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  • 1843
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Lucien was forced to choose between d’Arthez and Coralie. His mistress would be ruined unless he dealt his friend a death-blow in the _Reveil_ and the great newspaper. Poor poet! He went home with death in his soul; and by the fireside he sat and read that finest production of modern literature. Tears fell fast over it as the pages turned. For a long while he hesitated, but at last he took up the pen and wrote a sarcastic article of the kind that he understood so well, taking the book as children might take some bright bird to strip it of its plumage and torture it. His sardonic jests were sure to tell. Again he turned to the book, and as he read it over a second time, his better self awoke. In the dead of night he hurried across Paris, and stood outside d’Arthez’s house. He looked up at the windows and saw the faint pure gleam of light in the panes, as he had so often seen it, with a feeling of admiration for the noble steadfastness of that truly great nature. For some moments he stood irresolute on the curbstone; he had not courage to go further; but his good angel urged him on. He tapped at the door and opened, and found d’Arthez sitting reading in a fireless room.

“What has happened?” asked d’Arthez, for news of some dreadful kind was visible in Lucien’s ghastly face.

“Your book is sublime, d’Arthez,” said Lucien, with tears in his eyes, “and they have ordered me to write an attack upon it.”

“Poor boy! the bread that they give you is hard indeed!” said d’Arthez

“I only ask for one favor, keep my visit a secret and leave me to my hell, to the occupations of the damned. Perhaps it is impossible to attain to success until the heart is seared and callous in every most sensitive spot.”

“The same as ever!” cried d’Arthez.

“Do you think me a base poltroon? No, d’Arthez; no, I am a boy half crazed with love,” and he told his story.

“Let us look at the article,” said d’Arthez, touched by all that Lucien said of Coralie.

Lucien held out the manuscript; d’Arthez read, and could not help smiling.

“Oh, what a fatal waste of intellect!” he began. But at the sight of Lucien overcome with grief in the opposite armchair, he checked himself.

“Will you leave it with me to correct? I will let you have it again to-morrow,” he went on. “Flippancy depreciates a work; serious and conscientious criticism is sometimes praise in itself. I know a way to make your article more honorable both for yourself and for me. Besides, I know my faults well enough.”

“When you climb a hot, shadowless hillside, you sometimes find fruit to quench your torturing thirst; and I have found it here and now,” said Lucien, as he sprang sobbing to d’Arthez’s arms and kissed his friend on the forehead. “It seems to me that I am leaving my conscience in your keeping; some day I will come to you and ask for it again.”

“I look upon a periodical repentance as great hypocrisy,” d’Arthez said solemnly; “repentance becomes a sort of indemnity for wrongdoing. Repentance is virginity of the soul, which we must keep for God; a man who repents twice is a horrible sycophant. I am afraid that you regard repentance as absolution.”

Lucien went slowly back to the Rue de la Lune, stricken dumb by those words.

Next morning d’Arthez sent back his article, recast throughout, and Lucien sent it in to the review; but from that day melancholy preyed upon him, and he could not always disguise his mood. That evening, when the theatre was full, he experienced for the first time the paroxysm of nervous terror caused by a _debut_; terror aggravated in his case by all the strength of his love. Vanity of every kind was involved. He looked over the rows of faces as a criminal eyes the judges and the jury on whom his life depends. A murmur would have set him quivering; any slight incident upon the stage, Coralie’s exits and entrances, the slightest modulation of the tones of her voice, would perturb him beyond all reason.

The play in which Coralie made her first appearance at the Gymnase was a piece of the kind which sometimes falls flat at first, and afterwards has immense success. It fell flat that night. Coralie was not applauded when she came on, and the chilly reception reacted upon her. The only applause came from Camusot’s box, and various persons posted in the balcony and galleries silenced Camusot with repeated cries of “Hush!” The galleries even silenced the _claqueurs_ when they led off with exaggerated salvos. Martainville applauded bravely; Nathan, Merlin, and the treacherous Florine followed his example; but it was clear that the piece was a failure. A crowd gathered in Coralie’s dressing-room and consoled her, till she had no courage left. She went home in despair, less for her own sake than for Lucien’s.

“Braulard has betrayed us,” Lucien said.

Coralie was heartstricken. The next day found her in a high fever, utterly unfit to play, face to face with the thought that she had been cut short in her career. Lucien hid the papers from her, and looked them over in the dining-room. The reviewers one and all attributed the failure of the piece to Coralie; she had overestimated her strength; she might be the delight of a boulevard audience, but she was out of her element at the Gymnase; she had been inspired by a laudable ambition, but she had not taken her powers into account; she had chosen a part to which she was quite unequal. Lucien read on through a pile of penny-a-lining, put together on the same system as his attack upon Nathan. Milo of Crotona, when he found his hands fast in the oak which he himself had cleft, was not more furious than Lucien. He grew haggard with rage. His friends gave Coralie the most treacherous advice, in the language of kindly counsel and friendly interest. She should play (according to these authorities) all kind of roles, which the treacherous writers of these unblushing _feuilletons_ knew to be utterly unsuited to her genius. And these were the Royalist papers, led off by Nathan. As for the Liberal press, all the weapons which Lucien had used were now turned against him.

Coralie heard a sob, followed by another and another. She sprang out of bed to find Lucien, and saw the papers. Nothing would satisfy her but she must read them all; and when she had read them, she went back to bed, and lay there in silence.

Florine was in the plot; she had foreseen the outcome; she had studied Coralie’s part, and was ready to take her place. The management, unwilling to give up the piece, was ready to take Florine in Coralie’s stead. When the manager came, he found poor Coralie sobbing and exhausted on her bed; but when he began to say, in Lucien’s presence, that Florine knew the part, and that the play must be given that evening, Coralie sprang up at once.

“I will play!” she cried, and sank fainting on the floor.

So Florine took the part, and made her reputation in it; for the piece succeeded, the newspapers all sang her praises, and from that time forth Florine was the great actress whom we all know. Florine’s success exasperated Lucien to the highest degree.

“A wretched girl, whom you helped to earn her bread! If the Gymnase prefers to do so, let the management pay you to cancel your engagement. I shall be the Comte de Rubempre; I will make my fortune, and you shall be my wife.”

“What nonsense!” said Coralie, looking at him with wan eyes.

“Nonsense!” repeated he. “Very well, wait a few days, and you shall live in a fine house, you shall have a carriage, and I will write a part for you!”

He took two thousand francs and hurried to Frascati’s. For seven hours the unhappy victim of the Furies watched his varying luck, and outwardly seemed cool and self-contained. He experienced both extremes of fortune during that day and part of the night that followed; at one time he possessed as much as thirty thousand francs, and he came out at last without a sou. In the Rue de la Lune he found Finot waiting for him with a request for one of his short articles. Lucien so far forgot himself, that he complained.

“Oh, it is not all rosy,” returned Finot. “You made your right-about-face in such a way that you were bound to lose the support of the Liberal press, and the Liberals are far stronger in print than all the Ministerialist and Royalist papers put together. A man should never leave one camp for another until he has made a comfortable berth for himself, by way of consolation for the losses that he must expect; and in any case, a prudent politician will see his friends first, and give them his reasons for going over, and take their opinions. You can still act together; they sympathize with you, and you agree to give mutual help. Nathan and Merlin did that before they went over. Hawks don’t pike out hawks’ eyes. You were as innocent as a lamb; you will be forced to show your teeth to your new party to make anything out of them. You have been necessarily sacrificed to Nathan. I cannot conceal from you that your article on d’Arthez has roused a terrific hubbub. Marat is a saint compared with you. You will be attacked, and your book will be a failure. How far have things gone with your romance?”

“These are the last proof sheets.”

“All the anonymous articles against that young d’Arthez in the Ministerialist and Ultra papers are set down to you. The _Reveil_ is poking fun at the set in the Rue des Quatre-Vents, and the hits are the more telling because they are funny. There is a whole serious political coterie at the back of Leon Giraud’s paper; they will come into power too, sooner or later.”

“I have not written a line in the _Reveil_ this week past.”

“Very well. Keep my short articles in mind. Write fifty of them straight off, and I will pay you for them in a lump; but they must be of the same color as the paper.” And Finot, with seeming carelessness, gave Lucien an edifying anecdote of the Keeper of the Seals, a piece of current gossip, he said, for the subject of one of the papers.

Eager to retrieve his losses at play, Lucien shook off his dejection, summoned up his energy and youthful force, and wrote thirty articles of two columns each. These finished, he went to Dauriat’s, partly because he felt sure of meeting Finot there, and he wished to give the articles to Finot in person; partly because he wished for an explanation of the non-appearance of the _Marguerites_. He found the bookseller’s shop full of his enemies. All the talk immediately ceased as he entered. Put under the ban of journalism, his courage rose, and once more he said to himself, as he had said in the alley at the Luxembourg, “I will triumph.”

Dauriat was neither amiable or inclined to patronize; he was sarcastic in tone, and determined not to bate an inch of his rights. The _Marguerites_ should appear when it suited his purpose; he should wait until Lucien was in a position to secure the success of the book; it was his, he had bought it outright. When Lucien asserted that Dauriat was bound to publish the _Marguerites_ by the very nature of the contract, and the relative positions of the parties to the agreement, Dauriat flatly contradicted him, said that no publisher could be compelled by law to publish at a loss, and that he himself was the best judge of the expediency of producing the book. There was, besides, a remedy open to Lucien, as any court of law would admit–the poet was quite welcome to take his verses to a Royalist publisher upon the repayment of the thousand crowns.

