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

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                          Transcriber’s Note:

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                      THE WORKS OF ANATOLE FRANCE
                       IN AN ENGLISH TRANSLATION
                       EDITED BY FREDERIC CHAPMAN

                            MOTHER OF PEARL

[Illustration: decoration]

                            MOTHER OF PEARL

                           BY ANATOLE FRANCE

                            A TRANSLATION BY
                            FREDERIC CHAPMAN

[Illustration: decoration]





       THE PROCURATOR OF JUDÆA                                 3

       AMYCUS AND CELESTINE                                   29


       ST. EUPHROSINE                                         55

       SCHOLASTICA                                            75

       OUR LADY’S JUGGLER                                     83

       THE MASS OF SHADOWS                                    97

       LESLIE WOOD                                           109

       GESTAS                                                129

       THE MANUSCRIPT OF A VILLAGE DOCTOR                    143

       MEMOIRS OF A VOLUNTEER                                161

       DAWN                                                  225

       MADAME DE LUZY                                        243

       THE BOON OF DEATH BESTOWED                            257


       THE LITTLE LEADEN SOLDIER                             277


                        THE PROCURATOR OF JUDÆA

                            MOTHER OF PEARL

                        THE PROCURATOR OF JUDÆA

Lælius Lamia, born in Italy of illustrious parents, had not yet
discarded the _toga prætexta_ when he set out for the schools of Athens
to study philosophy. Subsequently he took up his residence at Rome, and
in his house on the Esquiline, amid a circle of youthful wastrels,
abandoned himself to licentious courses. But being accused of engaging
in criminal relations with Lepida, the wife of Sulpicius Quirinus, a man
of consular rank, and being found guilty, he was exiled by Tiberius
Cæsar. At that time he was just entering his twenty-fourth year. During
the eighteen years that his exile lasted he traversed Syria, Palestine,
Cappadocia, and Armenia, and made prolonged visits to Antioch, Cæsarea,
and Jerusalem. When, after the death of Tiberius, Caius was raised to
the purple, Lamia obtained permission to return to Rome. He even
regained a portion of his possessions. Adversity had taught him wisdom.

He avoided all intercourse with the wives and daughters of Roman
citizens, made no efforts towards obtaining office, held aloof from
public honours, and lived a secluded life in his house on the Esquiline.
Occupying himself with the task of recording all the remarkable things
he had seen during his distant travels, he turned, as he said, the
vicissitudes of his years of expiation into a diversion for his hours of
rest. In the midst of these calm employments, alternating with assiduous
study of the works of Epicurus, he recognized with a mixture of surprise
and vexation that age was stealing upon him. In his sixty-second year,
being afflicted with an illness which proved in no slight degree
troublesome, he decided to have recourse to the waters at Baiæ. The
coast at that point, once frequented by the halcyon, was at this date
the resort of the wealthy Roman, greedy of pleasure. For a week Lamia
lived alone, without a friend in the brilliant crowd. Then one day,
after dinner, an inclination to which he yielded urged him to ascend the
incline, which, covered with vines that resembled bacchantes, looked out
upon the waves.

Having reached the summit he seated himself by the side of a path
beneath a terebinth, and let his glances wander over the lovely
landscape. To his left, livid and bare, the Phlegræan plain stretched
out towards the ruins of Cumæ. On his right, Cape Misenum plunged its
abrupt spur beneath the Tyrrhenian sea. Beneath his feet luxurious Baiæ,
following the graceful outline of the coast, displayed its gardens, its
villas thronged with statues, its porticos, its marble terraces along
the shores of the blue ocean where the dolphins sported. Before him, on
the other side of the bay, on the Campanian coast, gilded by the already
sinking sun, gleamed the temples which far away rose above the laurels
of Posilippo, whilst on the extreme horizon Vesuvius looked forth

Lamia drew from a fold of his toga a scroll containing the _Treatise
upon Nature_, extended himself upon the ground, and began to read. But
the warning cries of a slave necessitated his rising to allow of the
passage of a litter which was being carried along the narrow pathway
through the vineyards. The litter being uncurtained, permitted Lamia to
see stretched upon the cushions as it was borne nearer to him the figure
of an elderly man of immense bulk, who, supporting his head on his hand,
gazed out with a gloomy and disdainful expression. His nose, which was
aquiline, and his chin, which was prominent, seemed desirous of meeting
across his lips, and his jaws were powerful.

From the first moment Lamia was convinced that the face was familiar to
him. He hesitated a moment before the name came to him. Then suddenly
hastening towards the litter with a display of surprise and delight—

“Pontius Pilate!” he cried. “The gods be praised who have permitted me
to see you once again!”

The old man gave a signal to the slaves to stop, and cast a keen glance
upon the stranger who had addressed him.

“Pontius, my dear host,” resumed the latter, “have twenty years so far
whitened my hair and hollowed my cheeks that you no longer recognize
your friend Ælius Lamia?”

At this name Pontius Pilate dismounted from the litter as actively as
the weight of his years and the heaviness of his gait permitted him, and
embraced Ælius Lamia again and again.

“Gods! what a treat it is to me to see you once more! But, alas, you
call up memories of those long-vanished days when I was Procurator of
Judæa in the province of Syria. Why, it must be thirty years ago that I
first met you. It was at Cæsarea, whither you came to drag out your
weary term of exile. I was fortunate enough to alleviate it a little,
and out of friendship, Lamia, you followed me to that depressing place
Jerusalem, where the Jews filled me with bitterness and disgust. You
remained for more than ten years my guest and my companion, and in
converse about Rome and things Roman we both of us managed to find
consolation—you for your misfortunes, and I for my burdens of State.”

Lamia embraced him afresh.

“You forget two things, Pontius; you are overlooking the facts that you
used your influence on my behalf with Herod Antipas, and that your purse
was freely open to me.”

“Let us not talk of that,” replied Pontius, “since after your return to
Rome you sent me by one of your freedmen a sum of money which repaid me
with usury.”

“Pontius, I could never consider myself out of your debt by the mere
payment of money. But tell me, have the gods fulfilled your desires? Are
you in the enjoyment of all the happiness you deserve? Tell me about
your family, your fortunes, your health.”

“I have withdrawn to Sicily, where I possess estates, and where I
cultivate wheat for the market. My eldest daughter, my best-beloved
Pontia, who has been left a widow, lives with me, and directs my
household. The gods be praised, I have preserved my mental vigour; my
memory is not in the least degree enfeebled. But old age always brings
in its train a long procession of griefs and infirmities. I am cruelly
tormented with gout. And at this very moment you find me on my way to
the Phlegræan plain in search of a remedy for my sufferings. From that
burning soil, whence at night flames burst forth, proceed acrid
exhalations of sulphur, which, so they say, ease the pains and restore
suppleness to the stiffened joints. At least, the physicians assure me
that it is so.”

“May you find it so in your case, Pontius! But, despite the gout and its
burning torments, you scarcely look as old as myself, although in
reality you must be my senior by ten years. Unmistakably you have
retained a greater degree of vigour than I ever possessed, and I am
overjoyed to find you looking so hale. Why, dear friend, did you retire
from the public service before the customary age? Why, on resigning your
governorship in Judæa, did you withdraw to a voluntary exile on your
Sicilian estates? Give me an account of your doings from the moment that
I ceased to be a witness of them. You were preparing to suppress a
Samaritan rising when I set out for Cappadocia, where I hoped to draw
some profit from the breeding of horses and mules. I have not seen you
since then. How did that expedition succeed? Pray tell me. Everything
interests me that concerns you in any way.”

Pontius Pilate sadly shook his head.

“My natural disposition,” he said, “as well as a sense of duty, impelled
me to fulfil my public responsibilities, not merely with diligence, but
even with ardour. But I was pursued by unrelenting hatred. Intrigues and
calumnies cut short my career in its prime, and the fruit it should have
looked to bear has withered away. You ask me about the Samaritan
insurrection. Let us sit down on this hillock. I shall be able to give
you an answer in few words. Those occurrences are as vividly present to
me as if they had happened yesterday.

“A man of the people, of persuasive speech—there are many such to be met
with in Syria—induced the Samaritans to gather together in arms on Mount
Gerizim (which in that country is looked upon as a holy place) under the
promise that he would disclose to their sight the sacred vessels which
in the ancient days of Evander and our father, Æneas, had been hidden
away by an eponymous hero, or rather a tribal deity, named Moses. Upon
this assurance the Samaritans rose in rebellion; but having been warned
in time to forestall them, I dispatched detachments of infantry to
occupy the mountain, and stationed cavalry to keep the approaches to it
under observation.

“These measures of prudence were urgent. The rebels were already laying
siege to the town of Tyrathaba, situated at the foot of Mount Gerizim. I
easily dispersed them, and stifled the as yet scarcely organized revolt.
Then, in order to give a forcible example with as few victims as
possible, I handed over to execution the leaders of the rebellion. But
you are aware, Lamia, in what strait dependence I was kept by the
proconsul Vitellius, who governed Syria not in, but against the
interests of Rome, and looked upon the provinces of the empire as
territories which could be farmed out to tetrarchs. The head-men among
the Samaritans, in their resentment against me, came and fell at his
feet lamenting. To listen to them, nothing had been further from their
thoughts than to disobey Cæsar. It was I who had provoked the rising,
and it was purely in order to withstand my violence that they had
gathered together round Tyrathaba. Vitellius listened to their
complaints, and handing over the affairs of Judæa to his friend
Marcellus, commanded me to go and justify my proceedings before the
Emperor himself. With a heart overflowing with grief and resentment I
took ship. Just as I approached the shores of Italy, Tiberius, worn out
with age and the cares of empire, died suddenly on the selfsame Cape
Misenum, whose peak we see from this very spot magnified in the mists of
evening. I demanded justice of Caius, his successor, whose perception
was naturally acute, and who was acquainted with Syrian affairs. But
marvel with me, Lamia, at the maliciousness of fortune, resolved on my
discomfiture. Caius then had in his suite at Rome the Jew Agrippa, his
companion, the friend of his childhood, whom he cherished as his own
eyes. Now Agrippa favoured Vitellius, inasmuch as Vitellius was the
enemy of Antipas, whom Agrippa pursued with his hatred. The Emperor
adopted the prejudices of his beloved Asiatic, and refused even to
listen to me. There was nothing for me to do but bow beneath the stroke
of unmerited misfortune. With tears for my meat and gall for my portion,
I withdrew to my estates in Sicily, where I should have died of grief if
my sweet Pontia had not come to console her father. I have cultivated
wheat, and succeeded in producing the fullest ears in the whole
province. But now my life is ended; the future will judge between
Vitellius and me.”

“Pontius,” replied Lamia, “I am persuaded that you acted towards the
Samaritans according to the rectitude of your character, and solely in
the interests of Rome. But were you not perchance on that occasion a
trifle too much influenced by that impetuous courage which has always
swayed you? You will remember that in Judæa it often happened that I
who, younger than you, should naturally have been more impetuous than
you, was obliged to urge you to clemency and suavity.”

“Suavity towards the Jews!” cried Pontius Pilate. “Although you have
lived amongst them, it seems clear that you ill understand those enemies
of the human race. Haughty and at the same time base, combining an
invincible obstinacy with a despicably mean spirit, they weary alike
your love and your hatred. My character, Lamia, was formed upon the
maxims of the divine Augustus. When I was appointed Procurator of Judæa,
the world was already penetrated with the majestic ideal of the _pax
romana_. No longer, as in the days of our internecine strife, were we
witnesses to the sack of a province for the aggrandisement of a
proconsul. I knew where my duty lay. I was careful that my actions
should be governed by prudence and moderation. The gods are my witnesses
that I was resolved upon mildness, and upon mildness only. Yet what did
my benevolent intentions avail me? You were at my side, Lamia, when, at
the outset of my career as ruler, the first rebellion came to a head. Is
there any need for me to recall the details to you? The garrison had
been transferred from Cæsarea to take up its winter quarters at
Jerusalem. Upon the ensigns of the legionaries appeared the presentment
of Cæsar. The inhabitants of Jerusalem, who did not recognize the
indwelling divinity of the Emperor, were scandalized at this, as though,
when obedience is compulsory, it were not less abject to obey a god than
a man. The priests of their nation appeared before my tribunal imploring
me with supercilious humility to have the ensigns removed from within
the holy city. Out of reverence for the divine nature of Cæsar and the
majesty of the empire, I refused to comply. Then the rabble made common
cause with the priests, and all around the pretorium portentous cries of
supplication arose. I ordered the soldiers to stack their spears in
front of the tower of Antonia, and to proceed, armed only with sticks
like lictors, to disperse the insolent crowd. But, heedless of blows,
the Jews continued their entreaties, and the more obstinate amongst them
threw themselves on the ground and, exposing their throats to the rods,
deliberately courted death. You were a witness of my humiliation on that
occasion, Lamia. By the order of Vitellius I was forced to send the
insignia back to Cæsarea. That disgrace I had certainly not merited.
Before the immortal gods I swear that never once during my term of
office did I flout justice and the laws. But I am grown old. My enemies
and detractors are dead. I shall die unavenged. Who will now retrieve my

He moaned and lapsed into silence. Lamia replied—

“That man is prudent who neither hopes nor fears anything from the
uncertain events of the future. Does it matter in the least what
estimate men may form of us hereafter? We ourselves are after all our
own witnesses, and our own judges. You must rely, Pontius Pilate, on the
testimony you yourself bear to your own rectitude. Be content with your
own personal respect and that of your friends. For the rest, we know
that mildness by itself will not suffice for the work of government.
There is but little room in the actions of public men for that
indulgence of human frailty which the philosophers recommend.”

“We’ll say no more at present,” said Pontius. “The sulphureous fumes
which rise from the Phlegræan plain are more powerful when the ground
which exhales them is still warm beneath the sun’s rays. I must hasten
on. Adieu! But now that I have rediscovered a friend, I should wish to
take advantage of my good fortune. Do me the favour, Ælius Lamia, to
give me your company at supper at my house to-morrow. My house stands on
the seashore, at the extreme end of the town in the direction of
Misenum. You will easily recognize it by the porch which bears a
painting representing Orpheus surrounded by tigers and lions, whom he is
charming with the strains from his lyre.

“Till to-morrow, Lamia,” he repeated, as he climbed once more into his
litter. “To-morrow we will talk about Judæa.”

                  *       *       *       *       *

The following day at the supper hour Lamia presented himself at the
house of Pontius Pilate. Two couches only were in readiness for
occupants. Creditably but simply equipped, the table held a silver
service in which were set out beccaficos in honey, thrushes, oysters
from the Lucrine lake, and lampreys from Sicily. As they proceeded with
their repast, Pontius and Lamia interchanged inquiries with one another
about their ailments, the symptoms of which they described at
considerable length, mutually emulous of communicating the various
remedies which had been recommended to them. Then, congratulating
themselves on being thrown together once more at Baiæ, they vied with
one another in praise of the beauty of that enchanting coast and the
mildness of the climate they enjoyed. Lamia was enthusiastic about the
charms of the courtesans who frequented the seashore laden with golden
ornaments and trailing draperies of barbaric broidery. But the aged
Procurator deplored the ostentation with which by means of trumpery
jewels and filmy garments foreigners and even enemies of the empire
beguiled the Romans of their gold. After a time they turned to the
subject of the great engineering feats that had been accomplished in the
country; the prodigious bridge constructed by Caius between Puteoli and
Baiæ, and the canals which Augustus excavated to convey the waters of
the ocean to Lake Avernus and the Lucrine lake.

“I also,” said Pontius, with a sigh, “I also wished to set afoot public
works of great utility. When, for my sins, I was appointed Governor of
Judæa, I conceived the idea of furnishing Jerusalem with an abundant
supply of pure water by means of an aqueduct. The elevation of the
levels, the proportionate capacity of the various parts, the gradient
for the brazen reservoirs to which the distribution pipes were to be
fixed—I had gone into every detail, and decided everything for myself
with the assistance of mechanical experts. I had drawn up regulations
for the superintendents so as to prevent individuals from making
unauthorized depredations. The architects and the workmen had their
instructions. I gave orders for the commencement of operations. But far
from viewing with satisfaction the construction of that conduit, which
was intended to carry to their town upon its massive arches not only
water but health, the inhabitants of Jerusalem gave vent to lamentable
outcries. They gathered tumultuously together, exclaiming against the
sacrilege and impiousness, and, hurling themselves upon the workmen,
scattered the very foundation stones. Can you picture to yourself,
Lamia, a filthier set of barbarians? Nevertheless, Vitellius decided in
their favour, and I received orders to put a stop to the work.”

“It is a knotty point,” said Lamia, “how far one is justified in
devising things for the commonweal against the will of the populace.”

Pontius Pilate continued as though he had not heard this interruption.

“Refuse an aqueduct! What madness! But whatever is of Roman origin is
distasteful to the Jews. In their eyes we are an unclean race, and our
very presence appears a profanation to them. You will remember that they
would never venture to enter the pretorium for fear of defiling
themselves, and that I was consequently obliged to discharge my
magisterial functions in an open-air tribunal on that marble pavement
your feet so often trod.

“They fear us and they despise us. Yet is not Rome the mother and warden
of all those peoples who nestle smiling upon her venerable bosom? With
her eagles in the van, peace and liberty have been carried to the very
confines of the universe. Those whom we have subdued we look on as our
friends, and we leave those conquered races, nay, we secure to them the
permanence of their customs and their laws. Did Syria, aforetime rent
asunder by its rabble of petty kings, ever even begin to taste of peace
and prosperity until it submitted to the armies of Pompey? And when Rome
might have reaped a golden harvest as the price of her goodwill, did she
lay hands on the hoards that swell the treasuries of barbaric temples?
Did she despoil the shrine of Cybele at Pessinus, or the Morimene and
Cilician sanctuaries of Jupiter, or the temple of the Jewish god at
Jerusalem? Antioch, Palmyra, and Apamea, secure despite their wealth,
and no longer in dread of the wandering Arab of the desert, have erected
temples to the genius of Rome and the divine Cæsar. The Jews alone hate
and withstand us. They withhold their tribute till it is wrested from
them, and obstinately rebel against military service.”

“The Jews,” replied Lamia, “are profoundly attached to their ancient
customs. They suspected you, unreasonably I admit, of a desire to
abolish their laws and change their usages. Do not resent it, Pontius,
if I say that you did not always act in such a way as to disperse their
unfortunate illusion. It gratified you, despite your habitual
self-restraint, to play upon their fears, and more than once have I seen
you betray in their presence the contempt with which their beliefs and
religious ceremonies inspired you. You irritated them particularly by
giving instructions for the sacerdotal garments and ornaments of their
high priest to be kept in ward by your legionaries in the Antonine
tower. One must admit that though they have never risen like us to an
appreciation of things divine, the Jews celebrate rites which their very
antiquity renders venerable.”

Pontius Pilate shrugged his shoulders.

“They have very little exact knowledge of the nature of the gods,” he
said. “They worship Jupiter, yet they abstain from naming him or
erecting a statue of him. They do not even adore him under the semblance
of a rude stone, as certain of the Asiatic peoples are wont to do. They
know nothing of Apollo, of Neptune, of Mars, nor of Pluto, nor of any
goddess. At the same time, I am convinced that in days gone by they
worshipped Venus. For even to this day their women bring doves to the
altar as victims; and you know as well as I that the dealers who trade
beneath the arcades of their temple supply those birds in couples for
sacrifice. I have even been told that on one occasion some madman
proceeded to overturn the stalls bearing these offerings, and their
owners with them. The priests raised an outcry about it, and looked on
it as a case of sacrilege. I am of opinion that their custom of
sacrificing turtledoves was instituted in honour of Venus. Why are you
laughing, Lamia?”

“I was laughing,” said Lamia, “at an amusing idea which, I hardly know
how, just occurred to me. I was thinking that perchance some day the
Jupiter of the Jews might come to Rome and vent his fury upon you. Why
should he not? Asia and Africa have already enriched us with a
considerable number of gods. We have seen temples in honour of Isis and
the dog-faced Anubis erected in Rome. In the public squares, and even on
the race-courses, you may run across the Bona Dea of the Syrians mounted
on an ass. And did you never hear how, in the reign of Tiberius, a young
patrician passed himself off as the horned Jupiter of the Egyptians,
Jupiter Ammon, and in this disguise procured the favours of an
illustrious lady who was too virtuous to deny anything to a god? Beware,
Pontius, lest the invisible Jupiter of the Jews disembark some day on
the quay at Ostia!”

At the idea of a god coming out of Judæa, a fleeting smile played over
the severe countenance of the Procurator. Then he replied gravely—

“How would the Jews manage to impose their sacred law on outside peoples
when they are in a perpetual state of tumult amongst themselves as to
the interpretation of that law? You have seen them yourself, Lamia, in
the public squares, split up into twenty rival parties, with staves in
their hands, abusing each other and clutching one another by the beard.
You have seen them on the steps of the temple, tearing their filthy
garments as a symbol of lamentation, with some wretched creature in a
frenzy of prophetic exaltation in their midst. They have never realized
that it is possible to discuss peacefully and with an even mind those
matters concerning the divine which yet are hidden from the profane and
wrapped in uncertainty. For the nature of the immortal gods remains
hidden from us, and we cannot arrive at a knowledge of it. Though I am
of opinion, none the less, that it is a prudent thing to believe in the
providence of the gods. But the Jews are devoid of philosophy, and
cannot tolerate any diversity of opinions. On the contrary, they judge
worthy of the extreme penalty all those who on divine subjects profess
opinions opposed to their law. And as, since the genius of Rome has
towered over them, capital sentences pronounced by their own tribunals
can only be carried out with the sanction of the proconsul or the
procurator, they harry the Roman magistrate at any hour to procure his
signature to their baleful decrees, they besiege the pretorium with
their cries of ‘Death!’ A hundred times, at least, have I known them,
mustered, rich and poor together, all united under their priests, make a
furious onslaught on my ivory chair, seizing me by the skirts of my
robe, by the thongs of my sandals, and all to demand of me—nay, to exact
from me—the death sentence on some unfortunate whose guilt I failed to
perceive, and as to whom I could only pronounce that he was as mad as
his accusers. A hundred times, do I say! Not a hundred, but every day
and all day. Yet it was my duty to execute their law as if it were ours,
since I was appointed by Rome not for the destruction, but for the
upholding of their customs, and over them I had the power of the rod and
the axe. At the outset of my term of office I endeavoured to persuade
them to hear reason; I attempted to snatch their miserable victims from
death. But this show of mildness only irritated them the more; they
demanded their prey, fighting around me like a horde of vultures with
wing and beak. Their priests reported to Cæsar that I was violating
their law, and their appeals, supported by Vitellius, drew down upon me
a severe reprimand. How many times did I long, as the Greeks used to
say, to dispatch accusers and accused in one convoy to the crows!

“Do not imagine, Lamia, that I nourish the rancour of the discomfited,
the wrath of the superannuated, against a people which in my person has
prevailed against both Rome and tranquillity. But I foresee the
extremity to which sooner or later they will reduce us. Since we cannot
govern them, we shall be driven to destroy them. Never doubt it. Always
in a state of insubordination, brewing rebellion in their inflammatory
minds, they will one day burst forth upon us with a fury beside which
the wrath of the Numidians and the mutterings of the Parthians are mere
child’s play. They are secretly nourishing preposterous hopes, and madly
premeditating our ruin. How can it be otherwise, when, on the strength
of an oracle, they are living in expectation of the coming of a prince
of their own blood whose kingdom shall extend over the whole earth?
There are no half measures with such a people. They must be
exterminated. Jerusalem must be laid waste to the very foundation.
Perchance, old as I am, it may be granted me to behold the day when her
walls shall fall and the flames shall envelop her houses, when her
inhabitants shall pass under the edge of the sword, when salt shall be
strown on the place where once the temple stood. And in that day I shall
at length be justified.”

Lamia exerted himself to lead the conversation back to a less
acrimonious note.

“Pontius,” he said, “it is not difficult for me to understand both your
long-standing resentment and your sinister forebodings. Truly, what you
have experienced of the character of the Jews is nothing to their
advantage. But I lived in Jerusalem as an interested onlooker, and
mingled freely with the people, and I succeeded in detecting certain
obscure virtues in these rude folk which were altogether hidden from
you. I have met Jews who were all mildness, whose simple manners and
faithfulness of heart recalled to me what our poets have related
concerning the Spartan lawgiver. And you yourself, Pontius, have seen
perish beneath the cudgels of your legionaries simple-minded men who
have died for a cause they believed to be just without revealing their
names. Such men do not deserve our contempt. I am saying this because it
is desirable in all things to preserve moderation and an even mind. But
I own that I never experienced any lively sympathy for the Jews. The
Jewesses, on the contrary, I found extremely pleasing. I was young then,
and the Syrian women stirred all my senses to response. Their ruddy
lips, their liquid eyes that shone in the shade, their sleepy gaze
pierced me to the very marrow. Painted and stained, smelling of nard and
myrrh, steeped in odours, their physical attractions are both rare and

Pontius listened impatiently to these praises.

“I was not the kind of man to fall into the snares of the Jewish women,”
he said; “and since you have opened the subject yourself, Lamia, I was
never able to approve of your laxity. If I did not express with
sufficient emphasis formerly how culpable I held you for having
intrigued at Rome with the wife of a man of consular rank, it was
because you were then enduring heavy penance for your misdoings.
Marriage from the patrician point of view is a sacred tie; it is one of
the institutions which are the support of Rome. As to foreign women and
slaves, such relations as one may enter into with them would be of
little account were it not that they habituate the body to a humiliating
effeminacy. Let me tell you that you have been too liberal in your
offerings to the Venus of the Market-place; and what, above all, I blame
in you is that you have not married in compliance with the law and given
children to the Republic, as every good citizen is bound to do.”

But the man who had suffered exile under Tiberius was no longer
listening to the venerable magistrate. Having tossed off his cup of
Falernian, he was smiling at some image visible to his eye alone.

After a moment’s silence he resumed in a very deep voice, which rose in
pitch by little and little—

“With what languorous grace they dance, those Syrian women! I knew a
Jewess at Jerusalem who used to dance in a poky little room, on a
threadbare carpet, by the light of one smoky little lamp, waving her
arms as she clanged her cymbals. Her loins arched, her head thrown back,
and, as it were, dragged down by the weight of her heavy red hair, her
eyes swimming with voluptuousness, eager, languishing, compliant, she
would have made Cleopatra herself grow pale with envy. I was in love
with her barbaric dances, her voice—a little raucous and yet so
sweet—her atmosphere of incense, the semi-somnolescent state in which
she seemed to live. I followed her everywhere. I mixed with the vile
rabble of soldiers, conjurers, and extortioners with which she was
surrounded. One day, however, she disappeared, and I saw her no more.
Long did I seek her in disreputable alleys and taverns. It was more
difficult to learn to do without her than to lose the taste for Greek
wine. Some months after I lost sight of her, I learned by chance that
she had attached herself to a small company of men and women who were
followers of a young Galilean thaumaturgist. His name was Jesus; he came
from Nazareth, and he was crucified for some crime, I don’t quite know
what. Pontius, do you remember anything about the man?”

Pontius Pilate contracted his brows, and his hand rose to his forehead
in the attitude of one who probes the deeps of memory. Then after a
silence of some seconds—

“Jesus?” he murmured, “Jesus—of Nazareth? I cannot call him to mind.”


                          AMYCUS AND CELESTINE

                       TO GEORGES DE PORTO-RICHE

                          AMYCUS AND CELESTINE

Prone upon the threshold of his rude cavern the hermit Celestine passed
in prayer the eve of the Easter Festival, that unearthly night upon
which the shuddering demons are hurled into the abyss. And whilst the
shades still enveloped the earth, at the moment when the exterminating
angel winged his flight across Egypt, Celestine shivered, for he was
seized with anguish and unease. He heard from afar in the forest the
cries of the wild cats and the shrill voices of the frogs. Immersed in
the unholy darkness, he even doubted whether the glorious mystery could
come to pass. But when he saw the first signals of the day, gladness
entered into his heart together with the dawn; he realized that Christ
was risen from the dead, and cried—

“Jesus is arisen from the grave. Love has conquered death. Alleluia! He
is risen all glorious from the foot of the hill. Alleluia! The whole
creation is restored and made anew. Darkness and evil are put to flight.
Light and pardon encompass the world. Alleluia!”

A lark, awakened amidst the wheat, answered him with song.

“He is risen again. I have dreamed of nests and eggs—white eggs, flecked
with brown. Alleluia! He is risen again.”

Then the hermit Celestine left his cavern to go to the neighbouring
chapel and celebrate the holy Easter Feast.

As he passed through the forest he saw in the midst of a glade a
splendid beech, whose bursting buds already gave passage to tiny leaves
of a tender green. Garlands of ivy and fillets of wool were hung upon
its branches, which spread out groundwards. Votive tablets fastened to
its gnarled trunk spoke of youth and love, and here and there some Eros,
fashioned in clay, shorn of garments and with outspread wings, balanced
himself lightly upon a branch. At this sight the hermit Celestine
knitted his whitened brows.

“It is the fairies’ tree,” he said, “and the country maidens, according
to ancient custom, have laden it with offerings. My life is passed in
struggling against these fairies, and no one could conceive the
annoyance these tiny creatures cause me. They do not openly rebel
against me. Each year at harvest time I exorcise the tree with the
customary rites, and sing the Gospel of St. John to them.

“There is nothing better to be done. Holy water and the Gospel of St.
John have power to put them to flight, and there is nothing more heard
of the little damsels throughout the winter; but in the spring back they
come once more, and each year one must begin all over again.

“And they are subtle; a single bush of hawthorn is large enough to
shelter a whole swarm. And they cast their spells upon the young folks,
both the youths and the maidens.

“As I have grown older my sight has become dim and now I can scarcely
perceive their presence. They make a mock of me, sport under my nose and
laugh in my beard. But when I was only twenty, I often saw them in the
clearings dancing in circles beneath the light of the moon like garlands
of flowers. Oh, Lord God, Thou who madest the heaven and the dew,
praised be Thou in Thy works. But why didst Thou create unholy trees and
fairy springs? Why hast Thou planted beneath the hazel the screaming
mandrake? These things of nature seduce the young to sin, and are the
cause of unnumbered labours to anchorites who, like myself, have
undertaken the sanctification of Thy creatures. If only the Gospel of
St. John still availed to put the demons to flight! But it is no longer
enough, and I am perplexed to know what to do.”

And as the good hermit went sighing on his way, the tree—for it was a
fairy tree—called to him with a fresh rustling.

“Celestine! Celestine! My buds are eggs—true Easter eggs. Alleluia!

Celestine plunged into the wood without turning his head. He made his
way with difficulty by a narrow path through the midst of thorns which
tore his gown, when suddenly the road was barred to him by a young lad
who came bounding out of a thicket. He was half-clothed in the skin of
some beast, and was indeed rather a faun than a boy. His glance was
penetrating, his nose flattened, his countenance laughing. His curly
hair concealed the two little horns upon his stubborn forehead; his lips
disclosed white pointed teeth; a fair forked beard descended from his
chin. Upon his chest a golden down shone. He was agile and slender, and
his cloven feet were hidden in the grass.

Celestine, who had made himself possessor of all the wisdom to be won by
meditation, saw at once with whom he had to do, and raised his arm to
make the sign of the cross. But the faun, seizing his hand, prevented
him from completing the mighty spell.

“Good hermit,” said he, “do not exorcise me. For me, as for you, this
day is a day of festival. You would be wanting in charity if you should
plunge me in grief during the Easter Feast. If you are willing, we will
stroll along together, and you will see that I am not malicious.”

By good fortune Celestine was well versed in the sacred sciences. He
recalled to himself in these circumstances that St. Jerome in the desert
had had for fellow-travellers both satyrs and centaurs who had confessed
the Truth.

He said to the faun—

“Faun raise a hymn to God. Declare: He is risen.”

“He is indeed arisen,” replied the faun. “And behold me all gladness

Here the path widened, so that they walked side by side. The hermit
became pensive, and reflected—

“He cannot be a demon since he has witnessed to the Truth. It is well
that I refrained from grieving him. The example of the great St. Jerome
has not been lost upon me.”

Then, turning towards his goat-footed companion, he asked him—

“What is your name?”

“I am called Amycus,” replied the faun. “I dwell in this wood, where I
was born. I came to you, good father, because behind your long white
beard your countenance was kindly. It seems to me that hermits must be
fauns borne down by the years. When I am grown old I shall be like unto

“He is risen,” said the hermit.

“He is indeed arisen,” said Amycus.

And thus conversing they climbed the hill on which arose a chapel
consecrated to the true God. It was small and of homely construction.
Celestine had built it with his own hands with the fragments of a temple
of Venus. Within, the table of the Lord stood forth shapeless and

“Let us fall down,” said the hermit, “and sing Alleluia, for He is
arisen. And do you, mysterious being, remain kneeling whilst I offer the
holy sacrifice.”

But the faun drew near to the hermit, and stroked his beard, and said—

“Venerable old man, you are wiser than I, and you can discern that which
is invisible. But the woods and the springs are better known to me than
to you. I will bring to God leafage and blossoms. I know the banks where
the cress half opens its lilac clusters, the meadows where the cowslip
blossoms in yellow bunches. I detect by its faint odour the mistletoe
upon the wild apple tree. Already the blackthorn bushes are decked with
a snowy crown of flowers. Wait for me, good father.”

