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Father Goriot by Honore de Balzac

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"One moment, if he asks for something to drink, give him this," said
the house student, pointing to a large white jar. "If he begins to
groan, and the belly feels hot and hard to the touch, you know what to
do; get Christophe to help you. If he should happen to grow much
excited, and begin to talk a good deal and even to ramble in his talk,
do not be alarmed. It would not be a bad symptom. But send Christophe
to the Hospice Cochin. Our doctor, my chum, or I will come and apply
moxas. We had a great consultation this morning while you were asleep.
A surgeon, a pupil of Gall's came, and our house surgeon, and the head
physician from the Hotel-Dieu. Those gentlemen considered that the
symptoms were very unusual and interesting; the case must be carefully
watched, for it throws a light on several obscure and rather important
scientific problems. One of the authorities says that if there is more
pressure of serum on one or other portion of the brain, it should
affect his mental capacities in such and such directions. So if he
should talk, notice very carefully what kind of ideas his mind seems
to run on; whether memory, or penetration, or the reasoning faculties
are exercised; whether sentiments or practical questions fill his
thoughts; whether he makes forecasts or dwells on the past; in fact;
you must be prepared to give an accurate report of him. It is quite
likely that the extravasation fills the whole brain, in which case he
will die in the imbecile state in which he is lying now. You cannot
tell anything about these mysterious nervous diseases. Suppose the
crash came here," said Bianchon, touching the back of the head, "very
strange things have been known to happen; the brain sometimes
partially recovers, and death is delayed. Or the congested matter may
pass out of the brain altogether through channels which can only be
determined by a post-mortem examination. There is an old man at the
Hospital for Incurables, an imbecile patient, in his case the effusion
has followed the direction of the spinal cord; he suffers horrid
agonies, but he lives."

"Did they enjoy themselves?" It was Father Goriot who spoke. He had
recognized Eugene.

"Oh! he thinks of nothing but his daughters," said Bianchon. "Scores
of times last night he said to me, 'They are dancing now! She has her
dress.' He called them by their names. He made me cry, the devil take
it, calling with that tone in his voice, for 'Delphine! my little
Delphine! and Nasie!' Upon my word," said the medical student, "it was
enough to make any one burst out crying."

"Delphine," said the old man, "she is there, isn't she? I knew she was
there," and his eyes sought the door.

"I am going down now to tell Sylvie to get the poultices ready," said
Bianchon. "They ought to go on at once."

Rastignac was left alone with the old man. He sat at the foot of the
bed, and gazed at the face before him, so horribly changed that it was
shocking to see.

"Noble natures cannot dwell in this world," he said; "Mme de Beauseant
has fled from it, and there he lies dying. What place indeed is there
in the shallow petty frivolous thing called society for noble thoughts
and feelings?"

Pictures of yesterday's ball rose up in his memory, in strange
contrast to the deathbed before him. Bianchon suddenly appeared.

"I say, Eugene, I have just seen our head surgeon at the hospital, and
I ran all the way back here. If the old man shows any signs of reason,
if he begins to talk, cover him with a mustard poultice from the neck
to the base of the spine, and send round for us."

"Dear Bianchon," exclaimed Eugene.

"Oh! it is an interesting case from a scientific point of view," said
the medical student, with all the enthusiasm of a neophyte.

"So!" said Eugene. "Am I really the only one who cares for the poor
old man for his own sake?"

"You would not have said so if you had seen me this morning," returned
Bianchon, who did not take offence at this speech. "Doctors who have
seen a good deal of practice never see anything but the disease, but,
my dear fellow, I can see the patient still."

He went. Eugene was left alone with the old man, and with an
apprehension of a crisis that set in, in fact, before very long.

"Ah! dear boy, is that you?" said Father Goriot, recognizing Eugene.

"Do you feel better?" asked the law student, taking his hand.

"Yes. My head felt as if it were being screwed up in a vise, but now
it is set free again. Did you see my girls? They will be here
directly; as soon as they know that I am ill they will hurry here at
once; they used to take such care of me in the Rue de la Jussienne!
Great Heavens! if only my room was fit for them to come into! There
has been a young man here, who has burned up all my bark fuel."

"I can hear Christophe coming upstairs," Eugene answered. "He is
bringing up some firewood that that young man has sent you."

"Good, but how am I to pay for the wood. I have not a penny left, dear
boy. I have given everything, everything. I am a pauper now. Well, at
least the golden gown was grand, was it not? (Ah! what pain this is!)
Thanks, Christophe! God will reward you, my boy; I have nothing left

Eugene went over to Christophe and whispered in the man's ear, "I will
pay you well, and Sylvie too, for your trouble."

"My daughters told you that they were coming, didn't they, Christophe?
Go again to them, and I will give you five francs. Tell them that I am
not feeling well, that I should like to kiss them both and see them
once again before I die. Tell them that, but don't alarm them more
than you can help."

Rastignac signed to Christophe to go, and the man went.

"They will come before long," the old man went on. "I know them so
well. My tender-hearted Delphine! If I am going to die, she will feel
it so much! And so will Nasie. I do not want to die; they will cry if
I die; and if I die, dear Eugene, I shall not see them any more. It
will be very dreary there where I am going. For a father it is hell to
be without your children; I have served my apprenticeship already
since they married. My heaven was in the Rue de la Jussienne. Eugene,
do you think that if I go to heaven I can come back to earth, and be
near them in spirit? I have heard some such things said. It is true?
It is as if I could see them at this moment as they used to be when we
all lived in the Rue de la Jussienne. They used to come downstairs of
a morning. 'Good-morning, papa!' they used to say, and I would take
them on my knees; we had all sorts of little games of play together,
and they had such pretty coaxing ways. We always had breakfast
together, too, every morning, and they had dinner with me--in fact, I
was a father then. I enjoyed my children. They did not think for
themselves so long as they lived in the Rue de la Jussienne; they knew
nothing of the world; they loved me with all their hearts. /Mon Dieu!/
why could they not always be little girls? (Oh! my head! this racking
pain in my head!) Ah! ah! forgive me, children, this pain is fearful;
it must be agony indeed, for you have used me to endure pain. /Mon
Dieu!/ if only I held their hands in mine, I should not feel it at
all.--Do you think that they are on the way? Christophe is so stupid;
I ought to have gone myself. /He/ will see them. But you went to the
ball yesterday; just tell me how they looked. They did not know that I
was ill, did they, or they would not have been dancing, poor little
things? Oh! I must not be ill any longer. They stand too much in need
of me; their fortunes are in danger. And such husbands as they are
bound to! I must get well! (Oh! what pain this is! what pain this is!
. . . ah! ah!)--I must get well, you see; for they /must/ have money,
and I know how to set about making some. I will go to Odessa and
manufacture starch there. I am an old hand, I will make millions. (Oh!
this is agony!)"