Lucien went away. Dauriat’s moderate tone had exasperated him even more than his previous arrogance at their first interview. So the _Marguerites_ would not appear until Lucien had found a host of formidable supporters, or grown formidable himself! He walked home slowly, so oppressed and out of heart that he felt ready for suicide. Coralie lay in bed, looking white and ill.

“She must have a part, or she will die,” said Berenice, as Lucien dressed for a great evening party at Mlle. des Touches’ house in the Rue du Mont Blanc. Des Lupeaulx and Vignon and Blondet were to be there, as well as Mme. d’Espard and Mme. de Bargeton.

The party was given in honor of Conti, the great composer, owner likewise of one of the most famous voices off the stage, Cinti, Pasta, Garcia, Levasseur, and two or three celebrated amateurs in society not excepted. Lucien saw the Marquise, her cousin, and Mme. de Montcornet sitting together, and made one of the party. The unhappy young fellow to all appearances was light-hearted, happy, and content; he jested, he was the Lucien de Rubempre of his days of splendor, he would not seem to need help from any one. He dwelt on his services to the Royalist party, and cited the hue and cry raised after him by the Liberal press as a proof of his zeal.

“And you will be well rewarded, my friend,” said Mme. de Bargeton, with a gracious smile. “Go to the _Chancellerie_ the day after to-morrow with ‘the Heron’ and des Lupeaulx, and you will find your patent signed by His Majesty. The Keeper of the Seals will take it to-morrow to the Tuileries, but there is to be a meeting of the Council, and he will not come back till late. Still, if I hear the result to-morrow evening, I will let you know. Where are you living?”

“I will come to you,” said Lucien, ashamed to confess that he was living in the Rue de la Lune.

“The Duc de Lenoncourt and the Duc de Navarreins have made mention of you to the King,” added the Marquise; “they praised your absolute and entire devotion, and said that some distinction ought to avenge your treatment in the Liberal press. The name and title of Rubempre, to which you have a claim through your mother, would become illustrious through you, they said. The King gave his lordship instructions that evening to prepare a patent authorizing the Sieur Lucien Chardon to bear the arms and title of the Comtes de Rubempre, as grandson of the last Count by the mother’s side. ‘Let us favor the songsters’ (_chardonnerets_) ‘of Pindus,’ said his Majesty, after reading your sonnet on the Lily, which my cousin luckily remembered to give the Duke.–‘Especially when the King can work miracles, and change the song-bird into an eagle,’ M. de Navarreins replied.”

Lucien’s expansion of feeling would have softened the heart of any woman less deeply wounded than Louise d’Espard de Negrepelisse; but her thirst for vengeance was only increased by Lucien’s graciousness. Des Lupeaulx was right; Lucien was wanting in tact. It never crossed his mind that this history of the patent was one of the mystifications at which Mme. d’Espard was an adept. Emboldened with success and the flattering distinction shown to him by Mlle. des Touches, he stayed till two o’clock in the morning for a word in private with his hostess. Lucien had learned in Royalist newspaper offices that Mlle. des Touches was the author of a play in which _La petite Fay_, the marvel of the moment was about to appear. As the rooms emptied, he drew Mlle. des Touches to a sofa in the boudoir, and told the story of Coralie’s misfortune and his own so touchingly, that Mlle. des Touches promised to give the heroine’s part to his friend.

That promise put new life into Coralie. But the next day, as they breakfasted together, Lucien opened Lousteau’s newspaper, and found that unlucky anecdote of the Keeper of the Seals and his wife. The story was full of the blackest malice lurking in the most caustic wit. Louis XVIII. was brought into the story in a masterly fashion, and held up to ridicule in such a way that prosecution was impossible. Here is the substance of a fiction for which the Liberal party attempted to win credence, though they only succeeded in adding one more to the tale of their ingenious calumnies.

The King’s passion for pink-scented notes and a correspondence full of madrigals and sparkling wit was declared to be the last phase of the tender passion; love had reached the Doctrinaire stage; or had passed, in other words, from the concrete to the abstract. The illustrious lady, so cruelly ridiculed under the name of Octavie by Beranger, had conceived (so it was said) the gravest fears. The correspondence was languishing. The more Octavie displayed her wit, the cooler grew the royal lover. At last Octavie discovered the cause of her decline; her power was threatened by the novelty and piquancy of a correspondence between the august scribe and the wife of his Keeper of the Seals. That excellent woman was believed to be incapable of writing a note; she was simply and solely godmother to the efforts of audacious ambition. Who could be hidden behind her petticoats? Octavie decided, after making observations of her own, that the King was corresponding with his Minister.

She laid her plans. With the help of a faithful friend, she arranged that a stormy debate should detain the Minister at the Chamber; then she contrived to secure a _tete-a-tete_, and to convince outraged Majesty of the fraud. Louis XVIII. flew into a royal and truly Bourbon passion, but the tempest broke on Octavie’s head. He would not believe her. Octavie offered immediate proof, begging the King to write a note which must be answered at once. The unlucky wife of the Keeper of the Seals sent to the Chamber for her husband; but precautions had been taken, and at that moment the Minister was on his legs addressing the Chamber. The lady racked her brains and replied to the note with such intellect as she could improvise.

“Your Chancellor will supply the rest,” cried Octavie, laughing at the King’s chagrin.

There was not a word of truth in the story; but it struck home to three persons–the Keeper of the Seals, his wife, and the King. It was said that des Lupeaulx had invented the tale, but Finot always kept his counsel. The article was caustic and clever, the Liberal papers and the Orleanists were delighted with it, and Lucien himself laughed, and thought of it merely as a very amusing _canard_.

He called next day for des Lupeaulx and the Baron du Chatelet. The Baron had just been to thank his lordship. The Sieur Chatelet, newly appointed Councillor Extraordinary, was now Comte du Chatelet, with a promise of the prefecture of the Charente so soon as the present prefect should have completed the term of office necessary to receive the maximum retiring pension. The Comte _du_ Chatelet (for the _du_ had been inserted in the patent) drove with Lucien to the _Chancellerie_, and treated his companion as an equal. But for Lucien’s articles, he said, his patent would not have been granted so soon; Liberal persecution had been a stepping-stone to advancement. Des Lupeaulx was waiting for them in the Secretary-General’s office. That functionary started with surprise when Lucien appeared and looked at des Lupeaulx.

“What!” he exclaimed, to Lucien’s utter bewilderment. “Do you dare to come here, sir? Your patent was made out, but his lordship has torn it up. Here it is!” (the Secretary-General caught up the first torn sheet that came to hand). “The Minister wished to discover the author of yesterday’s atrocious article, and here is the manuscript,” added the speaker, holding out the sheets of Lucien’s article. “You call yourself a Royalist, sir, and you are on the staff of that detestable paper which turns the Minister’s hair gray, harasses the Centre, and is dragging the country headlong to ruin? You breakfast on the _Corsair_, the _Miroir_, the _Constitutionnel_, and the _Courier_; you dine on the _Quotidienne_ and the _Reveil_, and then sup with Martainville, the worst enemy of the Government! Martainville urges the Government on to Absolutist measures; he is more likely to bring on another Revolution than if he had gone over to the extreme Left. You are a very clever journalist, but you will never make a politician. The Minister denounced you to the King, and the King was so angry that he scolded M. le Duc de Navarreins, his First Gentleman of the Bedchamber. Your enemies will be all the more formidable because they have hitherto been your friends. Conduct that one expects from an enemy is atrocious in a friend.”

“Why, really, my dear fellow, are you a child?” said des Lupeaulx. “You have compromised me. Mme. d’Espard, Mme. de Bargeton, and Mme. de Montcornet, who were responsible for you, must be furious. The Duke is sure to have handed on his annoyance to the Marquise, and the Marquise will have scolded her cousin. Keep away from them and wait.”

“Here comes his lordship–go!” said the Secretary-General.

Lucien went out into the Place Vendome; he was stunned by this bludgeon blow. He walked home along the Boulevards trying to think over his position. He saw himself a plaything in the hands of envy, treachery, and greed. What was he in this world of contending ambitions? A child sacrificing everything to the pursuit of pleasure and the gratification of vanity; a poet whose thoughts never went beyond the moment, a moth flitting from one bright gleaming object to another. He had no definite aim; he was the slave of circumstance –meaning well, doing ill. Conscience tortured him remorselessly. And to crown it all, he was penniless and exhausted with work and emotion. His articles could not compare with Merlin’s or Nathan’s work.

He walked at random, absorbed in these thoughts. As he passed some of the reading-rooms which were already lending books as well as newspapers, a placard caught his eyes. It was an advertisement of a book with a grotesque title, but beneath the announcement he saw his name in brilliant letters–“By Lucien Chardon de Rubempre.” So his book had come out, and he had heard nothing of it! All the newspapers were silent. He stood motionless before the placard, his arms hanging at his sides. He did not notice a little knot of acquaintances –Rastignac and de Marsay and some other fashionable young men; nor did he see that Michel Chrestien and Leon Giraud were coming towards him.

“Are you M. Chardon?” It was Michel who spoke, and there was that in the sound of his voice that set Lucien’s heartstrings vibrating.

“Do you not know me?” he asked, turning very pale.

