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The Muse of the Department by Honore de Balzac

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to insult.--None but the son of a provincial citizen imported from
Sancerre to become a poet, but who is only the /bravo/ of some
contemptible magazine, could ever have sent out such a circular
letter, as you must allow, monsieur. This is a document indispensable
to the archives of the age.--To-day Lousteau flatters me, to-morrow he
may ask for my head.--Excuse me, I forgot you were a judge.

"I have gone through a passion for a lady, a great lady, as far
superior to Madame de la Baudraye as your fine feeling, monsieur, is
superior to Lousteau's vulgar retaliation; but I would have died
rather than utter her name. A few months of her airs and graces cost
me a hundred thousand francs and my prospects for life; but I do not
think the price too high!--And I have never murmured!--If a woman
betrays the secret of her passion, it is the supreme offering of her
love, but a man!--He must be a Lousteau!

"No, I would not give up that paper for a thousand crowns."

"Monsieur," said the lawyer at last, after an eloquent battle lasting
half an hour, "I have called on fifteen or sixteen men of letters
about this affair, and can it be that you are the only one immovable
by an appeal of honor? It is not for Etienne Lousteau that I plead,
but for a woman and child, both equally ignorant of the damage done to
their fortune, their prospects, and their honor.--Who knows, monsieur,
whether you might not some day be compelled to plead for some favor of
justice for a friend, for some person whose honor was dearer to you
than your own.--It might be remembered against you that you had been
ruthless.--Can such a man as you are hesitate?" added Monsieur de

"I only wished you to understand the extent of the sacrifice," replied
Nathan, giving up the letter, as he reflected on the judge's influence
and accepted this implied bargain.

When the journalist's stupid jest had been counteracted, Monsieur de
Clagny went to give him a rating in the presence of Madame Piedefer;
but he found Lousteau fuming with irritation.

"What I did monsieur, I did with a purpose!" replied Etienne.
"Monsieur de la Baudraye has sixty thousand francs a year and refuses
to make his wife an allowance; I wished to make him feel that the
child is in my power."

"Yes, monsieur, I quite suspected it," replied the lawyer. "For that
reason I readily agreed to be little Polydore's godfather, and he is
registered as the son of the Baron and Baronne de la Baudraye; if you
have the feelings of a father, you ought to rejoice in knowing that
the child is heir to one of the finest entailed estates in France."

"And pray, sir, is the mother to die of hunger?"

"Be quite easy," said the lawyer bitterly, having dragged from
Lousteau the expression of feeling he had so long been expecting. "I
will undertake to transact the matter with Monsieur de la Baudraye."

Monsieur de Clagny left the house with a chill at his heart.

Dinah, his idol, was loved for her money. Would she not, when too
late, have her eyes opened?

"Poor woman!" said the lawyer, as he walked away. And this justice we
will do him--for to whom should justice be done unless to a Judge?--he
loved Dinah too sincerely to regard her degradation as a means of
triumph one day; he was all pity and devotion; he really loved her.

The care and nursing of the infant, its cries, the quiet needed for
the mother during the first few days, and the ubiquity of Madame
Piedefer, were so entirely adverse to literary labors, that Lousteau
moved up to the three rooms taken on the first floor for the old
bigot. The journalist, obliged to go to the first performances without
Dinah, and living apart from her, found an indescribable charm in the
use of his liberty. More than once he submitted to be taken by the arm
and dragged off to some jollification; more than once he found himself
at the house of a friend's mistress in the heart of bohemia. He again
saw women brilliantly young and splendidly dressed, in whom economy
seemed treason to their youth and power. Dinah, in spite of her
striking beauty, after nursing her baby for three months, could not
stand comparison with these perishable blossoms, so soon faded, but so
showy as long as they live rooted in opulence.

Home life had, nevertheless, a strong attraction for Etienne. In three
months the mother and daughter, with the help of the cook from
Sancerre and of little Pamela, had given the apartment a quite changed
appearance. The journalist found his breakfast and his dinner served
with a sort of luxury. Dinah, handsome and nicely dressed, was careful
to anticipate her dear Etienne's wishes, and he felt himself the king
of his home, where everything, even the baby, was subject to his
selfishness. Dinah's affection was to be seen in every trifle,
Lousteau could not possibly cease the entrancing deceptions of his
unreal passion.

Dinah, meanwhile, was aware of a source of ruin, both to her love and
to the household, in the kind of life into which Lousteau had allowed
himself to drift. At the end of ten months she weaned her baby,
installed her mother in the upstairs rooms, and restored the family
intimacy which indissolubly links a man and woman when the woman is
loving and clever. One of the most striking circumstances in Benjamin
Constant's novel, one of the explanations of Ellenore's desertion, is
the want of daily--or, if you will, of nightly--intercourse between
her and Adolphe. Each of the lovers has a separate home; they have
both submitted to the world and saved appearances. Ellenore,
repeatedly left to herself, is compelled to vast labors of affection
to expel the thoughts of release which captivate Adolphe when absent.
The constant exchange of glances and thoughts in domestic life gives a
woman such power that a man needs stronger reasons for desertion than
she will ever give him so long as she loves him.

This was an entirely new phase both to Etienne and to Dinah. Dinah
intended to be indispensable; she wanted to infuse fresh energy into
this man, whose weakness smiled upon her, for she thought it a
security. She found him subjects, sketched the treatment, and at a
pinch, would write whole chapters. She revived the vitality of this
dying talent by transfusing fresh blood into his veins; she supplied
him with ideas and opinions. In short, she produced two books which
were a success. More than once she saved Lousteau's self-esteem by
dictating, correcting, or finishing his articles when he was in
despair at his own lack of ideas. The secret of this collaboration was
strictly preserved; Madame Piedefer knew nothing of it.

This mental galvanism was rewarded by improved pay, enabling them to
live comfortably till the end of 1838. Lousteau became used to seeing
Dinah do his work, and he paid her--as the French people say in their
vigorous lingo--in "monkey money," nothing for her pains. This
expenditure in self-sacrifice becomes a treasure which generous souls
prize, and the more she gave the more she loved Lousteau; the time
soon came when Dinah felt that it would be too bitter a grief ever to
give him up.

But then another child was coming, and this year was a terrible trial.
In spite of the precautions of the two women, Etienne contracted
debts; he worked himself to death to pay them off while Dinah was laid
up; and, knowing him as she did, she thought him heroic. But after
this effort, appalled at having two women, two children, and two maids
on his hands, he was incapable of the struggle to maintain a family by
his pen when he had failed to maintain even himself. So he let things
take their chance. Then the ruthless speculator exaggerated the farce
of love-making at home to secure greater liberty abroad.

Dinah proudly endured the burden of life without support. The one
idea, "He loves me!" gave her superhuman strength. She worked as hard
as the most energetic spirits of our time. At the risk of her beauty
and health, Didine was to Lousteau what Mademoiselle Delachaux was to
Gardane in Diderot's noble and true tale. But while sacrificing
herself, she committed the magnanimous blunder of sacrificing dress.
She had her gowns dyed, and wore nothing but black. She stank of
black, as Malaga said, making fun mercilessly of Lousteau.