With three goat-like leaps he was back in the woods, and when he
returned Celestine fancied he beheld a walking hawthorn tree. Amycus had
disappeared beneath his odorous harvest. He hung garlands of flowers
about the rustic altar; he sprinkled it with violets, and said solemnly—

“I dedicate these flowers to the God who gave them being.”

And whilst Celestine celebrated the sacrifice of the mass, the
goat-footed one bowed his horned head down to the very ground and
worshipped the sun, and said—

“The earth is a vast egg which thou, O Sun, most holy Sun, dost render

From that day forward Celestine and Amycus lived together in fellowship.
The hermit never succeeded, despite all his endeavours, in making the
half-human creature understand the ineffable mysteries; but as through
the exertions of Amycus the chapel of the true God was constantly hung
with garlands, and more gaily decked than the fairies’ tree, the holy
priest said—

“The faun is himself a hymn to God.”

And it was for this reason that he bestowed on him the rite of holy

Upon the hill where Celestine once raised the meagre chapel which Amycus
garlanded with flowers from the hills, the woods, and the streams, there
stands at the present day a church the nave of which goes back to the
eleventh century, whilst the porch dates from the period of Henry II,
when it was rebuilt in the style of the Renaissance. It is a place of
pilgrimage, and the faithful assemble there to hold in pious memory the
saints Amycus and Celestine.




                             THE LEGEND OF

                               CHAPTER I

_How Messire St. Berthold, son of Theodulus, King of Scotland, came over
    to the Ardennes to preach to the inhabitants of the Pays Porcin._

The forest of the Ardennes extended at that time as far as the waters of
the Aisne, and covered the Pays Porcin, in which now rises the town of
Rethel. Its ravines swarmed with innumerable wild boars, stags of
immense height of a species now extinct thronged in the impenetrable
thickets, and wolves of prodigious strength were encountered in winter
on the skirts of the woods. The basilisk and the unicorn had their
quarters in that forest, as well as a frightful dragon, which later on,
by the grace of God, met with destruction at the prayers of a holy
hermit. And because in those days the mysteries of nature were revealed
to men, and for the glory of the Creator things which were naturally
invisible became visible, it was common to meet in the clearings nymphs,
satyrs, centaurs, and aigypans.

Now it is in no respect doubtful that these malevolent beings have
indeed been seen just as they have been described in the fables of the
pagans. But it must be remembered that they are devils, as is apparent
by their feet, which are cloven. Unhappily the fairies are not so easy
to detect; these have all the appearance of damsels, and at times the
resemblance is so pronounced that one must possess all the prudence of a
hermit if one would avoid being deceived. The fairies also are demons,
and there were in the forest of the Ardennes great numbers of them. It
was for this very reason that that forest so abounded in mystery and

The Romans in the time of Cæsar had consecrated it to Diana, and the
inhabitants of the Pays Porcin on the shores of the Aisne worshipped an
idol in the form of a woman. They made offerings to her of cakes, milk,
and honey, and sang hymns in her honour.

Now Berthold, the son of Theodulus, King of Scotland, having received
holy baptism, lived in the palace of his father, more after the fashion
of a hermit than of a prince. Close shut in his apartment, he spent the
livelong day in reciting prayers and meditating upon the Holy
Scriptures, and the desire kindled in him to imitate the labours of the
apostles. Having learned through a miraculous source the abominations of
the Pays Porcin, he straightway loathed and resolved to put an end to

He crossed the sea in a ship which had neither sail nor rudder, and
which was drawn by a swan. Happily arrived in the Pays Porcin, he
wandered through the villages, the walled towns, and the castles,
announcing the glad tidings.

“The God whom I preach to you,” he said, “is the only true God. He is
one God in three Persons, and His Son was born of a Virgin.”

But these rude men answered him—

“Youthful stranger, it is very simple on your part to imagine that there
is but one God. For the gods are countless. They dwell in the woods, the
mountains, and the streams. There are even gods so intimate that they do
not disdain a place by the hearths of pious men. Others, again, take up
their station in the stables and byres, and so the race of the gods
fills the whole universe. But what you have to say about a Divine Virgin
is not without warrant. We know of a Virgin with a threefold countenance
to whom we sing canticles, and say, ‘Hail most benign! Hail most
terrible!’ She is called Diana, and beneath her silvery tread under the
pale beams of the moon the mountain thyme bursts into blossom. She has
not disdained to receive upon her couch blossoming hyacinths, the
offering of shepherds and huntsmen like ourselves. Nevertheless, she
remains ever virgin.”

Thus spake these ignorant men whilst they drove the apostle to the
confines of the village, and pursued him with mocking words.

                               CHAPTER II

          _Of the meeting between Messire St. Berthold and the
                  two sisters Oliveria and Liberetta._

Now one day as he pursued his journey, overcome with weariness and
grief, he fell in with two young girls, who were setting forth from
their castle for a jaunt in the woods. He made several steps towards
them, and then stood off at a distance for fear of alarming them, and

“Give ear, young virgins. I am Berthold, son of Theodulus, King of
Scotland. But I have disdained perishable crowns that I might be worthy
at last to receive at the hand of the angels the Crown that fadeth not
away. And I journeyed hither in a ship, drawn by a swan, to bring you
the glad tidings.”

“Sir Berthold,” replied the elder, “my name is Oliveria, and that of my
sister is Liberetta. Our father, Thierry, who is also called
Porphyrodimus, is the wealthiest lord in the country. Willingly will we
listen to your good tidings. But you appear overcome with fatigue. I
counsel you to go and await us in the hall of our father, who is at this
moment drinking the good ale with his friends. When he learns that you
are a Scottish prince, he will without question assign you a place at
his table. Farewell, till we meet again, Sir Berthold. We are going, my
sister and I, to gather flowers as an offering to Diana.”

But the apostle Berthold replied—

“It is not for me to go and seat myself at a pagan’s table. This Diana
whom you imagine to be a heavenly virgin is in very truth a demon out of
hell. The true God is one God in three Persons, and Jesus Christ His Son
became Man and died upon the cross for the salvation of all men. And
verily I tell you, Oliveria and Liberetta, a drop of His blood flowed on
behalf of each one of you.”

Then he discoursed to them with so much ardour of the holy mysteries,
that the hearts of the two sisters were moved thereby. The elder sister
took up the discourse anew.

“Sir Berthold,” she said, “you disclose unheard-of mysteries. But it is
not always an easy matter to distinguish truth from error. It would be
painful to us to abandon our devotion to Diana. Nevertheless, let but a
sign of the truth of your words appear to us, and we will believe in
Jesus crucified.”

But the younger sister said to the apostle—

“My sister Oliveria has asked for a sign because she is of a prudent
nature and full of wisdom. But if your God is the true God, Sir
Berthold, would that I might know and love Him without being impelled by
a sign.”

The man of God understood by these words that Liberetta was born to
become a great saint. And on this account he replied—

“Sister Liberetta and Sister Oliveria, I have resolved to retire into
that forest, there to lead the eremitical life which is both desirable
and rare. I shall dwell in a hut of interlaced boughs, and support life
upon roots. I shall pray unceasingly to God to change the hearts of the
men of this country, and I shall bestow my benediction on the springs,
so that the fairy folk may cease to come thither for the beguiling of
sinners. Nevertheless, my sister Oliveria shall receive the sign for
which she has asked. And a messenger sent by the Lord himself shall
guide you both to my hermitage in order that I may instruct you in the
faith of Jesus Christ.”

Having spoken after this fashion, St. Berthold gave his blessing to the
two sisters with the imposition of hands. After which he fared forth
into the forest, from which he never afterwards emerged.

                              CHAPTER III

_How the unicorn came to the hall of Thierry, otherwise called
    Porphyrodimus, and conducted the two sisters Oliveria and Liberetta
    to the retreat of Messire St. Berthold, and of divers marvels that

Now one day, being alone in the kitchen, Oliveria was spinning wool
beneath the chimney canopy when she saw approach her a beast of a
perfect whiteness which had the body of a goat and the head of a horse,
and which bore on its forehead a shining spear. Oliveria immediately
recognized what animal it was, and as she had maintained her innocence
she was not in the least afraid, being aware that the unicorn never does
any harm to discreet maidens. And indeed the unicorn did but place his
head gently upon Oliveria’s knees. Then turning again towards the door,
by the direction of its eyes it invited the young girl to follow it

Oliveria immediately called her sister, but when Liberetta entered the
room the unicorn had disappeared; and so it came about that Liberetta,
in accordance with her desire, acknowledged the true God without having
been constrained by a sign.

The two sisters set forth in the direction of the forest, and the
unicorn, who had once more become visible, walked ahead of them. They
pursued throughout their journey the trail of the wild beasts. And it
came to pass that when they had reached the depths of the wood, they saw
the unicorn take to the water and swim across a torrent. Now when they
came to the water's edge they were aware that it was both wide and deep.
They leaned over it to see if perchance there might be any
stepping-stones by means of which they could cross, but none such could
they discover. Now whilst they were leaning upon a willow and gazing
upon the foaming waters, the tree bent down suddenly and bore them
without effort to the opposite shore.

Thus, then, they arrived at the hermitage, where St. Berthold imparted
unto them the words of life. Upon their return, the willow uprearing
itself again bore them back to the other side.

Each day they betook themselves to the dwelling of the holy man, and
when they returned to their own home they found that all the thread on
their distaffs had been spun by invisible hands. For these reasons,
then, having received baptism, they believed in Jesus Christ.

For more than a year they received instruction from St. Berthold, when
Thierry their father, who was also called Porphyrodimus, was seized with
a cruel malady. Being aware that the end of their father was drawing
nigh, his daughters instructed him in the Christian faith. He
acknowledged the truth. And so it came about that his death was most
meritorious. He was ensepulchred near to his mortal home in a place
known as the Giant’s Mountain, and in after days his tomb was venerated
throughout the Pays Porcin.

Meanwhile the two sisters repaired daily to the dwelling of the holy
hermit Berthold, and they gathered from his lips the words of life. But
on a certain day when the rivers were greatly swollen by the melted
snows, Oliveria, as she went through the vineyards, took a prop that she
might with greater security cross the torrent whose much widened stream
sped along riotously.

Liberetta, disdaining all human aid, declined to follow her example. She
was the first to reach the torrent, her hands armed solely with the sign
of the cross. And the willow bent down in its customary way. Then it
rose erect once more, and when Oliveria in her turn desired to pass over
it remained motionless. And the current broke her prop as if it had been
a wisp of straw and carried it away. And Oliveria remained still on the
hither side. But since she was discreet she recognized that she was
justly punished for having doubted the heavenly powers, and for not
having committed herself to the grace of God after the manner of her
sister Liberetta. Thereafter she had no other thought but to win pardon
for herself by works of penitence and self-denial. So being resolved,
after the example of St. Berthold, to lead the eremitical life which is
both desirable and rare, she remained in the forest on this side of the
torrent, and built herself a hut of boughs interlaced at a spot where a
spring gushed forth, which has since received the name of St. Olive’s

                               CHAPTER IV

_How Messire St. Berthold, and Mesdames Saints Liberetta and Oliveria
    came to their blissful consummation._

Liberetta having arrived at the dwelling of the blessed Berthold alone,
found him in a contemplative attitude quite dead. His body, attenuated
by fasting, exhaled a delicious fragrance. With her own hands she buried
him. From this day forward the virgin Liberetta, having taken leave of
the world, led the eremitical life on the other side of the torrent, in
a hut by the edge of a spring, which has since been known as the well of
St. Liberetta, or Liberia, whose miraculous waters cure fevers as well
as divers maladies with which cattle are afflicted.

The two sisters never saw one another again in this world. But, by the
intercession of the blessed Berthold, God sent into the Ardennes from
the country of the Lombards the deacon Vulfaï, or Valfroy, who
overturned the idol of Diana and converted the inhabitants of the Pays
Porcin to the Christian faith. Thereupon Oliveria and Liberetta were
overwhelmed with joy.

But a little time after this the Lord called to Himself his servant
Liberetta, and sent the unicorn to dig a grave and bury the body of the
saint. Oliveria was aware, through a revelation, of the blissful death
of her sister, Liberetta, and a voice said to her—

“Because you asked for a sign before you would believe, and took a prop
to lean upon, the hour of your blissful death will be delayed and the
day of your consummation postponed.”

And Oliveria replied to the voice—

“May the will of the Lord be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

She lived ten years longer in expectation of eternal beatitude, which
commenced for her in the month of October, in the year of Our Lord 364.


                             ST. EUPHROSINE

                      TO GASTON-ARMAN DE CAILLAVET

                             ST. EUPHROSINE

_The acts of St. Euphrosine of Alexandria, in religion Brother
    Smaragdus, as they were set forth in the Laura on Mount Athos by
    George the Deacon._

Euphrosine was the only daughter of a rich citizen of Alexandria, named
Romulus, who was careful to have her instructed in music, dancing, and
arithmetic in such fashion that at the close of her childhood she
displayed a subtle and unusually adorned intelligence. She had not yet
completed her eleventh year when the magistrates of Alexandria caused to
be announced in the streets that a golden cup would be awarded as a
prize to whomsoever should produce an exact reply to the three following

First Question: I am the dusky child of a luminous sire; a wingless
bird, yet I rise to the clouds. With no spark of malice, I yet draw
tears from the eyes I encounter. Scarcely am I born when I vanish into
air. Tell me, friend, what is my name?

Second Question: I beget my mother, yet am by her brought forth, and
sometimes I am longer and sometimes shorter. Tell me, friend, what is my

Third Question: Antipater possesses as much as Nicomedes and a third of
the share of Themistius. Nicomedes possesses as much as Themistius and a
third of what Antipater owns. Themistius possesses ten minas and a third
of what Nicomedes owns. What is the sum which belongs to each?

Now, on the day set apart for the gathering, a number of young men
presented themselves before the judges in the hope of winning the golden
cup, but not one of them gave correct replies. The president was about
to bring the sitting to an end when the youthful Euphrosine, in her turn
drawing near to the tribunal, asked to be heard. Every one admired the
modesty of her bearing and the winsome shamefacedness which lent a blush
to her cheeks.

“Most illustrious judges,” she said, lowering her eyes, “after having
given the glory to our Lord Jesus Christ, the beginning and the end of
all wisdom, I will endeavour to reply to the questions which your
worships have propounded, and I will begin with the first. The dusky
child is smoke, which is born of fire, rises in the air, and by its
pungency draws tears from our eyes. So much for the first question.

“Now to reply to the second. That which begets its mother and is by her
brought forth is nothing other than the day, which is sometimes long and
sometimes short, according to the season. So much for the second

“And now to answer the third. Antipater possesses forty-five minas,
Nicomedes has but thirty-seven and a half, whilst Themistius has
twenty-two and a half. That is my third answer.”

The judges, marvelling at the correctness of these replies, awarded the
prize to the youthful Euphrosine. Thereupon the most venerable among
them, having risen, presented her with the golden cup, and encircled her
forehead with a garland of papyrus by way of honouring the keen
intelligence she had displayed. Then the virgin was conducted home to
her father’s house to the sound of flutes amidst a great concourse of

But as she was a Christian and pious in no ordinary degree, far from
being puffed up with these honours, she recognized their emptiness, and
resolved that in the future she would apply the keenness of her
intelligence to the solution of problems more worthy of attention—as,
for example, the computation of the sum of the numbers represented by
the letters of the name of Jesus, and the consideration of the wonderful
properties of these numbers.

Meanwhile she grew in wisdom and in beauty, and was sought in marriage
by very many young men. Amongst these was the Count Longinus, who
possessed great wealth. Romulus received this suitor favourably, hoping
that an alliance with this powerful man might assist him in the
rehabilitation of his own affairs, which had got into disorder through
his vast expenditure upon his palace, his plate, and his gardens.
Romulus, who was one of the most lavish amongst the inhabitants of
Alexandria, had above all squandered considerable sums in gathering
together in his mansion, beneath a vast cupola, the most wonderful
examples of mechanism, such as a globe as brilliant as a sapphire,
bearing on it the heavenly constellations set out with exactitude in
precious stones. There were also to be seen in this chamber a fountain,
constructed by Hero, which distributed perfumed waters, and two mirrors
so cunningly contrived that they converted the gazer, the one into a
person of extreme height and slenderness, and the other into a person
equally short and stout. But the most marvellous sight in this mansion
was a hawthorn bush all covered with birds, which by ingenious mechanism
both sang and fluttered their wings as if they had been alive. Romulus
had expended the remains of his wealth in the acquisition of these
mechanical toys, which fascinated him. This, then, was the reason for
his favourable reception of the Count Longinus, the possessor of great
wealth. He urged forward by all means in his power the consummation of a
marriage from which he anticipated both happiness for his daughter and
relief from anxiety in his old age. But each time that he recounted to
Euphrosine the claims of Count Longinus, she turned her glance aside
without making any reply. One day he said to her—

“Will you not admit, my daughter, that he is the handsomest, the
wealthiest, and the noblest citizen in all Alexandria?”

Euphrosine replied discreetly—

“Willingly do I admit it, dear father. Indeed, I am convinced that Count
Longinus surpasses all the citizens of this town in noble birth, worldly
possessions, and personal beauty. Consequently, if I refuse to accept
him as a husband there is little likelihood that any other will succeed
where he has failed, and induce me to change my resolution, which is to
consecrate my virginity to Jesus Christ.”

When he heard of this determination Romulus fell into a violent passion,
and swore that he knew well enough how to force Euphrosine to espouse
Count Longinus; and without breaking forth into idle threats, he added
that this marriage was resolved upon in his mind, and that it would be
carried through without delay, whilst if his paternal authority did not
suffice he would add to it that of the Emperor, who being divine, would
not allow a daughter to disobey her father in a matter which was of so
much public and State importance as the marriage of a woman of patrician

Euphrosine was aware that her father had great influence with the
Emperor, who at that time lived at Constantinople. She perceived that in
this perilous situation she had no hope of assistance except from Count
Longinus himself. On this account she entreated him to come to her in
the basilica for a private interview.

Impelled by hope as well as curiosity, Count Longinus betook himself to
the basilica all bedecked with gold and precious stones. The maiden did
not make him wait. But when he saw her appear with dishevelled hair,
wrapped in a black veil like a suppliant, he drew an evil augury from
the sight, and his heart was disturbed.

Euphrosine was the first to speak.

“Most illustrious Longinus,” she said to him, “if you love me as much as
you declare, you will fear to do aught displeasing to me; and, indeed,
it would be giving me a mortal blow were you to lead me away to your
house to have your pleasure of this body, which, with my soul, I have
dedicated to Our Lord Jesus Christ, the beginning and the end of all

But Count Longinus answered her—

“Most illustrious Euphrosine, love is stronger even than our wills; that
is why it behoves us to bow before him as before a jealous master. I
shall act towards you after the fashion he ordains, which is to take you
for my wife.”

“Is it becoming that a man—an illustrious man, too—should rob the Lord
of His betrothed?”

“As to that, I shall take counsel from the bishops rather than from

These plans threw the young girl into the most lively consternation. She
realized that she had no compassion to expect from this man of violence,
governed altogether by his senses, and that the bishops could not
enforce recognition of secret vows made by her to God in solitude. And
in the excess of her uneasiness she had recourse to an artifice so
singular that it is more to be marvelled at than held up as an example.

Her resolution being taken, she feigned to yield to the wishes of her
father and the entreaties of her lover. She even suffered them to fix a
day for the ceremony of betrothal. Count Longinus had already caused the
jewels and ornaments destined for his bride to be placed in the marriage
coffers; he had ordered for her twelve gowns, upon which were
embroidered scenes from the Old and the New Testament, the legends of
the Greeks, the history of animals, as well as the divine presentments
of the Emperor and Empress, with their retinue of lords and ladies. One
of these coffers, moreover, contained books upon theology and arithmetic
written in letters of gold upon sheets of parchment, purple tinctured,
and preserved between plates of ivory and gold.

Euphrosine, however, remained the day long shut up alone in her chamber,
and the reason she gave for her withdrawal was that it behoved her to
make ready her wedding garments.

“It would be most unfitting,” she said, “if certain portions of my
vesture should be shaped and sewn by any other hands than mine.”

And in very truth she wielded her needle from morning till night. But
that which she made ready secretly in this fashion was neither the
symbolical veil of the virgin nor the white robe of the betrothed. What
she prepared was the rough hood, short tunic, and loose breeches which
the young artisans in towns are accustomed to wear while engaged in
their labours. And whilst she fulfilled this undertaking she constantly
invoked Jesus Christ, the beginning and the end of all the achievements
of the upright. For this cause, then, she happily completed her
clandestine task on the eighth day before that which had been fixed for
the solemnization of the marriage. She remained all that day in prayer;
then, after having presented herself, according to her custom, to
receive her father’s kiss, she returned to her chamber and cut off her
hair, which fell to her feet like skeins of gold, donned her short
tunic, fastened the breeches about her waist with woollen straps, drew
the hood down over her eyes, and, night having fallen, noiselessly left
the house whilst all, masters and servants alike, were sleeping. Only
the dog was still awake, but as he knew her he followed her for a short
time in silence, and then returned to his kennel.

With rapid steps she made her way through the deserted city, where the
only sounds audible were the occasional cries of drunken sailors and the
heavy tread of the watchmen on duty in pursuit of robbers. And since God
was with her she suffered no insult from man. Then, having passed
through one of the gates of Alexandria, she set out towards the desert,
following the course of the canals covered with papyrus and blue lotus.
At the break of day she passed through a wretched village of working
people. An old man was singing in front of his door whilst he polished a
coffin made of sycamore wood. When she came abreast of him, he raised
his hairy and featureless face, and cried out—

“By Jupiter! here comes the infant Eros, carrying a little pot of
ointment to his mother! How delicate and pretty he is. In truth, he
sparkles with attractiveness. They are liars who say that the gods have
departed. For this youth is a veritable little god.”

Then the prudent Euphrosine, informed by this speech that the old man
was a pagan, had pity upon his ignorance, and prayed to God for his
salvation. That prayer was granted. The old man, who was a coffin-maker,
bearing the name of Porou, was in course of time converted, and took the
name of Philotheos.

Now, after a journey of a whole day, Euphrosine arrived at a monastery
where, under the governance of the abbot Onophrius, six hundred monks
observed the admirable rule of St. Pacomius. She asked to be led before
Onophrius, and said to him—

“My father, I am called Smaragdus, and I am an orphan. I beg you to
receive me into your holy habitation, to the end that I may there enjoy
the delights of fasting and repentance.”

The abbot Onophrius, who had then attained the age of one hundred and
six years, replied—

“Smaragdus, my child, beautiful are your feet, for they have guided you
to this dwelling; beautiful are your hands, for they have knocked at
this door. You hunger and thirst after fasting and abstinence. Come, and
you shall be satisfied. Happy the child who flies from the world whilst
yet he wears his robe of innocence. The souls of men are exposed to
deadly perils in the towns, and particularly in Alexandria, on account
of the women who flock there in great numbers. Woman is to man so great
a danger that even at my age the thought alone sends a shudder through
all my frame. If one with sufficient effrontery should presume to enter
into this holy house, my arm would suddenly recover its strength to hale
her hence with heavy blows from this pastoral cross. It is our duty, my
son, to worship God in all His works; but it is a profound mystery of
His providence that He should have created woman. Stay with us,
Smaragdus, my child; for it is certainly God who has led you hither.”

After having been received in this fashion into the family of the holy
man Onophrius, Euphrosine donned the monastic habit.

In her cell she praised the Lord, and rejoiced in her pious fraud upon
this consideration, that her father and her lover would not fail to make
search for her in all the convents for women in order to apprehend her
by order of the Emperor, but that they would never succeed in finding
her in this refuge where Jesus Christ Himself had lovingly hidden her.

For three years she led the most edifying life in her cell, and the
virtues of the youthful Smaragdus perfumed the monastery. For this cause
the abbot Onophrius entrusted her with the duties of guest-master or
porter, counting upon the prudence of the young monk as to the reception
of strangers, and above all the exclusion of any women who might attempt
to enter the monastery. For, said the holy man, woman is impure, and the
mere mark of her footsteps is an infectious pollution.

Now Smaragdus had been guest-master for five years, when a stranger
knocked at the door of the monastery. It was a man who was still young;
his habiliments were magnificent, and he retained a remnant of pride;
but he was pale and emaciated, and his eyes were inflamed with a
restless melancholy.

“Brother guest-master,” said this man, “conduct me into the presence of
the holy abbot Onophrius, that he may assoil me, for I am a prey to a
mortal ill.”

Smaragdus, having begged the stranger to seat himself upon a stool,
informed him that Onophrius, having reached his hundred and fourteenth
year, had, in view of his approaching end, gone to visit the caves of
the Holy Anchorites, Amon and Orcisus.

At this news the visitor sank down upon the stool and hid his head in
his hands.

“I can no longer hope for healing, then,” he murmured.

And raising his head again, he added—

“It is the love of a woman that has reduced me to this miserable state.”

Not till then did Euphrosine recognize Count Longinus. She feared that
he likewise might recognize her. But she soon reassured herself, and was
seized with pity to see him looking so cast down and discomfited.

After a long silence, Count Longinus exclaimed—

“I would fain become a monk to escape from my despair.”

Then he told the story of his love, and how his betrothed, Euphrosine,
had suddenly disappeared; how for eight years he had sought her and
failed to find her, and how he was consumed and wasted with love and

She answered him with a gentleness that was heavenly.

“My lord, this Euphrosine, whose love you so bitterly deplore, was not
worthy of so much love. Her beauty was not so precious, except in the
ideal you yourself have formed of it; in truth, it is vile and
contemptible. It was perishable, and what remains of it is not worth a
regret. You believe yourself unable to live without Euphrosine, and yet,
if you should happen to meet her, you might even fail to recognize her.”

Count Longinus answered not a word, but this speech, or possibly the
voice in which it was pronounced, made a happy impression on his soul.
He departed in a more tranquil mood, and promised to return.

And indeed he did return, and being desirous of embracing the monastic
life, he asked the holy abbot Onophrius for a cell, and made a gift to
the monastery of all his possessions, which were immense. This was a
source of great satisfaction to Euphrosine. But some time after this her
heart was overwhelmed with a still greater joy.

It was in this way. A beggar, bending beneath the weight of his satchel
and having only sordid rags to cover his nakedness, came to ask a morsel
of bread from the charitable monks. In him Euphrosine recognized
Romulus, her father; but pretending not to know who he was, she made him
sit down, washed his feet, and set food before him.

“Child of God,” said the beggar, “I was not always a penniless wanderer
such as now you see me. Once I possessed great wealth and a very
beautiful daughter, who was also very prudent and very learned. She
unravelled the enigmas propounded in the public competitions, and on one
occasion even received from the magistrates the papyrus crown. I lost
her—I lost all my possessions. I am consumed with regret for my daughter
and my wealth. I had above all things a bush full of birds which, by a
marvellous contrivance, sang as though naturally. And now I have not
even a mantle to cover me. Nevertheless, I should be comforted if before
I die I might see once again my well-beloved daughter.”

As he concluded these words Euphrosine threw herself at his feet, and
said through her tears—

“My father, I am Euphrosine, your daughter, who one night fled from your
house. And the dog did not bark. Your pardon, my father. For I have not
accomplished these things except by the permission of our Lord Jesus

And after she had recounted to the old man the manner of her flight,
disguised as a workman, to that very house where she had since passed
eight peaceful years in hiding, she showed him a mark she had upon her
neck. And by this sign Romulus recognized his daughter. He embraced her
tenderly and bathed her in his tears, marvelling at the mysterious
workings of the Lord.

And for this reason he resolved to become a monk and to take up his
abode in the monastery of the holy abbot Onophrius. With his own hands
he built himself a cell of reeds next to that of Count Longinus. They
chanted the psalms and cultivated the ground. During the hours of rest
they conversed upon the vanity of earthly affections and the riches of
this world. But Romulus never disclosed anything to anybody concerning
his wonderful recognition of his daughter Euphrosine, thinking it much
for the best that Count Longinus and the abbot Onophrius should learn
the details of her adventures in Paradise, when they would have attained
a full understanding of the ways of God. Longinus never knew that his
betrothed was close beside him. All three lived for several years longer
in the practice of all the virtues, and by the special favour of
Providence they all three fell asleep in the Lord almost at the same
time. Count Longinus passed away first. Romulus died two months later,
and St. Euphrosine, after she had closed his eyes, was during the same
week called to heaven by Jesus Christ with the words: “Come, my dove.”
St. Onophrius followed them to the tomb, to which he descended full of
merits in the hundred and thirty-second year of his age, on the holy day
of Easter, in the year 395 after the incarnation of the Son of God. May
the Archangel St. Michael make intercession for us! Here end the acts of
St. Euphrosine. _Amen._

Such is the narrative of George the Deacon, written in the Laura on
Mount Athos at a period which may vary from the seventh to the
fourteenth century of the Christian era. As to this I waver, since it is
a matter of great uncertainty. This narrative is now for the first time
published; I have the best of reasons for being sure on this point. I
should be glad to have equally good reasons for thinking that it
deserved to be put forth. I have translated with a fidelity which has
doubtless been only too perceptible since it has infected my own style
with a Byzantine stiffness the inconvenience of which seems to myself
almost intolerable. George the Deacon told his tale with less
gracefulness than Herodotus, or Plutarch even. So that one may perceive
by his example that periods of decadence are sometimes less impregnated
with charm and daintiness than is the common opinion nowadays. This
demonstration is perhaps the principal merit my work can claim. That
work will be criticized vigorously, and no doubt questions may be put to
me to which I may find it difficult to reply. The text which I have
followed is not in the hand of George the Deacon. I do not know if it is
complete. I foresee that lacunæ and interpellations will be pointed out.
Monsieur Schlumberger will hold in suspicion various formularies
employed in the course of the narrative, and Monsieur Alfred Rambaud
will question the episode of the old man Porou. I reply beforehand that,
having but a single text, I could do no other than follow it. It is in
very bad condition and hardly legible. But one is bound to declare that
all the masterpieces of classical antiquity in which we take such
delight have come down to us in the same condition. I have excellent
reasons for believing that in transcribing the text of my Deacon I have
made tremendous blunders, and that my translation teems with
misconceptions. Possibly even it is nothing but a misconception from
beginning to end. If this should not appear so patently as one might
fear, it is because invariably the most unintelligible text has some
sort of meaning to him who translates it. Were this not the case,
erudition would cease to have any reason for continued existence. I have
compared the narrative of George the Deacon with the passages in Rufinus
and St. Jerome relating to St. Euphrosine. I am bound to say that it
does not altogether agree with them. It is doubtless for this reason
that my publisher has inserted this learned work in a light collection
of tales.



                           TO MAURICE SPRONCK


At the time of which we speak, which was the fourth century of the
Christian era, the youthful Injuriosus, only son of a senator of
Auvergne (so the municipal officers were called), sought in marriage a
young girl named Scholastica, who, like himself, was the only child of a
senator. His suit was favourably received. And the marriage ceremony
having been celebrated, he conducted her to his house, and led her into
the bridal chamber. Whereupon, with a mournful countenance, she turned
herself to the wall and wept bitterly.

“What is the cause of your distress? Tell me, I beg of you.”

Then, as she maintained silence, he added—

“I entreat you by our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to show me
plainly the reason for your lamentations.”

Then she turned towards him and said—

“If I were to weep every day of life that remains to me, I should not
shed tears enough to express the profound grief with which my heart is
filled. This feeble body I had determined to preserve in all purity, and
to present my virginity as an offering to Jesus Christ. Alas, and woe is
me! that I am in such a fashion forsaken as to be unable to fulfil what
I had resolved upon! Oh, day which never should have dawned upon me!
Behold me severed from the heavenly spouse who had promised me paradise
for a marriage portion, and become the bride of a mortal man, whilst
that head which should have been crowned with the roses of immortality,
is decked, or rather disfigured, with roses which already begin to
wither. Alas! that body which upon the margin of the fourfold stream of
the Lamb should have been endued with the garment of purity, bears
instead the vile burden of the nuptial veil. Ah! why was not the first
day of my life even also the last? Happy had I been had I entered the
gates of death ere a single drop of milk had passed my lips! Oh, that
the kisses of my gentle nurses had been bestowed upon my bier! When you
hold out your hands towards me, I recall the hands which for the
salvation of the world were pierced with nails.”

And as she finished these words she wept bitterly.

The young man answered her persuasively—

“Scholastica, our parents are of the rich and noble amongst the dwellers
in Auvergne, nor have yours more than a single daughter nor mine than an
only son. They wished for our union as a means of continuing their
families, lest after their death a stranger should enter into possession
of their belongings.”

But Scholastica replied—

“This world is nothing, and riches are nothing, and this life itself is
nothing. Is that life which is nothing but a waiting upon death? They
alone live who, in unending blessedness, bathe in the Light, and know
the joy of angels in the possession of God.”

At this moment Injuriosus, touched by grace, exclaimed—

“Ah, sweet and simple words, the light of life eternal glances upon my
eyes! Scholastica, if you wish to hold fast to that you have resolved, I
also at your side will lead a virgin life.”

More than half reassured, and already smiling through her tears, she

“Injuriosus, for a man to grant to a woman a boon such as this is a
difficult matter. But if you should procure that we keep ourselves
unspotted from the world, a part of the marriage portion which my spouse
and Lord Jesus Christ has promised to me will I give unto you.”

Then, fortified by the sign of the cross, he said—

“I shall do that which you desire.”

And clasping one another’s hands, they fell asleep.

