THE HELL OF WEAKNESS
A clumsy lapidary,
in cutting this diamond,
deprived it of some of its most brilliant facets.
In the middle ages,
even under Richelieu,
the Frenchman had _force of will_.
Julien found the marquis furious.
For perhaps the first time in his life this nobleman showed bad form.
He loaded Julien with all the insults that came to his lips.
Our hero was astonished,
and his patience was tried,
but his gratitude remained unshaken.
"The poor man now sees the annihilation,
in a single minute,
of all the fine plans which he has long cherished in his heart.
But I owe it to him to answer.
My silence tends to increase his anger."
The part of Tartuffe supplied the answer;
"I am not an angel ....
I served you well;
you paid me generously ....
I was grateful,
but I am twenty-two ....
Only you and that charming person understood my thoughts in this household."
exclaimed the marquis.
to be sure!
The day when you found her charming you ought to have fled."
"I tried to.
It was then that I asked permission to leave for Languedoc."
Tired of stampeding about and overcome by his grief,
the marquis threw himself into an arm-chair.
Julien heard him whispering to himself,
he is not a wicked man."
I am not,
falling on his knees.
But he felt extremely ashamed of this manifestation,
and very quickly got up again.
The marquis was really transported.
When he saw this movement,
he began again to load him with abominable insults,
which were worthy of the driver of a fiacre.
The novelty of these oaths perhaps acted as a distraction.
is my daughter to go by the name of madame Sorel?
is my daughter not to be a duchess?"
Each time that these two ideas presented themselves in all their clearness M. de la Mole was a prey to torture,
and lost all power over the movements of his mind.
Julien was afraid of being beaten.
In his lucid intervals,
when he was beginning to get accustomed to his unhappiness,
the marquis addressed to Julien reproaches which were reasonable enough.
"You should have fled,
he said to him.
"Your duty was to flee.
You are the lowest of men."
Julien approached the table and wrote:
"I have found my life unbearable for a long time;
I am putting an end to it.
I request monsieur the marquis to accept my apologies (together with the expression of my infinite gratitude) for any embarrassment that may be occasioned by my death in his hôtel."
"Kindly run your eye over this paper,
M. the marquis,"
or have me killed by your valet.
It is one o'clock in the morning.
I will go and walk in the garden in the direction of the wall at the bottom."
"Go to the devil,"
cried the marquis,
as he went away.
"He would not be sorry if I were to spare his valet the trouble of killing me ....
"Let him kill me,
if he likes;
it is a satisfaction which I offer him ....
I love life.
I owe it to my son."
which had not previously presented itself with so much definiteness to his imagination,
completely engrossed him during his walk after the first few minutes which he had spent thinking about his danger.
This novel interest turned him into a prudent man.
"I need advice as to how to behave towards this infuriated man ....
He is devoid of reason;
he is capable of everything.
Fouqué is too far away;
he would not understand the emotions of a heart like the marquis's."
"Count Altamira ...
am I certain of eternal silence?
My request for advice must not be a fresh step which will raise still further complications.
I have no one left but the gloomy abbé Pirard.
His mind is crabbed by Jansenism ....
A damned Jesuit would know the world,
and would be more in my line.
M. Pirard is capable of beating me at the very mention of my crime."
The genius of Tartuffe came to Julien's help.
I will go and confess to him."
This was his final resolution after having walked about in the garden for two good hours.
He no longer thought about being surprised by a gun shot.
He was feeling sleepy.
Very early the next day,
Julien was several leagues away from Paris and knocked at the door of the severe Jansenist.
He found to his great astonishment that he was not unduly surprised at his confidence.
"I ought perhaps to reproach myself,"
said the abbé,
who seemed more anxious than irritated.
"I thought I guessed that love.
My affection for you,
my unhappy boy,
prevented me from warning the father."
"What will he do?"
said Julien keenly.
At that moment he loved the abbé,
and would have found a scene between them very painful.
"I see three alternatives,"
"M. de la Mole can have me put to death,"
and he mentioned the suicide letter which he had left with the Marquis;
(2) "He can get Count Norbert to challenge me to a duel,
and shoot at me point blank."
"You would accept?"
said the abbé furiously as he got up.
"You do not let me finish.
I should certainly never fire upon my benefactor's son.
(3) He can send me away.
If he says go to Edinburgh or New York,
I will obey him.
They can then conceal mademoiselle de la Mole's condition,
but I will never allow them to suppress my son."
"Have no doubt about it,
that will be the first thought of that depraved man."
Mathilde was in despair.
She had seen her father about seven o'clock.
He had shown her Julien's letter.
She feared that he might have considered it noble to put an end to his life;
"and without my permission?"
she said to herself with a pain due solely to her anger.
"If he dies I shall die,"
she said to her father.
"It will be you who will be the cause of his death ....
Perhaps you will rejoice at it but I swear by his shades that I shall at once go into mourning,
and shall publicly appear as _Madame the widow Sorel_,
I shall send out my invitations,
you can count on it ....
You will find me neither pusillanimous nor cowardly."
Her love went to the point of madness.
M. de la Mole was flabbergasted in his turn.
He began to regard what had happened with a certain amount of logic.
Mathilde did not appear at breakfast.
The marquis felt an immense weight off his mind,
and was particularly flattered when he noticed that she had said nothing to her mother.
Julien was dismounting from his horse.
Mathilde had him called and threw herself into his arms almost beneath the very eyes of her chambermaid.
Julien was not very appreciative of this transport.
He had come away from his long consultation with the abbé Pirard in a very diplomatic and calculating mood.
The calculation of possibilities had killed his imagination.
Mathilde told him,
with tears in her eyes,
that she had read his suicide letter.
"My father may change his mind;
do me the favour of leaving for Villequier this very minute.
Mount your horse again,
and leave the hôtel before they get up from table."
When Julien's coldness and astonishment showed no sign of abatement,
she burst into tears.
"Let me manage our affairs,"
she exclaimed ecstatically,
as she clasped him in her arms.
it is not of my own free will that I separate from you.
Write under cover to my maid.
Address it in a strange hand-writing,
I will write volumes to you.
This last word wounded Julien,
but he none the less obeyed.
"It will be fatal,"
he thought "if,
in their most gracious moments these aristocrats manage to shock me."
Mathilde firmly opposed all her father's prudent plans.
She would not open negotiations on any other basis except this.
She was to be Madame Sorel,
and was either to live with her husband in poverty in Switzerland,
or with her father in Paris.
She rejected absolutely the suggestion of a secret accouchement.
"In that case I should begin to be confronted with a prospect of calumny and dishonour.
I shall go travelling with my husband two months after the marriage,
and it will be easy to pretend that my son was born at a proper time."
This firmness though at first received with violent fits of anger,
eventually made the marquis hesitate.
he said to his daughter in a moment of emotion,
"is a gift of ten thousand francs a year.
Send it to your Julien,
and let him quickly make it impossible for me to retract it."
In order to obey Mathilde,
whose imperious temper he well knew,
Julien had travelled forty useless leagues;
he was superintending the accounts of the farmers at Villequier.
This act of benevolence on the part of the marquis occasioned his return.
He went and asked asylum of the abbé Pirard,
who had become Mathilde's most useful ally during his absence.
Every time that he was questioned by the marquis,
he would prove to him that any other course except public marriage would be a crime in the eyes of God.
added the abbé,
"worldly wisdom is in this instance in agreement with religion.
in view of Mdlle.
de la Mole's passionate character,
rely for a minute on her keeping any secret which she did not herself wish to preserve?
If one does not reconcile oneself to the frankness of a public marriage,
society will concern itself much longer with this strange mésalliance__.
Everything must be said all at once without either the appearance or the reality of the slightest mystery."
"It is true,"
said the marquis pensively.
Two or three friends of M. de la Mole were of the same opinion as the abbé Pirard.
The great obstacle in their view was Mathilde's decided character.
But in spite of all these fine arguments the marquis's soul could not reconcile itself to giving up all hopes of a coronet for his daughter.
He ransacked his memory and his imagination for all the variations of knavery and duplicity which had been feasible in his youth.
Yielding to necessity and having fear of the law seemed absurd and humiliating for a man in his position.
He was paying dearly now for the luxury of those enchanting dreams concerning the future of his cherished daughter in which he had indulged for the last ten years.
"Who could have anticipated it?"
he said to himself.
"A girl of so proud a character,
of so lofty a disposition,
who is even prouder than I am of the name she bears?
A girl whose hand has already been asked for by all the cream of the nobility of France."
"We must give up all faith in prudence.
This age is made to confound everything.
We are marching towards chaos."
A MAN OF INTELLECT
The prefect said to himself as he rode along the highway on horseback,
"why should I not be a minister,
a president of the council,
This is how I should make war ....
By these means I should have all the reformers put in irons."
No argument will succeed in destroying the paramount influence of ten years of agreeable dreaming.
The marquis thought it illogical to be angry,
but could not bring himself to forgive.
"If only this Julien could die by accident,"
he sometimes said to himself.
It was in this way that his depressed imagination found a certain relief in running after the most absurd chimæras.
They paralysed the influence of the wise arguments of the abbé Pirard.
A month went by in this way without negotiations advancing one single stage.
The marquis had in this family matter,
just as he had in politics,
brilliant ideas over which he would be enthusiastic for two or three days.
And then a line of tactics would fail to please him because it was based on sound arguments,
while arguments only found favour in his eyes in so far as they were based on his favourite plan.
He would work for three days with all the ardour and enthusiasm of a poet on bringing matters to a certain stage;
on the following day he would not give it a thought.
Julien was at first disconcerted by the slowness of the marquis;
after some weeks,
he began to surmise that M. de La Mole had no definite plan with regard to this matter.
Madame de La Mole and the whole household believed that Julien was travelling in the provinces in connection with the administration of the estates;
he was in hiding in the parsonage of the abbé Pirard and saw Mathilde every day;
every morning she would spend an hour with her father,
but they would sometimes go for weeks on end without talking of the matter which engrossed all their thoughts.
"I don't want to know where the man is,"
said the marquis to her one day.
"Send him this letter."
"The Languedoc estates bring in 20,600 francs.
I give 10,600 francs to my daughter,
and 10,000 francs to M. Julien Sorel.
It is understood that I give the actual estates.
Tell the notary to draw up two separate deeds of gift,
and to bring them to me to-morrow,
after this there are to be no more relations between us.
could I have expected all this?
The marquis de La Mole."
"I thank you very much,"
said Mathilde gaily.
"We will go and settle in the Château d'Aiguillon,
between Agen and Marmande.
The country is said to be as beautiful as Italy."
This gift was an extreme surprise to Julien.
He was no longer the cold,
severe man whom we have hitherto known.
His thoughts were engrossed in advance by his son's destiny.
This unexpected fortune,
substantial as it was for a man as poor as himself,
made him ambitious.
He pictured a time when both his wife and himself would have an income of 36,000 francs.
As for Mathilde,
all her emotions were concentrated on her adoration for her husband,
for that was the name by which her pride insisted on calling Julien.
Her one great ambition was to secure the recognition of her marriage.
She passed her time in exaggerating to herself the consummate prudence which she had manifested in linking her fate to that of a superior man.
The idea of personal merit became a positive craze with her.
Julien's almost continuous absence,
coupled with the complications of business matters and the little time available in which to talk love,
completed the good effect produced by the wise tactics which Julien had previously discovered.
Mathilde finished by losing patience at seeing so little of the man whom she had come really to love.
In a moment of irritation she wrote to her father and commenced her letter like Othello:
"My very choice is sufficient proof that I have preferred Julien to all the advantages which society offered to the daughter of the marquis de la Mole.
based as they are on prestige and petty vanity mean nothing to me.
It is now nearly six weeks since I have lived separated from my husband.
That is sufficient to manifest my respect for yourself.
Before next Thursday I shall leave the paternal house.
Your acts of kindness have enriched us.
No one knows my secret except the venerable abbé Pirard.
I shall go to him: he will marry us,
and an hour after the ceremony we shall be on the road to Languedoc,
and we will never appear again in Paris except by your instructions.
But what cuts me to the quick is that all this will provide the subject matter for piquant anecdotes against me and against yourself.
May not the epigrams of a foolish public compel our excellent Norbert to pick a quarrel with Julien,
under such circumstances I know I should have no control over him.
We should discover in his soul the mark of the rebel plebian.
I entreat you on my knees,
come and be present at my marriage in M. Pirard's church next Thursday.
It will blunt the sting of malignant scandal and will guarantee the life's happiness of your only daughter,
and of that of my husband,
This letter threw the marquis's soul into a strange embarrassment.
He must at last take a definite line.
All his little habits: all his vulgar friends had lost their influence.
In these strange circumstances the great lines of his character,
which had been formed by the events of his youth,
reassumed all their original force.
The misfortunes of the emigration had made him into an imaginative man.
After having enjoyed for two years an immense fortune and all the distinctions of the court,
1790 had flung him into the awful miseries of the emigration.
This hard schooling had changed the character of a spirit of twenty-two.
he was not so much dominated by his present riches as encamped in their midst.
But that very imagination which had preserved his soul from the taint of avarice,
had made him a victim of a mad passion for seeing his daughter decorated by a fine title.
During the six weeks which had just elapsed,
the marquis had felt at times impelled by a caprice for making Julien rich.
He considered poverty mean,
humiliating for himself,
M. de la Mole,
and impossible in his daughter's husband;
he was ready to lavish money.
On the next day his imagination would go off on another tack,
and he would think that Julien would read between the lines of this financial generosity,
change his name,
exile himself to America,
and write to Mathilde that he was dead for her.
M. de la Mole imagined this letter written,
and went so far as to follow its effect on his daughter's character.
The day when he was awakened from these highly youthful dreams by Mathilde's actual letter after he had been thinking for along time of killing Julien or securing his disappearance he was dreaming of building up a brilliant position for him.
He would make him take the name of one of his estates,
and why should he not make him inherit a peerage?
M. the duke de Chaulnes,
since the death of his own son in Spain,
frequently spoken to him about his desire to transmit his title to Norbert ....
"One cannot help owning that Julien has a singular aptitude for affairs,
and is possibly even brilliant,"
said the marquis to himself ...
"but I detect at the root of his character a certain element which alarms me.
He produces the same impression upon everyone,
consequently there must be something real in it,"
and the more difficult this reality was to seize hold of,
the more it alarmed the imaginative mind of the old marquis.
"My daughter expressed the same point very neatly the other day (in a suppressed letter).
"Julien has not joined any salon or any côterie.
He has nothing to support himself against me,
and has absolutely no resource if I abandon him.
Now is that ignorance of the actual state of society?
I have said to him two or three times,
the only real and profitable candidature is the candidature of the salons.
he has not the adroit,
cunning genius of an attorney who never loses a minute or an opportunity.
He is very far from being a character like Louis XL.
On the other hand,
I have seen him quote the most ungenerous maxims ...
it is beyond me.
Can it be that he simply repeats these maxims in order to use them as a _dam_ against his passions?
one thing comes to the surface;
he cannot bear contempt,
that's my hold on him.
"He has not,
it is true,
the religious reverence for high birth.
He does not instinctively respect us ....
That is wrong;
but after all,
the only things which are supposed to make the soul of a seminary student impatient are lack of enjoyment and lack of money.
He is quite different,
and cannot stand contempt at any price."
Pressed as he was by his daughter's letter,
M. de la Mole realised the necessity for making up his mind.
the great question is this: --Did Julien's audacity go to the point of setting out to make advances to my daughter because he knows I love her more than anything else in the world,
and because I have an income of a hundred thousand crowns?"
