Autobiography of a Pocket-Handkerchief
James Fenimore Coopoer

Part 1 out of 3

italics used by Cooper to indicate foreign words are ignored, as are
accents; while italics Cooper used for emphasis are usually indicated by
ALL CAPITALS. Unless otherwise indicated, translations are from the
French. The spelling and punctuation of the Graham's Magazine
periodical text have generally been followed, except that certain
inconsistent contractions (e.g., "do n't" or "do'nt" for "don't") have been
silently regularized.}

{I have annotated the edition--identified by {curly brackets}--to
translate most of the French words and expressions which Cooper
frequently employs, to define occasional now-obsolete English words,
and to identify historical names and other references. Cooper frequently
alludes, in the beginning of the work, to events and persons involved in
the French Revolution of 1830, which he had witnessed while living in
Paris, and about which the beginning of the plot revolves.}



{Chapter numbers inserted from non-periodical editions of

Certain moral philosophers, with a due disdain of the flimsy foundations
of human pride, have shown that every man is equally descended from a
million of ancestors, within a given number of generations; thereby
demonstrating that no prince exists who does not participate in the
blood of some beggar, or any beggar who does not share in the blood
of princes. Although favored by a strictly vegetable descent myself, the
laws of nature have not permitted me to escape from the influence of
this common rule. The earliest accounts I possess of my progenitors
represent them as a goodly growth of the Linum Usitatissimum, divided
into a thousand cotemporaneous plants, singularly well conditioned, and
remarkable for an equality that renders the production valuable. In this
particular, then, I may be said to enjoy a precedency over the
Bourbons, themselves, who now govern no less than four different
states of Europe, and who have sat on thrones these thousand years.

{Linum Usitatissimum = Linum usitatissimum (Cooper's capitalization
varies) is the botanical name for the variety of flax from which linen is

While our family has followed the general human law in the matter just
mentioned, it forms a marked exception to the rule that so absolutely
controls all of white blood, on this continent, in what relates to
immigration and territorial origin. When the American enters on the
history of his ancestors, he is driven, after some ten or twelve
generations at most, to seek refuge in a country in Europe; whereas
exactly the reverse is the case with us, our most remote extraction being
American, while our more recent construction and education have taken
place in Europe. When I speak of the "earliest accounts I possess of my
progenitors," authentic information is meant only; for, like other races,
we have certain dark legends that might possibly carry us back again to
the old world in quest of our estates and privileges. But, in writing this
history, it has been my determination from the first, to record nothing
but settled truths, and to reject everything in the shape of vague report
or unauthenticated anecdote. Under these limitations, I have ever
considered my family as American by origin, European by emigration,
and restored to its paternal soil by the mutations and calculations of
industry and trade.

The glorious family of cotemporaneous plants from which I derive my
being, grew in a lovely vale of Connecticut, and quite near to the banks
of the celebrated river of the same name. This renders us strictly
Yankee in our origin, an extraction of which I find all who enjoy it fond
of boasting. It is the only subject of self-felicitation with which I am
acquainted that men can indulge in, without awakening the envy of their
fellow-creatures; from which I infer it is at least innocent, if not

We have traditions among us of the enjoyments of our predecessors, as
they rioted in the fertility of their cis-atlantic field; a happy company of
thriving and luxuriant plants. Still, I shall pass them over, merely
remarking that a bountiful nature has made such provision for the
happiness of all created things as enables each to rejoice in its existence,
and to praise, after its fashion and kind, the divine Being to which it
owes its creation.

{cis-atlantic = this side of the Atlantic (Latin)}

In due time, the field in which my forefathers grew was gathered, the
seed winnowed from the chaff and collected in casks, when the whole
company was shipped for Ireland. Now occurred one of those chances
which decide the fortunes of plants, as well as those of men, giving me a
claim to Norman, instead of Milesian descent. The embarkation, or
shipment of my progenitors, whichever may be the proper expression,
occurred in the height of the last general war, and, for a novelty, it
occurred in an English ship. A French privateer captured the vessel on
her passage home, the flaxseed was condemned and sold, my ancestors
being transferred in a body to the ownership of a certain agriculturist in
the neighborhood of Evreux, who dealt largely in such articles. There
have been evil disposed vegetables that have seen fit to reproach us
with this sale as a stigma on our family history, but I have ever
considered it myself as a circumstance of which one has no more reason
to be ashamed than a D'Uzes has to blush for the robberies of a baron
of the middle ages. Each is an incident in the progress of civilization; the
man and the vegetable alike taking the direction pointed out by
Providence for the fulfilment of his or its destiny.

{Milesian = slang for Irish, from Milesius, mythical Spanish conqueror
of Ireland; Evreux = town in Normandy, France; a D'Uzes = a member
of an ancient noble family in southern France}

Plants have sensation as well as animals. The latter, however, have no
consciousness anterior to their physical births, and very little, indeed, for
some time afterwards; whereas a different law prevails as respects us;
our mental conformation being such as to enable us to refer our moral
existence to a period that embraces the experience, reasoning and
sentiments of several generations. As respects logical inductions, for
instance, the linum usitatissimum draws as largely on the intellectual
acquisitions of the various epochas that belonged to the three or four
parent stems which preceded it, as on its own. In a word, that
accumulated knowledge which man inherits by means of books,
imparted and transmitted information, schools, colleges, and universities,
we obtain through more subtle agencies that are incorporated with our
organic construction, and which form a species of hereditary
mesmerism; a vegetable clairvoyance that enables us to see with the
eyes, hear with the ears, and digest with the understandings of our

{epochas = archaic Latinized spelling of epochs}

Some of the happiest moments of my moral existence were thus
obtained, while our family was growing in the fields of Normandy. It
happened that a distinguished astronomer selected a beautiful seat, that
was placed on the very margin of our position, as a favorite spot for his
observations and discourses; from a recollection of the latter of which,
in particular, I still derive indescribable satisfaction. It seems as only
yesterday--it is in fact fourteen long, long years--that I heard him thus
holding forth to his pupils, explaining the marvels of the illimitable void,
and rendering clear to my understanding the vast distance that exists
between the Being that created all things and the works of his hands. To
those who live in the narrow circle of human interests and human
feelings, there ever exists, unheeded, almost unnoticed, before their very
eyes, the most humbling proofs of their own comparative insignificance
in the scale of creation, which, in the midst of their admitted mastery
over the earth and all it contains, it would be well for them to consider,
if they would obtain just views of what they are and what they were
intended to be.

I think I can still hear this learned and devout man--for his soul was
filled with devotion to the dread Being that could hold a universe in
subjection to His will--dwelling with delight on all the discoveries among
the heavenly bodies, that the recent improvements in science and
mechanics have enabled the astronomers to make. Fortunately, he gave
his discourses somewhat of the progressive character of lectures,
leading his listeners on, as it might be step by step, in a way to render all
easy to the commonest understanding. Thus it was, I first got accurate
notions of the almost inconceivable magnitude of space, to which,
indeed, it is probable there are no more positive limits than there are a
beginning and an end to eternity! Can these wonders be, I thought--and
how pitiful in those who affect to reduce all things to the level of their
own powers of comprehension, and their own experience in practice!
Let them exercise their sublime and boasted reason, I said to myself, in
endeavoring to comprehend infinity in any thing, and we will note the
result! If it be in space, we shall find them setting bounds to their
illimitable void, until ashamed of the feebleness of their first effort, it is
renewed, again and again, only to furnish new proofs of the insufficiency
of any of earth, even to bring within the compass of their imaginations
truths that all their experiments, inductions, evidence and revelations
compel them to admit.

"The moon has no atmosphere," said our astronomer one day, "and if
inhabited at all, it must be by beings constructed altogether differently
from ourselves. Nothing that has life, either animal or vegetable as we
know them, can exist without air, and it follows that nothing having life,
according to our views of it, can exist in the moon:--or, if any thing
having life do exist there, it must be under such modifications of all our
known facts, as to amount to something like other principles of being."
"One side of that planet feels the genial warmth of the sun for a fortnight,
while the other is for the same period without it," he continued. "That
which feels the sun must be a day, of a heat so intense as to render it
insupportable to us, while the opposite side on which the rays of the sun
do not fall, must be masses of ice, if water exist there to be congealed.
But the moon has no seas, so far as we can ascertain; its surface
representing one of strictly volcanic origin, the mountains being
numerous to a wonderful degree. Our instruments enable us to perceive
craters, with the inner cones so common to all our own volcanoes,
giving reason to believe in the activity of innumerable burning hills at
some remote period. It is scarcely necessary to say, that nothing we
know could live in the moon under these rapid and extreme transitions
of heat and cold, to say nothing of the want of atmospheric air." I
listened to this with wonder, and learned to be satisfied with my station.
Of what moment was it to me, in filling the destiny of the linum
usitatissimum, whether I grew in a soil a little more or a little less fertile;
whether my fibres attained the extremest fineness known to the
manufacturer, or fell a little short of this excellence. I was but a speck
among a myriad of other things produced by the hand of the Creator,
and all to conduce to his own wise ends and unequaled glory. It was my
duty to live my time, to be content, and to proclaim the praise of God
within the sphere assigned to me. Could men or plants but once elevate
their thoughts to the vast scale of creation, it would teach them their
own insignificance so plainly, would so unerringly make manifest the
futility of complaints, and the immense disparity between time and
eternity, as to render the useful lesson of contentment as inevitable as it
is important.

I remember that our astronomer, one day, spoke of the nature and
magnitude of the sun. The manner that he chose to render clear to the
imagination of his hearers some just notions of its size, though so familiar
to astronomers, produced a deep and unexpected impression on me.
"Our instruments," he said, "are now so perfect and powerful, as to
enable us to ascertain many facts of the deepest interest, with near
approaches to positive accuracy. The moon being the heavenly body
much the nearest to us, of course we see farther into its secrets than into
those of any other planet. We have calculated its distance from us at
237,000 miles. Of course by doubling this distance, and adding to it the
diameter of the earth, we get the diameter of the circle, or orbit, in
which the moon moves around the earth. In other words the diameter of
this orbit is about 480,000 miles. Now could the sun be brought in
contact with this orbit, and had the latter solidity to mark its
circumference, it would be found that this circumference would include
but a little more than half the surface of one side of the sun, the diameter
of which orb is calculated to be 882,000 miles! The sun is one million
three hundred and eighty-four thousand four hundred and seventy-two
times larger than the earth. Of the substance of the sun it is not so easy
to speak. Still it is thought, though it is not certain, that we occasionally
see the actual surface of this orb, an advantage we do not possess as
respects any other of the heavenly bodies, with the exception of the
moon and Mars. The light and warmth of the sun probably exist in its
atmosphere, and the spots which are so often seen on this bright orb,
are supposed to be glimpses of the solid mass of the sun itself, that are
occasionally obtained through openings in this atmosphere. At all
events, this is the more consistent way of accounting for the appearance
of these spots. You will get a better idea of the magnitude of the
sidereal system, however, by remembering that, in comparison with it,
the distances of our entire solar system are as mere specks. Thus, while
our own change of positions is known to embrace an orbit of about
200,000,000 of miles, it is nevertheless so trifling as to produce no
apparent change of position in thousands of the fixed stars that are
believed to be the suns of other systems. Some conjecture even that all
these suns, with their several systems, our own included, revolve around
a common centre that is invisible to us, but which is the actual throne of
God; the comets that we note and measure being heavenly messengers,
as it might be, constantly passing from one of these families of worlds to

I remember that one of the astronomer's pupils asked certain
explanations here, touching the planets that it was thought, or rather
known, that we could actually see, and those of which the true surfaces
were believed to be concealed from us. "I have told you," answered the
man of science, "that they are the Moon, Mars and the Sun. Both
Venus and Mercury are nearer to us than Mars, but their relative
proximities to the sun have some such effect on their surfaces, as placing
an object near a strong light is known to have on its appearance. We
are dazzled, to speak popularly, and cannot distinguish minutely. With
Mars it is different. If this planet has any atmosphere at all, it is one of
no great density, and its orbit being without our own, we can easily
trace on its surface the outlines of seas and continents. It is even
supposed that the tinge of the latter is that of reddish sand-stone, like
much of that known in our own world, but more decided in tint, while
two brilliant white spots, at its poles, are thought to be light reflected
from the snows of those regions, rendered more conspicuous, or
disappearing, as they first emerge from a twelvemonths' winter, or melt
in a summer of equal duration."