Michel spat in his face.

“Take that as your wages for your article against d’Arthez. If everybody would do as I do on his own or his friend’s behalf, the press would be as it ought to be–a self-respecting and respected priesthood.”

Lucien staggered back and caught hold of Rastignac.

“Gentlemen,” he said, addressing Rastignac and de Marsay, “you will not refuse to act as my seconds. But first, I wish to make matters even and apology impossible.”

He struck Michel a sudden, unexpected blow in the face. The rest rushed in between the Republican and Royalist, to prevent a street brawl. Rastignac dragged Lucien off to the Rue Taitbout, only a few steps away from the Boulevard de Gand, where this scene took place. It was the hour of dinner, or a crowd would have assembled at once. De Marsay came to find Lucien, and the pair insisted that he should dine with them at the Cafe Anglais, where they drank and made merry.

“Are you a good swordsman?” inquired de Marsay.

“I have never had a foil in my hands.”

“A good shot?”

“Never fired a pistol in my life.”

“Then you have luck on your side. You are a formidable antagonist to stand up to; you may kill your man,” said de Marsay.

Fortunately, Lucien found Coralie in bed and asleep.

She had played without rehearsal in a one-act play, and taken her revenge. She had met with genuine applause. Her enemies had not been prepared for this step on her part, and her success had determined the manager to give her the heroine’s part in Camille Maupin’s play. He had discovered the cause of her apparent failure, and was indignant with Florine and Nathan. Coralie should have the protection of the management.

At five o’clock that morning, Rastignac came for Lucien.

“The name of your street my dear fellow, is particularly appropriate for your lodgings; you are up in the sky,” he said, by way of greeting. “Let us be first upon the ground on the road to Clignancourt; it is good form, and we ought to set them an example.”

“Here is the programme,” said de Marsay, as the cab rattled through the Faubourg Saint-Denis: “You stand up at twenty-five paces, coming nearer, till you are only fifteen apart. You have, each of you, five paces to take and three shots to fire–no more. Whatever happens, that must be the end of it. We load for your antagonist, and his seconds load for you. The weapons were chosen by the four seconds at a gunmaker’s. We helped you to a chance, I will promise you; horse pistols are to be the weapons.”

For Lucien, life had become a bad dream. He did not care whether he lived or died. The courage of suicide helped him in some sort to carry things off with a dash of bravado before the spectators. He stood in his place; he would not take a step, a piece of recklessness which the others took for deliberate calculation. They thought the poet an uncommonly cool hand. Michel Chrestien came as far as his limit; both fired twice and at the same time, for either party was considered to be equally insulted. Michel’s first bullet grazed Lucien’s chin; Lucien’s passed ten feet above Chrestien’s head. The second shot hit Lucien’s coat collar, but the buckram lining fortunately saved its wearer. The third bullet struck him in the chest, and he dropped.

“Is he dead?” asked Michel Chrestien.

“No,” said the surgeon, “he will pull through.”

“So much the worse,” answered Michel.

“Yes; so much the worse,” said Lucien, as his tears fell fast.

By noon the unhappy boy lay in bed in his own room. With untold pains they had managed to remove him, but it had taken five hours to bring him to the Rue de la Lune. His condition was not dangerous, but precautions were necessary lest fever should set in and bring about troublesome complications. Coralie choked down her grief and anguish. She sat up with him at night through the anxious weeks of his illness, studying her parts by his bedside. Lucien was in danger for two long months; and often at the theatre Coralie acted her frivolous role with one thought in her heart, “Perhaps he is dying at this moment.”

Lucien owed his life to the skill and devotion of a friend whom he had grievously hurt. Bianchon had come to tend him after hearing the story of the attack from d’Arthez, who told it in confidence, and excused the unhappy poet. Bianchon suspected that d’Arthez was generously trying to screen the renegade; but on questioning Lucien during a lucid interval in the dangerous nervous fever, he learned that his patient was only responsible for the one serious article in Hector Merlin’s paper.

Before the first month was out, the firm of Fendant and Cavalier filed their schedule. Bianchon told Coralie that Lucien must on no account hear the news. The famous _Archer of Charles IX._, brought out with an absurd title, had been a complete failure. Fendant, being anxious to realize a little ready money before going into bankruptcy, had sold the whole edition (without Cavalier’s knowledge) to dealers in printed paper. These, in their turn, had disposed of it at a cheap rate to hawkers, and Lucien’s book at that moment was adorning the bookstalls along the Quays. The booksellers on the Quai des Augustins, who had previously taken a quantity of copies, now discovered that after this sudden reduction of the price they were like to lose heavily on their purchases; the four duodecimo volumes, for which they had paid four francs fifty centimes, were being given away for fifty sous. Great was the outcry in the trade; but the newspapers preserved a profound silence. Barbet had not foreseen this “clearance;” he had a belief in Lucien’s abilities; for once he had broken his rule and taken two hundred copies. The prospect of a loss drove him frantic; the things he said of Lucien were fearful to hear. Then Barbet took a heroic resolution. He stocked his copies in a corner of his shop, with the obstinacy of greed, and left his competitors to sell their wares at a loss. Two years afterwards, when d’Arthez’s fine preface, the merits of the book, and one or two articles by Leon Giraud had raised the value of the book, Barbet sold his copies, one by one, at ten francs each.

Lucien knew nothing of all this, but Berenice and Coralie could not refuse to allow Hector Merlin to see his dying comrade, and Hector Merlin made him drink, drop by drop, the whole of the bitter draught brewed by the failure of Fendant and Cavalier, made bankrupts by his first ill-fated book. Martainville, the one friend who stood by Lucien through thick and thin, had written a magnificent article on his work; but so great was the general exasperation against the editor of _L’Aristarque_, _L’Oriflamme_, and _Le Drapeau Blanc_, that his championship only injured Lucien. In vain did the athlete return the Liberal insults tenfold, not a newspaper took up the challenge in spite of all his attacks.

Coralie, Berenice, and Bianchon might shut the door on Lucien’s so-called friends, who raised a great outcry, but it was impossible to keep out creditors and writs. After the failure of Fendant and Cavalier, their bills were taken into bankruptcy according to that provision of the Code of Commerce most inimical to the claims of third parties, who in this way lose the benefit of delay.

Lucien discovered that Camusot was proceeding against him with great energy. When Coralie heard the name, and for the first time learned the dreadful and humiliating step which her poet had taken for her sake, the angelic creature loved him ten times more than before, and would not approach Camusot. The bailiff bringing the warrant of arrest shrank back from the idea of dragging his prisoner out of bed, and went back to Camusot before applying to the President of the Tribunal of Commerce for an order to remove the debtor to a private hospital. Camusot hurried at once to the Rue de la Lune, and Coralie went down to him.

When she came up again she held the warrants, in which Lucien was described as a tradesman, in her hand. How had she obtained those papers from Camusot? What promise had she given? Coralie kept a sad, gloomy silence, but when she returned she looked as if all the life had gone out of her. She played in Camille Maupin’s play, and contributed not a little to the success of that illustrious literary hermaphrodite; but the creation of this character was the last flicker of a bright, dying lamp. On the twentieth night, when Lucien had so far recovered that he had regained his appetite and could walk abroad, and talked of getting to work again, Coralie broke down; a secret trouble was weighing upon her. Berenice always believed that she had promised to go back to Camusot to save Lucien.

Another mortification followed. Coralie was obliged to see her part given to Florine. Nathan had threatened the Gymnase with war if the management refused to give the vacant place to Coralie’s rival. Coralie had persisted till she could play no longer, knowing that Florine was waiting to step into her place. She had overtasked her strength. The Gymnase had advanced sums during Lucien’s illness, she had no money to draw; Lucien, eager to work though he was, was not yet strong enough to write, and he helped besides to nurse Coralie and to relieve Berenice. From poverty they had come to utter distress; but in Bianchon they found a skilful and devoted doctor, who obtained credit for them of the druggist. The landlord of the house and the tradespeople knew by this time how matters stood. The furniture was attached. The tailor and dressmaker no longer stood in awe of the journalist, and proceeded to extremes; and at last no one, with the exception of the pork-butcher and the druggist, gave the two unlucky children credit. For a week or more all three of them–Lucien, Berenice, and the invalid–were obliged to live on the various ingenious preparations sold by the pork-butcher; the inflammatory diet was little suited to the sick girl, and Coralie grew worse. Sheer want compelled Lucien to ask Lousteau for a return of the loan of a thousand francs lost at play by the friend who had deserted him in his hour of need. Perhaps, amid all his troubles, this step cost him most cruel suffering.

Lousteau was not to be found in the Rue de la Harpe. Hunted down like a hare, he was lodging now with this friend, now with that. Lucien found him at last at Flicoteaux’s; he was sitting at the very table at which Lucien had found him that evening when, for his misfortune, he forsook d’Arthez for journalism. Lousteau offered him dinner, and Lucien accepted the offer.

As they came out of Flicoteaux’s with Claude Vignon (who happened to be dining there that day) and the great man in obscurity, who kept his wardrobe at Samanon’s, the four among them could not produce enough specie to pay for a cup of coffee at the Cafe Voltaire. They lounged about the Luxembourg in the hope of meeting with a publisher; and, as it fell out, they met with one of the most famous printers of the day. Lousteau borrowed forty francs of him, and divided the money into four equal parts.