By the end of 1839, Etienne, following the example of Louis XV., had,
by dint of gradual capitulations of conscience, come to the point of
establishing a distinction between his own money and the housekeeping
money, just as Louis XV. drew the line between his privy purse and the
public moneys. He deceived Dinah as to his earnings. On discovering
this baseness, Madame de la Baudraye went through fearful tortures of
jealousy. She wanted to live two lives--the life of the world and the
life of a literary woman; she accompanied Lousteau to every first-
night performance, and could detect in him many impulses of wounded
vanity, for her black attire rubbed off, as it were, on him, clouding
his brow, and sometimes leading him to be quite brutal. He was really
the woman of the two; and he had all a woman's exacting perversity; he
would reproach Dinah for the dowdiness of her appearance, even while
benefiting by the sacrifice, which to a mistress is so cruel--exactly
like a woman who, after sending a man through a gutter to save her
honor, tells him she "cannot bear dirt!" when he comes out.

Dinah then found herself obliged to gather up the rather loose reins
of power by which a clever woman drives a man devoid of will. But in
so doing she could not fail to lose much of her moral lustre. Such
suspicions as she betrayed drag a woman into quarrels which lead to
disrespect, because she herself comes down from the high level on
which she had at first placed herself. Next she made some concession;
Lousteau was allowed to entertain several of his friends--Nathan,
Bixiou, Blondet, Finot, whose manners, language, and intercourse were
depraving. They tried to convince Madame de la Baudraye that her
principles and aversions were a survival of provincial prudishness;
and they preached the creed of woman's superiority.

Before long, her jealousy put weapons into Lousteau's hands. During
the carnival of 1840, she disguised herself to go to the balls at the
Opera-house, and to suppers where she met courtesans, in order to keep
an eye on all Etienne's amusements.

On the day of Mid-Lent--or rather, at eight on the morning after--
Dinah came home from the ball in her fancy dress to go to bed. She had
gone to spy on Lousteau, who, believing her to be ill, had engaged
himself for that evening to Fanny Beaupre. The journalist, warned by a
friend, had behaved so as to deceive the poor woman, only too ready to
be deceived.

As she stepped out of the hired cab, Dinah met Monsieur de la
Baudraye, to whom the porter pointed her out. The little old man took
his wife by the arm, saying, in an icy tone:

"So this is you, madame!"

This sudden advent of conjugal authority, before which she felt
herself so small, and, above all, these words, almost froze the heart
of the unhappy woman caught in the costume of a /debardeur/. To escape
Etienne's eye the more effectually, she had chosen a dress he was not
likely to detect her in. She took advantage of the mask she still had
on to escape without replying, changed her dress, and went up to her
mother's rooms, where she found her husband waiting for her. In spite
of her assumed dignity, she blushed in the old man's presence.

"What do you want of me, monsieur?" she asked. "Are we not separated

"Actually, yes," said Monsieur de la Baudraye. "Legally, no."

Madame Piedefer was telegraphing signals to her daughter, which Dinah
presently observed and understood.

"Nothing could have brought you here but your own interests," she
said, in a bitter tone.

"/Our/ interests," said the little man coldly, "for we have two
children.--Your Uncle Silas Piedefer is dead, at New York, where,
after having made and lost several fortunes in various parts of the
world, he has finally left some seven or eight hundred thousand francs
--they say twelve--but there is stock-in-trade to be sold. I am the
chief in our common interests, and act for you."

"Oh!" cried Dinah, "in everything that relates to business, I trust no
one but Monsieur de Clagny. He knows the law, come to terms with him;
what he does, will be done right."

"I have no occasion for Monsieur de Clagny," answered Monsieur de la
Baudraye, "to take my children from you--"

"Your children!" exclaimed Dinah. "Your children, to whom you have not
sent a sou! /Your/ children!" She burst into a loud shout of laughter;
but Monsieur de la Baudraye's unmoved coolness threw ice on the

"Your mother has just brought them to show me," he went on. "They are
charming boys. I do not intend to part from them. I shall take them to
our house at Anzy, if it were only to save them from seeing their
mother disguised like a--"

"Silence!" said Madame de la Baudraye imperatively. "What do you want
of me that brought you here?"

"A power of attorney to receive our Uncle Silas' property."

Dinah took a pen, wrote two lines to Monsieur de Clagny, and desired
her husband to call again in the afternoon.

At five o'clock, Monsieur de Clagny--who had been promoted to the post
of Attorney-General--enlightened Madame de la Baudraye as to her
position; still, he undertook to arrange everything by a bargain with
the old fellow, whose visit had been prompted by avarice alone.
Monsieur de la Baudraye, to whom his wife's power of attorney was
indispensable to enable him to deal with the business as he wished,
purchased it by certain concessions. In the first place, he undertook
to allow her ten thousand francs a year so long as she found it
convenient--so the document was worded--to reside in Paris; the
children, each on attaining the age of six, were to be placed in
Monsieur de la Baudraye's keeping. Finally, the lawyer extracted the
payment of the allowance in advance.

Little La Baudraye, who came jauntily enough to say good-bye to his
wife and /his/ children, appeared in a white india-rubber overcoat. He
was so firm on his feet, and so exactly like the La Baudraye of 1836,
that Dinah despaired of ever burying the dreadful little dwarf. From
the garden, where he was smoking a cigar, the journalist could watch
Monsieur de la Baudraye for so long as it took the little reptile to
cross the forecourt, but that was enough for Lousteau; it was plain to
him that the little man had intended to wreck every hope of his dying
that his wife might have conceived.

This short scene made a considerable change in the writer's secret
scheming. As he smoked a second cigar, he seriously reviewed the

His life with Madame de la Baudraye had hitherto cost him quite as
much as it had cost her. To use the language of business, the two
sides of the account balanced, and they could, if necessary, cry
quits. Considering how small his income was, and how hardly he earned
it, Lousteau regarded himself, morally speaking, as the creditor. It
was, no doubt, a favorable moment for throwing the woman over. Tired
at the end of three years of playing a comedy which never can become a
habit, he was perpetually concealing his weariness; and this fellow,
who was accustomed to disguise none of his feelings, compelled himself
to wear a smile at home like that of a debtor in the presence of his
creditor. This compulsion was every day more intolerable.

Hitherto the immense advantages he foresaw in the future had given him
strength; but when he saw Monsieur de la Baudraye embark for the
United States, as briskly as if it were to go down to Rouen in a
steamboat, he ceased to believe in the future.

He went in from the garden to the pretty drawing-room, where Dinah had
just taken leave of her husband.

"Etienne," said Madame de la Baudraye, "do you know what my lord and
master has proposed to me? In the event of my wishing to return to
live at Anzy during his absence, he has left his orders, and he hopes
that my mother's good advice will weigh with me, and that I shall go
back there with my children."

"It is very good advice," replied Lousteau drily, knowing the
passionate disclaimer that Dinah expected, and indeed begged for with
her eyes.

The tone, the words, the cold look, all hit the hapless woman so hard,
who lived only in her love, that two large tears trickled slowly down
her cheeks, while she did not speak a word, and Lousteau only saw them
when she took out her handkerchief to wipe away these two beads of

"What is it, Didine?" he asked, touched to the heart by this excessive

"Just as I was priding myself on having won our freedom," said she--
"at the cost of my fortune--by selling--what is most precious to a
mother's heart--selling my children!--for he is to have them from the
age of six--and I cannot see them without going to Sancerre!--and that
is torture!--Ah, dear God! What have I done----?"

