Part 4 out of 12
"Here," said he to him, "are three hundred and fifty thousand francs
in Treasury notes. In a few days we will regulate the interest. Write
me a receipt."
"Eh!" cried Charles, stupefied. "Oh! now don't think, at least, that
"I think nothing."
"Write; and tell the people who speak to you of my embarrassments how
I answer such suspicions."
"The fact is, as soon as this is known, your credit will only be the
more solid. But, really, take the money; I cannot use it now; I said
in three months."
"M. Charles Robert, no one shall suspect me twice."
"You are angry?"
"Oh, obstinacy!" said Charles Robert; then he added, writing the
receipt, "There is a lady closely veiled, who wishes to speak to you
on some very pressing business. I shall take a good look at her when I
pass. Here is your receipt; is it right?"
"Very well; now go away by the little staircase."
"But the lady?"
"It is just to prevent your seeing her."
The notary rang for the clerk, saying to him, "Show the lady in.
Adieu, M. Robert."
"Well, I must renounce seeing her. No ill-feeling, eh! scrivener?"
"Believe as much."
"Well, well! adieu."
The notary shut the door on Charles Robert.
After a few moments the clerk introduced the Duchess de Lucenay, very
modestly dressed, wrapped in a large shawl, her face completely
concealed by a thick veil of black lace, which covered her moire hat
of the same color.
THE DUCHESS DE LUCENAY.
Madame de Lucenay slowly approached the desk, in an agitated manner;
he advanced to meet her.
"Who are you, madame, and what do you want with me?" said the notary,
roughly, whose temper, already fretted by the threat of Sarah, was
exasperated at the suspicions of Robert. Besides, the duchess was so
modestly dressed, that the notary saw no reason why he should be civil
to her. As she hesitated to speak, he said, even more harshly, "Will
you explain yourself, madame?"
"Sir," said she, in a trembling voice, trying to conceal her face
under the folds of her veil, "Sir, can one confide a secret to you of
the highest importance?"
"Anything can be confided to me, madame, but I must see and know to
whom I speak."
"That, perhaps, is not necessary. I know that you are honor and
"Just so, madame, just so; there is some one there waiting. Who are
"My name is of no importance, sir. One of my friends--of my relations--
has just left you."
"M. Floreston de Saint Remy."
"Ah!" said the notary, casting on the duchess an inquisitive and
searching glance; then he resumed: "Well, madame!"
"M. de Saint Remy has told me everything, sir."
"What did he tell you?"
"But what did he say?"
"You know well."
"I know many things about M. de Saint Remy."
"Alas! sir, a terrible thing."
"I know a great many terrible things about M. de Saint Remy."
"Ah! sir, he told me truly--you are without pity."
"For cheats and forgers like him, yes, I am without pity. Is Saint
Remy your relation? Instead of confessing it, you ought to blush. Do
you come here to weep, to soften me? It is useless; without saying
that you are performing a wretched part for an honest woman, if you
This brutal insolence was revolting to the pride and patrician blood
of the duchess. She drew herself up, threw her veil back, and with a
proud look, and a firm, imperious voice, she said, "Sir, I am the
Duchess of Lucenay."
This woman assumed so haughty an air, her appearance became so
imposing, that the notary, overcome, charmed, fell back astonished;
took off, mechanically, his black silk cap, and saluted her
Nothing could be, indeed, more graceful and more majestic than the
face and bearing of Madame de Lucenay; yet she was then over thirty
years of age, with a pale face, appearing slightly fatigued; but she
had large sparkling brown eyes, splendid black hair, a fine arched
nose, a proud and ruby lip, dazzling complexion, very white teeth,
tall and slender figure, a form like a "goddess on the clouds," as the
immortal St. Simon says.
She had entered the notary's as a timid woman; all at once she showed
herself a grand, proud, and irritated lady. Never had Jacques Ferrand
in his life met with a woman of so much insolent beauty, at once so
bold and so noble. Although old, ugly, mean, and sordid, Jacques
Ferrand was as capable as any one else of appreciating the style of
beauty of Madame de Lucenay. His hatred and his rage against Saint
Remy augmented with his admiration of the charming duchess. He thought
to himself that this gentleman forger, who had almost kneeled before
him, inspired such love in this grand lady, that she risked a step
which might ruin her. At these thoughts the notary felt his audacity,
which for a moment was paralyzed, restored. Hatred, envy, a kind of
burning, savage resentment kindled in his looks, on his forehead, and
his cheeks--the most shameful and wicked passions. Seeing Madame de
Lucenay on the point of commencing a conversation so delicate, he
expected on her part some turnings, expedients. What was his surprise!
She spoke to him with as much assurance and pride as if it was
concerning the most natural thing in the world, and as if before a man
of his species, she had no thought of the reserve and fitness which
she had certainly shown to her equals. In fact, the gross insolence of
the notary, in wounding her to the quick, had forced Madame de
Lucenay, to quit the humble and imploring part that she had at first
assumed with much trouble; returned to her own dignity, she believed
it to be beneath her to descend to the least concealment with this
scribbler of deeds.
"Sir notary," said the duchess, resolutely, to Jacques Ferrand, "M. de
Saint Remy is one of my friends; he has confided to me the
embarrassing situation in which he finds himself, from the
inconvenience of a double piece of villainy of which he is the victim.
Everything can be managed with money. How much is necessary to
terminate these miserable, shuffling tricks?"
Jacques Ferrand was completely astounded with this cavalier and
deliberate manner of opening the business.
"They ask a hundred thousand francs," answered he, as soon as he had
recovered from his astonishment.
"You shall have your hundred thousand francs; and you will send at
once the bad papers to M. de Saint Remy."
"Where are the hundred thousand francs, your grace?"
"Did I not tell you that you should have them, sir?"
"They must be had to-morrow, before noon, madame; otherwise a
complaint of forgery will be made."
"Well, give this amount; I will be accountable for it; as for you I
will pay you well."
"But, madame, it is impossible."
"You will not tell me, I hope, that a notary like you cannot procure a
hundred thousand francs any day?"
"On what security, madame?"
"What does that mean? Explain yourself."
"Who is to be answerable for this amount?" "I."
"Is it necessary for me to tell you that I have property yielding
eighty thousand livres rent, at four leagues from Paris? That will
suffice, I believe, for that which you call guarantee?"
"Yes, madame, by means of a mortgage."
"What does that mean again? Some formality, doubtless. Make it, sir,
"Such a deed cannot be drawn up under two weeks, and it needs the
consent of your husband, madame."
"But this is my property, mine--mine alone," said the duchess,
"No matter, madame; you are in the power of your husband, and a deed
of mortgage is very long and very minute."
"But once more, sir, you cannot make me believe that it so difficult
to procure one hundred thousand francs in two hours."
"Then, madame, apply to your own notary, to your steward; with me, it
"I have reasons, sir, to keep this a secret," said Madame de Lucenay,
heartily. "You know the rogues who wish to rob M. de Saint Remy; it is
on this account I address myself to you."
"Your confidence infinitely honors me, madame; but I cannot do what
"You have not this amount?"
"I have much more than this sum in bank bills, or in gold--here--here,
in my safe."
"Oh, what a waste of words! Is it my signature you wish? I give it
you; let us finish."
"In admitting, madame, that you are the Duchess of Lucenay."
"Come in an hour's time to the Hôtel de Lucenay, sir: I will sign at
home what is necessary to be signed."
"Will his grace sign also?"
"I do not understand you, sir."
"Your signature alone is of no value to me, madame."
Jacques Ferrand enjoyed with cruel delight the impatience of the
duchess, who, under the appearance of _sang froid_ and disdain,
concealed the most painful anguish. She was for a moment at the end of
her resources. The evening previous, her jeweler had advanced her a
considerable sum on her diamonds, some of which were confided to
Morel, the artisan. This sum had served to pay the bills of Saint
Remy, and disarm other creditors; Dubreul, the farmer at Arnouville,
was more than a year in advance, and besides, time was wanting;
unfortunately for Madame de Lucenay, two of her friends, to whom she
could have had recourse in an extreme situation, were then absent from
Paris. In her eyes, the viscount was innocent; he had told her, and
she believed it, that he was the dupe of two rogues; but her situation
was none the less terrible. He accused, he dragged to prison! Then,
even if he should take to flight would his name be any less dishonored
by such a suspicion?
"Since you possess the sum I ask for, sir, and my guarantee is
sufficient, why do you refuse me?"
"Because men have their caprices as well as women, madame."
"But what is this caprice, which makes you act thus against your
interest? for, I repeat to you, make your conditions; whatever they
may be, I accept them!"
"Your grace will accept all the conditions?" said the notary, with a
"All! two, three, four thousand francs--more, if you will; for I tell
you," added the duchess, frankly, in a tone almost affectionate, "I
have no resource but in you, sir--in you alone. It will be impossible
for me to find elsewhere that which I ask you for to-morrow; and it
must be--you understand--it must be absolutely. Thus, I repeat to you,
whatever condition you impose on me for this service, I accept."