Misery had brought down Lucien’s pride and extinguished sentiment; he shed tears as he told the story of his troubles, but each one of his comrades had a tale as cruel as his own; and when the three versions had been given, it seemed to the poet that he was the least unfortunate among the four. All of them craved a respite from remembrance and thoughts which made trouble doubly hard to bear.

Lousteau hurried to the Palais Royal to gamble with his remaining nine francs. The great man unknown to fame, though he had a divine mistress, must needs hie him to a low haunt of vice to wallow in perilous pleasure. Vignon betook himself to the _Rocher de Cancale_ to drown memory and thought in a couple of bottles of Bordeaux; Lucien parted company with him on the threshold, declining to share that supper. When he shook hands with the one journalist who had not been hostile to him, it was with a cruel pang in his heart.

“What shall I do?” he asked aloud.

“One must do as one can,” the great critic said. “Your book is good, but it excited jealousy, and your struggle will be hard and long. Genius is a cruel disease. Every writer carries a canker in his heart, a devouring monster, like the tapeworm in the stomach, which destroys all feeling as it arises in him. Which is the stronger? The man or the disease? One has need be a great man, truly, to keep the balance between genius and character. The talent grows, the heart withers. Unless a man is a giant, unless he has the thews of a Hercules, he must be content either to lose his gift or to live without a heart. You are slender and fragile, you will give way,” he added, as he turned into the restaurant.

Lucien returned home, thinking over that terrible verdict. He beheld the life of literature by the light of the profound truths uttered by Vignon.

“Money! money!” a voice cried in his ears.

Then he drew three bills of a thousand francs each, due respectively in one, two, and three months, imitating the handwriting of his brother-in-law, David Sechard, with admirable skill. He endorsed the bills, and took them next morning to Metivier, the paper-dealer in the Rue Serpente, who made no difficulty about taking them. Lucien wrote a few lines to give his brother-in-law notice of this assault upon his cash-box, promising, as usual in such cases, to be ready to meet the bills as they fell due.

When all debts, his own and Coralie’s, were paid, he put the three hundred francs which remained into Berenice’s hands, bidding her to refuse him money if he asked her for it. He was afraid of a return of the gambler’s frenzy. Lucien worked away gloomily in a sort of cold, speechless fury, putting forth all his powers into witty articles, written by the light of the lamp at Coralie’s bedside. Whenever he looked up in search of ideas, his eyes fell on that beloved face, white as porcelain, fair with the beauty that belongs to the dying, and he saw a smile on her pale lips, and her eyes, grown bright with a more consuming pain than physical suffering, always turned on his face.

Lucien sent in his work, but he could not leave the house to worry editors, and his articles did not appear. When he at last made up his mind to go to the office, he met with a cool reception from Theodore Gaillard, who had advanced him money, and turned his literary diamonds to good account afterwards.

“Take care, my dear fellow, you are falling off,” he said. “You must not let yourself down, your work wants inspiration!”

“That little Lucien has written himself out with his romance and his first articles,” cried Felicien Vernou, Merlin, and the whole chorus of his enemies, whenever his name came up at Dauriat’s or the Vaudeville. “The work he is sending us is pitiable.”

“To have written oneself out” (in the slang of journalism), is a verdict very hard to live down. It passed everywhere from mouth to mouth, ruining Lucien, all unsuspicious as he was. And, indeed, his burdens were too heavy for his strength. In the midst of a heavy strain of work, he was sued for the bills which he had drawn in David Sechard’s name. He had recourse to Camusot’s experience, and Coralie’s sometime adorer was generous enough to assist the man she loved. The intolerable situation lasted for two whole months; the days being diversified by stamped papers handed over to Desroches, a friend of Bixiou, Blondet, and des Lupeaulx.

Early in August, Bianchon told them that Coralie’s condition was hopeless–she had only a few days to live. Those days were spent in tears by Berenice and Lucien; they could not hide their grief from the dying girl, and she was broken-hearted for Lucien’s sake.

Some strange change was working in Coralie. She would have Lucien bring a priest; she must be reconciled to the Church and die in peace. Coralie died as a Christian; her repentance was sincere. Her agony and death took all energy and heart out of Lucien. He sank into a low chair at the foot of the bed, and never took his eyes off her till Death brought the end of her suffering. It was five o’clock in the morning. Some singing-bird lighting upon a flower-pot on the window-sill, twittered a few notes. Berenice, kneeling by the bedside, was covering a hand fast growing cold with kisses and tears. On the chimney-piece there lay eleven sous.

Lucien went out. Despair made him beg for money to lay Coralie in her grave. He had wild thoughts of flinging himself at the Marquise d’Espard’s feet, of entreating the Comte du Chatelet, Mme. de Bargeton, Mlle. des Touches, nay, that terrible dandy of a de Marsay. All his pride had gone with his strength. He would have enlisted as a common soldier at that moment for money. He walked on with a slouching, feverish gait known to all the unhappy, reached Camille Maupin’s house, entered, careless of his disordered dress, and sent in a message. He entreated Mlle. des Touches to see him for a moment.

“Mademoiselle only went to bed at three o’clock this morning,” said the servant, “and no one would dare to disturb her until she rings.”

“When does she ring?”

“Never before ten o’clock.”

Then Lucien wrote one of those harrowing appeals in which the well-dressed beggar flings all pride and self-respect to the winds. One evening, not so very long ago, when Lousteau had told him of the abject begging letters which Finot received, Lucien had thought it impossible that any creature would sink so low; and now, carried away by his pen, he had gone further, it may be, than other unlucky wretches upon the same road. He did not suspect, in his fever and imbecility, that he had just written a masterpiece of pathos. On his way home along the Boulevards, he met Barbet.

“Barbet!” he begged, holding out his hand. “Five hundred francs!”

“No. Two hundred,” returned the other.

“Ah! then you have a heart.”

“Yes; but I am a man of business as well. I have lost a lot of money through you,” he concluded, after giving the history of the failure of Fendant and Cavalier, “will you put me in the way of making some?”

Lucien quivered.

“You are a poet. You ought to understand all kinds of poetry,” continued the little publisher. “I want a few rollicking songs at this moment to put along with some more by different authors, or they will be down upon me over the copyright. I want to have a good collection to sell on the streets at ten sous. If you care to let me have ten good drinking-songs by to-morrow morning, or something spicy,–you know the sort of thing, eh!–I will pay you two hundred francs.”

When Lucien returned home, he found Coralie stretched out straight and stiff on a pallet-bed; Berenice, with many tears, had wrapped her in a coarse linen sheet, and put lighted candles at the four corners of the bed. Coralie’s face had taken that strange, delicate beauty of death which so vividly impresses the living with the idea of absolute calm; she looked like some white girl in a decline; it seemed as if those pale, crimson lips must open and murmur the name which had blended with the name of God in the last words that she uttered before she died.

Lucien told Berenice to order a funeral which should not cost more than two hundred francs, including the service at the shabby little church of the Bonne-Nouvelle. As soon as she had gone out, he sat down to a table, and beside the dead body of his love he composed ten rollicking songs to fit popular airs. The effort cost him untold anguish, but at last the brain began to work at the bidding of Necessity, as if suffering were not; and already Lucien had learned to put Claude Vignon’s terrible maxims in practice, and to raise a barrier between heart and brain. What a night the poor boy spent over those drinking songs, writing by the light of the tall wax candles while the priest recited the prayers for the dead!

Morning broke before the last song was finished. Lucien tried it over to a street-song of the day, to the consternation of Berenice and the priest, who thought that he was mad:–

Lads, ’tis tedious waste of time
To mingle song and reason;
Folly calls for laughing rhyme,
Sense is out of season.
Let Apollo be forgot
When Bacchus fills the drinking-cup; Any catch is good, I wot,
If good fellows take it up.
Let philosophers protest,
Let us laugh,
And quaff,
And a fig for the rest!

As Hippocrates has said,
Every jolly fellow,
When a century has sped,
Still is fit and mellow.
No more following of a lass
With the palsy in your legs?
–While your hand can hold a glass, You can drain it to the dregs,
With an undiminished zest.
Let us laugh,
And quaff,
And a fig for the rest!

Whence we come we know full well.
Whiter are we going?
Ne’er a one of us can tell,
‘Tis a thing past knowing.
Faith! what does it signify,
Take the good that Heaven sends;
It is certain that we die,
Certain that we live, my friends. Life is nothing but a jest.
Let us laugh,
And quaff,
And a fig for the rest!

He was shouting the reckless refrain when d’Arthez and Bianchon arrived, to find him in a paroxysm of despair and exhaustion, utterly unable to make a fair copy of his verses. A torrent of tears followed; and when, amid his sobs, he had told his story, he saw the tears standing in his friends’ eyes.

“This wipes out many sins,” said d’Arthez.

“Happy are they who suffer for their sins in this world,” the priest said solemnly.

At the sight of the fair, dead face smiling at Eternity, while Coralie’s lover wrote tavern-catches to buy a grave for her, and Barbet paid for the coffin–of the four candles lighted about the dead body of her who had thrilled a great audience as she stood behind the footlights in her Spanish basquina and scarlet green-clocked stockings; while beyond in the doorway, stood the priest who had reconciled the dying actress with God, now about to return to the church to say a mass for the soul of her who had “loved much,”–all the grandeur and the sordid aspects of the scene, all that sorrow crushed under by Necessity, froze the blood of the great writer and the great doctor. They sat down; neither of them could utter a word.

