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

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Albert Savarus" ***

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ALBERT SAVARUS


By Honore de Balzac


Translated by Ellen Marriage



                             DEDICATION

                      To Madame Emile Girardin



ALBERT SAVARUS


One of the few drawing-rooms where, under the Restoration, the
Archbishop of Besancon was sometimes to be seen, was that of the Baronne
de Watteville, to whom he was particularly attached on account of her
religious sentiments.

A word as to this lady, the most important lady of Besancon.

Monsieur de Watteville, a descendant of the famous Watteville, the most
successful and illustrious of murderers and renegades--his extraordinary
adventures are too much a part of history to be related here--this
nineteenth century Monsieur de Watteville was as gentle and peaceable
as his ancestor of the _Grand Siecle_ had been passionate and turbulent.
After living in the _Comte_ (La Franche Comte) like a wood-louse in the
crack of a wainscot, he had married the heiress of the celebrated house
of Rupt. Mademoiselle de Rupt brought twenty thousand francs a year in
the funds to add to the ten thousand francs a year in real estate of the
Baron de Watteville. The Swiss gentleman’s coat-of-arms (the Wattevilles
are Swiss) was then borne as an escutcheon of pretence on the old shield
of the Rupts. The marriage, arranged in 1802, was solemnized in 1815
after the second Restoration. Within three years of the birth of a
daughter all Madame de Watteville’s grandparents were dead, and their
estates wound up. Monsieur de Watteville’s house was then sold, and
they settled in the Rue de la Prefecture in the fine old mansion of the
Rupts, with an immense garden stretching to the Rue du Perron. Madame
de Watteville, devout as a girl, became even more so after her marriage.
She is one of the queens of the saintly brotherhood which gives the
upper circles of Besancon a solemn air and prudish manners in harmony
with the character of the town.

Monsieur le Baron de Watteville, a dry, lean man devoid of intelligence,
looked worn out without any one knowing whereby, for he enjoyed the
profoundest ignorance; but as his wife was a red-haired woman, and of a
stern nature that became proverbial (we still say “as sharp as Madame
de Watteville”), some wits of the legal profession declared that he had
been worn against that rock--_Rupt_ is obviously derived from _rupes_.
Scientific students of social phenomena will not fail to have observed
that Rosalie was the only offspring of the union between the Wattevilles
and the Rupts.

Monsieur de Watteville spent his existence in a handsome workshop with
a lathe; he was a turner! As subsidiary to this pursuit, he took up
a fancy for making collections. Philosophical doctors, devoted to the
study of madness, regard this tendency towards collecting as a first
degree of mental aberration when it is set on small things. The Baron de
Watteville treasured shells and geological fragments of the neighborhood
of Besancon. Some contradictory folk, especially women, would say of
Monsieur de Watteville, “He has a noble soul! He perceived from the
first days of his married life that he would never be his wife’s master,
so he threw himself into a mechanical occupation and good living.”

The house of the Rupts was not devoid of a certain magnificence worthy
of Louis XIV., and bore traces of the nobility of the two families
who had mingled in 1815. The chandeliers of glass cut in the shape of
leaves, the brocades, the damask, the carpets, the gilt furniture, were
all in harmony with the old liveries and the old servants. Though served
in blackened family plate, round a looking-glass tray furnished with
Dresden china, the food was exquisite. The wines selected by Monsieur
de Watteville, who, to occupy his time and vary his employments, was his
own butler, enjoyed a sort of fame throughout the department. Madame
de Watteville’s fortune was a fine one; while her husband’s, which
consisted only of the estate of Rouxey, worth about ten thousand francs
a year, was not increased by inheritance. It is needless to add that
in consequence of Madame de Watteville’s close intimacy with the
Archbishop, the three or four clever or remarkable Abbes of the diocese
who were not averse to good feeding were very much at home at her house.

At a ceremonial dinner given in honor of I know not whose wedding,
at the beginning of September 1834, when the women were standing in
a circle round the drawing-room fire, and the men in groups by the
windows, every one exclaimed with pleasure at the entrance of Monsieur
l’Abbe de Grancey, who was announced.

“Well, and the lawsuit?” they all cried.

“Won!” replied the Vicar-General. “The verdict of the Court, from which
we had no hope, you know why----”

This was an allusion to the members of the First Court of Appeal of
1830; the Legitimists had almost all withdrawn.

“The verdict is in our favor on every point, and reverses the decision
of the Lower Court.”

“Everybody thought you were done for.”

“And we should have been, but for me. I told our advocate to be off to
Paris, and at the crucial moment I was able to secure a new pleader, to
whom we owe our victory, a wonderful man--”

“At Besancon?” said Monsieur de Watteville, guilelessly.

“At Besancon,” replied the Abbe de Grancey.

“Oh yes, Savaron,” said a handsome young man sitting near the Baroness,
and named de Soulas.

“He spent five or six nights over it; he devoured documents and briefs;
he had seven or eight interviews of several hours with me,” continued
Monsieur de Grancey, who had just reappeared at the Hotel de Rupt for
the first time in three weeks. “In short, Monsieur Savaron has just
completely beaten the celebrated lawyer whom our adversaries had sent
for from Paris. This young man is wonderful, the bigwigs say. Thus
the chapter is twice victorious; it has triumphed in law and also
in politics, since it has vanquished Liberalism in the person of the
Counsel of our Municipality.--‘Our adversaries,’ so our advocate
said, ‘must not expect to find readiness on all sides to ruin the
Archbishoprics.’--The President was obliged to enforce silence. All the
townsfolk of Besancon applauded. Thus the possession of the buildings of
the old convent remains with the Chapter of the Cathedral of Besancon.
Monsieur Savaron, however, invited his Parisian opponent to dine with
him as they came out of court. He accepted, saying, ‘Honor to every
conqueror,’ and complimented him on his success without bitterness.”

“And where did you unearth this lawyer?” said Madame de Watteville. “I
never heard his name before.”

“Why, you can see his windows from hence,” replied the Vicar-General.
“Monsieur Savaron lives in the Rue du Perron; the garden of his house
joins on to yours.”

“But he is not a native of the Comte,” said Monsieur de Watteville.

“So little is he a native of any place, that no one knows where he comes
from,” said Madame de Chavoncourt.

“But who is he?” asked Madame de Watteville, taking the Abbe’s arm to
go into the dining-room. “If he is a stranger, by what chance has he
settled at Besancon? It is a strange fancy for a barrister.”

“Very strange!” echoed Amedee de Soulas, whose biography is here
necessary to the understanding of this tale.

* * * * *

In all ages France and England have carried on an exchange of trifles,
which is all the more constant because it evades the tyranny of the
Custom-house. The fashion that is called English in Paris is called
French in London, and this is reciprocal. The hostility of the two
nations is suspended on two points--the uses of words and the fashions
of dress. _God Save the King_, the national air of England, is a
tune written by Lulli for the Chorus of Esther or of Athalie. Hoops,
introduced at Paris by an Englishwoman, were invented in London, it is
known why, by a Frenchwoman, the notorious Duchess of Portsmouth. They
were at first so jeered at that the first Englishwoman who appeared in
them at the Tuileries narrowly escaped being crushed by the crowd; but
they were adopted. This fashion tyrannized over the ladies of Europe for
half a century. At the peace of 1815, for a year, the long waists of the
English were a standing jest; all Paris went to see Pothier and Brunet
in _Les Anglaises pour rire_; but in 1816 and 1817 the belt of the
Frenchwoman, which in 1814 cut her across the bosom, gradually descended
till it reached the hips.

Within ten years England has made two little gifts to our language. The
_Incroyable_, the _Merveilleux_, the _Elegant_, the three successes of
the _petit-maitre_ of discreditable etymology, have made way for the
“dandy” and the “lion.” The _lion_ is not the parent of the _lionne_.
The _lionne_ is due to the famous song by Alfred de Musset:

  Avez vous vu dans Barcelone
  .... C’est ma maitresse et ma lionne.

There has been a fusion--or, if you prefer it, a confusion--of the two
words and the leading ideas. When an absurdity can amuse Paris, which
devours as many masterpieces as absurdities, the provinces can hardly be
deprived of them. So, as soon as the _lion_ paraded Paris with his mane,
his beard and moustaches, his waistcoats and his eyeglass, maintained
in its place, without the help of his hands, by the contraction of his
cheek, and eye-socket, the chief towns of some departments had their
sub-lions, who protested by the smartness of their trouser-straps
against the untidiness of their fellow-townsmen.

Thus, in 1834, Besancon could boast of a _lion_, in the person of
Monsieur Amedee-Sylvain de Soulas, spelt Souleyas at the time of the
Spanish occupation. Amedee de Soulas is perhaps the only man in Besancon
descended from a Spanish family. Spain sent men to manage her business
in the Comte, but very few Spaniards settled there. The Soulas remained
in consequence of their connection with Cardinal Granvelle. Young
Monsieur de Soulas was always talking of leaving Besancon, a dull town,
church-going, and not literary, a military centre and garrison town, of
which the manners and customs and physiognomy are worth describing. This
opinion allowed of his lodging, like a man uncertain of the future, in
three very scantily furnished rooms at the end of the Rue Neuve, just
where it opens into the Rue de la Prefecture.

Young Monsieur de Soulas could not possibly live without a tiger. This
tiger was the son of one of his farmers, a small servant aged fourteen,
thick-set, and named Babylas. The lion dressed his tiger very smartly--a
short tunic-coat of iron-gray cloth, belted with patent leather, bright
blue plush breeches, a red waistcoat, polished leather top-boots, a
shiny hat with black lacing, and brass buttons with the arms of Soulas.
Amedee gave this boy white cotton gloves and his washing, and thirty-six
francs a month to keep himself--a sum that seemed enormous to the
grisettes of Besancon: four hundred and twenty francs a year to a child
of fifteen, without counting extras! The extras consisted in the price
for which he could sell his turned clothes, a present when Soulas
exchanged one of his horses, and the perquisite of the manure. The
two horses, treated with sordid economy, cost, one with another, eight
hundred francs a year. His bills for articles received from Paris, such
as perfumery, cravats, jewelry, patent blacking, and clothes, ran to
another twelve hundred francs. Add to this the groom, or tiger, the
horses, a very superior style of dress, and six hundred francs a year
for rent, and you will see a grand total of three thousand francs.

Now, Monsieur de Soulas’ father had left him only four thousand francs a
year, the income from some cottage farms which lent painful uncertainty
to the rents. The lion had hardly three francs a day left for food,
amusements, and gambling. He very often dined out, and breakfasted with
remarkable frugality. When he was positively obliged to dine at his own
cost, he sent his tiger to fetch a couple of dishes from a cookshop,
never spending more than twenty-five sous.

Young Monsieur de Soulas was supposed to be a spendthrift, recklessly
extravagant, whereas the poor man made the two ends meet in the year
with a keenness and skill which would have done honor to a thrifty
housewife. At Besancon in those days no one knew how great a tax on a
man’s capital were six francs spent in polish to spread on his boots
or shoes, yellow gloves at fifty sous a pair, cleaned in the deepest
secrecy to make them three times renewed, cravats costing ten francs,
and lasting three months, four waistcoats at twenty-five francs, and
trousers fitting close to the boots. How could he do otherwise, since we
see women in Paris bestowing their special attention on simpletons
who visit them, and cut out the most remarkable men by means of these
frivolous advantages, which a man can buy for fifteen louis, and get his
hair curled and a fine linen shirt into the bargain?

If this unhappy youth should seem to you to have become a _lion_ on very
cheap terms, you must know that Amedee de Soulas had been three times to
Switzerland, by coach and in short stages, twice to Paris, and once from
Paris to England. He passed as a well-informed traveler, and could say,
“In England, where I went...” The dowagers of the town would say to him,
“You, who have been in England...” He had been as far as Lombardy, and
seen the shores of the Italian lakes. He read new books. Finally,
when he was cleaning his gloves, the tiger Babylas replied to callers,
“Monsieur is very busy.” An attempt had been made to withdraw Monsieur
Amedee de Soulas from circulation by pronouncing him “A man of advanced
ideas.” Amedee had the gift of uttering with the gravity of a native the
commonplaces that were in fashion, which gave him the credit of being
one of the most enlightened of the nobility. His person was garnished
with fashionable trinkets, and his head furnished with ideas hall-marked
by the press.

In 1834 Amedee was a young man of five-and-twenty, of medium height,
dark, with a very prominent thorax, well-made shoulders, rather plump
legs, feet already fat, white dimpled hands, a beard under his chin,
moustaches worthy of the garrison, a good-natured, fat, rubicund face, a
flat nose, and brown expressionless eyes; nothing Spanish about him.
He was progressing rapidly in the direction of obesity, which would be
fatal to his pretensions. His nails were well kept, his beard trimmed,
the smallest details of his dress attended to with English precision.
Hence Amedee de Soulas was looked upon as the finest man in Besancon. A
hairdresser who waited upon him at a fixed hour--another luxury, costing
sixty francs a year--held him up as the sovereign authority in matters
of fashion and elegance.

Amedee slept late, dressed and went out towards noon, to go to one of
his farms and practise pistol-shooting. He attached as much importance
to this exercise as Lord Byron did in his later days. Then, at three
o’clock he came home, admired on horseback by the grisettes and the
ladies who happened to be at their windows. After an affectation of
study or business, which seemed to engage him till four, he dressed to
dine out, spent the evening in the drawing-rooms of the aristocracy of
Besancon playing whist, and went home to bed at eleven. No life could
be more above board, more prudent, or more irreproachable, for he
punctually attended the services at church on Sundays and holy days.

To enable you to understand how exceptional is such a life, it is
necessary to devote a few words to an account of Besancon. No town
ever offered more deaf and dumb resistance to progress. At Besancon the
officials, the _employes_, the military, in short, every one engaged in
governing it, sent thither from Paris to fill a post of any kind, are
all spoken of by the expressive general name of _the Colony_. The colony
is neutral ground, the only ground where, as in church, the upper rank
and the townsfolk of the place can meet. Here, fired by a word, a look,
or gesture, are started those feuds between house and house, between a
woman of rank and a citizen’s wife, which endure till death, and widen
the impassable gulf which parts the two classes of society. With the
exception of the Clermont-Mont-Saint-Jean, the Beauffremont, the de
Scey, and the Gramont families, with a few others who come only to stay
on their estates in the Comte, the aristocracy of Besancon dates no
further back than a couple of centuries, the time of the conquest by
Louis XIV. This little world is essentially of the _parlement_, and
arrogant, stiff, solemn, uncompromising, haughty beyond all comparison,
even with the Court of Vienna, for in this the nobility of Besancon
would put the Viennese drawing-rooms to shame. As to Victor Hugo,
Nodier, Fourier, the glories of the town, they are never mentioned, no
one thinks about them. The marriages in these families are arranged in
the cradle, so rigidly are the greatest things settled as well as the
smallest. No stranger, no intruder, ever finds his way into one of these
houses, and to obtain an introduction for the colonels or officers of
title belonging to the first families in France when quartered there,
requires efforts of diplomacy which Prince Talleyrand would gladly have
mastered to use at a congress.

In 1834 Amedee was the only man in Besancon who wore trouser-straps;
this will account for the young man’s being regarded as a lion. And a
little anecdote will enable you to understand the city of Besancon.

Some time before the opening of this story, the need arose at the
prefecture for bringing an editor from Paris for the official newspaper,
to enable it to hold its own against the little _Gazette_, dropped at
Besancon by the great _Gazette_, and the _Patriot_, which frisked in the
hands of the Republicans. Paris sent them a young man, knowing nothing
about la Franche Comte, who began by writing them a leading article of
the school of the _Charivari_. The chief of the moderate party, a member
of the municipal council, sent for the journalist and said to him,
“You must understand, monsieur, that we are serious, more than
serious--tiresome; we resent being amused, and are furious at
having been made to laugh. Be as hard of digestion as the toughest
disquisitions in the Revue des Deux Mondes, and you will hardly reach
the level of Besancon.”

The editor took the hint, and thenceforth spoke the most
incomprehensible philosophical lingo. His success was complete.

If young Monsieur de Soulas did not fall in the esteem of Besancon
society, it was out of pure vanity on its part; the aristocracy were
happy to affect a modern air, and to be able to show any Parisians of
rank who visited the Comte a young man who bore some likeness to them.

All this hidden labor, all this dust thrown in people’s eyes, this
display of folly and latent prudence, had an object, or the _lion_ of
Besancon would have been no son of the soil. Amedee wanted to achieve a
good marriage by proving some day that his farms were not mortgaged, and
that he had some savings. He wanted to be the talk of the town, to
be the finest and best-dressed man there, in order to win first the
attention, and then the hand, of Mademoiselle Rosalie de Watteville.

In 1830, at the time when young Monsieur de Soulas was setting up
in business as a dandy, Rosalie was but fourteen. Hence, in 1834,
Mademoiselle de Watteville had reached the age when young persons are
easily struck by the peculiarities which attracted the attention of
the town to Amedee. There are so many _lions_ who become _lions_ out of
self-interest and speculation. The Wattevilles, who for twelve years had
been drawing an income of fifty thousand francs a year, did not spend
more than four-and-twenty thousand francs a year, while receiving all
the upper circle of Besancon every Monday and Friday. On Monday they
gave a dinner, on Friday an evening party. Thus, in twelve years, what a
sum must have accumulated from twenty-six thousand francs a year, saved
and invested with the judgment that distinguishes those old families! It
was very generally supposed that Madame de Watteville, thinking she had
land enough, had placed her savings in the three per cents, in 1830.
Rosalie’s dowry would therefore, as the best informed opined, amount to
about twenty thousand francs a year. So for the last five years Amedee
had worked like a mole to get into the highest favor of the severe
Baroness, while laying himself out to flatter Mademoiselle de
Watteville’s conceit.

Madame de Watteville was in the secret of the devices by which Amedee
succeeded in keeping up his rank in Besancon, and esteemed him highly
for it. Soulas had placed himself under her wing when she was thirty,
and at that time had dared to admire her and make her his idol; he had
got so far as to be allowed--he alone in the world--to pour out to her
all the unseemly gossip which almost all very precise women love to
hear, being authorized by their superior virtue to look into the gulf
without falling, and into the devil’s snares without being caught. Do
you understand why the lion did not allow himself the very smallest
intrigue? He lived a public life, in the street so to speak, on purpose
to play the part of a lover sacrificed to duty by the Baroness, and to
feast her mind with the sins she had forbidden to her senses. A man who
is so privileged as to be allowed to pour light stories into the ear
of a bigot is in her eyes a charming man. If this exemplary youth had
better known the human heart, he might without risk have allowed himself
some flirtations among the grisettes of Besancon who looked up to him
as a king; his affairs might perhaps have been all the more hopeful
with the strict and prudish Baroness. To Rosalie our Cato affected
prodigality; he professed a life of elegance, showing her in perspective
the splendid part played by a woman of fashion in Paris, whither he
meant to go as Depute.

All these manoeuvres were crowned with complete success. In 1834 the
mothers of the forty noble families composing the high society of
Besancon quoted Monsieur Amedee de Soulas as the most charming young man
in the town; no one would have dared to dispute his place as cock of the
walk at the Hotel de Rupt, and all Besancon regarded him as Rosalie de
Watteville’s future husband. There had even been some exchange of ideas
on the subject between the Baroness and Amedee, to which the Baron’s
apparent nonentity gave some certainty.

Mademoiselle de Watteville, to whom her enormous prospective fortune at
that time lent considerable importance, had been brought up exclusively
within the precincts of the Hotel de Rupt--which her mother rarely
quitted, so devoted was she to her dear Archbishop--and severely
repressed by an exclusively religious education, and by her mother’s
despotism, which held her rigidly to principles. Rosalie knew absolutely
nothing. Is it knowledge to have learned geography from Guthrie, sacred
history, ancient history, the history of France, and the four rules
all passed through the sieve of an old Jesuit? Dancing and music were
forbidden, as being more likely to corrupt life than to grace it. The
Baroness taught her daughter every conceivable stitch in tapestry and
women’s work--plain sewing, embroidery, netting. At seventeen Rosalie
had never read anything but the _Lettres edifiantes_ and some works on
heraldry. No newspaper had ever defiled her sight. She attended mass
at the Cathedral every morning, taken there by her mother, came back
to breakfast, did needlework after a little walk in the garden, and
received visitors, sitting with the baroness until dinner-time. Then,
after dinner, excepting on Mondays and Fridays, she accompanied Madame
de Watteville to other houses to spend the evening, without being
allowed to talk more than the maternal rule permitted.

At eighteen Mademoiselle de Watteville was a slight, thin girl with a
flat figure, fair, colorless, and insignificant to the last degree. Her
eyes, of a very light blue, borrowed beauty from their lashes, which,
when downcast, threw a shadow on her cheeks. A few freckles marred
the whiteness of her forehead, which was shapely enough. Her face was
exactly like those of Albert Durer’s saints, or those of the painters
before Perugino; the same plump, though slender modeling, the same
delicacy saddened by ecstasy, the same severe guilelessness. Everything
about her, even to her attitude, was suggestive of those virgins, whose
beauty is only revealed in its mystical radiance to the eyes of the
studious connoisseur. She had fine hands though red, and a pretty foot,
the foot of an aristocrat.

She habitually wore simple checked cotton dresses; but on Sundays and in
the evening her mother allowed her silk. The cut of her frocks, made at
Besancon, almost made her ugly, while her mother tried to borrow grace,
beauty, and elegance from Paris fashions; for through Monsieur de Soulas
she procured the smallest trifles of her dress from thence. Rosalie had
never worn a pair of silk stockings or thin boots, but always cotton
stockings and leather shoes. On high days she was dressed in a muslin
frock, her hair plainly dressed, and had bronze kid shoes.

This education, and her own modest demeanor, hid in Rosalie a spirit
of iron. Physiologists and profound observers will tell you, perhaps
to your astonishment, that tempers, characteristics, wit, or genius
reappear in families at long intervals, precisely like what are known
as hereditary diseases. Thus talent, like the gout, sometimes skips over
two generations. We have an illustrious example of this phenomenon in
George Sand, in whom are resuscitated the force, the power, and the
imaginative faculty of the Marechal de Saxe, whose natural granddaughter
she is.

The decisive character and romantic daring of the famous Watteville had
reappeared in the soul of his grand-niece, reinforced by the tenacity
and pride of blood of the Rupts. But these qualities--or faults, if
you will have it so--were as deeply buried in this young girlish soul,
apparently so weak and yielding, as the seething lavas within a hill
before it becomes a volcano. Madame de Watteville alone, perhaps,
suspected this inheritance from two strains. She was so severe to her
Rosalie, that she replied one day to the Archbishop, who blamed her for
being too hard on the child, “Leave me to manage her, monseigneur. I
know her! She has more than one Beelzebub in her skin!”

The Baroness kept all the keener watch over her daughter, because she
considered her honor as a mother to be at stake. After all, she had
nothing else to do. Clotilde de Rupt, at this time five-and-thirty, and
as good as widowed, with a husband who turned egg-cups in every variety
of wood, who set his mind on making wheels with six spokes out
of iron-wood, and manufactured snuff-boxes for everyone of his
acquaintance, flirted in strict propriety with Amedee de Soulas. When
this young man was in the house, she alternately dismissed and recalled
her daughter, and tried to detect symptoms of jealousy in that youthful
soul, so as to have occasion to repress them. She imitated the police
in its dealings with the republicans; but she labored in vain. Rosalie
showed no symptoms of rebellion. Then the arid bigot accused her
daughter of perfect insensibility. Rosalie knew her mother well enough
to be sure that if she had thought young Monsieur de Soulas _nice_,
she would have drawn down on herself a smart reproof. Thus, to all her
mother’s incitement she replied merely by such phrases as are wrongly
called Jesuitical--wrongly, because the Jesuits were strong, and such
reservations are the _chevaux de frise_ behind which weakness takes
refuge. Then the mother regarded the girl as a dissembler. If by
mischance a spark of the true nature of the Wattevilles and the Rupts
blazed out, the mother armed herself with the respect due from children
to their parents to reduce Rosalie to passive obedience.

This covert battle was carried on in the most secret seclusion of
domestic life, with closed doors. The Vicar-General, the dear Abbe
Grancey, the friend of the late Archbishop, clever as he was in his
capacity of the chief Father Confessor of the diocese, could not
discover whether the struggle had stirred up some hatred between the
mother and daughter, whether the mother were jealous in anticipation, or
whether the court Amedee was paying to the girl through her mother had
not overstepped its due limits. Being a friend of the family, neither
mother nor daughter, confessed to him. Rosalie, a little too much
harried, morally, about young de Soulas, could not abide him, to use
a homely phrase, and when he spoke to her, trying to take her heart by
surprise, she received him but coldly. This aversion, discerned only by
her mother’s eyes, was a constant subject of admonition.

“Rosalie, I cannot imagine why you affect such coldness towards
Amedee. Is it because he is a friend of the family, and because we like
him--your father and I?”

“Well, mamma,” replied the poor child one day, “if I made him welcome,
should I not be still more in the wrong?”

“What do you mean by that?” cried Madame de Watteville. “What is the
meaning of such words? Your mother is unjust, no doubt, and according
to you, would be so in any case! Never let such an answer pass your lips
again to your mother--” and so forth.