Goriot was silent for a moment; it seemed to require his whole
strength to endure the pain.

"If they were here, I should not complain," he said. "So why should I
complain now?"

He seemed to grow drowsy with exhaustion, and lay quietly for a long
time. Christophe came back; and Rastignac, thinking that Goriot was
asleep, allowed the man to give his story aloud.

"First of all, sir, I went to Madame la Comtesse," he said; "but she
and her husband were so busy that I couldn't get to speak to her. When
I insisted that I must see her, M. de Restaud came out to me himself,
and went on like this: 'M. Goriot is dying, is he? Very well, it is
the best thing he can do. I want Mme. de Restaud to transact some
important business, when it is all finished she can go.' The gentleman
looked angry, I thought. I was just going away when Mme. de Restaud
came out into an ante-chamber through a door that I did not notice,
and said, 'Christophe, tell my father that my husband wants me to
discuss some matters with him, and I cannot leave the house, the life
or death of my children is at stake; but as soon as it is over, I will
come.' As for Madame la Baronne, that is another story! I could not
speak to her either, and I did not even see her. Her waiting-woman
said, 'Ah yes, but madame only came back from a ball at a quarter to
five this morning; she is asleep now, and if I wake her before mid-day
she will be cross. As soon as she rings, I will go and tell her that
her father is worse. It will be time enough then to tell her bad
news!' I begged and I prayed, but, there! it was no good. Then I asked
for M. le Baron, but he was out."

"To think that neither of his daughters should come!" exclaimed
Rastignac. "I will write to them both."

"Neither of them!" cried the old man, sitting upright in bed. "They
are busy, they are asleep, they will not come! I knew that they would
not. Not until you are dying do you know your children. . . . Oh! my
friend, do not marry; do not have children! You give them life; they
give you your deathblow. You bring them into the world, and they send
you out of it. No, they will not come. I have known that these ten
years. Sometimes I have told myself so, but I did not dare to believe

The tears gathered and stood without overflowing the red sockets.

"Ah! if I were rich still, if I had kept my money, if I had not given
all to them, they would be with me now; they would fawn on me and
cover my cheeks with their kisses! I should be living in a great
mansion; I should have grand apartments and servants and a fire in my
room; and /they/ would be about me all in tears, and their husbands
and their children. I should have had all that; now--I have nothing.
Money brings everything to you; even your daughters. My money. Oh!
where is my money? If I had plenty of money to leave behind me, they
would nurse me and tend me; I should hear their voices, I should see
their faces. Ah, God! who knows? They both of them have hearts of
stone. I loved them too much; it was not likely that they should love
me. A father ought always to be rich; he ought to keep his children
well in hand, like unruly horses. I have gone down on my knees to
them. Wretches! this is the crowning act that brings the last ten
years to a proper close. If you but knew how much they made of me just
after they were married. (Oh! this is cruel torture!) I had just given
them each eight hundred thousand francs; they were bound to be civil
to me after that, and their husbands too were civil. I used to go to
their houses: it was 'My kind father' here, 'My dear father' there.
There was always a place for me at their tables. I used to dine with
their husbands now and then, and they were very respectful to me. I
was still worth something, they thought. How should they know? I had
not said anything about my affairs. It is worth while to be civil to a
man who has given his daughters eight hundred thousand francs apiece;
and they showed me every attention then--but it was all for my money.
Grand people are not great. I found that out by experience! I went to
the theatre with them in their carriage; I might stay as long as I
cared to stay at their evening parties. In fact, they acknowledged me
their father; publicly they owned that they were my daughters. But I
was always a shrewd one, you see, and nothing was lost upon me.
Everything went straight to the mark and pierced my heart. I saw quite
well that it was all sham and pretence, but there is no help for such
things as these. I felt less at my ease at their dinner-table than I
did downstairs here. I had nothing to say for myself. So these grand
folks would ask in my son-in-law's ear, 'Who may that gentleman be?'--
'The father-in-law with the money bags; he is very rich.'--'The devil,
he is!' they would say, and look again at me with the respect due to
my money. Well, if I was in the way sometimes, I paid dearly for my
mistakes. And besides, who is perfect? (My head is one sore!) Dear
Monsieur Eugene, I am suffering so now, that a man might die of the
pain; but it is nothing to be compared with the pain I endured when
Anastasie made me feel, for the first time, that I had said something
stupid. She looked at me, and that glance of hers opened all my veins.
I used to want to know everything, to be learned; and one thing I did
learn thoroughly --I knew that I was not wanted here on earth.

"The next day I went to Delphine for comfort, and what should I do
there but make some stupid blunder that made her angry with me. I was
like one driven out of his senses. For a week I did not know what to
do; I did not dare to go to see them for fear they should reproach me.
And that was how they both turned me out of the house.