In his blindness, he had interpreted in an unworthy manner the last
words of the duchess. It was an idea as stupid as it was infamous; but
we have already said that sometimes Jacques Ferrand became a tiger or
a wolf; then the beast overpowered the man. He arose quickly and
advanced toward the duchess. She, thunder-struck, rose at the same
moment and regarded him with astonishment.
"You will not regard the cost?" cried he, in a broken voice,
approaching still nearer to the duchess. "Well, this sum I will lend
to you on one condition, one single condition--and I swear that----"
He could not finish his declaration.
By one of those strange contradictions of human nature at the sight of
the hideous face of M. Ferrand, at the mere thought of what his
conditions might be, Madame de Lucenay, notwithstanding her
inquietudes and troubles, burst out in a laugh so frank, so loud, so
mirthful, that the notary recoiled confounded.
Without giving him time to utter a word, the duchess, abandoning
herself more and more to her hilarity, pulled down her veil, and
between two renewed bursts of laughter, said to the notary, who was
almost blind with rage, hatred, and fury, "I prefer, upon the whole,
to ask this favor openly of the duke." She then went out, continuing
to laugh so loudly that, though the door of the cabinet was closed,
the notary could still hear her.
Jacques Ferrand returned to his senses only to curse his imprudence
bitterly. Yet, by degrees he reassured himself in thinking that the
duchess could not speak of this interview without gravely compromising
Nevertheless, it was a bad day for him. He was buried in the blackest
thoughts, when the private door of his cabinet was opened, and Mrs.
Seraphin entered wildly.
"Oh, Ferrand!" cried she, clasping her hands, "you were right enough
in saying that we should some day regret having spared her life!"
"That cursed little girl's."
"A one-eyed woman, whom I did not know, to whom Tournemine delivered
the little girl to rid us of her, fourteen years ago, when we said she
was dead. Oh, who would have thought it!"
"This woman has just been here; she was below just now. She told me
she knew it was I who gave up the child."
"Malediction! who could have told her? Tournemine is at the galleys."
"I denied everything, treating her as a liar. But she maintains that
she has found this child again, now grown up; that she knows where she
is, and that it only depends upon herself to discover everything."
"Is hell unchained against me to-day?" cried the notary, in a fit of
rage that rendered him hideous.
"What shall be said to the woman? What must we promise, to keep her
"Does she look as if she were poor?"
"As I treated her like a beggar, she shook her reticule--there was
money in it."
"And she knows where this young girl is now?"
"She declares she knows."
"And she is the daughter of Countess M'Gregor!" said the notary to
himself, "who just now offered me so much to say that her child was
not dead! And the child lives. I can restore her to her! Yes; but this
false certificate of death--if any inquiry is made, I am lost! This
crime may put them on the scent of others." After a moment's thought,
he said to Madame Seraphin, "This one-eyed woman knows where the girl
"And this woman will return to-morrow?"
"Write to Polidori to be here to-night at nine o'clock."
"Do you mean to get rid of the girl and the old woman? It will be too
much for one time, Ferrand!"
"I tell you to write to Folidori to be here to-night by nine o'clock."
At the close of this day, Rudolph said to Murphy, who had not been
able to see the notary, "Let M. de Graun send a courtier off at once.
Cicily must be in Paris in six days."
"Once more that infernal she-devil! the execrable wife of poor David,
as handsome as she is infamous! For what good, your highness?"
"For what good, Sir Walter? In a month's time you may ask this
question of the notary, Jacques Ferrand."
About ten o'clock in the evening of the day on which Fleur-de-Marie
had been carried off by Screech-owl and the Schoolmaster, a man on
horseback arrived at the farm, coming, as he said, on the part of
Rudolph, to reassure Mrs. George as to the disappearance of her young
_protegee_, who would return to her in a few days. For several
very important reasons, added this man, Rudolph begged Mrs. George, in
the event of her having anything to send him, not to write him at
Paris, but to hand the letter to the courier, who would take charge of
This courier was an emissary of Sarah's. By this she tranquilized Mrs.
George, and retarded thus for some days the moment when Rudolph must
hear of the abduction. In this interval, Sarah hoped to force the
notary to favor the unworthy scheme of which we have spoken. This was
not all. Sarah wished also to get rid of Madame d'Harville, who
inspired her with serious fears, and who would have been lost but for
On the day when the marquis had followed his wife to the house in the
Rue du Temple, where she was to meet Charles Robert, but where Rudolph
led her to the Morels, and thus changed the assignation into a call in
charity, Sarah's brother Tom went there, easily set Mrs. Pipelet
jabbering, and learned that a young lady, on the point of being
surprised by her husband, had been saved, thanks to a lodger in the
house named Rudolph. Informed of this circumstance, Sarah, possessing
no material proof of the rendezvous that Lady d'Harville had given to
Charles Robert, conceived another odious plan. It was concocted to
send an anonymous letter to the marquis, in order to effect a complete
rupture between him and Rudolph, or, at least, to make the marquis so
suspicious as to forbid any further intercourse between the prince and
This letter was thus couched:
"You have been deceived most shamefully. The other day, your wife,
advised that you were following her, pretended an imaginary visit of
charity; she went to meet a very _august personage_, who has
hired in the Rue du Temple a room in the fourth story, under the name
of Rudolph. If you doubt these facts, strange as they may appear, go
to the Rue du Temple, No. 17, and inform yourself; paint to yourself
the features of the _august person_ spoken of, and you will easily
acknowledge that you are the most credulous, good-natured husband
who has ever been so _sovereignly_ deceived. Do not neglect
this advice; otherwise it will be supposed that you, also are too much.
"THE FRIEND OF PRINCES."
This note was put in the post at five o'clock by Sarah, on the day of
her interview with the notary. The same evening, Rudolph went to pay a
visit to a foreign embassy: after which it was his intention to go to
Madame d'Harville's to announce to her that he had found a charitable
intrigue worthy of her. We will conduct the reader to Madame
d'Harville's. It will be seen, from the following conversation, that
this young lady, in showing herself generous and compassionate towards
her husband, whom she had until then treated with extreme coldness,
followed already the noble counsels of Rudolph.
The marquis and his wife had just left the table; the scene passed in
the little saloon of which we have spoken; the expression of Clemence
d'Harville was affectionate and kind; D'Harville seemed less sad than
usual. He had not yet received the now infamous letter from Sarah.
"What are you going to do to-night?" said he, mechanically, to his
"I shall not go out; pray what are your plans?"
"I do not know," answered he, with a sigh. "Society is insupportable
to me. I will pass this evening, like so many other evenings, alone."
"Why alone, since I am not going out?"
M. d'Harville looked at his wife with surprise. "Doubtless, but--"
"I know that you often prefer solitude when you do not go out."
"Yes; but as I am very capricious," said Clemence, smiling, "at
present I prefer to partake my solitude with you, if it is agreeable
"Really," cried D'Harville, with emotion, "how kind you are to
anticipate what I dared not express."
"Do you know, dear, that your astonishment has almost an air of
"A reproach? Oh, no, no! not after my unjust and cruel suspicions the
other day. To find you so forgiving, it is, I confess, a surprise for
me; but a surprise the most delightful."
"Let us forget the past," said she to her husband, with an angelic
"Clemence, can you forget?" answered he, sadly. "Have I not dared to
suspect you? To tell you to what extremity a blind jealousy has
impelled me? But what is all this compared to other wrongs, still
greater, more irreparable?"
"Let us forget the past, I say," repeated Clemence, restraining her
"What do I hear? The past also--can you forget it?"
"I hope to do so."
"Can it be true, Clemence, you can be so generous? But no, no, I
cannot believe in so much happiness; I had renounced it forever."
"You were wrong, you see."
"What a change! Is it a dream? Oh, tell me I am not mistaken."
"No, no, you are not mistaken."
"And, truly, your look is less cold; your voice almost falters. Oh,
say, is it true? Am I not under an illusion?"
"No; for I also have need of pardon."
"Have I not been cruel towards you! Ought I not to have thought that
you must have needed a rare courage, a virtue more than human, to act
differently from what you did? Isolated, unhappy, how resist the
desire of seeking some consolation in a marriage which pleased you?
Alas! when one suffers, one is so disposed to believe in the
generosity of others! Your error has been, until now, to count on
mine. Well, henceforth I will try to give you reason."
"Oh, speak, speak once more!" said D'Harville, his hands clasped in a
kind of ecstasy.
"Our existence is forever united. I will do all in my power to render
your life less bitter."
"Is it you I hear?"
"I beg you do not be so much astonished; it gives me pain; it is a
bitter censure on my past conduct. Who else should pity you? Who
should lend you a friendly and helping hand, if not I? A happy
inspiration I have received. I have reflected, well reflected, on the
past, on the future. I have seen my errors, and I have found, I
believe, the means to repair them."
"Your errors, poor wife?"
"Yes; I should have, the next day after our marriage, appealed to your
honor, and frankly demanded a separation."
"Ah, Clemence, pity, pity!"