This quarrel lasted three hours and three-quarters. Rosalie noted the
time. Her mother, pale with fury, sent her to her room, where Rosalie
pondered on the meaning of this scene without discovering it, so
guileless was she. Thus young Monsieur de Soulas, who was supposed by
every one to be very near the end he was aiming at, all neckcloths set,
and by dint of pots of patent blacking--an end which required so much
waxing of his moustaches, so many smart waistcoats, wore out so many
horseshoes and stays--for he wore a leather vest, the stays of the
_lion_--Amedee, I say, was further away than any chance comer, although
he had on his side the worthy and noble Abbe de Grancey.

* * * * *

“Madame,” said Monsieur de Soulas, addressing the Baroness, while
waiting till his soup was cool enough to swallow, and affecting to
give a romantic turn to his narrative, “one fine morning the mail coach
dropped at the Hotel National a gentleman from Paris, who, after seeking
apartments, made up his mind in favor of the first floor in Mademoiselle
Galard’s house, Rue du Perron. Then the stranger went straight to the
Mairie, and had himself registered as a resident with all political
qualifications. Finally, he had his name entered on the list of the
barristers to the Court, showing his title in due form, and he left
his card on all his new colleagues, the Ministerial officials, the
Councillors of the Court, and the members of the bench, with the name,
‘ALBERT SAVARON.’”

“The name of Savaron is famous,” said Mademoiselle de Watteville, who
was strong in heraldic information. “The Savarons of Savarus are one of
the oldest, noblest, and richest families in Belgium.”

“He is a Frenchman, and no man’s son,” replied Amedee de Soulas. “If
he wishes to bear the arms of the Savarons of Savarus, he must add
a bar-sinister. There is no one left of the Brabant family but a
Mademoiselle de Savarus, a rich heiress, and unmarried.”

“The bar-sinister is, of course, the badge of a bastard; but the bastard
of a Comte de Savarus is noble,” answered Rosalie.

“Enough, that will do, mademoiselle!” said the Baroness.

“You insisted on her learning heraldry,” said Monsieur de Watteville,
“and she knows it very well.”

“Go on, I beg, Monsieur de Soulas.”

“You may suppose that in a town where everything is classified, known,
pigeon-holed, ticketed, and numbered, as in Besancon, Albert Savaron
was received without hesitation by the lawyers of the town. They were
satisfied to say, ‘Here is a man who does not know his Besancon. Who the
devil can have sent him here? What can he hope to do? Sending his card
to the Judges instead of calling in person! What a blunder!’ And so,
three days after, Savaron had ceased to exist. He took as his servant
old Monsieur Galard’s man--Galard being dead--Jerome, who can cook a
little. Albert Savaron was all the more completely forgotten, because no
one had seen him or met him anywhere.”

“Then, does he not go to mass?” asked Madame de Chavoncourt.

“He goes on Sundays to Saint-Pierre, but to the early service at eight
in the morning. He rises every night between one and two in the morning,
works till eight, has his breakfast, and then goes on working. He walks
in his garden, going round fifty, or perhaps sixty times; then he goes
in, dines, and goes to bed between six and seven.”

“How did you learn all that?” Madame de Chavoncourt asked Monsieur de
Soulas.

“In the first place, madame, I live in the Rue Neuve, at the corner
of the Rue du Perron; I look out on the house where this mysterious
personage lodges; then, of course, there are communications between my
tiger and Jerome.”

“And you gossip with Babylas?”

“What would you have me do out riding?”

“Well--and how was it that you engaged a stranger for your defence?”
 asked the Baroness, thus placing the conversation in the hands of the
Vicar-General.

“The President of the Court played this pleader a trick by appointing
him to defend at the Assizes a half-witted peasant accused of forgery.
But Monsieur Savaron procured the poor man’s acquittal by proving his
innocence and showing that he had been a tool in the hands of the real
culprits. Not only did his line of defence succeed, but it led to the
arrest of two of the witnesses, who were proved guilty and condemned.
His speech struck the Court and the jury. One of these, a merchant,
placed a difficult case next day in the hands of Monsieur Savaron, and
he won it. In the position in which we found ourselves, Monsieur Berryer
finding it impossible to come to Besancon, Monsieur de Garcenault
advised him to employ this Monsieur Albert Savaron, foretelling our
success. As soon as I saw him and heard him, I felt faith in him, and I
was not wrong.”

“Is he then so extraordinary?” asked Madame de Chavoncourt.

“Certainly, madame,” replied the Vicar-General.

“Well, tell us about it,” said Madame de Watteville.

“The first time I saw him,” said the Abbe de Grancey, “he received me in
his outer room next the ante-room--old Galard’s drawing-room--which
he has had painted like old oak, and which I found entirely lined with
law-books, arranged on shelves also painted as old oak. The painting
and the books are the sole decoration of the room, for the furniture
consists of an old writing table of carved wood, six old armchairs
covered with tapestry, window curtains of gray stuff bordered with
green, and a green carpet over the floor. The ante-room stove heats this
library as well. As I waited there I did not picture my advocate as
a young man. But this singular setting is in perfect harmony with his
person; for Monsieur Savaron came out in a black merino dressing-gown
tied with a red cord, red slippers, a red flannel waistcoat, and a red
smoking-cap.”

“The devil’s colors!” exclaimed Madame de Watteville.

“Yes,” said the Abbe; “but a magnificent head. Black hair already
streaked with a little gray, hair like that of Saint Peter and Saint
Paul in pictures, with thick shining curls, hair as stiff as horse-hair;
a round white throat like a woman’s; a splendid forehead, furrowed
by the strong median line which great schemes, great thoughts, deep
meditations stamp on a great man’s brow; an olive complexion marbled
with red, a square nose, eyes of flame, hollow cheeks, with two long
lines, betraying much suffering, a mouth with a sardonic smile, and a
small chin, narrow, and too short; crow’s feet on his temples; deep-set
eyes, moving in their sockets like burning balls; but, in spite of all
these indications of a violently passionate nature, his manner was calm,
deeply resigned, and his voice of penetrating sweetness, which surprised
me in Court by its easy flow; a true orator’s voice, now clear and
appealing, sometimes insinuating, but a voice of thunder when needful,
and lending itself to sarcasm to become incisive.

“Monsieur Albert Savaron is of middle height, neither stout nor thin.
And his hands are those of a prelate.

“The second time I called on him he received me in his bed-room,
adjoining the library, and smiled at my astonishment when I saw there
a wretched chest of drawers, a shabby carpet, a camp-bed, and cotton
window-curtains. He came out of his private room, to which no one is
admitted, as Jerome informed me; the man did not go in, but merely
knocked at the door.

“The third time he was breakfasting in his library on the most frugal
fare; but on this occasion, as he had spent the night studying our
documents, as I had my attorney with me, and as that worthy Monsieur
Girardet is long-winded, I had leisure to study the stranger. He
certainly is no ordinary man. There is more than one secret behind that
face, at once so terrible and so gentle, patient and yet impatient,
broad and yet hollow. I saw, too, that he stooped a little, like all men
who have some heavy burden to bear.”

“Why did so eloquent a man leave Paris? For what purpose did he come to
Besancon?” asked pretty Madame de Chavoncourt. “Could no one tell him
how little chance a stranger has of succeeding here? The good folks of
Besancon will make use of him, but they will not allow him to make use
of them. Why, having come, did he make so little effort that it needed a
freak of the President’s to bring him forward?”

“After carefully studying that fine head,” said the Abbe, looking keenly
at the lady who had interrupted him, in such a way as to suggest that
there was something he would not tell, “and especially after hearing
him this morning reply to one of the bigwigs of the Paris Bar, I believe
that this man, who may be five-and-thirty, will by and by make a great
sensation.”

“Why should we discuss him? You have gained your action, and paid him,”
 said Madame de Watteville, watching her daughter, who, all the time the
Vicar-General had been speaking, seemed to hang on his lips.

The conversation changed, and no more was heard of Albert Savaron.

The portrait sketched by the cleverest of the Vicars-General of the
diocese had all the greater charm for Rosalie because there was a
romance behind it. For the first time in her life she had come
across the marvelous, the exceptional, which smiles on every youthful
imagination, and which curiosity, so eager at Rosalie’s age, goes forth
to meet half-way. What an ideal being was this Albert--gloomy, unhappy,
eloquent, laborious, as compared by Mademoiselle de Watteville to that
chubby fat Count, bursting with health, paying compliments, and talking
of the fashions in the very face of the splendor of the old counts of
Rupt. Amedee had cost her many quarrels and scoldings, and, indeed, she
knew him only too well; while this Albert Savaron offered many enigmas
to be solved.

“Albert Savaron de Savarus,” she repeated to herself.

Now, to see him, to catch sight of him! This was the desire of the girl
to whom desire was hitherto unknown. She pondered in her heart, in her
fancy, in her brain, the least phrases used by the Abbe de Grancey, for
all his words had told.

“A fine forehead!” said she to herself, looking at the head of every man
seated at the table; “I do not see one fine one.--Monsieur de Soulas’ is
too prominent; Monsieur de Grancey’s is fine, but he is seventy, and has
no hair, it is impossible to see where his forehead ends.”

“What is the matter, Rosalie; you are eating nothing?”

“I am not hungry, mamma,” said she. “A prelate’s hands----” she went on
to herself. “I cannot remember our handsome Archbishop’s hands, though
he confirmed me.”

Finally, in the midst of her coming and going in the labyrinth of her
meditations, she remembered a lighted window she had seen from her bed,
gleaming through the trees of the two adjoining gardens, when she had
happened to wake in the night.... “Then that was his light!” thought
she. “I might see him!--I will see him.”

“Monsieur de Grancey, is the Chapter’s lawsuit quite settled?” said
Rosalie point-blank to the Vicar-General, during a moment of silence.

Madame de Watteville exchanged rapid glances with the Vicar-General.

“What can that matter to you, my dear child?” she said to Rosalie, with
an affected sweetness which made her daughter cautious for the rest of
her days.

“It might be carried to the Court of Appeal, but our adversaries will
think twice about that,” replied the Abbe.

“I never could have believed that Rosalie would think about a lawsuit
all through a dinner,” remarked Madame de Watteville.

“Nor I either,” said Rosalie, in a dreamy way that made every one laugh.
“But Monsieur de Grancey was so full of it, that I was interested.”

The company rose from table and returned to the drawing-room. All
through the evening Rosalie listened in case Albert Savaron should be
mentioned again; but beyond the congratulations offered by each newcomer
to the Abbe on having gained his suit, to which no one added any praise
of the advocate, no more was said about it. Mademoiselle de Watteville
impatiently looked forward to bedtime. She had promised herself to
wake at between two and three in the morning, and to look at Albert’s
dressing-room windows. When the hour came, she felt almost pleasure in
gazing at the glimmer from the lawyer’s candles that shone through the
trees, now almost bare of their leaves. By the help of the strong sight
of a young girl, which curiosity seems to make longer, she saw Albert
writing, and fancied she could distinguish the color of the furniture,
which she thought was red. From the chimney above the roof rose a thick
column of smoke.

“While all the world is sleeping, he is awake--like God!” thought she.

The education of girls brings with it such serious problems--for the
future of a nation is in the mother--that the University of France long
since set itself the task of having nothing to do with it. Here is one
of these problems: Ought girls to be informed on all points? Ought their
minds to be under restraint? It need not be said that the religious
system is one of restraint. If you enlighten them, you make them demons
before their time; if you keep them from thinking, you end in the sudden
explosion so well shown by Moliere in the character of Agnes, and you
leave this suppressed mind, so fresh and clear-seeing, as swift and
as logical as that of a savage, at the mercy of an accident. This
inevitable crisis was brought on in Mademoiselle de Watteville by the
portrait which one of the most prudent Abbes of the Chapter of Besancon
imprudently allowed himself to sketch at a dinner party.

Next morning, Mademoiselle de Watteville, while dressing, necessarily
looked out at Albert Savaron walking in the garden adjoining that of the
Hotel de Rupt.

“What would have become of me,” thought she, “if he had lived anywhere
else? Here I can, at any rate, see him.--What is he thinking about?”

Having seen this extraordinary man, though at a distance, the only man
whose countenance stood forth in contrast with crowds of Besancon faces
she had hitherto met with, Rosalie at once jumped at the idea of getting
into his house, of ascertaining the reason of so much mystery, of
hearing that eloquent voice, of winning a glance from those fine eyes.
All this she set her heart on, but how could she achieve it?

All that day she drew her needle through her embroidery with the
obtuse concentration of a girl who, like Agnes, seems to be thinking of
nothing, but who is reflecting on things in general so deeply, that her
artifice is unfailing. As a result of this profound meditation, Rosalie
thought she would go to confession. Next morning, after Mass, she had
a brief interview with the Abbe Giroud at Saint-Pierre, and managed so
ingeniously that the hour of her confession was fixed for Sunday morning
at half-past seven, before the eight o’clock Mass. She committed herself
to a dozen fibs in order to find herself, just for once, in the church
at the hour when the lawyer came to Mass. Then she was seized with an
impulse of extreme affection for her father; she went to see him in
his workroom, and asked him for all sorts of information on the art of
turning, ending by advising him to turn larger pieces, columns. After
persuading her father to set to work on some twisted pillars, one of the
difficulties of the turner’s art, she suggested that he should make
use of a large heap of stones that lay in the middle of the garden to
construct a sort of grotto on which he might erect a little temple or
Belvedere in which his twisted pillars could be used and shown off to
all the world.

At the climax of the pleasure the poor unoccupied man derived from this
scheme, Rosalie said, as she kissed him, “Above all, do not tell mamma
who gave you the notion; she would scold me.”

“Do not be afraid!” replied Monsieur de Watteville, who groaned as
bitterly as his daughter under the tyranny of the terrible descendant of
the Rupts.

So Rosalie had a certain prospect of seeing ere long a charming
observatory built, whence her eye would command the lawyer’s private
room. And there are men for whose sake young girls can carry out such
masterstrokes of diplomacy, while, for the most part, like Albert
Savaron, they know it not.

The Sunday so impatiently looked for arrived, and Rosalie dressed with
such carefulness as made Mariette, the ladies’-maid, smile.

“It is the first time I ever knew mademoiselle to be so fidgety,” said
Mariette.

“It strikes me,” said Rosalie, with a glance at Mariette, which brought
poppies to her cheeks, “that you too are more particular on some days
than on others.”

As she went down the steps, across the courtyard, and through the gates,
Rosalie’s heart beat, as everybody’s does in anticipation of a great
event. Hitherto, she had never known what it was to walk in the streets;
for a moment she had felt as though her mother must read her schemes on
her brow, and forbid her going to confession, and she now felt new blood
in her feet, she lifted them as though she trod on fire. She had, of
course, arranged to be with her confessor at a quarter-past eight,
telling her mother eight, so as to have about a quarter of an hour near
Albert. She got to church before Mass, and after a short prayer, went
to see if the Abbe Giroud were in his confessional, simply to pass the
time; and she thus placed herself in such a way as to see Albert as he
came into church.

The man must have been atrociously ugly who did not seem handsome
to Mademoiselle de Watteville in the frame of mind produced by her
curiosity. And Albert Savaron, who was really very striking, made all
the more impression on Rosalie because his mien, his walk, his carriage,
everything down to his clothing, had the indescribable stamp which can
only be expressed by the word Mystery.

He came in. The church, till now gloomy, seemed to Rosalie to be
illuminated. The girl was fascinated by his slow and solemn demeanor, as
of a man who bears a world on his shoulders and whose deep gaze, whose
very gestures, combine to express a devastating or absorbing thought.
Rosalie now understood the Vicar-General’s words in their fullest
extent. Yes, those eyes of tawny brown, shot with golden lights,
covered ardor which revealed itself in sudden flashes. Rosalie, with a
recklessness which Mariette noted, stood in the lawyer’s way, so as
to exchange glances with him; and this glance turned her blood, for it
seethed and boiled as though its warmth were doubled.

As soon as Albert had taken a seat, Mademoiselle de Watteville quickly
found a place whence she could see him perfectly during all the time the
Abbe might leave her. When Mariette said, “Here is Monsieur Giroud,”
 it seemed to Rosalie that the interview had lasted no more than a few
minutes. By the time she came out from the confessional, Mass was over.
Albert had left the church.

“The Vicar-General was right,” thought she. “_He_ is unhappy. Why should
this eagle--for he has the eyes of an eagle--swoop down on Besancon? Oh,
I must know everything! But how?”

Under the smart of this new desire Rosalie set the stitches of her
worsted-work with exquisite precision, and hid her meditations under
a little innocent air, which shammed simplicity to deceive Madame de
Watteville.

From that Sunday, when Mademoiselle de Watteville had met that look,
or, if you please, received this baptism of fire--a fine expression of
Napoleon’s which may be well applied to love--she eagerly promoted the
plan for the Belvedere.

“Mamma,” said she one day when two columns were turned, “my father
has taken a singular idea into his head; he is turning columns for a
Belvedere he intends to erect on the heap of stones in the middle of the
garden. Do you approve of it? It seems to me--”

“I approve of everything your father does,” said Madame de Watteville
drily, “and it is a wife’s duty to submit to her husband even if she
does not approve of his ideas. Why should I object to a thing which is
of no importance in itself, if only it amuses Monsieur de Watteville?”

“Well, because from thence we shall see into Monsieur de Soulas’ rooms,
and Monsieur de Soulas will see us when we are there. Perhaps remarks
may be made--”

“Do you presume, Rosalie, to guide your parents, and think you know more
than they do of life and the proprieties?”

“I say no more, mamma. Besides, my father said that there would be
a room in the grotto, where it would be cool, and where we can take
coffee.”

“Your father has had an excellent idea,” said Madame de Watteville, who
forthwith went to look at the columns.

She gave her entire approbation to the Baron de Watteville’s design,
while choosing for the erection of this monument a spot at the bottom
of the garden, which could not be seen from Monsieur de Soulas’ windows,
but whence they could perfectly see into Albert Savaron’s rooms. A
builder was sent for, who undertook to construct a grotto, of which the
top should be reached by a path three feet wide through the rock-work,
where periwinkles would grow, iris, clematis, ivy, honeysuckle, and
Virginia creeper. The Baroness desired that the inside should be lined
with rustic wood-work, such as was then the fashion for flower-stands,
with a looking-glass against the wall, an ottoman forming a box, and a
table of inlaid bark. Monsieur de Soulas proposed that the floor should
be of asphalt. Rosalie suggested a hanging chandelier of rustic wood.

“The Wattevilles are having something charming done in their garden,”
 was rumored in Besancon.

“They are rich, and can afford a thousand crowns for a whim--”

“A thousand crowns!” exclaimed Madame de Chavoncourt.

“Yes, a thousand crowns,” cried young Monsieur de Soulas. “A man has
been sent for from Paris to rusticate the interior but it will be very
pretty. Monsieur de Watteville himself is making the chandelier, and has
begun to carve the wood.”

“Berquet is to make a cellar under it,” said an Abbe.

“No,” replied young Monsieur de Soulas, “he is raising the kiosk on a
concrete foundation, that it may not be damp.”

“You know the very least things that are done in that house,” said
Madame de Chavoncourt sourly, as she looked at one of her great girls
waiting to be married for a year past.

Mademoiselle de Watteville, with a little flush of pride in thinking of
the success of her Belvedere, discerned in herself a vast superiority
over every one about her. No one guessed that a little girl, supposed to
be a witless goose, had simply made up her mind to get a closer view of
the lawyer Savaron’s private study.

Albert Savaron’s brilliant defence of the Cathedral Chapter was all
the sooner forgotten because the envy of the other lawyers was aroused.
Also, Savaron, faithful to his seclusion, went nowhere. Having no
friends to cry him up, and seeing no one, he increased the chances of
being forgotten which are common to strangers in Besancon. Nevertheless,
he pleaded three times at the Commercial Tribunal in three knotty cases
which had to be carried to the superior Court. He thus gained as clients
four of the chief merchants of the place, who discerned in him so much
good sense and sound legal purview that they placed their claims in his
hands.

On the day when the Watteville family inaugurated the Belvedere, Savaron
also was founding a monument. Thanks to the connections he had obscurely
formed among the upper class of merchants in Besancon, he was starting
a fortnightly paper, called the _Eastern Review_, with the help of forty
shares of five hundred francs each, taken up by his first ten clients,
on whom he had impressed the necessity for promoting the interests of
Besancon, the town where the traffic should meet between Mulhouse and
Lyons, and the chief centre between Mulhouse and Rhone.

To compete with Strasbourg, was it not needful that Besancon should
become a focus of enlightenment as well as of trade? The leading
questions relating to the interests of Eastern France could only be
dealt with in a review. What a glorious task to rob Strasbourg and Dijon
of their literary importance, to bring light to the East of France, and
compete with the centralizing influence of Paris! These reflections, put
forward by Albert, were repeated by the ten merchants, who believed them
to be their own.

Monsieur Savaron did not commit the blunder of putting his name in
front; he left the finance of the concern to his chief client, Monsieur
Boucher, connected by marriage with one of the great publishers of
important ecclesiastical works; but he kept the editorship, with a share
of the profits as founder. The commercial interest appealed to Dole,
to Dijon, to Salins, to Neufchatel, to the Jura, Bourg, Nantua,
Lous-le-Saulnier. The concurrence was invited of the learning and energy
of every scientific student in the districts of le Bugey, la Bresse,
and Franche Comte. By the influence of commercial interests and common
feeling, five hundred subscribers were booked in consideration of the
low price; the _Review_ cost eight francs a quarter.

To avoid hurting the conceit of the provincials by refusing their
articles, the lawyer hit on the good idea of suggesting a desire for the
literary management of this _Review_ to Monsieur Boucher’s eldest son, a
young man of two-and-twenty, very eager for fame, to whom the snares and
woes of literary responsibilities were utterly unknown. Albert quietly
kept the upper hand and made Alfred Boucher his devoted adherent.
Alfred was the only man in Besancon with whom the king of the bar was on
familiar terms. Alfred came in the morning to discuss the articles for
the next number with Albert in the garden. It is needless to say that
the trial number contained a “Meditation” by Alfred, which Savaron
approved. In his conversations with Alfred, Albert would let drop some
great ideas, subjects for articles of which Alfred availed himself. And
thus the merchant’s son fancied he was making capital out of the great
man. To Alfred, Albert was a man of genius, of profound politics. The
commercial world, enchanted at the success of the _Review_, had to pay
up only three-tenths of their shares. Two hundred more subscribers, and
the periodical would pay a dividend to the share-holders of five per
cent, the editor remaining unpaid. This editing, indeed, was beyond
price.

After the third number the _Review_ was recognized for exchange by all
the papers published in France, which Albert henceforth read at home.
This third number included a tale signed “A. S.,” and attributed to the
famous lawyer. In spite of the small attention paid by the higher circle
of Besancon to the _Review_ which was accused of Liberal views, this,
the first novel produced in the county, came under discussion that
mid-winter at Madame de Chavoncourt’s.

“Papa,” said Rosalie, “a _Review_ is published in Besancon; you ought
to take it in; and keep it in your room, for mamma would not let me read
it, but you will lend it to me.”

Monsieur de Watteville, eager to obey his dear Rosalie, who for the last
five months had given him so many proofs of filial affection,--Monsieur
de Watteville went in person to subscribe for a year to the _Eastern
Review_, and lent the four numbers already out to his daughter. In the
course of the night Rosalie devoured the tale--the first she had ever
read in her life--but she had only known life for two months past. Hence
the effect produced on her by this work must not be judged by ordinary
rules. Without prejudice of any kind as to the greater or less merit of
this composition from the pen of a Parisian who had thus imported
into the province the manner, the brilliancy, if you will, of the new
literary school, it could not fail to be a masterpiece to a young girl
abandoning all her intelligence and her innocent heart to her first
reading of this kind.

Also, from what she had heard said, Rosalie had by intuition conceived
a notion of it which strangely enhanced the interest of this novel. She
hoped to find in it the sentiments, and perhaps something of the life of
Albert. From the first pages this opinion took so strong a hold on her,
that after reading the fragment to the end she was certain that it was
no mistake. Here, then, is this confession, in which, according to the
critics of Madame de Chavoncourt’s drawing-room, Albert had imitated
some modern writers who, for lack of inventiveness, relate their private
joys, their private griefs, or the mysterious events of their own life.

* * * * *

AMBITION FOR LOVE’S SAKE

In 1823 two young men, having agreed as a plan for a holiday to make a
tour through Switzerland, set out from Lucerne one fine morning in
the month of July in a boat pulled by three oarsmen. They started for
Fluelen, intending to stop at every notable spot on the lake of the Four
Cantons. The views which shut in the waters on the way from Lucerne to
Fluelen offer every combination that the most exacting fancy can demand
of mountains and rivers, lakes and rocks, brooks and pastures, trees and
torrents. Here are austere solitudes and charming headlands, smiling and
trimly kept meadows, forests crowning perpendicular granite cliffs,
like plumes, deserted but verdant reaches opening out, and valleys whose
beauty seems the lovelier in the dreamy distance.

As they passed the pretty hamlet of Gersau, one of the friends looked
for a long time at a wooden house which seemed to have been recently
built, enclosed by a paling, and standing on a promontory, almost bathed
by the waters. As the boat rowed past, a woman’s head was raised against
the background of the room on the upper story of this house, to admire
the effect of the boat on the lake. One of the young men met the glance
thus indifferently given by the unknown fair.

“Let us stop here,” said he to his friend. “We meant to make Lucerne
our headquarters for seeing Switzerland; you will not take it amiss,
Leopold, if I change my mind and stay here to take charge of our
possessions. Then you can go where you please; my journey is ended. Pull
to land, men, and put us out at this village; we will breakfast here. I
will go back to Lucerne to fetch all our luggage, and before you leave
you will know in which house I take a lodging, where you will find me on
your return.”