I could have listened forever to this astronomer, whose lectures so
profoundly taught lessons of humility to the created, and which were so
replete with silent eulogies on the power of the Creator! What was it to
me whether I were a modest plant, of half a cubit in stature, or the
proudest oak of the forest--man or vegetable? My duty was clearly to
glorify the dread Being who had produced all these marvels, and to fulfil
my time in worship, praise and contentment. It mattered not whether my
impressions were derived through organs called ears, and were
communicated by others called those of speech, or whether each
function was performed by means of sensations and agencies too subtle
to be detected by ordinary means. It was enough for me that I heard
and understood, and felt the goodness and glory of God. I may say that
my first great lessons in true philosophy were obtained in these lectures,
where I learned to distinguish between the finite and infinite, ceasing to
envy any, while I inclined to worship one. The benevolence of
Providence is extended to all its creatures, each receiving it in a mode
adapted to its own powers of improvement. My destiny being toward a
communion with man--or rather with woman--I have ever looked upon
these silent communications with the astronomer as so much
preparatory schooling, in order that my mind might be prepared for its
own avenir, and not be blinded by an undue appreciation of the
importance of its future associates. I know there are those who will
sneer at the supposition of a pocket-handkerchief possessing any mind,
or esprit, at all; but let such have patience and read on, when I hope it
will be in my power to demonstrate their error.

{avenir = future; esprit = soul or vital spirit }


It is scarcely necessary to dwell on the scenes which occurred between
the time I first sprang from the earth and that in which I was "pulled."
The latter was a melancholy day for me, however, arriving prematurely
as regarded my vegetable state, since it was early determined that I was
to be spun into threads of unusual fineness. I will only say, here, that my
youth was a period of innocent pleasures, during which my chief delight
was to exhibit my simple but beautiful flowers, in honor of the hand that
gave them birth.

At the proper season, the whole field was laid low, when a scene of
hurry and confusion succeeded, to which I find it exceedingly painful to
turn in memory. The "rotting" was the most humiliating part of the
process which followed, though, in our case, this was done in clear
running water, and the "crackling" the most uncomfortable. Happily, we
were spared the anguish which ordinarily accompanies breaking on the
wheel, though we could not be said to have entirely escaped from all its
parade. Innocence was our shield, and while we endured some of the
disgrace that attaches to mere forms, we had that consolation of which
no cruelty or device can deprive the unoffending. Our sorrows were not
heightened by the consciousness of undeserving.

{"rotting" was... = to prepare flax for weaving as linen it is softened
(technically, "retted") by soaking in water, separated from its woody
fibers by beating ("scutched"--this seems to be what Cooper means by
"crackling"), and finally combed ("hatcheled")}

There is a period, which occurred between the time of being "hatcheled"
and that of being "woven," that it exceeds my powers to delineate. All
around me seemed to be in a state of inextricable confusion, out of
which order finally appeared in the shape of a piece of cambric, of a
quality that brought the workmen far and near to visit it. We were a
single family of only twelve, in this rare fabric, among which I remember
that I occupied the seventh place in the order of arrangement, and of
course in the order of seniority also. When properly folded, and
bestowed in a comfortable covering, our time passed pleasantly enough,
being removed from all disagreeable sights and smells, and lodged in a
place of great security, and indeed of honor, men seldom failing to
bestow this attention on their valuables.

{cambric = a fine white linen, originally from Cambray in Flanders}

It is out of my power to say precisely how long we remained in this
passive state in the hands of the manufacturer. It was some weeks,
however, if not months; during which our chief communications were on
the chances of our future fortunes. Some of our number were ambitious,
and would hear to nothing but the probability, nay, the certainty, of our
being purchased, as soon as our arrival in Paris should be made known,
by the king, in person, and presented to the dauphine, then the first lady
in France. The virtues of the Duchesse d'Angouleme were properly
appreciated by some of us, while I discovered that others entertained
for her any feelings but those of veneration and respect. This diversity of
opinion, on a subject of which one would think none of us very well
qualified to be judges, was owing to a circumstance of such every-day
occurrence as almost to supersede the necessity of telling it, though the
narrative would be rendered more complete by an explanation.

{Dauphine = Crown Princess; Duchesse d'Angouleme = Marie Therese
Charlotte (1778-1851), the Dauphine, daughter of King Louis XVI and
wife of Louis Antoine of Artois, Duke of Angouleme, eldest son of King
Charles X--she lost her chance to become queen when her father-in-
law abdicated the French throne in 1830--Napoleon said of her that
she was "the only man in her family"}

It happened, while we lay in the bleaching grounds, that one half of the
piece extended into a part of the field that came under the management
of a legitimist, while the other invaded the dominions of a liberal. Neither
of these persons had any concern with us, we being under the special
superintendence of the head workman, but it was impossible, altogether
impossible, to escape the consequences of our locales. While the
legitimist read nothing but the Moniteur, the liberal read nothing but Le
Temps, a journal then recently established, in the supposed interests of
human freedom. Each of these individuals got a paper at a certain hour,
which he read with as much manner as he could command, and with
singular perseverance as related to the difficulties to be overcome, to a
clientele of bleachers, who reasoned as he reasoned, swore by his
oaths, and finally arrived at all his conclusions. The liberals had the best
of it as to numbers, and possibly as to wit, the Moniteur possessing all
the dullness of official dignity under all the dynasties and ministries that
have governed France since its establishment. My business, however, is
with the effect produced on the pocket-handkerchiefs, and not with that
produced on the laborers. The two extremes were regular cotes
gauches and cotes droits. In other words, all at the right end of the
piece became devoted Bourbonists, devoutly believing that princes,
who were daily mentioned with so much reverence and respect, could
be nothing else but perfect; while the opposite extreme were disposed
to think that nothing good could come of Nazareth. In this way, four of
our number became decided politicians, not only entertaining a
sovereign contempt for the sides they respectively opposed, but
beginning to feel sensations approaching to hatred for each other.

{bleaching grounds = open spaces where newly woven linen is spread
to whiten in the sun; legitimist.... = this paragraph refers to
controversies, before the French "July Revolution" of 1830, between
rightist ("cote droit" = right side) legitimists, who read the official
"Moniteur" newspaper and supported the absolutist Bourbon monarchy
of King Charles X, and leftist ("cote gauche" = left side) liberals, who
read "Le Temps" and argued for reform or revolution; "nothing good
could come of Nazareth" = from the Bible, John, I, 46: "Can any good
thing come out of Nazareth"}

The reader will readily understand that these feelings lessened toward
the centre of the piece, acquiring most intensity at the extremes. I may
be said, myself, to have belonged to the centre gauche, that being my
accidental position in the fabric, when it was a natural consequence to
obtain sentiments of this shade. It will be seen, in the end, how
prominent were these early impressions, and how far it is worth while
for mere pocket-handkerchiefs to throw away their time, and permit
their feelings to become excited concerning interests that they are
certainly not destined to control, and about which, under the most
favorable circumstances, they seldom obtain other than very
questionable information.

{centre gauche = center left, i.e., moderate left}

It followed from this state of feeling, that the notion we were about to
fall into the hands of the unfortunate daughter of Louis XVI excited
considerable commotion and disgust among us. Though very moderate
in my political antipathies and predilections, I confess to some
excitement in my own case, declaring that if royalty WAS to be my lot,
I would prefer not to ascend any higher on the scale than to become the
property of that excellent princess, Amelie, who then presided in the
Palais Royal, the daughter and sister of a king, but with as little
prospects as desires of becoming a queen in her own person. This wish
of mine was treated as groveling, and even worse than republican, by
the cote droit of our piece, while the cote gauche sneered at it as
manifesting a sneaking regard for station without the spirit to avow it.
Both were mistaken, however; no unworthy sentiments entering into my
decision. Accident had made me acquainted with the virtues of this
estimable woman, and I felt assured that she would treat even a pocket-
handkerchief kindly. This early opinion has been confirmed by her
deportment under very trying and unexpected events. I wish, as I
believe she wishes herself, she had never been a queen.

{daughter of Louis XVI = the dauphine, Marie Therese Charlotte,
Duchesse d'Angouleme, mentioned above; Amelie = Marie Amelie
(1782-1866), daughter of King Ferdinand IV of Naples, sister of King
Francis I of The Two Sicilies--reluctantly became queen in France
when her husband the Duke of Orleans seized the throne from Charles
X on July 31, 1830, and was proclaimed King Louis Philippe of the

All our family did not aspire as high as royalty. Some looked forward to
the glories of a banker's daughter's trousseau,--we all understood that
our PRICE would be too high for any of the old nobility,--while some
even fancied that the happiness of traveling in company was reserved
for us before we should be called regularly to enter on the duties of life.
As we were so closely connected, and on the whole were affectionate
as became brothers and sisters, it was the common wish that we might
not be separated, but go together into the same wardrobe, let it be
foreign or domestic, that of prince or plebeian. There were a few among
us who spoke of the Duchesse de Berri as our future mistress; but the
notion prevailed that we should so soon pass into the hands of a femme
de chambre, as to render the selection little desirable. In the end we
wisely and philosophically determined to await the result with patience,
well knowing that we were altogether in the hands of caprice and

{Duchesse de Berri = Marie Caroline (1798-1870), wife of Charles
Ferdinand of Artois, Duke of Berry, second son of King Charles X;
femme de chambre = lady's maid}

At length the happy moment arrived when we were to quit the
warehouse of the manufacturer. Let what would happen, this was a
source of joy, inasmuch as we all knew that we could only vegetate
while we continued where we then were, and that too without
experiencing the delights of our former position, with good roots in the
earth, a genial sun shedding its warmth upon our bosom, and balmy airs
fanning our cheeks. We loved change, too, like other people, and had
probably seen enough of vegetation, whether figurative or real, to satisfy
us. Our departure from Picardie took place in June, 1830, and we
reached Paris on the first day of the succeeding month. We went
through the formalities of the custom-houses, or barrieres, the same
day, and the next morning we were all transferred to a celebrated shop
that dealt in articles of our genus. Most of the goods were sent on drays
to the magazin, but our reputation having preceded us, we were
honored with a fiacre, making the journey between the Douane and the
shop on the knee of a confidential commissionaire.