Mathilde protests to the contrary ....
that is a point on which I am not going to be under any illusion.
"Is it really a case of spontaneous and authentic love?
or is it just a vulgar desire to raise himself to a fine position?
Mathilde is far-seeing;
she appreciated from the first that this suspicion might ruin him with me --hence that confession of hers.
It was she who took upon herself to love him the first.
"The idea of a girl of so proud a character so far forgetting herself as to make physical advances!
To think of pressing his arm in the garden in the evening!
As though there were not a hundred other less unseemly ways of notifying him that he was the object of her favour.
"_Qui s'excuse s'accuse_;
I distrust Mathilde."
The marquis's reasoning was more conclusive to-day than it was usually.
force of habit prevailed,
and he resolved to gain time by writing to his daughter,
for a correspondence was being carried on between one wing of the hôtel and the other.
M. de la Mole did not dare to discuss matters with Mathilde and to see her face to face.
He was frightened of clinching the whole matter by yielding suddenly.
"Mind you commit no new acts of madness;
here is a commission of lieutenant of Hussars for M. the chevalier,
Julien Sorel de la Vernaye.
You see what I am doing for him.
Do not irritate me.
Do not question me.
Let him leave within twenty-four hours and present himself at Strasbourg where his regiment is.
Here is an order on my banker.
Mathilde's love and joy were unlimited.
She wished to profit by her victory and immediately replied.
"If M. de la Vernaye knew all that you are good enough to do for him,
he would be overwhelmed with gratitude and be at your feet.
But amidst all this generosity,
my father has forgotten me;
your daughter's honour is in peril.
An indiscretion may produce an everlasting blot which an income of twenty thousand crowns could not put right.
I will only send the commission to M. de la Vernaye if you give me your word that my marriage will be publicly celebrated at Villequier in the course of next month.
Shortly after that period,
which I entreat you not to prolong,
your daughter will only be able to appear in public under the name of Madame de la Vernaye.
How I thank you,
for having saved me from the name of Sorel,
The reply was unexpected:
"Obey or I retract everything.
you imprudent young girl.
I do not yet know what your Julien is,
and you yourself know less than I.
Let him leave for Strasbourg,
and try to act straightly.
I will notify him from here of my wishes within a fortnight."
Mathilde was astonished by this firm answer.
_I do not know Julien_.
These words threw her into a reverie which soon finished in the most fascinating suppositions;
but she believed in their truth.
My Julien's intellect is not clothed in the petty mean uniform of the salons,
and my father refuses to believe in his superiority by reason of the very fact which proves it.
All the same,
if I do not obey this whim of his,
I see the possibility of a public scene;
a scandal would lower my position in society,
and might render me less fascinating in Julien's eyes.
After the scandal ...
ten years of poverty;
and the only thing which can prevent marrying for merit becoming ridiculous is the most brilliant wealth.
If I live far away from my father,
he is old and may forget me ....
Norbert will marry some clever,
old Louis XIV.
was seduced by the duchess of Burgundy.
She decided to obey,
but refrained from communicating her father's letter to Julien.
It might perhaps have been that ferocious character driven to some act of madness.
Julien's joy was unlimited when she informed him in the evening that he was a lieutenant of Hussars.
Its extent can be imagined from the fact that this had constituted the ambition of his whole life,
and also from the passion which he now had for his son.
The change of name struck him with astonishment.
"I have got to the end of my romance,
and I deserve all the credit.
I have managed to win the love of that monster of pride,"
looking at Mathilde.
"Her father cannot live without her,
nor she without me."
give me mediocrity.
His mind was engrossed;
he only half answered the eager tenderness that she showed to him.
He remained gloomy and taciturn.
He had never seemed so great and so adorable in Mathilde's eyes.
She was apprehensive of some subtle twist of his pride which would spoil the whole situation.
She saw the abbé Pirard come to the hôtel nearly every morning.
Might not Julien have divined something of her father's intentions through him?
Might not the marquis himself have written to him in a momentary caprice.
What was the explanation of Julien's stern manner following on so great a happiness?
She did not dare to question.
She did not _dare_ --she --Mathilde!
From that moment her feelings for Julien contained a certain vague and unexpected element which was almost panic.
This arid soul experienced all the passion possible in an individual who has been brought up amid that excessive civilisation which Paris so much admires.
Early on the following day Julien was at the house of the abbé Pirard.
Some post-horses were arriving in the courtyard with a dilapidated chaise which had been hired at a neighbouring station.
"A vehicle like that is out of fashion,"
said the stern abbé to him morosely.
"Here are twenty thousand francs which M. de la Mole makes you a gift of.
He insists on your spending them within a year,
but at the same time wants you to try to look as little ridiculous as possible."
(The priest regarded flinging away so substantial a sum on a young man as simply an opportunity for sin).
"The marquis adds this:
Julien de la Vernaye will have received this money from his father,
whom it is needless to call by any other name.
M. de la Vernaye will perhaps think it proper to give a present to M. Sorel,
a carpenter of Verrières,
who cared for him in his childhood ....'
I can undertake that commission,"
added the abbé.
"I have at last prevailed upon M. de la Mole to come to a settlement with that Jesuit,
the abbé de Frilair.
His influence is unquestionably too much for us.
The complete recognition of your high birth on the part of this man,
who is in fact the governor of B -- -- will be one of the unwritten terms of the arrangement."
Julien could no longer control his ecstasy.
He embraced the abbé.
He saw himself recognised.
said M. Pirard,
pushing him away.
"What is the meaning of this worldly vanity?
As for Sorel and his sons,
I will offer them in my own name a yearly allowance of five hundred francs,
which will be paid to each of them as long as I am satisfied with them."
Julien was already cold and haughty.
He expressed his thanks,
but in the vaguest terms which bound him to nothing.
"Could it be possible,"
he said to himself,
"that I am the natural son of some great nobleman who was exiled to our mountains by the terrible Napoleon?"
This idea seemed less and less improbable every minute ....
"My hatred of my father would be a proof of this ....
In that case,
I should not be an unnatural monster after all."
A few days after this soliloquy the Fifteenth Regiment of Hussars,
which was one of the most brilliant in the army,
was being reviewed on the parade ground of Strasbourg.
M. the chevalier de La Vernaye sat the finest horse in Alsace,
which had cost him six thousand francs.
He was received as a lieutenant,
though he had never been sub-lieutenant except on the rolls of a regiment of which he had never heard.
His impassive manner,
his stern and almost malicious eyes,
and his invariable self-possession,
founded his reputation from the very first day.
Shortly afterwards his perfect and calculated politeness,
and his skill at shooting and fencing,
though without any undue ostentation,
he made his comrades aware,
did away with all idea of making fun of him openly.
After hesitating for five or six days,
the public opinion of the regiment declared itself in his favour.
"This young man has everything,"
said the facetious old officers,
Julien wrote from Strasbourg to the old curé of Verrières,
who was now verging on extreme old age.
"You will have learnt,
with a joy of which I have no doubt,
of the events which have induced my family to enrich me.
Here are five hundred francs which I request you to distribute quietly,
and without any mention of my name,
among those unfortunate ones who are now poor as I myself was once,
and whom you will doubtless help as you once helped me."
Julien was intoxicated with ambition,
and not with vanity.
He nevertheless devoted a great part of his time to attending to his external appearance.
his orderlies' liveries,
were all kept with a correctness which would have done credit to the punctiliousness of a great English nobleman.
He had scarcely been made a lieutenant as a matter of favour (and that only two days ago) than he began to calculate that if he was to become commander-in-chief at thirty,
like all the great generals,
then he must be more than a lieutenant at twenty-three at the latest.
He thought about nothing except fame and his son.
It was in the midst of the ecstasies of the most reinless ambition that he was surprised by the arrival of a young valet from the Hôtel de la Mole,
who had come with a letter.
"All is lost,"
wrote Mathilde to him:
"Rush here as quickly as possible,
desert if necessary.
As soon as you have arrived,
wait for me in a fiacre near the little garden door,
near No. -- -- of the street -- -- I will come and speak to you: I shall perhaps be able to introduce you into the garden.
All is lost,
and I am afraid there is no way out;
count on me;
you will find me staunch and firm in adversity.
I love you."
A few minutes afterwards,
Julien obtained a furlough from the colonel,
and left Strasbourg at full gallop.
But the awful anxiety which devoured him did not allow him to continue this method of travel beyond Metz.
He flung himself into a post-chaise,
and arrived with an almost incredible rapidity at the indicated spot,
near the little garden door of the Hôtel de la Mole.
The door opened,
oblivious of all human conventions,
rushed into his arms.
it was only five o'clock in the morning,
and the street was still deserted.
"All is lost.
fearing my tears,
left Thursday night.
Nobody knows where for?
But here is his letter: read it."
She climbed into the fiacre with Julien.
"I could forgive everything except the plan of seducing you because you are rich.
is the awful truth.
I give you my word of honour that I will never consent to a marriage with that man.
I will guarantee him an income of 10,000 francs if he will live far away beyond the French frontiers,
or better still,
Read the letter which I have just received in answer to the enquiries which I have made.
The impudent scoundrel had himself requested me to write to madame de Rênal.
I will never read a single line you write concerning that man.
I feel a horror for both Paris and yourself.
I urge you to cover what is bound to happen with the utmost secrecy.
have nothing more to do with the vile man,
and you will find again the father you have lost."
"Where is Madame de Rênal's letter?"
said Julien coldly.
"Here it is.
I did not want to shew it to you before you were prepared for it."
"My duties to the sacred cause of religion and morality,
to take the painful course which I have just done with regard to yourself: an infallible principle orders me to do harm to my neighbour at the present moment,
but only in order to avoid an even greater scandal.
My sentiment of duty must overcome the pain which I experience.
It is only too true,
that the conduct of the person about whom you ask me to tell you the whole truth may seem incredible or even honest.
It may possibly be considered proper to hide or to disguise part of the truth: that would be in accordance with both prudence and religion.
But the conduct about which you desire information has been in fact reprehensible to the last degree,
and more than I can say.
Poor and greedy as the man is,
it is only by the aid of the most consummate hypocrisy,
and by seducing a weak and unhappy woman,
that he has endeavoured to make a career for himself and become someone in the world.
It is part of my painful duty to add that I am obliged to believe that M. Julien has no religious principles.
I am driven conscientiously to think that one of his methods of obtaining success in any household is to try to seduce the woman who commands the principal influence.
His one great object,
in spite of his show of disinterestedness,
and his stock-in-trade of phrases out of novels,
is to succeed in doing what he likes with the master of the household and his fortune.
He leaves behind him unhappiness and eternal remorse,
This extremely long letter,
which was almost blotted out by tears,
was certainly in madame de Rênal's handwriting;
it was even written with more than ordinary care.
"I cannot blame M. de la Mole,"
"after he had finished it.
He is just and prudent.
What father would give his beloved daughter to such a man?
Julien jumped out of the fiacre and rushed to his post-chaise,
which had stopped at the end of the street.
whom he had apparently forgotten,
took a few steps as though to follow him,
but the looks she received from the tradesmen,
who were coming out on the thresholds of their shops,
and who knew who she was,
forced her to return precipitately to the garden.
Julien had left for Verrières.
During that rapid journey he was unable to write to Mathilde as he had intended.
His hand could only form illegible characters on the paper.
He arrived at Verrières on a Sunday morning.
He entered the shop of the local gunsmith,
who overwhelmed him with congratulations on his recent good fortune.
It constituted the news of the locality.
Julien had much difficulty in making him understand that he wanted a pair of pistols.
At his request the gunsmith loaded the pistols.
The three peals sounded;
it is a well-known signal in the villages of France,
and after the various ringings in the morning announces the immediate commencement of Mass.
Julien entered the new church of Verrières.
All the lofty windows of the building were veiled with crimson curtains.
Julien found himself some spaces behind the pew of madame de Rênal.
It seemed to him that she was praying fervently The sight of the woman whom he had loved so much made Julien's arm tremble so violently that he was at first unable to execute his project.
he said to himself.
"It is a physical impossibility."
At that moment the young priest,
who was officiating at the Mass,
rang the bell for the elevation of the host.
Madame de Rênal lowered her head,
for a moment became entirely hidden by the folds of her shawl.
Julien did not see her features so distinctly: he aimed a pistol shot at her,
and missed her: he aimed a second shot,
Do not expect any weakness on my part.
I have avenged myself.
I have deserved death,
and here I am.
Pray for my soul.
Julien remained motionless.
He saw nothing more.
When he recovered himself a little he noticed all the faithful rushing from the church.
The priest had left the altar.
Julien started fairly slowly to follow some women who were going away with loud screams.
A woman who was trying to get away more quickly than the others,
pushed him roughly.
His feet got entangled with a chair,
knocked over by the crowd;
when he got up,
he felt his neck gripped.
in full uniform,
was arresting him.
Julien tried mechanically to have recourse to his little pistol;
but a second gendarme pinioned his arms.
He was taken to the prison.
They went into a room where irons were put on his hands.
He was left alone.
The door was doubly locked on him.
All this was done very quickly,
and he scarcely appreciated it at all.
upon my word,
all is over,"
he said aloud as he recovered himself.
the guillotine in a fortnight ...
or killing myself here."
His reasoning did not go any further.
His head felt as though it had been seized in some violent grip.
He looked round to see if anyone was holding him.
After some moments he fell into a deep sleep.
Madame de Rênal was not mortally wounded.
The first bullet had pierced her hat.
The second had been fired as she was turning round.
The bullet had struck her on the shoulder,
astonishing to relate,
had ricocheted from off the shoulder bone (which it had,
broken) against a gothic pillar,
from which it had loosened an enormous splinter of stone.
after a long and painful bandaging,
the solemn surgeon said to madame de Rênal,
"I answer for your life as I would for my own,"
she was profoundly grieved.
She had been sincerely desirous of death for a long time.
The letter which she had written to M. de la Mole in accordance with the injunctions of her present confessor,
had proved the final blow to a creature already weakened by an only too permanent unhappiness.
This unhappiness was caused by Julien's absence;
for her own part,
called it remorse.
a young ecclesiastic,
who was both virtuous and enthusiastic,
and had recently come to Dijon,
made no mistake as to its nature.
"Dying in this way,
though not by my own hand,
is very far from being a sin,"
thought madame de Rênal.
"God will perhaps forgive me for rejoicing over my death."
She did not dare to add,
"and dying by Julien's hand puts the last touch on my happiness."
She had scarcely been rid of the presence of the surgeon and of all the crowd of friends that had rushed to see her,
than she called her maid,
she said to her with a violent blush,
"is a cruel man.
He will doubtless ill-treat him,
thinking to please me by doing so ....
I cannot bear that idea.
Could you not go,
as though on your own account,
and give the gaoler this little packet which contains some louis.
You will tell him that religion forbids him to treat him badly,
he must not go and speak about the sending of this money."
It was this circumstance,
which we have just mentioned,
that Julien had to thank for the humanity of the gaoler of Verrières.
It was still the same M. Noiraud,
that ideal official,
whom he remembered as being so finely alarmed by M. Appert's presence.
A judge appeared in the prison.
"I occasioned death by premeditation,"
said Julien to him.
"I bought the pistols and had them loaded at so-and-so's,
Article 1342 of the penal code is clear.
I deserve death,
and I expect it."
Astonished at this kind of answer,
the judge started to multiply his questions,
with a view of the accused contradicting himself in his answers.