“Here or at Lucerne,” replied Leopold, “the difference is not so great
that I need hinder you from following your whim.”

These two youths were friends in the truest sense of the word. They were
of the same age; they had learned at the same school; and after studying
the law, they were spending their holiday in the classical tour in
Switzerland. Leopold, by his father’s determination, was already pledged
to a place in a notary’s office in Paris. His spirit of rectitude, his
gentleness, and the coolness of his senses and his brain, guaranteed him
to be a docile pupil. Leopold could see himself a notary in Paris; his
life lay before him like one of the highroads that cross the plains
of France, and he looked along its whole length with philosophical
resignation.

The character of his companion, whom we will call Rodolphe, presented
a strong contrast with Leopold’s, and their antagonism had no doubt had
the result of tightening the bond that united them. Rodolphe was the
natural son of a man of rank, who was carried off by a premature
death before he could make any arrangements for securing the means of
existence to a woman he fondly loved and to Rodolphe. Thus cheated by a
stroke of fate, Rodolphe’s mother had recourse to a heroic measure. She
sold everything she owed to the munificence of her child’s father for
a sum of more than a hundred thousand francs, bought with it a life
annuity for herself at a high rate, and thus acquired an income of about
fifteen thousand francs, resolving to devote the whole of it to the
education of her son, so as to give him all the personal advantages that
might help to make his fortune, while saving, by strict economy, a small
capital to be his when he came of age. It was bold; it was counting on
her own life; but without this boldness the good mother would certainly
have found it impossible to live and to bring her child up suitably, and
he was her only hope, her future, the spring of all her joys.

Rodolphe, the son of a most charming Parisian woman, and a man of mark,
a nobleman of Brabant, was cursed with extreme sensitiveness. From his
infancy he had in everything shown a most ardent nature. In him mere
desire became a guiding force and the motive power of his whole
being, the stimulus to his imagination, the reason of his actions.
Notwithstanding the pains taken by a clever mother, who was alarmed when
she detected this predisposition, Rodolphe wished for things as a poet
imagines, as a mathematician calculates, as a painter sketches, as a
musician creates melodies. Tender-hearted, like his mother, he dashed
with inconceivable violence and impetus of thought after the object of
his desires; he annihilated time. While dreaming of the fulfilment of
his schemes, he always overlooked the means of attainment. “When my son
has children,” said his other, “he will want them born grown up.”

This fine frenzy, carefully directed, enabled Rodolphe to achieve his
studies with brilliant results, and to become what the English call an
accomplished gentleman. His mother was then proud of him, though still
fearing a catastrophe if ever a passion should possess a heart at once
so tender and so susceptible, so vehement and so kind. Therefore, the
judicious mother had encouraged the friendship which bound Leopold to
Rodolphe and Rodolphe to Leopold, since she saw in the cold and faithful
young notary, a guardian, a comrade, who might to a certain extent
take her place if by some misfortune she should be lost to her son.
Rodolphe’s mother, still handsome at three-and-forty, had inspired
Leopold with an ardent passion. This circumstance made the two young men
even more intimate.

So Leopold, knowing Rodolphe well, was not surprised to find
him stopping at a village and giving up the projected journey to
Saint-Gothard, on the strength of a single glance at the upper window
of a house. While breakfast was prepared for them at the Swan Inn, the
friends walked round the hamlet and came to the neighborhood of the
pretty new house; here, while gazing about him and talking to the
inhabitants, Rodolphe discovered the residence of some decent folk,
who were willing to take him as a boarder, a very frequent custom in
Switzerland. They offered him a bedroom looking over the lake and
the mountains, and from whence he had a view of one of those immense
sweeping reaches which, in this lake, are the admiration of every
traveler. This house was divided by a roadway and a little creek from
the new house, where Rodolphe had caught sight of the unknown fair one’s
face.

For a hundred francs a month Rodolphe was relieved of all thought for
the necessaries of life. But, in consideration of the outlay the Stopfer
couple expected to make, they bargained for three months’ residence and
a month’s payment in advance. Rub a Swiss ever so little, and you find
the usurer. After breakfast, Rodolphe at once made himself at home by
depositing in his room such property as he had brought with him for
the journey to the Saint-Gothard, and he watched Leopold as he set out,
moved by the spirit of routine, to carry out the excursion for himself
and his friend. When Rodolphe, sitting on a fallen rock on the shore,
could no longer see Leopold’s boat, he turned to examine the new house
with stolen glances, hoping to see the fair unknown. Alas! he went in
without its having given a sign of life. During dinner, in the company
of Monsieur and Madame Stopfer, retired coopers from Neufchatel, he
questioned them as to the neighborhood, and ended by learning all he
wanted to know about the lady, thanks to his hosts’ loquacity; for they
were ready to pour out their budget of gossip without any pressing.

The fair stranger’s name was Fanny Lovelace. This name (pronounced
_Loveless_) is that of an old English family, but Richardson has given
it to a creation whose fame eclipses all others! Miss Lovelace had come
to settle by the lake for her father’s health, the physicians having
recommended him the air of Lucerne. These two English people had arrived
with no other servant than a little girl of fourteen, a dumb child, much
attached to Miss Fanny, on whom she waited very intelligently, and
had settled, two winters since, with monsieur and Madame Bergmann, the
retired head-gardeners of His Excellency Count Borromeo of Isola Bella
and Isola Madre in the Lago Maggiore. These Swiss, who were possessed
of an income of about a thousand crowns a year, had let the top story of
their house to the Lovelaces for three years, at a rent of two hundred
francs a year. Old Lovelace, a man of ninety, and much broken, was too
poor to allow himself any gratifications, and very rarely went out; his
daughter worked to maintain him, translating English books, and writing
some herself, it was said. The Lovelaces could not afford to hire boats
to row on the lake, or horses and guides to explore the neighborhood.

Poverty demanding such privation as this excites all the greater
compassion among the Swiss, because it deprives them of a chance of
profit. The cook of the establishment fed the three English boarders for
a hundred francs a month inclusive. In Gersau it was generally believed,
however, that the gardener and his wife, in spite of their pretensions,
used the cook’s name as a screen to net the little profits of this
bargain. The Bergmanns had made beautiful gardens round their house, and
had built a hothouse. The flowers, the fruit, and the botanical rarities
of this spot were what had induced the young lady to settle on it as she
passed through Gersau. Miss Fanny was said to be nineteen years old; she
was the old man’s youngest child, and the object of his adulation. About
two months ago she had hired a piano from Lucerne, for she seemed to be
crazy about music.

“She loves flowers and music, and she is unmarried!” thought Rodolphe;
“what good luck!”

The next day Rodolphe went to ask leave to visit the hothouses and
gardens, which were beginning to be somewhat famous. The permission was
not immediately granted. The retired gardeners asked, strangely enough,
to see Rodolphe’s passport; it was sent to them at once. The paper was
not returned to him till next morning, by the hands of the cook, who
expressed her master’s pleasure in showing him their place. Rodolphe
went to the Bergmanns’, not without a certain trepidation, known only to
persons of strong feelings, who go through as much passion in a moment
as some men experience in a whole lifetime.

After dressing himself carefully to gratify the old gardeners of the
Borromean Islands, whom he regarded as the warders of his treasure, he
went all over the grounds, looking at the house now and again, but with
much caution; the old couple treated him with evident distrust. But his
attention was soon attracted by the little English deaf-mute, in whom
his discernment, though young as yet, enabled him to recognize a girl of
African, or at least of Sicilian, origin. The child had the golden-brown
color of a Havana cigar, eyes of fire, Armenian eyelids with lashes of
very un-British length, hair blacker than black; and under this almost
olive skin, sinews of extraordinary strength and feverish alertness. She
looked at Rodolphe with amazing curiosity and effrontery, watching his
every movement.

“To whom does that little Moresco belong?” he asked worthy Madame
Bergmann.

“To the English,” Monsieur Bergmann replied.

“But she never was born in England!”

“They may have brought her from the Indies,” said Madame Bergmann.

“I have been told that Miss Lovelace is fond of music. I should be
delighted if, during my residence by the lake to which I am condemned by
my doctor’s orders, she would allow me to join her.”

“They receive no one, and will not see anybody,” said the old gardener.

Rodolphe bit his lips and went away, without having been invited into
the house, or taken into the part of the garden that lay between the
front of the house and the shore of the little promontory. On that side
the house had a balcony above the first floor, made of wood, and covered
by the roof, which projected deeply like the roof of a chalet on all
four sides of the building, in the Swiss fashion. Rodolphe had loudly
praised the elegance of this arrangement, and talked of the view from
that balcony, but all in vain. When he had taken leave of the Bergmanns
it struck him that he was a simpleton, like any man of spirit and
imagination disappointed of the results of a plan which he had believed
would succeed.

In the evening he, of course, went out in a boat on the lake, round
and about the spit of land, to Brunnen and to Schwytz, and came in at
nightfall. From afar he saw the window open and brightly lighted; he
heard the sound of a piano and the tones of an exquisite voice. He made
the boatman stop, and gave himself up to the pleasure of listening to an
Italian air delightfully sung. When the singing ceased, Rodolphe landed
and sent away the boat and rowers. At the cost of wetting his feet, he
went to sit down under the water-worn granite shelf crowned by a thick
hedge of thorny acacia, by the side of which ran a long lime avenue in
the Bergmanns’ garden. By the end of an hour he heard steps and voices
just above him, but the words that reached his ears were all Italian,
and spoken by two women.

He took advantage of the moment when the two speakers were at one end
of the walk to slip noiselessly to the other. After half an hour of
struggling he got to the end of the avenue, and there took up a position
whence, without being seen or heard, he could watch the two women
without being observed by them as they came towards him. What was
Rodolphe’s amazement on recognizing the deaf-mute as one of them; she
was talking to Miss Lovelace in Italian.

It was now eleven o’clock at night. The stillness was so perfect on
the lake and around the dwelling, that the two women must have thought
themselves safe; in all Gersau there could be no eyes open but
theirs. Rodolphe supposed that the girl’s dumbness must be a necessary
deception. From the way in which they both spoke Italian, Rodolphe
suspected that it was the mother tongue of both girls, and concluded
that the name of English also hid some disguise.

“They are Italian refugees,” said he to himself, “outlaws in fear of the
Austrian or Sardinian police. The young lady waits till it is dark to
walk and talk in security.”

He lay down by the side of the hedge, and crawled like a snake to find
a way between two acacia shrubs. At the risk of leaving his coat behind
him, or tearing deep scratches in his back, he got through the hedge
when the so-called Miss Fanny and her pretended deaf-and-dumb maid were
at the other end of the path; then, when they had come within twenty
yards of him without seeing him, for he was in the shadow of the hedge,
and the moon was shining brightly, he suddenly rose.

“Fear nothing,” said he in French to the Italian girl, “I am not a spy.
You are refugees, I have guessed that. I am a Frenchman whom one look
from you has fixed at Gersau.”

Rodolphe, startled by the acute pain caused by some steel instrument
piercing his side, fell like a log.

“_Nel lago con pietra_!” said the terrible dumb girl.

“Oh, Gina!” exclaimed the Italian.

“She has missed me,” said Rodolphe, pulling from his wound a stiletto,
which had been turned by one of the false ribs. “But a little higher up
it would have been deep in my heart.--I was wrong, Francesca,” he went
on, remembering the name he had heard little Gina repeat several times;
“I owe her no grudge, do not scold her. The happiness of speaking to you
is well worth the prick of a stiletto. Only show me the way out; I must
get back to the Stopfers’ house. Be easy; I shall tell nothing.”

Francesca, recovering from her astonishment, helped Rodolphe to rise,
and said a few words to Gina, whose eyes filled with tears. The two
girls made him sit down on a bench and take off his coat, his waistcoat
and cravat. Then Gina opened his shirt and sucked the wound strongly.
Francesca, who had left them, returned with a large piece of
sticking-plaster, which she applied to the wound.

“You can now walk as far as your house,” she said.

Each took an arm, and Rodolphe was conducted to a side gate, of which
the key was in Francesca’s apron pocket.

“Does Gina speak French?” said Rodolphe to Francesca.

“No. But do not excite yourself,” replied Francesca with some
impatience.

“Let me look at you,” said Rodolphe pathetically, “for it may be long
before I am able to come again---”

He leaned against one of the gate-posts contemplating the beautiful
Italian, who allowed him to gaze at her for a moment under the sweetest
silence and the sweetest night which ever, perhaps, shone on this lake,
the king of Swiss lakes.

Francesca was quite of the Italian type, and such as imagination
supposes or pictures, or, if you will, dreams, that Italian women
are. What first struck Rodolphe was the grace and elegance of a figure
evidently powerful, though so slender as to appear fragile. An amber
paleness overspread her face, betraying sudden interest, but it did not
dim the voluptuous glance of her liquid eyes of velvety blackness.
A pair of hands as beautiful as ever a Greek sculptor added to the
polished arms of a statue grasped Rodolphe’s arm, and their whiteness
gleamed against his black coat. The rash Frenchman could but just
discern the long, oval shape of her face, and a melancholy mouth showing
brilliant teeth between the parted lips, full, fresh, and brightly
red. The exquisite lines of this face guaranteed to Francesca permanent
beauty; but what most struck Rodolphe was the adorable freedom, the
Italian frankness of this woman, wholly absorbed as she was in her pity
for him.

Francesca said a word to Gina, who gave Rodolphe her arm as far as the
Stopfers’ door, and fled like a swallow as soon as she had rung.

“These patriots do not play at killing!” said Rodolphe to himself as
he felt his sufferings when he found himself in his bed. “‘_Nel lago!’_
Gina would have pitched me into the lake with a stone tied to my neck.”

Next day he sent to Lucerne for the best surgeon there, and when he
came, enjoined on him absolute secrecy, giving him to understand that
his honor depended on it.

Leopold returned from his excursion on the day when his friend first got
out of bed. Rodolphe made up a story, and begged him to go to Lucerne
to fetch their luggage and letters. Leopold brought back the most
fatal, the most dreadful news: Rodolphe’s mother was dead. While the
two friends were on their way from Bale to Lucerne, the fatal letter,
written by Leopold’s father, had reached Lucerne the day they left for
Fluelen.

In spite of Leopold’s utmost precautions, Rodolphe fell ill of a nervous
fever. As soon as Leopold saw his friend out of danger, he set out
for France with a power of attorney, and Rodolphe could thus remain at
Gersau, the only place in the world where his grief could grow calmer.
The young Frenchman’s position, his despair, the circumstances which
made such a loss worse for him than for any other man, were known, and
secured him the pity and interest of every one in Gersau. Every morning
the pretended dumb girl came to see him and bring him news of her
mistress.

As soon as Rodolphe could go out he went to the Bergmanns’ house, to
thank Miss Fanny Lovelace and her father for the interest they had taken
in his sorrow and his illness. For the first time since he had lodged
with the Bergmanns the old Italian admitted a stranger to his room,
where Rodolphe was received with the cordiality due to his misfortunes
and to his being a Frenchman, which excluded all distrust of him.
Francesca looked so lovely by candle-light that first evening that she
shed a ray of brightness on his grieving heart. Her smiles flung the
roses of hope on his woe. She sang, not indeed gay songs, but grave and
solemn melodies suited to the state of Rodolphe’s heart, and he observed
this touching care.

At about eight o’clock the old man left the young people without any
sign of uneasiness, and went to his room. When Francesca was tired of
singing, she led Rodolphe on to the balcony, whence they perceived the
sublime scenery of the lake, and signed to him to be seated by her on a
rustic wooden bench.

“Am I very indiscreet in asking how old you are, cara Francesca?” said
Rodolphe.

“Nineteen,” said she, “well past.”

“If anything in the world could soothe my sorrow,” he went on, “it would
be the hope of winning you from your father, whatever your fortune
may be. So beautiful as you are, you seem to be richer than a prince’s
daughter. And I tremble as I confess to you the feelings with which you
have inspired me; but they are deep--they are eternal.”

“_Zitto_!” said Francesca, laying a finger of her right hand on her
lips. “Say no more; I am not free. I have been married these three
years.”

For a few minutes utter silence reigned. When the Italian girl, alarmed
at Rodolphe’s stillness, went close to him, she found that he had
fainted.

“_Povero_!” she said to herself. “And I thought him cold.”

She fetched him some salts, and revived Rodolphe by making him smell at
them.

“Married!” said Rodolphe, looking at Francesca. And then his tears
flowed freely.

“Child!” said she. “But there is still hope. My husband is--”

“Eighty?” Rodolphe put in.

“No,” said she with a smile, “but sixty-five. He has disguised himself
as much older to mislead the police.”

“Dearest,” said Rodolphe, “a few more shocks of this kind and I shall
die. Only when you have known me twenty years will you understand the
strength and power of my heart, and the nature of its aspirations for
happiness. This plant,” he went on, pointing to the yellow jasmine which
covered the balustrade, “does not climb more eagerly to spread itself
in the sunbeams than I have clung to you for this month past. I love you
with unique passion. That love will be the secret fount of my life--I
may possibly die of it.”

“Oh! Frenchman, Frenchman!” said she, emphasizing her exclamation with a
little incredulous grimace.

“Shall I not be forced to wait, to accept you at the hands of time?”
 said he gravely. “But know this: if you are in earnest in what you have
allowed to escape you, I will wait for you faithfully, without suffering
any other attachment to grow up in my heart.”

She looked at him doubtfully.

“None,” said he, “not even a passing fancy. I have my fortune to make;
you must have a splendid one, nature created you a princess----”

At this word Francesca could not repress a faint smile, which gave her
face the most bewildering expression, something subtle, like what the
great Leonardo has so well depicted in the _Gioconda_. This smile made
Rodolphe pause. “Ah yes!” he went on, “you must suffer much from the
destitution to which exile has brought you. Oh, if you would make me
happy above all men, and consecrate my love, you would treat me as a
friend. Ought I not to be your friend?--My poor mother has left sixty
thousand francs of savings; take half.”

Francesca looked steadily at him. This piercing gaze went to the bottom
of Rodolphe’s soul.

“We want nothing; my work amply supplies our luxuries,” she replied in a
grave voice.

“And can I endure that a Francesca should work?” cried he. “One day
you will return to your country and find all you left there.” Again the
Italian girl looked at Rodolphe. “And you will then repay me what you
may have condescended to borrow,” he added, with an expression full of
delicate feeling.

“Let us drop the subject,” said she, with incomparable dignity of
gesture, expression, and attitude. “Make a splendid fortune, be one
of the remarkable men of your country; that is my desire. Fame is a
drawbridge which may serve to cross a deep gulf. Be ambitious if you
must. I believe you have great and powerful talents, but use them rather
for the happiness of mankind than to deserve me; you will be all the
greater in my eyes.”

In the course of this conversation, which lasted two hours, Rodolphe
discovered that Francesca was an enthusiast for Liberal ideas, and
for that worship of liberty which had led to the three revolutions in
Naples, Piemont, and Spain. On leaving, he was shown to the door by
Gina, the so-called mute. At eleven o’clock no one was astir in the
village, there was no fear of listeners; Rodolphe took Gina into a
corner, and asked her in a low voice and bad Italian, “Who are your
master and mistress, child? Tell me, I will give you this fine new gold
piece.”

“Monsieur,” said the girl, taking the coin, “my master is the famous
bookseller Lamporani of Milan, one of the leaders of the revolution, and
the conspirator of all others whom Austria would most like to have in
the Spielberg.”

“A bookseller’s wife! Ah, so much the better,” thought he; “we are on an
equal footing.--And what is her family?” he added, “for she looks like a
queen.”

“All Italian women do,” replied Gina proudly. “Her father’s name is
Colonna.”

Emboldened by Francesca’s modest rank, Rodolphe had an awning fitted to
his boat and cushions in the stern. When this was done, the lover came
to propose to Francesca to come out on the lake. The Italian accepted,
no doubt to carry out her part of a young English Miss in the eyes
of the villagers, but she brought Gina with her. Francesca Colonna’s
lightest actions betrayed a superior education and the highest social
rank. By the way in which she took her place at the end of the boat
Rodolphe felt himself in some sort cut off from her, and, in the face of
a look of pride worthy of an aristocrat, the familiarity he had intended
fell dead. By a glance Francesca made herself a princess, with all the
prerogatives she might have enjoyed in the Middle Ages. She seemed
to have read the thoughts of this vassal who was so audacious as to
constitute himself her protector.

Already, in the furniture of the room where Francesca had received him,
in her dress, and in the various trifles she made use of, Rodolphe had
detected indications of a superior character and a fine fortune. All
these observations now recurred to his mind; he became thoughtful after
having been trampled on, as it were, by Francesca’s dignity. Gina, her
half-grown-up _confidante_, also seemed to have a mocking expression
as she gave a covert or a side glance at Rodolphe. This obvious
disagreement between the Italian lady’s rank and her manners was a fresh
puzzle to Rodolphe, who suspected some further trick like Gina’s assumed
dumbness.

“Where would you go, Signora Lamporani?” he asked.

“Towards Lucerne,” replied Francesca in French.

“Good!” said Rodolphe to himself, “she is not startled by hearing me
speak her name; she had, no doubt, foreseen that I should ask Gina--she
is so cunning.--What is your quarrel with me?” he went on, going at last
to sit down by her side, and asking her by a gesture to give him her
hand, which she withdrew. “You are cold and ceremonious; what, in
colloquial language, we should call _short_.”

“It is true,” she replied with a smile. “I am wrong. It is not good
manners; it is vulgar. In French you would call it inartistic. It is
better to be frank than to harbor cold or hostile feelings towards a
friend, and you have already proved yourself my friend. Perhaps I
have gone too far with you. You must take me to be a very ordinary
woman.”--Rodolphe made many signs of denial.--“Yes,” said the
bookseller’s wife, going on without noticing this pantomime, which,
however, she plainly saw. “I have detected that, and naturally I have
reconsidered my conduct. Well! I will put an end to everything by a few
words of deep truth. Understand this, Rodolphe: I feel in myself the
strength to stifle a feeling if it were not in harmony with my ideas
or anticipation of what true love is. I could love--as we can love
in Italy, but I know my duty. No intoxication can make me forget it.
Married without my consent to that poor old man, I might take advantage
of the liberty he so generously gives me; but three years of married
life imply acceptance of its laws. Hence the most vehement passion would
never make me utter, even involuntarily, a wish to find myself free.

“Emilio knows my character. He knows that without my heart, which is my
own, and which I might give away, I should never allow anyone to take
my hand. That is why I have just refused it to you. I desire to be loved
and waited for with fidelity, nobleness, ardor, while all I can give
is infinite tenderness of which the expression may not overstep the
boundary of the heart, the permitted neutral ground. All this being
thoroughly understood--Oh!” she went on with a girlish gesture, “I will
be as coquettish, as gay, as glad, as a child which knows nothing of the
dangers of familiarity.”

This plain and frank declaration was made in a tone, an accent, and
supported by a look which gave it the deepest stamp of truth.

“A Princess Colonna could not have spoken better,” said Rodolphe,
smiling.

“Is that,” she answered with some haughtiness, “a reflection on the
humbleness of my birth? Must your love flaunt a coat-of-arms? At Milan
the noblest names are written over shop-doors: Sforza, Canova, Visconti,
Trivulzio, Ursini; there are Archintos apothecaries; but, believe me,
though I keep a shop, I have the feelings of a duchess.”

“A reflection? Nay, madame, I meant it for praise.”

“By a comparison?” she said archly.

“Ah, once for all,” said he, “not to torture me if my words should ill
express my feelings, understand that my love is perfect; it carries with
it absolute obedience and respect.”

She bowed as a woman satisfied, and said, “Then monsieur accepts the
treaty?”

“Yes,” said he. “I can understand that in a rich and powerful feminine
nature the faculty of loving ought not to be wasted, and that you, out
of delicacy, wished to restrain it. Ah! Francesca, at my age tenderness
requited, and by so sublime, so royally beautiful a creature as you
are--why, it is the fulfilment of all my wishes. To love you as you
desire to be loved--is not that enough to make a young man guard himself
against every evil folly? Is it not to concentrate all his powers in
a noble passion, of which in the future he may be proud, and which can
leave none but lovely memories? If you could but know with what hues you
have clothed the chain of Pilatus, the Rigi, and this superb lake--”

“I want to know,” said she, with the Italian artlessness which has
always a touch of artfulness.

“Well, this hour will shine on all my life like a diamond on a queen’s
brow.”

Francesca’s only reply was to lay her hand on Rodolphe’s.

“Oh dearest! for ever dearest!--Tell me, have you never loved?”

“Never.”

“And you allow me to love you nobly, looking to heaven for the utmost
fulfilment?” he asked.

She gently bent her head. Two large tears rolled down Rodolphe’s cheeks.

“Why! what is the matter?” she cried, abandoning her imperial manner.

“I have now no mother whom I can tell of my happiness; she left this
earth without seeing what would have mitigated her agony--”

“What?” said she.

“Her tenderness replaced by an equal tenderness----”

“_Povero mio_!” exclaimed the Italian, much touched. “Believe me,” she
went on after a pause, “it is a very sweet thing, and to a woman, a
strong element of fidelity to know that she is all in all on earth to
the man she loves; to find him lonely, with no family, with nothing in
his heart but his love--in short, to have him wholly to herself.”