Lousteau knelt down by her and kissed her hands with a lavish display
of coaxing and petting.

"You do not understand me," said he. "I blame myself, for I am not
worth such sacrifices, dear angel. I am, in a literary sense, a quite
second-rate man. If the day comes when I can no longer cut a figure at
the bottom of the newspaper, the editors will let me lie, like an old
shoe flung into the rubbish heap. Remember, we tight-rope dancers have
no retiring pension! The State would have too many clever men on its
hands if it started on such a career of beneficence. I am forty-two,
and I am as idle as a marmot. I feel it--I know it"--and he took her
by the hand--"my love can only be fatal to you.

"As you know, at two-and-twenty I lived on Florine; but what is
excusable in a youth, what then seems smart and charming, is a
disgrace to a man of forty. Hitherto we have shared the burden of
existence, and it has not been lovely for this year and half. Out of
devotion to me you wear nothing but black, and that does me no
credit."--Dinah gave one of those magnanimous shrugs which are worth
all the words ever spoken.--"Yes," Etienne went on, "I know you
sacrifice everything to my whims, even your beauty. And I, with a
heart worn out in past struggles, a soul full of dark presentiments as
to the future, I cannot repay your exquisite love with an equal
affection. We were very happy--without a cloud--for a long time.--
Well, then, I cannot bear to see so sweet a poem end badly. Am I

Madame de la Baudraye loved Etienne so truly, that this prudence,
worthy of de Clagny, gratified her and stanched her tears.

"He loves me for myself alone!" thought she, looking at him with
smiling eyes.

After four years of intimacy, this woman's love now combined every
shade of affection which our powers of analysis can discern, and which
modern society has created; one of the most remarkable men of our age,
whose death is a recent loss to the world of letters, Beyle
(Stendhal), was the first to delineate them to perfection.

Lousteau could produce in Dinah the acute agitation which may be
compared to magnetism, that upsets every power of the mind and body,
and overcomes every instinct of resistance in a woman. A look from
him, or his hand laid on hers, reduced her to implicit obedience. A
kind word or a smile wreathed the poor woman's soul with flowers; a
fond look elated, a cold look depressed her. When she walked, taking
his arm and keeping step with him in the street or on the boulevard,
she was so entirely absorbed in him that she lost all sense of
herself. Fascinated by this fellow's wit, magnetized by his airs, his
vices were but trivial defects in her eyes. She loved the puffs of
cigar smoke that the wind brought into her room from the garden; she
went to inhale them, and made no wry faces, hiding herself to enjoy
them. She hated the publisher or the newspaper editor who refused
Lousteau money on the ground of the enormous advances he had had
already. She deluded herself so far as to believe that her bohemian
was writing a novel, for which the payment was to come, instead of
working off a debt long since incurred.

This, no doubt, is true love, and includes every mode of loving; the
love of the heart and of the head--passion, caprice, and taste--to
accept Beyle's definitions. Didine loved him so wholly, that in
certain moments when her critical judgment, just by nature, and
constantly exercised since she had lived in Paris, compelled her to
read to the bottom of Lousteau's soul, sense was still too much for
reason, and suggested excuses.

"And what am I?" she replied. "A woman who has put herself outside the
pale. Since I have sacrificed all a woman's honor, why should you not
sacrifice to me some of a man's honor? Do we not live outside the
limits of social conventionality? Why not accept from me what Nathan
can accept from Florine? We will square accounts when we part, and
only death can part us--you know. My happiness is your honor, Etienne,
as my constancy and your happiness are mine. If I fail to make you
happy, all is at an end. If I cause you a pang, condemn me.

"Our debts are paid; we have ten thousand francs a year, and between
us we can certainly make eight thousand francs a year--I will write
theatrical articles.--With fifteen hundred francs a month we shall be
as rich as Rothschild.--Be quite easy. I will have some lovely
dresses, and give you every day some gratified vanity, as on the first
night of Nathan's play--"

"And what about your mother, who goes to Mass every day, and wants to
bring a priest to the house and make you give up this way of life?"

"Every one has a pet vice. You smoke, she preaches at me, poor woman!
But she takes great care of the children, she takes them out, she is
absolutely devoted, and idolizes me. Would you hinder her from

"What will be thought of me?"

"But we do not live for the world!" cried she, raising Etienne and
making him sit by her. "Besides, we shall be married some day--we have
the risks of a sea voyage----"

"I never thought of that," said Lousteau simply; and he added to
himself, "Time enough to part when little La Baudraye is safe back

From that day forth Etienne lived in luxury; and Dinah, on first
nights, could hold her own with the best dressed women in Paris.
Lousteau was so fatuous as to affect, among his friends, the attitude
of a man overborne, bored to extinction, ruined by Madame de la

"Oh, what would I not give to the friend who would deliver me from
Dinah! But no one ever can!" said he. "She loves me enough to throw
herself out of the window if I told her."

The journalist was duly pitied; he would take precautions against
Dinah's jealousy when he accepted an invitation. And then he was
shamelessly unfaithful. Monsieur de Clagny, really in despair at
seeing Dinah in such disgraceful circumstances when she might have
been so rich, and in so wretched a position at the time when her
original ambitions would have been fulfilled, came to warn her, to
tell her--"You are betrayed," and she only replied, "I know it."

The lawyer was silenced; still he found his tongue to say one thing.

Madame de la Baudraye interrupted him when he had scarcely spoken a

"Do you still love me?" she asked.

"I would lose my soul for you!" he exclaimed, starting to his feet.

The hapless man's eyes flashed like torches, he trembled like a leaf,
his throat was rigid, his hair thrilled to the roots; he believed he
was so blessed as to be accepted as his idol's avenger, and this poor
joy filled him with rapture.

"Why are you so startled?" said she, making him sit down again. "That
is how I love him."

The lawyer understood this argument /ad hominem/. And there were tears
in the eyes of the Judge, who had just condemned a man to death!

Lousteau's satiety, that odious conclusion of such illicit relations,
had betrayed itself in a thousand little things, which are like grains
of sand thrown against the panes of the little magical hut where those
who love dwell and dream. These grains of sand, which grow to be
pebbles, had never been discerned by Dinah till they were as big as
rocks. Madame de la Baudraye had at last thoroughly understood
Lousteau's character.

"He is," she said to her mother, "a poet, defenceless against
disaster, mean out of laziness, not for want of heart, and rather too
prone to pleasure; in short, a great cat, whom it is impossible to
hate. What would become of him without me? I hindered his marriage; he
has no prospects. His talent would perish in privations."

"Oh, my Dinah!" Madame Piedefer had exclaimed, "what a hell you live
in! What is the feeling that gives you strength enough to persist?"

"I will be a mother to him!" she had replied.

There are certain horrible situations in which we come to no decision
till the moment when our friends discern our dishonor. We accept
compromises with ourself so long as we escape a censor who comes to
play prosecutor. Monsieur de Clagny, as clumsy as a tortured man, had
been torturing Dinah.