"Don't you see,"
said Julien to him with a smile,
"that I am making myself out as guilty as you can possibly desire?
you will not fail to catch the quarry you are pursuing.
You will have the pleasure to condemn me.
Spare me your presence."
"I have an irksome duty to perform,"
"I must write to mademoiselle de la Mole: --"
"I have avenged myself,"
he said to her.
my name will appear in the papers,
and I shall not be able to escape from the world incognito.
I shall die in two months' time.
My revenge was ghastly,
like the pain of being separated from you.
From this moment I forbid myself to write or pronounce your name.
Never speak of me even to my son;
silence is the only way of honouring me.
To the ordinary commonplace man,
I shall represent a common assassin.
Allow me the luxury of the truth at this supreme moment;
you will forget me.
This great catastrophe of which I advise you not to say a single word to a single living person,
for several years to come,
all that romantic and unduly adventurous element which I have detected in your character.
You were intended by nature to live among the heroes of the middle ages;
exhibit their firm character.
Let what has to happen take place in secret and without your being compromised.
You will assume a false name,
and you will confide in no one.
If you absolutely need a friend's help,
I bequeath the abbé Pirard to you.
"Do not talk to anyone else,
particularly to the people of your own class --the de Luz's,
"A year after my death,
marry M. de Croisenois;
I command you as your husband.
Do not write to me at all,
I shall not answer.
Though in my view,
much less wicked than Iago,
I am going to say,
'From this time forth,
I never will speack word.'
"I shall never be seen to speak or write again.
You will have received my final words and my final expressions of adoration.
It was only after he had despatched this letter and had recovered himself a little,
that Julien felt for the first time extremely unhappy.
Those momentous words,
I shall die,
meant the successive tearing out of his heart of each individual hope and ambition.
was not horrible in his eyes.
His whole life had been nothing but a long preparation for unhappiness,
and he had made a point of not losing sight of what is considered the greatest unhappiness of all.
he said to himself;
"if I had to fight a duel in a couple of months,
with an expert duellist,
should I be weak enough to think about it incessantly with panic in my soul?"
He passed more than an hour in trying to analyze himself thoroughly on this score.
When he saw clear in his own soul,
and the truth appeared before his eyes with as much definiteness as one of the pillars of his prison,
he thought about remorse.
"Why should I have any?
I have been atrociously injured;
I have killed --I deserve death,
but that is all.
I die after having squared my account with humanity.
I do not leave any obligation unfulfilled.
I owe nothing to anybody;
there is nothing shameful about my death,
except the instrument of it;
it is true,
is simply sufficient to disgrace me in the eyes of the bourgeois of Verrières;
but from the intellectual standpoint,
what could be more contemptible than they?
I have one means of winning their consideration;
by flinging pieces of gold to the people as I go to the scaffold.
If my memory is linked with the idea of gold,
they will always look upon it as resplendent."
After this chain of reasoning,
which after a minute's reflection seemed to him self-evident,
Julien said to himself,
"I have nothing left to do in the world,"
and fell into a deep sleep.
About 9 o'clock in the evening the gaoler woke him up as he brought in his supper.
"What are they saying in Verrières?"
the oath which I took before the crucifix in the
on the day when I was installed in my place,
obliges me to silence."
He was silent,
Julien was amused by the sight of this vulgar hypocrisy.
I must make him,
wait a long time for the five francs which he wants to sell his conscience for.
When the gaoler saw him finish his meal without making any attempt to corrupt him,
he said in a soft and perfidious voice:
"The affection which I have for you,
compels me to speak.
Although they say that it is contrary to the interests of justice,
because it may assist you in preparing your defence.
M. Julien you are a good fellow at heart,
and you will be very glad to learn that madame de Rênal is better."
she is not dead?"
you know nothing?"
said the gaoler,
with a stupid air which soon turned into exultant cupidity.
"It would be very proper,
for you to give something to the surgeon,
so far as law and justice go,
ought not to have spoken.
But in order to please you,
I went to him,
and he told me everything."
the wound is not mortal,"
said Julien to him impatiently,
"you answer for it on your life?"
who was a giant six feet tall,
was frightened and retired towards the door.
Julien saw that he was adopting bad tactics for getting at the truth.
He sat down again and flung a napoleon to M. Noiraud.
As the man's story proved to Julien more and more conclusively that madame de Rênal's wound was not mortal,
he felt himself overcome by tears.
he said brusquely.
The gaoler obeyed.
Scarcely had the door shut,
than Julien exclaimed:
she is not dead,"
and he fell on his knees,
shedding hot tears.
In this supreme moment he was a believer.
What mattered the hypocrisies of the priests?
Could they abate one whit of the truth and sublimity of the idea of God?
It was only then that Julien began to repent of the crime that he had committed.
By a coincidence,
which prevented him falling into despair,
it was only at the present moment that the condition of physical irritation and semi-madness,
in which he had been plunged since his departure from Paris for Verrières came to an end.
His tears had a generous source.
He had no doubt about the condemnation which awaited him.
"So she will live,"
he said to himself.
"She will live to forgive me and love me."
Very late the next morning the gaoler woke him up and said,
"You must have a famous spirit,
I have come in twice,
but I did not want to wake you up.
Here are two bottles of excellent wine which our curé,
has sent you."
is that scoundrel still here?"
said the gaoler,
lowering his voice.
"But do not talk so loud,
it may do you harm."
Julien laughed heartily.
"At the stage I have reached,
you alone can do me harm in the event of your ceasing to be kind and tender.
You will be well paid,"
changing his tone and reverting to his imperious manner.
This manner was immediately justified by the gift of a piece of money.
M. Noiraud related again,
with the greatest detail,
everything he had learnt about madame de Rênal,
but he did not make any mention of mademoiselle Elisa's visit.
The man was as base and servile as it was possible to be.
An idea crossed Julien's mind.
"This kind of misshapen giant cannot earn more than three or four hundred francs,
for his prison is not at all full.
I can guarantee him ten thousand francs,
if he will escape with me to Switzerland.
The difficulty will be in persuading him of my good faith."
The idea of the long conversation he would need to have with so vile a person filled Julien with disgust.
He thought of something else.
In the evening the time had passed.
A post-chaise had come to pick him up at midnight.
He was very pleased with his travelling companions,
When he arrived at the prison of Besançon in the morning they were kind enough to place him in the upper storey of a Gothic turret.
He judged the architecture to be of the beginning of the fourteenth century.
He admired its fascinating grace and lightness.
Through a narrow space between two walls,
beyond the deep court,
there opened a superb vista.
On the following day there was an interrogation,
after which he was left in peace for several days.
His soul was calm.
He found his affair a perfectly simple one.
"I meant to kill.
I deserve to be killed."
His thoughts did not linger any further over this line of reasoning.
As for the sentence,
the disagreeableness of appearing in public,
he considered all this as slight embarrassment,
which it would be time enough to consider on the actual day.
The actual moment of death did not seize hold of his mind either.
"I will think about it after the sentence."
Life was no longer boring,
he was envisaging everything from a new point of view,
he had no longer any ambition.
He rarely thought about mademoiselle de la Mole.
His passion of remorse engrossed him a great deal,
and often conjured up the image of madame de Rênal,
particularly during the silence of the night,
which in this high turret was only disturbed by the song of the osprey.
He thanked heaven that he had not inflicted a mortal wound.
he said to himself,
"I thought that she had destroyed my future happiness for ever by her letter to M. de la Mole,
and here am I,
less than a fortnight after the date of that letter,
not giving a single thought to all the things that engrossed me then.
An income of two or three thousand francs,
on which to live quietly in a mountain district,
like Vergy ....
I was happy then ....
I did not realise my happiness."
At other moments he would jump up from his chair.
"If I had mortally wounded madame de Rênal,
I would have killed myself ....
I need to feel certain of that so as not to horrify myself."
That's the great question,"
he said to himself.
those fiends of red tape,
who would hang their best citizen in order to win the cross ....
At any rate,
I should escape from their control and from the bad French of their insults,
which the local paper will call eloquence."
"I still have five or six weeks,
more or less to live ....
not for a minute,"
he said to himself after some days,
"Napoleon went on living."
I find life pleasant,
this place is quiet,
I am not troubled with bores,"
he added with a smile,
and he began to make out a list of the books which he wanted to order from Paris.
 Stendhal's bad spelling is here reproduced.
The tomb of a friend.
He heard a loud noise in the corridor.
It was not the time when the gaoler usually came up to his prison.
The osprey flew away with a shriek.
The door opened,
and the venerable curé Chélan threw himself into his arms.
He was trembling all over and had his stick in his hands.
Is it possible,
my child --I ought to say monster?"
The good old man could not add a single word.
Julien was afraid he would fall down.
He was obliged to lead him to a chair.
The hand of time lay heavy on this man who had once been so active.
He seemed to Julien the mere shadow of his former self.
When he had regained his breath,
"It was only the day before yesterday that I received your letter from Strasbourg with your five hundred francs for the poor of Verrières.
They brought it to me in the mountains at Liveru where I am living in retirement with my nephew Jean.
Yesterday I learnt of the catastrophe ....
is it possible?"
And the old man left off weeping.
He did not seem to have any ideas left,
but added mechanically,
"You will have need of your five hundred francs,
I will bring them back to you."
"I need to see you,
"I have money,
But he could not obtain any coherent answer.
From time to time,
M. Chélan shed some tears which coursed silently down his cheeks.
He then looked at Julien,
and was quite dazed when he saw him kiss his hands and carry them to his lips.
That face which had once been so vivid,
and which had once portrayed with such vigour the most noble emotions was now sunk in a perpetual apathy.
A kind of peasant came soon to fetch the old man.
"You must not fatigue him,"
he said to Julien,
who understood that he was the nephew.
This visit left Julien plunged in a cruel unhappiness which found no vent in tears.
Everything seemed to him gloomy and disconsolate.
He felt his heart frozen in his bosom.
This moment was the cruellest which he had experienced since the crime.
He had just seen death and seen it in all its ugliness.
All his illusions about greatness of soul and nobility of character had been dissipated like a cloud before the hurricane.
This awful plight lasted several hours.
After moral poisoning,
physical remedies and champagne are necessary.
Julien would have considered himself a coward to have resorted to them.
"What a fool I am,"
towards the end of the horrible day that he had spent entirely in walking up and down his narrow turret.
if I had been going to die like anybody else,
that the sight of that poor old man would have had any right to have thrown me into this awful fit of sadness: but a rapid death in the flower of my age simply puts me beyond the reach of such awful senility."
In spite of all his argumentation,
Julien felt as touched as any weak-minded person would have been,
and consequently felt unhappy as the result of the visit.
He no longer had any element of rugged greatness,
or any Roman virtue.
Death appeared to him at a great height and seemed a less easy proposition.
"This is what I shall take for my thermometer,"
he said to himself.
"To-night I am ten degrees below the courage requisite for guillotine-point level.
I had that courage this morning.
what does it matter so long as it comes back to me at the necessary moment?"
This thermometer idea amused him and finally managed to distract him.
When he woke up the next day he was ashamed of the previous day.
"My happiness and peace of mind are at stake."
He almost made up his mind to write to the Procureur-General to request that no one should be admitted to see him.
"And how about Fouqué,"
"If he takes it upon himself to come to Besançon,
his grief will be immense."
It had perhaps been two months since he had given Fouqué a thought.
"I was a great fool at Strasbourg.
My thoughts did not go beyond my coat-collar.
He was much engrossed by the memory of Fouqué,
which left him more and more touched.
He walked nervously about.
Here I am,
clearly twenty degrees below death point ....
If this weakness increases,
it will be better for me to kill myself.
What joy for the abbé Maslon,
and the Valenods,
if I die like an usher."
was distracted by grief.
His one idea,
so far as he had any at all,
was to sell all he possessed in order to bribe the gaoler and secure Julien's escape.
He talked to him at length of M. de Lavalette's escape.
"You pain me,"
Julien said to him.
de Lavalette was innocent --I am guilty.
Though you did not mean to,
you made me think of the difference ...."
"But is it true?
were you going to sell all you possessed?"
suddenly becoming mistrustful and observant.
Fouqué was delighted at seeing his friend answer his obsessing idea,
and detailed at length,
and within a hundred francs,
what he would get for each of his properties.
"What a sublime effort for a small country land-owner,"
"He is ready to sacrifice for me the fruits of all the economies,
and all the little semi-swindling tricks which I used to be ashamed of when I saw him practice them."
"None of the handsome young people whom I saw in the Hôtel de la Mole,
and who read René,
would have any of his ridiculous weaknesses: but,
except those who are very young and who have also inherited riches and are ignorant of the value of money,
which of all those handsome Parisians would be capable of such a sacrifice?"
All Fouqué's mistakes in French and all his common gestures seemed to disappear.
He threw himself into his arms.
Never have the provinces in comparison with Paris received so fine a tribute.
Fouqué was so delighted with the momentary enthusiasm which he read in his friend's eyes that he took it for consent to the flight.
This view of the sublime recalled to Julien all the strength that the apparition of M. Chélan had made him lose.
He was still very young;
but in my view he was a fine specimen.
Instead of his character passing from tenderness to cunning,
as is the case with the majority of men,
age would have given him that kindness of heart which is easily melted ...
but what avail these vain prophecies.
The interrogations became more frequent in spite of all the efforts of Julien,
who always endeavoured by his answers to shorten the whole matter.
or at any rate,
I wished to occasion death,
and I did so with premeditation,"
he would repeat every day.
But the judge was a pedant above everything.
Julien's confessions had no effect in curtailing the interrogations.
The judge's conceit was wounded.
Julien did not know that they had wanted to transfer him into an awful cell,
and that it was only,
thanks to Fouqué's efforts,
that he was allowed to keep his pretty room at the top of a hundred and eighty steps.
M. the abbé de Frilair was one of the important customers who entrusted Fouqué with the purveying of their firewood.
The good tradesmen managed to reach the all powerful grand vicar.
M. de Frilair informed him,
to his unspeakable delight,
that he was so touched by Julien's good qualities,
and by the services which he had formerly rendered to the seminary,
that he intended to recommend him to the judges.
Fouqué thought he saw a hope of saving his friend,
and as he went out,
bowing down to the ground,
requested M. the grand vicar,
to distribute a sum of ten louis in masses to entreat the acquittal of the accused.
Fouqué was making a strange mistake.
M. de Frilair was very far from being a Valenod.
and even tried to make the good peasant understand that he would do better to keep his money.
Seeing that it was impossible to be clear without being indiscreet,
he advised him to give that sum as alms for the use of the poor prisoners,
in point of fact,
were destitute of everything.
"This Julien is a singular person,
his action is unintelligible,"
thought M. de Frilair,
"and I ought to find nothing unintelligible.
Perhaps it will be possible to make a martyr of him ....
In any case,
I shall get to the bottom of the matter,
and shall perhaps find an opportunity of putting fear into the heart of that madame de Rênal who has no respect for us,
and at the bottom detests me ....
Perhaps I might be able to utilise all this as a means of a brilliant reconciliation with M. de la Mole,
who has a weakness for the little seminarist."
The settlement of the lawsuit had been signed some weeks previously,
and the abbé Pirard had left Besançon after having duly mentioned Julien's mysterious birth,
on the very day when the unhappy man tried to assassinate madame de Rênal in the church of Verrières.
There was only one disagreeable event between himself and his death which Julien anticipated.
He consulted Fouqué concerning his idea of writing to M. the Procureur-General asking to be exempt from all visits.