{Picardie = province of France, north of Evreux; barrieres = gates at
the edge of Paris, where local customs duties were collected; magazin =
shop; fiacre = a kind of carriage; Douane = customs house; confidential
commissionaire = special messenger}

Great was the satisfaction of our little party as we first drove down
through the streets of this capital of Europe--the centre of fashion and
the abode of elegance. Our natures had adapted themselves to
circumstances, and we no longer pined for the luxuries of the linum
usitatissimum, but were ready to enter into all the pleasures of our new
existence; which we well understood was to be one of pure parade, for
no handkerchief of our quality was ever employed on any of the more
menial offices of the profession. We might occasionally brush a lady's
cheek, or conceal a blush or a smile, but the usitatissimum had been left
behind us in the fields. The fiacre stopped at the door of a celebrated
perfumer, and the commissionaire, deeming us of too much value to be
left on a carriage seat, took us in her hand while she negotiated a small
affair with its mistress. This was our introduction to the pleasant
association of sweet odors, of which it was to be our fortune to enjoy in
future the most delicate and judicious communion. We knew very well
that things of this sort were considered vulgar, unless of the purest
quality and used with the tact of good society; but still it was permitted
to sprinkle a very little lavender, or exquisite eau de cologne, on a
pocket-handkerchief. The odor of these two scents, therefore,
appeared quite natural to us, and as Madame Savon never allowed any
perfume, or articles (as these things are technically termed), of inferior
quality to pollute her shop, we had no scruples about inhaling the
delightful fragrance that breathed in the place. Desiree, the
commissionaire, could not depart without permitting her friend,
Madame Savon, to feast her eyes on the treasure in her own hands. The
handkerchiefs were unfolded, amidst a hundred dieux! ciels! and
dames! Our fineness and beauty were extolled in a manner that was
perfectly gratifying to the self-esteem of the whole family. Madame
Savon imagined that even her perfumes would be more fragrant in such
company, and she insisted on letting one drop--a single drop--of her
eau de cologne fall on the beautiful texture. I was the happy
handkerchief that was thus favored, and long did I riot in that delightful
odor, which was just strong enough to fill the air with sensations, rather
than impressions of all that is sweet and womanly in the female

{usitatissimum had been left behind = the species name of linen means
"most useful"; Madame Savon = literally, Mrs. Soap; articles = short for
"articles de Paris" or Parisian specialties; dieux! = dear me!; ciels! =
good heavens!; dames = my oh my!}


Notwithstanding this accidental introduction to one of the nicest
distinctions of good society, and the general exhilaration that prevailed
in our party, I was far from being perfectly happy. To own the truth, I
had left my heart in Picardie. I do not say I was in love; I am far from
certain that there is any precedent for a pocket-handkerchief's being in
love at all, and I am quite sure that the sensations I experienced were
different from those I have since had frequent occasion to hear
described. The circumstances which called them forth were as follows:

The manufactory in which our family was fabricated was formerly
known as the Chateau de la Rocheaimard, and had been the property
of the Vicomte de la Rocheaimard previously to the revolution that
overturned the throne of Louis XVI. The vicomte and his wife joined
the royalists at Coblentz, and the former, with his only son, Adrien de la
Rocheaimard, or the Chevalier de la Rocheaimard, as he was usually
termed, had joined the allies in their attempted invasion on the soil of
France. The vicomte, a marechal du camp, had fallen in battle, but the
son escaped, and passed his youth in exile; marrying a few years later, a
cousin whose fortunes were at as low an ebb as his own. One child,
Adrienne, was the sole issue of this marriage, having been born in the
year 1810. Both the parents died before the Restoration, leaving the
little girl to the care of her pious grandmother, la vicomtesse, who
survived, in a feeble old age, to descant on the former grandeur of her
house, and to sigh, in common with so many others, for le bon vieux
temps. At the Restoration, there was some difficulty in establishing the
right of the de la Rocheaimards to their share of the indemnity; a
difficulty I never heard explained, but which was probably owing to the
circumstance that there was no one in particular to interest themselves in
the matter, but an old woman of sixty-five and a little girl of four. Such
appellants, unsupported by money, interest, or power, seldom make out
a very strong case for reparation of any sort, in this righteous world of
ours, and had it not been for the goodness of the dauphine it is probable
that the vicomtesse and her grand-daughter would have been reduced
to downright beggary. But the daughter of the late King got intelligence
of the necessities of the two descendants of Crusaders, and a pension
of two thousand francs a year was granted, en attendant.

{Rocheaimard = both the Chateau and the family are fictitious; marechal
du camp = general commanding a brigade; le bon vieux temps = the
good old days; late King = Louis XVI, guillotined in 1793; en attendant
= for the time being}

Four hundred dollars a year does not appear a large sum, even to the
nouveaux riches of America, but it sufficed to give Adrienne and her
grandmother a comfortable, and even a respectable subsistence in the
provinces. It was impossible for them to inhabit the chateau, now
converted into a workshop and filled with machinery, but lodgings were
procured in its immediate vicinity. Here Madame de la Rocheaimard
whiled away the close of a varied and troubled life; if not in absolute
peace, still not in absolute misery, while her grand-daughter grew into
young womanhood, a miracle of goodness and pious devotion to her
sole surviving parent. The strength of the family tie in France, and its
comparative weakness in America, has been the subject of frequent
comment among travelers. I do not know that all which has been said is
rigidly just, but I am inclined to think that much of it is, and, as I am now
writing to Americans, and of French people, I see no particular reason
why the fact should be concealed. Respect for years, deference to the
authors of their being, and submission to parental authority are
inculcated equally by the morals and the laws of France. The conseilles
de famille is a beautiful and wise provision of the national code, and aids
greatly in maintaining that system of patriarchal rule which lies at the
foundation of the whole social structure. Alas! in the case of the
excellent Adrienne, this conseille de famille was easily assembled, and
possessed perfect unanimity. The wars, the guillotine and exile had
reduced it to two, one of which was despotic in her government, so far
as theory was concerned at least; possibly, at times, a little so in
practice. Still Adrienne, on the whole grew up tolerably happy. She was
taught most that is suitable for a gentlewoman, without being crammed
with superfluous accomplishments, and, aided by the good cure, a man
who remembered her grandfather, had both polished and stored her
mind. Her manners were of the excellent tone that distinguished the
good society of Paris before the revolution, being natural, quiet, simple
and considerate. She seldom laughed, I fear; but her smiles were
sweetness and benevolence itself.

{conseille de famille = council of relatives, supervised by a judge, that
supervised the care of minors in France; cure = priest}

The bleaching grounds of our manufactory were in the old park of the
chateau. Thither Mad. de la Rocheaimard was fond of coming in the
fine mornings of June, for many of the roses and lovely Persian lilacs
that once abounded there still remained. I first saw Adrienne in one of
these visits, the quality of our little family circle attracting her attention.
One of the bleachers, indeed, was an old servant of the vicomte's, and it
was a source of pleasure to him to point out any thing to the ladies that
he thought might prove interesting. This was the man who so diligently
read the Moniteur, giving a religious credence to all it contained. He
fancied no hand so worthy to hold fabrics of such exquisite fineness as
that of Mademoiselle Adrienne, and it was through his assiduity that I
had the honor of being first placed within the gentle pressure of her
beautiful little fingers. This occurred about a month before our departure
for Paris.

Adrienne de la Rocheaimard was then just twenty. Her beauty was of a
character that is not common in France; but which, when it does exist, is
nowhere surpassed. She was slight and delicate in person, of fair hair
and complexion, and with the meekest and most dove-like blue eyes I
ever saw in a female face. Her smile, too, was of so winning and gentle
a nature, as to announce a disposition pregnant with all the affections.
Still it was well understood that Adrienne was not likely to marry, her
birth raising her above all intentions of connecting her ancient name with
mere gold, while her poverty placed an almost insuperable barrier
between her and most of the impoverished young men of rank whom
she occasionally saw. Even the power of the dauphine was not sufficient
to provide Adrienne de la Rocheaimard with a suitable husband. But of
this the charming girl never thought; she lived more for her grandmother
than for herself, and so long as that venerated relative, almost the only
one that remained to her on earth, did not suffer or repine, she herself
could be comparatively happy.

"Dans le bon vieux temps," said the vicomtesse, examining me through
her spectacles, and addressing Georges, who stood, hat in hand, to
hearken to her wisdom; "dans le bon vieux temps, mon ami, the ladies
of the chateau did not want for these things. There were six dozen in my
corbeille, that were almost as fine as this; as for the trousseau, I believe
it had twice the number, but very little inferior."

{dans de bon vieux temps = in the good old days; corbeille = wedding
presents from a bridegroom; trousseau = wedding outfit}

"I remember that madame," Georges always gave his old mistress this
title of honor, "kept many of the beautiful garments of her trousseau
untouched, down to the melancholy period of the revolution."

"It has been a mine of wealth to me, Georges, in behalf of that dear
child. You may remember that this trousseau was kept in the old
armoire, on the right hand side of the little door of my dressing-room--"

{armoire = cupboard or closet }

"Madame la Vicomtesse will have the goodness to pardon me--it was
on the LEFT hand side of the room--Monsieur's medals were kept in
the opposite armoire."

"Our good Georges is right, Adrienne!--he has a memory! Your
grandfather insisted on keeping his medals in my dressing-room, as he
says. Well, Monsieur Georges, left or right, THERE I left the remains of
my trousseau when I fled from France, and there I found it untouched
on my return. The manufactory had saved the chateau, and the
manufacturers had spared my wardrobe. Its sale, and its materials, have
done much toward rendering that dear child respectable and well clad,
since our return."

I thought the slight color which usually adorned the fair oval cheeks of
Adrienne deepened a little at this remark, and I certainly felt a little
tremor in the hand which held me; but it could not have been shame, as
the sweet girl often alluded to her poverty in a way so simple and
natural, as to prove that she had no false feelings on that subject. And
why should she? Poverty ordinarily causes no such sensations to those
who are conscious of possessing advantages of an order superior to
wealth, and surely a well-educated, well-born, virtuous girl need not
have blushed because estates were torn from her parents by a political
convulsion that had overturned an ancient and powerful throne.


>From this time, the charming Adrienne frequently visited the bleaching
grounds, always accompanied by her grandmother. The presence of
Georges was an excuse, but to watch the improvement in our
appearance was the reason. Never before had Adrienne seen a fabric
as beautiful as our own, and, as I afterwards discovered, she was laying
by a few francs with the intention of purchasing the piece, and of
working and ornamenting the handkerchiefs, in order to present them to
her benefactress, the dauphine. Mad. de la Rocheaimard was pleased
with this project; it was becoming in a de la Rocheaimard; and they
soon began to speak of it openly in their visits. Fifteen or twenty
napoleons might do it, and the remains of the recovered trousseau
would still produce that sum. It is probable this intention would have
been carried out, but for a severe illness that attacked the dear girl,
during which her life was even despaired of. I had the happiness of
hearing of her gradual recovery, however, before we commenced our
journey, though no more was said of the purchase. Perhaps it was as
well. as it was; for, by this time, such a feeling existed in our extreme
cote gauche, that it may be questioned if the handkerchiefs of that end
of the piece would have behaved themselves in the wardrobe of the
dauphine with the discretion and prudence that are expected from every
thing around the person of a princess of her exalted rank and excellent
character. It is true, none of us understood the questions at issue; but
that only made the matter worse; the violence of all dissensions being
very generally in proportion to the ignorance and consequent confidence
of the disputants.

{napoleon = French gold coin worth twenty francs}

I could not but remember Adrienne, as the commissionaire laid us down
before the eyes of the wife of the head of the firm, in the rue de --------
. We were carefully examined, and pronounced "parfaits;" still it was not
in the sweet tones, and with the sweeter smiles of the polished and
gentle girl we had left in Picardie. There was a sentiment in HER
admiration that touched all our hearts, even to the most exaggerated
republican among us, for she seemed to go deeper in her examination of
merits than the mere texture and price. She saw her offering in our
beauty, the benevolence of the dauphine in our softness, her own
gratitude in our exquisite fineness, and princely munificence in our
delicacy. In a word, she could enter into the sentiment of a pocket-
handkerchief. Alas! how different was the estimation in which we were
held by Desiree and her employers. With them, it was purely a question
of francs, and we had not been in the magazin five minutes, when there
was a lively dispute whether we were to be put at a certain number of
napoleons, or one napoleon more. A good deal was said about Mad. la
Duchesse, and I found that it was expected that a certain lady of that
rank, one who had enjoyed the extraordinary luck of retaining her
fortune, being of an old and historical family, and who was at the head
of fashion in the faubourg, would become the purchaser. At all events, it
was determined no one should see us until this lady returned to town,
she being at the moment at Rosny, with madame, whence she was
expected to accompany that princess to Dieppe, to come back to her
hotel, in the rue de Bourbon, about the last of October. Here, then,
were we doomed to three months of total seclusion in the heart of the
gayest capital of Europe. It was useless to repine, and we determined
among ourselves to exercise patience in the best manner we could.

