SENSIBILITY AND A GREAT PIOUS LADY
An idea which has any life in it seems like a crudity,
so accustomed are they to colourless expression.
Woe to him who introduces new ideas into his conversation!
This was the stage Julien had reached,
when after several months of probation the steward of the household handed him the third quarter of his wages.
M. de la Mole had entrusted him with the administration of his estates in Brittany and Normandy.
Julien made frequent journeys there.
He had chief control of the correspondence relating to the famous lawsuit with the abbé de Frilair.
M. Pirard had instructed him.
On the data of the short notes which the marquis would scribble on the margin of all the various paper which were addressed to him,
Julien would compose answers which were nearly all signed.
At the Theology School his professors complained of his lack of industry,
but they did not fail to regard him as one of their most distinguished pupils.
This varied work,
tackled as it was with all the ardour of suffering ambition,
soon robbed Julien of that fresh complexion which he had brought from the provinces.
His pallor constituted one of his merits in the eyes of his comrades,
the young seminarist;
he found them much less malicious,
much less ready to bow down to a silver crown than those of Besançon;
they thought he was consumptive.
The marquis had given him a horse.
Julien fearing that he might meet people during his rides on horseback,
had given out that this exercise had been prescribed by the doctors.
The abbé Pirard had taken him into several Jansenist Societies.
Julien was astonished;
the idea of religion was indissolubly connected in his mind with the ideas of hypocrisy and covetousness.
He admired those austere pious men who never gave a thought to their income.
Several Jansenists became friendly with him and would give him advice.
A new world opened before him.
At the Jansenists he got to know a comte Altamira,
who was nearly six feet high,
was a Liberal,
and had been condemned to death in his own country.
He was struck by the strange contrast of devoutness and love of liberty.
Julien's relations with the young comte had become cool.
Norbert had thought that he answered the jokes of his friends with too much sharpness.
Julien had committed one or two breaches of social etiquette and vowed to himself that he would never speak to mademoiselle Mathilde.
They were always perfectly polite to him in the Hôtel de la Mole but he felt himself quite lost.
His provincial common sense explained this result by the vulgar proverb _Tout beau tout nouveau_.
He gradually came to have a little more penetration than during his first days,
or it may have been that the first glamour of Parisian urbanity had passed off.
As soon as he left off working,
he fell a prey to a mortal boredom.
He was experiencing the withering effects of that admirable politeness so typical of good society,
which is so perfectly modulated to every degree of the social hierarchy.
No doubt the provinces can be reproached with a commonness and lack of polish in their tone;
but they show a certain amount of passion,
when they answer you.
Julien's self-respect was never wounded at the Hôtel de la Mole,
but he often felt at the end of the day as though he would like to cry.
A café-waiter in the provinces will take an interest in you if you happen to have some accident as you enter his café,
but if this accident has everything about it which is disagreeable to your vanity,
he will repeat ten times in succession the very word which tortures you,
as he tells you how sorry he is.
At Paris they make a point of laughing in secret,
but you always remain a stranger.
We pass in silence over a number of little episodes which would have made Julien ridiculous,
if he had not been to some extent above ridicule.
A foolish sensibility resulted in his committing innumerable acts of bad taste.
All his pleasures were precautions;
he practiced pistol shooting every day,
he was one of the promising pupils of the most famous maîtres d'armes.
As soon as he had an instant to himself,
instead of employing it in reading as he did before,
he would rush off to the riding school and ask for the most vicious horses.
When he went out with the master of the riding school he was almost invariably thrown.
The marquis found him convenient by reason of his persistent industry,
his silence and his intelligence,
and gradually took him into his confidence with regard to all his affairs,
which were in any way difficult to unravel.
The marquis was a sagacious business man on all those occasions when his lofty ambition gave him some respite;
having special information within his reach,
he would speculate successfully on the Exchange.
He would buy mansions and forests;
but he would easily lose his temper.
He would give away hundreds of louis,
and would go to law for a few hundred francs.
Rich men with a lofty spirit have recourse to business not so much for results as for distraction.
The marquis needed a chief of staff who would put all his money affairs into clear and lucid order.
Madame de la Mole,
although of so even a character,
sometimes made fun of Julien.
Great ladies have a horror of those unexpected incidents which are produced by a sensitive character;
they constitute the opposite pole of etiquette.
On two or three occasions the marquis took his part.
"If he is ridiculous in your salon,
he triumphs in his office."
Julien on his side thought he had caught the marquise's secret.
She deigned to manifest an interest in everything the minute the Baron de la Joumate was announced.
He was a cold individual with an expressionless physiognomy.
He was tall,
very well dressed,
passed his life in his château,
and generally speaking said nothing about anything.
Such was his outlook on life.
Madame de la Mole would have been happy for the first time in her life if she could have made him her daughter's husband.
If fatuity is pardonable it is in one's first youth,
for it is then the exaggeration of an amiable thing.
It needs an air of love,
But fatuity coupled with self-importance;
fatuity with a solemn and self-sufficient manner!
This extravagance of stupidity was reserved for the XIXth century.
Such are the persons who want to unchain the _hydra of revolutions_!
Considering that he was a new arrival who was too disdainful to put any questions,
Julien did not fall into unduly great mistakes.
One day when he was forced into a café in the Rue St. Honoré by a sudden shower,
a big man in a beaver coat,
surprised by his gloomy look,
looked at him in return just as mademoiselle Amanda's lover had done before at Besançon.
Julien had reproached himself too often for having endured the other insult to put up with this stare.
He asked for an explanation.
The man in the tail-coat immediately addressed him in the lowest and most insulting language.
All the people in the café surrounded them.
The passers-by stopped before the door.
Julien always carried some little pistols as a matter of precaution.
His hand was grasping them nervously in his pocket.
Nevertheless he behaved wisely and confined himself to repeating to his man "Monsieur,
I despise you."
The persistency in which he kept repeating these six words eventually impressed the crowd.
the other who's talking all to himself ought to give him his address,"
The man in the tail-coat hearing this repeated several times,
flung five or six cards in Julien's face.
Fortunately none of them hit him in the face;
he had mentally resolved not to use his pistols except in the event of his being hit.
The man went away,
though not without turning round from time to time to shake his fist and hurl insults at him.
Julien was bathed in sweat.
he said angrily to himself,
"the meanest of mankind has it in his power to affect me as much as this.
How am I to kill so humiliating a sensitiveness?"
Where was he to find a second?
He did not have a single friend.
He had several acquaintances,
but they all regularly left him after six weeks of social intercourse.
"I am unsociable,"
and "I am now cruelly punished for it."
Finally it occurred to him to rout out an old lieutenant of the 96th,
a poor devil with whom he often used to fence.
Julien was frank with him.
"I am quite willing to be your second,"
"but on one condition.
If you fail to wound your man you will fight with me straight away."
said Julien quite delighted;
and they went to find M. de Beauvoisis at the address indicated on his card at the end of the Faubourg Saint Germain.
It was seven o'clock in the morning.
It was only when he was being ushered in,
that Julien thought that it might quite well be the young relation of Madame de Rênal,
who had once been employed at the Rome or Naples Embassy,
and who had given the singer Geronimo a letter of introduction.
Julien gave one of the cards which had been flung at him the previous evening together with one of his own to a tall valet.
He and his second were kept waiting for a good three-quarters of an hour.
Eventually they were ushered in to a elegantly furnished apartment.
They found there a tall young man who was dressed like a doll.
His features presented the perfection and the lack of expression of Greek beauty.
which was remarkably straight,
had the finest blonde hair.
It was dressed with great care and not a single hair was out of place.
"It was to have his hair done like this,
that is why this damned fop has kept us waiting,"
thought the lieutenant of the 96th.
The variegated dressing gown,
the morning trousers,
everything down to the embroidered slippers was correct.
He was marvellously well-groomed.
His blank and aristocratic physiognomy betokened rare and orthodox ideas;
the ideal of a Metternichian diplomatist.
Napoleon as well did not like to have in his entourage officers who thought.
to whom his lieutenant of the 96th had explained,
that keeping him waiting was an additional insult after having thrown his card so rudely in his face,
entered brusquely M. de Beauvoisis' room.
He intended to be insolent,
but at the same time to exhibit good form.
Julien was so astonished by the niceness of M. de Beauvoisis' manners and by the combination of formality,
and self-satisfaction in his demeanour,
by the admirable elegance of everything that surrounded him,
that he abandoned immediately all idea of being insolent.
It was not his man of the day before.
His astonishment was so great at meeting so distinguished a person,
instead of the rude creature whom he was looking for,
that he could not find a single word to say.
He presented one of the cards which had been thrown at him.
"That's my name,"
said the young diplomat,
not at all impressed by Julien's black suit at seven o'clock in the morning,
"but I do not understand the honour."
His manner of pronouncing these last words revived a little of Julien's bad temper.
"I have come to fight you,
and he explained in a few words the whole matter.
M. Charles de Beauvoisis,
after mature reflection,
was fairly satisfied with the cut of Julien's black suit.
"It comes from Staub,
he said to himself,
as he heard him speak.
"That waistcoat is in good taste.
Those boots are all right,
but on the other hand just think of wearing a black suit in the early morning!
It must be to have a better chance of not being hit,"
said the chevalier de Beauvoisis to himself.
After he had given himself this explanation he became again perfectly polite to Julien,
and almost treated him as an equal.
The conversation was fairly lengthy,
for the matter was a delicate one,
but eventually Julien could not refuse to acknowledge the actual facts.
The perfectly mannered young man before him did not bear any resemblance to the vulgar fellow who had insulted him the previous day.
Julien felt an invincible repugnance towards him.
He noted the self-sufficiency of the chevalier de Beauvoisis,
for that was the name by which he had referred to himself,
shocked as he was when Julien called him simply "Monsieur."
He admired his gravity which,
though tinged with a certain modest fatuity,
he never abandoned for a single moment.
He was astonished at his singular manner of moving his tongue as he pronounced his words,
but after all,
this did not present the slightest excuse for picking a quarrel.
The young diplomatist very graciously offered to fight,
but the ex-lieutenant of the 96th,
who had been sitting down for an hour with his legs wide apart,
his hands on his thigh,
and his elbows stuck out,
decided that his friend,
monsieur de Sorel,
was not the kind to go and pick a quarrel with a man because someone else had stolen that man's visiting cards.
Julien went out in a very bad temper.
The chevalier de Beauvoisis' carriage was waiting for him in the courtyard before the steps.
By chance Julien raised his eyes and recognised in the coachman his man of the day before.
catching hold of him by his big jacket,
tumbling him down from his seat,
and horse-whipping him thoroughly took scarcely a moment.
Two lackeys tried to defend their comrade.
Julien received some blows from their fists.
At the same moment,
he cocked one of his little pistols and fired on them.
They took to flight.
All this took about a minute.
The chevalier de Beauvoisis descended the staircase with the most pleasing gravity,
repeating with his lordly pronunciation,
"What is this,
what is this."
He was manifestly very curious,
but his diplomatic importance would not allow him to evince any greater interest.
When he knew what it was all about,
a certain haughtiness tried to assert itself in that expression of slightly playful nonchalance which should never leave a diplomatist's face.
The lieutenant of the 96th began to realise that M. de Beauvoisis was anxious to fight.
He was also diplomatic enough to wish to reserve for his friend the advantage of taking the initiative.
"there is ground for duel."
"I think there's enough,"
answered the diplomat.
"Turn that rascal out,"
he said to his lackeys.
"Let someone else get up."
The door of the carriage was open.
The chevalier insisted on doing the honours to Julien and his friend.
They sent for a friend of M. de Beauvoisis,
who chose them a quiet place.
The conversation on their way went as a matter of fact very well indeed.
The only extraordinary feature was the diplomatist in a dressing-gown.
although very noble,
are by no means as boring,"
"as the people who come and dine at M. de la Mole's,
and I can see why,"
he added a moment afterwards.
"They allow themselves to be indecent."
They talked about the dancers that the public had distinguished with its favour at the ballet presented the night before.
The two gentlemen alluded to some spicy anecdotes of which Julien and his second,
the lieutenant of the 96th,
were absolutely ignorant.
Julien was not stupid enough to pretend to know them.
He confessed his ignorance with a good grace.
This frankness pleased the chevalier's friend.
He told him these stories with the greatest detail and extremely well.
One thing astonished Julien inordinately.
The carriage was pulled up for a moment by an altar which was being built in the middle of the street for the procession of Corpus Christi Day.
The two gentlemen indulged in the luxury of several jests.
According to them,
the curé was the son of an archbishop.
Such a joke would never have been heard in the house of M. de la Mole,
who was trying to be made a duke.
The duel was over in a minute.
Julien got a ball in his arm.
They bandaged it with handkerchiefs which they wetted with brandy,
and the chevalier de Beauvoisis requested Julien with great politeness to allow him to take him home in the same carriage that had brought him.
When Julien gave the name of M. de la Mole's hôtel,
the young diplomat and his friend exchanged looks.
Julien's fiacre was here,
but they found these gentlemen's conversation more entertaining than that of the good lieutenant of the 96th.
so a duel is only that,"
"What luck I found that coachman again.
How unhappy I should have been if I had had to put up with that insult as well."
The amusing conversation had scarcely been interrupted.
Julien realised that the affectation of diplomatists is good for something.
he said himself,
"is not a necessary incident of conversation among well-born people.
These gentlemen make fun of the Corpus Christi procession and dare to tell extremely obscene anecdotes,
and what is more,
with picturesque details.
The only thing they really lack is the ability to discuss politics logically,
and that lack is more than compensated by their graceful tone,
and the perfect aptness of their expressions."
Julien experienced a lively inclination for them.
"How happy I should be to see them often."
They had scarcely taken leave of each other before the chevalier de Beauvoisis had enquiries made.
They were not brilliant.
He was very curious to know his man.
Could he decently pay a call on him?
The little information he had succeeded in obtaining from him was not of an encouraging character.
this is awful,"
he said to his second.
"I can't possibly own up to having fought a duel with a mere secretary of M. de la Mole,
simply because my coachman stole my visiting cards."
"There is no doubt that all this may make you look ridiculous."
That very evening the chevalier de Beauvoisis and his friend said everywhere that this M. Sorel who was,
quite a charming young man,
was a natural son of an intimate friend of the marquis de la Mole.
This statement was readily accepted.
Once it was established,
the young diplomatist and friend deigned to call several times on Julien during the fortnight.
Julien owned to them that he had only been to the Opera once in his life.
"That is awful,"
"that is the only place one does go to.
Your first visit must be when they are playing the
The chevalier de Beauvoisis introduced him at the opera to the famous singer Geronimo,
who was then enjoying an immense success.
Julien almost paid court to the chevalier.
His mixture of self-respect,
and fatuous youthfulness fascinated him.
would stammer a little,
simply because he had the honour of seeing frequently a very noble lord who had this defect.
Julien had never before found combined in one and the same person the drollery which amuses,
and those perfect manners which should be the object of a poor provincial's imitation.
He was seen at the opera with the chevalier de Beauvoisis.
This association got him talked about.
said M. de la Mole to him one day,
"so here you are,
the natural son of a rich gentleman of Franche-Comté,
an intimate friend of mine."
The marquis cut Julien short as he started to protest that he had not in any way contributed to obtaining any credence for this rumour.
"M. de Beauvoisis did not fancy having fought a duel with the son of a carpenter."
"I know it,
I know it,"
said M. de la Mole.
"It is my business now to give some consistency to this story which rather suits me.
But I have one favour to ask of you,
which will only cost you a bare half-hour of your time.
Go and watch every opera day at half-past eleven all the people in society coming out in the vestibule.
I still see you have certain provincial mannerisms.
You must rid yourself of them.
Besides it would do no harm to know,
at any rate by sight,
some of the great personages to whom I may one day send you on a commission.
Call in at the box office to get identified.
Admission has been secured for you."
AN ATTACK OF GOUT
And I got advancement,
not on my merit,
but because my master had the gout.
The reader is perhaps surprised by this free and almost friendly tone.
We had forgotten to say that the marquis had been confined to his house for six weeks by the gout.
Mademoiselle de la Mole and her mother were at Hyères near the marquise's mother.
The comte Norbert only saw his father at stray moments.
They got on very well,
but had nothing to say to each other.
M. de la Mole,
reduced to Julien's society,
was astonished to find that he possessed ideas.
He made him read the papers to him.
Soon the young secretary was competent to pick out the interesting passages.
There was a new paper which the marquis abhorred.
He had sworn never to read it,
and spoke about it every day.
In his irritation against the present time,
the marquis made him read Livy aloud.
The improvised translation of the Latin text amused him.
The marquis said one day in that tone of excessive politeness which frequently tried Julien's patience,
"Allow me to present you with a blue suit,
my dear Sorel.
When you find it convenient to wear it and to come and see me,
I shall look upon you as the younger brother of the comte de Chaulnes,
that is to say,
the son of my friend the old Duke."
Julien did not quite gather what it was all about,
but he tried a visit in the blue suit that very evening.
The marquis treated him like an equal.
Julien had a spirit capable of appreciating true politeness,
but he had no idea of nuances.
Before this freak of the marquis's he would have sworn that it was impossible for him to have been treated with more consideration.
"What an admirable talent,"
said Julien to himself.
When he got up to go,
the marquis apologised for not being able to accompany him by reason of his gout.
Julien was preoccupied by this strange idea.
"Perhaps he is making fun of me,"
He went to ask advice of the abbé Pirard,
who being less polite than the marquis,
made no other answer except to whistle and change the subject.
Julien presented himself to the marquis the next morning in his black suit,
with his letter case and his letters for signature.
He was received in the old way,
but when he wore the blue suit that evening,
the marquis's tone was quite different,
and absolutely as polite as on the previous day.
