Samuel Brohl & Company
Part 3 out of 4
"I would prefer to read it with my own eyes."
"After all, you have a right. There! take it. But I beg of you do not
be offended by unfortunate expressions."
"Mme. de Lorcy always knows how to choose the proper word to express
her thought," she responded.
When she had run her eye rapidly over Mme. de Lorcy's eight closely
written pages, she looked at her father and smiled.
"You must own that you found a very useful and a very zealous ally in
Mme. de Lorcy; do her this justice, she has worked hard, and you owe
her many thanks for having busied herself so actively in ridding you
of 'this worthy man, this good man, this delightful man'; those are
her own words, if you remember."
M. Moriaz exclaimed: "I hope you do not imagine that it was a matter
arranged between us. Do you really suspect me of having some dark plot
with Mme. de Lorcy! Do you believe me capable of being implicated in
an act of perfidy?"
"God forbid! I only accuse you of being too joyous, and of not knowing
how to conceal it."
"Is that a crime?"
"Perhaps it is an indiscretion."
"I swear to you, my dear child, that I only consider your happiness,
and Mme. de Lorcy herself-- Since M. Langis no longer thinks of you,
what reason could she have--"
"I do not know," interrupted Antoinette; "but her prejudice would take
the place of reason."
"So you will not believe that Count Larinski is married?"
"I believe it, without being certain, and I wish to be assured of it.
Have I not acted in good faith through all this matter? was I not
ready to comply with your conditions? I consented to refer to the
judgment of Mme. de Lorcy. She has deigned to be gracious to the
accused. She has admitted that M. Larinski is a perfectly honourable
and even a delightful man; but she has discovered, at intervals of
several days, first, that he does not love me, and then, that he has
deceived me by letting me believe that he was still free. I wish to
satisfy my own mind, and convince myself that I am not being played
"And you have concluded----"
"I have concluded that, with your permission, we shall leave to-morrow
morning for Cormeilles."
This conclusion was by no means agreeable to M. Moriaz, whose face
grew sensibly longer.
"Of what are you afraid? You know that I have character, and you ought
to know, no matter what Mme. de Lorcy says, that I am not wanting in
good sense. When it is proved to me that I have deceived myself, I
will make the sign of the cross over my romance; it will be dead and
buried, and I promise you not to wear mourning for it."
"So be it," said he; "I believe in your good sense, I have faith in
your reason: we shall leave to-morrow for Cormeilles."
Four days later, Mme. de Lorcy was walking in an alley in her park.
She was joined there by M. Langis, to whom she said, in a good-
humoured tone: "Always grave and melancholy, my dear Camille! When
will you cease your drooping airs? I cannot understand you. I do my
best to be agreeable to you, to settle matters satisfactorily. Nothing
seems to cheer you. You make me think of the hare in La Fontaine:
" 'Cet animal est triste, et la Crainte le ronge.' "
"Fear and hate, madame," replied he. "I hate this man; he is
insupportable to me. I will give up coming to Maisons if I always must
meet him here. Has he paid you his adieux for the last time?"
"Not yet; a little patience--we shall not count the minutes. Besides,
what harm can this man do you? The lion has lost his claws--what do I
say?--he has carried his good-nature to the point of muzzling himself.
It is not generous to pursue with hate a disarmed enemy."
"Very well, madame, if he is not gone in three days, I return to my
first idea; it was the best."
"You will cut his throat?"
"With all my heart."
"For the love of art?"
"I am not a very bloodthirsty individual, but I would take a singular
delight in slashing at the skin of this gloomy personage."
Mme. de Lorcy shrugged her shoulders. "What makes you think him
gloomy, my dear? You are perfectly reasonable. You ought to adore M.