Just at that moment a servant in livery announced Mlle. des Touches. That beautiful and noble woman understood everything at once. She stepped quickly across the room to Lucien, and slipped two thousand-franc notes into his hand as she grasped it.

“It is too late,” he said, looking up at her with dull, hopeless eyes.

The three stayed with Lucien, trying to soothe his despair with comforting words; but every spring seemed to be broken. At noon all the brotherhood, with the exception of Michel Chrestien (who, however, had learned the truth as to Lucien’s treachery), was assembled in the poor little church of the Bonne-Nouvelle; Mlle. de Touches was present, and Berenice and Coralie’s dresser from the theatre, with a couple of supernumeraries and the disconsolate Camusot. All the men accompanied the actress to her last resting-place in Pere Lachaise. Camusot, shedding hot tears, had solemnly promised Lucien to buy the grave in perpetuity, and to put a headstone above it with the words:

CORALIE

AGED NINETEEN YEARS

August, 1822

Lucien stayed there, on the sloping ground that looks out over Paris, until the sun had set.

“Who will love me now?” he thought. “My truest friends despise me. Whatever I might have done, she who lies here would have thought me wholly noble and good. I have no one left to me now but my sister and mother and David. And what do they think of me at home?”

Poor distinguished provincial! He went back to the Rue de la Lune; but the sight of the rooms was so acutely painful, that he could not stay in them, and he took a cheap lodging elsewhere in the same street. Mlle. des Touches’ two thousand francs and the sale of the furniture paid the debts.

Berenice had two hundred francs left, on which they lived for two months. Lucien was prostrate; he could neither write nor think; he gave way to morbid grief. Berenice took pity upon him.

“Suppose that you were to go back to your own country, how are you to get there?” she asked one day, by way of reply to an exclamation of Lucien’s.

“On foot.”

“But even so, you must live and sleep on the way. Even if you walk twelve leagues a day, you will want twenty francs at least.”

“I will get them together,” he said.

He took his clothes and his best linen, keeping nothing but strict necessaries, and went to Samanon, who offered fifty francs for his entire wardrobe. In vain he begged the money-lender to let him have enough to pay his fare by the coach; Samanon was inexorable. In a paroxysm of fury, Lucien rushed to Frascati’s, staked the proceeds of the sale, and lost every farthing. Back once more in the wretched room in the Rue de la Lune, he asked Berenice for Coralie’s shawl. The good girl looked at him, and knew in a moment what he meant to do. He had confessed to his loss at the gaming-table; and now he was going to hang himself.

“Are you mad, sir? Go out for a walk, and come back again at midnight. I will get the money for you; but keep to the Boulevards, do not go towards the Quais.”

Lucien paced up and down the Boulevards. He was stupid with grief. He watched the passers-by and the stream of traffic, and felt that he was alone, and a very small atom in this seething whirlpool of Paris, churned by the strife of innumerable interests. His thoughts went back to the banks of his Charente; a craving for happiness and home awoke in him; and with the craving, came one of the sudden febrile bursts of energy which half-feminine natures like his mistake for strength. He would not give up until he had poured out his heart to David Sechard, and taken counsel of the three good angels still left to him on earth.

As he lounged along, he caught sight of Berenice–Berenice in her Sunday clothes, speaking to a stranger at the corner of the Rue de la Lune and the filthy Boulevard Bonne-Nouvelle, where she had taken her stand.

“What are you doing?” asked Lucien, dismayed by a sudden suspicion.

“Here are your twenty francs,” said the girl, slipping four five-franc pieces into the poet’s hand. “They may cost dear yet; but you can go,” and she had fled before Lucien could see the way she went; for, in justice to him, it must be said that the money burned his hand, he wanted to return it, but he was forced to keep it as the final brand set upon him by life in Paris.

ADDENDUM

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

Barbet
A Man of Business
The Seamy Side of History
The Middle Classes

Beaudenord, Godefroid de
The Ball at Sceaux
The Firm of Nucingen

Berenice
Lost Illusions

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

Blondet, Emile
Jealousies of a Country Town
Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
Modeste Mignon
Another Study of Woman
The Secrets of a Princess
A Daughter of Eve
The Firm of Nucingen
The Peasantry

Blondet, Virginie
Jealousies of a Country Town
The Secrets of a Princess
The Peasantry
Another Study of Woman
The Member for Arcis
A Daughter of Eve

Braulard
Cousin Betty
Cousin Pons

Bridau, Joseph
The Purse
A Bachelor’s Establishment
A Start in Life
Modeste Mignon
Another Study of Woman
Pierre Grassou
Letters of Two Brides
Cousin Betty
The Member for Arcis

Bruel, Jean Francois du
A Bachelor’s Establishment
The Government Clerks
A Start in Life
A Prince of Bohemia
The Middle Classes
A Daughter of Eve

Bruel, Claudine Chaffaroux, Madame du A Bachelor’s Establishment
A Prince of Bohemia
Letters of Two Brides
The Middle Classes

Cabirolle, Agathe-Florentine
A Start in Life
Lost Illusions
A Bachelor’s Establishment

Camusot
A Bachelor’s Establishment
Cousin Pons
The Muse of the Department
Cesar Birotteau
At the Sign of the Cat and Racket

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

Cardot, Jean-Jerome-Severin
A Start in Life
Lost Illusions

A Bachelor’s Establishment
At the Sign of the Cat and Racket
Cesar Birotteau

Carigliano, Duchesse de
At the Sign of the Cat and Racket
The Peasantry
The Member for Arcis

Cavalier
The Seamy Side of History

Chaboisseau
The Government Clerks
A Man of Business

Chatelet, Sixte, Baron du
Lost Illusions
Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
The Thirteen

Chatelet, Marie-Louise-Anais de Negrepelisse, Baronne du Lost Illusions
The Government Clerks

Chrestien, Michel
A Bachelor’s Establishment
The Secrets of a Princess

Collin, Jacques
Father Goriot
Lost Illusions
Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
The Member for Arcis

Coloquinte
A Bachelor’s Establishment

Coralie, Mademoiselle
A Start in Life
A Bachelor’s Establishment

Dauriat
Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
Modeste Mignon

Desroches (son)
A Bachelor’s Establishment
Colonel Chabert
A Start in Life
A Woman of Thirty
The Commission in Lunacy
The Government Clerks
Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
The Firm of Nucingen
A Man of Business
The Middle Classes

Arthez, Daniel d’
Letters of Two Brides
The Member for Arcis
The Secrets of a Princess

Espard, Jeanne-Clementine-Athenais de Blamont-Chauvry, Marquise d’ The Commission in Lunacy
Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
Letters of Two Brides
Another Study of Woman
The Gondreville Mystery
The Secrets of a Princess
A Daughter of Eve
Beatrix

Finot, Andoche
Cesar Birotteau
A Bachelor’s Establishment
Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
The Government Clerks
A Start in Life
Gaudissart the Great
The Firm of Nucingen

Foy, Maximilien-Sebastien
Cesar Birotteau

Gaillard, Theodore
Beatrix
Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
The Unconscious Humorists

Gaillard, Madame Theodore
Jealousies of a Country Town
A Bachelor’s Establishment
Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
Beatrix
The Unconscious Humorists

Galathionne, Prince and Princess (both not in each story) The Secrets of a Princess
The Middle Classes
Father Goriot
A Daughter of Eve
Beatrix

Gentil
Lost Illusions

Giraud, Leon
A Bachelor’s Establishment
The Secrets of a Princess
The Unconscious Humorists

Giroudeau
A Start in Life
A Bachelor’s Establishment

Grindot
Cesar Birotteau
Lost Illusions
A Start in Life
Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
Beatrix
The Middle Classes
Cousin Betty

Lambert, Louis
Louis Lambert
A Seaside Tragedy

Listomere, Marquis de
The Lily of the Valley
A Study of Woman

Listomere, Marquise de
The Lily of the Valley
Lost Illusions
A Study of Woman
A Daughter of Eve

Lousteau, Etienne
A Bachelor’s Establishment
Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
A Daughter of Eve
Beatrix
The Muse of the Department
Cousin Betty
A Prince of Bohemia
A Man of Business
The Middle Classes
The Unconscious Humorists

Lupeaulx, Clement Chardin des
The Muse of the Department
Eugenie Grandet
A Bachelor’s Establishment
The Government Clerks
Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
Ursule Mirouet

Manerville, Paul Francois-Joseph, Comte de The Thirteen
The Ball at Sceaux
Lost Illusions
A Marriage Settlement

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

Matifat (wealthy druggist)
Cesar Birotteau
A Bachelor’s Establishment
Lost Illusions
The Firm of Nucingen
Cousin Pons

Meyraux
Louis Lambert

Montcornet, Marechal, Comte de
Domestic Peace
Lost Illusions

Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
The Peasantry
A Man of Business
Cousin Betty

Montriveau, General Marquis Armand de The Thirteen
Father Goriot
Lost Illusions
Another Study of Woman
Pierrette
The Member for Arcis

Nathan, Raoul
Lost Illusions
Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
The Secrets of a Princess
A Daughter of Eve
Letters of Two Brides
The Seamy Side of History
The Muse of the Department
A Prince of Bohemia
A Man of Business
The Unconscious Humorists

Nathan, Madame Raoul
The Muse of the Department
Lost Illusions
Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
The Government Clerks
A Bachelor’s Establishment
Ursule Mirouet
Eugenie Grandet
The Imaginary Mistress
A Prince of Bohemia

