for they have got
up a cabal against her at the Gymnase. This is how I mean to do it. I
will have a few well-dressed men in the balconies to smile and make a
little murmur, and the applause will follow. That is a dodge which makes
a position for an actress. I have a liking for Coralie, and you ought to
be satisfied, for she has feeling. Aha! I can hiss any one on the stage
if I like.”

“But let us settle this business about the tickets,” put in Lousteau.

“Very well, I will come to this gentleman’s lodging for them at the
beginning of the month. He is a friend of yours, and I will treat him as
I do you. You have five theatres; you will get thirty tickets--that
will be something like seventy-five francs a month. Perhaps you will be
wanting an advance?” added Braulard, lifting a cash-box full of coin out
of his desk.

“No, no,” said Lousteau; “we will keep that shift against a rainy day.”

“I will work with Coralie, sir, and we will come to an understanding,”
 said Braulard, addressing Lucien, who was looking about him, not without
profound astonishment. There was a bookcase in Braulard’s study, there
were framed engravings and good furniture; and as they passed through
the drawing room, he noticed that the fittings were neither too
luxurious nor yet mean. The dining-room seemed to be the best ordered
room, he remarked on this jokingly.

“But Braulard is an epicure,” said Lousteau; “his dinners are famous
in dramatic literature, and they are what you might expect from his
cash-box.”

“I have good wine,” Braulard replied modestly.--“Ah! here are my
lamplighters,” he added, as a sound of hoarse voices and strange
footsteps came up from the staircase.

Lucien on his way down saw a march past of _claqueurs_ and retailers of
tickets. It was an ill smelling squad, attired in caps, seedy trousers,
and threadbare overcoats; a flock of gallows-birds with bluish and
greenish tints in their faces, neglected beards, and a strange mixture
of savagery and subservience in their eyes. A horrible population lives
and swarms upon the Paris boulevards; selling watch guards and brass
jewelry in the streets by day, applauding under the chandeliers of the
theatre at night, and ready to lend themselves to any dirty business in
the great city.

“Behold the Romans!” laughed Lousteau; “behold fame incarnate for
actresses and dramatic authors. It is no prettier than our own when you
come to look at it close.”

“It is difficult to keep illusions on any subject in Paris,”
 answered Lucien as they turned in at his door. “There is a tax upon
everything--everything has its price, and anything can be made to
order--even success.”

Thirty guests were assembled that evening in Coralie’s rooms, her dining
room would not hold more. Lucien had asked Dauriat and the manager of
the Panorama-Dramatique, Matifat and Florine, Camusot, Lousteau, Finot,
Nathan, Hector Merlin and Mme. du Val-Noble, Felicien Vernou, Blondet,
Vignon, Philippe Bridau, Mariette, Giroudeau, Cardot and Florentine, and
Bixiou. He had also asked all his friends of the Rue des Quatre-Vents.
Tullia the dancer, who was not unkind, said gossip, to du Bruel, had
come without her duke. The proprietors of the newspapers, for whom most
of the journalists wrote, were also of the party.

At eight o’clock, when the lights of the candles in the chandeliers
shone over the furniture, the hangings, and the flowers, the rooms wore
the festal air that gives to Parisian luxury the appearance of a dream;
and Lucien felt indefinable stirrings of hope and gratified vanity and
pleasure at the thought that he was the master of the house. But how and
by whom the magic wand had been waved he no longer sought to remember.
Florine and Coralie, dressed with the fanciful extravagance and
magnificent artistic effect of the stage, smiled on the poet like two
fairies at the gates of the Palace of Dreams. And Lucien was almost in a
dream.

His life had been changed so suddenly during the last few months; he had
gone so swiftly from the depths of penury to the last extreme of luxury,
that at moments he felt as uncomfortable as a dreaming man who knows
that he is asleep. And yet, he looked round at the fair reality about
him with a confidence to which envious minds might have given the name
of fatuity.

Lucien himself had changed. He had grown paler during these days of
continual enjoyment; languor had lent a humid look to his eyes; in
short, to use Mme. d’Espard’s expression, he looked like a man who is
loved. He was the handsomer for it. Consciousness of his powers and
his strength was visible in his face, enlightened as it was by love and
experience. Looking out over the world of letters and of men, it seemed
to him that he might go to and fro as lord of it all. Sober reflection
never entered his romantic head unless it was driven in by the pressure
of adversity, and just now the present held not a care for him. The
breath of praise swelled the sails of his skiff; all the instruments of
success lay there to his hand; he had an establishment, a mistress whom
all Paris envied him, a carriage, and untold wealth in his inkstand.
Heart and soul and brain were alike transformed within him; why should
he care to be over nice about the means, when the great results were
visibly there before his eyes.

As such a style of living will seem, and with good reason, to be
anything but secure to economists who have any experience of Paris, it
will not be superfluous to give a glance to the foundation, uncertain as
it was, upon which the prosperity of the pair was based.

Camusot had given Coralie’s tradesmen instructions to grant her credit
for three months at least, and this had been done without her knowledge.
During those three months, therefore, horses and servants, like
everything else, waited as if by enchantment at the bidding of two
children, eager for enjoyment, and enjoying to their hearts’ content.

Coralie had taken Lucien’s hand and given him a glimpse of the
transformation scene in the dining-room, of the splendidly appointed
table, of chandeliers, each fitted with forty wax-lights, of the royally
luxurious dessert, and a menu of Chevet’s. Lucien kissed her on the
forehead and held her closely to his heart.

“I shall succeed, child,” he said, “and then I will repay you for such
love and devotion.”

“Pshaw!” said Coralie. “Are you satisfied?”

“I should be very hard to please if I were not.”

“Very well, then, that smile of yours pays for everything,” she said,
and with a serpentine movement she raised her head and laid her lips
against his.

When they went back to the others, Florine, Lousteau, Matifat, and
Camusot were setting out the card-tables. Lucien’s friends began to
arrive, for already these folk began to call themselves “Lucien’s
friends”; and they sat over the cards from nine o’clock till midnight.
Lucien was unacquainted with a single game, but Lousteau lost a thousand
francs, and Lucien could not refuse to lend him the money when he asked
for it.

Michel, Fulgence, and Joseph appeared about ten o’clock; and Lucien,
chatting with them in a corner, saw that they looked sober and serious
enough, not to say ill at ease. D’Arthez could not come, he was
finishing his book; Leon Giraud was busy with the first number of his
review; so the brotherhood had sent three artists among their number,
thinking that they would feel less out of their element in an uproarious
supper party than the rest.

“Well, my dear fellows,” said Lucien, assuming a slightly patronizing
tone, “the ‘comical fellow’ may become a great public character yet, you
see.”

“I wish I may be mistaken; I don’t ask better,” said Michel.

“Are you living with Coralie until you can do better?” asked Fulgence.

“Yes,” said Lucien, trying to look unconscious. “Coralie had an elderly
adorer, a merchant, and she showed him the door, poor fellow. I am
better off than your brother Philippe,” he added, addressing Joseph
Bridau; “he does not know how to manage Mariette.”

“You are a man like another now; in short, you will make your way,” said
Fulgence.

“A man that will always be the same for you, under all circumstances,”
 returned Lucien.

Michel and Fulgence exchanged incredulous scornful smiles at this.
Lucien saw the absurdity of his remark.

“Coralie is wonderfully beautiful,” exclaimed Joseph Bridau. “What a
magnificent portrait she would make!”

“Beautiful and good,” said Lucien; “she is an angel, upon my word. And
you shall paint her portrait; she shall sit to you if you like for your
Venetian lady brought by the old woman to the senator.”

“All women who love are angelic,” said Michel Chrestien.

Just at that moment Raoul Nathan flew upon Lucien, and grasped both his
hands and shook them in a sudden access of violent friendship.

“Oh, my good friend, you are something more than a great man, you have a
heart,” cried he, “a much rarer thing than genius in these days. You are
a devoted friend. I am yours, in short, through thick and thin; I shall
never forget all that you have done for me this week.”

Lucien’s joy had reached the highest point; to be thus caressed by a
man of whom everyone was talking! He looked at his three friends of the
brotherhood with something like a superior air. Nathan’s appearance
upon the scene was the result of an overture from Merlin, who sent him a
proof of the favorable review to appear in to-morrow’s issue.

“I only consented to write the attack on condition that I should be
allowed to reply to it myself,” Lucien said in Nathan’s ear. “I am one
of you.” This incident was opportune; it justified the remark which
amused Fulgence. Lucien was radiant.

“When d’Arthez’s book comes out,” he said, turning to the three, “I am
in a position to be useful to him. That thought in itself would induce
me to remain a journalist.”

“Can you do as you like?” Michel asked quickly.

“So far as one can when one is indispensable,” said Lucien modestly.

It was almost midnight when they sat down to supper, and the fun grew
fast and furious. Talk was less restrained in Lucien’s house than
at Matifat’s, for no one suspected that the representatives of the
brotherhood and the newspaper writers held divergent opinions. Young
intellects, depraved by arguing for either side, now came into conflict
with each other, and fearful axioms of the journalistic jurisprudence,
then in its infancy, hurtled to and fro. Claude Vignon, upholding the
dignity of criticism, inveighed against the tendency of the smaller
newspapers, saying that the writers of personalities lowered themselves
in the end. Lousteau, Merlin, and Finot took up the cudgels for the
system known by the name of _blague_; puffery, gossip, and humbug, said
they, was the test of talent, and set the hall-mark, as it were, upon
it. “Any man who can stand that test has real power,” said Lousteau.

“Besides,” cried Merlin, “when a great man receives ovations, there
ought to be a chorus in insults to balance, as in a Roman triumph.”

“Oho!” put in Lucien; “then every one held up to ridicule in print will
fancy that he has made a success.”

“Any one would think that the question interested you,” exclaimed Finot.

“And how about our sonnets,” said Michel Chrestien; “is that the way
they will win us the fame of a second Petrarch?”

“Laura already counts for something in his fame,” said Dauriat, a pun
[Laure (l’or)] received with acclamations.

“_Faciamus experimentum in anima vili_,” retorted Lucien with a smile.

“And woe unto him whom reviewers shall spare, flinging him crowns at
his first appearance, for he shall be shelved like the saints in their
shrines, and no man shall pay him the slightest attention,” said Vernou.

“People will say, ‘Look elsewhere, simpleton; you have had your due
already,’ as Champcenetz said to the Marquis de Genlis, who was looking
too fondly at his wife,” added Blondet.

“Success is the ruin of a man in France,” said Finot. “We are so jealous
of one another that we try to forget, and to make others forget, the
triumphs of yesterday.”

“Contradiction is the life of literature, in fact,” said Claude Vignon.

“In art as in nature, there are two principles everywhere at strife,”
 exclaimed Fulgence; “and victory for either means death.”

“So it is with politics,” added Michel Chrestien.

“We have a case in point,” said Lousteau. “Dauriat will sell a couple
of thousand copies of Nathan’s book in the coming week. And why? Because
the book that was cleverly attacked will be ably defended.”

Merlin took up the proof of to-morrow’s paper. “How can such an article
fail to sell an edition?” he asked.

“Read the article,” said Dauriat. “I am a publisher wherever I am, even
at supper.”

Merlin read Lucien’s triumphant refutation aloud, and the whole party
applauded.

“How could that article have been written unless the attack had preceded
it?” asked Lousteau.

Dauriat drew the proof of the third article from his pocket and read it
over, Finot listening closely; for it was to appear in the second number
of his own review, and as editor he exaggerated his enthusiasm.

“Gentlemen,” said he, “so and not otherwise would Bossuet have written
if he had lived in our day.”

“I am sure of it,” said Merlin. “Bossuet would have been a journalist
to-day.”

“To Bossuet the Second!” cried Claude Vignon, raising his glass with an
ironical bow.

“To my Christopher Columbus!” returned Lucien, drinking a health to
Dauriat.

“Bravo!” cried Nathan.

“Is it a nickname?” Merlin inquired, looking maliciously from Finot to
Lucien.

“If you go on at this pace, you will be quite beyond us,” said Dauriat;
“these gentlemen” (indicating Camusot and Matifat) “cannot follow you
as it is. A joke is like a bit of thread; if it is spun too fine, it
breaks, as Bonaparte said.”

“Gentlemen,” said Lousteau, “we have been eye-witnesses of a strange,
portentous, unheard-of, and truly surprising phenomenon. Admire
the rapidity with which our friend here has been transformed from a
provincial into a journalist!”

“He is a born journalist,” said Dauriat.

“Children!” called Finot, rising to his feet, “all of us here present
have encouraged and protected our amphitryon in his entrance upon a
career in which he has already surpassed our hopes. In two months he has
shown us what he can do in a series of excellent articles known to us
all. I propose to baptize him in form as a journalist.”

“A crown of roses! to signalize a double conquest,” cried Bixiou,
glancing at Coralie.

Coralie made a sign to Berenice. That portly handmaid went to Coralie’s
dressing-room and brought back a box of tumbled artificial flowers.
The more incapable members of the party were grotesquely tricked out
in these blossoms, and a crown of roses was soon woven. Finot, as high
priest, sprinkled a few drops of champagne on Lucien’s golden curls,
pronouncing with delicious gravity the words--“In the name of the
Government Stamp, the Caution-money, and the Fine, I baptize thee,
Journalist. May thy articles sit lightly on thee!”

“And may they be paid for, including white lines!” cried Merlin.

Just at that moment Lucien caught sight of three melancholy faces.
Michel Chrestien, Joseph Bridau, and Fulgence Ridal took up their hats
and went out amid a storm of invective.

“Queer customers!” said Merlin.

“Fulgence used to be a good fellow,” added Lousteau, “before they
perverted his morals.”

“Who are ‘they’?” asked Claude Vignon.

“Some very serious young men,” said Blondet, “who meet at a
philosophico-religious symposium in the Rue des Quatre-Vents, and worry
themselves about the meaning of human life----”

“Oh! oh!”

“They are trying to find out whether it goes round in a circle, or
makes some progress,” continued Blondet. “They were very hard put to
it between the straight line and the curve; the triangle, warranted by
Scripture, seemed to them to be nonsense, when, lo! there arose among
them some prophet or other who declared for the spiral.”

“Men might meet to invent more dangerous nonsense than that!” exclaimed
Lucien, making a faint attempt to champion the brotherhood.

“You take theories of that sort for idle words,” said Felicien Vernou;
“but a time comes when the arguments take the form of gunshot and the
guillotine.”

“They have not come to that yet,” said Bixiou; “they have only come
as far as the designs of Providence in the invention of champagne, the
humanitarian significance of breeches, and the blind deity who keeps the
world going. They pick up fallen great men like Vico, Saint-Simon, and
Fourier. I am much afraid that they will turn poor Joseph Bridau’s head
among them.”

“Bianchon, my old schoolfellow, gives me the cold shoulder now,” said
Lousteau; “it is all their doing----”

“Do they give lectures on orthopedy and intellectual gymnastics?” asked
Merlin.

“Very likely,” answered Finot, “if Bianchon has any hand in their
theories.”

“Pshaw!” said Lousteau; “he will be a great physician anyhow.”

“Isn’t d’Arthez their visible head?” asked Nathan, “a little youngster
that is going to swallow all of us up.”

“He is a genius!” cried Lucien.

“Genius, is he! Well, give me a glass of sherry!” said Claude Vignon,
smiling.

Every one, thereupon, began to explain his character for the benefit of
his neighbor; and when a clever man feels a pressing need of explaining
himself, and of unlocking his heart, it is pretty clear that wine has
got the upper hand. An hour later, all the men in the company were the
best friends in the world, addressing each other as great men and bold
spirits, who held the future in their hands. Lucien, in his quality
of host, was sufficiently clearheaded to apprehend the meaning of the
sophistries which impressed him and completed his demoralization.

“The Liberal party,” announced Finot, “is compelled to stir up
discussion somehow. There is no fault to find with the action of the
Government, and you may imagine what a fix the Opposition is in.
Which of you now cares to write a pamphlet in favor of the system of
primogeniture, and raise a cry against the secret designs of the Court?
The pamphlet will be paid for handsomely.”

“I will write it,” said Hector Merlin. “It is my own point of view.”

“Your party will complain that you are compromising them,” said Finot.
“Felicien, you must undertake it; Dauriat will bring it out, and we will
keep the secret.”

“How much shall I get?”

“Six hundred francs. Sign it ‘Le Comte C, three stars.’”

“It’s a bargain,” said Felicien Vernou.

“So you are introducing the _canard_ to the political world,” remarked
Lousteau.

“It is simply the Chabot affair carried into the region of abstract
ideas,” said Finot. “Fasten intentions on the Government, and then let
loose public opinion.”

“How a Government can leave the control of ideas to such a pack of
scamps as we are, is matter for perpetual and profound astonishment to
me,” said Claude Vignon.

“If the Ministry blunders so far as to come down into the arena, we can
give them a drubbing. If they are nettled by it, the thing will rankle
in people’s minds, and the Government will lose its hold on the masses.
The newspaper risks nothing, and the authorities have everything to
lose.”

“France will be a cipher until newspapers are abolished by law,” said
Claude Vignon. “You are making progress hourly,” he added, addressing
Finot. “You are a modern order of Jesuits, lacking the creed, the fixed
idea, the discipline, and the union.”

They went back to the card-tables; and before long the light of the
candles grew feeble in the dawn.

“Lucien, your friends from the Rue des Quatre-Vents looked as dismal as
criminals going to be hanged,” said Coralie.

“They were the judges, not the criminals,” replied the poet.

“Judges are more amusing than _that_,” said Coralie.



For a month Lucien’s whole time was taken up with supper parties, dinner
engagements, breakfasts, and evening parties; he was swept away by an
irresistible current into a vortex of dissipation and easy work. He
no longer thought of the future. The power of calculation amid the
complications of life is the sign of a strong will which poets,
weaklings, and men who live a purely intellectual life can never
counterfeit. Lucien was living from hand to mouth, spending his money
as fast as he made it, like many another journalist; nor did he give
so much as a thought to those periodically recurrent days of reckoning
which chequer the life of the bohemian in Paris so sadly.

In dress and figure he was a rival for the great dandies of the day.
Coralie, like all zealots, loved to adorn her idol. She ruined herself
to give her beloved poet the accoutrements which had so stirred his
envy in the Garden of the Tuileries. Lucien had wonderful canes, and
a charming eyeglass; he had diamond studs, and scarf-rings, and
signet-rings, besides an assortment of waistcoats marvelous to behold,
and in sufficient number to match every color in a variety of costumes.
His transition to the estate of dandy swiftly followed. When he went
to the German Minister’s dinner, all the young men regarded him with
suppressed envy; yet de Marsay, Vandenesse, Ajuda-Pinto, Maxime de
Trailles, Rastignac, Beaudenord, Manerville, and the Duc de Maufrigneuse
gave place to none in the kingdom of fashion. Men of fashion are as
jealous among themselves as women, and in the same way. Lucien was
placed between Mme. de Montcornet and Mme. d’Espard, in whose honor the
dinner was given; both ladies overwhelmed him with flatteries.

“Why did you turn your back on society when you would have been so well
received?” asked the Marquise. “Every one was prepared to make much of
you. And I have a quarrel with you too. You owed me a call--I am still
waiting to receive it. I saw you at the Opera the other day, and you
would not deign to come to see me nor to take any notice of me.”

“Your cousin, madame, so unmistakably dismissed me--”

“Oh! you do not know women,” the Marquise d’Espard broke in upon him.
“You have wounded the most angelic heart, the noblest nature that I
know. You do not know all that Louise was trying to do for you, nor
how tactfully she laid her plans for you.--Oh! and she would have
succeeded,” the Marquise continued, replying to Lucien’s mute
incredulity. “Her husband is dead now; died, as he was bound to die, of
an indigestion; could you doubt that she would be free sooner or later?
And can you suppose that she would like to be Madame Chardon? It was
worth while to take some trouble to gain the title of Comtesse de
Rubempre. Love, you see, is a great vanity, which requires the lesser
vanities to be in harmony with itself--especially in marriage. I might
love you to madness--which is to say, sufficiently to marry you--and yet
I should find it very unpleasant to be called Madame Chardon. You can
see that. And now that you understand the difficulties of Paris life,
you will know how many roundabout ways you must take to reach your end;
very well, then, you must admit that Louise was aspiring to an all but
impossible piece of Court favor; she was quite unknown, she is not rich,
and therefore she could not afford to neglect any means of success.

“You are clever,” the Marquise d’Espard continued; “but we women, when
we love, are cleverer than the cleverest man. My cousin tried to make
that absurd Chatelet useful--Oh!” she broke off, “I owe not a little
amusement to you; your articles on Chatelet made me laugh heartily.”

Lucien knew not what to think of all this. Of the treachery and bad
faith of journalism he had had some experience; but in spite of his
perspicacity, he scarcely expected to find bad faith or treachery in
society. There were some sharp lessons in store for him.

“But, madame,” he objected, for her words aroused a lively curiosity,
“is not the Heron under your protection?”