"Otherwise, since I accepted my position, I should have augmented it
by submission, instead of causing you constant self-reproach by my
haughty and taciturn coldness. I should have endeavored to console you
for a fearful malady, by only remembering your misfortune. By degrees
I should have become attached to my work of commiseration, by reason
even of the cares, perhaps the sacrifices, which it would have cost
me; your gratitude had rewarded me, and then--but what is the matter?
"Yes, I weep--weep with joy. You do not know how many new emotions
your words cause me. Oh, Clemence, let me weep!"
"Never more than at this moment have I comprehended how culpable I
have been in chaining you to my sad destiny!"
"And never have I felt more decided to forget. These gentle tears that
you shed make me acquainted with a happiness of which I was ignorant.
Courage, dear, courage; in default of a fortunate and smiling destiny,
let us seek our satisfaction in the accomplishment of the serious
duties that fate imposes. Let us be indulgent to one another; if we
falter, let us regard the cradle of our child, let us concentrate on
her all our affections, and we shall yet have some joys, melancholy
"An angel, she is an angel!" cried D'Harville, joining his hands and
looking at his wife with affectionate admiration. "Oh! you do not know
the pain and pleasure you cause me, Clemence! you do not know that
your harshest words formerly, your most severe reproaches, alas! the
most merited, have never so much overwhelmed me as this adorable,
generous resignation, and yet, in spite of myself, you make hope
spring up again. You do not know the future that I dare imagine."
"And you can have blind and entire faith in what I tell you, Albert.
This resolution is taken firmly; it shall never fail, I swear it to
you. Before long I may give you new guarantees of my word."
"Guarantees?" cried D'Harville, more and more excited by happiness so
unlooked for, "guarantees! have I need of them? Your look, your voice,
this beaming expression of goodness which still graces you, the
throbbings of my heart, all, all prove to me that what you say is
true. But you know, Clemence, man is insatiable in his hopes," added
the marquis. "Your noble and touching words give me courage to hope,
yes, to hope what yesterday I regarded as an insensate dream."
"Albert, I swear to you I shall always be the most devoted of friends,
the most tender of sisters; but nothing more. Pardon, pardon, if
unknowingly my words have ever given you hopes which can never be
"Never?" cried D'Harville, fixing on her a desperate and supplicating
"Never!" answered Clemence.
This single word, the tone of voice, revealed an irrevocable
resolution. Clemence, brought back to noble resolutions by the
influence of Rudolph, was firmly resolved to surround her husband with
the most touching attentions; but she felt that she was incapable of
ever loving him. An impression still stronger than fright, contempt,
hatred, separated Clemence from her husband forever. It was a
repugnance invincible. After a moment of mournful silence, D'Harville
passed his hand over his eyes, and said to his wife, bitterly:
"Pardon me for deceiving myself; pardon me for having abandoned myself
to a hope, mad as it was foolish. Oh! I am very unfortunate!"
"My friend," said Clemence to him gently, "I do not wish to reproach
you; yet do you reckon as nothing my promise to be for you the most
tender of sisters? You will owe to the most devoted friendship
attentions that love could not give you. Hope for better days. Until
now you have found me almost indifferent to your sorrows; you shall
see how I shall compassionate you, and what consolations you will find
in my affection."
A servant entered, and said to Clemence, "His Royal Highness the Grand
Duke of Gerolstein asks if your ladyship will receive him?"
Clemence looked at her husband, who, recovering his coolness, said to
her, "Of course." The servant retired.
"Pardon me, my friend," said Clemence; "I did not say that I would not
receive. Besides, it is a long time since you have seen the prince; he
will be happy to find you here. I shall, also, be much pleased to see
him; yet I avow, that just now I am so agitated that I should have
preferred to receive his visit some other day."
"I can comprehend it; but what could we do? Here he is." At the same
moment, Rudolph was announced.
"I am a thousand times happy, madame, to have the honor to meet you,"
said Rudolph; "and I doubly appreciate my good fortune, since it also
procures me the pleasure of seeing you, my dear Albert," added he,
turning toward the marquis, whom he cordially shook by the hand.
"It is a long time since I have had the honor to pay your highness my
"And whose fault is it, invisible lord? The last time I came to pay my
respects to Madame d'Harville, I asked for you; you were absent. It is
now three weeks that you have forgotten me; it is very wrong."
"Be merciless, your highness," said Clemence, smiling: "M. d'Harville
is the more guilty, since he has for your highness the most profound
respect, and he might make that doubted by his negligence."
"Well! see my vanity, madame; whatever D'Harville might do, it would
always be impossible for me to doubt his affection; but I ought not to
say this. I am encouraging him in such conduct."
"Believe me, your highness, that some unforeseen circumstances alone
have prevented me from profiting oftener by your kindness toward me."
"Between ourselves, my dear Albert, I believe you a little too
platonic in friendship; very sure that you are loved, you are not
pliant enough to give or receive proofs of attachment."
Through a breach of etiquette, which rather annoyed Madame d'Harville,
a servant entered, bringing a letter to the marquis. It was the
anonymous denunciation of Sarah, which accused the prince of being the
lover of Madame d'Harville.
The marquis, out of deference to the prince, pushed back with his hand
the silver salver which the servant handed him, and said, in an
undertone, "Not now, not now."
"My dear Albert," said the prince, in the most affectionate tone, "do
you stand on ceremony with me?"
"But, your highness--"
"With the permission of Madame d'Harville, I beg you to read this
"I assure your highness that there is nothing pressing."
"Once more, Albert, read this letter!"
"I entreat you--I wish it."
"Since your royal highness requires it," said the marquis, taking the
letter from the salver.
"Certainly. I require you to treat me as a friend."
Then turning toward the marchioness, while M. d'Harville broke the
seal of this fatal letter, the contents of which Rudolph could not
have imagined, he added, smiling, "What a triumph for you, madame, to
cause this will, so stern, always to yield!"
D'Harville drew near one of the candelabra on the chimney-piece, and
opened the letter. Rudolph and Clemence conversed together, while
D'Harville twice read the letter. His countenance remained composed; a
nervous trembling, almost imperceptible, agitated his hands alone;
after a moment's hesitation, he put the note into his waistcoat
"At the risk of passing for a savage," said he to Rudolph, smiling, "I
shall ask permission to go and answer this letter--more important than
I thought at first."
"Shall I not see you again to-night?"
"I do not think that I can have that honor; I hope your royal highness
will excuse me."
"What a man!" said Rudolph gayly. "Will you not try to retain him,
"I dare not attempt what your highness has attempted in vain."
"Seriously, my dear Albert, try to return to us as soon as your letter
is written; if not, promise to grant me an interview some morning. I
have a thousand things to say to you."
"Your royal highness overwhelms me," said the marquis, bowing
profoundly as he retired.
"Your husband is preoccupied," said Rudolph to the marchioness, "his
smile appeared constrained."
"When your royal highness arrived D'Harville was profoundly affected;
he had great trouble to conceal it."
"I have arrived, perhaps, at an inopportune moment."
"No, you have even spared me the conclusion of a painful
"How is that?"
"I have told D'Harville the new line of conduct that I was resolved to
follow, promising him support and consolation."
"How happy he should be!"
"At first he was as much so as myself; for his tears and joy produced
an emotion to which I had, as yet, been a stranger. Formerly I thought
I revenged myself by addressing him a reproach, a sarcasm. Sad
revenge! My sorrow afterward has only been more bitter. While just
now--what a difference! I asked my husband if he were going out: he
answered me sadly, that he should pass the evening alone, as was
usually the case. When I offered to remain with him--Oh! if you could
have seen his astonishment! how his expression, always sad, became at
once radiant. Ah! you were right--nothing is more pleasing than to
contrive such surprises of happiness!"
"But how did these proofs of goodness on your part lead to this
painful conversation of which you have spoken?"
"Alas!" said Clemence, blushing, "to these hopes succeeded hopes more
tender, which I was very guarded not to excite, because it will always
be impossible for me to realize them."
"I comprehend; he loves you tenderly."
"As much as I was at first touched with his gratitude, so much was I
alarmed at his protestations of love. I could not conceal my alarm. I
caused him a sad blow in manifesting thus my invincible repugnance to
his love, I regret it. But, at least, D'Harville is now forever
convinced that he has only to expect from me the most devoted
"I pity him, without being able to blame you; there are
susceptibilities, thus to speak, which are sacred. Poor Albert, so
good, so kind! If you knew how much I have been afflicted, for a long
time past, with his sadness and dejection, although ignorant of the
cause. Let us leave all to time, to reason. By degrees he will
recognize the value of the affection you offer him, and he will be
resigned to it, as he was resigned before having the touching
consolations which you offer him."
"And which shall never be wanting, I swear to your highness."
"Now let us think of the other unfortunates. I have promised you a
good work, having all the charm of a romance in action. I come to
fulfill my engagement."
"Already! what happiness!"
