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Modeste Mignon by Honore de Balzac

Part 6 out of 6

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the young islander. The two princes guessed from afar the subject of
the altercation, and the Master of the Hunt, setting spurs to his
horse, brought it to an end by saying, in a voice of authority:--

"Who drew the wood?"

"I, monseigneur," said the Englishman.

"Very good," said the Prince de Cadignan, proceeding to take Barry's
report.

Dogs and men became silent and respectful before the Royal Huntsman,
as though each recognized his dignity as supreme. The prince laid out
the day's work; for it is with a hunt as it is with a battle, and the
Master of Charles X.'s hounds was the Napoleon of forests. Thanks to
the admirable system which he has introduced into French venery, he
was able to turn his thoughts exclusively to the science and strategy
of it. He now quietly assigned a special duty to the Prince de
Loudon's establishment, that of driving the stag to water, when, as he
expected, the royal hounds had sent it into the Crown forest which
outlined the horizon directly in front of the chateau. The prince knew
well how to soothe the self-love of his old huntsmen by giving them
the most arduous part of the work, and also that of the Englishman,
whom he employed at his own speciality, affording him a chance to show
the fleetness of his horses and dogs in the open. The two national
systems were thus face to face and allowed to do their best under each
other's eyes.

"Does monseigneur wish us to wait any longer?" said La Roulie,
respectfully.

"I know what you mean, old friend," said the prince. "It is late,
but--"

"Here come the ladies," said the second whipper-in.

At that moment the cavalcade of sixteen riders was seen to approach at
the head of which were the green veils of the four ladies. Modeste,
accompanied by her father, the grand equerry, and La Briere, was in
the advance, beside the Duchesse de Maufrigneuse whom the Vicomte de
Serizy escorted. Behind them rode the Duchesse de Chaulieu, flanked by
Canalis, on whom she was smiling without a trace of rancor. When they
had reached the open space where the huntsmen with their red coats and
brass bugles, surrounded by the hounds, made a picture worthy of Van
der Meulen, the Duchesse de Chaulieu, who, in spite of her embonpoint,
sat her horse admirably, rode up to Modeste, finding it more for her
dignity not to avoid that young person, to whom the evening before she
had not said a single word.

When the Master of the Hunt finished his compliments to the ladies on
their amazing punctuality, Eleonore deigned to observe the magnificent
whip which sparked in Modeste's little hand, and graciously asked
leave to look at it.

"I have never seen anything of the kind more beautiful," she said,
showing it to Diane de Maufrigneuse. "It is in keeping with its
possessor," she added, returning it to Modeste.

"You must admit, Madame la duchesse," answered Mademoiselle de La
Bastie, with a tender and malicious glance at La Briere, "that it is a
rather strange gift from the hand of a future husband."

"I should take it," said Madame de Maufrigneuse, "as a declaration of
my rights, in remembrance of Louis XIV."

La Briere's eyes were suffused, and for a moment he dropped his reins;
but a second glance from Modeste ordered him not to betray his
happiness. The hunt now began.

The Duc d'Herouville took occasion to say in a low voice to his
fortunate rival; "Monsieur, I hope that you will make your wife happy;
if I can be useful to you in any way, command my services; I should be
only too glad to contribute to the happiness of so charming a pair."

This great day, in which such vast interests of heart and fortune were
decided, caused but one anxiety to the Master of the Hunt,--namely,
whether or not the stag would cross the pond and be killed on the lawn
before the house; for huntsmen of his calibre are like great chess-
players who can predict a checkmate under certain circumstances. The
happy old man succeeded to the height of his wishes; the run was
magnificent, and the ladies released him from his attendance upon them
for the hunt of the next day but one,--which, however, turned out to
be rainy.

The Duc de Verneuil's guests stayed five days at Rosembray. On the
last day the Gazette de France announced the appointment of Monsieur
le Baron de Canalis to the rank of commander of the Legion of honor,
and to the post of minister at Carlsruhe.

When, early in the month of December, Madame de La Bastie, operated
upon by Desplein, recovered her sight and saw Ernest de La Briere for
the first time, she pressed Modeste's hand and whispered in her ear,
"I should have chosen him myself."