Larinski; you are under the greatest obligations to him. He has been
the first to succeed in touching the heart of our dear, hitherto
insensible girl; he has broken the charm. She was the Sleeping Beauty;
he has awakened her, and, through the favour of Heaven, he cannot
marry her. I can see her in Churwalden, a prey to the gloomiest ennui,
weeping over her illusions, furious at having been deceived. Do you
not divine all the advantage that can be derived from a woman's
"You know that I love her, and yet I do not wish to owe anything to
"You are a child: be guided. The moment is come for you to propose. In
a few days you will start for Churwalden, and you will say to this
angry woman, 'I have lied--I love you.' In short, you will talk to her
of your amorous flame; and you may, freely, under these circumstances,
exhaust all your treasure-store of hyperbole. She will listen to you,
I can promise you, and she will say to herself, 'I seek vengeance--
here it is.' "
"I would like to believe you, madame," he replied, "but are you very
certain that Mlle. Moriaz is still at Churwalden?"
And, pointing with his finger, he showed her at the end of the avenue
a figure coming towards them clad in a pretty nut-brown dress with a
long train sweeping the gravel.
"Truly, I believe that it is she," cried Mme. de Lorcy. "M. Moriaz is
the most unskilful person; but, after all, not much harm is done."
Mlle. Moriaz had arrived the evening previous at Cormeilles. After
resting somewhat from the fatigues of the journey, she had nothing
more urgent to do than to order the horses put to her coupe and to
come and pay her respects to her godmother, who could not fail to be
touched by this attention.
Mme. de Lorcy ran to Antoinette and embraced her several times,
saying: "You are here at last! How charmed I am to see you again! You
made us wait long enough; I began to fear that you had taken root in
the Grisons. Is it indeed an enchanted land? I rather believe that
your father is a cruel egotist, that he shamefully sacrificed you to
his own convenience in prolonging his cure; but here you are--I will
pardon him. Your poor, your /proteges/, are clamorous for you. Who do
you think asked after you, the other day? Mlle. Galet, whom, according
to your orders, I supplied with her quarter's allowance. How you spoil
her! I found on her table a bouquet fit for a duchess; she insisted
that you had sent it to her from where you were, and I had all the
trouble in the world to make her understand that double camellias are
not gathered among the glaciers of Roseg. Strew with flowers, if you
will, Mlle. Galet's existence and garret; but do not fling at her head
a bushel of double camellias, streaked with white; it is madness. I
seriously propose to have you put under restraint. Never mind, I am
very happy to see you again. You are looking very well.--Don't you
think, Camille, that she appears extremely well?"
Mlle. Moriaz coldly received Mme. de Lorcy's embraces; but she smiled
graciously on M. Langis, and pressed his hand affectionately. Mme. de
Lorcy led them into her /salon/, where they talked on indifferent
subjects. Antoinette was waiting for M. Langis's departure to broach
the subject that she had at heart. At the end of twenty minutes, he
rose, but immediately reseated himself. A door had just opened, giving
admittance to Count Abel Larinski.
At the unexpected apparition of Samuel Brohl, the two women changed
colour; the one flushed from the effort that she made to dissimulate
her vexation, the other turned pale from emotion. Samuel Brohl crossed
the /salon/ with deliberate step, without appearing to recognise the
person who was with Mme. de Lorcy. Suddenly he trembled, as if he had
been touched by a torpedo, and, profoundly agitated, almost lost
countenance. Was he as much astonished as he seemed? For some time the
Sannois Hill had become his favourite promenade, and he never went
there without going as far as a certain spot whence he could see the
front of a certain house, the window-shutters of which had remained
during two months as though hermetically sealed. It might be that the
evening before he had found them open. Induction is a scientific
process with which Samuel Brohls are familiar.
He had abundant will and self-control. He was not long in recovering
himself; he raised his head like one who feels himself strong enough
to defy all dangers. After greeting Mme. de Lorcy, he drew near
Antoinette, and asked how she was, in a grave, almost ceremonious
"Your visit distresses me, my dear count," said Mme. de Lorcy to him;
"I fear it is the last. Have you come to bid us farewell?"
"Alas! yes, madame," he replied. "The letter for which I have been
waiting has not yet arrived; but this delay will not alter my plans:
in three days I shall leave Paris."
"Without a desire to return, without regret?" she asked.