"As you are not exactly bored,"
said the marquis to him,
"by these visits which you are kind enough to pay to a poor old man,
you must tell him about all the little incidents of your life,
but you must be frank and think of nothing except narrating them clearly and in an amusing way.
For one must amuse oneself,"
continued the marquis.
"That's the only reality in life.
I can't have my life saved in a battle every day,
or get a present of a million francs every day,
but if I had Rivarol here by my sofa he would rid me every day of an hour of suffering and boredom.
I saw a lot of him at Hamburg during the emigration."
And the marquis told Julien the stories of Rivarol and the inhabitants of Hamburg who needed the combined efforts of four individuals to understand an epigram.
M. de la Mole,
being reduced to the society of this little abbé,
tried to teach him.
He put Julien's pride on its mettle.
As he was asked to speak the truth,
Julien resolved to tell everything,
but to suppress two things,
his fanatical admiration for the name which irritated the marquis,
and that complete scepticism,
which was not particularly appropriate to a prospective curé.
His little affair with the chevalier de Beauvoisis came in very handy.
The marquis laughed till the tears came into his eyes at the scene in the café in the Rue St. Honoré with the coachman who had loaded him with sordid insults.
The occasion was marked by a complete frankness between the marquis and the protégé.
M. de la Mole became interested in this singular character.
At the beginning he had encouraged Julian's droll blunders in order to enjoy laughing at them.
Soon he found it more interesting to correct very gently this young man's false outlook on life.
"All other provincials who come to Paris admire everything,"
thought the marquis.
"This one hates everything.
They have too much affectation;
he has not affectation enough;
and fools take him for a fool."
The attack of gout was protracted by the great winter cold and lasted some months.
"One gets quite attached to a fine spaniel,"
thought the marquis.
"Why should I be so ashamed of being attached to this little abbé?
He is original.
I treat him as a son.
where's the bother?
if it lasts,
will cost me a diamond and five hundred louis in my will."
Once the marquis had realised his protégé's strength of character,
he entrusted him with some new business every day.
Julien noticed with alarm that this great lord would often give him inconsistent orders with regard to the same matter.
That might compromise him seriously.
Julien now made a point whenever he worked with him,
of bringing a register with him in which he wrote his instructions which the marquis initialled.
Julien had now a clerk who would transcribe the instructions relating to each matter in a separate book.
This book also contained a copy of all the letters.
This idea seemed at first absolutely boring and ridiculous,
but in two months the marquis appreciated its advantages.
Julien suggested to him that he should take a clerk out of a banker's who was to keep proper book-keeping accounts of all the receipts and of all the expenses of the estates which Julien had been charged to administer.
These measures so enlightened the marquis as to his own affairs that he could indulge the pleasure of undertaking two or three speculations without the help of his nominee who always robbed him.
"Take three thousand francs for yourself,"
he said one day to his young steward.
I should lay myself open to calumny."
"What do you want then?"
retorted the marquis irritably.
"Perhaps you will be kind enough to make out a statement of account and enter it in your own hand in the book.
That order will give me a sum of 3,000 francs.
Besides it's M. the abbé Pirard who had the idea of all this exactness in accounts."
The marquis wrote out his instructions in the register with the bored air of the Marquis de Moncade listening to the accounts of his steward M. Poisson.
Business was never talked when Julien appeared in the evening in his blue suit.
The kindness of the marquis was so flattering to the self-respect of our hero,
which was always morbidly sensitive,
that in spite of himself,
he soon came to feel a kind of attachment for this nice old man.
It is not that Julien was a man of sensibility as the phrase is understood at Paris,
but he was not a monster,
and no one since the death of the old major had talked to him with so much kindness.
He observed that the marquis showed a politeness and consideration for his own personal feelings which he had never found in the old surgeon.
He now realised that the surgeon was much prouder of his cross than was the marquis of his blue ribbon.
The marquis's father had been a great lord.
at the end of a morning audience for the transaction of business,
when the black suit was worn,
Julien happened to amuse the marquis who kept him for a couple of hours,
and insisted on giving him some banknotes which his nominee had just brought from the house.
"I hope M. le Marquis,
that I am not deviating from the profound respect which I owe you,
if I beg you to allow me to say a word."
"M. le Marquis will deign to allow me to refuse this gift.
It is not meant for the man in the black suit,
and it would completely spoil those manners which you have kindly put up with in the man in the blue suit."
He saluted with much respect and went out without looking at his employer.
This incident amused the marquis.
He told it in the evening to the abbé Pirard.
"I must confess one thing to you,
my dear abbé.
I know Julien's birth,
and I authorise you not to regard this confidence as a secret."
His conduct this morning is noble,
thought the marquis,
so I will ennoble him myself.
Some time afterwards the marquis was able to go out.
"Go and pass a couple of months at London,"
he said to Julien.
"Ordinary and special couriers will bring you the letters I have received,
together with my notes.
You will write out the answers and send them back to me,
putting each letter inside the answer.
I have ascertained that the delay will be no more than five days."
As he took the post down the Calais route,
Julien was astonished at the triviality of the alleged business on which he had been sent.
We will say nothing about the feeling of hate and almost horror with which he touched English soil.
His mad passion for Bonaparte is already known.
He saw in every officer a Sir Hudson Low,
in every great noble a Lord Bathurst,
ordering the infamies of St. Helena and being recompensed by six years of office.
At London he really got to know the meaning of sublime fatuity.
He had struck up a friendship with some young Russian nobles who initiated him.
"Your future is assured,
my dear Sorel,"
they said to him.
"You naturally have that cold demeanour,
_a thousand leagues away from the sensation one has at the moment_,
that we have been making such efforts to acquire."
"You have not understood your century,"
said the Prince Korasoff to him.
"Always do the opposite of what is expected of you.
On my honour there you have the sole religion of the period.
Don't be foolish or affected,
for then follies and affectations will be expected of you,
and the maxim will not longer prove true."
Julien covered himself with glory one day in the Salon of the Duke of Fitz-Folke who had invited him to dinner together with the Prince Korasoff.
They waited for an hour.
The way in which Julien conducted himself in the middle of twenty people who were waiting is still quoted as a precedent among the young secretaries of the London Embassy.
His demeanour was unimpeachable.
In spite of his friends,
he made a point of seeing the celebrated Philip Vane,
the one philosopher that England has had since Locke.
He found him finishing his seventh year in prison.
The aristocracy doesn't joke in this country,
Moreover Vane is disgraced,
Julien found him in cheery spirits.
The rage of the aristocracy prevented him from being bored.
"There's the only merry man I've seen in England,"
thought Julien to himself,
as he left the prison.
"The idea which tyrants find most useful is the idea of God,"
Vane had said to him.
We suppress the rest of the system as being cynical.
"What amusing notion do you bring me from England?"
said M. la Mole to him on his return.
He was silent.
"What notion do you bring me,
amusing or otherwise?"
repeated the marquis sharply.
"In the first place,"
"The sanest Englishman is mad one hour every day.
He is visited by the Demon of Suicide who is the local God.
"In the second place,
intellect and genius lose twenty-five per cent.
of their value when they disembark in England.
"In the third place,
nothing in the world is so beautiful,
as the English landscapes."
"Now it is my turn,"
said the marquis.
"In the first place,
why do you go and say at the ball at the Russian Ambassador's that there were three hundred thousand young men of twenty in France who passionately desire war?
Do you think that is nice for the kings?"
"One doesn't know what to do when talking to great diplomats,"
"They have a mania for starting serious discussions.
If one confines oneself to the commonplaces of the papers,
one is taken for a fool.
If one indulges in some original truth,
they are astonished and at a loss for an answer,
and get you informed by the first Secretary of the Embassy at seven o'clock next day that your conduct has been unbecoming."
said the marquis laughing.
"Anyway I will wager Monsieur Deep-one that you have not guessed what you went to do in England."
"I went there to dine once a week with the king's ambassador,
who is the most polite of men."
"You went to fetch this cross you see here,"
said the marquis to him.
"I do not want to make you leave off your black suit,
and I have got accustomed to the more amusing tone I have assumed with the man who wears the blue suit.
So understand this until further orders.
When I see this cross,
you will be my friend,
the Duke of Chaulne's younger son,
who has been employed in the diplomatic service the last six months without having any idea of it.
added the marquis very seriously,
cutting short all manifestations of thanks,
"that I do not want you to forget your place.
That is always a mistake and a misfortune both for patron and for dependent.
When my lawsuits bore you,
or when you no longer suit me,
I will ask a good living like that of our good friend the abbé Pirard's for you,
and nothing more,"
added the marquis dryly.
This put Julien's pride at its ease.
He talked much more.
He did not so frequently think himself insulted and aimed at by those phrases which are susceptible of some interpretation which is scarcely polite,
and which anybody may give utterance to in the course of an animated conversation.
This cross earned him a singular visit.
It was that of the baron de Valenod,
who came to Paris to thank the Minister for his barony,
and arrive at an understanding with him.
He was going to be nominated mayor of Verrières,
and to supersede M. de Rênal.
Julien did not fail to smile to himself when M. Valenod gave him to understand that they had just found out that M. de Rênal was a Jacobin.
The fact was that the new baron was the ministerial candidate at the election for which they were all getting ready,
and that it was M. de Rênal who was the Liberal candidate at the great electoral college of the department,
It was in vain that Julien tried to learn something about madame de Rênal.
The baron seemed to remember their former rivalry,
and was impenetrable.
He concluded by canvassing Julien for his father's vote at the election which was going to take place.
Julien promised to write.
monsieur le Chevalier,
to present me to M. the marquis de la Mole."
as a matter of fact,"
"But a rascal like that!"
"As a matter of fact,"
"I am too small a personage in the Hôtel de la Mole to take it upon myself to introduce anyone."
Julien told the marquis everything.
In the evening he described Valenod's pretensions,
as well as his deeds and feats since 1814.
"Not only will you present the new baron to me,"
replied de la Mole,
"but I will invite him to dinner for the day after to-morrow.
He will be one of our new prefects."
"If that is the case,
I ask for my father the post of director of the workhouse,"
answered the marquis gaily.
"It shall be granted.
I was expecting a lecture.
You are getting on."
M. de Valenod informed Julien that the manager of the lottery office at Verrières had just died.
Julien thought it humorous to give that place to M. de Cholin,
the old dotard whose petition he had once picked up in de la Mole's room.
The marquis laughed heartily at the petition,
which Julien recited as he made him sign the letter which requested that appointment of the minister of finance.
M. de Cholin had scarcely been nominated,
when Julien learnt that that post had been asked by the department for the celebrated geometrician,
That generous man had an income of only 1400 francs,
and every year had lent 600 to the late manager who had just died,
to help him bring up his family.
Julien was astonished at what he had done.
he said to himself.
"It will be necessary to commit several other injustices if I mean to get on,
and also to conceal them beneath pretty,
Poor monsieur Gros!
It is he who deserves the cross.
It is I who have it,
and I ought to conform to the spirit of the Government which gives it me."
WHAT IS THE DECORATION WHICH CONFERS DISTINCTION?
"Thy water refreshes me not,"
said the transformed genie.
"'Tis nevertheless the freshest well in all Diar-Békir" --_Pellico_.
One day Julien had just returned from the charming estate of Villequier on the banks of the Seine,
which was the especial subject of M. de la Mole's interest because it was the only one of all his properties which had belonged to the celebrated Boniface de la Mole.
He found the marquise and her daughter,
who had just come back from Hyères,
in the hotel.
Julien was a dandy now,
and understood the art of Paris life.
He manifested a perfect coldness towards mademoiselle de la Mole.
He seemed to have retained no recollection of the day when she had asked him so gaily for details of his fall from his horse.
Mademoiselle de la Mole thought that he had grown taller and paler.
There was no longer anything of the provincial in his figure or his appearance.
It was not so with his conversation.
Too much of the serious and too much of the positive element were still noticeable.
In spite of these sober qualities,
thanks to his pride,
was destitute of any trace of the subordinate.
One simply felt that there were still too many things which he took seriously.
But one saw that he was the kind of man to stick to his guns.
"He lacks lightness of touch,
but not brains,"
said mademoiselle de la Mole to her father,
as she rallied him on the cross that he had given Julien.
"My brother has been asking you for it for sixteen months,
and he is a La Mole."
but Julien has surprises,
and that's what the de la Mole,
whom you were referring to,
has never been guilty of."
M. the duc de Retz was announced.
Mathilde felt herself seized by an irresistible attack of yawning.
She knew so well the old gildings and the old habitués of her father's salon.
She conjured up an absolutely boring picture of the life which she was going to take up at Paris,
when at Hyères,
she had regretted Paris.
"And yet I am nineteen,"
"That's the age of happiness,
say all those gilt-edged ninnies."
She looked at eight or ten new volumes of poetry which had accumulated on the table in the salon during her journey in Provence.
She had the misfortune to have more brains than M.M.
and her other friends.
She anticipated all that they were going to tell her about the fine sky of Provence,
These fine eyes,
which were the home of the deepest ennui,
and worse still,
of the despair of ever finding pleasure,
lingered on Julien.
At any rate,
he was not exactly like the others.
in that short,
destitute of all femininity,
which is so frequent among young women of the upper class.
are you coming to-night to M. de Retz's ball?"
I have not had the honour of being presented to M. the duke."
(One would have said that these words and that title seared the mouth of the proud provincial).
"He asked my brother to take you there,
and if you go,
you could tell me some details about the Villequier estate.
We are thinking of going there in the spring,
and I would like to know if the château is habitable,
and if the neighbouring places are as pretty as they say.
There are so many unmerited reputations."
Julien did not answer.
"Come to the ball with my brother,"
Julien bowed respectfully.
"So I owe my due to the members of the family,
even in the middle of a ball.
Am I not paid to be their business man?"
His bad temper added,
if what I tell the daughter will not put out the plans of the father,
It is just like the court of a sovereign prince.
You have to be absolutely negative,
and yet give no one any right to complain."
"How that big girl displeases me!"
as he watched the walk of Mademoiselle de la Mole,
whom her mother had called to present to several women friends of hers.
She exaggerates all the fashions.
Her dress almost falls down to her shoulders,
she is even paler than before she went away.
How nondescript her hair has grown as the result of being blonde!
You would say that the light passed through it.
What a haughty way of bowing and of looking at you!
What queenly gestures!
Mademoiselle de la Mole had just called her brother at the moment when he was leaving the salon.
The comte de Norbert approached Julien.
"My dear Sorel,"
he said to him.
"Where would you like me to pick you up to-night for Monsieur's ball.
He expressly asked me to bring you."
"I know well whom I have to thank for so much kindness,"
answered Julien bowing to the ground.
His bad temper,
being unable to find anything to lay hold of in the polite and almost sympathetic tone in which Norbert had spoken to him,
set itself to work on the answer he had made to that courteous invitation.
He detected in it a trace of subservience.
When he arrived at the ball in the evening,
he was struck with the magnificence of the Hôtel de Retz.
The courtyard at the entrance was covered with an immense tent of crimson with golden stars.
Nothing could have been more elegant.
Beyond the tent,
the court had been transformed into a wood of orange trees and of pink laurels in full flower.
As they had been careful to bury the vases sufficiently deep,
the laurel trees and the orange trees appeared to come straight out of the ground.
The road which the carriages traversed was sanded.
All this seemed extraordinary to our provincial.
He had never had any idea of such magnificence.
In a single instant his thrilled imagination had left his bad temper a thousand leagues behind.
In the carriage on their way to the ball Norbert had been happy,
while he saw everything in black colours.
They had scarcely entered the courtyard before the rôles changed.
Norbert was only struck by a few details which,
in the midst of all that magnificence,
had not been able to be attended to.
He calculated the expense of each item,
and Julien remarked that the nearer he got to a sum total,
the more jealous and bad-tempered he appeared.
As for himself,
he was fascinated and full of admiration when he reached the first of the salons where they were dancing.
His emotion was so great that it almost made him nervous.
There was a crush at the door of the second salon,
and the crowd was so great that he found it impossible to advance.
The decorations of the second salon presented the Alhambra of Grenada.
"That's the queen of the ball one must admit,"
said a young man with a moustache whose shoulder stuck into Julien's chest.
"Mademoiselle Formant who has been the prettiest all the winter,
realises that she will have to go down to the second place.
See how strange she looks."
"In truth she is straining every nerve to please.
Just look at that gracious smile now that she is doing the figure in that quadrille all alone.
On my honour it is unique."
"Mademoiselle de la Mole looks as if she controlled the pleasure which she derives from her triumph,
of which she is perfectly conscious.
One might say that she fears to please anyone who talks to her."
That is the art of alluring."
Julien vainly endeavoured to catch sight of the alluring woman.
Seven or eight men who were taller than he prevented him from seeing her.
"There is quite a lot of coquetry in that noble reserve,"
said the young man with a moustache.
"And in those big blue eyes,
which are lowered so slowly when one would think they were on the point of betraying themselves,"
answered his neighbour.
"On my faith,
nothing could be cleverer."
"See the pretty Formant looking quite common next to her,"
said the first.
"That air of reserve means how much sweetness would I spend on you if you were the man who was worthy of me."
"And who could be worthy of the sublime Mathilde,"
said the first man.
"Some sovereign prince,
a hero in war,
and twenty years old at the most."
"The natural son of the Emperor of Russia ...
who would be made a sovereign in honour of his marriage,
or quite simply the comte de Thaler,
who looks like a dressed-up peasant."
The door was free,
and Julien could go in.
"Since these puppets consider her so remarkable,
it is worth while for me to study her,"
"I shall then understand what these people regard as perfection."
As his eyes were trying to find her,
Mathilde looked at him.
"My duty calls me,"
said Julien to himself.
But it was only his expression which was bad-humoured.
His curiosity made him advance with a pleasure which the extremely low cut dress on Mathilde's shoulder very quickly accentuated,
in a manner which was scarcely flattering for his own self-respect.