Negrepelisse, De
The Commission in Lunacy
Lost Illusions

Nucingen, Baron Frederic de
The Firm of Nucingen
Father Goriot
Pierrette
Cesar Birotteau
Lost Illusions
Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
Another Study of Woman
The Secrets of a Princess
A Man of Business
Cousin Betty
The Muse of the Department
The Unconscious Humorists

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

Palma (banker)
The Firm of Nucingen
Cesar Birotteau
Gobseck
Lost Illusions
The Ball at Sceaux

Pombreton, Marquis de
Lost Illusions
Jealousies of a Country Town

Rastignac, Eugene de
Father Goriot
Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
The Ball at Sceaux
The Commission in Lunacy
A Study of Woman
Another Study of Woman
The Magic Skin
The Secrets of a Princess
A Daughter of Eve
The Gondreville Mystery
The Firm of Nucingen
Cousin Betty
The Member for Arcis
The Unconscious Humorists

Rhetore, Duc Alphonse de
A Bachelor’s Establishment

Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
Letters of Two Brides
Albert Savarus
The Member for Arcis

Ridal, Fulgence
A Bachelor’s Establishment
The Unconscious Humorists

Rubempre, Lucien-Chardon de
Lost Illusions
The Government Clerks
Ursule Mirouet
Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life

Samanon
The Government Clerks
A Man of Business
Cousin Betty

Sechard, David
Lost Illusions
Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life

Sechard, Madame David
Lost Illusions
Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life

Tillet, Ferdinand du
Cesar Birotteau
The Firm of Nucingen
The Middle Classes
A Bachelor’s Establishment
Pierrette
Melmoth Reconciled
The Secrets of a Princess
A Daughter of Eve
The Member for Arcis
Cousin Betty
The Unconscious Humorists

Touches, Mademoiselle Felicite des
Beatrix
Lost Illusions
A Bachelor’s Establishment
Another Study of Woman
A Daughter of Eve
Honorine
Beatrix
The Muse of the Department

Vandenesse, Comte Felix de
The Lily of the Valley
Lost Illusions
Cesar Birotteau
Letters of Two Brides
A Start in Life
The Marriage Settlement
The Secrets of a Princess
Another Study of Woman
The Gondreville Mystery
A Daughter of Eve

Vernou, Felicien
A Bachelor’s Establishment
Lost Illusions
Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
A Daughter of Eve
Cousin Betty

Vignon, Claude
A Daughter of Eve
Honorine
Beatrix
Cousin Betty
The Unconscious Humorists

III

EVE AND DAVID
(Lost Illusions Part III)

BY

HONORE DE BALZAC

Translated By
Ellen Marriage

Lucien had gone to Paris; and David Sechard, with the courage and intelligence of the ox which painters give the Evangelist for accompanying symbol, set himself to make the large fortune for which he had wished that evening down by the Charente, when he sat with Eve by the weir, and she gave him her hand and her heart. He wanted to make the money quickly, and less for himself than for Eve’s sake and Lucien’s. He would place his wife amid the elegant and comfortable surroundings that were hers by right, and his strong arm should sustain her brother’s ambitions–this was the programme that he saw before his eyes in letters of fire.

Journalism and politics, the immense development of the book trade, of literature and of the sciences; the increase of public interest in matters touching the various industries in the country; in fact, the whole social tendency of the epoch following the establishment of the Restoration produced an enormous increase in the demand for paper. The supply required was almost ten times as large as the quantity in which the celebrated Ouvrard speculated at the outset of the Revolution. Then Ouvrard could buy up first the entire stock of paper and then the manufacturers; but in the year 1821 there were so many paper-mills in France, that no one could hope to repeat his success; and David had neither audacity enough nor capital enough for such speculation. Machinery for producing paper in any length was just coming into use in England. It was one of the most urgent needs of the time, therefore, that the paper trade should keep pace with the requirements of the French system of civil government, a system by which the right of discussion was to be extended to every man, and the whole fabric based upon continual expression of individual opinion; a grave misfortune, for the nation that deliberates is but little wont to act.

So, strange coincidence! while Lucien was drawn into the great machinery of journalism, where he was like to leave his honor and his intelligence torn to shreds, David Sechard, at the back of his printing-house, foresaw all the practical consequences of the increased activity of the periodical press. He saw the direction in which the spirit of the age was tending, and sought to find means to the required end. He saw also that there was a fortune awaiting the discoverer of cheap paper, and the event has justified his clearsightedness. Within the last fifteen years, the Patent Office has received more than a hundred applications from persons claiming to have discovered cheap substances to be employed in the manufacture of paper. David felt more than ever convinced that this would be no brilliant triumph, it is true, but a useful and immensely profitable discovery; and after his brother-in-law went to Paris, he became more and more absorbed in the problem which he had set himself to solve.

The expenses of his marriage and of Lucien’s journey to Paris had exhausted all his resources; he confronted the extreme of poverty at the very outset of married life. He had kept one thousand francs for the working expenses of the business, and owed a like sum, for which he had given a bill to Postel the druggist. So here was a double problem for this deep thinker; he must invent a method of making cheap paper, and that quickly; he must make the discovery, in fact, in order to apply the proceeds to the needs of the household and of the business. What words can describe the brain that can forget the cruel preoccupations caused by hidden want, by the daily needs of a family and the daily drudgery of a printer’s business, which requires such minute, painstaking care; and soar, with the enthusiasm and intoxication of the man of science, into the regions of the unknown in quest of a secret which daily eludes the most subtle experiment? And the inventor, alas! as will shortly be seen, has plenty of woes to endure, besides the ingratitude of the many; idle folk that can do nothing themselves tell them, “Such a one is a born inventor; he could not do otherwise. He no more deserves credit for his invention than a prince for being born to rule! He is simply exercising his natural faculties, and his work is its own reward,” and the people believe them.

Marriage brings profound mental and physical perturbations into a girl’s life; and if she marries under the ordinary conditions of lower middle-class life, she must moreover begin to study totally new interests and initiate herself in the intricacies of business. With marriage, therefore, she enters upon a phase of her existence when she is necessarily on the watch before she can act. Unfortunately, David’s love for his wife retarded this training; he dared not tell her the real state of affairs on the day after their wedding, nor for some time afterwards. His father’s avarice condemned him to the most grinding poverty, but he could not bring himself to spoil the honeymoon by beginning his wife’s commercial education and prosaic apprenticeship to his laborious craft. So it came to pass that housekeeping, no less than working expenses, ate up the thousand francs, his whole fortune. For four months David gave no thought to the future, and his wife remained in ignorance. The awakening was terrible! Postel’s bill fell due; there was no money to meet it, and Eve knew enough of the debt and its cause to give up her bridal trinkets and silver.

That evening Eve tried to induce David to talk of their affairs, for she had noticed that he was giving less attention to the business and more to the problem of which he had once spoken to her. Since the first few weeks of married life, in fact, David spent most of his time in the shed in the backyard, in the little room where he was wont to mould his ink-rollers. Three months after his return to Angouleme, he had replaced the old fashioned round ink-balls by rollers made of strong glue and treacle, and an ink-table, on which the ink was evenly distributed, an improvement so obvious that Cointet Brothers no sooner saw it than they adopted the plan themselves.

By the partition wall of this kitchen, as it were, David had set up a little furnace with a copper pan, ostensibly to save the cost of fuel over the recasting of his rollers, though the moulds had not been used twice, and hung there rusting upon the wall. Nor was this all; a solid oak door had been put in by his orders, and the walls were lined with sheet-iron; he even replaced the dirty window sash by panes of ribbed glass, so that no one without could watch him at his work.

When Eve began to speak about the future, he looked uneasily at her, and cut her short at the first word by saying, “I know all that you must think, child, when you see that the workshop is left to itself, and that I am dead, as it were, to all business interests; but see,” he continued, bringing her to the window, and pointing to the mysterious shed, “there lies our fortune. For some months yet we must endure our lot, but let us bear it patiently; leave me to solve the problem of which I told you, and all our troubles will be at an end.”

David was so good, his devotion was so thoroughly to be taken upon his word, that the poor wife, with a wife’s anxiety as to daily expenses, determined to spare her husband the household cares and to take the burden upon herself. So she came down from the pretty blue-and-white room, where she sewed and talked contentedly with her mother, took possession of one of the two dens at the back of the printing-room, and set herself to learn the business routine of typography. Was it not heroism in a wife who expected ere long to be a mother?

During the past few months David’s workmen had left him one by one; there was not enough work for them to do. Cointet Brothers, on the other hand, were overwhelmed with orders; they were employing all the workmen of the department; the alluring prospect of high wages even brought them a few from Bordeaux, more especially apprentices, who thought themselves sufficiently expert to cancel their articles and go elsewhere. When Eve came to look into the affairs of Sechard’s printing works, she discovered that he employed three persons in all.