"Ah! it was a kind of happy inspiration that induced me to take that
poor room in the house of the Rue du Temple, of which I have spoken to
you. You cannot imagine all that I find curious and interesting! In
the first place, your _proteges_ of the garret enjoy the comforts
your presence had promised them; they have, however, yet to undergo
some sad trials; but I do not wish to make you sad. Some day you shall
know how many horrible calamities may overwhelm one single family."
"What must be their gratitude toward you!" "It is your name they
"Your highness has succored them in my name?"
"To render the charity sweeter to them. Besides, I have only realized
"Oh! I will go and undeceive them: tell them it is to you they owe--"
"Do not do that! you know I have a room in that house: be guarded
against any new cowardly acts of your enemies, or of mine; and since
the Morels are now out of the reach of want, think of others. Let us
think of our intrigue. It concerns a poor mother and her daughter,
who, formerly in affluence, are at this time, in consequence of an
infamous spoliation, reduced to the most frightful misery."
"Unfortunate women! and where do they live, your highness?"
"I do not know."
"But how did you find out their situation?"
"Yesterday I went to the temple. Your ladyship does not know what the
"No, my lord."
"It is a bazaar very amusing to see. I went there to make some
purchases with my neighbor of the fourth floor."
"Have I not my room in the Rue du Temple?"
"This neighbor is a charming little grisette; she calls herself
Rigolette; this Miss Dimpleton is always laughing, and never had a
"What virtue for a grisette!"
"It is not exactly from virtue that she is virtuous, but because, she
says, she has no time to be in love; for she must work from twelve to
fifteen hours a-day to earn twenty-five sous, on which she lives."
"She can live on so small an amount?"
"Rather; and she has even articles of luxury; two birds who eat more
than she does; her little room is as neat as possible, and her dress
really quite coquettish."
"Live on twenty-five sous a-day! she is a prodigy."
"A real prodigy of order, labor, economy, and practical philosophy, I
assure you; hence, I recommend her to you. She is, she says, a very
skillful seamstress. At all events, you would not be ashamed to wear
the clothes she may make."
"To-morrow I will send her some work. Poor girl! to live on so small a
sum, and, so to speak, be unknown to us, who are rich, whose smallest
caprices cost a hundred times that amount."
"I am rejoiced that you have determined to interest yourself in my
little _protegee_. I will now explain our new adventure. I had
gone to the Temple with Rigolette, to purchase some furniture designed
for the poor people in the garret, when, upon accidentally examining
an old secretary which was for sale, I found the draft of a letter
written by a female to some individual, in which she complained that
herself and daughter were reduced to the greatest misery, on account
of the dishonesty of a lawyer. The secretary was part of a lot of
furniture, which a woman of middle age had been compelled by her
penury to sell; and I was told by the dealer that the woman and her
daughter seemed to belong to the upper classes of society, and to bear
their reverses with great fortitude and pride."
"And you do not know their abode?"
"Unfortunately, no. But I have given orders to M. de Graun to endeavor
to discover it, even if he is obliged to apply to the police. It is
possible that, stripped of every thing, the mother and daughter have
sought refuge in some miserably furnished lodgings. If it should be
so, we have some hope, for the landlords report every evening the
strangers who arrive in the course of the day."
"What a singular concurrence of circumstances!" said Madame
d'Harville, with astonishment.
"This is not all. In a corner of this letter, found in the old
secretary were these words, '_Write to Madame de Lucenay_.'"
"What good fortune! perhaps we can find out something from the
duchess," cried Madame d'Harville, with vivacity; then she continued,
with a sigh, "But I am ignorant of the name of this woman--how
designate her to Madame de Lucenay?"
"You must ask if she does not know a widow, still young, of
distinguished appearance, whose daughter, aged sixteen or seventeen,
is named Claire."
"I remember the name. The name of my own daughter! It seems to me a
motive the more to interest me in their misfortunes."
"I forgot to tell you that the brother of this widow committed suicide
some months ago."
"If Madame de Lucenay knows this family," said Madame d'Harville,
"such information will suffice to bring them to her mind. How desirous
I am of going to see her. I will write her a note to-night, so that I
shall be sure to find her to-morrow morning. Who can these women be?
From what you know of them, they appear to belong to the upper classes
of society. And to find themselves reduced to such distress! Ah! for
them poverty must be doubly frightful!"
"By the robbery of a notary, a miserable scoundrel, of whom I already
know many other misdeeds--Jacques Ferrand."
"My husband's notary!" cried Clemence; "the notary of my step-mother!
But you are deceived, my lord; he is looked upon as one of the most
honorable men in the world."
"I have proofs to the contrary. But do not, I pray you, say a word on
this subject to any one; he is as crafty as he is criminal, and to
unmask him, I have need that he shall not suspect, or rather, that he
shall go on with impunity a short time longer. Yes; it is he who has
despoiled these unfortunates, by denying a deposit which, from all
appearances, had been placed in his hands by the brother of this
"And this sum?"
"Was their sole resource! Oh! what a crime--what a crime!" cried
Rudolph; "a crime that nothing can excuse--neither want nor passion.
Often does hunger cause robbery, vengeance, murder. But this notary
was already rich; and, clothed by society with a character almost
holy, which imposes, ay, forces confidence, this man is induced to
crime by a cold and implacable cupidity. The assassin only kills you
once, and quickly, with his knife; he kills you slowly, by all the
horrors of despair and misery into which he plunges you. For a man
like this Ferrand, no patrimony of the orphan or savings of the poor
are sacred! You confide to him gold; this gold tempts him; he makes
you a beggar. By the force of privations and toil, you have assured to
yourself bread, and an asylum for your old age; _the will_ of
this man tears from your old age this bread and shelter. This is not
all. See the fearful effects of these infamous spoliations; this widow
of whom we speak may die of sorrow and distress; her daughter, young
and handsome, without support, without resources, accustomed to a
competency, unfit, from her education, to gain a living, soon finds
herself between starvation and dishonor! she is lost! By this robbery,
Jacques Ferrand is the cause of the death of the mother, the ruin of
the child! he has killed the body of one, he has killed the soul of
the other; and this, once more I say it, not at once, like other
homicides, but with cruelty, and slowly."
[Illustration: BETWEEN DISHONOR AND HUNGER]
Clemence had never heard Rudolph speak with so much bitterness and
indignation; she listened in silence, struck by these words of
eloquence, doubtless very sad, but which discovered a vigorous hatred
"Pardon me, madame," said Rudolph, after a moment's pause; "I cannot
restrain my indignation in thinking of the cruel fate which your
future _protegees_ may have realized. Ah! believe me, the
consequences of ruin and poverty are very seldom exaggerated."
"Oh! on the contrary, I thank your highness for having, by these
terrible words, still more augmented, if that is possible, the sincere
commiseration I feel for these unfortunates. Alas! it is above all for
her daughter she must suffer! oh! it is frightful. But we will save
them--we will assure their future. I am rich, but not as much so as I
could wish, now that I see a new use for money; but, if it is
necessary, I will speak to D'Harville; I will make him so happy that
he cannot refuse any of my new caprices. Our _protegees_ are
proud, your highness says; I like them better for it: pride in
misfortune always proves an elevated mind. I will find the means to
save them, without their knowing that they owe the succor they receive
to a benefactor. It will be difficult; so much the better! Oh! I have
already a project; you shall see, your highness, you shall see that I
am not wanting in address and cunning."
"I already foresee the most Machiavelian combinations," said Rudolph,
"But we must first discover them; how I wish it was to-morrow! On
having Madame de Lucenay I will go to their old lodgings, I will
question their neighbors; I will see for myself. I will ask
information from everybody. I will compromise myself, if it is
necessary! I shall be so proud to obtain by myself, and by myself
alone, the result I desire: oh! I will succeed; this adventure is so
touching. Poor women: it seems to me I feel more interest in them when
I think of my child."
Rudolph, touched with this charitable eagerness, smiled sadly on
seeing this lady, so handsome, so lovely, trying to forget in noble
occupations the domestic troubles which afflicted her; the eyes of
Clemence sparkled with vivacity, her cheeks were slightly suffused;
the animation of her gesture, of her speech, gave new attraction to
her ravishing countenance. She perceived that Rudolph was
contemplating her in silence. She blushed, cast down her eyes; then,
raising them in charming confusion, she said, "You laugh at my
enthusiasm? It is because I am impatient to taste those holy joys
which are about to reanimate my existence, until now sad and useless.
Such, without doubt, was not the life I dreamed of; there is a
sentiment, a happiness, more lively still that I can never know;
although still very young, I must renounce it!" added Clemence,
suppressing a sigh. "But thanks to you, my deliverer, always thanks to
you, I have created for myself other interests; charity shall replace
love. I am already indebted to your advice for such touching emotions!
Your words, your highness, have so much influence! The more I
meditate, the more I reflect on your ideas, the more I find them just,
great, and fruitful. Oh! how much goodness your mind discloses! from
what source have you, then, drawn these feelings of tender
"I have suffered much, I still suffer! This is the reason I know the
cause of many sorrows."
"Your highness unhappy!"