{faubourg = neighborhood ; Rosny = Chateau of Rosny, country estate
of the Dukes of Berry at Rosny-sur-Seine; Madame = title of Princess
Marie Therese Charlotte, wife of the Dauphin Louis Antoine, heir to
Charles X}

Accordingly, we were safely deposited in a particular drawer, along
with a few other favorite articles, that, like our family, were reserved for
the eyes of certain distinguished but absent customers. These specialites
in trade are of frequent occurrence in Paris, and form a pleasant bond
of union between the buyer and seller, which gives a particular zest to
this sort of commerce, and not unfrequently a particular value to goods.
To see that which no one else has seen, and to own that which no one
else can own, are equally agreeable, and delightfully exclusive. All minds
that do not possess the natural sources of exclusion, are fond of creating
them by means of a subordinate and more artificial character.

{specialites = specialties }

On the whole, I think we enjoyed our new situation, rather than
otherwise. The drawer was never opened, it is true, but that next it was
in constant use, and certain crevices beneath the counter enabled us to
see a little, and to hear more, of what passed in the magazin. We were
in a part of the shop most frequented by ladies, and we overheard a few
tete-a-tetes that were not without amusement. These generally related
to cancans. Paris is a town in which cancans do not usually flourish,
their proper theatre being provincial and trading places, beyond a
question; still there ARE cancans at Paris; for all sorts of persons
frequent that centre of civilization. The only difference is, that in the
social pictures offered by what are called cities, the cancans are in the
strongest light, and in the most conspicuous of the grouping, whereas in
Paris they are kept in shadow, and in the background. Still there are
cancans at Paris; and cancans we overheard, and precisely in the
manner I have related. Did pretty ladies remember that pocket-
handkerchiefs have ears, they might possibly have more reserve in the
indulgence of this extraordinary propensity.

{cancans = scandals (French slang)}

We had been near a month in the drawer, when I recognized a female
voice near us, that I had often heard of late, speaking in a confident and
decided tone, and making allusions that showed she belonged to the
court. I presume her position there was not of the most exalted kind, yet
it was sufficiently so to qualify her, in her own estimation, to talk politics.
"Les ordonnances" were in her mouth constantly, and it was easy to
perceive that she attached the greatest importance to these ordinances,
whatever they were, and fancied a political millennium was near. The
shop was frequented less than usual that day; the next it was worse still,
in the way of business, and the clerks began to talk loud, also, about les
ordonnances. The following morning neither windows nor doors were
opened, and we passed a gloomy time of uncertainty and conjecture.
There were ominous sounds in the streets. Some of us thought we heard
the roar of distant artillery. At length the master and mistress appeared
by themselves in the shop; money and papers were secured, and the
female was just retiring to an inner room, when she suddenly came back
to the counter, opened our drawer, seized us with no very reverent
hands, and, the next thing we knew, the whole twelve of us were thrust
into a trunk upstairs, and buried in Egyptian darkness. From that
moment all traces of what was occurring in the streets of Paris were lost
to us. After all, it is not so very disagreeable to be only a pocket-
handkerchief in a revolution.

{Les ordonnances = four decrees establishing absolute rule, issued by
King Charles X on July 25, 1830, which touched off the July
Revolution, leading to his abdication on July 31, and the installation of
the Duke of Orleans as Louis Philippe I, King of the French--Cooper
was living in Paris during this period, though he returned there from Italy
and Germany a few days after the July Revolution itself, and he was a
close friend of the Marquis de Lafayette who played a major part in the
Revolution and its aftermath; for Cooper and many others, the ultimate
results of the Revolution were a serious disappointment, since the new
King seemed rapidly to become almost as conservative as the old}

Our imprisonment lasted until the following December. As our feelings
had become excited on the questions of the day, as well as those of
other irrational beings around us, we might have passed a most
uncomfortable time in the trunk, but for one circumstance. So great had
been the hurry of our mistress in thus shutting us up, that we had been
crammed in in a way to leave it impossible to say which was the cote
droit, and which the cote gauche. Thus completely deranged as parties,
we took to discussing philosophical matters in general; an occupation
well adapted to a situation that required so great an exercise of

One day, when we least expected so great a change, our mistress came
in person, searched several chests, trunks and drawers, and finally
discovered us where she had laid us, with her own hands, near four
months before. It seems that, in her hurry and fright, she had actually
forgotten in what nook we had been concealed. We were smoothed
with care, our political order reestablished, and then we were taken
below and restored to the dignity of the select circle in the drawer
already mentioned. This was like removing to a fashionable square, or
living in a beau quartier of a capital. It was even better than removing
from East Broadway into bona fide, real, unequaled, league-long, eighty
feet wide, Broadway!

{beau quartier = swanky neighborhood ; Broadway = in New York
City, of course}

We now had an opportunity of learning some of the great events that
had recently occurred in France, and which still troubled Europe. The
Bourbons were again dethroned, as it was termed, and another
Bourbon seated in their place. It would seem il y a Bourbon et
Bourbon. The result has since shown that "what is bred in the bone will
break out in the flesh." Commerce was at a standstill; our master passed
half his time under arms, as a national guard, in order to keep the
revolutionists from revolutionizing the revolution. The great families had
laid aside their liveries; some of them their coaches; most of them their
arms. Pocket-handkerchiefs of OUR calibre would be thought
decidedly aristocratic; and aristocracy in Paris, just at that moment, was
almost in as bad odor as it is in America, where it ranks as an eighth
deadly sin, though no one seems to know precisely what it means. In
the latter country, an honest development of democracy is certain to be
stigmatized as tainted with this crime. No governor would dare to
pardon it.

{il y a Bourbon et Bourbon = there are Bourbons and Bourbons (i.e.,
they're all the same); "What is bred in the bone...." = a possibly
deliberate misquotation of "It will not out of the flesh that is bred in the
bone" from John Heywood, "Proverbes", Part II, Chapter VIII (1546)}

The groans over the state of trade were loud and deep among those
who lived by its innocent arts. Still, the holidays were near, and hope
revived. If revolutionized Paris would not buy as the jour de l'an
approached, Paris must have a new dynasty. The police foresaw this,
and it ceased to agitate, in order to bring the republicans into discredit;
men must eat, and trade was permitted to revive a little. Alas! how little
do they who vote, know WHY they vote, or they who dye their hands
in the blood of their kind, why the deed has been done!

{jour de l'an = New Years Day}

The duchesse had not returned to Paris, neither had she emigrated. Like
most of the high nobility, who rightly enough believed that primogeniture
and birth were of the last importance to THEM, she preferred to show
her distaste for the present order of things, by which the youngest prince
of a numerous family had been put upon the throne of the oldest, by
remaining at her chateau. All expectations of selling us to HER were
abandoned, and we were thrown fairly into the market, on the great
principle of liberty and equality. This was as became a republican reign.

Our prospects were varied daily. The dauphine, madame, and all the de
Rochefoucaulds, de la Tremouilles, de Grammonts, de Rohans, de
Crillons, &c. &c., were out of the question. The royal family were in
England, the Orleans branch excepted, and the high nobility were very
generally on their "high ropes," or, a bouder. As for the bankers, their
reign had not yet fairly commenced. Previously to July, 1830, this
estimable class of citizens had not dared to indulge their native tastes for
extravagance and parade, the grave dignity and high breeding of a very
ancient but impoverished nobility holding them in some restraint; and,
then, THEIR fortunes were still uncertain; the funds were not firm, and
even the honorable and worthy Jacques Lafitte, a man to ennoble any
calling, was shaking in credit. Had we been brought into the market a
twelvemonth later, there is no question that we should have been caught
up within a week, by the wife or daughter of some of the operatives at
the Bourse.

{de Rochefoucaulds, etc. = various French noble families; a bouder =
silent; Jacques Lafitte = French financier (1767-1844) who supported
the 1830 July Revolution; Bourse = stock exchange}

As it was, however, we enjoyed ample leisure for observation and
thought. Again and again were we shown to those who, it was thought,
could not fail to yield to our beauty, but no one would purchase. All
appeared to eschew aristocracy, even in their pocket-handkerchiefs.
The day the fleurs de lys were cut out of the medallions of the treasury,
and the king laid down his arms, I thought our mistress would have had
the hysterics on our account. Little did she understand human nature, for
the nouveaux riches, who are as certain to succeed an old and
displaced class of superiors, as hungry flies to follow flies with full
bellies, would have been much more apt to run into extravagance and
folly, than persons always accustomed to money, and who did not
depend on its exhibition for their importance. A day of deliverance,
notwithstanding, was at hand, which to me seemed like the bridal of a
girl dying to rush into the dissipations of society.

{fleurs de lys = symbol of the Bourbon monarchs}


The holidays were over, without there being any material revival of
trade, when my deliverance unexpectedly occurred. It was in February,
and I do believe our mistress had abandoned the expectation of
disposing of us that season, when I heard a gentle voice speaking near
the counter, one day, in tones which struck me as familiar. It was a
female, of course, and her inquiries were about a piece of cambric
handkerchiefs, which she said had been sent to this shop from a
manufactory in Picardie. There was nothing of the customary alertness
in the manner of our mistress, and, to my surprise, she even showed the
customer one or two pieces of much inferior quality, before we were
produced. The moment I got into the light, however, I recognized the
beautifully turned form and sweet face of Adrienne de la Rocheaimard.
The poor girl was paler and thinner than when I had last seen her,
doubtless, I thought, the effects of her late illness; but I could not
conceal from myself the unpleasant fact that she was much less
expensively clad. I say less expensively clad, though the expression is
scarcely just, for I had never seen her in attire that could properly be
called expensive at all; and, yet, the term mean would be equally
inapplicable to her present appearance. It might be better to say that,
relieved by a faultless, even a fastidious neatness and grace, there was
an air of severe, perhaps of pinched economy in her present attire. This
it was that had prevented our mistress from showing her fabrics as fine
as we, on the first demand. Still I thought there was a slight flush on the
cheek of the poor girl, and a faint smile on her features, as she instantly
recognized us for old acquaintances. For one, I own I was delighted at
finding her soft fingers again brushing over my own exquisite surface,
feeling as if one had been expressly designed for the other. Then
Adrienne hesitated; she appeared desirous of speaking, and yet
abashed. Her color went and came, until a deep rosy blush settled on
each cheek, and her tongue found utterance.

"Would it suit you, madame," she asked, as if dreading a repulse, "to
part with one of these?"

"Your pardon, mademoiselle; handkerchiefs of this quality are seldom
sold singly."

"I feared as much--and yet I have occasion for only ONE. It is to be
worked--if it--"

The words came slowly, and they were spoken with difficulty. At that
last uttered, the sound of the sweet girl's voice died entirely away. I fear
it was the dullness of trade, rather than any considerations of
benevolence, that induced our mistress to depart from her rule.

"The price of each handkerchief is five and twenty francs,
mademoiselle--" she had offered the day before to sell us to the wife of
one of the richest agents de change in Paris, at a napoleon a piece--"the
price is five and twenty francs, if you take the dozen, but as you appear
to wish only ONE, rather than not oblige you, it may be had for eight
and twenty."

