And she confesses it to me!
She goes into even the smallest details!
Her beautiful eyes fixed on mine,
and describes the love which she felt for another.
The delighted mademoiselle de la Mole thought of nothing but the happiness of having been nearly killed.
She went so far as to say to herself,
"he is worthy of being my master since he was on the point of killing me.
How many handsome young society men would have to be melted together before they were capable of so passionate a transport."
"I must admit that he was very handsome at the time when he climbed up on the chair to replace the sword in the same picturesque position in which the decorator hung it!
After all it was not so foolish of me to love him."
If at that moment some honourable means of reconciliation had presented itself,
she would have embraced it with pleasure.
Julien locked in his room was a prey to the most violent despair.
He thought in his madness of throwing himself at her feet.
If instead of hiding himself in an out of the way place,
he had wandered about the garden of the hôtel so as to keep within reach of any opportunity,
he would perhaps have changed in a single moment his awful unhappiness into the keenest happiness.
But the tact for whose lack we are now reproaching him would have been incompatible with that sublime seizure of the sword,
which at the present time rendered him so handsome in the eyes of mademoiselle de la Mole.
This whim in Julien's favour lasted the whole day;
Mathilde conjured up a charming image of the short moments during which she had loved him: she regretted them.
"As a matter of fact,"
she said to herself,
"my passion for this poor boy can from his point of view only have lasted from one hour after midnight when I saw him arrive by his ladder with all his pistols in his coat pocket,
till eight o'clock in the morning.
It was a quarter of an hour after that as I listened to mass at Sainte-Valère that I began to think that he might very well try to terrify me into obedience."
After dinner mademoiselle de la Mole,
so far from avoiding Julien,
spoke to him and made him promise to follow her into the garden.
It was a new experience.
Without suspecting it Mathilde was yielding to the love which she was now feeling for him again.
She found an extreme pleasure in walking by his side,
and she looked curiously at those hands which had seized the sword to kill her that very morning.
After such an action,
after all that had taken place,
some of the former conversation was out of the question.
Mathilde gradually began to talk confidentially to him about the state of her heart.
She found a singular pleasure in this kind of conversation,
she even went so far as to describe to him the fleeting moments of enthusiasm which she had experienced for M. de Croisenois,
for M. de Caylus -- --
M. de Caylus as well!"
and all the jealousy of a discarded lover burst out in those words,
Mathilde thought as much,
but did not feel at all insulted.
She continued torturing Julien by describing her former sentiments with the most picturesque detail and the accent of the most intimate truth.
He saw that she was portraying what she had in her mind's eye.
He had the pain of noticing that as she spoke she made new discoveries in her own heart.
The unhappiness of jealousy could not be carried further.
It is cruel enough to suspect that a rival is loved,
but there is no doubt that to hear the woman one adores confess in detail the love which rivals inspires,
is the utmost limit of anguish.
how great a punishment was there now for those impulses of pride which had induced Julien to place himself as superior to the Caylus and the Croisenois!
How deeply did he feel his own unhappiness as he exaggerated to himself their most petty advantages.
With what hearty good faith he despised himself.
Mathilde struck him as adorable.
All words are weak to express his excessive admiration.
As he walked beside her he looked surreptitiously at her hands,
her queenly bearing.
He was so completely overcome by love and unhappiness as to be on the point of falling at her feet and crying "pity."
and that person who is so beautiful,
who is so superior to everything and who loved me once,
will doubtless soon love M. de Caylus."
Julien could have no doubts of mademoiselle de la Mole's sincerity,
the accent of truth was only too palpable in everything she said.
In order that nothing might be wanting to complete his unhappiness there were moments when,
as a result of thinking about the sentiments which she had once experienced for M. de Caylus,
Mathilde came to talk of him,
as though she loved him at the present time.
She certainly put an inflection of love into her voice.
Julien distinguished it clearly.
He would have suffered less if his bosom had been filled inside with molten lead.
Plunged as he was in this abyss of unhappiness how could the poor boy have guessed that it was simply because she was talking to him,
that mademoiselle de la Mole found so much pleasure in recalling those weaknesses of love which she had formerly experienced for M. de Caylus or M. de Luz.
Words fail to express Julien's anguish.
He listened to these detailed confidences of the love she had experienced for others in that very avenue of pines where he had waited so few days ago for one o'clock to strike that he might invade her room.
No human being can undergo a greater degree of unhappiness.
This kind of familiar cruelty lasted for eight long days.
Mathilde sometimes seemed to seek opportunities of speaking to him and sometimes not to avoid them;
and the one topic of conversation to which they both seemed to revert with a kind of cruel pleasure,
was the description of the sentiments she had felt for others.
She told him about the letters which she had written,
she remembered their very words,
she recited whole sentences by heart.
She seemed during these last days to be envisaging Julien with a kind of malicious joy.
She found a keen enjoyment in his pangs.
One sees that Julien had no experience of life;
he had not even read any novels.
If he had been a little less awkward and he had coolly said to the young girl,
whom he adored so much and who had been giving him such strange confidences:
"admit that though I am not worth as much as all these gentlemen,
I am none the less the man whom you loved,"
she would perhaps have been happy at being at thus guessed;
at any rate success would have entirely depended on the grace with which Julien had expressed the idea,
and on the moment which he had chosen to do so.
In any case he would have extricated himself well and advantageously from a situation which Mathilde was beginning to find monotonous.
"And you love me no longer,
who adores you!"
said Julien to her one day,
overcome by love and unhappiness.
This piece of folly was perhaps the greatest which he could have committed.
These words immediately destroyed all the pleasure which mademoiselle de la Mole found in talking to him about the state of her heart.
She was beginning to be surprised that he did not,
after what had happened,
take offence at what she told him.
She had even gone so far as to imagine at the very moment when he made that foolish remark that perhaps he did not love her any more.
"His pride has doubtless extinguished his love,"
she was saying to herself.
"He is not the man to sit still and see people like Caylus,
Croisenois whom he admits are so superior,
preferred to him.
I shall never see him at my feet again."
Julien had often in the naivety of his unhappiness,
during the previous days praised sincerely the brilliant qualities of these gentlemen;
he would even go so far as to exaggerate them.
This nuance had not escaped mademoiselle de la Mole,
she was astonished by it,
but did not guess its reason.
Julien's frenzied soul,
in praising a rival whom he thought was loved,
was sympathising with his happiness.
These frank but stupid words changed everything in a single moment;
confident that she was loved,
Mathilde despised him utterly.
She was walking with him when he made his ill-timed remark;
she left him,
and her parting look expressed the most awful contempt.
She returned to the salon and did not look at him again during the whole evening.
This contempt monopolised her mind the following day.
The impulse which during the last week had made her find so much pleasure in treating Julien as her most intimate friend was out of the question;
the very sight of him was disagreeable.
The sensation Mathilde felt reached the point of disgust;
nothing can express the extreme contempt which she experienced when her eyes fell upon him.
Julien had understood nothing of the history of Mathilde's heart during the last week,
but he distinguished the contempt.
He had the good sense only to appear before her on the rarest possible occasions,
and never looked at her.
But it was not without a mortal anguish that he,
as it were,
deprived himself of her presence.
He thought he felt his unhappiness increasing still further.
"The courage of a man's heart cannot be carried further,"
he said to himself.
He passed his life seated at a little window at the top of the hôtel;
the blind was carefully closed,
and from here at any rate he could see mademoiselle de la Mole when she appeared in the garden.
What were his emotions when he saw her walking after dinner with M. de Caylus,
M. de Luz,
or some other for whom she had confessed to him some former amorous weakness!
Julien had no idea that unhappiness could be so intense;
he was on the point of shouting out.
This firm soul was at last completely overwhelmed.
Thinking about anything else except mademoiselle de la Mole had become odious to him;
he became incapable of writing the simplest letters.
"You are mad,"
the marquis said to him.
Julien was frightened that his secret might be guessed,
talked about illness and succeeded in being believed.
Fortunately for him the marquis rallied him at dinner about his next journey;
Mathilde understood that it might be a very long one.
It was now several days that Julien had avoided her,
and the brilliant young men who had all that this pale sombre being she had once loved was lacking,
had no longer the power of drawing her out of her reverie.
"An ordinary girl,"
she said to herself,
"would have sought out the man she preferred among those young people who are the cynosure of a salon;
but one of the characteristics of genius is not to drive its thoughts over the rut traced by the vulgar.
if I were the companion of a man like Julien,
who only lacks the fortune that I possess,
I should be continually exciting attention,
I should not pass through life unnoticed.
Far from incessantly fearing a revolution like my cousins who are so frightened of the people that they have not the pluck to scold a postillion who drives them badly,
I should be certain of playing a rôle and a great rôle,
for the man whom I have chosen has a character and a boundless ambition.
What does he lack?
I will give them him."
But she treated Julien in her thought as an inferior being whose love one could win whenever one wanted.
THE OPERA BOUFFE
How the spring of love resembleth The uncertain glory of an April day,
Which now shows all the beauty of the sun,
And by and by a cloud takes all away.
Engrossed by thoughts of her future and the singular rôle which she hoped to play,
Mathilde soon came to miss the dry metaphysical conversations which she had often had with Julien.
Fatigued by these lofty thoughts she would sometimes also miss those moments of happiness which she had found by his side;
these last memories were not unattended by remorse which at certain times even overwhelmed her.
"But one may have a weakness,"
she said to herself,
"a girl like I am should only forget herself for a man of real merit;
they will not say that it is his pretty moustache or his skill in horsemanship which have fascinated me,
but rather his deep discussions on the future of France and his ideas on the analogy between the events which are going to burst upon us and the English revolution of 1688."
"I have been seduced,"
she answered in her remorse.
"I am a weak woman,
but at least I have not been led astray like a doll by exterior advantages."
"If there is a revolution why should not Julien Sorel play the role of Roland and I the rôle of Madame Roland?
I prefer that part to Madame de Stael's;
the immorality of my conduct will constitute an obstacle in this age of ours.
I will certainly not let them reproach me with an act of weakness;
I should die of shame."
Mathilde's reveries were not all as grave,
one must admit,
as the thoughts which we have just transcribed.
She would look at Julien and find a charming grace in his slightest action.
"I have doubtless,"
she would say,
"succeeded in destroying in him the very faintest idea he had of any one else's rights."
"The air of unhappiness and deep passion with which the poor boy declared his love to me eight days ago proves it;
I must own it was very extraordinary of me to manifest anger at words in which there shone so much respect and so much of passion.
Am I not his real wife?
Those words of his were quite natural,
and I must admit,
were really very nice.
Julien still continued to love me,
even after those eternal conversations in which I had only spoken to him (cruelly enough I admit),
about those weaknesses of love which the boredom of the life I lead had inspired me for those young society men of whom he is so jealous.
if he only knew what little danger I have to fear from them;
how withered and stereotyped they seem to me in comparison with him."
While indulging in these reflections Mathilde made a random pencil sketch of a profile on a page of her album.
One of the profiles she had just finished surprised and delighted her.
It had a striking resemblance to Julien.
"It is the voice of heaven.
That's one of the miracles of love,"
she cried ecstatically;
"Without suspecting it,
I have drawn his portrait."
She fled to her room,
shut herself up in it,
and with much application made strenuous endeavours to draw Julien's portrait,
but she was unable to succeed;
the profile she had traced at random still remained the most like him.
Mathilde was delighted with it.
She saw in it a palpable proof of the grand passion.
She only left her album very late when the marquise had her called to go to the Italian Opera.
Her one idea was to catch sight of Julien,
so that she might get her mother to request him to keep them company.
He did not appear,
and the ladies had only ordinary vulgar creatures in their box.
During the first act of the opera,
Mathilde dreamt of the man she loved with all the ecstasies of the most vivid passion;
but a love-maxim in the second act sung it must be owned to a melody worthy of Cimarosa pierced her heart.
The heroine of the opera said "You must punish me for the excessive adoration which I feel for him.
I love him too much."
From the moment that Mathilde heard this sublime song everything in the world ceased to exist.
She was spoken to,
she did not answer;
her mother reprimanded her,
she could scarcely bring herself to look at her.
Her ecstasy reached a state of exultation and passion analogous to the most violent transports which Julien had felt for her for some days.
The divinely graceful melody to which the maxim,
which seemed to have such a striking application to her own position,
engrossed all the minutes when she was not actually thinking of Julien.
Thanks to her love for music she was on this particular evening like madame de Rênal always was,
when she thought of Julien.
Love of the head has doubtless more intelligence than true love,
but it only has moments of enthusiasm.
It knows itself too well,
it sits in judgment on itself incessantly;
far from distracting thought it is made by sheer force of thought.
On returning home Mathilde,
in spite of madame de la Mole's remonstrances,
pretended to have a fever and spent a part of the night in going over this melody on her piano.
She sang the words of the celebrated air which had so fascinated her: --
Se troppo amai,
As the result of this night of madness,
she imagined that she had succeeded in triumphing over her love.
This page will be prejudicial in more than one way to the unfortunate author.
Frigid souls will accuse him of indecency.
But the young ladies who shine in the Paris salons have no right to feel insulted at the supposition that one of their number might be liable to those transports of madness which have been degrading the character of Mathilde.
That character is purely imaginary,
and is even drawn quite differently from that social code which will guarantee so distinguished a place in the world's history to nineteenth century civilization.
The young girls who have adorned this winter's balls are certainly not lacking in prudence.
I do not think either that they can be accused of being unduly scornful of a brilliant fortune,
fine estates and all the guarantees of a pleasant position in society.
Far from finding these advantages simply equivalent to boredom,
they usually concentrate on them their most constant desires and and devote to them such passion as their hearts possess.
Nor again is it love which is the dominant principle in the career of young men who,
are gifted with some talent;
they attach themselves with an irresistible grip to some côterie,
and when the côterie succeeds all the good things of society are rained upon them.
Woe to the studious man who belongs to no côterie,
even his smallest and most doubtful successes will constitute a grievance,
and lofty virtue will rob him and triumph.
a novel is a mirror which goes out on a highway.
Sometimes it reflects the azure of the heavens,
sometimes the mire of the pools of mud on the way,
and the man who carries this mirror in his knapsack is forsooth to be accused by you of being immoral!
His mirror shows the mire,
and you accuse the mirror!
Rather accuse the main road where the mud is,
or rather the inspector of roads who allows the water to accumulate and the mud to form.
Now that it is quite understood that Mathilde's character is impossible in our own age,
which is as discreet as it is virtuous,
I am less frightened of offence by continuing the history of the follies of this charming girl.
During the whole of the following day she looked out for opportunities of convincing herself of her triumph over her mad passion.
Her great aim was to displease Julien in everything;
but not one of his movements escaped her.
Julien was too unhappy,
and above all too agitated to appreciate so complicated a stratagem of passion.
Still less was he capable of seeing how favourable it really was to him.
He was duped by it.
His unhappiness had perhaps never been so extreme.
His actions were so little controlled by his intellect that if some mournful philosopher had said to him,
"Think how to exploit as quickly as you can those symptoms which promise to be favourable to you.
In this kind of head-love which is seen at Paris,
the same mood cannot last more than two days,"
he would not have understood him.
But however ecstatic he might feel,
Julien was a man of honour.
Discretion was his first duty.
He appreciated it.
describing his agony to the first man who came along would have constituted a happiness analogous to that of the unhappy man who,
when traversing a burning desert receives from heaven a drop of icy water.
He realised the danger,
was frightened of answering an indiscreet question by a torrent of tears,
and shut himself up in his own room.
He saw Mathilde walking in the garden for a long time.
When she at last left it,
he went down there and approached the rose bush from which she had taken a flower.
The night was dark and he could abandon himself to his unhappiness without fear of being seen.
It was obvious to him that mademoiselle de la Mole loved one of those young officers with whom she had chatted so gaily.
She had loved him,
but she had realised his little merit,
"and as a matter of fact I had very little,"
Julien said to himself with full conviction.
"Taking me all round I am a very dull,
very boring to others and quite unbearable to myself."
He was mortally disgusted with all his good qualities,
and with all the things which he had once loved so enthusiastically;
and it was when his imagination was in this distorted condition that he undertook to judge life by means of its aid.
This mistake is typical of a superior man.
The idea of suicide presented itself to him several times;
the idea was full of charm,
and like a delicious rest;
because it was the glass of iced water offered to the wretch dying of thirst and heat in the desert.
"My death will increase the contempt she has for me,"
"What a memory I should leave her."
Courage is the only resource of a human being who has fallen into this last abyss of unhappiness.
Julien did not have sufficient genius to say to himself,
"I must dare,"
but as he looked at the window of Mathilde's room he saw through the blinds that she was putting out her light.
He conjured up that charming room which he had seen,
once in his whole life.
His imagination did not go any further.
One o'clock struck.
Hearing the stroke of the clock and saying to himself,
"I will climb up the ladder,"
scarcely took a moment.
It was the flash of genius,
good reasons crowded on his mind.
"May I be more fortunate than before,"
he said to himself.
He ran to the ladder.
The gardener had chained it up.