"Oh God! Thou knowest all the misery and anguish that I have endured;
Thou hast counted all the wounds that have been dealt to me in these
years that have aged and changed me and whitened my hair and drained
my life; why dost Thou make me to suffer so to-day? Have I not more
than expiated the sin of loving them too much? They themselves have
been the instruments of vengeance; they have tortured me for my sin of

"Ah, well! fathers know no better; I loved them so; I went back to
them as a gambler goes to the gaming table. This love was my vice, you
see, my mistress--they were everything in the world to me. They were
always wanting something or other, dresses and ornaments, and what
not; their maids used to tell me what they wanted, and I used to give
them the things for the sake of the welcome that they bought for me.
But, at the same time, they used to give me little lectures on my
behavior in society; they began about it at once. Then they began to
feel ashamed of me. That is what comes of having your children well
brought up. I could not go to school again at my time of life. (This
pain is fearful! /Mon Dieu!/ These doctors! these doctors! If they
would open my head, it would give me some relief!) Oh, my daughters,
my daughters! Anastasie! Delphine! If I could only see them! Send for
the police, and make them come to me! Justice is on my side, the whole
world is on my side, I have natural rights, and the law with me. I
protest! The country will go to ruin if a father's rights are trampled
under foot. That is easy to see. The whole world turns on fatherly
love; fatherly love is the foundation of society; it will crumble into
ruin when children do not love their fathers. Oh! if I could only see
them, and hear them, no matter what they said; if I could simply hear
their voices, it would soothe the pain. Delphine! Delphine most of
all. But tell them when they come not to look so coldly at me as they
do. Oh! my friend, my good Monsieur Eugene, you do not know that it is
when all the golden light in a glance suddenly turns to a leaden gray.
It has been one long winter here since the light in their eyes shone
no more for me. I have had nothing but disappointments to devour.
Disappointment has been my daily bread; I have lived on humiliation
and insults. I have swallowed down all the affronts for which they
sold me my poor stealthy little moments of joy; for I love them so!
Think of it! a father hiding himself to get a glimpse of his children!
I have given all my life to them, and to-day they will not give me one
hour! I am hungering and thirsting for them, my heart is burning in
me, but they will not come to bring relief in the agony, for I am
dying now, I feel that this is death. Do they not know what it means
to trample on a father's corpse? There is a God in heaven who avenges
us fathers whether we will or no.

"Oh! they will come! Come to me, darlings, and give me one more kiss;
one last kiss, the Viaticum for your father, who will pray God for you
in heaven. I will tell Him that you have been good children to your
father, and plead your cause with God! After all, it is not their
fault. I tell you they are innocent, my friend. Tell every one that it
is not their fault, and no one need be distressed on my account. It is
all my own fault, I taught them to trample upon me. I loved to have it
so. It is no one's affair but mine; man's justice and God's justice
have nothing to do in it. God would be unjust if He condemned them for
anything they may have done to me. I did not behave to them properly;
I was stupid enough to resign my rights. I would have humbled myself
in the dust for them. What could you expect? The most beautiful
nature, the noblest soul, would have been spoiled by such indulgence.
I am a wretch, I am justly punished. I, and I only, am to blame for
all their sins; I spoiled them. To-day they are as eager for pleasure
as they used to be for sugar-plums. When they were little girls I
indulged them in every whim. They had a carriage of their own when
they were fifteen. They have never been crossed. I am guilty, and not
they--but I sinned through love.

"My heart would open at the sound of their voices. I can hear them;
they are coming. Yes! yes! they are coming. The law demands that they
should be present at their father's deathbed; the law is on my side.
It would only cost them the hire of a cab. I would pay that. Write to
them, tell them that I have millions to leave to them! On my word of
honor, yes. I am going to manufacture Italian paste foods at Odessa. I
understand the trade. There are millions to be made in it. Nobody has
thought of the scheme as yet. You see, there will be no waste, no
damage in transit, as there always is with wheat and flour. Hey! hey!
and starch too; there are millions to be made in the starch trade! You
will not be telling a lie. Millions, tell them; and even if they
really come because they covet the money, I would rather let them
deceive me; and I shall see them in any case. I want my children! I
gave them life; they are mine, mine!" and he sat upright. The head
thus raised, with its scanty white hair, seemed to Eugene like a
threat; every line that could still speak spoke of menace.

"There, there, dear father," said Eugene, "lie down again; I will
write to them at once. As soon as Bianchon comes back I will go for
them myself, if they do not come before."

"If they do not come?" repeated the old man, sobbing. "Why, I shall be
dead before then; I shall die in a fit of rage, of rage! Anger is
getting the better of me. I can see my whole life at this minute. I
have been cheated! They do not love me--they have never loved me all
their lives! It is all clear to me. They have not come, and they will
not come. The longer they put off their coming, the less they are
likely to give me this joy. I know them. They have never cared to
guess my disappointments, my sorrows, my wants; they never cared to
know my life; they will have no presentiment of my death; they do not
even know the secret of my tenderness for them. Yes, I see it all now.
I have laid my heart open so often, that they take everything I do for
them as a matter of course. They might have asked me for the very eyes
out of my head and I would have bidden them to pluck them out. They
think that all fathers are like theirs. You should always make your
value felt. Their own children will avenge me. Why, for their own
sakes they should come to me! Make them understand that they are
laying up retribution for their own deathbeds. All crimes are summed
up in this one. . . . Go to them; just tell them that if they stay
away it will be parricide! There is enough laid to their charge
already without adding that to the list. Cry aloud as I do now,
'Nasie! Delphine! here! Come to your father; the father who has been
so kind to you is lying ill!'--Not a sound; no one comes! Then am I do
die like a dog? This is to be my reward--I am forsaken at the last.
They are wicked, heartless women; curses on them, I loathe them. I
shall rise at night from my grave to curse them again; for, after all,
my friends, have I done wrong? They are behaving very badly to me, eh?
. . . What am I saying? Did you not tell me just now that Delphine is
in the room? She is more tender-hearted than her sister. . . . Eugene,
you are my son, you know. You will love her; be a father to her! Her
sister is very unhappy. And there are their fortunes! Ah, God! I am
dying, this anguish is almost more than I can bear! Cut off my head;
leave me nothing but my heart."

"Christophe!" shouted Eugene, alarmed by the way in which the old man
moaned, and by his cries, "go for M. Bianchon, and send a cab here for
me.--I am going to fetch them, dear father; I will bring them back to

"Make them come! Compel them to come! Call out the Guard, the
military, anything and everything, but make them come!" He looked at
Eugene, and a last gleam of intelligence shone in his eyes. "Go to the
authorities, to the Public Prosecutor, let them bring them here; come
they shall!"