“One is obliged to be civil to one’s worst enemies in society,”
 protested she; “one may be bored, but one must look as if the talk was
amusing, and not seldom one seems to sacrifice friends the better to
serve them. Are you still a novice? You mean to write, and yet you know
nothing of current deceit? My cousin apparently sacrificed you to the
Heron, but how could she dispense with his influence for you? Our friend
stands well with the present ministry; and we have made him see that
your attacks will do him service--up to a certain point, for we want
you to make it up again some of these days. Chatelet has received
compensations for his troubles; for, as des Lupeaulx said, ‘While the
newspapers are making Chatelet ridiculous, they will leave the Ministry
in peace.’”

There was a pause; the Marquise left Lucien to his own reflections.

“M. Blondet led me to hope that I should have the pleasure of seeing
you in my house,” said the Comtesse de Montcornet. “You will meet a few
artists and men of letters, and some one else who has the keenest desire
to become acquainted with you--Mlle. des Touches, the owner of talents
rare among our sex. You will go to her house, no doubt. Mlle. de Touches
(or Camille Maupin, if you prefer it) is prodigiously rich, and presides
over one of the most remarkable salons in Paris. She has heard that you
are as handsome as you are clever, and is dying to meet you.”

Lucien could only pour out incoherent thanks and glance enviously at
Emile Blondet. There was as great a difference between a great lady like
Mme. de Montcornet and Coralie as between Coralie and a girl out of the
streets. The Countess was young and witty and beautiful, with the
very white fairness of women of the north. Her mother was the Princess
Scherbellof, and the Minister before dinner had paid her the most
respectful attention.

By this time the Marquise had made an end of trifling disdainfully with
the wing of a chicken.

“My poor Louise felt so much affection for you,” she said. “She took me
into her confidence; I knew her dreams of a great career for you. She
would have borne a great deal, but what scorn you showed her when you
sent back her letters! Cruelty we can forgive; those who hurt us must
have still some faith in us; but indifference! Indifference is like
polar snows, it extinguishes all life. So, you must see that you have
lost a precious affection through your own fault. Why break with
her? Even if she had scorned you, you had your way to make, had you
not?--your name to win back? Louise thought of all that.”

“Then why was she silent?”

“_Eh! mon Dieu!_” cried the Marquise, “it was I myself who advised her
not to take you into her confidence. Between ourselves, you know, you
seemed so little used to the ways of the world, that I took alarm. I
was afraid that your inexperience and rash ardor might wreck our
carefully-made schemes. Can you recollect yourself as you were then? You
must admit that if you could see your double to-day, you would say the
same yourself. You are not like the same man. That was our mistake. But
would one man in a thousand combine such intellectual gifts with such
wonderful aptitude for taking the tone of society? I did not think that
you would be such an astonishing exception. You were transformed so
quickly, you acquired the manner of Paris so easily, that I did not
recognize you in the Bois de Boulogne a month ago.”

Lucien heard the great lady with inexpressible pleasure; the flatteries
were spoken with such a petulant, childlike, confiding air, and she
seemed to take such a deep interest in him, that he thought of his first
evening at the Panorama-Dramatique, and began to fancy that some such
miracle was about to take place a second time. Everything had smiled
upon him since that happy evening; his youth, he thought, was the
talisman that worked this change. He would prove this great lady; she
should not take him unawares.

“Then, what were these schemes which have turned to chimeras, madame?”
 asked he.

“Louise meant to obtain a royal patent permitting you to bear the name
and title of Rubempre. She wished to put Chardon out of sight. Your
opinions have put that out of the question now, but _then_ it would not
have been so hard to manage, and a title would mean a fortune for you.

“You will look on these things as trifles and visionary ideas,” she
continued; “but we know something of life, and we know, too, all the
solid advantages of a Count’s title when it is borne by a fashionable
and extremely charming young man. Announce ‘M. Chardon’ and ‘M. le Comte
de Rubempre’ before heiresses or English girls with a million to their
fortune, and note the difference of the effect. The Count might be in
debt, but he would find open hearts; his good looks, brought into relief
by his title, would be like a diamond in a rich setting; M. Chardon
would not be so much as noticed. WE have not invented these notions;
they are everywhere in the world, even among the burgeois. You
are turning your back on fortune at this minute. Do you see that
good-looking young man? He is the Vicomte Felix de Vandenesse, one of
the King’s private secretaries. The King is fond enough of young men of
talent, and Vandenesse came from the provinces with baggage nearly as
light as yours. You are a thousand times cleverer than he; but do you
belong to a great family, have you a name? You know des Lupeaulx; his
name is very much like yours, for he was born a Chardin; well, he would
not sell his little farm of Lupeaulx for a million, he will be Comte
des Lupeaulx some day, and perhaps his grandson may be a duke.--You have
made a false start; and if you continue in that way, it will be all over
with you. See how much wiser M. Emile Blondet has been! He is engaged on
a Government newspaper; he is well looked on by those in authority; he
can afford to mix with Liberals, for he holds sound opinions; and soon
or later he will succeed. But then he understood how to choose his
opinions and his protectors.

“Your charming neighbor” (Mme. d’Espard glanced at Mme. de Montcornet)
“was a Troisville; there are two peers of France in the family and two
deputies. She made a wealthy marriage with her name; she sees a great
deal of society at her house; she has influence, she will move the
political world for young M. Blondet. Where will a Coralie take you? In
a few years’ time you will be hopelessly in debt and weary of pleasure.
You have chosen badly in love, and you are arranging your life ill. The
woman whom you delight to wound was at the Opera the other night, and
this was how she spoke of you. She deplored the way in which you were
throwing away your talent and the prime of youth; she was thinking of
you, and not of herself, all the while.”

“Ah! if you were only telling me the truth, madame!” cried Lucien.

“What object should I have in telling lies?” returned the Marquise, with
a glance of cold disdain which annihilated him. He was so dashed by it,
that the conversation dropped, for the Marquise was offended, and said
no more.

Lucien was nettled by her silence, but he felt that it was due to his
own clumsiness, and promised himself that he would repair his error.
He turned to Mme. de Montcornet and talked to her of Blondet, extolling
that young writer for her benefit. The Countess was gracious to him,
and asked him (at a sign from Mme. d’Espard) to spend an evening at her
house. It was to be a small and quiet gathering to which only friends
were invited--Mme. de Bargeton would be there in spite of her mourning;
Lucien would be pleased, she was sure, to meet Mme. de Bargeton.

“Mme. la Marquise says that all the wrong is on my side,” said Lucien;
“so surely it rests with her cousin, does it not, to decide whether she
will meet me?”

“Put an end to those ridiculous attacks, which only couple her name with
the name of a man for whom she does not care at all, and you will soon
sign a treaty of peace. You thought that she had used you ill, I am
told, but I myself have seen her in sadness because you had forsaken
her. Is it true that she left the provinces on your account?”

Lucien smiled; he did not venture to make any other reply.

“Oh! how could you doubt the woman who made such sacrifices for you?
Beautiful and intellectual as she is, she deserves besides to be loved
for her own sake; and Mme. de Bargeton cared less for you than for your
talents. Believe me, women value intellect more than good looks,” added
the Countess, stealing a glance at Emile Blondet.

In the Minister’s hotel Lucien could see the differences between the
great world and that other world beyond the pale in which he had lately
been living. There was no sort of resemblance between the two kinds of
splendor, no single point in common. The loftiness and disposition of
the rooms in one of the handsomest houses in the Faubourg Saint-Germain,
the ancient gilding, the breadth of decorative style, the subdued
richness of the accessories, all this was strange and new to him; but
Lucien had learned very quickly to take luxury for granted, and he
showed no surprise. His behavior was as far removed from assurance
or fatuity on the one hand as from complacency and servility upon the
other. His manner was good; he found favor in the eyes of all who were
not prepared to be hostile, like the younger men, who resented his
sudden intrusion into the great world, and felt jealous of his good
looks and his success.

When they rose from table, he offered his arm to Mme. d’Espard, and was
not refused. Rastignac, watching him, saw that the Marquise was gracious
to Lucien, and came in the character of a fellow-countryman to remind
the poet that they had met once before at Mme. du Val-Noble’s. The young
patrician seemed anxious to find an ally in the great man from his own
province, asked Lucien to breakfast with him some morning, and offered
to introduce him to some young men of fashion. Lucien was nothing loath.

“The dear Blondet is coming,” said Rastignac.

The two were standing near the Marquis de Ronquerolles, the Duc de
Rhetore, de Marsay, and General Montriveau. The Minister came across to
join the group.

“Well,” said he, addressing Lucien with a bluff German heartiness that
concealed his dangerous subtlety; “well, so you have made your peace
with Mme. d’Espard; she is delighted with you, and we all know,” he
added, looking round the group, “how difficult it is to please her.”

“Yes, but she adores intellect,” said Rastignac, “and my illustrious
fellow-countryman has wit enough to sell.”

“He will soon find out that he is not doing well for himself,” Blondet
put in briskly. “He will come over; he will soon be one of us.”

Those who stood about Lucien rang the changes on this theme; the older
and responsible men laid down the law with one or two profound remarks;
the younger ones made merry at the expense of the Liberals.

“He simply tossed up head or tails for Right or Left, I am sure,”
 remarked Blondet, “but now he will choose for himself.”

Lucien burst out laughing; he thought of his talk with Lousteau that
evening in the Luxembourg Gardens.

“He has taken on a bear-leader,” continued Blondet, “one Etienne
Lousteau, a newspaper hack who sees a five-franc piece in a column.
Lousteau’s politics consist in a belief that Napoleon will return, and
(and this seems to me to be still more simple) in a confidence in the
gratitude and patriotism of their worships the gentlemen of the Left. As
a Rubempre, Lucien’s sympathies should lean towards the aristocracy; as
a journalist, he ought to be for authority, or he will never be either
Rubempre or a secretary-general.”

The Minister now asked Lucien to take a hand at whist; but, to the great
astonishment of those present, he declared that he did not know the
game.

“Come early to me on the day of that breakfast affair,” Rastignac
whispered, “and I will teach you to play. You are a discredit to the
royal city of Angouleme; and, to repeat M. de Talleyrand’s saying, you
are laying up an unhappy old age for yourself.”

Des Lupeaulx was announced. He remembered Lucien, whom he had met at
Mme. du Val-Noble’s, and bowed with a semblance of friendliness which
the poet could not doubt. Des Lupeaulx was in favor, he was a Master
of Requests, and did the Ministry secret services; he was, moreover,
cunning and ambitious, slipping himself in everywhere; he was
everybody’s friend, for he never knew whom he might need. He saw plainly
that this was a young journalist whose social success would probably
equal his success in literature; saw, too, that the poet was ambitious,
and overwhelmed him with protestations and expressions of friendship and
interest, till Lucien felt as if they were old friends already, and took
his promises and speeches for more than their worth. Des Lupeaulx made a
point of knowing a man thoroughly well if he wanted to get rid of him or
feared him as a rival. So, to all appearance, Lucien was well received.
He knew that much of his success was owing to the Duc de Rhetore, the
Minister, Mme. d’Espard, and Mme. de Montcornet, and went to spend a
few moments with the two ladies before taking leave, and talked his very
best for them.

“What a coxcomb!” said des Lupeaulx, turning to the Marquise when he had
gone.

“He will be rotten before he is ripe,” de Marsay added, smiling. “You
must have private reasons of your own, madame, for turning his head in
this way.”



When Lucien stepped into the carriage in the courtyard, he found Coralie
waiting for him. She had come to fetch him. The little attention touched
him; he told her the history of his evening; and, to his no small
astonishment, the new notions which even now were running in his head
met with Coralie’s approval. She strongly advised him to enlist under
the ministerial banner.

“You have nothing to expect from the Liberals but hard knocks,” she
said. “They plot and conspire; they murdered the Duc de Berri. Will they
upset the Government? Never! You will never come to anything through
them, while you will be Comte de Rubempre if you throw in your lot with
the other side. You might render services to the State, and be a peer
of France, and marry an heiress. Be an Ultra. It is the proper thing
besides,” she added, this being the last word with her on all subjects.
“I dined with the Val-Noble; she told me that Theodore Gaillard is
really going to start his little Royalist _Revue_, so as to reply to
your witticisms and the jokes in the _Miroir_. To hear them talk, M.
Villele’s party will be in office before the year is out. Try to turn
the change to account before they come to power; and say nothing to
Etienne and your friends, for they are quite equal to playing you some
ill turn.”

A week later, Lucien went to Mme. de Montcornet’s house, and saw the
woman whom he had so loved, whom later he had stabbed to the heart with
a jest. He felt the most violent agitation at the sight of her, for
Louise also had undergone a transformation. She was the Louise that she
would always have been but for her detention in the provinces--she was a
great lady. There was a grace and refinement in her mourning dress which
told that she was a happy widow; Lucien fancied that this coquetry was
aimed in some degree at him, and he was right; but, like an ogre, he had
tasted flesh, and all that evening he vacillated between Coralie’s warm,
voluptuous beauty and the dried-up, haughty, cruel Louise. He could not
make up his mind to sacrifice the actress to the great lady; and Mme.
de Bargeton--all the old feeling reviving in her at the sight of Lucien,
Lucien’s beauty, Lucien’s cleverness--was waiting and expecting that
sacrifice all evening; and after all her insinuating speeches and her
fascinations, she had her trouble for her pains. She left the room with
a fixed determination to be revenged.

“Well, dear Lucien,” she had said, and in her kindness there was both
generosity and Parisian grace; “well, dear Lucien, so you, that were to
have been my pride, took me for your first victim; and I forgave you, my
dear, for I felt that in such a revenge there was a trace of love still
left.”

With that speech, and the queenly way in which it was uttered, Mme.
de Bargeton recovered her position. Lucien, convinced that he was a
thousand times in the right, felt that he had been put in the wrong. Not
one word of the causes of the rupture! not one syllable of the terrible
farewell letter! A woman of the world has a wonderful genius for
diminishing her faults by laughing at them; she can obliterate them all
with a smile or a question of feigned surprise, and she knows this.
She remembers nothing, she can explain everything; she is amazed, asks
questions, comments, amplifies, and quarrels with you, till in the end
her sins disappear like stains on the application of a little soap and
water; black as ink you knew them to be; and lo! in a moment, you behold
immaculate white innocence, and lucky are you if you do not find that
you yourself have sinned in some way beyond redemption.

In a moment old illusions regained their power over Lucien and
Louise; they talked like friends, as before; but when the lady, with a
hesitating sigh, put the question, “Are you happy?” Lucien was not ready
with a prompt, decided answer; he was intoxicated with gratified vanity;
Coralie, who (let us admit it) had made life easy for him, had turned
his head. A melancholy “No” would have made his fortune, but he must
needs begin to explain his position with regard to Coralie. He said that
he was loved for his own sake; he said a good many foolish things that
a man will say when he is smitten with a tender passion, and thought the
while that he was doing a clever thing.

Mme. de Bargeton bit her lips. There was no more to be said. Mme.
d’Espard brought Mme. de Montcornet to her cousin, and Lucien became
the hero of the evening, so to speak. He was flattered, petted, and made
much of by the three women; he was entangled with art which no words can
describe. His social success in this fine and brilliant circle was
at least as great as his triumphs in journalism. Beautiful Mlle. des
Touches, so well known as “Camille Maupin,” asked him to one of her
Wednesday dinners; his beauty, now so justly famous, seemed to have
made an impression upon her. Lucien exerted himself to show that his wit
equaled his good looks, and Mlle. des Touches expressed her admiration
with a playful outspokenness and a pretty fervor of friendship which
deceives those who do not know life in Paris to its depths, nor suspect
how continual enjoyment whets the appetite for novelty.

“If she should like me as much as I like her, we might abridge the
romance,” said Lucien, addressing de Marsay and Rastignac.

“You both of you write romances too well to care to live them,” returned
Rastignac. “Can men and women who write ever fall in love with each
other? A time is sure to come when they begin to make little cutting
remarks.”

“It would not be a bad dream for you,” laughed de Marsay. “The charming
young lady is thirty years old, it is true, but she has an income of
eighty thousand livres. She is adorably capricious, and her style of
beauty wears well. Coralie is a silly little fool, my dear boy, well
enough for a start, for a young spark must have a mistress; but unless
you make some great conquest in the great world, an actress will do you
harm in the long run. Now, my boy, go and cut out Conti. Here he is,
just about to sing with Camille Maupin. Poetry has taken precedence of
music ever since time began.”

But when Lucien heard Mlle. des Touches’ voice blending with Conti’s,
his hopes fled.

“Conti sings too well,” he told des Lupeaulx; and he went back to Mme.
de Bargeton, who carried him off to Mme. d’Espard in another room.

“Well, will you not interest yourself in him?” asked Mme. de Bargeton.

The Marquise spoke with an air half kindly, half insolent. “Let M.
Chardon first put himself in such a position that he will not compromise
those who take an interest in him,” she said. “If he wishes to drop his
patronymic and to bear his mother’s name, he should at any rate be on
the right side, should he not?”

“In less than two months I will arrange everything,” said Lucien.

“Very well,” returned Mme. d’Espard. “I will speak to my father and
uncle; they are in waiting, they will speak to the Chancellor for you.”

The diplomatist and the two women had very soon discovered Lucien’s weak
side. The poet’s head was turned by the glory of the aristocracy; every
man who entered the rooms bore a sounding name mounted in a glittering
title, and he himself was plain Chardon. Unspeakable mortification
filled him at the sound of it. Wherever he had been during the last few
days, that pang had been constantly present with him. He felt, moreover,
a sensation quite as unpleasant when he went back to his desk after an
evening spent in the great world, in which he made a tolerable figure,
thanks to Coralie’s carriage and Coralie’s servants.

He learned to ride, in order to escort Mme. d’Espard, Mlle. des Touches,
and the Comtesse de Montcornet when they drove in the Bois, a privilege
which he had envied other young men so greatly when he first came to
Paris. Finot was delighted to give his right-hand man an order for the
Opera, so Lucien wasted many an evening there, and thenceforward he was
among the exquisites of the day.

The poet asked Rastignac and his new associates to a breakfast, and made
the blunder of giving it in Coralie’s rooms in the Rue de Vendome;
he was too young, too much of a poet, too self-confident, to discern
certain shades and distinctions in conduct; and how should an actress,
a good-hearted but uneducated girl, teach him life? His guests were
anything but charitably disposed towards him; it was clearly proven to
their minds that Lucien the critic and the actress were in collusion
for their mutual interests, and all of the young men were jealous of an
arrangement which all of them stigmatized. The most pitiless of those
who laughed that evening at Lucien’s expense was Rastignac himself.
Rastignac had made and held his position by very similar means; but
so careful had he been of appearances, that he could afford to treat
scandal as slander.

Lucien proved an apt pupil at whist. Play became a passion with him; and
so far from disapproving, Coralie encouraged his extravagance with the
peculiar short-sightedness of an all-absorbing love, which sees nothing
beyond the moment, and is ready to sacrifice anything, even the future,
to the present enjoyment. Coralie looked on cards as a safe-guard
against rivals. A great love has much in common with childhood--a
child’s heedless, careless, spendthrift ways, a child’s laughter and
tears.

In those days there lived and flourished a set of young men,
some of them rich, some poor, and all of them idle, called
“free-livers” (_viveurs_); and, indeed, they lived with incredible
insolence--unabashed and unproductive consumers, and yet more intrepid
drinkers. These spendthrifts mingled the roughest practical jokes with
a life not so much reckless as suicidal; they drew back from no
impossibility, and gloried in pranks which, nevertheless, were confined
within certain limits; and as they showed the most original wit in their
escapades, it was impossible not to pardon them.

No sign of the times more plainly discovered the helotism to which the
Restoration had condemned the young manhood of the epoch. The younger
men, being at a loss to know what to do with themselves, were compelled
to find other outlets for their superabundant energy besides journalism,
or conspiracy, or art, or letters. They squandered their strength in
the wildest excesses, such sap and luxuriant power was there in young
France. The hard workers among these gilded youths wanted power and
pleasure; the artists wished for money; the idle sought to stimulate
their appetites or wished for excitement; one and all of them wanted
a place, and one and all were shut out from politics and public life.
Nearly all the “free-livers” were men of unusual mental powers; some
held out against the enervating life, others were ruined by it. The
most celebrated and the cleverest among them was Eugene Rastignac, who
entered, with de Marsay’s help, upon a political career, in which he
has since distinguished himself. The practical jokes, in which the set
indulged became so famous, that not a few vaudevilles have been founded
upon them.

Blondet introduced Lucien to this society of prodigals, of which he
became a brilliant ornament, ranking next to Bixiou, one of the most
mischievous and untiring scoffing wits of his time. All through that
winter Lucien’s life was one long fit of intoxication, with intervals of
easy work. He continued his series of sketches of contemporary life,
and very occasionally made great efforts to write a few pages of serious
criticism, on which he brought his utmost power of thought to bear.
But study was the exception, not the rule, and only undertaken at the
bidding of necessity; dinners and breakfasts, parties of pleasure and
play, took up most of his time, and Coralie absorbed all that was left.
He would not think of the morrow. He saw besides that his so-called
friends were leading the same life, earning money easily by writing
publishers’ prospectuses and articles paid for by speculators; all of
them lived beyond their incomes, none of them thought seriously of the
future.