"Her beauty has youth,"
Five or six people,
whom Julien recognised as those who had been speaking at the door were between her and him.
you have been here all the winter,"
she said to him.
"Is it not true that this is the finest ball of the season."
He did not answer.
"This quadrille of Coulon's strikes me as admirable,
and those ladies dance it perfectly."
The young men turned round to see who was the happy man,
an answer from whom was positively insisted on.
The answer was not encouraging.
"I shall not be able to be a good judge,
I pass my life in writing.
This is the first ball of this magnificence which I have ever seen."
The young men with moustaches were scandalised.
"You are a wise man,
came the answer with a more marked interest.
"You look upon all these balls,
all these festivities,
like a philosopher,
like J. J.
All these follies astonish without alluring you."
Julien's imagination had just hit upon an epigram which banished all illusions from his mind.
His mouth assumed the expression of a perhaps slightly exaggerated disdain.
"J. J. Rousseau,"
"is in my view only a fool when he takes it upon himself to criticise society.
He did not understand it,
and he went into it with the spirit of a lackey who has risen above his station."
"He wrote the _Contrat Social_,"
answered Mathilde reverently.
"While he preaches the Republic,
and the overthrow of monarchical dignities,
the parvenu was intoxicated with happiness if a duke would go out of his way after dinner to one of his friends."
the Duke of Luxembourg at Montmorency,
used to accompany a Coindet from the neighbourhood of Paris,"
went on Mademoiselle de la Mole,
with all the pleasure and enthusiasm of her first flush of pedantry.
She was intoxicated with her knowledge,
almost like the academician who discovered the existence of King Feretrius.
Julien's look was still penetrating and severe.
Mathilde had had a moment's enthusiasm.
Her partner's coldness disconcerted her profoundly.
She was all the more astonished,
as it was she who was accustomed to produce that particular effect on others.
At this moment the marquis de Croisenois was advancing eagerly towards mademoiselle de la Mole.
He was for a moment three yards away from her.
He was unable to get closer because of the crowd.
He smiled at the obstacle.
The young marquise de Rouvray was near her.
She was a cousin of Mathilde.
She was giving her arm to her husband who had only married her a fortnight ago.
The marquis de Rouvray,
who was also very young,
had all the love which seizes a man who,
having contracted a marriage of convenience exclusively arranged by the notaries,
finds a person who is ideally pretty.
M. de Rouvray would be a duke on the death of a very old uncle.
While the marquis de Croisenois was struggling to get through the crowd,
and smiling at Mathilde she fixed her big divinely blue eyes on him and his neighbours.
"Could anything be flatter,"
she said to herself.
"There is Croisenois who wants to marry me,
he is gentle and polite,
he has perfect manners like M. de Rouvray.
If they did not bore,
those gentlemen would be quite charming.
would accompany me to the ball with that smug limited expression.
One year after the marriage I shall have my carriage,
my château twenty leagues from Paris.
All this would be as nice as possible,
and enough to make a Countess de Roiville,
die of envy and afterwards --"
Mathilde bored herself in anticipation.
The marquis de Croisenois managed to approach her and spoke to her,
but she was dreaming and did not listen to him.
The noise of his words began to get mixed with the buzz of the ball.
Her eye mechanically followed Julien who had gone away,
with an air which,
was yet proud and discontented.
She noticed in a corner far from the moving crowd,
the comte Altamira who had been condemned to death in his own country and whom the reader knows already.
One of his relatives had married a Prince de Conti in the reign of Louis XIV.
This historical fact was some protection against the police of the congregation.
"I think being condemned to death is the only real distinction,"
"It is the only thing which cannot be bought."
that's an epigram,
I just said,
what a pity it did not come at a moment when I could have reaped all the credit for it."
Mathilde had too much taste to work into the conversation a prepared epigram but at the same time she was too vain not to be extremely pleased with herself.
A happy expression succeeded the palpable boredom of her face.
The marquis de Croisenois,
who had never left off talking,
saw a chance of success and waxed twice as eloquent.
"What objection could a caviller find with my epigram,"
said Mathilde to herself.
"I would answer my critic in this way: The title of baron or vicomte is to be bought;
why it is a gift.
My brother has just got one.
What has he done?
why that can be obtained by being ten years in a garrison or have the minister of war for a relative,
and you'll be a chief of a squadron like Norbert.
A great fortune!
That's rather more difficult,
and consequently more meritorious.
It is really quite funny.
It's the opposite of what the books say.
to win a fortune why you marry M. Rothschild's daughter.
Really my epigram is quite deep.
Being condemned to death is still the one privilege which one has never thought of canvassing."
"Do you know the comte Altamira,"
she said to M. de Croisenois.
Her thoughts seemed to have been so far away,
and this question had so little connection with all that the poor marquis had been saying for the last five minutes,
that his good temper was ruffled.
He was nevertheless a man of wit and celebrated for being so.
"Mathilde is eccentric,"
"that's a nuisance,
but she will give her husband such a fine social position.
I don't know how the marquis de la Mole manages.
He is connected with all that is best in all parties.
He is a man who is bound to come out on top.
this eccentricity of Mathilde's may pass for genius.
Genius when allied with good birth and a large fortune,
so far from being ridiculous,
is highly distinguished.
She has wit,
when she wants to,
that mixture in fact of brains,
and ready wit which constitute perfection."
As it is difficult to do two things at the same time,
the marquis answered Mathilde with a vacant expression as though he were reciting a lesson.
"Who does not know that poor Altamira?"
and he told her the history of his conspiracy,
ridiculous and absurd.
said Mathilde as if she were talking to herself,
"but he has done something.
I want to see a man;
bring him to me,"
she said to the scandalized marquis.
Comte Altamira was one of the most avowed admirers of mademoiselle de la Mole's haughty and impertinent manner.
In his opinion she was one of the most beautiful persons in Paris.
"How fine she would be on a throne,"
he said to M. de Croisenois;
and made no demur at being taken up to Mathilde.
There are a good number of people in society who would like to establish the fact that nothing is in such bad form as a conspiracy,
in the nineteenth century;
it smacks of Jacobinism.
And what could be more sordid than unsuccessful Jacobinism.
Mathilde's expression made fun a little of Altamira and M. de Croisenois,
but she listened to him with pleasure.
"A conspirator at a ball,
what a pretty contrast,"
She thought that this man with his black moustache looked like a lion at rest,
but she soon perceived that his mind had only one point of view: _utility,
admiration for utility_.
The young comte thought nothing worthy his attention except what tended to give his country two chamber government.
He left Mathilde,
who was the prettiest person at the ball,
because he saw a Peruvian general come in.
Desparing of Europe such as M. de Metternich had arranged it,
poor Altamira had been reduced to thinking that when the States of South America had become strong and powerful they could restore to Europe the liberty which Mirabeau has given it.
A crowd of moustachised young men had approached Mathilde.
She realized that Altamira had not felt allured,
and was piqued by his departure.
She saw his black eye gleam as he talked to the Peruvian general.
Mademoiselle de la Mole looked at the young Frenchmen with that profound seriousness which none of her rivals could imitate,
"which of them,"
"could get himself condemned to death,
even supposing he had a favourable opportunity?"
This singular look flattered those who were not very intelligent,
but disconcerted the others.
They feared the discharge of some stinging epigram that would be difficult to answer.
"Good birth vouchsafes a hundred qualities whose absence would offend me.
I see as much in the case of Julien,"
"but it withers up those qualities of soul which make a man get condemned to death."
At that moment some one was saying near her:
"Comte Altamira is the second son of the Prince of San Nazaro-Pimentel;
it was a Pimentel who tried to save Conradin,
was beheaded in 1268.
It is one of the noblest families in Naples."
said Mathilde to herself,
"what a pretty proof this is of my maxim,
that good birth deprives a man of that force of character in default of which a man does not get condemned to death.
I seem doomed to reason falsely to-night.
Since I am only a woman like any other,
well I must dance."
She yielded to the solicitations of M. de Croisenois who had been asking for a gallop for the last hour.
To distract herself from her failure in philosophy,
Mathilde made a point of being perfectly fascinating.
M. de Croisenois was enchanted.
But neither the dance nor her wish to please one of the handsomest men at court,
nor anything at all,
succeeded in distracting Mathilde.
She could not possibly have been more of a success.
She was the queen of the ball.
She coldly appreciated the fact.
"What a blank life I shall pass with a person like Croisenois,"
she said to herself as he took her back to her place an hour afterwards.
"What pleasure do I get,"
she added sadly,
"if after an absence of six months I find myself at a ball which all the women of Paris were mad with jealousy to go to?
And what is more I am surrounded by the homage of an ideally constituted circle of society.
The only bourgeois are some peers and perhaps one or two Juliens.
she added with increasing sadness,
"what advantages has not fate bestowed upon me!
everything except happiness.
My most dubious advantages are the very ones they have been speaking to me about all the evening.
I believe I have it,
because I obviously frighten everyone.
If they venture to tackle a serious subject,
they will arrive after five minutes of conversation and as though they had made a great discovery at a conclusion which we have been repeating to them for the last hour.
I am beautiful,
I have that advantage for which madame de Stael would have sacrificed everything,
and yet I'm dying of boredom.
Shall I have reason to be less bored when I have changed my name for that of the marquis de Croisenois?
"My God though,"
while she almost felt as if she would like to cry,
"isn't he really quite perfect?
He's a paragon of the education of the age;
you can't look at him without his finding something charming and even witty to say to you;
he is brave.
But that Sorel is strange,"
she said to herself,
and the expression of her eyes changed from melancholy to anger.
"I told him that I had something to say to him and he hasn't deigned to reappear."
The luxurious dresses,
the glitter of the candles;
all those pretty arms and fine shoulders;
the intoxicating strains of Rossini,
the paintings of Ciceri.
I am beside myself.
--_Journeys of Useri_.
"You are in a bad temper,"
said the marquise de la Mole to her;
"let me caution you,
it is ungracious at a ball."
"I only have a headache,"
answered Mathilde disdainfully,
"it is too hot here."
At this moment the old Baron Tolly became ill and fell down,
as though to justify mademoiselle de la Mole's remark.
They were obliged to carry him away.
They talked about apoplexy.
It was a disagreeable incident.
Mathilde did not bother much about it.
She made a point of never looking at old men,
or at anyone who had the reputation of being bad company.
She danced in order to escape the conversation about the apoplexy,
which was not apoplexy inasmuch as the baron put in an appearance the following day.
"But Sorel does not come,"
she said to herself after she had danced.
She was almost looking round for him when she found him in another salon.
but he seemed to have lost that impassive coldness that was so natural to him;
he no longer looked English.
"He is talking to comte Altamira who was sentenced to death,"
said Mathilde to herself.
"His eye is full of a sombre fire;
he looks like a prince in disguise;
his haughtiness has become twice as pronounced."
Julien came back to where she was,
still talking to Altamira.
She looked at Altamira fixedly,
studying his features in order to trace those lofty qualities which can earn a man the honour of being condemned to death.
he was saying to comte Altamira as he passed by her,
"Danton was a real man."
"Heavens can he be a Danton?"
said Mathilde to herself,
"but he has so noble a face,
and that Danton was so horribly ugly,
a butcher I believe."
Julien was still fairly near her.
She did not hesitate to call him;
she had the consciousness and the pride of putting a question that was unusual for a young girl.
"Was not Danton a butcher?"
she said to him.
in the eyes of certain persons,"
Julien answered her with the most thinly disguised expression of contempt.
His eyes were still ardent from his conversation with Altamira,
"but unfortunately for the people of good birth he was an advocate at Méry-sur-Seine,
that is to say,
he added maliciously,
"he began like many peers whom I see here.
It was true that Danton laboured under a great disadvantage in the eyes of beauty;
he was ugly."
These last few words were spoken rapidly in an extraordinary and indeed very discourteous manner.
Julien waited for a moment,
leaning slightly forward and with an air of proud humility.
He seemed to be saying,
"I am paid to answer you and I live on my pay."
He did not deign to look up at Mathilde.
She looked like his slave with her fine eyes open abnormally wide and fixed on him.
Finally as the silence continued he looked at her,
like a valet looking at his master to receive orders.
Although his eyes met the full gaze of Mathilde which were fixed on him all the time with a strange expression,
he went away with a marked eagerness.
"To think of a man who is as handsome as he is,"
said Mathilde to herself as she emerged from her reverie,
"praising ugliness in such a way,
he is not like Caylus or Croisenois.
This Sorel has something like my father's look when he goes to a fancy dress ball as Napoleon."
She had completely forgotten Danton.
I am decidedly bored to-night."
She took her brother's arm and to his great disgust made him take her round the ball-room.
The idea occurred to her of following the conversation between Julien and the man who had been condemned to death.
The crowd was enormous.
She managed to find them,
at the moment when two yards in front of her Altamira was going near a dumb-waiter to take an ice.
He was talking to Julien with his body half turned round.
He saw an arm in an embroidered coat which was taking an ice close by.
The embroidery seemed to attract his attention.
He turned round to look at the person to whom the arm belonged.
His noble and yet simple eyes immediately assumed a slightly disdainful expression.
"You see that man,"
he said to Julien in a low voice;
"that is the Prince of Araceli Ambassador of -- --.
He asked M. de Nerval,
your Minister for Foreign Affairs,
for my extradition this morning.
there he is over there playing whist.
Monsieur de Nerval is willing enough to give me up,
for we gave up two or three conspirators to you in 1816.
If I am given up to my king I shall be hanged in twenty-four hours.
It will be one of those handsome moustachioed gentlemen who will arrest me."
exclaimed Julien half aloud.
Mathilde did not lose a syllable of their conversation.
Her ennui had vanished.
"They are not scoundrels,"
replied Count Altamira.
"I talk to you about myself in order to give you a vivid impression.
Look at the Prince of Araceli.
He casts his eyes on his golden fleece every five minutes;
he cannot get over the pleasure of seeing that decoration on his breast.
In reality the poor man is really an anachronism.
The fleece was a signal honour a hundred years ago,
but he would have been nowhere near it in those days.
so far as people of birth are concerned,
you have to be an Araceli to be delighted with it.
He had a whole town hanged in order to get it."
"Is that the price he had to pay?"
said Julien anxiously.
answered Altamira coldly,
"he probably had about thirty rich landed proprietors in his district who had the reputation of being Liberals thrown into the river."
"What a monster!"
Mademoiselle de la Mole who was leaning her head forward with keenest interest was so near him that her beautiful hair almost touched his shoulder.
"You are very young,"
"I was telling you that I had a married sister in Provence.
She is still pretty,
good and gentle;
she is an excellent mother,
performs all her duties faithfully,
is pious but not a bigot."
"What is he driving at?"
thought mademoiselle de la Mole.
"She is happy,"
continued the comte Altamira;
"she was so in 1815.
I was then in hiding at her house on her estate near the Antibes.
Well the moment she learnt of marshall Ney's execution she began to dance."
"Is it possible?"
"It's party spirit,"
"There are no longer any real passions in the nineteenth century: that's why one is so bored in France.
People commit acts of the greatest cruelty,
but without any feeling of cruelty."
"So much the worse,"
"when one does commit a crime one ought at least to take pleasure in committing it;
that's the only good thing they have about them and that's the only way in which they have the slightest justification."
Mademoiselle de la Mole had entirely forgotten what she owed to herself and placed herself completely between Altamira and Julien.
who was giving her his arm,
and was accustomed to obey her,
was looking at another part of the room,
and in order to keep himself in countenance was pretending to be stopped by the crowd.
"You are right,"
Altamira went on,
"one takes pleasure in nothing one does,
and one does not remember it: this applies even to crimes.
I can show you perhaps ten men in this ballroom who have been convicted of murder.
They have forgotten all about it and everybody else as well."
"Many are moved to the point of tears if their dog breaks a paw.
When you throw flowers on their grave at Père-la-Chaise,
as you say so humorously in Paris,
we learn they united all the virtues of the knights of chivalry,
and we speak about the noble feats of their great-grandfather who lived in the reign of Henri IV.
in spite of the good offices of the Prince de Araceli,
I escape hanging and I ever manage to enjoy the use of my money in Paris,
I will get you to dine with eight or ten of these respected and callous murderers.
"At that dinner you and I will be the only ones whose blood is pure,
but I shall be despised and almost hated as a monster,
while you will be simply despised as a man of the people who has pushed his way into good society."
"Nothing could be truer,"
said mademoiselle de la Mole.
Altamira looked at her in astonishment;
but Julien did not deign to look at her.
"Observe that the revolution,
at whose head I found myself,"
continued the comte Altamira,
"only failed for the one reason that I would not cut off three heads and distribute among our partisans seven or eight millions which happened to be in a box of which I happened to have the key.
who is burning to have me hanged to-day,
and who called me by my christian name before the rebellion,
would have given me the great ribbon of his order if I had had those three heads cut off and had had the money in those boxes distributed;
for I should have had at least a semi-success and my country would have had a charta like -- --.
So wags the world;
it's a game of chess."
"At that time,"
answered Julien with a fiery eye,
"you did not know the game;
"You mean I would have the heads cut off,
and I would not be a Girondin,
as you said I was the other day?
I will give you your answer,"
said Altamira sadly,
"when you have killed a man in a duel --a far less ugly matter than having him put to death by an executioner."
"Upon my word,"
"the end justifies the means.
If instead of being an insignificant man I had some power I would have three men hanged in order to save four men's lives."
His eyes expressed the fire of his own conscience;
they met the eyes of mademoiselle de la Mole who was close by him,
and their contempt,
so far from changing into politeness seemed to redouble.
She was deeply shocked;
but she found herself unable to forget Julien;
she dragged her brother away and went off in a temper.
"I must take some punch and dance a lot,"
she said to herself.