When two lovers thus understand each other, the heart feels delicious
peace, supreme tranquillity. Certainty is the basis for which human
feelings crave, for it is never lacking to religious sentiment; man is
always certain of being fully repaid by God. Love never believes itself
secure but by this resemblance to divine love. And the raptures of that
moment must have been fully felt to be understood; it is unique in
life; it can never return no more, alas! than the emotions of youth. To
believe in a woman, to make her your human religion, the fount of life,
the secret luminary of all your least thoughts!--is not this a second
birth? And a young man mingles with this love a little of the feeling he
had for his mother.

Rodolphe and Francesca for some time remained in perfect silence,
answering each other by sympathetic glances full of thoughts. They
understood each other in the midst of one of the most beautiful scenes
of Nature, whose glories, interpreted by the glory in their hearts,
helped to stamp on their minds the most fugitive details of that unique
hour. There had not been the slightest shade of frivolity in Francesca’s
conduct. It was noble, large, and without any second thought. This
magnanimity struck Rodolphe greatly, for in it he recognized the
difference between the Italian and the Frenchwoman. The waters, the
land, the sky, the woman, all were grandiose and suave, even their love
in the midst of this picture, so vast in its expanse, so rich in detail,
where the sternness of the snowy peaks and their hard folds standing
clearly out against the blue sky, reminded Rodolphe of the circumstances
which limited his happiness; a lovely country shut in by snows.

This delightful intoxication of soul was destined to be disturbed.
A boat was approaching from Lucerne; Gina, who had been watching it
attentively, gave a joyful start, though faithful to her part as a mute.
The bark came nearer; when at length Francesca could distinguish the
faces on board, she exclaimed, “Tito!” as she perceived a young man.
She stood up, and remained standing at the risk of being drowned. “Tito!
Tito!” cried she, waving her handkerchief.

Tito desired the boatmen to slacken, and the two boats pulled side by
side. The Italian and Tito talked with such extreme rapidity, and in a
dialect unfamiliar to a man who hardly knew even the Italian of
books, that Rodolphe could neither hear nor guess the drift of this
conversation. But Tito’s handsome face, Francesca’s familiarity, and
Gina’s expression of delight, all aggrieved him. And indeed no lover can
help being ill pleased at finding himself neglected for another, whoever
he may be. Tito tossed a little leather bag to Gina, full of gold no
doubt, and a packet of letters to Francesca, who began to read them,
with a farewell wave of the hand to Tito.

“Get quickly back to Gersau,” she said to the boatmen, “I will not let
my poor Emilio pine ten minutes longer than he need.”

“What has happened?” asked Rodolphe, as he saw Francesca finish reading
the last letter.

“_La liberta_!” she exclaimed, with an artist’s enthusiasm.

“_E denaro_!” added Gina, like an echo, for she had found her tongue.

“Yes,” said Francesca, “no more poverty! For more than eleven months
have I been working, and I was beginning to be tired of it. I am
certainly not a literary woman.”

“Who is this Tito?” asked Rodolphe.

“The Secretary of State to the financial department of the humble shop
of the Colonnas, in other words, the son of our _ragionato_. Poor boy!
he could not come by the Saint-Gothard, nor by the Mont-Cenis, nor by
the Simplon; he came by sea, by Marseilles, and had to cross France.
Well, in three weeks we shall be at Geneva, and living at our ease.
Come, Rodolphe,” she added, seeing sadness overspread the Parisian’s
face, “is not the Lake of Geneva quite as good as the Lake of Lucerne?”

“But allow me to bestow a regret on the Bergmanns’ delightful house,”
 said Rodolphe, pointing to the little promontory.

“Come and dine with us to add to your associations, _povero mio_,” said
she. “This is a great day; we are out of danger. My mother writes that
within a year there will be an amnesty. Oh! _la cara patria_!”

These three words made Gina weep. “Another winter here,” said she, “and
I should have been dead!”

“Poor little Sicilian kid!” said Francesca, stroking Gina’s head with an
expression and an affection which made Rodolphe long to be so caressed,
even if it were without love.

The boat grounded; Rodolphe sprang on to the sand, offered his hand to
the Italian lady, escorted her to the door of the Bergmanns’ house, and
went to dress and return as soon as possible.

When he joined the librarian and his wife, who were sitting on the
balcony, Rodolphe could scarcely repress an exclamation of surprise at
seeing the prodigious change which the good news had produced in the old
man. He now saw a man of about sixty, extremely well preserved, a lean
Italian, as straight as an I, with hair still black, though thin and
showing a white skull, with bright eyes, a full set of white teeth,
a face like Caesar, and on his diplomatic lips a sardonic smile, the
almost false smile under which a man of good breeding hides his real
feelings.

“Here is my husband under his natural form,” said Francesca gravely.

“He is quite a new acquaintance,” replied Rodolphe, bewildered.

“Quite,” said the librarian; “I have played many a part, and know
well how to make up. Ah! I played one in Paris under the Empire, with
Bourrienne, Madame Murat, Madame d’Abrantis _e tutte quanti_. Everything
we take the trouble to learn in our youth, even the most futile, is of
use. If my wife had not received a man’s education--an unheard-of thing
in Italy--I should have been obliged to chop wood to get my living
here. _Povera_ Francesca! who would have told me that she would some day
maintain me!”

As he listened to this worthy bookseller, so easy, so affable, so hale,
Rodolphe scented some mystification, and preserved the watchful silence
of a man who has been duped.

“_Che avete, signor_?” Francesca asked with simplicity. “Does our
happiness sadden you?”

“Your husband is a young man,” he whispered in her ear.

She broke into such a frank, infectious laugh that Rodolphe was still
more puzzled.

“He is but sixty-five, at your service,” said she; “but I can assure you
that even that is something--to be thankful for!”

“I do not like to hear you jest about an affection so sacred as this, of
which you yourself prescribed the conditions.”

“_Zitto_!” said she, stamping her foot, and looking whether her husband
were listening. “Never disturb the peace of mind of that dear man, as
simple as a child, and with whom I can do what I please. He is under
my protection,” she added. “If you could know with what generosity he
risked his life and fortune because I was a Liberal! for he does not
share my political opinions. Is not that love, Monsieur Frenchman?--But
they are like that in his family. Emilio’s younger brother was deserted
for a handsome youth by the woman he loved. He thrust his sword through
his own heart ten minutes after he had said to his servant, ‘I could of
course kill my rival, but that would grieve the _Diva_ too deeply.’”

This mixture of dignity and banter, of haughtiness and playfulness, made
Francesca at this moment the most fascinating creature in the world. The
dinner and the evening were full of cheerfulness, justified, indeed, by
the relief of the two refugees, but depressing to Rodolphe.

“Can she be fickle?” he asked himself as he returned to the Stopfers’
house. “She sympathized in my sorrow, and I cannot take part in her
joy!”

He blamed himself, justifying this girl-wife.

“She has no taint of hypocrisy, and is carried away by impulse,” thought
he, “and I want her to be like a Parisian woman.”

* * * * *

Next day and the following days, in fact, for twenty days after,
Rodolphe spent all his time at the Bergmanns’, watching Francesca
without having determined to watch her. In some souls admiration is not
independent of a certain penetration. The young Frenchman discerned in
Francesca the imprudence of girlhood, the true nature of a woman as yet
unbroken, sometimes struggling against her love, and at other moments
yielding and carried away by it. The old man certainly behaved to her as
a father to his daughter, and Francesca treated him with a deeply felt
gratitude which roused her instinctive nobleness. The situation and the
woman were to Rodolphe an impenetrable enigma, of which the solution
attracted him more and more.

These last days were full of secret joys, alternating with melancholy
moods, with tiffs and quarrels even more delightful than the hours
when Rodolphe and Francesca were of one mind. And he was more and more
fascinated by this tenderness apart from wit, always and in all things
the same, an affection that was jealous of mere nothings--already!

“You care very much for luxury?” said he one evening to Francesca, who
was expressing her wish to get away from Gersau, where she missed many
things.

“I!” cried she. “I love luxury as I love the arts, as I love a picture
by Raphael, a fine horse, a beautiful day, or the Bay of Naples.
Emilio,” she went on, “have I ever complained here during our days of
privation.”

“You would not have been yourself if you had,” replied the old man
gravely.

“After all, is it not in the nature of plain folks to aspire to
grandeur?” she asked, with a mischievous glance at Rodolphe and at her
husband. “Were my feet made for fatigue?” she added, putting out two
pretty little feet. “My hands”--and she held one out to Rodolphe--“were
those hands made to work?--Leave us,” she said to her husband; “I want
to speak to him.”

The old man went into the drawing-room with sublime good faith; he was
sure of his wife.

“I will not have you come with us to Geneva,” she said to Rodolphe. “It
is a gossiping town. Though I am far above the nonsense the world talks,
I do not choose to be calumniated, not for my own sake, but for his. I
make it my pride to be the glory of that old man, who is, after all, my
only protector. We are leaving; stay here a few days. When you come on
to Geneva, call first on my husband, and let him introduce you to me.
Let us hide our great and unchangeable affection from the eyes of the
world. I love you; you know it; but this is how I will prove it to
you--you shall never discern in my conduct anything whatever that may
arouse your jealousy.”

She drew him into a corner of the balcony, kissed him on the forehead,
and fled, leaving him in amazement.

Next day Rodolphe heard that the lodgers at the Bergmanns’ had left at
daybreak. It then seemed to him intolerable to remain at Gersau, and
he set out for Vevay by the longest route, starting sooner than was
necessary. Attracted to the waters of the lake where the beautiful
Italian awaited him, he reached Geneva by the end of October. To avoid
the discomforts of the town he took rooms in a house at Eaux-Vives,
outside the walls. As soon as he was settled, his first care was to
ask his landlord, a retired jeweler, whether some Italian refugees from
Milan had not lately come to reside at Geneva.

“Not so far as I know,” replied the man. “Prince and Princess Colonna of
Rome have taken Monsieur Jeanrenaud’s place for three years; it is one
of the finest on the lake. It is situated between the Villa Diodati
and that of Monsieur Lafin-de-Dieu, let to the Vicomtesse de Beauseant.
Prince Colonna has come to see his daughter and his son-in-law Prince
Gandolphini, a Neopolitan, or if you like, a Sicilian, an old adherent
of King Murat’s, and a victim of the last revolution. These are the last
arrivals at Geneva, and they are not Milanese. Serious steps had to be
taken, and the Pope’s interest in the Colonna family was invoked, to
obtain permission from the foreign powers and the King of Naples for the
Prince and Princess Gandolphini to live here. Geneva is anxious to
do nothing to displease the Holy Alliance to which it owes its
independence. _Our_ part is not to ruffle foreign courts; there are many
foreigners here, Russians and English.”

“Even some Gevenese?”

“Yes, monsieur, our lake is so fine! Lord Byron lived here about seven
years at the Villa Diodati, which every one goes to see now, like Coppet
and Ferney.”

“You cannot tell me whether within a week or so a bookseller from Milan
has come with his wife--named Lamporani, one of the leaders of the last
revolution?”

“I could easily find out by going to the Foreigners’ Club,” said the
jeweler.

Rodolphe’s first walk was very naturally to the Villa Diodati, the
residence of Lord Byron, whose recent death added to its attractiveness:
for is not death the consecration of genius?

The road to Eaux-Vives follows the shore of the lake, and, like all the
roads in Switzerland, is very narrow; in some spots, in consequence of
the configuration of the hilly ground, there is scarcely space for two
carriages to pass each other.

At a few yards from the Jeanrenauds’ house, which he was approaching
without knowing it, Rodolphe heard the sound of a carriage behind him,
and, finding himself in a sunk road, he climbed to the top of a rock to
leave the road free. Of course he looked at the approaching carriage--an
elegant English phaeton, with a splendid pair of English horses. He
felt quite dizzy as he beheld in this carriage Francesca, beautifully
dressed, by the side of an old lady as hard as a cameo. A servant
blazing with gold lace stood behind. Francesca recognized Rodolphe, and
smiled at seeing him like a statue on a pedestal. The carriage, which
the lover followed with his eyes as he climbed the hill, turned in at
the gate of a country house, towards which he ran.

“Who lives here?” he asked the gardener.

“Prince and Princess Colonna, and Prince and Princess Gandolphini.”

“Have they not just driven in?”

“Yes, sir.”

In that instant a veil fell from Rodolphe’s eyes; he saw clearly the
meaning of the past.

“If only this is her last piece of trickery!” thought the thunder-struck
lover to himself.

He trembled lest he should have been the plaything of a whim, for he had
heard what a _capriccio_ might mean in an Italian. But what a crime had
he committed in the eyes of a woman--in accepting a born princess as
a citizen’s wife! in believing that a daughter of one of the most
illustrious houses of the Middle Ages was the wife of a bookseller!
The consciousness of his blunders increased Rodolphe’s desire to
know whether he would be ignored and repelled. He asked for Prince
Gandolphini, sending in his card, and was immediately received by the
false Lamporani, who came forward to meet him, welcomed him with the
best possible grace, and took him to walk on a terrace whence there was
a view of Geneva, the Jura, the hills covered with villas, and below
them a wide expanse of the lake.

“My wife is faithful to the lakes, you see,” he remarked, after
pointing out the details to his visitor. “We have a sort of concert this
evening,” he added, as they returned to the splendid Villa Jeanrenaud.
“I hope you will do me and the Princess the pleasure of seeing you. Two
months of poverty endured in intimacy are equal to years of friendship.”

Though he was consumed by curiosity, Rodolphe dared not ask to see the
Princess; he slowly made his way back to Eaux-Vives, looking forward to
the evening. In a few hours his passion, great as it had already been,
was augmented by his anxiety and by suspense as to future events. He now
understood the necessity for making himself famous, that he might some
day find himself, socially speaking, on a level with his idol. In his
eyes Francesca was made really great by the simplicity and ease of her
conduct at Gersau. Princess Colonna’s haughtiness, so evidently natural
to her, alarmed Rodolphe, who would find enemies in Francesca’s father
and mother--at least so he might expect; and the secrecy which Princess
Gandolphini had so strictly enjoined on him now struck him as a
wonderful proof of affection. By not choosing to compromise the future,
had she not confessed that she loved him?

At last nine o’clock struck; Rodolphe could get into a carriage and say
with an emotion that is very intelligible, “To the Villa Jeanrenaud--to
Prince Gandolphini’s.”

At last he saw Francesca, but without being seen by her. The Princess
was standing quite near the piano. Her beautiful hair, so thick and
long, was bound with a golden fillet. Her face, in the light of wax
candles, had the brilliant pallor peculiar to Italians, and which
looks its best only by artificial light. She was in full evening dress,
showing her fascinating shoulders, the figure of a girl and the arms of
an antique statue. Her sublime beauty was beyond all possible rivalry,
though there were some charming women of Geneva, and other Italians,
among them the dazzling and illustrious Princess Varese, and the famous
singer Tinti, who was at that moment singing.

Rodolphe, leaning against the door-post, looked at the Princess, turning
on her the fixed, tenacious, attracting gaze, charged with the full,
insistent will which is concentrated in the feeling called desire, and
thus assumes the nature of a vehement command. Did the flame of that
gaze reach Francesca? Was Francesca expecting each instant to see
Rodolphe? In a few minutes she stole a glance at the door, as though
magnetized by this current of love, and her eyes, without reserve,
looked deep into Rodolphe’s. A slight thrill quivered through that
superb face and beautiful body; the shock to her spirit reacted:
Francesca blushed! Rodolphe felt a whole life in this exchange of looks,
so swift that it can only be compared to a lightning flash. But to what
could his happiness compare? He was loved. The lofty Princess, in the
midst of her world, in this handsome villa, kept the pledge given by
the disguised exile, the capricious beauty of Bergmanns’ lodgings. The
intoxication of such a moment enslaves a man for life! A faint smile,
refined and subtle, candid and triumphant, curled Princess Gandolphini’s
lips, and at a moment when she did not feel herself observed she looked
at Rodolphe with an expression which seemed to ask his pardon for having
deceived him as to her rank.

When the song was ended Rodolphe could make his way to the Prince, who
graciously led him to his wife. Rodolphe went through the ceremonial of
a formal introduction to Princess and Prince Colonna, and to Francesca.
When this was over, the Princess had to take part in the famous
quartette, _Mi manca la voce_, which was sung by her with Tinti, with
the famous tenor Genovese, and with a well-known Italian Prince then in
exile, whose voice, if he had not been a Prince, would have made him one
of the Princes of Art.

“Take that seat,” said Francesca to Rodolphe, pointing to her own chair.
“_Oime_! I think there is some mistake in my name; I have for the last
minute been Princess Rodolphini.”

It was said with the artless grace which revived, in this avowal hidden
beneath a jest, the happy days at Gersau. Rodolphe reveled in the
exquisite sensation of listening to the voice of the woman he adored,
while sitting so close to her that one cheek was almost touched by
the stuff of her dress and the gauze of her scarf. But when, at such a
moment, _Mi manca la voce_ is being sung, and by the finest voices in
Italy, it is easy to understand what it was that brought the tears to
Rodolphe’s eyes.

In love, as perhaps in all else, there are certain circumstances,
trivial in themselves, but the outcome of a thousand little previous
incidents, of which the importance is immense, as an epitome of the past
and as a link with the future. A hundred times already we have felt the
preciousness of the one we love; but a trifle--the perfect touch of
two souls united during a walk perhaps by a single word, by some
unlooked-for proof of affection, will carry the feeling to its supremest
pitch. In short, to express this truth by an image which has been
pre-eminently successful from the earliest ages of the world, there
are in a long chain points of attachment needed where the cohesion
is stronger than in the intermediate loops of rings. This recognition
between Rodolphe and Francesca, at this party, in the face of the world,
was one of those intense moments which join the future to the past,
and rivet a real attachment more deeply in the heart. It was perhaps of
these incidental rivets that Bossuet spoke when he compared to them
the rarity of happy moments in our lives--he who had such a living and
secret experience of love.

Next to the pleasure of admiring the woman we love, comes that of seeing
her admired by every one else. Rodolphe was enjoying both at once. Love
is a treasury of memories, and though Rodolphe’s was already full, he
added to it pearls of great price; smiles shed aside for him alone,
stolen glances, tones in her singing which Francesca addressed to
him alone, but which made Tinti pale with jealousy, they were so much
applauded. All his strength of desire, the special expression of his
soul, was thrown over the beautiful Roman, who became unchangeably the
beginning and the end of all his thoughts and actions. Rodolphe loved
as every woman may dream of being loved, with a force, a constancy, a
tenacity, which made Francesca the very substance of his heart; he felt
her mingling with his blood as purer blood, with his soul as a more
perfect soul; she would henceforth underlie the least efforts of his
life as the golden sand of the Mediterranean lies beneath the waves. In
short, Rodolphe’s lightest aspiration was now a living hope.

At the end of a few days, Francesca understood this boundless love;
but it was so natural, and so perfectly shared by her, that it did not
surprise her. She was worthy of it.

“What is there that is strange?” said she to Rodolphe, as they walked
on the garden terrace, when he had been betrayed into one of those
outbursts of conceit which come so naturally to Frenchmen in the
expression of their feelings--“what is extraordinary in the fact of your
loving a young and beautiful woman, artist enough to be able to earn her
living like Tinti, and of giving you some of the pleasures of vanity?
What lout but would then become an Amadis? This is not in question
between you and me. What is needed is that we both love faithfully,
persistently; at a distance from each other for years, with no
satisfaction but that of knowing that we are loved.”

“Alas!” said Rodolphe, “will you not consider my fidelity as devoid of
all merit when you see me absorbed in the efforts of devouring ambition?
Do you imagine that I can wish to see you one day exchange the fine name
of Gandolphini for that of a man who is a nobody? I want to become one
of the most remarkable men of my country, to be rich, great--that you
may be as proud of my name as of your own name of Colonna.”

“I should be grieved to see you without such sentiments in your heart,”
 she replied, with a bewitching smile. “But do not wear yourself out too
soon in your ambitious labors. Remain young. They say that politics soon
make a man old.”

One of the rarest gifts in women is a certain gaiety which does not
detract from tenderness. This combination of deep feeling with
the lightness of youth added an enchanting grace at this moment to
Francesca’s charms. This is the key to her character; she laughs and she
is touched; she becomes enthusiastic, and returns to arch raillery with
a readiness, a facility, which makes her the charming and exquisite
creature she is, and for which her reputation is known outside Italy.
Under the graces of a woman she conceals vast learning, thanks to the
excessively monotonous and almost monastic life she led in the castle of
the old Colonnas.

This rich heiress was at first intended for the cloister, being the
fourth child of Prince and Princess Colonna; but the death of her two
brothers, and of her elder sister, suddenly brought her out of her
retirement, and made her one of the most brilliant matches in the Papal
States. Her elder sister had been betrothed to Prince Gandolphini, one
of the richest landowners in Sicily; and Francesca was married to him
instead, so that nothing might be changed in the position of the family.
The Colonnas and Gandolphinis had always intermarried.

From the age of nine till she was sixteen, Francesca, under the
direction of a Cardinal of the family, had read all through the library
of the Colonnas, to make weight against her ardent imagination by
studying science, art, and letters. But in these studies she acquired
the taste for independence and liberal ideas, which threw her, with her
husband, into the ranks of the revolution. Rodolphe had not yet learned
that, besides five living languages, Francesca knew Greek, Latin, and
Hebrew. The charming creature perfectly understood that, for a woman,
the first condition of being learned is to keep it deeply hidden.

Rodolphe spent the whole winter at Geneva. This winter passed like a
day. When spring returned, notwithstanding the infinite delights of the
society of a clever woman, wonderfully well informed, young and lovely,
the lover went through cruel sufferings, endured indeed with courage,
but which were sometimes legible in his countenance, and betrayed
themselves in his manners or speech, perhaps because he believed that
Francesca shared them. Now and again it annoyed him to admire her
calmness. Like an Englishwoman, she seemed to pride herself on
expressing nothing in her face; its serenity defied love; he longed to
see her agitated; he accused her of having no feeling, for he
believed in the tradition which ascribes to Italian women a feverish
excitability.

“I am a Roman!” Francesca gravely replied one day when she took quite
seriously some banter on this subject from Rodolphe.

There was a depth of tone in her reply which gave it the appearance of
scathing irony, and which set Rodolphe’s pulses throbbing. The month of
May spread before them the treasures of her fresh verdure; the sun was
sometimes as powerful as at midsummer. The two lovers happened to be at
a part of the terrace where the rock arises abruptly from the lake, and
were leaning over the stone parapet that crowns the wall above a flight
of steps leading down to a landing-stage. From the neighboring villa,
where there is a similar stairway, a boat presently shot out like a
swan, its flag flaming, its crimson awning spread over a lovely woman
comfortably reclining on red cushions, her hair wreathed with real
flowers; the boatman was a young man dressed like a sailor, and rowing
with all the more grace because he was under the lady’s eye.

“They are happy!” exclaimed Rodolphe, with bitter emphasis. “Claire de
Bourgogne, the last survivor of the only house which can ever vie with
the royal family of France--”

“Oh! of a bastard branch, and that a female line.”

“At any rate, she is Vicomtesse de Beauseant; and she did not--”

“Did not hesitate, you would say, to bury herself here with Monsieur
Gaston de Nueil, you would say,” replied the daughter of the Colonnas.
“She is only a Frenchwoman; I am an Italian, my dear sir!”

Francesca turned away from the parapet, leaving Rodolphe, and went to
the further end of the terrace, whence there is a wide prospect of the
lake. Watching her as she slowly walked away, Rodolphe suspected that
he had wounded her soul, at once so simple and so wise, so proud and so
humble. It turned him cold; he followed Francesca, who signed to him to
leave her to herself. But he did not heed the warning, and detected her
wiping away her tears. Tears! in so strong a nature.

“Francesca,” said he, taking her hand, “is there a single regret in your
heart?”

She was silent, disengaged her hand which held her embroidered
handkerchief, and again dried her eyes.

“Forgive me!” he said. And with a rush, he kissed her eyes to wipe away
the tears.

Francesca did not seem aware of his passionate impulse, she was so
violently agitated. Rodolphe, thinking she consented, grew bolder; he
put his arm round her, clasped her to his heart, and snatched a kiss.
But she freed herself by a dignified movement of offended modesty, and,
standing a yard off, she looked at him without anger, but with firm
determination.

“Go this evening,” she said. “We meet no more till we meet at Naples.”

This order was stern, but it was obeyed, for it was Francesca’s will.

* * * * *

On his return to Paris Rodolphe found in his rooms a portrait of
Princess Gandolphini painted by Schinner, as Schinner can paint.
The artist had passed through Geneva on his way to Italy. As he had
positively refused to paint the portraits of several women, Rodolphe
did not believe that the Prince, anxious as he was for a portrait of
his wife, would be able to conquer the great painter’s objections; but
Francesca, no doubt, had bewitched him, and obtained from him--which was
almost a miracle--an original portrait for Rodolphe, and a duplicate for
Emilio. She told him this in a charming and delightful letter, in which
the mind indemnified itself for the reserve required by the worship
of the proprieties. The lover replied. Thus began, never to cease,
a regular correspondence between Rodolphe and Francesca, the only
indulgence they allowed themselves.

Rodolphe, possessed by an ambition sanctified by his love, set to
work. First he longed to make his fortune, and risked his all in
an undertaking to which he devoted all his faculties as well as
his capital; but he, an inexperienced youth, had to contend against
duplicity, which won the day. Thus three years were lost in a vast
enterprise, three years of struggling and courage.