With the help of the cock of one of his little pistols which he broke,
who for the time being was animated by a superhuman force,
twisted one of the links of the chain which held the ladder.
He was master of it in a few minutes,
and placed it against Mathilde's window.
"She will be angry and riddle me with scornful words!
What does it matter?
I will give her a kiss,
one last kiss.
I will go up to my room and kill myself ...
my lips will touch her cheek before I die."
He flew up the ladder and knocked at the blind;
Mathilde heard him after some minutes and tried to open the blind but the ladder was in the way.
Julien hung to the iron hook intending to keep the blind open,
and at the imminent risk of falling down,
gave the ladder a violent shake which moved it a little.
Mathilde was able to open the blind.
He threw himself into the window more dead than alive.
"So it is you,
she said as she rushed into his arms.
* * * * *
The excess of Julien's happiness was indescribable.
Mathilde's almost equalled his own.
She talked against herself to him and denounced herself.
"Punish me for my awful pride,"
she said to him,
clasping him in her arms so tightly as almost to choke him.
"You are my master,
I am your slave.
I must ask your pardon on my knees for having tried to rebel."
She left his arms to fall at his feet.
she said to him,
still intoxicated with happiness and with love,
"you are my master,
reign over me for ever.
When your slave tries to revolt,
punish her severely."
In another moment she tore herself from his arms,
and lit a candle,
and it was only by a supreme effort that Julien could prevent her from cutting off a whole tress of her hair.
"I want to remind myself,"
she said to him,
"that I am your handmaid.
If I am ever led astray again by my abominable pride,
show me this hair and say,
'It is not a question of the emotion which your soul may be feeling at present,
you have sworn to obey,
obey on your honour.'"
But it is wiser to suppress the description of so intense a transport of delirious happiness.
Julien's unselfishness was equal to his happiness.
"I must go down by the ladder,"
he said to Mathilde,
when he saw the dawn of day appear from the quarter of the east over the distant chimneys beyond the garden.
"The sacrifice that I impose on myself is worthy of you.
I deprive myself of some hours of the most astonishing happiness that a human soul can savour,
but it is a sacrifice I make for the sake of your reputation.
If you know my heart you will appreciate how violent is the strain to which I am putting myself.
Will you always be to me what you are now?
But honour speaks,
Let me tell you that since our last interview,
thieves have not been the only object of suspicion.
M. de la Mole has set a guard in the garden.
M. Croisenois is surrounded by spies: they know what he does every night."
Mathilde burst out laughing at this idea.
Her mother and a chamber-maid were woken up,
they suddenly began to speak to her through the door.
Julien looked at her,
she grew pale as she scolded the chamber-maid,
and she did not deign to speak to her mother.
"But suppose they think of opening the window,
they will see the ladder,"
Julien said to her.
He clasped her again in his arms,
rushed on to the ladder,
rather than climbed down;
he was on the ground in a moment.
Three seconds after the ladder was in the avenue of pines,
and Mathilde's honour was saved.
Julien returned to his room and found that he was bleeding and almost naked.
He had wounded himself in sliding down in that dare-devil way.
Extreme happiness had made him regain all the energy of his character.
If twenty men had presented themselves it would have proved at this moment only an additional pleasure to have attacked them unaided.
Happily his military prowess was not put to the proof.
He laid the ladder in its usual place and replaced the chain which held it.
He did not forget to efface the mark which the ladder had left on the bed of exotic flowers under Mathilde's window.
As he was moving his hand over the soft ground in the darkness and satisfying himself that the mark had entirely disappeared,
he felt something fall down on his hands.
It was a whole tress of Mathilde's hair which she had cut off and thrown down to him.
She was at the window.
"That's what your servant sends you,"
she said to him in a fairly loud voice,
"It is the sign of eternal gratitude.
I renounce the exercise of my reason,
be my master."
Julien was quite overcome and was on the point of going to fetch the ladder again and climbing back into her room.
Finally reason prevailed.
Getting back into the hôtel from the garden was not easy.
He succeeded in forcing the door of a cellar.
Once in the house he was obliged to break through the door of his room as silently as possible.
In his agitation he had left in the little room which he had just abandoned so rapidly,
the key which was in the pocket of his coat.
"I only hope she thinks of hiding that fatal trophy,"
Finally fatigue prevailed over happiness,
and as the sun was rising he fell into a deep sleep.
The breakfast bell only just managed to wake him up.
He appeared in the dining-room.
Shortly afterwards Mathilde came in.
Julien's pride felt deliciously flattered as he saw the love which shone in the eyes of this beautiful creature who was surrounded by so much homage;
but soon his discretion had occasion to be alarmed.
Making an excuse of the little time that she had had to do her hair,
Mathilde had arranged it in such a way that Julien could see at the first glance the full extent of the sacrifice that she had made for his sake,
by cutting off her hair on the previous night.
If it had been possible to spoil so beautiful a face by anything whatsoever,
Mathilde would have succeeded in doing it.
A whole tress of her beautiful blonde hair was cut off to within half an inch of the scalp.
Mathilde's whole manner during breakfast was in keeping with this initial imprudence.
One might have said that she had made a specific point of trying to inform the whole world of her mad passion for Julien.
Happily on this particular day M. de la Mole and the marquis were very much concerned about an approaching bestowal of "blue ribbons" which was going to take place,
and in which M. de Chaulnes was not comprised.
Towards the end of the meal,
who was talking to Julien,
happened to call him "My Master."
He blushed up to the whites of his eyes.
Mathilde was not left alone for an instant that day,
whether by chance or the deliberate policy of madame de la Mole.
In the evening when she passed from the dining-room into the salon,
she managed to say to Julien:
"You may be thinking I am making an excuse,
but mamma has just decided that one of her women is to spend the night in my room."
This day passed with lightning rapidity.
Julien was at the zenith of happiness.
At seven o'clock in the morning of the following day he installed himself in the library.
He hoped the mademoiselle de la Mole would deign to appear there;
he had written her an interminable letter.
He only saw her several hours afterwards at breakfast.
Her hair was done to-day with the very greatest care;
a marvellous art had managed to hide the place where the hair had been cut.
She looked at Julien once or twice,
but her eyes were polite and calm,
and there was no question of calling him "My Master."
Julien's astonishment prevented him from breathing --Mathilde was reproaching herself for all she had done for him.
After mature reflection,
she had come to the conclusion that he was a person who,
though not absolutely commonplace,
was yet not sufficiently different from the common ruck to deserve all the strange follies that she had ventured for his sake.
To sum up she did not give love a single thought;
on this particular day she was tired of loving.
As for Julien,
his emotions were those of a child of sixteen.
He was a successive prey to awful doubt,
astonishment and despair during this breakfast which he thought would never end.
As soon as he could decently get up from the table,
he flew rather than ran to the stable,
saddled his horse himself,
and galloped off.
"I must kill my heart through sheer force of physical fatigue,"
he said to himself as he galloped through the Meudon woods.
"What have I done,
what have I said to deserve a disgrace like this?"
"I must do nothing and say nothing to-day,"
he thought as he re-entered the hôtel.
"I must be as dead physically as I am morally."
Julien saw nothing any more,
it was only his corpse which kept moving.
THE JAPANESE VASE
His heart does not first realise the full extremity of his unhappiness: he is more troubled than moved.
But as reason returns he feels the depth of his misfortune.
All the pleasures of life seem to have been destroyed,
he can only feel the sharp barbs of a lacerating despair.
But what is the use of talking of physical pain?
What pain which is only felt by the body can be compared to this pain?
The dinner bell rang,
Julien had barely time to dress: he found Mathilde in the salon.
She was pressing her brother and M. de Croisenois to promise her that they would not go and spend the evening at Suresnes with madame the maréchale de Fervaques.
It would have been difficult to have shown herself more amiable or fascinating to them.
M. de Luz,
de Caylus and several of their friends came in after dinner.
One would have said that mademoiselle de la Mole had commenced again to cultivate the most scrupulous conventionality at the same time as her sisterly affection.
Although the weather was delightful this evening,
she refused to go out into the garden,
and insisted on their all staying near the arm-chair where madame de la Mole was sitting.
The blue sofa was the centre of the group as it had been in the winter.
Mathilde was out of temper with the garden,
or at any rate she found it absolutely boring: it was bound up with the memory of Julien.
Unhappiness blunts the edge of the intellect.
Our hero had the bad taste to stop by that little straw chair which had formerly witnessed his most brilliant triumphs.
To-day none spoke to him,
his presence seemed to be unnoticed,
and worse than that.
Those of mademoiselle de la Mole's friends who were sitting near him at the end of the sofa,
made a point of somehow or other turning their back on him,
at any rate he thought so.
"It is a court disgrace,"
He tried to study for a moment the people who were endeavouring to overwhelm him with their contempt.
M. de Luz had an important post in the King's suite,
the result of which was that the handsome officer began every conversation with every listener who came along by telling him this special piece of information.
His uncle had started at seven o'clock for St. Cloud and reckoned on spending the night there.
This detail was introduced with all the appearance of good nature but it never failed to be worked in.
As Julien scrutinized M. de Croisenois with a stern gaze of unhappiness,
he observed that this good amiable young man attributed a great influence to occult causes.
He even went so far as to become melancholy and out of temper if he saw an event of the slightest importance ascribed to a simple and perfectly natural cause.
"There is an element of madness in this,"
Julien said to himself.
This man's character has a striking analogy with that of the Emperor Alexander,
such as the Prince Korasoff described it to me.
During the first year of his stay in Paris poor Julien,
fresh from the seminary and dazzled by the graces of all these amiable young people,
whom he found so novel,
had felt bound to admire them.
Their true character was only beginning to become outlined in his eyes.
"I am playing an undignified rôle here,"
he suddenly thought.
The question was,
how he could leave the little straw chair without undue awkwardness.
He wanted to invent something,
and tried to extract some novel excuse from an imagination which was otherwise engrossed.
He was compelled to fall back on his memory,
it must be owned,
somewhat poor in resources of this kind.
The poor boy was still very much out of his element,
and could not have exhibited a more complete and noticeable awkwardness when he got up to leave the salon.
His misery was only too palpable in his whole manner.
He had been playing,
for the last three quarters of an hour,
the rôle of an officious inferior from whom one does not take the trouble to hide what one really thinks.
The critical observations he had just made on his rivals prevented him,
from taking his own unhappiness too tragically.
His pride could take support in what had taken place the previous day.
"Whatever may be their advantages over me,"
as he went into the garden alone,
"Mathilde has never been to a single one of them what,
twice in my life,
she has deigned to be to me!"
His penetration did not go further.
He absolutely failed to appreciate the character of the extraordinary person whom chance had just made the supreme mistress of all his happiness.
on the following day,
to make himself and his horse dead tired with fatigue.
He made no attempt in the evening to go near the blue sofa to which Mathilde remained constant.
He noticed that comte Norbert did not even deign to look at him when he met him about the house.
"He must be doing something very much against the grain,"
"he is naturally so polite."
Sleep would have been a happiness to Julien.
In spite of his physical fatigue,
memories which were only too seductive commenced to invade his imagination.
He had not the genius to see that,
inasmuch as his long rides on horseback over forests on the outskirts of Paris only affected him,
and had no affect at all on Mathilde's heart or mind,
he was consequently leaving his eventual destiny to the caprice of chance.
He thought that one thing would give his pain an infinite relief: it would be to speak to Mathilde.
Yet what would he venture to say to her?
He was dreaming deeply about this at seven o'clock one morning when he suddenly saw her enter the library.
that you are anxious to speak to me."
who told you?"
that is enough.
If you are dishonourable,
you can ruin me,
or at least try to.
But this danger,
which I do not believe to be real,
will certainly not prevent me from being sincere.
I do not love you any more,
I have been led astray by my foolish imagination."
Distracted by love and unhappiness,
as a result of this terrible blow,
Julien tried to justify himself.
Nothing could have been more absurd.
Does one make any excuses for failure to please?
But reason had no longer any control over his actions.
A blind instinct urged him to get the determination of his fate postponed.
He thought that,
so long as he kept on speaking,
all could not be over.
Mathilde had not listened to his words;
their sound irritated her.
She could not conceive how he could have the audacity to interrupt her.
She was rendered equally unhappy this morning by remorseful virtue and remorseful pride.
She felt to some extent pulverised by the idea of having given a little abbé,
who was the son of a peasant,
rights over her.
"It is almost,"
she said to herself,
in those moments when she exaggerated her own misfortune,
"as though I had a weakness for one of my footmen to reproach myself with."
proud natures there is only one step from anger against themselves to wrath against others.
In these cases the very transports of fury constitute a vivid pleasure.
In a single minute mademoiselle de la Mole reached the point of loading Julien with the signs of the most extreme contempt.
She had infinite wit,
and this wit was always triumphant in the art of torturing vanity and wounding it cruelly.
For the first time in his life Julien found himself subjected to the energy of a superior intellect,
which was animated against him by the most violent hate.
Far from having at present the slightest thought of defending himself,
he came to despise himself.
Hearing himself overwhelmed with such marks of contempt which were so cleverly calculated to destroy any good opinion that he might have of himself,
he thought that Mathilde was right,
and that she did not say enough.
As for her,
she found it deliciously gratifying to her pride to punish in this way both herself and him for the adoration that she had felt some days previously.
She did not have to invent and improvise the cruel remarks which she addressed to him with so much gusto.
All she had to do was to repeat what the advocate of the other side had been saying against her love in her own heart for the last eight days.
Each word intensified a hundredfold Julien's awful unhappiness.
He wanted to run away,
but mademoiselle de la Mole took hold of his arm authoritatively.
"Be good enough to remark,"
he said to her,
"that you are talking very loud.
You will be heard in the next room."
"What does it matter?"
mademoiselle de la Mole answered haughtily.
"Who will dare to say they have heard me?
I want to cure your miserable vanity once and for all of any ideas you may have indulged in on my account."
When Julien was allowed to leave the library he was so astonished that he was less sensitive to his unhappiness.
"She does not love me any more,"
he repeated to himself,
speaking aloud as though to teach himself how he stood.
"It seems that she has loved me eight or ten days,
but I shall love her all my life."
"Is it really possible she was nothing to me,
nothing to my heart so few days back?"
Mathilde's heart was inundated by the joy of satisfied pride.
So she had been able to break with him for ever!
So complete a triumph over so strong an inclination rendered her completely happy.
"So this little gentleman will understand,
once and for all,
that he has not,
and will never have,
any dominion over me."
She was so happy that in reality she ceased to love at this particular moment.
In a less passionate being than Julien love would have become impossible after a scene of such awful humiliation.
Without deviating for a single minute from the requirements of her own self-respect,
mademoiselle de la Mole had addressed to him some of those unpleasant remarks which are so well thought out that they may seem true,
even when remembered in cold blood.
The conclusion which Julien drew in the first moment of so surprising a scene,
was that Mathilde was infinitely proud.
He firmly believed that all was over between them for ever,
and none the less,
he was awkward and nervous towards her at breakfast on the following day.
This was a fault from which up to now he had been exempt.
Both in small things as in big it was his habit to know what he ought and wanted to do,
and he used to act accordingly.
The same day after breakfast madame de la Mole asked him for a fairly rare,
seditious pamphlet which her curé had surreptitiously brought her in the morning,
as he took it from a bracket,
knocked over a blue porcelain vase which was as ugly as it could possibly be.
Madame de la Mole got up,
uttering a cry of distress,
and proceeded to contemplate at close quarters the ruins of her beloved vase.
"It was old Japanese,"
"It came to me from my great aunt,
the abbess of Chelles.
It was a present from the Dutch to the Regent,
the Duke of Orleans,
who had given it to his daughter ...."
Mathilde had followed her mother's movements,
and felt delighted at seeing that the blue vase,
that she had thought horribly ugly,
Julien was taciturn,
and not unduly upset.
He saw mademoiselle de la Mole quite near him.
he said to her,
"has been destroyed for ever.
The same is the case with the sentiment which was once master of my heart.
I would ask you to accept my apologies for all the pieces of madness which it has made me commit."
And he went out.
"One would really say,"
said madame de la Mole,
as he went out of the room,
"that this M. Sorel is quite proud of what he has just done."
These words went right home to Mathilde's heart.
"It is true,"
she said to herself;
"my mother has guessed right.
That is the sentiment which animates him."
It was only then that she ceased rejoicing over yesterday's scene.
it is all over,"
she said to herself,
with an apparent calm.
"It is a great lesson,
It is an awful and humiliating mistake!
It is enough to make me prudent all the rest of my life."
"Why didn't I speak the truth?"
"Why am I still tortured by the love which I once had for that mad woman?"
from being extinguished as he had hoped it would be,
his love grew more and more rapidly.
"She is mad,
it is true,"
he said to himself.
"Is she any the less adorable for that?
Is it possible for anyone to be prettier?
Is not mademoiselle de la Mole the ideal quintessence of all the most vivid pleasures of the most elegant civilisation?"
These memories of a bygone happiness seized hold of Julien's mind,
and quickly proceeded to destroy all the work of his reason.
It is in vain that reason wrestles with memories of this character.