"I will pick out the best partner and cut some figure at any price.
there is that celebrated cynic,
the comte de Fervaques."
She accepted his invitation;
"The question is,"
"which of us two will be the more impertinent,
but in order to make absolute fun of him,
I must get him to talk."
Soon all the other members of the quadrille were dancing as a matter of formality,
they did not want to lose any of Mathilde's cutting reparte.
M. de Fervaques felt uneasy and as he could only find elegant expressions instead of ideas,
began to scowl.
who was in a bad temper was cruel,
and made an enemy of him.
She danced till daylight and then went home terribly tired.
But when she was in the carriage the little vitality she had left,
was still employed in making her sad and unhappy.
She had been despised by Julien and could not despise him.
Julien was at the zenith of his happiness.
He was enchanted without his knowing it by the music,
the pretty women,
the general elegance,
and above all by his own imagination which dreamt of distinctions for himself and of liberty for all.
"What a fine ball,"
he said to the comte.
"Nothing is lacking."
"Thought is lacking" answered Altamira,
and his face betrayed that contempt which is only more deadly from the very fact that a manifest effort is being made to hide it as a matter of politeness.
"You are right,
monsieur the comte,
there isn't any thought at all,
let alone enough to make a conspiracy."
"I am here because of my name,
but thought is hated in your salons.
Thought must not soar above the level of the point of a Vaudeville couplet: it is then rewarded.
But as for your man who thinks,
if he shows energy and originality we call him a cynic.
Was not that name given by one of your judges to Courier.
You put him in prison as well as Béranger.
The priestly congregation hands over to the police everyone who is worth anything amongst you individually;
and good society applauds.
"The fact is your effete society prizes conventionalism above everything else.
You will never get beyond military bravery.
You will have Murats,
I can see nothing in France except vanity.
A man who goes on speaking on the spur of the moment may easily come to make an imprudent witticism and the master of the house thinks himself insulted."
As he was saying this,
the carriage in which the comte was seeing Julien home stopped before the Hôtel de la Mole.
Julien was in love with his conspirator.
Altamira had paid him this great compliment which was evidently the expression of a sound conviction.
"You have not got the French flippancy and you understand the principle of _utility_."
It happened that Julien had seen the day before _Marino Faliero_,
by Casmir Delavigne.
"Has not Israel Bertuccio got more character than all those noble Venetians?"
said our rebellious plebeian to himself,
"and yet those are the people whose nobility goes back to the year seven hundred,
a century before Charlemagne,
while the cream of the nobility at M. de Ritz's ball to-night only goes back,
and that rather lamely,
to the thirteenth century.
in spite of all the noble Venetians whose birth makes so great,
it is Israel Bertuccio whom one remembers.
"A conspiracy annihilates all titles conferred by social caprice.
a man takes for his crest the rank that is given him by the way in which he faces death.
The intellect itself loses some of its power.
"What would Danton have been to-day in this age of the Valenods and the Rênals?
Not even a deputy for the Public Prosecutor.
"What am I saying?
He would have sold himself to the priests,
he would have been a minister,
for after all the great Danton did steal.
Mirabeau also sold himself.
Napoleon stole millions in Italy,
otherwise he would have been stopped short in his career by poverty like Pichegru.
Only La Fayette refrained from stealing.
Ought one to steal,
ought one to sell oneself?"
This question pulled him up short.
He passed the rest of the night in reading the history of the revolution.
When he wrote his letters in the library the following day,
his mind was still concentrated on his conversation with count Altamira.
"As a matter of fact,"
he said to himself after a long reverie,
"If the Spanish Liberals had not injured their nation by crimes they would not have been cleared out as easily as they were.
"They were haughty,
talkative children --just like I am!"
he suddenly exclaimed as though waking up with a start.
"What difficulty have I surmounted that entitles me to judge such devils who,
dared to begin to act.
I am like a man who exclaims at the close of a meal,
'I won't dine to-morrow;
but that won't prevent me from feeling as strong and merry like I do to-day.'
Who knows what one feels when one is half-way through a great action?"
These lofty thoughts were disturbed by the unexpected arrival in the library of mademoiselle de la Mole.
He was so animated by his admiration for the great qualities of such invincibles as Danton,
and Carnot that,
though he fixed his eyes on mademoiselle de la Mole,
he neither gave her a thought nor bowed to her,
and scarcely even saw her.
When finally his big,
open eyes realized her presence,
their expression vanished.
Mademoiselle de la Mole noticed it with bitterness.
It was in vain that she asked him for Vély's History of France which was on the highest shelf,
and thus necessitated Julien going to fetch the longer of the two ladders.
Julien had brought the ladder and had fetched the volume and given it to her,
but had not yet been able to give her a single thought.
As he was taking the ladder back he hit in his hurry one of the glass panes in the library with his elbow;
the noise of the glass falling on the floor finally brought him to himself.
He hastened to apologise to mademoiselle de la Mole.
He tried to be polite and was certainly nothing more.
Mathilde saw clearly that she had disturbed him,
and that he would have preferred to have gone on thinking about what he had been engrossed in before her arrival,
to speaking to her.
After looking at him for some time she went slowly away.
Julien watched her walk.
He enjoyed the contrast of her present dress with the elegant magnificence of the previous night.
The difference between the two expressions was equally striking.
The young girl who had been so haughty at the Duke de Retz's ball,
at the present moment,
an almost plaintive expression.
"As a matter of fact,"
said Julien to himself,
"that black dress makes the beauty of her figure all the more striking.
She has a queenly carriage;
but why is she in mourning?"
"If I ask someone the reason for this mourning,
they will think I am putting my foot in it again."
Julien had now quite emerged from the depth of his enthusiasm.
"I must read over again all the letters I have written this morning.
God knows how many missed out words and blunders I shall find.
As he was forcing himself to concentrate his mind on the first of these letters he heard the rustle of a silk dress near him.
He suddenly turned round,
mademoiselle de la Mole was two yards from his table,
she was smiling.
This second interruption put Julien into a bad temper.
Mathilde had just fully realized that she meant nothing to this young man.
Her smile was intended to hide her embarrassment;
she succeeded in doing so.
"You are evidently thinking of something very interesting,
Is it not some curious anecdote about that conspiracy which is responsible for comte Altamira being in Paris?
Tell me what it is about,
I am burning to know.
I will be discreet,
I swear it."
She was astonished at hearing herself utter these words.
was she asking a favour of an inferior!
Her embarrassment increased,
and she added with a little touch of flippancy,
"What has managed to turn such a usually cold person as yourself,
into an inspired being,
a kind of Michael Angelo prophet?"
This sharp and indiscreet question wounded Julien deeply,
and rendered him madder than ever.
"Was Danton right in stealing?"
he said to her brusquely in a manner that grew more and more surly.
"Ought the revolutionaries of Piedmont and of Spain to have injured the people by crimes?
To have given all the places in the army and all the orders to undeserving persons?
Would not the persons who wore these orders have feared the return of the king?
Ought they to have allowed the treasure of Turin to be looted?
In a word,
coming near her with a terrifying expression,
"ought the man who wishes to chase ignorance and crime from the world to pass like the whirlwind and do evil indiscriminately?"
Mathilde felt frightened,
was unable to stand his look,
and retreated a couples of paces.
She looked at him a moment,
and then ashamed of her own fear,
left the library with a light step.
In what madness do you not manage to make us find pleasure!
Letters of a Portuguese Nun.
Julien reread his letters.
"How ridiculous I must have appeared in the eyes of that Parisian doll,"
he said to himself when the dinner-bell rang.
"How foolish to have really told her what I was thinking!
Perhaps it was not so foolish.
Telling the truth on that occasion was worthy of me.
Why did she come to question me on personal matters?
That question was indiscreet on her part.
She broke the convention.
My thoughts about Danton are not part of the sacrifice which her father pays me to make."
When he came into the dining-room Julien's thoughts were distracted from his bad temper by mademoiselle de la Mole's mourning which was all the more striking because none of the other members of the family were in black.
After dinner he felt completely rid of the feeling which had obsessed him all day.
Fortunately the academician who knew Latin was at dinner.
"That's the man who will make the least fun of me,"
said Julien to himself,
as I surmise,
my question about mademoiselle de la Mole's mourning is in bad taste."
Mathilde was looking at him with a singular expression.
"So this is the coquetry of the women of this part of the country,
just as madame de Rênal described it to me,"
said Julien to himself.
"I was not nice to her this morning.
I did not humour her caprice of talking to me.
I got up in value in her eyes.
The Devil doubtless is no loser by it.
"Later on her haughty disdain will manage to revenge herself.
I defy her to do her worst.
What a contrast with what I have lost!
What charming naturalness?
I used to know her thoughts before she did herself.
I used to see them come into existence.
The only rival she had in her heart was the fear of her childrens' death.
It was a reasonable,
natural feeling to me,
and even though I suffered from it I found it charming.
I have been a fool.
The ideas I had in my head about Paris prevented me from appreciating that sublime woman.
"Great God what a contrast and what do I find here?
haughty vanity: all the fine shades of wounded egotism and nothing more."
They got up from table.
"I must not let my academician get snapped up,"
said Julien to himself.
He went up to him as they were passing into the garden,
assumed an air of soft submissiveness and shared in his fury against the success of Hernani.
"If only we were still in the days of _lettres de cachet_!"
"Then he would not have dared,"
exclaimed the academician with a gesture worthy of Talma.
Julien quoted some words from Virgil's Georgics in reference to a flower and expressed the opinion that nothing was equal to the abbé Delille's verses.
In a word he flattered the academician in every possible way.
He then said to him with the utmost indifference,
"I suppose mademoiselle de la Mole has inherited something from some uncle for whom she is in mourning."
you belong to the house?"
said the academician stopping short,
"and you do not know her folly?
As a matter of fact it is strange her mother should allow her to do such things,
but between ourselves,
they do not shine in this household exactly by their force of character.
Mademoiselle's share has to do for all of them,
and governs them.
To-day is the thirtieth of April!"
and the academician stopped and looked meaningly at Julien.
Julien smiled with the most knowing expression he could master.
"What connection can there be between ruling a household,
wearing a black dress,
and the thirtieth April?"
he said to himself.
"I must be even sillier than I thought."
"I must confess ...."
he said to the academician while he continued to question him with his look.
"Let us take a turn round the garden,"
said the academician delighted at seeing an opportunity of telling a long and well-turned story.
is it really possible you do not know what happened on the 30th April,
said Julien in astonishment.
"At the place de Grève."
Julien was extremely astonished that these words did not supply him with the key.
His curiosity and his expectation of a tragic interest which would be in such harmony with his own character gave his eyes that brilliance which the teller of a story likes to see so much in the person who is listening to him.
The academician was delighted at finding a virgin ear,
and narrated at length to Julien how Boniface de la Mole,
the handsomest young man of this century together with Annibal de Coconasso,
a gentleman of Piedmont,
had been beheaded on the 30th April,
La Mole was the adored lover of Queen Marguerite of Navarre and "observe,"
continued the academician,
"that mademoiselle de La Mole's full name is Mathilde Marguerite.
La Mole was at the same time a favourite of the Duke d'Alençon and the intimate friend of his mistress's husband,
the King of Navarre,
subsequently Henri IV.
On Shrove Tuesday of that year 1574,
the court happened to be at St. Germain with the poor king Charles IX.
who was dying.
La Mole wished to rescue his friends the princes,
whom Queen Catherine of Medici was keeping prisoner in her Court.
He advanced two hundred cavalry under the walls of St. Germain;
the Duke d'Alençon was frightened and La Mole was thrown to the executioner.
"But the thing which affects mademoiselle Mathilde,
and what she has admitted to me herself seven or eight years ago when she was twelve,
is a head!
-- --and the academician lifted up his eyes to the heavens.
What struck her in this political catastrophe,
was the hiding of Queen Marguerite de Navarre in a house in the place de Grève and her then asking for her lover's head.
At midnight on the following day she took that head in her carriage and went and buried it herself in a chapel at the foot of the hill at Montmartre."
cried Julien really moved.
"Mademoiselle Mathilde despises her brother because,
as you see,
he does not bother one whit about this ancient history,
and never wears mourning on the thirtieth of April.
It is since the time of this celebrated execution and in order to recall the intimate friendship of La Mole for the said Coconasso,
who Italian that he was,
bore the name of Annibal that all the men of that family bear that name.
added the academician lowering his voice,
"this Coconasso was,
according to Charles IX.
one of the cruellest assassins of the twenty-fourth August,
But how is it possible,
my dear Sorel,
that you should be ignorant of these things --you who take your meals with the family."
"So that is why mademoiselle de la Mole twice called her brother Annibal at dinner.
I thought I had heard wrong."
"It was a reproach.
It is strange that the marquise should allow such follies.
The husband of that great girl will have a fine time of it."
This remark was followed by five or six satiric phrases.
Julien was shocked by the joy which shone in the academician's eyes.
"We are just a couple of servants,"
"engaged in talking scandal about our masters.
But I ought not to be astonished at anything this academy man does."
Julien had surprised him on his knees one day before the marquise de la Mole;
he was asking her for a tobacco receivership for a nephew in the provinces.
In the evening a little chambermaid of mademoiselle de la Mole,
who was paying court to Julien,
just as Elisa had used to do,
gave him to understand that her mistress's mourning was very far from being worn simply to attract attention.
This eccentricity was rooted in her character.
She really loved that la Mole,
the beloved lover of the most witty queen of the century,
who had died through trying to set his friends at liberty --and what friends!
The first prince of the blood and Henri IV.
Accustomed as he had been to the perfect naturalness which shone throughout madame de Rênal's whole demeanour,
Julien could not help finding all the women of Paris affected,
though by no means of a morose disposition,
found nothing to say to them.
Mademoiselle de la Mole was an exception.
He now began to cease taking for coldness of heart that kind of beauty which attaches importance to a noble bearing.
He had long conversations with mademoiselle de la Mole,
who would sometimes walk with him in the garden after dinner.
She told him one day that she was reading the History of D'Aubigné and also Brantôme.
"Strange books to read,"
"and the marquis does not allow her to read Walter Scott's novels!"
She told him one day,
with that pleased brilliancy in her eyes,
which is the real test of genuine admiration,
about a characteristic act of a young woman of the reign of Henry III.,
which she had just read in the memoirs of L'Étoile.
Finding her husband unfaithful she stabbed him.
Julien's vanity was nattered.
A person who was surrounded by so much homage,
and who governed the whole house,
according to the academician,
deigned to talk to him on a footing almost resembling friendship.
"I made a mistake,"
thought Julien soon afterwards.
"This is not familiarity,
I am simply the confidante of a tragedy,
she needs to speak to someone.
I pass in this family for a man of learning.
I will go and read Brantôme,
I shall then be able to challenge some of the anecdotes which madame de la Mole speaks to me about.
I want to leave off this rôle of the passive confidanté."
His conversations with this young girl,
whose demeanour was so impressive and yet so easy,
gradually became more interesting.
He forgot his grim rôle of the rebel plebian.
He found her well-informed and even logical.
Her opinions in the gardens were very different to those which she owned to in the salon.
Sometimes she exhibited an enthusiasm and a frankness which were in absolute contrast to her usual cold haughtiness.
"The wars of the League were the heroic days of France,"
she said to him one day,
with eyes shining with enthusiasm.
"Then everyone fought to gain something which he desired,
for the sake of his party's triumph,
and not just in order to win a cross as in the days of your emperor.
Admit that there was then less egotism and less pettiness.
I love that century."
"And Boniface de la Mole was the hero of it,"
he said to her.
"At least he was loved in a way that it is perhaps sweet to be loved.
What woman alive now would not be horrified at touching the head of her decapitated lover?"
Madame de la Mole called her daughter.
To be effective hypocrisy ought to hide itself,
yet Julien had half confided his admiration for Napoleon to mademoiselle de la Mole.
Julien remained alone in the garden.
"That is the immense advantage they have over us,"
he said to himself.
"Their ancestors lift them above vulgar sentiments,
and they have not got always to be thinking about their subsistence!
he added bitterly.
"I am not worthy to discuss these great matters.
My life is nothing more than a series of hypocrisies because I have not got a thousand francs a year with which to buy my bread and butter."
Mathilde came running back.
"What are you dreaming about,
she said to him.
Julien was tired of despising himself.
Through sheer pride he frankly told her his thoughts.
He blushed a great deal while talking to such a person about his own poverty.
He tried to make it as plain as he could that he was not asking for anything.
Mathilde never thought him so handsome;
she detected in him an expression of frankness and sensitiveness which he often lacked.
Within a month of this episode Julien was pensively walking in the garden of the hôtel;
but his face had no longer the hardness and philosophic superciliousness which the chronic consciousness of his inferior position had used to write upon it.
He had just escorted mademoiselle de la Mole to the door of the salon.
She said she had hurt her foot while running with her brother.
"She leaned on my arm in a very singular way,"
said Julien to himself.
"Am I a coxcomb,
or is it true that she has taken a fancy to me?
She listens to me so gently,
even when I confess to her all the sufferings of my pride!
who is so haughty to everyone!
They would be very astonished in the salon if they saw that expression of hers.
It is quite certain that she does not show anyone else such sweetness and goodness."
Julien endeavoured not to exaggerate this singular friendship.
He himself compared it to an armed truce.
When they met again each day,
they almost seemed before they took up the almost intimate tone of the previous day to ask themselves "are we going to be friends or enemies to-day?"
Julien had realised that to allow himself to be insulted with impunity even once by this haughty girl would mean the loss of everything.
"If I have got to quarrel would it not be better that it should be straight away in defending the rights of my own pride,
than in parrying the expressions of contempt which would follow the slightest abandonment of my duty to my own self-respect?"
On many occasions,
on days when she was in a bad temper Mathilde,
tried to play the great lady with him.