First in order stood Cerizet, an apprentice of Didot’s, whom David had chosen to train. Most foremen have some one favorite among the great numbers of workers under them, and David had brought Cerizet to Angouleme, where he had been learning more of the business. Marion, as much attached to the house as a watch-dog, was the second; and the third was Kolb, an Alsacien, at one time a porter in the employ of the Messrs. Didot. Kolb had been drawn for military service, chance brought him to Angouleme, and David recognized the man’s face at a review just as his time was about to expire. Kolb came to see David, and was smitten forthwith by the charms of the portly Marion; she possessed all the qualities which a man of his class looks for in a wife–the robust health that bronzes the cheeks, the strength of a man (Marion could lift a form of type with ease), the scrupulous honesty on which an Alsacien sets such store, the faithful service which bespeaks a sterling character, and finally, the thrift which had saved a little sum of a thousand francs, besides a stock of clothing and linen, neat and clean, as country linen can be. Marion herself, a big, stout woman of thirty-six, felt sufficiently flattered by the admiration of a cuirassier, who stood five feet seven in his stockings, a well-built warrior, strong as a bastion, and not unnaturally suggested that he should become a printer. So, by the time Kolb received his full discharge, Marion and David between them had transformed him into a tolerably creditable “bear,” though their pupil could neither read nor write.

Job printing, as it is called, was not so abundant at this season but that Cerizet could manage it without help. Cerizet, compositor, clicker, and foreman, realized in his person the “phenomenal triplicity” of Kant; he set up type, read proof, took orders, and made out invoices; but the most part of the time he had nothing to do, and used to read novels in his den at the back of the workshop while he waited for an order for a bill-head or a trade circular. Marion, trained by old Sechard, prepared and wetted down the paper, helped Kolb with the printing, hung the sheets to dry, and cut them to size; yet cooked the dinner, none the less, and did her marketing very early of a morning.

Eve told Cerizet to draw out a balance-sheet for the last six months, and found that the gross receipts amounted to eight hundred francs. On the other hand, wages at the rate of three francs per day–two francs to Cerizet, and one to Kolb–reached a total of six hundred francs; and as the goods supplied for the work printed and delivered amounted to some hundred odd francs, it was clear to Eve that David had been carrying on business at a loss during the first half-year of their married life. There was nothing to show for rent, nothing for Marion’s wages, nor for the interest on capital represented by the plant, the license, and the ink; nothing, finally, by way of allowance for the host of things included in the technical expression “wear and tear,” a word which owes its origin to the cloths and silks which are used to moderate the force of the impression, and to save wear to the type; a square of stuff (the _blanket_) being placed between the platen and the sheet of paper in the press.

Eve made a rough calculation of the resources of the printing office and of the output, and saw how little hope there was for a business drained dry by the all-devouring activity of the brothers Cointet; for by this time the Cointets were not only contract printers to the town and the prefecture, and printers to the Diocese by special appointment –they were paper-makers and proprietors of a newspaper to boot. That newspaper, sold two years ago by the Sechards, father and son, for twenty-two thousand francs, was now bringing in eighteen thousand francs per annum. Eve began to understand the motives lurking beneath the apparent generosity of the brothers Cointet; they were leaving the Sechard establishment just sufficient work to gain a pittance, but not enough to establish a rival house.

When Eve took the management of the business, she began by taking stock. She set Kolb and Marion and Cerizet to work, and the workshop was put to rights, cleaned out, and set in order. Then one evening when David came in from a country excursion, followed by an old woman with a huge bundle tied up in a cloth, Eve asked counsel of him as to the best way of turning to profit the odds and ends left them by old Sechard, promising that she herself would look after the business. Acting upon her husband’s advice, Mme. Sechard sorted all the remnants of paper which she found, and printed old popular legends in double columns upon a single sheet, such as peasants paste on their walls, the histories of _The Wandering Jew_, _Robert the Devil_, _La Belle Maguelonne_ and sundry miracles. Eve sent Kolb out as a hawker.

Cerizet had not a moment to spare now; he was composing the naive pages, with the rough cuts that adorned them, from morning to night; Marion was able to manage the taking off; and all domestic cares fell to Mme. Chardon, for Eve was busy coloring the prints. Thanks to Kolb’s activity and honesty, Eve sold three thousand broad sheets at a penny apiece, and made three hundred francs in all at a cost of thirty francs.

But when every peasant’s hut and every little wine-shop for twenty leagues round was papered with these legends, a fresh speculation must be discovered; the Alsacien could not go beyond the limits of the department. Eve, turning over everything in the whole printing house, had found a collection of figures for printing a “Shepherd’s Calendar,” a kind of almanac meant for those who cannot read, letterpress being replaced by symbols, signs, and pictures in colored inks, red, black and blue. Old Sechard, who could neither read nor write himself, had made a good deal of money at one time by bringing out an almanac in hieroglyph. It was in book form, a single sheet folded to make one hundred and twenty-eight pages.

Thoroughly satisfied with the success of the broad sheets, a piece of business only undertaken by country printing offices, Mme. Sechard invested all the proceeds in the _Shepherd’s Calendar_, and began it upon a large scale. Millions of copies of this work are sold annually in France. It is printed upon even coarser paper than the _Almanac of Liege_, a ream (five hundred sheets) costing in the first instance about four francs; while the printed sheets sell at the rate of a halfpenny apiece–twenty-five francs per ream.

Mme. Sechard determined to use one hundred reams for the first impression; fifty thousand copies would bring in two thousand francs. A man so deeply absorbed in his work as David in his researches is seldom observant; yet David, taking a look round his workshop, was astonished to hear the groaning of a press and to see Cerizet always on his feet, setting up type under Mme. Sechard’s direction. There was a pretty triumph for Eve on the day when David came in to see what she was doing, and praised the idea, and thought the calendar an excellent stroke of business. Furthermore, David promised to give advice in the matter of colored inks, for an almanac meant to appeal to the eye; and finally, he resolved to recast the ink-rollers himself in his mysterious workshop, so as to help his wife as far as he could in her important little enterprise.

But just as the work began with strenuous industry, there came letters from Lucien in Paris, heart-sinking letters that told his mother and sister and brother-in-law of his failure and distress; and when Eve, Mme. Chardon, and David each secretly sent money to their poet, it must be plain to the reader that the three hundred francs they sent were like their very blood. The overwhelming news, the disheartening sense that work as bravely as she might, she made so little, left Eve looking forward with a certain dread to an event which fills the cup of happiness to the full. The time was coming very near now, and to herself she said, “If my dear David has not reached the end of his researches before my confinement, what will become of us? And who will look after our poor printing office and the business that is growing up?”

The _Shepherd’s Calendar_ ought by rights to have been ready before the 1st of January, but Cerizet was working unaccountably slowly; all the work of composing fell to him; and Mme. Sechard, knowing so little, could not find fault, and was fain to content herself with watching the young Parisian.

Cerizet came from the great Foundling Hospital in Paris. He had been apprenticed to the MM. Didot, and between the ages of fourteen and seventeen he was David Sechard’s fanatical worshiper. David put him under one of the cleverest workmen, and took him for his copy-holder, his page. Cerizet’s intelligence naturally interested David; he won the lad’s affection by procuring amusements now and again for him, and comforts from which he was cut off by poverty. Nature had endowed Cerizet with an insignificant, rather pretty little countenance, red hair, and a pair of dull blue eyes; he had come to Angouleme and brought the manners of the Parisian street-boy with him. He was formidable by reason of a quick, sarcastic turn and a spiteful disposition. Perhaps David looked less strictly after him in Angouleme; or, perhaps, as the lad grew older, his mentor put more trust in him, or in the sobering influences of a country town; but be that as it may, Cerizet (all unknown to his sponsor) was going completely to the bad, and the printer’s apprentice was acting the part of a Don Juan among little work girls. His morality, learned in Paris drinking-saloons, laid down the law of self-interest as the sole rule of guidance; he knew, moreover, that next year he would be “drawn for a soldier,” to use the popular expression, saw that he had no prospects, and ran into debt, thinking that soon he should be in the army, and none of his creditors would run after him. David still possessed some ascendency over the young fellow, due not to his position as master, nor yet to the interest that he had taken in his pupil, but to the great intellectual power which the sometime street-boy fully recognized.

Before long Cerizet began to fraternize with the Cointets’ workpeople, drawn to them by the mutual attraction of blouse and jacket, and the class feeling, which is, perhaps, strongest of all in the lowest ranks of society. In their company Cerizet forgot the little good doctrine which David had managed to instil into him; but, nevertheless, when the others joked the boy about the presses in his workshop (“old sabots,” as the “bears” contemptuously called them), and showed him the magnificent machines, twelve in number, now at work in the Cointets’ great printing office, where the single wooden press was only used for experiments, Cerizet would stand up for David and fling out at the braggarts.

“My gaffer will go farther with his ‘sabots’ than yours with their cast-iron contrivances that turn out mass books all day long,” he would boast. “He is trying to find out a secret that will lick all the printing offices in France and Navarre.”

“And meantime you take your orders from a washer-woman, you snip of a foreman, on two francs a day.”

“She is pretty though,” retorted Cerizet; “it is better to have her to look at than the phizes of your gaffers.”

“And do you live by looking at his wife?”

From the region of the wineshop, or from the door of the printing office, where these bickerings took place, a dim light began to break in upon the brothers Cointet as to the real state of things in the Sechard establishment. They came to hear of Eve’s experiment, and held it expedient to stop these flights at once, lest the business should begin to prosper under the poor young wife’s management.

“Let us give her a rap over the knuckles, and disgust her with the business,” said the brothers Cointet.