Its stern struggles only increase the fascination.
Twenty-four hours after the breaking of the Japanese vase,
Julien was unquestionably one of the most unhappy men in the world.
THE SECRET NOTE
I have seen everything I relate,
and if I may have made a mistake when I saw it,
I am certainly not deceiving you in telling you of it.
_Letter to the author_.
The marquis summoned him;
M. de la Mole looked rejuvenated,
his eye was brilliant.
"Let us discuss your memory a little,"
he said to Julien,
"it is said to be prodigious.
Could you learn four pages by heart and go and say them at London,
but without altering a single word?"
The marquis was irritably fingering,
the day's _Quotidienne_,
and was trying in vain to hide an extreme seriousness which Julien had never noticed in him before,
even when discussing the Frilair lawsuit.
Julien had already learned sufficient manners to appreciate that he ought to appear completely taken in by the lightness of tone which was being manifested.
"This number of the _Quotidienne_ is not very amusing possibly,
but if M. the marquis will allow me,
I shall do myself the honour to-morrow morning of reciting it to him from beginning to end."
even the advertisements?"
"Quite accurately and without leaving out a word."
"You give me your word?"
replied the marquis with sudden gravity.
the only thing which could upset my memory is the fear of breaking my promise."
"The fact is,
I forgot to put this question to you yesterday: I am not going to ask for your oath never to repeat what you are going to hear.
I know you too well to insult you like that.
I have answered for you.
I am going to take you into a salon where a dozen persons will he assembled.
You will make a note of what each one says.
"Do not be uneasy.
It will not be a confused conversation by any means.
Each one will speak in his turn,
though not necessarily in an orderly manner,"
added the marquis falling back into that light,
subtle manner which was so natural to him.
"While we are talking,
you will write out twenty pages and will come back here with me,
and we will get those twenty pages down to four,
and those are the four pages you will recite to me to-morrow morning instead of the four pages of the _Quotidienne_.
You will leave immediately afterwards.
You must post about like a young man travelling on pleasure.
Your aim will be to avoid attracting attention.
You will arrive at the house of a great personage.
You will there need more skill.
Your business will then be to take in all his entourage,
for among his secretaries and his servants are some people who have sold themselves to our enemies,
and who spy on our travelling agents in order to intercept them.
"You will have an insignificant letter of introduction.
At the moment his Excellency looks at you,
you will take out this watch of mine,
which I will lend you for the journey.
Wear it now,
it will be so much done;
at any rate give me yours.
"The duke himself will be good enough to write at your dictation the four pages you have learnt by heart.
"Having done this,
but not earlier,
if his Excellency questions you,
tell him about the meeting at which you are now going to be present.
"You will be prevented from boring yourself on the journey between Paris and the minister's residence by the thought that there are people who would like nothing better than to fire a shot at M. the abbé Sorel.
In that case that gentleman's mission will be finished,
and I see a great delay,
for how are we to know of your death,
my dear friend?
Even your zeal cannot go to the length of informing us of it.
"Run straight away and buy a complete suit,"
went on the marquis seriously.
"Dress in the fashion of two years ago.
To-night you must look somewhat badly groomed.
When you travel,
on the other hand,
you will be as usual.
Does this surprise you?
Does your suspiciousness guess the secret?
one of the venerable personages you are going to hear deliver his opinion,
is perfectly capable of giving information as the result of which you stand a very good chance of being given at least opium some fine evening in some good inn where you will have asked for supper."
"It is better,"
"to do an extra thirty leagues and not take the direct road.
It is a case of Rome,
I suppose ...."
The marquis assumed an expression of extreme haughtiness and dissatisfaction which Julien had never seen him wear since Bray-le-Haut.
"That is what you will know,
when I think it proper to tell you.
I do not like questions."
"That was not one,"
answered Julien eagerly.
I was thinking quite aloud.
My mind was trying to find out the safest route."
it seems your mind was a very long way off.
Remember that an emissary,
and particularly one of your age should not appear to be a man who forces confidences."
Julien was very mortified;
he was in the wrong.
His vanity tried to find an excuse and did not find one.
added monsieur de la Mole,
"that one always falls back on one's heart when one has committed some mistake."
An hour afterwards Julien was in the marquis's ante-chamber.
He looked quite like a servant with his old clothes,
a tie of a dubious white,
and a certain touch of the usher in his whole appearance.
The marquis burst out laughing as he saw him,
and it was only then that Julien's justification was complete.
"If this young man betrays me,"
said M. de la Mole to himself,
"whom is one to trust?
when one acts,
one must trust someone.
My son and his brilliant friends of the same calibre have as much courage and loyalty as a hundred thousand men.
If it were necessary to fight,
they would die on the steps of the throne.
They know everything --except what one needs in emergency.
Devil take me if I can find a single one among them who can learn four pages by heart and do a hundred leagues without being tracked down.
Norbert would know how to sell his life as dearly as his grandfathers did.
But any conscript could do as much."
The marquis fell into a profound reverie.
"As for selling one's life too,"
he said with a sigh,
"perhaps this Sorel would manage it quite as well as he could.
"Let us get into the carriage,"
said the marquis as though to chase away an unwanted idea.
"while they were getting this suit ready for me,
I learnt the first page of to-days _Quotidienne_ by heart."
The marquis took the paper.
Julien recited it without making a single mistake.
said the marquis,
who this night felt very diplomatic.
"During the time he takes over this our young man will not notice the streets through which we are passing."
They arrived in a big salon that looked melancholy enough and was partly upholstered in green velvet.
In the middle of the room a scowling lackey had just placed a big dining-table which he subsequently changed into a writing-table by means of an immense green inkstained tablecloth which had been plundered from some minister.
The master of the house was an enormous man whose name was not pronounced.
Julien thought he had the appearance and eloquence of a man who ruminated.
At a sign from the marquis,
Julien had remained at the lower end of the table.
In order to keep himself in countenance,
he began to cut quills.
He counted out of the corner of his eye seven visitors,
but Julien could only see their backs.
Two seemed to him to be speaking to M. de la Mole on a footing of equality,
the others seemed more or less respectful.
A new person entered without being announced.
"This is strange,"
"People are not announced in this salon.
Is this precaution taken in my honour?"
Everybody got up to welcome the new arrival.
He wore the same extremely distinguished decoration as three of the other persons who were in the salon.
They talked fairly low.
In endeavouring to form an opinion of the new comer,
Julien was reduced to seeing what he could learn from his features and his appearance.
He was short and thick-set.
He had a high colour and a brilliant eye and an expression that looked like a malignant boar,
and nothing else.
Julien's attention was partly distracted by the almost immediate arrival of a very different kind of person.
It was a tall very thin man who wore three or four waistcoats.
His eye was caressing,
his demeanour polite.
"He looks exactly like the old bishop of Besançon,"
This man evidently belonged to the church,
was apparently not more than fifty to fifty-five years of age,
and no one could have looked more paternal than he did.
The young bishop of Agde appeared.
He looked very astonished when,
in making a scrutiny of those present,
his gaze fell upon Julien.
He had not spoken to him since the ceremony of Bray-le-Haut.
His look of surprise embarrassed and irritated Julien.
he said to himself,
"will knowing a man always turn out unfortunate for me?
I don't feel the least bit intimidated by all those great lords whom I have never seen,
but the look of that young bishop freezes me.
I must admit that I am a very strange and very unhappy person."
An extremely swarthy little man entered noisily soon afterwards and started talking as soon as he reached the door.
He had a yellow complexion and looked a little mad.
As soon as this ruthless talker arrived,
the others formed themselves into knots with the apparent object of avoiding the bother of listening to him.
As they went away from the mantelpiece they came near the lower end of the table where Julien was placed.
His countenance became more and more embarrassed,
for whatever efforts he made,
he could not avoid hearing,
and in spite of all his lack of experience he appreciated all the moment of the things which they were discussing with such complete frankness,
and the importance which the high personages whom he apparently had under his observation must attach to their being kept secret.
Julien had already cut twenty quills as slowly as possible;
this distraction would shortly be no longer available.
He looked in vain at M. de la Mole's eyes for an order;
the marquis had forgotten him.
"What I am doing is ridiculous,"
he said to himself as he cut his quills,
"but persons with so mediocre an appearance and who are handling such great interests either for themselves or for others must be extremely liable to take offence.
My unfortunate look has a certain questioning and scarcely respectful expression,
which will doubtless irritate them.
But if I palpably lower my eyes I shall look as if I were picking up every word they said."
His embarrassment was extreme,
he was listening to strange things.
The republic: --For one man to day who will sacrifice everything for the public welfare,
there are thousands and millions who think of nothing except their enjoyments and their vanity.
One is requested in Paris by reason of the qualities not of one's self but of one's carriage.
The footman rushed in saying "Monsieur the duke de -- --"
"Hold your tongue,
you are just a fool,"
said the duke as he entered.
He spoke these words so well,
and with so much majesty,
that Julien could not help thinking this great person's accomplishments were limited to the science of snubbing a lackey.
Julien raised his eyes and immediately lowered them.
He had so fully appreciated the significance of the new arrival that he feared that his look might be an indiscretion.
The duke was a man of fifty dressed like a dandy and with a jerky walk.
He had a narrow head with a large nose and a face that jutted forward;
it would have been difficult to have looked at the same time more insignificant.
His arrival was the signal for the opening of the meeting.
Julien was sharply interrupted in his physiognomical observations by de la Mole's voice.
"I present to you M. the abbé Sorel,"
said the Marquis.
"He is gifted with an astonishing memory;
it is scarcely an hour ago since I spoke to him of the mission by which he might be honoured,
and he has learned the first page of the _Quotidienne_ by heart in order to give proof of his memory."
foreign news of that poor N --" said the master of the house.
He took up the paper eagerly and looked at Julien in a manner rendered humorous by its own self-importance.
he said to him.
The silence was profound,
all eyes were fixed on Julien.
He recited so well that the duke said at the end of twenty lines,
"That is enough."
The little man who looked like a boar sat down.
He was the president,
for he had scarcely taken his place before he showed Julien a card-table and signed to him to bring it near him.
Julien established himself at it with writing materials.
He counted twelve persons seated round the green table cloth.
said the Duke,
"retire into next room,
you will be called."
The master of the house began to look very anxious.
"The shutters are not shut,"
he said to his neighbour in a semi-whisper.
"It is no good looking out of the window,"
he stupidly cried to Julien --"so here I am more or less mixed up in a conspiracy,"
thought the latter.
"Fortunately it is not one of those which lead to the Place-de-Grève.
Even though there were danger,
I owe this and even more to the marquis,
and should be glad to be given the chance of making up for all the sorrow which my madness may one day occasion him."
While thinking of his own madness and his own unhappiness he regarded the place where he was,
in such a way as to imprint it upon his memory for ever.
He then remembered for the first time that he had never heard the lackey tell the name of the street,
and that the marquis had taken a fiacre which he never did in the ordinary way.
Julien was left to his own reflections for a long time.
He was in a salon upholstered in red velvet with large pieces of gold lace.
A large ivory crucifix was on the console-table and a gilt-edged,
magnificently bound copy of M. de Maistre's book _The Pope_ was on the mantelpiece.
Julien opened it so as not to appear to be eavesdropping.
From time to time they talked loudly in the next room.
At last the door was opened and he was called in.
the president was saying "that from this moment we are talking in the presence of the duke of -- --.
pointing to Julien,
"is a young acolyte devoted to our sacred cause who by the aid of his marvellous memory will repeat quite easily our very slightest words."
"It is your turn to speak,
he said pointing to the paternal looking personage who wore three or four waistcoats.
Julien thought it would have been more natural to have called him the gentleman in the waistcoats.
He took some paper and wrote a great deal.
(At this juncture the author would have liked to have put a page of dots.
said his publisher,
"would be clumsy and in the case of so light a work clumsiness is death."
replies the author,
"is a stone tied round the neck of literature which submerges it in less than six months.
Politics in the midst of imaginative matter is like a pistol shot in the middle of a concert.
The noise is racking without being energetic.
It does not harmonise with the sound of any instrument.
These politics will give mortal offence to one half of the readers and will bore the other half,
who will have already read the ideas in question as set out in the morning paper in its own drastic manner."
"If your characters don't talk politics,"
replied the publisher,
"they cease to be Frenchmen of 1830,
and your book is no longer a mirror as you claim?")
Julien's record ran to twenty-six pages.
Here is a very diluted extract,
for it has been necessary to adopt the invariable practice of suppressing those ludicrous passages,
whose violence would have seemed either offensive or intolerable (see the _Gazette des Tribunaux_).
The man with the waistcoats and the paternal expression (he was perhaps a bishop) often smiled and then his eyes,
which were surrounded with a floating forest of eyebrows,
assumed a singular brilliance and an unusually decided expression.
This personage whom they made speak first before the duke ("but what duke is it?"
thought Julien to himself) with the apparent object of expounding various points of view and fulfilling the functions of an advocate-general,
appeared to Julien to fall into the uncertainty and lack of definiteness with which those officials are so often taxed.
During the course of the discussion the duke went so far as to reproach him on this score.
After several sentences of morality and indulgent philosophy the man in the waistcoats said,
under the guiding hand of a great man,
the immortal Pitt,
has spent forty milliards of francs in opposing the revolution.
If this meeting will allow me to treat so melancholy a subject with some frankness,
England fails to realise sufficiently that in dealing with a man like Buonaparte,
especially when they have nothing to oppose him with,
except a bundle of good intentions there is nothing decisive except personal methods."
praising assassination again!"
said the master of the house anxiously.
"Spare us your sentimental sermons,"
cried the president angrily.
His boarlike eye shone with a savage brilliance.
he said to the man with the waistcoats.
The cheeks and the forehead of the president became purple.
replied the advocate-general,
"is crushed to-day: for each Englishman before paying for his own bread is obliged to pay the interest on forty milliards of francs which were used against the Jacobins.
She has no more Pitt."
"She has the Duke of Wellington,"
said a military personage looking very important.
exclaimed the president.
"If we are still going to dispute,
there was no point in having M. Sorel in."
"We know that monsieur has many ideas,"
said the duke irritably,
looking at the interrupter who was an old Napoleonic general.
Julien saw that these words contained some personal and very offensive allusion.
the turncoat general appeared beside himself with rage.
"There is no longer a Pitt,
went on the speaker with all the despondency of a man who has given up all hope of bringing his listeners to reason.
"If there were a new Pitt in England,
you would not dupe a nation twice over by the same means."
"That's why a victorious general,
will be henceforward impossible in France,"
exclaimed the military interrupter.
On this occasion neither the president nor the duke ventured to get angry,
though Julien thought he read in their eyes that they would very much like to have done so.
They lowered their eyes,
and the duke contented himself with sighing in quite an audible manner.
But the speaker was put upon his mettle.
"My audience is eager for me to finish,"
he said vigorously,
completely discarding that smiling politeness and that balanced diction that Julien thought had expressed his character so well.
"It is eager for me to finish,
it is not grateful to me for the efforts I am making to offend nobody's ears,
however long they may be.
I will be brief.
"I will tell you in quite common words: England has not got a sou with which to help the good cause.
If Pitt himself were to come back he would never succeed with all his genius in duping the small English landowners,
for they know that the short Waterloo campaign alone cost them a milliard of francs.
As you like clear phrases,"
continued the speaker,
becoming more and more animated,
"I will say this to you: Help yourselves,
for England has not got a guinea left to help you with,
and when England does not pay,
Russia and Prussia --who will only have courage but have no money --cannot launch more than one or two campaigns against France.
"One may hope that the young soldiers who will be recruited by the Jacobins will be beaten in the first campaign,
and possibly in the second;
even though I seem a revolutionary in your prejudiced eyes,
in the third campaign --in the third campaign I say --you will have the soldiers of 1794 who were no longer the soldiers enlisted in 1792."
At this point interruption broke out simultaneously from three or four quarters.
said the president to Julien,
"Go and make a précis in the next room of the beginning of the report which you have written out."
Julien went out to his great regret.
The speaker was just dealing with the question of probabilities which formed the usual subject for his meditations.
"They are frightened of my making fun of them,"
When he was called back,
M. de la Mole was saying with a seriousness which seemed quite humorous to Julien who knew him so well,
one finds the phrase,
'is it god,
table or tub?'
especially applicable to this unhappy people.
'_It is god_' exclaims the writer of fables.
It is to you,
that this noble and profound phrase seems to apply.
Act on your own initiative,
and noble France will appear again,
almost such as our ancestors made her,
and as our own eyes have seen her before the death of Louis XVI.
"England execrates disgraceful Jacobinism as much as we do,
or at any rate her noble lords do.
Without English gold,
Austria and Prussia would only be able to give battle two or three times.
Would that be sufficient to ensure a successful occupation like the one which M. de Richelieu so foolishly failed to exploit in 1817?
I do not think so."
At this point there was an interruption which was stifled by the hushes of the whole room.
It came again from the old Imperial general who wanted the blue ribbon and wished to figure among the authors of the secret note.
"I do not think so,"
replied M. de la Mole,
after the uproar had subsided.