These attempts were extremely subtle,
but Julien rebuffed them roughly.
One day he brusquely interrupted her.
"Has mademoiselle de la Mole any orders to give her father's secretary?"
he said to her.
"If so he must listen to her orders,
and execute them,
but apart from that he has not a single word to say to her.
He is not paid to tell her his thoughts."
This kind of life,
together with the singular surmises which it occasioned,
dissipated the boredom which he had been accustomed to experience in that magnificent salon,
where everyone was afraid,
and where any kind of jest was in bad form.
"It would be humorous if she loved me but whether she loves me or not,"
went on Julien,
"I have for my confidential friend a girl of spirit before whom I see the whole household quake,
while the marquis de Croisenois does so more than anyone else.
to be sure,
that same young man who is so polite,
and so brave,
and who has combined all those advantages of birth and fortune a single one of which would put my heart at rest --he is madly in love with her,
he ought to marry her.
How many letters has M. de la Mole made me write to the two notaries in order to arrange the contract?
though I am an absolute inferior when I have my pen in my hand,
I triumph over that young man two hours afterwards in this very garden;
her preference is striking and direct.
Perhaps she hates him because she sees in him a future husband.
She is haughty enough for that.
As for her kindness to me,
I receive it in my capacity of confidential servant.
I am either mad or she is making advances to me;
the colder and more respectful I show myself to her,
the more she runs after me.
It may be a deliberate piece of affectation;
but I see her eyes become animated when I appear unexpectedly.
Can the women of Paris manage to act to such an extent.
What does it matter to me!
I have appearances in my favour,
let us enjoy appearances.
how beautiful she is!
How I like her great blue eyes when I see them at close quarters,
and they look at me in the way they often do?
What a difference between this spring and that of last year,
when I lived an unhappy life among three hundred dirty malicious hypocrites,
and only kept myself afloat through sheer force of character,
I was almost as malicious as they were."
"That young girl is making fun of me,"
Julien would think in his suspicious days.
"She is acting in concert with her brother to make a fool of me.
But she seems to have an absolute contempt for her brother's lack of energy.
He is brave and that is all.
He has not a thought which dares to deviate from the conventional.
It is always I who have to take up the cudgels in his defence.
A young girl of nineteen!
Can one at that age act up faithfully every second of the day to the part which one has determined to play.
On the other hand whenever mademoiselle de la Mole fixes her eyes on me with a singular expression comte Norbert always goes away.
I think that suspicious.
Ought he not to be indignant at his sister singling out a servant of her household?
For that is how I heard the Duke de Chaulnes speak about me.
This recollection caused anger to supersede every other emotion.
It is simply a fashion for old fashioned phraseology on the part of the eccentric duke?"
she is pretty!"
continued Julien with a tigerish expression,
"I will have her,
I will then go away,
and woe to him who disturbs me in my flight."
This idea became Julien's sole preoccupation.
He could not think of anything else.
His days passed like hours.
Every moment when he tried to concentrate on some important matter his mind became a blank,
and he would wake up a quarter of an hour afterwards with a beating heart and an anxious mind,
brooding over this idea "does she love me?"
A YOUNG GIRL'S DOMINION
I admire her beauty but I fear her intellect.
If Julien had employed the time which he spent in exaggerating Matilde's beauty or in working himself up into a rage against that family haughtiness which she was forgetting for his sake in examining what was going on in the salon,
he would have understood the secret of her dominion over all that surrounded her.
When anyone displeased mademoiselle de La Mole she managed to punish the offender by a jest which was so guarded,
so well chosen,
so polite and so neatly timed,
that the more the victim thought about it,
the sorer grew the wound.
She gradually became positively terrible to wounded vanity.
As she attached no value to many things which the rest of her family very seriously wanted,
she always struck them as self-possessed.
The salons of the aristocracy are nice enough to brag about when you leave them,
but that is all;
mere politeness alone only counts for something in its own right during the first few days.
Julien experienced this after the first fascination and the first astonishment had passed off.
he said to himself "is nothing but the absence of that bad temper which would be occasioned by bad manners."
Mathilde was frequently bored;
perhaps she would have been bored anywhere.
She then found a real distraction and real pleasure in sharpening an epigram.
It was perhaps in order to have more amusing victims than her great relations,
the academician and the five or six other men of inferior class who paid her court,
that she had given encouragement to the marquis de Croisenois,
the comte Caylus and two or three other young men of the highest rank.
They simply represented new subjects for epigrams.
We will admit with reluctance,
for we are fond of Mathilde,
that she had received many letters from several of them and had sometimes answered them.
We hasten to add that this person constitutes an exception to the manners of the century.
Lack of prudence is not generally the fault with which the pupils of the noble convent of the Sacred Heart can be reproached.
One day the marquis de Croisenois returned to Mathilde a fairly compromising letter which she had written the previous night.
He thought that he was thereby advancing his cause a great deal by taking this highly prudent step.
But the very imprudence of her correspondence was the very element in it Mathilde liked.
Her pleasure was to stake her fate.
She did not speak to him again for six weeks.
She amused herself with the letters of these young men,
but in her view they were all like each other.
It was invariably a case of the most profound,
the most melancholy,
"They all represent the same perfect man,
ready to leave for Palestine,"
she exclaimed to her cousin.
"Can you conceive of anything more insipid?
So these are the letters I am going to receive all my life!
There can only be a change every twenty years according to the kind of vogue which happens to be fashionable.
They must have had more colour in them in the days of the Empire.
In those days all these young society men had seen or accomplished feats which really had an element of greatness.
The Duke of N -- -- my uncle was at Wagram."
"What brains do you need to deal a sabre blow?
And when they have had the luck to do that they talk of it so often!"
said mademoiselle de Sainte-Hérédité,
those tales give me pleasure.
Being in a real battle,
a battle of Napoleon,
where six thousand soldiers were killed,
that's proof of courage.
Exposing one's self to danger elevates the soul and saves it from the boredom in which my poor admirers seem to be sunk;
and that boredom is contagious.
Which of them ever thought of doing anything extraordinary?
They are trying to win my hand,
a pretty business to be sure!
I am rich and my father will procure advancement for his son-in-law.
I hope he'll manage to find someone who is a little bit amusing."
sharp and picturesque view of life spoilt her language as one sees.
An expression of hers would often constitute a blemish in the eyes of her polished friends.
If she had been less fashionable they would almost have owned that her manner of speaking was,
from the standpoint of feminine delicacy,
to some extent unduly coloured.
on her side,
was very unjust towards the handsome cavaliers who fill the Bois de Boulogne.
She envisaged the future not with terror,
that would have been a vivid emotion,
but with a disgust which was very rare at her age.
What could she desire?
according to what the world said,
and according to what she believed,
all these things had been lavished upon her by the hands of chance.
So this was the state of mind of the most envied heiress of the faubourg Saint-Germain when she began to find pleasure in walking with Julien.
She was astonished at his pride;
she admired the ability of the little bourgeois.
"He will manage to get made a bishop like the abbé Mouray,"
she said to herself.
Soon the sincere and unaffected opposition with which our hero received several of her ideas filled her mind;
she continued to think about it,
she told her friend the slightest details of the conversation,
but thought that she would never succeed in fully rendering all their meaning.
An idea suddenly flashed across her;
"I have the happiness of loving,"
she said to herself one day with an incredible ecstasy of joy.
"I am in love,
I am in love,
it is clear!
Where can a young,
witty and beautiful girl of my own age find sensations if not in love?
It is no good.
I shall never feel any love for Croisenois,
and _tutti quanti_.
They are unimpeachable,
perhaps too unimpeachable;
any way they bore me."
She rehearsed in her mind all the descriptions of passion which she had read in _Manon Lescaut_,
the _Nouvelle Héloise_,
the _Letters of a Portuguese Nun_,
It was only a question of course of the grand passion;
light love was unworthy of a girl of her age and birth.
She vouchsafed the name of love to that heroic sentiment which was met with in France in the time of Henri III.
That love did not basely yield to obstacles,
far from it,
inspired great deeds.
"How unfortunate for me that there is not a real court like that of Catherine de' Medici or of Louis XIII.
I feel equal to the boldest and greatest actions.
What would I not make of a king who was a man of spirit like Louis XIII.
if he were sighing at my feet!
I would take him to the Vendée,
as the Baron de Tolly is so fond of saying,
and from that base he would re-conquer his kingdom;
then no more about a charter --and Julien would help me.
What does he lack?
name and fortune.
He will make a name,
he will win a fortune.
"Croisenois lacks nothing,
and he will never be anything else all his life but a duke who is half
'ultra' and half Liberal,
an undecided being who never goes to extremes and consequently always plays second fiddle.
"What great action is not an extreme at the moment when it is undertaken?
It is only after accomplishment that it seems possible to commonplace individuals.
it is love with all its miracles which is going to reign over my heart;
I feel as much from the fire which is thrilling me.
Heaven owed me this boon.
It will not then have lavished in vain all its bounties on one single person.
My happiness will be worthy of me.
Each day will no longer be the cold replica of the day before.
There is grandeur and audacity in the very fact of daring to love a man,
placed so far beneath me by his social position.
Let us see what happens,
will he continue to deserve me?
I will abandon him at the first sign of weakness which I detect.
A girl of my birth and of that mediæval temperament which they are good enough to ascribe to me (she was quoting from her father) must not behave like a fool.
"But should I not be behaving like a fool if I were to love the marquis de Croisenois?
I should simply have a new edition over again of that happiness enjoyed by my girl cousins which I so utterly despise.
I already know everything the poor marquis would say to me and every answer I should make.
What's the good of a love which makes one yawn?
One might as well be in a nunnery.
I shall have a celebration of the signing of a contract just like my younger cousin when the grandparents all break down,
provided of course that they are not annoyed by some condition introduced into the contract at the eleventh hour by the notary on the other side."
IS HE A DANTON?
The need of anxiety.
These words summed up the character of my aunt,
the beautiful Marguerite de Valois,
who was soon to marry the King of Navarre whom we see reigning at present in France under the name of Henry IV.
The need of staking something was the key to the character of this charming princess;
hence her quarrels and reconciliations with her brothers from the time when she was sixteen.
what can a young girl stake?
The most precious thing she has: her reputation,
the esteem of a lifetime.
_Memoirs of the Duke d' Angoulème._ _the natural son of Charles IX_.
"There is no contract to sign for Julien and me,
there is no notary;
everything is on the heroic plane,
everything is the child of chance.
Apart from the noble birth which he lacks,
it is the love of Marguerite de Valois for the young La Mole,
the most distinguished man of the time,
Is it my fault that the young men of the court are such great advocates of the conventional,
and turn pale at the mere idea of the slightest adventure which is a little out of the ordinary?
A little journey in Greece or Africa represents the highest pitch of their audacity,
and moreover they can only march in troops.
As soon as they find themselves alone they are frightened,
not of the Bedouin's lance,
but of ridicule and that fear makes them mad.
"My little Julien on the other hand only likes to act alone.
This unique person never thinks for a minute of seeking help or support in others!
He despises others,
and that is why I do not despise him.
"If Julien were noble as well as poor,
my love would simply be a vulgar piece of stupidity,
a sheer mésalliance;
I would have nothing to do with it;
it would be absolutely devoid of the characteristic traits of grand passion --the immensity of the difficulty to be overcome and the black uncertainty cf the result."
Mademoiselle de la Mole was so engrossed in these pretty arguments that without realising what she was doing,
she praised Julien to the marquis de Croisenois and her brother on the following day.
Her eloquence went so far that it provoked them.
"You be careful of this young man who has so much energy,"
exclaimed her brother;
"if we have another revolution he will have us all guillotined."
She was careful not to answer,
but hastened to rally her brother and the marquis de Croisenois on the apprehension which energy caused them.
"It is at bottom simply the fear of meeting the unexpected,
the fear of being non-plussed in the presence of the unexpected --"
the fear of ridicule,
a monster which had the misfortune to die in 1816."
"Ridicule has ceased to exist in a country where there are two parties,"
M. de la Mole was fond of saying.
His daughter had understood the idea.
she would say to Julien's enemies,
"you will be frightened all your life and you will be told afterwards,
"Ce n'était pas un loup,
ce n'en était que l'ombre."
Matilde soon left them.
Her brother's words horrified her;
they occasioned her much anxiety,
but the day afterwards she regarded them as tantamount to the highest praise.
"His energy frightens them in this age where all energy is dead.
I will tell him my brother's phrase.
I want to see what answer he will make.
But I will choose one of the moments when his eyes are shining.
Then he will not be able to lie to me.
"He must be a Danton!"
she added after a long and vague reverie.
suppose the revolution begins again,
what figures will Croisenois and my brother cut then?
It is settled in advance: Sublime resignation.
They will be heroic sheep who will allow their throats to be cut without saying a word.
Their one fear when they die will still be the fear of being bad form.
If a Jacobin came to arrest my little Julien he would blow his brains out,
however small a chance he had of escaping.
He is not frightened of doing anything in bad form."
These last words made her pensive;
they recalled painful memories and deprived her of all her boldness.
These words reminded her of the jests of MM.
de Luz and her brother;
these gentlemen joined in censuring Julien for his priestly demeanour,
which they said was humble and hypocritical.
she went on suddenly with her eyes gleaming with joy,
"the very bitterness and the very frequency of their jests prove in spite of themselves that he is the most distinguished man whom we have seen this winter.
What matter his defects and the things which they make fun of?
He has the element of greatness and they are shocked by it.
the very men who are so good and so charitable in other matters.
It is a fact that he is poor and that he has studied in order to be a priest;
they are the heads of a squadron and never had any need of studying;
they found it less trouble.
"In spite of all the handicap of his everlasting black suit and of that priestly expression which he must wear,
if he isn't to die of hunger,
his merit frightens them,
nothing could be clearer.
And as for that priest-like expression,
why he no longer has it after we have been alone for some moments,
and after those gentlemen have evolved what they imagine to be a subtle and impromptu epigram,
is not their first look towards Julien?
I have often noticed it.
And yet they know well that he never speaks to them unless he is questioned.
I am the only one whom he speaks to.
He thinks I have a lofty soul.
He only answers the points they raise sufficiently to be polite.
He immediately reverts into respectfulness.
But with me he will discuss things for whole hours,
he is not certain of his ideas so long as I find the slightest objection to them.
There has not been a single rifle-shot fired all this winter;
words have been the only means of attracting attention.
who is a superior man and will carry the fortunes of our house very far,
Every one else hates him,
no one despises him except my mother's devout friends."
The Comte de Caylus had or pretended to have a great passion for horses;
he passed his life in his stables and often breakfasted there.
This great passion,
together with his habit of never laughing,
won for him much respect among his friends: he was the eagle of the little circle.
As soon as they had reassembled the following day behind madame de la Mole's armchair,
M. de Caylus,
supported by Croisenois and by Norbert,
began in Julien's absence to attack sharply the high opinion which Mathilde entertained for Julien.
He did this without any provocation,
and almost the very minute that he caught sight of mademoiselle de la Mole.
She tumbled to the subtlety immediately and was delighted with it.
"So there they are all leagued together,"
she said to herself,
"against a man of genius who has not ten louis a year to bless himself with and who cannot answer them except in so far as he is questioned.
They are frightened of him,
black coat and all.
But how would things stand if he had epaulettes?"
She had never been more brilliant,
hardly had Caylus and his allies opened their attack than she riddled them with sarcastic jests.
When the fire of these brilliant officers was at length extinguished she said to M. de Caylus,
"Suppose that some gentleman in the Franche-Comté mountains finds out to-morrow that Julien is his natural son and gives him a name and some thousands of francs,
why in six months he will be an officer of hussars like you,
in six weeks he will have moustaches like you gentlemen.
And then his greatness of character will no longer be an object of ridicule.
I shall then see you reduced,
monsieur the future duke,
to this stale and bad argument,
the superiority of the court nobility over the provincial nobility.
But where will you be if I choose to push you to extremities and am mischievous enough to make Julien's father a Spanish duke,
who was a prisoner of war at Besançon in the time of Napoleon,
and who out of conscientious scruples acknowledges him on his death bed?"
and de Croisenois found all these assumptions of illegitimacy in rather bad taste.
That was all they saw in Mathilde's reasoning.
His sister's words were so clear that Norbert,
in spite of his submissiveness,
assumed a solemn air,
which one must admit did not harmonise very well with his amiable,
He ventured to say a few words.
"Are you ill?
answered Mathilde with a little air of seriousness.
"You must be very bad to answer jests by moralizing."
"Moralizing from you!
Are you soliciting a job as prefect?"
Mathilde soon forgot the irritation of the comte de Caylus,
the bad temper of Norbert,
and the taciturn despair of M. de Croisenois.
She had to decide one way or the other a fatal question which had just seized upon her soul.
"Julien is sincere enough with me,"
she said to herself,
"a man at his age,
in a inferior position,
and rendered unhappy as he is by an extraordinary ambition,
must have need of a woman friend.
I am perhaps that friend,
but I see no sign of love in him.
Taking into account the audacity of his character he would surely have spoken to me about his love."
This uncertainty and this discussion with herself which henceforth monopolised Mathilde's time,
and in connection with which she found new arguments each time that Julien spoke to her,
completely routed those fits of boredom to which she had been so liable.
Daughter as she was of a man of intellect who might become a minister,
mademoiselle de la Mole had been when in the convent of the Sacred Heart,
the object of the most excessive flattery.
This misfortune can never be compensated for.
She had been persuaded that by reason of all her advantages of birth,
she ought to be happier than any one else.
This is the cause of the boredom of princes and of all their follies.
Mathilde had not escaped the deadly influence of this idea.
However intelligent one may be,
one cannot at the age of ten be on one's guard against the flatteries of a whole convent,
which are apparently so well founded.