"I shall only regret Maisons, and the kind reception I have received
there. Paris is too large; little people like myself feel their
smallness more here than elsewhere; it does not require an excess of
pride for one to dislike being reduced to the state of an atom.
Residing in Vienna suits me better; I breathe freer there; it is a
city better adapted to my size and taste. Birds do wrong to change
Thereupon, he began to describe and warmly extol the Prater and its
fine walks, Schonbrunn, its botanical gardens and the Gloriette, the
church of St. Stephen's, and the limpid waters of the Danube;
sometimes addressing himself to Antoinette, who listened without a
word, and sometimes to Mme. de Lorcy, whose eyes were turned at
intervals towards M. Langis, seeming to say to him: "Was I not right?
Confess that your apprehensions lacked common-sense. Do you hear him?
he has only half an hour to spend with her, and he describes the
Prater. Are you still thinking of cutting his throat? Please say one
polite and civil word to him. It is not he, it is you who are gloomy.
Throw off your sinister air. How long will this taciturn reverie last
in which you are sunk? You make yourself a laughing-stock--you act
like a fool. You resemble a sphinx of the desert engaged in meditating
upon a serpent, and who mistakes an innocent adder for a viper." M.
Langis understood what she wished to say to him, but he did not throw
off his sinister air.
After praising Vienna and its environs, Samuel Brohl eulogized the
easy, careless character of the Viennese. He told, in a sprightly way,
several anecdotes. His gaiety was rather feverish--somewhat forced
studied, and abrupt; but, nevertheless, it was gaiety. Mme. de Lorcy
responded to him, Mlle. Moriaz continued silent; she crumpled between
her fingers the guipure lace of her Marie-Antoinette fichu, and, with
fixed eye, she seemed to be counting the stitches. Samuel Brohl
interrupted himself in the midst of a sentence, and rose suddenly. He
turned towards Antoinette; in a hollow voice he begged her to tell M.
Moriaz how much he regretted that his early departure would deprive
him of the honour and pleasure of visiting him at Cormeilles; then he
bowed to Mme. de Lorcy, thanked her for the happy moments that he had
spent with her, and charged her to commend him to the kind remembrance
of Abbe Miollens.
"We shall meet again, my dear count," she said to him, in a clear
voice, emphasizing her words; "and I hope that, before long, we shall
make the acquaintance of the Countess Larinski."
He looked at her in astonishment, and murmured, "I lost my mother ten
Immediately, without giving Mme. de Lorcy time to explain herself, he
directed his steps hastily towards the door, followed by three
glances, all three of which spoke, although they did not all say the
same thing. The room was large; during the thirty seconds that it took
him to cross it, the angel of silence hovered in the air.
He was about passing through the door, when, as fatality ordained,
there occurred to him an unfortunate and disastrous thought. He could
not resist the desire to see Mlle. Moriaz once more, to impress
forever on his memory her adored image. He turned, and their eyes met.
He paid dearly for this weakness of the will. Apparently the violent
restraint that he had exercised over himself for an hour had exhausted
his strength. It seemed to him that his heart ceased to beat; he felt
his legs stiffen, and refuse to serve him; his teeth clinched, his
pupils dilated, consciousness forsook him. Suddenly, heavily as a mass
of lead, he fell prone upon the floor, where he remained in a
Mlle. Moriaz could not suppress a cry, and seemed for a moment on the
point of fainting herself. Mme. de Lorcy drew her arm around her
waist, and hurried her into the next room, throwing to M. Langis a
bottle of salts as she did so, and saying, "Take care of Count
The first thing that M. Langis did was to set the bottle on the table,
after which he went close up to Samuel Brohl, who, fainting and
inanimate, bore almost the appearance of death. He examined him an
instant, bent over him, then, folding his arms and shrugging his
shoulders, he said to him, "Monsieur, Mlle. Moriaz is no longer here."
Samuel Brohl did not stir. "You did not hear me," continued Camille.