The Villele ministry fell just when Rodolphe was ruined. The valiant
lover thought he would seek in politics what commercial industry had
refused him; but before braving the storms of this career, he went, all
wounded and sick at heart, to have his bruises healed and his courage
revived at Naples, where the Prince and Princess had been reinstated in
their place and rights on the King’s accession. This, in the midst of
his warfare, was a respite full of delights; he spent three months at
the Villa Gandolphini, rocked in hope.

Rodolphe then began again to construct his fortune. His talents were
already known; he was about to attain the desires of his ambition; a
high position was promised him as the reward of his zeal, his devotion,
and his past services, when the storm of July 1830 broke, and again his
bark was swamped.

She, and God! These are the only witnesses of the brave efforts, the
daring attempts of a young man gifted with fine qualities, but to whom,
so far, the protection of luck--the god of fools--has been denied.
And this indefatigable wrestler, upheld by love, comes back to fresh
struggles, lighted on his way by an always friendly eye, an ever
faithful heart.

Lovers! Pray for him!

* * * * *

As she finished this narrative, Mademoiselle de Watteville’s cheeks were
on fire; there was a fever in her blood. She was crying--but with rage.
This little novel, inspired by the literary style then in fashion, was
the first reading of the kind that Rosalie had ever had the chance of
devouring. Love was depicted in it, if not by a master-hand, at any
rate by a man who seemed to give his own impressions; and truth, even if
unskilled, could not fail to touch a virgin soul. Here lay the secret
of Rosalie’s terrible agitation, of her fever and her tears; she was
jealous of Francesca Colonna.

She never for an instant doubted the sincerity of this poetical flight;
Albert had taken pleasure in telling the story of his passion, while
changing the names of persons and perhaps of places. Rosalie was
possessed by infernal curiosity. What woman but would, like her, have
wanted to know her rival’s name--for she too loved! As she read these
pages, to her really contagious, she had said solemnly to herself, “I
love him!”--She loved Albert, and felt in her heart a gnawing desire to
fight for him, to snatch him from this unknown rival. She reflected that
she knew nothing of music, and that she was not beautiful.

“He will never love me!” thought she.

This conclusion aggravated her anxiety to know whether she might not be
mistaken, whether Albert really loved an Italian Princess, and was
loved by her. In the course of this fateful night, the power of swift
decision, which had characterized the famous Watteville, was fully
developed in his descendant. She devised those whimsical schemes, round
which hovers the imagination of most young girls when, in the solitude
to which some injudicious mothers confine them, they are roused by
some tremendous event which the system of repression to which they are
subjected could neither foresee nor prevent. She dreamed of descending
by a ladder from the kiosk into the garden of the house occupied by
Albert; of taking advantage of the lawyer’s being asleep to look through
the window into his private room. She thought of writing to him, or of
bursting the fetters of Besancon society by introducing Albert to the
drawing-room of the Hotel de Rupt. This enterprise, which to the Abbe de
Grancey even would have seemed the climax of the impossible, was a mere
passing thought.

“Ah!” said she to herself, “my father has a dispute pending as to his
land at les Rouxey. I will go there! If there is no lawsuit, I will
manage to make one, and _he_ shall come into our drawing-room!” she
cried, as she sprang out of bed and to the window to look at the
fascinating gleam which shone through Albert’s nights. The clock struck
one; he was still asleep.

“I shall see him when he gets up; perhaps he will come to his window.”

At this instant Mademoiselle de Watteville was witness to an incident
which promised to place in her power the means of knowing Albert’s
secrets. By the light of the moon she saw a pair of arms stretched
out from the kiosk to help Jerome, Albert’s servant, to get across
the coping of the wall and step into the little building. In Jerome’s
accomplice Rosalie at once recognized Mariette the lady’s-maid.

“Mariette and Jerome!” said she to herself. “Mariette, such an ugly
girl! Certainly they must be ashamed of themselves.”

Though Mariette was horribly ugly and six-and-thirty, she had inherited
several plots of land. She had been seventeen years with Madame de
Watteville, who valued her highly for her bigotry, her honesty, and long
service, and she had no doubt saved money and invested her wages and
perquisites. Hence, earning about ten louis a year, she probably had by
this time, including compound interest and her little inheritance, not
less than ten thousand francs.

In Jerome’s eyes ten thousand francs could alter the laws of optics; he
saw in Mariette a neat figure; he did not perceive the pits and seams
which virulent smallpox had left on her flat, parched face; to him the
crooked mouth was straight; and ever since Savaron, by taking him into
his service, had brought him so near to the Wattevilles’ house, he had
laid siege systematically to the maid, who was as prim and sanctimonious
as her mistress, and who, like every ugly old maid, was far more
exacting than the handsomest.

If the night-scene in the kiosk is thus fully accounted for to all
perspicacious readers, it was not so to Rosalie, though she derived from
it the most dangerous lesson that can be given, that of a bad example.
A mother brings her daughter up strictly, keeps her under her wing for
seventeen years, and then, in one hour, a servant girl destroys the
long and painful work, sometimes by a word, often indeed by a gesture!
Rosalie got into bed again, not without considering how she might take
advantage of her discovery.

Next morning, as she went to Mass accompanied by Mariette--her mother
was not well--Rosalie took the maid’s arm, which surprised the country
wench not a little.

“Mariette,” said she, “is Jerome in his master’s confidence?”

“I do not know, mademoiselle.”

“Do not play the innocent with me,” said Mademoiselle de Watteville
drily. “You let him kiss you last night under the kiosk; I no longer
wonder that you so warmly approved of my mother’s ideas for the
improvements she planned.”

Rosalie could feel how Mariette was trembling by the shaking of her arm.

“I wish you no ill,” Rosalie went on. “Be quite easy; I shall not say a
word to my mother, and you can meet Jerome as often as you please.”

“But, mademoiselle,” said Mariette, “it is perfectly respectable; Jerome
honestly means to marry me--”

“But then,” said Rosalie, “why meet at night?”

Mariette was dumfounded, and could make no reply.

“Listen, Mariette; I am in love too! In secret and without any return.
I am, after all, my father’s and mother’s only child. You have more to
hope for from me than from any one else in the world--”

“Certainly, mademoiselle, and you may count on us for life or death,”
 exclaimed Mariette, rejoiced at the unexpected turn of affairs.

“In the first place, silence for silence,” said Rosalie. “I will not
marry Monsieur de Soulas; but one thing I will have, and must have; my
help and favor are yours on one condition only.”

“What is that?”

“I must see the letters which Monsieur Savaron sends to the post by
Jerome.”

“But what for?” said Mariette in alarm.

“Oh! merely to read them, and you yourself shall post them afterwards.
It will cause a little delay; that is all.”

At this moment they went into church, and each of them, instead of
reading the order of Mass, fell into her own train of thought.

“Dear, dear, how many sins are there in all that?” thought Mariette.

Rosalie, whose soul, brain, and heart were completely upset by reading
the story, by this time regarded it as history, written for her
rival. By dint of thinking of nothing else, like a child, she ended by
believing that the _Eastern Review_ was no doubt forwarded to Albert’s
lady-love.

“Oh!” said she to herself, her head buried in her hands in the attitude
of a person lost in prayer; “oh! how can I get my father to look through
the list of people to whom the _Review_ is sent?”

After breakfast she took a turn in the garden with her father, coaxing
and cajoling him, and brought him to the kiosk.

“Do you suppose, my dear little papa, that our _Review_ is ever read
abroad?”

“It is but just started--”

“Well, I will wager that it is.”

“It is hardly possible.”

“Just go and find out, and note the names of any subscribers out of
France.”

Two hours later Monsieur de Watteville said to his daughter:

“I was right; there is not one foreign subscriber as yet. They hope to
get some at Neufchatel, at Berne, and at Geneva. One copy, is in fact,
sent to Italy, but it is not paid for--to a Milanese lady at her country
house at Belgirate, on Lago Maggiore.

“What is her name?”

“The Duchesse d’Argaiolo.”

“Do you know her, papa?”

“I have heard about her. She was by birth a Princess Soderini, a
Florentine, a very great lady, and quite as rich as her husband, who
has one of the largest fortunes in Lombardy. Their villa on the Lago
Maggiore is one of the sights of Italy.”

Two days after, Mariette placed the following letter in Mademoiselle de
Watteville’s hand:--


  Albert Savaron to Leopold Hannequin.

  “Yes, ‘tis so, my dear friend; I am at Besancon, while you thought
  I was traveling. I would not tell you anything till success should
  begin, and now it is dawning. Yes, my dear Leopold, after so many
  abortive undertakings, over which I have shed the best of my
  blood, have wasted so many efforts, spent so much courage, I have
  made up my mind to do as you have done--to start on a beaten path,
  on the highroad, as the longest but the safest. I can see you jump
  with surprise in your lawyer’s chair!

  “But do not suppose that anything is changed in my personal life,
  of which you alone in the world know the secret, and that under
  the reservations _she_ insists on. I did not tell you, my friend;
  but I was horribly weary of Paris. The outcome of the first
  enterprise, on which I had founded all my hopes, and which came to
  a bad end in consequence of the utter rascality of my two
  partners, who combined to cheat and fleece me--me, though
  everything was done by my energy--made me give up the pursuit of a
  fortune after the loss of three years of my life. One of these
  years was spent in the law courts, and perhaps I should have come
  worse out of the scrape if I had not been made to study law when I
  was twenty.

  “I made up my mind to go into politics solely, to the end that I
  may some day find my name on a list for promotion to the Senate
  under the title of Comte Albert Savaron de Savarus, and so revive
  in France a good name now extinct in Belgium--though indeed I am
  neither legitimate nor legitimized.”

“Ah! I knew it! He is of noble birth!” exclaimed Rosalie, dropping the
letter.

  “You know how conscientiously I studied, how faithful and useful I
  was as an obscure journalist, and how excellent a secretary to the
  statesman who, on his part, was true to me in 1829. Flung to the
  depths once more by the revolution of July just when my name was
  becoming known, at the very moment when, as Master of Appeals, I
  was about to find my place as a necessary wheel in the political
  machine, I committed the blunder of remaining faithful to the
  fallen, and fighting for them, without them. Oh! why was I but
  three-and-thirty, and why did I not apply to you to make me
  eligible? I concealed from you all my devotedness and my dangers.
  What would you have? I was full of faith. We should not have
  agreed.

  “Ten months ago, when you saw me so gay and contented, writing my
  political articles, I was in despair; I foresaw my fate, at the
  age of thirty-seven, with two thousand francs for my whole
  fortune, without the smallest fame, just having failed in a noble
  undertaking, the founding, namely, of a daily paper answering only
  to a need of the future instead of appealing to the passions of
  the moment. I did not know which way to turn, and I felt my own
  value! I wandered about, gloomy and hurt, through the lonely
  places of Paris--Paris which had slipped through my fingers
  --thinking of my crushed ambitions, but never giving them up. Oh,
  what frantic letters I wrote at that time to _her_, my second
  conscience, my other self! Sometimes I would say to myself, ‘Why
  did I sketch so vast a programme of life? Why demand everything?
  Why not wait for happiness while devoting myself to some
  mechanical employment.’

  “I then looked about me for some modest appointment by which I
  might live. I was about to get the editorship of a paper under a
  manager who did not know much about it, a man of wealth and
  ambition, when I took fright. ‘Would _she_ ever accept as her
  husband a man who had stooped so low?’ I wondered.

  “This reflection made me two-and-twenty again. But, oh, my dear
  Leopold, how the soul is worn by these perplexities! What must not
  the caged eagles suffer, and imprisoned lions!--They suffer what
  Napoleon suffered, not at Saint Helena, but on the Quay of the
  Tuileries, on the 10th of August, when he saw Louis XVI. defending
  himself so badly while he could have quelled the insurrection; as
  he actually did, on the same spot, a little later, in Vendemiaire.
  Well, my life has been a torment of that kind, extending over four
  years. How many a speech to the Chamber have I not delivered in
  the deserted alleys of the Bois de Boulogne! These wasted
  harangues have at any rate sharpened my tongue and accustomed my
  mind to formulate its ideas in words. And while I was undergoing
  this secret torture, you were getting married, you had paid for
  your business, you were made law-clerk to the Maire of your
  district, after gaining a cross for a wound at Saint-Merri.

  “Now, listen. When I was a small boy and tortured cock-chafers,
  the poor insects had one form of struggle which used almost to put
  me in a fever. It was when I saw them making repeated efforts to
  fly but without getting away, though they could spread their
  wings. We used to say, ‘They are marking time.’ Now was this
  sympathy? Was it a vision of my own future?--Oh! to spread my
  wings and yet be unable to fly! That has been my predicament since
  that fine undertaking by which I was disgusted, but which has now
  made four families rich.

  “At last, seven months ago, I determined to make myself a name at
  the Paris Bar, seeing how many vacancies had been left by the
  promotion of several lawyers to eminent positions. But when I
  remembered the rivalry I had seen among men of the press, and how
  difficult it is to achieve anything of any kind in Paris, the
  arena where so many champions meet, I came to a determination
  painful to myself, but certain in its results, and perhaps quicker
  than any other. In the course of our conversations you had given
  me a picture of the society of Besancon, of the impossibility for
  a stranger to get on there, to produce the smallest effect, to get
  into society, or to succeed in any way whatever. It was there that
  I determined to set up my flag, thinking, and rightly, that I
  should meet with no opposition, but find myself alone to canvass
  for the election. The people of the Comte will not meet the
  outsider? The outsider will meet them! They refuse to admit him to
  their drawing-rooms, he will never go there! He never shows
  himself anywhere, not even in the streets! But there is one class
  that elects the deputies--the commercial class. I am going
  especially to study commercial questions, with which I am already
  familiar; I will gain their lawsuits, I will effect compromises, I
  will be the greatest pleader in Besancon. By and by I will start a
  _Review_, in which I will defend the interests of the country,
  will create them, or preserve them, or resuscitate them. When I
  shall have won a sufficient number of votes, my name will come out
  of the urn. For a long time the unknown barrister will be treated
  with contempt, but some circumstance will arise to bring him to
  the front--some unpaid defence, or a case which no other pleader
  will undertake.

  “Well, my dear Leopold, I packed up my books in eleven cases, I
  bought such law-books as might prove useful, and I sent everything
  off, furniture and all, by carrier to Besancon. I collected my
  diplomas, and I went to bid you good-bye. The mail coach dropped
  me at Besancon, where, in three days’ time, I chose a little set
  of rooms looking out over some gardens. I sumptuously arranged the
  mysterious private room where I spend my nights and days, and
  where the portrait of my divinity reigns--of her to whom my life
  is dedicate, who fills it wholly, who is the mainspring of my
  efforts, the secret of my courage, the cause of my talents. Then,
  as soon as the furniture and books had come, I engaged an
  intelligent man-servant, and there I sat for five months like a
  hibernating marmot.

  “My name had, however, been entered on the list of lawyers in the
  town. At last I was called one day to defend an unhappy wretch at
  the Assizes, no doubt in order to hear me speak for once! One of
  the most influential merchants of Besancon was on the jury; he had
  a difficult task to fulfil; I did my utmost for the man, and my
  success was absolute and complete. My client was innocent; I very
  dramatically secured the arrest of the real criminals, who had
  come forward as witnesses. In short, the Court and the public were
  united in their admiration. I managed to save the examining
  magistrate’s pride by pointing out the impossibility of detecting
  a plot so skilfully planned.

  “Then I had to fight a case for my merchant, and won his suit. The
  Cathedral Chapter next chose me to defend a tremendous action
  against the town, which had been going on for four years; I won
  that. Thus, after three trials, I had become the most famous
  advocate of Franche-Comte.

  “But I bury my life in the deepest mystery, and so hide my aims. I
  have adopted habits which prevent my accepting any invitations. I
  am only to be consulted between six and eight in the morning; I go
  to bed after my dinner, and work at night. The Vicar-General, a
  man of parts, and very influential, who placed the Chapter’s case
  in my hands after they had lost it in the lower Court, of course
  professed their gratitude. ‘Monsieur,’ said I, ‘I will win your
  suit, but I want no fee; I want more’ (start of alarm on the
  Abbe’s part). ‘You must know that I am a great loser by putting
  myself forward in antagonism to the town. I came here only to
  leave the place as deputy. I mean to engage only in commercial
  cases, because commercial men return the members; they will
  distrust me if I defend “the priests”--for to them you are simply
  priests. If I undertake your defence, it is because I was, in
  1828, private secretary to such a Minister’ (again a start of
  surprise on the part of my Abbe), ‘and Master of Appeals, under
  the name of Albert de Savarus’ (another start). ‘I have remained
  faithful to monarchical opinions; but, as you have not the
  majority of votes in Besancon, I must gain votes among the
  citizens. So the fee I ask of you is the votes you may be able
  secretly to secure for me at the opportune moment. Let us each
  keep our own counsel, and I will defend, for nothing, every case
  to which a priest of this diocese may be a party. Not a word about
  my previous life, and we will be true to each other.’

  “When he came to thank me afterwards, he gave me a note for five
  hundred francs, and said in my ear, ‘The votes are a bargain all
  the same.’--I have in the course of five interviews made a friend,
  I think, of this Vicar-General.

  “Now I am overwhelmed with business, and I undertake no cases but
  those brought to me by merchants, saying that commercial questions
  are my specialty. This line of conduct attaches business men to
  me, and allows me to make friends with influential persons. So all
  goes well. Within a few months I shall have found a house to
  purchase in Besancon, so as to secure a qualification. I count on
  your lending me the necessary capital for this investment. If I
  should die, if I should fail, the loss would be too small to be
  any consideration between you and me. You will get the interest
  out of the rental, and I shall take good care to look out for
  something cheap, so that you may lose nothing by this mortgage,
  which is indispensable.

  “Oh! my dear Leopold, no gambler with the last remains of his
  fortune in his pocket, bent on staking it at the Cercle des
  Etrangers for the last time one night, when he must come away rich
  or ruined, ever felt such a perpetual ringing in his ears, such a
  nervous moisture on his palms, such a fevered tumult in his brain,
  such inward qualms in his body as I go through every day now that
  I am playing my last card in the game of ambition. Alas! my dear
  and only friend, for nearly ten years now I have been struggling.
  This battle with men and things, in which I have unceasingly
  poured out my strength and energy, and so constantly worn the
  springs of desire, has, so to speak, undermined my vitality. With
  all the appearance of a strong man of good health, I feel myself a
  wreck. Every day carries with it a shred of my inmost life. At
  every fresh effort I feel that I should never be able to begin
  again. I have no power, no vigor left but for happiness; and if it
  should never come to crown my head with roses, the _me_ that is
  really me would cease to exist, I should be a ruined thing. I
  should wish for nothing more in the world. I should want to cease
  from living. You know that power and fame, the vast moral empire
  that I crave, is but secondary; it is to me only a means to
  happiness, the pedestal for my idol.

  “To reach the goal and die, like the runner of antiquity! To see
  fortune and death stand on the threshold hand in hand! To win the
  beloved woman just when love is extinct! To lose the faculty of
  enjoyment after earning the right to be happy!--Of how many men
  has this been the fate!

  “But there surely is a moment when Tantalus rebels, crosses his
  arms, and defies hell, throwing up his part of the eternal dupe.
  That is what I shall come to if anything should thwart my plan;
  if, after stooping to the dust of provincial life, prowling like a
  starving tiger round these tradesmen, these electors, to secure
  their votes; if, after wrangling in these squalid cases, and
  giving them my time--the time I might have spent on Lago Maggiore,
  seeing the waters she sees, basking in her gaze, hearing her voice
  --if, after all, I failed to scale the tribune and conquer the
  glory that should surround the name that is to succeed to that of
  Argaiolo! Nay, more than this, Leopold; there are days when I feel
  a heady languor; deep disgust surges up from the depths of my
  soul, especially when, abandoned to long day-dreams, I have lost
  myself in anticipation of the joys of blissful love! May it not be
  that our desire has only a certain modicum of power, and that it
  perishes, perhaps, of a too lavish effusion of its essence? For,
  after all, at this present, my life is fair, illuminated by faith,
  work, and love.

  “Farewell, my friend; I send love to your children, and beg you to
  remember me to your excellent wife.--Yours,

                                         “ALBERT.”


Rosalie read this letter twice through, and its general purport was
stamped on her heart. She suddenly saw the whole of Albert’s previous
existence, for her quick intelligence threw light on all the details,
and enabled her to take it all in. By adding this information to the
little novel published in the _Review_, she now fully understood Albert.
Of course, she exaggerated the greatness, remarkable as it was, of this
lofty soul and potent will, and her love for Albert thenceforth became
a passion, its violence enhanced by all the strength of her youth, the
weariness of her solitude, and the unspent energy of her character. Love
is in a young girl the effect of a natural law; but when her craving
for affection is centered in an exceptional man, it is mingled with the
enthusiasm which overflows in a youthful heart. Thus Mademoiselle de
Watteville had in a few days reached a morbid and very dangerous
stage of enamored infatuation. The Baroness was much pleased with her
daughter, who, being under the spell of her absorbing thoughts, never
resisted her will, seemed to be devoted to feminine occupations, and
realized her mother’s ideal of a docile daughter.

The lawyer was now engaged in Court two or three times a week. Though he
was overwhelmed with business, he found time to attend the trials, call
on the litigious merchants, and conduct the _Review_; keeping up his
personal mystery, from the conviction that the more covert and hidden
was his influence, the more real it would be. But he neglected no means
of success, reading up the list of electors of Besancon, and finding
out their interests, their characters, their various friendships and
antipathies. Did ever a Cardinal hoping to be made Pope give himself
more trouble?

One evening Mariette, on coming to dress Rosalie for an evening party,
handed to her, not without many groans over this treachery, a letter of
which the address made Mademoiselle de Watteville shiver and redden and
turn pale again as she read the address:


  To Madame la Duchesse d’Argaiolo
  (nee Princesse Soderini)
    At Belgirate,
      Lago Maggiore, Italy.


In her eyes this direction blazed as the words _Mene_, _Tekel_,
_Upharsin_, did in the eyes of Belshazzar. After concealing the
letter, Rosalie went downstairs to accompany her mother to Madame
de Chavoncourt’s; and as long as the endless evening lasted, she was
tormented by remorse and scruples. She had already felt shame at having
violated the secrecy of Albert’s letter to Leopold; she had several
times asked herself whether, if he knew of her crime, infamous inasmuch
as it necessarily goes unpunished, the high-minded Albert could esteem
her. Her conscience answered an uncompromising “No.”

She had expiated her sin by self-imposed penances; she fasted, she
mortified herself by remaining on her knees, her arms outstretched for
hours, and repeating prayers all the time. She had compelled Mariette
to similar sets of repentance; her passion was mingled with genuine
asceticism, and was all the more dangerous.

“Shall I read that letter, shall I not?” she asked herself, while
listening to the Chavoncourt girls. One was sixteen, the other seventeen
and a half. Rosalie looked upon her two friends as mere children because
they were not secretly in love.--“If I read it,” she finally decided,
after hesitating for an hour between Yes and No, “it shall, at any rate,
be the last. Since I have gone so far as to see what he wrote to his
friend, why should I not know what he says to _her_? If it is a horrible
crime, is it not a proof of love? Oh, Albert! am I not your wife?”

When Rosalie was in bed she opened the letter, dated from day to day, so
as to give the Duchess a faithful picture of Albert’s life and feelings.


                                                 “25th.

  “My dear Soul, all is well. To my other conquests I have just
  added an invaluable one: I have done a service to one of the most
  influential men who work the elections. Like the critics, who make
  other men’s reputations but can never make their own, he makes
  deputies though he never can become one. The worthy man wanted to
  show his gratitude without loosening his purse-strings by saying
  to me, ‘Would you care to sit in the Chamber? I can get you
  returned as deputy.’

  “‘If I ever make up my mind to enter on a political career,’
  replied I hypocritically, ‘it would be to devote myself to the
  Comte, which I love, and where I am appreciated.’

  “‘Well,’ he said, ‘we will persuade you, and through you we shall
  have weight in the Chamber, for you will distinguish yourself
  there.’

  “And so, my beloved angel, say what you will, my perseverance will
  be rewarded. Ere long I shall, from the high place of the French
  Tribune, come before my country, before Europe. My name will be
  flung to you by the hundred voices of the French press.

  “Yes, as you tell me, I was old when I came to Besancon, and
  Besancon has aged me more; but, like Sixtus V., I shall be young
  again the day after my election. I shall enter on my true life, my
  own sphere. Shall we not then stand in the same line? Count
  Savaron de Savarus, Ambassador I know not where, may surely marry
  a Princess Soderini, the widow of the Duc d’Argaiolo! Triumph
  restores the youth of men who have been preserved by incessant
  struggles. Oh, my Life! with what gladness did I fly from my
  library to my private room, to tell your portrait of this progress
  before writing to you! Yes, the votes I can command, those of the
  Vicar-General, of the persons I can oblige, and of this client,
  make my election already sure.


                                                 “26th.

  “We have entered on the twelfth year since that blest evening
  when, by a look, the beautiful Duchess sealed the promises made by
  the exile Francesca. You, dear, are thirty-two, I am thirty-five;
  the dear Duke is seventy-seven--that is to say, ten years more
  than yours and mine put together, and he still keeps well! My
  patience is almost as great as my love, and indeed I need a few
  years yet to rise to the level of your name. As you see, I am in
  good spirits to-day, I can laugh; that is the effect of hope.
  Sadness or gladness, it all comes to me through you. The hope of
  success always carries me back to the day following that one on
  which I saw you for the first time, when my life became one with
  yours as the earth turns to the light. _Qual pianto_ are these
  eleven years, for this is the 26th of December, the anniversary of
  my arrival at your villa on the Lake of Geneva. For eleven years
  have I been crying to you, while you shine like a star set too
  high for man to reach it.