"Yes, for one would say that, to prepare me to solace all kinds of
sorrow, fate has willed I should undergo them all. A lover, it has
struck me through the first woman that I loved with all the blind
confidence of youth; a husband, through my wife; a son, it has struck
me through my father; a father, through my child!"
"I thought that the grand duchess did not leave you any child?"
"She did not; but before my marriage with her I had a daughter, who
died very young. Well! strange as it may appear to you, the loss of
this child, whom I had hardly seen, is the sorrow of my life. The
older I become, the more profound my regrets! Each year redoubles the
bitterness. It seems to increase as her years would have increased.
Now she would have been seventeen!"
"And does her mother still live?" asked Clemence.
"Oh! do not speak of her!" cried Rudolph. "Her mother is an unworthy
creature, a being bronzed by egotism and ambition. Sometimes I ask
myself if it were not better my child should be dead, than to have
remained in the hands of her mother."
Clemence experienced a kind of satisfaction in hearing Rudolph express
himself thus. "Oh! I conceive," cried she, "how you doubly regret your
"I should have loved her so well! and, besides, it seems to me that
among us princes there is always in our love for a son a kind of
interest of race and name; but a daughter is loved for herself alone.
And when one has seen, alas! humanity under the most sinister aspects,
what delight to contemplate a pure and lovely being! to inhale her
virgin purity, to watch over her with tender care! A mother the most
fond and most proud of her daughter cannot experience this feeling;
she is herself too similar to taste these ineffable delights; she will
appreciate much more the manly qualities of a bold and noble boy. For,
do you not find that that which renders, perhaps, still more touching
the love of a mother for her son, a father for his daughter, is, that
there is always in these affections a feeble being who has need of
protection. The son protects the mother, the father protects the
"Oh, it is true."
"But, alas! why understand the ineffable joys, when one can never
experience them?" said Rudolph, dejectedly. "But pardon me, madame; my
regrets and my souvenirs have, in spite of myself, carried me away;
you will excuse me?"
"Ah! believe I partake of your sorrows. Have I not the right? Have you
not partaken of mine? Unfortunately, the consolations that I can offer
you are in vain."
"No, no; the expression of your interest is sweet and salutary to me.
It is weakness, but I cannot hear a young girl spoken of without
thinking of her whom I have lost."
"These thoughts are so natural! Hold, my lord; since I have seen you,
I have accompanied, in visits to the prisons, a lady of my
acquaintance, who is a patroness of the work of the young women
confined at Saint Lazare; this house contains many culprits. If I were
not a mother, I should have judged them, doubtless, with still more
severity, while I now feel for them pity; much softened in thinking
that, perhaps, they had not been lost, except for the state of poverty
and neglect they had been in from their infancy. I do not know why,
but after these thoughts it seemed to me I loved my child the more."
"Come, courage," said Rudolph, with a melancholy smile: "this
conversation leaves me quite reassured as to you. A salutary path is
open to you; in following it, you will pass through, without
stumbling, these years of trial, so dangerous for women, above all for
a woman gifted as you are; your reward shall be great; you will still
have to struggle and suffer-for you are very young--but you will renew
your strength in thinking of the good you have done--of that which you
Madame d'Harville burst into tears. "At least," said she, "your
assistance, your counsels, will never fail me?" "Far or near, I shall
always take the deepest interest in all that concerns you; always, as
much as depends upon me, I will contribute to your happiness: to the
man's to whom I have vowed the most constant friendship."
"Oh! thank your highness for this promise," said Clemence, drying her
tears; "without your generous support, my strength would abandon me;
but, believe me, I swear it here, I will constantly accomplish my
On these words, a small door, concealed behind the tapestry, was
opened roughly. Clemence uttered a cry. Rudolph shuddered. D'Harville
appeared pale and profoundly affected: his eyes were wet with tears.
The first astonishment over, the marquis said to Rudolph, giving him
Sarah's letter, "Your highness, here is the infamous letter which I
received just now before you. I pray you to burn it after you have
Clemence looked at her husband with alarm. "Oh, this is infamous!"
cried Rudolph, indignantly. "Yet there is something still more
infamous than this anonymous scurrility--it is my own conduct." "What
do you mean to say?" "A little while ago, instead of showing you this
letter frankly, boldly, I concealed it from you; I pretended to be
calm, while I had jealousy, anger, and despair in my heart; this is
not all. Do you know what I did, my lord? I shamefully went and
concealed myself behind this door to listen to you--to spy--yes, I
have been wretch enough to doubt your honor. Oh! the author of this
letter knows to whom he addresses it; he knows how weak my head is.
Well, my lord, say, after hearing what I have just heard--for I have
not lost a word of your conversation, and know why you go to the Rue
du Temple--ought I not, on my knees, ask for pardon and pity? and I do
it, my lord. I do it, Clemence; I have no more hope but in your
"My dear Albert, what have I to pardon?" said Rudolph, extending both
hands with the most touching cordiality. "_Now_ you know our
secrets, I am delighted. I can preach to you at my leisure. I am your
confidant by compulsion, and, what is still better, you are the
confidant of Madeline d'Harville; that is to say, you now know all you
have to expect from that noble heart."
"And, Clemence, will you pardon me also?"
"Yes: on condition that you will assist me in assuring your own
happiness," and she extended her hand to her husband, who pressed it
"My dear marquis," cried Rudolph, "our enemies are unlucky; thanks to
them, we are only the more intimate from the past. You never have more
justly appreciated Madame d'Harville: she has never been more devoted
to you; acknowledge that we are well avenged of the envious and
wicked. That will answer while waiting for something better, for I
divine from whence this came, and I am not accustomed to suffer
patiently the injuries done to my friends. But this regards me. Adieu,
madame; here is our _intrigue_ discovered; you will no longer be
alone in assisting your _protegees_: be assured we will get up
some new mysterious enterprise, which the marquis must be very cunning
After having accompanied the prince to his carriage, to thank him
again, the marquis retired to his own apartments without seeing
It would be difficult to describe the tumultuous and contrary
sentiments which agitated D'Harville when he found himself alone. He
acknowleged with joy the falsity of the accusation against Rudolph and
Clemence, but he was also convinced that he must renounce the hope of
being loved by her. The more in her conversation with Rudolph Clemence
had shown herself courageous and resolute to do good, the more he
bitterly reproached himself for having, with guilty egotism, linked
this unhappy lady to his fate. Far from being consoled from the
conversation he had just heard, he fell into a state of sadness, of
inexpressible despondency. There is in a life of opulence without
employment this terrible disadvantage: nothing turns its attention,
nothing protects the mind from brooding on its sorrows, on itself.
Never being compelled to occupy itself with the necessities of the
future, or the labors of each day, it remains entirely a prey to great
mental afflictions. Being able to possess all that gold can procure,
it desires or regrets violently that which gold alone cannot procure.
The grief of D'Harville was desperate; for, after all, he desired
nothing but what was just and lawful.
To transports of vain anger succeeded a feeling of gloomy dejection.
"Oh!" cried he, at once softened and cast down, "it is my fault, my
fault! poor unhappy woman, I have deceived her, unworthily deceived
her! She can, she ought to hate me; and yet, just now, again she
evinced the most touching interest for me; but, instead of contenting
myself with that, my foolish passions have carried me away. I became
tender; I have spoken to her of my love, and hardly had my lips
touched her hand, than she trembled with affright. If I could still
have had any doubt of the invincible repugnance with which I inspire
her, what she has just now said to the prince leaves me no illusion.
Oh! it is frightful--frightful!
"And by what right did she confide to him this hideous secret? it is
an unworthy betrayal of confidence? By what right? Alas! by the same
right as prisoners have to complain of their executioner. Poor girl!
so young and lovely, all that she could find to say that was cruel
against the horrible fate to which I have doomed her, is that such was
not the lot she had dreamed of, and that she was very young to
renounce love! I know Clemence; the word she has given me, which she
has given to the prince, she will henceforth keep; she will be for me
the most affectionate sister. Well! my position is not worthy of envy!
to the cold and constrained feeling which existed between us, are
going to succeed the most affectionate and the kindest relations,
while she might have continued to treat me with a frozen contempt,
without my daring to complain. Another torture! How I have suffered,
my God! when I thought her guilty!--what terrible agony! But no, this
fear is vain; Clemence has sworn not to fail in her duties; she will
keep her promises; but at what a price! Just now, when she returned to
me with her affectionate words, how her sad, soft, melancholy smile
caused me pain! How much this return to her executioner must have cost
her! Poor woman, how handsome she looked! For the first time I felt
acute remorse, for until then her haughty coldness was her revenge.
Oh, unfortunate man, unfortunate man that I am!"
After a long sleepless night of bitter reflections, the agitation of
D'Harville ceased as by enchantment.
He awaited the day with impatience. As soon as it was morning, he rang
for his valet, old Joseph. On entering the room, the latter heard his
master, to his great astonishment, humming a hunting-song, a sign, as
rare as it was sure, of D'Harville's good-humor.
"Ah!" said the faithful servant, quite softened, "what a good voice
your lordship has! what a shame you do not sing oftener!" "Really,
Joseph, have I a good voice?" said D'Harville, laughing.