Lucien had been admitted into the ranks of journalism and of literature
on terms of equality; he foresaw immense difficulties in the way if he
should try to rise above the rest. Every one was willing to look upon
him as an equal; no one would have him for a superior. Unconsciously he
gave up the idea of winning fame in literature, for it seemed easier to
gain success in politics.

“Intrigue raises less opposition than talent,” du Chatelet had said one
day (for Lucien and the Baron had made up their quarrel); “a plot below
the surface rouses no one’s attention. Intrigue, moreover, is superior
to talent, for it makes something out of nothing; while, for the most
part, the immense resources of talent only injure a man.”

So Lucien never lost sight of his principal idea; and though to-morrow,
following close upon the heels of to-day in the midst of an orgy, never
found the promised work accomplished, Lucien was assiduous in society.
He paid court to Mme. de Bargeton, the Marquise d’Espard, and the
Comtesse de Montcornet; he never missed a single party given by Mlle.
des Touches, appearing in society after a dinner given by authors or
publishers, and leaving the salons for a supper given in consequence of
a bet. The demands of conversation and the excitement of play absorbed
all the ideas and energy left by excess. The poet had lost the lucidity
of judgment and coolness of head which must be preserved if a man is
to see all that is going on around him, and never to lose the exquisite
tact which the _parvenu_ needs at every moment. How should he know how
many a time Mme. de Bargeton left him with wounded susceptibilities, how
often she forgave him or added one more condemnation to the rest?

Chatelet saw that his rival had still a chance left, so he became
Lucien’s friend. He encouraged the poet in dissipation that wasted his
energies. Rastignac, jealous of his fellow-countryman, and thinking,
besides, that Chatelet would be a surer and more useful ally than
Lucien, had taken up the Baron’s cause. So, some few days after the
meeting of the Petrarch and Laura of Angouleme, Rastignac brought about
the reconciliation between the poet and the elderly beau at a sumptuous
supper given at the _Rocher de Cancale_. Lucien never returned home till
morning, and rose in the middle of the day; Coralie was always at his
side, he could not forego a single pleasure. Sometimes he saw his real
position, and made good resolutions, but they came to nothing in
his idle, easy life; and the mainspring of will grew slack, and only
responded to the heaviest pressure of necessity.

Coralie had been glad that Lucien should amuse himself; she had
encouraged him in this reckless expenditure, because she thought
that the cravings which she fostered would bind her lover to her. But
tender-hearted and loving as she was, she found courage to advise Lucien
not to forget his work, and once or twice was obliged to remind him that
he had earned very little during the month. Their debts were growing
frightfully fast. The fifteen hundred francs which remained from the
purchase-money of the _Marguerites_ had been swallowed up at once,
together with Lucien’s first five hundred livres. In three months he had
only made a thousand francs, yet he felt as though he had been working
tremendously hard. But by this time Lucien had adopted the “free-livers”
 pleasant theory of debts.

Debts are becoming to a young man, but after the age of five-and-twenty
they are inexcusable. It should be observed that there are certain
natures in which a really poetic temper is united with a weakened will;
and these while absorbed in feeling, that they may transmute personal
experience, sensation, or impression into some permanent form are
essentially deficient in the moral sense which should accompany all
observation. Poets prefer rather to receive their own impressions
than to enter into the souls of others to study the mechanism of their
feelings and thoughts. So Lucien neither asked his associates what
became of those who disappeared from among them, nor looked into the
futures of his so-called friends. Some of them were heirs to property,
others had definite expectations; yet others either possessed names that
were known in the world, or a most robust belief in their destiny and
a fixed resolution to circumvent the law. Lucien, too, believed in
his future on the strength of various profound axiomatic sayings
of Blondet’s: “Everything comes out all right at last--If a man has
nothing, his affairs cannot be embarrassed--We have nothing to lose
but the fortune that we seek--Swim with the stream; it will take you
somewhere--A clever man with a footing in society can make a fortune
whenever he pleases.”

That winter, filled as it was with so many pleasures and dissipations,
was a necessary interval employed in finding capital for the new
Royalist paper; Theodore Gaillard and Hector Merlin only brought out the
first number of the _Reveil_ in March 1822. The affair had been settled
at Mme. du Val-Noble’s house. Mme. du val-Noble exercised a certain
influence over the great personages, Royalist writers, and bankers who
met in her splendid rooms--“fit for a tale out of the _Arabian Nights_,”
 as the elegant and clever courtesan herself used to say--to transact
business which could not be arranged elsewhere. The editorship had been
promised to Hector Merlin. Lucien, Merlin’s intimate, was pretty certain
to be his right-hand man, and a _feuilleton_ in a Ministerial paper
had been promised to him besides. All through the dissipations of that
winter Lucien had been secretly making ready for this change of front.
Child as he was, he fancied that he was a deep politician because he
concealed the preparation for the approaching transformation-scene,
while he was counting upon Ministerial largesses to extricate himself
from embarrassment and to lighten Coralie’s secret cares. Coralie said
nothing of her distress; she smiled now, as always; but Berenice was
bolder, she kept Lucien informed of their difficulties; and the budding
great man, moved, after the fashion of poets, by the tale of disasters,
would vow that he would begin to work in earnest, and then forget his
resolution, and drown his fleeting cares in excess. One day Coralie saw
the poetic brow overcast, and scolded Berenice, and told her lover that
everything would be settled.

Mme. d’Espard and Mme. de Bargeton were waiting for Lucien’s profession
of his new creed, so they said, before applying through Chatelet for
the patent which should permit Lucien to bear the so-much desired name.
Lucien had proposed to dedicate the _Marguerites_ to Mme. d’Espard, and
the Marquise seemed to be not a little flattered by a compliment which
authors have been somewhat chary of paying since they became a power in
the land; but when Lucien went to Dauriat and asked after his book, that
worthy publisher met him with excellent reasons for the delay in its
appearance. Dauriat had this and that in hand, which took up all his
time; a new volume by Canalis was coming out, and he did not want the
two books to clash; M. de Lamartine’s second series of _Meditations_
was in the press, and two important collections of poetry ought not to
appear together.

By this time, however, Lucien’s needs were so pressing that he had
recourse to Finot, and received an advance on his work. When, at a
supper-party that evening, the poet journalist explained his position
to his friends in the fast set, they drowned his scruples in champagne,
iced with pleasantries. Debts! There was never yet a man of any power
without debts! Debts represented satisfied cravings, clamorous vices.
A man only succeeds under the pressure of the iron hand of necessity.
Debts forsooth!

“Why, the one pledge of which a great man can be sure, is given him by
his friend the pawnbroker,” cried Blondet.

“If you want everything, you must owe for everything,” called Bixiou.

“No,” corrected des Lupeaulx, “if you owe for everything, you have had
everything.”

The party contrived to convince the novice that his debts were a golden
spur to urge on the horses of the chariot of his fortunes. There
is always the stock example of Julius Caesar with his debt of forty
millions, and Friedrich II. on an allowance of one ducat a month, and a
host of other great men whose failings are held up for the corruption
of youth, while not a word is said of their wide-reaching ideas, their
courage equal to all odds.

Creditors seized Coralie’s horses, carriage, and furniture at last, for
an amount of four thousand francs. Lucien went to Lousteau and asked
his friend to meet his bill for the thousand francs lent to pay gaming
debts; but Lousteau showed him certain pieces of stamped paper, which
proved that Florine was in much the same case. Lousteau was grateful,
however, and offered to take the necessary steps for the sale of
Lucien’s _Archer of Charles IX._

“How came Florine to be in this plight?” asked Lucien.

“The Matifat took alarm,” said Lousteau. “We have lost him; but if
Florine chooses, she can make him pay dear for his treachery. I will
tell you all about it.”

Three days after this bootless errand, Lucien and Coralie were
breakfasting in melancholy spirits beside the fire in their pretty
bedroom. Berenice had cooked a dish of eggs for them over the grate; for
the cook had gone, and the coachman and servants had taken leave. They
could not sell the furniture, for it had been attached; there was not
a single object of any value in the house. A goodly collection of
pawntickets, forming a very instructive octavo volume, represented all
the gold, silver, and jewelry. Berenice had kept back a couple of spoons
and forks, that was all.

Lousteau’s newspaper was of service now to Coralie and Lucien, little as
they suspected it; for the tailor, dressmaker, and milliner were afraid
to meddle with a journalist who was quite capable of writing down their
establishments.

Etienne Lousteau broke in upon their breakfast with a shout of “Hurrah!
Long live _The Archer of Charles IX._! And I have converted a hundred
francs worth of books into cash, children. We will go halves.”

He handed fifty francs to Coralie, and sent Berenice out in quest of a
more substantial breakfast.

“Hector Merlin and I went to a booksellers’ trade dinner yesterday, and
prepared the way for your romance with cunning insinuations. Dauriat is
in treaty, but Dauriat is haggling over it; he won’t give more than
four thousand francs for two thousand copies, and you want six thousand
francs. We made you out twice as great as Sir Walter Scott! Oh! you have
such novels as never were in the inwards of you. It is not a mere book
for sale, it is a big business; you are not simply the writer of one
more or less ingenious novel, you are going to write a whole series. The
word ‘series’ did it! So, mind you, don’t forget that you have a great
historical series on hand--_La Grande Mademoiselle_, or _The France of
Louis Quatorze_; _Cotillon I._, or _The Early Days of Louis Quinze_;
_The Queen and the Cardinal_, or _Paris and the Fronde_; _The Son of the
Concini_, or _Richelieu’s Intrigue_. These novels will be announced on
the wrapper of the book. We call this manoeuvre ‘giving a success a toss
in the coverlet,’ for the titles are all to appear on the cover, till
you will be better known for the books that you have not written than
for the work you have done. And ‘In the Press’ is a way of gaining
credit in advance for work that you will do. Come, now, let us have a
little fun! Here comes the champagne. You can understand, Lucien, that
our men opened eyes as big as saucers. By the by, I see that you have
saucers still left.”

“They are attached,” explained Coralie.

“I understand, and I resume. Show a publisher one manuscript volume
and he will believe in all the rest. A publisher asks to see your
manuscript, and gives you to understand that he is going to read it. Why
disturb his harmless vanity? They never read a manuscript; they would
not publish so many if they did. Well, Hector and I allowed it to leak
out that you might consider an offer of five thousand francs for three
thousand copies, in two editions. Let me have your _Archer_; the day
after to-morrow we are to breakfast with the publishers, and we will get
the upper hand of them.”

“Who are they?” asked Lucien.

“Two partners named Fendant and Cavalier; they are two good fellows,
pretty straightforward in business. One of them used to be with Vidal
and Porchon, the other is the cleverest hand on the Quai des Augustins.
They only started in business last year, and have lost a little on
translations of English novels; so now my gentlemen have a mind to
exploit the native product. There is a rumor current that those dealers
in spoiled white paper are trading on other people’s capital; but I
don’t think it matters very much to you who finds the money, so long as
you are paid.”

Two days later, the pair went to a breakfast in the Rue Serpente, in
Lucien’s old quarter of Paris. Lousteau still kept his room in the
Rue de la Harpe; and it was in the same state as before, but this
time Lucien felt no surprise; he had been initiated into the life of
journalism; he knew all its ups and downs. Since that evening of his
introduction to the Wooden Galleries, he had been paid for many an
article, and gambled away the money along with the desire to write.
He had filled columns, not once but many times, in the ingenious ways
described by Lousteau on that memorable evening as they went to the
Palais Royal. He was dependent upon Barbet and Braulard; he trafficked
in books and theatre-tickets; he shrank no longer from any attack, from
writing any panegyric; and at this moment he was in some sort rejoicing
to make all he could out of Lousteau before turning his back on the
Liberals. His intimate knowledge of the party would stand him in good
stead in future. And Lousteau, on his side, was privately receiving five
hundred francs of purchase-money, under the name of commission, from
Fendant and Cavalier for introducing the future Sir Walter Scott to two
enterprising tradesmen in search of a French Author of “Waverley.”

The firm of Fendant and Cavalier had started in business without any
capital whatsoever. A great many publishing houses were established at
that time in the same way, and are likely to be established so long as
papermakers and printers will give credit for the time required to play
some seven or eight of the games of chance called “new publications.” At
that time, as at present, the author’s copyright was paid for in bills
at six, nine, and twelve months--a method of payment determined by the
custom of the trade, for booksellers settle accounts between themselves
by bills at even longer dates. Papermakers and printers are paid in the
same way, so that in practice the publisher-bookseller has a dozen or a
score of works on sale for a twelvemonth before he pays for them. Even
if only two or three of these hit the public taste, the profitable
speculations pay for the bad, and the publisher pays his way by
grafting, as it were, one book upon another. But if all of them turn out
badly; or if, for his misfortune, the publisher-bookseller happens to
bring out some really good literature which stays on hand until the
right public discovers and appreciates it; or if it costs too much to
discount the paper that he receives, then, resignedly, he files his
schedule, and becomes a bankrupt with an untroubled mind. He was
prepared all along for something of the kind. So, all the chances being
in favor of the publishers, they staked other people’s money, not their
own upon the gaming-table of business speculation.

This was the case with Fendant and Cavalier. Cavalier brought his
experience, Fendant his industry; the capital was a joint-stock affair,
and very accurately described by that word, for it consisted in a few
thousand francs scraped together with difficulty by the mistresses of
the pair. Out of this fund they allowed each other a fairly handsome
salary, and scrupulously spent it all in dinners to journalists and
authors, or at the theatre, where their business was transacted, as they
said. This questionably honest couple were both supposed to be clever
men of business, but Fendant was more slippery than Cavalier. Cavalier,
true to his name, traveled about, Fendant looked after business in
Paris. A partnership between two publishers is always more or less of a
duel, and so it was with Fendant and Cavalier.

They had brought out plenty of romances already, such as the _Tour
du Nord_, _Le Marchand de Benares_, _La Fontaine du Sepulcre_, and
_Tekeli_, translations of the works of Galt, an English novelist who
never attained much popularity in France. The success of translations of
Scott had called the attention of the trade to English novels. The
race of publishers, all agog for a second Norman conquest, were seeking
industriously for a second Scott, just as at a rather later day every
one must needs look for asphalt in stony soil, or bitumen in marshes,
and speculate in projected railways. The stupidity of the Paris
commercial world is conspicuous in these attempts to do the same thing
twice, for success lies in contraries; and in Paris, of all places in
the world, success spoils success. So beneath the title of _Strelitz,
or Russia a Hundred Years Ago_, Fendant and Cavalier rashly added in big
letters the words, “In the style of Scott.”

Fendant and Cavalier were in great need of a success. A single good book
might float their sunken bales, they thought; and there was the alluring
prospect besides of articles in the newspapers, the great way of
promoting sales in those days. A book is very seldom bought and sold
for its just value, and purchases are determined by considerations quite
other than the merits of the work. So Fendant and Cavalier thought of
Lucien as a journalist, and of his book as a salable article, which
would help them to tide over their monthly settlement.

The partners occupied the ground floor of one of the great old-fashioned
houses in the Rue Serpente; their private office had been contrived at
the further end of a suite of large drawing-rooms, now converted into
warehouses for books. Lucien and Etienne found the publishers in their
office, the agreement drawn up, and the bills ready. Lucien wondered at
such prompt action.

Fendant was short and thin, and by no means reassuring of aspect. With
his low, narrow forehead, sunken nose, and hard mouth, he looked like
a Kalmuck Tartar; a pair of small, wide-awake black eyes, the crabbed
irregular outline of his countenance, a voice like a cracked bell--the
man’s whole appearance, in fact, combined to give the impression that
this was a consummate rascal. A honeyed tongue compensated for these
disadvantages, and he gained his ends by talk. Cavalier, a stout,
thick-set young fellow, looked more like the driver of a mail coach than
a publisher; he had hair of a sandy color, a fiery red countenance, and
the heavy build and untiring tongue of a commercial traveler.

“There is no need to discuss this affair,” said Fendant, addressing
Lucien and Lousteau. “I have read the work, it is very literary, and so
exactly the kind of thing we want, that I have sent it off as it is to
the printer. The agreement is drawn on the lines laid down, and besides,
we always make the same stipulations in all cases. The bills fall due
in six, nine, and twelve months respectively; you will meet with no
difficulty in discounting them, and we will refund you the discount. We
have reserved the right of giving a new title to the book. We don’t
care for _The Archer of Charles IX._; it doesn’t tickle the reader’s
curiosity sufficiently; there were several kings of that name, you
see, and there were so many archers in the Middle Ages. If you had only
called it the _Soldier of Napoleon_, now! But _The Archer of Charles
IX._!--why, Cavalier would have to give a course of history lessons
before he could place a copy anywhere in the provinces.”

“If you but knew the class of people that we have to do with!” exclaimed
Cavalier.

“_Saint Bartholomew_ would suit better,” continued Fendant.

“_Catherine de’ Medici, or France under Charles IX._, would sound more
like one of Scott’s novels,” added Cavalier.

“We will settle it when the work is printed,” said Fendant.

“Do as you please, so long as I approve your title,” said Lucien.

The agreement was read over, signed in duplicate, and each of the
contracting parties took their copy. Lucien put the bills in his pocket
with unequaled satisfaction, and the four repaired to Fendant’s abode,
where they breakfasted on beefsteaks and oysters, kidneys in champagne,
and Brie cheese; but if the fare was something of the homeliest, the
wines were exquisite; Cavalier had an acquaintance a traveler in the
wine trade. Just as they sat down to table the printer appeared, to
Lucien’s surprise, with the first two proof-sheets.

“We want to get on with it,” Fendant said; “we are counting on your
book; we want a success confoundedly badly.”

The breakfast, begun at noon, lasted till five o’clock.

“Where shall we get cash for these things?” asked Lucien as they came
away, somewhat heated and flushed with the wine.

“We might try Barbet,” suggested Etienne, and they turned down to the
Quai des Augustins.

“Coralie is astonished to the highest degree over Florine’s loss.
Florine only told her about it yesterday; she seemed to lay the blame of
it on you, and was so vexed, that she was ready to throw you over.”

“That’s true,” said Lousteau. Wine had got the better of prudence, and
he unbosomed himself to Lucien, ending up with: “My friend--for you are
my friend, Lucien; you lent me a thousand francs, and you have only
once asked me for the money--shun play! If I had never touched a card, I
should be a happy man. I owe money all round. At this moment I have
the bailiffs at my heels; indeed, when I go to the Palais Royal, I have
dangerous capes to double.”

In the language of the fast set, doubling a cape meant dodging a
creditor, or keeping out of his way. Lucien had not heard the expression
before, but he was familiar with the practice by this time.

“Are your debts so heavy?”

“A mere trifle,” said Lousteau. “A thousand crowns would pull me
through. I have resolved to turn steady and give up play, and I have
done a little ‘chantage’ to pay my debts.”

“What is ‘chantage’?” asked Lucien.

“It is an English invention recently imported. A ‘chanteur’ is a man
who can manage to put a paragraph in the papers--never an editor nor a
responsible man, for they are not supposed to know anything about it,
and there is always a Giroudeau or a Philippe Bridau to be found. A
bravo of this stamp finds up somebody who has his own reasons for not
wanting to be talked about. Plenty of people have a few peccadilloes, or
some more or less original sin, upon their consciences; there are plenty
of fortunes made in ways that would not bear looking into; sometimes
a man has kept the letter of the law, and sometimes he has not; and
in either case, there is a tidbit of tattle for the inquirer, as, for
instance, that tale of Fouche’s police surrounding the spies of the
Prefect of Police, who, not being in the secret of the fabrication of
forged English banknotes, were just about to pounce on the clandestine
printers employed by the Minister, or there is the story of Prince
Galathionne’s diamonds, the Maubreuile affair, or the Pombreton will
case. The ‘chanteur’ gets possession of some compromising letter,
asks for an interview; and if the man that made the money does not buy
silence, the ‘chanteur’ draws a picture of the press ready to take the
matter up and unravel his private affairs. The rich man is frightened,
he comes down with the money, and the trick succeeds.

“You are committed to some risky venture, which might easily be written
down in a series of articles; a ‘chanteur’ waits upon you, and offers to
withdraw the articles--for a consideration. ‘Chanteurs’ are sent to
men in office, who will bargain that their acts and not their private
characters are to be attacked, or they are heedless of their
characters, and anxious only to shield the woman they love. One of your
acquaintance, that charming Master of Requests des Lupeaulx, is a kind
of agent for affairs of this sort. The rascal has made a position for
himself in the most marvelous way in the very centre of power; he is the
middle-man of the press and the ambassador of the Ministers; he works
upon a man’s self-love; he bribes newspapers to pass over a loan in
silence, or to make no comment on a contract which was never put up for
public tender, and the jackals of Liberal bankers get a share out of it.
That was a bit of ‘chantage’ that you did with Dauriat; he gave you a
thousand crowns to let Nathan alone. In the eighteenth century, when
journalism was still in its infancy, this kind of blackmail was levied
by pamphleteers in the pay of favorites and great lords. The original
inventor was Pietro Aretino, a great Italian. Kings went in fear of him,
as stage-players go in fear of a newspaper to-day.”

“What did you do to the Matifat to make the thousand crowns?”