He laid stress on the "I" with an insolence which charmed Julien.
"That's a pretty piece of acting,"
he said to himself,
as he made his pen almost keep pace with the marquis' words.
M. de la Mole annihilated the twenty campaigns of the turncoat with a well turned phrase.
"It is not only on foreign powers,"
continued the marquis in a more even tone,
"on whom we shall be able to rely for a new military occupation.
All those young men who write inflammatory articles in the _Globe_ will provide you with three or four thousand young captains among whom you may find men with the genius,
but not the good intentions of a Kléber,
"We did not know how to glorify him,"
said the president.
"He should have been immortalized."
it is necessary for France to have two parties,"
went on M. de la Mole;
"but two parties not merely in name,
but with clear-cut lines of cleavage.
Let us realise what has got to be crushed.
On the one hand the journalists and the electors,
in a word,
youth and all that admire it.
While it is stupefying itself with the noise of its own vain words,
we have certain advantages of administrating the expenditure of the budget."
At this point there was another interruption.
"As for you,
said M. de la Mole to the interrupter,
with an admirable haughtiness and ease of manner,
"you do not spend,
if the words chokes you,
but you devour the forty thousand francs put down to you in the State budget,
and the eighty thousand which you receive from the civil list."
since you force me to it,
I will be bold enough to take you for an example.
Like your noble ancestors,
who followed Saint Louis to the crusade,
you ought in return for those hundred and twenty thousand francs to show us at any rate a regiment;
what am I saying?
say half a company,
even if it only had fifty men,
ready to fight and devoted to the good cause to the point of risking their lives in its service.
You have nothing but lackeys,
who in the event of a rebellion would frighten you yourselves."
Nobility are liable to perish to-morrow,
so long as you refrain from creating in each department a force of five hundred devoted men,
devoted I mean,
not only with all the French courage,
but with all the Spanish constancy.
"Half of this force ought to be composed of our children,
of real gentlemen,
Each of them will have beside him not a little talkative bourgeois ready to hoist the tricolor cockade,
if 1815 turns up again,
but a good,
frank and simple peasant like Cathelineau.
Our gentleman will have educated him,
it will be his own foster brother if it is possible.
Let each of us sacrifice the fifth of his income in order to form this little devoted force of five hundred men in each department.
Then you will be able to reckon on a foreign occupation.
The foreign soldier will never penetrate even as far as Dijon if he is not certain of finding five hundred friendly soldiers in each department.
"The foreign kings will only listen to you when you are in a position to announce to them that you have twenty thousand gentlemen ready to take up arms in order to open to them the gates of France.
The service is troublesome,
it is the only way of saving our lives.
There is war to the death between the liberty of the press and our existence as gentlemen.
or take up your guns.
Be timid if you like,
but do not be stupid.
Open your eyes.
"'_Form your battalions_,'
I would say to you in the words of the Jacobin songs.
Some noble Gustavus Adolphus will then be found who,
touched by the imminent peril of the monarchical principle,
will make a dash three hundred leagues from his own country,
and will do for you what Gustavus did for the Protestant princes.
Do you want to go on talking without acting?
In fifty years' time there will be only presidents or republics in Europe and not one king,
and with those three letters R. O.
I. you will see the last of the priests and the gentlemen.
I can see nothing but candidates paying court to squalid majorities.
"It is no use your saying that at the present time France has not a single accredited general who is universally known and loved,
that the army is only known and organised in the interests of the throne and the church,
and that it has been deprived of all its old troopers,
while each of the Prussian and Austrian regiments count fifty non-commissioned officers who have seen fire.
"Two hundred thousand young men of the middle classes are spoiling for war --"
"A truce to disagreeable truths,"
said a grave personage in a pompous tone.
He was apparently a very high ecclesiastical dignitary,
for M. de la Mole smiled pleasantly,
instead of getting angry,
a circumstance which greatly impressed Julien.
"A truce to unpleasant truths,
let us resume,
The man who needs to have a gangrened leg cut off would be ill advised to say to his surgeon,
'this disease is very healthy.'
If I may use the metaphor,
the noble duke of -- -- is our surgeon."
"So the great words have at last been uttered,"
"It is towards the -- -- that I shall gallop to-night."
The first law of every being,
is to preserve itself and live.
You sow hemlock,
and expect to see ears of corn ripen.
The great personage continued.
One could see that he knew his subject.
He proceeded to expound the following great truths with a soft and tempered eloquence with which Julien was inordinately delighted: --
England has not a guinea to help us with;
economy and Hume are the fashion there.
Even the saints will not give us any money,
and M. Brougham will make fun of us.
The impossibility of getting the kings of Europe to embark on more than two campaigns without English gold;
two campaigns will not be enough to dispose of the middle classes.
The necessity of forming an armed party in France.
the monarchical principle in Europe will not risk even two campaigns.
"The fourth point which I venture to suggest to you,
"The impossibility of forming an armed party in France without the clergy.
I am bold enough to tell you this because I will prove it to you,
You must make every sacrifice for the clergy.
because as it is occupied with its mission by day and by night,
and guided by highly capable men established far from these storms at three hundred leagues from your frontiers -- --"
exclaimed the master of the house.
replied the Cardinal haughtily.
"Whatever more or less ingenious jokes may have been the fashion when you were young,
I have no hesitation in saying that in 1830 it is only the clergy,
under the guidance of Rome,
who has the ear of the lower classes.
"Fifty thousand priests repeat the same words on the day appointed by their chiefs,
and the people --who after all provide soldiers --will be more touched by the voices of its priests than by all the versifying in the whole world."
(This personality provoked some murmurs.)
"The clergy has a genius superior to yours,"
went on the cardinal raising his voice.
"All the progress that has been made towards this essential point of having an armed party in France has been made by us."
At this juncture facts were introduced.
"Who used eighty thousand rifles in Vendée?"
"So long as the clergy is without its forests it is helpless.
At the first war the minister of finance will write to his agents that there is no money to be had except for the curé.
At bottom France does not believe,
and she loves war.
Whoever gives her war will be doubly popular,
for making war is,
to use a vulgar phrase,
the same as starving the Jesuits;
making war means delivering those monsters of pride --the men of France --from the menace of foreign intervention."
The cardinal had a favourable hearing.
"will have to leave the ministry,
his name irritates and to no purpose."
At these words everybody got up and talked at the same time.
"I will be sent away again,"
but the sapient president himself had forgotten both the presence and existence of Julien.
All eyes were turned upon a man whom Julien recognised.
It was M. de Nerval,
the prime minister,
whom he had seen at M. the duc de Retz's ball.
The disorder was at its height,
as the papers say when they talk of the Chamber.
At the end of a long quarter of an hour a little quiet was established.
Then M. de Nerval got up and said in an apostolic tone and a singular voice:
"I will not go so far as to say that I do not set great store on being a minister.
"It has been demonstrated to me,
that my name will double the forces of the Jacobins by making many moderates divide against us.
I should therefore be willing to retire;
but the ways of the Lord are only visible to a small number;
looking fixedly at the cardinal,
"I have a mission.
Heaven has said:
'You will either loose your head on the scaffold or you will re-establish the monarchy of France and reduce the Chambers to the condition of the parliament of Louis XV.,'
I shall do."
He finished his speech,
and there was a long silence.
"What a good actor,"
He made his usual mistake of ascribing too much intelligence to the people.
Excited by the debates of so lively an evening,
and above all by the sincerity of the discussion,
M. de Nerval did at this moment believe in his mission.
This man had great courage,
but at the same time no sense.
During the silence that followed the impressive words,
"I shall do it,"
Julien thought that the striking of the clock had in it a certain element of funereal majesty.
He felt moved.
The discussion was soon resumed with increasing energy,
and above all with an incredible naivety.
"These people will have me poisoned,"
thought Julien at times.
"How can they say such things before a plebian."
They were still talking when two o'clock struck.
The master of the house had been sleeping for some time.
M. de la Mole was obliged to ring for new candles.
M. de Nerval,
had left at the quarter to two,
but not without having repeatedly studied Julien's face in a mirror which was at the minister's side.
His departure had seemed to put everybody at their ease.
While they were bringing new candles,
the man in the waistcoats,
whispered to his neighbour:
"God knows what that man will say to the king.
He may throw ridicule upon us and spoil our future."
"One must own that he must possess an unusual self-assurance,
not to say impudence,
to put in an appearance here There were signs of it before he became a minister;
but a portfolio changes everything and swamps all a man's interests;
he must have felt its effect."
The minister had scarcely left before the general of Buonaparte closed his eyes.
He now talked of his health and his wounds,
consulted his watch,
and went away.
"I will wager,"
said the man in the waistcoats,
"that the general is running after the minister;
he will apologise for having been here and pretend that he is our leader."
"Let us now deliberate,
said the president,
after the sleepy servants had finished bringing and lighting new candles.
"Let us leave off trying to persuade each other.
Let us think of the contents of the note which will be read by our friends outside in forty-eight hours from now.
We have heard ministers spoken of.
Now that M. de Nerval has left us,
we are at liberty to say
'what we do care for ministers.'"
The cardinal gave a subtle smile of approval.
"Nothing is easier it seems to me than summing up our position,"
said the young bishop of Agde,
with the restrained concentrated fire of the most exalted fanaticism.
He had kept silent up to this time;
which Julien had noticed as being soft and calm at the beginning,
had become fiery during the first hour of the discussion.
His soul was now bubbling over like lava from Vesuvius.
"England only made one mistake from 1806 to 1814,"
"and that was in not taking direct and personal measures against Napoleon.
As soon as that man had made dukes and chamberlains,
as soon as he had re-established the throne,
the mission that God had entrusted to him was finished.
The only thing to do with him was to sacrifice him.
The scriptures teach us in more than one place how to make an end of tyrants" (at this point there were several Latin quotations).
it is not a man who has to be sacrificed,
it is Paris.
What is the use of arming your five hundred men in each department,
a hazardous and interminable enterprise?
What is the good of involving France in a matter which is personal to Paris?
Paris alone has done the evil,
with its journals and it salons.
Let the new Babylon perish.
"We must bring to an end the conflict between the church and Paris.
Such a catastrophe would even be in the worldly interests of the throne.
Why did not Paris dare to whisper a word under Buonaparte?
Ask the cannon of Saint-Roch?"
Julien did not leave with M. de la Mole before three o'clock in the morning.
The marquis seemed tired and ashamed.
For the first time in his life in conversation with Julien,
his tone was plaintive.
He asked him for his word never to reveal the excesses of zeal,
that was his expression,
of which chance had just made him a witness.
"Only mention it to our foreign friend,
if he seriously insists on knowing what our young madmen are like.
What does it matter to them if a state is overthrown,
they will become cardinals and will take refuge in Rome.
As for us,
we shall be massacred by the peasants in our châteaus."
The secret note into which the marquis condensed Julien's full report of twenty-six pages was not ready before a quarter to five.
"I am dead tired,"
said the marquis,
"as is quite obvious from the lack of clearness at the end of this note;
I am more dissatisfied with it than with anything I ever did in my whole life.
"go and rest for some hours,
and as I am frightened you might be kidnapped,
I shall lock you up in your room."
The marquis took Julien on the following day to a lonely château at a good distance from Paris.
There were strange guests there whom Julien thought were priests.
He was given a passport which was made out in a fictitious name,
but indicated the real destination of his journey,
which he had always pretended not to know.
He got into a carriage alone.
The marquis had no anxiety on the score of his memory.
Julien had recited the secret note to him several times but he was very apprehensive of his being intercepted.
mind you look like a coxcomb who is simply travelling to kill time,"
he said affectionately to him when he was leaving the salon.
"Perhaps there was more than one treacherous brother in this evening's meeting."
The journey was quick and very melancholy.
Julien had scarcely got out of the marquis's sight before he forgot his secret note and his mission,
and only thought about Mathilde's disdain.
At a village some leagues beyond Metz,
the postmaster came and told him that there were no horses.
It was ten o'clock in the evening.
Julien was very annoyed and asked for supper.
He walked in front of the door and gradually without being noticed passed into the stable-yard.
He did not see any horses there.
"That man looked strange though,"
thought Julien to himself.
"He was scrutinizing me with his brutal eyes."
As one sees he was beginning to be slightly sceptical of all he heard.
He thought of escaping after supper,
and in order to learn at any rate something about the surrounding country,
he left his room to go and warm himself at the kitchen fire.
He was overjoyed to find there the celebrated singer,
The Neopolitan was ensconced in an armchair which he had had brought near the fire.
He was groaning aloud,
and was speaking more to himself than to the twenty dumbfounded German peasants who surrounded him.
"Those people will be my ruin,"
he cried to Julien,
"I have promised to sing to-morrow at Mayence.
Seven sovereign princes have gone there to hear me.
Let us go and take the air,"
When he had gone a hundred yards down the road,
and it was impossible to be overheard,
he said to Julien:
"Do you know the real truth,
the postmaster is a scoundrel.
When I went out for a walk I gave twenty sous to a little ragamuffin who told me everything.
There are twelve horses in the stable at the other end of the village.
They want to stop some courier."
said Julien innocently.
Discovering the fraud was not enough;
the thing was to get away,
but Geronimo and his friends could not succeed in doing this.
"Let us wait for daybreak,"
said the singer at last,
"they are mistrustful of us.
It is perhaps you or me whom they suspect.
We will order a good breakfast to-morrow morning,
we will go for a walk while they are getting it ready,
we will then escape,
we will hire horses,
and gain the next station."
"And how about your luggage?"
who thought perhaps Geronimo himself might have been sent to intercept him.
They had to have supper and go to bed.
Julien was still in his first sleep when he was woken up with a start by the voices of two persons who were speaking in his room with utmost freedom.
He recognised the postmaster armed with a dark lantern.
The light was turned on the carriage-seat which Julien had had taken up into his room.
Beside the postmaster was a man who was calmly searching the open seat.
Julien could see nothing except the sleeves of his coat which were black and very tight.
"It's a cassock,"
he said to himself and he softly seized the little pistol which he had placed under his pillow.
"Don't be frightened of his waking up,
said the postmaster,
"the wine that has been served him was the stuff prepared by yourself."
"I can't find any trace of papers,"
answered the curé.
"A lot of linen and essences,
It's a young man of the world on pleasure bent.
The other one who effects an Italian accent is more likely to be the emissary."
The men approached Julien to search the pockets of his travelling coat.
He felt very tempted to kill them for thieves.
Nothing could be safer in its consequences.
He was very desirous of doing so ....
"I should only be a fool,"
he said to himself,
"I should compromise my mission."
"He is not a diplomatist,"
said the priest after searching his coat.
He went away and did well to do so.
"It will be a bad business for him,"
Julien was saying to himself,
"if he touches me in my bed.
He may have quite well come to stab me,
and I won't put up with that."
The curé turned his head,
Julien half opened his eyes.
He was inordinately astonished,
he was the abbé Castanède.
As a matter of fact,
although these two persons had made a point of talking in a fairly low voice,
he had thought from the first that he recognised one of the voices.
Julien was seized with an inordinate desire to purge the earth of one of its most cowardly villains;
"But my mission,"
he said to himself.
The curé and his acolyte went out.
A quarter of an hour afterwards Julien pretended to have just woken up.
He called out and woke up the whole house.
"I am poisoned,"
"I am suffering horribly!"
He wanted an excuse to go to Geronimo's help.
He found him half suffocated by the laudanum that had been contained in the wine.
Julien had been apprehensive of some trick of this character and had supped on some chocolate which he had brought from Paris.
He could not wake Geronimo up sufficiently to induce him to leave.
"If they were to give me the whole kingdom of Naples,"
said the singer,
"I would not now give up the pleasure of sleeping."
"But the seven sovereign princes?"
"Let them wait."
Julien left alone,
and arrived at the house of the great personage without other incident.
He wasted a whole morning in vainly soliciting an audience.
Fortunately about four o'clock the duke wanted to take the air.
Julien saw him go out on foot and he did not hesitate to ask him for alms.
When at two yards' distance from the great personage he pulled out the Marquis de la Mole's watch and exhibited it ostentatiously.
"_Follow me at a distance_,"
said the man without looking at him.
At a quarter of a league's distance the duke suddenly entered a little _coffee-house_.
It was in a room of this low class inn that Julien had the honour of reciting his four pages to the duke.
When he had finished he was told to "_start again and go more slowly_."
The prince took notes.
"Reach the next posting station on foot.
Leave your luggage and your carriage here.
Get to Strasbourg as best you can and at half-past twelve on the twenty-second of the month (it was at present the tenth) come to this same coffee-house.
Do not leave for half-an-hour.
These were the only words which Julien heard.
They sufficed to inspire him with the highest admiration.
"That is the way,"
"that real business is done;
what would this great statesman say if he were to listen to the impassioned ranters heard three days ago?"
Julien took two days to reach Strasbourg.
He thought he would have nothing to do there.
He made a great detour.
"If that devil of an abbé Castanède has recognised me he is not the kind of man to loose track of me easily ....
And how he would revel in making a fool of me,
and causing my mission to fail."