"To preserve my love I will be all that Madame de Pompadour was to
preserve her power," said she to herself when Monsieur de Clagny had
left her. And this phrase sufficiently proves that her love was
becoming a burden to her, and would presently be a toil rather than a

The part now assumed by Dinah was horribly painful, and Lousteau made
it no easier to play. When he wanted to go out after dinner he would
perform the tenderest little farces of affection, and address Dinah in
words full of devotion; he would take her by the chain, and when he
had bruised her with it, even while he hurt her, the lordly ingrate
would say, "Did I wound you?"

These false caresses and deceptions had degrading consequences for
Dinah, who believed in a revival of his love. The mother, alas, gave
way to the mistress with shameful readiness. She felt herself a mere
plaything in the man's hands, and at last she confessed to herself:

"Well, then, I will be his plaything!" finding joy in it--the rapture
of damnation.

When this woman, of a really manly spirit, pictured herself as living
in solitude, she felt her courage fail. She preferred the anticipated
and inevitable miseries of this fierce intimacy to the absence of the
joys, which were all the more exquisite because they arose from the
midst of remorse, of terrible struggles with herself, of a /No/
persuaded to be /Yes/. At every moment she seemed to come across the
pool of bitter water found in a desert, and drunk with greater relish
than the traveler would find in sipping the finest wines at a prince's

When Dinah wondered to herself at midnight:

"Will he come home, or will he not?" she was not alive again till she
heard the familiar sound of Lousteau's boots, and his well-known ring
at the bell.

She would often try to restrain him by giving him pleasure; she would
hope to be a match for her rivals, and leave them no hold on that
agitated heart. How many times a day would she rehearse the tragedy of
/Le Dernier Jour d'un condamne/, saying to herself, "To-morrow we
part." And how often would a word, a look, a kiss full of apparently
artless feeling, bring her back to the depths of her love!

It was terrible. More than once had she meditated suicide as she paced
the little town garden where a few pale flowers bloomed. In fact, she
had not yet exhausted the vast treasure of devotion and love which a
loving woman bears in her heart.

The romance of /Adolphe/ was her Bible, her study, for above all else
she would not be an Ellenore. She allowed herself no tears, she
avoided all the bitterness so cleverly described by the critic to whom
we owe an analysis of this striking work; whose comments indeed seemed
to Dinah almost superior to the book. And she read again and again
this fine essay by the only real critic who has written in the /Revue
des Deux Mondes/, an article now printed at the beginning of the new
edition of /Adolphe/.

"No," she would say to herself, as she repeated the author's fateful
words, "no, I will not 'give my requests the form of an order,' I will
not 'fly to tears as a means of revenge,' I will not 'condemn the
things I once approved without reservation,' I will not 'dog his
footsteps with a prying eye'; if he plays truant, he shall not on his
return 'see a scornful lip, whose kiss is an unanswerable command.'
No, 'my silence shall not be a reproach nor my first word a quarrel.'
--I will not be like every other woman!" she went on, laying on her
table the little yellow paper volume which had already attracted
Lousteau's remark, "What! are you studying /Adolphe/?"--"If for one
day only he should recognize my merits and say, 'That victim never
uttered a cry!'--it will be all I ask. And besides, the others only
have him for an hour; I have him for life!"

Thinking himself justified by his private tribunal in punishing his
wife, Monsieur de la Baudraye robbed her to achieve his cherished
enterprise of reclaiming three thousand acres of moorland, to which he
had devoted himself ever since 1836, living like a mouse. He
manipulated the property left by Monsieur Silas Piedefer so
ingeniously, that he contrived to reduce the proved value to eight
hundred thousand francs, while pocketing twelve hundred thousand. He
did not announce his return; but while his wife was enduring
unspeakable woes, he was building farms, digging trenches, and
ploughing rough ground with a courage that ranked him among the most
remarkable agriculturists of the province.

The four hundred thousand francs he had filched from his wife were
spent in three years on this undertaking, and the estate of Anzy was
expected to return seventy-two thousand francs a year of net profits
after the taxes were paid. The eight hundred thousand he invested at
four and a half per cent in the funds, buying at eighty francs, at the
time of the financial crisis brought about by the Ministry of the
First of March, as it was called. By thus securing to his wife an
income of forty-eight thousand francs he considered himself no longer
in her debt. Could he not restore the odd twelve hundred thousand as
soon as the four and a half per cents had risen above a hundred? He
was now the greatest man in Sancerre, with the exception of one--the
richest proprietor in France--whose rival he considered himself. He
saw himself with an income of a hundred and forty thousand francs, of
which ninety thousand formed the revenue from the lands he had
entailed. Having calculated that besides this net income he paid ten
thousand francs in taxes, three thousand in working expenses, ten
thousand to his wife, and twelve hundred to his mother-in-law, he
would say in the literary circles of Sancerre:

"I am reputed miserly, and said to spend nothing; but my outlay
amounts to twenty-six thousand five hundred francs a year. And I have
still to pay for the education of my two children! I daresay it is not
a pleasing fact to the Milauds of Nevers, but the second house of La
Baudraye may yet have as noble a center as the first.--I shall most
likely go to Paris and petition the King of the French to grant me the
title of Count--Monsieur Roy is a Count--and my wife would be pleased
to be Madame la Comtesse."

And this was said with such splendid coolness that no one would have
dared to laugh at the little man. Only Monsieur Boirouge, the
Presiding Judge, remarked:

"In your place, I should not be happy unless I had a daughter."

"Well, I shall go to Paris before long----" said the Baron.

In the early part of 1842 Madame de la Baudraye, feeling that she was
to Lousteau no more than a reserve in the background, had again
sacrificed herself absolutely to secure his comfort; she had resumed
her black raiment, but now it was in sign of mourning, for her
pleasure was turning to remorse. She was too often put to shame not to
feel the weight of the chain, and her mother found her sunk in those
moods of meditation into which visions of the future cast unhappy
souls in a sort of torpor.

Madame Piedefer, by the advice of her spiritual director, was on the
watch for the moment of exhaustion, which the priest told her would
inevitably supervene, and then she pleaded in behalf of the children.
She restricted herself to urging that Dinah and Lousteau should live
apart, not asking her to give him up. In real life these violent
situations are not closed as they are in books, by death or cleverly
contrived catastrophes; they end far less poetically--in disgust, in
the blighting of every flower of the soul, in the commonplace of
habit, and very often too in another passion, which robs a wife of the
interest which is traditionally ascribed to women. So, when common
sense, the law of social proprieties, family interest--all the mixed
elements which, since the Restoration, have been dignified by the mane
of Public Morals, out of sheer aversion to the name of the Catholic
religion--where this is seconded by a sense of insults a little too
offensive; when the fatigue of constant self-sacrifice has almost
reached the point of exhaustion; and when, under these circumstances,
a too cruel blow--one of those mean acts which a man never lets a
woman know of unless he believes himself to be her assured master--
puts the crowning touch to her revulsion and disenchantment, the
moment has come for the intervention of the friend who undertakes the
cure. Madame Piedefer had no great difficulty now in removing the film
from her daughter's eyes.

She sent for Monsieur de Clagny, who completed the work by assuring
Madame de la Baudraye that if she would give up Etienne, her husband
would allow her to keep the children and to live in Paris, and would
restore her to the command of her own fortune.