"But you have cursed them."

"Who said that!" said the old man in dull amazement. "You know quite
well that I love them, I adore them! I shall be quite well again if I
can see them. . . . Go for them, my good neighbor, my dear boy, you
are kind-hearted; I wish I could repay you for your kindness, but I
have nothing to give you now, save the blessing of a dying man. Ah! if
I could only see Delphine, to tell her to pay my debt to you. If the
other cannot come, bring Delphine to me at any rate. Tell her that
unless she comes, you will not love her any more. She is so fond of
you that she will come to me then. Give me something to drink! There
is a fire in my bowels. Press something against my forehead! If my
daughters would lay their hands there, I think I should get better. .
. . /Mon Dieu!/ who will recover their money for them when I am gone?
. . . I will manufacture vermicelli out in Odessa; I will go to Odessa
for their sakes."

"Here is something to drink," said Eugene, supporting the dying man on
his left arm, while he held a cup of tisane to Goriot's lips.

"How you must love your own father and mother!" said the old man, and
grasped the student's hand in both of his. It was a feeble, trembling
grasp. "I am going to die; I shall die without seeing my daughters; do
you understand? To be always thirsting, and never to drink; that has
been my life for the last ten years. . . . I have no daughters, my
sons-in-law killed them. No, since their marriages they have been dead
to me. Fathers should petition the Chambers to pass a law against
marriage. If you love your daughters, do not let them marry. A son-in-
law is a rascal who poisons a girl's mind and contaminates her whole
nature. Let us have no more marriages! It robs us of our daughters; we
are left alone upon our deathbeds, and they are not with us then. They
ought to pass a law for dying fathers. This is awful! It cries for
vengeance! They cannot come, because my sons-in-law forbid them! . . .
Kill them! . . . Restaud and the Alsatian, kill them both! They have
murdered me between them! . . . Death or my daughters! . . . Ah! it is
too late, I am dying, and they are not here! . . . Dying without them!
. . . Nasie! Fifine! Why do you not come to me? Your papa is

"Dear Father Goriot, calm yourself. There, there, lie quietly and
rest; don't worry yourself, don't think."

"I shall not see them. Oh! the agony of it!"

"You /shall/ see them."

"Really?" cried the old man, still wandering. "Oh! shall I see them; I
shall see them and hear their voices. I shall die happy. Ah! well,
after all, I do not wish to live; I cannot stand this much longer;
this pain that grows worse and worse. But, oh! to see them, to touch
their dresses--ah! nothing but their dresses, that is very little;
still, to feel something that belongs to them. Let me touch their hair
with my fingers . . . their hair . . ."

His head fell back on the pillow, as if a sudden heavy blow had struck
him down, but his hands groped feebly over the quilt, as if to find
his daughters' hair.

"My blessing on them . . ." he said, making an effort, "my
blessing . . ."

His voice died away. Just at that moment Bianchon came into the room.

"I met Christophe," he said; "he is gone for your cab."

Then he looked at the patient, and raised the closed eyelids with his
fingers. The two students saw how dead and lustreless the eyes beneath
had grown.

"He will not get over this, I am sure," said Bianchon. He felt the old
man's pulse, and laid a hand over his heart.

"The machinery works still; more is the pity, in his state it would be
better for him to die."

"Ah! my word, it would!"

"What is the matter with you? You are as pale as death."

"Dear fellow, the moans and cries that I have just heard. . . . There
is a God! Ah! yes, yes, there is a God, and He has made a better world
for us, or this world of ours would be a nightmare. I could have cried
like a child; but this is too tragical, and I am sick at heart.

"We want a lot of things, you know; and where is the money to come

Rastignac took out his watch.

"There, be quick and pawn it. I do not want to stop on the way to the
Rue du Helder; there is not a moment to lose, I am afraid, and I must
wait here till Christophe comes back. I have not a farthing; I shall
have to pay the cabman when I get home again."

Rastignac rushed down the stairs, and drove off to the Rue du Helder.
The awful scene through which he had just passed quickened his
imagination, and he grew fiercely indignant. He reached Mme. de
Restaud's house only to be told by the servant that his mistress could
see no one.

"But I have brought a message from her father, who is dying,"
Rastignac told the man.

"The Count has given us the strictest orders, sir----"

"If it is M. de Restaud who has given the orders, tell him that his
father-in-law is dying, and that I am here, and must speak with him at

The man went out.

Eugene waited for a long while. "Perhaps her father is dying at this
moment," he thought.

Then the man came back, and Eugene followed him to the little drawing-
room. M. de Restaud was standing before the fireless grate, and did
not ask his visitor to seat himself.

"Monsieur le Comte," said Rastignac, "M. Goriot, your father-in-law,
is lying at the point of death in a squalid den in the Latin Quarter.
He has not a penny to pay for firewood; he is expected to die at any
moment, and keeps calling for his daughter----"

"I feel very little affection for M. Goriot, sir, as you probably are
aware," the Count answered coolly. "His character has been compromised
in connection with Mme. de Restaud; he is the author of the
misfortunes that have embittered my life and troubled my peace of
mind. It is a matter of perfect indifference to me if he lives or
dies. Now you know my feelings with regard to him. Public opinion may
blame me, but I care nothing for public opinion. Just now I have other
and much more important matters to think about than the things that
fools and chatterers may say about me. As for Mme. de Restaud, she
cannot leave the house; she is in no condition to do so. And, besides,
I shall not allow her to leave it. Tell her father that as soon as she
has done her duty by her husband and child she shall go to see him. If
she has any love for her father, she can be free to go to him, if she
chooses, in a few seconds; it lies entirely with her----"

"Monsieur le Comte, it is no business of mine to criticise your
conduct; you can do as you please with your wife, but may I count upon
your keeping your word with me? Well, then, promise me to tell her
that her father has not twenty-four hours to live; that he looks in
vain for her, and has cursed her already as he lies on his deathbed,--
that is all I ask."

"You can tell her yourself," the Count answered, impressed by the
thrill of indignation in Eugene's voice.