Fortunately the abbé Castanède,
who was chief of the congregational police on all the northern frontier had not recognised him.
And the Strasbourg Jesuits,
although very zealous,
never gave a thought to observing Julien,
who with his cross and his blue tail-coat looked like a young military man,
very much engrossed in his own personal appearance.
Love gives thee all his love,
energy and all his power of suffering unhappiness.
It is only his enchanting pleasures,
his sweet delights,
which are outside thy sphere.
When I saw her sleep I was made to say "With all her angelic beauty and her sweet weaknesses she is absolutely mine!
There she is,
quite in my power,
such as Heaven made her in its pity in order to ravish a man's heart."
--_Ode of Schiller_.
Julien was compelled to spend eight days in Strasbourg and tried to distract himself by thoughts of military glory and patriotic devotion.
Was he in love then?
he could not tell,
he only felt in his tortured soul that Mathilde was the absolute mistress both of his happiness and of his imagination.
He needed all the energy of his character to keep himself from sinking into despair.
It was out of his power to think of anything unconnected with mademoiselle de la Mole.
His ambition and his simple personal successes had formerly distracted him from the sentiments which madame de Rênal had inspired.
Mathilde was all-absorbing;
she loomed large over his whole future.
Julien saw failure in every phase of that future.
This same individual whom we remember to have been so presumptuous and haughty at Verrières,
had fallen into an excess of grotesque modesty.
Three days ago he would only have been too pleased to have killed the abbé Castanède,
if a child had picked a quarrel with him he would have thought the child was in the right.
In thinking again about the adversaries and enemies whom he had met in his life he always thought that he,
had been in the wrong.
The fact was that the same powerful imagination which had formerly been continuously employed in painting a successful future in the most brilliant colours had now been transformed into his implacable enemy.
The absolute solicitude of a traveller's life increased the ascendancy of this sinister imagination.
What a boon a friend would have been!
But Julien said to himself,
"Is there a single heart which beats with affection for me?
And even if I did have a friend,
would not honour enjoin me to eternal silence?"
He was riding gloomily in the outskirts of Kehl;
it is a market town on the banks of the Rhine and immortalised by Desaix and Gouvion Saint-Cyr.
A German peasant showed him the little brooks,
roads and islands of the Rhine,
which have acquired a name through the courage of these great generals.
Julien was guiding his horse with his left hand,
while he held unfolded in his right the superb map which adorns the _Memoirs of the Marshal Saint Cyr_.
A merry exclamation made him lift his head.
It was the Prince Korasoff,
that London friend of his,
who had initiated him some months before into the elementary rules of high fatuity.
Faithful to his great art,
who had just arrived at Strasbourg,
had been one hour in Kehl and had never read a single line in his whole life about the siege of 1796,
began to explain it all to Julien.
The German peasant looked at him in astonishment;
for he knew enough French to appreciate the enormous blunders which the prince was making.
Julien was a thousand leagues away from the peasant's thoughts.
He was looking in astonishment at the handsome young man and admiring his grace in sitting a horse.
"What a lucky temperament,"
he said to himself,
"and how his trousers suit him and how elegantly his hair is cut!
if I had been like him,
it might have been that she would not have come to dislike me after loving me for three days."
When the prince had finished his siege of Kehl,
he said to Julien,
"You look like a Trappist,
you are carrying to excess that principle of gravity which I enjoined upon you in London.
A melancholy manner cannot be good form.
What is wanted is an air of boredom.
If you are melancholy,
it is because you lack something,
because you have failed in something."
"That means showing one's own inferiority;
on the other hand you are bored,
it is only what has made an unsuccessful attempt to please you,
which is inferior.
my dear friend,
the enormity of your mistake."
Julien tossed a crown to the gaping peasant who was listening to them.
said the prince,
"that shows grace and a noble disdain,
And he put his horse to the gallop.
Full of a stupid admiration,
Julien followed him.
if I have been like that,
she would not have preferred Croisenois to me!"
The more his reason was offended by the grotesque affectations of the prince the more he despised himself for not having them.
It was impossible for self-disgust to be carried further.
The prince still finding him distinctly melancholy,
said to him as they re-entered Strasbourg,
my dear fellow,
have you lost all your money,
or perhaps you are in love with some little actress.
"The Russians copy French manners,
but always at an interval of fifty years.
They have now reached the age of Louis XV."
These jests about love brought the tears to Julien's eyes.
"Why should I not consult this charming man,"
he suddenly said to himself.
my dear friend,"
he said to the prince,
"you see in me a man who is very much in love and jilted into the bargain.
A charming woman who lives in a neighbouring town has left me stranded here after three passionate days,
and the change kills me."
Using fictitious names,
he described to the prince Mathilde's conduct and character.
"You need not finish,"
"In order to give you confidence in your doctor,
I will finish the story you have confided to me.
This young woman's husband enjoys an enormous income,
or even more probably,
she belongs herself to the high nobility of the district.
She must be proud about something."
Julien nodded his head,
he had no longer the courage to speak.
said the prince,
"here are three fairly bitter pills that you will take without delay.
See madame -- --.
What is her name,
"Madame de Dubois."
"What a name!"
said the prince bursting into laughter.
"But forgive me,
you find it sublime.
Your tactics must be to see Madame de Dubois every day;
above all do not appear to be cold and piqued.
Remember the great principle of your century: be the opposite of what is expected.
Be exactly as you were the week before you were honoured by her favours."
I was calm enough then,"
exclaimed Julien in despair,
"I thought I was taking pity on her ...."
"The moth is burning itself at the candle,"
continued the prince using a metaphor as old as the world.
You will see her every day.
You will pay court to a woman in her own set,
but without manifesting a passion,
do you understand?
I do not disguise from you that your role is difficult;
you are playing a part,
and if she realises you are playing it you are lost."
"She has so much intelligence and I have so little,
I shall be lost,"
said Julien sadly.
you are only more in love than I thought.
Madame de Dubois is preoccupied with herself as are all women who have been favoured by heaven either with too much pedigree or too much money.
She contemplates herself instead of contemplating you,
consequently she does not know you.
During the two or three fits of love into which she managed to work herself for your especial benefit,
she saw in you the hero of her dreams,
and not the man you really are.
deuce take it,
this is elementary,
my dear Sorel,
are you an absolute novice?
Let us go into this shop.
Look at that charming black cravat,
one would say it was made by John Anderson of Burlington Street.
Be kind enough to take it and throw far away that awful black cord which you are wearing round your neck."
continued the prince as they came out of the shop of the first hosier of Strasbourg,
"what is the society in which madame de Dubois lives?
what a name,
don't be angry,
my dear Sorel,
I can't help it ....
whom are you going to pay court to?"
"To an absolute prude,
the daughter of an immensely rich stocking-merchant.
She has the finest eyes in the world and they please me infinitely;
she doubtless holds the highest place in the society of the district,
but in the midst of all her greatness she blushes and becomes positively confused if anyone starts talking about trade or shops.
her father was one of the best known merchants in Strasbourg."
said the prince with a laugh,
"you are sure that when one talks about trade your fair lady thinks about herself and not about you.
This silly weakness is divine and extremely useful,
it will prevent you from yielding to a single moment's folly when near her sparkling eyes.
Success is assured."
Julien was thinking of madame the maréchale de Fervaques who often came to the Hôtel de la Mole.
She was a beautiful foreigner who had married the maréchal a year before his death.
The one object of her whole life seemed to be to make people forget that she was the daughter of a manufacturer.
In order to cut some figure in Paris she had placed herself at the head of the party of piety.
Julien sincerely admired the prince;
what would he not have given to have possessed his affectations!
The conversation between the two friends was interminable.
Korasoff was delighted: No Frenchman had ever listened to him for so long.
"So I have succeeded at last,"
said the prince to himself complacently,
"in getting a proper hearing and that too through giving lessons to my master."
"So we are quite agreed,"
he repeated to Julien for the tenth time.
"When you talk to the young beauty,
I mean the daughter of the Strasbourg stocking merchant in the presence of madame de Dubois,
not a trace of passion.
But on the other hand be ardently passionate when you write.
Reading a well-written love-letter is a prude's supremest pleasure.
It is a moment of relaxation.
She leaves off posing and dares to listen to her own heart;
consequently two letters a day."
said Julien despondently,
"I would rather be ground in a mortar than make up three phrases.
I am a corpse,
my dear fellow,
hope nothing from me.
Let me die by the road side."
"And who is talking about making up phrases?
I have got six volumes of copied-out love-letters in my bag.
I have letters to suit every variation of feminine character,
including the most highly virtuous.
Did not Kalisky pay court at Richmond-on-the-Thames at three leagues from London,
to the prettiest Quakeress in the whole of England?"
Julien was less unhappy when he left his friend at two o'clock in the morning.
The prince summoned a copyist on the following day,
and two days afterwards Julien was the possessor of fifty-three carefully numbered love-letters intended for the most sublime and the most melancholy virtue.
"The reason why there is not fifty-four,"
said the prince "is because Kalisky allowed himself to be dismissed.
But what does it matter to you,
if you are badly treated by the stocking-merchant's daughter since you only wish to produce an impression upon madame de Dubois' heart."
They went out riding every day,
the prince was mad on Julien.
Not knowing how else to manifest his sudden friendship,
he finished up by offering him the hand of one of his cousins,
a rich Moscow heiress;
"and once married,"
"my influence and that cross of yours will get you made a Colonel within two years."
"But that cross was not given me by Napoleon,
far from it."
"What does it matter?"
said the prince,
"didn't he invent it.
It is still the first in Europe by a long way."
Julien was on the point of accepting;
but his duty called him back to the great personage.
When he left Korasoff he promised to write.
He received the answer to the secret note which he had brought,
and posted towards Paris;
but he had scarcely been alone for two successive days before leaving France,
and Mathilde seemed a worse punishment than death.
"I will not marry the millions Korasoff offers me,"
he said to himself,
"and I will follow his advice.
"After all the art of seduction is his speciality.
He has thought about nothing else except that alone for more than fifteen years,
for he is now thirty.
"One can't say that he lacks intelligence;
he is subtle and cunning;
enthusiasm and poetry are impossible in such a character.
He is an attorney: an additional reason for his not making a mistake.
"I must do it,
I will pay court to madame de Fervaques.
"It is very likely she will bore me a little,
but I will look at her beautiful eyes which are so like those other eyes which have loved me more than anyone in the world.
"She is a foreigner;
she is a new character to observe.
"I feel mad,
and as though I were going to the devil.
I must follow the advice of a friend and not trust myself."
THE MINISTRY OF VIRTUE
But if I take this pleasure with so much prudence and circumspection I shall no longer find it a pleasure.
--_Lope de Vega_.
As soon as our hero had returned to Paris and had come out of the study of the marquis de La Mole,
who seemed very displeased with the despatches that were given him,
he rushed off for the comte Altamira.
This noble foreigner combined with the advantage of having once been condemned to death a very grave demeanour together with the good fortune of a devout temperament;
these two qualities,
and more than anything,
the comte's high birth,
made an especial appeal to madame de Fervaques who saw a lot of him.
Julien solemnly confessed to him that he was very much in love with her.
"Her virtue is the purest and the highest,"
"only it is a little Jesuitical and dogmatic.
"There are days when,
though I understand each of the expressions which she makes use of,
I never understand the whole sentence.
She often makes me think that I do not know French as well as I am said to.
But your acquaintance with her will get you talked about;
it will give you weight in the world.
But let us go to Bustos,"
said Count Altamira who had a methodical turn of mind;
"he once paid court to madame la maréchale."
Don Diego Bustos had the matter explained to him at length,
while he said nothing,
like a barrister in his chambers.
He had a big monk-like face with black moustaches and an inimitable gravity;
a good carbonaro.
he said to Julien at last.
"Has the maréchale de Fervaques had lovers,
or has she not?
Have you consequently any hope of success?
That is the question.
I don't mind telling you,
for my own part,
that I have failed.
Now that I am no more piqued I reason it out to myself in this way;
she is often bad tempered,
and as I will tell you in a minute,
she is quite vindictive.
"I fail to detect in her that bilious temperament which is the sign of genius,
and shows as it were a veneer of passion over all its actions.
On the contrary,
she owes her rare beauty and her fresh complexion to the phlegmatic,
tranquil character of the Dutch."
Julien began to lose patience with the phlegmatic slowness of the imperturbable Spaniard;
he could not help giving vent to some monosyllables from time to time.
"Will you listen to me?"
Don Diego Bustos gravely said to him.
"Forgive the _furia franchese_;
I am all ears,"
"The maréchale de Fervaques then is a great hater;
she persecutes ruthlessly people she has never seen --advocates,
poor devils of men of letters who have composed songs like Collé,
"J'ai la marotte D'aimer Marote,
And Julien had to put up with the whole quotation.
The Spaniard was very pleased to get a chance of singing in French.
That divine song was never listened to more impatiently.
When it was finished Don Diego said --"The maréchale procured the dismissal of the author of the song:
"Un jour l'amour au cabaret."
Julien shuddered lest he should want to sing it.
He contented himself with analysing it.
As a matter of fact,
it was blasphemous and somewhat indecent.
"When the maréchale become enraged against that song,"
said Don Diego,
"I remarked to her that a woman of her rank ought not to read all the stupid things that are published.
Whatever progress piety and gravity may make France will always have a cabaret literature.
I said to madame de Fervaques when she had succeeded in depriving the author,
a poor devil on half-pay,
of a place worth eighteen hundred francs a year,
'you have attacked this rhymster with your own arms,
he may answer you with his rhymes;
he will make a song about virtue.
The gilded salons will be on your side;
but people who like to laugh will repeat his epigrams.'
Do you know,
what the maréchale answered?
'Let all Paris come and see me walking to my martyrdom for the sake of the Lord.
It will be a new spectacle for France.
The people will learn to respect the quality.
It will be the finest day of my life.'
Her eyes never looked finer."
"And she has superb ones,"
"I see that you are in love.
went on Don Diego Bustos gravely,
"she has not the bilious constitution which causes vindictiveness.
she likes to do harm,
it is because she is unhappy,
I suspect some secret misfortune.
May it not be quite well a case of prude tired of her rôle?"
The Spaniard looked at him in silence for a good minute.
"That's the whole point,"
he added gravely,
"and that's what may give you ground for some hope.
I have often reflected about it during the two years that I was her very humble servant.
All your future,
my amorous sir,
depends on this great problem.
Is she a prude tired of her rôle and only malicious because she is unhappy?"
said Altamira emerging at last from his deep silence,
"can it be as I have said twenty times before,
simply a case of French vanity;
the memory of her father,
the celebrated cloth merchant,
constitutes the unhappiness of this frigid melancholy nature.
The only happiness she could find would be to live in Toledo and to be tortured by a confessor who would show her hell wide open every day."
"Altamira informs me you are one of us,"
said Don Diego,
whose demeanour was growing graver and graver to Julien as he went out.
"You will help us one day in re-winning our liberty,
so I would like to help you in this little amusement.
It is right that you should know the maréchale's style;
here are four letters in her hand-writing."
"I will copy them out,"
"and bring them back to you."
"And you will never let anyone know a word of what we have been saying."
on my honour,"
God help you,"
added the Spaniard,
and he silently escorted Altamira and Julien as far as the staircase.
This somewhat amused our hero;
he was on the point of smiling.
"So we have the devout Altamira,"
he said to himself,
"aiding me in an adulterous enterprise."
During Don Diego's solemn conversation Julien had been attentive to the hours struck by the clock of the Hôtel d'Aligre.
The dinner hour was drawing near,
he was going to see Mathilde again.
He went in and dressed with much care.
"Mistake No. 1,"
he said to himself as he descended the staircase:
"I must follow the prince's instructions to the letter."
He went up to his room again and put on a travelling suit which was as simple as it could be.
"All I have to do now,"
"is to keep control of my expression."
It was only half-past five and they dined at six.
He thought of going down to the salon which he found deserted.
He was moved to the point of tears at the sight of the blue sofa.
"I must make an end of this foolish sensitiveness,"
he said angrily,
"it will betray me."
He took up a paper in order to keep himself in countenance and passed three or four times from the salon into the garden.
It was only when he was well concealed by a large oak and was trembling all over,
that he ventured to raise his eyes at mademoiselle de la Mole's window.
It was hermetically sealed;
he was on the point of fainting and remained for a long time leaning against the oak;
then with a staggering step he went to have another look at the gardener's ladder.
The chain which he had once forced asunder --in,
such different circumstances --had not yet been repaired.
Carried away by a moment of madness,
Julien pressed it to his lips.
After having wandered about for a long time between the salon and the garden,
Julien felt horribly tired;
he was now feeling acutely the effects of a first success.
My eyes will be expressionless and will not betray me!
The guests gradually arrived in the salon;
the door never opened without instilling anxiety into Julien's heart.
They sat down at table.
Mademoiselle de la Mole,
always faithful to her habit of keeping people waiting,
She blushed a great deal on seeing Julien,
she had not been told of his arrival.
In accordance with Prince Korasoff's recommendation,
Julien looked at his hands.