This horror at the sight of a father,
above all at a moment like this,
deeply shocked the honest middle-class heart of the wood merchant.
He thought he understood why so many people had a passionate hatred for his friend.
He concealed his feelings out of respect for misfortune.
"In any case,"
he answered coldly,
"such an order for privacy would not be applied to your father."
A POWERFUL MAN
But her proceedings are so mysterious and her figure is so elegant!
Who can she be?
The doors of the turret opened very early on the following day.
"here's my father!
What an unpleasant scene!"
At the same time a woman dressed like a peasant rushed into his arms.
He had difficulty in recognising her.
It was mademoiselle de la Mole.
"You wicked man!
Your letter only told me where you were.
As for what you call your crime,
but which is really nothing more or less than a noble vengeance,
which shews me all the loftiness of the heart which beats within your bosom,
I only got to know of it at Verrières."
In spite of all his prejudices against mademoiselle de la Mole,
prejudices moreover which he had not owned to himself quite frankly,
Julien found her extremely pretty.
It was impossible not to recognise both in what she had done and what she had said,
a noble disinterested feeling far above the level of anything that a petty vulgar soul would have dared to do?
He thought that he still loved a queen,
and after a few moments said to her with a remarkable nobility both of thought and of elocution,
"I sketched out the future very clearly.
After my death I intended to remarry you to M. de Croisenois,
who will officially of course then marry a widow.
The noble but slightly romantic soul of this charming widow,
who will have been brought back to the cult of vulgar prudence by an astonishing and singular event which played in her life a part as great as it was tragic,
will deign to appreciate the very real merit of the young marquis.
You will resign yourself to be happy with ordinary worldly happiness,
if your arrival at Besançon is suspected,
it will be a mortal blow for M. de la Mole,
and that is what I shall never forgive myself.
I have already caused him so much sorrow.
The academician will say that he has nursed a serpent in his bosom.
"I must confess that I little expected so much cold reason and so much solicitude for the future,"
said mademoiselle de la Mole,
"My maid who is almost as prudent as you are,
took a passport for herself,
and I posted here under the name of madam Michelet."
"And did madame Michelet find it so easy to get to see me?"
you are still the same superior man whom I chose to favour.
I started by offering a hundred francs to one of the judge's secretaries,
who alleged at first that my admission into this turret was impossible.
But once he had got the money the worthy man kept me waiting,
and I thought that he meant to rob me --" She stopped.
"Do not be angry,
my little Julien,"
"I was obliged to tell my name to the secretary,
who took me for a young working girl from Paris in love with handsome Julien.
As a matter of fact those are his actual expressions.
I swore to him,
that I was your wife,
and I shall have a permit to see you every day."
"Nothing could be madder,"
"but I could not help it.
M. de la Mole is so great a nobleman that public opinion will manage to find an excuse for the young colonel who will marry such a charming widow.
My death will atone for everything;"
and he abandoned himself with delight to Mathilde's love.
It was madness,
it was greatness of soul,
it was the most remarkable thing possible.
She seriously suggested that she should kill herself with him.
After these first transports,
when she had had her fill of the happiness of seeing Julien,
a keen curiosity suddenly invaded her soul.
She began to scrutinize her lover,
and found him considerably above the plane which she had anticipated.
Boniface de La Mole seemed to be brought to life again,
but on a more heroic scale.
Mathilde saw the first advocates of the locality,
and offended them by offering gold too crudely,
but they finished by accepting.
She promptly came to the conclusion that so far as dubious and far reaching intrigues were concerned,
everything depended at Besançon on M. the abbé de Frilair.
She found at first overwhelming difficulties in obtaining an interview with the all-powerful leader of the congregation under the obscure name of madame Michelet.
But the rumour of the beauty of a young dressmaker,
who was madly in love,
and had come from Paris to Besançon to console the young abbé Julien Sorel,
spread over the town.
Mathilde walked about the Besançon streets alone: she hoped not to be recognised.
In any case,
she thought it would be of some use to her cause if she produced a great impression on the people.
in her madness,
of making them rebel in order to save Julien as he walked to his death.
Mademoiselle de la Mole thought she was dressed simply and in a way suitable to a woman in mourning,
she was dressed in fact in such a way as to attract every one's attention.
She was the object of everyone's notice at Besançon when she obtained an audience of M. de Frilair after a week spent in soliciting it.
In spite of all her courage,
the idea of an influential leader of the congregation,
and the idea of deep and calculating criminality,
were so associated with each other in her mind,
that she trembled as she rang the bell at the door of the bishop's palace.
She could scarcely walk when she had to go up the staircase,
which led to the apartment of the first grand Vicar.
The solitude of the episcopal palace chilled her.
"I might sit down in an armchair,
and the armchair might grip my arms: I should then disappear.
Whom could my maid ask for?
The captain of the gendarmerie will take care to do nothing.
I am isolated in this great town."
After her first look at the apartment,
mademoiselle de la Mole felt reassured.
In the first place,
the lackey who had opened the door to her had on a very elegant livery.
The salon in which she was asked to wait displayed that refined and delicate luxury which differs so much from crude magnificence,
and which is only found in the best houses in Paris.
As soon as she noticed M. de Frilair coming towards her with quite a paternal air,
all her ideas of his criminality disappeared.
She did not even find on his handsome face the impress of that drastic and somewhat savage courage which is so anti-pathetic to Paris society.
The half-smile which animated the features of the priest,
who was all-powerful at Besançon,
betokened the well-bred man,
the learned prelate,
the clever administrator.
Mathilde felt herself at Paris.
It was the work of a few minutes for M. de Frilair to induce Mathilde to confess to him that she was the daughter of his powerful opponent,
the marquis de la Mole.
"As a matter of fact,
I am not Madame Michelet,"
reassuming all the haughtiness of her natural demeanour,
"and this confession costs me but little since I have come to consult you,
on the possibility of procuring the escape of M. de la Vernaye.
he is only guilty of a piece of folly;
the woman whom he shot at is well;
in the second place,
I can put down fifty-thousand francs straight away for the purpose of bribing the officials,
and pledge myself for twice that sum.
my gratitude and the gratitude of my family will be ready to do absolutely anything for the man who has saved M. de la Vernaye."
M. de Frilair seemed astonished at the name.
Mathilde shewed him several letters from the Minister of War,
addressed to M. Julien Sorel de la Vernaye.
that my father took upon himself the responsibility of his career.
I married him secretly,
my father was desirous that he should be a superior officer before the notification of this marriage,
is somewhat singular for a de la Mole."
Mathilde noticed that M. de Frilair's expression of goodwill and mild cheerfulness was rapidly vanishing in proportion as he made certain important discoveries.
His face exhibited a subtlety tinged with deep perfidiousness,
the abbé had doubts,
he was slowly re-reading the official documents.
"What can I get out of these strange confidences?"
he said to himself.
"Here I am suddenly thrown into intimate relations with a friend of the celebrated maréchale de Fervaques,
who is the all-powerful niece of my lord,
bishop of -- -- who can make one a bishop of France.
What I looked upon as an extremely distant possibility presents itself unexpectedly.
This may lead me to the goal of all my hopes."
Mathilde was at first alarmed by the sudden change in the expression of this powerful man,
with whom she was alone in a secluded room.
she said to herself soon afterwards.
"Would it not have been more unfortunate if I had made no impression at all on the cold egoism of a priest who was already sated with power and enjoyment?"
Dazzled at the sight of this rapid and unexpected path of reaching the episcopate which now disclosed itself to him,
and astonished as he was by Mathilde's genius,
M. de Frilair ceased for a moment to be on his guard.
Mademoiselle de la Mole saw him almost at her feet,
tingling with ambition,
and trembling nervously.
"Everything is cleared up,"
"Madame de Fervaques' friend will find nothing impossible in this town."
In spite of a sentiment of still painful jealousy she had sufficient courage to explain that Julien was the intimate friend of the maréchale,
and met my lord the bishop of -- -- nearly every day.
"If you were to draw by ballot four or five times in succession a list of thirty-six jurymen from out the principal inhabitants of this department,"
said the grand Vicar,
emphasizing his words,
and with a hard,
ambitious expression in his eyes,
"I should not feel inclined to congratulate myself,
if I could not reckon on eight or ten friends who would be the most intelligent of the lot in each list.
I can always manage in nearly every case to get more than a sufficient majority to secure a condemnation,
so you see,
how easy it is for me to secure a conviction."
The abbé stopped short as though astonished by the sound of his own words;
he was admitting things which are never said to the profane.
But he in his turn dumbfounded Mathilde when he informed her that the special feature in Julien's strange adventure which astonished and interested Besançon society,
was that he had formerly inspired Madame de Rênal with a grand passion and reciprocated it for a long time.
M. de Frilair had no difficulty in perceiving the extreme trouble which his story produced.
"I have my revenge,"
"After all it's a way of managing this decided young person.
I was afraid that I should not succeed."
Her distinguished and intractable appearance intensified in his eyes the charm of the rare beauty whom he now saw practically entreating him.
He regained all his self-possession --and he did not hesitate to move the dagger about in her heart.
"I should not be at all surprised,"
he said to her lightly,
"if we were to learn that it was owing to jealousy that M. Sorel fired two pistol shots at the woman he once loved so much.
Of course she must have consoled herself and for some time she has been seeing extremely frequently a certain abbé Marquinot of Dijon,
a kind of Jansenist,
and as immoral as all Jansenists are."
M. de Frilair experienced the voluptuous pleasure of torturing at his leisure the heart of this beautiful girl whose weakness he had surprised.
as he fixed his ardent eyes upon Mathilde,
"should M. Sorel have chosen the church,
if it were not for the reason that his rival was celebrating mass in it at that very moment?
Everyone attributes an infinite amount of intelligence and an even greater amount of prudence to the fortunate man who is the object of your interest.
What would have been simpler than to hide himself in the garden of M. de Rênal which he knows so well.
Once there he could put the woman of whom he was jealous to death with the practical certainty of being neither seen,
This apparently sound train of reasoning eventually made Mathilde loose all self-possession.
Her haughty soul steeped in all that arid prudence,
which passes in high society for the true psychology of the human heart,
was not of the type to be at all quick in appreciating that joy of scorning all prudence,
which an ardent soul can find so keen.
In the high classes of Paris society in which Mathilde had lived,
it is only rarely that passion can divest itself of prudence,
and people always make a point of throwing themselves out of windows from the fifth storey.
At last the abbé de Frilair was sure of his power over her.
He gave Mathilde to understand (and he was doubtless lying) that he could do what he liked with the public official who was entrusted with the conduct of Julien's prosecution.
After the thirty-six jurymen for the sessions had been chosen by ballot,
he would approach at least thirty jurymen directly and personally.
If M. de Frilair had not thought Mathilde so pretty,
he would not have spoken so clearly before the fifth or sixth interview.
Castres 1676 --A brother has just murdered his sister in the house next to mine.
This gentleman had already been guilty of one murder.
His father saved his life by causing five-hundred crowns to be distributed among the councillors.
--_Locke: Journey in France_.
When she left the bishop's palace,
Mathilde did not hesitate to despatch a courier to madame de Fervaques.
The fear of compromising herself did not stop her for a moment.
She entreated her rival to obtain for M. de Frilair an autograph letter from the bishop of -- --.
She went as far as to entreat her to come herself to Besançon with all speed.
This was an heroic act on the part of a proud and jealous soul.
Acting on Fouqué's advice,
she had had the discretion to refrain from mentioning the steps she had taken for Julien.
Her presence troubled him enough without that.
A better man when face to face with death than he had ever been during his life,
he had remorse not only towards M. de la Mole,
but also towards Mathilde.
he said to himself,
"there are times when I feel absent-minded and even bored by her society.
She is ruining herself on my account,
and this is how I reward her.
Am I really a scoundrel?"
This question would have bothered him but little in the days when he was ambitious.
In those days he looked upon failure as the only disgrace.
His moral discomfort when with Mathilde was proportionately emphasized by the fact that he inspired her at this time with the maddest and most extraordinary passion.
She talked of nothing but the strange sacrifices that she was ready to make in order to save him.
Exalted as she was by a sentiment on which she plumed herself,
to the complete subordination of her pride,
she would have liked not to have let a single minute of her life go by without filling it with some extraordinary act.
The strangest projects,
and ones involving her in the utmost danger,
supplied the topics of her long interviews with Julien.
The well-paid gaolers allowed her to reign over the prison.
Mathilde's ideas were not limited by the sacrifice of her reputation.
She would have thought nothing of making her condition known to society at large.
Throwing herself on her knees before the king's carriage as it galloped along,
in order to ask for Julien's pardon,
and thus attracting the attention of the prince,
at the risk of being crushed a thousand times over,
was one of the least fantastic dreams in which this exalted and courageous imagination chose to indulge.
She was certain of being admitted into the reserved portion of the park of St. Cloud,
through those friends of hers who were employed at the king's court.
Julien thought himself somewhat unworthy of so much devotion.
As a matter of fact,
he was tired of heroism.
and almost timid tenderness was what would have appealed to him,
while Mathilde's haughty soul,
on the other hand,
always required the idea of a public and an audience.
In the midst of all her anguish and all her fears for the life of that lover whom she was unwilling to survive,
she felt a secret need of astonishing the public by the extravagance of her love and the sublimity of her actions.
Julien felt irritated at not finding himself touched by all this heroism.
What would he have felt if he had known of all the mad ideas with which Mathilde overwhelmed the devoted but eminently logical and limited spirit of the good Fouqué?
He did not know what to find fault with in Mathilde's devotion.
would have sacrificed all his fortune,
and have exposed his life to the greatest risks in order to save Julien.
He was dumbfounded by the quantity of gold which Mathilde flung away.
During the first days Fouqué,
who had all the provincial's respect for money,
was much impressed by the sums she spent in this way.
He at last discovered that mademoiselle de la Mole's projects frequently varied,
and he was greatly relieved at finding a word with which to express his blame for a character whom he found so exhausting.
She was changeable.
There is only a step from this epithet to that of wrong-headed,
the greatest term of opprobrium known to the provinces.
"It is singular,"
said Julien to himself,
as Mathilde was going out of his prison one day,
"that I should be so insensible at being the object of so keen a passion!
And two months ago I adored her!
read that the approach of death makes one lose interest in everything,
but it is awful to feel oneself ungrateful,
and not to be able to change.
Am I an egoist,
He addressed the most humiliating reproaches to himself on this score.
Ambition was dead in his heart;
another passion had arisen from its ashes.
He called it remorse at having assassinated madame de Rênal.
As a matter of fact,
he loved her to the point of distraction.
He experienced a singular happiness on these occasions when,
being left absolutely alone,
and without being afraid of being interrupted,
he could surrender himself completely to the memory of the happy days which he had once passed at Verrières,
or at Vergy.
The slightest incidents of these days,
which had fleeted away only too rapidly,
possessed an irresistible freshness and charm.
He never gave a thought to his Paris successes;
they bored him.
which became intensified with every succeeding day,
were partly guessed by the jealous Mathilde.
She realised very clearly that she had to struggle against his love of solitude.
with terror in her heart,
she uttered madame de Rênal's name.
She saw Julien quiver.
Henceforth her passion had neither bounds nor limit.
"If he dies,
I will die after him,"
she said to herself in all good faith.
"What will the Paris salons say when they see a girl of my own rank carry her adoration for a lover who is condemned to death to such a pitch as this?
For sentiments like these you must go back to the age of the heroes.