"And what a life you are leading!" said he. "With care and judgment,
and the support of some pious and charitable persons, you may have a
salon and conquer a position. Paris is not Sancerre."

Dinah left it to Monsieur de Clagny to negotiate a reconciliation with
the old man.

Monsieur de la Baudraye had sold his wine well, he had sold his wool,
he had felled his timber, and, without telling his wife, he had come
to Paris to invest two hundred thousand francs in the purchase of a
delightful residence in the Rue de l'Arcade, that was being sold in
liquidation of an aristocratic House that was in difficulties. He had
been a member of the Council for the Department since 1826, and now,
paying ten thousand francs in taxes, he was doubly qualified for a
peerage under the conditions of the new legislation.

Some time before the elections of 1842 he had put himself forward as
candidate unless he were meanwhile called to the Upper House as Peer
of France. At the same time, he asked for the title of Count, and for
promotion to the higher grade of the Legion of Honor. In the matter of
the elections, the dynastic nominations; now, in the event of Monsieur
de la Baudraye being won over to the Government, Sancerre would be
more than ever a rotten borough of royalism. Monsieur de Clagny, whose
talents and modesty were more and more highly appreciated by the
authorities, gave Monsieur de la Baudraye his support; he pointed out
that by raising this enterprising agriculturist to the peerage, a
guarantee would be offered to such important undertakings.

Monsieur de la Baudraye, then, a Count, a Peer of France, and
Commander of the Legion of Honor, was vain enough to wish to cut a
figure with a wife and handsomely appointed house.--"He wanted to
enjoy life," he said.

He therefore addressed a letter to his wife, dictated by Monsieur de
Clagny, begging her to live under his roof and to furnish the house,
giving play to the taste of which the evidences, he said, had charmed
him at the Chateau d'Anzy. The newly made Count pointed out to his
wife that while the interests of their property forbade his leaving
Sancerre, the education of their boys required her presence in Paris.
The accommodating husband desired Monsieur de Clagny to place sixty
thousand francs at the disposal of Madame la Comtesse for the interior
decoration of their mansion, requesting that she would have a marble
tablet inserted over the gateway with the inscription: /Hotel de la

He then accounted to his wife for the money derived from the estate of
Silas Piedefer, told her of the investment at four and a half per cent
of the eight hundred thousand francs he had brought from New York, and
allowed her that income for her expenses, including the education of
the children. As he would be compelled to stay in Paris during some
part of the session of the House of Peers, he requested his wife to
reserve for him a little suite of rooms in an /entresol/ over the

"Bless me! why, he is growing young again--a gentleman!--a magnifico!
--What will he become next? It is quite alarming," said Madame de la

"He now fulfils all your wishes at the age of twenty," replied the

The comparison of her future prospects with her present position was
unendurable to Dinah. Only the day before, Anna de Fontaine had turned
her head away in order to avoid seeing her bosom friend at the
Chamarolles' school.

"I am a countess," said Dinah to herself. "I shall have the peer's
blue hammer-cloth on my carriage, and the leaders of the literary
world in my drawing-room--and I will look at her!"--And it was this
little triumph that told with all its weight at the moment of her
rehabilitation, as the world's contempt had of old weighed on her

One fine day, in May 1842, Madame de la Baudraye paid all her little
household debts and left a thousand crowns on top of the packet of
receipted bills. After sending her mother and the children away to the
Hotel de la Baudraye, she awaited Lousteau, dressed ready to leave the
house. When the deposed king of her heart came into dinner, she said:

"I have upset the pot, my dear. Madame de la Baudraye requests the
pleasure of your company at the /Rocher de Cancale/."

She carried off Lousteau, quite bewildered by the light and easy
manners assumed by the woman who till that morning has been the slave
of his least whim, for she too had been acting a farce for two months

"Madame de la Baudraye is figged out as if for a first night," said he
--/une premiere/, the slang abbreviation for a first performance.

"Do not forget the respect you owe to Madame de la Baudraye," said
Dinah gravely. "I do not mean to understand such a word as /figged

"Didine a rebel!" said he, putting his arm round her waist.

"There is no such person as Didine; you have killed her, my dear," she
replied, releasing herself. "I am taking you to the first performance
of /Madame la Comtesse de la Baudraye/."

"It is true, then, that our insect is a peer of France?"

"The nomination is to be gazetted in this evening's /Moniteur/, as I
am told by Monsieur de Clagny, who is promoted to the Court of

"Well, it is quite right," said the journalist. "The entomology of
society ought to be represented in the Upper House."

"My friend, we are parting for ever," said Madame de la Baudraye,
trying to control the trembling of her voice. "I have dismissed the
two servants. When you go in, you will find the house in order, and no
debts. I shall always feel a mother's affection for you, but in
secret. Let us part calmly, without a fuss, like decent people.

"Have you had a fault to find with my conduct during the past six

"None, but that you have spoiled my life, and wrecked my prospects,"
said he in a hard tone. "You have read Benjamin Constant's book very
diligently; you have even studied the last critique on it; but you
have read with a woman's eyes. Though you have one of those superior
intellects which would make a fortune of a poet, you have never dared
to take the man's point of view.

"That book, my dear, is of both sexes.--We agreed that books were male
or female, dark or fair. In /Adolphe/ women see nothing but Ellenore;
young men see only Adolphe; men of experience see Ellenore and
Adolphe; political men see the whole of social existence. You did not
think it necessary to read the soul of Adolphe--any more than your
critic indeed, who saw only Ellenore. What kills that poor fellow, my
dear, is that he has sacrificed his future for a woman; that he never
can be what he might have been--an ambassador, a minister, a
chamberlain, a poet--and rich. He gives up six years of his energy at
that stage of his life when a man is ready to submit to the hardships
of any apprenticeship--to a petticoat, which he outstrips in the
career of ingratitude, for the woman who has thrown over her first
lover is certain sooner or later to desert the second. Adolphe is, in
fact, a tow-haired German, who has not spirit enough to be false to
Ellenore. There are Adolphes who spare their Ellenores all ignominious
quarreling and reproaches, who say to themselves, 'I will not talk of
what I have sacrificed; I will not for ever be showing the stump of my
wrist to let that incarnate selfishness I have made my queen,' as
Ramorny does in /The Fair Maid of Perth/. But men like that, my dear,
get cast aside.

"Adolphe is a man of birth, an aristocratic nature, who wants to get
back into the highroad to honors and recover his social birthright,
his blighted position.--You, at this moment, are playing both parts.
You are suffering from the pangs of having lost your position, and
think yourself justified in throwing over a hapless lover whose
misfortune it has been that he fancied you so far superior as to
understand that, though a man's heart ought to be true, his sex may be
allowed to indulge its caprices."

"And do you suppose that I shall not make it my business to restore to
you all you have lost by me? Be quite easy," said Madame de la
Baudraye, astounded by this attack. "Your Ellenore is not dying; and
if God gives her life, if you amend your ways, if you give up
courtesans and actresses, we will find you a better match than a
Felicie Cardot."

The two lovers were sullen. Lousteau affected dejection, he aimed at
appearing hard and cold; while Dinah, really distressed, listened to
the reproaches of her heart.

"Why," said Lousteau presently, "why not end as we ought to have begun
--hide our love from all eyes, and see each other in secret?"