They were trembling.
Troubled though he was beyond words by this discovery,
he was sufficiently happy to look merely tired.
M. de la Mole sang his praises.
The marquise spoke to him a minute afterwards and complimented him on his tired appearance.
Julien said to himself at every minute,
"I ought not to look too much at mademoiselle de la Mole,
I ought not to avoid looking at her too much either.
I must appear as I was eight days before my unhappiness -- --" He had occasion to be satisfied with his success and remained in the salon.
Paying attention for the first time to the mistress of the house,
he made every effort to make the visitors speak and to keep the conversation alive.
His politeness was rewarded;
madame la maréchale de Fervaques was announced about eight o'clock.
Julien retired and shortly afterwards appeared dressed with the greatest care.
Madame de la Mole was infinitely grateful to him for this mark of respect and made a point of manifesting her satisfaction by telling madame de Fervaques about his journey.
Julien established himself near the maréchale in such a position that Mathilde could not notice his eyes.
In this position he lavished in accordance with all the rules in the art of love,
the most abject admiration on madame de Fervaques.
The first of the 53 letters with which Prince Korasoff had presented him commenced with a tirade on this sentiment.
The maréchale announced that she was going to the Opera-Bouffe.
Julien rushed there.
He ran across the Chevalier de Beauvoisis who took him into a box occupied by Messieurs the Gentlemen of the Chamber,
just next to madame de Fervaques's box.
Julien constantly looked at her.
"I must keep a siege-journal,"
he said to himself as he went back to the hôtel,
"otherwise I shall forget my attacks."
He wrote two or three pages on this boring theme,
and in this way achieved the admirable result of scarcely thinking at all about mademoiselle de la Mole.
Mathilde had almost forgotten him during his journey.
"He is simply a commonplace person after all,"
"his name will always recall to me the greatest mistake in my life.
I must honestly go back to all my ideas about prudence and honour;
a woman who forgets them has everything to lose."
She showed herself inclined to allow the contract with the marquis de Croisenois,
which had been prepared so long ago,
to be at last concluded.
He was mad with joy;
he would have been very much astonished had he been told that there was an element of resignation at the bottom of those feelings of Mathilde which made him so proud.
All mademoiselle de la Mole's ideas changed when she saw Julien.
"As a matter of fact he is my husband,"
she said to herself.
"If I am sincere in my return to sensible notions,
he is clearly the man I ought to marry."
She was expecting importunities and airs of unhappiness on the part of Julien;
she commenced rehearsing her answers,
for he would doubtless try to address some words to her when they left the dinner table.
Far from that he remained stubbornly in the salon and did not even look in the direction of the garden,
though God knows what pain that caused him!
"It is better to have this explanation out all at once,"
thought mademoiselle de la Mole;
she went into the garden alone,
Julien did not appear.
Mathilde went and walked near the salon window.
She found him very much occupied in describing to madame de Fervaques the old ruined chateau which crown the banks along the Rhine and invest them with so much atmosphere.
He was beginning to acquit himself with some credit in that sentimental picturesque jargon which is called wit in certain salons.
Prince Korasoff would have been very proud if he had been at Paris.
This evening was exactly what he had predicted.
He would have approved the line of conduct which Julien followed on the subsequent days.
An intrigue among the members of the secret government was going to bestow a few blue ribbons;
madame maréchale de Fervaques was insisting on her great uncle being made a chevalier of the order.
The marquis de la Mole had the same pretensions for his father-in-law;
they joined forces and the maréchale came to the Hôtel de la Mole nearly every day.
It was from her that Julien learned that the marquis was going to be a minister.
He was offering to the _Camarilla_ a very ingenious plan for the annihilation of the charter within three years without any disturbance.
If M. de la Mole became a minister,
Julien could hope for a bishopric: but all these important interests seemed to be veiled and hazy.
His imagination only perceived them very vaguely,
and so to speak,
in the far distance.
The awful unhappiness which was making him into a madman could find no other interest in life except the character of his relations with mademoiselle de la Mole.
He calculated that after five or six careful years he would manage to get himself loved again.
This cold brain had been reduced,
as one sees,
to a state of complete disorder.
Out of all the qualities which had formerly distinguished him,
all that remained was a little firmness.
He was literally faithful to the line of conduct which prince Korasoff had dictated,
and placed himself every evening near madame Fervaques' armchair,
but he found it impossible to think of a word to say to her.
The strain of making Mathilde think that he had recovered exhausted his whole moral force,
and when he was with the maréchale he seemed almost lifeless;
even his eyes had lost all their fire,
as in cases of extreme physical suffering.
As madame de la Mole's views were invariably a counterpart of the opinions of that husband of hers who could make her into a Duchess,
she had been singing Julien's praises for some days.
There also was of course in Adeline That calm patrician polish in the address,
Which ne'er can pass the equinoctial line Of anything which Nature would express;
Just as a Mandarin finds nothing fine.
At least his manner suffers not to guess That anything he views can greatly please.
"There is an element of madness in all this family's way of looking at things,"
thought the maréchale;
"they are infatuated with their young abbé,
whose only accomplishment is to be a good listener,
though his eyes are fine enough,
it is true."
on his side,
found in the maréchale's manners an almost perfect instance of that patrician calm which exhales a scrupulous politeness;
what is more,
announces at the same time the impossibility of any violent emotion.
Madame de Fervaques would have been as much scandalised by any unexpected movement or any lack of self-control,
as by a lack of dignity towards one's inferiors.
She would have regarded the slightest symptom of sensibility as a kind of moral drunkenness which puts one to the blush and was extremely prejudicial to what a person of high rank owed to herself.
Her great happiness was to talk of the king's last hunt;
her favourite book,
was the Memoirs of the Duke de Saint Simon,
especially the genealogical part.
Julien knew the place where the arrangement of the light suited madame de Fervaques' particular style of beauty.
He got there in advance,
but was careful to turn his chair in such a way as not to see Mathilde.
Astonished one day at this consistent policy of hiding himself from her,
she left the blue sofa and came to work by the little table near the maréchale's armchair.
Julien had a fairly close view of her over madame de Fervaques' hat.
which were the arbiters of his fate,
and then hurled him violently out of his habitual apathy.
and talked very well.
He was speaking to the maréchale,
but his one aim was to produce an impression upon Mathilde's soul.
He became so animated that eventually madame de Fervaques did not manage to understand a word he said.
This was a prime merit.
If it had occurred to Julien to follow it up by some phrases of German mysticism,
the maréchale would have immediately given him a rank among the superior men whose mission it was to regenerate the age.
"Since he has bad enough taste,"
said mademoiselle de la Mole,
"to talk so long and so ardently to madame de Fervaques,
I shall not listen to him any more."
She kept her resolution during the whole latter part of the evening,
although she had difficulty in doing so.
when she took her mother's candle to accompany her to her room,
madame de la Mole stopped on the staircase to enter into an exhaustive eulogy of Julien.
Mathilde ended by losing her temper.
She could not get to sleep.
She felt calmed by this thought:
"the very things which I despise in a man may none the less constitute a great merit in the eyes of the maréchale."
As for Julien,
he had done something,
he was less unhappy;
his eyes chanced to fall on the Russian leather portfolio in which prince Korasoff had placed the fifty-three love letters which he had presented to him.
Julien saw a note at the bottom of the first letter: No. 1 is sent eight days after the first meeting.
"I am behind hand,"
"It is quite a long time since I met madame de Fervaques."
He immediately began to copy out this first love letter.
It was a homily packed with moral platitudes and deadly dull.
Julien was fortunate enough to fall asleep at the second page.
Some hours afterwards he was surprised to see the broad daylight as he lent on his desk.
The most painful moments in his life were those when he woke up every morning to realise his unhappiness.
On this particular day he finished copying out his letter in a state verging on laughter.
"Is it possible,"
he said to himself,
"that there ever lived a young man who actually wrote like that."
He counted several sentences of nine lines each.
At the bottom of the original he noticed a pencilled note.
"These letters are delivered personally,
You give the letter to the porter with a contrite air;
expression of profound melancholy.
If you notice any chambermaid,
dry your eyes furtively and speak to her."
All this was duly carried out.
"I am taking a very bold course!"
thought Julien as he came out of the Hôtel de Fervaques,
"but all the worse for Korasoff.
To think of daring to write to so virtuous a celebrity.
I shall be treated with the utmost contempt,
and nothing will amuse me more.
It is really the only comedy that I can in any way appreciate.
it will amuse me to load with ridicule that odious creature whom I call myself.
If I believed in myself,
I would commit some crime to distract myself."
The moment when Julien brought his horse back to the stable was the happiest he had experienced for a whole month.
Korasoff had expressly forbidden him to look at the mistress who had left him,
on any pretext whatsoever.
But the step of that horse,
which she knew so well,
and Julien's way of knocking on the stable door with his riding-whip to call a man,
sometimes attracted Mathilde to behind the window-curtain.
The muslin was so light that Julien could see through it.
By looking under the brim of his hat in a certain way,
he could get a view of Mathilde's figure without seeing her eyes.
he said to himself,
"she cannot see mine,
and that is not really looking at her."
In the evening madame de Fervaques behaved towards him,
exactly as though she had never received the philosophic mystical and religious dissertation which he had given to her porter in the morning with so melancholy an air.
Chance had shown Julien on the preceding day how to be eloquent;
he placed himself in such a position that he could see Mathilde's eyes.
on her side,
left the blue sofa a minute after the maréchale's arrival;
this involved abandoning her usual associates.
M. de Croisenois seemed overwhelmed by this new caprice: his palpable grief alleviated the awfulness of Julien's agony.
This unexpected turn in his life made him talk like an angel,
and inasmuch as a certain element of self-appreciation will insinuate itself even into those hearts which serve as a temple for the most august virtue,
the maréchale said to herself as she got into her carriage,
"Madame de la Mole is right,
this young priest has distinction.
My presence must have overawed him at first.
As a matter of fact,
the whole tone of this house is very frivolous;
I can see nothing but instances of virtue helped by oldness,
and standing in great need of the chills of age.
This young man must have managed to appreciate the difference;
he writes well,
but I fear very much that this request of his in his letter for me to enlighten him with my advice,
is really nothing less than an,
"Nevertheless how many conversions have begun like that!
What makes me consider this a good omen is the difference between his style and that of the young people whose letters I have had an opportunity of seeing.
One cannot avoid recognising unction,
and much conviction in the prose of this young acolyte;
he has no doubt the sweet virtue of a Massillon."
THE FINEST PLACES IN THE CHURCH
belong to a côterie.
The idea of a bishopric had thus become associated with the idea of Julien in the mind of a woman,
who would sooner or later have at her disposal the finest places in the Church of France.
This idea had not struck Julien at all;
at the present time his thoughts were strictly limited to his actual unhappiness.
Everything tended to intensify it.
The sight of his room,
had become unbearable.
When he came back in the evening with his candle,
each piece of furniture and each little ornament seemed to become articulate,
and to announce harshly some new phase of his unhappiness.
"I have a hard task before me today,"
he said to himself as he came in with a vivacity which he had not experienced for a long time;
"let us hope that the second letter will be as boring as the first."
It was more so.
What he was copying seemed so absurd that he finished up by transcribing it line for line without thinking of the sense.
"It is even more bombastic,"
he said to himself,
"than those official documents of the treaty of Munster which my professor of diplomacy made me copy out at London."
It was only then that he remembered madame de Fervaque's letters which he had forgotten to give back to the grave Spaniard Don Diego Bustos.
He found them.
They were really almost as nonsensical as those of the young Russian nobleman.
Their vagueness was unlimited.
It meant everything and nothing.
"It's the Æolian harp of style,"
"The only real thing I see in the middle of all these lofty thoughts about annihilation,
is an abominable fear of ridicule."
The monologue which we have just condensed was repeated for fifteen days on end.
Falling off to sleep as he copied out a sort of commentary on the Apocalypse,
going with a melancholy expression to deliver it the following day,
taking his horse back to the stable in the hope of catching sight of Mathilde's dress,
going in the evening to the opera on those evenings when madame de Fervaques did not come to the Hôtel de la Mole,
such were the monotonous events in Julien's life.
His life had more interest,
when madame la Fervaques visited the marquise;
he could then catch a glimpse of Mathilde's eyes underneath a feather of the maréchale's hat,
and he would wax eloquent.
His picturesque and sentimental phrases began to assume a style,
which was both more striking and more elegant.
He quite realised that what he said was absurd in Mathilde's eyes,
but he wished to impress her by the elegance of his diction.
"The falser my speeches are the more I ought to please,"
and he then had the abominable audacity to exaggerate certain elements in his own character.
He soon appreciated that to avoid appearing vulgar in the eyes of the maréchale it was necessary to eschew simple and rational ideas.
He would continue on these lines,
or would cut short his grand eloquence according as he saw appreciation or indifference in the eyes of the two great ladies whom he had set out to please.
Taking it all round,
his life was less awful than when his days were passed in inaction.
he said to himself one evening,
"here I am copying out the fifteenth of these abominable dissertations;
the first fourteen have been duly delivered to the maréchale's porter.
I shall have the honour of filling all the drawers in her escritoire.
And yet she treats me as though I never wrote.
What can be the end of all this?
Will my constancy bore her as much as it does me?
I must admit that that Russian friend of Korasoff's who was in love with the pretty Quakeress of Richmond,
was a terrible man in his time;
no one could be more overwhelming."
Like all mediocre individuals,
who chance to come into contact with the manœuvres of a great general,
Julien understood nothing of the attack executed by the young Russian on the heart of the young English girl.
The only purpose of the first forty letters was to secure forgiveness for the boldness of writing at all.
The sweet person,
who perhaps lived a life of inordinate boredom,
had to be induced to contract the habit of receiving letters,
which were perhaps a little less insipid than her everyday life.
One morning a letter was delivered to Julien.
He recognised the arms of madame la Fervaques,
and broke the seal with an eagerness which would have seemed impossible to him some days before.
It was only an invitation to dinner.
He rushed to prince Korasoffs instructions.
Unfortunately the young Russian had taken it into his head to be as flippant as Dorat,
just when he should have been simple and intelligible!
Julien was not able to form any idea of the moral position which he ought to take up at the maréchale's dinner.
The salon was extremely magnificent and decorated like the gallery de Diane in the Tuileries with panelled oil-paintings.
There were some light spots on these pictures.
Julien learnt later that the mistress of the house had thought the subject somewhat lacking in decency and that she had had the pictures corrected.
"What a moral century!"
He noticed in this salon three of the persons who had been present at the drawing up of the secret note.
One of them,
my lord bishop of -- -- the maréchale's uncle had the disposition of the ecclesiastical patronage,
it was said,
refuse his niece nothing.
"What immense progress I have made,"
said Julien to himself with a melancholy smile,
"and how indifferent I am to it.
Here I am dining with the famous bishop of -- --."
The dinner was mediocre and the conversation wearisome.
"It's like the small talk in a bad book,"
"All the greatest subjects of human thought are proudly tackled.
After listening for three minutes one asks oneself which is greater --the speaker's bombast,
or his abominable ignorance?"
The reader has doubtless forgotten the little man of letters named Tanbeau,
who was the nephew of the Academician,
and intended to be professor,
who seemed entrusted with the task of poisoning the salon of the Hôtel de la Mole with his base calumnies.
It was this little man who gave Julien the first inkling that though,
madame de Fervaques did not answer,
she might quite well take an indulgent view of the sentiment which dictated them.
M. Tanbeau's sinister soul was lacerated by the thought of Julien's success;
on the other hand,
a man of merit cannot be in two places at the same time any more than a fool,"
said the future professor to himself,
"if Sorel becomes the lover of the sublime maréchale,
she will obtain some lucrative position for him in the church,
and I shall be rid of him in the Hôtel de la Mole."
M. the abbé Pirard addressed long sermons to Julien concerning his success at the hotel de Fervaques.
There was a sectarian jealousy between the austere Jansenist and the salon of the virtuous maréchale which was Jesuitical,
Accordingly once he was thoroughly convinced of the asinine stupidity of the prior,
he would usually succeed well enough by calling white black,
and black white.
The Russian instructions peremptorily forbade the writer from ever contradicting in conversation the recipient of the letters.
No pretext could excuse any deviation from the rôle of that most ecstatic admiration.
The letters were always based on that hypothesis.
One evening at the opera,
when in madame de Fervaques' box,
Julien spoke of the ballet of _Manon Lescaut_ in the most enthusiastic terms.
His only reason for talking in that strain was the fact that he thought it insignificant.
The maréchale said that the ballet was very inferior to the abbé Prévost's novel.
both surprised and amused,
"of so highly virtuous a person praising a novel!
Madame de Fervaques used to profess two or three times a week the most absolute contempt for those writers,
by means of their insipid works,
try to corrupt a youth which is,
only too inclined to the errors of the senses."
"_Manon Lescaut_" continued the maréchale,
"is said to be one of the best of this immoral and dangerous type of book.
The weaknesses and the deserved anguish of a criminal heart are,
portrayed with a truth which is not lacking in depth;
a fact which does not prevent your Bonaparte from stating at St. Helena that it is simply a novel written for lackeys."