"My lord might have a voice as hoarse as an owl or a rattle, I should
still think he had a good voice."
"Hold your tongue, flatterer!"
"When your lordship sings, it is a sign you are contented; and then
your voice appears to me the most charming music in the world."
"In that case, Joseph, learn to open your long ears."
"What do you say?"
"You can enjoy this charming music every day."
"You will be happy every day, my lord?" cried Joseph, clasping his
hands with astonished delight.
"Every day, my old Joseph! happy every day. Yes, no more sorrow--no
more sadness. I can tell this to you, who are sole and discreet
confidant of all my sorrows! I am overjoyed with happiness! My wife is
an angel of goodness! she has asked pardon for her past coldness,
attributing it to--can you guess?--to jealousy!"
"Yes; absurd suspicions, caused by anonymous letters."
"You comprehend? women have so much self-love! It needed nothing more
to separate us; but, happily, last night we had an explanation. I
undeceived her; to tell you of her joy would be impossible; for she
loves me! oh, how she loves me! Thus, this cruel separation has
ceased; judge of my joy!"
"Can it be true?" cried Joseph, with tears in his eyes. "Then, my
lord, you are forever happy, since the love of her ladyship was alone
wanting, as you have told me."
"And to whom should I have told it, my poor old Joseph? Do you not
possess a still more sorrowful secret? But let us not talk of sorrow;
the day is too happy. You see, perhaps, I have wept! it is thus, you
see, happiness overpowers me! I so little expected it! How weak I am!"
"Yes, yes, my lord can well weep for joy, who has wept so much for
sorrow. Hold! am I not acting as you are? Brave tears! I would not
part with them for ten years of my life. I have only one fear: it is
that I shall hardly be able to keep from throwing myself at my lady's
feet the first time I see her."
"Old fool! you are as unreasonable as your master. Now I have a fear
that this will not last. I am too happy! what is wanting?"
"Nothing, my lord, absolutely nothing."
"It is on this account I am mistrustful of happiness so perfect--so
"Alas! if it was not for--but no, I dare not."
"I understand you: well, believe your fears are vain; the change that
my happiness causes me is so great, so profound, that I am almost sure
of being saved."
"How is that?"
"My physician has told me a hundred times, that often a violent mental
shock sufficed to induce or cure my malady. Why should not emotions of
happiness produce the same effect?"
"If you believe this, my lord, it will be so--it is so--you are cured!
Why this is, indeed, a blessed day! Ah! as you say, her ladyship is a
good angel descended from heaven; and I begin to be almost alarmed
myself; it is, perhaps, too much felicity for one day; but I must
think--if to reassure you it only needs a small sorrow--I have it!"
"One of your friends has received, very fortunately and seasonably, as
it happens, a sword cut--not at all serious, it is true; but no
matter, it is enough to make you a little sorry, that there may be, as
you desire it, a little trouble on this happy day. It is true, that in
regard to that, it had been better if the thrust had been more
dangerous; but we must be contented as it is."
"Will you be quiet? Of whom do you speak?"
"Of his grace the Duke of Lucenay. He is wounded! a scratch on the
arm. He came yesterday to see you, and he said he would come this
morning and ask for a cup of tea."
"Poor Lucenay! why did you not tell me?"
"Last night I was not able to see my lord."
After a moment's thought, D'Harville replied, "You are right; this
light sorrow will doubtless satisfy jealous destiny. But an idea has
just struck me; I have a mind to have this morning a bachelor
breakfast, all friends of M. de Lucenay, to congratulate him on the
happy result of his duel: he will be enchanted."
"Joy forever! Make up lost time. How many covers, so that I can give
"Six, in the little winter breakfast parlor."
"And the invitations?"
"I will go and write them. A man from the stables can take them round
on horseback. It is early; they will all be found at home. Ring."
D'Harville entered his cabinet, and wrote the following notes, without
any other address than the name of the invited:--
"My Dear * * *--This is a circular; an impromptu affair is in
agitation. Lucenay is to come and breakfast with me this morning; he
counts only on a _tete-a-tete_; cause him a very agreeable
surprise by joining me, and a few other of his friends, whom I have
"At noon precisely.
"Let some one mount a horse immediately," said D'Harville, to a
servant who answered the bell, "and deliver these letters." Then,
turning to Joseph, he directed him to address them as follows: "M. le
Vicomte de Saint Remy. Lucenay cannot do without him," said D'Harville
to himself. "M. de Monville--one of his traveling companions. Lord
Douglas--his faithful partner at whist. Baron de Sezannes--the friend
of his youth. Have you written?"
"Yes, my lord."
"Send these letters without losing a moment," said D'Harville.
"Ah, Philippe! ask M. Doublet to come to me." The servant retired.
"Well! what is the matter?" asked D'Harville of Joseph, who looked at
him with amazement.
"I cannot get over it, sir! I never saw you so gay; and, besides, you,
who are commonly so pale, have a fine color--your eyes sparkle."
"Happiness! old Joseph, happiness! Oh! now you must assist me in a
scheme. You must go and find out from Juliette who has charge of her
"Yes, it is Mademoiselle Juliette, my lord, who takes care of them; I
helped her, not a week ago, to clean them."
"You go and ask her the name and address of the jeweler of her
mistress; but she must not say a word on the subject to my lady."
"Ah! I understand! A surprise."
"Go quickly. Here is M. Doublet. My dear M. Doublet, I am going to
frighten you," said he, laughing. "I am going to make you utter cries
"Me! my lord?"
"I will do all in my power to satisfy your lordship."
"I am going to spend a great deal of money, M. Doublet--an enormous
amount of money."
"What of that, my lord? We are able to do it--well able to do it."
"For a long time I've been possessed with the notion of building. I
have it in contemplation to add a gallery on the garden to the right
wing of the hotel. After a long hesitation, I have quite decided. You
must tell my architect to-day so that he can come and talk over the
plans. Well, M. Doublet, you don't groan over this expense?"
"I can assure your lordship that I do not groan."
"This gallery will be destined for _fetes_; I wish it to be
built, as it were, by enchantment; now, enchantments being very dear,
you must sell fifteen or twenty thousand livres of stock, to be ready
to furnish the funds, for I wish the work commenced as soon as
possible." Joseph entered.
"Here is the address of the jeweler, my lord; his name is Baudoin."
"My dear M. Doublet, you will go, I beg you, to this jeweler, and tell
him to bring here, in an hour, a diamond necklace worth about two
thousand louis. Women can never have too many jewels, now that dresses
are trimmed with them. You will arrange with the jeweler for the
"Yes, my lord. It is on account of the surprise that I do not groan
this time. Diamonds are like buildings, the value remains; and,
besides, this surprise to the marchioness! It is as I had the honor to
say the other day--there is not in the world a happier man than your
"Good M. Doublet!" said D'Harville, smiling; "his felicitations are
always so inconceivably _apropos_"
"It is their sole merit, my lord; and they have, perhaps, this merit
because they come from the bottom of the heart. I go to the jeweler,"
said Doublet, retiring.
As soon as he was gone, D'Harville paced the floor, his arms folded,
his eyes fixed and meditative.
Suddenly his countenance changed; it no longer expressed the content
of which the attendant and the old servant had just been the dupe, but
a calm, cold, and mournful resolution. After having walked some time,
he seated himself, as if overcome by the weight of his troubles, with
his face buried in his hands. Then he suddenly arose, wiped away a
tear which moistened his burning eyelid, and said, with an effort,
He wrote letters to several persons about insignificant objects, but
in the letters he appointed or put off different meetings several
days. This correspondence finished, Joseph came in; he was so gay that
he so far forgot himself as to sing in his turn.
"Joseph, you have a very fine voice," said his master smiling.
"So much the worse, my lord, for I never knew it; something sings so
loudly within that it must be heard without."
"You will put these letters in the post-office."
"Yes, my lord; but where will you receive these gentlemen?"
"Here in my cabinet; they will smoke after breakfast, and the odor of
the tobacco will not reach her lady-ship."
At this moment the noise of a carriage was heard in the courtyard.
"It is her ladyship going out; she ordered the horses this morning at
an early hour," said Joseph.
"Run and beg her to come here before she goes out."
"Yes, my lord."
Hardly had the domestic gone, than D'Harville approached a glass, and
examined himself minutely. "Well, well," said he in a gloomy tone;
"that's right--the cheeks flushed, the eye sparkling--joy or fear--no
matter--as long as they are deceived. Let us see now--a smile on the
lips. There are so many kinds of smiles. But who can distinguish the
false from the real? who can penetrate under this lying mask, to say,
this smile conceals a black despair? no one, happily, no one! Stay,
yes, love could never be mistaken; no, its instinct would enlighten
it. But I hear my wife--my wife! Come to your post, inauspicious
"Good-day, Albert," said Madame d'Harville, with a sweet smile, giving
him her hand. "But what is the matter, my friend? You appear so happy
"It is, that at the moment you came in, dear little sister, I was
thinking of you. Besides, I was under the influence of an excellent
"That does not surprise me."