{agents de change = stockbrokers; napoleon = gold coin worth twenty

There was a strange mixture of sorrow and delight in the countenance of
Adrienne; but she did not hesitate, and, attracted by the odor of the eau
de cologne, she instantly pointed me out as the handkerchief she
selected. Our mistress passed her scissors between me and my
neighbor of the cote gauche, and then she seemed instantly to regret her
own precipitation. Before making the final separation from the piece,
she delivered herself of her doubts.

"It is worth another franc, mademoiselle," she said, "to cut a
handkerchief from the CENTRE of the piece."

The pain of Adrienne was now too manifest for concealment. That she
ardently desired the handkerchief was beyond dispute, and yet there
existed some evident obstacle to her wishes.

"I fear I have not so much money with me, madame" she said, pale as
death, for all sense of shame was lost in intense apprehension. Still her
trembling hands did their duty, and her purse was produced. A gold
napoleon promised well, but it had no fellow. Seven more francs
appeared in single pieces. Then two ten-sous were produced; after
which nothing remained but copper. The purse was emptied, and the
reticule rummaged, the whole amounting to just twenty-eight francs
seven sous.

{sou = a small coin (5 centimes)--20 sous equal one franc}

"I have no more, madame," said Adrienne, in a faint voice.

The woman, who had been trained in the school of suspicion, looked
intently at the other, for an instant, and then she swept the money into
her drawer, content with having extorted from this poor girl more than
she would have dared to ask of the wife of the agent de change.
Adrienne took me up and glided from the shop, as if she feared her
dear bought prize would yet be torn from her. I confess my own delight
was so great that I did not fully appreciate, at the time, all the hardship
of the case. It was enough to be liberated, to get into the fresh air, to be
about to fulfill my proper destiny. I was tired of that sort of vegetation in
which I neither grew, nor was watered by tears; nor could I see those
stars on which I so much doated, and from which I had learned a
wisdom so profound. The politics, too, were rendering our family
unpleasant; the cote droit was becoming supercilious--it had always
been illogical; while the cote gauche was just beginning to discover that
it had made a revolution for other people. Then it was happiness itself to
be with Adrienne, and when I felt the dear girl pressing me to her heart,
by an act of volition of which pocket-handkerchiefs are little suspected,
I threw up a fold of my gossamer-like texture, as if the air wafted me,
and brushed the first tear of happiness from her eye that she had shed in

{revolution for other people = as he suggests frequently in this story,
Cooper believed that the promise of the July Revolution was betrayed,
and that the new government of King Louis Philippe proved little better
than the old reactionary one of King Charles X; in this he shared the
views of his friend the Marquis de Lafayette, the hero of the American
Revolution, who as head of the French National Guard had been one of
the leaders of the July Revolution in Paris}

The reader may be certain that my imagination was all alive to
conjecture the circumstances which had brought Adrienne de la
Rocheaimard to Paris, and why she had been so assiduous in searching
me out, in particular. Could it be that the grateful girl still intended to
make her offering to the Duchesse de d'Angouleme? Ah! no--that
princess was in exile; while her sister was forming weak plots in behalf
of her son, which a double treachery was about to defeat. I have
already hinted that pocket-handkerchiefs do not receive and
communicate ideas, by means of the organs in use among human beings.
They possess a clairvoyance that is always available under favorable
circumstances. In their case the mesmeritic trance may be said to be
ever in existence, while in the performance of their proper functions. It is
only while crowded into bales, or thrust into drawers for the vulgar
purposes of trade, that this instinct is dormant, a beneficent nature
scorning to exercise her benevolence for any but legitimate objects. I
now mean legitimacy as connected with cause and effect, and nothing
political or dynastic.

{Duchesse d'Angouleme = Marie Therese Charlotte, the Dauphine,
Adrienne's patron; her sister = her sister-in-law Marie Caroline,
Duchesse de Berry, who led an unsuccessful revolt against the new

By virtue of this power, I had not long been held in the soft hand of
Adrienne, or pressed against her beating heart, without becoming the
master of all her thoughts, as well as her various causes of hope and
fear. This knowledge did not burst upon me at once, it is true, as is
pretended to be the case with certain somnambules, for with me there is
no empiricism--every thing proceeds from cause to effect, and a little
time, with some progressive steps, was necessary to make me fully
acquainted with the whole. The simplest things became the first
apparent, and others followed by a species of magnetic induction, which
I cannot now stop to explain. When this tale is told, I propose to lecture
on the subject, to which all the editors in the country will receive the
usual free tickets, when the world cannot fail of knowing quite as much,
at least, as these meritorious public servants.

{somnambules = sleep walkers; editors = Cooper had very little respect
for the press}

The first fact that I learned, was the very important one that the
vicomtesse had lost all her usual means of support by the late revolution,
and the consequent exile of the dauphine. This blow, so terrible to the
grandmother and her dependent child, had occurred, too, most
inopportunely, as to time. A half year's pension was nearly due at the
moment the great change occurred, and the day of payment arrived and
passed, leaving these two females literally without twenty francs. Had it
not been for the remains of the trousseau, both must have begged, or
perished of want. The crisis called for decision, and fortunately the old
lady, who had already witnessed so many vicissitudes, had still sufficient
energy to direct their proceedings. Paris was the best place in which to
dispose of her effects, and thither she and Adrienne came, without a
moment's delay. The shops were first tried, but the shops, in the autumn
of 1830, offered indifferent resources for the seller. Valuable effects
were there daily sold for a twentieth part of their original cost, and the
vicomtesse saw her little stores diminish daily; for the Mont de Piete
was obliged to regulate its own proceedings by the received current
values of the day. Old age, vexation, and this last most cruel blow, did
not fail of effecting that which might have been foreseen. The vicomtesse
sunk under this accumulation of misfortunes, and became bed-ridden,
helpless, and querulous. Every thing now devolved on the timid, gentle,
unpracticed Adrienne. All females of her condition, in countries
advanced in civilization like France, look to the resource of imparting a
portion of what they themselves have acquired, to others of their own
sex, in moments of urgent necessity. The possibility of Adrienne's being
compelled to become a governess, or a companion, had long been kept
in view, but the situation of Mad. de la Rocheaimard forbade any
attempt of the sort, for the moment, had the state of the country
rendered it at all probable that a situation could have been procured.
On this fearful exigency, Adrienne had aroused all her energies, and
gone deliberately into the consideration of her circumstances.

{Mont de Piete = traditional term for a municipal pawn shop operated
to help the poor}

Poverty had compelled Mad. de la Rocheaimard to seek the cheapest
respectable lodgings she could find on reaching town. In anticipation of
a long residence, and, for the consideration of a considerable abatement
in price, she had fortunately paid six months' rent in advance; thus
removing from Adrienne the apprehension of having no place in which
to cover her head, for some time to come. These lodgings were in an
entresol of the Place Royale, a perfectly reputable and private part of
the town, and in many respects were highly eligible. Many of the menial
offices, too, were to be performed by the wife of the porter, according
to the bargain, leaving to poor Adrienne, however, all the care of her
grandmother, whose room she seldom quitted, the duties of nurse and
cook, and the still more important task of finding the means of

{entresol = mezzanine, low-ceilinged area between between the first
and second floors}

For quite a month the poor desolate girl contrived to provide for her
grandmother's necessities, by disposing of the different articles of the
trousseau. This store was now nearly exhausted, and she had found a
milliner who gave her a miserable pittance for toiling with her needle
eight or ten hours each day. Adrienne had not lost a moment, but had
begun this system of ill-requited industry long before her money was
exhausted. She foresaw that her grandmother must die, and the great
object of her present existence was to provide for the few remaining
wants of this only relative during the brief time she had yet to live, and to
give her decent and Christian burial. Of her own future lot, the poor girl
thought as little as possible, though fearful glimpses would obtrude
themselves on her uneasy imagination. At first she had employed a
physician; but her means could not pay for his visits, nor did the
situation of her grandmother render them very necessary. He promised
to call occasionally without fee, and, for a short time, he kept his word,
but his benevolence soon wearied of performing offices that really were
not required. By the end of a month, Adrienne saw him no more.

As long as her daily toil seemed to supply her own little wants, Adrienne
was content to watch on, weep on, pray on, in waiting for the moment
she so much dreaded; that which was to sever the last tie she appeared
to possess on earth. It is true she had a few very distant relatives, but
they had emigrated to America, at the commencement of the revolution
of 1789, and all trace of them had long been lost. In point of fact, the
men were dead, and the females were grandmothers with English
names, and were almost ignorant of any such persons as the de la
Rocheaimards. From these Adrienne had nothing to expect. To her,
they were as beings in another planet. But the trousseau was nearly
exhausted, and the stock of ready money was reduced to a single
napoleon, and a little change. It was absolutely necessary to decide on
some new scheme for a temporary subsistence, and that without delay.

Among the valuables of the trousseau was a piece of exquisite lace, that
had never been even worn. The vicomtesse had a pride in looking at it,
for it showed the traces of her former wealth and magnificence, and she
would never consent to part with it. Adrienne had carried it once to her
employer, the milliner, with the intention of disposing of it, but the price
offered was so greatly below what she knew to be the true value, that
she would not sell it. Her own wardrobe, however, was going fast,
nothing disposable remained of her grandmother's, and this piece of lace
must be turned to account in some way. While reflecting on these dire
necessities, Adrienne remembered our family. She knew to what shop
we had been sent in Paris, and she now determined to purchase one of
us, to bestow on the handkerchief selected some of her own beautiful
needle work, to trim it with this lace, and, by the sale, to raise a sum
sufficient for all her grandmother's earthly wants.

Generous souls are usually ardent. Their hopes keep pace with their
wishes, and, as Adrienne had heard that twenty napoleons were
sometimes paid by the wealthy for a single pocket-handkerchief, when
thus decorated, she saw a little treasure in reserve, before her mind's

"I can do the work in two months," she said to herself, "by taking the
time I have used for exercise, and by severe economy; by eating less
myself, and working harder, we can make out to live that time on what
we have."

This was the secret of my purchase, and the true reason why this lovely
girl had literally expended her last sou in making it. The cost had
materially exceeded her expectations, and she could not return home
without disposing of some article she had in her reticule, to supply the
vacuum left in her purse. There would be nothing ready for the milliner,
under two or three days, and there was little in the lodgings to meet the
necessities of her grandmother. Adrienne had taken her way along the
quays, delighted with her acquisition, and was far from the Mont de
Piete before this indispensable duty occurred to her mind. She then
began to look about her for a shop in which she might dispose of
something for the moment. Luckily she was the mistress of a gold
thimble, that had been presented to her by her grandmother, as her very
last birth-day present. It was painful for her to part with it, but, as it was
to supply the wants of that very parent, the sacrifice cost her less than
might otherwise have been the case. Its price had been a napoleon, and
a napoleon, just then, was a mint of money in her eyes. Besides, she
had a silver thimble at home, and a brass one would do for her work.

Adrienne's necessities had made her acquainted with several jewellers'
shops. To one of these she now proceeded, and, first observing through
the window that no person was in but one of her own sex, the
silversmith's wife, she entered with the greater confidence and alacrity.

"Madame," she said, in timid tones, for want had not yet made Adrienne
bold or coarse, "I have a thimble to dispose of--could you be induced
to buy it?"

The woman took the thimble and examined it, weighed it, and submitted
its metal to the test of the touchstone. It was a pretty thimble, though
small, or it would not have fitted Adrienne's finger. This fact struck the
woman of the shop, and she cast a suspicious glance at Adrienne's
hand, the whiteness and size of which, however, satisfied her that the
thimble had not been stolen.

{touchstone = a variety of black stone used to test the purity of gold, by
the streak it leaves when rubbed on the stone}

"What do you expect to receive for this thimble, mademoiselle?" asked
the woman, coldly.

"It cost a napoleon, madame, and was made expressly for myself."

"You do not expect to sell it at what it cost?" was the dry answer.