"You are superb, M. le Comte; you are very handsome; your attitude is
irreproachable, and you might well be taken for a dead person. You
fell admirably; I swear I never saw at the theatre a more successful
fainting-fit; but spare yourself further trouble for the performance.
I repeat, Mlle. Moriaz is no longer here."
Samuel Brohl remained inert and rigid.
"Perhaps you want to try the strength of my wrists," continued
Camille. "Very well, I will give you that satisfaction."
And, with these words, he seized him round his waist, summoned all his
strength in order to lift him, and deposited him at full length on the
He examined him again, and said: "Will this tragi-comedy last much
longer? Shall I not find a secret to resuscitate you? Listen to me,
monsieur. I love with all my soul the woman that you pretend to love.
Does that not suffice? Monsieur, you are a Polish adventurer, and I
have as much admiration for your social talents as I have little
esteem for yourself. Does that not suffice yet? I would not, however,
lift my hand to you. I entreat you to consider the affront received."
It seemed as if the dead man trembled slightly, and Camille exclaimed:
"Thank God! this time you have given sign of life, and the insult
found the way to your heart. I would be charmed to restore you to your
senses. I await your commands. The day, the place, and the weapons, I
leave to your choice. And, stay! You can count on my absolute
discretion. No one, I give you my word, shall learn from me that your
fainting-fit had ears, and resented insults. Here is my address,
And, drawing from his pocket a visiting-card, he tried to slip it into
the cold, listless, pendent hand, which let it fall to the ground.
"What obstinacy!" he said. "As you will, M. le Comte; I am at the end
of my eloquence."
He turned his back, seated himself in a chair, and taking a paper, he
unfolded it. Meanwhile the door opened, and Mme. de Lorcy appeared.
"What are you doing here, Camille?" she exclaimed.
"You see, madame," he answered, "I am waiting until this great
comedian has finished playing his piece."
He was not aware that Mlle. Moriaz also had just entered the /salon/.
She cast him an angry, indignant, threatening glance, in which he read
his condemnation. He tried to find some word of excuse or explanation
to disarm her anger, but his voice failed him. He bowed low, took his
hat, and went away.
Mme. de Lorcy, very much agitated, opened a window; then she threw
water into Samuel Brohl's face, rubbed his temples with a vivacity
that was not altogether exempt from roughness, and made him smell
"Ah, my dear! pray go away," she said to Antoinette; "this is no place
Antoinette did not go away; her face contracted, her lips trembling,
she seated herself aside at some distance from the sofa.
Mme. de Lorcy's energetic exertions at last produced their effect.
Samuel Brohl was not dead; a quiver ran through his frame, his limbs
relaxed, and at the end of a few instants he reopened his eyes, then
his mouth; he sat up, and stammered: "Where am I? What has happened?
Ah, my God! it was but a moment ago that she was here!"
Mme. de Lorcy laid her hand on his mouth, and, bending over his ears,
she said, in a severe, imperious tone, "She is here still!"
She did not succeed in making herself understood. One only recovers by
degrees from such a fainting-fit. Samuel Brohl was again overcome by
weakness; his eyes closed once more, and he let his head sink between
his hands. After a silence of a few moments he said, in a choked
voice: "Ah! pardon me, madame. I am ashamed of myself. My courage
failed me; my strength betrayed me. I love her madly, and I had sworn
never to see her again. It was in order to fly from her that I was
He raised his head; he saw Antoinette; he looked wildly at her, as
though he did not recognise her.
He recognised her at last, made a gesture of alarm, rose
precipitately, and fled.
Mlle. Moriaz drew near Mme. de Lorcy, and said to her, "Well, what do
you think of it?"
"I think, my dear," she replied, "that Mme. de Lorcy is a fool, and
that Count Larinski is a powerful man."
Antoinette looked at her with a bitter smile, and touched her arm
lightly. "Admit, madame," she said, "that if he had a hundred thousand
livres' income, you would not think of doubting his sincerity."
Mme. de Lorcy did not reply; she could not say "No," and she was
enraged to feel that she was both right and wrong. It is an accident
that happens sometimes to women of the world.