From the moment that she had decided that she loved Julien,
she was no longer bored.
She congratulated herself every day on having deliberately decided to indulge in a grand passion.
"This amusement is very dangerous,"
"All the better,
all the better,
a thousand times.
Without a grand passion I should be languishing in boredom during the finest time of my life,
the years from sixteen to twenty.
I have already wasted my finest years: all my pleasure consisted in being obliged to listen to the silly arguments of my mother's friends who when at Coblentz in 1792 were not quite so strict,
so they say,
as their words of to-day."
It was while Mathilde was a prey to these great fits of uncertainty that Julien was baffled by those long looks of hers which lingered upon him.
an increased frigidity in the manner of comte Norbert,
and a fresh touch of haughtiness in the manner of MM.
de Luz and de Croisenois.
He was accustomed to that.
He would sometimes be their victim in this way at the end of an evening when,
in view of the position he occupied,
he had been unduly brilliant.
Had it not been for the especial welcome with which Mathilde would greet him,
and the curiosity with which all this society inspired him,
he would have avoided following these brilliant moustachioed young men into the garden,
when they accompanied mademoiselle de La Mole there,
in the hour after dinner.
Julien would say to himself,
"it is impossible for me to deceive myself,
mademoiselle de la Mole looks at me in a very singular way.
But even when her fine blue open eyes are fixed on me,
wide open with the most abandon,
I always detect behind them an element of scrutiny,
self-possession and malice.
Is it possible that this may be love?
But how different to madame de Rênal's looks!"
One evening after dinner Julien,
who had followed M. de la Mole into his study,
was rapidly walking back to the garden.
He approached Mathilde's circle without any warning,
and caught some words pronounced in a very loud voice.
She was teasing her brother.
Julien heard his name distinctly pronounced twice.
There was immediately a profound silence and abortive efforts were made to dissipate it.
Mademoiselle de la Mole and her brother were too animated to find another topic of conversation.
and one of their friends,
manifested an icy coldness to Julien.
He went away.
become transformed in the eyes of an imaginative man into the most convincing proofs,
if he has any fire in his temperament.
The following day he again caught Norbert and his sister talking about him.
A funereal silence was established on his arrival as on the previous day.
His suspicions were now unbounded.
"Can these charming young people have started to make fun of me?
I must own this is much more probable,
much more natural than any suggested passion on the part of mademoiselle de La Mole for a poor devil of a secretary.
In the first place,
have those people got any passions at all?
Mystification is their strong point.
They are jealous of my poor little superiority in speaking.
Being jealous again is one of their weaknesses.
On that basis everything is explicable.
Mademoiselle de La Mole simply wants to persuade me that she is marking me out for special favour in order to show me off to her betrothed?"
This cruel suspicion completely changed Julien's psychological condition.
The idea found in his heart a budding love which it had no difficulty in destroying.
This love was only founded on Mathilde's rare beauty,
or rather on her queenly manners and her admirable dresses.
Julien was still a parvenu in this respect.
We are assured that there is nothing equal to a pretty society women for dazzling a peasant who is at the same time a man of intellect,
when he is admitted to first class society.
It had not been Mathilde's character which had given Julien food for dreams in the days that had just passed.
He had sufficient sense to realise that he knew nothing about her character.
All he saw of it might be merely superficial.
Mathilde would not have missed mass on Sunday for anything in the world.
She accompanied her mother there nearly every time.
If when in the salon of the Hôtel de La Mole some indiscreet man forgot where he was,
and indulged in the remotest allusion to any jest against the real or supposed interests of Church or State,
Mathilde immediately assumed an icy seriousness.
Her previously arch expression re-assumed all the impassive haughtiness of an old family portrait.
But Julien had assured himself that she always had one or two of Voltaire's most philosophic volumes in her room.
He himself would often steal some tomes of that fine edition which was so magnificently bound.
By moving each volume a little distance from the one next to it he managed to hide the absence of the one he took away,
but he soon noticed that someone else was reading Voltaire.
He had recourse to a trick worthy of the seminary and placed some pieces of hair on those volumes which he thought were likely to interest mademoiselle de La Mole.
They disappeared for whole weeks.
M. de La Mole had lost patience with his bookseller,
who always sent him all the spurious memoirs,
and had instructed Julien to buy all the new books,
which were at all stimulating.
But in order to prevent the poison spreading over the household,
the secretary was ordered to place the books in a little book-case that stood in the marquis's own room.
He was soon quite certain that although the new books were hostile to the interests of both State and Church,
they very quickly disappeared.
It was certainly not Norbert who read them.
Julien attached undue importance to this discovery,
and attributed to mademoiselle de la Mole a Machiavellian rôle.
This seeming depravity constituted a charm in his eyes,
the one moral charm,
which she possessed.
He was led into this extravagance by his boredom with hypocrisy and moral platitudes.
It was more a case of his exciting his own imagination than of his being swept away by his love.
It was only after he had abandoned himself to reveries about the elegance of mademoiselle de la Mole's figure,
the excellent taste of he dress,
the whiteness of her hand,
the beauty of her arm,
the _disinvoltura_ of all her movements,
that he began to find himself in love.
Then in order to complete the charm he thought her a Catherine de' Medici.
Nothing was too deep or too criminal for the character which he ascribed to her.
She was the ideal of the Maslons,
and the Castanèdes whom he had admired so much in his youth.
To put it shortly,
she represented in his eyes the Paris ideal.
Could anything possibly be more humorous than believing in the depth or in the depravity of the Parisian character?
It is impossible that this _trio_ is making fun of me thought Julien.
The reader knows little of his character if he has not begun already to imagine his cold and gloomy expression when he answered Mathilde's looks.
A bitter irony rebuffed those assurances of friendship which the astonished mademoiselle de la Mole ventured to hazard on two or three occasions.
Piqued by this sudden eccentricity,
the heart of this young girl,
though naturally cold,
bored and intellectual,
became as impassioned as it was naturally capable of being.
But there was also a large element of pride in Mathilde's character,
and the birth of a sentiment which made all her happiness dependent on another,
was accompanied by a gloomy melancholy.
Julien had derived sufficient advantage from his stay in Paris to appreciate that this was not the frigid melancholy of ennui.
Instead of being keen as she had been on at homes,
and all kinds of distractions,
she now shunned them.
Music sung by Frenchmen bored Mathilde to death,
who always made a point of being present when the audience came out of the Opera,
noticed that she made a point of getting taken there as often as she could.
He thought he noticed that she had lost a little of that brilliant neatness of touch which used to be manifest in everything she did.
She would sometimes answer her friends with jests rendered positively outrageous through the sheer force of their stinging energy.
He thought that she made a special butt of the marquis de Croisenois.
That young man must be desperately in love with money not to give the go-by to that girl,
however rich she maybe,
And as for himself,
indignant at these outrages on masculine self-respect,
he redoubled his frigidity towards her.
Sometimes he went so far as to answer her with scant courtesy.
In spite of his resolution not to become the dupe of Mathilde's signs of interest,
these manifestations were so palpable on certain days,
whose eyes were beginning to be opened,
began to find her so pretty,
that he was sometimes embarrassed.
"These young people of society will score in the long run by their skill and their coolness over my inexperience,"
he said to himself.
"I must leave and put an end to all this."
The marquis had just entrusted him with the administration of a number of small estates and houses which he possessed in Lower Languedoc.
A journey was necessary;
M. de la Mole reluctantly consented.
Julien had become his other self,
except in those matters which concerned his political career.
when we come to balance the account,"
Julien said to himself,
as he prepared his departure,
"they have not caught me.
Whether the jests that mademoiselle de la Mole made to those gentlemen are real,
or whether they were only intended to inspire me with confidence,
they have simply amused me.
"If there is no conspiracy against the carpenter's son,
mademoiselle de la Mole is an enigma,
but at any rate,
she is quite as much an enigma for the marquis de Croisenois as she is to me.
her bad temper was very real,
and I had the pleasure of seeing her snub,
thanks to her favour for me,
a young man who is as noble and as rich as I am a poor scoundrel of a plebeian.
That is my finest triumph;
it will divert me in my post-chaise as I traverse the Languedoc plains."
He had kept his departure a secret,
but Mathilde knew,
even better than he did himself,
that he was going to leave Paris the following day for a long time.
She developed a maddening headache,
which was rendered worse by the stuffy salon.
She walked a great deal in the garden,
and persecuted Norbert,
the marquis de Croisenois,
and some other young men who had dined at the Hôtel de la Mole,
to such an extent by her mordant witticisms,
that she drove them to take their leave.
She kept looking at Julien in a strange way.
"Perhaps that look is a pose,"
"but how about that hurried breathing and all that agitation?
he said to himself,
"who am I to judge of such things?
We are dealing with the cream of Parisian sublimity and subtlety.
As for that hurried breathing which was on the point of affecting me,
she no doubt studied it with Léontine Fay,
whom she likes so much."
They were left alone;
the conversation was obviously languishing.
Julien has no feeling for me,"
said Mathilde to herself,
in a state of real unhappiness.
As he was taking leave of her she took his arm violently.
"You will receive a letter from me this evening,"
she said to him in a voice that was so changed that its tone was scarcely recognisable.
This circumstance affected Julien immediately.
"has a proper regard for the services you render him.
You must not leave to-morrow;
find an excuse."
And she ran away.
Her figure was charming.
It was impossible to have a prettier foot.
She ran with a grace which fascinated Julien,
but will the reader guess what he began to think about after she had finally left him?
He felt wounded by the imperious tone with which she had said the words,
when on his death-bed,
had been keenly irritated by the words "you must,"
which had been tactlessly pronounced by his first physician,
and yet Louis XV.
was not a parvenu.
An hour afterwards a footman gave Julien a letter.
It was quite simply a declaration of love.
"The style is too affected,"
said Julien to himself,
as he endeavoured to control by his literary criticism the joy which was spreading over his cheeks and forcing him to smile in spite of himself.
At last his passionate exultation was too strong to be controlled.
he suddenly exclaimed,
the poor peasant,
get a declaration of love from a great lady."
"As for myself,
I haven't done so badly,"
restraining his joy as much as he could.
"I have managed to preserve my self-respect.
I did not say that I loved her."
He began to study the formation of the letters.
Mademoiselle de la Mole had a pretty little English handwriting.
He needed some concrete occupation to distract him from a joy which verged on delirium.
"Your departure forces me to speak ....
I could not bear not to see you again."
A thought had just struck Julien like a new discovery.
It interrupted his examination of Mathilde's letter,
and redoubled his joy.
"So I score over the marquis de Croisenois,"
I who could only talk seriously!
And he is so handsome.
He has a moustache and a charming uniform.
He always manages to say something witty and clever just at the psychological moment."
Julien experienced a delightful minute.
He was wandering at random in the garden,
mad with happiness.
Afterwards he went up to his desk,
and had himself ushered in to the marquis de la Mole,
who was fortunately still in.
He showed him several stamped papers which had come from Normandy,
and had no difficulty in convincing him that he was obliged to put off his departure for Languedoc in order to look after the Normandy lawsuits.
"I am very glad that you are not going,"
said the marquis to him,
when they had finished talking business.
"I like seeing you."
Julien went out;
the words irritated him.
"And I --I am going to seduce his daughter!
and perhaps render impossible that marriage with the marquis de Croisenois to which the marquis looks forward with such delight.
If he does not get made a duke,
at any rate his daughter will have a coronet."
Julien thought of leaving for Languedoc in spite of Mathilde's letter,
and in spite of the explanation he had just given to the marquis.
This flash of virtue quickly disappeared.
"How kind it is of me,"
he said to himself,
takes pity on a family of this rank!
whom the duke of Chaulnes calls a servant!
How does the marquis manage to increase his immense fortune?
By selling stock when he picks up information at the castle that there will be a panic of a _coup d'état_ on the following day.
And shall I,
who have been flung down into the lowest class by a cruel providence --I,
whom providence has given a noble heart but not an income of a thousand francs,
that is to say,
not enough to buy bread with,
literally not enough to buy bread with --shall I refuse a pleasure that presents itself?
A limpid fountain which will quench my thirst in this scorching desert of mediocrity which I am traversing with such difficulty!
Upon my word,
I am not such a fool!
Each man for himself in that desert of egoism which is called life."
And he remembered certain disdainful looks which madame de la Mole,
and especially her lady friends,
had favoured him with.
The pleasure of scoring over the marquis de Croisenois completed the rout of this echo of virtue.
"How I should like to make him angry,"
"With what confidence would I give him a sword thrust now!"
And he went through the segoon thrust.
"Up till now I have been a mere usher,
who exploited basely the little courage he had.
After this letter I am his equal.
he slowly said to himself,
with an infinite pleasure,
"the merits of the marquis and myself have been weighed in the balance,
and it is the poor carpenter from the Jura who turns the scale.
"this is how I shall sign my answer.
mademoiselle de la Mole,
that I am forgetting my place.
I will make you realise and fully appreciate that it is for a carpenter's son that you are betraying a descendant of the famous Guy de Croisenois who followed St. Louis to the Crusade."
Julien was unable to control his joy.
He was obliged to go down into the garden.
He had locked himself in his room,
but he found it too narrow to breathe in.
"To think of it being me,
the poor peasant from the Jura,"
he kept on repeating to himself,
"to think of it being me who am eternally condemned to wear this gloomy black suit!
Alas twenty years ago I would have worn a uniform like they do!
In those days a man like me either got killed or became a general at thirty-six.
The letter which he held clenched in his hand gave him a heroic pose and stature.
it is true,
if one sticks to this black suit,
one gets at forty an income of a hundred thousand francs and the blue ribbon like my lord bishop of Beauvais.
he said to himself with a Mephistophelian smile,
"I have more brains than they.
I am shrewd enough to choose the uniform of my century.
And he felt a quickening of his ambition and of his attachment to his ecclesiastical dress.
What cardinals of even lower birth than mine have not succeeded in governing!
My compatriot Granvelle,
Julien's agitation became gradually calmed!
Prudence emerged to the top.
He said to himself like his master Tartuffe whose part he knew by heart:
Je puis croire ces mots,
un artifice honnête.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * Je ne me firai point à des propos si doux,
Qu'un peu de ses faveurs après quoi je soupire Ne vienne m'assurer tout ce qu'ils m'ont pudire.
was ruined by a woman,
and he was as good as most men ....
My answer may be shown ....
and the way out of that is this,"
he added pronouncing his words slowly with an intonation of deliberate and restrained ferocity.
"We will begin by quoting the most vivid passages from the letter of the sublime Mathilde."
but M. de Croisenois' lackeys will hurl themselves upon me and snatch the original away."
for I am well armed,
and as we know I am accustomed to firing on lackeys."
suppose one of them has courage,
and hurls himself upon me.
He has been promised a hundred napoleons.
I kill him,
or wound him,
that's what they want.
I shall be thrown into prison legally.
I shall be had up in the police court and the judges will send me with all justice and all equity to keep Messieurs Fontan and Magalon company in Poissy.
There I shall be landed in the middle of four hundred scoundrels ....
And am I to have the slightest pity on these people,"
he exclaimed getting up impetuously!
"Do they show any to persons of the third estate when they have them in their power!"
With these words his gratitude to M. de la Mole,
which had been in spite of himself torturing his conscience up to this time,
breathed its last.
I follow this little Machiavellian trick,
the abbé Maslon or M. Castanède of the seminary could not have done better.
You will take the provocative letter away from me and I shall exemplify the second volume of Colonel Caron at Colmar."
I will send the fatal letter in a well-sealed packet to M. the abbé Pirard to take care of.
He's an honest man,
and consequently incorruptible.
but he will open the letters ....
Fouqué is the man to whom I must send it."
We must admit that Julien's expression was awful,
his countenance ghastly;
it breathed unmitigated criminality.
It represented the unhappy man at war with all society.
And he bounded up the flight of steps of the hotel with one stride.
He entered the stall of the street scrivener;
he frightened him.
giving him mademoiselle de la Mole's letter.
While the scrivener was working,
he himself wrote to Fouqué.
He asked him to take care of a valuable deposit.
"But he said to himself,"
breaking in upon his train of thought,
"the secret service of the post-office will open my letter,
and will give you gentlemen the one you are looking for ...
He went and bought an enormous Bible from a Protestant bookseller,
skillfully hid Mathilde's letter in the cover,
and packed it all up.
His parcel left by the diligence addressed to one of Fouqué's workmen,
whose name was known to nobody at Paris.
he returned to the Hôtel de la Mole,
joyous and buoyant.
Now it's our turn he exclaimed as he locked himself into the room and threw off his coat.
he wrote to Mathilde,
"is it mademoiselle de la Mole who gets Arsène her father's lackey to hand an only too flattering letter to a poor carpenter from the Jura,
in order no doubt to make fun of his simplicity?"
And he copied out the most explicit phrases in the letter which he had just received.
His own letter would have done honour to the diplomatic prudence of M. the Chevalier de Beauvoisis.
It was still only ten o'clock when Julien entered the Italian opera,
intoxicated with happiness and that feeling of his own power which was so novel for a poor devil like him.
He heard his friend Geronimo sing.
Music had never exalted him to such a pitch.
A YOUNG GIRL'S THOUGHTS
What sleepless nights!
Am I going to make myself contemptible?
He will despise me himself.
But he is leaving,
he is going away.
_Alfred de Musset_
Mathilde had not written without a struggle.
Whatever might have been the beginning of her interest in Julien,
it soon dominated that pride which had reigned unchallenged in her heart since she had begun to know herself.
This cold and haughty soul was swept away for the first time by a sentiment of passion,
but if this passion dominated her pride,
it still kept faithfully to the habits of that pride.
Two months of struggles and new sensations had transformed,
so to speak her whole moral life.
Mathilde thought she was in sight of happiness.
irresistible as it is for those who combine a superior intellect with a courageous soul,
had to struggle for a long time against her self respect and all her vulgar duties.