"What took place yesterday--your admirable generity, the noble conduct
of the prince--gave me much to think about, and I am a convert to your
ideas. You would not have excused me last night if I had too easily
renounced your love, I am sure, Clemence."
"What language, what a happy change!" cried Madame d'Harville. "Oh! I
was very sure that in addressing myself to your heart, to your reason,
you would comprehend me. Now I have no longer any doubt for the
"Nor I, Clemence, I assure you. Yes, since the resolution I have taken
last night, the future, which seemed to me dark and gloomy, has become
singularly cleared up--simplified."
"Nothing is more natural, my friend; now we move toward one object,
leaning fraternally on each other: at the end of our career we will
find ourselves as we are to-day. In fine, I desire that you shall be
happy, and this shall be so, for I have placed it there," said
Clemence, putting her finger on his forehead, ere she resumed, with a
charming expression, lowering her hand to his heart: "No, I am
mistaken; it is here that this good thought will incessantly watch for
you, and for me also; and you shall see what is the obstinacy of a
"Dear Clemence," answered D'Harville, with constrained emotion; then,
after a pause, he added gayly, "I begged you to come here before your
departure to inform you that I could not take tea with you this
morning. I have a number of persons to breakfast with me; it is a kind
of impromptu assemblage to congratulate M. de Lucenay on the happy
issue of his duel."
"What a coincidence! M. de Lucenay comes to breakfast with you, while
I go, perhaps very indiscreetly, to invite myself to do the same with
Madame de Lucenay; for I have much to say to her about my unknown
_protegees_. From there I intend to go to the prison of Saint
Lazare, with Madame de Blinval, for you do not know all my ambition;
at this moment I am intriguing to be admitted into the Discharged
Prisoners' Aid Society."
"Truly, you are insatiable," said the marquis; "thus," added he,
restraining with great difficulty his emotion, "thus I shall see you
no more--to-day!" he hastened to add.
"Are you vexed that I go out this morning so early?" asked Madame
d'Harville, quickly, astonished at the tone of his voice. "If you ask
it, I will put off my visit to Madame de Lucenay."
The marquis was on the point of betraying himself; but said, in the
most affectionate manner, "Yes, my dear, I am as much vexed to see you
go out as I shall be impatient to see you return; these are defects I
shall never correct myself of."
"And you will do well, dear; for I should be very angry."
A bell announcing a visit resounded throughout the hotel.
"Here are, doubtless, some of your guests," said Madame d'Harville; "I
leave you--by the way, what are you going to do to-night? If you have
not disposed of your evening, I wish you would accompany me to the
opera; perhaps, now, music will please you more!"
"I place myself under your orders with the greatest pleasure."
"Are you going out soon? Shall I see you again before dinner?"
"I am not going out. You will find me here."
"Then, when I return, I will come and see if your bachelor breakfast
has been amusing."
"By, 'by! I leave you the field clear; I wish you much pleasure. Be
very gay!" And after having cordially pressed the hand of her husband,
Clemence went out by one door a moment before M. de Lucenay entered by
"She wishes me much amusement--she tells me to be gay--she went away
tranquilly--smiling! this does honor to my dissimulation. By Jove! I
did not think myself so good an actor. But here is Lucenay."
The Duke de Lucenay entered the room; his wound had been so slight
that he did not carry his arm in a sling. He was one of those men
whose countenances are always cheerful and contemptuous, movements
always restless, and mania to make a bustle insurmountable. Yet,
notwithstanding his caprices, his pleasantries in very bad taste, and
his enormous nose, he was not a vulgar man, thanks to a kind of
natural dignity and courageous impertinence which never abandoned him.
"How indifferent you must suppose me to be as regards anything
concerning you, my dear Henry!" said D'Harville, extending his hand to
Lucenay; "but it was only this morning I heard of your disagreeable
"Disagreeable! come now, marquis! I got the worth of my money, as they
say. I never laughed so much in my life! M. Robert appeared so
solemnly determined not to pass for having a cold. You don't know what
was the cause of the duel? The other night at the embassy, I asked
him, before your wife and the Countess M'Gregor, how he got on with
his cough; between us, he had not this inconvenience. But never mind.
You understand--to say that before handsome women is annoying."
"What folly! I recognize you there. But who is this M. Robert?"
"I' faith! I don't know anything about him; he is a gentleman whom I
met at the watering-places; he passed before us in the winter-garden
at the embassy; I called him to play off this joke; he answered the
second day after by giving me, very gallantly, a nice little thrust
with his sword. But don't let us talk of this nonsense. I come to beg
a cup of tea." Saying this, Lucenay threw himself at full length on
the sofa; after which, introducing the end of his cane between the
wall and the frame of a picture placed over his head, he commenced
moving it backward and forward.
"I expected you, my dear Henry, and I have arranged a little surprise
"Oh, what is it?" cried Lucenay, pushing the picture into a very
"You'll end by pulling that picture on your head."
"That's true, by Jove! you have the eye of an eagle. But your
surprise, what is it?"
"I have sent for some friends to breakfast with us."
"Ah, good! marquis, bravo! bravissimo! archibravissimo!" screamed
Lucenay, striking heavy blows on the sofa cushions. "And whom shall we
"No; he has been in the country for some days."
"What the devil can he manage to do in the country in winter! Are you
sure he is not in Paris?"
"Very sure; I wrote him to be my second; he was absent; I fell back on
Lord Douglas and Sezannes."
"That is fortunate; they breakfast with us."
"Bravo! bravo!" cried Lucenay, anew. Then he turned and twisted
himself on the sofa, accompanying his loud cries with a series of
somersaults that would have astonished a rope-dancer. The acrobatic
evolutions were interrupted by the arrival of Saint Remy.
"I have no need to ask if Lucenay is here," said the viscount, gayly.
"He can be heard below."
"How! is it you? beautiful sylvan! countryman! wolf's cub!" cried the
duke, much surprised; "I thought you were in the country."
"I came back, yesterday; I received the invitation just now, and here
I am, quite delighted at this surprise," and Saint Remy gave his hand
to Lucenay, and then to the marquis.
"I take this very kind in you, my dear Saint Remy. Is it not natural
that the friends of Lucenay should rejoice at the happy issue of this
duel, which, after all, might have had a very grievous result?"
"But," resumed the duke obstinately, "what have you been doing in the
country in midwinter, Saint Remy? that beats me."
"How curious he is!" said the viscount, addressing D'Harville. "I wish
to wean myself from Paris, since I must so soon quit it."
"Ah! yes, this beautiful whim to attach yourself to the legation of
France at Gerolstein. None of your nonsense and stuff about diplomacy;
you will never go there. My wife says so, and everybody repeats it."
"I assure you that Madame de Lucenay is mistaken, like every one
"She told you before me that it was a folly!"
"I have committed so many in my lifetime!"
"Elegant and charming follies, very well, so as to ruin yourself, as
they say, by your Sardanapalus's magnificence--I admit that; but to go
and bury yourself in such a hole of a court as Gerolstein! Come, now,
this is folly, and you are too sensible to do a stupid thing."
"Take care, my dear Lucenay; in abusing this German court you will
have a quarrel with D'Harville, the intimate friend of the grand duke,
who, besides, received me most kindly the other night at the embassade
of----where I was presented to him."
"Really! my dear Henry," said D'Harville, "if you knew the grand duke
as I know him, you would comprehend that Saint Remy could have no
repugnance to go and pass some time at Gerolstein,"
"I believe you, marquis, although, your grand duke is said to be
proudly original; but that doesn't prevent that a beau like Saint
Remy, the finest flower among blossoms, cannot live, excepting at
Paris; his value is only known at Paris."
The other guests had just arrived, when Joseph entered, and said a few
words in a low tone to his master.
"Gentlemen, will you allow me," said the marquis; "it is the jeweler
who brings me some diamonds to choose for my wife--a surprise. You
know, Lucenay, you and I being husbands of the old schools."
"Oh! if you talk of a surprise," cried the duke, "my wife gave me one
yesterday; a famous one, I tell you."
"Some splendid present?"
"She asked me for a hundred thousand francs."
"And as you are a magnifico, you--"
"Lent them! they will be mortgaged on her Arnonville farm--short
accounts make long friends. But never mind; to lend in two hours one
hundred thousand francs to some one who wants them, is generous and
rare. Is it not, spendthrift? You who are an expert at loans," said
the Duke de Lucenay, laughing, without dreaming of the bearing of his
Notwithstanding his audacity, the viscount at first slightly blushed,
but he said with effrontery, "One hundred thousand francs! enormous.
How can a woman ever have need of such an amount. With men that's
"I don't know what she wanted with the money. It is all the same to
me. Some bills, probably some urgent creditors; that's her look-out.
And, besides, you well know, my dear Saint Remy, that in lending her
my money, it would have been in the worst taste in the world to ask
what she wanted it for."
"It is, however, a very excusable curiosity in those who lend, to wish
to know what the borrower wants to do with the money," said the
"Saint Remy," said D'Harville, "you, who have such excellent taste,
must aid me in choosing the set I intend for my wife; your approbation
will sanction my choice--be it law."