The word Bonaparte restored to Julien all the activity of his mind.
"They have tried to ruin me with the maréchale;
they have told her of my enthusiasm for Napoleon.
This fact has sufficiently piqued her to make her yield to the temptation to make me feel it."
This discovery amused him all the evening,
and rendered him amusing.
As he took leave of the maréchale in the vestibule of the opera,
she said to him,
one must not like Bonaparte if you like me;
at the best he can only be accepted as a necessity imposed by Providence.
the man did not have a sufficiently supple soul to appreciate masterpieces of art."
"When you like me,"
Julien kept on repeating to himself,
"that means nothing or means everything.
Here we have mysteries of language which are beyond us poor provincials."
And he thought a great deal about madame de Rênal,
as he copied out an immense letter destined for the maréchale.
"How is it,"
she said to him the following day,
with an assumed indifference which he thought was clumsily assumed,
"that you talk to me about London and Richmond in a letter which you wrote last night,
when you came back from the opera?"
Julien was very embarrassed.
He had copied line by line without thinking about what he was writing,
and had apparently forgotten to substitute Paris and Saint Cloud for the words London and Richmond which occurred in the original.
He commenced two or three sentences,
but found it impossible to finish them.
He felt on the point of succumbing to a fit of idiotic laughter.
Finally by picking his words he succeeded in formulating this inspiration:
"Exalted as I was by the discussion of the most sublime and greatest interests of the human soul,
my own soul may have been somewhat absent in my letter to you."
"I am making an impression,"
he said to himself,
"so I can spare myself the boredom of the rest of the evening."
He left the Hôtel de Fervaques at a run.
In the evening he had another look at the original of the letter which he had copied out on the previous night,
and soon came to the fatal place where the young Russian made mention of London and of Richmond.
Julien was very astonished to find this letter almost tender.
It had been the contrast between the apparent lightness of his conversation,
and the sublime and almost apocalyptic profundity of his letters which had marked him out for favour.
The maréchale was particularly pleased by the longness of the sentences;
this was very far from being that sprightly style which that immoral man Voltaire had brought into fashion.
Although our hero made every possible human effort to eliminate from his conversation any symptom of good sense,
it still preserved a certain anti-monarchical and blasphemous tinge which did not escape madame de Fervaques.
Surrounded as she was by persons who,
though eminently moral,
had very often not a single idea during a whole evening,
this lady was profoundly struck by anything resembling a novelty,
but at the same time she thought she owed it to herself to be offended by it.
She called this defect: Keeping the imprint of the lightness of the age.
But such salons are only worth observing when one has a favour to procure.
The reader doubtless shares all the ennui of the colourless life which Julien was leading.
This period represents the steppes of our journey.
Mademoiselle de la Mole needed to exercise her self-control to avoid thinking of Julien during the whole period filled by the de Fervaques episode.
Her soul was a prey to violent battles;
sometimes she piqued herself on despising that melancholy young man,
but his conversation captivated her in spite of herself.
She was particularly astonished by his absolute falseness.
He did not say a single word to the maréchale which was not a lie,
or at any rate,
an abominable travesty of his own way of thinking,
which Mathilde knew so perfectly in every phase.
This Machiavellianism impressed her.
she said to herself.
"What a difference between the bombastic coxcombs,
or the common rascals like Tanbeau who talk in the same strain."
Nevertheless Julien went through awful days.
It was only to accomplish the most painful of duties that he put in a daily appearance in the maréchale's salon.
The strain of playing a part ended by depriving his mind of all its strength.
As he crossed each night the immense courtyard of the Hôtel de Fervaques,
it was only through sheer force in character and logic that he succeeded in keeping a little above the level of despair.
"I overcame despair at the seminary,"
"yet what an awful prospect I had then.
I was then either going to make my fortune or come to grief just as I am now.
I found myself obliged to pass all my life in intimate association with the most contemptible and disgusting things in the whole world.
The following spring,
just eleven short months later,
I was perhaps the happiest of all young people of my own age."
But very often all this fine logic proved unavailing against the awful reality.
He saw Mathilde every day at breakfast and at dinner.
He knew from the numerous letters which de la Mole dictated to him that she was on the eve of marrying de Croisenois.
This charming man already called twice a day at the Hôtel de la Mole;
the jealous eye of a jilted lover was alive to every one of his movements.
When he thought he had noticed that mademoiselle de la Mole was beginning to encourage her intended,
Julien could not help looking tenderly at his pistols as he went up to his room.
he said to himself,
"would it not be much wiser to take the marks out of my linen and to go into some solitary forest twenty leagues from Paris to put an end to this atrocious life?
I should be unknown in the district,
my death would remain a secret for a fortnight,
and who would bother about me after a fortnight?"
This reasoning was very logical.
But on the following day a glimpse of Mathilde's arm between the sleeve of her dress and her glove sufficed to plunge our young philosopher into memories which,
none the less gave him a hold on life.
he said to himself,
"I will follow this Russian plan to the end.
How will it all finish?"
"So far as the maréchale is concerned,
after I have copied out these fifty-three letters,
I shall not write any others.
"As for Mathilde,
these six weeks of painful acting will either leave her anger unchanged,
or will win me a moment of reconciliation.
I should die of happiness."
And he could not finish his train of thought.
After a long reverie he succeeded in taking up the thread of his argument.
"In that case,"
he said to himself,
"I should win one day of happiness,
and after that her cruelties which are based,
on my lack of ability to please her will recommence.
I should have nothing left to do,
I should be ruined and lost for ever.
With such a character as hers what guarantee can she give me?
My manners are no doubt lacking in elegance,
and my style of speech is heavy and monotonous.
why am I myself?"
Sacrificing one's self to one's passions,
let it pass;
but sacrificing one's self to passions which one has not got!
melancholy nineteenth century!
Madame de Fervaques had begun reading Julien's long letters without any pleasure,
but she now began to think about them;
"What a pity that M. Sorel was not a real priest!
He could then be admitted to a kind of intimacy;
but in view of that cross,
and that almost lay dress,
one is exposed to cruel questions and what is one to answer?"
She did not finish the train of thought,
"Some malicious woman friend may think,
and even spread it about that he is some lower middle-class cousin or other,
a relative of my father,
some tradesman who has been decorated by the National Guard."
Up to the time which she had seen Julien,
madame de Fervaque's greatest pleasure had been writing the word maréchale after her name.
Consequently a morbid parvenu vanity,
which was ready to take umbrage at everything,
combatted the awakening of her interest in him.
"It would be so easy for me,"
said the maréchale,
"to make him a grand vicar in some diocese near Paris!
but plain M. Sorel,
and what is more,
a man who is the secretary of M. de la Mole!
It is heart-breaking."
For the first time in her life this soul,
which was afraid of everything,
was moved by an interest which was alien to its own pretensions to rank and superiority.
Her old porter noticed that whenever he brought a letter from this handsome young man,
who always looked so sad,
he was certain to see that absent,
which the maréchale always made a point of assuming on the entry of any of her servants,
The boredom of a mode of life whose ambitions were concentrated on impressing the public without her having at heart any real faculty of enjoyment for that kind of success,
had become so intolerable since she had begun to think of Julien that,
all that was necessary to prevent her chambermaids being bullied for a whole day,
was that their mistress should have passed an hour in the society of this strange young man on the evening of the preceding day.
His budding credit was proof against very cleverly written anonymous letters.
It was in vain that Tanbeau supplied M. de Luz,
with two or three very clever calumnies which these gentlemen were only too glad to spread,
without making too many enquiries of the actual truth of the charges.
whose temperament was not calculated to be proof against these vulgar expedients related her doubts to Mathilde,
and was always consoled by her.
madame de Fervaques,
after having asked three times if there were any letters for her,
suddenly decided to answer Julien.
It was a case of the triumph of ennui.
On reaching the second letter in his name the maréchale almost felt herself pulled up sharp by the unbecomingness of writing with her own hand so vulgar an address as to M. Sorel,
care of M. le Marquis de la Mole.
"You must bring me envelopes with your address on,"
she said very drily to Julien in the evening.
"Here I am appointed lover and valet in one,"
and he bowed,
amused himself by wrinkling his face up like Arsène,
the old valet of the marquis.
He brought the envelopes that very evening,
and he received the third letter very early on the following day: he read five or six lines at the beginning,
and two or three towards the end.
There were four pages of a small and very close writing.
The lady gradually developed the sweet habit of writing nearly every day.
Julien answered by faithful copies of the Russian letters;
and such is the advantage of the bombastic style that madame de Fervaques was not a bit astonished by the lack of connection between his answers and her letters.
How gravely irritated would her pride have been if the little Tanbeau who had constituted himself a voluntary spy on all Julien's movements had been able to have informed her that all these letters were left unsealed and thrown haphazard into Julien's drawer.
One morning the porter was bringing into the library a letter to him from the maréchale.
Mathilde met the man,
saw the letter together with the address in Julien's handwriting.
She entered the library as the porter was leaving it,
the letter was still on the edge of the table.
Julien was very busy with his work and had not yet put it in his drawer.
"I cannot endure this,"
as she took possession of the letter,
"you are completely forgetting me,
me your wife,
your conduct is awful,
At these words her pride,
shocked by the awful unseemliness of her proceeding,
prevented her from speaking.
She burst into tears,
and soon seemed to Julien scarcely able to breathe.
Julien was so surprised and embarrassed that he did not fully appreciate how ideally fortunate this scene was for himself.
He helped Mathilde to sit down;
she almost abandoned herself in his arms.
The first minute in which he noticed this movement,
he felt an extreme joy.
he thought of Korasoff:
"I may lose everything by a single word."
The strain of carrying out his tactics was so great that his arms stiffened.
"I dare not even allow myself to press this supple,
charming frame to my heart,
or she will despise me or treat me badly.
What an awful character!"
And while he cursed Mathilde's character,
he loved her a hundred times more.
He thought he had a queen in his arms.
Julien's impassive coldness intensified the anguished pride which was lacerating the soul of mademoiselle de la Mole.
She was far from having the necessary self-possession to try and read in his eyes what he felt for her at that particular moment.
She could not make up her mind to look at him.
She trembled lest she might encounter a contemptuous expression.
Seated motionless on the library divan,
with her head turned in the opposite direction to Julien,
she was a prey to the most poignant anguish that pride and love can inflict upon a human soul.
What an awful step had she just slipped into taking!
"It has been reserved for me,
unhappy woman that I am,
to see my most unbecoming advances rebuffed!
and rebuffed by whom?"
added her maddened and wounded pride;
"rebuffed by a servant of my father's!
That's more than I will put up with,"
she said aloud,
and rising in a fury,
she opened the drawer of Julien's table,
which was two yards in front of her.
She stood petrified with horror when she saw eight or ten unopened letters,
completely like the one the porter had just brought up.
She recognised Julien's handwriting,
though more or less disguised,
on all the addresses.
quite beside herself,
"you are not only on good terms with her,
but you actually despise her.
despise madame la maréchale de Fervaques!"
throwing herself on her knees;
"despise me if you wish,
but love me.
I cannot live without your love."
And she fell down in a dead faint.
"So our proud lady is lying at my feet,"
said Julien to himself.
A BOX AT THE BOUFFES
As the blackest sky Foretells the heaviest tempest _Don Juan,
In the midst of these great transports Julien felt more surprised than happy.
Mathilde's abuse proved to him the shrewdness of the Russian tactics.
that is my one method of salvation."
He picked up Mathilde,
and without saying a word,
put her back on the divan.
She was gradually being overcome by tears.
In order to keep herself in countenance,
she took madame de Fervaques' letters in her hands,
and slowly broke the seals.
She gave a noticeable nervous movement when she recognised the maréchale's handwriting.
She turned over the pages of these letters without reading them.
Most of them were six pages.
"At least answer me,"
Mathilde said at last,
in the most supplicatory tone,
but without daring to look at Julien:
"You know how proud I am.
It is the misfortune of my position,
and of my temperament,
Has madame de Fervaques robbed me of your heart?
Has she made the sacrifices to which my fatal love swept me?"
A dismal silence was all Julien's answer.
"By what right,"
"does she ask me to commit an indiscretion unworthy of an honest man?"
Mathilde tried to read the letters;
her eyes were so wet with tears that it was impossible for her to do so.
She had been unhappy for a month past,
but this haughty soul had been very far from owning its own feelings even to itself.
Chance alone had brought about this explosion.
For one instant jealousy and love had won a victory over pride.
She was sitting on the divan,
and very near him.
He saw her hair and her alabaster neck.
For a moment he forgot all he owed to himself.
He passed his arm around her waist,
and clasped her almost to his breast.
She slowly turned her head towards him.
He was astonished by the extreme anguish in her eyes.
There was not a trace of their usual expression.
Julien felt his strength desert him.
So great was the deadly pain of the courageous feat which he was imposing on himself.
"Those eyes will soon express nothing but the coldest disdain,"
said Julien to himself,
"if I allow myself to be swept away by the happiness of loving her."
kept repeatedly assuring him at this moment,
in a hushed voice,
and in words which she had scarcely the strength to finish,
of all her remorse for those steps which her inordinate pride had dictated.
said Julien to her,
in a scarcely articulate voice,
while his features portrayed the lowest depths of physical prostration.
Mathilde turned round sharply towards him.
Hearing his voice was a happiness which she had given up hoping.
At this moment her only thought of her haughtiness was to curse it.
She would have liked to have found out some abnormal and incredible actions,
in order to prove to him the extent to which she adored him and detested herself.
"That pride is probably the reason,"
"why you singled me out for a moment.
My present courageous and manly firmness is certainly the reason why you respect me.
I may entertain love for the maréchale."
a strange expression came into her eyes.
She was going to hear her sentence pronounced.
This shudder did not escape Julien.
He felt his courage weaken.
he said to himself,
as he listened to the sound of the vain words which his mouth was articulating,
as he thought it were some strange sound,
"if I could only cover those pale cheeks with kisses without your feeling it."
"I may entertain love for the maréchale,"
while his voice became weaker and weaker,
"but I certainly have no definite proof of her interest in me."
Mathilde looked at him.
He supported that look.
at any rate,
that his expression had not betrayed him.
He felt himself bathed in a love that penetrated even into the most secret recesses of his heart.
He had never adored her so much;
he was almost as mad as Mathilde.
If she had mustered sufficient self-possession and courage to manœuvre,
he would have abandoned all his play-acting,
and fallen at her feet.
He had sufficient strength to manage to continue speaking:
he exclaimed mentally,
"why are you not here?
How I need a word from you to guide me in my conduct."
During this time his voice was saying,
"In default of any other sentiment,
gratitude would be sufficient to attach me to the maréchale.
She has been indulgent to me;
she has consoled me when I have been despised.
I cannot put unlimited faith in certain appearances which are,
but possibly very fleeting."
what guarantee will you give me?"
replied Julien with a sharp,
which seemed to abandon for a moment the prudent forms of diplomacy.
what god will warrant that the position to which you seem inclined to restore me at the present moment will last more than two days?"
"The excess of my love,
and my unhappiness if you do not love me,"
she said to him,
taking his hands and turning towards him.
The spasmodic movement which she had just made had slightly displaced her tippet;
Julien caught a view of her charming shoulders.
Her slightly dishevelled hair recalled a delicious memory ....
He was on the point of succumbing.
"One imprudent word,"
he said to himself,
"and I have to start all over again that long series of days which I have passed in despair.
Madame de Rênal used to find reasons for doing what her heart dictated.
This young girl of high society never allows her heart to be moved except when she has proved to herself by sound logic that it ought to be moved."
He saw this proof in the twinkling of an eye,
and in the twinkling of an eye too,
he regained his courage.
He took away his hands which Mathilde was pressing in her own,
and moved a little away from her with a marked respect.
Human courage could not go further.
He then busied himself with putting together madame de Fervaque's letters which were spread out on the divan,
and it was with all the appearance of extreme politeness that he cruelly exploited the psychological moment by adding,
"Mademoiselle de la Mole will allow me to reflect over all this."
He went rapidly away and left the library;
she heard him shut all the doors one after the other.
"The monster is not the least bit troubled,"
she said to herself.
"But what am I saying?
He is wise,
It is I myself who have committed more wrong than one can imagine."
This point of view lasted.
Mathilde was almost happy today,
for she gave herself up to love unreservedly.
One would have said that this soul had never been disturbed by pride (and what pride!)
She shuddered with horror when a lackey announced madame le Fervaques into the salon in the evening.
The man's voice struck her as sinister.
She could not endure the sight of the maréchale,
and stopped suddenly.
Julien who had felt little pride over his painful victory,
had feared to face her,
and had not dined at the Hôtel de la Mole.
His love and his happiness rapidly increased in proportion to the time that elapsed from the moment of the battle.
He was blaming himself already.
"How could I resist her?"
he said to himself.
"Suppose she were to go and leave off loving me!
One single moment may change that haughty soul,
and I must admit that I have treated her awfully."
In the evening he felt that it was absolutely necessary to put in an appearance at the Bouffes in madame de Fervaques' box.