On her entering her coupe to return to Cormeilles, Mlle. Moriaz was
the prey of an agitation that did not calm down during the entire
drive. Her whole soul was stirred by a tender, passionate sentiment
for the man who had swooned away in taking farewell of her; she was
filled with anger against the foolish prejudices and the petty finesse
of the people of the world; filled with joy at having baffled a
monstrous conspiracy against her happiness; filled with pride because
she had seen clearly, because she had not mistaken in her choice, and
because the man whom she loved was worthy of being loved. During
several days she had suffered cruelly from anxiety, from actual agony
of mind, and over and over again she had said to herself, "Perhaps
they are right." A woman's heart believes itself to be at the mercy of
error, and it is torture to it to be obliged to doubt itself and its
own clairvoyance. When it is unmistakably demonstrated to it that its
god is only an idol of wood or of stone, that what was once adored
must henceforth be despised, it feels ready to die, and imagines that
some spring must give way in the vast machine of the universe, that
the sky must fall, the earth crumble away; and yet a woman's error of
judgment is not a matter of such very grave import. The sun continues
to shine, the earth to revolve upon its axis, as though it had not
occurred. The machine of the universe would be subject to quite too
many accidents should it become unsettled every time a woman made a
"It was I who was right; they were incapable of comprehending him,"
though Mlle. Moriaz, as she crossed the Seine, and she contemplated
with a delighted eye the lovely blue sky, the tranquil waters, the
verdant banks of the river, with their long range of poplar-trees. It
seemed to her that all was going well, that order reigned everywhere,
that the Great Mechanician was at his post, that the world was in good
hands, and that travellers therein had no cause to fear untoward
When she arrived at Cormeilles, M. Moriaz was shut up in his
laboratory, which he had been overjoyed to find just as he had left
it. A velvet skull-cap perched on one side of his head, his sleeves
turned up, a brown holland apron tied round his neck and his waist, a
feather brush in his hand, he had proceeded at once to examine his
precious stock in detail--his furnaces, his long-necked, big-bellied
matrasses, the curved necks and the tubulures of his retorts, his
cucurbits, and his alembics. Balloons, tubes, pipettes, pneumatic
vats, receivers, cupels, lamps, bell-glasses, blow-pipes, and mortars,
he passed in review to assure himself that during his absence nothing
had been damaged. He carefully dusted his jars, examined the labels,
made sure that none of his treasures were cracked, that his gauges
were not out of order. He was as happy as a king who has his troops
pass in review before him, and feels convinced that they bear
themselves well; that they will stand fire and do honour to their
Agreeable as was the occupation to which for two hours he had devoted
himself, M. Moriaz had not forgotten the existence of his daughter and
of M. Larinski. He knew that Antoinette had repaired to Maisons
Lafitte to have an explanation with Mme. de Lorcy, and this thought
cast a shadow over his felicity. He hoped, however, that this
interview might turn out according to his wishes; that the Pole star,
which had caused him so much disquietude, might disappear forever from
Some one knocked at the door of his laboratory. "Come in!" he cried,
and turning he saw Antoinette standing upon the threshold. He gazed at
her fixedly. Her eye was so animated, her countenance so beaming, so
luminous, that involuntarily he dropped his arms and let fall, as he
did so, a little vial he held in his hands.
"Naughty girl, to cause such havoc in her father's laboratory!" she
"The harm done is not very great," he replied; and he began diligently
brushing up the fragments of the vial. It was his way of gaining time,
but he did it so awkwardly that she snatched the brush from his hands:
"This is the way to sweep," said she.
He watched her, saying to himself: "This is the reverse of the scene
at Churwalden. It is now I who wear a long face, and she cannot
dissemble her joy. Just requital of things here below."
So soon as she had finished her brushing she looked around and
remarked: "Well, here you are once more in your paradise--this
enchanted spot, where you taste such ineffable delights."
"Oh, yes, I am happy here--happy enough that is," he replied, with
"Fastidious creature! It is altogether charming in your laboratory."