The Count led the way to the room where his wife usually sat. She was
drowned in tears, and lay crouching in the depths of an armchair, as
if she were tired of life and longed to die. It was piteous to see
her. Before venturing to look at Rastignac, she glanced at her husband
in evident and abject terror that spoke of complete prostration of
body and mind; she seemed crushed by a tyranny both mental and
physical. The Count jerked his head towards her; she construed this as
a permission to speak.

"I heard all that you said, monsieur. Tell my father that if he knew
all he would forgive me. . . . I did not think there was such torture
in the world as this; it is more than I can endure, monsieur!--But I
will not give way as long as I live," she said, turning to her
husband. "I am a mother.--Tell my father that I have never sinned
against him in spite of appearances!" she cried aloud in her despair.

Eugene bowed to the husband and wife; he guessed the meaning of the
scene, and that this was a terrible crisis in the Countess' life. M.
de Restaud's manner had told him that his errand was a fruitless one;
he saw that Anastasie had no longer any liberty of action. He came
away mazed and bewildered, and hurried to Mme. de Nucingen. Delphine
was in bed.

"Poor dear Eugene, I am ill," she said. "I caught cold after the ball,
and I am afraid of pneumonia. I am waiting for the doctor to come."

"If you were at death's door," Eugene broke in, "you must be carried
somehow to your father. He is calling for you. If you could hear the
faintest of those cries, you would not feel ill any longer."

"Eugene, I dare say my father is not quite so ill as you say; but I
cannot bear to do anything that you do not approve, so I will do just
as you wish. As for HIM, he would die of grief I know if I went out to
see him and brought on a dangerous illness. Well, I will go as soon as
I have seen the doctor.--Ah!" she cried out, "you are not wearing your
watch, how is that?"

Eugene reddened.

"Eugene, Eugene! if you have sold it already or lost it. . . . Oh! it
would be very wrong of you!"

The student bent over Delphine and said in her ear, "Do you want to
know? Very well, then, you shall know. Your father has nothing left to
pay for the shroud that they will lay him in this evening. Your watch
has been pawned, for I had nothing either."

Delphine sprang out of bed, ran to her desk, and took out her purse.
She gave it to Eugene, and rang the bell, crying:

"I will go, I will go at once, Eugene. Leave me, I will dress. Why, I
should be an unnatural daughter! Go back; I will be there before you.
--Therese," she called to the waiting-woman, "ask M. de Nucingen to
come upstairs at once and speak to me."

Eugene was almost happy when he reached the Rue Nueve-Sainte-
Genevieve; he was so glad to bring the news to the dying man that one
of his daughters was coming. He fumbled in Delphine's purse for money,
so as to dismiss the cab at once; and discovered that the young,
beautiful, and wealthy woman of fashion had only seventy francs in her
private purse. He climbed the stairs and found Bianchon supporting
Goriot, while the house surgeon from the hospital was applying moxas
to the patient's back--under the direction of the physician, it was
the last expedient of science, and it was tried in vain.

"Can you feel them?" asked the physician. But Goriot had caught sight
of Rastignac, and answered, "They are coming, are they not?"

"There is hope yet," said the surgeon; "he can speak."

"Yes," said Eugene, "Delphine is coming."

"Oh! that is nothing!" said Bianchon; "he has been talking about his
daughters all the time. He calls for them as a man impaled calls for
water, they say----"

"We may as well give up," said the physician, addressing the surgeon.
"Nothing more can be done now; the case is hopeless."

Bianchon and the house surgeon stretched the dying man out again on
his loathsome bed.

"But the sheets ought to be changed," added the physician. "Even if
there is no hope left, something is due to human nature. I shall come
back again, Bianchon," he said, turning to the medical student. "If he
complains again, rub some laudanum over the diaphragm."

He went, and the house surgeon went with him.

"Come, Eugene, pluck up heart, my boy," said Bianchon, as soon as they
were alone; "we must set about changing his sheets, and put him into a
clean shirt. Go and tell Sylvie to bring some sheets and come and help
us to make the bed."

Eugene went downstairs, and found Mme. Vauquer engaged in setting the
table; Sylvie was helping her. Eugene had scarcely opened his mouth
before the widow walked up to him with the acidulous sweet smile of a
cautious shopkeeper who is anxious neither to lose money nor to offend
a customer.

"My dear Monsieur Eugene," she said, when he had spoken, "you know
quite as well as I do that Father Goriot has not a brass farthing
left. If you give out clean linen for a man who is just going to turn
up his eyes, you are not likely to see your sheets again, for one is
sure to be wanted to wrap him in. Now, you owe me a hundred and forty-
four francs as it is, add forty francs for the pair of sheets, and
then there are several little things, besides the candle that Sylvie
will give you; altogether it will all mount up to at least two hundred
francs, which is more than a poor widow like me can afford to lose.
Lord! now, Monsieur Eugene, look at it fairly. I have lost quite
enough in these five days since this run of ill-luck set in for me. I
would rather than ten crowns that the old gentlemen had moved out as
you said. It sets the other lodgers against the house. It would not
take much to make me send him to the workhouse. In short, just put
yourself in my place. I have to think of my establishment first, for I
have my own living to make."

Eugene hurried up to Goriot's room.

"Bianchon," he cried, "the money for the watch?"

"There it is on the table, or the three hundred and sixty odd francs
that are left of it. I paid up all the old scores out of it before
they let me have the things. The pawn ticket lies there under the

Rastignac hurried downstairs.

"Here, madame" he said in disgust, "let us square accounts. M. Goriot
will not stay much longer in your house, nor shall I----"

"Yes, he will go out feet foremost, poor old gentleman," she said,
counting the francs with a half-facetious, half-lugubrious expression.

"Let us get this over," said Rastignac.

"Sylvie, look out some sheets, and go upstairs to help the gentlemen."

"You won't forget Sylvie," said Mme. Vauquer in Eugene's ear; "she has
been sitting up these two nights."

As soon as Eugene's back was turned, the old woman hurried after her

"Take the sheets that have had the sides turned into the middle,
number 7. Lord! they are plenty good enough for a corpse," she said in
Sylvie's ear.