It was loves of this kind which thrilled the hearts of the century of Charles IX.
and Henri III."
In the midst of her keenest transports,
when she was clasping Julien's head against her heart,
she would say to herself with horror,
is this charming head doomed to fall?
inflamed by a not unhappy heroism,
"these lips of mine,
which are now pressing against this pretty hair,
will be icy cold less than twenty-four hours afterwards."
Thoughts of the awful voluptuousness of such heroic moments gripped her in a compelling embrace.
The idea of suicide,
absorbing enough in itself,
entered that haughty soul (to which,
up to the present it had been so utterly alien),
and soon reigned over it with an absolute dominion.
the blood of my ancestors has not grown tepid in descending to me,"
said Mathilde proudly to herself.
"I have a favour to ask of you,"
said her lover to her one day.
"Put your child out to nurse at Verrières.
Madame de Rênal will look after the nurse."
"Those words of yours are very harsh."
And Mathilde paled.
"It is true,
and I ask your pardon a thousand times,"
emerging from his reverie,
and clasping her in his arms.
After having dried his tears,
he reverted to his original idea,
but with greater tact.
He had given a twist of melancholy philosophy to the conversation.
He talked of that future of his which was so soon going to close.
"One must admit,
that passions are an accident in life,
but such accidents only occur in superior souls ....
My son's death would be in reality a happiness for your own proud family,
and all the servants will realize as much.
Neglect will be the lot of that child of shame and unhappiness.
I hope that,
at a time which I do not wish to fix,
but which nevertheless I am courageous enough to imagine,
you will obey my last advice: you will marry the marquis de Croisenois."
"Dishonour cannot attach to a name such as yours.
You will be a widow,
and the widow of a madman --that is all.
I will go further --my crime will confer no dishonour,
since it had no money motive.
Perhaps when the time comes for your marriage,
some philosophic legislator will have so far prevailed on the prejudice of his contemporaries as to have secured the suppression of the death penalty.
Then some friendly voice will say,
by way of giving an instance:
madame de la Mole's first husband was a madman,
but not a wicked man or a criminal.
It was absurd to have his head cut off.'
So my memory will not be infamous in any way --at least,
after a certain time ....
Your position in society,
if you will allow me to say so,
will make M. de Croisenois,
once he is your husband,
play a part which he would have never managed to secure unaided.
He only possesses birth and bravery,
and those qualities alone,
though they constituted an accomplished man in 1729,
are an anachronism a century later on,
and only give rise to unwarranted pretensions.
You need other things if you are to place yourself at the head of the youth of France."
"You will take all the help of your firm and enterprising character to the political party which you will make your husband join.
You may be able to be a successor to the Chevreuses and the Longuevilles of the Fronde --but then,
the divine fire which animates you at present will have grown a little tepid.
Allow me to tell you,"
"after many other preparatory phrases,
that in fifteen years' time you will look upon the love you once had for me as a madness,
which though excusable,
was a piece of madness all the same."
He stopped suddenly and became meditative.
He found himself again confronted with the idea which shocked Mathilde so much:
"In fifteen years,
madame de Rênal will adore my son and you will have forgotten him."
It is because I was foolish then that I am wise to-day.
Oh thou philosopher who seest nothing except the actual instant.
How short-sighted are thy views!
Thine eye is not adapted to follow the subterranean work of the passions.
This conversation was interrupted by an interrogation followed by a conference with the advocate entrusted with the defence.
These moments were the only absolutely unpleasant ones in a life made up of nonchalance and tender reveries.
"There is murder,
and murder with premeditation,"
said Julien to the judge as he had done to the advocate,
"I am sorry,
he added with a smile,
that this reduces your functions to a very small compass."
said Julien to himself,
when he had managed to rid himself of those two persons,
"I must really be brave,
and apparently braver than those two men.
They regard that duel with an unfortunate termination,
which I can only seriously bother myself about on the actual day,
as the greatest of evils and the arch-terror."
"The fact is that I have known a much greater unhappiness,"
as he went on philosophising with himself.
"I suffered far more acutely during my first journey to Strasbourg,
when I thought I was abandoned by Mathilde --and to think that I desired so passionately that same perfect intimacy which to-day leaves me so cold --as a matter of fact I am more happy alone than when that handsome girl shares my solitude."
who was a red-tape pedant,
thought him mad,
with the public,
that it was jealousy which had lead him to take up the pistol.
He ventured one day to give Julien to understand that this contention,
whether true or false,
would be an excellent way of pleading.
But the accused man became in a single minute a passionate and drastic individual.
"As you value your life,
quite beside himself,
"mind you never put forward such an abominable lie."
The cautious advocate was for a moment afraid of being assassinated.
He was preparing his case because the decisive moment was drawing near.
The only topic of conversation in Besançon,
and all the department,
was the _cause célèbre_.
Julien did not know of this circumstance.
He had requested his friends never to talk to him about that kind of thing.
On this particular day,
Fouqué and Mathilde had tried to inform him of certain rumours which in their view were calculated to give hope.
Julien had stopped them at the very first word.
"Leave me my ideal life.
Your pettifogging troubles and details of practical life all more or less jar on me and bring me down from my heaven.
One dies as best one can: but I wish to chose my own way of thinking about death.
What do I care for other people?
My relations with other people will be sharply cut short.
Be kind enough not to talk to me any more about those people.
Seeing the judge and the advocate is more than enough."
"As a matter of fact,"
he said to himself,
"it seems that I am fated to die dreaming.
An obscure creature like myself,
who is certain to be forgotten within a fortnight,
would be very silly,
one must admit,
to go and play a part.
It is nevertheless singular that I never knew so much about the art of enjoying life,
as since I have seen its end so near me."
He passed his last day in promenading upon the narrow terrace at the top of the turret,
smoking some excellent cigars which Mathilde had had fetched from Holland by a courier.
He had no suspicion that his appearance was waited for each day by all the telescopes in the town.
His thoughts were at Vergy.
He never spoke to Fouqué about madame de Rênal,
but his friend told him two or three times that she was rapidly recovering,
and these words reverberated in his heart.
While Julien's soul was nearly all the time wholly in the realm of ideas,
as befits an aristocratic spirit,
had occupied herself with concrete things,
had managed to make the direct and intimate correspondence between madame de Fervaques and M. de Frilair progress so far that the great word bishopric had been already pronounced.
The venerable prelate,
who was entrusted with the distribution of the benefices,
added in a postscript to one of his niece's letters,
"This poor Sorel is only a lunatic.
I hope he will be restored to us."
At the sight of these lines,
M. de Frilair felt transported.
He had no doubts about saving Julien.
"But for this Jacobin law which has ordered the formation of an unending panel of jurymen,
and which has no other real object,
except to deprive well-born people of all their influence,"
he said to Mathilde on the eve of the balloting for the thirty-six jurymen of the session,
"I would have answered for the verdict.
I certainly managed to get the curé N -- -- acquitted."
When the names were selected by ballot on the following day,
M. de Frilair experienced a genuine pleasure in finding that they contained five members of the Besançon congregation and that amongst those who were strangers to the town were the names of MM.
I can answer for these eight jurymen he said to Mathilde.
The first five are mere machines,
Valenod is my agent: Moirod owes me everything: de Cholin is an imbecile who is frightened of everything.
The journal published the names of the jurymen throughout the department,
and to her husband's unspeakable terror,
madame de Rênal wished to go to Besançon.
All that M. de Rênal could prevail on her to promise was that she would not leave her bed so as to avoid the unpleasantness of being called to give evidence.
"You do not understand my position,"
said the former mayor of Verrières.
"I am now said to be disloyal and a Liberal.
No doubt that scoundrel Valenod and M. de Frilair will get the procureur-general and the judges to do all they can to cause me unpleasantness."
Madame de Rênal found no difficulty in yielding to her husband's orders.
"If I appear at the assize court,"
she said to herself,
"I should seem as if I were asking for vengeance."
In spite of all the promises she had made to the director of her conscience and to her husband that she would be discreet,
she had scarcely arrived at Besançon before she wrote with her own hand to each of the thirty-six jurymen: --
"I shall not appear on the day of the trial,
because my presence might be prejudicial to M. Sorel's case.
I only desire one thing in the world,
and that I desire passionately --for him to be saved.
Have no doubt about it,
the awful idea that I am the cause of an innocent man being led to his death would poison the rest of my life and would no doubt curtail it.
How can you condemn him to death while I continue to live?
there is no doubt about it,
society has no right to take away a man's life,
and above all,
the life of a being like Julien Sorel.
Everyone at Verrières knew that there were moments when he was quite distracted.
This poor young man has some powerful enemies,
but even among his enemies,
(and how many has he not got?) who is there who casts any doubt on his admirable talents and his deep knowledge?
The man whom you are going to try,
is not an ordinary person.
For a period of nearly eighteen months we all knew him as a devout and well behaved student.
Two or three times in the year he was seized by fits of melancholy that went to the point of distraction.
The whole town of Verrières,
all our neighbours at Vergy,
where we live in the fine weather,
my whole family,
and monsieur the sub-prefect himself will render justice to his exemplary piety.
He knows all the Holy Bible by heart.
Would a blasphemer have spent years of study in learning the Sacred Book.
My sons will have the honour of presenting you with this letter,
they are children.
Be good enough to question them,
they will give you all the details concerning this poor young man which are necessary to convince you of how barbarous it would be to condemn him.
Far from revenging me,
you would be putting me to death.
"What can his enemies argue against this?
which was the result of one of those moments of madness,
which my children themselves used to remark in their tutor,
is so little dangerous than in less than two months it has allowed me to take the post from Verrières to Besançon.
If I learn,
that you show the slightest hesitation in releasing so innocent a person from the barbarity of the law,
I will leave my bed,
where I am only kept by my husband's express orders,
and I will go and throw myself at your feet.
Bring in a verdict,
that the premeditation has not been made out,
and you will not have an innocent man's blood on your head,
The country will remember this celebrated case for a long time.
The interest in the accused amounted to an agitation.
The reason was that his crime was astonishing,
and yet not atrocious.
Even if it had been,
this young man was so handsome.
His brilliant career,
that came to an end so early in his life,
intensified the pathos.
"Will they condemn him?"
the women asked of the men of their acquaintance,
and they could be seen to grow pale as they waited for the answer.
The day that madame de Rênal and Mathilde feared so much arrived at last.
Their terror was intensified by the strange appearance of the town,
which had its emotional effect even upon Fouqué's sturdy soul.
All the province had rushed to Besançon to see the trial of this romantic case.
There had been no room left in the inns for some days.
M. the president of the assizes,
was besieged by requests for tickets;
all the ladies in the town wanted to be present at the trial.
Julien's portrait was hawked about the streets,
Mathilde was keeping in reserve for this supreme moment a complete autograph letter from my lord,
bishop of -- --.
who governed the Church of France and created its bishops,
was good enough to ask for Julien's acquittal.
On the eve of the trial,
Mathilde took this letter to the all-powerful grand vicar.
When she was going away in tears at the end of the interview,
M. de Frilair at last emerged from his diplomatic reserve and almost shewed some emotion himself.
"I will be responsible for the jury's verdict,"
he said to her.
"Out of the twelve persons charged with the investigation of whether your friend's crime is made out,
and above all,
whether there was premeditation,
I can count six friends who are devoted to my fortunes,
and I have given them to understand that they have it in their power to promote me to the episcopate.
whom I have made mayor of Verrières,
can do just as he likes with two of his officials,
and de Cholin.
As a matter of fact,
fate has given us for this business two jurymen of extremely loose views;
they are faithful to my orders on great occasions,
and I have requested them to vote like M. Valenod.
I have learnt that a sixth juryman,
who is immensely rich,
and a garrulous Liberal into the bargain,
has secret aspirations for a contract with the War Office,
and doubtless he would not like to displease me.
I have had him told that M. de Valenod knows my final injunctions."
"And who is this M. Valenod?"
"If you knew him,
you could not doubt our success.
He is an audacious speaker,
with a natural gift for managing fools.
1814 saw him in low water,
and I am going to make a prefect of him.
He is capable of beating the other jurymen if they do not vote his way."
Mathilde felt a little reassured.
Another discussion awaited her in the evening.
To avoid the prolongation of an unpleasant scene,
the result of which,
in his view,
was absolutely certain,
Julien had resolved not to make a speech.
"My advocate will speak,"
he said to Mathilde.
"I shall figure too long anyway as a laughing-stock to all my enemies.
These provincials have been shocked by the rapidity of my success,
for which I have to thank you,
and believe me,
there is not one of them who does not desire my conviction,
though he would be quite ready to cry like an idiot when I am taken to my death."
"They desire to see you humiliated.
That is only too true,"
"but I do not think they are at all cruel.
My presence at Besançon,
and the sight of my sufferings have interested all the women;
your handsome face will do the rest.
If you say a few words to your judges,
the whole audience will be on your side,
At nine o'clock on the following day,
when Julien left his prison for the great hall of the Palais de Justice,
the gendarmes had much difficulty in driving away the immense crowd that was packed in the courtyard.
Julien had slept well.
He was very calm,
and experienced no other sentiment except a sense of philosophic pity towards that crowd of jealous creatures who were going to applaud his death sentence,
though without cruelty.
He was very surprised when,
having been detained in the middle of the crowd more than a quarter of an hour,
he was obliged to admit that his presence affected the public with a tender pity.
He did not hear a single unpleasant remark.
"These provincials are less evil than I thought,"
he said to himself.
As he entered the courtroom,
he was struck by the elegance of the architecture.
It was real Gothic,
with a number of pretty little columns hewn out of stone with the utmost care.
He thought himself in England.
But his attention was soon engrossed by twelve or fifteen pretty women,
who sat exactly opposite the prisoner's seat and filled the three balconies above the judges and the jury.
As he turned round towards the public,
he saw that the circular gallery that dominated the amphitheatre was filled with women,
the majority were young and seemed very pretty,
their eyes were shining and full of interest.
The crowd was enormous throughout the rest of the room.
People were knocking against the door,
and the janitors could not obtain silence.
When all the eyes that were looking for Julien observed where he was,
and saw him occupying the slightly raised place which is reserved for the prisoner,
he was greeted by a murmur of astonishment and tender interest.
You would have taken him for under twenty on this day.
He was dressed very simply,
but with a perfect grace.
His hair and his forehead were charming.
Mathilde had insisted on officiating personally at his toilette.
Julien's pallor was extreme.
Scarcely was he seated in this place than he heard people say all over the room,
how young he is! ...
But he's quite a child! ...
He is much better than his portrait."
said the gendarme who was sitting on his right,
"do you see those six ladies in that balcony?"
The gendarme pointed out a little gallery that jutted out over the amphitheatre where the jury were placed.
the prefect's wife,"
continued the gendarme.
"Next to her,
madame the marquise de M -- --.
She likes you well: I have heard her speak to the judge of first instance.
Next to her is madame Derville."
and a vivid blush spread over his forehead.
"When she leaves here,"
"she will write to madame de Rênal."
He was ignorant of madame de Rênal's arrival at Besançon.
The witnesses were quickly heard.
After the first words of the opening of the prosecution by the advocate-general,
two of the ladies in the little balcony just opposite Julien burst into tears.
Julien noticed that madame Derville did not break down at all.
that she was very red.
The advocate-general was indulging in melodrama in bad French over the barbarity of the crime that had been perpetrated.
Julien noticed that madame Derville's neighbours seemed to manifest a keen disapproval.
who were apparently acquainted with the ladies,
spoke to them and seemed to reassure them.