And from that time forward, sharing the same nuptial couch, they passed
their days in unexampled chastity. After ten years of trial Scholastica

According to the customs of the day, her body was borne into the
basilica, in gala dress, and with uncovered face, to the chant of
psalms, and followed by the whole populace.

Kneeling down beside her, in a loud voice Injuriosus uttered these

“I give Thee hearty thanks, Lord Jesus, that Thou hast bestowed upon me
strength to preserve Thy treasure uninjured.”

Upon these words, she that was dead rose up upon her funeral couch and
smiled, and murmured softly—

“My friend, why do you declare that which no man has asked of you?”

Whereupon she resumed her everlasting rest.

Injuriosus soon followed her to the tomb. They buried him not far from
her in the basilica of Saint Allire. The first night after he was laid
there a miraculous rose tree sprang from the grave of the virgin bride
and enwrapped both tombs in its flower-besprent embraces. So that on the
morrow the folk beheld them bound fast one to the other by chains of
roses. Recognizing by this sign the sanctity of the blessed Injuriosus
and the blessed Scholastica, the priests of Auvergne held up these
shrines to the veneration of the faithful. But in this province, which
had been evangelized by Saints Allire and Nepotian, pagans still dwelt.
One of these, by name Sylvanus, still held sacred the springs dedicated
to the nymphs, hung votive pictures upon the branches of an ancient oak,
and cherished by his fireside little images in clay representing the sun
and the goddesses of fruitfulness. Half hidden amid the foliage, the
garden god watched over his orchard. Sylvanus passed his declining years
in the writing of verse. He composed eclogues and elegies in a style a
little stiff perhaps, but not wanting in skill, and into these poems,
whenever he could manage to do so, he introduced verses from the bards
of old. With the general populace he too visited the spot where the
Christian spouses were laid, and the good man marvelled at the rose tree
which decked the two tombs. And as, after his fashion, he was pious, he
recognized therein a heavenly sign. But he attributed the prodigy to his
own gods, and doubted nothing that the rose tree flourished by the will
of Eros.

Said he: “Now that she is nothing but a vain shadow, the tristful
Scholastica regrets the hours when love was timely and the pleasures she
renounced. These roses, which come forth from her body and express her
thoughts, say to us who still survive: Love while ye may. This prodigy
indeed instructs us to taste the joys of life while it is yet time.”

Thus reflected this simple pagan. Upon this subject he composed an elegy
which by the greatest of chances I unearthed in the public library at
Tarascon, on the binding of a Bible of the eleventh century, catalogued
Michel Chasles Collection F _n_ 7439, 17^9 _bis._ The precious leaf
which had so far escaped the notice of the learned, contains not fewer
than eighty-four lines in a fairly legible Merovingian script probably
dating from the seventh century. The text begins with these words—

          >Nunc piget; et quaeris, quod non aut ista volontas
          Tunc fuit....[1]

and finishes in this fashion—

                Stringamus maesti carminis obsequio.[2]

I shall not fail to publish the complete text so soon as I have finished
deciphering it. And I do not doubt that Monsieur Leopold Delisle himself
will undertake to present this invaluable document to the Academy of


Footnote 1:

                Now regret rankles, and thou cravest that
                    Thou didst reject....

Footnote 2:

  Weave we the tribute of a mournful song.



                           OUR LADY’S JUGGLER

                            TO GASTON PARIS

                           OUR LADY’S JUGGLER

In the days of King Louis there was a poor juggler in France, a native
of Compiègne, Barnaby by name, who went about from town to town
performing feats of skill and strength.

On fair days he would unfold an old worn-out carpet in the public
square, and when by means of a jovial address, which he had learned of a
very ancient juggler, and which he never varied in the least, he had
drawn together the children and loafers, he assumed extraordinary
attitudes, and balanced a tin plate on the tip of his nose. At first the
crowd would feign indifference.

But when, supporting himself on his hands face downwards, he threw into
the air six copper balls, which glittered in the sunshine, and caught
them again with his feet; or when throwing himself backwards until his
heels and the nape of the neck met, giving his body the form of a
perfect wheel, he would juggle in this posture with a dozen knives, a
murmur of admiration would escape the spectators, and pieces of money
rain down upon the carpet.

Nevertheless, like the majority of those who live by their wits, Barnaby
of Compiègne had a great struggle to make a living.

Earning his bread in the sweat of his brow, he bore rather more than his
share of the penalties consequent upon the misdoings of our father Adam.

Again, he was unable to work as constantly as he would have been willing
to do. The warmth of the sun and the broad daylight were as necessary to
enable him to display his brilliant parts as to the trees if flower and
fruit should be expected of them. In winter time he was nothing more
than a tree stripped of its leaves, and as it were dead. The frozen
ground was hard to the juggler, and, like the grasshopper of which Marie
de France tells us, the inclement season caused him to suffer both cold
and hunger. But as he was simple-natured he bore his ills patiently.

He had never meditated on the origin of wealth, nor upon the inequality
of human conditions. He believed firmly that if this life should prove
hard, the life to come could not fail to redress the balance, and this
hope upheld him. He did not resemble those thievish and miscreant Merry
Andrews who sell their souls to the devil. He never blasphemed God’s
name; he lived uprightly, and although he had no wife of his own, he did
not covet his neighbour’s, since woman is ever the enemy of the strong
man, as it appears by the history of Samson recorded in the Scriptures.

In truth, his was not a nature much disposed to carnal delights, and it
was a greater deprivation to him to forsake the tankard than the Hebe
who bore it. For whilst not wanting in sobriety, he was fond of a drink
when the weather waxed hot. He was a worthy man who feared God, and was
very devoted to the Blessed Virgin.

Never did he fail on entering a church to fall upon his knees before the
image of the Mother of God, and offer up this prayer to her:

“Blessed Lady, keep watch over my life until it shall please God that I
die, and when I am dead, ensure to me the possession of the joys of


Now on a certain evening after a dreary wet day, as Barnaby pursued his
road, sad and bent, carrying under his arm his balls and knives wrapped
up in his old carpet, on the watch for some barn where, though he might
not sup, he might sleep, he perceived on the road, going in the same
direction as himself, a monk, whom he saluted courteously. And as they
walked at the same rate they fell into conversation with one another.

“Fellow traveller,” said the monk, “how comes it about that you are
clothed all in green? Is it perhaps in order to take the part of a
jester in some mystery play?”

“Not at all, good father,” replied Barnaby. “Such as you see me, I am
called Barnaby, and for my calling I am a juggler. There would be no
pleasanter calling in the world if it would always provide one with
daily bread.”

“Friend Barnaby,” returned the monk, “be careful what you say. There is
no calling more pleasant than the monastic life. Those who lead it are
occupied with the praises of God, the Blessed Virgin, and the saints;
and, indeed, the religious life is one ceaseless hymn to the Lord.”

Barnaby replied—

“Good father, I own that I spoke like an ignorant man. Your calling
cannot be in any respect compared to mine, and although there may be
some merit in dancing with a penny balanced on a stick on the tip of
one’s nose, it is not a merit which comes within hail of your own.
Gladly would I, like you, good father, sing my office day by day, and
especially the office of the most Holy Virgin, to whom I have vowed a
singular devotion. In order to embrace the monastic life I would
willingly abandon the art by which from Soissons to Beauvais I am well
known in upwards of six hundred towns and villages.”

The monk was touched by the juggler’s simplicity, and as he was not
lacking in discernment, he at once recognized in Barnaby one of those
men of whom it is said in the Scriptures: Peace on earth to men of good
will. And for this reason he replied—

“Friend Barnaby, come with me, and I will have you admitted into the
monastery of which I am Prior. He who guided St. Mary of Egypt in the
desert set me upon your path to lead you into the way of salvation.”

It was in this manner, then, that Barnaby became a monk. In the
monastery into which he was received the religious vied with one another
in the worship of the Blessed Virgin, and in her honour each employed
all the knowledge and all the skill which God had given him.

The prior on his part wrote books dealing according to the rules of
scholarship with the virtues of the Mother of God.

Brother Maurice, with a deft hand copied out these treatises upon sheets
of vellum.

Brother Alexander adorned the leaves with delicate miniature paintings.
Here were displayed the Queen of Heaven seated upon Solomon’s throne,
and while four lions were on guard at her feet, around the nimbus which
encircled her head hovered seven doves, which are the seven gifts of the
Holy Spirit, the gifts, namely, of Fear, Piety, Knowledge, Strength,
Counsel, Understanding, and Wisdom. For her companions she had six
virgins with hair of gold, namely, Humility, Prudence, Seclusion,
Submission, Virginity, and Obedience.

At her feet were two little naked figures, perfectly white, in an
attitude of supplication. These were souls imploring her all-powerful
intercession for their soul’s health, and we may be sure not imploring
in vain.

Upon another page facing this, Brother Alexander represented Eve, so
that the Fall and the Redemption could be perceived at one and the same
time—Eve the Wife abased, and Mary the Virgin exalted.

Furthermore, to the marvel of the beholder, this book contained
presentments of the Well of Living Waters, the Fountain, the Lily, the
Moon, the Sun, and the Garden Enclosed of which the Song of Songs tells
us, the Gate of Heaven and the City of God, and all these things were
symbols of the Blessed Virgin.

Brother Marbode was likewise one of the most loving children of Mary.

He spent all his days carving images in stone, so that his beard, his
eyebrows, and his hair were white with dust, and his eyes continually
swollen and weeping; but his strength and cheerfulness were not
diminished, although he was now well gone in years, and it was clear
that the Queen of Paradise still cherished her servant in his old age.
Marbode represented her seated upon a throne, her brow encircled with an
orb-shaped nimbus set with pearls. And he took care that the folds of
her dress should cover the feet of her, concerning whom the prophet
declared: My beloved is as a garden enclosed.

Sometimes, too, he depicted her in the semblance of a child full of
grace, and appearing to say, “Thou art my God, even from my mother’s

In the priory, moreover, were poets who composed hymns in Latin, both in
prose and verse, in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and amongst the
company was even a brother from Picardy who sang the miracles of Our
Lady in rhymed verse and in the vulgar tongue.


Being a witness of this emulation in praise and the glorious harvest of
their labours, Barnaby mourned his own ignorance and simplicity.

“Alas!” he sighed, as he took his solitary walk in the little
shelterless garden of the monastery, “wretched wight that I am, to be
unable, like my brothers, worthily to praise the Holy Mother of God, to
whom I have vowed my whole heart’s affection. Alas! alas! I am but a
rough man and unskilled in the arts, and I can render you in service,
blessed Lady, neither edifying sermons, nor treatises set out in order
according to rule, nor ingenious paintings, nor statues truthfully
sculptured, nor verses whose march is measured to the beat of feet. No
gift have I, alas!”

After this fashion he groaned and gave himself up to sorrow. But one
evening, when the monks were spending their hour of liberty in
conversation, he heard one of them tell the tale of a religious man who
could repeat nothing other than the Ave Maria. This poor man was
despised for his ignorance; but after his death there issued forth from
his mouth five roses in honour of the five letters of the name Mary
(Marie), and thus his sanctity was made manifest.

Whilst he listened to this narrative Barnaby marvelled yet once again at
the loving kindness of the Virgin; but the lesson of that blessed death
did not avail to console him, for his heart overflowed with zeal, and he
longed to advance the glory of his Lady, who is in heaven.

How to compass this he sought but could find no way, and day by day he
became the more cast down, when one morning he awakened filled full with
joy, hastened to the chapel, and remained there alone for more than an
hour. After dinner he returned to the chapel once more.

And, starting from that moment, he repaired daily to the chapel at such
hours as it was deserted, and spent within it a good part of the time
which the other monks devoted to the liberal and mechanical arts. His
sadness vanished, nor did he any longer groan.

A demeanour so strange awakened the curiosity of the monks.

These began to ask one another for what purpose Brother Barnaby could be
indulging so persistently in retreat.

The prior, whose duty it is to let nothing escape him in the behaviour
of his children in religion, resolved to keep a watch over Barnaby
during his withdrawals to the chapel. One day, then, when he was shut up
there after his custom, the prior, accompanied by two of the older
monks, went to discover through the chinks in the door what was going on
within the chapel.

They saw Barnaby before the altar of the Blessed Virgin, head downwards,
with his feet in the air, and he was juggling with six balls of copper
and a dozen knives. In honour of the Holy Mother of God he was
performing those feats, which aforetime had won him most renown. Not
recognizing that the simple fellow was thus placing at the service of
the Blessed Virgin his knowledge and skill, the two old monks exclaimed
against the sacrilege.

The prior was aware how stainless was Barnaby’s soul, but he concluded
that he had been seized with madness. They were all three preparing to
lead him swiftly from the chapel, when they saw the Blessed Virgin
descend the steps of the altar and advance to wipe away with a fold of
her azure robe the sweat which was dropping from her juggler’s forehead.

Then the prior, falling upon his face upon the pavement, uttered these

“Blessed are the simple-hearted, for they shall see God.”

“Amen!” responded the old brethren, and kissed the ground.


                            MASS OF SHADOWS

                                OF AGEN,

                        POPULAR TALES OF GASCONY

                          THE MASS OF SHADOWS

This tale the sacristan of the church of St. Eulalie at Neuville
d’Aumont told me, as we sat under the arbour of the White Horse, one
fine summer evening, drinking a bottle of old wine to the health of the
dead man, now very much at his ease, whom that very morning he had borne
to the grave with full honours, beneath a pall powdered with smart
silver tears.

“My poor father, who is dead” (it is the sacristan who is speaking),
“was in his lifetime a gravedigger. He was of an agreeable disposition,
the result, no doubt, of the calling he followed, for it has often been
pointed out that people who work in cemeteries are of a jovial turn.
Death has no terrors for them: they never give it a thought. I, for
instance, Monsieur, enter a cemetery at night as little perturbed as
though it were the arbour of the White Horse. And if by chance I meet
with a ghost, I don’t disturb myself in the least about it, for I
reflect that he may just as likely have business of his own to attend to
as I. I know the habits of the dead, and I know their character. Indeed,
so far as that goes, I know things of which the priests themselves are
ignorant. If I were to tell you all I have seen you would be astounded.
But a still tongue makes a wise head, and my father, who, all the same,
delighted in spinning a yarn, did not disclose a twentieth part of what
he knew. To make up for this he often repeated the same stories, and to
my knowledge he told the story of Catherine Fontaine at least a hundred

“Catherine Fontaine was an old maid whom he well remembered having seen
when he was a mere child. I should not be surprised if there were still,
perhaps, three old fellows in the district who could remember having
heard folks speak of her, for she was very well known and of excellent
reputation, although poor enough. She lived at the corner of the Rue aux
Nonnes, in the turret which is still to be seen there, and which formed
part of an old half-ruined mansion looking on to the garden of the
Ursuline nuns. On that turret can still be traced certain figures and
half-obliterated inscriptions. The late Curé of St. Eulalie, Monsieur
Levasseur, asserted that there are the words in Latin, _Love is stronger
than death_, ‘which is to be understood,’ so he would add, ‘of divine

“Catherine Fontaine lived by herself in this tiny apartment. She was a
lacemaker. You know, of course, that the lace made in our part of the
world was formerly held in high esteem. No one knew anything of her
relatives or friends. It was reported that when she was eighteen years
of age she had loved the young Chevalier d’Aumont-Cléry, and been
secretly affianced to him. But decent folk didn’t believe a word of it,
and said it was nothing but a tale which had been concocted because
Catherine Fontaine’s demeanour was that of a lady rather than of a
working woman, and because, moreover, she possessed beneath her white
locks the remains of great beauty. Her expression was sorrowful, and on
one finger she wore one of those rings fashioned by the goldsmith into
the semblance of two tiny hands clasped together. In former days folks
were accustomed to exchange such rings at their betrothal ceremony. I am
sure you know the sort of thing I mean.

“Catherine Fontaine lived a saintly life. She spent a great deal of time
in the churches, and every morning, whatever might be the weather, she
went to assist at the six o’clock Mass at St. Eulalie.

“Now one December night, whilst she was abed in her little chamber, she
was awakened by the sound of bells, and nothing doubting that they were
ringing for the first Mass, the pious woman dressed herself and came
downstairs and out into the street. The night was so obscure that not
even the walls of the houses were visible, and not a ray of light shone
from the murky sky. And such was the silence amid this black darkness,
that there was not even the sound of a distant dog barking, and a
feeling of aloofness from every living creature was perceptible. But
Catherine Fontaine knew well every single stone she stepped on, and as
she could have found her way to the church with her eyes shut, she
reached without difficulty the corner of the Rue aux Nonnes and the Rue
de la Paroisse, where the timbered house stands with the tree of Jesse
carved on one of its massive beams. When she reached this spot she
perceived that the church doors were open, and that a great light was
streaming out from the wax tapers. She resumed her journey, and when she
had passed through the porch she found herself in the midst of a vast
congregation which entirely filled the church. But she did not recognize
any of the worshippers, and was surprised to observe that all these
people were dressed in velvets and brocades, with feathers in their
hats, and that they wore swords in the fashion of days gone by. Here
were gentlemen who carried tall canes with gold knobs, and ladies with
lace caps fastened with coronet-shaped combs. Chevaliers of the Order of
St. Louis extended their hands to these ladies, who concealed behind
their fans painted faces, of which only the powdered brow and the patch
at the corner of the eye were visible! And all of them proceeded to take
up their places without the slightest sound, and as they moved neither
the sound of their footsteps on the pavement nor the rustle of their
garments could be heard. The lower places were filled with a crowd of
young artisans in brown jackets, dimity breeches, and blue stockings,
with their arms round the waists of very pretty blushing girls who
lowered their eyes. Near the holy water stoups peasant women, in scarlet
petticoats and laced bodices, sat upon the ground as immovable as
domestic animals, whilst young lads, standing up behind them, stared out
from wide-open eyes and twirled their hats round and round on their
fingers, and all these silent countenances seemed centred irremovably on
one and the same thought, at once sweet and sorrowful. On her knees, in
her accustomed place, Catherine Fontaine saw the priest advance towards
the altar, preceded by two servers. She recognized neither priest nor
clerks. The Mass began. It was a silent Mass, during which neither the
sound of the moving lips nor the tinkle of the bell, vainly swung to and
fro, was audible. Catherine Fontaine felt that she was under the
observation and the influence also of her mysterious neighbour, and
when, scarcely turning her head, she stole a glance at him, she
recognized the young Chevalier d’Aumont-Cléry who had once loved her,
and who had been dead for five-and-forty years. She recognized him by a
small mark which he had over the left ear, and, above all, by the shadow
which his long black eyelashes cast upon his cheeks. He was dressed in
his hunting clothes, scarlet with gold lace, the very clothes he wore
that day when he met her in St. Leonard’s Wood, begged her for a drink,
and stole a kiss. He had preserved his youth and his good looks. When he
smiled he still displayed magnificent teeth. Catherine said to him in an

“‘Monseigneur, you who were my friend, and to whom in days gone by I
gave all that a girl holds most dear, may God keep you in His grace! O,
that he would at length inspire me with regret for the sin I committed
in yielding to you; for it is a fact that, though my hair is white and I
approach my end, I have not yet repented of having loved you. But, dear
dead friend and noble seigneur, tell me, who are these folk, habited
after the antique fashion, who are here assisting at this silent Mass?’

“The Chevalier d’Aumont-Cléry replied in a voice feebler than a breath,
but none the less crystal clear—

“‘Catherine, these men and women are souls from purgatory who have
grieved God by sinning as we ourselves sinned through love of the
creature, but who are not on that account cast off by God, inasmuch as
their sin, like ours, was not deliberate.

“‘Whilst, separated from those they loved upon earth, they are purified
in the cleansing fires of purgatory, they suffer the pangs of absence,
which is for them the most cruel of tortures. They are so unhappy that
an angel from heaven takes pity upon their love-torment. By the
permission of the Most High, for one hour in the night, he reunites each
year lover to loved in their parish church, where they are permitted to
assist at the Mass of Shadows, hand clasped in hand. These are the
facts. If it has been granted to me to see thee here before thy death,
Catherine, it is a boon which has been bestowed by God’s special

“And Catherine Fontaine answered him—

“‘I would die gladly enough, dear, dead lord, if I might recover the
beauty that was mine when I gave you to drink in the forest.’

“Whilst they conversed thus under their breath, a very old canon was
taking the collection and proffering to the worshippers a great copper
dish, wherein they let fall, each in his turn, ancient coins which have
long since ceased to pass current: écus of six livres, florins, ducats
and ducatoons, jacobuses and rose-nobles, and the pieces fell silently
into the dish. When at length it was placed before the Chevalier, he
dropped into it a louis which made no more sound than had the other
pieces of gold and silver.

“Then the old canon stopped before Catherine Fontaine, who fumbled in
her pocket without being able to find a farthing. Then, being unwilling
to allow the dish to pass without an offering from herself, she slipped
from her finger the ring which the Chevalier had given her the day
before his death, and cast it into the copper bowl. As the golden ring
fell, a sound like the heavy clang of a bell rang out, and on the stroke
of this reverberation the Chevalier, the canon, the celebrant, the
servers, the ladies and their cavaliers, the whole assembly vanished
utterly; the candles guttered out, and Catherine Fontaine was left alone
in the darkness.”

                  *       *       *       *       *

Having concluded his narrative after this fashion, the sacristan drank a
long draught of wine, remained pensive a moment, and then resumed his
talk in these words:—

“I have told you this tale exactly as my father has told it to me over
and over again, and I believe that it is authentic, because it agrees in
all respects with what I have myself observed of the manners and customs
peculiar to those who have passed away. I have associated a good deal
with the dead ever since my childhood, and I know that they are
accustomed to return to what they have loved.

“It is on this account that the miserly dead wander at night in the
neighbourhood of the treasures they concealed during their lifetime.
They keep a strict watch over their gold; but the trouble they give
themselves, far from being of service to them, turns to their
disadvantage; and it is not at all a rare thing to come upon money
buried in the ground on digging in a place haunted by a ghost. In the
same way deceased husbands come by night to harass their wives who have
made a second matrimonial venture, and I could easily name several who
have kept a better watch over their wives since death than ever they did
while living.

“That sort of thing is blameworthy, for in all fairness the dead have no
business to stir up jealousies. Still I do but tell you what I have
observed myself. It is a matter to take into account if one marries a
widow. Besides, the tale I have told you is vouched for in the manner

“The morning after that extraordinary night Catherine Fontaine was
discovered dead in her chamber. And the beadle attached to St. Eulalie
found in the copper bowl used for the collection a gold ring with two
clasped hands. Besides, I’m not the kind of man to make jokes. Suppose
we order another bottle of wine?...”


                              LESLIE WOOD


                              LESLIE WOOD

There was music and private theatricals at Madame N——'s reception in the
Boulevard Malesherbes.

Whilst on the outskirts of a display of bare shoulders the younger men
at the doorway were suffocating in the stifling, scented air, we older
guests, not without grumbling, were keeping ourselves cool in a little
_salon_ from which we could see nothing, and to which the voice of
Mademoiselle Réjane only penetrated like the slightly metallic sound of
a dragon-fly’s flight. From time to time we could hear the laughter and
applause burst forth in the sweltering room, and we were disposed to
extend a mild tolerance to the entertainment we did not share. We were
exchanging fairly amusing trivialities, when one of the company, a
genial deputy, Monsieur B——, remarked—

“Did you know that Wood was here?”

At this statement each in turn exclaimed—

“Wood? Leslie Wood? It’s impossible. It is ten years since he was seen
in Paris. Nobody knows what’s become of him.”

“The story goes that he has established a black republic on the shores
of the Victoria Nyanza.”

“What a tale! You know, of course, that he is fabulously wealthy, and
that he is a past master in achieving the impossible. Well, he is living
in Ceylon, in a fairy palace, in the midst of enchanted gardens, where
the bayadères never cease dancing night and day.”

“How can any one believe such balderdash? The truth is, that Leslie Wood
has gone off with a Bible and a carbine to convert the Zulus.”

Monsieur B—— interrupted in an undertone—

“There he is; there, do you see?”

And he drew our attention by a slight movement of the head and eyes to a
man leaning against the doorway, dominating by his lofty stature the
heads of the crowd huddled in front of him. He seemed engrossed in the

That athletic carriage, the ruddy face with the white whiskers, the
penetrating eyes and calm gaze, they could belong to no one else but
Leslie Wood.

Recalling the inimitable letters which for ten years he contributed to
the _World_, I said to Monsieur B——

“That man is the foremost journalist of our time.”

“You may possibly be right,” replied B——. “At any rate, I am ready to
assert that for twenty years past no one has known Europe as thoroughly
as Leslie Wood.”

Baron Moïse, who was following our talk, shook his head.

“You don’t know the real Wood. I know him myself, though. He was before
all things a financier. He had a better grasp of the money market than
any one I know. What are you laughing at, Princess?”

Lolling expansively on the sofa, and in gloomy depression at being
unable to smoke a cigarette, the Princess Zévorine had smiled.

“You neither of you understand Mr. Wood—neither of you,” she said. “He
was always a mystic and a lover, never anything else.”

“I can’t agree to that,” replied Baron Moïse. “But I should be very glad
to know where this devil of a fellow has been spending the best ten
years of his life.”

“And at what period do you place those best ten years of life?”

“Between the fiftieth and sixtieth years; a man’s position is made by
then, and he has nothing to do but enjoy his existence.”

“Baron, you can question Wood himself. He is coming towards us.”

The applause, this time rising to a furious pitch like the fall of a
heavy body or the banging of doors, announced the close of the
performance. The black-coated contingent leaving the doorways clear
overflowed into the smaller _salon_, and as the company made their way
in couples in the direction of the buffet, Leslie Wood approached us.

He shook hands with undemonstrative cordiality.

“An apparition! an apparition!” exclaimed Baron Moïse.

“Oh!” rejoined Wood, “one can’t reappear from any very remote quarter.
The world is small.”

“Do you know what the Princess is saying about you, my dear Wood? She
declares that you are nothing but a mystic. Now is that true?”

“Well it depends on what you mean by mystic.”

“The word is self-explanatory. A mystic is one who is preoccupied with
the concerns of the next world. Now you are too well acquainted with the
affairs of this world to trouble yourself about the next.”

At these words Wood slightly contracted his eyebrows.

“You are quite in the wrong, Moïse. The affairs of the other world are
of far, far greater importance than those of the world we live in,

“What a man he is, this good Wood of ours!” exclaimed the Baron, with a
sneer. “He is positively witty!”

The Princess replied very seriously—

“Mr. Wood, tell me that you are not witty. I thoroughly detest witty

Upon this she rose, and said—

“Mr. Wood, will you take me to the buffet?”

An hour later, when Monsieur G—— was holding both men and women
spell-bound with his songs, I came across Leslie Wood and the Princess
Zévorine again, alone in front of the deserted buffet.

The Princess was speaking with almost vehement enthusiasm of Count
Tolstoi, whose friend she was. She described this great man who had
descended to the lowliest life, donning the dress, and with it the
spirit, of the moujik, and using the hands which had indited literary
masterpieces in the manufacture of shoes for the poor.

To my great surprise, Wood was expressing approbation of a kind of life
so completely opposed to common sense. In his slightly panting voice, to
which the beginnings of asthma had given a singular sweetness, he said—

“Yes, Tolstoi is right. The whole of philosophy is contained in that
phrase: ‘May the will of God be done!’ He has realized that all the woes
of humanity are the outcome of the exercise of human will as distinct
from the will divine. My only fear is that he may impair so noble a
doctrine by fantastic and extravagant additions.”

“Oh!” returned the Princess in a subdued voice, and hesitating a little,
“the Count’s teaching is only extravagant upon one point; that is, in
inculcating the extension of the rights and duties of husbands to an
extremely advanced period of their lives, and imposing on the saints of
these latter days the fruitful old age of the patriarchs.”

Wood, himself elderly, replied with a restrained exaltation—

“And that again is excellent, very saintly even. Physical and natural
love is becoming to all God’s creatures, and so long as it does not
involve either dissension or restlessness, it maintains that divine
simplicity, that saintly fleshliness without which there is no
salvation. Asceticism is nothing but pride and rebellion. We must always
bear in mind the example of that holy man Boaz, and let us remember that
the Bible calls love the bread of old age.”

Then, all of a sudden, transported, illuminated, transfigured, ecstatic,
and invoking with eyes and arms and his whole soul some invisible
presence, he murmured—

“Annie! Annie! Annie, my best beloved, it is true, is it not, that our
Lord desires his saints, whilst they are men and women, to love one
another humbly, even as the beasts of the field?”

Upon this he fell exhausted into an arm-chair. A terrific inhalation
shook his broad chest, and in this condition his appearance was fuller
of vitality than ever, like those machines that appear more formidable
when they are out of gear. The Princess Zévorine, without any show of
astonishment, wiped his forehead with her handkerchief and gave him a
glass of water, which he drank.

For my part I was dumfounded. In this clairvoyant I was unable to
recognize the man who in his study, littered with blue-books, had so
many times conversed with me with the utmost clear-headedness upon
Oriental affairs, the Treaty of Frankfort, and critical situations on
the money market. As I allowed the Princess to observe my uneasiness,
she said, with a shrug of the shoulders—

“It is easy to see you are French! You look upon every one as a madman
who does not think exactly what you think yourself. You need not be
uneasy; our friend Mr. Wood is level-headed enough, perfectly
level-headed. Let us go and listen to G——.”

When I had conducted the Princess to the principal _salon_, I prepared
to leave. In the ante-chamber I found Wood putting on his overcoat. He
did not appear to feel any ill effects from his attack.

“My dear fellow,” he said, “I think we are neighbours. I suppose you are
still living on the Quai Malaquais, and I have taken up my quarters in a
hotel in the Rue des Saints Pères. In dry weather like this it is a
pleasure to go on foot. If you are willing we will stroll along together
and chat.”

I agreed readily. On the doorstep he offered me a cigar, and held out a
pocket electric torch for me to light it by.

“I find it very convenient,” he said, and proceeded to explain the
principle of it very lucidly.

I recognized the Wood of old times again. We moved on perhaps a hundred
paces along the street chatting on indifferent subjects. Then suddenly
my companion put his hand quietly on my shoulder.

“My dear friend,” he began, “some of the things I said this evening
cannot have failed to surprise you. You would probably like me to
explain them.”

“I was intensely interested, my dear Wood, pray do.”

“I will do so willingly. I have the greatest admiration of your
character. We may not regard life from the same point of view. But you
are not one of those who repel an idea because it is new, and that is a
disposition sufficiently rare, in France especially.”

“I fancy, however, my dear Wood, that for liberty of thought——”

“Oh! no, you are not, like the English, a race of theologians. But
enough of that. I want to tell you in as few words as possible the
history of my convictions. When you knew me fifteen years ago I was the
correspondent of the London _World_. With us journalism is a more
lucrative profession, and is held in higher esteem than with you. My
appointment was a good one, and I fancy I reaped the greatest possible
advantages from it. I am familiar with business transactions, and I
carried through some very profitable ones, and in a few years I achieved
two very desirable things: influence and fortune. You are aware that I
am a practical man.

“I have never worked without a goal in view. And, above all things, I
aimed at attaining the supreme goal of life. Fairly exhaustive
theological studies undertaken in my youth had convinced me that that
goal lay outside the sphere of this terrestrial life. But I was yet in
doubt as to the practical means of attaining it. As a result, I suffered
cruelly. Uncertainty is absolutely insupportable to a man of my

“In this state of mind I turned my attention seriously to the psychical
researches of Sir William Crookes, one of the most distinguished members
of our Royal Society. I knew him personally, and needed no assurance
that he was both a man of learning and a gentleman. He was at that time
giving his attention to the case of a young woman endowed with psychic
powers of an altogether uncommon nature, and, like Saul of old, he was
fortunate enough to evoke the presence of an indisputable disembodied

“A charming woman, who had passed through the experience of earthly life
and was now living the life beyond the tomb, lent herself to the
experiments of the eminent spiritualist, and submitted to every test he
could exact from her within the limits of decorum. I considered that
investigations such as this, bearing on the point at which terrestrial
existence borders on extra-terrestrial existence, would lead me, if I
followed them step by step, to the discovery of that which it is above
all necessary to know, that is to say, the true aim of life. But it was
not long before I was disappointed in my hopes. The researches of my
respected friend, although conducted with a precision which left nothing
to be desired, did not result in a theological and moral conviction
sufficiently unequivocal.

“Moreover, Sir William was suddenly deprived of the co-operation of the
incomparable dead lady who had so graciously attended several of his
spiritualistic séances.

“Discouraged by the incredulity of the public, and irritated by the
sallies of his colleagues, he ceased to give any information relative to
his psychic experiences. I communicated my discomfiture to the Reverend
Mr. B——, with whom I had been on friendly terms from the time of his
return from South Africa, where he had laboured as an evangelist in a
devoted and systematic fashion truly worthy of old England.

“Mr. B—— is, of all men, the one who has at all times exercised the most
powerful and decisive influence over me.”

“He is very intellectual, then?” I asked.

“His knowledge of doctrine is profound,” replied Wood. “But better than
all else he has a strong character, and you are aware, my dear fellow,
that it is by force of character that men are swayed. My mischances
occasioned no surprise to him; he attributed them to my lack of method,
and, above all, to the pitiable moral infirmity I had shown on this

“‘Scientific experiments,’ he declared, ‘can never lead to discoveries
in any other domain than that of science. How is it you did not
understand this? Leslie Wood, you have been strangely heedless and
frivolous. The Apostle Paul has told us that the Spirit searcheth all
things. If we would discover spiritual truths we must set our feet on
the spiritual path.’

“These words produced a profound impression on me.