                                                 “27th.

  “No, dearest, do not go to Milan; stay at Belgirate. Milan
  terrifies me. I do not like that odious Milanese fashion of
  chatting at the Scala every evening with a dozen persons, among
  whom it is hard if no one says something sweet. To me solitude is
  like the lump of amber in whose heart an insect lives for ever in
  unchanging beauty. Thus the heart and soul of a woman remains pure
  and unaltered in the form of their first youth. Is it the
  _Tedeschi_ that you regret?


                                                 “28th.

  “Is your statue never to be finished? I should wish to have you in
  marble, in painting, in miniature, in every possible form, to
  beguile my impatience. I still am waiting for the view of
  Belgirate from the south, and that of the balcony; these are all
  that I now lack. I am so extremely busy that to-day I can only
  write you nothing--but that nothing is everything. Was it not of
  nothing that God made the world? That nothing is a word, God’s
  word: I love you!


                                                 “30th.

  “Ah! I have received your journal. Thanks for your punctuality.
  --So you found great pleasure in seeing all the details of our first
  acquaintance thus set down? Alas! even while disguising them I was
  sorely afraid of offending you. We had no stories, and a _Review_
  without stories is a beauty without hair. Not being inventive by
  nature, and in sheer despair, I took the only poetry in my soul,
  the only adventure in my memory, and pitched it in the key in
  which it would bear telling; nor did I ever cease to think of you
  while writing the only literary production that will ever come
  from my heart, I cannot say from my pen. Did not the
  transformation of your fierce Sormano into Gina make you laugh?

  “You ask after my health. Well, it is better than in Paris. Though
  I work enormously, the peacefulness of the surroundings has its
  effect on the mind. What really tries and ages me, dear angel, is
  the anguish of mortified vanity, the perpetual friction of Paris
  life, the struggle of rival ambitions. This peace is a balm.

  “If you could imagine the pleasure your letter gives me!--the
  long, kind letter in which you tell me the most trivial incidents
  of your life. No! you women can never know to what a degree a true
  lover is interested in these trifles. It was an immense pleasure
  to see the pattern of your new dress. Can it be a matter of
  indifference to me to know what you wear? If your lofty brow is
  knit? If our writers amuse you? If Canalis’ songs delight you? I
  read the books you read. Even to your boating on the lake every
  incident touched me. Your letter is as lovely, as sweet as your
  soul! Oh! flower of heaven, perpetually adored, could I have lived
  without those dear letters, which for eleven years have upheld me
  in my difficult path like a light, like a perfume, like a steady
  chant, like some divine nourishment, like everything which can
  soothe and comfort life.

  “Do not fail me! If you knew what anxiety I suffer the day before
  they are due, or the pain a day’s delay can give me! Is she ill?
  Is _he_? I am midway between hell and paradise.

  “_O mia cara diva_, keep up your music, exercise your voice,
  practise. I am enchanted with the coincidence of employments and
  hours by which, though separated by the Alps, we live by precisely
  the same rule. The thought charms me and gives me courage. The
  first time I undertook to plead here--I forget to tell you this--I
  fancied that you were listening to me, and I suddenly felt the
  flash of inspiration which lifts the poet above mankind. If I am
  returned to the Chamber--oh! you must come to Paris to be present
  at my first appearance there!


                                                 “30th, Evening.

  “Good heavens, how I love you! Alas! I have intrusted too much to
  my love and my hopes. An accident which should sink that
  overloaded bark would end my life. For three years now I have not
  seen you, and at the thought of going to Belgirate my heart beats
  so wildly that I am forced to stop.--To see you, to hear that
  girlish caressing voice! To embrace in my gaze that ivory skin,
  glistening under the candlelight, and through which I can read
  your noble mind! To admire your fingers playing on the keys, to
  drink in your whole soul in a look, in the tone of an _Oime_ or an
  _Alberto_! To walk by the blossoming orange-trees, to live a few
  months in the bosom of that glorious scenery!--That is life. What
  folly it is to run after power, a name, fortune! But at Belgirate
  there is everything; there is poetry, there is glory! I ought to
  have made myself your steward, or, as that dear tyrant whom we
  cannot hate proposed to me, live there as _cavaliere servente_,
  only our passion was too fierce to allow of it.

  “Farewell, my angel, forgive me my next fit of sadness in
  consideration of this cheerful mood; it has come as a beam of
  light from the torch of Hope, which has hitherto seemed to me a
  Will-o’-the-wisp.”


“How he loves her!” cried Rosalie, dropping the letter, which seemed
heavy in her hand. “After eleven years to write like this!”

“Mariette,” said Mademoiselle de Watteville to her maid next morning,
“go and post this letter. Tell Jerome that I know all I wish to know,
and that he is to serve Monsieur Albert faithfully. We will confess our
sins, you and I, without saying to whom the letters belonged, nor to
whom they were going. I was in the wrong; I alone am guilty.”

“Mademoiselle has been crying?” said Mariette.

“Yes, but I do not want that my mother should perceive it; give me some
very cold water.”

In the midst of the storms of her passion Rosalie often listened to
the voice of conscience. Touched by the beautiful fidelity of these two
hearts, she had just said her prayers, telling herself that there was
nothing left to her but to be resigned, and to respect the happiness of
two beings worthy of each other, submissive to fate, looking to God for
everything, without allowing themselves any criminal acts or wishes.
She felt a better woman, and had a certain sense of satisfaction after
coming to this resolution, inspired by the natural rectitude of youth.
And she was confirmed in it by a girl’s idea: She was sacrificing
herself for _him_.

“She does not know how to love,” thought she. “Ah! if it were I--I would
give up everything to a man who loved me so.--To be loved!--When, by
whom shall I be loved? That little Monsieur de Soulas only loves my
money; if I were poor, he would not even look at me.”

“Rosalie, my child, what are you thinking about? You are working
beyond the outline,” said the Baroness to her daughter, who was making
worsted-work slippers for the Baron.

* * * * *

Rosalie spent the winter of 1834-35 torn by secret tumults; but in the
spring, in the month of April, when she reached the age of nineteen,
she sometimes thought that it would be a fine thing to triumph over
a Duchesse d’Argaiolo. In silence and solitude the prospect of this
struggle had fanned her passion and her evil thoughts. She encouraged
her romantic daring by making plan after plan. Although such characters
are an exception, there are, unfortunately, too many Rosalies in the
world, and this story contains a moral that ought to serve them as a
warning.

In the course of this winter Albert de Savarus had quietly made
considerable progress in Besancon. Confident of success, he now
impatiently awaited the dissolution of the Chamber. Among the men of
the moderate party he had won the suffrages of one of the makers of
Besancon, a rich contractor, who had very wide influence.

Wherever they settled the Romans took immense pains, and spent enormous
sums to have an unlimited supply of good water in every town of their
empire. At Besancon they drank the water from Arcier, a hill at some
considerable distance from Besancon. The town stands in a horseshoe
circumscribed by the river Doubs. Thus, to restore an aqueduct in order
to drink the same water that the Romans drank, in a town watered by the
Doubs, is one of those absurdities which only succeed in a country place
where the most exemplary gravity prevails. If this whim could be brought
home to the hearts of the citizens, it would lead to considerable
outlay; and this expenditure would benefit the influential contractor.

Albert Savaron de Savarus opined that the water of the river was good
for nothing but to flow under the suspension bridge, and that the only
drinkable water was that from Arcier. Articles were printed in the
_Review_ which merely expressed the views of the commercial interest
of Besancon. The nobility and the citizens, the moderates and the
legitimists, the government party and the opposition, everybody, in
short, was agreed that they must drink the same water as the Romans, and
boast of a suspension bridge. The question of the Arcier water was the
order of the day at Besancon. At Besancon--as in the matter of the two
railways to Versailles--as for every standing abuse--there were
private interests unconfessed which gave vital force to this idea. The
reasonable folk in opposition to this scheme, who were indeed but few,
were regarded as old women. No one talked of anything but of Savaron’s
two projects. And thus, after eighteen months of underground labor,
the ambitious lawyer had succeeded in stirring to its depths the most
stagnant town in France, the most unyielding to foreign influence, in
finding the length of its foot, to use a vulgar phrase, and exerting a
preponderant influence without stirring from his own room. He had solved
the singular problem of how to be powerful without being popular.

In the course of this winter he won seven lawsuits for various priests
of Besancon. At moments he could breathe freely at the thought of
his coming triumph. This intense desire, which made him work so many
interests and devise so many springs, absorbed the last strength of his
terribly overstrung soul. His disinterestedness was lauded, and he took
his clients’ fees without comment. But this disinterestedness was, in
truth, moral usury; he counted on a reward far greater to him than all
the gold in the world.

In the month of October 1834 he had brought, ostensibly to serve
a merchant who was in difficulties, with money lent him by Leopold
Hannequin, a house which gave him a qualification for election. He had
not seemed to seek or desire this advantageous bargain.

“You are really a remarkable man,” said the Abbe de Grancey, who, of
course, had watched and understood the lawyer. The Vicar-General had
come to introduce to him a Canon who needed his professional advice.
“You are a priest who has taken the wrong turning.” This observation
struck Savarus.

Rosalie, on her part, had made up her mind, in her strong girl’s head,
to get Monsieur de Savarus into the drawing-room and acquainted with
the society of the Hotel de Rupt. So far she had limited her desires
to seeing and hearing Albert. She had compounded, so to speak, and a
composition is often no more than a truce.

Les Rouxey, the inherited estate of the Wattevilles, was worth just ten
thousand francs a year; but in other hands it would have yielded a great
deal more. The Baron in his indifference--for his wife was to have, and
in fact had, forty thousand francs a year--left the management of les
Rouxey to a sort of factotum, an old servant of the Wattevilles named
Modinier. Nevertheless, whenever the Baron and his wife wished to go
out of the town, they went to les Rouxey, which is very picturesquely
situated. The chateau and the park were, in fact, created by the famous
Watteville, who in his active old age was passionately attached to this
magnificent spot.

Between two precipitous hills--little peaks with bare summits known
as the great and the little Rouxey--in the heart of a ravine where the
torrents from the heights, with the Dent de Vilard at their head, come
tumbling to join the lovely upper waters of the Doubs, Watteville had a
huge dam constructed, leaving two cuttings for the overflow. Above this
dam he made a beautiful lake, and below it two cascades; and these,
uniting a few yards below the falls, formed a lovely little river
to irrigate the barren, uncultivated valley, and these two hills he
enclosed in a ring fence, and built himself a retreat on the dam, which
he widened to two acres by accumulating above it all the soil which had
to be removed to make a channel for the river and the irrigation canals.

When the Baron de Watteville thus obtained the lake above his dam he
was owner of the two hills, but not of the upper valley thus flooded,
through which there had been at all times a right-of-way to where it
ends in a horseshoe under the Dent de Vilard. But this ferocious old man
was so widely dreaded, that so long as he lived no claim was urged by
the inhabitants of Riceys, the little village on the further side of
the Dent de Vilard. When the Baron died, he left the slopes of the two
Rouxey hills joined by a strong wall, to protect from inundation the two
lateral valleys opening into the valley of Rouxey, to the right and left
at the foot of the Dent de Vilard. Thus he died the master of the Dent
de Vilard.

His heirs asserted their protectorate of the village of Riceys, and so
maintained the usurpation. The old assassin, the old renegade, the old
Abbe Watteville, ended his career by planting trees and making a fine
road over the shoulder of one of the Rouxey hills to join the highroad.
The estate belonging to this park and house was extensive, but badly
cultivated; there were chalets on both hills and neglected forests
of timber. It was all wild and deserted, left to the care of nature,
abandoned to chance growths, but full of sublime and unexpected beauty.
You may now imagine les Rouxey.

It is unnecessary to complicate this story by relating all the
prodigious trouble and the inventiveness stamped with genius, by which
Rosalie achieved her end without allowing it to be suspected. It is
enough to say that it was in obedience to her mother that she left
Besancon in the month of May 1835, in an antique traveling carriage
drawn by a pair of sturdy hired horses, and accompanied her father to
les Rouxey.

To a young girl love lurks in everything. When she rose, the morning
after her arrival, Mademoiselle de Watteville saw from her bedroom
window the fine expanse of water, from which the light mists rose like
smoke, and were caught in the firs and larches, rolling up and along the
hills till they reached the heights, and she gave a cry of admiration.

“They loved by the lakes! _She_ lives by a lake! A lake is certainly
full of love!” she thought.

A lake fed by snows has opalescent colors and a translucency that makes
it one huge diamond; but when it is shut in like that of les Rouxey,
between two granite masses covered with pines, when silence broods over
it like that of the Savannas or the Steppes, then every one must exclaim
as Rosalie did.

“We owe that,” said her father, “to the notorious Watteville.”

“On my word,” said the girl, “he did his best to earn forgiveness. Let
us go in a boat to the further end; it will give us an appetite for
breakfast.”

The Baron called two gardener lads who knew how to row, and took
with him his prime minister Modinier. The lake was about six acres
in breadth, in some places ten or twelve, and four hundred in length.
Rosalie soon found herself at the upper end shut in by the Dent de
Vilard, the Jungfrau of that little Switzerland.

“Here we are, Monsieur le Baron,” said Modinier, signing to the
gardeners to tie up the boat; “will you come and look?”

“Look at what?” asked Rosalie.

“Oh, nothing!” exclaimed the Baron. “But you are a sensible girl; we
have some little secrets between us, and I may tell you what ruffles
my mind. Some difficulties have arisen since 1830 between the village
authorities of Riceys and me, on account of this very Dent de Vilard,
and I want to settle the matter without your mother’s knowing anything
about it, for she is stubborn; she is capable of flinging fire and
flames broadcast, particularly if she should hear that the Mayor of
Riceys, a republican, got up this action as a sop to his people.”

Rosalie had presence of mind enough to disguise her delight, so as to
work more effectually on her father.

“What action?” said she.

“Mademoiselle, the people of Riceys,” said Modinier, “have long enjoyed
the right of grazing and cutting fodder on their side of the Dent de
Vilard. Now Monsieur Chantonnit, the Maire since 1830, declares that the
whole Dent belongs to his district, and maintains that a hundred years
ago, or more, there was a way through our grounds. You understand that
in that case we should no longer have them to ourselves. Then this
barbarian would end by saying, what the old men in the village say,
that the ground occupied by the lake was appropriated by the Abbe de
Watteville. That would be the end of les Rouxey; what next?”

“Indeed, my child, between ourselves, it is the truth,” said Monsieur
de Watteville simply. “The land is an usurpation, with no title-deed but
lapse of time. And, therefore, to avoid all worry, I should wish to come
to a friendly understanding as to my border line on this side of the
Dent de Vilard, and I will then raise a wall.”

“If you give way to the municipality, it will swallow you up. You ought
to have threatened Riceys.”

“That is just what I told the master last evening,” said Modinier.
“But in confirmation of that view I proposed that he should come to see
whether, on this side of the Dent or on the other, there may not be,
high or low, some traces of an enclosure.”

For a century the Dent de Vilard had been used by both parties without
coming to extremities; it stood as a sort of party wall between the
communes of Riceys and les Rouxey, yielding little profit. Indeed, the
object in dispute, being covered with snow for six months in the year,
was of a nature to cool their ardor. Thus it required all the hot blast
by which the revolution of 1830 inflamed the advocates of the people, to
stir up this matter, by which Monsieur Chantonnit, the Maire of Riceys,
hoped to give a dramatic turn to his career on the peaceful frontier of
Switzerland, and to immortalize his term of office. Chantonnit, as his
name shows, was a native of Neuchatel.

“My dear father,” said Rosalie, as they got into the boat again, “I
agree with Modinier. If you wish to secure the joint possession of the
Dent de Vilard, you must act with decision, and get a legal opinion
which will protect you against this enterprising Chantonnit. Why should
you be afraid? Get the famous lawyer Savaron--engage him at once, lest
Chantonnit should place the interests of the village in his hands. The
man who won the case for the Chapter against the town can certainly win
that of Watteville _versus_ Riceys! Besides,” she added, “les Rouxey
will some day be mine--not for a long time yet, I trust.--Well, then
do not leave me with a lawsuit on my hands. I like this place, I shall
often live here, and add to it as much as possible. On those banks,” and
she pointed to the feet of the two hills, “I shall cut flowerbeds and
make the loveliest English gardens. Let us go to Besancon and bring back
with us the Abbe de Grancey, Monsieur Savaron, and my mother, if she
cares to come. You can then make up your mind; but in your place I
should have done so already. Your name is Watteville, and you are afraid
of a fight! If you should lose your case--well, I will never reproach
you by a word!”

“Oh, if that is the way you take it,” said the Baron, “I am quite ready;
I will see the lawyer.”

“Besides a lawsuit is really great fun. It brings some interest into
life, with coming and going and raging over it. You will have a great
deal to do before you can get hold of the judges.--We did not see the
Abbe de Grancey for three weeks, he was so busy!”

“But the very existence of the Chapter was involved,” said Monsieur de
Watteville; “and then the Archbishop’s pride, his conscience, everything
that makes up the life of the priesthood, was at stake. That Savaron
does not know what he did for the Chapter! He saved it!”

“Listen to me,” said his daughter in his ear, “if you secure Monsieur de
Savaron, you will gain your suit, won’t you? Well, then, let me advise
you. You cannot get at Monsieur Savaron excepting through Monsieur de
Grancey. Take my word for it, and let us together talk to the dear
Abbe without my mother’s presence at the interview, for I know a way of
persuading him to bring the lawyer to us.”

“It will be very difficult to avoid mentioning it to your mother!”

“The Abbe de Grancey will settle that afterwards. But just make up your
mind to promise your vote to Monsieur Savaron at the next election, and
you will see!”

“Go to the election! take the oath?” cried the Baron de Watteville.

“What then!” said she.

“And what will your mother say?”

“She may even desire you to do it,” replied Rosalie, knowing as she did
from Albert’s letter to Leopold how deeply the Vicar-General had pledged
himself.

Four days after, the Abbe de Grancey called very early one morning on
Albert de Savarus, having announced his visit the day before. The
old priest had come to win over the great lawyer to the house of the
Wattevilles, a proceeding which shows how much tact and subtlety Rosalie
must have employed in an underhand way.

“What can I do for you, Monsieur le Vicaire-General?” asked Savarus.

The Abbe, who told his story with admirable frankness, was coldly heard
by Albert.

“Monsieur l’Abbe,” said he, “it is out of the question that I should
defend the interests of the Wattevilles, and you shall understand why.
My part in this town is to remain perfectly neutral. I will display no
colors; I must remain a mystery till the eve of my election. Now, to
plead for the Wattevilles would mean nothing in Paris, but here!--Here,
where everything is discussed, I should be supposed by every one to be
an ally of your Faubourg Saint-Germain.”

“What! do you suppose that you can remain unknown on the day of the
election, when the candidates must oppose each other? It must then
become known that your name is Savaron de Savarus, that you have
held the appointment of Master of Appeals, that you are a man of the
Restoration!”

“On the day of the election,” said Savarus, “I will be all I am expected
to be; and I intend to speak at the preliminary meetings.”

“If you have the support of Monsieur de Watteville and his party, you
will get a hundred votes in a mass, and far more to be trusted than
those on which you rely. It is always possible to produce division of
interests; convictions are inseparable.”

“The deuce is in it!” said Savarus. “I am attached to you, and I could
do a great deal for you, Father! Perhaps we may compound with the Devil.
Whatever Monsieur de Watteville’s business may be, by engaging Girardet,
and prompting him, it will be possible to drag the proceedings out till
the elections are over. I will not undertake to plead till the day after
I am returned.”

“Do this one thing,” said the Abbe. “Come to the Hotel de Rupt: there
is a young person of nineteen there who, one of these days, will have a
hundred thousand francs a year, and you can seem to be paying your court
to her--”

“Ah! the young lady I sometimes see in the kiosk?”

“Yes, Mademoiselle Rosalie,” replied the Abbe de Grancey. “You are
ambitious. If she takes a fancy to you, you may be everything an
ambitious man can wish--who knows? A Minister perhaps. A man can always
be a Minister who adds a hundred thousand francs a year to your amazing
talents.”

“Monsieur l’Abbe, if Mademoiselle de Watteville had three times her
fortune, and adored me into the bargain, it would be impossible that I
should marry her--”

“You are married?” exclaimed the Abbe.

“Not in church nor before the Maire, but morally speaking,” said
Savarus.

“That is even worse when a man cares about it as you seem to care,”
 replied the Abbe. “Everything that is not done, can be undone. Do not
stake your fortune and your prospects on a woman’s liking, any more than
a wise man counts on a dead man’s shoes before starting on his way.”

“Let us say no more about Mademoiselle de Watteville,” said Albert
gravely, “and agree as to the facts. At your desire--for I have a regard
and respect for you--I will appear for Monsieur de Watteville, but
after the elections. Until then Girardet must conduct the case under my
instructions. That is the most I can do.”

“But there are questions involved which can only be settled after
inspection of the localities,” said the Vicar-General.

“Girardet can go,” said Savarus. “I cannot allow myself, in the face
of a town I know so well, to take any step which might compromise the
supreme interests that lie beyond my election.”

The Abbe left Savarus after giving him a keen look, in which he seemed
to be laughing at the young athlete’s uncompromising politics, while
admiring his firmness.

“Ah! I would have dragged my father into a lawsuit--I would have done
anything to get him here!” cried Rosalie to herself, standing in the
kiosk and looking at the lawyer in his room, the day after Albert’s
interview with the Abbe, who had reported the result to her father.
“I would have committed any mortal sin, and you will not enter the
Wattevilles’ drawing-room; I may not hear your fine voice! You make
conditions when your help is required by the Wattevilles and the
Rupts!--Well, God knows, I meant to be content with these small joys;
with seeing you, hearing you speak, going with you to les Rouxey, that
your presence might to me make the place sacred. That was all I asked.
But now--now I mean to be your wife.--Yes, yes; look at _her_ portrait,
at _her_ drawing-room, _her_ bedroom, at the four sides of _her_ villa,
the points of view from _her_ gardens. You expect her statue? I will
make her marble herself towards you!--After all, the woman does not
love. Art, science, books, singing, music, have absorbed half her senses
and her intelligence. She is old, too; she is past thirty; my Albert
will not be happy!”

“What is the matter that you stay here, Rosalie?” asked her
mother, interrupting her reflections. “Monsieur de Soulas is in the
drawing-room, and he observed your attitude, which certainly betrays
more thoughtfulness than is due at your age.”

“Then, is Monsieur de Soulas a foe to thought?” asked Rosalie.

“Then you were thinking?” said Madame de Watteville.

“Why, yes, mamma.”

“Why, no! you were not thinking. You were staring at that lawyer’s
window with an attention that is neither becoming, nor decent, and which
Monsieur de Soulas, of all men, ought never to have observed.”

“Why?” said Rosalie.

“It is time,” said the Baroness, “that you should know what our
intentions are. Amedee likes you, and you will not be unhappy as
Comtesse de Soulas.”

Rosalie, as white as a lily, made no reply, so completely was she
stupefied by contending feelings. And yet in the presence of the man she
had this instant begun to hate vehemently, she forced the kind of smile
which a ballet-dancer puts on for the public. Nay, she could even laugh;
she had the strength to conceal her rage, which presently subsided,
for she was determined to make use of this fat simpleton to further her
designs.

“Monsieur Amedee,” said she, at the moment when her mother was walking
ahead of them in the garden, affecting to leave the young people
together, “were you not aware that Monsieur Albert Savaron de Savarus is
a Legitimist?”

“A Legitimist?”

“Until 1830 he was Master of Appeals to the Council of State, attached
to the supreme Ministerial Council, and in favor with the Dauphin and
Dauphiness. It would be very good of you to say nothing against him,
but it would be better still if you would attend the election this
year, carry the day, and hinder that poor Monsieur de Chavoncourt from
representing the town of Besancon.”

“What sudden interest have you in this Savaron?”

“Monsieur Albert Savaron de Savarus, the natural son of the Comte de
Savarus--pray keep the secret of my indiscretion--if he is returned
deputy, will be our advocate in the suit about les Rouxey. Les Rouxey,
my father tells me, will be my property; I intend to live there, it is
a lovely place! I should be broken-hearted at seeing that fine piece of
the great de Watteville’s work destroyed.”

“The devil!” thought Amedee, as he left the house. “The heiress is not
such a fool as her mother thinks her.”

Monsieur de Chavoncourt is a Royalist, of the famous 221. Hence, from
the day after the revolution of July, he always preached the salutary
doctrine of taking the oaths and resisting the present order of things,
after the pattern of the Tories against the Whigs in England. This
doctrine was not acceptable to the Legitimists, who, in their defeat,
had the wit to divide in their opinions, and to trust to the force
of inertia and to Providence. Monsieur de Chavoncourt was not wholly
trusted by his own party, but seemed to the Moderates the best man to
choose; they preferred the triumph of his half-hearted opinions to
the acclamation of a Republican who should combine the votes of the
enthusiasts and the patriots. Monsieur de Chavoncourt, highly respected
in Besancon, was the representative of an old parliamentary family; his
fortune, of about fifteen thousand francs a year, was not an offence
to anybody, especially as he had a son and three daughters. With such
a family, fifteen thousand francs a year are a mere nothing. Now when,
under these circumstances, the father of the family is above bribery,
it would be hard if the electors did not esteem him. Electors wax
enthusiastic over a _beau ideal_ of parliamentary virtue, just as the
audience in the pit do at the representation of the generous sentiments
they so little practise.