"Perhaps not, madame--I suppose you will look for a profit in selling it
again. I wish you to name the price."

This was said because the delicate ever shrink from affixing a value to
the time and services of others. Adrienne was afraid she might
unintentionally deprive the other of a portion of her just gains. The
woman understood by the timidity and undecided manner of the
applicant, that she had a very unpracticed being to deal with, and she
was emboldened to act accordingly. First taking another look at the
pretty little hand and fingers, to make certain the thimble might not be
reclaimed, when satisfied that it really belonged to her who wished to
dispose of it, she ventured to answer.

"In such times as we had before these vile republicans drove all the
strangers from Paris, and when our commerce was good," she said, "I
might have offered seven francs and a half for that thimble; but, as things
are now, the last sou I can think of giving is five francs."

"The gold is very good, madame," Adrienne observed, in a voice half-
choked, "they told my grandmother the metal alone was worth thirteen."

"Perhaps, mademoiselle, they might give that much at the mint, for there
they coin money; but, in this shop, no one will give more than five francs
for that thimble."

Had Adrienne been longer in communion with a cold and heartless
world, she would not have submitted to this piece of selfish extortion;
but, inexperienced, and half frightened by the woman's manner, she
begged the pittance offered as a boon, dropped her thimble, and made
a hasty retreat. When the poor girl reached the street, she began to
reflect on what she had done. Five francs would scarcely support her
grandmother a week, with even the wood and wine she had on hand,
and she had no more gold thimbles to sacrifice. A heavy sigh broke
from her bosom, and tears stood in her eyes. But she was wanted at
home, and had not the leisure to reflect on her own mistake.


Occupation is a blessed relief to the miserable. Of all the ingenious
modes of torture that have ever been invented, that of solitary
confinement is probably the most cruel--the mind feeding on itself with
the rapacity of a cormorant, when the conscience quickens its activity
and feeds its longings. Happily for Adrienne, she had too many positive
cares, to be enabled to waste many minutes either in retrospection, or in
endeavors to conjecture the future. Far--far more happily for herself,
her conscience was clear, for never had a purer mind, or a gentler spirit
dwelt in female breast. Still she could blame her own oversight, and it
was days before her self-upbraidings, for thus trifling with what she
conceived to be the resources of her beloved grandmother, were driven
from her thoughts by the pressure of other and greater ills.

Were I to last a thousand years, and rise to the dignity of being the
handkerchief that the Grand Turk is said to toss toward his favorite, I
could not forget the interest with which I accompanied Adrienne to the
door of her little apartment, in the entresol. She was in the habit of hiring
little Nathalie, the porter's daughter, to remain with her grandmother
during her own necessary but brief absences, and this girl was found at
the entrance, eager to be relieved.

"Has my grandmother asked for me, Nathalie?" demanded Adrienne,
anxiously, the moment they met.

"Non, mademoiselle; madame has done nothing but sleep, and I was
getting SO tired!"

The sou was given, and the porter's daughter disappeared, leaving
Adrienne alone in the ante-chamber. The furniture of this little apartment
was very respectable, for Madame de la Rocheaimard, besides paying
a pretty fair rent, had hired it just after the revolution, when the prices
had fallen quite half, and the place had, by no means, the appearance of
that poverty which actually reigned within. Adrienne went through the
ante-chamber, which served also as a salle a manger, and passed a
small saloon, into the bed-chamber of her parent. Here her mind was
relieved by finding all right. She gave her grandmother some
nourishment, inquired tenderly as to her wishes, executed several little
necessary offices, and then sat down to work for her own daily bread;
every moment being precious to one so situated. I expected to be
examined--perhaps caressed, fondled, or praised, but no such attention
awaited me. Adrienne had arranged every thing in her own mind, and I
was to be produced only at those extra hours in the morning, when she
had been accustomed to take exercise in the open air. For the moment I
was laid aside, though in a place that enabled me to be a witness of all
that occurred. The day passed in patient toil, on the part of the poor
girl, the only relief she enjoyed being those moments when she was
called on to attend to the wants of her grandmother. A light potage, with
a few grapes and bread, composed her dinner; even of these I
observed that she laid aside nearly half for the succeeding day, doubts
of her having the means of supporting her parent until the handkerchief
was completed beginning to beset her mind. It was these painful and
obtrusive doubts that most distressed the dear girl, now, for the
expectation of reaping a reward comparatively brilliant, from the
ingenious device to repair her means on which she had fallen, was
strong within her. Poor child! her misgivings were the overflowings of a
tender heart, while her hopes partook of the sanguine character of youth
and inexperience!

{salle a manger = dining room; salon = living room; potage = soup}

My turn came the following morning. It was now spring, and this is a
season of natural delights at Paris. We were already in April, and the
flowers had begun to shed their fragrance on the air, and to brighten the
aspect of the public gardens. Mad. de la Rocheaimard usually slept the
soundest at this hour, and, hitherto, Adrienne had not hesitated to leave
her, while she went herself to the nearest public promenade, to breathe
the pure air and to gain strength for the day. In future, she was to deny
herself this sweet gratification. It was such a sacrifice, as the innocent
and virtuous, and I may add the tasteful, who are cooped up amid the
unnatural restraints of a town, will best know how to appreciate. Still it
was made without a murmur, though not without a sigh.

When Adrienne laid me on the frame where I was to be ornamented by
her own pretty hands, she regarded me with a look of delight, nay, even
of affection, that I shall never forget. As yet she felt none of the malign
consequences of the self-denial she was about to exert. If not blooming,
her cheeks still retained some of their native color, and her eye,
thoughtful and even sad, was not yet anxious and sunken. She was
pleased with her purchase, and she contemplated prodigies in the way
of results. Adrienne was unusually skillful with the needle, and her taste
had been so highly cultivated, as to make her a perfect mistress of all
the proprieties of patterns. At the time it was thought of making an
offering of all our family to the dauphine, the idea of working the
handkerchiefs was entertained, and some designs of exquisite beauty
and neatness had been prepared. They were not simple, vulgar,
unmeaning ornaments, such as the uncultivated seize upon with avidity
on account of their florid appearance, but well devised drawings, that
were replete with taste and thought, and afforded some apology for the
otherwise senseless luxury contemplated, by aiding in refining the
imagination, and cultivating the intellect. She had chosen one of the
simplest and most beautiful of these designs, intending to transfer it to
my face, by means of the needle.

The first stitch was made just as the clocks were striking the hour of
five, on the morning of the fourteenth of April, 1831. The last was
drawn that day two months, precisely as the same clocks struck twelve.
For four hours Adrienne sat bending over her toil, deeply engrossed in
the occupation, and flattering herself with the fruits of her success. I
learned much of the excellent child's true character in these brief hours.
Her mind wandered over her hopes and fears, recurring to her other
labors, and the prices she received for occupations so wearying and
slavish. By the milliner, she was paid merely as a common sewing-girl,
though her neatness, skill and taste might well have entitled her to
double wages. A franc a day was the usual price for girls of an inferior
caste, and out of this they were expected to find their own lodgings and
food. But the poor revolution had still a great deal of private misery to
answer for, in the way of reduced wages. Those who live on the
frivolities of mankind, or, what is the same thing, their luxuries, have two
sets of victims to plunder--the consumer, and the real producer, or the
operative. This is true where men are employed, but much truer in the
case of females. The last are usually so helpless, that they often cling to
oppression and wrong, rather than submit to be cast entirely upon the
world. The marchande de mode who employed Adrienne was as rusee
as a politician who had followed all the tergiversations of Gallic policy,
since the year '89. She was fully aware of what a prize she possessed in
the unpracticed girl, and she felt the importance of keeping her in
ignorance of her own value. By paying the franc, it might give her
assistant premature notions of her own importance; but, by bringing her
down to fifteen sous, humility could be inculcated, and the chance of
keeping her doubled. This, which would have defeated a bargain with
any common couturiere, succeeded perfectly with Adrienne. She
received her fifteen sous with humble thankfulness, in constant
apprehension of losing even that miserable pittance. Nor would her
employer consent to let her work by the piece, at which the dear child
might have earned at least thirty sous, for she discovered that she had to
deal with a person of conscience, and that in no mode could as much be
possibly extracted from the assistant, as by confiding to her own honor.
At nine each day she was to breakfast. At a quarter past nine, precisely,
to commence work for her employer; at one, she had a remission of half
an hour; and at six, she became her own mistress.

{marchande de mode = milliner; rusee = crafty; couturiere =

"I put confidence in you, mademoiselle," said the marchande de mode,
"and leave you to yourself entirely. You will bring home the work as it is
finished, and your money will be always ready. Should your
grandmother occupy more of your time than common, on any occasion,
you can make it up of yourself, by working a little earlier, or a little later;
or, once in a while, you can throw in a day, to make up for lost time.
You would not do as well at piecework, and I wish to deal generously
by you. When certain things are wanted in a hurry, you will not mind
working an hour or two beyond time, and I will always find lights with
the greatest pleasure. Permit me to advise you to take the intermissions
as much as possible for your attentions to your grandmother, who must
be attended to properly. Si--the care of our parents is one of our most
solemn duties! Adieu, mademoiselle; au revoir!"

{find lights = supply candles; si = yes indeed}

This was one of the speeches of the marchande de mode to Adrienne,
and the dear girl repeated it in her mind, as she sat at work on me,
without the slightest distrust of the heartless selfishness it so ill
concealed. On fifteen sous she found she could live without encroaching
on the little stock set apart for the support of her grandmother, and she
was content. Alas! The poor girl had not entered into any calculation of
the expense of lodgings, of fuel, of clothes, of health impaired, and as
for any resources for illness or accidents, she was totally without them.
Still Adrienne thought herself the obliged party, in times as critical as
those which then hung over France, in being permitted to toil for a sum
that would barely supply a grisette, accustomed all her life to privations,
with the coarsest necessaries.

{grisette = working-class girl}

I have little to say of the succeeding fortnight. Mad. De la Rocheaimard
gradually grew feebler, but she might still live months. No one could tell,
and Adrienne hoped she would never die. Happily, her real wants were
few; though her appetite was capricious, and her temper querulous.
Love for her grandchild, however, shone in all she said and did, and so
long as she was loved by this, the only being on earth she had ever been
taught to love herself, Adrienne would not think an instant of the ills
caused by the infirmities of age. She husbanded her money, with the
utmost frugality, and contrived to save even a few sous daily, out of her
own wages, to add to her grandmother's stock. This she could not have
done, but for the circumstance of there being so much in the house of
their early stores, to help eke out the supplies of the moment. But, at the
end of a fortnight, Adrienne found herself reduced to her last franc,
including all her own savings. Something must be done, and that without
delay, or Madame de la Rocheaimard would be without the means of

By this time Adrienne had little to dispose of, except the lace. This
exquisite piece of human ingenuity had originally cost five louis d'or, and
Adrienne had once shown it to her employer, who had generously
offered to give two napoleons for it. But the lace must be kept for my
gala dress, and it was hoped that it would bring at least its original cost
when properly bestowed as an ornament on a fabric of my quality.
There was the silver thimble, and that had cost five francs. Adrienne
sent for the porter's daughter, and she went forth to dispose of this,
almost the only article of luxury that remained to her.

{louis d'or = gold coin worth 20 francs}

"Un de, ma bonne demoiselle!" exclaimed the woman to whom the
thimble was offered for sale; this is so common an article as scarcely to
command any price. I will give thirty sous, notwithstanding."

{Un de.... = A thimble, young lady!}

Adrienne had made her calculations, as she fancied, with some attention
to the ways of the world. Bitter experience was teaching her severe
lessons, and she felt the necessity of paying more attention than had
been her wont to the practices of men. She had hoped to receive three
francs for her thimble, which was quite new, and which, being pretty,
was cheap at five, as sold in the shops. She ventured, therefore, to
express as much to the woman in question.