The jeweler entered, carrying several caskets in a large leather bag.
"Ah! here is M. Baudoin!" said Lucenay.
"At your grace's service."
"I am sure that it is you who ruin my wife with your infernal and
dazzling temptations," said Lucenay.
"Her grace has only had her diamonds reset this winter," said the
jeweler, slightly embarrassed. "I have this moment left them with her
grace, on my way here."
Saint Remy knew that Madame de Lucenay, to assist him, had changed her
diamonds for false ones; this conversation was very disagreeable to
him, but he said boldly, "How curious these husbands are! do not
answer, M. Baudoin."
"Curious! goodness, no," answered the duke; "my wife pays; she is
richer than I am."
During this conversation, Baudoin had displayed on a bureau several
admirable necklaces of rubies and diamonds.
"How splendid! how divinely the stones are cut!" said Lord Douglas.
"Alas! my lord," answered the jeweler, "I employed in this work one of
the best artisans in Paris; unfortunately, he has gone mad, and I
shall never find his equal. My broker tells me that it is probably
misery which has turned his brain, poor man."
"Misery! you confide diamonds to a man in poverty!"
"Certainly, my lord, and I have never known an instance of an artisan
concealing or secreting anything confided to him, however poor he
"How much for this necklace?" asked D'Harville.
"Your lordship will remark that the stones are of splendid cutting,
and the purest water, almost all of the same size."
"Here are some wordy precautions most menacing for your purse," said
Saint Remy, laughing; "expect now, D'Harville, some exorbitant price."
"Come, M. Baudoin, your lowest price?" said D'Harville.
"I do not wish to make your lordship haggle, so I say the lowest is
forty-two thousand francs."
"Gentlemen!" cried Lucenay, "let us admire D'Harville in silence. To
arrange a surprise for his wife for forty-two thousand francs! The
devil! don't go and noise that abroad; it will be a detestable
"Laugh as much as you please, gentlemen," said the marquis, gayly. "I
am in love with my wife, I do not conceal it; I boast of it!"
"That is easily seen," said Saint Remy; "such a present speaks more
than all the protestations in the world."
"I take this necklace, then," said D'Harville, "if you approve of the
black enamel setting, Saint Remy."
"It sets off to advantage the brilliancy of the stones; they are
"I decide, then, for this necklace," said D'Harville. "You will have
to settle with M. Doublet, my steward, Baudoin."
"M. Doublet has advised me, my lord," said the jeweler, and he went
out, after having put in his sack, without counting them, the
different sets of jewels which he had brought, and which Saint Remy
had for a long time handled and examined during this conversation.
D'Harville, in giving this necklace to Joseph, who awaited his orders,
whispered to him, "Mlle. Juliette must put these diamonds quietly with
her lady's, without her suspecting it, so that the surprise will be
At this moment the butler announced that breakfast was served; the
guests passed into the breakfast-room and seated themselves at the
"Do you know, my dear D'Harville," said the duke, "that this house is
one of the most elegant and best arranged in Paris?"
"It is commodious enough, but it wants space; my project is to add a
gallery on the garden. Madame d'Harville desires to give some grand
balls, and our three saloons are not large enough; besides, I find
nothing more inconvenient than the encroachments made by a fete on the
apartments which one habitually occupies, and from which, for the
time, you are exiled."
"I am of your opinion," said Saint Remy; "nothing is in worse taste,
more in the 'city' fashion, than these forced removals by authority of
a ball or concert. To give fetes really splendid, without any
inconvenience to one's self, a particular suite of apartments must be
arranged exclusively for them; and, besides, vast and splendid
saloons, destined for grand balls, ought to have a different character
from rooms in ordinary occupation: there is between the two species of
apartments the same difference as between a splendid fresco and a
"He is right," said D'Harville; "what a pity that Saint Remy has not
twelve or fifteen hundred thousand livres a year! what wonders we
"Since we have the happiness to enjoy a representative government,"
said the Duke de Lucenay, "ought not the country to vote a million a
year to Saint Remy, and charge him to represent at Paris French taste
and fashion, which would thus decide the fashion of Europe and the
"Adopted!" was cried in chorus.
"And this million should be annually raised in form of a tax on those
abominable misers who, possessors of enormous fortunes, shall be
arraigned, tried, and convicted of living like skinflints," added
"And as such," said D'Harville, "condemned to defray the magnificences
which they ought to display."
"While waiting for the decision which will legalize the supremacy
which Saint Remy now exercises in fact," said D'Harville, "I ask his
advice for the gallery I am about to construct."
"My feeble lights are at your disposal, D'Harville."
"And when shall this inauguration take place, my dear fellow?"
"Next year, I suppose, for I am going to commence immediately."
"What a man of projects you are!"
"I have many others. I contemplate a complete change at Val Richer."
"Your estate in Burgundy?"
"Yes; there are some admirable plans to execute there, if my life is
"Poor old man! But have you not lately bought a farm near Val Richer
to add to your estate?"
"Yes, a very good affair that my notary advised."
"Who is this rare and precious notary who advises such good things?"
"M. Jacques Ferrand."
At this name a slight shade passed over the viscount's brow.
"Is he really as honest a man as he is reputed to be?" asked he,
carelessly, of D'Harville, who then remembered what Rudolph had
related to Clemence concerning the notary.
"Jacques Ferrand? what a question; why, he is a man of antique
probity!" said Lucenay. "As respected as respectable. Very pious--that
hurts no one. Excessively avaricious--which is a guarantee for his
"He is, in fine, one of our notaries of the old school, who ask you
for whom you take them when you speak of a receipt for money confided
"For no other cause than that I would confide my whole fortune to
"But where the devil, Saint Remy, did you get your doubts concerning
this worthy man, of proverbial integrity?"
"I am only the echo of vague rumors, otherwise I have no reason to
defame this phenix of notaries. But to return to your projects,
D'Harville; what are you going to build at Val Richer? The chateau is
said to be superb."
"You shall be consulted, my dear Saint Remy, and sooner, perhaps, than
you think, for I delight in these works; it seems to me there is
nothing more pleasant than to have your plans spread out for years to
come. To day this project--in a year this one--still later some other:
add to this a charming wife whom one adores, is the motive of all your
plans, and life passes gently enough."
"I believe you; it is a real paradise on earth."
"Now," said D'Harville, when breakfast was over, "if you will smoke a
cigar in my cabinet, you will find some excellent ones there."
They arose from the table and returned to the cabinet of the marquis:
the door of his sleeping apartment, which communicated with it, was
open. The sole ornament of this room was a panoply of arms. Lucenay,
having lighted a cigar, followed the marquis into his chamber.
"Here are some splendid guns, truly; faith, I do not know which to
prefer, the French or the English."
"Douglas," cried Lucenay, "come and see if these guns will not compare
with the best Mantons."
Lord Douglas, Saint Remy, and the two other guests entered the chamber
of the marquis to examine the arms.
D'Harville took a pistol, cocked it, and said, laughing, "Here,
gentlemen, is the universal panacea for all woes, the spleen, or
ennui." He placed the muzzle laughingly to his mouth.
"I prefer another specific," said Saint Remy; "this is only good in
"Yes, but it is so prompt," said D'Harville. "Click! and it is done;
the will is not more rapid. Really! it is marvelous."
"Take care, D'Harville, such jokes are always dangerous, and accidents
might happen," said Lucenay, seeing the marquis again place the pistol
to his lips.
"Do you think that if it was loaded I would play these tricks?"
"Doubtless, no, but it is always wrong."
"Look here, sirs, this is the way they do it; the barrel is introduced
delicately between the teeth, and then--"
"How foolish you are, D'Harville, when you once get a-going," said
Lucenay, shrugging his shoulders.
"The finger is placed on the trigger," added D'Harville.
"Is he not a child--childish at his age?"
"A little movement on the lock," continued the marquis, "and one goes
straight to the land of spirits."
With these words the pistol went off.
D'Harville had blown his brains out!
We will renounce the task; we cannot describe the affright, the
amazement, of the guests. The next day was seen in a newspaper:
"Yesterday an event, as unforeseen as deplorable, agitated the whole
Faubourg St. Germain. One of those imprudent acts, which lead every
year to such fatal accidents, has caused a most lamentable affair.
Here are the facts which we have gathered, the authenticity of which
we can guarantee.
"The Marquis D'Harville, possessor of an immense fortune, hardly
twenty-six years of age, noted for the elevation of his character and
the goodness of his heart, married to a lady whom he adored, had
invited a few friends to breakfast. On leaving the table, they passed
into the sleeping apartment of M. d'Harville, where were displayed
several valuable arms. In showing some of his guests, M. d'Harville,
in jest, placed a pistol, which he did not know was loaded, to his
lips. In his security, he drew the trigger; it went off, and the
unhappy young nobleman fell dead, with his skull fractured. The
frightful consternation of the surrounding friends may easily be
imagined, to whom, but a moment before, in the bloom of youth, he had