Eugene, by this time, was part of the way upstairs, and did not
overhear the elderly economist.

"Quick," said Bianchon, "let us change his shirt. Hold him upright."

Eugene went to the head of the bed and supported the dying man, while
Bianchon drew off his shirt; and then Goriot made a movement as if he
tried to clutch something to his breast, uttering a low inarticulate
moaning the while, like some dumb animal in mortal pain.

"Ah! yes!" cried Bianchon. "It is the little locket and the chain made
of hair that he wants; we took it off a while ago when we put the
blisters on him. Poor fellow! he must have it again. There it lies on
the chimney-piece."

Eugene went to the chimney-piece and found the little plait of faded
golden hair--Mme. Goriot's hair, no doubt. He read the name on the
little round locket, ANASTASIE on the one side, DELPHINE on the other.
It was the symbol of his own heart that the father always wore on his
breast. The curls of hair inside the locket were so fine and soft that
is was plain they had been taken from two childish heads. When the old
man felt the locket once more, his chest heaved with a long deep sigh
of satisfaction, like a groan. It was something terrible to see, for
it seemed as if the last quiver of the nerves were laid bare to their
eyes, the last communication of sense to the mysterious point within
whence our sympathies come and whither they go. A delirious joy
lighted up the distorted face. The terrific and vivid force of the
feeling that had survived the power of thought made such an impression
on the students, that the dying man felt their hot tears falling on
him, and gave a shrill cry of delight.

"Nasie! Fifine!"

"There is life in him yet," said Bianchon.

"What does he go on living for?" said Sylvie.

"To suffer," answered Rastignac.

Bianchon made a sign to his friend to follow his example, knelt down
and pressed his arms under the sick man, and Rastignac on the other
side did the same, so that Sylvie, standing in readiness, might draw
the sheet from beneath and replace it with the one that she had
brought. Those tears, no doubt, had misled Goriot; for he gathered up
all his remaining strength in a last effort, stretched out his hands,
groped for the students' heads, and as his fingers caught convulsively
at their hair, they heard a faint whisper:

"Ah! my angels!"

Two words, two inarticulate murmurs, shaped into words by the soul
which fled forth with them as they left his lips.

"Poor dear!" cried Sylvie, melted by that exclamation; the expression
of the great love raised for the last time to a sublime height by that
most ghastly and involuntary of lies.

The father's last breath must have been a sigh of joy, and in that
sigh his whole life was summed up; he was cheated even at the last.
They laid Father Goriot upon his wretched bed with reverent hands.
Thenceforward there was no expression on his face, only the painful
traces of the struggle between life and death that was going on in the
machine; for that kind of cerebral consciousness that distinguishes
between pleasure and pain in a human being was extinguished; it was
only a question of time--and the mechanism itself would be destroyed.

"He will lie like this for several hours, and die so quietly at last,
that we shall not know when he goes; there will be no rattle in the
throat. The brain must be completely suffused."

As he spoke there was a footstep on the staircase, and a young woman
hastened up, panting for breath.

"She has come too late," said Rastignac.

But it was not Delphine; it was Therese, her waiting-woman, who stood
in the doorway.

"Monsieur Eugene," she said, "monsieur and madame have had a terrible
scene about some money that Madame (poor thing!) wanted for her
father. She fainted, and the doctor came, and she had to be bled,
calling out all the while, 'My father is dying; I want to see papa!'
It was heartbreaking to hear her----"

"That will do, Therese. If she came now, it would be trouble thrown
away. M. Goriot cannot recognize any one now."

"Poor, dear gentleman, is he as bad at that?" said Therese.

"You don't want me now, I must go and look after my dinner; it is
half-past four," remarked Sylvie. The next instant she all but
collided with Mme. de Restaud on the landing outside.

There was something awful and appalling in the sudden apparition of
the Countess. She saw the bed of death by the dim light of the single
candle, and her tears flowed at the sight of her father's passive
features, from which the life had almost ebbed. Bianchon with
thoughtful tact left the room.

"I could not escape soon enough," she said to Rastignac.

The student bowed sadly in reply. Mme. de Restaud took her father's
hand and kissed it.

"Forgive me, father! You used to say that my voice would call you back
from the grave; ah! come back for one moment to bless your penitent
daughter. Do you hear me? Oh! this is fearful! No one on earth will
ever bless me henceforth; every one hates me; no one loves me but you
in all the world. My own children will hate me. Take me with you,
father; I will love you, I will take care of you. He does not hear me
. . . I am mad . . ."

She fell on her knees, and gazed wildly at the human wreck before her.

"My cup of misery is full," she said, turning her eyes upon Eugene.
"M. de Trailles has fled, leaving enormous debts behind him, and I
have found out that he was deceiving me. My husband will never forgive
me, and I have left my fortune in his hands. I have lost all my
illusions. Alas! I have forsaken the one heart that loved me (she
pointed to her father as she spoke), and for whom? I have held his
kindness cheap, and slighted his affection; many and many a time I
have given him pain, ungrateful wretch that I am!"

"He knew it," said Rastignac.

Just then Goriot's eyelids unclosed; it was only a muscular
contraction, but the Countess' sudden start of reviving hope was no
less dreadful than the dying eyes.

"Is it possible that he can hear me?" cried the Countess. "No," she
answered herself, and sat down beside the bed. As Mme. de Restaud
seemed to wish to sit by her father, Eugene went down to take a little
food. The boarders were already assembled.

"Well," remarked the painter, as he joined them, "it seems that there
is to be a death-orama upstairs."

"Charles, I think you might find something less painful to joke
about," said Eugene.

"So we may not laugh here?" returned the painter. "What harm does it
do? Bianchon said that the old man was quite insensible."

"Well, then," said the /employe/ from the Museum, "he will die as he
has lived."

"My father is dead!" shrieked the Countess.

The terrible cry brought Sylvie, Rastignac, and Bianchon; Mme. de
Restaud had fainted away. When she recovered they carried her
downstairs, and put her into the cab that stood waiting at the door.
Eugene sent Therese with her, and bade the maid take the Countess to
Mme. de Nucingen.