"Yes, it is suitable. Nevertheless, I often reflect that there is
something wanting. Do you know what my dream is? I should like to have
over in yonder corner a transparent /chapelle/. You, perhaps, are
unacquainted with a /chapelle/. It is a framework or basket-funnel
above a chimney, for facilitating the release of volatiles and
pernicious vapours, and having one side of glass. It enables the
chemist to watch the process taking place within. German chemists have
nearly always transparent /chapelles/ in their laboratories."
"How can any one accuse you of lack of imagination?" she exclaimed.
"You are a very romantic man, and your romance is a transparent
/chapelle/. Now I know why you are so indulgent to the romances of
Then carelessly drawing the brush in her hand over an arm-chair, she
seated herself in it, placed another seat facing her, and said: "Come,
sit down here near me on this stool; I will put a cushion on it to
make you more comfortable. Come, I must talk with you."
He drew near, seated himself, and put his ear towards her. "Must I
take off my apron?" he asked.
"I foresee that our conversation will revolve about matters pertaining
to the height of romance. I wish to make a suitable appearance."
"Nonsense! your apron is very becoming. All that I desire and
stipulate is, that you will accord me most religious attention."
She then proceeded to recount to him, point by point, all that had
occurred at Mme. de Lorcy's. She began her recital in a tranquil tone;
she grew animated; she warmed up by degrees; her eyes sparkled. He
listened to her with deep chagrin; but he gazed on her with pride as
he did so, thinking, "/Mon Dieu/, how beautiful she is, and what a
lucky rascal is this Pole!"
When she had ended, there was a moment's pause, during which she left
him to his reflections. As he maintained an ominous silence, she grew
impatient. "Speak," she exclaimed. "I wish to know your innermost
"I think you are adorable."
"Oh! please, do for once be serious."
"Seriously," he rejoined, "I am not certain that you are wrong, nor
has it been proved to me that you are right; there remain some
She cried out eagerly: "According to this, the sole realities of this
world are things that can be seen, touched, felt--a retort and its
contents. Beyond this all is null and void, a lie, a cheat. Ah! your
wretched retorts and crucibles! If I followed out this thought, I
should be ready to break every one of them."
She cast about her as she spoke so ferocious and threatening a look,
that M. Moriaz trembled for his laboratory, "I beg of you," he
protested, "have mercy on my poor crucibles, my honest retorts, my
innocent jars! They have nothing to do with this affair. Is it their
fault that the stories you narrate to me so disturb my usual train of
thoughts that I find it wholly impossible to make adroit replies?"
"You do not, then, believe in the extraordinary?"
"The extraordinary! Every time I encounter it, I salute it," replied
he, drawing off his cap and bowing low; "but at the same time I demand
"Ah! there we are. I really imagined that the investigation had been
"It was not conclusive, since it failed to convince Mme. de Lorcy."
"Ah! who could convince Mme. de Lorcy? Do you forget how people of the
world are constituted, and how they detest all that astonishes, all
that exceeds their limits, all that they cannot weight with their
small balances, measure with their tiny compasses?"
"/Peste!/ you are severe on the world; I always fancied that you were
fond of it."
"I do not know whether I am fond of it or not; it is certain that I
scarcely should know how to live without it; but I surely may be
permitted to pass an opinion on it, and I often tell myself that if
Christ should reappear among us with his train of publicans and
fisherman--are you listening?--that if the meek and the lowly Jesus
should come to preach his Sermon on the Mount in the Boulevard des
"To make a show of probability," he interrupted, "suppose you were to
place the scene at Montmartre. Frankly, I cannot see what possible
connection there can be between the Christ and your Count Larinski;
and, pray, do not let us enter into a theological discussion; you know
it is wholly out of my line. Religion seems to me an excellent thing,
a most useful thing, and I freely accept Christianity, minus the
romantic side, with which I have no time to occupy myself. You will at
least grant me that, if there are true miracles, there are also false
ones. How distinguish them?"
"It is the heart that must decide," said she.