“‘How then,’ I asked, ‘shall I enter on the spiritual path?’

“‘Poverty and simplicity must be your guides!’ Mr. B—— replied. ‘Sell
your goods and give the purchase money to the poor. You are renowned.
Conceal yourself. Pray, and devote yourself to works of charity. Put on
a spirit of simplicity and a pure soul and you will attain truth.’

“I resolved to follow out these precepts to the letter. I sent in my
resignation as correspondent to the _World_. I realized my investments,
which were in great part in commercial enterprises, and, fearing to
repeat the sin of Ananias and Sapphira, I conducted this delicate
operation in such a way as not to risk the loss of a penny of the
capital which was no longer my own. Baron Moïse, who kept an eye on my
negotiations, conceived an almost religious reverence for my financial
genius. By direction of Mr. B——, I handed over to the treasurer of the
_Evangelical Society_ the sums I had realized, and when I expressed to
that eminent theologian my delight at being poor—

“‘Have a care,’ said he, ‘that in your poverty you do not indulge in
exaltation at your prowess. It will serve you but ill to strip yourself
outwardly if within your own breast you cherish a golden idol. Be

Leslie Wood had reached this point in his narrative when we arrived at
the Pont Royal. The Seine, upon whose surface the lights threw
flickering reflections, flowed beneath the arches with a dull moan.

“I shall have to cut my story short,” Wood began once more. “Each
episode of my new life would occupy a whole night to recount. Mr. B——,
to whom I was as obedient as a child, sent me to the Basutos,
commissioned to fight against the slave trade. There I lived under a
tent alone with that hardy bedfellow whose name is danger, and through
fever and drought became aware of the presence of God.

“At the end of five years Mr. B—— recalled me to England. On the steamer
I met a young girl. What a haunting face she had! She was a vision a
thousand times more radiant than the phantom presence which appeared to
Sir William Crookes!

“She was the orphan daughter of a colonel in the Indian army and she was
poor. She had no particular beauty of features. Her pale complexion and
emaciated face indicated suffering; but her eyes expressed all that one
can imagine of heaven; her body seemed to glow gently with an inward
light. How I loved her! At sight of her I fathomed the hidden meaning of
all creation! That simple young girl with one glance revealed to me the
secret of the harmony of the spheres!

“Ah! she was simple, very simple, my monitress, my well-loved lady,
sweet Annie Fraser! In her translucent soul I could read the sympathy
she felt for me. One night, one serene night, when we were alone
together on the deck of the ship in the presence of the seraphic company
of the stars, which throbbed in chorus in the sky, I took her hand and

“‘Annie Fraser, I love you. I believe that it would be good for us both
for you to become my wife, but I am debarred from planning my own future
in order that God may dispose of it as He sees fit. May it be His will
to unite us! I have surrendered my own will into the hands of Mr. B——.
When we reach England we will go together in search of him; will you,
Annie Fraser? And if he gives his sanction we will marry.’

“She gave her consent. For the remainder of the voyage we read the Bible

“Immediately on our arrival in London I accompanied my fellow passenger
to Mr. B——’s, and told him what the love of this young girl meant to me,
and with what clear insight it inspired me.

“Mr. B—— gazed for a long time on her with kindliness.

“‘You may marry,’ he said at length. ‘The Apostle Paul has declared that
the husband is sanctified by the wife, and the wife by the husband. But
let your union resemble those held in honour amongst Christians in the
primitive Church! Let it remain purely spiritual, and see that the
angel’s sword lies between you in your bed. Go, now, and remain humble
and secluded, and let not the world hear your name.’

“I married Annie Fraser, and I need scarcely tell you that we complied
rigidly with the condition imposed on us by Mr. B——. For four years I
delighted in that brotherly and sisterly union.

“By grace of simple little Annie Fraser I advanced in the knowledge of
God. There was nothing now that could cause us suffering.

“Annie was ill, and her strength declined, and we repeated joyfully in
union, ‘May the will of God be done on earth as it is in heaven!’

“After four years of this life together, there came a day, a Christmas
day, when Mr. B—— summoned me to him.

“‘Leslie Wood,’ he said, ‘I have put you to the proof for your soul’s
sake. But it would be to fall into papistical error to believe that the
union of His creatures after the flesh is displeasing to God. Twice He
blessed both animals and mankind in pairs, in the earthly Paradise, and
in the ark of Noah. Go, and live henceforth with your wife, Annie
Fraser, as a husband with his wife.’

“When I arrived home, Annie, my well-loved Annie, was dead....

“I own my weakness. It was with my lips and not with my heart that I
pronounced the words, ‘O God, Thy will be done!’ and thinking upon Mr.
B——’s tardy removal of the restrictions upon our love, I felt my mouth
full of bitterness, and as it were ashes in my heart.

“So it was with a forlorn soul that I knelt down at the foot of the bed
where, beneath a cross of roses, silent and white and with the faint
violets of death on her cheeks, my Annie slept her last sleep.

“O thou of little faith! thou didst bid her adieu and remain a whole
week plunged in barren sorrow that approached despair. How much rather
shouldst thou, on the contrary, have rejoiced, both in body and soul!...

“On the night of the eighth day, as I was weeping, my forehead bowed
upon the cold and empty bed, I had a sudden conviction that the beloved
was near me in my chamber.

“Nor was I deceived. When I raised my head I saw Annie, smiling and
radiant, holding out her arms to me. But how find words for what remains
to tell? How express the ineffable? And is it permissible to reveal such
mysteries of love?

“Clearly when Mr. B—— said to me, ‘Live with Annie as a husband with his
wife!’ he knew that love is stronger than death.

“Learn, then, my friend, that from that hour of forgiveness and joy my
Annie has returned nightly to my side distilling celestial odours.”

He spoke with appalling exaltation.

We had slackened our pace. He stopped in front of a hotel of Moorish

“This is where I live,” he said. “Do you see that window on the second
floor with the light in it? She is waiting for me.”

He left me abruptly.

Eight days later I learned from the newspapers of the sudden death of
Leslie Wood, former correspondent of the _World_.



                           TO CHARLES MAURRAS


            “‘Gestas,’ dixt li Signor, ‘entrez en Paradis.’”

“Gestas, dans nos anciens mystères, c’est le nom du larron crucifié à la
droite de Jésus-Christ” (Augustin Thierry, _la Rédemption de


Footnote 3:

  “‘Gestas,’ said the Lord, ‘enter into Paradise.’”


  “Gestas, in our ancient mystery plays, was the name of the thief who
  was crucified on the right hand of Jesus Christ” (Augustin Thierry,
  _The Redemption of Larmor_).

Folks say that we have amongst us at this very day a sad rogue named
Gestas, who writes the sweetest songs in the world. It was written on
his flat-featured face that he would be a sinner after the flesh, and
towards evening evil exultation shines in his green eyes. He is no
longer young. The protuberances on his skull have taken on the lustre of
copper; the long hair falling about his neck has taken a greenish tinge.
Nevertheless he is ingenuous, and has kept fast hold on the naive faith
of his childhood. When he is not in hospital he occupies a little room
in some squalid hotel between the Panthéon and the Jardin des Plantes.
There, in the old impoverished quarter, every stone is familiar with his
tread, the gloomy byways are tolerant of him, and one of these narrow
lanes is entirely after his own heart; for, lined though it is with dram
shops and boosing kens, it boasts on the corner of one of the houses an
image of the Virgin in a blue niche behind bars. Of an evening he
progresses from café to café, and at station after station, with pious
orderliness, he takes his beer or his spirits: the exacting duties of
the devotee of debauchery call for method and regularity. The night is
far gone when, without knowing how, he once more reaches his den, and by
a daily miracle discovers the sacking bed, upon which he falls fully
dressed. There with clenched fists he sleeps the sleep of the vagabond
and the child. But that sleep is brief.

As soon as dawn casts its pale radiance upon the window, and between the
curtains darts its luminous shafts into the attic, Gestas opens his
eyes, rises, shakes himself like an ownerless dog awakened by a kick,
hurries down the long, spiral staircase, and once more sets his eyes
delightedly on the street, the kind street which is so indulgent to the
vices of the lowly and the poor. His eyelids wink at the clear light of
the early morning; the nostrils, which recall Silenus, inhale the clean
air. Vigorous and upright, one leg stiffened by rheumatism of long
standing, he goes on his way leaning on his dog-wood stick, the ferrule
of which he has worn out with twenty years of wandering. But in his
nocturnal adventures he has never lost either his pipe or his stick. And
at the beginning of the day his appearance is that of a man perfectly
simple and perfectly happy. Which is what he actually is. His greatest
joy in life, which he buys at the sacrifice of sleep, is to go from bar
to bar in the morning drinking white wine with the workmen. It is an
innocent sort of tippling: the transparent wine, in the pale light of
early morning, amongst the white blouses of the masons; there you have a
symphony in whites which enchants this soul, of which vice has not yet
subdued the candour.

Now one spring morning when he had sauntered in this fashion from his
lodging as far as _The Little Moor_, Gestas had the satisfaction of
seeing the door, over which appeared a Saracen’s head in cast iron, gay
with paint, thrown open as he came up, and so he reached the tin counter
in the company of friends with whom he had no acquaintance: a gang of
workmen from La Creuse, who clinked their glasses, talked of their own
part of the country, and indulged in boasting after the manner of the
twelve peers of Charlemagne. They drank a glass and cracked a crust;
when one of them thought of a good thing he laughed very loudly at it,
and so that his comrades might understand it the better gave them a good
thump or two on the back with his fist. The older men, however,
dispatched their potations slowly and silently. When these had all
departed to their work, Gestas, the last left, quitted _The Little Moor_
and made his way to _The Juicy Quince_, with the lance-headed railings
of which he was familiar. Here, again, in excellent company, he had a
drink, and even offered a glass to two mistrustful but mild guardians of
the peace. After this he visited a third bar, the ancient wrought-iron
sign of which represents two little men staggering under an enormous
bunch of grapes, and there he was served by the lovely Madame Trubert,
famous all the quarter through for her prudence, her strength, and her
jollity. Then as he neared the fortifications he had yet another drink
at the distillery where, in the shadow, the gleaming copper taps of the
barrels attract the eye; and still another at the general shop where the
green shutters were still fast closed between the two boxes of laurels;
after which he returned to the most populous districts and ordered
_vermouth_ and a sort of mixture of dregs in various cafés. Eight
o’clock struck. He walked very erect, with a steady, rigid, solemn gait;
he was astonished when women, running to buy provisions, with bare head
and their hair twisted in a knot low on the neck, ran against him with
their heavy baskets, or when he came into collision with some small girl
grasping an enormous loaf in her arms. Still, at times, if he crossed
the road the milkman’s cart, with its clinking, rattling tin cans, would
pull up so close to him that he could feel the horse’s warm breath on
his cheek. But he continued his way unhasting and careless of the
imprecations of the rustic milk-vendor. His gait, secure of support from
his dog-wood stick, was calm and haughty. But internally the old man was
staggering. Nothing was left of his early morning gaiety. The lark,
whose joyous trills had thrilled through him with his earliest sips of
the pale-hued wine, had sped away at a single flight, and now his soul
was a murky rookery, where crows croaked hoarsely upon inky trees. He
was mortally sad. A great disgust of himself welled up in his heart. The
voice of his repentance, his shame, cried out in him: “Hog, hog! What a
hog you are!” And he marvelled at that clear, angry voice, that superb
angel’s voice, which spoke mysteriously within himself, repeating: “Hog!
hog! What a hog you are!” A yearning desire for innocence and purity
woke in him. He wept; great tears fell down on his goat-like beard. He
wept over himself. Obedient to the words of his Master, who said, “Weep
for yourselves and for your children, O daughters of Jerusalem,” he shed
the bitter dew from his downcast eyes upon the body he had delivered up
to the seven deadly sins, and upon the obscene fancies born of his
drunkenness. The faith of his childhood revived in him, and spread out
fresh vigorous tendrils. From his lips pathetic prayers flowed forth. He
said under his breath: “O God, grant me to become once more even as the
little child which once was I!” At the moment he offered up this simple
petition he realized that he was standing under a church porch.

It was an old church, once white and comely beneath its lacework of
stone, which time and the hand of man had marred. Now it had become as
black as the Shulamite, and its beauty could only appeal to the hearts
of poets; it was a church “little and poor and old,” like the mother of
François Villon, who perchance in her day came to kneel in its
precincts, and saw on the walls, nowadays whitewashed, that painted
paradise, the harps of which she believed she could hear, and that
inferno where the damned suffered fiery torment, which caused the worthy
soul to be much afraid. Gestas entered into the House of God. He saw no
one within, not even any one to offer him holy water, not even a poor
woman like the mother of François Villon. Ranged in seemly order in the
nave, a congregation of chairs alone bore witness to the faith of the
parishioners, and seemed to sustain public worship.

In the cool, moist shade afforded by the vaulting Gestas turned to his
right towards the aisle where, close to the porch, before a statue of
the Virgin, a pyramidal frame of iron displayed its pointed teeth, on
which, however, not a single taper now burned. Then as he gazed on the
image, white, pink, and blue in colour, smiling from the midst of little
gold and silver hearts hung up as votive offerings, he bent his stiff
old legs, wept tears like St. Peter, and sobbed out tender, disconnected
words: “Holy Virgin, Mother, Mary, Mary, your child, your child,
Mother!” But very speedily he rose up again, took several rapid steps,
and stopped in front of a confessional. Framed of oak, darkened by the
passage of time, oiled as are the beams of an olive press, this
confessional had the irreproachable, homely, intimate appearance of an
old linen cupboard. On its panels religious symbols carved in shell-like
lozenges and rusticated work called up the memory of the townswomen of
the olden time, who had come hither to bow their caps with lofty
erections of lace and lave their housewifely souls in this type of the
cleansing piscina. Where they had set their knees Gestas set his, and
with lips close up to the wooden grating called in a hushed voice:
“Father! father!” As no one answered his call he knocked very gently
with his finger on the wicket.

“Father! father!”

He wiped his eyes so as to see better through the holes in the grating,
and thought he could make out through the dimness the white surplice of
a priest.

He repeated—

“Father! father! pray listen to me. I am in need of confession, I must
cleanse my soul; it is black and dirty; it disgusts me; it turns my
stomach. Quick, father, the bath of repentance, the bath of pardon, the
bath of Jesus. At the thought of my impurities my heart comes into my
mouth, and I am ready to spew with disgust at my uncleanness. The bath,
the bath of cleansing!”

Then he waited. Now fancying he perceived a hand, which made a sign to
him from the depths of the confessional, now failing to discover in the
alcove anything more than an empty seat, a long time passed. He remained
motionless, his knees glued to the wooden step, his gaze intent on the
wicket, whence he awaited the outpouring of pardon, peace, refreshment,
health, innocence, reconciliation with God and himself, heavenly joy,
submission to the divine love, the sovereign good. At intervals he
murmured tender supplications—

“Monsieur le curé, father, monsieur le curé! I thirst! give me to drink,
give me that which is yours to give, the water of innocence, a white
robe, and wings for my poor soul. Give me penitence and pardon!”

Receiving no reply, he knocked still harder at the grating, and said

“Confession, I beg of you!”

At last he lost patience, and rising, showered heavy blows with his
dog-wood stick on the walls of the confessional, shouting—

“Ho, there, monsieur le curé! Ho, there, monsieur le vicaire!”

And in proportion as he raised his voice he knocked more loudly. The
blows fell furiously on the confessional, causing clouds of dust to
arise from it, and only evoking in reply to his violence the vibration
of its worm-eaten old planks.

The verger, who was sweeping out the sacristy, ran forward with his
sleeves turned up on hearing the noise. When he saw the man with the
stick he stopped short for a moment, and then advanced towards him with
the cautious reserve common to the officials who have grown white in the
service of this lowliest of police. Arrived within earshot he demanded—

“What is it you want?”

“I want to confess.”

“Folks don’t come to confess at an hour like this.”

“I want to confess.”

“Be off with you!”

“I want to see the curé.”

“For what purpose?”

“To make my confession.”

“The curé can’t be seen just now.”

“The senior vicaire, then.”

“Nor he either. Now off you go.”

“The second vicaire, the third vicaire, the fourth vicaire, the youngest

“Be off with you.”

“Ah, then! would you let me die unshriven? It’s worse than it was in
'93, it seems!... Any little vicaire. How will it hurt you if I make my
confession to some little vicaire not any taller than my arm? Take word
to some priest that he must come to hear my confession. I’ll undertake
to disclose to him a batch of sins rarer, more extraordinary, more
interesting, you may take my word for it, than all those his chattering
women penitents can trot out before him. You can tell him that he is
wanted for a really fine confession.”

“Get away now!” $1“$2”$3.bn 145.png

Although he did not rejoice in the majestic stature of the verger of a
rich parish, this official staff-bearer was vigorous enough. He took our
poor Gestas by the shoulders and hurled him outside the doors.

Gestas, once in the street, had only one idea in his brain, which was to
get back into the church by one of the side doors, so as, if possible,
to steal a march on the verger from behind, and perhaps lay hands on
some underling vicaire who would consent to hear his confession.

Unhappily for the success of this man[oe]uvre, the church was surrounded
on all sides by old houses, and Gestas was soon hopelessly entangled,
without hope of delivery, in an inextricable maze of streets, lanes,
courts, and alleys.

Amongst them, however, he discovered a wine merchant’s, and there the
poor penitent tried to find consolation in absinthe. He managed to do
so. But a fresh fit of repentance soon overtook him. And it is this
which supports his friends in the hope that he will win salvation. He
has faith—simple, firm, childlike faith. It is works alone which he is
lacking in. Nevertheless there is no need to despair of him, since he
himself never despairs.

Without entering on the difficulties as to predestination—and they are
not inconsiderable—nor weighing the opinions expressed on this subject
by St. Augustine, Gottschalk, the Albigenses, the Wycliffites, the
Hussites, Luther, Calvin, Jansenius, and the great Arnaud, one may
venture to believe that Gestas is predestined to eternal felicity.

            “Gestas,” said the Lord, “enter into Paradise.”


                      THE MANUSCRIPT OF A VILLAGE

                            TO MARCEL SCHWOB

                      THE MANUSCRIPT OF A VILLAGE

Doctor H——, who recently died at Servigny (Aisne), where he had
practised medicine for more than forty years, left behind him a journal
never intended for the public eye. I should not feel justified in
publishing the manuscript _in extenso_, nor even in printing fragments
of any considerable length, although, like Monsieur Taine, there is a
large number of persons nowadays of the opinion that it is above all
things desirable to print and circulate what was never planned for
publication. Whatever these worthy folk may say, the fact that a writer
is an amateur does not afford any guarantee that what he has to say will
be interesting. The memoirs of Doctor H—— would be wearisome from their
mere monotonously moral note. And yet the man who wrote them, in his
lowly environment, possessed an intellect quite out of the ordinary.
This village doctor was philosopher as well as physician. Perhaps the
closing pages of his journal might be perused without any exceptional
distaste. I venture to transcribe them here:—

           _Extract from the Journal of the late Doctor H——,
                    Physician at Servigny (Aisne)._

“It is an axiom of philosophy that nothing in this world is either
altogether bad or altogether good. Pity, the tenderest, the most
natural, the most useful of the virtues, is not at all times in place
either with the soldier or the priest; both with priest and soldier
there are occasions when it must be held in restraint—when confronted by
the enemy, for instance. Officers do not make a practice of recommending
it on the eve of battle, and in some old book I have read that Monsieur
Nicole held it in distrust as the motive principle of concupiscence.
There is nothing of the priest about me, and still less of the soldier.
I am a doctor, and amongst the most insignificant of that profession, a
country doctor. I have practised my art for long years and in obscurity,
and I would assert that if pity alone can be a worthy stimulus to the
adoption of our profession, we must lay it aside finally when we
encounter those miseries which it has inspired us with the desire to
alleviate. A doctor whom pity accompanies to the bedside of his patients
will find his observation not sufficiently acute, his hands not
sufficiently steady. We go wherever compassion for the human race calls,
but we must leave pity behind us. Moreover, doctors for the most part
find it an easy task to attain the callousness which is so necessary to
them. That is a mental condition which cannot long elude them, and there
are moral reasons for this. Pity speedily becomes blunted when brought
into contact with suffering; there is less disposition to deplore those
misfortunes for which alleviation can be procured; finally, to the
physician an illness offers a succession of interesting phenomena.

“From the time when I began the practice of medicine I flung myself into
it with ardour. In the bodily ills disclosed to me I saw only
opportunities for the practical application of my art. When a complaint
developed without complications, I was able to see beauty in its
conformity to the normal type. Those phenomena of disease, which offered
apparent anomalies, awakened curiosity in my mind; so that I was
enamoured of disease. What am I saying? From the point of view I
espoused disease and health were possessed of indisputable personality.
As an enthusiastic observer of the human mechanism, I found as much to
admire in its more baleful affections as in its most healthy compliance
with law. Willingly should I have exclaimed with Pinel: ‘What a
magnificent cancer!’ That was a fine attitude of mind, and I was on my
way to become a philosopher-physician. I only needed to have a genius
for my art in order to enjoy completely, and enter into possession of,
the full beauty of the theory of disease classification. It is the
privilege of genius to unveil the splendour of things. Where the
ordinary man would see only a disgusting wound, the naturalist worthy of
the name stands enraptured before a battlefield on which the mysterious
forces of life struggle for supremacy, in an encounter more inexorable,
more terrifying than any that the strenuous abandon of Salvator Rosa
ever depicted. I only caught glimpses of that spectacle of which the
Magendies and Claude Bernards were familiar witnesses, and it was a
distinction for me to do so; but though resigned to the career of a
humble practitioner, I fortified myself, as a professional duty, in the
habit of confronting grievous situations unemotionally. I gave my
patients my energies and my intellect. I did not give them pity. God
forbid that I should place any gift, howsoever precious, above His gift
of pity! Pity is the widow’s mite; it is the incomparable offering of
the poor man, who with generosity outstripping that of all the wealthy
in this world of ours, gives with the gift of his tears a piece torn
from his heart. For that very reason it is that pity must be dissociated
from the carrying out of a professional duty, how noble soe’er that
profession may be.

“To enter upon more particular considerations, I would say that the folk
in whose midst I am living evoke in their misfortunes a sentiment which
is not pity. There is something of truth in the theory that a man cannot
inspire in another an emotion which he is incapable of experiencing
himself. Now the peasantry in our part of the country are not
tender-hearted. Harsh to others as to themselves, they drag out an
existence morose in its gravity. That gravity, too, is contagious, and
in their company sadness and dejection affect one’s mind. What is fine
about their moral outlook is that they preserve unscathed the nobler
features of humanity. As they are not accustomed to think with any
frequency or profundity, their thoughts assume naturally in certain
circumstances a solemn tone. I have heard some of them give utterance at
the point of death to brief, forcible speeches worthy of the patriarchs
of the Old Testament. They can call forth one’s admiration, but do not
awaken one’s sympathies. With them everything is quite simple, even
their illnesses. Their sufferings are not accentuated by their
imagination. They are not like those over-sensitive creatures who
construct from their ills a monster more harassing than the ills
themselves. They meet death so much as a matter of course that it is
impossible to be greatly disturbed. To sum up, I might say that they are
all so much alike that no shred of individuality vanishes as each one
passes away.

“For the reasons which I have just set down it follows that I practise
my profession of village doctor very peacefully. I never regret having
chosen it. I sometimes think I am a little above it; but if it is
vexatious to a man to feel himself above his position, the annoyance
would certainly be greater if he felt unequal to it. I am not rich, and
never shall be so long as I live. But of what use would money be to one
who leads a solitary village life? My little grey mare, Jenny, is as yet
only fifteen years old, and she still trots as easily as in the days of
her first youth, especially when we are going in the direction of the
stable. I do not, like my illustrious fellow-physicians in Paris,
possess a gallery of pictures for the entertainment of my visitors, but
I can show pear trees which the townsmen have nothing like. My orchard
is famous for twenty leagues round, and the owners of the neighbouring
châteaux come to beg cuttings from me.

“Now on a certain Monday—it will be a year ago this very day—as I was
busy in my garden inspecting my espaliers, a farm servant came to beg me
to call as soon as possible at Les Alies.

“I asked him whether Jean Blin, the farmer at Les Alies, had sustained a
fall the previous day as he came home in the evening. For in my part of
the country a sprain is a common Sunday occurrence, and it is not at all
rare for a man to break two or three ribs that day on leaving the
public-house. Jean Blin is not exactly a bad sort, but he likes drinking
in company, and more than once he has known what it is like to wait for
Monday’s dawn at the bottom of a miry ditch.

“The farm servant replied that there was nothing the matter with Jean
Blin, but that Éloi, Jean’s little son, was seized with fever.

“Without another thought for my espaliers, I went in search of my hat
and stick, and set out on foot for Les Alies, which is only twenty
minutes’ walk from my house. As I walked, my thoughts were on ahead with
Jean Blin’s little boy in the grip of a fever. His father was a peasant
much like every other peasant, with this peculiar difference, that the
Intelligence which created him forgot to provide him with a brain. This
great hulking Jean Blin has a head as thick as his fist. Divine wisdom
has only furnished that particular skull with what was strictly
indispensable, there’s no getting over that. His wife, the best-looking
woman in the place, is a noisy, bustling housewife, stolidly virtuous.
Well, well! To this worthy couple a child had been given, who was easily
the most delicate, the most spiritual little being that ever adorned
this old world of ours. Heredity is responsible for some of the
surprises in nature, and it has been well said that nobody knows what he
is about when he father’s a child. Heredity, according to our honoured
Nysten, is the biological phenomenon which is responsible for the fact
that, in addition to the normal type of the species, ancestors transmit
to their descendants certain peculiarities of organization and of
aptitude. I admit it. But what peculiarities are transmitted and what
are not, that is what is not very clear, even after a perusal of the
learned works of Doctor Lucas and Monsieur Ribot. My neighbour, the
notary, lent me last year a volume by Monsieur Émile Zola, and I observe
that that author takes credit for particular discernment in this
respect. ‘Here,’ he says, in substance, ‘is an ancestor afflicted with
neurosis; his descendants will show neuropathic tendencies, that is to
say, when they do not do so; amongst them will be found some foolish and
some intelligent individuals; one of them may even be a genius.’ He has
gone to the trouble of drawing up a genealogical chart to make his idea
more easily apprehended. Well and good! The discovery is not
particularly novel, and its expounder would unquestionably be
ill-advised to vaunt himself upon it; it is none the less true, however,
that it embraces practically all we know on the subject of heredity. And
this is how it came about that Éloi, Jean Blin’s little son, was an
embodied intellect. He had the creative imagination. Many a time, when
he was no higher than my walking-stick, I have come across him playing
truant with the village urchins. Whilst they were reaching after nests,
I have watched the little fellow constructing model mills and miniature
syphons with pipes of straw. Inventive and unsociable he turned to
nature. His schoolmaster despaired of ever making anything of so
inattentive a child; and, to tell the truth, at eight years old Éloi was
still ignorant of his letters. But at that age he learned to read and
write with astonishing rapidity, and in six months became the best
scholar in the village.

“He was the most affectionate and the most clinging child. I gave him a
few lessons in mathematics, and was astounded at the fertility that his
mind displayed at this early age. In fact—I own it without any fear of
being ridiculed, for in an old man cut off from civilization some
exaggeration is pardonable—I rejoiced to have detected in this little
peasant the premonitions of one of those enlightened spirits which at
long intervals shine forth in the midst of our purblind race, and,
impelled alike by the need of lavishing their affection and the desire
for knowledge, are bound to effect something useful or beautiful
wherever fate may assign them a place.

“My mind was occupied with musings of this kind as far as Les Alies.
Entering the low-ceiled room, I found little Éloi ensconced in the big
bed with cotton hangings, to which no doubt his parents had removed him
on account of the gravity of his condition. He was lethargic; his head,
though small and delicate, nevertheless made as great a dent in the
pillow as if it had been of enormous weight. I stole near. His forehead
was on fire; there was a disquieting redness about the conjunctive
membrane; the temperature of the body was altogether too high. His
mother and grandmother kept close to him, anxiously. Jean Blin, whose
uneasiness prevented him from working, not knowing what to do, and being
afraid to go away, stood with his hands in his pockets looking
inquiringly first at one and then at another. The child turned his drawn
face towards me, and scrutinizing me with an affectionate but
heartbreaking glance, said in reply to my questions that his forehead
and his eyes were both very painful, that he could hear noises which he
knew were imaginary, and that he knew perfectly well who I was, his dear
old friend.

“‘First he has shivering fits, and then he is feverishly hot,’ said his

“Jean Blin, after ruminating for several minutes, remarked—

“‘My belief is that what ails him is his inside.’

“Then he relapsed into silence.

“It had been only too easy for me to diagnose the symptoms of acute
meningitis. I prescribed revulsive applications to the feet, and leeches
behind the ears. I drew near to my little friend a second time, and
tried to say something cheerful to him, more cheerful, alas! than facts
warranted. But I was suddenly aware of an entirely new personal
experience. Although I was completely self-possessed I seemed to see the
sick child through a veil, and at such a distance that he appeared
quite, quite small. This upsetting of my ideas of space was speedily
followed by an analogous upheaval of my ideas of time. Although my visit
had not lasted above five minutes, I received the impression that I had
been in that low-ceiled room, in front of that bed with its white cotton
hangings, for a long time, for a very long time, and that months and
even years had rolled by whilst I was held motionless.

“By a mental effort which is perfectly natural to me, I there and then
put these singular impressions under analysis, and the cause of them
became quite clear to me. It was simple enough. Éloi was dear to me. At
the sight of him so unexpectedly and so seriously ill I could not ‘get
my bearings.’ It is the popular phrase, and it is appropriate. Moments
of anguish appear to us unnaturally long. That is why I received the
impression that the five or six minutes I had passed beside Éloi had
something interminable about them. As to the fancy that the child was at
a distance from me, that came from the idea that I was about to lose
him. This idea, impressed on me against my will, had from the first
moment assumed a character of absolute certainty.

“The following day Éloi was in a less alarming condition. The
improvement continued for several days. I had sent into the town to
procure ice, and this had had a good effect. But on the fifth day I
recognized that he was in violent delirium. He talked a great deal, and
amongst the disconnected words I heard him pouring out I could
distinguish these—

“'The balloon! the balloon! I have hold of the helm of the balloon. It
rises. The sky is inky. Mamma, mamma! why won’t you come with me? I am
steering my balloon to a place where it will be so beautiful! Come, it
is stifling here.'

“That day Jean Blin followed me up the road. He slouched along with that
air of embarrassment a man has who wants to say something and is yet
afraid to say it. At last, after walking some twenty paces with me in
silence, he stopped, and laying his hand on my arm said—

“'See here, Doctor, it’s my belief that what ails the little chap is his

“I continued my way sorrowfully, and for the first time in my life my
eagerness to see once more my pears and apricots did not avail to mend
my pace. For the first time in forty years of practice I found the
plight of one of my patients heartrending, and in my inmost self I
bewailed the child I was powerless to save.

“Distracting pangs soon came to magnify my grief. I feared that my
treatment had contributed to the development of the disease. I caught
myself forgetting in the morning what I had prescribed the night before,
uncertain in my diagnosis, nervous, and worried. I called in one of my
fellow-practitioners, a clever young fellow, who had a practice in the
next village. When he arrived, the poor little fellow, whose sight was
already gone, was plunged in a profound coma.

“The following day he died.

“A year having elapsed after this misfortune, it happened that I was
called in consultation to the county town. The fact is singular. The
causes which led up to it are extraordinary; but as they have no
connection with what I am relating, I do not record them here. After the
consultation, Dr. C——, physician to the prefecture, did me the honour to
invite me to lunch with him and two other members of the profession.
After lunch, where I found refreshment in conversation at once erudite
and diversified, coffee was served to us in the doctor’s sanctum. As I
approached the mantelpiece to put down my empty cup, I saw hanging upon
the mirror-frame a portrait which aroused in me so profound an emotion
that it was with difficulty I refrained from crying out. It was a
miniature, the portrait of a child. This child resembled in so striking
a fashion the one I had been unable to cure—the child of whom I had been
constantly thinking for a year past—that for a moment I could not avoid
the thought that it was he himself. That supposition, however, was of
course absurd. The black wooden frame, with the circlet of gold
surrounding the miniature, proclaimed the taste of the end of the
eighteenth century, and the child was depicted in a vest of pink and
white striped material such as the little Louis XVII might have worn;
but the face was out-and-out the face of my little Éloi. The same
forehead, imperious and powerful—the forehead of a man beneath the curls
of a cherub; the same fire in the eyes, the same suffering grace on the
lips! Indeed, to the very same features was joined the identical

“I had probably been examining this portrait for quite a long while when
Dr. C——, clapping me on the shoulder, said—

“‘Ah, my friend, you have before you a family relic which I am proud to
possess. My maternal grandfather was the friend of the illustrious man
whom you see painted there in the days of his early boyhood, and it was
from my grandfather that that miniature came into my possession.’

“I asked him to be good enough to tell me the name of his grandfather’s
illustrious friend. Upon this he unhooked the miniature and held it out
to me:

“‘See,’ he said, 'on the exergue ... _Lyon_, 1787. Doesn’t that recall
anything to you? No? Well, that child of twelve was the great Ampère.'