"Never!" cried the new-made Countess, with an icy look. "Do you not
comprehend that we are, after all, but finite creatures? Our feelings
seem infinite by reason of our anticipation of heaven, but here on
earth they are limited by the strength of our physical being. There
are some feeble, mean natures which may receive an endless number of
wounds and live on; but there are some more highly-tempered souls
which snap at last under repeated blows. You have--"

"Oh! enough!" cried he. "No more copy! Your dissertation is
unnecessary, since you can justify yourself by merely saying--'I have
ceased to love!' "

"What!" she exclaimed in bewilderment. "Is it I who have ceased to

"Certainly. You have calculated that I gave you more trouble, more
vexation than pleasure, and you desert your partner--"

"I desert!----" cried she, clasping her hands.

"Have not you yourself just said 'Never'?"

"Well, then, yes! /Never/," she repeated vehemently.

This final /Never/, spoken in the fear of falling once more under
Lousteau's influence, was interpreted by him as the death-warrant of
his power, since Dinah remained insensible to his sarcastic scorn.

The journalist could not suppress a tear. He was losing a sincere and
unbounded affection. He had found in Dinah the gentlest La Valliere,
the most delightful Pompadour that any egoist short of a king could
hope for; and, like a boy who has discovered that by dint of
tormenting a cockchafer he has killed it, Lousteau shed a tear.

Madame de la Baudraye rushed out of the private room where they had
been dining, paid the bill, and fled home to the Rue de l'Arcade,
scolding herself and thinking herself a brute.

Dinah, who had made her house a model of comfort, now metamorphosed
herself. This double metamorphosis cost thirty thousand francs more
than her husband had anticipated.

The fatal accident which in 1842 deprived the House of Orleans of the
heir-presumptive having necessitated a meeting of the Chambers in
August of that year, little La Baudraye came to present his titles to
the Upper House sooner than he had expected, and then saw what his
wife had done. He was so much delighted, that he paid the thirty
thousand francs without a word, just as he had formerly paid eight
thousand for decorating La Baudraye.

On his return from the Luxembourg, where he had been presented
according to custom by two of his peers--the Baron de Nucingen and the
Marquis de Montriveau--the new Count met the old Duc de Chaulieu, a
former creditor, walking along, umbrella in hand, while he himself sat
perched in a low chaise on which his coat-of-arms was resplendent,
with the motto, /Deo sic patet fides et hominibus/. This contrast
filled his heart with a large draught of the balm on which the middle
class has been getting drunk ever since 1840.

Madame de la Baudraye was shocked to see her husband improved and
looking better than on the day of his marriage. The little dwarf, full
of rapturous delight, at sixty-four triumphed in the life which had so
long been denied him; in the family, which his handsome cousin Milaud
of Nevers had declared he would never have; and in his wife--who had
asked Monsieur and Madame de Clagny to dinner to meet the cure of the
parish and his two sponsors to the Chamber of Peers. He petted the
children with fatuous delight.

The handsome display on the table met with his approval.

"These are the fleeces of the Berry sheep," said he, showing Monsieur
de Nucingen the dish-covers surmounted by his newly-won coronet. "They
are of silver, you see!"

Though consumed by melancholy, which she concealed with the
determination of a really superior woman, Dinah was charming, witty,
and above all, young again in her court mourning.

"You might declare," cried La Baudraye to Monsieur de Nucingen with a
wave of his hand to his wife, "that the Countess was not yet thirty."

"Ah, ha! Matame is a voman of dirty!" replied the baron, who was prone
to time-honored remarks, which he took to be the small change of

"In every sense of the words," replied the Countess. "I am, in fact,
five-and-thirty, and mean to set up a little passion--"

"Oh, yes, my wife ruins me in curiosities and china images--"

"She started that mania at an early age," said the Marquis de
Montriveau with a smile.

"Yes," said La Baudraye, with a cold stare at the Marquis, whom he had
known at Bourges, "you know that in '25, '26, and '27, she picked a
million francs' worth of treasures. Anzy is a perfect museum."

"What a cool hand!" thought Monsieur de Clagny, as he saw this little
country miser quite on the level of his new position.

But misers have savings of all kinds ready for use.

On the day after the vote on the Regency had passed the Chambers, the
little Count went back to Sancerre for the vintage and resumed his old

In the course of that winter, the Comtesse de la Baudraye, with the
support of the Attorney-General to the Court of Appeals, tried to form
a little circle. Of course, she had an "at home" day, she made a
selection among men of mark, receiving none but those of serious
purpose and ripe years. She tried to amuse herself by going to the
Opera, French and Italian. Twice a week she appeared there with her
mother and Madame de Clagny, who was made by her husband to visit
Dinah. Still, in spite of her cleverness, her charming manners, her
fashionable stylishness, she was never really happy but with her
children, on whom she lavished all her disappointed affection.

Worthy Monsieur de Clagny tried to recruit women for the Countess'
circle, and he succeeded; but he was more successful among the
advocates of piety than the women of fashion.

"And they bore her!" said he to himself with horror, as he saw his
idol matured by grief, pale from remorse, and then, in all the
splendor of recovered beauty, restored by a life of luxury and care
for her boys. This devoted friend, encouraged in his efforts by her
mother and by the cure was full of expedient. Every Wednesday he
introduced some celebrity from Germany, England, Italy, or Prussia to
his dear Countess; he spoke of her as a quite exceptional woman to
people to whom she hardly addressed two words; but she listened to
them with such deep attention that they went away fully convinced of
her superiority. In Paris, Dinah conquered by silence, as at Sancerre
she had conquered by loquacity. Now and then, some smart saying about
affairs, or sarcasm on an absurdity, betrayed a woman accustomed to
deal with ideas--the woman who, four years since, had given new life
to Lousteau's articles.

This phase was to the poor lawyer's hapless passion like the late
season known as the Indian summer after a sunless year. He affected to
be older than he was, to have the right to befriend Dinah without
doing her an injury, and kept himself at a distance as though he were
young, handsome, and compromising, like a man who has happiness to
conceal. He tried to keep his little attentions a profound secret, and
the trifling gifts which Dinah showed to every one; he endeavored to
suggest a dangerous meaning for his little services.

"He plays at passion," said the Countess, laughing. She made fun of
Monsieur de Clagny to his face, and the lawyer said, "She notices me."

"I impress that poor man so deeply," said she to her mother, laughing,
"that if I would say Yes, I believe he would say No."

One evening Monsieur de Clagny and his wife were taking his dear
Countess home from the theatre, and she was deeply pensive. They had
been to the first performance of Leon Gozlan's first play, /La Main
Droite et la Main Gauche/ (The Right Hand and the Left).

"What are you thinking about?" asked the lawyer, alarmed at his idol's

This deep and persistent melancholy, though disguised by the Countess,
was a perilous malady for which Monsieur de Clagny knew no remedy; for
true love is often clumsy, especially when it is not reciprocated.
True love takes its expression from the character. Now, this good man
loved after the fashion of Alceste, when Madame de la Baudraye wanted
to be loved after the manner of Philinte. The meaner side of love can
never get on with the Misanthrope's loyalty. Thus, Dinah had taken
care never to open her heart to this man. How could she confess to him
that she sometimes regretted the slough she had left?