“I attacked Florine in half a dozen papers. Florine complained to
Matifat. Matifat went to Braulard to find out what the attacks meant.
I did my ‘chantage’ for Finot’s benefit, and Finot put Braulard on the
wrong scent; Braulard told the man of drugs that _you_ were demolishing
Florine in Coralie’s interest. Then Giroudeau went round to Matifat and
told him (in confidence) that the whole business could be accommodated
if he (Matifat) would consent to sell his sixth share in Finot’s review
for ten thousand francs. Finot was to give me a thousand crowns if
the dodge succeeded. Well, Matifat was only too glad to get back
ten thousand francs out of the thirty thousand invested in a risky
speculation, as he thought, for Florine had been telling him for several
days past that Finot’s review was doing badly; and, instead of paying a
dividend, something was said of calling up more capital. So Matifat
was just about to close with the offer, when the manager of the
Panorama-Dramatique comes to him with some accommodation bills that he
wanted to negotiate before filing his schedule. To induce Matifat to
take them of him, he let out a word of Finot’s trick. Matifat, being a
shrewd man of business, took the hint, held tight to his sixth, and is
laughing in his sleeve at us. Finot and I are howling with despair. We
have been so misguided as to attack a man who has no affection for
his mistress, a heartless, soulless wretch. Unluckily, too, for us,
Matifat’s business is not amenable to the jurisdiction of the press, and
he cannot be made to smart for it through his interests. A druggist is
not like a hatter or a milliner, or a theatre or a work of art; he is
above criticism; you can’t run down his opium and dyewoods, nor cocoa
beans, paint, and pepper. Florine is at her wits’ end; the Panorama
closes to-morrow, and what will become of her she does not know.”

“Coralie’s engagement at the Gymnase begins in a few days,” said Lucien;
“she might do something for Florine.”

“Not she!” said Lousteau. “Coralie is not clever, but she is not quite
simple enough to help herself to a rival. We are in a mess with a
vengeance. And Finot is in such a hurry to buy back his sixth----”

“Why?”

“It is a capital bit of business, my dear fellow. There is a chance of
selling the paper for three hundred thousand francs; Finot would have
one-third, and his partners besides are going to pay him a commission,
which he will share with des Lupeaulx. So I propose to do another turn
of ‘chantage.’”

“‘Chantage’ seems to mean your money or your life?”

“It is better than that,” said Lousteau; “it is your money or your
character. A short time ago the proprietor of a minor newspaper was
refused credit. The day before yesterday it was announced in his columns
that a gold repeater set with diamonds belonging to a certain notability
had found its way in a curious fashion into the hands of a private
soldier in the Guards; the story promised to the readers might have come
from the _Arabian Nights_. The notability lost no time in asking that
editor to dine with him; the editor was distinctly a gainer by the
transaction, and contemporary history has lost an anecdote. Whenever the
press makes vehement onslaughts upon some one in power, you may be sure
that there is some refusal to do a service behind it. Blackmailing with
regard to private life is the terror of the richest Englishman, and a
great source of wealth to the press in England, which is infinitely more
corrupt than ours. We are children in comparison! In England they
will pay five or six thousand francs for a compromising letter to sell
again.”

“Then how can you lay hold of Matifat?” asked Lucien.

“My dear boy, that low tradesman wrote the queerest letters to Florine;
the spelling, style, and matter of them is ludicrous to the last degree.
We can strike him in the very midst of his Lares and Penates, where he
feels himself safest, without so much as mentioning his name; and he
cannot complain, for he lives in fear and terror of his wife. Imagine
his wrath when he sees the first number of a little serial entitled the
_Amours of a Druggist_, and is given fair warning that his love-letters
have fallen into the hands of certain journalists. He talks about the
‘little god Cupid,’ he tells Florine that she enables him to cross the
desert of life (which looks as if he took her for a camel), and
spells ‘never’ with two v’s. There is enough in that immensely funny
correspondence to bring an influx of subscribers for a fortnight. He
will shake in his shoes lest an anonymous letter should supply his wife
with the key to the riddle. The question is whether Florine will consent
to appear to persecute Matifat. She has some principles, which is to
say, some hopes, still left. Perhaps she means to keep the letters and
make something for herself out of them. She is cunning, as befits
my pupil. But as soon as she finds out that a bailiff is no laughing
matter, or Finot gives her a suitable present or hopes of an engagement,
she will give me the letters, and I will sell them to Finot. Finot will
put the correspondence in his uncle’s hands, and Giroudeau will bring
Matifat to terms.”

These confidences sobered Lucien. His first thought was that he had some
extremely dangerous friends; his second, that it would be impolitic to
break with them; for if Mme. d’Espard, Mme. de Bargeton, and Chatelet
should fail to keep their word with him, he might need their terrible
power yet. By this time Etienne and Lucien had reached Barbet’s
miserable bookshop on the Quai. Etienne addressed Barbet:

“We have five thousand francs’ worth of bills at six, nine, and twelve
months, given by Fendant and Cavalier. Are you willing to discount them
for us?”

“I will give you three thousand francs for them,” said Barbet with
imperturbable coolness.

“Three thousand francs!” echoed Lucien.

“Nobody else will give you as much,” rejoined the bookseller. “The firm
will go bankrupt before three months are out; but I happen to know that
they have some good books that are hanging on hand; they cannot afford
to wait, so I shall buy their stock for cash and pay them with their own
bills, and get the books at a reduction of two thousand francs. That’s
how it is.”

“Do you mind losing a couple of thousand francs, Lucien?” asked
Lousteau.

“Yes!” Lucien answered vehemently. He was dismayed by this first rebuff.

“You are making a mistake,” said Etienne.

“You won’t find any one that will take their paper,” said Barbet. “Your
book is their last stake, sir. The printer will not trust them; they are
obliged to leave the copies in pawn with him. If they make a hit now, it
will only stave off bankruptcy for another six months, sooner or later
they will have to go. They are cleverer at tippling than at bookselling.
In my own case, their bills mean business; and that being so, I can
afford to give more than a professional discounter who simply looks at
the signatures. It is a bill-discounter’s business to know whether
the three names on a bill are each good for thirty per cent in case of
bankruptcy. And here at the outset you only offer two signatures, and
neither of them worth ten per cent.”

The two journalists exchanged glances in surprise. Here was a little
scrub of a bookseller putting the essence of the art and mystery of
bill-discounting in these few words.

“That will do, Barbet,” said Lousteau. “Can you tell us of a bill-broker
that will look at us?”

“There is Daddy Chaboisseau, on the Quai Saint-Michel, you know. He
tided Fendant over his last monthly settlement. If you won’t listen to
my offer, you might go and see what he says to you; but you would only
come back to me, and then I shall offer you two thousand francs instead
of three.”

Etienne and Lucien betook themselves to the Quai Saint-Michel, and
found Chaboisseau in a little house with a passage entry. Chaboisseau,
a bill-discounter, whose dealings were principally with the book trade,
lived in a second-floor lodging furnished in the most eccentric manner.
A brevet-rank banker and millionaire to boot, he had a taste for the
classical style. The cornice was in the classical style; the bedstead,
in the purest classical taste, dated from the time of the Empire, when
such things were in fashion; the purple hangings fell over the wall
like the classic draperies in the background of one of David’s pictures.
Chairs and tables, lamps and sconces, and every least detail had
evidently been sought with patient care in furniture warehouses. There
was the elegance of antiquity about the classic revival as well as its
fragile and somewhat arid grace. The man himself, like his manner of
life, was in grotesque contrast with the airy mythological look of his
rooms; and it may be remarked that the most eccentric characters are
found among men who give their whole energies to money-making.

Men of this stamp are, in a certain sense, intellectual libertines.
Everything is within their reach, consequently their fancy is jaded,
and they will make immense efforts to shake off their indifference. The
student of human nature can always discover some hobby, some accessible
weakness and sensitive spot in their heart. Chaboisseau might have
entrenched himself in antiquity as in an impregnable camp.

“The man will be an antique to match, no doubt,” said Etienne, smiling.

Chaboisseau, a little old person with powdered hair, wore a greenish
coat and snuff-brown waistcoat; he was tricked out besides in black
small-clothes, ribbed stockings, and shoes that creaked as he came
forward to take the bills. After a short scrutiny, he returned them to
Lucien with a serious countenance.

“MM Fendant and Cavalier are delightful young fellows; they have plenty
of intelligence; but, I have no money,” he said blandly.

“My friend here would be willing to meet you in the matter of
discount----” Etienne began.

“I would not take the bills on any consideration,” returned the little
broker. The words slid down upon Lousteau’s suggestion like the blade of
the guillotine on a man’s neck.

The two friends withdrew; but as Chaboisseau went prudently out with
them across the ante-chamber, Lucien noticed a pile of second-hand
books. Chaboisseau had been in the trade, and this was a recent
purchase. Shining conspicuous among them, he noticed a copy of a work
by the architect Ducereau, which gives exceedingly accurate plans of
various royal palaces and chateaux in France.

“Could you let me have that book?” he asked.

“Yes,” said Chaboisseau, transformed into a bookseller.

“How much?”

“Fifty francs.”

“It is dear, but I want it. And I can only pay you with one of the bills
which you refuse to take.”

“You have a bill there for five hundred francs at six months; I will
take that one of you,” said Chaboisseau.

Apparently at the last statement of accounts, there had been a balance
of five hundred francs in favor of Fendant and Cavalier.

They went back to the classical department. Chaboisseau made out a
little memorandum, interest so much and commission so much, total
deduction thirty francs, then he subtracted fifty francs for Ducerceau’s
book; finally, from a cash-box full of coin, he took four hundred and
twenty francs.

“Look here, though, M. Chaboisseau, the bills are either all of them
good, or all bad alike; why don’t you take the rest?”

“This is not discounting; I am paying myself for a sale,” said the old
man.

Etienne and Lucien were still laughing at Chaboisseau, without
understanding him, when they reached Dauriat’s shop, and Etienne asked
Gabusson to give them the name of a bill-broker. Gabusson thus appealed
to gave them a letter of introduction to a broker in the Boulevard
Poissonniere, telling them at the same time that this was the “oddest
and queerest party” (to use his own expression) that he, Gabusson,
had come across. The friends took a cab by the hour, and went to the
address.

“If Samanon won’t take your bills,” Gabusson had said, “nobody else will
look at them.”

A second-hand bookseller on the ground floor, a second-hand
clothes-dealer on the first story, and a seller of indecent prints on
the second, Samanon carried on a fourth business--he was a
money-lender into the bargain. No character in Hoffmann’s romances, no
sinister-brooding miser of Scott’s, can compare with this freak of human
and Parisian nature (always admitting that Samanon was human). In spite
of himself, Lucien shuddered at the sight of the dried-up little old
creature, whose bones seemed to be cutting a leather skin, spotted with
all sorts of little green and yellow patches, like a portrait by Titian
or Veronese when you look at it closely. One of Samanon’s eyes was fixed
and glassy, the other lively and bright; he seemed to keep that dead eye
for the bill-discounting part of his profession, and the other for the
trade in the pornographic curiosities upstairs. A few stray white hairs
escaping from under a small, sleek, rusty black wig, stood erect above a
sallow forehead with a suggestion of menace about it; a hollow trench in
either cheek defined the outline of the jaws; while a set of projecting
teeth, still white, seemed to stretch the skin of the lips with the
effect of an equine yawn. The contrast between the ill-assorted eyes
and grinning mouth gave Samanon a passably ferocious air; and the very
bristles on the man’s chin looked stiff and sharp as pins.

Nor was there the slightest sign about him of any desire to redeem a
sinister appearance by attention to the toilet; his threadbare jacket
was all but dropping to pieces; a cravat, which had once been black, was
frayed by contact with a stubble chin, and left on exhibition a throat
as wrinkled as a turkey-gobbler’s.

This was the individual whom Etienne and Lucien discovered in his filthy
counting-house, busily affixing tickets to the backs of a parcel
of books from a recent sale. In a glance, the friends exchanged the
innumerable questions raised by the existence of such a creature; then
they presented Gabusson’s introduction and Fendant and Cavalier’s bills.
Samanon was still reading the note when a third comer entered, the
wearer of a short jacket, which seemed in the dimly-lighted shop to be
cut out of a piece of zinc roofing, so solid was it by reason of alloy
with all kinds of foreign matter. Oddly attired as he was, the man was
an artist of no small intellectual power, and ten years later he was
destined to assist in the inauguration of the great but ill-founded
Saint-Simonian system.

“I want my coat, my black trousers, and satin waistcoat,” said this
person, pressing a numbered ticket on Samanon’s attention. Samanon
touched the brass button of a bell-pull, and a woman came down from
some upper region, a Normande apparently, to judge by her rich, fresh
complexion.

“Let the gentleman have his clothes,” said Samanon, holding out a hand
to the newcomer. “It’s a pleasure to do business with you, sir; but
that youngster whom one of your friends introduced to me took me in most
abominably.”

“Took _him_ in!” chuckled the newcomer, pointing out Samanon to the two
journalists with an extremely comical gesture. The great man dropped
thirty sous into the money-lender’s yellow, wrinkled hand; like the
Neapolitan _lazzaroni_, he was taking his best clothes out of pawn for a
state occasion. The coins dropped jingling into the till.

“What queer business are you up to?” asked Lousteau of the artist, an
opium-eater who dwelt among visions of enchanted palaces till he either
could not or would not create.

“_He_ lends you a good deal more than an ordinary pawnbroker on anything
you pledge; and, besides, he is so awfully charitable, he allows you to
take your clothes out when you must have something to wear. I am going
to dine with the Kellers and my mistress to-night,” he continued; “and
to me it is easier to find thirty sous than two hundred francs, so I
keep my wardrobe here. It has brought the charitable usurer a hundred
francs in the last six months. Samanon has devoured my library already,
volume by volume” (_livre a livre_).

“And sou by sou,” Lousteau said with a laugh.

“I will let you have fifteen hundred francs,” said Samanon, looking up.

Lucien started, as if the bill-broker had thrust a red-hot skewer
through his heart. Samanon was subjecting the bills and their dates to a
close scrutiny.

“And even then,” he added, “I must see Fendant first. He ought to
deposit some books with me. You aren’t worth much” (turning to Lucien);
“you are living with Coralie, and your furniture has been attached.”

Lousteau, watching Lucien, saw him take up his bills, and dash out into
the street. “He is the devil himself!” exclaimed the poet. For several
seconds he stood outside gazing at the shop front. The whole place was
so pitiful, that a passer-by could not see it without smiling at the
sight, and wondering what kind of business a man could do among those
mean, dirty shelves of ticketed books.

A very few moments later, the great man, in incognito, came out, very
well dressed, smiled at his friends, and turned to go with them in the
direction of the Passage des Panoramas, where he meant to complete his
toilet by the polishing of his boots.

“If you see Samanon in a bookseller’s shop, or calling on a
paper-merchant or a printer, you may know that it is all over with
that man,” said the artist. “Samanon is the undertaker come to take the
measurements for a coffin.”

“You won’t discount your bills now, Lucien,” said Etienne.

“If Samanon will not take them, nobody else will; he is the _ultima
ratio_,” said the stranger. “He is one of Gigonnet’s lambs, a spy for
Palma, Werbrust, Gobseck, and the rest of those crocodiles who swim in
the Paris money-market. Every man with a fortune to make, or unmake, is
sure to come across one of them sooner or later.”

“If you cannot discount your bills at fifty per cent,” remarked
Lousteau, “you must exchange them for hard cash.”

“How?”

“Give them to Coralie; Camusot will cash them for her.--You are
disgusted,” added Lousteau, as Lucien cut him short with a start. “What
nonsense! How can you allow such a silly scruple to turn the scale, when
your future is in the balance?”

“I shall take this money to Coralie in any case,” began Lucien.

“Here is more folly!” cried Lousteau. “You will not keep your creditors
quiet with four hundred francs when you must have four thousand. Let
us keep a little and get drunk on it, if we lose the rest at _rouge et
noir_.”

“That is sound advice,” said the great man.

Those words, spoken not four paces from Frascati’s, were magnetic
in their effect. The friends dismissed their cab and went up to the
gaming-table.

At the outset they won three thousand francs, then they lost and fell
to five hundred; again they won three thousand seven hundred francs, and
again they lost all but a five-franc piece. After another turn of luck
they staked two thousand francs on an even number to double the stake at
a stroke; an even number had not turned up for five times in succession,
and this was the sixth time. They punted the whole sum, and an odd
number turned up once more.

After two hours of all-absorbing, frenzied excitement, the two dashed
down the staircase with the hundred francs kept back for the dinner.
Upon the steps, between two pillars which support the little sheet-iron
veranda to which so many eyes have been upturned in longing or despair,
Lousteau stopped and looked into Lucien’s flushed, excited face.

“Let us just try fifty francs,” he said.

And up the stairs again they went. An hour later they owned a thousand
crowns. Black had turned up for the fifth consecutive time; they trusted
that their previous luck would not repeat itself, and put the whole sum
on the red--black turned up for the sixth time. They had lost. It was
now six o’clock.

“Let us just try twenty-five francs,” said Lucien.

The new venture was soon made--and lost. The twenty-five francs went in
five stakes. Then Lucien, in a frenzy, flung down his last twenty-five
francs on the number of his age, and won. No words can describe how his
hands trembled as he raked in the coins which the bank paid him one by
one. He handed ten louis to Lousteau.

“Fly!” he cried; “take it to Very’s.”

Lousteau took the hint and went to order dinner. Lucien, left alone,
laid his thirty louis on the red and won. Emboldened by the inner voice
which a gambler always hears, he staked the whole again on the red, and
again he won. He felt as if there were a furnace within him. Without
heeding the voice, he laid a hundred and twenty louis on the black
and lost. Then to the torturing excitement of suspense succeeded the
delicious feeling of relief known to the gambler who has nothing left
to lose, and must perforce leave the palace of fire in which his dreams
melt and vanish.

He found Lousteau at Very’s, and flung himself upon the cookery (to make
use of Lafontaine’s expression), and drowned his cares in wine. By nine
o’clock his ideas were so confused that he could not imagine why the
portress in the Rue de Vendome persisted in sending him to the Rue de la
Lune.

“Mlle. Coralie has gone,” said the woman. “She has taken lodgings
elsewhere. She left her address with me on this scrap of paper.”

Lucien was too far gone to be surprised at anything. He went back to the
cab which had brought him, and was driven to the Rue de la Lune, making
puns to himself on the name of the street as he went.

The news of the failure of the Panorama-Dramatique had come like a
thunder-clap. Coralie, taking alarm, made haste to sell her furniture
(with the consent of her creditors) to little old Cardot, who installed
Florentine in the rooms at once. The tradition of the house remained
unbroken. Coralie paid her creditors and satisfied the landlord,
proceeding with her “washing-day,” as she called it, while Berenice
bought the absolutely indispensable necessaries to furnish a
fourth-floor lodging in the Rue de la Lune, a few doors from the
Gymnase. Here Coralie was waiting for Lucien’s return. She had brought
her love unsullied out of the shipwreck and twelve hundred francs.

Lucien, more than half intoxicated, poured out his woes to Coralie and
Berenice.

“You did quite right, my angel,” said Coralie, with her arms about his
neck. “Berenice can easily negotiate your bills with Braulard.”

The next morning Lucien awoke to an enchanted world of happiness made
about him by Coralie. She was more loving and tender in those days than
she had ever been; perhaps she thought that the wealth of love in her
heart should make him amends for the poverty of their lodging. She
looked bewitchingly charming, with the loose hair straying from under
the crushed white silk handkerchief about her head; there was soft
laughter in her eyes; her words were as bright as the first rays of
sunrise that shone in through the windows, pouring a flood of gold upon
such charming poverty.

Not that the room was squalid. The walls were covered with a sea-green
paper, bordered with red; there was one mirror over the chimney-piece,
and a second above the chest of drawers. The bare boards were covered
with a cheap carpet, which Berenice had bought in spite of Coralie’s
orders, and paid for out of her own little store. A wardrobe, with a
glass door and a chest, held the lovers’ clothing, the mahogany chairs
were covered with blue cotton stuff, and Berenice had managed to save a
clock and a couple of china vases from the catastrophe, as well as four
spoons and forks and half-a-dozen little spoons. The bedroom was entered
from the dining-room, which might have belonged to a clerk with an
income of twelve hundred francs. The kitchen was next the landing, and
Berenice slept above in an attic. The rent was not more than a hundred
crowns.

The dismal house boasted a sham carriage entrance, the porter’s box
being contrived behind one of the useless leaves of the gate, and
lighted by a peephole through which that personage watched the comings
and goings of seventeen families, for this hive was a “good-paying
property,” in auctioneer’s phrase.

Lucien, looking round the room, discovered a desk, an easy-chair, paper,
pens, and ink. The sight of Berenice in high spirits (she was building
hopes on Coralie’s _debut_ at the Gymnase), and of Coralie herself
conning her part with a knot of blue ribbon tied about it, drove all
cares and anxieties from the sobered poet’s mind.

“So long as nobody in society hears of this sudden comedown, we shall
pull through,” he said. “After all, we have four thousand five hundred
francs before us. I will turn my new position in Royalist journalism to
account. To-morrow we shall start the _Reveil_; I am an old hand now,
and I will make something out.”