One day she went into her mother's room at seven o'clock in the morning and asked permission to take refuge in Villequier.
The marquise did not even deign to answer her,
and advised her to go back to bed.
This was the last effort of vulgar prudence and respect for tradition.
The fear of doing wrong and of offending those ideas which the Caylus's,
the de Luz's,
the Croisenois' held for sacred had little power over her soul.
She considered such creatures incapable of understanding her.
She would have consulted them,
if it had been a matter of buying a carriage or an estate.
Her real fear was that Julien was displeased with her.
has only the appearance of a superior man?"
She abhorred lack of character;
that was her one objection to the handsome young men who surrounded her.
The more they made elegant fun of everything which deviated from the prevailing mode,
or which conformed to it but indifferently,
the lower they fell in her eyes.
They were brave and that was all.
"And after all in what way were they brave?"
she said to herself.
but the duel is nothing more than a formality.
The whole thing is mapped out beforehand,
even the correct thing to say when you fall.
Stretched on the turf,
and with your hand on your heart,
you must vouchsafe a generous forgiveness to the adversary,
and a few words for a fair lady,
who is often imaginary,
or if she does exist,
will go to a ball on the day of your death for fear of arousing suspicion."
"One braves danger at the head of a squadron brilliant with steel,
but how about that danger which is solitary,
unforeseen and really ugly."
said Mathilde to herself,
"it was at the court of Henri III.
that men who were great both by character and by birth were to be found!
If Julien had served at Jarnac or Moncontour,
I should no longer doubt.
In those days of strength and vigour Frenchmen were not dolls.
The day of the battle was almost the one which presented the fewest problems."
Their life was not imprisoned,
like an Egyptian mummy in a covering which was common to all,
and always the same.
"there was more real courage in going home alone at eleven o'clock in the evening when one came out of the Hôtel de Soissons where Catherine de' Medici lived than there is nowadays in running over to Algiers.
A man's life was then a series of hazards.
Nowadays civilisation has banished hazard.
There are no more surprises.
If anything new appears in any idea there are not sufficient epigrams to immortalise it,
but if anything new appears in actual life,
our panic reaches the lowest depth of cowardice.
Whatever folly panic makes us commit is excused.
What a degenerate and boring age!
What would Boniface de la Mole have said if,
lifting his cut-off head out of the tomb,
he had seen seventeen of his descendants allow themselves to be caught like sheep in 1793 in order to be guillotined two days afterwards!
Death was certain,
but it would have been bad form to have defended themselves and to have killed at least one or two Jacobins.
in the heroic days of France,
in the age of Boniface de la Mole,
Julien would have been the chief of a squadron,
while my brother would have been the young priest with decorous manners,
with wisdom in his eyes and reason on his lips."
Some months previously Mathilde had given up all hope of meeting any being who was a little different from the common pattern.
She had found some happiness in allowing herself to write to some young society men.
This rash procedure,
which was so unbecoming and so imprudent in a young girl,
might have disgraced her in the eyes of M. de Croisenois,
the Duke de Chaulnes,
and the whole Hôtel de Chaulnes,
who on seeing the projected marriage broken off would have wanted to know the reason.
At that time Mathilde had been unable to sleep on those days when she had written one of her letters.
But those letters were only answers.
But now she ventured to declare her own love.
She wrote first (what a terrible word!) to a man of the lowest social grade.
This circumstance rendered her eternal disgrace quite inevitable in the event of detection.
Who of the women who visited her mother would have dared to take her part?
What official excuse could be evolved which could successfully cope with the awful contempt of society.
Besides speaking was awful enough,
"There are some things which are not written!"
Napoleon had exclaimed on learning of the capitulation of Baylen.
And it was Julien who had told her that epigram,
as though giving her a lesson that was to come in useful subsequently.
But all this was comparatively unimportant,
Mathilde's anguish had other causes.
Forgetting the terrible effect it would produce on society,
and the ineffable blot on her scutcheon that would follow such an outrage on her own caste,
Mathilde was going to write to a person of a very different character to the Croisenois',
the de Luz's,
She would have been frightened at the depth and mystery in Julien's character,
even if she had merely entered into a conventional acquaintance with him.
And she was going to make him her lover,
perhaps her master.
"What will his pretensions not be,
if he is ever in a position to do everything with me?
I shall say,
like Medea: _Au milieu de tant de périls il me reste Moi_."
She believed that Julien had no respect for nobility of blood.
What was more,
he probably did not love her.
In these last moments of awful doubt her feminine pride suggested to her certain ideas.
"Everything is bound to be extraordinary in the life of a girl like me,"
exclaimed Mathilde impatiently.
which had been drilled into her since her cradle,
began to struggle with her virtue.
It was at this moment that Julien's departure precipitated everything.
(Such characters are luckily very rare.)
Very late in the evening,
Julien was malicious enough to have a very heavy trunk taken down to the porter's lodge.
He called the valet,
who was courting mademoiselle de la Mole's chambermaid,
to move it.
"This manœuvre cannot result in anything,"
he said to himself,
"but if it does succeed,
she will think that I have gone."
Very tickled by this humorous thought,
he fell asleep.
Mathilde did not sleep a wink.
Julien left the hôtel very early the next morning without being seen,
but he came back before eight o'clock.
He had scarcely entered the library before M. de la Mole appeared on the threshold.
He handed her his answer.
He thought that it was his duty to speak to her,
it was certainly perfectly feasible,
but mademoiselle de la Mole would not listen to him and disappeared.
Julien was delighted.
He did not know what to say.
"If all this is not a put up job with comte Norbert,
it is clear that it is my cold looks which have kindled the strange love which this aristocratic girl chooses to entertain for me.
I should be really too much of a fool if I ever allowed myself to take a fancy to that big blonde doll."
This train of reasoning left him colder and more calculating than he had ever been.
"In the battle for which we are preparing,"
"pride of birth will be like a high hill which constitutes a military position between her and me.
That must be the field of the manœuvres.
I made a great mistake in staying in Paris;
this postponing of my departure cheapens and exposes me,
if all this is simply a trick.
What danger was there in leaving?
If they were making fun of me,
I was making fun of them.
If her interest for me was in any way real,
I was making that interest a hundred times more intense."
Mademoiselle de la Mole's letter had given Julien's vanity so keen a pleasure,
that wreathed as he was in smiles at his good fortune he had forgotten to think seriously about the propriety of leaving.
It was one of the fatal elements of his character to be extremely sensitive to his own weaknesses.
He was extremely upset by this one,
and had almost forgotten the incredible victory which had preceded this slight check,
when about nine o'clock mademoiselle de la Mole appeared on the threshold of the library,
flung him a letter and ran away.
"So this is going to be the romance by letters,"
he said as he picked it up.
"The enemy makes a false move;
I will reply by coldness and virtue."
He was asked with a poignancy which merely increased his inner gaiety to give a definite answer.
He indulged in the pleasure of mystifying those persons who he thought wanted to make fun of him for two pages,
and it was out of humour again that he announced towards the end of his answer his definite departure on the following morning.
"The garden will be a useful place to hand her the letter,"
he thought after he had finished it,
and he went there.
He looked at the window of mademoiselle de la Mole's room.
It was on the first storey,
next to her mother's apartment,
but there was a large ground floor.
This latter was so high that,
as Julien walked under the avenue of pines with his letter in his hands,
he could not be seen from mademoiselle de la Mole's window.
The dome formed by the well clipped pines intercepted the view.
said Julien to himself angrily,
If they have really begun making fun of me,
showing myself with a letter is playing into my enemy's hands."
Norbert's room was exactly above his sister's and if Julien came out from under the dome formed by the clipped branches of the pine,
the comte and his friend could follow all his movements.
Mademoiselle de la Mole appeared behind her window;
he half showed his letter;
she lowered her head,
then Julien ran up to his own room and met accidentally on the main staircase the fair Mathilde,
who seized the letter with complete self-possession and smiling eyes.
"What passion there was in the eyes of that poor madame de Rênal,"
said Julien to himself,
"when she ventured to receive a letter from me,
even after six months of intimate relationship!
I don't think she ever looked at me with smiling eyes in her whole life."
He did not formulate so precisely the rest of his answer;
was he perhaps ashamed of the triviality of the motive which were actuating him?
"But how different too,"
he went on to think,
"are her elegant morning dress and her distinguished appearance!
A man of taste on seeing mademoiselle de la Mole thirty yards off would infer the position which she occupies in society.
That is what can be called a specific merit."
In spite of all this humorousness,
Julien was not yet quite honest with himself;
madame de Rênal had no marquis de Croisenois to sacrifice to him.
His only rival was that grotesque sub-prefect,
who assumed the name of Maugiron,
because there were no Maugirons left in France.
At five o'clock Julien received a third letter.
It was thrown to him from the library door.
Mademoiselle de la Mole ran away again.
"What a mania for writing,"
he said to himself with a laugh,
"when one can talk so easily.
The enemy wants my letters,
that is clear,
and many of them."
He did not hurry to open this one.
"More elegant phrases,"
but he paled as he read it.
There were only eight lines.
"I need to speak to you;
I must speak to you this evening.
Be in the garden at the moment when one o'clock is striking.
Take the big gardeners' ladder near the well;
place it against my window,
and climb up to my room.
It is moonlight;
IS IT A PLOT?
how cruel is the interval between the conception and the execution of a great project.
What vain fears,
what fits of irresolution!
It is a matter of life and death --even more is at stake honour!
"This is getting serious,"
"and a little too clear,"
he added after thinking a little.
"Why to be sure!
This fine young lady can talk to me in the library with a freedom which,
is absolutely complete;
frightened as he is that I show him accounts,
never sets foot in it.
M. de la Mole and the comte Norbert,
the only persons who ever come here,
are absent nearly the whole day,
and the sublime Mathilde for whom a sovereign prince would not be too noble a suitor,
wants me to commit an abominable indiscretion.
"It is clear they want to ruin me,
or at the least make fun of me.
First they wanted to ruin me by my own letters;
they happen to be discreet;
they want some act which is clearer than daylight.
These handsome little gentlemen think I am too silly or too conceited.
To think of climbing like this up a ladder to a storey twenty-five feet high in the finest moonlight.
They would have time to see me,
even from the neighbouring houses.
I shall cut a pretty figure to be sure on my ladder!"
Julien went up to his room again and began to pack his trunk whistling.
He had decided to leave and not even to answer.
But this wise resolution did not give him peace of mind.
"If by chance,"
he suddenly said to himself after he had closed his trunk,
"Mathilde is in good faith,
why then I cut the figure of an arrant coward in her eyes.
I have no birth myself,
so I need great qualities attested straight away by speaking actions --money down --no charitable credit."
He spent a quarter-of-an-hour in reflecting.
"What is the good of denying it?"
he said at last.
"She will think me a coward.
I shall lose not only the most brilliant person in high society,
as they all said at M. the duke de Retz's ball,
but also the heavenly pleasure of seeing the marquis de Croisenois,
the son of a duke,
who will be one day a duke himself,
sacrificed to me.
A charming young man who has all the qualities I lack.
A happy wit,
"This regret will haunt me all my life,
not on her account,
'there are so many mistresses! ...
but there is only one honour!'
says old don Diégo.
And here am I clearly and palpably shrinking from the first danger that presents itself;
for the duel with M. de Beauvoisis was simply a joke.
This is quite different.
A servant may fire at me point blank,
but that is the least danger;
I may be disgraced.
"This is getting serious,
he added with a Gascon gaiety and accent.
"Honour is at stake.
A poor devil flung by chance into as low a grade as I am will never find such an opportunity again.
I shall have my conquests,
but they will be inferior ones ...."
He reflected for a long time,
he walked up and down hurriedly,
and then from time to time would suddenly stop.
A magnificent marble bust of cardinal de Richelieu had been placed in his room.
It attracted his gaze in spite of himself.
This bust seemed to look at him severely as though reproaching him with the lack of that audacity which ought to be so natural to the French character.
"Would I have hesitated in your age great man?"
"At the worst,"
said Julien to himself,
"suppose all this is a trap,
it is pretty black and pretty compromising for a young girl.
They know that I am not the man to hold my tongue.
They will therefore have to kill me.
That was right enough in 1574 in the days of Boniface de la Mole,
but nobody today would ever have the pluck.
They are not the same men.
Mademoiselle de la Mole is the object of so much jealousy.
Four hundred salons would ring with her disgrace to-morrow,
and how pleased they would all be.
"The servants gossip among themselves about marked the favours of which I am the recipient.
I know it,
I have heard them ....
"On the other hand they're her letters.
They may think that I have them on me.
They may surprise me in her room and take them from me.
I shall have to deal with two,
or four men.
How can I tell?
But where are they going to find these men?
Where are they to find discreet subordinates in Paris?
Justice frightens them ....
It may be the Caylus's,
the de Luz's themselves.
The idea of the ludicrous figure I should cut in the middle of them at the particular minute may have attracted them.
Look out for the fate of Abélard,
M. the secretary.
I'll mark you.
I'll strike at your faces like Cæsar's soldiers at Pharsalia.
As for the letters,
I can put them in a safe place."
Julien copied out the two last,
hid them in a fine volume of Voltaire in the library and himself took the originals to the post.
"What folly am I going to rush into,"
he said to himself with surprise and terror when he returned.
He had been a quarter of an hour without contemplating what he was to do on this coming night.
"But if I refuse,
I am bound to despise myself afterwards.
This matter will always occasion me great doubt during my whole life,
and to a man like me such doubts are the most poignant unhappiness.
Did I not feel like that for Amanda's lover!
I think I would find it easier to forgive myself for a perfectly clear crime;
I could leave off thinking of it.
I shall have been the rival of a man who bears one of the finest names in France,
and then out of pure light-heartedness,
declared myself his inferior!
it is cowardly not to go;
these words clinch everything,"
exclaimed Julien as he got up ...
"besides she is quite pretty."
"If this is not a piece of treachery,
what a folly is she not committing for my sake.
If it's a piece of mystification,
it only depends on me to turn the jest into earnest and that I will do.
"But supposing they tie my hands together at the moment I enter the room: they may have placed some ingenious machine there.
"It's like a duel,"
he said to himself with a laugh.
"Everyone makes a full parade,
says my _maître d'armes_,
but the good God,
who wishes the thing to end,
makes one of them forget to parry.
here's something to answer them with."
He drew his pistols out of his pocket,
and although the priming was shining,
he renewed it.
There was still several hours to wait.
Julien wrote to Fouqué in order to have something to do.
do not open the enclosed letter except in the event of an accident,
if you hear that something strange has happened to me.
In that case blot out the proper names in the manuscript which I am sending you,
make eight copies of it,
and send it to the papers of Marseilles,
Ten days later have the manuscript printed,
send the first copy to M. the marquis de la Mole,
and a fortnight after that throw the other copies at night into the streets of Verrières."
Julien made this little memoir in defence of his position as little compromising as possible for mademoiselle de la Mole.
Fouqué was only to open it in the event of an accident.
It was put in the form of a story,
but in fact it exactly described his situation.
Julien had just fastened his packet when the dinner bell rang.
It made his heart beat.
His imagination was distracted by the story which he had just composed,
and fell a prey to tragic presentiments.
He saw himself seized by servants,
and taken into a cellar with a gag in his mouth.
A servant was stationed there,
who never let him out of sight,
and if the family honour required that the adventure should have a tragic end,
it was easy to finish everything with those poisons which leave no trace.
They could then say that he had died of an illness and would carry his dead body back into his room.
Thrilled like a dramatic author by his own story,
Julien was really afraid when he entered the dining-room.
He looked at all those liveried servants --he studied their faces.
"Which ones are chosen for to-night's expedition?"
he said to himself.
"The memories of the court of Henri III.
are so vivid in this family,
and so often recalled,
that if they think they have been insulted they will show more resolution than other persons of the same rank."
He looked at mademoiselle de la Mole in order to read the family plans in her eyes;
she was pale and looked quite middle-aged.
He thought that she had never looked so great: she was really handsome and imposing;
he almost fell in love with her.
"_Pallida morte futura_,"
he said to himself (her pallor indicates her great plans).
It was in vain that after dinner he made a point of walking for a long time in the garden,
mademoiselle did not appear.
Speaking to her at that moment would have lifted a great weight off his heart.
Why not admit it?
he was afraid.
As he had resolved to act,
he was not ashamed to abandon himself to this emotion.
"So long as I show the necessary courage at the actual moment,"
he said to himself,
"what does it matter what I feel at this particular moment?"
He went to reconnoitre the situation and find out the weight of the ladder.
"This is an instrument,"
he said to himself with a smile,
"which I am fated to use both here and at Verrières.
What a difference!
In those days,"
he added with a sigh,
"I was not obliged to distrust the person for whom I exposed myself to danger.
What a difference also in the danger!"
"There would have been no dishonour for me if I had been killed in M. de Rênal's gardens.
It would have been easy to have made my death into a mystery.
But here all kinds of abominable scandal will be talked in the salons of the Hôtel de Chaulnes,
the Hôtel de Caylus,
everywhere in fact.
I shall go down to posterity as a monster."
"For two or three years,"
he went on with a laugh,
making fun of himself;
but the idea paralysed him.
"And how am I going to manage to get justified?
Suppose that Fouqué does print my posthumous pamphlet,
it will only be taken for an additional infamy.
I get received into a house,
and I reward the hospitality which I have received,
the kindness with which I have been loaded by printing a pamphlet about what has happened and attacking the honour of women!
I'd a thousand times rather be duped."
The evening was awful.
ONE O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING
This garden was very big,
it had been planned a few years ago in perfect taste.
But the trees were more than a century old.
It had a certain rustic atmosphere.
He was going to write a countermanding letter to Fouqué when eleven o'clock struck.