Bianchon came down to them.

"Yes, he is dead," he said.

"Come, sit down to dinner, gentlemen," said Mme. Vauquer, "or the soup
will be cold."

The two students sat down together.

"What is the next thing to be done?" Eugene asked of Bianchon.

"I have closed his eyes and composed his limbs," said Bianchon. "When
the certificate has been officially registered at the Mayor's office,
we will sew him in his winding sheet and bury him somewhere. What do
you think we ought to do?"

"He will not smell at his bread like this any more," said the painter,
mimicking the old man's little trick.

"Oh, hang it all!" cried the tutor, "let Father Goriot drop, and let
us have something else for a change. He is a standing dish, and we
have had him with every sauce this hour or more. It is one of the
privileges of the good city of Paris that anybody may be born, or
live, or die there without attracting any attention whatsoever. Let us
profit by the advantages of civilization. There are fifty or sixty
deaths every day; if you have a mind to do it, you can sit down at any
time and wail over whole hecatombs of dead in Paris. Father Goriot has
gone off the hooks, has he? So much the better for him. If you
venerate his memory, keep it to yourselves, and let the rest of us
feed in peace."

"Oh, to be sure," said the widow, "it is all the better for him that
he is dead. It looks as though he had had trouble enough, poor soul,
while he was alive."

And this was all the funeral oration delivered over him who had been
for Eugene the type and embodiment of Fatherhood.

The fifteen lodgers began to talk as usual. When Bianchon and Eugene
had satisfied their hunger, the rattle of spoons and forks, the
boisterous conversation, the expressions on the faces that bespoke
various degrees of want of feeling, gluttony, or indifference,
everything about them made them shiver with loathing. They went out to
find a priest to watch that night with the dead. It was necessary to
measure their last pious cares by the scanty sum of money that
remained. Before nine o'clock that evening the body was laid out on
the bare sacking of the bedstead in the desolate room; a lighted
candle stood on either side, and the priest watched at the foot.
Rastignac made inquiries of this latter as to the expenses of the
funeral, and wrote to the Baron de Nucingen and the Comte de Restaud,
entreating both gentlemen to authorize their man of business to defray
the charges of laying their father-in-law in the grave. He sent
Christophe with the letters; then he went to bed, tired out, and

Next day Bianchon and Rastignac were obliged to take the certificate
to the registrar themselves, and by twelve o'clock the formalities
were completed. Two hours went by, no word came from the Count nor
from the Baron; nobody appeared to act for them, and Rastignac had
already been obliged to pay the priest. Sylvie asked ten francs for
sewing the old man in his winding-sheet and making him ready for the
grave, and Eugene and Bianchon calculated that they had scarcely
sufficient to pay for the funeral, if nothing was forthcoming from the
dead man's family. So it was the medical student who laid him in a
pauper's coffin, despatched from Bianchon's hospital, whence he
obtained it at a cheaper rate.

"Let us play those wretches a trick," said he. "Go to the cemetery,
buy a grave for five years at Pere-Lachaise, and arrange with the
Church and the undertaker to have a third-class funeral. If the
daughters and their husbands decline to repay you, you can carve this

Eugene took part of his friend's advice, but only after he had gone in
person first to M. and Mme. de Nucingen, and then to M. and Mme. de
Restaud--a fruitless errand. He went no further than the doorstep in
either house. The servants had received strict orders to admit no one.

"Monsieur and Madame can see no visitors. They have just lost their
father, and are in deep grief over their loss."

Eugene's Parisian experience told him that it was idle to press the
point. Something clutched strangely at his heart when he saw that it
was impossible to reach Delphine.

"Sell some of your ornaments," he wrote hastily in the porter's room,
"so that your father may be decently laid in his last resting-place."

He sealed the note, and begged the porter to give it to Therese for
her mistress; but the man took it to the Baron de Nucingen, who flung
the note into the fire. Eugene, having finished his errands, returned
to the lodging-house about three o'clock. In spite of himself, the
tears came into his eyes. The coffin, in its scanty covering of black
cloth, was standing there on the pavement before the gate, on two
chairs. A withered sprig of hyssop was soaking in the holy water bowl
of silver-plated copper; there was not a soul in the street, not a
passer-by had stopped to sprinkle the coffin; there was not even an
attempt at a black drapery over the wicket. It was a pauper who lay
there; no one made a pretence of mourning for him; he had neither
friends nor kindred--there was no one to follow him to the grave.

Bianchon's duties compelled him to be at the hospital, but he had left
a few lines for Eugene, telling his friend about the arrangements he
had made for the burial service. The house student's note told
Rastignac that a mass was beyond their means, that the ordinary office
for the dead was cheaper, and must suffice, and that he had sent word
to the undertaker by Christophe. Eugene had scarcely finished reading
Bianchon's scrawl, when he looked up and saw the little circular gold
locket that contained the hair of Goriot's two daughters in Mme.
Vauquer's hands.

"How dared you take it?" he asked.

"Good Lord! is that to be buried along with him?" retorted Sylvie. "It
is gold."

"Of course it shall!" Eugene answered indignantly; "he shall at any
rate take one thing that may represent his daughters into the grave
with him."

When the hearse came, Eugene had the coffin carried into the house
again, unscrewed the lid, and reverently laid on the old man's breast
the token that recalled the days when Delphine and Anastasie were
innocent little maidens, before they began "to think for themselves,"
as he had moaned out in his agony.

Rastignac and Christophe and the two undertaker's men were the only
followers of the funeral. The Church of Saint-Etienne du Mont was only
a little distance from the Rue Nueve-Sainte-Genevieve. When the coffin
had been deposited in a low, dark, little chapel, the law student
looked round in vain for Goriot's two daughters or their husbands.
Christophe was his only fellow-mourner; Christophe, who appeared to
think it was his duty to attend the funeral of the man who had put him
in the way of such handsome tips. As they waited there in the chapel
for the two priests, the chorister, and the beadle, Rastignac grasped
Christophe's hand. He could not utter a word just then.