And Coralie, seeing nothing but love in the words, kissed the lips that
uttered them. By this time Berenice had set the table near the fire
and served a modest breakfast of scrambled eggs, a couple of cutlets,
coffee, and cream. Just then there came a knock at the door, and
Lucien, to his astonishment, beheld three of his loyal friends of
old days--d’Arthez, Leon Giraud, and Michel Chrestien. He was deeply
touched, and asked them to share the breakfast.

“No; we have come on more serious business than condolence,” said
d’Arthez; “we know the whole story, we have just come from the Rue de
Vendome. You know my opinions, Lucien. Under any other circumstances I
should be glad to hear that you had adopted my political convictions;
but situated as you are with regard to the Liberal Press, it is
impossible for you to go over to the Ultras. Your life will be sullied,
your character blighted for ever. We have come to entreat you in the
name of our friendship, weakened though it may be, not to soil yourself
in this way. You have been prominent in attacking the Romantics, the
Right, and the Government; you cannot now declare for the Government;
the Right, and the Romantics.”

“My reasons for the change are based on lofty grounds; the end will
justify the means,” said Lucien.

“Perhaps you do not fully comprehend our position on the side of the
Government,” said Leon Giraud. “The Government, the Court, the Bourbons,
the Absolutist Party, or to sum up in the general expression, the whole
system opposed to the constitutional system, may be divided upon the
question of the best means of extinguishing the Revolution, but is
unanimous as to the advisability of extinguishing the newspapers. The
_Reveil_, the _Foudre_, and the _Drapeau Blanc_ have all been founded
for the express purpose of replying to the slander, gibes, and railing
of the Liberal press. I cannot approve them, for it is precisely this
failure to recognize the grandeur of our priesthood that has led us to
bring out a serious and self-respecting paper; which perhaps,” he added
parenthetically, “may exercise a worthy influence before very long, and
win respect, and carry weight; but this Royalist artillery is destined
for a first attempt at reprisals, the Liberals are to be paid back in
their own coin--shaft for shaft, wound for wound.

“What can come of it Lucien? The majority of newspaper readers incline
for the Left; and in the press, as in warfare, the victory is with the
big battalions. You will be blackguards, liars, enemies of the people;
the other side will be defenders of their country, martyrs, men to be
held in honor, though they may be even more hypocritical and slippery
than their opponents. In these ways the pernicious influence of the
press will be increased, while the most odious form of journalism will
receive sanction. Insult and personalities will become a recognized
privilege of the press; newspapers have taken this tone in the
subscribers’ interests; and when both sides have recourse to the same
weapons, the standard is set and the general tone of journalism
taken for granted. When the evil is developed to its fullest extent,
restrictive laws will be followed by prohibitions; there will be a
return of the censorship of the press imposed after the assassination of
the Duc de Berri, and repealed since the opening of the Chambers. And do
you know what the nation will conclude from the debate? The people will
believe the insinuations of the Liberal press; they will think that
the Bourbons mean to attack the rights of property acquired by the
Revolution, and some fine day they will rise and shake off the Bourbons.
You are not only soiling your life, Lucien, you are going over to the
losing side. You are too young, too lately a journalist, too little
initiated into the secret springs of motive and the tricks of the craft,
you have aroused too much jealousy, not to fall a victim to the general
hue and cry that will be raised against you in the Liberal newspapers.
You will be drawn into the fray by party spirit now still at fever-heat;
though the fever, which spent itself in violence in 1815 and 1816, now
appears in debates in the Chamber and polemics in the papers.”

“I am not quite a featherhead, my friends,” said Lucien, “though you may
choose to see a poet in me. Whatever may happen, I shall gain one solid
advantage which no Liberal victory can give me. By the time your victory
is won, I shall have gained my end.”

“We will cut off--your hair,” said Michel Chrestien, with a laugh.

“I shall have my children by that time,” said Lucien; “and if you cut
off my head, it will not matter.”

The three could make nothing of Lucien. Intercourse with the great world
had developed in him the pride of caste, the vanities of the aristocrat.
The poet thought, and not without reason, that there was a fortune
in his good looks and intellect, accompanied by the name and title of
Rubempre. Mme. d’Espard and Mme. de Bargeton held him fast by this
clue, as a child holds a cockchafer by a string. Lucien’s flight was
circumscribed. The words, “He is one of us, he is sound,” accidentally
overheard but three days ago in Mlle. de Touches’ salon, had turned
his head. The Duc de Lenoncourt, the Duc de Navarreins, the Duc de
Grandlieu, Rastignac, Blondet, the lovely Duchesse de Maufrigneuse, the
Comte d’Escrignon, and des Lupeaulx, all the most influential people at
Court in fact, had congratulated him on his conversion, and completed
his intoxication.

“Then there is no more to be said,” d’Arthez rejoined. “You, of all
men, will find it hard to keep clean hands and self-respect. I know you,
Lucien; you will feel it acutely when you are despised by the very men
to whom you offer yourself.”

The three took leave, and not one of them gave him a friendly handshake.
Lucien was thoughtful and sad for a few minutes.

“Oh! never mind those ninnies,” cried Coralie, springing upon his
knee and putting her beautiful arms about his neck. “They take life
seriously, and life is a joke. Besides, you are going to be Count Lucien
de Rubempre. I will wheedle the _Chancellerie_ if there is no other way.
I know how to come round that rake of a des Lupeaulx, who will sign your
patent. Did I not tell you, Lucien, that at the last you should have
Coralie’s dead body for a stepping stone?”

Next day Lucien allowed his name to appear in the list of contributors
to the _Reveil_. His name was announced in the prospectus with a
flourish of trumpets, and the Ministry took care that a hundred thousand
copies should be scattered abroad far and wide. There was a dinner at
Robert’s, two doors away from Frascati’s, to celebrate the inauguration,
and the whole band of Royalist writers for the press were present.
Martainville was there, and Auger and Destains, and a host of others,
still living, who “did Monarchy and religion,” to use the familiar
expression coined for them. Nathan had also enlisted under the banner,
for he was thinking of starting a theatre, and not unreasonably held
that it was better to have the licensing authorities for him than
against him.

“We will pay the Liberals out,” cried Merlin.

“Gentlemen,” said Nathan, “if we are for war, let us have war in
earnest; we must not carry it on with pop-guns. Let us fall upon all
Classicals and Liberals without distinction of age or sex, and put them
all to the sword with ridicule. There must be no quarter.”

“We must act honorably; there must be no bribing with copies of books
or presents; no taking money of publishers. We must inaugurate a
Restoration of Journalism.”

“Good!” said Martainville. “_Justum et tenacem propositi virum_! Let us
be implacable and virulent. I will give out La Fayette for the prince of
harlequins that he is!”

“And I will undertake the heroes of the _Constitutionnel_,” added
Lucien; “Sergeant Mercier, M. Jouy’s Complete Works, and ‘the
illustrious orators of the Left.’”

A war of extermination was unanimously resolved upon, and by one o’clock
in the morning all shades of opinion were merged and drowned, together
with every glimmer of sense, in a flaming bowl of punch.

“We have had a fine Monarchical and Religious jollification,” remarked
an illustrious reveler in the doorway as he went.

That comment appeared in the next day’s issue of the _Miroir_ through
the good offices of a publisher among the guests, and became historic.
Lucien was supposed to be the traitor who blabbed. His defection gave
the signal for a terrific hubbub in the Liberal camp; Lucien was the
butt of the Opposition newspapers, and ridiculed unmercifully. The whole
history of his sonnets was given to the public. Dauriat was said to
prefer a first loss of a thousand crowns to the risk of publishing the
verses; Lucien was called “the Poet sans Sonnets;” and one morning, in
that very paper in which he had so brilliant a beginning, he read the
following lines, significant enough for him, but barely intelligible to
other readers:


  *** “If M. Dauriat persistently withholds the Sonnets of the
  future Petrarch from publication, we will act like generous foes.
  We will open our own columns to his poems, which must be piquant
  indeed, to judge by the following specimen obligingly communicated
  by a friend of the author.”


And close upon that ominous preface followed a sonnet entitled “The
Thistle” (_le Chardon)_:


  A chance-come seedling, springing up one day
  Among the flowers in a garden fair,
  Made boast that splendid colors bright and rare
  Its claims to lofty lineage should display.

  So for a while they suffered it to stay;
  But with such insolence it flourished there,
  That, out of patience with its braggart’s air,
  They bade it prove its claims without delay.

  It bloomed forthwith; but ne’er was blundering clown
  Upon the boards more promptly hooted down;
  The sister flowers began to jeer and laugh.

  The owner flung it out. At close of day
  A solitary jackass came to bray--
  A common Thistle’s fitting epitaph.


Lucien read the words through scalding tears.

Vernou touched elsewhere on Lucien’s gambling propensities, and spoke
of the forthcoming _Archer of Charles IX._ as “anti-national” in its
tendency, the writer siding with Catholic cut-throats against their
Calvinist victims.

Another week found the quarrel embittered. Lucien had counted upon his
friend Etienne; Etienne owed him a thousand francs, and there had been
besides a private understanding between them; but Etienne Lousteau
during the interval became his sworn foe, and this was the manner of it.

For the past three months Nathan had been smitten with Florine’s charms,
and much at a loss how to rid himself of Lousteau his rival, who was in
fact dependent upon the actress. And now came Nathan’s opportunity,
when Florine was frantic with distress over the failure of the
Panorama-Dramatique, which left her without an engagement. He went as
Lucien’s colleague to beg Coralie to ask for a part for Florine in a
play of his which was about to be produced at the Gymnase. Then Nathan
went to Florine and made capital with her out of the service done by the
promise of a conditional engagement. Ambition turned Florine’s head; she
did not hesitate. She had had time to gauge Lousteau pretty thoroughly.
Lousteau’s courses were weakening his will, and here was Nathan with
his ambitions in politics and literature, and energies strong as his
cravings. Florine proposed to reappear on the stage with renewed eclat,
so she handed over Matifat’s correspondence to Nathan. Nathan drove
a bargain for them with Matifat, and took the sixth share of Finot’s
review in exchange for the compromising billets. After this, Florine
was installed in sumptuously furnished apartments in the Rue Hauteville,
where she took Nathan for her protector in the face of the theatrical
and journalistic world.

Lousteau was terribly overcome. He wept (towards the close of a dinner
given by his friends to console him in his affliction). In the course of
that banquet it was decided that Nathan had not acted unfairly; several
writers present--Finot and Vernou, for instance,--knew of Florine’s
fervid admiration for dramatic literature; but they all agreed that
Lucien had behaved very ill when he arranged that business at the
Gymnase; he had indeed broken the most sacred laws of friendship.
Party-spirit and zeal to serve his new friends had led the Royalist poet
on to sin beyond forgiveness.

“Nathan was carried away by passion,” pronounced Bixiou, “while this
‘distinguished provincial,’ as Blondet calls him, is simply scheming for
his own selfish ends.”

And so it came to pass that deep plots were laid by all parties alike to
rid themselves of this little upstart intruder of a poet who wanted to
eat everybody up. Vernou bore Lucien a personal grudge, and undertook
to keep a tight hand on him; and Finot declared that Lucien had betrayed
the secret of the combination against Matifat, and thereby swindled
him (Finot) out of fifty thousand francs. Nathan, acting on Florine’s
advice, gained Finot’s support by selling him the sixth share for
fifteen thousand francs, and Lousteau consequently lost his commission.
His thousand crowns had vanished away; he could not forgive Lucien for
this treacherous blow (as he supposed it) dealt to his interests. The
wounds of vanity refuse to heal if oxide of silver gets into them.

No words, no amount of description, can depict the wrath of an author in
a paroxysm of mortified vanity, nor the energy which he discovers when
stung by the poisoned darts of sarcasm; but, on the other hand, the man
that is roused to fighting-fury by a personal attack usually subsides
very promptly. The more phlegmatic race, who take these things quietly,
lay their account with the oblivion which speedily overtakes the
spiteful article. These are the truly courageous men of letters; and if
the weaklings seem at first to be the strong men, they cannot hold out
for any length of time.

During that first fortnight, while the fury was upon him, Lucien poured
a perfect hailstorm of articles into the Royalist papers, in which he
shared the responsibilities of criticism with Hector Merlin. He was
always in the breach, pounding away with all his might in the _Reveil_,
backed up by Martainville, the only one among his associates who stood
by him without an afterthought. Martainville was not in the secret of
certain understandings made and ratified amid after-dinner jokes, or
at Dauriat’s in the Wooden Galleries, or behind the scenes at the
Vaudeville, when journalists of either side met on neutral ground.

When Lucien went to the greenroom of the Vaudeville, he met with no
welcome; the men of his own party held out a hand to shake, the
others cut him; and all the while Hector Merlin and Theodore Gaillard
fraternized unblushingly with Finot, Lousteau, and Vernou, and the rest
of the journalists who were known for “good fellows.”

The greenroom of the Vaudeville in those days was a hotbed of gossip, as
well as a neutral ground where men of every shade of opinion could
meet; so much so that the President of a court of law, after reproving a
learned brother in a certain council chamber for “sweeping the greenroom
with his gown,” met the subject of his strictures, gown to gown, in the
greenroom of the Vaudeville. Lousteau, in time, shook hands again with
Nathan; Finot came thither almost every evening; and Lucien, whenever he
could spare the time, went to the Vaudeville to watch the enemies, who
showed no sign of relenting towards the unfortunate boy.

In the time of the Restoration party hatred was far more bitter than in
our day. Intensity of feeling is diminished in our high-pressure age.
The critic cuts a book to pieces and shakes hands with the author
afterwards, and the victim must keep on good terms with his slaughterer,
or run the gantlet of innumerable jokes at his expense. If he refuses,
he is unsociable, eaten up with self-love, he is sulky and rancorous,
he bears malice, he is a bad bed-fellow. To-day let an author receive a
treacherous stab in the back, let him avoid the snares set for him with
base hypocrisy, and endure the most unhandsome treatment, he must still
exchange greetings with his assassin, who, for that matter, claims
the esteem and friendship of his victim. Everything can be excused and
justified in an age which has transformed vice into virtue and virtue
into vice. Good-fellowship has come to be the most sacred of our
liberties; the representatives of the most opposite opinions courteously
blunt the edge of their words, and fence with buttoned foils. But in
those almost forgotten days the same theatre could scarcely hold certain
Royalist and Liberal journalists; the most malignant provocation was
offered, glances were like pistol-shots, the least spark produced an
explosion of quarrel. Who has not heard his neighbor’s half-smothered
oath on the entrance of some man in the forefront of the battle on
the opposing side? There were but two parties--Royalists and Liberals,
Classics and Romantics. You found the same hatred masquerading in either
form, and no longer wondered at the scaffolds of the Convention.

Lucien had been a Liberal and a hot Voltairean; now he was a rabid
Royalist and a Romantic. Martainville, the only one among his colleagues
who really liked him and stood by him loyally, was more hated by the
Liberals than any man on the Royalist side, and this fact drew down
all the hate of the Liberals on Lucien’s head. Martainville’s staunch
friendship injured Lucien. Political parties show scanty gratitude to
outpost sentinels, and leave leaders of forlorn hopes to their fate;
‘tis a rule of warfare which holds equally good in matters political, to
keep with the main body of the army if you mean to succeed. The spite of
the small Liberal papers fastened at once on the opportunity of coupling
the two names, and flung them into each other’s arms. Their friendship,
real or imaginary, brought down upon them both a series of articles
written by pens dipped in gall. Felicien Vernou was furious with
jealousy of Lucien’s social success; and believed, like all his old
associates, in the poet’s approaching elevation.

The fiction of Lucien’s treason was embellished with every kind of
aggravating circumstance; he was called Judas the Less, Martainville
being Judas the Great, for Martainville was supposed (rightly or
wrongly) to have given up the Bridge of Pecq to the foreign invaders.
Lucien said jestingly to des Lupeaulx that he himself, surely, had given
up the Asses’ Bridge.

Lucien’s luxurious life, hollow though it was, and founded on
expectations, had estranged his friends. They could not forgive him for
the carriage which he had put down--for them he was still rolling about
in it--nor yet for the splendors of the Rue de Vendome which he had
left. All of them felt instinctively that nothing was beyond the reach
of this young and handsome poet, with intellect enough and to spare;
they themselves had trained him in corruption; and, therefore, they left
no stone unturned to ruin him.

Some few days before Coralie’s first appearance at the Gymnase, Lucien
and Hector Merlin went arm-in-arm to the Vaudeville. Merlin was scolding
his friend for giving a helping hand to Nathan in Florine’s affair.

“You then and there made two mortal enemies of Lousteau and Nathan,” he
said. “I gave you good advice, and you took no notice of it. You gave
praise, you did them a good turn--you will be well punished for your
kindness. Florine and Coralie will never live in peace on the same
stage; both will wish to be first. You can only defend Coralie in our
papers; and Nathan not only has a pull as a dramatic author, he can
control the dramatic criticism in the Liberal newspapers. He has been a
journalist a little longer than you!”

The words responded to Lucien’s inward misgivings. Neither Nathan nor
Gaillard was treating him with the frankness which he had a right to
expect, but so new a convert could hardly complain. Gaillard utterly
confounded Lucien by saying roundly that newcomers must give proofs of
their sincerity for some time before their party could trust them. There
was more jealousy than he had imagined in the inner circles of Royalist
and Ministerial journalism. The jealousy of curs fighting for a bone is
apt to appear in the human species when there is a loaf to divide; there
is the same growling and showing of teeth, the same characteristics come
out.

In every possible way these writers of articles tried to injure each
other with those in power; they brought reciprocal accusations of
lukewarm zeal; they invented the most treacherous ways of getting rid
of a rival. There had been none of this internecine warfare among the
Liberals; they were too far from power, too hopelessly out of favor;
and Lucien, amid the inextricable tangle of ambitions, had neither the
courage to draw sword and cut the knot, or the patience to unravel it.
He could not be the Beaumarchais, the Aretino, the Freron of his epoch;
he was not made of such stuff; he thought of nothing but his one
desire, the patent of nobility; for he saw clearly that for him such
a restoration meant a wealthy marriage, and, the title once secured,
chance and his good looks would do the rest. This was all his plan, and
Etienne Lousteau, who had confided so much to him, knew his secret, knew
how to deal a deathblow to the poet of Angouleme. That very night, as
Lucien and Merlin went to the Vaudeville, Etienne had laid a terrible
trap, into which an inexperienced boy could not but fall.

“Here is our handsome Lucien,” said Finot, drawing des Lupeaulx in the
direction of the poet, and shaking hands with feline amiability. “I
cannot think of another example of such rapid success,” continued Finot,
looking from des Lupeaulx to Lucien. “There are two sorts of success in
Paris: there is a fortune in solid cash, which any one can amass, and
there is the intangible fortune of connections, position, or a footing
in certain circles inaccessible for certain persons, however rich they
may be. Now my friend here----”

“Our friend,” interposed des Lupeaulx, smiling blandly.

“Our friend,” repeated Finot, patting Lucien’s hand, “has made a
brilliant success from this point of view. Truth to tell, Lucien has
more in him, more gift, more wit than the rest of us that envy him, and
he is enchantingly handsome besides; his old friends cannot forgive him
for his success--they call it luck.”

“Luck of that sort never comes to fools or incapables,” said des
Lupeaulx. “Can you call Bonaparte’s fortune luck, eh? There were a score
of applicants for the command of the army in Italy, just as there are a
hundred young men at this moment who would like to have an entrance
to Mlle. des Touches’ house; people are coupling her name with yours
already in society, my dear boy,” said des Lupeaulx, clapping Lucien
on the shoulder. “Ah! you are in high favor. Mme. d’Espard, Mme. de
Bargeton, and Mme. de Montcornet are wild about you. You are going to
Mme. Firmiani’s party to-night, are you not, and to the Duchesse de
Grandlieu’s rout to-morrow?”

“Yes,” said Lucien.

“Allow me to introduce a young banker to you, a M. du Tillet; you ought
to be acquainted, he has contrived to make a great fortune in a short
time.”

Lucien and du Tillet bowed, and entered into conversation, and the
banker asked Lucien to dinner. Finot and des Lupeaulx, a well-matched
pair, knew each other well enough to keep upon good terms; they turned
away to continue their chat on one of the sofas in the greenroom, and
left Lucien with du Tillet, Merlin, and Nathan.

“By the way, my friend,” said Finot, “tell me how things stand. Is there
really somebody behind Lucien? For he is the _bete noire_ of my staff;
and before allowing them to plot against him, I thought I should like
to know whether, in your opinion, it would be better to baffle them and
keep well with him.”

The Master of Requests and Finot looked at each other very closely for a
moment or two.