“Then, in a flash, I had an exact perception, an unequivocal estimate of
what death had swept away one year previously in the farmhouse of Les


                         MEMOIRS OF A VOLUNTEER

                             TO PAUL ARÈNE

                       MEMOIRS OF A VOLUNTEER[4]


I was born in seventeen hundred and seventy in the rural outskirts of a
small town in the Langres district, where my father, half townsman and
half peasant, dealt in cutlery and tended his orchards. In this place
certain nuns, although they only educated girls, consented to teach me
to read since I was but a child, and they were good friends of my
mother. On leaving their hands I took lessons in Latin from a priest in
the town, a shoemaker’s son, well grounded in the humanities. In the
summer the shade of some old chestnut-trees served as a schoolroom, and
close beside his hives the Abbé Lamadou interpreted Virgil’s _Georgics_
to me. I never dreamed that any one could be happier than I, and between
my master and Mlle. Rose, the marshal’s daughter, I lived in great
contentment. But in this world no happiness is enduring. One morning, as
my mother embraced me, she slipped an écu of six livres into my coat
pocket. My luggage was packed. My father leaped on his horse and, taking
me up behind him, carried me off to the college at Langres. All the time
the journey lasted I was dreaming of my own little room, scented towards
autumn time with the perfume of the fruit stored up in the loft; or of
the close where my father took me on Sunday to gather apples from the
trees he had grafted with his own hand; of Rose, of my sisters, of my
mother; even of myself, unhappy exile! I could feel my heart thump, and
it was with difficulty that I held back the tears which filled my
eyelids. At length, after five hours' journey, we reached the town and
set foot to ground in front of a huge door, on which I read with a
shudder the word _College_. The principal, Father Féval, of the Oratory,
received us in a big saloon with whitewashed walls. He was still a young
man, of impressive appearance, and I found his smile reassuring. On all
such occasions my father had displayed a naturalness, vivacity, and
candour which never deserted him.


Footnote 4:

  All the incidents in these memoirs are authentic, and may be traced to
  various documents of the eighteenth century. Not a single detail,
  however apparently insignificant, is made use of for which indubitable
  authority cannot be produced. (AUTHOR.)


“Reverend Father,” he said, placing his hand on me, “I bring you here my
only son. His name is Pierre, after his godfather, and Aubier, his
father’s name, which I have handed on to him as stainless as I received
it from my late dear father. Pierre is my only boy; his mother,
Madeleine Ordalu, having presented me with one son and three daughters,
whom I am bringing up to the best of my ability. To my daughters will
fall the lot which it shall please God in the first place, and later on
their husbands, to assign to them. They are said to be pretty, and I
can’t help believing it myself. But beauty is only a gay deceiver which
it is best not to take into account. They will be handsome enough if
they are only good enough. As to my son Pierre here before you (as he
pronounced these words my father put his hand so heavily on my shoulder
that he made me flinch), provided that he fears God and knows enough
Latin, he is to be a priest. Very humbly then, reverend father, I beg
you to examine him at your leisure, so as to ascertain his genuine
capacities. If you find any merit in him, let him remain with you. I
will willingly pay whatever is needful. If, on the contrary, you
consider that you can make nothing of him, send me word, and I will come
and fetch him away at once, and teach him how to make knives like his
father. For I am a cutler, at your service, reverend sir.”

Father Féval agreed to undertake what was asked of him. And upon this
assurance, my father took leave of the principal and of me also. As he
was very moved, and had some trouble to restrain his sobs, he assumed a
stiff and harsh expression, and under the semblance of a farewell
embrace bestowed a terrific thump. When he was gone, Father Féval drew
me away from the parlour into a garden surrounded by a thick hedge.
Then, as we passed beneath the shade of the trees, he said to me—

                 “O Sylvaï dulces umbras frondosaï!”[5]


Footnote 5:

  O leafy woods diffusing grateful shade!

I was fortunate enough to recognize in these archaic inflexions and
ponderous prosody a line from old Ennius, and I replied glibly to Father
Féval that Virgil was even more worthy than his antique predecessor to
celebrate the beauty of these cool shades, _frigus opacum_. The
principal seemed quite gratified at this compliment. He questioned me
benevolently upon some rudimentary points, and when he had heard my

“That will do,” he said. “If you work hard, very hard indeed, you will
be able to keep up with the fourth class. Come with me. I should like to
introduce you myself to your master and your fellow-pupils.”

Whilst our little walk lasted, my forlornness had somewhat abated, and I
was conscious of feeling supported in my distress. But no sooner did I
find myself surrounded by my class-fellows and in the presence of
Monsieur Joursanvault, my master, than I sank back into abject despair.
Monsieur Joursanvault was neither easy of access nor the possessor of
the principal’s fine simplicity. He appeared to me very much more
impressed with his own importance, and also more harsh and reserved. He
was a little man with a big head, and his words found egress with a
whistling noise between two white lips and four yellow teeth. I decided
immediately that such a mouth as his was never intended to pronounce the
name Lavinia, a name which I loved even better than that of Rose. For I
may as well own it, the idyllic and royal fiancée of the unfortunate
Turnus had been decked by my imagination with the most august charms.
The ideal image I had formed of her sufficed to eclipse the more
everyday beauty of the marshal’s daughter. Monsieur Joursanvault then,
the master of the fourth class, pleased me little enough. My
class-fellows inspired me with fear: they had every appearance of being
unspeakably venturesome, and it was not without reason that I dreaded
that my simplicity might goad them to ridicule. I was very much inclined
to cry.

Self-respect, a more powerful emotion than my grief, alone enabled me to
restrain my tears.

When evening came, I left the college and went off into the town in
search of the quarters which my father had bespoken for me. I was to
lodge with five other scholars at the house of an artisan, whose wife
would do our cooking. Every month each of us paid him twenty-five sous.

At the outset my schoolfellows tried to tease me about my ill-cut
clothes and my rustic appearance, but they gave up their efforts when
they saw that they did not vex me. One of their number alone, the
consumptive son of a lawyer, continued insolently to imitate my lumpish,
awkward carriage, but I punished him with a fist so unexpectedly weighty
that he was not disposed to resume his performance. Monsieur
Joursanvault did not take very kindly to me, but as I fulfilled my tasks
with regularity, I provided him with no occasion for punishment. As he
displayed his authority in a violent, uncertain, and irritating fashion,
he invited rebellion, and, as a matter of fact, there were several
mutinous episodes in his class in which I, however, took no part. One
day, as I was walking in the garden with the principal, who showed
himself very kindly disposed to me, unluckily it came into my head to
boast to him of my good conduct.

“Father,” said I, “I took no part in the last escapade.”

“There’s nothing to boast about in that,” replied Father Féval, with a
touch of contempt which rent my heart.

He hated meanness above everything in the world. I made up my mind as he
spoke never again to say or do anything despicable. And if from that day
forward I have managed to keep free from lying and mean-spiritedness, I
owe it entirely to that excellent man.

Monsieur Féval was in no respect a philosopher-priest; he exercised the
virtues, but not the doctrines, of Rousseau’s Vicaire Savoyard. He
believed everything a priest ought to believe. But he had a horror of
mummery, and could not endure the idea of demanding the interposition of
God in trifling affairs. This appeared clearly enough on the Christmas
Day when Monsieur Joursanvault came to him with a complaint against the
impious jesters who, on the eve of the festival, had put ink in the holy
water stoups.

The scandalized Joursanvault mumbled anathemas, and murmured—

“There is no disputing the fact, it is a black deed!”

“By reason of the ink,” replied our good principal calmly.

That upright man regarded weakness as the direct source of all ills. He
often said: “Lucifer and the rebellious angels erred through pride. It
is on that account that even in hell they have not ceased to hold rank
as princes and kings, and to maintain an awful supremacy over the souls
of the damned. If they had fallen through pettiness, in the midst of the
flames they would now be the laughing-stock and sport of sinners, and
the empery of evil would have slipped from their dishonoured hands.”

When the holidays came round it was a great joy to me to see my home
once more. But I found it unaccountably shrunken. As I entered, my
mother, bending over the hearth, was skimming the soup-kettle. She, too,
my dear mother, seemed strangely diminutive to me, and I sobbed as I
flung my arms round her.

With the skimmer in her hand she told me how age and trouble had
rendered my father inactive, so that he was no longer able to look after
his orchard; how my eldest sister was promised in marriage to the
cooper’s son; how the sacristan of the parish had been found dead in his
chamber, with a bottle in his hand, which his stark fingers clutched so
firmly by the neck that it was thought at first that it could never be
loosened from his hold. Yet it was scarcely decent to bear the
sacristan’s body to the church still grasping his bottle of wish-wash.
As I listened to my mother a clear realization of the flight of time and
the passing of things temporal for the first time reached my brain. I
fell into a sort of reverie.

“Well, well, my boy,” said my mother, “you look flourishing. Why, with
your dimity jacket, you are already the very spit of a little _curé_.”

At this moment Mademoiselle Rose came into the room, blushing and
feigning to be completely surprised at the sight of me. I saw that she
was interested in me, and felt secretly flattered. But in her presence I
assumed the grave and reserved demeanour of the ecclesiastic. The
greater part of these holidays I spent in walks with Monsieur Lamadou.

It had been agreed between us that we should talk nothing but Latin. So
we went our ways through the midst of the lowly tasks of the tillers of
the soil, with nature riotous around us, side by side, straight before
us, grave, serious, guileless, disdainful of such utterly vain and
common pleasures as we had knowledge of.

I returned to the college with the firm determination to take Holy
Orders. Already I could see myself, like Monsieur Lamadou, wearing a
great three-cornered hat and a cassock, with black breeches, woollen
stockings, and buckled shoes, occupied now with the eloquence of Cicero,
now with the doctrine of St. Augustine, and gravely acknowledging the
salutes of the women and the poor folk who bowed to me as I threaded my
way through the crowd. Alas! a woman’s shadow began to disturb this
peaceful dream. Up to that time I had known nothing of women, except
Lavinia in the _Æneid_ and Mademoiselle Rose. Then I realized Dido, and
flames seemed to rush through my veins. The image of the unhappy Queen,
who, tortured by an irremediable wound, wandered in the forest of
myrtles, bent at night over my troubled couch.

Moreover, if I walked out in the evening, I seemed to be aware of her
dead white figure gliding between the bushes in the woods as the moon
passes through the midst of the clouds. Obsessed by this dazzling image,
I began to waver about taking Orders. Nevertheless, I assumed the dress
of the ecclesiastic, which suited me admirably. When I visited my home
for the first time thus attired, my mother curtsied to me, and Rose hid
her face in her apron and wept. Then turning on me her lovely eyes, as
pellucid as her tears, she said—

“I can’t think what I am crying about, Monsieur Pierre!”

In this mood she was touching. But she did not in the least resemble the
moon seen through the clouds. I did not love her; it was Dido I loved.

That year was signalized to me by a dreadful calamity. I lost my father,
who sank very suddenly under an attack of water on the chest.

In his last moments he adjured his children to live honestly and
piously, and blessed them. He died with a degree of resignation which
was not in the least consonant with his character. It appeared to be
without regret, with cheerfulness even, that he quitted a life to which
he was strongly attached by all the bonds of a nature essentially
vivacious. From him I learnt that it is easier to die than one would
think, if one is but a good man.

I resolved that I, in my turn, would act a father’s part to those elder
sisters already marriageable, and to that tearful mother who, year by
year, seemed to grow smaller, weaker, and more appealing.

Thus, then, in one moment, from a child I became a man. I finished my
studies at the Oratory under excellent masters—Fathers Lance, Porriquet,
and Marion, who had buried themselves in a wild and remote province to
devote their brilliant faculties and a profound erudition which would
have done honour to the Academy of Inscriptions to the education of a
few poor children. The principal surpassed them all in loftiness of
intellect and beauty of soul.

Whilst I was finishing my philosophical studies under those eminent
teachers, a widespread rumour was conveyed to our distant province, and
even penetrated the cloistral walls of the college. There was gossip
about a convocation of the States General, and reforms were clamoured
for, and great changes expected. Some of the new publications which our
masters permitted us to read proclaimed the approaching return of the
Golden Age.

When the moment came for me to leave the college, I wept as I embraced
Father Féval.

He held me clasped in his arms with profound emotion. Then he led me to
the hedge-sheltered path where six years previously I had had my first
conversation with him.

There, taking me by the hand, he bent over me, and looked into my eyes
and said—

“Remember, dear child, that without principle intellect goes for
nothing. You will perhaps live long enough to see the dawn of a new
régime in this land of ours. These great changes cannot be brought about
without disturbances. May you bear in mind in the midst of them what I
am telling you now: in difficult situations intellect is but a sorry
shield: virtue alone can suffice to safeguard him who merits safety.”

Whilst he discoursed in this vein we emerged from the arbour, and the
sun, already low on the horizon, bathed him in its warm crimson rays and
lit up his handsome, thoughtful countenance. I was fortunate enough to
retain a vivid impression of his words, which struck me forcibly,
although at the time they were a little above my head. At that date I
was only a schoolboy, and not a very brilliant one. Since then my eyes
have been opened to the profundity and truth of his maxims by the
terrible object-lesson of subsequent events.


I had abandoned the idea of taking Orders. It was necessary to earn a
livelihood. I had not learnt Latin with the idea of making cutlery in
the suburbs of a small town. I indulged in ambitious dreams. Our little
holding, our cows, our garden, were far from equal to the fulfilment of
my ambitions. I discovered rusticity in Mademoiselle Rose. My mother
conceived that a town such as Paris was necessary to the full
development of my abilities. Without much difficulty I myself came to a
similar conclusion. I ordered a coat from the best tailor in Langres.
With this coat went a steel-hilted sword, which threw back the skirts
and invested one with so smart an air that I doubted nothing I was on
the road to fortune. Father Féval gave me a letter of recommendation to
the Duc de Puybonne, and on the 12th of July, in the year of grace 1789,
I climbed into the coach, not without tears, laden with Latin books,
cakes, bacon, and kisses. I entered Paris by the Faubourg St. Antoine,
which appeared to me more hideous than the most squalid hamlets in my
own province. With all my heart I bewailed both the unhappy folk who had
their dwelling there and myself who had forsaken my father’s house and
orchard land to seek advancement amidst such a tatterdemalion crew. A
wine merchant who had been my fellow-traveller explained, however, that
these people were all in ecstasies over the destruction of an old prison
known as the Bastille-St.-Antoine. He assured me that Monsieur Necker
would soon bring back the Golden Age. But a wigmaker, who overheard our
conversation, declared that, on the contrary, unless the King speedily
dismissed him, Monsieur Necker would ruin the country.

“The Revolution,” he added, “is a terrible misfortune. Nobody now
dresses his hair. And people who neglect that duty are below the level
of the beasts.”

These words angered the wine merchant.

“Know, master barber,” he interposed, “that a rejuvenescent race
disdains idle trappings. I would punish you for your impertinence, if I
had time to do so; but I am on my way to supply wine to Monsieur Bailly,
the Mayor of Paris, who honours me with his friendship.”

In this fashion they parted; and as for me, I betook myself on foot,
with my Latin books, my bacon, and the memory of my mother’s kisses to
the house of the Duc de Puybonne, to present my letter of
recommendation. His mansion was situated at the other end of the city in
the Rue de Grenelle. The passers-by vied with one another in supplying
me with directions, for the Duke was celebrated for his benevolence.

He received me cordially. Everything in his dress and in his manners was
of the utmost simplicity. He had that contented demeanour which one only
meets with in men who labour assiduously without being compelled.

He read Father Féval’s letter, and remarked—

“This is a satisfactory letter of recommendation, but what are your

I replied that I was acquainted with Latin, a little Greek, ancient
history, rhetoric, and poetry.

“What a list of accomplishments!” he rejoined, smiling. “But it would
have been more to the point if you had had some notion of agriculture,
the mechanical arts, commerce, banking, and industry. You are acquainted
with the laws of Solon, now, I’ll wager?”

I signified that I was.

“Very good, very good. But you know nothing about the English
constitution. But no matter. You are young, and of an age to acquire
knowledge. I will give you a place about my person, with an allowance of
five hundred écus. Monsieur Mille, my secretary, will instruct you as to
the duties I shall expect you to perform. Au revoir, monsieur.”

A lackey conducted me to Monsieur Mille, who was writing at a table in
the middle of a spacious white apartment. He signalled to me to wait. He
was a little roundabout man, and his appearance was pleasant, but he
rolled his eyes about ferociously, and seemed to be scolding under his
breath as he wrote.

I heard him give utterance to the following words: “Tyrants, fetters,
hell, man, Rome, slavery, liberty.”[6] I concluded he was mad. But when
he had laid his pen aside he nodded his head to me and smiled.


Footnote 6:

  “_Tyrans, fers, enfers, homme, Rome, esclavage, liberté._” Monsieur
  Mille is, of course, engaged in a search for rhymes. (TRANS.)


“Well?” he said. “You are examining the apartment. It is as severe as
that of an ancient Roman. No gilding on the panels, no fal-lals on the
mantelpiece; nothing is left to remind us of the detestable times of the
late king, nothing remains that is derogatory to the dignity of a free
man (_un homme libre_). _Libre_, _Tibre_. I must jot that rhyme down.
It’s a good one, now, isn’t it? Are you fond of verse, Monsieur Pierre

I replied that I was only too much devoted to it, and that it would have
served me better when I presented myself before the Duke if I had
preferred Mr. Burke to Virgil.

“Virgil is a great man,” replied Monsieur Mille. “But what is your
opinion of Monsieur Chénier? For my part I know nothing finer than his
_Charles IX_. I will not attempt to conceal from you that I am myself
experimenting in tragedy, and at the very moment you entered I was
finishing a scene with which I am not a little pleased. You appear to me
to be a very trustworthy person. I am quite willing to confide in you so
far as to tell you what my tragedy is about, but you mustn’t breathe a
word. You realize how far-reaching the least indiscretion might be. I am
composing a tragedy upon the subject of Lucretia.”

Then taking up a large manuscript book he read out: “_Lucretia, a
tragedy in five acts, dedicated to Louis the Well Beloved, the restorer
of liberty to France._”

He spouted some two hundred lines to me and then broke off, saying in
excuse that the remainder was as yet uncorrected.

“The Duke’s post-bag,” he said with a sigh, “robs me of the best hours
of the day. We are in correspondence with all the enlightened men in
England, Switzerland, and America. And talking of this, I may tell you,
Monsieur Aubier, that your employment will consist of copying and
classifying letters. If you would like to be informed without delay as
to the matters which are occupying our attention at this very moment, I
will tell you. At Puybonne we are superintending a farm where certain
English experts have been engaged to introduce into France such
agricultural improvements as have been attained in Great Britain. We are
importing from Spain a number of those silky-fleeced sheep the flocks of
which have enriched Segovia with their wool. This is so arduous an
undertaking that we have been compelled to enlist the co-operation of
the King himself. Lastly, we are buying cows in Switzerland to present
to our dependents.

“I can say nothing on the subject of our correspondence upon public
affairs. Entire secrecy is preserved as to that. But you are, of course,
aware that the efforts of the Duc de Puybonne are directed towards the
introduction into France of the English constitutional system. Pardon my
leaving you, Monsieur Aubier. I am due at the Comédie Française.
_Alzire_ is to be performed.”

That night I slept in fine linen sheets, and I did not sleep well. I
dreamed that my mother’s bees were flying over the ruins of the Bastille
and around the Duc de Puybonne, who smiled graciously, and was enveloped
in an unearthly radiance.

The following morning at an early hour I betook myself to Monsieur
Mille’s room, and asked him if he had enjoyed himself at the theatre. He
replied that he ventured to believe that the performance of _Alzire_ had
given him a clue to some of the methods by which Monsieur de Voltaire
stirred the emotions of his audience. Then he set me to work copying
letters referring to the purchase of the Swiss cows, which the generous
magnate was bestowing on his dependents. Whilst I occupied myself with
this task, Monsieur Mille said to me—

“The Duke is kind-hearted. I have recorded his benevolent disposition in
certain verses with which I am not ill-pleased. Are you acquainted with
the Puybonne estate? No! It is a domain of enchantment. My lines may
open your eyes to its charms. I will recite them to you—

          Delightful valley, haven of repose,
          Groves ever verdant, where the limpid stream
          Peacefully onward flows,
          Whose dulcet murmurings seem
          Like note of birds, chanting their amorous woes;
          How my heart thrills your rural charms to view,
          And longings seize me, ’neath your sheltering boughs
          Her cherished name i’ the beech’s bark to hew.
          In this fair spot our Puybonne reigns,
          And uprightness and charity
          Silently bear him company,
          His spirit our happiness sustains.
          The frolic shepherds, at his call,
          Under the elms together come,
          Who to his bounty, one and all,
          Owe flocks, and herds, and home.”[7]


Footnote 7:

                Vallon délicieux, asile du repos,
            Bocages toujours verts, où l’onde la plus pure
                Roule paisiblement ses flots,
                Et vient mêler son doux murmure
                Aux tendres concerts des oiseaux,
            Que mon c[oe]ur est ému de vos beautés champêtres!
            Que j’aime à confier, sous ces riants berceaux,
            Le doux nom d’une nymphe à l'écorce des hêtres.
                De ces beaux lieux Puybonne est possesseur;
            Avec lui la bonté, la douce bienfaisance,
            Dans ce palais habite en silence:
            Le sentiment y retient le bonheur.
            Puybonne enseigne aux folâtres bergères
                A s’assembler sous les ormeaux,
            Il se mêle parfois à leurs danses légères,
            Puis il leur donne des troupeaux.


I was astounded. At Langres I had never heard anything so courtly, and I
was impressed with the fact that the air of Paris contained a something
inexpressible, which it was useless to seek elsewhere.

After dinner I set out to inspect the principal edifices of the town.
The genius of art has spent two centuries in distributing his treasures
on the glorious banks of the Seine. Hitherto I had only been acquainted
with Gothic castles and churches, and their melancholy character, tinged
with uncouthness, only awakens displeasing thoughts in the mind. Paris,
it is true, still contains a certain number of these barbaric
structures. The cathedral itself, which rises in that quarter of the
town to which the term City is specially assigned, bears witness by the
irregularity and confusion of its plan to the ignorance of the age in
which it was erected. Parisians overlook its hideousness on the score of
its antiquity. Father Féval was accustomed to say that everything
antique is worthy of respect.

But what a different aspect do the buildings of the more cultured ages
present! A regularity in plan, an exact proportion between the component
parts, an uncrowded arrangement in the grouping, and then the charm of
the various orders copied from the antique—all these qualities dazzle
one in the creations of modern architects, and all unite to render the
colonnade of the Louvre a masterpiece worthy of France and its kings.
Ah, what a town is Paris! Monsieur Mille showed me the theatre where the
finest actresses in the world ally their voices and their charms to the
inspired compositions of Mozart and Gluck. And in addition, he even took
me to the gardens of the Luxembourg, where beneath the shade of
venerable trees I saw Raynal walking side by side with Dussaulx. Ah, my
honoured principal, my master, my father, my beloved Monsieur Féval!
Would that you were witness to the joy, the rapture of your pupil, your

For six weeks I led the pleasantest of lives. All around me I heard talk
of the return of the Golden Age, and I began to believe in the approach
of the car bearing Saturn and Rhea within it. In the mornings, under
Monsieur Mille’s direction, I made copies of letters.

Monsieur Mille was a boon companion, always smiling, always uttering
flowery speeches, always volatile as a zephyr.

After dinner I would read a few pages of the Encyclopædia to our worthy
employer, and then I was free till the following morning. One night I
went with Monsieur Mille to supper at the Porcherons. At the entrance of
this place of amusement stood a group of women wearing the national
colours in their caps, and carrying flowers in a basket. One of them,
approaching me, took me by the arm and said, “See, little master, I make
you a present of this bunch of roses.”

I blushed, and was at a loss what to say in reply. But Monsieur Mille,
who knew the ways of the town, said to me—

“You must give a six-sous piece in exchange for those roses, and say
something gallant to the pretty maiden.”

I did both one and the other, and then inquired of Monsieur Mille if he
thought the flower-seller was a well-conducted girl. He replied that
there was very little likelihood of it, but that it was a duty to show
courtesy to all women. Day by day I became more attached to the
excellent Duc de Puybonne. He was the best and the most childlike of
men. He did not consider that he had given anything whatever to the
unfortunate unless it had cost him some self-sacrifice. He lived like a
man of the people, and regarded the luxury of the rich as a preying upon
the poor. His benefactions were well considered. One day, addressing us
both, he said—

“No pleasure is more gratifying than to labour for the happiness of
people unknown to you, whether by planting some useful tree, or by
grafting on young saplings in the woods buds from which one day may
spring fruit to assuage the thirst of some traveller astray.”

The worthy Duke found no interests except in works of philanthropy. He
laboured ardently to secure new constitutional forms to the kingdom. As
a representative peer in the National Assembly he took his seat in the
ranks of those admirers of English liberty who were styled monarchical,
by the side of Malouet and Stanislas de Clermont-Tonnerre. And although
his party appeared even then defeated, he awaited with all the fervour
of indomitable hope the oncoming of revolution in its most humane
aspect. We shared his aspirations.

Despite numerous causes for uneasiness, we continued during the
following year to be upheld by this enthusiasm. I accompanied Monsieur
Mille to the Champ de Mars at the beginning of July. On this spot two
hundred thousand persons of all ranks—men, women, children—were erecting
with their own hands the altar upon which all were to swear that they
would live free, or, if needs must, die free. Wig-makers in bluejackets,
water-carriers, abbés, coal-heavers, capuchins, opera-singers in
brocaded dresses with ribbons and feathers in their hair, all these side
by side delved the sacred soil of their country. What an object-lesson
in fraternity! We saw Monsieur Sieyès and Monsieur de Beauharnais
trundling the same cart; we saw Father Gérard, passing like an ancient
Roman from the Senate to the plough, wielding the spade and preparing
the ground; we saw an entire family at work in the same spot—the father
digging, the mother filling the wheelbarrow, and the children pushing it
turn and turn about, whilst the youngest, only four years of age, borne
in the arms of his grandfather aged ninety-three, lisped out: “_Ah! ça
ira! ça ira!_” We saw the Society of Journeymen Gardeners marching in
procession with lettuces and daisies attached to the ends of their
spades. Several other corporations followed them, preceded by a band:
the Printers, whose banner bore this inscription: _Printing, foremost
ensign of Liberty._ Then the Butchers: upon their standard was painted a
large knife, with these words: _Tremble, aristocrats! Behold the
Journeymen Butchers._

And even this took on the appearance for us of fraternity.

“Aubier, my friend, my brother,” exclaimed Monsieur Mille, “I am fired
with poetical enthusiasm. I am about to compose an ode which shall be
dedicated to you. Listen:—

              Friend, behold the concourse grand,
                From far and wide assembled there,
              The mainstays of our own loved land,
                Whose banners proudly take the air:
              Love it is directs their path
                Toward the patriot altar-fires,
              Each his bounden service hath
                Vowed, till Life’s last flame expires.”[8]


Footnote 8:

                    Ami, vois tu ce peuple immense,
                    Comme il accourt de toutes parts:
                    Des artisans chers à la France
                    Vois-tu flotter les étendards?
                    C’est à l’autel de la Patrie.
                    Que l’amour dirige leurs pas;
                    Tous vont à leur mère chérie
                    Se dévouer jusqu’au trépas.

Monsieur Mille recited these lines heroically; he was little, but his
gestures were magnificent. He was wearing an amaranth-coloured coat.
These circumstances combined to draw attention to him, and by the time
he had finished the foregoing he was surrounded by a ring of inquisitive
people. He was applauded. In ecstasies, he went on—

                  “Unseal your eyes, direct your minds
                  Upon this solemn spectacle ...”[9]

But scarcely had he uttered these words before a lady, decked with an
immense black hat and feathers, flung herself into his arms and clasped
him close against the fichu she wore round her shoulders.


Footnote 9:

                      Ouvre tes yeux, fixe ton âme
                      Sur ce spectacle solennel ...

“Ah, how splendid!” she cried. “Monsieur Mille, permit me to embrace

A Capuchin who occupied a place in the ring of onlookers, bent his chin
down on to his spade and clapped his hands at the sight of such a
capacious embrace. Then some of the young patriots who stood by pushed
him laughingly in the direction of the demonstrative lady, who
transferred her embraces to him in the midst of popular acclamations.
Monsieur Mille embraced me, and I embraced Monsieur Mille.

“Such splendid lines!” cried the lady with the outrageous hat. “Bravo,
Mille! They are worthy of Jean Baptiste.”

“Oh!” said Monsieur Mille, bashfully hanging his head, his cheeks round
and red as apples.

“Yes, absolutely worthy of Jean Baptiste,” repeated Madame. “They must
be set to the tune of '_Le serin qui te fait envie._'”[10]


Footnote 10:

  The canary which spurs you to rivalry.


“You are too flattering,” Monsieur Mille replied. “Permit me, Madame
Berthemet, to present to you my friend Pierre Aubier, a Limousin
gentleman. He is a man of parts, and will soon be accustomed to the ways
of Paris.”

“The dear creature,” Madame Berthemet rejoined, as she pressed my hand.
“Let him come to see us. You must bring him, Monsieur Mille. We have a
little music always on Thursdays. Is he fond of music? But what a
foolish question! Only a barbarian given over to every savage passion
could fail to love music. Come this next Thursday, Monsieur Aubier; my
daughter Amélie will sing you a ballad.”

As she spoke, Madame Berthemet motioned to a young lady dressed in
white, with a Greek headdress, whose fair hair and blue eyes seemed to
me the loveliest in the world. I blushed as I bowed. But she did not
appear to notice my embarrassment.

As we returned to the Puybonne mansion I did not attempt to conceal from
Monsieur Mille the profound impression the beauty of this charming
creature had made on me.

“In that case,” replied Monsieur Mille, “I shall have to add a strophe
to my ode.”

And after reflecting for a few seconds, he added, “There now, I have
managed it.

                   If some maiden, fair and fond,
                     To your wooing yields consent,
                   Only wedlock’s sacred bond
                     Must your mutual vows cement.
                   But the altar where you hie
                     Must a patriot altar be,
                   Or the Heaven you dare defy
                     Will avenge your treachery.”[11]

Footnote 11:

                    Si d’une belle honnête et sage
                      Tu sais un jour te faire aimer,
                    Le n[oe]ud sacré du mariage
                      Est le seul que tu dois former;
                    Mais à l’autel de la Patrie
                      Courez tous deux pour vous unir,
                    Que jamais votre foi trahie
                      N’ordonne au ciel de vous punir.

Alas! Monsieur Mille did not possess that gift of foretelling future
events which was in former ages ascribed to poets. Our days of happiness
were already numbered, and all our dazzling illusions were doomed to
extinction. The day following the Federation fête the nation awakened to
a sense of harrowing dissension. Weak and narrow-minded, the king ill
fulfilled the limitless trust the people had placed in him.

The criminal emigration of princes and nobility was impoverishing the
country, antagonizing the people, and conducing to war. The political
clubs overawed the National Assembly. The acrimony of the populace
became more and more menacing. And whilst the nation was a prey to
agitators, neither did I possess my heart in peace. I had met Amélie
again. I had become the constant guest of her family, and never a week
passed that did not find me two or three times a visitor at the house
they lived in, in the Rue Neuve St. Eustache. Their fortunes, at one
time flourishing, had flagged considerably owing to the Revolution, and
I may venture to say that ill-luck ripened our friendship. As Amélie
became poorer I found myself more sympathetic, and I loved her. I loved
without hope. Who was I, poor little peasant lad, that I should be
pleasing to so charming a townswoman?

I marvelled at her gifts. By composing music, painting, or translating
some English romance, she courageously shut out the consciousness of
misfortune, both public and private. Whenever she saw any one she
displayed an aloofness which, so far as I was concerned, would relapse
freely into playful banter. It was clear that though her heart was
untouched she found my company diverting. Her father was the handsomest
grenadier in the district, but in all other respects a nonentity. As to
Madame Berthemet, she was, despite a petulant disposition, the best of
women. She was brimming with enthusiasm. She appreciated parakeets,
political economists, and Monsieur Mille’s poetry to the swooning point.
She was fond of me when she could spare time, but much of hers was taken
up by the gazettes and the opera. Next to her daughter there was no one
in the world whom it gave me greater pleasure to meet.

I had progressed greatly in the good graces of the Duc de Puybonne. I
was no longer engaged in the copying of letters: he entrusted me with
the most delicate transactions, and often confided to me matters as to
which Monsieur Mille himself was left in ignorance.

Moreover, he had lost faith, if not courage. The humiliating flight of
Louis XVI distressed him more than I can say; yet after the return from
Varennes he appeared unintermittently in the entourage of the royal
prisoner, who had despised his advice and been suspicious of his
loyalty. My dear master remained immutably faithful to moribund royalty.
On the 10th of August he was at the Château, and it was by a sort of
miracle that he eluded the mob and managed to get back to his house.
During the night I was summoned to him. I found him disguised in the
clothes of one of his stewards.

“Farewell,” he said to me. “I am leaving a country delivered over to all
sorts of abominations and crimes. The day after to-morrow I shall have
landed on the coast of England. I am taking with me three hundred louis;
it is all I have been able to get together of what I own. I am leaving
behind me property to a considerable amount. I have no one to trust my
interests to but yourself. Mille is a fool. Take my affairs into your
keeping. I know that you will incur danger in doing so; but I think
highly enough of you to burden you with a compromising load.”

I seized his hands, kissed them, and bathed them with tears; it was my
only answer.