"Three francs, Mademoiselle!" exclaimed the other--"Jamais, since the
three days! All our commerce was then destroyed, and no one would
think of giving such a price. If I get three for it myself I shall be too
happy. Cependant, as the thimble is pretty, and the metal looks good,
we will say five and thirty sous, and have no more words about it."

{Jamais = never; three days = the three days of the July Revolution;
Cependant = nevertheless}

Adrienne sighed, and then she received the money and returned home.
Two hours later the woman of the shop met with an idle customer who
had more money than discretion, and she sold this very thimble for six
francs, under the plea that it was a new fashion that had sprung out of
the Revolution of July. That illustrious event, however, produced other
results that were quite as hard to be reduced to the known connection
between cause and effect as this.

Adrienne found that by using the wine which still remained, as well as
some sugar and arrowroot, her grandmother could be made
comfortable for just ten sous a day. She had been able to save of her
own wages three, and here, then, were the means of maintaining
Madame de la Rocheaimard, including the franc on hand, for just a
week longer. To do this, however, some little extra economy would be
necessary. Adrienne had conscientiously taken the time used to sell the
thimble from her morning's work on me. As she sat down, on her
return, she went over these calculations in her mind, and when they
were ended, she cast a look at her work, as if to calculate its duration
by what she had so far finished. Her eye assured her that not more than
one fourth of her labor was, as yet, completed. Could she get over the
next six weeks, however, she would be comparatively rich, and, as her
lease would be out in two months, she determined to get cheaper
lodgings in the country, remove her grandmother, purchase another
handkerchief--if possible one of my family--and while she lived on the
fruits of her present labors, to earn the means for a still more remote
day. It is true, she had no more lace with which to decorate another
handkerchief, but the sale of this would supply the money to purchase
anew, and in this way the simple minded girl saw no reason why she
might not continue on as long as health and strength would allow--at
least as long as her grandmother lived.

Hope is as blessed a provision for the poor and unhappy as occupation.
While oppressed with present ills they struggle to obtain a fancied
existence under happier auspices, furnishing a healthful and important
lesson to man, that never ceases to remind him of a future that is to
repair every wrong, apply a balm to every wound, if he will only make a
timely provision for its wants.

Again did Adrienne resume her customary round of duties. Four hours
each morning were devoted to me. Then followed the frugal breakfast,
when her commoner toil for the milliner succeeded. The rest of the day
was occupied with this latter work, for which she received the
customary fifteen sous. When she retired at night, which the ailings and
complaints of her grandmother seldom permitted before eleven, it was
with a sense of weariness that began to destroy sleep; still the dear girl
thought herself happy, for I more than equaled her expectations, and
she had latterly worked on me with so much zeal as to have literally
thrown the fruits of two weeks' work into one.

But the few francs Adrienne possessed diminished with alarming
rapidity. She began to calculate her ways and means once more, and
this was no longer done as readily as before. Her own wardrobe would
not bear any drain upon it. Early in the indisposition of her grandmother,
all of THAT had been sold which she could spare; for, with the
disinterestedness of her nature, when sacrifices became necessary her
first thoughts were of her own little stock of clothes. Of jewelry she
never had been the mistress of much, though the vicomtesse had
managed to save a few relics of her own ancient magnificence.
Nevertheless, they were articles of but little value, the days of her exile
having made many demands on all such resources.

It happened, one evening when Adrienne was receiving her wages from
the milliner, that the poor girl overheard a discourse that proved she
was not paid at the rate at which others were remunerated. Her eyes
told her that her own work was the neatest in the shop, and she also
saw that she did more than any other girl employed by the same person.
As she knew her own expertness with the needle, this did not surprise
her; but she felt some wonder that more and better work should
produce the least reward. Little did she understand the artifices of the
selfish and calculating, one of the most familiar of their frauds being to
conceal from the skillful their own success, lest it should command a
price in proportion to its claims. The milliner heard Adrienne's lady-like
and gentle remonstrance with alarm, and she felt that she was in danger
of losing a prize. But two expedients suggested themselves; to offer a
higher price, or to undervalue the services she was so fearful of losing.
Her practiced policy, as well as her selfishness, counseled her to try the
latter expedient first.

"You amaze me, mademoiselle," she answered, when Adrienne,
trembling at her own resolution, ceased speaking. "I was thinking myself
whether I could afford to pay you fifteen sous, when so many young
women who have been regularly brought up to the business are willing
to work for less. I am afraid we must part, unless you can consent to
receive twelve sous in future."

Adrienne stood aghast. The very mirror of truth herself, she could not
imagine that any one--least of all any woman--could be so false and
cruel as to practice the artifice to which the milliner had resorted; and,
here, just as she saw a way opened by which she might support both
her grandmother and herself until the handkerchief was completed, a
change threatened her, by which she was to be left altogether without
food. Still her conscience was so tender that she even doubted the
propriety of accepting her old wages were she really incompetent to
earn them.

"I had hoped, madame," she said, the color coming and going on
cheeks that were now usually pale--"I had hoped, madame, that you
found my work profitable. Surely, surely I bring home as much at night
as any other demoiselle you employ."

"In that there is not much difference, I allow, mademoiselle; but you can
imagine that work done by one accustomed to the art is more likely to
please customers than work done by one who has been educated as a
lady. Cependant, I will not throw you off, as I know that your poor
dear grandmother--"

"Si--si," eagerly interrupted Adrienne, trembling from head to foot with

"I know it all, mademoiselle, and the dear old lady shall not suffer; you
shall both be made happy again on fifteen. To ease your mind,
mademoiselle, I am willing to make a written contract for a year; at that
rate, too, to put your heart at ease."

"Non--non--non," murmured Adrienne, happy and grateful for the
moment, but unwilling to defeat her own plans for the future. "Thank
you, thank you, madame; to-morrow you shall see what I can do."

And Adrienne toiled the succeeding day, not only until her fingers and
body ached, but, until her very heart ached. Poor child! Little did she
think that she was establishing precedents against herself, by which
further and destructive exertions might be required. But the
apprehension of losing the pittance she actually received, and thereby
blasting all hopes from me, was constantly before her mind, quickening
her hand and sustaining her body.

During all this time Madame de la Rocheaimard continued slowly to
sink. Old age, disappointments and poverty were working out their
usual results, and death was near to close the scene. So gradual were
the changes, however, that Adrienne did not note them, and
accustomed as she had been to the existence, the presence, the love of
this one being, and of this being only, to her the final separation scarce
seemed within the bounds of possibility. Surely every thing around the
human family inculcates the doctrine of the mysterious future, and the
necessity of living principally that they be prepared to die. All they
produce perishes, all they imagine perishes, as does all they love. The
union of two beings may be so engrossing, in their eyes, have lasted so
long, and embraced so many ties, as to seem indissoluble; it is all
seeming; the hour will infallibly come when the past becomes as nothing,
except as it has opened the way to the future.

Adrienne at length, by dint of excessive toil, by working deep into the
nights, by stinting herself of food, and by means of having disposed of
the last article with which she could possibly part, had managed to
support her grandmother and herself, until she saw me so far done as to
be within another day's work of completion. At such a moment as this
all feeling of vanity is out of the question. I was certainly very beautiful.
A neater, a more tasteful, a finer, or a more exquisitely laced
handkerchief, did not exist within the walls of Paris. In all that she
figured to herself, as related to my appearance, the end justified her
brightest expectations; but, as that end drew near, she felt how
insufficient were human results to meet the desires of human hopes.
Now that her painful and exhausting toil was nearly over, she did not
experience the happiness she had anticipated. The fault was not in me;
but in herself. Hope had exhausted her spirit, and as if merely to teach
the vanity of the wishes of men, a near approach to the object that had
seemed so desirable in the distance, had stripped off the mask and left
the real countenance exposed. There was nothing unusual in this; it was
merely following out a known law of nature.


The morning of the 14th June arrived. Paris is then at its loveliest
season. The gardens in particular are worthy of the capital of Europe,
and they are open to all who can manage to make a decent appearance.
Adrienne's hotel had a little garden in the rear, and she sat at her
window endeavoring to breathe the balmy odors that arose from it.
Enter it she could not. It was the property, or devoted to the uses, of
the occupant of the rez de chaussee. Still she might look at it as often as
she dared to raise her eyes from her needle. The poor girl was not what
she had been two months before. The handkerchief wanted but a few
hours of being finished, it is true, but the pale cheeks, the hollow eyes
and the anxious look, proved at what a sacrifice of health and physical
force I had become what I was. As I had grown in beauty, the hand
that ornamented me had wasted, and when I looked up to catch the
smile of approbation, it was found to be care worn and melancholy. Still
the birds did not sing the less sweetly, for Paris is full of birds, the roses
were as fragrant, and the verdure was as deep as ever. Nature does not
stop to lament over any single victim of human society. When misery is
the deepest, there is something awful in this perpetual and smiling round
of natural movements. It teaches profoundly the insignificance of the
atoms of creation.

{rez de chaussee -- ground floor}

Adrienne had risen earlier than common, even, this morning, determined
to get through with her task by noon, for she was actually sewing on the
lace, and her impatience would not permit her to resume the work of
the milliner that day, at least. For the last month she had literally lived on
dry bread herself; at first with a few grapes to give her appetite a little
gratification, but toward the last, on nothing but bread and water. She
had not suffered so much from a want of food, however, as from a want
of air and exercise; from unremitting, wasting toil at a sedentary
occupation, from hope deferred and from sleepless nights. Then she
wanted the cheering association of sympathy. She was strictly alone;
with the exception of her short interviews with the milliner, she
conversed with no one. Her grandmother slept most of the time, and
when she did speak, it was with the querulousness of disease, and not in
the tones of affection. This was hardest of all to bear; but Adrienne did
bear up under all, flattering herself that when she could remove Mad. de
la Rocheaimard into the country, her grandmother would revive and
become as fond of her as ever. She toiled on, therefore, though she
could not altogether suppress her tears. Under her painful and pressing
circumstances, the poor girl felt her deepest affliction to be that she had
not time to pray. Her work, now that she had nothing to expect from
the milliner, could not be laid aside for a moment, though her soul did
pour out its longings as she sat plying her needle.

Fortunately, Madame de la Rocheaimard was easy and tranquil the
whole of the last morning. Although nearly exhausted by her toil and the
want of food, for Adrienne had eaten her last morsel, half a roll, at
breakfast, she continued to toil; but the work was nearly done, and the
dear girl's needle fairly flew. Of a sudden she dropped me in her lap and
burst into a flood of tears. Her sobs were hysterical, and I felt afraid she
would faint. A glass of water, however, restored her, and then this
outpouring of an exhausted nature was suppressed. I was completed!
At that instant, if not the richest, I was probably the neatest and most
tasteful handkerchief in Paris. At this critical moment, Desiree, the
commissionaire, entered the room.

>From the moment that Adrienne had purchased me, this artful woman
had never lost sight of the intended victim. By means of an occasional
bribe to little Nathalie, she ascertained the precise progress of the work,
and learning that I should probably be ready for sale that very morning,
under the pretence of hiring the apartment, she was shown into my
important presence. A brief apology explained all, and Adrienne civilly
showed her little rooms.

"When does your lease end, mademoiselle?" demanded Desiree,

"Next week, madame. I intend to remove to the country with my
grandmother the beginning of the week."

"You will do very right; no one that has the means should stay in Paris
after June. Dieu! What a beautiful handkerchief! Surely--surely--this is
not your work, mademoiselle?"

Adrienne simply answered in the affirmative, and then the
commissionaire's admiration was redoubled. Glancing her eye round the
room, as if to ascertain the probabilities, the woman inquired if the
handkerchief was ordered. Adrienne blushed, but shaking off the
transient feeling of shame, she stated that it was for sale.