“My dear fellow,” said des Lupeaulx, “how can you imagine that the
Marquise d’Espard, or Chatelet, or Mme. de Bargeton--who has procured
the Baron’s nomination to the prefecture and the title of Count, so as
to return in triumph to Angouleme--how can you suppose that any of them
will forgive Lucien for his attacks on them? They dropped him down in
the Royalist ranks to crush him out of existence. At this moment they
are looking round for any excuse for not fulfilling the promises they
made to that boy. Help them to some; you will do the greatest possible
service to the two women, and some day or other they will remember it.
I am in their secrets; I was surprised to find how much they hated the
little fellow. This Lucien might have rid himself of his bitterest enemy
(Mme. de Bargeton) by desisting from his attacks on terms which a woman
loves to grant--do you take me? He is young and handsome, he should have
drowned her hate in torrents of love, he would be Comte de Rubempre by
this time; the Cuttlefish-bone would have obtained some sinecure for
him, some post in the Royal Household. Lucien would have made a very
pretty reader to Louis XVIII.; he might have been librarian somewhere or
other, Master of Requests for a joke, Master of Revels, what you please.
The young fool has missed his chance. Perhaps that is his unpardonable
sin. Instead of imposing his conditions, he has accepted them. When
Lucien was caught with the bait of the patent of nobility, the Baron
Chatelet made a great step. Coralie has been the ruin of that boy. If he
had not had the actress for his mistress, he would have turned again to
the Cuttlefish-bone; and he would have had her too.”

“Then we can knock him over?”

“How?” des Lupeaulx asked carelessly. He saw a way of gaining credit
with the Marquise d’Espard for this service.

“He is under contract to write for Lousteau’s paper, and we can the
better hold him to his agreement because he has not a sou. If we tickle
up the Keeper of the Seals with a facetious article, and prove that
Lucien wrote it, he will consider that Lucien is unworthy of the King’s
favor. We have a plot on hand besides. Coralie will be ruined, and our
distinguished provincial will lose his head when his mistress is hissed
off the stage and left without an engagement. When once the patent is
suspended, we will laugh at the victim’s aristocratic pretensions, and
allude to his mother the nurse and his father the apothecary. Lucien’s
courage is only skindeep, he will collapse; we will send him back to
his provinces. Nathan made Florine sell me Matifat’s sixth share of the
review, I was able to buy; Dauriat and I are the only proprietors now;
we might come to an understanding, you and I, and the review might
be taken over for the benefit of the Court. I stipulated for the
restitution of my sixth before I undertook to protect Nathan and
Florine; they let me have it, and I must help them; but I wished to know
first how Lucien stood----”

“You deserve your name,” said des Lupeaulx. “I like a man of your
sort----”

“Very well. Then can you arrange a definite engagement for Florine?”
 asked Finot.

“Yes, but rid us of Lucien, for Rastignac and de Marsay never wish to
hear of him again.”

“Sleep in peace,” returned Finot. “Nathan and Merlin will always have
articles ready for Gaillard, who will promise to take them; Lucien will
never get a line into the paper. We will cut off his supplies. There
is only Martainville’s paper left him in which to defend himself and
Coralie; what can a single paper do against so many?”

“I will let you know the weak points of the Ministry; but get Lucien to
write that article and hand over the manuscript,” said des Lupeaulx, who
refrained carefully from informing Finot that Lucien’s promised patent
was nothing but a joke.

When des Lupeaulx had gone, Finot went to Lucien, and taking the
good-natured tone which deceives so many victims, he explained that he
could not possibly afford to lose his contributor, and at the same time
he shrank from taking proceedings which might ruin him with his friends
of the other side. Finot himself liked a man who was strong enough to
change his opinions. They were pretty sure to come across one another,
he and Lucien, and might be mutually helpful in a thousand little ways.
Lucien, besides, needed a sure man in the Liberal party to attack the
Ultras and men in office who might refuse to help him.

“Suppose that they play you false, what will you do?” Finot ended.
“Suppose that some Minister fancies that he has you fast by the halter
of your apostasy, and turns the cold shoulder on you? You will be glad
to set on a few dogs to snap at his legs, will you not? Very well.
But you have made a deadly enemy of Lousteau; he is thirsting for your
blood. You and Felicien are not on speaking terms. I only remain to you.
It is a rule of the craft to keep a good understanding with every man
of real ability. In the world which you are about to enter you can do me
services in return for mine with the press. But business first. Let
me have purely literary articles; they will not compromise you, and we
shall have executed our agreement.”

Lucien saw nothing but good-fellowship and a shrewd eye to business in
Finot’s offer; Finot and des Lupeaulx had flattered him, and he was in a
good humor. He actually thanked Finot!

Ambitious men, like all those who can only make their way by the help of
others and of circumstances, are bound to lay their plans very carefully
and to adhere very closely to the course of conduct on which they
determine; it is a cruel moment in the lives of such aspirants when some
unknown power brings the fabric of their fortunes to some severe test
and everything gives way at once; threads are snapped or entangled,
and misfortune appears on every side. Let a man lose his head in the
confusion, it is all over with him; but if he can resist this first
revolt of circumstances, if he can stand erect until the tempest passes
over, or make a supreme effort and reach the serene sphere about the
storm--then he is really strong. To every man, unless he is born rich,
there comes sooner or later “his fatal week,” as it must be called. For
Napoleon, for instance, that week was the Retreat from Moscow. It had
begun now for Lucien.

Social and literary success had come to him too easily; he had had such
luck that he was bound to know reverses and to see men and circumstances
turn against him.

The first blow was the heaviest and the most keenly felt, for it touched
Lucien where he thought himself invulnerable--in his heart and his
love. Coralie might not be clever, but hers was a noble nature, and she
possessed the great actress’ faculty of suddenly standing aloof from
self. This strange phenomenon is subject, until it degenerates into a
habit with long practice, to the caprices of character, and not seldom
to an admirable delicacy of feeling in actresses who are still young.
Coralie, to all appearance bold and wanton, as the part required, was
in reality girlish and timid, and love had wrought in her a revulsion of
her woman’s heart against the comedian’s mask. Art, the supreme art of
feigning passion and feeling, had not yet triumphed over nature in her;
she shrank before a great audience from the utterance that belongs
to Love alone; and Coralie suffered besides from another true woman’s
weakness--she needed success, born stage queen though she was. She could
not confront an audience with which she was out of sympathy; she was
nervous when she appeared on the stage, a cold reception paralyzed her.
Each new part gave her the terrible sensations of a first appearance.
Applause produced a sort of intoxication which gave her encouragement
without flattering her vanity; at a murmur of dissatisfaction or before
a silent house, she flagged; but a great audience following attentively,
admiringly, willing to be pleased, electrified Coralie. She felt at once
in communication with the nobler qualities of all those listeners; she
felt that she possessed the power of stirring their souls and carrying
them with her. But if this action and reaction of the audience upon the
actress reveals the nervous organization of genius, it shows no
less clearly the poor child’s sensitiveness and delicacy. Lucien had
discovered the treasures of her nature; had learned in the past months
that this woman who loved him was still so much of a girl. And Coralie
was unskilled in the wiles of an actress--she could not fight her own
battles nor protect herself against the machinations of jealousy behind
the scenes. Florine was jealous of her, and Florine was as dangerous
and depraved as Coralie was simple and generous. Roles must come to
find Coralie; she was too proud to implore authors or to submit
to dishonoring conditions; she would not give herself to the first
journalist who persecuted her with his advances and threatened her with
his pen. Genius is rare enough in the extraordinary art of the
stage; but genius is only one condition of success among many, and is
positively hurtful unless it is accompanied by a genius for intrigue in
which Coralie was utterly lacking.

Lucien knew how much his friend would suffer on her first appearance at
the Gymnase, and was anxious at all costs to obtain a success for her;
but all the money remaining from the sale of the furniture and all
Lucien’s earnings had been sunk in costumes, in the furniture of a
dressing-room, and the expenses of a first appearance.

A few days later, Lucien made up his mind to a humiliating step for
love’s sake. He took Fendant and Cavalier’s bills, and went to the
_Golden Cocoon_ in the Rue des Bourdonnais. He would ask Camusot to
discount them. The poet had not fallen so low that he could make this
attempt quite coolly. There had been many a sharp struggle first, and
the way to that decision had been paved with many dreadful thoughts.
Nevertheless, he arrived at last in the dark, cheerless little private
office that looked out upon a yard, and found Camusot seated gravely
there; this was not Coralie’s infatuated adorer, not the easy-natured,
indolent, incredulous libertine whom he had known hitherto as Camusot,
but a heavy father of a family, a merchant grown old in shrewd
expedients of business and respectable virtues, wearing a magistrate’s
mask of judicial prudery; this Camusot was the cool, business-like head
of the firm surrounded by clerks, green cardboard boxes, pigeonholes,
invoices, and samples, and fortified by the presence of a wife and
a plainly-dressed daughter. Lucien trembled from head to foot as he
approached; for the worthy merchant, like the money-lenders, turned
cool, indifferent eyes upon him.

“Here are two or three bills, monsieur,” he said, standing beside the
merchant, who did not rise from his desk. “If you will take them of me,
you will oblige me extremely.”

“You have taken something of _me_, monsieur,” said Camusot; “I do not
forget it.”

On this, Lucien explained Coralie’s predicament. He spoke in a low
voice, bending to murmur his explanation, so that Camusot could hear
the heavy throbbing of the humiliated poet’s heart. It was no part of
Camusot’s plans that Coralie should suffer a check. He listened, smiling
to himself over the signatures on the bills (for, as a judge at the
Tribunal of Commerce, he knew how the booksellers stood), but in the end
he gave Lucien four thousand five hundred francs for them, stipulating
that he should add the formula “For value received in silks.”

Lucien went straight to Braulard, and made arrangements for a good
reception. Braulard promised to come to the dress-rehearsal, to
determine on the points where his “Romans” should work their fleshy
clappers to bring down the house in applause. Lucien gave the rest of
the money to Coralie (he did not tell her how he had come by it), and
allayed her anxieties and the fears of Berenice, who was sorely troubled
over their daily expenses.

Martainville came several times to hear Coralie rehearse, and he knew
more of the stage than most men of his time; several Royalist writers
had promised favorable articles; Lucien had not a suspicion of the
impending disaster.

A fatal event occurred on the evening before Coralie’s _debut_.
D’Arthez’s book had appeared; and the editor of Merlin’s paper,
considering Lucien to be the best qualified man on the staff, gave him
the book to review. He owed his unlucky reputation to those articles on
Nathan’s work. There were several men in the office at the time, for all
the staff had been summoned; Martainville was explaining that the
party warfare with the Liberals must be waged on certain lines. Nathan,
Merlin, all the contributors, in fact, were talking of Leon Giraud’s
paper, and remarking that its influence was the more pernicious because
the language was guarded, cool, moderate. People were beginning to speak
of the circle in the Rue des Quatre-Vents as a second Convention. It had
been decided that the Royalist papers were to wage a systematic war of
extermination against these dangerous opponents, who, indeed, at a later
day, were destined to sow the doctrines that drove the Bourbons into
exile; but that was only after the most brilliant of Royalist writers
had joined them for the sake of a mean revenge.

D’Arthez’s absolutist opinions were not known; it was taken for granted
that he shared the views of his clique, he fell under the same anathema,
and he was to be the first victim. His book was to be honored with “a
slashing article,” to use the consecrated formula. Lucien refused to
write the article. Great was the commotion among the leading Royalist
writers thus met in conclave. Lucien was told plainly that a renegade
could not do as he pleased; if it did not suit his views to take the
side of the Monarchy and Religion, he could go back to the other camp.
Merlin and Martainville took him aside and begged him, as his friends,
to remember that he would simply hand Coralie over to the tender mercies
of the Liberal papers, for she would find no champions on the Royalist
and Ministerial side. Her acting was certain to provoke a hot battle,
and the kind of discussion which every actress longs to arouse.

“You don’t understand it in the least,” said Martainville; “if she plays
for three months amid a cross-fire of criticism, she will make thirty
thousand francs when she goes on tour in the provinces at the end of the
season; and here are you about to sacrifice Coralie and your own future,
and to quarrel with your own bread and butter, all for a scruple that
will always stand in your way, and ought to be got rid of at once.”

Lucien was forced to choose between d’Arthez and Coralie. His mistress
would be ruined unless he dealt his friend a death-blow in the _Reveil_
and the great newspaper. Poor poet! He went home with death in his soul;
and by the fireside he sat and read that finest production of modern
literature. Tears fell fast over it as the pages turned. For a long
while he hesitated, but at last he took up the pen and wrote a sarcastic
article of the kind that he understood so well, taking the book as
children might take some bright bird to strip it of its plumage and
torture it. His sardonic jests were sure to tell. Again he turned to the
book, and as he read it over a second time, his better self awoke. In
the dead of night he hurried across Paris, and stood outside d’Arthez’s
house. He looked up at the windows and saw the faint pure gleam of light
in the panes, as he had so often seen it, with a feeling of admiration
for the noble steadfastness of that truly great nature. For some moments
he stood irresolute on the curbstone; he had not courage to go further;
but his good angel urged him on. He tapped at the door and opened, and
found d’Arthez sitting reading in a fireless room.

“What has happened?” asked d’Arthez, for news of some dreadful kind was
visible in Lucien’s ghastly face.

“Your book is sublime, d’Arthez,” said Lucien, with tears in his eyes,
“and they have ordered me to write an attack upon it.”

“Poor boy! the bread that they give you is hard indeed!” said d’Arthez

“I only ask for one favor, keep my visit a secret and leave me to my
hell, to the occupations of the damned. Perhaps it is impossible to
attain to success until the heart is seared and callous in every most
sensitive spot.”

“The same as ever!” cried d’Arthez.

“Do you think me a base poltroon? No, d’Arthez; no, I am a boy half
crazed with love,” and he told his story.

“Let us look at the article,” said d’Arthez, touched by all that Lucien
said of Coralie.

Lucien held out the manuscript; d’Arthez read, and could not help
smiling.

“Oh, what a fatal waste of intellect!” he began. But at the sight of
Lucien overcome with grief in the opposite armchair, he checked himself.

“Will you leave it with me to correct? I will let you have it again
to-morrow,” he went on. “Flippancy depreciates a work; serious and
conscientious criticism is sometimes praise in itself. I know a way to
make your article more honorable both for yourself and for me. Besides,
I know my faults well enough.”

“When you climb a hot, shadowless hillside, you sometimes find fruit to
quench your torturing thirst; and I have found it here and now,” said
Lucien, as he sprang sobbing to d’Arthez’s arms and kissed his friend
on the forehead. “It seems to me that I am leaving my conscience in your
keeping; some day I will come to you and ask for it again.”

“I look upon a periodical repentance as great hypocrisy,” d’Arthez
said solemnly; “repentance becomes a sort of indemnity for wrongdoing.
Repentance is virginity of the soul, which we must keep for God; a man
who repents twice is a horrible sycophant. I am afraid that you regard
repentance as absolution.”

Lucien went slowly back to the Rue de la Lune, stricken dumb by those
words.

Next morning d’Arthez sent back his article, recast throughout, and
Lucien sent it in to the review; but from that day melancholy preyed
upon him, and he could not always disguise his mood. That evening, when
the theatre was full, he experienced for the first time the paroxysm of
nervous terror caused by a _debut_; terror aggravated in his case by all
the strength of his love. Vanity of every kind was involved. He looked
over the rows of faces as a criminal eyes the judges and the jury on
whom his life depends. A murmur would have set him quivering; any slight
incident upon the stage, Coralie’s exits and entrances, the slightest
modulation of the tones of her voice, would perturb him beyond all
reason.

The play in which Coralie made her first appearance at the Gymnase was
a piece of the kind which sometimes falls flat at first, and afterwards
has immense success. It fell flat that night. Coralie was not applauded
when she came on, and the chilly reception reacted upon her. The only
applause came from Camusot’s box, and various persons posted in the
balcony and galleries silenced Camusot with repeated cries of “Hush!”
 The galleries even silenced the _claqueurs_ when they led off with
exaggerated salvos. Martainville applauded bravely; Nathan, Merlin, and
the treacherous Florine followed his example; but it was clear that the
piece was a failure. A crowd gathered in Coralie’s dressing-room and
consoled her, till she had no courage left. She went home in despair,
less for her own sake than for Lucien’s.

“Braulard has betrayed us,” Lucien said.

Coralie was heartstricken. The next day found her in a high fever,
utterly unfit to play, face to face with the thought that she had been
cut short in her career. Lucien hid the papers from her, and looked
them over in the dining-room. The reviewers one and all attributed the
failure of the piece to Coralie; she had overestimated her strength;
she might be the delight of a boulevard audience, but she was out of her
element at the Gymnase; she had been inspired by a laudable ambition,
but she had not taken her powers into account; she had chosen a part
to which she was quite unequal. Lucien read on through a pile of
penny-a-lining, put together on the same system as his attack upon
Nathan. Milo of Crotona, when he found his hands fast in the oak which
he himself had cleft, was not more furious than Lucien. He grew haggard
with rage. His friends gave Coralie the most treacherous advice, in
the language of kindly counsel and friendly interest. She should
play (according to these authorities) all kind of roles, which the
treacherous writers of these unblushing _feuilletons_ knew to be utterly
unsuited to her genius. And these were the Royalist papers, led off by
Nathan. As for the Liberal press, all the weapons which Lucien had used
were now turned against him.

Coralie heard a sob, followed by another and another. She sprang out of
bed to find Lucien, and saw the papers. Nothing would satisfy her but
she must read them all; and when she had read them, she went back to
bed, and lay there in silence.

Florine was in the plot; she had foreseen the outcome; she had studied
Coralie’s part, and was ready to take her place. The management,
unwilling to give up the piece, was ready to take Florine in Coralie’s
stead. When the manager came, he found poor Coralie sobbing and
exhausted on her bed; but when he began to say, in Lucien’s presence,
that Florine knew the part, and that the play must be given that
evening, Coralie sprang up at once.

“I will play!” she cried, and sank fainting on the floor.

So Florine took the part, and made her reputation in it; for the piece
succeeded, the newspapers all sang her praises, and from that time
forth Florine was the great actress whom we all know. Florine’s success
exasperated Lucien to the highest degree.

“A wretched girl, whom you helped to earn her bread! If the Gymnase
prefers to do so, let the management pay you to cancel your engagement.
I shall be the Comte de Rubempre; I will make my fortune, and you shall
be my wife.”

“What nonsense!” said Coralie, looking at him with wan eyes.

“Nonsense!” repeated he. “Very well, wait a few days, and you shall live
in a fine house, you shall have a carriage, and I will write a part for
you!”

He took two thousand francs and hurried to Frascati’s. For seven hours
the unhappy victim of the Furies watched his varying luck, and outwardly
seemed cool and self-contained. He experienced both extremes of fortune
during that day and part of the night that followed; at one time he
possessed as much as thirty thousand francs, and he came out at last
without a sou. In the Rue de la Lune he found Finot waiting for him with
a request for one of his short articles. Lucien so far forgot himself,
that he complained.

“Oh, it is not all rosy,” returned Finot. “You made your
right-about-face in such a way that you were bound to lose the support
of the Liberal press, and the Liberals are far stronger in print than
all the Ministerialist and Royalist papers put together. A man should
never leave one camp for another until he has made a comfortable berth
for himself, by way of consolation for the losses that he must expect;
and in any case, a prudent politician will see his friends first, and
give them his reasons for going over, and take their opinions. You can
still act together; they sympathize with you, and you agree to give
mutual help. Nathan and Merlin did that before they went over. Hawks
don’t pike out hawks’ eyes. You were as innocent as a lamb; you will
be forced to show your teeth to your new party to make anything out of
them. You have been necessarily sacrificed to Nathan. I cannot conceal
from you that your article on d’Arthez has roused a terrific hubbub.
Marat is a saint compared with you. You will be attacked, and your book
will be a failure. How far have things gone with your romance?”

“These are the last proof sheets.”

“All the anonymous articles against that young d’Arthez in the
Ministerialist and Ultra papers are set down to you. The _Reveil_ is
poking fun at the set in the Rue des Quatre-Vents, and the hits are the
more telling because they are funny. There is a whole serious political
coterie at the back of Leon Giraud’s paper; they will come into power
too, sooner or later.”

“I have not written a line in the _Reveil_ this week past.”

“Very well. Keep my short articles in mind. Write fifty of them straight
off, and I will pay you for them in a lump; but they must be of the same
color as the paper.” And Finot, with seeming carelessness, gave Lucien
an edifying anecdote of the Keeper of the Seals, a piece of current
gossip, he said, for the subject of one of the papers.

Eager to retrieve his losses at play, Lucien shook off his dejection,
summoned up his energy and youthful force, and wrote thirty articles of
two columns each. These finished, he went to Dauriat’s, partly because
he felt sure of meeting Finot there, and he wished to give the articles
to Finot in person; partly because he wished for an explanation of the
non-appearance of the _Marguerites_. He found the bookseller’s shop full
of his enemies. All the talk immediately ceased as he entered. Put
under the ban of journalism, his courage rose, and once more he said
to himself, as he had said in the alley at the Luxembourg, “I will
triumph.”

Dauriat was neither amiable or inclined to patronize; he was sarcastic
in tone, and determined not to bate an inch of his rights. The
_Marguerites_ should appear when it suited his purpose; he should wait
until Lucien was in a position to secure the success of the book; it was
his, he had bought it outright. When Lucien asserted that Dauriat was
bound to publish the _Marguerites_ by the very nature of the contract,
and the relative positions of the parties to the agreement, Dauriat
flatly contradicted him, said that no publisher could be compelled by
law to publish at a loss, and that he himself was the best judge of the
expediency of producing the book. There was, besides, a remedy open to
Lucien, as any court of law would admit--the poet was quite welcome
to take his verses to a Royalist publisher upon the repayment of the
thousand crowns.