Toward the last of February all the deeds for the estates in Provence
were signed by Latournelle, and about that time the family of La
Bastie obtained the marked honor of the king's signature to the
marriage contract and to the ordinance transmitting their title and
arms to La Briere, who henceforth took the name of La Briere-La
Bastie. The estate of La Bastie was entailed by letters-patent issued
about the end of April. La Briere's witnesses on the occasion of his
marriage were Canalis and the minister whom he had served for five
years as secretary. Those of the bride were the Duc d'Herouville and
Desplein, whom the Mignons long held in grateful remembrance, after
giving him magnificent and substantial proofs of their regard.

Later, in the course of this long history of our manners and customs,
we may again meet Monsieur and Madame de La Briere-La Bastie; and
those who have the eyes to see, will then behold how sweet, how easy,
is the marriage yoke with an educated and intelligent woman; for
Modeste, who had the wit to avoid the follies of pedantry, is the
pride and happiness of her husband, as she is of her family and of all
those who surround her.

ADDENDUM

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

Beaupre, Fanny
A Start in Life
The Muse of the Department
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life

Bixiou, Jean-Jacques
The Purse
A Bachelor's Establishment
The Government Clerks
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
The Firm of Nucingen
The Muse of the Department
Cousin Betty
The Member for Arcis
Beatrix
A Man of Business
Gaudissart II.
The Unconscious Humorists
Cousin Pons

Blondet, Emile
Jealousies of a Country Town
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
Another Study of Woman
The Secrets of a Princess
A Daughter of Eve
The Firm of Nucingen
The Peasantry

Bridau, Joseph
The Purse
A Bachelor's Establishment
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
A Start in Life
Another Study of Woman
Pierre Grassou
Letters of Two Brides
Cousin Betty
The Member for Arcis

Cadignan, Prince de
The Secrets of a Princess

Canalis, Constant-Cyr-Melchior, Baron de
Letters of Two Brides
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
The Magic Skin
Another Study of Woman
A Start in Life
Beatrix
The Unconscious Humorists
The Member for Arcis

Chatillonest, De
A Woman of Thirty

Chaulieu, Henri, Duc de
Letters of Two Brides
A Bachelor's Establishment
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
The Thirteen

Dauriat
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life

Desplein
The Atheist's Mass
Cousin Pons
Lost Illusions
The Thirteen
The Government Clerks
Pierrette
A Bachelor's Establishment
The Seamy Side of History
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
Honorine

Estourny, Charles d'
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
A Man of Business

Fontaine, Comte de
The Chouans
The Ball at Sceaux
Cesar Birotteau
The Government Clerks

Grandlieu, Duc Ferdinand de
The Gondreville Mystery
The Thirteen
A Bachelor's Establishment
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life

Herouville, Duc d'
The Hated Son
Jealousies of a Country Town
Cousin Betty

La Bastie la Briere, Ernest de
The Government Clerks

La Bastie la Briere, Madame Ernest de (Modeste)
The Member for Arcis
Cousin Betty

Loudon, Prince de
The Chouans

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

Maufrigneuse, Duchesse de
The Secrets of a Princess
Jealousies of a Country Town
The Muse of the Department
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
Letters of Two Brides
Another Study of Woman
The Gondreville Mystery
The Member for Arcis

Nucingen, Baronne Delphine de
Father Goriot
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
The Firm of Nucingen
Another Study of Woman
A Daughter of Eve
The Member for Arcis

Schinner, Hippolyte
The Purse
A Bachelor's Establishment
Pierre Grassou
A Start in Life
Albert Savarus
The Government Clerks
The Imaginary Mistress
The Unconscious Humorists

Serizy, Comte Hugret de
A Start in Life
A Bachelor's Establishment
Honorine
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life

Serizy, Vicomte de
A Start in Life
The Imaginary Mistress

Sommervieux, Theodore de
At the Sign of the Cat and Racket
The Government Clerks

Stidmann
Beatrix
The Member for Arcis
Cousin Betty
Cousin Pons
The Unconscious Humorists

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