Whilst he escaped from Paris under cover of his disguise and a forged
passport with which he was provided, I burned in the various fireplaces
in the house papers which would have sufficed to compromise whole
families, and cost the lives of hundreds of people. During the days that
followed I was lucky enough to be able to dispose—at very poor prices,
it is true—of the Duc de Puybonne’s carriages, horses, and plate, and in
this fashion I salvaged some seventy or eighty thousand livres, which
crossed the Channel. It was not without encountering the greatest
dangers that I carried these delicate negotiations through. My life hung
in the balance. The Terror prevailed in the capital the day following
the 10th of August. In those streets which only the previous evening
were enlivened by the motley variety of costumes, where the cries of
hawkers and the clatter of horses had resounded, solitude and silence
now reigned. All the shops were closed; the citizens, concealed in their
dwellings, trembled both for their friends and for themselves.

The barriers were guarded, and it was impossible for any one to leave
the appalling city. Patrols of men armed with pikes paraded the streets.
Domiciliary inspections were the only subject of conversation. In my
chamber, high up in the roof of the mansion, I could hear the tramp of
the armed citizens, the hammering of pikes and the butts of muskets
against the neighbouring doors, and the wailing and screaming of the
occupants, who were dragged off to the sections. And after the
_sans-culottes_ had terrorized the peaceable dwellers in the
neighbourhood throughout the day, they would assemble in the shop of my
neighbour the grocer; there they would drink, dance the carmagnole, and
shriek the _Ça ira_ till morning dawned, so that it was impossible for
me to close my eyes all night. My uneasiness increased the distress of
insomnia. I could not but fear that some valet might have betrayed me,
and that my arrest was already ordered.

Just then a fever of denunciation spread through the town. Never a
scullion but believed himself a Brutus for the betrayal of the masters
who had furnished him with a living.

I was continuously on the alert, and a faithful servant was ready to
warn me at the first sound of the knocker. Fully dressed I would throw
myself on my bed or into an arm-chair. I carried about with me the key
of the small gate in the garden. But as those execrable September days
dragged on, when I learned that hundreds of prisoners had been massacred
without the least public protest, and under the approving eyes of the
magistrates, horror at length got the better of fear in my mind, and I
blushed to be taking such precautions for my safety, and defending with
so much forethought an existence which the crimes of my country should
have rendered worthless.

No longer did I shrink from showing myself in the streets or
encountering the patrols. Nevertheless, I clung to life. I possessed a
powerful charm against my anguish and grief. One delightful vision
banished from my sight the whole sombre panorama which unrolled itself
before me. I loved Amélie, and her youthful countenance omnipresent to
my imagination, held me spell-bound. I loved without hope. Nevertheless,
I seemed to myself less unworthy of her now that I was acting like a man
of courage. I dared, too, to fancy that the dangers to which I was
exposed might render me more interesting to her.

In this frame of mind then I went to see her one morning. I found her
alone. She talked to me with more benignity than she had ever before
displayed. Her eyes were cast heavenwards, and tears fell from them. At
the sight I was plunged in the most indescribable distress. I threw
myself at her feet, seized her hand, and bathed it with tears.

“O, my brother!” she exclaimed, compelling me to rise. I had not
realized up to that moment the bitter sweetness the name of brother can
hold. I addressed her with my whole soul’s tenderness.

“Yes,” I cried, “the times are frightful. Mankind is steeped in
wickedness. Let us away. Happiness is to be sought in solitude. There
are still distant islands where it is possible to live in innocence and
freedom from oppression. Let us depart. We will seek for happiness
beneath the palms that cast their shade over the tomb of Virginia.”

As I talked in this fashion she seemed to be in a dream, and her eyes
had a far-away look; but I could not tell whether her dream and mine
were one and the same.


I spent the rest of the day in the most harrowing suspense. I was
powerless either to indulge in rest or to engage in any occupation.
Solitude was repellent, and company uncongenial. In this mood I wandered
haphazard along the streets and quays of the town, sorrowfully gazing at
the mutilated armorial achievements on the fronts of the houses, and at
the decapitated saints in the church porches. Thus preoccupied I found
myself unconsciously in the garden of the Palais Royal, where a motley
crowd of pedestrians had gathered to drink coffee and glance over the
gazettes. The wooden galleries, by the way, had not ceased to present a
festal appearance at all hours.

In consequence of the declaration of war and the progress of the allied
armies, the Parisians had fallen into the habit of seeking for news at
the Tuileries and the Palais Royal. In fine weather the crowd would be
considerable, and anxiety even brought in its train a certain degree of

Many of the women, simply attired after the Greek fashion, wore the
national colours, either at the waist or in the head-dress. I felt more
lonely than ever in this crowd; all the noise, the movement which
surrounded me, only served, so to say, to drive back and concentrate my
thoughts upon myself.

“Alas!” I said to myself, “have I said enough? Have I shown my feelings
unmistakably? Or rather, have I said too much? Will she ever consent to
receive me again, now that she knows I love her? But does she know it?
and does she care to know it?”

In this fashion I groaned over the uncertainty of my fate, when my
attention was violently diverted by the tones of a familiar voice. I
raised my eyes and saw Monsieur Mille standing up in a café and singing
in the midst of a group of women “patriots” and “citizens.” He was
dressed as a national guard, and with his left arm he encircled a young
woman, in whom I recognized one of the flower-sellers from Ramponneau.
To the tune of _Lisette_ he was singing these words:—

                    “Though patriots hundreds strong
                      To break our bonds are fain,
                    Women, in thousands, long
                      To readjust the chain;
                    Tradition holds them fast,
                      With pitying scorn they view
                    Whoso abhors the past
                      And welcomes in the new.”[12]


Footnote 12:

                     S’il est douze cents députés
                       Qui brisent nos entraves,
                     Le v[oe]u de cent mille beautés
                       Est de nous rendre esclaves:
                     Toutes nos dames ont regret
                       A l’ancien régime,
                     Et louer un nouveau décret
                       C’est perdre leur estime.


This verse was received with a murmur of approval. Monsieur Mille
smiled, bowed gracefully, and then, turning to his companion,
recommenced his song—

                “Ah! not with such join hands,
                  Sophie, beloved maid!
                Philosophy’s commands
                  Yield kindlier, holier aid:
                Her guidance she outpours
                  On those—O happy chance!—
                Who to Her rights restores
                  Our own, our much wronged France.”[13]

Applause followed, and Monsieur Mille, drawing from his pocket a bunch
of ribbons, handed it to Sophie as he resumed his song—

                   “Hasten then, far and wide,
                     This gay cockade to show,
                   Which fills my breast with pride,
                     When to my guard I go.
                   What’s gold, with tawdry glint,
                     To the bud which half uncloses?
                   This badge of triple tint
                     Outvies the fairest roses.”[14]


Footnote 13:

                    Ah! ne les imitez jamais,
                      Adorable Sophie,
                    Et connaissez mieux les bienfaits
                      De la philosophie;
                    C’est elle qui dicte les lois
                      Aux Solons de la France,
                    Et qui fera dans tous ses droits
                      Rentrer un peuple immense.

Footnote 14:

                      Hâtez-vouz donc de l’arborer
                        Cette belle cocarde,
                      Dont j’aime tant à me parer
                        Quand je monte ma garde:
                      Vous devez préférer à l’or
                        Les fleurs à peine écloses;
                      Ce joli ruban tricolor
                        A tout l’éclat des roses.


Sophie fastened the ribbon in her cap, and swept the audience with a
glance comprehending both triumph and vacancy. Again there was applause.
Monsieur Mille bowed. He gazed at the crowd without recognizing me or
anybody else; or, rather, in that crowd he was conscious only of

“Ah! monsieur,” exclaimed my neighbour, who in his enthusiasm was
bestowing on me a tender embrace; “ah! if the Prussians or the Austrians
could see that! They would shudder, monsieur! We were betrayed into
their hands at Longwy and Verdun. But if they reached Paris it would be
their tomb. The spirit of the populace is altogether martial. I have
just come from the Tuileries gardens, monsieur. There I heard some
singers stationed in front of the statue of Liberty giving voice to the
war song of the _Marseillais_. A frenzied crowd was shouting in chorus
the refrain ‘_Aux armes; citoyens!_’ If the Prussians had only been
there! They would have disappeared underground!”

The man who thus discoursed to me was a very ordinary person, neither
handsome nor ugly, neither short nor tall. He was as like his neighbour
as two peas, and there was nothing about him individual or distinctive.
As he spoke rather loudly he was soon surrounded. After coughing
impressively, he continued—

“The enemy is approaching from Chalons. We must encircle them with a
ring of steel. Citizens, it is we who must have an eye to the public
welfare. Put not your trust in generals, nor in staff officers and
troops of the line, nor in ministers of State, even though you have
elected them yourselves; no, not even in your representatives at the
Convention. We must be our own salvation.”

“Bravo!” cried some one in the audience; “let us fly to Chalons!”

A little man here made a spirited interruption.

“Patriots have no business to leave Paris until the traitors have been

These words were uttered in a voice which I instantly recognized. On
that point I could not be deceived. That tremendous head waggling about
on a narrow pair of shoulders, that dull livid face, that shape at once
mean and monstrous, could belong to none other than my old
schoolmaster—Father Joursanvault. His cassock had given place to a
wretched jacket. His countenance sweated hate and apostasy. I looked in
another direction, but I could not avoid hearing the old Oratorian
continue his discourse in this manner:

“Enough blood was not shed during the glorious days of September. The
populace is ever too inclined to magnanimity, and has been too tender
towards conspirators and traitors.”

At these terrible words I took to my heels horror-struck. In my
childhood I had suspected Monsieur Joursanvault of being neither just
nor benevolent. I disliked him, indeed. But I was far from fathoming the
blackness of his soul. At the discovery that my old master was nothing
but an unprincipled rascal, I was overwhelmed with mingled bitterness
and grief.

“Oh, that I were still but a child!” I exclaimed. “What is the use of
life if it cannot bring us to anything better than dilemmas such as
this? Dear principal, dear Father Féval, my recollections of you must
temper the sorrows that overwhelm me! Into what dangers has the tempest
cast you, my dear and only master? This I know, at any rate, that
wherever you may be, humanity, pity, and heroism prevail all around you.
You taught me, reverend master, the worth of rectitude and courage. You
foresaw the days of trial and strengthened my heart. May your pupil,
your son, never show himself too unworthy of your care!”

I had hardly concluded this mental invocation when I felt inspired with
fresh courage. And my thoughts harking back by a natural inclination to
my dear Amélie, I realized all in a moment what my duty was, and
resolved to fulfil it. I had disclosed my feelings to Amélie; was I not
bound to make the same declaration to Madame Berthemet?

I was only a few paces from the door, for in my self-communing I had
naturally drifted towards the house which contained my Amélie. I entered
and made my avowal.

Madame Berthemet smilingly replied that my conduct was very
praiseworthy. Then, adopting a graver tone, she said—

“I am going to make you my confidant since I cannot otherwise satisfy
you. Do not delude yourself; you must abandon all hope. My daughter is
beloved by the Chevalier de St. Ange, and I believe that she is not
insensible to his devotion. I should be glad enough, however, if she
were to dismiss him from her thoughts. For our fortunes are on the wane
from day to day, and the Chevalier’s love is consequently put to a test
which the most ardent sentiments are not always proof against.”

The Chevalier de St. Ange! I shuddered at the name. I had a rival, and
that rival the most fascinating of poets, the most attractive of
novelists. Birth, connections, good looks, talents, he possessed
everything calculated to smooth his path. Only the previous evening I
had observed in a lady’s hands a tortoiseshell box, with a portrait in
miniature, mounted on the lid, of the Chevalier de St. Ange, in the
uniform of a dragoon.

As I caught sight of it I envied him, as did every other man of his
acquaintance, his manly elegance and inimitable grace. Every morning I
could hear my neighbour, the mercer’s wife, singing at her doorstep the
immortal ballad known as _The Pledge_—

            Thou who shouldst never have seen the light,
              Pledge, beloved, that my fault endears;
            Never, ah never, thou luckless wight,
              Frailty of mine to thine eyes bring tears.[15]

Footnote 15:

              O toi qui n’eus jamais dû naître,
                Gage trop cher d’un fol amour;
              Puisses-tu ne jamais connaître,
                L’erreur qui le donna te jour! (_Le Gage._)


But a little while since I had been reading with delight the
philosophical romance which opened the doors of the French Academy to
the Chevalier de St. Ange; that admirable _Cynégyre_ which leaves far
behind it the _Numa Pompilius_ of Monsieur Florian. “Your _Cynégyre_,”
said the venerable Monsieur Sedaine to the Chevalier de St. Ange, as he
received him into the illustrious company, “your _Cynégyre_ was
dedicated to the manes of Fénelon, and the offering was not unworthy of
the altar.” Such was my rival—the impassioned author of _The Pledge_—a
man of whom people spoke in one breath with Fénelon and Voltaire! I
could not overcome my embarrassment; astonishment numbed my distress.

“What, Madame!” I exclaimed, “the Chevalier de St. Ange!”

“Yes,” rejoined Madame Berthemet, shaking her head, “a brilliant writer.
But do not imagine for a moment that he is personally the man you would
conjecture from his heroical poems. Alas! as our fortunes diminish his
love ebbs with them.”

She added kindly that she regretted that her daughter’s choice had not
fallen upon me.

“Talents,” she said, “do not make for happiness. On the contrary, men
endowed with extraordinary powers, poets and orators, ought to live
single. What need of companions have they who cannot mate with their
equals. Their genius alone is sufficient to foster egoism. One cannot be
an eminent man without incurring the penalties.”

But I was no longer heedful of her remarks. I could not shake off my
astonishment. Her disclosure had killed my love. I had never hoped for
its return, and, without hope, love is not endued with any considerable
vitality. Mine died at the utterance of a single word.

The Chevalier de St. Ange! Shall I admit it? Although my heart bled, my
self-esteem experienced a sort of satisfaction at the thought that,
forestalled by such a rival, anybody else, no matter who, would have met
the same fate as myself. I pressed a hundred kisses on Madame
Berthemet’s hands, and left her house calmly, silently, slowly, a mere
shadow of the ardent lover who had entered but an hour before,
determined to make a clean breast of his scruples and his passion to the
mother of Amélie. I was disconsolate. Not that I suffered. I was simply
filled with surprise, shame, and fear at the discovery that I could
outlive what had seemed the best part of me, my love.

As I crossed the Pont Neuf to regain my deserted faubourg, I saw in the
open space, at the foot of the pedestal upon which the statue of Henri
IV had recently been erected, a singer from the Academy of Music, who
was declaiming in a moving voice the hymn of the _Marseillais_. The
crowd which had collected round him, with bare heads, took up the
refrain in chorus, “_Aux armes, citoyens!_” But when the singer struck
up the last verse, “_Amour sacré de la Patrie_,” in slow and solemn
tones, a shiver of unearthly exaltation passed through the crowd. At the

                     _Liberté, liberté chérie_ ...

I fell on my knees upon the pavement, and beheld all the people around
me likewise fallen prostrate. O, my country, my country! what spells do
you weave that your children worship you so? Even from out the mire and
the blood your image rises radiant. My country! happy are they who die
for you. The sun, which was now dipping towards the horizon, surrounded
by blood-hued clouds, lit into liquid flame the waters of the most
famous of rivers. Hail to you, ultimate illumination of my days of

Alack! into what a winter of discontent I passed that night! When I
closed the door of my little chamber in the roof of the Duc de
Puybonne’s mansion, I felt as though I were cementing the stone over my
own tomb.

“All is over!” I said through my sobs. “I love Amélie no longer. But how
is it that I am forced to remind myself of the fact so untiringly? How
is it that, loving her no longer, I cannot turn my thoughts away from
her? Why do I lament so bitterly the uprooting of my wretched love?”

Cruel anxieties were added to my personal sorrows. The state of public
affairs was driving me to desperation. My destitution was extreme, and,
far from cherishing the hope of obtaining work, I was reduced to
concealing myself for fear of being arrested as a suspicious character.

Monsieur Mille had not put in an appearance at the house since the 10th
of August. I have no idea where he lodged; but he never missed a single
sitting of the Commune, and every day before the municipality, amid
enthusiastic applause from the _tricoteuses_[16] and _sans-culottes_, he
would recite a new patriotic hymn. Indeed he was the most patriotic of
poets, and citizen Dorat-Cubières himself, beside him, was a timid
_Feuillant_,[17] under the grave suspicion of the demagogues. I had been
engaged in incriminating transactions; moreover, Monsieur Mille made no
attempt to visit me, and my own scruples made it an easy duty for me not
to go in search of him. Nevertheless, being a good-hearted man, he sent
me his collection of songs when the printing was completed. Ah, how
slight the resemblance between his second muse and his first! The latter
had been powdered, painted, perfumed. The new one resembled a fury, with
serpents for locks of hair. I can still recall the song of the
_sans-culottes_, which aimed at being very malicious. It began thus—

                  Long, long enough, yea far too long
                  Dread tyranny has claimed our song,
                    And despots swayed our lot.
                  Now breaks the dawn of Liberty,
                  Of Law, and fair Equality:
                    All hail! the Sans-Culottes![18]


Footnote 16:

  The women who formed part of the revolutionary mobs were known as
  _tricoteuses_ from their habit of knitting at all seasons, even at the
  foot of the guillotine; the _sans-culottes_ were the men of the same
  class. Their nether garments, of course, were rather in rags and
  tatters than wanting altogether. (TRANS.)

Footnote 17:

  A member of an anti-Jacobin Society, known as _Feuillants_. (TRANS.)

Footnote 18:

                    Amis, assez et trop longtemps,
                    Sous le règne affreux des tyrans,
                      On chanta les despotes.
                    Sous celui de l’Egalité,
                    Des Lois et de la Liberté,
                      Chantons les Sans-Culottes.


The trial of the king aroused me to indescribable distress. My days
rolled by in horror. One morning there was a knock at the door. I
divined somehow that it proceeded from a gentle and friendly hand. I
opened, and Madame Berthemet flung herself into my arms.

“Save me, save us!” she said. “My brother, Monsieur Eustance, my only
brother, was scheduled as an _émigré_,[19] and came to seek shelter in
my house. He was denounced and arrested. He has been in prison now for
five days. Luckily the accusation which hangs over him is vague and
ill-founded. My brother was never an _émigré_. To effect his release,
all that is necessary is that some one who can vouch for his unbroken
residence in France will give evidence in his favour. I begged the
Chevalier de St. Ange to do me this service. He prudently begged to be
excused. Well! my friend, my son, that service which it would be
perilous to him to render me, to you will be still more perilous; yet I
come to ask it of you.”


Footnote 19:

  A person who had left France without a licence from the Government.


I thanked her for her request as if it had been a favour. And, indeed,
it was so to be regarded, and of a quality so inestimable that an
upright man could scarcely be honoured by a greater.

“Well enough I knew that you would not refuse!” exclaimed Madame
Berthemet, embracing me. “But this is not all,” she added. “You will
need to procure a second witness; they demand that two shall come
forward if my brother is to be released. Oh, my friend, what times we
are living in! Monsieur de St. Ange keeps aloof from us; our misfortunes
embarrass him; and Monsieur Mille would be afraid to visit folks under
suspicion. Who would have thought it, my friend—who would have thought
it? Do you remember Federation Day? We were all brimful of enthusiasm
about fraternity, and I had on a very becoming dress.”

She was in tears when she left me. I descended the stairs almost
immediately after her to go in search of a guarantor, and to tell the
truth I was considerably puzzled to put my hands on one. As I bowed my
head in my hands I realized that I had a beard of eight days' growth,
which might render me an object of suspicion; so I betook myself at once
to my barber’s at the corner of the Rue St. Guillaume. This barber was a
very worthy fellow named Larisse, as tall as a poplar and as restless as
an aspen. When I entered his shop he was attending to a wine merchant of
the neighbourhood, who with his face smothered in lather was pouring out
all sorts of playful threats.

“Ah, my fine fellow, you dandifier of fine ladies,” he was saying, “your
head will be cut off and stuck on the end of a pike to gratify your
aristocratic inclinations. Every enemy of the people must add his quota
to the basket,[20] from the fat Capet to the slim Larisse. And, _ça
ira_, so it will be!”


Footnote 20:

  The basket into which the heads of the guillotined fell. (TRANS.)


Monsieur Larisse, paler than moonshine and fluttering like a leaf,
observed the utmost precautions as he shaved the chin of the abusive
patriot. I can affirm that never did barber experience greater terror.
And from this circumstance I drew a happy augury for the success of the
design I had suddenly conceived. It was my intention, to be plain, to
ask Monsieur Larisse to accompany me before the committee as the second

“He is such a coward,” I reflected, “that he will never dare to

The wine merchant withdrew muttering fresh threats, and left me alone
with the barber, who, still trembling, fastened a napkin round my neck.

“Ah, monsieur!” he whispered in my ear, in a voice feebler than a sigh,
“hell is let loose upon us! Was it for the accommodation of demons like
this that I studied the art of hairdressing? The heads which did honour
to my skill are now in London or in Coblentz. How is Monseigneur le Duc
de Puybonne? He was a good master.”

I informed him that the Duke was living in London, and giving writing
lessons. Indeed, the Duke had managed recently to convey to me a paper
in which he told me that he was living, perfectly contented, in London,
on four shillings and sixpence a day.

“It may be so,” replied Monsieur Larisse, “but in London hairdressing is
not performed as it is in Paris. The English can make constitutions, but
they don’t know how to make wigs, and their powder is not nearly white

Monsieur Larisse soon had me shaven. I had not a very harsh beard at
that time. Scarcely had he closed his razor than, seizing him by the
wrist, I said to him firmly—

“My dear Monsieur Larisse, you are a valiant man; you are coming with me
before the General Assembly of the Section des Postes in the one-time
church of St. Eustache. There you will bear witness jointly with me that
Monsieur Eustance has never been an _émigré_.”

At these words Monsieur Larisse grew pale, and murmured in inanimate

“But I am not acquainted with Monsieur Eustance.”

“For that matter, neither am I,” I replied.

Which was indeed strictly true. I had correctly diagnosed the character
of Monsieur Larisse. He was dumbfounded. His very fear thrust him into
the perilous emprise. I took him by the arm and he followed me

“But you are leading me to my death,” he said softly.

“To glory rather,” I replied.

I don’t know whether he was familiar with the tragedians, but he was
sensible of the honour and appeared flattered. He had some knowledge of
literature, for loosing my arm to go into his back shop, he said—

“A moment, dear sir; let me at least put on my best coat. In the olden
times the victims were decked with flowers. I find it recorded in the
_Almanack for Honest Men_.”

From his chest of drawers he took a blue coat which he flung round his
long, mobile body. Thus attired he accompanied me to the General
Assembly of the Section des Postes, which was sitting continuously.

On the threshold of the desecrated church, on the door of which was
inscribed the motto, “_Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, or Death_,”
Monsieur Larisse felt the sweat break out on his forehead; nevertheless
he went in. One of the citizens who was sleeping there on a heap of
empty bottles, half aroused himself to inquire our business, and then
sent us on to the revolutionary committee of the Section.

I knew this committee through having accompanied Monsieur Berthemet
there on two occasions. The president of it was a small lodging-house
keeper in the Rue de la Truanderie, whose most regular customers were
ladies of easy virtue. Amongst the members there were an itinerant
knife-grinder, a porter, and a dyer and cleaner named Bistac. It was
with the knife-grinder that we had to do. He was seated informally with
his sleeves turned up; we found him a good-natured fellow.

“Citizens,” he said, “from the moment you place before me an attestation
in due form, I have no objections to raise, because I am a magistrate
and consequently the proper formalities are all I demand. I would only
add one word. A man who has intelligence and character ought not to be
authorized to leave Paris at a moment like this. Because, you see,

He hesitated, and then, making use of gesture to express his meaning, he
stretched out his bare and muscular arm and then moved it to his
forehead, which he tapped with a finger, and continued—“It is not of
this alone” (here he indicated his arm, the working tool) “that we have
need, but of this also” (here he motioned to his forehead, the seat of

He then boasted of his natural gifts, and lamented that his parents had
not contrived to give him any instruction. Then he set himself to the
task of signing our declaration. Despite his good will this was a long
process. Whilst, with hands accustomed to the grindstone, he painfully
manipulated the pen, Bistac the cleaner came into the room. Bistac had
not the genial nature of the grinder. His soul was all Jacobin. At sight
of us his forehead puckered and his nostrils swelled: he scented the

“Who are you?” he demanded of me.

“Pierre Aubier.”

“Oh, oh! Pierre Aubier, and I suppose you flatter yourself that you will
sleep in your own bed to-night?”

I put a cool face on the situation, but my companion began to shudder in
every limb. His bones rattled so loudly that Bistac’s attention was
attracted, and, forgetting me, he turned his scrutiny on to poor

“You have all the marks of a conspirator, in my opinion,” said Bistac in
a terrible voice. “What is your profession?”

“A barber, at your service, citizen.”

“All barbers are Feuillants!”

Terror commonly inspired Monsieur Larisse to the most courageous
actions. He has since confessed to me that at this moment he had all the
difficulty in the world to prevent himself from shouting “Long live the
King!” As a matter of fact, he did no such thing, but replied proudly
that he owed small thanks to the Revolution, which had suppressed wigs
and powder, and that he was tired of living in a continual state of

“Take off my head,” he added. “I should prefer to get my dying over,
rather than to live in constant fear.”

Bistac became perplexed at talk like this.

Meanwhile, the knife-grinder, who was revolving many confused but kindly
thoughts in his brain, recommended us to withdraw.

“Off with you, citizens,” he said; “but bear in mind that the Republic
has need of this.”

And he pointed to his forehead.

Madame Berthemet’s brother was released next day. The mother of Amélie
expressed abundance of gratitude and embraced me—it was a way she had.
She did better.

“You have,” said she, “acquired a right to the gratitude of Amélie. I am
desirous that my daughter should herself come and express her
indebtedness to you. She owes you an uncle. It is less than a mother, it
is true; but what commendations does not your courage deserve....”

She went in search of Amélie.

Left alone in the drawing-room, I waited. I asked myself whether I had
the strength to see her once more. I feared, I hoped. I died a thousand

In about five minutes Madame Berthemet reappeared, alone.

“You must excuse an ungrateful girl,” she said. “My daughter refuses to
come. ‘I could not endure his presence,’ she declared. 'The sight of him
would be torture to me; henceforth I hate him. By showing greater
courage than the man I love, he has gained a cruel advantage. I will
never see him again while I live. He is generous: he will forgive me.'”

After she had repeated this speech to me Madame Berthemet concluded with
these words:

“Forget the ungrateful child!”

I promised to endeavour to do so, and I kept my word. Events contributed
to my success. The Terror reigned. That appalling day, the 31st of May,
snatched their last hopes from those of the moderate party.

Several times I was denounced as a conspirator on the score of the
correspondence I maintained with the Duc de Puybonne, and I was
continually risking both liberty and life.

I had no longer a certificate of citizenship, and, not daring to apply
for one for fear of being instantly put under arrest, my existence had
become unendurable.

There was a demand just then for twelve hundred thousand men between the
ages of eighteen and twenty-five. I entered my name. On the 7th of
Brumaire in the year II, at six o’clock in the morning, I set out on the
way to Nancy to join my regiment. With a policeman’s cap on my head, a
knapsack on my back, and wearing the jacket called a carmagnole, I felt
myself fairly martial in appearance.

From time to time I turned my gaze back on the great city where I had
suffered so much and loved so profoundly. Then, wiping away a tear, I
resumed my journey. I decided to sing in order to cheer myself up, and I
began the hymn of the _Marseillais_—

                    _Allons, enfants de la Patrie!_

At the first halting-place I presented my credentials to some peasants,
who sent me to pass the night in the stable on the straw. There I
enjoyed a delicious sleep, and as I awakened I thought—

“Well, this is better. I am no longer in danger of the guillotine. So
far as I can judge, I am no longer in love with Amélie—or rather I never
have been in love with her. I am going to carry a sword and a gun. I
shall have nothing else to fear but the Austrian bullets. Brindamour and
Trompelamort are right: there is no finer calling than that of a
soldier. But who would have dreamed when I was studying Latin under the
flowering apple trees at Monsieur Lamadou’s that one day I should take
arms in defence of the Republic? Ah! Monsieur Féval, who could have
foreseen that your little pupil Pierre would march away to the wars?”

At the next halt a worthy woman put me to sleep in white sheets because
I reminded her of her son.

The following day I lodged with a canoness who put me in a loft open to
the wind and rain, and even this she did with a very perturbed mind, for
a defender of the Republic seemed to her so very near to a dangerous
species of brigand.

Finally, I came up with my corps on the banks of the Meuse. I received a
sword. At this I reddened with gratification, and felt myself at least a
foot taller. Do not laugh at me on that account; it was a case of
vanity, I admit it; but vanity goes to the making of a hero. We were
scarcely fitted out before we received orders to start for Maubeuge.

We arrived on the Sambre on a dark night. Silence was all around. We
could see fires flickering on the hills on the opposite side of the
river. I was told that they were the bivouacs of the enemy. Then my
heart thumped as if it would burst.

It was from Titus Livy that I had got my ideas of war. But I call you to
witness, woods, meadows, hills, banks of the Sambre and the Meuse, that
those ideas were delusive. War, such as I took part in, consists of
passing through burnt-up villages, sleeping in the mire, listening to
the whistle of bullets through the long and melancholy sentry duty of
nights; but of single combats and ordered battlefields I saw never a
sign. We slept but little, and did not eat at all. Floridor, my
sergeant, an old soldier of the French Guard, swore that the life we
were leading was festive; he exaggerated, but we were not unhappy, for
we had the consciousness of doing our duty and being useful to our

We were justly proud of our regiment, which had covered itself with
glory at Wattignies. For the greater part it was made up of soldiers of
the old _régime_, stout and well instructed. As a large number of men
had perished in various engagements, the gaps had been filled up anyhow
with youthful recruits. Without the veterans who encircled us we should
have been worth nothing. It takes a good deal of time to make a soldier,
and in war enthusiasm is no substitute for experience.

My colonel was a one-time nobleman from my native province. He treated
me kindly. A lifelong Royalist, a countryman not a townsman, a soldier
not a courtier, he had long delayed exchanging the white coat of His
Majesty’s troops for the blue coat of the soldiers of the year II. He
detested the Republic, and dedicated the remainder of his life to it.

I bless Providence for having guided me to the frontier, since there
virtue still survives.

[Written in bivouac, on the Sambre, between septidi the 27th of
Frimaire, and sextidi the 6th of Nivôse, in the year II of the French
Republic, by Pierre Aubier, volunteer.]





The Cours-La-Reine was deserted. The green banks of the Seine, the
ancient pollarded beeches whose shadows began to stretch out towards the
east, the calm azure of the sky, cloudless, breezeless, unthreatening
but unsmiling, all were wrapped in the deep silence that marks the
summer day. A pedestrian coming from the Tuileries made his way slowly
towards the hills of Chaillot. His figure was of the agreeable
slightness characteristic of early youth, and he wore the coat,
breeches, and black stockings indicative of the bourgeois, whose
supremacy had at length come round. Yet his countenance was rather that
of the dreamer than of the enthusiast. He had a book in his hand; and
his finger between the leaves marked the place he had reached, but he
had ceased to read. Now and then he stopped and strained his ears to
catch the faint yet terrible murmur which rose up from Paris, and in
this muffled noise, feebler than a sigh, he fancied he could distinguish
cries of death and hate, joy and love, drum-beats, the sound of
firearms—all the din, in fact, of insensate fury and sublime enthusiasm
which ascends heavenward from crowded streets at the outbreak of
revolution. At times he turned his head and shuddered. Everything
reported to him, everything he had seen and heard for some hours past
filled his brain with confused and terrible pictures: the Bastille
captured by the people and already denuded of its battlements; the
provost of the merchants' guild slain by a pistol-shot in the midst of a
furious crowd; the governor, the venerable de Launay, hewn down on the
steps of the Hotel de Ville; the dreadful populace, pale as famine or as
deathly fear, drunken, beside itself, dazed by the vision of blood and
glory, reeling from the Bastille to the Grève, and above the heads of a
hundred thousand deluded people the bodies of the victims swinging from
a lamp-post, and the oak-crowned brow of one of the exultant clad in a
uniform of blue and white; the conquerors with the registers, the keys
and the silver plate belonging to the ancient fortress, mounting amid
acclamation the blood-stained steps; and at their head the popular
magistrates La Fayette and Bailly, overwrought, uplifted, amazed, their
feet dabbled in blood, their heads touching the clouds with pride! Then,
fear still paramount with the unleashed rabble, at the scattered noises
customarily attendant on the return of the Royal troops to the town at
night, the tearing down of the palace railings for conversion into
pikes, the pillage of the arsenals, the construction by the citizens of
street barricades, and the transportation by the women to the roofs of
houses of stones to hurl down on the foreign regiments!

These scenes of violence were reconstructed in his dreamy youthful
imagination in subdued tones. He had taken his favourite book, an
English work entitled _Meditations Among the Tombs_, and made his way
along the Seine, under the trees of the Cours-la-Reine, towards the
white house which, night and day, filled his thoughts. All was calm
around him. On the river bank he noticed the anglers sitting with their
feet in the water, and he followed the course of the stream in an
abstracted mood. When he reached the slopes of the hills of Chaillot he
met a patrol party, keeping an eye on the communications between Paris
and Versailles. This troop, armed with guns, muskets, and halberds,
included artisans wearing their aprons of leather or serge, lawyers
dressed in black, one priest, and a bearded, bare-legged giant in a
shirt. They challenged every would-be passer-by: communications between
the Court and the governor of the Bastille had been detected and a
surprise was feared.