Lucien went away. Dauriat’s moderate tone had exasperated him even
more than his previous arrogance at their first interview. So the
_Marguerites_ would not appear until Lucien had found a host of
formidable supporters, or grown formidable himself! He walked home
slowly, so oppressed and out of heart that he felt ready for suicide.
Coralie lay in bed, looking white and ill.

“She must have a part, or she will die,” said Berenice, as Lucien
dressed for a great evening party at Mlle. des Touches’ house in the Rue
du Mont Blanc. Des Lupeaulx and Vignon and Blondet were to be there, as
well as Mme. d’Espard and Mme. de Bargeton.

The party was given in honor of Conti, the great composer, owner
likewise of one of the most famous voices off the stage, Cinti, Pasta,
Garcia, Levasseur, and two or three celebrated amateurs in society not
excepted. Lucien saw the Marquise, her cousin, and Mme. de Montcornet
sitting together, and made one of the party. The unhappy young fellow to
all appearances was light-hearted, happy, and content; he jested, he
was the Lucien de Rubempre of his days of splendor, he would not seem to
need help from any one. He dwelt on his services to the Royalist party,
and cited the hue and cry raised after him by the Liberal press as a
proof of his zeal.

“And you will be well rewarded, my friend,” said Mme. de Bargeton, with
a gracious smile. “Go to the _Chancellerie_ the day after to-morrow with
‘the Heron’ and des Lupeaulx, and you will find your patent signed
by His Majesty. The Keeper of the Seals will take it to-morrow to the
Tuileries, but there is to be a meeting of the Council, and he will not
come back till late. Still, if I hear the result to-morrow evening, I
will let you know. Where are you living?”

“I will come to you,” said Lucien, ashamed to confess that he was living
in the Rue de la Lune.

“The Duc de Lenoncourt and the Duc de Navarreins have made mention of
you to the King,” added the Marquise; “they praised your absolute and
entire devotion, and said that some distinction ought to avenge your
treatment in the Liberal press. The name and title of Rubempre, to which
you have a claim through your mother, would become illustrious through
you, they said. The King gave his lordship instructions that evening to
prepare a patent authorizing the Sieur Lucien Chardon to bear the arms
and title of the Comtes de Rubempre, as grandson of the last Count by
the mother’s side. ‘Let us favor the songsters’ (_chardonnerets_) ‘of
Pindus,’ said his Majesty, after reading your sonnet on the Lily, which
my cousin luckily remembered to give the Duke.--‘Especially when the
King can work miracles, and change the song-bird into an eagle,’ M. de
Navarreins replied.”

Lucien’s expansion of feeling would have softened the heart of any woman
less deeply wounded than Louise d’Espard de Negrepelisse; but her thirst
for vengeance was only increased by Lucien’s graciousness. Des Lupeaulx
was right; Lucien was wanting in tact. It never crossed his mind that
this history of the patent was one of the mystifications at which
Mme. d’Espard was an adept. Emboldened with success and the flattering
distinction shown to him by Mlle. des Touches, he stayed till two
o’clock in the morning for a word in private with his hostess. Lucien
had learned in Royalist newspaper offices that Mlle. des Touches was the
author of a play in which _La petite Fay_, the marvel of the moment was
about to appear. As the rooms emptied, he drew Mlle. des Touches to a
sofa in the boudoir, and told the story of Coralie’s misfortune and his
own so touchingly, that Mlle. des Touches promised to give the heroine’s
part to his friend.

That promise put new life into Coralie. But the next day, as they
breakfasted together, Lucien opened Lousteau’s newspaper, and found that
unlucky anecdote of the Keeper of the Seals and his wife. The story
was full of the blackest malice lurking in the most caustic wit. Louis
XVIII. was brought into the story in a masterly fashion, and held up
to ridicule in such a way that prosecution was impossible. Here is the
substance of a fiction for which the Liberal party attempted to win
credence, though they only succeeded in adding one more to the tale of
their ingenious calumnies.

The King’s passion for pink-scented notes and a correspondence full of
madrigals and sparkling wit was declared to be the last phase of the
tender passion; love had reached the Doctrinaire stage; or had passed,
in other words, from the concrete to the abstract. The illustrious
lady, so cruelly ridiculed under the name of Octavie by Beranger, had
conceived (so it was said) the gravest fears. The correspondence was
languishing. The more Octavie displayed her wit, the cooler grew the
royal lover. At last Octavie discovered the cause of her decline; her
power was threatened by the novelty and piquancy of a correspondence
between the august scribe and the wife of his Keeper of the Seals. That
excellent woman was believed to be incapable of writing a note; she was
simply and solely godmother to the efforts of audacious ambition. Who
could be hidden behind her petticoats? Octavie decided, after making
observations of her own, that the King was corresponding with his
Minister.

She laid her plans. With the help of a faithful friend, she arranged
that a stormy debate should detain the Minister at the Chamber; then she
contrived to secure a _tete-a-tete_, and to convince outraged Majesty of
the fraud. Louis XVIII. flew into a royal and truly Bourbon passion, but
the tempest broke on Octavie’s head. He would not believe her. Octavie
offered immediate proof, begging the King to write a note which must be
answered at once. The unlucky wife of the Keeper of the Seals sent to
the Chamber for her husband; but precautions had been taken, and at that
moment the Minister was on his legs addressing the Chamber. The lady
racked her brains and replied to the note with such intellect as she
could improvise.

“Your Chancellor will supply the rest,” cried Octavie, laughing at the
King’s chagrin.

There was not a word of truth in the story; but it struck home to three
persons--the Keeper of the Seals, his wife, and the King. It was said
that des Lupeaulx had invented the tale, but Finot always kept his
counsel. The article was caustic and clever, the Liberal papers and
the Orleanists were delighted with it, and Lucien himself laughed, and
thought of it merely as a very amusing _canard_.

He called next day for des Lupeaulx and the Baron du Chatelet. The Baron
had just been to thank his lordship. The Sieur Chatelet, newly appointed
Councillor Extraordinary, was now Comte du Chatelet, with a promise of
the prefecture of the Charente so soon as the present prefect should
have completed the term of office necessary to receive the maximum
retiring pension. The Comte _du_ Chatelet (for the _du_ had been
inserted in the patent) drove with Lucien to the _Chancellerie_, and
treated his companion as an equal. But for Lucien’s articles, he said,
his patent would not have been granted so soon; Liberal persecution had
been a stepping-stone to advancement. Des Lupeaulx was waiting for
them in the Secretary-General’s office. That functionary started with
surprise when Lucien appeared and looked at des Lupeaulx.

“What!” he exclaimed, to Lucien’s utter bewilderment. “Do you dare to
come here, sir? Your patent was made out, but his lordship has torn it
up. Here it is!” (the Secretary-General caught up the first torn sheet
that came to hand). “The Minister wished to discover the author of
yesterday’s atrocious article, and here is the manuscript,” added the
speaker, holding out the sheets of Lucien’s article. “You call yourself
a Royalist, sir, and you are on the staff of that detestable paper which
turns the Minister’s hair gray, harasses the Centre, and is dragging the
country headlong to ruin? You breakfast on the _Corsair_, the _Miroir_,
the _Constitutionnel_, and the _Courier_; you dine on the _Quotidienne_
and the _Reveil_, and then sup with Martainville, the worst enemy of the
Government! Martainville urges the Government on to Absolutist measures;
he is more likely to bring on another Revolution than if he had gone
over to the extreme Left. You are a very clever journalist, but you will
never make a politician. The Minister denounced you to the King, and
the King was so angry that he scolded M. le Duc de Navarreins, his
First Gentleman of the Bedchamber. Your enemies will be all the more
formidable because they have hitherto been your friends. Conduct that
one expects from an enemy is atrocious in a friend.”

“Why, really, my dear fellow, are you a child?” said des Lupeaulx.
“You have compromised me. Mme. d’Espard, Mme. de Bargeton, and Mme. de
Montcornet, who were responsible for you, must be furious. The Duke is
sure to have handed on his annoyance to the Marquise, and the Marquise
will have scolded her cousin. Keep away from them and wait.”

“Here comes his lordship--go!” said the Secretary-General.

Lucien went out into the Place Vendome; he was stunned by this bludgeon
blow. He walked home along the Boulevards trying to think over his
position. He saw himself a plaything in the hands of envy, treachery,
and greed. What was he in this world of contending ambitions? A child
sacrificing everything to the pursuit of pleasure and the gratification
of vanity; a poet whose thoughts never went beyond the moment, a moth
flitting from one bright gleaming object to another. He had no definite
aim; he was the slave of circumstance--meaning well, doing ill.
Conscience tortured him remorselessly. And to crown it all, he was
penniless and exhausted with work and emotion. His articles could not
compare with Merlin’s or Nathan’s work.

He walked at random, absorbed in these thoughts. As he passed some
of the reading-rooms which were already lending books as well as
newspapers, a placard caught his eyes. It was an advertisement of a book
with a grotesque title, but beneath the announcement he saw his name in
brilliant letters--“By Lucien Chardon de Rubempre.” So his book had come
out, and he had heard nothing of it! All the newspapers were silent. He
stood motionless before the placard, his arms hanging at his sides. He
did not notice a little knot of acquaintances--Rastignac and de Marsay
and some other fashionable young men; nor did he see that Michel
Chrestien and Leon Giraud were coming towards him.

“Are you M. Chardon?” It was Michel who spoke, and there was that in the
sound of his voice that set Lucien’s heartstrings vibrating.

“Do you not know me?” he asked, turning very pale.

Michel spat in his face.

“Take that as your wages for your article against d’Arthez. If everybody
would do as I do on his own or his friend’s behalf, the press would be
as it ought to be--a self-respecting and respected priesthood.”

Lucien staggered back and caught hold of Rastignac.

“Gentlemen,” he said, addressing Rastignac and de Marsay, “you will not
refuse to act as my seconds. But first, I wish to make matters even and
apology impossible.”

He struck Michel a sudden, unexpected blow in the face. The rest rushed
in between the Republican and Royalist, to prevent a street brawl.
Rastignac dragged Lucien off to the Rue Taitbout, only a few steps away
from the Boulevard de Gand, where this scene took place. It was the hour
of dinner, or a crowd would have assembled at once. De Marsay came to
find Lucien, and the pair insisted that he should dine with them at the
Cafe Anglais, where they drank and made merry.

“Are you a good swordsman?” inquired de Marsay.

“I have never had a foil in my hands.”

“A good shot?”

“Never fired a pistol in my life.”

“Then you have luck on your side. You are a formidable antagonist to
stand up to; you may kill your man,” said de Marsay.

Fortunately, Lucien found Coralie in bed and asleep.

She had played without rehearsal in a one-act play, and taken her
revenge. She had met with genuine applause. Her enemies had not been
prepared for this step on her part, and her success had determined the
manager to give her the heroine’s part in Camille Maupin’s play. He had
discovered the cause of her apparent failure, and was indignant
with Florine and Nathan. Coralie should have the protection of the
management.

At five o’clock that morning, Rastignac came for Lucien.

“The name of your street my dear fellow, is particularly appropriate for
your lodgings; you are up in the sky,” he said, by way of greeting.
“Let us be first upon the ground on the road to Clignancourt; it is good
form, and we ought to set them an example.”

“Here is the programme,” said de Marsay, as the cab rattled through the
Faubourg Saint-Denis: “You stand up at twenty-five paces, coming nearer,
till you are only fifteen apart. You have, each of you, five paces to
take and three shots to fire--no more. Whatever happens, that must be
the end of it. We load for your antagonist, and his seconds load for
you. The weapons were chosen by the four seconds at a gunmaker’s. We
helped you to a chance, I will promise you; horse pistols are to be the
weapons.”

For Lucien, life had become a bad dream. He did not care whether he
lived or died. The courage of suicide helped him in some sort to carry
things off with a dash of bravado before the spectators. He stood in
his place; he would not take a step, a piece of recklessness which
the others took for deliberate calculation. They thought the poet an
uncommonly cool hand. Michel Chrestien came as far as his limit; both
fired twice and at the same time, for either party was considered to be
equally insulted. Michel’s first bullet grazed Lucien’s chin; Lucien’s
passed ten feet above Chrestien’s head. The second shot hit Lucien’s
coat collar, but the buckram lining fortunately saved its wearer. The
third bullet struck him in the chest, and he dropped.

“Is he dead?” asked Michel Chrestien.

“No,” said the surgeon, “he will pull through.”

“So much the worse,” answered Michel.

“Yes; so much the worse,” said Lucien, as his tears fell fast.

By noon the unhappy boy lay in bed in his own room. With untold pains
they had managed to remove him, but it had taken five hours to bring him
to the Rue de la Lune. His condition was not dangerous, but precautions
were necessary lest fever should set in and bring about troublesome
complications. Coralie choked down her grief and anguish. She sat up
with him at night through the anxious weeks of his illness, studying
her parts by his bedside. Lucien was in danger for two long months; and
often at the theatre Coralie acted her frivolous role with one thought
in her heart, “Perhaps he is dying at this moment.”

Lucien owed his life to the skill and devotion of a friend whom he had
grievously hurt. Bianchon had come to tend him after hearing the story
of the attack from d’Arthez, who told it in confidence, and excused the
unhappy poet. Bianchon suspected that d’Arthez was generously trying to
screen the renegade; but on questioning Lucien during a lucid interval
in the dangerous nervous fever, he learned that his patient was only
responsible for the one serious article in Hector Merlin’s paper.

Before the first month was out, the firm of Fendant and Cavalier filed
their schedule. Bianchon told Coralie that Lucien must on no account
hear the news. The famous _Archer of Charles IX._, brought out with an
absurd title, had been a complete failure. Fendant, being anxious to
realize a little ready money before going into bankruptcy, had sold
the whole edition (without Cavalier’s knowledge) to dealers in printed
paper. These, in their turn, had disposed of it at a cheap rate to
hawkers, and Lucien’s book at that moment was adorning the bookstalls
along the Quays. The booksellers on the Quai des Augustins, who had
previously taken a quantity of copies, now discovered that after this
sudden reduction of the price they were like to lose heavily on their
purchases; the four duodecimo volumes, for which they had paid four
francs fifty centimes, were being given away for fifty sous. Great
was the outcry in the trade; but the newspapers preserved a profound
silence. Barbet had not foreseen this “clearance;” he had a belief
in Lucien’s abilities; for once he had broken his rule and taken two
hundred copies. The prospect of a loss drove him frantic; the things
he said of Lucien were fearful to hear. Then Barbet took a heroic
resolution. He stocked his copies in a corner of his shop, with the
obstinacy of greed, and left his competitors to sell their wares at a
loss. Two years afterwards, when d’Arthez’s fine preface, the merits of
the book, and one or two articles by Leon Giraud had raised the value of
the book, Barbet sold his copies, one by one, at ten francs each.

Lucien knew nothing of all this, but Berenice and Coralie could not
refuse to allow Hector Merlin to see his dying comrade, and Hector
Merlin made him drink, drop by drop, the whole of the bitter draught
brewed by the failure of Fendant and Cavalier, made bankrupts by his
first ill-fated book. Martainville, the one friend who stood by Lucien
through thick and thin, had written a magnificent article on his
work; but so great was the general exasperation against the editor
of _L’Aristarque_, _L’Oriflamme_, and _Le Drapeau Blanc_, that his
championship only injured Lucien. In vain did the athlete return the
Liberal insults tenfold, not a newspaper took up the challenge in spite
of all his attacks.

Coralie, Berenice, and Bianchon might shut the door on Lucien’s
so-called friends, who raised a great outcry, but it was impossible to
keep out creditors and writs. After the failure of Fendant and Cavalier,
their bills were taken into bankruptcy according to that provision of
the Code of Commerce most inimical to the claims of third parties, who
in this way lose the benefit of delay.

Lucien discovered that Camusot was proceeding against him with great
energy. When Coralie heard the name, and for the first time learned the
dreadful and humiliating step which her poet had taken for her sake,
the angelic creature loved him ten times more than before, and would not
approach Camusot. The bailiff bringing the warrant of arrest shrank
back from the idea of dragging his prisoner out of bed, and went back to
Camusot before applying to the President of the Tribunal of Commerce for
an order to remove the debtor to a private hospital. Camusot hurried at
once to the Rue de la Lune, and Coralie went down to him.

When she came up again she held the warrants, in which Lucien was
described as a tradesman, in her hand. How had she obtained those papers
from Camusot? What promise had she given? Coralie kept a sad, gloomy
silence, but when she returned she looked as if all the life had gone
out of her. She played in Camille Maupin’s play, and contributed not a
little to the success of that illustrious literary hermaphrodite; but
the creation of this character was the last flicker of a bright, dying
lamp. On the twentieth night, when Lucien had so far recovered that he
had regained his appetite and could walk abroad, and talked of getting
to work again, Coralie broke down; a secret trouble was weighing upon
her. Berenice always believed that she had promised to go back to
Camusot to save Lucien.

Another mortification followed. Coralie was obliged to see her part
given to Florine. Nathan had threatened the Gymnase with war if the
management refused to give the vacant place to Coralie’s rival. Coralie
had persisted till she could play no longer, knowing that Florine was
waiting to step into her place. She had overtasked her strength. The
Gymnase had advanced sums during Lucien’s illness, she had no money to
draw; Lucien, eager to work though he was, was not yet strong enough to
write, and he helped besides to nurse Coralie and to relieve Berenice.
From poverty they had come to utter distress; but in Bianchon they
found a skilful and devoted doctor, who obtained credit for them of the
druggist. The landlord of the house and the tradespeople knew by this
time how matters stood. The furniture was attached. The tailor and
dressmaker no longer stood in awe of the journalist, and proceeded to
extremes; and at last no one, with the exception of the pork-butcher and
the druggist, gave the two unlucky children credit. For a week or more
all three of them--Lucien, Berenice, and the invalid--were obliged to
live on the various ingenious preparations sold by the pork-butcher; the
inflammatory diet was little suited to the sick girl, and Coralie grew
worse. Sheer want compelled Lucien to ask Lousteau for a return of the
loan of a thousand francs lost at play by the friend who had deserted
him in his hour of need. Perhaps, amid all his troubles, this step cost
him most cruel suffering.

Lousteau was not to be found in the Rue de la Harpe. Hunted down like a
hare, he was lodging now with this friend, now with that. Lucien found
him at last at Flicoteaux’s; he was sitting at the very table at which
Lucien had found him that evening when, for his misfortune, he forsook
d’Arthez for journalism. Lousteau offered him dinner, and Lucien
accepted the offer.

As they came out of Flicoteaux’s with Claude Vignon (who happened to
be dining there that day) and the great man in obscurity, who kept his
wardrobe at Samanon’s, the four among them could not produce enough
specie to pay for a cup of coffee at the Cafe Voltaire. They lounged
about the Luxembourg in the hope of meeting with a publisher; and, as
it fell out, they met with one of the most famous printers of the day.
Lousteau borrowed forty francs of him, and divided the money into four
equal parts.

Misery had brought down Lucien’s pride and extinguished sentiment; he
shed tears as he told the story of his troubles, but each one of his
comrades had a tale as cruel as his own; and when the three versions
had been given, it seemed to the poet that he was the least unfortunate
among the four. All of them craved a respite from remembrance and
thoughts which made trouble doubly hard to bear.

Lousteau hurried to the Palais Royal to gamble with his remaining nine
francs. The great man unknown to fame, though he had a divine mistress,
must needs hie him to a low haunt of vice to wallow in perilous
pleasure. Vignon betook himself to the _Rocher de Cancale_ to drown
memory and thought in a couple of bottles of Bordeaux; Lucien parted
company with him on the threshold, declining to share that supper. When
he shook hands with the one journalist who had not been hostile to him,
it was with a cruel pang in his heart.

“What shall I do?” he asked aloud.

“One must do as one can,” the great critic said. “Your book is good, but
it excited jealousy, and your struggle will be hard and long. Genius is
a cruel disease. Every writer carries a canker in his heart, a devouring
monster, like the tapeworm in the stomach, which destroys all feeling as
it arises in him. Which is the stronger? The man or the disease? One
has need be a great man, truly, to keep the balance between genius and
character. The talent grows, the heart withers. Unless a man is a giant,
unless he has the thews of a Hercules, he must be content either to lose
his gift or to live without a heart. You are slender and fragile, you
will give way,” he added, as he turned into the restaurant.

Lucien returned home, thinking over that terrible verdict. He beheld
the life of literature by the light of the profound truths uttered by
Vignon.

“Money! money!” a voice cried in his ears.

Then he drew three bills of a thousand francs each, due respectively
in one, two, and three months, imitating the handwriting of his
brother-in-law, David Sechard, with admirable skill. He endorsed the
bills, and took them next morning to Metivier, the paper-dealer in the
Rue Serpente, who made no difficulty about taking them. Lucien wrote
a few lines to give his brother-in-law notice of this assault upon his
cash-box, promising, as usual in such cases, to be ready to meet the
bills as they fell due.