She felt a void in this fashionable life; she had no one for whom to
dress, or whom to tell of her successes and triumphs. Sometimes the
memory of her wretchedness came to her, mingled with memories of
consuming joys. She would hate Lousteau for not taking any pains to
follow her; she would have liked to get tender or furious letters from

Dinah made no reply, so Monsieur de Clagny repeated the question,
taking the Countess' hand and pressing it between his own with devout

"Will you have the right hand or the left?" said she, smiling.

"The left," said he, "for I suppose you mean the truth or a fib."

"Well, then, I saw him," she said, speaking into the lawyer's ear.
"And as I saw him looking so sad, so out of heart, I said to myself,
Has he a cigar? Has he any money?"

"If you wish for the truth, I can tell it you," said the lawyer. "He
is living as a husband with Fanny Beaupre. You have forced me to tell
you this secret; I should never have told you, for you might have
suspected me perhaps of an ungenerous motive."

Madame de la Baudraye grasped his hand.

"Your husband," said she to her chaperon, "is one of the rarest souls!
--Ah! Why----"

She shrank into her corner, looking out of the window, but she did not
finish her sentence, of which the lawyer could guess the end: "Why had
not Lousteau a little of your husband's generosity of heart?"

This information served, however, to cure Dinah of her melancholy; she
threw herself into the whirl of fashion. She wished for success, and
she achieved it; still, she did not make much way with women, and
found it difficult to get introductions.

In the month of March, Madame Piedefer's friends the priests and
Monsieur de Clagny made a fine stroke by getting Madame de la Baudraye
appointed receiver of subscriptions for the great charitable work
founded by Madame de Carcado. Then she was commissioned to collect
from the Royal Family their donations for the benefit of the sufferers
from the earthquake at Guadeloupe. The Marquise d'Espard, to whom
Monsieur de Canalis read the list of ladies thus appointed, one
evening at the Opera, said, on hearing that of the Countess:

"I have lived a long time in the world, and I can remember nothing
finer than the manoeuvres undertaken for the rehabilitation of Madame
de la Baudraye."

In the early spring, which, by some whim of our planets, smiled on
Paris in the first week of March in 1843, making the Champs-Elysees
green and leafy before Longchamp, Fanny Beaupre's attache had seen
Madame de la Baudraye several times without being seen by her. More
than once he was stung to the heart by one of those promptings of
jealousy and envy familiar to those who are born and bred provincials,
when he beheld his former mistress comfortably ensconced in a handsome
carriage, well dressed, with dreamy eyes, and his two little boys, one
at each window. He accused himself with all the more virulence because
he was waging war with the sharpest poverty of all--poverty
unconfessed. Like all essentially light and frivolous natures, he
cherished the singular point of honor which consists in never
derogating in the eyes of one's own little public, which makes men on
the Bourse commit crimes to escape expulsion from the temple of the
goddess Per-cent, and has given some criminals courage enough to
perform acts of virtue.

Lousteau dined and breakfasted and smoked as if he were a rich man.
Not for an inheritance would he have bought any but the dearest
cigars, for himself as well as for the playwright or author with whom
he went into the shop. The journalist took his walks abroad in patent
leather boots; but he was constantly afraid of an execution on goods
which, to use the bailiff's slang, had already received the last
sacrament. Fanny Beaupre had nothing left to pawn, and her salary was
pledged to pay her debts. After exhausting every possible advance of
pay from newspapers, magazines, and publishers, Etienne knew not of
what ink he could churn gold. Gambling-houses, so ruthlessly
suppressed, could no longer, as of old, cash I O U's drawn over the
green table by beggary in despair. In short, the journalist was
reduced to such extremity that he had just borrowed a hundred francs
of the poorest of his friends, Bixiou, from whom he had never yet
asked for a franc. What distressed Lousteau was not the fact of owing
five thousand francs, but seeing himself bereft of his elegance, and
of the furniture purchased at the cost of so many privations, and
added to by Madame de la Baudraye.

On April the 3rd, a yellow poster, torn down by the porter after being
displayed on the wall, announced the sale of a handsome suite of
furniture on the following Saturday, the day fixed for sales under
legal authority. Lousteau was taking a walk, smoking cigars, and
seeking ideas--for, in Paris, ideas are in the air, they smile on you
from a street corner, they splash up with a spurt of mud from under
the wheels of a cab! Thus loafing, he had been seeking ideas for
articles, and subjects for novels for a month past, and had found
nothing but friends who carried him off to dinner or to the play, and
who intoxicated his woes, telling him that champagne would inspire

"Beware," said the virulent Bixiou one night, the man who would at the
same moment give a comrade a hundred francs and stab him to the heart
with a sarcasm; "if you go to sleep drunk every night, one day you
will wake up mad."

On the day before, the Friday, the unhappy wretch, although he was
accustomed to poverty, felt like a man condemned to death. Of old he
would have said:

"Well, the furniture is very old! I will buy new."

But he was incapable now of literary legerdemain. Publishers,
undermined by piracy, paid badly; the newspapers made close bargains
with hard-driven writers, as the Opera managers did with tenors that
sang flat.

He walked on, his eye on the crowd, though seeing nothing, a cigar in
his mouth, and his hands in his pockets, every feature of his face
twitching, and an affected smile on his lips. Then he saw Madame de la
Baudraye go by in a carriage; she was going to the Boulevard by the
Rue de la Chaussee d'Antin to drive in the Bois.

"There is nothing else left!" said he to himself, and he went home to
smarten himself up.

That evening, at seven, he arrived in a hackney cab at Madame de la
Baudraye's door, and begged the porter to send a note up to the
Countess--a few lines, as follows:

"Would Madame la Comtesse do Monsieur Lousteau the favor of receiving
him for a moment, and at once?"

This note was sealed with a seal which as lovers they had both used.
Madame de la Baudraye had had the word /Parce que/ engraved on a
genuine Oriental carnelian--a potent word--a woman's word--the word
that accounts for everything, even for the Creation.

The Countess had just finished dressing to go to the Opera; Friday was
her night in turn for her box. At the sight of this seal she turned

"I will come," she said, tucking the note into her dress.

She was firm enough to conceal her agitation, and begged her mother to
see the children put to bed. She then sent for Lousteau, and received
him in a boudoir, next to the great drawing-room, with open doors. She
was going to a ball after the Opera, and was wearing a beautiful dress
of brocade in stripes alternately plain and flowered with pale blue.
Her gloves, trimmed with tassels, showed off her beautiful white arms.
She was shimmering with lace and all the dainty trifles required by
fashion. Her hair, dressed /a la Sevigne/, gave her a look of
elegance; a necklace of pearls lay on her bosom like bubbles on snow.

"What is the matter, monsieur?" said the Countess, putting out her
foot from below her skirt to rest it on a velvet cushion. "I thought,
I hoped, I was quite forgotten."

"If I should reply /Never/, you would refuse to believe me," said
Lousteau, who remained standing, or walked about the room, chewing the
flowers he plucked from the flower-stands full of plants that scented
the room.

For a moment silence reigned. Madame de la Baudraye, studying
Lousteau, saw that he was dressed as the most fastidious dandy might
have been.