"Oh! the infallibility of the heart!" exclaimed he. "There never was
council yet that voted that."
There was a pause, after which M. Moriaz resumed: "And so, my dear,
you are persuaded that M. Larinski is still free, and that Mme. de
"Not at all; if she had lied, she would not have betrayed herself so
naively just now. I accuse her of deceiving herself, or rather of
having wished to deceive herself. Do you know what you are going to
do--I mean this evening--after dinner? You are going to order up the
carriage, and you are going--"
"To Paris, Rue Mont-Thabor!" he exclaimed, bounding up in his seat.
"Very good, I will put on a dress-coat, and I will say to Count
Larinski: 'My dear monsieur, I come to demand your hand for my
daughter, who adores you. Certain malicious tongues assert that you
are no longer free; I do not believe them; besides, this would be a
mere bagatelle.' On the whole, I believe you would do better to put it
down in writing for me; left to myself I never will get through with
it; out of my professor's chair I have considerable difficulty in
"Dear me, how hasty you are! Who suggests such a thing? Abbe Miollens
is our friend; he is a worthy man, whose testimony would be reliable."
"Now this is something like! I see what you mean. At this rate you
will not need to prepare my harangue. Here we have an acceptable idea,
a possible interview. This evening, after my dinner, I shall go see
Abbe Miollens; but it is clearly understood, I presume, that if he
confirms the sentence--"
"I shall not ask for its repeal, and I promise you that I will be
courageous beyond anything that you can imagine; you shall not so much
as suspect that I even regret my chimera. But, as a fair exchange, you
on your side must make me a promise. If Abbe Miollens--"
"You know as well as I that you are of age."
"I know as well as you that I never will be content without your
consent. Here once more as in the Engadine, I say, 'Either he or no
"Did I not warn you that when once a formula has been pronounced, one
is apt to keep on repeating it forever?"
"Either he or no one: that is my last word. Would you not rather that
it should be he? Are you willing to accept him?"
"I will submit."
"With a good grace?"
"With cheerful resignation?"
"I shall certainly do my best to acquire it; or, rather, if he makes
you happy, I shall welcome him all the days of my life; in the
contrary case, I will repeat, morning and evening, like Mme. de Lorcy:
'You would not listen to me; you ought to have believed me.' "
"It is agreed; you are a good father, and now we are in perfect
harmony," she replied, impulsively seizing his two hands, and pressing
them in her own.
He watched her a moment between his half-closed eyes, and then he
cried, half resentfully:
"But, /mon Dieu/ why do you love this man?"
She replied, in a low voice: "Because I love him; this is my sole
reason; but I find it good."
"Certainly most decisive. But, come, let us go quickly," he replied,
rising. "I fear that my retorts and crucibles, if they listen to you
much longer, will fall into a syncope as prolonged as that of M.
Larinski. Was ever such a debate heard of in a chemical laboratory?"
As soon as dinner was over, M. Moriaz made ready to repair to Maisons,
where Abbe Miollens passed the summer in the vicinity of Mme. de
Lorcy. Mlle. Moiseney followed him to the carriage, and said:
"You have a remarkable daughter, monsieur! With what courage she has
assumed her role! With what resolution she has renounced an impossible
happiness! Did you observe her during dinner? How tranquil she was!
how attentive! Is she not astonishing?"
"As astonishing as you are sagacious," he replied.
"Ah! undoubtedly; I never thought that she loved him so much as you
imagine I did: but he pleased her; she admired him. Did she ever utter
a word of complaint, or a sigh, on learning the cruel truth? what
strength of mind! what equability of temperament! what nobility of
sentiment! You do not admire her enough, monsieur; you are not proud
enough of having such a daughter. As to me, I glory in having been of
some value in her education. I always made a point of developing her
judgment, and putting her on her guard against all erratic tendencies.
Yes, I can safely say that I took great pains to cultivate and fortify
"I thank you with all my heart," rejoined M. Moriaz, leaning back in
one corner of the carriage; "you can most assuredly boast of having
accomplished a marvellous work; but I beg of you, mademoiselle, when
you have finished your discourse, will you kindly say to the coachman
that I am ready to start?"