When all debts, his own and Coralie’s, were paid, he put the three
hundred francs which remained into Berenice’s hands, bidding her to
refuse him money if he asked her for it. He was afraid of a return of
the gambler’s frenzy. Lucien worked away gloomily in a sort of cold,
speechless fury, putting forth all his powers into witty articles,
written by the light of the lamp at Coralie’s bedside. Whenever he
looked up in search of ideas, his eyes fell on that beloved face, white
as porcelain, fair with the beauty that belongs to the dying, and he
saw a smile on her pale lips, and her eyes, grown bright with a more
consuming pain than physical suffering, always turned on his face.

Lucien sent in his work, but he could not leave the house to worry
editors, and his articles did not appear. When he at last made up his
mind to go to the office, he met with a cool reception from Theodore
Gaillard, who had advanced him money, and turned his literary diamonds
to good account afterwards.

“Take care, my dear fellow, you are falling off,” he said. “You must not
let yourself down, your work wants inspiration!”

“That little Lucien has written himself out with his romance and his
first articles,” cried Felicien Vernou, Merlin, and the whole chorus of
his enemies, whenever his name came up at Dauriat’s or the Vaudeville.
“The work he is sending us is pitiable.”

“To have written oneself out” (in the slang of journalism), is a verdict
very hard to live down. It passed everywhere from mouth to mouth,
ruining Lucien, all unsuspicious as he was. And, indeed, his burdens
were too heavy for his strength. In the midst of a heavy strain of work,
he was sued for the bills which he had drawn in David Sechard’s name. He
had recourse to Camusot’s experience, and Coralie’s sometime adorer was
generous enough to assist the man she loved. The intolerable situation
lasted for two whole months; the days being diversified by stamped
papers handed over to Desroches, a friend of Bixiou, Blondet, and des
Lupeaulx.

Early in August, Bianchon told them that Coralie’s condition was
hopeless--she had only a few days to live. Those days were spent in
tears by Berenice and Lucien; they could not hide their grief from the
dying girl, and she was broken-hearted for Lucien’s sake.

Some strange change was working in Coralie. She would have Lucien bring
a priest; she must be reconciled to the Church and die in peace. Coralie
died as a Christian; her repentance was sincere. Her agony and death
took all energy and heart out of Lucien. He sank into a low chair at the
foot of the bed, and never took his eyes off her till Death brought
the end of her suffering. It was five o’clock in the morning. Some
singing-bird lighting upon a flower-pot on the window-sill, twittered a
few notes. Berenice, kneeling by the bedside, was covering a hand fast
growing cold with kisses and tears. On the chimney-piece there lay
eleven sous.

Lucien went out. Despair made him beg for money to lay Coralie in
her grave. He had wild thoughts of flinging himself at the Marquise
d’Espard’s feet, of entreating the Comte du Chatelet, Mme. de Bargeton,
Mlle. des Touches, nay, that terrible dandy of a de Marsay. All his
pride had gone with his strength. He would have enlisted as a common
soldier at that moment for money. He walked on with a slouching,
feverish gait known to all the unhappy, reached Camille Maupin’s house,
entered, careless of his disordered dress, and sent in a message. He
entreated Mlle. des Touches to see him for a moment.

“Mademoiselle only went to bed at three o’clock this morning,” said the
servant, “and no one would dare to disturb her until she rings.”

“When does she ring?”

“Never before ten o’clock.”

Then Lucien wrote one of those harrowing appeals in which the
well-dressed beggar flings all pride and self-respect to the winds. One
evening, not so very long ago, when Lousteau had told him of the abject
begging letters which Finot received, Lucien had thought it impossible
that any creature would sink so low; and now, carried away by his pen,
he had gone further, it may be, than other unlucky wretches upon the
same road. He did not suspect, in his fever and imbecility, that he
had just written a masterpiece of pathos. On his way home along the
Boulevards, he met Barbet.

“Barbet!” he begged, holding out his hand. “Five hundred francs!”

“No. Two hundred,” returned the other.

“Ah! then you have a heart.”

“Yes; but I am a man of business as well. I have lost a lot of money
through you,” he concluded, after giving the history of the failure of
Fendant and Cavalier, “will you put me in the way of making some?”

Lucien quivered.

“You are a poet. You ought to understand all kinds of poetry,” continued
the little publisher. “I want a few rollicking songs at this moment to
put along with some more by different authors, or they will be down upon
me over the copyright. I want to have a good collection to sell on the
streets at ten sous. If you care to let me have ten good drinking-songs
by to-morrow morning, or something spicy,--you know the sort of thing,
eh!--I will pay you two hundred francs.”

When Lucien returned home, he found Coralie stretched out straight and
stiff on a pallet-bed; Berenice, with many tears, had wrapped her in a
coarse linen sheet, and put lighted candles at the four corners of the
bed. Coralie’s face had taken that strange, delicate beauty of death
which so vividly impresses the living with the idea of absolute calm;
she looked like some white girl in a decline; it seemed as if those
pale, crimson lips must open and murmur the name which had blended with
the name of God in the last words that she uttered before she died.

Lucien told Berenice to order a funeral which should not cost more than
two hundred francs, including the service at the shabby little church of
the Bonne-Nouvelle. As soon as she had gone out, he sat down to a table,
and beside the dead body of his love he composed ten rollicking songs
to fit popular airs. The effort cost him untold anguish, but at last the
brain began to work at the bidding of Necessity, as if suffering were
not; and already Lucien had learned to put Claude Vignon’s terrible
maxims in practice, and to raise a barrier between heart and brain. What
a night the poor boy spent over those drinking songs, writing by the
light of the tall wax candles while the priest recited the prayers for
the dead!

Morning broke before the last song was finished. Lucien tried it over
to a street-song of the day, to the consternation of Berenice and the
priest, who thought that he was mad:--


    Lads, ‘tis tedious waste of time
      To mingle song and reason;
    Folly calls for laughing rhyme,
      Sense is out of season.
  Let Apollo be forgot
    When Bacchus fills the drinking-cup;
  Any catch is good, I wot,
    If good fellows take it up.
      Let philosophers protest,
        Let us laugh,
          And quaff,
      And a fig for the rest!

    As Hippocrates has said,
      Every jolly fellow,
    When a century has sped,
      Still is fit and mellow.
  No more following of a lass
    With the palsy in your legs?
  --While your hand can hold a glass,
    You can drain it to the dregs,
      With an undiminished zest.
        Let us laugh,
          And quaff,
      And a fig for the rest!

    Whence we come we know full well.
      Whiter are we going?
    Ne’er a one of us can tell,
      ‘Tis a thing past knowing.
  Faith! what does it signify,
    Take the good that Heaven sends;
  It is certain that we die,
    Certain that we live, my friends.
      Life is nothing but a jest.
        Let us laugh,
          And quaff,
      And a fig for the rest!


He was shouting the reckless refrain when d’Arthez and Bianchon arrived,
to find him in a paroxysm of despair and exhaustion, utterly unable to
make a fair copy of his verses. A torrent of tears followed; and when,
amid his sobs, he had told his story, he saw the tears standing in his
friends’ eyes.

“This wipes out many sins,” said d’Arthez.

“Happy are they who suffer for their sins in this world,” the priest
said solemnly.

At the sight of the fair, dead face smiling at Eternity, while Coralie’s
lover wrote tavern-catches to buy a grave for her, and Barbet paid for
the coffin--of the four candles lighted about the dead body of her who
had thrilled a great audience as she stood behind the footlights in her
Spanish basquina and scarlet green-clocked stockings; while beyond in
the doorway, stood the priest who had reconciled the dying actress with
God, now about to return to the church to say a mass for the soul of her
who had “loved much,”--all the grandeur and the sordid aspects of the
scene, all that sorrow crushed under by Necessity, froze the blood of
the great writer and the great doctor. They sat down; neither of them
could utter a word.

Just at that moment a servant in livery announced Mlle. des Touches.
That beautiful and noble woman understood everything at once.
She stepped quickly across the room to Lucien, and slipped two
thousand-franc notes into his hand as she grasped it.

“It is too late,” he said, looking up at her with dull, hopeless eyes.

The three stayed with Lucien, trying to soothe his despair with
comforting words; but every spring seemed to be broken. At noon all the
brotherhood, with the exception of Michel Chrestien (who, however, had
learned the truth as to Lucien’s treachery), was assembled in the poor
little church of the Bonne-Nouvelle; Mlle. de Touches was present,
and Berenice and Coralie’s dresser from the theatre, with a couple of
supernumeraries and the disconsolate Camusot. All the men accompanied
the actress to her last resting-place in Pere Lachaise. Camusot,
shedding hot tears, had solemnly promised Lucien to buy the grave in
perpetuity, and to put a headstone above it with the words:


                               CORALIE

                         AGED NINETEEN YEARS

                             August, 1822


Lucien stayed there, on the sloping ground that looks out over Paris,
until the sun had set.

“Who will love me now?” he thought. “My truest friends despise me.
Whatever I might have done, she who lies here would have thought me
wholly noble and good. I have no one left to me now but my sister and
mother and David. And what do they think of me at home?”

Poor distinguished provincial! He went back to the Rue de la Lune; but
the sight of the rooms was so acutely painful, that he could not stay
in them, and he took a cheap lodging elsewhere in the same street. Mlle.
des Touches’ two thousand francs and the sale of the furniture paid the
debts.

Berenice had two hundred francs left, on which they lived for two
months. Lucien was prostrate; he could neither write nor think; he gave
way to morbid grief. Berenice took pity upon him.

“Suppose that you were to go back to your own country, how are you to
get there?” she asked one day, by way of reply to an exclamation of
Lucien’s.

“On foot.”

“But even so, you must live and sleep on the way. Even if you walk
twelve leagues a day, you will want twenty francs at least.”

“I will get them together,” he said.

He took his clothes and his best linen, keeping nothing but strict
necessaries, and went to Samanon, who offered fifty francs for his
entire wardrobe. In vain he begged the money-lender to let him have
enough to pay his fare by the coach; Samanon was inexorable. In a
paroxysm of fury, Lucien rushed to Frascati’s, staked the proceeds of
the sale, and lost every farthing. Back once more in the wretched room
in the Rue de la Lune, he asked Berenice for Coralie’s shawl. The good
girl looked at him, and knew in a moment what he meant to do. He had
confessed to his loss at the gaming-table; and now he was going to hang
himself.

“Are you mad, sir? Go out for a walk, and come back again at midnight.
I will get the money for you; but keep to the Boulevards, do not go
towards the Quais.”

Lucien paced up and down the Boulevards. He was stupid with grief. He
watched the passers-by and the stream of traffic, and felt that he
was alone, and a very small atom in this seething whirlpool of Paris,
churned by the strife of innumerable interests. His thoughts went back
to the banks of his Charente; a craving for happiness and home awoke
in him; and with the craving, came one of the sudden febrile bursts of
energy which half-feminine natures like his mistake for strength. He
would not give up until he had poured out his heart to David Sechard,
and taken counsel of the three good angels still left to him on earth.

As he lounged along, he caught sight of Berenice--Berenice in her Sunday
clothes, speaking to a stranger at the corner of the Rue de la Lune and
the filthy Boulevard Bonne-Nouvelle, where she had taken her stand.

“What are you doing?” asked Lucien, dismayed by a sudden suspicion.

“Here are your twenty francs,” said the girl, slipping four five-franc
pieces into the poet’s hand. “They may cost dear yet; but you can go,”
 and she had fled before Lucien could see the way she went; for, in
justice to him, it must be said that the money burned his hand, he
wanted to return it, but he was forced to keep it as the final brand set
upon him by life in Paris.



ADDENDUM

Note: A Distinguished Provincial at Paris is part two of a trilogy.
Part one is entitled Two Poets and part three is Eve and David. 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.

     Barbet
       A Man of Business
       The Seamy Side of History
       The Middle Classes

     Beaudenord, Godefroid de
       The Ball at Sceaux
       The Firm of Nucingen

     Berenice
       Lost Illusions

     Bianchon, Horace
       Father Goriot
       The Atheist’s Mass
       Cesar Birotteau
       The Commission in Lunacy
       Lost Illusions
       A Bachelor’s Establishment
       The Secrets of a Princess
       The Government Clerks
       Pierrette
       A Study of Woman
       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
       Honorine
       The Seamy Side of History
       The Magic Skin
       A Second Home
       A Prince of Bohemia
       Letters of Two Brides
       The Muse of the Department
       The Imaginary Mistress
       The Middle Classes
       Cousin Betty
       The Country Parson
     In addition, M. Bianchon narrated the following:
       Another Study of Woman
       La Grande Breteche

     Blondet, Emile
       Jealousies of a Country Town
       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
       Modeste Mignon
       Another Study of Woman
       The Secrets of a Princess
       A Daughter of Eve
       The Firm of Nucingen
       The Peasantry

     Blondet, Virginie
       Jealousies of a Country Town
       The Secrets of a Princess
       The Peasantry
       Another Study of Woman
       The Member for Arcis
       A Daughter of Eve

     Braulard
       Cousin Betty
       Cousin Pons

     Bridau, Joseph
       The Purse
       A Bachelor’s Establishment
       A Start in Life
       Modeste Mignon
       Another Study of Woman
       Pierre Grassou
       Letters of Two Brides
       Cousin Betty
       The Member for Arcis

     Bruel, Jean Francois du
       A Bachelor’s Establishment
       The Government Clerks
       A Start in Life
       A Prince of Bohemia
       The Middle Classes
       A Daughter of Eve

     Bruel, Claudine Chaffaroux, Madame du
       A Bachelor’s Establishment
       A Prince of Bohemia
       Letters of Two Brides
       The Middle Classes

     Cabirolle, Agathe-Florentine
       A Start in Life
       Lost Illusions
       A Bachelor’s Establishment

     Camusot
       A Bachelor’s Establishment
       Cousin Pons
       The Muse of the Department
       Cesar Birotteau
       At the Sign of the Cat and Racket

     Canalis, Constant-Cyr-Melchior, Baron de
       Letters of Two Brides
       Modeste Mignon
       The Magic Skin
       Another Study of Woman
       A Start in Life
       Beatrix
       The Unconscious Humorists
       The Member for Arcis

     Cardot, Jean-Jerome-Severin
       A Start in Life
       Lost Illusions

       A Bachelor’s Establishment
       At the Sign of the Cat and Racket
       Cesar Birotteau

     Carigliano, Duchesse de
       At the Sign of the Cat and Racket
       The Peasantry
       The Member for Arcis

     Cavalier
       The Seamy Side of History

     Chaboisseau
       The Government Clerks
       A Man of Business

     Chatelet, Sixte, Baron du
       Lost Illusions
       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
       The Thirteen

     Chatelet, Marie-Louise-Anais de Negrepelisse, Baronne du
       Lost Illusions
       The Government Clerks

     Chrestien, Michel
       A Bachelor’s Establishment
       The Secrets of a Princess

     Collin, Jacques
       Father Goriot
       Lost Illusions
       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
       The Member for Arcis

     Coloquinte
       A Bachelor’s Establishment

     Coralie, Mademoiselle
       A Start in Life
       A Bachelor’s Establishment

     Dauriat
       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
       Modeste Mignon

     Desroches (son)
       A Bachelor’s Establishment
       Colonel Chabert
       A Start in Life
       A Woman of Thirty
       The Commission in Lunacy
       The Government Clerks
       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
       The Firm of Nucingen
       A Man of Business
       The Middle Classes

     Arthez, Daniel d’
       Letters of Two Brides
       The Member for Arcis
       The Secrets of a Princess

     Espard, Jeanne-Clementine-Athenais de Blamont-Chauvry, Marquise d’
       The Commission in Lunacy
       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
       Letters of Two Brides
       Another Study of Woman
       The Gondreville Mystery
       The Secrets of a Princess
       A Daughter of Eve
       Beatrix

     Finot, Andoche
       Cesar Birotteau
       A Bachelor’s Establishment
       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
       The Government Clerks
       A Start in Life
       Gaudissart the Great
       The Firm of Nucingen

     Foy, Maximilien-Sebastien
       Cesar Birotteau

     Gaillard, Theodore
       Beatrix
       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
       The Unconscious Humorists

     Gaillard, Madame Theodore
       Jealousies of a Country Town
       A Bachelor’s Establishment
       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
       Beatrix
       The Unconscious Humorists

     Galathionne, Prince and Princess (both not in each story)
       The Secrets of a Princess
       The Middle Classes
       Father Goriot
       A Daughter of Eve
       Beatrix

     Gentil
       Lost Illusions

     Giraud, Leon
       A Bachelor’s Establishment
       The Secrets of a Princess
       The Unconscious Humorists

     Giroudeau
       A Start in Life
       A Bachelor’s Establishment

     Grindot
       Cesar Birotteau
       Lost Illusions
       A Start in Life
       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
       Beatrix
       The Middle Classes
       Cousin Betty

     Lambert, Louis
       Louis Lambert
       A Seaside Tragedy

     Listomere, Marquis de
       The Lily of the Valley
       A Study of Woman

     Listomere, Marquise de
       The Lily of the Valley
       Lost Illusions
       A Study of Woman
       A Daughter of Eve

     Lousteau, Etienne
       A Bachelor’s Establishment
       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
       A Daughter of Eve
       Beatrix
       The Muse of the Department
       Cousin Betty
       A Prince of Bohemia
       A Man of Business
       The Middle Classes
       The Unconscious Humorists

     Lupeaulx, Clement Chardin des
       The Muse of the Department
       Eugenie Grandet
       A Bachelor’s Establishment
       The Government Clerks
       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
       Ursule Mirouet

     Manerville, Paul Francois-Joseph, Comte de
       The Thirteen
       The Ball at Sceaux
       Lost Illusions
       A Marriage Settlement

     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
       Lost Illusions
       Letters of Two Brides
       The Ball at Sceaux
       Modeste Mignon
       The Secrets of a Princess
       The Gondreville Mystery
       A Daughter of Eve

     Matifat (wealthy druggist)
       Cesar Birotteau
       A Bachelor’s Establishment
       Lost Illusions
       The Firm of Nucingen
       Cousin Pons

     Meyraux
       Louis Lambert

     Montcornet, Marechal, Comte de
       Domestic Peace
       Lost Illusions

       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
       The Peasantry
       A Man of Business
       Cousin Betty

     Montriveau, General Marquis Armand de
       The Thirteen
       Father Goriot
       Lost Illusions
       Another Study of Woman
       Pierrette
       The Member for Arcis

     Nathan, Raoul
       Lost Illusions
       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
       The Secrets of a Princess
       A Daughter of Eve
       Letters of Two Brides
       The Seamy Side of History
       The Muse of the Department
       A Prince of Bohemia
       A Man of Business
       The Unconscious Humorists

     Nathan, Madame Raoul
       The Muse of the Department
       Lost Illusions
       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
       The Government Clerks
       A Bachelor’s Establishment
       Ursule Mirouet
       Eugenie Grandet
       The Imaginary Mistress
       A Prince of Bohemia

     Negrepelisse, De
       The Commission in Lunacy
       Lost Illusions

     Nucingen, Baron Frederic de
       The Firm of Nucingen
       Father Goriot
       Pierrette
       Cesar Birotteau
       Lost Illusions
       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
       Lost Illusions
       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

     Palma (banker)
       The Firm of Nucingen
       Cesar Birotteau
       Gobseck
       Lost Illusions
       The Ball at Sceaux

     Pombreton, Marquis de
       Lost Illusions
       Jealousies of a Country Town

     Rastignac, Eugene de
       Father Goriot
       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

     Rhetore, Duc Alphonse de
       A Bachelor’s Establishment

      Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
       Letters of Two Brides
       Albert Savarus
       The Member for Arcis

     Ridal, Fulgence
       A Bachelor’s Establishment
       The Unconscious Humorists

     Rubempre, Lucien-Chardon de
       Lost Illusions
       The Government Clerks
       Ursule Mirouet
       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life

     Samanon
       The Government Clerks
       A Man of Business
       Cousin Betty

     Sechard, David
       Lost Illusions
       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life

     Sechard, Madame David
       Lost Illusions
       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life

     Tillet, Ferdinand du
       Cesar Birotteau
       The Firm of Nucingen
       The Middle Classes
       A Bachelor’s Establishment
       Pierrette
       Melmoth Reconciled
       The Secrets of a Princess
       A Daughter of Eve
       The Member for Arcis
       Cousin Betty
       The Unconscious Humorists

     Touches, Mademoiselle Felicite des
       Beatrix
       Lost Illusions
       A Bachelor’s Establishment
       Another Study of Woman
       A Daughter of Eve
       Honorine
       Beatrix
       The Muse of the Department

     Vandenesse, Comte Felix de
       The Lily of the Valley
       Lost Illusions
       Cesar Birotteau
       Letters of Two Brides
       A Start in Life
       The Marriage Settlement
       The Secrets of a Princess
       Another Study of Woman
       The Gondreville Mystery
       A Daughter of Eve

     Vernou, Felicien
       A Bachelor’s Establishment
       Lost Illusions
       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
       A Daughter of Eve
       Cousin Betty

     Vignon, Claude
       A Daughter of Eve
       Honorine
       Beatrix
       Cousin Betty
       The Unconscious Humorists





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