"So far as it goes,
that is certainly a good omen,"
Up to the present,
he had felt himself steeped in an unadulterated contempt for all the persons who were present at the trial.
This sentiment of disgust was intensified by the stale eloquence of the advocate-general.
But the coldness of Julien's soul gradually disappeared before the marks of interest of which he was evidently the object.
He was satisfied with the sturdy demeanour of his advocate.
he said to him in a whisper,
as he was about to commence his speech.
"All the bombast which our opponent has stolen from Bossuet and lavished upon you,"
said the advocate,
"has done you good."
As a matter of fact,
he had scarcely spoken for five minutes before practically all the women had their handkerchiefs in their hands.
The advocate was encouraged,
and addressed some extremely strong remarks to the jury.
He felt on the point of breaking into tears.
"what would my enemies say?"
He was on the point of succumbing to the emotion which was overcoming him,
luckily for him,
he surprised an insolent look from M. the baron de Valenod.
"That rogue's eyes are gleaming,"
he said to himself "What a triumph for that base soul!
If my crime had only produced this one result,
it would be my duty to curse it.
God knows what he will say about it to madame de Rênal."
This idea effaced all others.
Shortly afterwards Julien was brought back to reality by the public's manifestation of applause.
The advocate had just finished his speech.
Julien remembered that it was good form to shake hands with him.
The time had passed rapidly.
They brought in refreshments for the advocate and the prisoner.
It was only then that Julien was struck by the fact that none of the women had left the audience to go and get dinner.
"Upon my word,
I am dying of hunger,"
said the advocate.
the prefect's wife,
who is also getting her dinner,"
said the advocate,
as he pointed out the little balcony.
"Keep up your courage;
everything is going all right."
The court sat again.
Midnight struck as the president was summing up.
The president was obliged to pause in his remarks.
Amid the silence and the anxiety of all present,
the reverberation of the clock filled the hall.
"So my last day is now beginning,"
He soon felt inflamed by the idea of his duty.
Up to the present he had controlled his emotion and had kept his resolution not to speak.
When the president of the assizes asked him if he had anything to add,
he got up.
He saw in front of him the eyes of madame Derville,
which seemed very brilliant in the artificial light.
"Can she by any chance be crying?"
"Gentlemen of the jury!
"I am induced to speak by my fear of that contempt which I thought,
at the very moment of my death,
I should be able to defy.
I have not the honour of belonging to your class.
You behold in me a peasant who has rebelled against the meanness of his fortune.
"I do not ask you for any pardon,"
with a firmer note in his voice.
"I am under no illusions.
Death awaits me;
it will be just.
I have brought myself to make an attempt on the life of the woman who is most worthy of all reverence and all respect.
Madame de Rênal was a mother to me.
My crime was atrocious,
and it was premeditated.
I have deserved death,
gentlemen of the jury.
But even if I were not so guilty,
I see among you men who,
without a thought for any pity that may be due to my youth,
would like to use me as a means for punishing and discouraging for ever that class of young man who,
though born in an inferior class,
and to some extent oppressed by poverty,
have none the less been fortunate enough to obtain a good education,
and bold enough to mix with what the pride of the rich calls Society.
"That is my crime,
and it will be punished with even more severity,
I am very far from being judged by my peers.
I do not see on the jury benches any peasant who has made money,
but only indignant bourgeois ...."
Julien talked in this strain for twenty minutes.
He said everything he had on his mind.
who aspired to the favours of the aristocracy,
writhed in his seat.
But in spite of the somewhat abstract turn which Julien had given to his speech,
all the women burst out into tears.
Even madame Derville put her handkerchief to her eyes.
Julien alluded again to the fact of his premeditation,
to his repentance,
and to the respect and unbounded filial admiration which,
in happier days,
he had entertained for madame de Rênal ....
Madame Derville gave a cry and fainted.
One o'clock was striking when the jury retired to their room.
None of the women had left their places;
several men had tears in their eyes.
The conversations were at first very animated,
as there was a delay in the verdict of the jury,
their general fatigue gradually began to invest the gathering with an atmosphere of calm.
It was a solemn moment;
the lights grew less brilliant.
who was very tired,
heard people around him debating the question of whether this delay was a good or a bad omen.
He was pleased to see that all the wishes were for him.
The jury did not come back,
and yet not a woman left the court.
When two o'clock had struck,
a great movement was heard.
The little door of the jury room opened.
M. the baron de Valenod advanced with a slow and melodramatic step.
He was followed by all the jurors.
and then declared on his soul and conscience that the jury's unanimous verdict was that Julien Sorel was guilty of murder,
and of murder with premeditation.
This verdict involved the death penalty,
which was pronounced a moment afterwards.
Julien looked at his watch,
and remembered M. de Lavalette.
It was a quarter past two.
"To-day is Friday,"
but this day is lucky for the Valenod who has got me convicted ....
I am watched too well for Mathilde to manage to save me like madame de Lavalette saved her husband ....
So in three days' time,
at this very hour,
I shall know what view to take about the great perhaps."
At this moment he heard a cry and was called back to the things of this world.
The women around him were sobbing: he saw that all faces were turned towards a little gallery built into the crowning of a Gothic pilaster.
He knew later that Mathilde had concealed herself there.
As the cry was not repeated,
everybody began to look at Julien again,
as the gendarmes were trying to get him through the crowd.
"Let us try not to give that villain Valenod any chance of laughing at me,"
"With what a contrite sycophantic expression he pronounced the verdict which entails the death penalty,
while that poor president of the assizes,
although he has been a judge for years and years,
had tears in his eyes as he sentenced me.
What a joy the Valenod must find in revenging himself for our former rivalry for madame de Rênal's favors!
So I shall never see her again!
The thing is finished ....
A last good-bye between us is impossible --I feel it ....
How happy I should have been to have told her all the horror I feel for my crime!
I consider myself justly convicted."
When Julien was taken back to prison he had been taken into a room intended for those who were condemned to death.
Although a man who in the usual way would notice the most petty details,
he had quite failed to observe that he had not been taken up to his turret.
He was thinking of what he would say to madame de Rênal if he had the happiness of seeing her before the final moment.
He thought that she would break into what he was saying and was anxious to be able to express his absolute repentance with his very first words.
"How can I convince her that I love her alone after committing an action like that?
For after all,
it was either out of ambition,
or out of love for Mathilde,
that I wanted to kill her."
As he went to bed,
he came across sheets of a rough coarse material.
I am in the condemned cell,
he said to himself.
That is right.
"Comte Altamira used to tell me that Danton,
on the eve of his death,
would say in his loud voice:
'it is singular but you cannot conjugate the verb guillotine in all its tenses: of course you can say,
I shall be guillotined,
thou shalt be guillotined,
but you don't say,
I have been guillotined.'
went on Julien,
"if there is another life ....
Upon my word,
it will be all up with me if I find the God of the Christians there: He is a tyrant,
and as such,
he is full of ideas of vengeance: his Bible speaks of nothing but atrocious punishment.
I never liked him --I could never get myself to believe that anyone really liked him.
He has no pity (and he remembered several passages in the Bible) he will punish me atrociously.
"But supposing I find Fénelon's God: He will perhaps say to me:
'Much forgiveness will be vouchsafed to thee,
inasmuch as thou hast loved much.'
"Have I loved much?
I loved madame de Rênal,
but my conduct has been atrocious.
as in other cases,
simple modest merit was abandoned for the sake of what was brilliant.
what fine prospects?
Colonel of Hussars,
if we had had a war: secretary of a legation during peace: then ambassador ...
for I should soon have picked up politics ...
and even if I had been an idiot,
would the marquis de la Mole's son-in-law have had any rivalry to fear?
All my stupidities have been forgiven,
counted as merits.
A man of merit,
and living in the grandest style at Vienna or London.
Guillotined in three days' time."
Julien laughed heartily at this sally of his wit.
"As a matter of fact,
man has two beings within him,
Who the devil can have thought of such a sinister notion?"
my friend: guillotined in three days,"
he answered the interruptor.
de Cholin will hire a window and share the expense with the abbé Maslon.
which of those two worthy personages will rob the other over the price paid for hiring that window?"
The following passage from Rotrou's "Venceslas" suddenly came back into his mind: --
LADISLAS ... ... ... ... .....Mon âme est toute prête.
_father of Ladislas_.
L'échafaud l'est aussi: portez-y-votre tête.
"A good repartee" he thought,
as he went to sleep.
He was awakened in the morning by someone catching hold of him violently.
opening his haggard eyes.
He thought he was already in the executioner's hands.
It was Mathilde.
she has not understood me."
This reflection restored all his self possession.
He found Mathilde as changed as though she had gone through a six months' illness: she was really not recognisable.
"That infamous Frilair has betrayed me,"
she said to him,
wringing her hands.
Her fury prevented her from crying.
"Was I not fine when I made my speech yesterday?"
"I was improvising for the first time in my life!
It is true that it is to be feared that it will also be the last."
At this moment,
Julien was playing on Mathilde's character with all the self-possession of a clever pianist,
whose fingers are on the instrument ....
"It is true,"
"that I lack the advantage of a distinguished birth,
but Mathilde's great soul has lifted her lover up to her own level.
Do you think that Boniface de la Mole would have cut a better figure before his judges?"
On this particular day,
Mathilde was as unaffectedly tender as a poor girl living in a fifth storey.
But she failed to extract from him any simpler remark.
He was paying her back without knowing it for all the torture she had frequently inflicted on him.
"The sources of the Nile are unknown,"
said Julien to himself:
"it has not been vouchsafed to the human eye to see the king of rivers as a simple brook: similarly,
no human eye shall see Julien weak.
In the first place because he is not so.
But I have a heart which it is easy to touch.
The most commonplace words,
if said in a genuine tone,
can make my voice broken and even cause me to shed tears.
How often have frigid characters not despised me for this weakness.
They thought that I was asking a favour: that is what I cannot put up with.
"It is said that when at the foot of the scaffold,
Danton was affected by the thought of his wife: but Danton had given strength to a nation of coxcombs and prevented the enemy from reaching Paris ....
I alone know what I should have been able to do ....
I represent to the others at the very outside,
simply A PERHAPS.
"If madame de Rênal had been here in my cell instead of Mathilde,
should I have been able to have answered for myself?
The extremity of my despair and my repentance would have been taken for a craven fear of death by the Valenods and all the patricians of the locality.
They are so proud,
are those feeble spirits,
whom their pecuniary position puts above temptation!
'You see what it is to be born a carpenter's son,'
M. de Moirod and de Cholin doubtless said after having condemned me to death!
'A man can learn to be learned and clever,
but the qualities of the heart --the qualities of the heart cannot be learnt.'
Even in the case of this poor Mathilde,
who is crying now,
who cannot cry,"
he said to himself,
as he looked at her red eyes ....
And he clasped her in his arms: the sight of a genuine grief made him forget the sequence of his logic ....
"She has perhaps cried all the night,"
he said to himself,
"but how ashamed she will be of this memory on some future day!
She will regard herself as having been led astray in her first youth by a plebeian's low view of life ....
Le Croisenois is weak enough to marry her,
and upon my word,
he will do well to do so.
She will make him play a part."
"Du droit qu'un esprit ferme et vaste en ses desseins A sur l'esprit grossier des vulgaires humaines."
that's really humorous;
since I have been doomed to die,
all the verses I ever knew in my life are coming back into my memory.
It must be a sign of demoralisation."
Mathilde kept on repeating in a choked voice:
"He is there in the next room."
At last he paid attention to what she was saying.
"Her voice is weak,"
"but all the imperiousness of her character comes out in her intonation.
She lowers her voice in order to avoid getting angry."
"And who is there?"
to get you to sign your appeal."
"I shall not appeal."
you will not appeal,"
with her eyes sparkling with rage.
if you please?"
"Because I feel at the present time that I have the courage to die without giving people occasion to laugh too much at my expense.
And who will guarantee that I shall be in so sound a frame of mind in two months' time,
after living for a long time in this damp cell?
I foresee interviews with the priests,
with my father.
I can imagine nothing more unpleasant.
This unexpected opposition awakened all the haughtiness of Mathilde's character.
She had not managed to see the abbé de Frilair before the time when visitors were admitted to the cells in the Besançon prison.
Her fury vented itself on Julien.
She adored him,
and nevertheless she exhibited for a good quarter of an hour in her invective against his,
and her regret at having ever loved him,
the same haughty soul which had formerly overwhelmed him with such cutting insults in the library of the Hôtel de la Mole.
"In justice to the glory of your stock,
Heaven should have had you born a man,"
he said to her.
"But as for myself,"
"I should be very foolish to go on living for two more months in this disgusting place,
to serve as a butt for all the infamous humiliations which the patrician party can devise, and having the outburst of this mad woman for my only consolation ....
the morning after to-morrow I shall fight a duel with a man known for his self-possession and his remarkable skill ...
his very remarkable skill,"
said the Mephistophelian part of him;
"he never makes a miss.
so be it --good."
(Mathilde continued to wax eloquent).
not for a minute,"
he said to himself,
"I shall not appeal."
Having made this resolution,
he fell into meditation ....
"The courier will bring the paper at six o'clock as usual,
as he passes;
at eight o'clock,
after M. de Rênal has finished reading it,
Elisa will go on tiptoe and place it on her bed.
Later on she will wake up;
as she reads it she will become troubled;
her pretty hands will tremble;
she will go on reading down to these words: _At five minutes past ten he had ceased to exist_.
"She will shed hot tears,
I know her;
it will matter nothing that I tried to assassinate her --all will be forgotten,
and the person whose life I wished to take will be the only one who will sincerely lament my death.
that's a good paradox,"
and he thought about nothing except madame de Rênal during the good quarter of an hour which the scene Mathilde was making still lasted.
In spite of himself,
and though he made frequent answers to what Mathilde was saying,
he could not take his mind away from the thought of the bedroom at Verrières.
He saw the Besançon Gazette on the counterpane of orange taffeta;
he saw that white hand clutching at it convulsively.
He saw madame de Rênal cry ....
He followed the path of every tear over her charming face.
Mademoiselle de la Mole,
being unable to get anything out of Julien,
asked the advocate to come in.
he was an old captain of the Italian army of 1796,
where he had been a comrade of Manuel.
He opposed the condemned man's resolution as a matter of form.
Wishing to treat him with respect,
Julien explained all his reasons.
"Upon my word,
I can understand a man taking the view you do,"
said M. Felix Vaneau (that was the advocate's name) to him at last.
"But you have three full days in which to appeal,
and it is my duty to come back every day.
If a volcano were to open under the prison between now and two months' time you would be saved.
You might die of illness,"
looking at Julien.
Julien pressed his hand --"I thank you,
you are a good fellow.
I will think it over."
And when Mathilde eventually left with the advocate,
he felt much more affection for the advocate than for her.
 There is no heading to this and the following chapters in the original.
 The speaker is a Jacobin.
When he was deep asleep an hour afterwards,
he was woken up by feeling tears flow over his hand.
it is Mathilde again,"
only half awake.
"She has come again,
faithful to her tactics of attacking my resolution by her sentimentalism."
Bored by the prospect of this new scene of hackneyed pathos he did not open his eyes.
The verses of Belphgor,
as he ran away from his wife,
came into his mind.
He heard a strange sigh.
He opened his eyes.
It was madame de Rênal.
so I see you again before I die,
or is it an illusion,"
he exclaimed as he threw himself at her feet.
you must look upon me as a mere murderer,"
as he recovered himself.