"I know a lady who would buy this--a marchande de mode, a friend of
mine, who gives the highest prices that are ever paid for such articles--
for to tell you the truth certain Russian princesses employ her in all these
little matters. Have you thought of your price, mademoiselle?"

Adrienne's bloom had actually returned, with this unexpected gleam of
hope, for the affair of disposing of me had always appeared awful in her
imagination. She owned the truth frankly, and said that she had not
made herself acquainted with the prices of such things, except as she
had understood what affluent ladies paid for them.

"Ah! that is a different matter," said Desiree, coldly. "These ladies pay
far more than a thing is worth. Now you paid ten francs for the
handkerchief itself."

"Twenty-eight," answered Adrienne, trembling.

"Twenty-eight! mademoiselle, they deceived you shamefully. Ten would
have been dear in the present absence of strangers from Paris. No, call
THAT ten. This lace would probably bring a napoleon--yes, I think it
might bring a napoleon."

Adrienne's heart sunk within her. She had supposed it to be worth at
least five times as much.

"That makes thirty francs," continued Desiree coldly; "and now for the
work. You must have been a fortnight doing all this pretty work."

"Two months, madame," said Adrienne, faintly.

"Two months! Ah! you are not accustomed to this sort of work and are
not adroit, perhaps."

"I worked only in the mornings and late at night; but still think I worked
full hours."

"Yes, you worked when sleepy. Call it a month, then. Thirty days at ten
sous a day make fifteen francs. Ten for the handkerchief, twenty for the
lace, and fifteen for the work, make forty-five francs--parole d'honneur,
it does come to a pretty price for a handkerchief. Si, we must ask forty-
five francs for it, and then we can always abate the five francs, and take
two napoleons."

{parole d'honneur = word of honor, upon my word!}

Adrienne felt sick at heart. Want of nourishment had lessened her
energies, and here came a blow to all her golden visions that was near
overcoming her. She knew that handkerchiefs similar to this frequently
sold for twenty napoleons in the shops, but she did not know how much
the cupidity of trade extracted from the silly and vain in the way of sheer
contributions to avarice. It is probable the unfortunate young lady would
have lost her consciousness, under the weight of this blow, had it not
been for the sound of her grandmother's feeble voice calling her to the
bedside. This was a summons that Adrienne never disregarded, and, for
the moment, she forgot her causes of grief.

"My poor Adrienne," whispered Madame de la Rocheaimard in a tone
of tenderness that her granddaughter had not heard for some weeks,
"my poor Adrienne, the hour is near when we must part--"

"Grand-mamma!--dearest grand-mamma!"

"Nay, love, God wills it. I am old, and I feel death upon me. It is happy
that he comes so gently, and when I am so well prepared to meet him.
The grave has views, that no other scene offers, Adrienne! Noble blood
and ancient renown are as nothing compared to God's mercy and
forgiveness. Pardon me if I have ever taught thy simple heart to dwell on
vanities; but it was a fault of the age. This world is all vanity, and I can
now see it when it is too late. Do not let MY fault be THY fault, child of
my love. Kiss me, Adrienne, pray for my soul when all is over."

"Yes, dearest, dearest grand-mamma, thou know'st I will."

"Thou must part with the rest of the trousseau to make thyself
comfortable when I am gone."

"I will do as thou wishest, dearest grand-mamma."

"Perhaps it will raise enough to purchase thee four or five hundred
francs of rentes, on which thou may'st live with frugality."

{rentes = annuity, yearly income}

"Perhaps it will, grand-mamma."

"Thou wilt not sell the thimble--THAT thou wilt keep to remember me."

Adrienne bowed her head and groaned. Then her grandmother desired
her to send for a priest, and her thoughts took another direction. It was
fortunate they did, for the spirit of the girl could not have endured more.

That night Madame de la Rocheaimard died, the wife of the porter, the
bon cure, and Adrienne alone being present. Her last words were a
benediction on the fair and gentle being who had so faithfully and
tenderly nursed her in old age. When all was over, and the body was
laid out, Adrienne asked to be left alone with it. Living or dead, her
grandmother could never be an object of dread to her, and there were
few disposed to watch. In the course of the night, Adrienne even caught
a little sleep, a tribute that nature imperiously demanded of her

{bon cure = worthy parish priest}

The following day was one of anguish and embarrassment. The
physician, who always inspects the dead in France, came to make his
report. The arrangements were to be ordered for the funeral.
Fortunately, as Adrienne then thought, Desiree appeared in the course
of the morning, as one who came in consequence of having been
present at so much of the scene of the preceding day. In her character
of a commissionaire she offered her services, and Adrienne,
unaccustomed to act for herself in such offices, was fain to accept them.
She received an order, or rather an answer to a suggestion of her own,
and hurried off to give the necessary directions. Adrienne was now left
alone again with the body of her deceased grandmother. As soon as the
excitement ceased, she began to feel languid, and she became sensible
of her own bodily wants. Food of no sort had passed her lips in more
than thirty hours, and her last meal had been a scanty breakfast of dry
bread. As the faintness of hunger came over her, Adrienne felt for her
purse with the intention of sending Nathalie to a neighboring baker's,
when the truth flashed upon her, in its dreadful reality. She had not a
liard. Her last sou had furnished the breakfast of the preceding day. A
sickness like that of death came over her, when, casting her eyes
around her in despair, they fell on the little table that usually held the
nourishment prepared for her grandmother. A little arrowroot, and a
light potage, that contained bread, still remained. Although it was all that
seemed to separate the girl from death, she hesitated about using it.
There was an appearance of sacrilege, in her eyes, in the act of
appropriating these things to herself. A moment's reflection, however,
brought her to a truer state of mind, and then she felt it to be a duty to
that dear parent herself, to renew her own strength, in order to
discharge her duty to the dead. She ate, therefore, though it was with a
species of holy reverence. Her strength was renewed, and she was
enabled to relieve her soul by prayer.

{liard = half-farthing, the tiniest of coins}

"Mademoiselle will have the goodness to give me ten francs," said
Desiree, on her return; "I have ordered every thing that is proper, but
money is wanting to pay for some little articles that will soon come."

"I have no money, Desiree--not even a sou."

"No money, mademoiselle? In the name of heaven, how are we to bury
your grandmother?"

"The handkerchief--"

Desiree shook her head, and saw that she must countermand most of
the orders. Still she was human, and she was a female. She could not
altogether desert one so helpless, in a moment of such extreme distress.
She reflected on the matter for a minute or two, and opened her mind.

"This handkerchief might sell for forty-five francs, mademoiselle," she
said, "and I will pay that much for it myself, and will charge nothing for
my services to-day. Your dear grandmother must have Christian burial,
that is certain, and poor enough will that be which is had for two
napoleons. What say you, mademoiselle--will you accept the forty five
francs, or would you prefer seeing the marchande de mode?"

"I can see no one now, Desiree. Give me the money, and do honor to
the remains of my dear, dear grandmother."

Adrienne said this with her hands resting on her lap in quiescent despair.
Her eyes were hollow and vacant, her cheeks bloodless, her mind
almost as helpless as that of an infant. Desiree laid down two
napoleons, keeping the five francs to pay for some necessaries, and
then she took me in her hands, as if to ascertain whether she had done
too much. Satisfied on this head, I was carefully replaced in the basket,
when the commissionaire went out again, on her errands, honorably
disposed to be useful. Still she did not deem it necessary to conceal her
employer's poverty, which was soon divulged to the porteress, and by
her to the bourgeois.

{bourgeois = towns-people, neighbors}

Adrienne had now the means of purchasing food, but, ignorant how
much might be demanded on behalf of the approaching ceremony, she
religiously adhered to the use of dry bread. When Desiree returned in
the evening, she told the poor girl that the convoi was arranged for the
following morning, that she had ordered all in the most economical way,
but that thirty-five francs were the lowest sou for which the funeral
could be had. Adrienne counted out the money, and then found herself
the mistress of just FOUR FRANCS TEN SOUS. When Desiree took
her leave for the night, she placed me in her basket, and carried me to
her own lodgings, in virtue of her purchase.

{convoi = funeral; lowest sou = cheapest price}

I was laid upon a table where I could look through an open window, up
at the void of heaven. It was glittering with those bright stars which the
astronomers tell us are suns of other systems, and the scene gradually
drew me to reflections on that eternity which is before us. My feelings
got to be gradually soothed, as I remembered the moment of time that
all are required to endure injustice and wrongs on earth. Some such
reflections are necessary to induce us to submit to the mysterious reign
of Providence, whose decrees so often seem unequal, and whose
designs are so inscrutable. By remembering what a speck is time, as
compared with eternity, and that "God chasteneth those he loveth," the
ills of life may be borne, even with joy.

The manner in which Desiree disposed of me, shall be related in another

{another number = in the Graham's Magazine periodical version, not
divided into chapters, this paragraph closed the first of the four
installments in which the story was printed; in later book versions it was
changed to read "in the next chapter"}


The reader is not to infer that Desiree was unusually mercenary. That
she was a little addicted to this weakness, is true--who ever knew a
commissionaire that was not? But she had her moments of benevolence,
as well as others, and had really made some sacrifice of her time, and
consequently of her interests, in order to serve Adrienne in her distress.
As for the purchase of myself, that was in the way of her commerce;
and it is seldom, indeed, that philanthropy can overcome the habits of

Desiree was not wholly without means, and she was in no hurry to reap
the benefit of her purchase. I remained in her possession, according to
my calculation, some two or three years before she ever took me out of
the drawer in which I had been deposited for safe keeping. I was
considered a species of corps de reserve. At the end of that period,
however, her thoughts recurred to her treasure, and an occasion soon
offered for turning me to account. I was put into the reticule, and carried
about, in readiness for any suitable bargain that might turn up.

{corps de reserve = reserve corps; reticule = a large pocketbook}

One day Desiree and I were on the Boulevards Italiens together, when
a figure caught the commissionaire's eye that sent her across the street in
a great hurry. I scarcely know how to describe this person, who, to my
simple eyes, had the appearance of a colonel of the late Royal Guards,
or, at least, of an attache of one of the northern legations. He was
dressed in the height of the latest fashion, as well as he knew how to be;
wore terrible moustaches, and had a rare provision of rings, eye-
glasses, watch-guards, chains, &c.

{Boulevards Italiens = a fashionable Paris street; attache = a diplomat--
European diplomats at this period often wore uniforms}

"Bon jour, monsieur," exclaimed Desiree, in haste, "parole d' honneur, I
scarcely knew you! I have been waiting for your return from Lyons with
the most lively impatience, for, to tell you the truth, I have the greatest
bijou for your American ladies that ever came out of a bleaching
ground--un mouchoir de poche."

{bijou = jewel; mouchoir de poche = pocket handkerchief}

"Doucement--doucement, ma bonne," interrupted the other, observing
that the woman was about to exhibit me on the open Boulevards, an
expose for which he had no longings, "you can bring it to my lodgings--"

{doucement... = not so fast, my good woman; expose = public display}

"Rue de Clery, numero cent vingt--"

{Rue de Clery... = Clery Street, number one twenty"

"Not at all, my good Desiree. You must know I have transacted all my
ordinary business--made my purchases, and am off for New York in
the next packet--"

{packet = ship sailing on a fixed schedule}

"Mais, le malle, monsieur?"

{Mais, le malle... = But, what about your trunk, sir?}

"Yes, the trunk will have a corner in it for any thing particular, as you
say. I shall go to court this evening, to a great ball, Madame la
Marquise de Dolomien and the Aide de Camp de Service having just
notified me that I am invited. To be frank with you, Desiree, I am
lodging in la Rue de la Paix, and appear, just now, as a mere traveler.


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