But this pedestrian was young and of ingenuous appearance. He had
scarcely uttered a word or two before the troop smilingly permitted him
to continue his journey.

He ascended the slope of a lane odorous of flowering elder, and stopped
half-way up in front of a garden gate. This garden was but little, but
by means of winding alleys and abrupt turns the space for exercise was
considerably extended. Into a pool where ducks were disporting
themselves, willows dipped the tips of their branches. At the corner by
the street a light alcove had been constructed, and a grass plot spread
its freshness in front of the house. Here, on a rustic bench, with her
head bent, a young woman was seated; her face was hidden by a large
straw hat wreathed with natural flowers. Over her dress, which was of
white and rose colour, in stripes, she wore a fichu, fastened at the
waistline, this latter a trifle high, giving the skirt an added length
that was not unbecoming. Her arms, encased in tight sleeves, were at
rest. A basket of an antique pattern, which lay at her feet, held balls
of wool. Close by her a child was piling up heaps of sand with his
shovel. His blue eyes shone through a tangle of golden hair.

The young woman remained motionless and, as it were, spell-bound, and
the young man standing at the gate could not bring himself to break so
sweet a spell. At length she raised her head and disclosed a youthful,
almost infantile face, with pure rounded lines which imparted a natural
expression of gentleness and friendliness. He bowed before her, and she
held out her hand.

“How do you do, Monsieur Germain? What is the news? ‘What news do you
bring with you?’ as the song says. I don’t know very much, except

“Pardon me, Madame, for having disturbed your dreams. I was gazing at
you. Alone, motionless, your head resting on your hand, it seemed as
though you must be the angel of meditation.”

“Alone! alone!” she replied, as if this were the only word she had
heard. “Alone! Is she ever alone?”

And seeing that he was looking at her uncomprehendingly, she added—

“Enough of that! It is nothing but a fancy of mine that—— What is your

Thereupon he went over the events of the famous day, the taking of the
Bastille, the foundation of liberty.

Sophie listened to him gravely; then she said—

“It is our duty to rejoice, but our joy should be the austere joy which
comes of sacrifice. Henceforth the French are their own men no longer;
they are the servants of the Revolution which is about to reform the

As she was speaking the child approached and threw himself joyously
across her knees.

“Look, mamma! Look at my pretty garden!”

Embracing him, she said—

“You are right, little Emile, it is the wisest thing in the world to lay
out a pretty garden.”

“Yes, he is right,” added Germain; “what gallery glowing with porphyry
and gold can be compared with a green alley?”

And reflecting how sweet it would be to give this fair woman the support
of his arm and lead her to the shade of the trees—

“Ah!” he exclaimed, flashing a meaning glance at her, “what are men and
revolutions to me!”

“No, no!” she rejoined, “I cannot so abruptly turn my thoughts from a
great people, intent on inaugurating the reign of justice. My attachment
to the new ideas surprises you, Monsieur Germain. We have only known one
another for quite a brief time. You are not aware, of course, that my
father taught me to read in the _Social Contract_ and the Gospels. One
day, as we were walking, he pointed out Jean Jacques Rousseau to me. I
was only a child, but I dissolved in tears at sight of the gloomy
countenance of the wisest of men. I grew up a hater of prejudice. Later
on my husband, like myself a disciple of the philosophy of nature,
decided that our son should be called Emile, and that he should be
taught to labour with his hands. In his last letter, written three years
ago on board the ship upon which he perished some days afterwards, he
continues to urge on my attention Rousseau’s precepts upon education. I
am saturated with the new spirit of the age. It is my conviction that we
must struggle for justice and truth.”

“Like yourself, Madame,” sighed Germain, “I have a horror of fanaticism
and tyranny; like yourself, I am in love with liberty, but my soul is
drained of its strength. At every moment my thoughts escape my control.
I am no longer master of myself, and I suffer accordingly.”

The young woman did not reply. An elderly man pushed open the gate and
came forward with his arms raised, waving his hat. He wore neither
powder nor wig. A few long grey hairs fell down on each side of his bald
head. He wore a complete suit of grey ratteen; his stockings were blue
and his shoes buckleless.

“Victory! victory!” he cried. “The monster is delivered into our hands,
Sophie, and I am the bearer of the news to you.”

“Neighbour, I have just heard of it from Monsieur Marcel Germain, whom I
want to introduce to you. His mother and mine were friends at Angers.
During the six months he has spent in Paris he has been kind enough to
come to see me from time to time in the seclusion of my hermitage.
Monsieur Germain, this gentleman is my neighbour and friend, Monsieur
Franchot de La Cavanne, a man of letters.”

“Say rather, 'Nicolas Franchot, labourer.'”

“I know, dear friend, that you thus signed your treatise on the Corn
Trade. I will say then, to gratify you, although I expect your hands are
much more adroit with the pen than with the plough, Monsieur Nicolas
Franchot, labourer.”

The older man grasped Marcel’s hand and exclaimed—

“It has fallen, then, that fortress which has so many times engulfed the
wronged and the guiltless! Those bolts behind which I passed eight
months, deprived both of air and light, have been torn from their
places. It was one-and-thirty years ago, on the 17th of February, 1758,
that I was cast into the Bastille for having written an epistle on
tolerance. Now, to-day, at length the people have avenged me. Right and
I are triumphant together. The memory of this day will remain so long as
the universe endures. I call as witness to it the sun which saw
Harmodius perish, and the brood of Tarquin put to flight!”

The piercing voice of Monsieur Franchot frightened little Emile, who
clutched his mother’s dress. Franchot, suddenly becoming aware of the
child’s presence, lifted him from the ground and said enthusiastically—

“Happier than we have been, dear child, you will grow up free!”

But Emile, terrified, turned his face away and uttered loud cries.

“Gentlemen,” said Sophie, as she wiped away her little son’s tears,
“will you be so kind as to stay to supper with me? I am expecting
Monsieur Duvernay, provided he is not detained by the bedside of one of
his patients.”

Then turning towards Marcel—

“You must know that Monsieur Duvernay, the king’s physician, is an
elector of Paris without the walls. He would be a deputy of the National
Assembly if, like Monsieur de Condorcet, he had not out of modesty
declined the honour. He is a man of great attainments, and it will be
both pleasant and profitable to you to hear him converse.”

“Young man,” added Franchot, “I am acquainted with Monsieur Jean
Duvernay, and I know one circumstance about him which does him honour.
Two years ago the queen summoned him to attend on the Dauphin, who was
threatened with decline. At that time Duvernay was residing at Sèvres,
whither one of the Court carriages was sent every morning to convey him
to Saint Cloud, where the royal child lay ill. One day the carriage
returned to the palace empty. Duvernay had not come. The following day
the queen reproached him for absenting himself.

“Doctor,” she said, “you forgot your patient the Dauphin, then?”

“Madame,” replied the worthy man, “I am caring for your son assiduously,
but yesterday I was detained by the bedside of a peasant woman in

“Well now!” remarked Sophie, “wasn’t that noble of him, and oughtn’t we
to be proud of our friend!”

“Yes; it was fine,” replied Germain.

A grave, sweet voice close beside them here interposed—

“I do not know,” said the voice, “what it is that is exciting you to
admiration; but it is pleasant to hear your transports. In these days
there are so many admirable deeds to be witnessed.”

The man who spoke wore a powdered wig and a delicate lace frill. It was
Jean Duvernay. Marcel recognized his face from the engravings he had
seen in the shops in the Palais Royal.

“I have just come from Versailles,” said Duvernay. “I owe to the Duke of
Orleans the pleasure of seeing you this memorable day, Sophie. He
brought me in his coach as far as Saint Cloud. The rest of the way I
travelled in the most convenient fashion—I mean on my own feet.”

And as a matter of fact, his silver-buckled shoes and black stockings
were covered all over with dust.

Emile clung with his little hands to the steel buttons which glittered
on the doctor’s coat, and Duvernay, coaxing him on to his knee, found
material for smiles in glimpses at the little creature’s budding soul.
Sophie summoned Nanon. A sturdy girl appeared, who picked up and carried
the child off in her arms, stifling beneath resounding kisses his
despairing cries.

The table was laid in the garden alcove. Sophie hung her straw hat on a
willow branch; her fair hair fell in curls about her cheeks.

“You will sup in the simplest possible way,” she said, “in the English

From the spot where they were seated they could see the Seine, the roofs
of the city, the domes and the steeples. The spectacle rendered them as
silent as though they were looking out on Paris for the first time.
After a while they spoke of the occurrences of the day, of the Assembly,
of universal suffrage, of the breaking down of class barriers, and
Monsieur Necker’s banishment. All four were agreed that a lasting
liberty was at length achieved. Monsieur Duvernay foretold the rise of a
new order, and applauded the wisdom of the legislators popularly
elected. But his mind was not uplifted, and at times it seemed as though
his hopes were alloyed with a certain uneasiness. Nicolas Franchot did
not observe the same moderation. He proclaimed the peaceful triumph of
the people and the era of fraternity.

Vainly did the physician, vainly the young woman assure him—

“It is only now that the struggle begins. We are only as yet at our
first victory.”

“Philosophy is our ruler,” he would reply. “What benefits will not
Reason shower on men who accept her all potent sway! The Golden Age
which the poets fabled will become a reality. All ills will disappear
with the fanaticism and tyranny which gave them birth. The virtuous and
enlightened man will enjoy all possible felicity. What do I say? By the
aid of physicians and chemists he will even succeed in attaining
immortality upon earth.”

Sophie listened to him, but shook her head.

“If you wish to deprive us of death,” she said, “find us first a
fountain of youth. Without that your immortality awakens my

The old philosopher laughingly asked her if she found the Christian
doctrine of resurrection more comforting.

“For my part,” he said, after emptying his glass, “I am inclined to fear
lest the angels and saints should feel impelled to favour the choir of
virgins at the expense of the company of dowagers.”

“I do not know,” replied the young woman, in a meditative tone and
lifting her eyes to his, “I do not know what value these poor charms,
framed out of the dust of the earth, may have in the eyes of angels; but
I am sure that divine omnipotence will be better able to repair the
ravages of time, if in so blissful an abode such redress should be
needful, than all your physics and your chemistry will ever succeed in
doing in this world. You, who are an atheist, Monsieur Franchot, and do
not believe that God reigns in the heavens, you cannot understand
anything about the Revolution, which is the advent of God upon earth.”

She rose. Night had fallen, and in the distance under their eyes the
great town starred itself with lights.

Marcel offered his arm to Sophie, and whilst the older men argued with
one another, the two sauntered together along the sombre alleys. Marcel
found them charming, and Sophie supplied him in turn with their names
and associations.

“Here,” she said, “we are in the Allée de Jean Jacques, which leads to
the Salon d’Emile. This alley was straight. I had it deflected so that
it should pass under the old oak. All day long it gives shade to this
rustic bench, which I have called 'Friendship’s Rest.'

“We will sit down for a moment on this bench,” said Sophie.

They sat down. In the silence Marcel could hear the fluttering of his
own heart.

“Sophie, I love you,” he murmured, and captured her hand.

She drew it away gently, and pointing out to the young man that a light
breeze had set the leaves rustling—

“Do you hear that?” she said.

“I hear the wind among the leaves.”

She shook her head, and said in tones as sweet as a chant—

“Marcel, Marcel! Who tells you that is the wind among the leaves? Who
tells you that we are alone? Are you, then, after all, one of those
commonplace souls which have failed to discern any of the mysterious
portents of the world unseen?”

And as he questioned her with a glance that was all bewilderment—

“Monsieur Germain,” she said, “be so kind as to go upstairs to my room.
You will find a little book on the table, and bring it to me....”

He obeyed. All the while he was absent the young widow gazed at the
dusky foliage shivering in the night wind. He returned with a little
gilt-edged volume.

“_The Idylls of Gesner_; yes, that is it,” said Sophie. “Open the book
at the place where the marker lies, and, if your eyes are good enough to
read by moonlight, read.”

He read these words:

“Ah! Often will my soul come to hover around you; often when, inflamed
by a noble and sublime thought, you are meditating in solitude, a light
breath will brush your cheek: at such a moment may your soul be
conscious of a gladdening thrill!...”

She stopped him.

“Now do you understand, Marcel, that we are never alone, and that there
are words to which I can never listen so long as a breath blown landward
from the sea shall set in motion the leaves of the oaks.”

The voices of the two older men drew near.

“God is Goodness,” said Duvernay.

“God is evil,” said Franchot, “and we shall extinguish it.”

Both of them, and Marcel also, took leave of Sophie.

“Adieu, gentlemen,” she said. “Let us all cry, ‘Hurrah for Liberty, and
long live the King!’ And you, dear neighbour, do not hinder us from
dying when we shall need to die.”


                             MADAME DE LUZY

                            TO MARCEL PROUST

                             MADAME DE LUZY

           (_From a manuscript dated September 15th, 1792._)


As I entered, Pauline de Luzy held out her hand to me. Then for a moment
we remained silent. Her scarf and straw hat were thrown carelessly on an

The prayer from _Orpheus_ was open on the spinet. Going towards the
window, she watched the sun sinking to the blood-red horizon.

“Madame,” I said at length, “do you remember the words you said two
years ago this very day, at the foot of that hill on the bank of the
river towards which at this moment your eyes are turned?

“Do you remember how, with your hand waving in a prophetic gesture, you
called up before me, as in a vision, the coming days of trial, of crime
and terror? On my very lips you arrested my confession of love, and bade
me live and labour for justice and liberty. Madame, since your hand,
which I could not anoint with kisses and tears enough, pointed out the
way to me, I have pursued it unfaltering. I have obeyed you; I have
written and spoken for the cause. For two years I have withstood the
blunder-headed starvelings who are the source of dissension and hate,
the demagogues who seduce the people by violent demonstrations of
pretended sympathy, and the poltroons who do homage to the coming

She stopped me with a motion of her hand, and made a sign to me to
listen. Then we heard borne across the scented spaces of the garden,
where birds were warbling, distant cries of “Death!” “To the gallows
with the aristocrat!” “Set his head on a pike!”

Pale and motionless she held a finger to her lips.

“It is,” I said, “some unhappy wretch being pursued. They are making
domiciliary visits and effecting arrests in Paris night and day. It is
possible they may force an entrance here. I ought to withdraw for fear
of compromising you. Although I am but little known in this
neighbourhood, I am, as times go, a dangerous guest.”

“Stay!” she adjured me.

For the second time cries rent the calm evening air. They were mingled
now with the tramp of feet and the noise of fire-arms. They came nearer;
then we heard a voice shout: “Close the approaches, so that he cannot
escape, the scoundrel!”

Madame de Luzy seemed to grow calmer in proportion to the increasing
nearness of the danger.

“Let us go up to the second floor,” she said; “we shall be able to see
through the sunblinds what is going on outside.”

But scarcely had we opened the door when, on the landing, we beheld a
half-dressed fugitive, his face blanched with terror, his teeth
chattering and his knees knocking together. This apparition murmured in
a strangled voice—

“Save me! Hide me! They are there.... They burst open my gate—overran my
garden. They are coming....”


Madame de Luzy, recognizing Planchonnet, the old philosopher who
occupied the neighbouring house, asked him in a whisper—“Has my cook
caught sight of you? She is a Jacobin!”

“Nobody has set eyes on me.”

“God be praised, neighbour!”

She led him into her bedroom, whither I followed them. A consultation
was necessary. Some hiding-place must be hit upon where she could keep
Planchonnet concealed for several days, or at least for several hours,
whatever time it might take to deceive and tire out the search party. It
was agreed that I should keep the approaches under observation, and that
when I gave the signal, the unfortunate man should make his escape by
the little garden gate.

Whilst he waited, he was unable to remain standing. He was completely
paralysed with terror.

He endeavoured to make us understand that he was being hounded down for
having conspired with Monsieur de Cazotte against the Constitution, and
for having on the 10th of August formed one of the defenders of the
Tuileries—he, the enemy of priests and kings. It was an infamous
calumny. The truth was that Lubin was venting his hate upon him—Lubin,
hitherto his butcher, whom he had a hundred times had a mind to lay a
stick about to teach him to give better weight, and who was now
presiding over the section in which he had formerly been a mere

As he uttered the name in strangled tones, he was persuaded that he
actually saw Lubin, and hid his face in his hands. And of a truth there
was the sound of footsteps on the stairs. Madame de Luzy shot the bolts
and pushed the old man behind a screen. There was a hammering at the
door, and Pauline recognized the voice of her cook, who called out to
her to open, that the municipal officers were at the gate with the
National Guard, and that they had come to make an inspection of the

“They say,” the woman added, “that Planchonnet is in the house. I know
very well that it is not so, of course. I know you would never harbour a
scoundrel of that sort; but they won’t believe my word.”

“Well, well, let them come up,” replied Madame de Luzy through the door.
“Let them go all over the house, from cellar to garret.”

As he listened to this dialogue, the wretched Planchonnet fainted behind
the screen, and I had a good deal of trouble in resuscitating him by
sprinkling water on his temples. When I had succeeded—

“My friend,” the young woman whispered to her old neighbour, “trust in
me. Remember that women are resourceful.”

Then, calmly, as though she had been engaged in some daily domestic
duty, she drew her bedstead a little out from its alcove, took off the
bedclothes, and with my assistance so arranged the three mattresses as
to contrive a space next the wall between the highest and the lowest of

Whilst she was making these arrangements, a loud noise of shoes, sabots,
gunstocks, and raucous voices broke out on the staircase. This was for
all three of us a terrible moment; but the noise ascended by little and
little to the floor above our heads. We realized that the searchers,
under the guidance of the Jacobin cook, were ransacking the garrets
first. The ceiling cracked; threats and coarse laughter were audible,
and the sound of kicks and bayonet-thrusts against the wainscot. We
breathed again, but there was not a second to lose. I helped Planchonnet
to slip into the space contrived for him between the mattresses.

As she watched our efforts, Madame de Luzy shook her head. The bed thus
disturbed had a suspicious appearance.

She endeavoured to give it a finishing touch; but in vain, she could not
make it look natural.

“I shall have to go to bed myself,” she said.

She looked at the clock; it was exactly seven, and she felt that it
would look extraordinary for her to be in bed so early. As to feigning
illness, it was useless to think of it: the Jacobin cook would detect
the ruse.

She remained thoughtful for some seconds; then calmly, simply, with
royal unconcern, she undressed before me, got into bed, and ordered me
to take off my shoes, my coat, and my cravat.

“There is nothing for it but for you to be my lover, and for them to
surprise us together. When they arrive you will not have had time to
re-arrange your disordered clothes. You will open the door to them in
your vest,[21] with your hair rumpled.”


Footnote 21:

  The vest was worn under the coat. It was a sort of waistcoat, longer
  than ours, and provided with sleeves of full length. (AUTHOR.)


All our arrangements were made when the search party, with many
exclamations of “_Sacré!_” and “_Peste!_” descended from the garrets.

The unfortunate Planchonnet was seized with such a paroxysm of trembling
that he shook the whole bed.

Moreover, his breathing grew so stertorous that it must have been almost
audible in the corridor.

“It’s a pity,” murmured Madame de Luzy. “I was so satisfied with my
little artifice. But never mind; we won’t despair. May God be our aid!”

A heavy fist shook the door.

“Who knocks?” Pauline inquired.

“The representatives of the Nation.”

“Can’t you wait a minute?”

“Open, or we shall break the door down!”

“Go and open the door, my friend.”

Suddenly, by a sort of miracle, Planchonnet ceased to tremble and gasp.


Lubin was the first to enter. He had his scarf round him, and was
followed by a dozen men armed with pikes. Casting his eyes first on
Madame de Luzy and then on me—“_Peste!_” he exclaimed. “It seems we are
disturbing a pair of lovers. Excuse us, pretty one!”

Then turning to his followers, he remarked—

“The _sans-culottes_ are the only folks who know how to behave.”

But despite his theories this encounter had evidently put him in good

He sat down on the bed, and raising the chin of the lovely high-bred
woman, said—

“It is plain that that pretty mouth wasn’t made to mumble paternosters
day and night. It would have been a pity if it were. But the Republic
before all things. We are seeking the traitor, Planchonnet. He is here,
I’m certain of it. I must have him. I shall get him guillotined. It will
make my fortune.”

“Search for him, then!”

They looked under the chairs and tables, in the cupboards, thrust their
pikes under the bed, and probed the mattresses with their bayonets.

Lubin scratched his ear and looked at me slily. Madame de Luzy, dreading
that I might be subjected to an embarrassing catechism, said—

“Dear friend, you know the house as well as I do myself. Take the keys
and show Monsieur Lubin all over it. I am sure you will be delighted to
act as guide to such patriots.”

I led them to the cellars, where they turned over the piles of faggots,
and drank a fairly large number of bottles of wine; after which Lubin
staved in the full casks with the butt end of his gun, and leaving the
cellar flooded with wine, gave the signal of departure. I conducted them
out as far as the gate, which I shut on their very heels, and then ran
back to let Madame de Luzy know that we were out of danger.

When she heard this, she bent her head over the side of the bed next the
wall, and called—

“Monsieur Planchonnet! Monsieur Planchonnet!”

A faint sigh was the response.

“God be praised!” she exclaimed. “Monsieur Planchonnet, you occasioned
me the most appalling fear. I thought you were dead.”

Then turning towards me—

“My poor friend, you used to take so much delight in declaring, from
time to time, that you loved me; you will never tell me so again!”

                       THE BOON OF DEATH BESTOWED

                           TO ALBERT TOURNIER

                       THE BOON OF DEATH BESTOWED

When he had for a long while tramped through the deserted streets, André
at last went and sat down on the bank of the Seine and watched the water
lapping the base of the hill where, in the vanished days of joy and
hope, Lucie, his dear mistress, had her home.

For long enough he had not felt so restful.

At eight o’clock he took a bath. Then he strolled into a restaurant in
the Palais Royal, and glanced through the newspapers whilst his meal was
preparing. In the _Courier of Equality_ he read the list of the
condemned prisoners who had been executed on the Place de la Révolution
on the 24th of Floréal.

He ate his breakfast heartily. Then he rose, looked in a glass to make
sure that he was presentably dressed, and that his colour was not likely
to betray him, and set out at an easy pace to the other side of the
river towards the low house at the corner of the Rue de Seine and the
Rue Mazarine. Here were the quarters of Citizen Lardillon, deputy public
prosecutor at the revolutionary tribunal, a man well disposed towards
André, who had known him first as a capuchin at Angers, and later as a
_sans-culotte_ in Paris.

He rang, and after an interval of some few minutes, a figure appeared
behind a grating commanding the entrance, and Citizen Lardillon, having
prudently satisfied himself as to the appearance and name of his
visitor, at length threw open the door. His face was broad, his colour
high, his eyes glittering, his lips moist, and his ears red. He looked a
jovial but worried man. He led André into his ante-chamber.

There, on a small round table, a meal for two was set out. There was a
chicken, a pie, a ham, a terrine of foie-gras and various cold meats in
aspic. On the floor six bottles were cooling in a pail. A pineapple,
cheese of various kinds, and preserved fruits occupied the mantelpiece,
and flasks of liqueurs were deposited on a desk littered with papers.

Through the half-open door of the adjoining room a large bed was
visible, not yet made.

“Citizen Lardillon,” began André, “I have come to beg a favour of you.”

“I am quite ready to grant it, citizen, provided it involves no risk to
the security of the Republic.”

André smilingly replied—

“The service I ask you to do me is not in the least compromising to the
safety of either the Republic or yourself.”

At a sign from Lardillon, André sat down. “Citizen deputy,” he said,
“you are aware that for the last two years I have been conspiring
against your friends, and that I am the author of the pamphlet entitled,
_The Altars of Fear_. You will not be doing me a favour in having me
arrested. You will only be doing your duty. Moreover, that is not the
service I ask at your hands. But listen: my mistress, to whom I am
devoted, is in prison.”

Lardillon nodded his head to indicate that he approved of the devotion
André confessed to.

“I am sure that you are not unfeeling, Citizen Lardillon. I beg you to
procure my reunion with the woman I love, and to have me conveyed to
Port Libre as speedily as may be.”

“Come, come,” said Lardillon, and a smile played upon his lips, which
were both delicate and firm, “it is a greater boon than life that you
demand of me. You require me to bestow happiness on you, citizen!”

He stretched out the arm nearest to the bedroom, and called—

“Epicharis! Epicharis!”

A big, dark woman entered, her arms and throat still bare, for she had
only got as far with her _toilette_ as a chemise and petticoat, though a
cockade was fastened in her hair.

“Nymph of mine,” said Lardillon as he drew her on to his knees, “look
upon the face of this citizen, and never forget it! Like us, Epicharis,
he is tender-hearted; like us, he realizes that the greatest of ills is
to be separated from the beloved one. He wishes to go to prison—ay, to
the guillotine—with his mistress, Epicharis. Can I withhold this boon
from him?”

“No!” answered the girl, as she tapped the cheeks of the carmagnole-clad

“You are right, my goddess. We shall be earning the gratitude of two
devoted lovers. Citizen Germain, give me your address, and this very
night you shall sleep in the Bourbe.”

“That is agreed?” said André.

“That is agreed,” replied Lardillon as he offered him his hand. “Go and
find your fair friend, and tell her how you saw Epicharis in Lardillon’s
embrace. I trust that that recollection may stir your hearts to joyous

André replied that possibly they would be able to call up even more
affecting memories, but that he was none the less grateful to Lardillon,
and that he only regretted that it was not likely to be in his power to
be of service to him in return.

“A humane action needs no recompense,” replied Lardillon.

Then he rose, and clasping Epicharis to his heart, said—

“Who knows when our own turn may come?”

                    _Omnes eodem cogimur: omnium
                    Versatur urna; serius ocius
                    Sors exitura, et nos in æternum
                    Exilium impositura cymbæ._[22]

“In the meanwhile, let us drink! Citizen, will you join us at table?”

Epicharis said it would only be polite of him, and made to seize him by
the arm. But he tore himself away, relying on the promise the deputy
public prosecutor had made.


Footnote 22:

              We all must tread the paths of Fate,
              And ever shakes the mortal Urn,
              Whose Lot embarks us, soon or late,
              On Charon’s Boat, ah! never to return.
                                        FRANCIS’S _Horace_.


                         A TALE OF THE MONTH OF
                         FLORÉAL IN THE YEAR II


                         A TALE OF THE MONTH OF
                         FLORÉAL IN THE YEAR II


The turnkey had shut the door of the house of detention upon her who was
formerly known as the Comtesse Fanny d’Avernay, whose arrest is
described in the gaol register as a step taken “in the interests of
public safety,” though her actual crime was that she had given shelter
to enemies of the Government.

And now she is actually within the venerable edifice in which, once upon
a time, the recluses of Port Royal indulged their craving for solitude
and community life combined, and out of which it was easy to contrive a
prison without making any structural change.

Seated on a bench whilst the registrar enters her name, she thinks—

“Ah, God, why are these things permitted; and what more do You demand of

The turnkey’s aspect is rather surly than evil, and his daughter, who is
pretty, looks enchanting in her white cap, with cockade and knot of
ribbons in the national colours. By this turnkey Fanny is conducted to a
large courtyard, in the middle of which grows a fine acacia. There she
will wait till he has prepared a bed and a table for her in a room which
already contains five or six prisoners, for the house is crowded. Vainly
each day is the overplus of tenants led to the revolutionary tribunal
and the guillotine. Each day anew the committees fill up the gaps thus

In the courtyard Fanny catches sight of a young woman busy cutting a
device of initials on the bark of the tree, and at once recognizes
Antoinette d’Auriac, a friend of her childhood.

“What, you here, Antoinette?”

“And you, Fanny? Get them to put your bed by the side of mine. We shall
have countless things to tell one another.”

“Yes, numbers of things.... And Monsieur d’Auriac, Antoinette?”

“My husband? Upon my word, my dear, I had rather forgotten him. It is
unfair on my part. To me he has always been irreproachable.... I fancy
that at the present moment he is in prison somewhere or other.”

“And what were you doing just now, Antoinette?”

“Pooh!... What o’clock is it? If it’s five, the friend whose name I was
interlacing on the bark there with my own has ceased to exist, for at
midday he was haled away to the revolutionary tribunal. His name was
Gesrin, and he was a volunteer in the army of the North. I made his
acquaintance here in the prison. We passed some agreeable hours together
at the foot of this tree. He was a worthy young fellow.... But I must
set about making you feel at home, my dear.”

And seizing Fanny by the waist, she carried her off to the room where
she herself slept, and obtained the turnkey’s promise not to part her
from her friend.

They decided that the following morning they would join forces in
washing the floor of their room.

The evening meal, meagrely provided by a patriotic eating-house keeper,
was served in common. Each prisoner brought his plate and his wooden
cover (metal covers were not allowed), and received his portion of pork
and cabbage. At that coarse repast Fanny met women whose gaiety
astonished her. As in the case of Madame d’Auriac, their headdresses
were scrupulously arranged and they wore unimpeachable costumes. Though
death was in sight, they had not lost the womanly desire to please.
Their conversation was as gallant as their persons, and Fanny was soon
abreast of the love affairs which were knit and unknit in these gloomy
courtyards where death lent a keener edge to love. Then, overcome with
an indescribable agitation, she was seized with a great longing to clasp
another hand in her own.

She called to mind the man who loved her, to whom she had never yielded
herself, and a pang of regret, cruel as remorse, rent her heart. Tears
as scalding as tears of passion coursed down her cheeks. By the light of
the smoky lamp which lit up the table she took note of her companions,
whose eyes glittered with fever, and she thought—

“We are condemned to die, all of us. How is it that I am sad and
perturbed in spirit, whilst for these women life and death are equally a
matter of no concern?”

And all night she wept upon her pallet.


Twenty long monotonous days have passed heavily by. The courtyard where
the lovers were wont to go in search of quiet and shade is deserted this
evening. Fanny, stifled in the moist air of the corridors, has just sat
down on the mound of turf which encircles the base of the old acacia
that gives the courtyard its shade. The acacia is in flower, and the
breeze passing through its branches emerges charged with the heavy
perfume. Fanny catches sight of a scrap of paper fastened to the bark of
the tree underneath the device which Antoinette traced there. On this
paper she reads some verses by the poet Vigée, like herself a prisoner.

              Here hearts, from taint of treason free,
              Calm victims were of calumny.
              Thanks to the shade outspread above
              They banished grief in dreams of love.
              It heard their sighs and tender fears,
              They oft bedewed it with their tears.
              You, whom a time less menacing
              Shall to this bare enclosure bring,
              Spare yet awhile the kindly tree
              Which anguish quelled, and strength upheld,
              And half bestowed felicity.[23]


Footnote 23:

                       Ici des c[oe]urs exempts de crimes,
                       Du soupçon, dociles victimes,
             Grâce aux rameaux d’un arbre protecteur,
             En songeant à l’amour oubliaient leur douleur.
             Il fut le confident de leurs tendres alarmes;
             Plus d’une fois il fut baigné de larmes.
                       Vous, que des temps moins vigoureux
                       Amèneront dans cette enceinte,
             Respectez, protégez cet arbre généreux.
             Il consolait la peine, il rassurait la crainte;
                         Sous son feuillage on fut heureux.


After reading these lines, Fanny relapsed into a thoughtful mood. She
mentally reviewed her life, calm and even, her loveless marriage, the
state of her own mind, interested in music and poetry, inclined to
friendship, sober, untroubled; and then she thought of the love lavished
on her by a gallant gentleman, which had wrapped her in its protective
folds, yet been accepted unresponsively, as she was better able to
realize in the silence of her prison. And, recognizing that she was
about to die, she broke down. A sweat of mortal agony rose to her
forehead. In her anguish she raised her burning eyes to the star-strewn
sky, and wringing her hands murmured—

“Ah, God, give back to me one little gleam of hope!”

At this moment a light footstep approached. It was Rosine, the turnkey’s
daughter, coming for a surreptitious talk with her.

“Citizeness,” the pretty girl said to her, “to-morrow evening a man who
loves you will be waiting on the Avenue de l’Observatoire with a
carriage. Take this parcel; it contains clothes like those I am wearing;
during supper you will put them on in your bedroom. You are of the same
height and fair colouring as myself. In the dusk we might easily be
taken one for the other. A warder who is in love with me, and who has
engaged in the plot with us, will come up to your room and bring you the
basket which I take when I go marketing.

“With him you will descend the staircase (of which he carries a key)
leading to my father’s lodge. On that side of the prison the outer gate
is neither locked nor guarded. You will only have to avoid being seen by
my father. My lover will place himself with his shoulder against the
little window of the lodge and say, as if he were talking to me: 'Au
revoir, Citizeness Rose, and don’t be so mischievous!' You will then go
quietly into the street. Whilst this is going on I shall leave by the
main gate, and we shall join one another in the carriage which is to
carry us away.”

As she listened to these words, Fanny drank in the breath of spring and
reawakening nature. With the whole energy of her being, palpitating with
life, she longed for liberty. She could perceive, could taste the safety
that was within her grasp. And as into the same draught was distilled an
aroma of love, she clasped her hands on her breast to restrain her
happiness. But, little by little, consideration, a powerful factor in
her character, got the better of sentiment. She gazed steadily on the
turnkey’s daughter, and said—

“Why is it, dear child, that you are prepared to devote yourself in this
way to the interests of one whom you scarcely know?”