He noisily turned the lock of the door of his room as though he had locked himself in.
He went with a sleuth-like step to observe what was happening over the house,
especially on the fourth storey where the servants slept.
There was nothing unusual.
One of madame de la Mole's chambermaids was giving an entertainment,
the servants were taking punch with much gaiety.
"Those who laugh like that,"
"cannot be participating in the nocturnal expedition;
if they were,
they would be more serious."
Eventually he stationed himself in an obscure corner of the garden.
"If their plan is to hide themselves from the servants of the house,
they will despatch the persons whom they have told off to surprise me over the garden wall.
"If M. de Croisenois shows any sense of proportion in this matter,
he is bound to find it less compromising for the young person,
whom he wishes to make his wife if he has me surprised before I enter her room."
He made a military and extremely detailed reconnaissance.
"My honour is at stake,"
"If I tumble into some pitfall it will not be an excuse in my own eyes to say,
'I never thought of it.'"
The weather was desperately serene.
About eleven o'clock the moon rose,
at half-past twelve it completely illuminated the facade of the hôtel looking out upon the garden.
"She is mad,"
Julien said to himself.
As one o'clock struck there was still a light in comte Norbert's windows.
Julien had never been so frightened in his life,
he only saw the dangers of the enterprise and had no enthusiasm at all.
He went and took the immense ladder,
waited five minutes to give her time to tell him not to go,
and five minutes after one placed the ladder against Mathilde's window.
He mounted softly,
pistol in hand,
astonished at not being attacked.
As he approached the window it opened noiselessly.
"So there you are,
said Mathilde to him with considerable emotion.
"I have been following your movements for the last hour."
Julien was very much embarrassed.
He did not know how to conduct himself.
He did not feel at all in love.
He thought in his embarrassment that he ought to be venturesome.
He tried to kiss Mathilde.
she said to him,
pushing him away.
Extremely glad at being rebuffed,
he hastened to look round him.
The moon was so brilliant that the shadows which it made in mademoiselle de la Mole's room were black.
"It's quite possible for men to be concealed without my seeing them,"
"What have you got in your pocket at the side of your coat?"
Mathilde said to him,
delighted at finding something to talk about.
She was suffering strangely;
all those sentiments of reserve and timidity which were so natural to a girl of good birth,
had reasserted their dominion and were torturing her.
"I have all kinds of arms and pistols,"
answered Julien equally glad at having something to say.
"You must take the ladder away,"
"It is very big,
and may break the windows of the salon down below or the room on the ground floor."
"You must not break the windows,"
replied Mathilde making a vain effort to assume an ordinary conversational tone;
"it seems to me you can lower the ladder by tying a cord to the first rung.
I have always a supply of cords at hand."
"So this is a woman in love,"
"She actually dares to say that she is in love.
So much self-possession and such shrewdness in taking precautions are sufficient indications that I am not triumphing over M. de Croisenois as I foolishly believed,
but that I am simply succeeding him.
As a matter of fact,
what does it matter to me?
Do I love her?
I am triumphing over the marquis in so far as he would be very angry at having a successor,
and angrier still at that successor being myself.
How haughtily he looked at me this evening in the Café Tortoni when he pretended not to recognise me!
And how maliciously he bowed to me afterwards,
when he could not get out of it."
Julien had tied the cord to the last rung of the ladder.
He lowered it softly and leant far out of the balcony in order to avoid its touching the window pane.
"A fine opportunity to kill me,"
"if anyone is hidden in Mathilde's room;"
but a profound silence continued to reign everywhere.
The ladder touched the ground.
Julien succeeded in laying it on the border of the exotic flowers along side the wall.
"What will my mother say,"
"when she sees her beautiful plants all crushed?
You must throw down the cord,"
she added with great self-possession.
"If it were noticed going up to the balcony,
it would be a difficult circumstance to explain."
"And how am I to get away?"
said Julien in a jesting tone affecting the Creole accent.
(One of the chambermaids of the household had been born in Saint-Domingo.)
Why you will leave by the door,"
delighted at the idea.
how worthy this man is of all my love,"
Julien had just let the cord fall into the garden;
Mathilde grasped his arm.
He thought he had been seized by an enemy and turned round sharply,
drawing a dagger.
She had thought that she had heard a window opening.
They remained motionless and scarcely breathed.
The moonlight lit up everything.
The noise was not renewed and there was no more cause for anxiety.
Then their embarrassment began again;
it was great on both sides.
Julien assured himself that the door was completely locked;
he thought of looking under the bed,
but he did not dare;
"they might have stationed one or two lackeys there."
Finally he feared that he might reproach himself in the future for this lack of prudence,
and did look.
Mathilde had fallen into all the anguish of the most extreme timidity.
She was horrified at her position.
"What have you done with my letters?"
she said at last.
"What a good opportunity to upset these gentlemen,
if they are eavesdropping,
and thus avoiding the battle,"
"The first is hid in a big Protestant Bible,
which last night's diligence is taking far away from here."
He spoke very distinctly as he went into these details,
so as to be heard by any persons who might be concealed in two large mahogany cupboards which he had not dared to inspect.
"The other two are in the post and are bound for the same destination as the first."
why all these precautions?"
said Mathilde in alarm.
"What is the good of my lying?"
and he confessed all his suspicions.
"So that's the cause for the coldness of your letters,
exclaimed Mathilde in a tone of madness rather than of tenderness.
Julien did not notice that nuance.
The endearment made him lose his head,
or at any rate his suspicions vanished.
He dared to clasp in his arms that beautiful girl who inspired him with such respect.
He was only partially rebuffed.
He fell back on his memory as he had once at Besançon with Armanda Binet,
and recited by heart several of the finest phrases out of the _Nouvelle Héloise_.
"You have the heart of a man,"
was the answer she made without listening too attentively to his phrases;
"I wanted to test your courage,
I confess it.
Your first suspicions and your resolutions show you even more intrepid,
than I had believed."
Mathilde had to make an effort to call him "dear,"
and was evidently paying more attention to this strange method of speech than to the substance of what she was saying.
Being called "dear" without any tenderness in the tone afforded no pleasure to Julien;
he was astonished at not being happy,
and eventually fell back on his reasoning in order to be so.
He saw that he was respected by this proud young girl who never gave undeserved praise;
by means of this reasoning he managed to enjoy the happiness of satisfied vanity.
It was not,
it was true,
that soulful pleasure which he had sometimes found with madame de Rênal.
There was no element of tenderness in the feelings of these first few minutes.
It was the keen happiness of a gratified ambition,
and Julien was,
He talked again of the people whom he had suspected and of the precautions which he had devised.
As he spoke,
he thought of the best means of exploiting his victory.
Mathilde was still very embarrassed and seemed paralysed by the steps which she had taken.
She appeared delighted to find a topic of conversation.
They talked of how they were to see each other again.
Julien extracted a delicious joy from the consciousness of the intelligence and the courage,
of which he again proved himself possessed during this discussion.
They had to reckon with extremely sharp people,
the little Tanbeau was certainly a spy,
but Mathilde and himself as well had their share of cleverness.
What was easier than to meet in the library,
and there make all arrangements?
"I can appear in all parts of the hôtel,"
"without rousing suspicion almost,
in madame de la Mole's own room."
It was absolutely necessary to go through it in order to reach her daughter's room.
If Mathilde thought it preferable for him always to come by a ladder,
then he would expose himself to that paltry danger with a heart intoxicated with joy.
As she listened to him speaking,
Mathilde was shocked by this air of triumph.
"So he is my master,"
she said to herself,
she was already a prey to remorse.
Her reason was horrified at the signal folly which she had just committed.
If she had had the power she would have annihilated both herself and Julien.
When for a few moments she managed by sheer will-power to silence her pangs of remorse,
she was rendered very unhappy by her timidity and wounded shame.
She had quite failed to foresee the awful plight in which she now found herself.
"I must speak to him,
she said at last.
"That is the proper thing to do.
One does talk to one's lover."
And then with a view of accomplishing a duty,
and with a tenderness which was manifested rather in the words which she employed than in the inflection of her voice,
she recounted various resolutions which she had made concerning him during the last few days.
She had decided that if he should dare to come to her room by the help of the gardener's ladder according to his instructions,
she would be entirely his.
But never were such tender passages spoken in a more polite and frigid tone.
Up to the present this assignation had been icy.
It was enough to make one hate the name of love.
What a lesson in morality for a young and imprudent girl!
Is it worth while to ruin one's future for moments such as this?
After long fits of hesitation which a superficial observer might have mistaken for the result of the most emphatic hate (so great is the difficulty which a woman's self-respect finds in yielding even to so firm a will as hers) Mathilde became eventually a charming mistress.
In point of fact,
these ecstasies were a little artificial.
Passionate love was still more the model which they imitated than a real actuality.
Mademoiselle de la Mole thought she was fulfilling a duty towards herself and towards her lover.
"The poor boy,"
she said to herself,
"has shewn a consummate bravery.
He deserves to be happy or it is really I who will be shewing a lack of character."
But she would have been glad to have redeemed the cruel necessity in which she found herself even at the price of an eternity of unhappiness.
In spite of the awful violence she was doing to herself she was completely mistress of her words.
No regret and no reproach spoiled that night which Julien found extraordinary rather than happy.
what a difference to his last twenty-four hours' stay in Verrières.
These fine Paris manners manage to spoil everything,
he said to himself,
He abandoned himself to these reflections as he stood upright in one of the great mahogany cupboards into which he had been put at the sign of the first sounds of movement in the neighbouring apartment,
which was madame de la Mole's.
Mathilde followed her mother to mass,
the servants soon left the apartment and Julien easily escaped before they came back to finish their work.
He mounted a horse and tried to find the most solitary spots in one of the forests near Paris.
He was more astonished than happy.
The happiness which filled his soul from time to time resembled that of a young sub-lieutenant who as the result of some surprising feat has just been made a full-fledged colonel by the commander-in-chief;
he felt himself lifted up to an immense height.
Everything which was above him the day before was now on a level with him or even below him.
Little by little Julien's happiness increased in proportion as he got further away from Paris.
If there was no tenderness in his soul,
the reason was that,
however strange it may appear to say so,
Mathilde had in everything she had done,
simply accomplished a duty.
The only thing she had not foreseen in all the events of that night,
was the shame and unhappiness which she had experienced instead of that absolute felicity which is found in novels.
"Can I have made a mistake,
and not be in love with him?"
she said to herself.
AN OLD SWORD
I now mean to be serious;
it is time Since laughter now-a-days is deemed too serious.
A jest at vice by virtues called a crime.
She did not appear at dinner.
She came for a minute into the salon in the evening,
but did not look at Julien.
He considered this behaviour strange,
"I do not know their usages.
She will give me some good reason for all this."
None the less he was a prey to the most extreme curiosity;
he studied the expression of Mathilde's features;
he was bound to own to himself that she looked cold and malicious.
It was evidently not the same woman who on the proceeding night had had,
or pretended to have,
transports of happiness which were too extravagant to be genuine.
The day after,
and the subsequent day she showed the same coldness;
she did not look at him,
she did not notice his existence.
Julien was devoured by the keenest anxiety and was a thousand leagues removed from that feeling of triumph which had been his only emotion on the first day.
"Can it be by chance,"
he said to himself,
"a return to virtue?"
But this was a very bourgeois word to apply to the haughty Mathilde.
"Placed in an ordinary position in life she would disbelieve in religion,"
"she only likes it in so far as it is very useful to the interests of her class."
But perhaps she may as a mere matter of delicacy be keenly reproaching herself for the mistake which she has committed.
Julien believed that he was her first lover.
he said to himself at other moments,
"I must admit that there is no trace of naivety,
or tenderness in her own demeanour;
I have never seen her more haughty,
can she despise me?
It would be worthy of her to reproach herself simply because of my low birth,
for what she has done for me."
full of those preconceived ideas which he had found in books and in his memories of Verrières,
was chasing the phantom of a tender mistress,
who from the minute when she has made her lover happy no longer thinks of her own existence,
Mathilde's vanity was infuriated against him.
As for the last two months she had no longer been bored,
she was not frightened of boredom;
without being able to have the slightest suspicion of it,
Julien had lost his greatest advantage.
"I have given myself a master,"
said mademoiselle de la Mole to herself,
a prey to the blackest sorrow.
"Luckily he is honour itself,
but if I offend his vanity,
he will revenge himself by making known the nature of our relations."
Mathilde had never had a lover,
and though passing through a stage of life which affords some tender illusions even to the coldest souls,
she fell a prey to the most bitter reflections.
"He has an immense dominion over me since his reign is one of terror,
and he is capable,
if I provoke him,
of punishing me with an awful penalty."
This idea alone was enough to induce mademoiselle de la Mole to insult him.
Courage was the primary quality in her character.
The only thing which could give her any thrill and cure her from a fundamental and chronically recurring ennui was the idea that she was staking her entire existence on a single throw.
As mademoiselle de la Mole obstinately refused to look at him,
Julien on the third day in spite of her evident objection,
followed her into the billiard-room after dinner.
you think you have acquired some very strong rights over me?"
she said to him with scarcely controlled anger,
"since you venture to speak to me,
in spite of my very clearly manifested wish?
Do you know that no one in the world has had such effrontery?"
The dialogue of these two lovers was incomparably humourous.
Without suspecting it,
they were animated by mutual sentiments of the most vivid hate.
As neither the one nor the other had a meekly patient character,
while they were both disciples of good form,
they soon came to informing each other quite clearly that they would break for ever.
"I swear eternal secrecy to you,"
"I should like to add that I would never address a single word to you,
were it not that a marked change might perhaps jeopardise your reputation."
He saluted respectfully and left.
He accomplished easily enough what he believed to be a duty;
he was very far from thinking himself much in love with mademoiselle de la Mole.
He had certainly not loved her three days before,
when he had been hidden in the big mahogany cupboard.
But the moment that he found himself estranged from her for ever his mood underwent a complete and rapid change.
His memory tortured him by going over the least details in that night,
which had as a matter of fact left him so cold.
In the very night that followed this announcement of a final rupture,
Julien almost went mad at being obliged to own to himself that he loved mademoiselle de la Mole.
This discovery was followed by awful struggles: all his emotions were overwhelmed.
Two days later,
instead of being haughty towards M. de Croisenois,
he could have almost burst out into tears and embraced him.
His habituation to unhappiness gave him a gleam of commonsense,
he decided to leave for Languedoc,
packed his trunk and went to the post.
He felt he would faint,
when on arriving at the office of the mails,
he was told that by a singular chance there was a place in the Toulouse mail.
He booked it and returned to the Hôtel de la Mole to announce his departure to the marquis.
M. de la Mole had gone out.
More dead than alive Julien went into the library to wait for him.
What was his emotion when he found mademoiselle de la Mole there.
As she saw him come,
she assumed a malicious expression which it was impossible to mistake.
In his unhappiness and surprise Julien lost his head and was weak enough to say to her in a tone of the most heartfelt tenderness.
"So you love me no more."
"I am horrified at having given myself to the first man who came along,"
said Mathilde crying with rage against herself.
"The first man who came along,"
and he made for an old mediæval sword which was kept in the library as a curiosity.
His grief --which he thought was at its maximum at the moment when he had spoken to mademoiselle de la Mole --had been rendered a hundred times more intense by the tears of shame which he saw her shedding.
He would have been the happiest of men if he had been able to kill her.
When he was on the point of drawing the sword with some difficulty from its ancient scabbard,
rendered happy by so novel a sensation,
advanced proudly towards him,
her tears were dry.
The thought of his benefactor --the marquis de la Mole --presented itself vividly to Julien.
"Shall I kill his daughter?"
he said to himself,
He made a movement to throw down the sword.
"She will certainly,"
"burst out laughing at the sight of such a melodramatic pose:" that idea was responsible for his regaining all his self-possession.
He looked curiously at the blade of the old sword as though he had been looking for some spot of rust,
then put it back in the scabbard and replaced it with the utmost tranquillity on the gilt bronze nail from which it hung.
The whole manœuvre,
which towards the end was very slow,
lasted quite a minute;
mademoiselle de la Mole looked at him in astonishment.
"So I have been on the verge of being killed by my lover,"
she said to herself.
This idea transported her into the palmiest days of the age of Charles IX.
and of Henri III.
She stood motionless before Julien,
who had just replaced the sword;
she looked at him with eyes whose hatred had disappeared.
It must be owned that she was very fascinating at this moment,
certainly no woman looked less like a Parisian doll (this expression symbolised Julien's great objection to the women of this city).
"I shall relapse into some weakness for him,"
"it is quite likely that he will think himself my lord and master after a relapse like that at the very moment that I have been talking to him so firmly."
She ran away.
she is pretty said Julien as he watched her run and that's the creature who threw herself into my arms with so much passion scarcely a week ago ...
and to think that those moments will never come back?
And that it's my fault,
to think of my being lacking in appreciation at the very moment when I was doing something so extraordinarily interesting!
I must own that I was born with a very dull and unfortunate character."
The marquis appeared;
Julien hastened to announce his departure.
said M. de la Mole.
if you please,
you are reserved for higher destinies.
If you leave it will be for the North ....
In military phraseology I actually confine you in the hotel.
You will compel me to be never more than two or three hours away.
I may have need of you at any moment."
Julien bowed and retired without a word,
leaving the marquis in a state of great astonishment.
He was incapable of speaking.
He shut himself up in his room.
He was there free to exaggerate to himself all the awfulness of his fate.
"I cannot even get away.
God knows how many days the marquis will keep me in Paris.
what will become of me,
and not a friend whom I can consult?
The abbé Pirard will never let me finish my first sentence,
while the comte Altamira will propose enlisting me in some conspiracy.
And yet I am mad;
I feel it,
I am mad.
Who will be able to guide me,
what will become of me?"