Madame de Chavoncourt, at this time a woman of forty, was one of the
beauties of Besancon. While the Chamber was sitting, she lived meagrely
in one of their country places to recoup herself by economy for Monsieur
de Chavoncourt’s expenses in Paris. In the winter she received very
creditably once a week, on Tuesdays, understanding her business as
mistress of the house. Young Chavoncourt, a youth of two-and-twenty, and
another young gentleman, named Monsieur de Vauchelles, no richer than
Amedee and his school-friend, were his intimate allies. They made
excursions together to Granvelle, and sometimes went out shooting;
they were so well known to be inseparable that they were invited to the
country together.

Rosalie, who was intimate with the Chavoncourt girls, knew that the
three young men had no secrets from each other. She reflected that
if Monsieur de Soulas should repeat her words, it would be to his two
companions. Now, Monsieur de Vauchelles had his matrimonial plans,
as Amedee had his; he wished to marry Victoire, the eldest of the
Chavoncourts, on whom an old aunt was to settle an estate worth seven
thousand francs a year, and a hundred thousand francs in hard cash, when
the contract was to be signed. Victoire was this aunt’s god-daughter
and favorite niece. Consequently, young Chavoncourt and his friend
Vauchelles would be sure to warn Monsieur de Chavoncourt of the danger
he was in from Albert’s candidature.

But this did not satisfy Rosalie. She sent the Prefet of the department
a letter written with her left hand, signed “_A friend to Louis
Philippe_,” in which she informed him of the secret intentions of
Monsieur Albert de Savarus, pointing out the serious support a Royalist
orator might give to Berryer, and revealing to him the deeply artful
course pursued by the lawyer during his two years’ residence at
Besancon. The Prefet was a capable man, a personal enemy of the Royalist
party, devoted by conviction to the Government of July--in short, one of
those men of whom, in the Rue de Grenelle, the Minister of the Interior
could say, “We have a capital Prefet at Besancon.”--The Prefet read the
letter, and, in obedience to its instructions, he burnt it.

Rosalie aimed at preventing Albert’s election, so as to keep him five
years longer at Besancon.

At that time an election was a fight between parties, and in order to
win, the Ministry chose its ground by choosing the moment when it would
give battle. The elections were therefore not to take place for three
months yet. When a man’s whole life depends on an election, the
period that elapses between the issuing of the writs for convening the
electoral bodies, and the day fixed for their meetings, is an interval
during which ordinary vitality is suspended. Rosalie fully understood
how much latitude Albert’s absorbed state would leave her during these
three months. By promising Mariette--as she afterwards confessed--to
take both her and Jerome into her service, she induced the maid to bring
her all the letters Albert might sent to Italy, and those addressed
to him from that country. And all the time she was pondering these
machinations, the extraordinary girl was working slippers for her father
with the most innocent air in the world. She even made a greater display
than ever of candor and simplicity, quite understanding how valuable
that candor and innocence would be to her ends.

“My daughter grows quite charming!” said Madame de Watteville.

Two months before the election a meeting was held at the house of
Monsieur Boucher senior, composed of the contractor who expected to get
the work for the aqueduct for the Arcier waters; of Monsieur Boucher’s
father-in-law; of Monsieur Granet, the influential man to whom Savarus
had done a service, and who was to nominate him as a candidate; of
Girardet the lawyer; of the printer of the _Eastern Review_; and of the
President of the Chamber of Commerce. In fact, the assembly consisted
of twenty-seven persons in all, men who in the provinces are regarded as
bigwigs. Each man represented on an average six votes, but in estimating
their values they said ten, for men always begin by exaggerating their
own influence. Among these twenty-seven was one who was wholly devoted
to the Prefet, one false brother who secretly looked for some favor from
the Ministry, either for himself or for some one belonging to him.

At this preliminary meeting, it was agreed that Savaron the lawyer
should be named as candidate, a motion received with such enthusiasm
as no one looked for from Besancon. Albert, waiting at home for Alfred
Boucher to fetch him, was chatting with the Abbe de Grancey, who was
interested in this absorbing ambition. Albert had appreciated the
priest’s vast political capacities; and the priest, touched by the young
man’s entreaties, had been willing to become his guide and adviser
in this culminating struggle. The Chapter did not love Monsieur de
Chavoncourt, for it was his wife’s brother-in-law, as President of the
Tribunal, who had lost the famous suit for them in the lower Court.

“You are betrayed, my dear fellow,” said the shrewd and worthy Abbe, in
that gentle, calm voice which old priests acquire.

“Betrayed!” cried the lover, struck to the heart.

“By whom I know not at all,” the priest replied. “But at the Prefecture
your plans are known, and your hand read like a book. At this moment I
have no advice to give you. Such affairs need consideration. As for this
evening, take the bull by the horns, anticipate the blow. Tell them
all your previous life, and thus you will mitigate the effect of the
discovery on the good folks of Besancon.”

“Oh, I was prepared for it,” said Albert in a broken voice.

“You would not benefit by my advice; you had the opportunity of making
an impression at the Hotel de Rupt; you do not know the advantage you
would have gained--”

“What?”

“The unanimous support of the Royalists, an immediate readiness to go
to the election--in short, above a hundred votes. Adding to these what,
among ourselves, we call the ecclesiastical vote, though you were
not yet nominated, you were master of the votes by ballot. Under such
circumstances, a man may temporize, may make his way--”

Alfred Boucher when he came in, full of enthusiasm, to announce the
decision of the preliminary meeting, found the Vicar-General and the
lawyer cold, calm, and grave.

“Good-night, Monsieur l’Abbe,” said Albert. “We will talk of your
business at greater length when the elections are over.”

And he took Alfred’s arm, after pressing Monsieur de Grancey’s hand
with meaning. The priest looked at the ambitious man, whose face at that
moment wore the lofty expression which a general may have when he hears
the first gun fired for a battle. He raised his eyes to heaven, and left
the room, saying to himself, “What a priest he would make!”

Eloquence is not at the Bar. The pleader rarely puts forth the real
powers of his soul; if he did, he would die of it in a few years.
Eloquence is, nowadays, rarely in the pulpit; but it is found on certain
occasions in the Chamber of Deputies, when an ambitious man stakes all
to win all, or, stung by a myriad darts, at a given moment bursts into
speech. But it is still more certainly found in some privileged beings,
at the inevitable hour when their claims must either triumph or be
wrecked, and when they are forced to speak. Thus at this meeting, Albert
Savarus, feeling the necessity of winning himself some supporters,
displayed all the faculties of his soul and the resources of his
intellect. He entered the room well, without awkwardness or arrogance,
without weakness, without cowardice, quite gravely, and was not dismayed
at finding himself among twenty or thirty men. The news of the meeting
and of its determination had already brought a few docile sheep to
follow the bell.

Before listening to Monsieur Boucher, who was about to deluge him with
a speech announcing the decision of the Boucher Committee, Albert begged
for silence, and, as he shook hands with Monsieur Boucher, tried to warn
him, by a sign, of an unexpected danger.

“My young friend, Alfred Boucher, has just announced to me the honor you
have done me. But before that decision is irrevocable,” said the lawyer,
“I think that I ought to explain to you who and what your candidate is,
so as to leave you free to take back your word if my declaration should
disturb your conscience!”

This exordium was followed by profound silence. Some of the men thought
it showed a noble impulse.

Albert gave a sketch of his previous career, telling them his real name,
his action under the Restoration, and revealing himself as a new man
since his arrival at Besancon, while pledging himself for the future.
This address held his hearers breathless, it was said. These men, all
with different interests, were spellbound by the brilliant eloquence
that flowed at boiling heat from the heart and soul of this ambitious
spirit. Admiration silenced reflection. Only one thing was clear--the
thing which Albert wished to get into their heads:

Was it not far better for the town to have one of those men who are
born to govern society at large than a mere voting-machine? A statesman
carries power with him. A commonplace deputy, however incorruptible, is
but a conscience. What a glory for Provence to have found a Mirabeau,
to return the only statesman since 1830 that the revolution of July had
produced!

Under the pressure of this eloquence, all the audience believed it great
enough to become a splendid political instrument in the hands of their
representative. They all saw in Albert Savaron, Savarus the great
Minister. And, reading the secret calculations of his constituents, the
clever candidate gave them to understand that they would be the first to
enjoy the right of profiting by his influence.

This confession of faith, this ambitious programme, this retrospect of
his life and character was, according to the only man present who was
capable of judging of Savarus (he has since become one of the leading
men of Besancon), a masterpiece of skill and of feeling, of fervor,
interest, and fascination. This whirlwind carried away the electors.
Never had any man had such a triumph. But, unfortunately, speech, a
weapon only for close warfare, has only an immediate effect. Reflection
kills the word when the word ceases to overpower reflection. If the
votes had then been taken, Albert’s name would undoubtedly have come out
of the ballot-box. At the moment, he was conqueror. But he must conquer
every day for two months.

Albert went home quivering. The townsfolk had applauded him, and he had
achieved the great point of silencing beforehand the malignant talk
to which his early career might give rise. The commercial interest of
Besancon had nominated the lawyer, Albert Savaron de Savarus, as its
candidate.

Alfred Boucher’s enthusiasm, at first infectious, presently became
blundering.

The Prefet, alarmed by this success, set to work to count the
Ministerial votes, and contrived to have a secret interview with
Monsieur de Chavoncourt, so as to effect a coalition in their common
interests. Every day, without Albert’s being able to discover how, the
voters in the Boucher committee diminished in number.

Nothing could resist the slow grinding of the Prefecture. Three of four
clever men would say to Albert’s clients, “Will the deputy defend you
and win your lawsuits? Will he give you advice, draw up your contracts,
arrange your compromises?--He will be your slave for five years longer,
if, instead of returning him to the Chamber, you only hold out the hope
of his going there five years hence.”

This calculation did Savarus all the more mischief, because the wives of
some of the merchants had already made it. The parties interested in the
matter of the bridge and that of the water from Arcier could not hold
out against a talking-to from a clever Ministerialist, who proved to
them that their safety lay at the Prefecture, and not in the hands of
an ambitious man. Each day was a check for Savarus, though each day the
battle was led by him and fought by his lieutenants--a battle of words,
speeches, and proceedings. He dared not go to the Vicar-General, and
the Vicar-General never showed himself. Albert rose and went to bed in a
fever, his brain on fire.

At last the day dawned of the first struggle, practically the show of
hands; the votes are counted, the candidates estimate their chances,
and clever men can prophesy their failure or success. It is a decent
hustings, without the mob, but formidable; agitation, though it is
not allowed any physical display, as it is in England, is not the less
profound. The English fight these battles with their fists, the French
with hard words. Our neighbors have a scrimmage, the French try their
fate by cold combinations calmly worked out. This particular political
business is carried out in opposition to the character of the two
nations.

The Radical party named their candidate; Monsieur de Chavoncourt came
forward; then Albert appeared, and was accused by the Chavoncourt
committee and the Radicals of being an uncompromising man of the Right,
a second Berryer. The Ministry had their candidate, a stalking-horse,
useful only to receive the purely Ministerial votes. The votes, thus
divided, gave no result. The Republican candidate had twenty, the
Ministry got fifty, Albert had seventy, Monsieur de Chavoncourt obtained
sixty-seven. But the Prefet’s party had perfidiously made thirty of its
most devoted adherents vote for Albert, so as to deceive the enemy. The
votes for Monsieur de Chavoncourt, added to the eighty votes--the real
number--at the disposal of the Prefecture, would carry the election, if
only the Prefet could succeed in gaining over a few of the Radicals.
A hundred and sixty votes were not recorded: those of Monsieur de
Grancey’s following and the Legitimists.

The show of hands at an election, like a dress rehearsal at a theatre,
is the most deceptive thing in the world. Albert Savarus came home,
putting a brave face on the matter, but half dead. He had had the wit,
the genius, or the good luck to gain, within the last fortnight, two
staunch supporters--Girardet’s father-in-law and a very shrewd old
merchant to whom Monsieur de Grancey had sent him. These two worthy men,
his self-appointed spies, affected to be Albert’s most ardent opponents
in the hostile camp. Towards the end of the show of hands they informed
Savarus, through the medium of Monsieur Boucher, that thirty voters,
unknown, were working against him in his party, playing the same trick
that they were playing for his benefit on the other side.

A criminal marching to execution could not suffer as Albert suffered as
he went home from the hall where his fate was at stake. The despairing
lover could endure no companionship. He walked through the streets
alone, between eleven o’clock and midnight. At one in the morning,
Albert, to whom sleep had been unknown for the past three days, was
sitting in his library in a deep armchair, his face as pale as if he
were dying, his hands hanging limp, in a forlorn attitude worthy of the
Magdalen. Tears hung on his long lashes, tears that dim the eyes, but do
not fall; fierce thought drinks them up, the fire of the soul consumes
them. Alone, he might weep. And then, under the kiosk, he saw a white
figure, which reminded him of Francesca.

“And for three months I have had no letter from her! What has become of
her? I have not written for two months, but I warned her. Is she ill?
Oh, my love! My life! Will you ever know what I have gone through? What
a wretched constitution is mine! Have I an aneurism?” he asked himself,
feeling his heart beat so violently that its pulses seemed audible in
the silence like little grains of sand dropping on a big drum.

At this moment three distinct taps sounded on his door; Albert hastened
to open it, and almost fainted with joy at seeing the Vicar-General’s
cheerful and triumphant mien. Without a word, he threw his arms round
the Abbe de Grancey, held him fast, and clasped him closely, letting his
head fall on the old man’s shoulder. He was a child again; he cried as
he had cried on hearing that Francesca Soderini was a married woman. He
betrayed his weakness to no one but to this priest, on whose face shone
the light of hope. The priest had been sublime, and as shrewd as he was
sublime.

“Forgive me, dear Abbe, but you come at one of those moments when the
man vanishes, for you are not to think me vulgarly ambitious.”

“Oh! I know,” replied the Abbe. “You wrote ‘_Ambition for love’s
sake_!’--Ah! my son, it was love in despair that made me a priest in
1786, at the age of two-and-twenty. In 1788 I was in charge of a parish.
I know life.--I have refused three bishoprics already; I mean to die at
Besancon.”

“Come and see her!” cried Savarus, seizing a candle, and leading the
Abbe into the handsome room where hung the portrait of the Duchesse
d’Argaiolo, which he lighted up.

“She is one of those women who are born to reign!” said the
Vicar-General, understanding how great an affection Albert showed him
by this mark of confidence. “But there is pride on that brow; it is
implacable; she would never forgive an insult! It is the Archangel
Michael, the angel of Execution, the inexorable angel--‘All or nothing’
is the motto of this type of angel. There is something divinely pitiless
in that head.”

“You have guessed well,” cried Savarus. “But, my dear Abbe, for more
than twelve years now she had reigned over my life, and I have not a
thought for which to blame myself--”

“Ah! if you could only say the same of God!” said the priest with
simplicity. “Now, to talk of your affairs. For ten days I have been at
work for you. If you are a real politician, this time you will follow my
advice. You would not be where you are now if you would have gone to the
Wattevilles when I first told you. But you must go there to-morrow; I
will take you in the evening. The Rouxey estates are in danger; the case
must be defended within three days. The election will not be over in
three days. They will take good care not to appoint examiners the first
day. There will be several voting days, and you will be elected by
ballot--”

“How can that be?” asked Savarus.

“By winning the Rouxey lawsuit you will gain eighty Legitimist votes;
add them to the thirty I can command, and you have a hundred and ten.
Then, as twenty remain to you of the Boucher committee, you will have a
hundred and thirty in all.”

“Well,” said Albert, “we must get seventy-five more.”

“Yes,” said the priest, “since all the rest are Ministerial. But, my
son, you have two hundred votes, and the Prefecture no more than a
hundred and eighty.”

“I have two hundred votes?” said Albert, standing stupid with amazement,
after starting to his feet as if shot up by a spring.

“You have those of Monsieur de Chavoncourt,” said the Abbe.

“How?” said Albert.

“You will marry Mademoiselle Sidonie de Chavoncourt.”

“Never!”

“You will marry Mademoiselle Sidonie de Chavoncourt,” the priest
repeated coldly.

“But you see--she is inexorable,” said Albert, pointing to Francesca.

“You will marry Mademoiselle Sidonie de Chavoncourt,” said the Abbe
calmly for the third time.

This time Albert understood. The Vicar-General would not be implicated
in a scheme which at last smiled on the despairing politician. A word
more would have compromised the priest’s dignity and honor.

“To-morrow evening at the Hotel de Rupt you will meet Madame de
Chavoncourt and her second daughter. You can thank her beforehand for
what she is going to do for you, and tell her that your gratitude is
unbounded, that you are hers body and soul, that henceforth your future
is that of her family. You are quite disinterested, for you have so much
confidence in yourself that you regard the nomination as deputy as a
sufficient fortune.

“You will have a struggle with Madame de Chavoncourt; she will want you
to pledge your word. All your future life, my son, lies in that evening.
But, understand clearly, I have nothing to do with it. I am answerable
only for Legitimist voters; I have secured Madame de Watteville,
and that means all the aristocracy of Besancon. Amedee de Soulas and
Vauchelles, who will both vote for you, have won over the young men;
Madame de Watteville will get the old ones. As to my electors, they are
infallible.”

“And who on earth has gained over Madame de Chavoncourt?” asked Savarus.

“Ask me no questions,” replied the Abbe. “Monsieur de Chavoncourt, who
has three daughters to marry, is not capable of increasing his wealth.
Though Vauchelles marries the eldest without anything from her father,
because her old aunt is to settle something on her, what is to become
of the two others? Sidonie is sixteen, and your ambition is as good as
a gold mine. Some one has told Madame de Chavoncourt that she will do
better by getting her daughter married than by sending her husband to
waste his money in Paris. That some one manages Madame de Chavoncourt,
and Madame de Chavoncourt manages her husband.”

“That is enough, my dear Abbe. I understand. When once I am returned as
deputy, I have somebody’s fortune to make, and by making it large enough
I shall be released from my promise. In me you have a son, a man who
will owe his happiness to you. Great heavens! what have I done to
deserve so true a friend?”

“You won a triumph for the Chapter,” said the Vicar-General, smiling.
“Now, as to all this, be as secret as the tomb. We are nothing, we have
done nothing. If we were known to have meddled in election matters, we
should be eaten up alive by the Puritans of the Left--who do worse--and
blamed by some of our own party, who want everything. Madame de
Chavoncourt has no suspicion of my share in all this. I have confided
in no one but Madame de Watteville, whom we may trust as we trust
ourselves.”

“I will bring the Duchess to you to be blessed!” cried Savarus.

After seeing out the old priest, Albert went to bed in the swaddling
clothes of power.

* * * * *

Next evening, as may well be supposed, by nine o’clock Madame la Baronne
de Watteville’s rooms were crowded by the aristocracy of Besancon in
convocation extraordinary. They were discussing the exceptional step
of going to the poll, to oblige the daughter of the Rupts. It was known
that the former Master of Appeals, the secretary of one of the most
faithful ministers under the Elder Branch, was to be presented that
evening. Madame de Chavoncourt was there with her second daughter
Sidonie, exquisitely dressed, while her elder sister, secure of her
lover, had not indulged in any of the arts of the toilet. In country
towns these little things are remarked. The Abbe de Grancey’s fine and
clever head was to be seen moving from group to group, listening to
everything, seeming to be apart from it all, but uttering those incisive
phrases which sum up a question and direct the issue.

“If the Elder Branch were to return,” said he to an old statesman of
seventy, “what politicians would they find?”--“Berryer, alone on his
bench, does not know which way to turn; if he had sixty votes, he would
often scotch the wheels of the Government and upset Ministries!”--“The
Duc de Fitz-James is to be nominated at Toulouse.”--“You will enable
Monsieur de Watteville to win his lawsuit.”--“If you vote for Monsieur
Savarus, the Republicans will vote with you rather than with the
Moderates!” etc., etc.

At nine o’clock Albert had not arrived. Madame de Watteville was
disposed to regard such delay as an impertinence.

“My dear Baroness,” said Madame de Chavoncourt, “do not let such serious
issues turn on such a trifle. The varnish on his boots is not dry--or a
consultation, perhaps, detains Monsieur de Savarus.”

Rosalie shot a side glance at Madame de Chavoncourt.

“She is very lenient to Monsieur de Savarus,” she whispered to her
mother.

“You see,” said the Baroness with a smile, “there is a question of a
marriage between Sidonie and Monsieur de Savarus.”

Mademoiselle de Watteville hastily went to a window looking out over the
garden.

At ten o’clock Albert de Savarus had not yet appeared. The storm that
threatened now burst. Some of the gentlemen sat down to cards, finding
the thing intolerable. The Abbe de Grancey, who did not know what to
think, went to the window where Rosalie was hidden, and exclaimed aloud
in his amazement, “He must be dead!”

The Vicar-General stepped out into the garden, followed by Monsieur de
Watteville and his daughter, and they all three went up to the kiosk. In
Albert’s rooms all was dark; not a light was to be seen.

“Jerome!” cried Rosalie, seeing the servant in the yard below. The Abbe
looked at her with astonishment. “Where in the world is your master?”
 she asked the man, who came to the foot of the wall.

“Gone--in a post-chaise, mademoiselle.”

“He is ruined!” exclaimed the Abbe de Grancey, “or he is happy!”

The joy of triumph was not so effectually concealed on Rosalie’s face
that the Vicar-General could not detect it. He affected to see nothing.

“What can this girl have had to do with this business?” he asked
himself.

They all three returned to the drawing-room, where Monsieur de
Watteville announced the strange, the extraordinary, the prodigious news
of the lawyer’s departure, without any reason assigned for his evasion.
By half-past eleven only fifteen persons remained, among them Madame de
Chavoncourt and the Abbe de Godenars, another Vicar-General, a man of
about forty, who hoped for a bishopric, the two Chavoncourt girls, and
Monsieur de Vauchelles, the Abbe de Grancey, Rosalie, Amedee de Soulas,
and a retired magistrate, one of the most influential members of the
upper circle of Besancon, who had been very eager for Albert’s election.
The Abbe de Grancey sat down by the Baroness in such a position as to
watch Rosalie, whose face, usually pale, wore a feverish flush.

“What can have happened to Monsieur de Savarus?” said Madame de
Chavoncourt.

At this moment a servant in livery brought in a letter for the Abbe de
Grancey on a silver tray.

“Pray read it,” said the Baroness.

The Vicar-General read the letter; he saw Rosalie suddenly turn as white
as her kerchief.

“She recognizes the writing,” said he to himself, after glancing at the
girl over his spectacles. He folded up the letter, and calmly put it in
his pocket without a word. In three minutes he had met three looks from
Rosalie which were enough to make him guess everything.

“She is in love with Albert Savarus!” thought the Vicar-General.

He rose and took leave. He was going towards the door when, in the next
room, he was overtaken by Rosalie, who said:

“Monsieur de Grancey, it was from Albert!”

“How do you know that it was his writing, to recognize it from so far?”

The girl’s reply, caught as she was in the toils of her impatience and
rage, seemed to the Abbe sublime.

“I love him!--What is the matter?” she said after a pause.

“He gives up the election.”

Rosalie put her finger to her lip.

“I ask you to be as secret as if it were a confession,” said she before
returning to the drawing-room. “If there is an end of the election,
there is an end of the marriage with Sidonie.”

* * * * *

In the morning, on her way to Mass, Mademoiselle de Watteville heard
from Mariette some of the circumstances which had prompted Albert’s
disappearance at the most critical moment of his life.

“Mademoiselle, an old gentleman from Paris arrived yesterday morning at
the Hotel National; he came in his own carriage with four horses, and
a courier in front, and a servant. Indeed, Jerome, who saw the carriage
returning, declares he could only be a prince or a _milord_.”

“Was there a coronet on the carriage?” asked Rosalie.

“I do not know,” said Mariette. “Just as two was striking he came to
call on Monsieur Savarus, and sent in his card; and when he saw it,
Jerome says Monsieur turned as pale as a sheet, and said he was to be
shown in. As he himself locked the door, it is impossible to tell what
the old gentleman and the lawyer said to each other; but they were
together above an hour, and then the old gentleman, with the lawyer,
called up his servant. Jerome saw the servant go out again with an
immense package, four feet long, which looked like a great painting
on canvas. The old gentleman had in his hand a large parcel of papers.
Monsieur Savaron was paler than death, and he, so proud, so dignified,
was in a state to be pitied. But he treated the old gentleman so
respectfully that he could not have been politer to the King himself.
Jerome and Monsieur Albert Savaron escorted the gentleman to his
carriage, which was standing with the horses in. The courier started on
the stroke of three.

“Monsieur Savaron went straight to the Prefecture, and from that to
Monsieur Gentillet, who sold him the old traveling carriage that used
to belong to Madame de Saint-Vier before she died; then he ordered post
horses for six o’clock. He went home to pack; no doubt he wrote a lot of
letters; finally, he settled everything with Monsieur Girardet, who went
to him and stayed till seven. Jerome carried a note to Monsieur Boucher,
with whom his master was to have dined; and then, at half-past seven,
the lawyer set out, leaving Jerome with three months’ wages, and telling
him to find another place.