She had expressly invited him.
Mathilde would be bound to know of his presence or his discourteous absence.
In spite of the clearness of this logic,
he could not at the beginning of the evening bring himself to plunge into society.
By speaking he would lose half his happiness.
Ten o'clock struck and it was absolutely necessary to show himself.
Luckily he found the maréchale's box packed with women,
and was relegated to a place near the door where he was completely hidden by the hats.
This position saved him from looking ridiculous;
Caroline's divine notes of despair in the _Matrimonio Segreto_ made him burst into tears.
Madame de Fervaques saw these tears.
They represented so great a contrast with the masculine firmness of his usual expression that the soul of the old-fashioned lady,
saturated as it had been for many years with all the corroding acid of parvenu haughtiness,
was none the less touched.
Such remnants of a woman's heart as she still possessed impelled her to speak: she wanted to enjoy the sound of his voice at this moment.
"Have you seen the de la Mole ladies?"
she said to him.
"They are in the third tier."
Julien immediately craned out over the theatre,
leaning politely enough on the front of the box.
He saw Mathilde;
her eyes were shining with tears.
"And yet it is not their Opera day,"
"how eager she must be!"
Mathilde had prevailed on her mother to come to the Bouffes in spite of the inconveniently high tier of the box,
which a lady friend of the family had hastened to offer her.
She wanted to see if Julien would pass the evening with the maréchale.
So this is the fine miracle of your civilisation;
you have turned love into an ordinary business.
Julien rushed into madame de la Mole's box.
His eyes first met the tearful eyes of Mathilde;
she was crying without reserve.
There were only insignificant personages present,
the friend who had leant her box,
and some men whom she knew.
Mathilde placed her hand on Julien's;
she seemed to have forgotten all fear of her mother.
Almost stifled as she was by her tears,
she said nothing but this one word:
"So long as I don't speak to her,"
said Julien to himself.
He was himself very moved,
and concealed his eyes with his hand as best he could under the pretext of avoiding the dazzling light of the third tier of boxes.
"If I speak she may suspect the excess of my emotion,
the sound of my voice will betray me.
All may yet be lost."
His struggles were more painful than they had been in the morning,
his soul had had the time to become moved.
He had been frightened at seeing Mathilde piqued with vanity.
Intoxicated as he was with love and pleasure he resolved not to speak.
In my view this is one of the finest traits in his character,
an individual capable of such an effort of self-control may go far si _fata sinant_.
Mademoiselle de la Mole insisted on taking Julien back to the hôtel.
Luckily it was raining a great deal,
but the marquise had him placed opposite her,
talked to him incessantly,
and prevented him saying a single word to her daughter.
One might have thought that the marquise was nursing Julien's happiness for him;
no longer fearing to lose everything through his excessive emotion,
he madly abandoned himself to his happiness.
Shall I dare to say that when he went back to his room Julien fell on his knees and covered with kisses the love letters which prince Korasoff had given him.
"How much I owe you,
he exclaimed in his madness.
Little by little he regained his self-possession.
He compared himself to a general who had just won a great battle.
"My advantage is definite and immense,"
he said to himself,
"but what will happen to-morrow?
One instant may ruin everything."
With a passionate gesture he opened the _Memoirs_ which Napoleon had dictated at St. Helena and for two long hours forced himself to read them.
Only his eyes read;
he made himself do it.
During this singular reading his head and his heart rose to the most exalted level and worked unconsciously.
"Her heart is very different from madame de Rênal's,"
he said to himself,
but he did not go further.
he suddenly exclaimed,
hurling away the book.
"The enemy will only obey me in so far as I frighten him,
but then he will not dare to show contempt for me."
Intoxicated with joy he walked up and down his little room.
In point of fact his happiness was based rather on pride than on love.
he repeated proudly,
and he had cause to be proud.
"Madame de Rênal always doubted even in her happiest moments if my love was equal to her own.
In this case I have to subjugate a demon,
consequently I must subjugate her."
He knew quite well that Mathilde would be in the library at eight o'clock in the morning of the following day.
He did not appear before nine o'clock.
He was burning with love,
but his head dominated his heart.
Scarcely a single minute passed without his repeating to himself.
"Keep her obsessed by this great doubt.
Does he love me?"
Her own brilliant position,
together with the flattery of all who speak to her,
tend a little too much to make her reassure herself.
He found her sitting on the divan pale and calm,
but apparently completely incapable of making a single movement.
She held out her hand,
it is true I have offended you,
perhaps you are angry with me."
Julien had not been expecting this simple tone.
He was on the point of betraying himself.
"You want guarantees,
she added after a silence which she had hoped would be broken.
Take me away,
let us leave for London.
I shall be ruined,
dishonoured for ever."
She had the courage to take her hand away from Julien to cover her eyes with it.
All her feelings of reserve and feminine virtue had come back into her soul.
she said at last with a sigh,
"that will be a guarantee."
"I was happy yesterday,
because I had the courage to be severe with myself,"
After a short silence he had sufficient control over his heart to say in an icy tone,
"Once we are on the road to London,
once you are dishonoured,
to employ your own expression,
who will answer that you will still love me?
that my very presence in the post-chaise will not seem importunate?
I am not a monster;
to have ruined your reputation will only make me still more unhappy.
It is not your position in society which is the obstacle,
it is unfortunately your own character.
Can you yourself guarantee that you will love me for eight days?"
let her love me for eight days,
just eight days,"
whispered Julien to himself,
"and I will die of happiness.
What do I care for the future,
what do I care for life?
And yet if I wish that divine happiness can commence this very minute,
it only depends on me."
Mathilde saw that he was pensive.
"So I am completely unworthy of you,"
she said to him,
taking his hand.
Julien kissed her,
but at the same time the iron hand of duty gripped his heart.
If she sees how much I adore her I shall lose her.
And before leaving her arms,
he had reassumed all that dignity which is proper to a man.
He managed on this and the following days to conceal his inordinate happiness.
There were moments when he even refused himself the pleasure of clasping her in his arms.
At other times the delirium of happiness prevailed over all the counsels of prudence.
He had been accustomed to station himself near a bower of honeysuckle in the garden arranged in such a way so as to conceal the ladder when he had looked up at Mathilde's blind in the distance,
and lamented her inconstancy.
A very big oak tree was quite near,
and the trunk of that tree prevented him from being seen by the indiscreet.
As he passed with Mathilde over this very place which recalled his excessive unhappiness so vividly,
the contrast between his former despair and his present happiness proved too much for his character.
Tears inundated his eyes,
and he carried his sweetheart's hand to his lips:
"It was here I used to live in my thoughts of you,
it was from here that I used to look at that blind,
and waited whole hours for the happy moment when I would see that hand open it."
His weakness was unreserved.
He portrayed the extremity of his former despair in genuine colours which could not possibly have been invented.
Short interjections testified to that present happiness which had put an end to that awful agony.
what am I doing?"
suddenly recovering himself.
"I am ruining myself."
In his excessive alarm he thought that he already detected a diminution of the love in mademoiselle de la Mole's eyes.
It was an illusion,
but Julien's face suddenly changed its expression and became overspread by a mortal pallor.
His eyes lost their fire,
and an expression of haughtiness touched with malice soon succeeded to his look of the most genuine and unreserved love.
"But what is the matter with you,
said Mathilde to him,
both tenderly and anxiously.
"I am lying,"
said Julien irritably,
"and I am lying to you.
I am reproaching myself for it,
and yet God knows that I respect you sufficiently not to lie to you.
You love me,
you are devoted to me,
and I have no need of praises in order to please you."
are all the charming things you have been telling me for the last two minutes mere phrases?"
"And I reproach myself for it keenly,
I once made them up for a woman who loved me,
and bored me --it is the weakness of my character.
I denounce myself to you,
Bitter tears streamed over Mathilde's cheeks.
"As soon as some trifle offends me and throws me back on my meditation,"
"my abominable memory,
which I curse at this very minute,
offers me a resource,
and I abuse it."
"So I must have slipped,
without knowing it,
into some action which has displeased you,"
said Mathilde with a charming simplicity.
"I remember one day that when you passed near this honeysuckle you picked a flower,
M. de Luz took it from you and you let him keep it.
I was two paces away."
"M. de Luz?
It is impossible,"
replied Mathilde with all her natural haughtiness.
"I do not do things like that."
"I am sure of it,"
Julien replied sharply.
it is true,"
as she sadly lowered her eyes.
She knew positively that many months had elapsed since she had allowed M. de Luz to do such a thing.
Julien looked at her with ineffable tenderness,
he said to himself,
"she does not love me less."
In the evening she rallied him with a laugh on his fancy for madame de Fervaques.
"Think of a bourgeois loving a parvenu,
those are perhaps the only type of hearts that my Julien cannot make mad with love.
She has made you into a real dandy,"
she said playing with his hair.
During the period when he thought himself scorned by Mathilde,
Julien had become one of the best dressed men in Paris.
a further advantage over other dandies,
in as much as once he had finished dressing he never gave a further thought to his appearance.
One thing still piqued Mathilde,
Julien continued to copy out the Russian letters and send them to the maréchale.
why these things and not other things?
An English traveller tells of the intimacy in which he lived with a tiger.
He had trained it and would caress it,
but he always kept a cocked pistol on his table.
Julien only abandoned himself to the fulness of his happiness in those moments when Mathilde could not read the expression in his eyes.
He scrupulously performed his duty of addressing some harsh word to her from time to time.
When Mathilde's sweetness,
which he noticed with some surprise,
together with the completeness of her devotion were on the point of depriving him of all self-control,
he was courageous enough to leave her suddenly.
Mathilde loved for the first time in her life.
Life had previously always dragged along at a tortoise pace,
but now it flew.
her pride required to find a vent in some way or other,
she wished to expose herself to all the dangers in which her love could involve her.
It was Julien who was prudent,
and it was only when it was a question of danger that she did not follow her own inclination;
and almost humble as she was when with him,
she only showed additional haughtiness to everyone in the house who came near her,
whether relatives or friends.
In the evening she would call Julien to her in the salon in the presence of sixty people,
and have a long and private conversation with him.
The little Tanbeau installed himself one day close to them.
She requested him to go and fetch from the library the volume of Smollet which deals with the revolution of 1688,
and when he hesitated,
added with an expression of insulting haughtiness,
which was a veritable balm to Julien's soul,
"Have you noticed that little monster's expression?"
he said to her.
"His uncle has been in attendance in this salon for ten or twelve years,
otherwise I would have had him packed off immediately."
Her behaviour towards MM.
though outwardly perfectly polite,
was in reality scarcely less provocative.
Mathilde keenly reproached herself for all the confidential remarks about them which she had formerly made to Julien,
and all the more so since she did not dare to confess that she had exaggerated to him the,
almost absolutely innocent manifestations of interest of which these gentlemen had been the objects.
In spite of her best resolutions her womanly pride invariably prevented her from saying to Julien,
"It was because I was talking to you that I found a pleasure in describing my weakness in not drawing my hand away,
when M. de Croisenois had placed his on a marble table and had just touched it."
as soon as one of these gentlemen had been speaking to her for some moments,
she found she had a question to put to Julien,
and she made this an excuse for keeping him by her side.
She discovered that she was _enceinte_ and joyfully informed Julien of the fact.
"Do you doubt me now?
Is it not a guarantee?
I am your wife for ever."
This announcement struck Julien with profound astonishment.
He was on the point of forgetting the governing principle of his conduct.
How am I to be deliberately cold and insulting towards this poor young girl,
who is ruining herself for my sake.
And if she looked at all ill,
he could not,
even on those days when the terrible voice of wisdom made itself heard,
find the courage to address to her one of those harsh remarks which his experience had found so indispensable to the preservation of their love.
"I will write to my father,"
said Mathilde to him one day,
"he is more than a father to me,
he is a friend;
that being so,
I think it unworthy both of you and of myself to try and deceive him,
even for a single minute."
what are you going to do?"
said Julien in alarm.
she answered with eyes shining with joy.
She thought she was showing more nobility than her lover.
"But he will pack me off in disgrace."
"It is his right to do so,
we must respect it.
I will give you my arm,
and we will go out by the front door in full daylight."
Julien was thunderstruck and requested her to put it off for a week.
"it is the voice of honour,
I have seen my duty,
I must follow it,
and follow it at once."
I order you to put it off,"
said Julien at last.
"Your honour is safe for the present.
I am your husband.
The position of us will be changed by this momentous step.
I too am within my rights.
To-day is Tuesday,
next Tuesday is the duke de Retz's at home;
when M. de la Mole comes home in the evening the porter will give him the fatal letter.
His only thought is to make you a duchess,
I am sure of it.
Think of his unhappiness."
think of his vengeance?"
"It may be that I pity my benefactor,
and am grieved at injuring him,
but I do not fear,
and shall never fear anyone."
This was the first occasion,
since she had informed Julien of her condition,
that he had spoken to her authoritatively.
She had never loved him so much.
The tender part of his soul had found happiness in seizing on Mathilde's condition as an excuse for refraining from his cruel remarks to her.
The question of the confession to M. de la Mole deeply moved him.
Was he going to be separated from Mathilde?
however grieved she would be to see him go,
would she have a thought for him after his departure?
He was almost equally horrified by the thought of the justified reproaches which the marquis might address to him.
In the evening he confessed to Mathilde the second reason for his anxiety,
and then led away by his love,
confessed the first as well.
She changed colour.
"Would it really make you unhappy,"
she said to him,
"to pass six months far away from me?"
It is the only thing in the world which terrifies me."
Mathilde was very happy.
Julien had played his part so assiduously that he had succeeded in making her think that she was the one of the two who loved the more.
The fatal Tuesday arrived.
When the marquis came in at midnight he found a letter addressed to him,
which was only to be opened himself when no one was there: --
"All social ties have been broken between us,
only those of nature remain.
Next to my husband,
you are and always will be the being I shall always hold most dear.
My eyes are full of tears,
I am thinking of the pain that I am causing you,
but if my shame was to be prevented from becoming public,
and you were to be given time to reflect and act,
I could not postpone any longer the confession that I owe you.
If your affection for me,
which I know is extremely deep,
is good enough to grant me a small allowance,
I will go and settle with my husband anywhere you like,
His name is so obscure that no one would recognize in Madame Sorel,
the daughter-in-law of a Verrières carpenter,
That is the name which I have so much difficulty in writing.
I fear your wrath against Julien,
it seems so justified.
I shall not be a duchess,
but I knew it when I loved him;
for I was the one who loved him first,
it was I who seduced him.
I have inherited from you too lofty a soul to fix my attention on what either is or appears to be vulgar.
It is in vain that I thought of M. Croisenois with a view to pleasing you.
Why did you place real merit under my eyes?
You told me yourself on my return from Hyères,
'that young Sorel is the one person who amuses me,'
the poor boy is as grieved as I am if it is possible,
at the pain this letter will give you.
I cannot prevent you being irritated as a father,
but love me as a friend.
"Julien respected me.
If he sometimes spoke to me,
it was only by reason of his deep gratitude towards yourself,
for the natural dignity of his character induces him to keep to his official capacity in any answers he may make to anyone who is so much above him.
He has a keen and instinctive appreciation of the difference of social rank.
It was I (I confess it with a blush to my best friend,
and I shall never make such a confession to anyone else) who clasped his arm one day in the garden.
"Why need you be irritated with him,
after twenty-four hours have elapsed?
My own lapse is irreparable.
If you insist on it,
the assurance of his profound respect and of his desperate grief at having displeased you,
can be conveyed to you through me.
You need not see him at all,
but I shall go and join him wherever he wishes.
It is his right and it is my duty.
He is the father of my child.
If your kindness will go so far as to grant us six thousand francs to live on,
I will receive it with gratitude;
Julien reckons on establishing himself at Besançon,
where he will set up as a Latin and literature master.
However low may have been the station from which he springs,
I am certain he will raise himself.
With him I do not fear obscurity.
If there is a revolution,
I am sure that he will play a prime part.
Can you say as much for any of those who have asked for my hand?
They have fine estates,
I cannot consider that circumstance a reason for admiring them.
My Julien would attain a high position,
even under the present régime,
if he had a million and my father's protection ...."
who knew that the marquis was a man who always abandoned himself to his first impulse,
had written eight pages.
"What am I to do?"
said Julien to himself while M. de la Mole was reading this letter.
"Where is (first) my duty;
(second) my interest?
My debt to him is immense.
Without him I should have been a menial scoundrel,
and not even enough of a scoundrel to be hated and persecuted by the others.
He has made me a man of the world.
The villainous acts which I now have to do are (first) less frequent;
(second) less mean.
That is more than as if he had given me a million.
I am indebted to him for this cross and the reputation of having rendered those alleged diplomatic services,
which have lifted me out of the ruck.
"If he himself were writing instructions for my conduct,
what would he prescribe?"
Julien was sharply interrupted by M. de la Mole's old valet.
"The marquis wants to see you at once,
dressed or not dressed."
The valet added in a low voice,
as he walked by Julien's side,
"He is beside himself: look out!"