“Oh,” replied Rose, this time forgetting to use the familiar form of
speech she had been employing hitherto, “it’s because your kind friend
will give me a large sum of money as soon as you are free, and then I
shall be able to marry Florentin, my lover. You see, citizeness, that I
am working entirely in my own interests. But I am better pleased to be
the means of rescuing you than one of the others.”

“I thank you for that, my child, but why the preference?”

“Because you are so dainty, and your good friend must be so weary of
being separated from you. It is agreed, isn’t it?”

Fanny stretched out her hand to take the parcel of clothes Rose was
offering her.

But immediately afterwards she drew it back.

“Rose, do you realize that if we are discovered it would mean death to

“Death!” exclaimed the young girl. “You terrify me. Oh, no, I didn’t
know that!”

Then, as quickly reassured—

“But, citizeness, your kind friend would manage to hide me.”

“There isn’t a spot in Paris that would prove a safe hiding-place. I
thank you for your devotion, Rose; but I can’t take advantage of it.”

Rose stood as if thunderstruck.

“But you will be guillotined, citizeness, and I shall not be able to
marry Florentin!”

“Be easy, Rose. I can do you a service although I can’t accept what you

“Oh, no, no! It would be cheating you out of your money.”

The turnkey’s daughter begged and prayed and wept for long enough. She
went on her knees and raised the hem of Fanny’s skirt.

Fanny gently pushed the girl’s hand away and turned her head aside. A
moonbeam displayed the peacefulness of the fair face.

It was a lovely night, and a light breeze was moving. The prisoners'
tree shook its perfumed branches and scattered its wan flowers upon the
head of the voluntary victim.


                       THE LITTLE LEADEN SOLDIER

                         TO MADAME GASTON MEYER

                       THE LITTLE LEADEN SOLDIER

That particular night the fever induced by influenza prevented me from
sleeping, and presently I heard very distinctly three smart taps on the
glass door of a cabinet at the side of my bed, a cabinet in which I kept
in an inextricable medley little figures in Dresden china or biscuit of
Sèvres, terra-cotta statuettes from Tanagra or Myrina, little
Renaissance bronzes, Japanese ivory carvings, Venetian glass, Chinese
cups, boxes in Vernis Martin, lacquer trays, enamel caskets—in fact, a
thousand nothings which a kind of fetish worship causes one to treasure,
and which have the power of reviving memories of bygone hours, both gay
and melancholy. The taps were faint but perfectly unmistakable, and by
the light of the nightlight I perceived that they proceeded from a
little leaden soldier installed amid the contents of the cabinet, who
was making efforts to regain his liberty. He was successful, for soon
beneath the weight of his fist the glazed door swung wide open. To tell
the truth, I was not so surprised as might be expected. To my mind that
little soldier had always worn a suspicious appearance. And during the
two years since Madame G. M—— had given him to me, I had been prepared
for all sorts of impertinences from him. His uniform is blue turned up
with red; he is a _Garde française_, and it is common knowledge that
that regiment was not remarkable for discipline.

“Ho, there!” I called out. “What’s your name, La Fleur, Brindamour, La
Tulipe! can’t you make less noise and let me sleep in peace? I am
anything but well.”

The rascal replied with a growl:

“I haven’t changed much, my good man, since I took the Bastille, a
hundred years back. On top of that a good many cans of good liquor were
emptied. I doubt if many leaden soldiers of my age are still in
existence. Good night to you. I am off to parade.”

“La Tulipe,” I replied with severity, “your regiment was disbanded by
order of Louis XVI on the 31st of August, 1789. There is no longer any
reason for you to attend parade. Stay where you are in the cabinet!”

La Tulipe twirled his moustache, and then, throwing a sly glance of
contempt in my direction, retorted:

“What! do you mean to say you don’t know that every year on the night of
the 31st of December, when the children are asleep, our great review
takes place, and the leaden soldiers march in procession over the roofs
and between the chimneys still joyfully pouring forth the smoke arising
from the dying embers of the Yule log? It’s a desperate charge, and many
a rider takes part in it with never a head on his shoulders. The shades
of all the leaden soldiers who have fallen in battle pass by in the rage
of combat. Nothing but bent bayonets and broken swords is to be seen.
And the spirits of dead dolls, all ashen-faced in the moonbeams, watch
them as they go by.”

This harangue put me in a quandary.

“Come now, La Tulipe, you mean to say it is a custom, a solemn custom? I
have the profoundest respect for all ancient customs and usages,
traditions, legends, and popular beliefs. That is what we call
folk-lore—a subject we find a great deal of amusement in studying. La
Tulipe, it is a great satisfaction to me to learn that you are an
observer of tradition. On the other hand, I am not at all sure that I
ought to let you leave that cabinet.”

“Indeed you ought,” said a clear musical voice which I had not heard
before, but which I instantly recognized for that of the young woman
from Tanagra, who, wrapped in the folds of her himation, occupied a
place next to the _Garde française_, on whom she looked down from the
graceful dignity of her superior stature. “Indeed you ought. All customs
handed down to us by our ancestors are equally worthy of respect. Our
fathers knew better than we what is permissible and what forbidden, for
they were nearer to the gods. It is only proper, then, to allow this
Galatian to perform the warlike rites of his ancestors. In my time they
did not wear a ridiculous blue dress turned up with red like our friend
here. Their only covering was their buckler. And we held them in great
awe. They were barbarians. You yourself are just as much of a Galatian
and barbarian. It is all in vain that you have read the poets and
historians: you have no true conception of the beauty of life. You were
not in the market-place when I used to be spinning wool from Miletus in
the courtyard of the house, under the old mulberry tree.”

I compelled myself to answer with moderation—

“Lovely Pannychis, your insignificant Greek folk conceived certain forms
so beautiful that the eyes and hearts of the judicious will never tire
of them. But every day in your market-place such a quantity of drivel
was babbled as would give occupation to one of our municipal councils
for a whole session. I have no regrets at never having been a citizen of
Larissa or Tanagra. At the same time I admit that what you have said is
reasonable. It is fitting that customs should be maintained, otherwise
they would cease to be customs. Fair Pannychis, who didst spin wool from
Miletus under the ancient mulberry tree, not in vain have you assailed
my ears with words of good counsel; for on your advice I give La Tulipe
permission to go whithersoever folk-lore may call him.”

Then a little dairymaid in biscuit of Sèvres, her hands resting on her
churn, turned towards me with glances of entreaty.

“Monsieur, do not let him go. He has promised to marry me. He falls in
love with every woman he meets. If he goes, I shall never set eyes on
him again.”

And, hiding her plump cheeks in her apron, she began to weep

La Tulipe had grown as red as the trimmings of his coat: he could not
endure scenes, and he found it extremely distasteful to listen to
reproaches which he had richly merited. I reassured my little dairymaid
as well as I could, and begged my _Garde française_ on no account to
loiter about after the review in some Circe’s grot. He promised, and I
said good-bye to him. But he made no attempt to start. It was
extraordinary, but he remained perfectly still on his shelf, as
motionless as the dainty trifles surrounding him. I let him perceive my

“Patience!” he exclaimed. “I cannot set out under your very eyes in that
fashion, without infringing every law of the occult world. When you have
gone to sleep I shall make off easily enough on a moonbeam, for I am
full of expedients. But there is no great hurry, and I can still wait
another hour or two. We have nothing better to amuse us than
conversation. How would you like me to tell you some tale of days gone
by? I know plenty such.”

“Yes, tell us one,” said Pannychis.

“Tell us one,” said the dairymaid.

“Go ahead, then, La Tulipe,” said I in my turn.

He sat down, filled his pipe, asked for a glass of beer, coughed, and
began his tale with these words:—

                       THE LEADEN SOLDIER’S STORY

Ninety-nine years ago to the very day, I was standing on a round table
with a dozen of my comrades, all of them as like me as if they had been
my brothers. Some were standing, some lying down, several had sustained
injuries to the head or legs: we were the heroic remnant of a box of
leaden soldiers bought the previous year at the fair of Saint Germain.
The room was hung with pale blue silk. It contained a spinet with the
Prayer from Orpheus open upon it, a few chairs with lyre-shaped backs, a
lady’s escritoire of mahogany, a white bed decked with roses; and all
along the cornice were perched pairs of doves. Everything combined to
convey an impression of affecting charm. The lamp diffused its soft
light, and the flame on the hearth quivered like wings beating in the
dusk. Clad in a dressing-gown, and seated in front of her escritoire,
her delicate neck bending beneath the circling masses of her magnificent
fair hair, Julie was turning over the letters tied up with ribbons,
which had lain hidden in the drawers of the bureau.

Midnight strikes; the outward sign of the imaginary leap from one year
to another. The dainty timepiece, on which is poised a laughing, golden
Cupid, proclaims that the year 1793 has come to an end.

Just as the hands of the clock meet, a small phantom figure makes its
appearance. Through a door which stands half open, a pretty child has
crept out of the dressing-room, where he has his bed, and run in his
nightshirt to fling himself into his mother’s arms and wish her a happy
new year.

“A happy new year, Pierre?... Ah! thank you, thank you! But do you know
what a happy year is?”

He thought he did; but, all the same, she wished to make quite sure that
he knew.

“A year is happy, my darling, when it passes on its way bringing us
neither hatreds nor fears.”

She embraces him; then she carries him back to the bed he has escaped
from, and then returns to her seat in front of the escritoire. She
glances first at the flames leaping on the hearth, and then at the
letters from which dried flowers are falling. It is heartrending to have
to burn them. Yet it must be done. For these letters, if they were
discovered, would consign to the guillotine both him who wrote them and
her who received them. If it was only herself that was in danger, she
would not burn them, so weary is she of her contest for life with the
executioners. But she thinks of him, proscribed, denounced, pursued,
hidden away in some garret at the other end of Paris. A single one of
these letters would be enough to put his pursuers on his track and
deliver him over to death.

Pierre is sleeping snugly in the neighbouring dressing-room; the cook
and Nanon have gone to their rooms in the upper regions. The intense
silence of a snow-clad town reigns all around. The keen, clear air
brightens the flame on the hearth. Julie has made up her mind to burn
these letters, and it is a task she cannot carry out—how well she knows
it!—without recalling events of the profoundest sadness. She will burn
the letters, but not until she has read them through once again.

The letters are all arranged in succession, for Julie imparts to
everything around her a measure of the orderliness which is natural to

These, already growing yellow, date from three years ago, and in the
silence of the night Julie lives over again the magic hours. Not a
single page is surrendered to the flames until she has conned it over at
least ten times, syllable by treasured syllable.

The stillness all around her is unbroken. From time to time she goes to
the window, raises the curtain, glances through the oppressive gloom at
the tower of Saint Germain des Prés silvered by the moon, and then
resumes her slow labours of pious destruction. Why should she not for
the last time rejoice over these delicious pages? Why deliver to the
flames these cherished lines ere she has for ever imprinted them on her
heart. Stillness prevails everywhere, and her spirit leaps with youth
and love.

She reads—

“Though absent, I behold you, Julie. I go on my way, surrounded by
images which my mind conjures up. I behold you, not cold and unnerved,
but alive, animated, ever changing, yet ever perfect. Around you in my
dreams I gather the most gorgeous spectacles the world can yield. How
happy is Julie’s lover! He finds charms in all things, since in all
things he finds her. In loving her it is life he loves; he marvels at
this world which she irradiates; he treasures this earth which she
adorns. Love unveils to him the hidden mystery of things. He apprehends
the infinite forms of creation; they all display to him symbols of
Julie; he hears the unnumbered voices of nature; they all murmur in his
ear the name of Julie. He plunges his gaze rapturously into the inmost
heart of the daylight, with the thought that that fortunate light bathes
also the countenance of Julie, and casts as it were a divine caress on
the loveliest of human forms. This evening the earliest stars will
thrill his being; he will say: ‘Perhaps at this very moment she too is
gazing on them.’ He inhales her in all the odours borne on the air. He
desires to kiss the very ground she treads on....

“My Julie, if I am fated to fall beneath the axe of the persecutor, and
like Algernon Sidney to die for liberty, death itself will be unable to
restrain my indignant ghost in the land of shades which holds not you. I
shall fly to you, my beloved. Often will my spirit return to hover
around you.”

She reads and dreams. Night is coming to a close. Already a pallid light
pierces the curtains: it is morning. The servants have begun their work.
She must finish her own. Has she caught the sound of voices? No; all
around her is silence, still....

Yes, all around is silence, for the snow deadens the tramp of feet. They
are coming; they halt outside. Blows fall heavily on the door.

She has not time to hide the letters, to close the escritoire. All she
can do she does; she takes the papers in armfuls and throws them
underneath the sofa, the valance of which touches the floor; a few
letters are scattered on the carpet; she pushes them under with her
foot, seizes a book, and flings herself into a chair.

The president of the district enters, followed by a dozen of his
pikemen. He is an elderly chair-caner named Brochet, who shivers with
ague, and whose bloodshot eyes roam in an unspeakably loathsome fashion.

He makes a sign to his men to keep guard over the approaches, and then
turning to Julie, announces—

“We have just received information, citizeness, that you are in
correspondence with the agents of Pitt, and with émigrés and
conspirators in the prisons. In the name of the law, I am here to take
possession of your papers. It is now some time since you were pointed
out to me as an aristocrat of the most dangerous type. Citizen Rapoix,
whom you see before you” (here he indicated one of his followers), “has
confessed that in the severe winter of 1789, you gave him both money and
clothes with a view to corrupting him. Magistrates of a timid tendency
and wanting in patriotism have shown you leniency over long. But I am
master now, in my turn, and you shall not escape the guillotine. Deliver
up your papers, citizeness!”

“Take them yourself,” said Julie; “my escritoire is unlocked.”

There still remained in the drawers certain certificates of births,
marriages, and deaths, tradesmen’s bills, and title-deeds, which one by
one Brochet examined. He fumbled with them, and laid them aside with the
suspicious air of a man who reads but poorly, and from time to time
exclaimed: “Scandalous! The name of the so-called king is not effaced.
Scandalous, scandalous, I call it!”

From his manner Julie concludes that his visit will be lengthy and
scrupulous. She cannot resist taking a furtive glance at the side of the
sofa, and she sees at once the corner of a letter peeping out from under
the valance like the white ear of a cat. At this sight her agony
vanishes suddenly. The certainty that she is lost brings back to her a
quiet assurance, and her face takes on a calm indistinguishable from an
expression of complete security. She has no doubt that the men will
observe this scrap of paper so patent to her own eyes. Its whiteness on
the red carpet positively screams at her. But she cannot guess whether
they will discover it at once or whether some time must first elapse.
This doubt occupies and distracts her mind. At this tragic moment she
indulges in a sort of joke with herself as she watches the patriots
moving further away from or nearer to the sofa.

Brochet, who has finished with the papers in the escritoire, becomes
impatient, and declares that he will certainly find what he has come in
search of.

He overthrows the furniture, turns the pictures round, and raps the
panelling with the pommel of his sword to detect hiding-places. He can
discover nothing. He smashes a panel of looking-glass to see if anything
is concealed behind it. There is nothing.

Whilst this is going on his men raise some of the squares of parquet.
They declare with oaths that a beggarly aristocrat is not going to have
the laugh of honest _sans-culottes_. But never one of them espies the
little white wisp which peeps from under the valance of the sofa.

They march Julie into the other rooms of the suite and demand all her
keys. They burst open the cupboards, shiver the windows to splinters,
smash up the chairs, drag the stuffing from the upholstery. And they
find nothing.

Still Brochet is not yet despondent; he returns to the bedroom.

“In God’s name! the papers are here; I’m certain of it!”

He examines the sofa, declares that it has a suspicious appearance,
probes it five or six times with his sword from end to end. Still he
finds no traces of what he seeks, utters a horrible oath, and gives his
men orders to depart.

He is already at the door, when, returning a step or two towards Julie,
he raises his fist and shouts—

“Live in dread of my return! I am the sovereign people!”

And he goes out, last of all.

At length all are gone. She hears the clatter of their tread grow
fainter on the staircase. She is saved! Her imprudence has not betrayed
him—him whom she loves! She runs, with a jubilant little laugh, to
embrace the tiny Pierre, who is sleeping with his fists clenched, just
as though everything round his cradle had not been turned upside down.

When he had finished his tale, La Tulipe relighted his pipe, which had
gone out, and emptied his glass.

“My friend,” I said, “justice is a virtue. For a _Garde française_ it
must be admitted that you are a finished story-teller. But I have a
strong impression that I have already heard that story somewhere.”

“It may be that Julie herself related it. She was a creature of infinite

“And what became of her?”

“She knew some happy times in the days of the Consulate. Nevertheless,
of an evening she would whisper sorrowful secrets to the trees in her
park. You see, Monsieur, she was better armed against death than against

“And he who wrote such elegant letters?”

“He became a baron and prefect under the Empire.”

“And little Pierre?”

“He died a colonel of _gendarmerie_ at Versailles, in 1859.”

“The deuce he did!”


                              THE WORKS OF
                             ANATOLE FRANCE

It has long been a reproach to England that only one volume by ANATOLE
FRANCE has been adequately rendered into English; yet outside this
country he shares the distinction with TOLSTOI of being the greatest and
most daring student of humanity now living.

¶ There have been many difficulties to encounter in completing
arrangements for a uniform edition, though perhaps the chief barrier to
publication here has been the fact that his writings are not for
babes—but for men and the mothers of men. Indeed, some of his Eastern
romances are written with biblical candour. “I have sought truth
strenuously,” he tells us, “I have met her boldly. I have never turned
from her even when she wore an unexpected aspect.” Still, it is believed
that the day has come for giving English versions of all his imaginative
works, and of his monumental study JOAN OF ARC, which is undoubtedly the
most discussed book in the world of letters to-day.

¶ MR. JOHN LANE has pleasure in announcing that he will commence
publication of works by M. Anatole France in English, which will be
under the general editorship of Mr. FREDERIC CHAPMAN, with the following

      1. THE RED LILY. A Translation by Winifred Stephens.
      2. MOTHER OF PEARL. A Translation by the Editor.
      3. THE GARDEN OF EPICURUS. A Translation by Alfred Allinson.
      4. THE CRIME OF SYLVESTRE BONNARD. A Translation by Lafcadio

¶ During the autumn and next year will appear the remaining volumes,
including JOAN OF ARC. All the books will be published at SIX SHILLINGS
each, with the exception of JOAN OF ARC.

¶ The format of the volumes leaves little to be desired. The size is
Demy 8vo (9 × 5¾ in.), and they will be printed from Caslon type upon a
paper light of weight but strong in texture, with a cover design, a gilt
top, end-papers from designs by Aubrey Beardsley, initials by Henry
Ospovat. In short, these are volumes for the bibliophile as well as the
lover of fiction, and form perhaps the cheapest library edition of
copyright novels ever published, for the price is only that of an
ordinary novel.

¶ The translation of these books has been entrusted to such competent

¶ As Anatole Thibault, _dit_ Anatole France, is to most English readers
merely a name, it will be well to state that he was born in 1844 in the
picturesque and inspiring surroundings of an old bookshop on the Quai
Voltaire, Paris, kept by his father, Monsieur Thibault, an authority on
18th-century history, from whom the boy caught the passion for the
principles of the Revolution, while from his mother he was learning to
love the ascetic ideals chronicled in the Lives of the Saints. He was
schooled with the lovers of old books, missals, and manuscripts; he
matriculated on the Quais with the old Jewish dealers of curios and
_objets d’art_; he graduated in the great university of life and
experience. It will be recognised that all his work is permeated by his
youthful impressions; he is, in fact, a virtuoso at large.

¶ He has written about thirty volumes of fiction. His first novel was
appeared in 1881, and had the distinction of being crowned by the French
Academy, into which he was received in 1896.

¶ His work is illuminated with style, scholarship, and psychology; but
its outstanding features are the lambent wit, the gay mockery, the
genial irony with which he touches every subject he treats. But the wit
is never malicious, the mockery never derisive, the irony never barbed.
To quote from his own GARDEN OF EPICURUS, “Irony and Pity are both of
good counsel; the first with her smiles makes life agreeable; the other
sanctifies it to us with her tears. The Irony I invoke is no cruel
deity. She mocks neither love nor beauty. She is gentle and kindly
disposed. Her mirth disarms anger, and it is she teaches us to laugh at
rogues and fools whom but for her we might be so weak as to hate.”

¶ Often he shows how divine humanity triumphs over mere asceticism, and
with entire reverence; indeed, he might be described as an ascetic
overflowing with humanity, just as he has been termed a “pagan, but a
pagan constantly haunted by the preoccupation of Christ.” He is in
turn—like his own Choulette in THE RED LILY—saintly and Rabelaisian, yet
without incongruity. At all times he is the unrelenting foe of
superstition and hypocrisy. Of himself he once modestly said: “You will
find in my writings perfect sincerity (lying demands a talent I do not
possess), much indulgence, and some natural affection for the beautiful
and good.”

¶ The mere extent of an author’s popularity is perhaps a poor argument,
yet it is significant that two books by this author are in their HUNDRED
AND TENTH THOUSAND, and numbers of them well into their SEVENTIETH
THOUSAND, whilst the one which a Frenchman recently described as
“Monsieur France’s most arid book” is in its FIFTY-EIGHTH THOUSAND.

¶ Inasmuch as M. France’s only contribution to an English periodical
appeared in “The Yellow Book,” Vol. V, April 1895, together with the
first important English appreciation of his work from the pen of the
Hon. Maurice Baring, it is peculiarly appropriate that the English
edition of his works should be issued from the Bodley Head.


                            FRENCH NOVELISTS
                            : : OF TODAY : :
                          BY WINIFRED STEPHENS

                      WITH A PORTRAIT FRONTISPIECE
                  Cr. 8vo, PRICE FIVE SHILLINGS, NET.

“No book of the spring season will receive a heartier welcome than Miss
Winifred Stephens' ‘French Novelists of To-day.’ It provides what
thousands of educated readers have long been asking for in vain—a guide
to the writings of the great living masters of French fiction. It is
evident that Miss Stephens has gathered much of her material in France,
and that she has been in contact with the personal as well as the
artistic life of the authors described. The biographical passages in
each chapter add much to our knowledge, and are obviously compiled from
first-hand information. Miss Stephens shows critical powers of a high
order. Her accounts of the chief novels are pleasant reading for those
already acquainted with the books, while for the beginner they afford a
clear, judicious, comprehensive guide.... We cannot praise too highly
this sparkling and graceful book, which should have a place in the
library of every student of French literature. Its practical value is
enhanced by the full and careful bibliographies.”—_British Weekly._

“These light chapters will be serviceable in helping the English reader
to realise the personality and work of the writers they deal

“The book may be welcomed as a further sign of the progress of France
and England towards mutual comprehension. Thanks to its useful
bibliographies, it will serve as an excellent guide to all those who are
anxious to make themselves acquainted with what is best in modern French
fiction.... The criticism of this book is good, and gains much by its
connection with a concise biography of the author discussed.... The book
may be recommended to all English readers of French fiction.”—_Daily

“A felicitous and graceful little volume, presenting very adequately the
eight French novelists of to-day who are read, criticised, and sold ...
should be read along with recent essays on French writers by Mr. Edmund

                                                  _Daily Chronicle._

“... These essays form a useful introduction to modern French fiction.
They are, for the most part, well judged and tersely written.”

_Evening Standard._

“As a guide to modern French fiction and its authors, this book is
useful, especially in its bibliographies.”—_Daily Mail._

“... Miss Winifred Stephens puts her hand to a most welcome and timely
undertaking in this book, which will supply English readers with an
intelligent introduction to the study of leading French novelists. What
she says about the writers she selects is excellent.”—_Daily Graphic._

“Miss Stephens' primary object was to indicate what contemporary French
novels are likely to interest English readers, and on the whole she has
succeeded: her book will serve a very useful purpose.”

                                              _Manchester Guardian._


                              THE WORKS OF
                             ANATOLE FRANCE

                             IN AN ENGLISH
                           TRANSLATION EDITED
                          BY FREDERIC CHAPMAN

                           Uniform, Demy 8vo.

                               $1.75 net.

                      NEW YORK: JOHN LANE COMPANY.
                      TORONTO: BELL AND COCKBURN.

                           AN APPRECIATION OF
                             ANATOLE FRANCE

                          By WILLIAM J. LOCKE

The personal note in Anatole France’s novels is never more surely felt
than when he himself, in some disguise, is either the protagonist or the
_raisonneur_ of the drama. It is the personality of Monsieur Bergeret
that sheds its sunset kindness over the sordid phases of French
political and social life presented in the famous series. It is the
charm of Sylvestre Bonnard that makes an idyll of the story of his
crime. It is Doctor Trublet in _Histoire Comique_ who gives humanity to
the fantastic adventure. It is Maître Jérôme Coignard whom we love
unreservedly in _La Rôtisserie de la Reine Pédauque_. No writer is more
personal. No writer views human affairs from a more impersonal
standpoint. He hovers over the world like a disembodied spirit, wise
with the learning of all times and with the knowledge of all hearts that
have beaten, yet not so serene and unfleshly as not to have preserved a
certain tricksiness, a capacity for puckish laughter which echoes
through his pages and haunts the ear when the covers of the book are
closed. At the same time he appears unmistakably before you, in human
guise, speaking to you face to face in human tones. He will present
tragic happenings consequent on the little follies, meannesses and
passions of mankind with an emotionlessness which would be called
delicate cruelty were the view point that of one of the sons of earth,
but ceases to be so when the presenting hands are calm and immortal; and
yet shining through all is the man himself, loving and merciful, tender
and warm.... In most men similarly endowed there has been a conflict
between the twin souls which has generally ended in the strangling of
the artist; but in the case of Anatole France they have worked together
in bewildering harmony. The philosopher has been mild, the artist
unresentful. In amity therefore they have proclaimed their faith and
their unfaith, their aspirations and their negations, their earnestness
and their mockery. And since they must proclaim them in one single
voice, the natural consequence, the resultant as it were of the two
forces, has been a style in which beauty and irony are so subtly
interfused as to make it perhaps the most alluring mode of expression in
contemporary fiction.

_The following Volumes appear in the Uniform English Edition of Anatole
France’s works:—_





























                JOHN LANE: THE BODLEY HEAD, VIGO ST., W.
















_In addition to the above, the following Translations of Anatole
France’s works have been published_:—


      A TRANSLATION BY WINIFRED STEPHENS With 8 Illustrations. Two Vols.
      25s. net. $8.00.



      With 16 Illustrations in Colour, End Papers, Title-page, and Cover
      by Florence Lundborg. 5s. $1.50.


                JOHN LANE: THE BODLEY HEAD, VIGO ST., W.



_Those who possess old letters, documents, correspondence, MSS., scraps
of autobiography, and also miniatures and portraits, relating to persons
and matters historical, literary, political and social, should
communicate with Mr. John Lane, The Bodley Head, Vigo Street, London,
W,. who will at all times be pleased to give his advice and assistance,
either as to their preservation or publication_.

_Mr. Lane also undertakes the planning and printing of family papers,
histories and pedigrees_.


                        LIVING MASTERS OF MUSIC.

            An Illustrated Series of Monographs dealing with
                Contemporary Musical Life, and including
              Representatives of all Branches of the Art.

                        Edited by ROSA NEWMARCH.

              Crown 8vo.       Cloth.       Price 2/6 net.


                          STARS OF THE STAGE.


                         Edited by J. T. GREIN.

                  Crown 8vo.       Price 2/6 each net.



                            _A CATALOGUE OF_
                      _MEMOIRS, BIOGRAPHIES, ETC._

  Imperial 4to. With 50 Photogravure Plates, the majority of which are
  taken from pictures never before reproduced, and a frontispiece
  printed in colours from the Photogravure plate. 500 copies only
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  ⁂ Mr. John Lane has pleasure in announcing that he has taken over the
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  still remain of the 500 copies originally printed. Mr. Roberts is
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THE KEATS LETTERS, PAPERS AND OTHER RELICS. Reproduced in facsimile from
  the late Sir Charles Dilke’s Bequest to the Corporation of Hampstead.
  With full transcriptions and notes edited by GEORGE C. WILLIAMSON,
  Litt. D. Forewords by THEODORE WATTS-DUNTON, an Introduction by H.
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  ⁂ The fine collection of Keats' relics formed by the late Sir Charles
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  his first volume of poems in 1817, to October, 1820, and includes a
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ALASTAIR. Forty-three Drawings in Colour and Black and White. With a
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  ⁂ This beautiful gift book contains thirty-five facsimiles in
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  This remarkable young artist prefers to be known without the usual
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  HUNTER. With four full-page Plates in Colour, and 147 Half-tone
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  ⁂ This is a fascinating book on a fascinating subject. It is written
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  ⁂ Justly famous as a comedian of unique gifts, Mr. Weedon Grossmith is
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AND THAT REMINDS ME. By STANLEY COXON. With a Frontispiece and 40
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  ⁂ The author, who began life on board a merchantman and ended his
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  ⁂ Don Martin IV. was one of the most distinguished members of one of
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  Nineteen Illustrations. Demy 8vo. 16s. net. Third Edition.

  ⁂ “One of the gayest and sanest surveys of English society we have
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  ⁂ “A pleasant laugh from cover to cover.”—_Daily Chronicle._

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  Introductory Essay on Pictorial Satire as a Factor in Napoleonic
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PAULINE BONAPARTE AND HER LOVERS—As revealed by contemporary witnesses,
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  6s. net.

  ⁂ An historical and critical account of the most faithful and physical
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  With 32 Full-page Illustrations. With an Introduction by Mrs. John
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  ⁂ Franklin, Jefferson, Munroe, Tom Paine, La Fayette, Paul Jones,
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  ⁂ This volume contains about forty illustrations, including an
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  only with the man as an artist, and perhaps, especially as a

  [A]Also an EDITION DE LUXE on hand-made paper, with the etching
  printed from the original plate. Limited to 50 copies.

Footnote A:

    This is Out of Print with the Publisher.

THE BEAUTIFUL LADY CRAVEN. The original Memoirs of Elizabeth, Baroness
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IN PORTUGAL. By AUBREY F. G. BELL. Author of “The Magic of Spain.” Demy
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  ⁂ The guide-books give full details of the marvellous convents,
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  politicians. Portugal in itself contains an infinite variety. Each of
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THE BERRY PAPERS. The Correspondence hitherto unpublished of Mary and
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  CHAMBERLAIN. A Translation from the German by JOHN LEES. With an
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  ⁂ “A manwho can write such a really beautiful and solemn appreciation
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  ⁂ “It is a masterpiece of really scientific history. It does not make
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IMMANUEL KANT. A Study and Comparison with Goethe, Leonardo da Vinci,
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THE SPEAKERS OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS from the Earliest Times to the
  Present Day, with a Topographical Account of Westminster at Various
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  principal Constitutional Changes during Seven Centuries. By ARTHUR
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  ⁂ This volume deals with some famous trials, occurring between the
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  likely to attract attention.

  MELVILLE. Author of “William Makepeace Thackeray.” With two
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A PAINTER OF DREAMS. By A. M. W. STIRLING. Author of “Coke of Norfolk.”
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  ⁂ These various Biographical sketches are connected by links which
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  Lively and full of vitality, they throw many curious fresh lights on
  an age long past, then lead us, by gentle stages, down to an age so
  recent that for many of us it still seems to breathe of a day not yet
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COKE OF NORFOLK AND HIS FRIENDS. The Life of Thomas Coke, First Earl of
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  ⁂ “Extracts might be multiplied indefinitely, but we have given enough
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  D’AULNOY. Translated from the original French by Mrs. WILLIAM HENRY
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  from Photographs and a Map. Crown 8vo. Second Edition. 5s. net.

  Edited by OSWALD G. KNAPP. With 32 Illustrations. Demy 8vo. 16s. net.

  ⁂ This work is a most important find and should arouse immense
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  Mr. Knapp gives 198 letters dating from 1788 to 1821. The letters are
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  Thrale daughters to her is shown to be quite unwarrantable, and her
  semi humorous acceptance of the calumny and persecution she suffered
  arouses our admiration.

  The Illustrations to this charming work have been mainly supplied from
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CHANGING RUSSIA. A Tramp along the Black Sea Shore and in the Urals. By
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  numerous Illustrations. Demy 8vo. 16s. net.

  ⁂ Sir Arthur Helps was a notable figure among the literary men of the
  last generation, and as Clerk to the Privy Council enjoyed the
  confidence and friendship of Queen Victoria, while his magnetic
  personality drew round him a distinguished coterie, many of whose
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  ⁂ Mrs. Tremlett went with her husband and some other members of a
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NAPOLEON AND KING MURAT. A Biography compiled from hitherto Unknown and
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  Crown 8vo. 5s. net.

  ⁂ A capital account of a trip from Halifax to the Pacific Coast. Mr.
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  OTTER-BARRY. With an Introduction by SIR CLAUDE MCDONALD, K.C.M.G.,
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  French by JAMES LEWIS MAY. New Edition. With 8 Illustrations. Crown
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                            Transcriber’s Note

  Errors deemed most likely to be the printer’s have been corrected, and
  are noted here. The references are to the page and line in the

  115.21   Let us go and listen to G——.[”]                Added.
  200.31   A tout l’[e/é]clat des roses.                  Replaced.
  227.10   an English work entit[l]ed                     Inserted.
  251.13   this e[ /n]counter> had evidently              Restored
  a5.36    of her min[i]ature court.                      Inserted.
  a8.29    [“]A man who can write                         Added.
  a10.19   [“]Extracts might be multiplied                Added.
  a15.13   will be fo[n/u]nd the authentic                Inverted.

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