“He left his keys with Monsieur Girardet, whom he took home, and at
his house, Jerome says, he took a plate of soup, for at half-past seven
Monsieur Girardet had not yet dined. When Monsieur Savaron got into the
carriage he looked like death. Jerome, who, of course, saw his master
off, heard him tell the postilion ‘The Geneva Road!’”

“Did Jerome ask the name of the stranger at the Hotel National?”

“As the old gentleman did not mean to stay, he was not asked for it. The
servant, by his orders no doubt, pretended not to speak French.”

“And the letter which came so late to Abbe de Grancey?” said Rosalie.

“It was Monsieur Girardet, no doubt, who ought to have delivered it; but
Jerome says that poor Monsieur Girardet, who was much attached to lawyer
Savaron, was as much upset as he was. So he who came so mysteriously, as
Mademoiselle Galard says, is gone away just as mysteriously.”

After hearing this narrative, Mademoiselle de Watteville fell into a
brooding and absent mood, which everybody could see. It is useless
to say anything of the commotion that arose in Besancon on the
disappearance of Monsieur Savaron. It was understood that the Prefect
had obliged him with the greatest readiness by giving him at once a
passport across the frontier, for he was thus quit of his only opponent.
Next day Monsieur de Chavoncourt was carried to the top by a majority of
a hundred and forty votes.

“Jack is gone by the way he came,” said an elector on hearing of Albert
Savaron’s flight.

This event lent weight to the prevailing prejudice at Besancon against
strangers; indeed, two years previously they had received confirmation
from the affair of the Republican newspaper. Ten days later Albert de
Savarus was never spoken of again. Only three persons--Girardet the
attorney, the Vicar-General, and Rosalie--were seriously affected by his
disappearance. Girardet knew that the white-haired stranger was Prince
Soderini, for he had seen his card, and he told the Vicar-General; but
Rosalie, better informed than either of them, had known for three months
past that the Duc d’Argaiolo was dead.

In the month of April 1836 no one had had any news from or of Albert
de Savarus. Jerome and Mariette were to be married, but the Baroness
confidentially desired her maid to wait till her daughter was married,
saying that the two weddings might take place at the same time.

“It is time that Rosalie should be married,” said the Baroness one
day to Monsieur de Watteville. “She is nineteen, and she is fearfully
altered in these last months.”

“I do not know what ails her,” said the Baron.

“When fathers do not know what ails their daughters, mothers can guess,”
 said the Baroness; “we must get her married.”

“I am quite willing,” said the Baron. “I shall give her les Rouxey now
that the Court has settled our quarrel with the authorities of Riceys by
fixing the boundary line at three hundred feet up the side of the Dent
de Vilard. I am having a trench made to collect all the water and carry
it into the lake. The village did not appeal, so the decision is final.”

“It has never occurred to you,” said Madame de Watteville, “that this
decision cost me thirty thousand francs handed over to Chantonnit. That
peasant would take nothing else; he sold us peace.--If you give away les
Rouxey, you will have nothing left,” said the Baroness.

“I do not need much,” said the Baron; “I am breaking up.”

“You eat like an ogre!”

“Just so. But however much I may eat, I feel my legs get weaker and
weaker--”

“It is from working the lathe,” said his wife.

“I do not know,” said he.

“We will marry Rosalie to Monsieur de Soulas; if you give her les
Rouxey, keep the life interest. I will give them fifteen thousand francs
a year in the funds. Our children can live here; I do not see that they
are much to be pitied.”

“No. I shall give them les Rouxey out and out. Rosalie is fond of les
Rouxey.”

“You are a queer man with your daughter! It does not occur to you to ask
me if I am fond of les Rouxey.”

Rosalie, at once sent for, was informed that she was to marry Monsieur
de Soulas one day early in the month of May.

“I am very much obliged to you, mother, and to you too, father, for
having thought of settling me; but I do not mean to marry; I am very
happy with you.”

“Mere speeches!” said the Baroness. “You are not in love with Monsieur
de Soulas, that is all.”

“If you insist on the plain truth, I will never marry Monsieur de
Soulas--”

“Oh! the _never_ of a girl of nineteen!” retorted her mother, with a
bitter smile.

“The _never_ of Mademoiselle de Watteville,” said Rosalie with firm
decision. “My father, I imagine, has no intention of making me marry
against my wishes?”

“No, indeed no!” said the poor Baron, looking affectionately at his
daughter.

“Very well!” said the Baroness, sternly controlling the rage of a bigot
startled at finding herself unexpectedly defied, “you yourself, Monsieur
de Watteville, may take the responsibility of settling your daughter.
Consider well, mademoiselle, for if you do not marry to my mind you will
get nothing out of me!”

The quarrel thus begun between Madame de Watteville and her husband, who
took his daughter’s part, went so far that Rosalie and her father were
obliged to spend the summer at les Rouxey; life at the Hotel de Rupt
was unendurable. It thus became known in Besancon that Mademoiselle de
Watteville had positively refused the Comte de Soulas.

After their marriage Mariette and Jerome came to les Rouxey to succeed
to Modinier in due time. The Baron restored and repaired the house to
suit his daughter’s taste. When she heard that these improvements had
cost about sixty thousand francs, and that Rosalie and her father were
building a conservatory, the Baroness understood that there was a leaven
of spite in her daughter. The Baron purchased various outlying plots,
and a little estate worth thirty thousand francs. Madame de Watteville
was told that, away from her, Rosalie showed masterly qualities, that
she was taking steps to improve the value of les Rouxey, that she had
treated herself to a riding habit and rode about; her father, whom she
made very happy, who no longer complained of his health, and who was
growing fat, accompanied her in her expeditions. As the Baroness’
name-day grew near--her name was Louise--the Vicar-General came one day
to les Rouxey, deputed, no doubt, by Madame de Watteville and Monsieur
de Soulas, to negotiate a peace between mother and daughter.

“That little Rosalie has a head on her shoulders,” said the folk of
Besancon.

After handsomely paying up the ninety thousand francs spent on les
Rouxey, the Baroness allowed her husband a thousand francs a month to
live on; she would not put herself in the wrong. The father and daughter
were perfectly willing to return to Besancon for the 15th of August, and
to remain there till the end of the month.

When, after dinner, the Vicar-General took Mademoiselle de Watteville
apart, to open the question of the marriage, by explaining to her that
it was vain to think any more of Albert, of whom they had had no news
for a year past, he was stopped at once by a sign from Rosalie. The
strange girl took Monsieur de Grancey by the arm, and led him to a seat
under a clump of rhododendrons, whence there was a view of the lake.

“Listen, dear Abbe,” said she. “You whom I love as much as my father,
for you had an affection for my Albert, I must at last confess that I
committed crimes to become his wife, and he must be my husband.--Here;
read this.”

She held out to him a number of the _Gazette_ which she had in her apron
pocket, pointing out the following paragraph under the date of Florence,
May 25th:--


  “The wedding of Monsieur le Duc de Rhetore, eldest son of the Duc
  de Chaulieu, the former Ambassador, to Madame la Duchesse
  d’Argaiolo, _nee_ Princess Soderini, was solemnized with great
  splendor. Numerous entertainments given in honor of the marriage
  are making Florence gay. The Duchess’ fortune is one of the finest
  in Italy, for the late Duke left her everything.”


“The woman he loved is married,” said she. “I divided them.”

“You? How?” asked the Abbe.

Rosalie was about to reply, when she was interrupted by a loud cry from
two of the gardeners, following on the sound of a body falling into the
water; she started, and ran off screaming, “Oh! father!”--The Baron had
disappeared.

In trying to reach a piece of granite on which he fancied he saw the
impression of a shell, a circumstance which would have contradicted some
system of geology, Monsieur de Watteville had gone down the slope, lost
his balance, and slipped into the lake, which, of course, was deepest
close under the roadway. The men had the greatest difficulty in enabling
the Baron to catch hold of a pole pushed down at the place where the
water was bubbling, but at last they pulled him out, covered with mud,
in which he had sunk; he was getting deeper and deeper in, by dint of
struggling. Monsieur de Watteville had dined heavily, digestion was in
progress, and was thus checked.

When he had been undressed, washed, and put to bed, he was in such
evident danger that two servants at once set out on horseback: one to
ride to Besancon, and the other to fetch the nearest doctor and surgeon.
When Madame de Watteville arrived, eight hours later, with the first
medical aid from Besancon, they found Monsieur de Watteville past all
hope, in spite of the intelligent treatment of the Rouxey doctor. The
fright had produced serious effusion on the brain, and the shock to the
digestion was helping to kill the poor man.

This death, which would never have happened, said Madame de Watteville,
if her husband had stayed at Besancon, was ascribed by her to her
daughter’s obstinacy. She took an aversion for Rosalie, abandoning
herself to grief and regrets that were evidently exaggerated. She spoke
of the Baron as “her dear lamb!”

The last of the Wattevilles was buried on an island in the lake at les
Rouxey, where the Baroness had a little Gothic monument erected of white
marble, like that called the tomb of Heloise at Pere-Lachaise.

A month after this catastrophe the mother and daughter had settled
in the Hotel de Rupt, where they lived in savage silence. Rosalie was
suffering from real sorrow, which had no visible outlet; she accused
herself of her father’s death, and she feared another disaster, much
greater in her eyes, and very certainly her own work; neither Girardet
the attorney nor the Abbe de Grancey could obtain any information
concerning Albert. This silence was appalling. In a paroxysm of
repentance she felt that she must confess to the Vicar-General the
horrible machinations by which she had separated Francesca and Albert.
They had been simple, but formidable. Mademoiselle de Watteville had
intercepted Albert’s letters to the Duchess as well as that in which
Francesca announced her husband’s illness, warning her lover that she
could write to him no more during the time while she was devoted, as was
her duty, to the care of the dying man. Thus, while Albert was wholly
occupied with election matters, the Duchess had written him only two
letters; one in which she told him that the Duc d’Argaiolo was in
danger, and one announcing her widowhood--two noble and beautiful
letters which Rosalie kept back.

After several nights’ labor she succeeded in imitating Albert’s writing
very perfectly. She had substituted three letters of her own writing
for three of Albert’s, and the rough copies which she showed to the old
priest made him shudder--the genius of evil was revealed in them to such
perfection. Rosalie, writing in Albert’s name, had prepared the Duchess
for a change in the Frenchman’s feelings, falsely representing him as
faithless, and she had answered the news of the Duc d’Argaiolo’s death
by announcing the marriage ere long of Albert and Mademoiselle de
Watteville. The two letters, intended to cross on the road, had, in
fact, done so. The infernal cleverness with which the letters were
written so much astonished the Vicar-General that he read them a second
time. Francesca, stabbed to the heart by a girl who wanted to kill love
in her rival, had answered the last in these four words: “You are free.
Farewell.”

“Purely moral crimes, which give no hold to human justice, are the most
atrocious and detestable,” said the Abbe severely. “God often punishes
them on earth; herein lies the reason of the terrible catastrophes which
to us seem inexplicable. Of all secret crimes buried in the mystery of
private life, the most disgraceful is that of breaking the seal of a
letter, or of reading it surreptitiously. Every one, whoever it may be,
and urged by whatever reason, who is guilty of such an act has stained
his honor beyond retrieving.

“Do you not feel all that is touching, that is heavenly in the story of
the youthful page, falsely accused, and carrying the letter containing
the order for his execution, who sets out without a thought of ill, and
whom Providence protects and saves--miraculously, we say! But do you
know wherein the miracle lies? Virtue has a glory as potent as that of
innocent childhood.

“I say these things not meaning to admonish you,” said the old priest,
with deep grief. “I, alas! am not your spiritual director; you are not
kneeling at the feet of God; I am your friend, appalled by dread of what
your punishment may be. What has become of that unhappy Albert? Has
he, perhaps, killed himself? There was tremendous passion under his
assumption of calm. I understand now that old Prince Soderini, the
father of the Duchess d’Argaiolo, came here to take back his daughter’s
letters and portraits. This was the thunderbolt that fell on Albert’s
head, and he went off, no doubt, to try to justify himself. But how is
it that in fourteen months he has given us no news of himself?”

“Oh! if I marry him, he will be so happy!”

“Happy?--He does not love you. Besides, you have no great fortune to
give him. Your mother detests you; you made her a fierce reply which
rankles, and which will be your ruin. When she told you yesterday that
obedience was the only way to repair your errors, and reminded you of
the need for marrying, mentioning Amedee--‘If you are so fond of him,
marry him yourself, mother!’--Did you, or did you not, fling these words
in her teeth?”

“Yes,” said Rosalie.

“Well, I know her,” Monsieur de Grancey went on. “In a few months she
will be Comtesse de Soulas! She will be sure to have children; she will
give Monsieur de Soulas forty thousand francs a year; she will benefit
him in other ways, and reduce your share of her fortune as much
as possible. You will be poor as long as she lives, and she is but
eight-and-thirty! Your whole estate will be the land of les Rouxey, and
the small share left to you after your father’s legal debts are settled,
if, indeed, your mother should consent to forego her claims on les
Rouxey. From the point of view of material advantages, you have done
badly for yourself; from the point of view of feeling, I imagine you
have wrecked your life. Instead of going to your mother--” Rosalie shook
her head fiercely.

“To your mother,” the priest went on, “and to religion, where you would,
at the first impulse of your heart, have found enlightenment, counsel,
and guidance, you chose to act in your own way, knowing nothing of life,
and listening only to passion!”

These words of wisdom terrified Mademoiselle de Watteville.

“And what ought I to do now?” she asked after a pause.

“To repair your wrong-doing, you must ascertain its extent,” said the
Abbe.

“Well, I will write to the only man who can know anything of Albert’s
fate, Monsieur Leopold Hannequin, a notary in Paris, his friend since
childhood.”

“Write no more, unless to do honor to truth,” said the Vicar-General.
“Place the real and the false letters in my hands, confess everything in
detail as though I were the keeper of your conscience, asking me how you
may expiate your sins, and doing as I bid you. I shall see--for, above
all things, restore this unfortunate man to his innocence in the eyes
of the woman he had made his divinity on earth. Though he has lost his
happiness, Albert must still hope for justification.”

Rosalie promised to obey the Abbe, hoping that the steps he might take
would perhaps end in bringing Albert back to her.

Not long after Mademoiselle de Watteville’s confession a clerk came to
Besancon from Monsieur Leopold Hannequin, armed with a power of
attorney from Albert; he called first on Monsieur Girardet, begging
his assistance in selling the house belonging to Monsieur Savaron. The
attorney undertook to do this out of friendship for Albert. The clerk
from Paris sold the furniture, and with the proceeds could repay
some money owed by Savaron to Girardet, who on the occasion of
his inexplicable departure had lent him five thousand francs while
undertaking to collect his assets. When Girardet asked what had become
of the handsome and noble pleader, to whom he had been so much attached,
the clerk replied that no one knew but his master, and that the notary
had seemed greatly distressed by the contents of the last letter he had
received from Monsieur Albert de Savarus.

On hearing this, the Vicar-General wrote to Leopold. This was the worthy
notary’s reply:--


  “To Monsieur l’Abbe de Grancey,
    Vicar-General of the Diocese of Besancon.

                                           “PARIS.

  “Alas, monsieur, it is in nobody’s power to restore Albert to the
  life of the world; he has renounced it. He is a novice in the
  monastery of the Grand Chartreuse near Grenoble. You know, better
  than I who have but just learned it, that on the threshold of that
  cloister everything dies. Albert, foreseeing that I should go to
  him, placed the General of the Order between my utmost efforts and
  himself. I know his noble soul well enough to be sure that he is
  the victim of some odious plot unknown to us; but everything is at
  an end. The Duchesse d’Argaiolo, now Duchesse de Rhetore, seems to
  me to have carried severity to an extreme. At Belgirate, which she
  had left when Albert flew thither, she had left instructions
  leading him to believe that she was living in London. From London
  Albert went in search of her to Naples, and from Naples to Rome,
  where she was now engaged to the Duc de Rhetore. When Albert
  succeeded in seeing Madame d’Argaiolo, at Florence, it was at the
  ceremony of her marriage.

  “Our poor friend swooned in the church, and even when he was in
  danger of death he could never obtain any explanation from this
  woman, who must have had I know not what in her heart. For seven
  months Albert had traveled in pursuit of a cruel creature who
  thought it sport to escape him; he knew not where or how to catch
  her.

  “I saw him on his way through Paris; and if you had seen him, as I
  did, you would have felt that not a word might be spoken about the
  Duchess, at the risk of bringing on an attack which might have
  wrecked his reason. If he had known what his crime was, he might
  have found means to justify himself; but being falsely accused of
  being married!--what could he do? Albert is dead, quite dead to
  the world. He longed for rest; let us hope that the deep silence
  and prayer into which he has thrown himself may give him happiness
  in another guise. You, monsieur, who have known him, must greatly
  pity him; and pity his friends also.

“Yours, etc.”


As soon as he received this letter the good Vicar-General wrote to the
General of the Carthusian order, and this was the letter he received
from Albert Savarus:--


  “Brother Albert to Monsieur l’Abbe de Grancey,
    Vicar-General of the Diocese of Besancon.

                                         “LA GRANDE CHARTREUSE.

  “I recognized your tender soul, dear and well-beloved
  Vicar-General, and your still youthful heart, in all that the
  Reverend Father General of our Order has just told me. You have
  understood the only wish that lurks in the depths of my heart so far
  as the things of the world are concerned--to get justice done to my
  feelings by her who has treated me so badly! But before leaving me
  at liberty to avail myself of your offer, the General wanted to
  know that my vocation was sincere; he was so kind as to tell me
  his idea, on finding that I was determined to preserve absolute
  silence on this point. If I had yielded to the temptation to
  rehabilitate the man of the world, the friar would have been
  rejected by this monastery. Grace has certainly done her work,
  but, though short, the struggle was not the less keen or the less
  painful. Is not this enough to show you that I could never return
  to the world?

  “Hence my forgiveness, which you ask for the author of so much
  woe, is entire and without a thought of vindictiveness. I will
  pray to God to forgive that young lady as I forgive her, and as I
  shall beseech Him to give Madame de Rhetore a life of happiness.
  Ah! whether it be death, or the obstinate hand of a young girl
  madly bent on being loved, or one of the blows ascribed to chance,
  must we not all obey God? Sorrow in some souls makes a vast void
  through which the Divine Voice rings. I learned too late the
  bearings of this life on that which awaits us; all in me is worn
  out; I could not serve in the ranks of the Church Militant, and I
  lay the remains of an almost extinct life at the foot of the
  altar.

  “This is the last time I shall ever write. You alone, who loved
  me, and whom I loved so well, could make me break the law of
  oblivion I imposed on myself when I entered these headquarters of
  Saint Bruno, but you are always especially named in the prayers of

“BROTHER ALBERT.

            “November 1836.”


“Everything is for the best perhaps,” thought the Abbe de Grancey.

When he showed this letter to Rosalie, who, with a pious impulse, kissed
the lines which contained her forgiveness, he said to her:

“Well, now that he is lost to you, will you not be reconciled to your
mother and marry the Comte de Soulas?”

“Only if Albert should order it,” said she.

“But you see it is impossible to consult him. The General of the Order
would not allow it.”

“If I were to go to see him?”

“No Carthusian sees any visitor. Besides, no woman but the Queen of
France may enter a Carthusian monastery,” said the Abbe. “So you have no
longer any excuse for not marrying young Monsieur de Soulas.”

“I do not wish to destroy my mother’s happiness,” retorted Rosalie.

“Satan!” exclaimed the Vicar-General.

Towards the end of that winter the worthy Abbe de Grancey died. This
good friend no longer stood between Madame de Watteville and her
daughter, to soften the impact of those two iron wills.

The event he had foretold took place. In the month of August 1837 Madame
de Watteville was married to Monsieur de Soulas in Paris, whither
she went by Rosalie’s advice, the girl making a show of kindness and
sweetness to her mother. Madame de Watteville believed in this affection
on the part of her daughter, who simply desired to go to Paris to give
herself the luxury of a bitter revenge; she thought of nothing but
avenging Savarus by torturing her rival.

Mademoiselle de Watteville had been declared legally of age; she was,
in fact, not far from one-and-twenty. Her mother, to settle with her
finally, had resigned her claims on les Rouxey, and the daughter had
signed a release for all the inheritance of the Baron de Watteville.
Rosalie encouraged her mother to marry the Comte de Soulas and settle
all her own fortune on him.

“Let us each be perfectly free,” she said.

Madame de Soulas, who had been uneasy as to her daughter’s intentions,
was touched by this liberality, and made her a present of six thousand
francs a year in the funds as conscience money. As the Comtesse de
Soulas had an income of forty-eight thousand francs from her own
lands, and was quite incapable of alienating them in order to diminish
Rosalie’s share, Mademoiselle de Watteville was still a fortune to
marry, of eighteen hundred thousand francs; les Rouxey, with the Baron’s
additions, and certain improvements, might yield twenty thousand francs
a year, besides the value of the house, rents, and preserves. So Rosalie
and her mother, who soon adopted the Paris style and fashions, easily
obtained introductions to the best society. The golden key--eighteen
hundred thousand francs--embroidered on Mademoiselle de Watteville’s
stomacher, did more for the Comtesse de Soulas than her pretensions _a
la_ de Rupt, her inappropriate pride, or even her rather distant great
connections.

In the month of February 1838 Rosalie, who was eagerly courted by many
young men, achieved the purpose which had brought her to Paris. This
was to meet the Duchesse de Rhetore, to see this wonderful woman, and
to overwhelm her with perennial remorse. Rosalie gave herself up to the
most bewildering elegance and vanities in order to face the Duchess on
an equal footing.

They first met at a ball given annually after 1830 for the benefit of
the pensioners on the old Civil List. A young man, prompted by Rosalie,
pointed her out to the Duchess, saying:

“There is a very remarkable young person, a strong-minded young lady
too! She drove a clever man into a monastery--the Grand Chartreuse--a
man of immense capabilities, Albert de Savarus, whose career she
wrecked. She is Mademoiselle de Watteville, the famous Besancon
heiress----”

The Duchess turned pale. Rosalie’s eyes met hers with one of those
flashes which, between woman and woman, are more fatal than the pistol
shots of a duel. Francesca Soderini, who had suspected that Albert might
be innocent, hastily quitted the ballroom, leaving the speaker at his
wits’ end to guess what terrible blow he had inflicted on the beautiful
Duchesse de Rhetore.

“If you want to hear more about Albert, come to the Opera ball on
Tuesday with a marigold in your hand.”

This anonymous note, sent by Rosalie to the Duchess, brought the unhappy
Italian to the ball, where Mademoiselle de Watteville placed in her
hand all Albert’s letters, with that written to Leopold Hannequin by the
Vicar-General, and the notary’s reply, and even that in which she had
written her confession to the Abbe de Grancey.

“I do not choose to be the only sufferer,” she said to her rival, “for
one has been as ruthless as the other.”

After enjoying the dismay stamped on the Duchess’ beautiful face,
Rosalie went away; she went out no more, and returned to Besancon with
her mother.

* * * * *

Mademoiselle de Watteville, who lived alone on her estate of les Rouxey,
riding, hunting, refusing two or three offers a year, going to Besancon
four or five times in the course of the winter, and busying herself with
improving her land, was regarded as a very eccentric personage. She was
one of the celebrities of the Eastern provinces.

Madame de Soulas has two children, a boy and a girl, and she has grown
younger; but Monsieur de Soulas has aged a good deal.

“My fortune has cost me dear,” said he to young Chavoncourt. “Really to
know a bigot it is unfortunately necessary to marry her!”

Mademoiselle de Watteville behaves in the most extraordinary manner.
“She has vagaries,” people say. Every year she goes to gaze at the
walls of the Grande Chartreuse. Perhaps she dreams of imitating her
grand-uncle by forcing the walls of the monastery to find a husband, as
Watteville broke through those of his monastery to recover his liberty.

She left Besancon in 1841, intending, it was said, to get married; but
the real reason of this expedition is still unknown, for she returned
home in a state which forbids her ever appearing in society again.
By one of those chances of which the Abbe de Grancey had spoken, she
happened to be on the Loire in a steamboat of which the boiler burst.
Mademoiselle de Watteville was so severely injured that she lost her
right arm and her left leg; her face is marked with fearful scars, which
have bereft her of her beauty; her health, cruelly upset, leaves her few
days free from suffering. In short, she now never leaves the Chartreuse
of les Rouxey, where she leads a life wholly devoted to religious
practices.


PARIS, May 1842.



ADDENDUM

The following personages appear in other stories of the Human Comedy.

     Beauseant, Vicomtesse de
       Father Goriot
       The Deserted Woman

     Genovese
       Massimilla Doni

     Hannequin, Leopold
       Beatrix
       Cousin Betty
       Cousin Pons

     Jeanrenaud
       The Commission in Lunacy

     Nueil, Gaston de
       The Deserted Woman

     Rhetore, Duc Alphonse de
       A Bachelor’s Establishment
       A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
       Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
       Letters of Two Brides
       The Member for Arcis

     Savaron de Savarus
       The Quest of the Absolute

     Savarus, Albert Savaron de
       The Quest of the Absolute

     Schinner, Hippolyte
       The Purse
       A Bachelor’s Establishment
       Pierre Grassou
       A Start in Life
       The Government Clerks
       Modeste Mignon
       The Imaginary Mistress
       The Unconscious Humorists

     Tinti, Clarina
       Massimilla Doni





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