"Yes, Monsieur Eugene," said Christophe, "he was a good and worthy
man, who never said one word louder than another; he never did any one
any harm, and gave nobody any trouble."

The two priests, the chorister, and the beadle came, and said and did
as much as could be expected for seventy francs in an age when
religion cannot afford to say prayers for nothing.

The ecclesiatics chanted a psalm, the /Libera nos/ and the /De
profundis/. The whole service lasted about twenty minutes. There was
but one mourning coach, which the priest and chorister agreed to share
with Eugene and Christophe.

"There is no one else to follow us," remarked the priest, "so we
may as well go quickly, and so save time; it is half-past five."

But just as the coffin was put in the hearse, two empty carriages,
with the armorial bearings of the Comte de Restaud and the Baron de
Nucingen, arrived and followed in the procession to Pere-Lachaise. At
six o'clock Goriot's coffin was lowered into the grave, his daughters'
servants standing round the while. The ecclesiastic recited the short
prayer that the students could afford to pay for, and then both priest
and lackeys disappeared at once. The two grave diggers flung in
several spadefuls of earth, and then stopped and asked Rastignac for
their fee. Eugene felt in vain in his pocket, and was obliged to
borrow five francs of Christophe. This thing, so trifling in itself,
gave Rastignac a terrible pang of distress. It was growing dusk, the
damp twilight fretted his nerves; he gazed down into the grave and the
tears he shed were drawn from him by the sacred emotion, a single-
hearted sorrow. When such tears fall on earth, their radiance reaches
heaven. And with that tear that fell on Father Goriot's grave, Eugene
Rastignac's youth ended. He folded his arms and gazed at the clouded
sky; and Christophe, after a glance at him, turned and went--Rastignac
was left alone.

He went a few paces further, to the highest point of the cemetery, and
looked out over Paris and the windings of the Seine; the lamps were
beginning to shine on either side of the river. His eyes turned almost
eagerly to the space between the column of the Place Vendome and the
cupola of the Invalides; there lay the shining world that he had
wished to reach. He glanced over that humming hive, seeming to draw a
foretaste of its honey, and said magniloquently:

"Henceforth there is war between us."

And by way of throwing down the glove to Society, Rastignac went to
dine with Mme. de Nucingen.


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

Ajuda-Pinto, Marquis Miguel d'
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
The Secrets of a Princess

Beauseant, Marquis
An Episode under the Terror

Beauseant, Vicomte de
The Deserted Woman

Beauseant, Vicomtesse de
The Deserted Woman
Albert Savarus

Bianchon, Horace
The Atheist's Mass
Cesar Birotteau
The Commission in Lunacy
Lost Illusions
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
A Bachelor's Establishment
The Secrets of a Princess
The Government Clerks
A Study of Woman
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
The Seamy Side of History
The Magic Skin
A Second Home
A Prince of Bohemia
Letters of Two Brides
The Muse of the Department
The Imaginary Mistress
The Middle Classes
Cousin Betty
The Country Parson
In addition, M. Bianchon narrated the following:
Another Study of Woman
La Grande Breteche

Bibi-Lupin (chief of secret police, called himself Gondureau)
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life

Carigliano, Marechal, Duc de

Collin, Jacques
Lost Illusions
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
The Member for Arcis

A Start in Life
The Gondreville Mystery
Colonel Chabert
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life

Franchessini, Colonel
The Member for Arcis

Galathionne, Princess
A Daughter of Eve

Gobseck, Jean-Esther Van
Cesar Birotteau
The Government Clerks
The Unconscious Humoriists

Jacques (M. de Beauseant's butler)
The Deserted Woman

Langeais, Duchesse Antoinette de
The Thirteen

Marsay, Henri de
The Thirteen
The Unconscious Humorists
Another Study of Woman
The Lily of the Valley
Jealousies of a Country Town
Ursule Mirouet
A Marriage Settlement
Lost Illusions
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
Letters of Two Brides
The Ball at Sceaux
Modest Mignon
The Secrets of a Princess
The Gondreville Mystery
A Daughter of Eve

Maurice (de Restaud's valet)

Montriveau, General Marquis Armand de
The Thirteen
Lost Illusions
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
Another Study of Woman
The Member for Arcis

Nucingen, Baron Frederic de
The Firm of Nucingen
Cesar Birotteau
Lost Illusions
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
Another Study of Woman
The Secrets of a Princess
A Man of Business
Cousin Betty
The Muse of the Department
The Unconscious Humorists

Nucingen, Baronne Delphine de
The Thirteen
Eugenie Grandet
Cesar Birotteau
Melmoth Reconciled
Lost Illusions
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
The Commission in Lunacy
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
Modeste Mignon
The Firm of Nucingen
Another Study of Woman
A Daughter of Eve
The Member for Arcis

The Government Clerks
A Start in Life
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
The Middle Classes

Poiret, Madame (nee Christine-Michelle Michonneau)
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
The Middle Classes

Rastignac, Baron and Baronne de (Eugene's parents)
Lost Illusions

Rastignac, Eugene de
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
The Ball at Sceaux
The Interdiction
A Study of Woman
Another Study of Woman
The Magic Skin
The Secrets of a Princess
A Daughter of Eve
The Gondreville Mystery
The Firm of Nucingen
Cousin Betty
The Member for Arcis
The Unconscious Humorists

Rastignac, Laure-Rose and Agathe de
Lost Illusions
The Member for Arcis

Rastignac, Monseigneur Gabriel de
The Country Parson
A Daughter of Eve

Restaud, Comte de

Restaud, Comtesse Anastasie de

Scenes from a Courtesan's Life

Taillefer, Jean-Frederic
The Firm of Nucingen
The Magic Skin
The Red Inn

Taillefer, Victorine
The Red Inn

A Daughter of Eve

Tissot, Pierre-Francois
A Prince of Bohemia

Trailles, Comte Maxime de
Cesar Birotteau
Ursule Mirouet
A Man of Business
The Member for Arcis
The Secrets of a Princess
Cousin Betty
The Member for Arcis
The Unconscious Humorists

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