One of the pair, the practical printer, spoke to Cerizet, and asked him to do the proof-reading for them by piecework, to relieve their reader, who had more than he could manage. So it came to pass that Cerizet earned more by a few hours’ work of an evening for the brothers Cointet than by a whole day’s work for David Sechard. Other transactions followed; the Cointets seeing no small aptitude in Cerizet, he was told that it was a pity that he should be in a position so little favorable to his interests.

“You might be foreman some day in a big printing office, making six francs a day,” said one of the Cointets one day, “and with your intelligence you might come to have a share in the business.”

“Where is the use of my being a good foreman?” returned Cerizet. “I am an orphan, I shall be drawn for the army next year, and if I get a bad number who is there to pay some one else to take my place?”

“If you make yourself useful,” said the well-to-do printer, “why should not somebody advance the money?”

“It won’t be my gaffer in any case!” said Cerizet.

“Pooh! Perhaps by that time he will have found out the secret.”

The words were spoken in a way that could not but rouse the worst thoughts in the listener; and Cerizet gave the papermaker and printer a very searching look.

“I do not know what he is busy about,” he began prudently, as the master said nothing, “but he is not the kind of man to look for capitals in the lower case!”

“Look here, my friend,” said the printer, taking up half-a-dozen sheets of the diocesan prayer-book and holding them out to Cerizet, “if you can correct these for us by to-morrow, you shall have eighteen francs to-morrow for them. We are not shabby here; we put our competitor’s foreman in the way of making money. As a matter of fact, we might let Mme. Sechard go too far to draw back with her _Shepherd’s Calendar_, and ruin her; very well, we give you permission to tell her that we are bringing out a _Shepherd’s Calendar_ of our own, and to call her attention too to the fact that she will not be the first in the field.”

Cerizet’s motive for working so slowly on the composition of the almanac should be clear enough by this time.

When Eve heard that the Cointets meant to spoil her poor little speculation, dread seized upon her; at first she tried to see a proof of attachment in Cerizet’s hypocritical warning of competition; but before long she saw signs of an over-keen curiosity in her sole compositor–the curiosity of youth, she tried to think.

“Cerizet,” she said one morning, “you stand about on the threshold, and wait for M. Sechard in the passage, to pry into his private affairs; when he comes out into the yard to melt down the rollers, you are there looking at him, instead of getting on with the almanac. These things are not right, especially when you see that I, his wife, respect his secrets, and take so much trouble on myself to leave him free to give himself up to his work. If you had not wasted time, the almanac would be finished by now, and Kolb would be selling it, and the Cointets could have done us no harm.”

“Eh! madame,” answered Cerizet. “Here am I doing five francs’ worth of composing for two francs a day, and don’t you think that that is enough? Why, if I did not read proofs of an evening for the Cointets, I might feed myself on husks.”

“You are turning ungrateful early,” said Eve, deeply hurt, not so much by Cerizet’s grumbling as by his coarse tone, threatening attitude, and aggressive stare; “you will get on in life.”

“Not with a woman to order me about though, for it is not often that the month has thirty days in it then.”

Feeling wounded in her womanly dignity, Eve gave Cerizet a withering look and went upstairs again. At dinner-time she spoke to David.

“Are you sure, dear, of that little rogue Cerizet?”

“Cerizet!” said David. “Why, he was my youngster; I trained him, I took him on as my copy-holder. I put him to composing; anything that he is he owes to me, in fact! You might as well ask a father if he is sure of his child.”

Upon this, Eve told her husband that Cerizet was reading proofs for the Cointets.

“Poor fellow! he must live,” said David, humbled by the consciousness that he had not done his duty as a master.

“Yes, but there is a difference, dear, between Kolb and Cerizet–Kolb tramps about twenty leagues every day, spends fifteen or twenty sous, and brings us back seven and eight and sometimes nine francs of sales; and when his expenses are paid, he never asks for more than his wages. Kolb would sooner cut off his hand than work a lever for the Cointets; Kolb would not peer among the things that you throw out into the yard if people offered him a thousand crowns to do it; but Cerizet picks them up and looks at them.”

It is hard for noble natures to think evil, to believe in ingratitude; only through rough experience do they learn the extent of human corruption; and even when there is nothing left them to learn in this kind, they rise to an indulgence which is the last degree of contempt.

“Pooh! pure Paris street-boy’s curiosity,” cried David.

“Very well, dear, do me the pleasure to step downstairs and look at the work done by this boy of yours, and tell me then whether he ought not to have finished our almanac this month.”

David went into the workshop after dinner, and saw that the calendar should have been set up in a week. Then, when he heard that the Cointets were bringing out a similar almanac, he came to the rescue. He took command of the printing office, Kolb helped at home instead of selling broadsheets. Kolb and Marion pulled off the impressions from one form while David worked another press with Cerizet, and superintended the printing in various inks. Every sheet must be printed four separate times, for which reason none but small houses will attempt to produce a _Shepherd’s Calendar_, and that only in the country where labor is cheap, and the amount of capital employed in the business is so small that the interest amounts to little. Wherefore, a press which turns out beautiful work cannot compete in the printing of such sheets, coarse though they may be.

So, for the first time since old Sechard retired, two presses were at work in the old house. The calendar was, in its way, a masterpiece; but Eve was obliged to sell it for less than a halfpenny, for the Cointets were supplying hawkers at the rate of three centimes per copy. Eve made no loss on the copies sold to hawkers; on Kolb’s sales, made directly, she gained; but her little speculation was spoiled. Cerizet saw that his fair employer distrusted him; in his own conscience he posed as the accuser, and said to himself, “You suspect me, do you? I will have my revenge,” for the Paris street-boy is made on this wise. Cerizet accordingly took pay out of all proportion to the work of proof-reading done for the Cointets, going to their office every evening for the sheets, and returning them in the morning. He came to be on familiar terms with them through the daily chat, and at length saw a chance of escaping the military service, a bait held out to him by the brothers. So far from requiring prompting from the Cointets, he was the first to propose the espionage and exploitation of David’s researches.

Eve saw how little she could depend upon Cerizet, and to find another Kolb was simply impossible; she made up her mind to dismiss her one compositor, for the insight of a woman who loves told her that Cerizet was a traitor; but as this meant a deathblow to the business, she took a man’s resolution. She wrote to M. Metivier, with whom David and the Cointets and almost every papermaker in the department had business relations, and asked him to put the following advertisement into a trade paper:

“FOR SALE, as a going concern, a Printing Office, with License and Plant; situated at Angouleme. Apply for particulars to M. Metivier, Rue Serpente.”

The Cointets saw the advertisement. “That little woman has a head on her shoulders,” they said. “It is time that we took her business under our own control, by giving her enough work to live upon; we might find a real competitor in David’s successor; it is in our interest to keep an eye upon that workshop.”

The Cointets went to speak to David Sechard, moved thereto by this thought. Eve saw them, knew that her stratagem had succeeded at once, and felt a thrill of the keenest joy. They stated their proposal. They had more work than they could undertake, their presses could not keep pace with the work, would M. Sechard print for them? They had sent to Bordeaux for workmen, and could find enough to give full employment to David’s three presses.

“Gentlemen,” said Eve, while Cerizet went across to David’s workshop to announce the two printers, “while my husband was with the MM. Didot he came to know of excellent workers, honest and industrious men; he will choose his successor, no doubt, from among the best of them. If he sold his business outright for some twenty thousand francs, it might bring us in a thousand francs per annum; that would be better than losing a thousand yearly over such trade as you leave us. Why did you envy us the poor little almanac speculation, especially as we have always brought it out?”

“Oh, why did you not give us notice, madame? We would not have interfered with you,” one of the brothers answered blandly (he was known as the “tall Cointet”).

“Oh, come gentlemen! you only began your almanac after Cerizet told you that I was bringing out mine.”

She spoke briskly, looking full at “the tall Cointet” as she spoke. He lowered his eyes; Cerizet’s treachery was proven to her.

This brother managed the business and the paper-mill; he was by far the cleverer man of business of the two. Jean showed no small ability in the conduct of the printing establishment, but in intellectual capacity he might be said to take colonel’s rank, while Boniface was a general. Jean left the command to Boniface. This latter was thin and spare in person; his face, sallow as an altar candle, was mottled with reddish patches; his lips were pinched; there was something in his eyes that reminded you of a cat’s eyes. Boniface Cointet never excited himself; he would listen to the grossest insults with the serenity of a bigot, and reply in a smooth voice. He went to mass, he went to confession, he took the sacrament. Beneath his caressing manners, beneath an almost spiritless look, lurked the tenacity and ambition of the priest, and the greed of the man of business consumed with a thirst for riches and honors. In the year 1820 “tall Cointet” wanted all that the _bourgeoisie_ finally obtained by the Revolution of 1830. In his heart he hated the aristocrats, and in religion he was indifferent; he was as much or as little of a bigot as Bonaparte was a member of the Mountain; yet his vertebral column bent with a flexibility wonderful to behold before the noblesse and the official hierarchy; for the powers that be, he humbled himself, he was meek and obsequious. One final characteristic will describe him for those who are accustomed to dealings with all kinds of men, and can appreciate its value–Cointet concealed the expression of his eyes by wearing colored glasses, ostensibly to preserve his sight from the reflection of the sunlight on the white buildings in the streets; for Angouleme, being set upon a hill, is exposed to the full glare of the sun. Tall Cointet was really scarcely above middle height; he looked much taller than he actually was by reason of the thinness, which told of overwork and a brain in continual ferment. His lank, sleek gray hair, cut in