"You are the only person in the world who can help me, or hold out a
plank to me--for I am drowning, and have already swallowed more than
one mouthful----" said he, standing still in front of Dinah, and
seeming to yield to an overpowering impulse. "Since you see me here,
it is because my affairs are going to the devil."

"That is enough," said she; "I understand."

There was another pause, during which Lousteau turned away, took out
his handkerchief, and seemed to wipe away a tear.

"How much do you want, Etienne," she went on in motherly tones. "We
are at this moment old comrades; speak to me as you would to--to

"To save my furniture from vanishing into thin air to-morrow morning
at the auction mart, eighteen hundred francs! To repay my friends, as
much again! Three quarters' rent to the landlord-- whom you know.--My
'uncle' wants five hundred francs--"

"And you!--to live on?"

"Oh! I have my pen----"

"It is heavier to lift than any one could believe who reads your
articles," said she, with a subtle smile.--"I have not such a sum as
you need, but come to-morrow at eight; the bailiff will surely wait
till nine, especially if you bring him away to pay him."

She must, she felt, dismiss Lousteau, who affected to be unable to
look at her; she herself felt such pity as might cut every social
Gordian knot.

"Thank you," she added, rising and offering her hand to Lousteau.
"Your confidence has done me good! It is long indeed since my heart
has known such joy----"

Lousteau took her hand and pressed it tenderly to his heart.

"A drop of water in the desert--and sent by the hand of an angel! God
always does things handsomely!"

He spoke half in jest and half pathetically; but, believe me, as a
piece of acting it was as fine as Talma's in his famous part of
/Leicester/, which was played throughout with touches of this kind.
Dinah felt his heart beating through his coat; it was throbbing with
satisfaction, for the journalist had had a narrow escape from the
hulks of justice; but it also beat with a very natural fire at seeing
Dinah rejuvenescent and restored by wealth.

Madame de la Baudraye, stealing an examining glance at Etienne, saw
that his expression was in harmony with the flowers of love, which, as
she thought, had blossomed again in that throbbing heart; she tried to
look once into the eyes of the man she had loved so well, but the
seething blood rushed through her veins and mounted to her brain.
Their eyes met with the same fiery glow as had encouraged Lousteau on
the Quay by the Loire to crumple Dinah's muslin gown. The Bohemian put
his arm round her waist, she yielded, and their cheeks were touching.

"Here comes my mother, hide!" cried Dinah in alarm. And she hurried
forward to intercept Madame Piedefer.

"Mamma," said she--this word was to the stern old lady a coaxing
expression which never failed of its effect--"will you do me a great
favor? Take the carriage and go yourself to my banker, Monsieur
Mongenod, with a note I will give you, and bring back six thousand
francs. Come, come--it is an act of charity; come into my room."

And she dragged away her mother, who seemed very anxious to see who it
was that her daughter had been talking with in the boudoir.

Two days afterwards, Madame Piedefer held a conference with the cure
of the parish. After listening to the lamentations of the old mother,
who was in despair, the priest said very gravely:

"Any moral regeneration which is not based on a strong religious
sentiment, and carried out in the bosom of the Church, is built on
sand.--The many means of grace enjoined by the Catholic religion,
small as they are, and not understood, are so many dams necessary to
restrain the violence of evil promptings. Persuade your daughter to
perform all her religious duties, and we shall save her yet."

Within ten days of this meeting the Hotel de la Baudraye was shut up.
The Countess, the children, and her mother, in short, the whole
household, including a tutor, had gone away to Sancerre, where Dinah
intended to spend the summer. She was everything that was nice to the
Count, people said.

And so the Muse of Sancerre had simply come back to family and married
life; but certain evil tongues declared that she had been compelled to
come back, for that the little peer's wishes would no doubt be
fulfilled--he hoped for a little girl.

Gatien and Monsieur Gravier lavished every care, every servile
attention on the handsome Countess. Gatien, who during Madame de la
Baudraye's long absence had been to Paris to learn the art of
/lionnerie/ or dandyism, was supposed to have a good chance of finding
favor in the eyes of the disenchanted "Superior Woman." Others bet on
the tutor; Madame Piedefer urged the claims of religion.

In 1844, about the middle of June, as the Comte de la Baudraye was
taking a walk on the Mall at Sancerre with the two fine little boys,
he met Monsieur Milaud, the Public Prosecutor, who was at Sancerre on
business, and said to him:

"These are my children, cousin."

"Ah, ha! so these are our children!" replied the lawyer, with a
mischievous twinkle.

PARIS, June 1843-August 1844.


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

Beaupre, Fanny
A Start in Life
Modeste Mignon
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life

Berthier, Madame (Felicie Cardot)
Cousin Pons

Bianchon, Horace
Father Goriot
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 Imaginary Mistress
The Middle Classes
Cousin Betty
The Country Parson
In addition, M. Bianchon narrated the following:
Another Study of Woman
La Grande Breteche

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

A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
A Bachelor's Establishment
Cousin Pons
Cesar Birotteau
At the Sign of the Cat and Racket

Cardot (Parisian notary)
A Man of Business
Jealousies of a Country Town
Pierre Grassou
The Middle Classes
Cousin Pons

Chargeboeuf, Melchior-Rene, Vicomte de
The Member for Arcis

Falcon, Jean
The Chouans
Cousin Betty

Grosstete (younger brother of F. Grosstete)
The Country Parson

Hulot (Marshal)
The Chouans
Cousin Betty

La Baudraye, Madame Polydore Milaud de
A Prince of Bohemia
Cousin Betty

Cousin Betty

Listomere, Baronne de
The Vicar of Tours
Cesar Birotteau

Lousteau, Etienne
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
A Bachelor's Establishment
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
A Daughter of Eve
Cousin Betty
A Prince of Bohemia
A Man of Business
The Middle Classes
The Unconscious Humorists

Lupeaulx, Clement Chardin des
Eugenie Grandet
A Bachelor's Establishment
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
The Government Clerks
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
Ursule Mirouet

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

Lost Illusions

Nathan, Raoul
Lost Illusions
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
The Secrets of a Princess
A Daughter of Eve
Letters of Two Brides
The Seamy Side of History
A Prince of Bohemia
A Man of Business
The Unconscious Humorists

Nathan, Madame Raoul
Lost Illusions
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
The Government Clerks
A Bachelor's Establishment
Ursule Mirouet
Eugenie Grandet
The Imaginary Mistress
A Prince of Bohemia
A Daughter of Eve
The Unconscious Humorists

Navarreins, Duc de
A Bachelor's Establishment
Colonel Chabert
The Thirteen
Jealousies of a Country Town
The Peasantry
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
The Country Parson
The Magic Skin
The Gondreville Mystery
The Secrets of a Princess
Cousin Betty

Nucingen, Baron Frederic de
The Firm of Nucingen
Father Goriot
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 Unconscious Humorists

Ronceret, Madame Fabien du
Cousin Betty
The Unconscious Humorists

Rouget, Jean-Jacques
A Bachelor's Establishment

Touches, Mademoiselle Felicite des
Lost Illusions
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
A Bachelor's Establishment
Another Study of Woman
A Daughter of Eve

Turquet, Marguerite
The Imaginary Mistress
A Man of Business
Cousin Betty

Vandenesse, Comtesse Felix de
A Second Home
A Daughter of Eve

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