I have come to entreat you to appeal;
I know you do not want to ...."
her sobs choked her;
she was unable to speak.
"Deign to forgive me."
"If you want me to forgive you,"
she said to him,
getting up and throwing herself into his arms,
"appeal immediately against your death sentence."
Julien covered her with kisses.
"Will you come and see me every day during those two months?"
"I swear it --every day,
unless my husband forbids me."
"I will sign it,"
you really forgive me!
Is it possible?"
He clasped her in his arms;
he was mad.
She gave a little cry.
"It is nothing,"
she said to him.
"You hurt me."
bursting into tears.
He drew back a little,
and covered her hands with kisses of fire.
"Who could have prophesied this,
the last time I saw you in your room at Verrières?"
"Who could have prophesied then that I should write that infamous letter to M. de la Mole?"
"Know that I have always loved you,
and that I have never loved anyone but you."
"Is it possible?"
cried Madame de Rênal,
who was delighted in her turn.
She leant on Julien,
who was on his knees,
and they cried silently for a long time.
Julien had never experienced moments like this at any period of his whole life.
"And how about that young madame Michelet?"
said Madame de Rênal,
a long time afterwards when they were able to speak.
that mademoiselle de la Mole?
for I am really beginning to believe in that strange romance."
"It is only superficially true,"
"She is my wife,
but she is not my mistress."
After interrupting each other a hundred times over,
they managed with great difficulty to explain to each other what they did not know.
The letter written to M. de la Mole had been drafted by the young priest who directed Madame de Rênal's conscience,
and had been subsequently copied by her,
"What a horrible thing religion has made me do,"
she said to him,
"and even so I softened the most awful passages in the letter."
Julien's ecstatic happiness proved the fulness of her forgiveness.
He had never been so mad with love.
"And yet I regard myself as devout,"
madame de Rênal went on to say to him in the ensuing conversation.
"I believe sincerely in God!
I equally believe,
and I even have full proof of it,
that the crime which I am committing is an awful one,
and yet the very minute I see you,
even after you have fired two pistol shots at me --" and at this point,
in spite of her resistance,
Julien covered her with kisses.
"Leave me alone,"
"I want to argue with you,
I am frightened lest I should forget ....
The very minute I see you all my duties disappear.
I have nothing but love for you,
the word love is too weak.
I feel for you what I ought only to feel for God;
a mixture of respect,
As a matter of fact,
I don't know what you inspire me with ....
If you were to tell me to stab the gaoler with a knife,
the crime would be committed before I had given it a thought.
Explain this very clearly to me before I leave you.
I want to see down to the bottom of my heart;
for we shall take leave of each other in two months ....
By the bye,
shall we take leave of each other?"
she said to him with a smile.
"I take back my words,"
"I shall not appeal from my death sentence,
if you try,
either by poison,
or any other means whatsoever,
to put an end to your life,
or make any attempt upon it."
Madame de Rênal's expression suddenly changed.
The most lively tenderness was succeeded by a mood of deep meditation.
"Supposing we were to die at once,"
she said to him.
"Who knows what one will find in the other life,"
perhaps nothing at all.
Cannot we pass two delicious months together?
Two months means a good many days.
I shall never have been so happy."
"You will never have been so happy?"
repeated Julien ecstatically,
"and I am talking to you just as I should talk to myself.
May God save me from exaggerating."
"Words like that are a command,"
she said with a timid melancholy smile.
you will swear by the love you have for me,
to make no attempt either direct or indirect,
upon your life ...
"that you must live for my son,
whom Mathilde will hand over to lackeys as soon as she is marquise de Croisenois."
she answered coldly,
"but I want to take away your notice of appeal,
drawn and signed by yourself.
I will go myself to M. the procureur-general."
you will compromise yourself."
"After having taken the step of coming to see you in your prison,
I shall be a heroine of local scandal for Besançon,
and the whole of Franche-Comté,"
she said very dejectedly.
"I have crossed the bounds of austere modesty ....
I am a woman who has lost her honour;
it is true that it is for your sake ...."
Her tone was so sad that Julien embraced her with a happiness which was quite novel to him.
It was no longer the intoxication of love,
it was extreme gratitude.
He had just realised for the first time the full extent of the sacrifice which she had made for him.
Some charitable soul,
no doubt informed M. de Rênal of the long visits which his wife paid to Julien's prison;
for at the end of three days he sent her his carriage with the express order to return to Verrières immediately.
This cruel separation had been a bad beginning for Julien's day.
He was informed two or three hours later that a certain intriguing priest (who had,
never managed to make any headway among the Jesuits of Besançon) had,
since the morning,
established himself in the street outside the prison gates.
It was raining a great deal,
and the man out there was pretending to play the martyr.
Julien was in a weak mood,
and this piece of stupidity annoyed him deeply.
In the morning,
he had already refused this priest's visit,
but the man had taken it into his head to confess Julien,
and to win a name for himself among the young women of Besançon by all the confidences which he would pretend to have received from him.
He declared in a loud voice that he would pass the day and the night by the prison gates.
"God has sent me to touch the heart of this apostate ..."
and the lower classes,
who are always curious to see a scene,
began to make a crowd.
he said to them,
"I will pass the day here and the night,
as well as all the days and all the nights which will follow.
The Holy Ghost has spoken to me.
I am commissioned from above;
I am the man who must save the soul of young Sorel.
Do you join in my prayers,
Julien had a horror of scandal,
and of anything which could attract attention to him.
He thought of seizing the opportunity of escaping from the world incognito;
but he had some hope of seeing madame de Rênal again,
and he was desperately in love.
The prison gates were situated in one of the most populous streets.
His soul was tortured by the idea of this filthy priest attracting a crowd and creating a scandal --"and doubtless he is repeating my name at every single minute!"
This moment was more painful than death.
He called the turnkey who was devoted to him,
and sent sent him two or three times at intervals of one hour to see if the priest was still by the prison gates.
said the turnkey to him on each occasion,
"he is on both his knees in the mud;
he is praying at the top of his voice,
and saying litanies for your soul.
"The impudent fellow,"
At this moment he actually heard a dull buzz.
It was the responses of the people to the litanies.
His patience was strained to the utmost when he saw the turnkey himself move his lips while he repeated the Latin words.
"They are beginning to say,"
added the turnkey,
"that you must have a very hardened heart to refuse the help of this holy man."
"Oh my country,
how barbarous you still are!"
beside himself with anger.
And he continued his train of thought aloud,
without giving a thought to the turn-key's presence.
"The man wants an article in the paper about him,
and that's a way in which he will certainly get it.
"Oh you cursed provincials!
At Paris I should not be subjected to all these annoyances.
There they are more skilled in their charlatanism.
"Show in the holy priest,"
he said at last to the turnkey,
and great streams of sweat flowed down his forehead.
The turnkey made the sign of the cross and went out rejoicing.
The holy priest turned out to be very ugly,
he was even dirtier than he was ugly.
The cold rain intensified the obscurity and dampness of the cell.
The priest wanted to embrace Julien,
and began to wax pathetic as he spoke to him.
The basest hypocrisy was only too palpable;
Julien had never been so angry in his whole life.
A quarter of an hour after the priest had come in Julien felt an absolute coward.
Death appeared horrible to him for the first time.
He began to think about the state of decomposition which his body would be in two days after the execution,
He was on the point of betraying himself by some sign of weakness or throwing himself on the priest and strangling him with his chain,
when it occurred to him to beg the holy man to go and say a good forty franc mass for him on that very day.
It was twelve o'clock,
so the priest took himself off.
As soon as he had gone out Julien wept desperately and for a long time.
He gradually admitted to himself that if madame de Rênal had been at Besançon he would have confessed his weakness to her.
The moment when he was regretting the absence of this beloved woman he heard Mathilde's step.
"The worst evil of being in prison,"
he thought "is one's inability to close one's door."
All Mathilde said only irritated him.
She told him that M. de Valenod had had his nomination to the prefectship in his pocket on the day of his trial,
and had consequently dared to defy M. de Frilair and give himself the pleasure of condemning him to death.
"Why did your friend take it into his head,"
M. de Frilair just said to me,
"to awaken and attack the petty vanity of that bourgeois aristocracy.
Why talk about caste?
He pointed out to them what they ought to do in their own political interest;
the fools had not been giving it a thought and were quite ready to weep.
That caste interest intervened and blinded their eyes to the horror of condemning a man to death.
One must admit that M. Sorel is very inexperienced.
If we do not succeed in saving him by a petition for a reprieve,
his death will be a kind of suicide."
Mathilde was careful not to tell Julien a matter concerning which she had now no longer any doubts;
it was that the abbé de Frilair seeing that Julien was ruined,
had thought that it would further his ambitious projects to try and become his successor.
"Go and listen to a mass for me,"
he said to Mathilde,
almost beside himself with vexation and impotent rage,
and leave me a moment in peace.
Mathilde who was already very jealous of madame de Rênal's visits and who had just learned of her departure realised the cause of Julien's bad temper and burst into tears.
Her grief was real;
Julien saw this and was only the more irritated.
He had a crying need of solitude,
and how was he to get it?
after having tried to melt him by every possible argument,
left him alone.
But almost at the same moment,
Fouqué presented himself.
"I need to be alone,"
to this faithful friend,
and as he saw him hesitate:
"I am composing a memorial for my petition for pardon ...
one thing more ...
do me a favour,
and never speak to me about death.
If I have need of any especial services on that day,
let me be the first to speak to you about it."
When Julien had eventually procured solitude,
he found himself more prostrate and more cowardly than he had been before.
The little force which this enfeebled soul still possessed had all been spent in concealing his condition from mademoiselle de la Mole.
Towards the evening he found consolation in this idea.
"If at the very moment this morning,
when death seemed so ugly to me,
I had been given notice of my execution,
the public eye would have acted as a spur to glory,
my demeanour would perhaps have had a certain stiffness about it,
like a nervous fop entering a salon.
A few penetrating people,
if there are any amongst these provincial might have managed to divine my weakness ....
But no one would have seen it."
And he felt relieved of part of his unhappiness.
"I am a coward at this very moment,"
he sang to himself,
"but no one will know it."
An even more unpleasant episode awaited him on the following day.
His father had been announcing that he would come and see him for some time past: the old white-haired carpenter appeared in Julien's cell before he woke up.
Julien felt weak,
he was anticipating the most unpleasant reproaches.
His painful emotion was intensified by the fact that on this particular morning he felt a keen remorse for not loving his father.
"Chance placed us next to each other in the world,"
he said to himself,
while the turnkey was putting the cell a little in order,
"and we have practically done each other all the harm we possibly could.
He has come to administer the final blow at the moment of my death."
As soon as they were without witnesses,
the old man commenced his stern reproaches.
Julien could not restrain his tears.
"What an unworthy weakness,"
he said to himself querulously.
"He will go about everywhere exaggerating my lack of courage: what a triumph for the Valenod,
and for all the fatuous hypocrites who rule in Verrières!
They are very great in France,
they combine all the social advantages.
I could at any rate say to myself,
it is true they are in receipt of money,
and that all the honours lavished on them,
but I have a noble heart.
"But here is a witness whom everyone will believe,
and who will testify to the whole of Verrières that I shewed weakness when confronted with death,
and who will exaggerate it into the bargain!
I shall be taken for a coward in an ordeal which comes home to all!"
Julien was nearly desperate.
He did not know how to get rid of his father.
He felt it absolutely beyond his strength to invent a ruse capable of deceiving so shrewd an old man.
His mind rapidly reviewed all the alternatives.
"I have saved some money,"
he suddenly exclaimed.
This inspiration produced a change in the expression of the old man and in Julien's own condition.
"How ought I to dispose of it?"
continued Julien more quietly.
The result had freed him from any feeling of inferiority.
The old carpenter was burning not to let the money slip by him,
but it seemed that Julien wanted to leave part of it to his brothers.
He talked at length and with animation.
Julien felt cynical.
the Lord has given me a message with regard to my will.
I will give a thousand francs to each of my brothers and the rest to you."
said the old man.
"The rest is due to me: but since God has been gracious enough to touch your heart,
your debts ought to be paid if you wish to die like a good Christian.
the expenses of your board and your education,
which I advanced to you,
but which you are not thinking of."
"Such is paternal love,"
repeated Julien to himself,
when he was at last alone.
Soon the gaoler appeared.
I always bring my visitors a good bottle of champagne after near relations have come to see them.
It is a little dear,
six francs a bottle,
but it rejoices the heart."
"Bring three glasses,"
said Julien to him,
with a childish eagerness,
"and bring in two of the prisoners whom I have heard walking about in the corridor."
The gaoler brought two men into him who had once been condemned to the gallows,
and had now been convicted of the same offence again,
and were preparing to return to penal servitude.
They were very cheerful scoundrels,
and really very remarkable by reason of their subtlety,
and their coolness.
"If you give me twenty francs,"
said one of them to Julien,
"I will tell you the story of my life in detail.
"But you will lie,"
"my friend there,
who is jealous of my twenty francs will give me away if I say anything untrue."
His history was atrocious.
It was evidence of a courageous heart which had only one passion --that of money.
After their departure Julien was no longer the same man.
All his anger with himself had disappeared.
The awful grief which had been poisoned and rendered more acute by the weakness of which he had been a victim since madame de Rênal's departure had turned to melancholy.
"If I had been less taken in by appearances,"
he said to himself,
"I would have had a better chance of seeing that the Paris salons are full of honest men like my father,
or clever scoundrels like those felons.
They are right.
The men in the salons never get up in the morning with this poignant thought in their minds,
how am I going to get my dinner?
They boast about their honesty and when they are summoned on the jury,
they take pride in convicting the man who has stolen a silver dish because he felt starving.
"But if there is a court,
and it's a question of losing or winning a portfolio,
my worthy salon people will commit crimes exactly similar to those,
which the need of getting a dinner inspired those two felons to perpetrate.
"There is no such thing as natural law,
the expression is nothing more than a silly anachronism well worthy of the advocate-general who harried me the other day,
and whose grandfather was enriched by one of the confiscations of Louis XIV.
There is no such thing as right,
except when there is a law to forbid a certain thing under pain of punishment.
"Before law existed,
the only natural thing was the strength of the lion,
or the need of a creature who was cold or hungry,
to put it in one word,
the people whom the world honours are merely villains who have had the good fortune not to have been caught red-handed.
The prosecutor whom society put on my track was enriched by an infamous act.
I have committed a murder,
and I am justly condemned,
but the Valenod who has condemned me,
is by reason alone of that very deed,
a hundred times more harmful to society.
added Julien sadly but not angrily,
"in spite of his avarice,
my father is worth more than all those men.
He never loved me.
The disgrace I bring upon him by an infamous death has proved the last straw.
That fear of lacking money,
that distorted view of the wickedness of mankind,
which is called avarice,
make him find a tremendous consolation and sense of security in a sum of three or four hundred louis,
which I have been able to leave him.
he will shew his gold to all the envious men in Verrières.
'Which of you would not be delighted to have a son guillotined at a price like this,'
will be the message they will read in his eyes."
This philosophy might be true,
but it was of such a character as to make him wish for death.
In this way five long days went by.
He was polite and gentle to Mathilde,
whom he saw was exasperated by the most violent jealousy.
One evening Julien seriously thought of taking his own life.
His soul was demoralised by the deep unhappiness in which madame de Rênal's departure had thrown him.
He could no longer find pleasure in anything,
either in real life or in the sphere of the imagination.
Lack of exercise began to affect his health,
and to produce in him all the weakness and exaltation of a young German student.
He began to lose that virile disdain which repels with a drastic oath certain undignified ideas which besiege the soul of the unhappy.
"I loved truth ....
Where is it?
Hypocrisy everywhere or at any rate charlatanism.
Even in the most virtuous,
even in the greatest,"
and his lips assumed an expression of disgust.
man cannot trust man."
"Madame de -- -- when she was making a collection for her poor orphans,
used to tell me that such and such a prince had just given ten louis,
a sheer lie.
But what am I talking about.
Napoleon at St. Helena ...
Pure charlatanism like the proclamation in favour of the king of Rome.
If a man like that at a time when misfortune ought to summon him sternly to his duty will sink to charlatanism,
what is one to expect from the rest of the human species?"
"Where is truth?
with a bitter smile of utter contempt.
"In the mouth of the Maslons,
the Castanèdes --perhaps in that true Christianity whose priests were not paid any more than were the apostles.
But St. Paul was paid by the pleasure of commanding,
getting himself talked about."
if there were only a true religion.
Fool that I am.
I see a Gothic cathedral and venerable stained-glass windows,
and my weak heart conjures up the priest to fit the scene.
My soul would understand him,
my soul has need of him.
I only find a nincompoop with dirty hair.
About as comforting as a chevalier de Beauvoisis.
"But a true priest,
Massillon sacrificed Dubois.
Saint-Simon's memoirs have spoilt the illusion of Fénelon,
but he was a true priest anyway.
In those days,
tender souls could have a place in the world where they could meet together.
We should not then have been isolated.
That good priest would have talked to us of God.
But what God?
Not the one of the Bible,
a cruel petty despot,
full of vindictiveness,
but the God of Voltaire,
He was troubled by all the memories of that Bible which he knew by heart.
"But how on earth,
when the deity is three people all at the same time,
is one to believe in the great name of GOD,
after the frightful way in which our priests have abused it."
What a torture."
"I am growing mad and unreasonable,"
said Julien to himself,
striking his forehead.
"I am alone here in this cell,
but I have not lived alone on earth.
I had the powerful idea of duty.
The duty which rightly or wrongly I laid down for myself,
has been to me like the trunk of a solid tree which I could lean on during the storm,
I was agitated.
After all I was only a man,
but I was not swept away.
"It must be the damp air of this cell which made me think of being alone.
"Why should I still play the hypocrite by cursing hypocrisy?
It is neither death,
nor the cell,
nor the damp air,
but madame de Rênal's absence which prostrates me.
in order to see her at Verrières,
I had to live whole weeks at Verrières concealed in the cellars of her house,
would I complain?"
"The influence of my contemporaries wins the day,"
he said aloud,
with a bitter laugh.
"Though I am talking to myself and within an ace of death,
I still play the hypocrite.
Oh you nineteenth century!
A hunter fires a gun shot in the forest,
his quarry falls,
he hastens forward to seize it.
His foot knocks against a two-foot anthill,
knocks down the dwelling place of the ants,
and scatters the ants and their eggs far and wide.
The most philosophic among the ants will never be able to understand that black,
gigantic and terrifying body,
the hunter's boot,
which suddenly invaded their home with incredible rapidity,
preceded by a frightful noise,
and accompanied by flashes of reddish fire."
"In the same way,
life and eternity,
are very simple things for anyone who has organs sufficiently vast to conceive them.
An ephemeral fly is born at nine o'clock in the morning in the long summer days,
to die at five o'clock in the evening.
How is it to understand the word
"Give it five more hours of existence,
and it will see night,
and understand its meaning."
in my case,
I shall die at the age of twenty-three.
Give me five more years of life in order to live with madame de Rênal."
He began to laugh like Mephistopheles.
How foolish to debate these great problems.
I am as hypocritical as though there were someone there to listen to me.
I am forgetting to live and to love when I have so few days left to live.
madame de Rênal is absent;
perhaps her husband will not let her come back to Besançon any more,
to go on compromising her honour."
"That is what makes me lonely,
and not the absence of a God who is just,
good and omnipotent,
devoid of malice,
and in no wise greedy of vengeance."
if He did exist.
Alas I should fall at His feet.
I have deserved death,
I should say to Him,
but oh Thou great God,
give me back her whom I love!"
By this time the night was far advanced.
After an hour or two of peaceful sleep,
Julien felt strongly resolute,
like a man who sees to the bottom of his soul.
"I cannot play such a trick on that poor abbé Chas-Bernard,
as to summon him,"
he said to Fouqué:
"it would prevent him from dining for three whole days.
--But try and find some Jansenist who is a friend of M. Pirard."
Fouqué was impatiently waiting for this suggestion.
Julien acquitted himself becomingly of all the duty a man owes to provincial opinion.
Thanks to M. the abbé de Frilair,
and in spite of his bad choice of a confessor,
Julien enjoyed in his cell the protection of the priestly congregation;
with a little more diplomacy he might have managed to escape.
But the bad air of the cell produced its effect,
and his strength of mind diminished.
But this only intensified his happiness at madame de Rênal's return.
"My first duty is towards you,
she said as she embraced him;
"I have run away from Verrières."
Julien felt no petty vanity in his relations with her,
and told her all his weaknesses.
She was good and charming to him.
In the evening she had scarcely left the prison before she made the priest,
who had clung on to Julien like a veritable prey,
go to her aunt's: as his only object was to win prestige among the young women who belonged to good Besançon society,
madame de Rênal easily prevailed upon him to go and perform a novena at the abbey of Bray-le-Haut.
No words can do justice to the madness and extravagance of Julien's love.
By means of gold,
and by using and abusing the influence of her aunt,
who was devout,
rich and well-known,
madame de Rênal managed to see him twice a day.
At this news,
Mathilde's jealousy reached a pitch of positive madness.
M. de Frilair had confessed to her that all his influence did not go so far as to admit of flouting the conventions by allowing her to see her sweetheart more than once every day.
Mathilde had madame de Rênal followed so as to know the smallest thing she did.
M. de Frilair exhausted all the resources of an extremely clever intellect in order to prove to her that Julien was unworthy of her.
Plunged though she was in all these torments,
she only loved him the more,
and made a horrible scene nearly every day.
with all his might,
to behave to the very end like an honourable man towards this poor young girl whom he had so strangely compromised,
but the reckless love which he felt for madame de Rênal swept him away at every single minute.
When he could not manage to persuade Mathilde of the innocence of her rival's visits by all his thin excuses,
he would say to himself:
"at any rate the end of the drama ought to be quite near.
The very fact of not being able to lie better will be an excuse for me."
Mademoiselle de La Mole learnt of the death of the marquis de Croisenois.
The rich M. de Thaler had indulged in some unpleasant remarks concerning Mathilde's disappearance: M. de Croisenois went and asked him to recant them: M. de Thaler showed him some anonymous letters which had been sent to him,
and which were full of details so artfully put together that the poor marquis could not help catching a glimpse of the truth.
M. de Thaler indulged in some jests which were devoid of all taste.
Maddened by anger and unhappiness,
M. de Croisenois demanded such unqualified satisfaction,
that the millionaire preferred to fight a duel.
and one of the most lovable of men met with his death before he was twenty-four.
This death produced a strange and morbid impression on Julien's demoralised soul.
he said to Mathilde,
"really behaved very reasonably and very honourably towards us;
he had ample ground for hating me and picking a quarrel with me,
by reason of your indiscretion in your mother's salon;
for the hatred which follows on contempt is usually frenzied."
M. de Croisenois' death changed all Julien's ideas concerning Mathilde's future.
He spent several days in proving to her that she ought to accept the hand of M. de Luz.
"He is a nervous man,
not too much of a Jesuit,
and will doubtless be a candidate,"
he said to her.
"He has a more sinister and persevering ambition than poor Croisenois,
and as there has never been a dukedom in his family,
he will be only too glad to marry Julien Sorel's widow."
who scorns the grand passions,"
answered Mathilde coldly,
"for she has lived long enough to see her lover prefer to her after six months another woman who was the origin of all their unhappiness."
"You are unjust!
Madame de Rênal's visits will furnish my advocate at Paris,
who is endeavouring to procure my pardon,
with the subject matter for some sensational phrases;
he will depict the murderer honoured by the attention of his victim.
That may produce an impression,
and perhaps some day or other,
you will see me provide the plot of some melodrama or other,
A furious and impotent jealousy,
a prolonged and hopeless unhappiness (for even supposing Julien was saved,
how was she to win back his heart?),
coupled with her shame and anguish at loving this unfaithful lover more than ever had plunged mademoiselle de la Mole into a gloomy silence,
from which all the careful assiduity of M. de Frilair was as little able to draw her as the rugged frankness of Fouqué.
As for Julien,
except in those moments which were taken up by Mathilde's presence,
he lived on love with scarcely a thought for the future.
"In former days,"
Julien said to her,
"when I might have been so happy,
during our walks in the wood of Vergy,
a frenzied ambition swept my soul into the realms of imagination.
Instead of pressing to my heart that charming arm which is so near my lips,
the thoughts of my future took me away from you;
I was engaged in countless combats which I should have to sustain in order to lay the foundations of a colossal fortune.
I should have died without knowing what happiness was if you had not come to see me in this prison."
Two episodes ruffled this tranquil life.
Jansenist though he was,
was not proof against an intrigue of the Jesuits,
and became their tool without knowing it.
He came to tell him one day that unless he meant to fall into the awful sin of suicide,
he ought to take every possible step to procure his pardon.
as the clergy have a great deal of influence with the minister of Justice at Paris,
an easy means presented itself;
he ought to become converted with all publicity.
I have caught you at it --I have caught you as well,
playing a part like any missionary."
replied the Jansenist gravely,
"the interesting appearance which Providence has given you,
the still unsolved mystery of the motive for your crime,
the heroic steps which mademoiselle de la Mole has so freely taken on your behalf,
up to the surprising affection which your victim manifests towards you,
has contributed to make you the hero of the young women of Besançon.
They have forgotten everything,
on your account.
Your conversion will reverberate in their hearts and will leave behind it a deep impression.
You can be of considerable use to religion,
and I was about to hesitate for the trivial reason that in a similar circumstance the Jesuits would follow a similar course.
But if I did,
even in the one case which has escaped their greedy clutches they would still be exercising their mischief.
The tears which your conversation will cause to be shed will annul the poisonous effect of ten editions of Voltaire's works."
"And what will be left for me,"
"if I despise myself?
I have been ambitious;
I do not mean to blame myself in any way.
I have acted in accordance with the code of the age.
Now I am living from day to day.
But I should make myself very unhappy if I were to yield to what the locality would regard as a piece of cowardice ...."
Madame de Rênal was responsible for the other episode which affected Julien in quite another way.
Some intriguing woman friend or other had managed to persuade this naïve and timid soul that it was her duty to leave for St. Cloud,
and go and throw herself at the feet of King Charles X. She had made the sacrifice of separating from Julien,
and after a strain as great as that,
she no longer thought anything of the unpleasantness of making an exhibition of herself,
though in former times she would have thought that worse than death.
"I will go to the king.
I will confess freely that you are my lover.
The life of a man,
and of a man like Julien,
ought to prevail over every consideration.
I will tell him that it was because of jealousy that you made an attempt upon my life.
There are numerous instances of poor young people who have been saved in such a case by the clemency of the jury or of the king."
"I will leave off seeing you;
I will shut myself up in my prison,"
"and you can be quite certain that if you do not promise me to take no step which will make a public exhibition of us both,
I will kill myself in despair the day afterwards.
This idea of going to Paris is not your own.
Tell me the name of the intriguing woman who suggested it to you.
"Let us be happy during the small number of days of this short life.
Let us hide our existence;
my crime was only too self-evident.
Mademoiselle de la Mole enjoys all possible influence at Paris.
Take it from me that she has done all that is humanly possible.
Here in the provinces I have all the men of wealth and prestige against me.
Your conduct will still further aggravate those rich and essentially moderate people to whom life comes so easy ....
Let us not give the Maslons,
and the thousand other people who are worth more than they,
anything to laugh about."
Julien came to find the bad air of the cell unbearable.
nature was rejoicing in a fine sunshine on the day when they announced to him that he would have to die,
and he was in a courageous vein.
He found walking in the open air as delicious a sensation as the navigator,
who has been at sea for a long time,
finds walking on the ground.
everything is going all right,"
he said to himself.
"I am not lacking in courage."
His head had never looked so poetical as at that moment when it was on the point of falling.
The sweet minutes which he had formerly spent in the woods of Vergy crowded back upon his mind with extreme force.
Everything went off simply,
and without any affectation on his part.
Two days before he had said to Fouqué:
"I cannot guarantee not to show some emotion.
squalid cell gives me fits of fever in which I do not recognise myself,
I shall not be seen to flinch."
He had made his arrangements in advance for Fouqué to take Mathilde and madame de Rênal away on the morning of his last day.
"Drive them away in the same carriage,"
he had said.
"Do you see that the post-horses do not leave off galloping.
They will either fall into each other's arms,
or manifest towards each other a mortal hatred.
In either case the poor women will have something to distract them a little from their awful grief."
Julien had made madame de Rênal swear that she would live to look after Mathilde's son.
Perhaps we have still some sensations after our death,"
he had said one day to Fouqué.
"I should like to rest,
for rest is the right word,
in that little grotto in the great mountain which dominates Verrières.
Many a time,
as I have told you,
I have spent the night alone in that grotto,
and as my gaze would plunge far and wide over the richest provinces of France,
ambition would inflame my heart.
In those days it was my passion ....
I hold that grotto dear,
and one cannot dispute that its situation might well arouse the desires of the philosopher's soul ....
those good priests of Besançon will make money out of everything.
If you know how to manage it,
they will sell you my mortal remains."
Fouqué succeeded in this melancholy business.
He was passing the night alone in his room by his friend's body when,
to his great surprise,
he saw Mathilde come in.
A few hours before he had left her ten leagues from Besançon.
Her face and eyes looked distraught.
"I want to see him,"
Fouqué had not the courage either to speak or get up.
He pointed with his finger to a big blue cloak on the floor;
there was wrapped in it all that remained of Julien.
She threw herself on her knees.
The memory of Boniface de la Mole,
and of Marguerite of Navarre gave her,
a superhuman courage.
Her trembling hands undid the cloak.
Fouqué turned away his eyes.
He heard Mathilde walking feverishly about the room.
She lit several candles.
When Fouqué could bring himself to look at her,
she had placed Julien's head on a little marble table in front of her,
and was kissing it on the forehead.
Mathilde followed her lover to the tomb which he had chosen.
A great number of priests convoyed the bier,
alone in her draped carriage,
without anyone knowing it,
she carried on her knees the head of the man whom she had loved so much.
When they arrived in this way at the most elevated peak of the high mountains of the Jura,
twenty priests celebrated the service of the dead in the middle of the night in this little grotto,
which was magnificently illuminated by a countless number of wax candles.
Attracted by this strange and singular ceremony,
all the inhabitants of the little mountain villages which the funeral had passed through,
Mathilde appeared in their midst in long mourning garments,
and had several thousands of five-franc pieces thrown to them at the end of the service.
When she was left alone with Fouqué,
she insisted on burying her lover's head with her own hands.
Fouqué nearly went mad with grief.
Mathilde took care that this wild grotto should be decorated with marble monuments that had been sculpted in Italy at great expense.
Madame de Rênal kept her promise.
She did not try to make any attempt upon her life;
but she died embracing her children,
three days after Julien.