During the drive, M. Moriaz gave himself up to the most melancholy
reflections; he even tormented himself with sundry reproaches. "We
have acted contrary to good sense," he thought. "Her imagination has
been taken by storm; in time it would have calmed down. We should have
left her to herself, to her natural defence--her own good judgment,
for she has a large stock of it. I fell on the unlucky idea of calling
Mme. de Lorcy to my aid, and she has spoiled everything by her boasted
/finesse/. As soon as Antoinette had reason to suspect that her choice
was condemned by us, and that we were plotting the enemy's
destruction, the sympathy, mingled with admiration, which she accorded
to M. Larinski, became transformed into love; the fire smouldering
beneath ashes leaped up into flames. We neglected to count on that
passion which is innate in women, and which phrenologists call
combativeness. With her there is now a cause to be gained, and, when
love unites its interests with cards or with war, it becomes
irresistible. Truly our campaign is greatly jeopardized, unless Heaven
or M. Larinski interfere."
Thus reasoned M. Moriaz, whom paternal misadventures and recent
experiences had rendered a better psychologist than he ever had been.
While busied with his reflections the carriage drove rapidly onward,
and thirty-five minutes sufficed to reach the little /maison de
campagne/ occupied by Abbe Miollens. He found him in his cabinet,
installed in a cushioned arm-chair embroidered by Mme. de Lorcy,
slowly sipping a cup of excellent tea brought him by the missionaries
from China. On his left was his violin-box, on his right his beloved
Horace, Orelli's edition, Zurich, 1844.
Conversation began. As soon as M. Moriaz had pronounced the name of
Count Larinski, the abbe assumed the charmed and contented countenance
of a dog lying in wait for its favourite game.
He exclaimed, "A most truly admirable man!"
"Mercy upon us!" thought M. Moriaz. "Here we have an exordium
strangely similar to that of Mlle. Moiseney. Do they think to condemn
me to a state of perpetual admiration of their prodigy? I fear there
must be some kinship of spirit between our friend the abbe and that
crack-brained woman; that he is cousin-german to her at least."
"How grateful I am to you, my dear monsieur," continued Abbe Miollens,
lying back in his chair, "for having given us the pleasure of the
acquaintance of this rare man! It is you who sent him to us; to you
belongs the merit of having discovered him, or invented him, if you
"Oh! I beg of you not to exaggerate," humbly rejoined M. Moriaz. "He
invented himself, I assure you."
"At all events it was you who patronized him, who made him known to
us; without you the world never would have suspected the existence of
this superb genius, this noble character, who was hidden from sight
like the violet in the grass."
"He is unquestionably her cousin-german," thought M. Moriaz.
"Only think," continued the abbe, "I have found M. Larinski all over
again in Horace! Yes, Horace has represented him, trait for trait, in
the person of Lollius. You know Marcus Lollius, to whom he addressed
Ode ix. of book iv., and who was consul in the year 733 after the
foundation of Rome. The resemblance is striking; pay attention!"
Depositing his cup on the table he took the book in his right hand,
and placing the forefinger of his left by turns on his lips or
complacently following with it the lines of especial beauty in the
text, he exclaimed: "Now what do you say to this? 'Thy soul is wise,'
wrote Horace to Lollius, 'and resists with the same constancy the
temptations of happiness as those of adversity--/est animus tibi et
secundis temporibus dubiisque rectus/.' Is not this Count Larinski?
Listen further: 'Lollius detested fraud and cupidity; he despised
money which seduces most men--/abstinens ducentis ad se cuncta
pecuniae/.' This trait is very striking; I find even, between
ourselves, that our dear count despises money entirely too much, he
turns from it in horror, its very name is odious to him; he is an
Epictetus, he is a Diogenes, he is an anchorite of ancient times who
would live happily in a Thebaid. He told us himself that it made
little difference to him whether he dined on a piece of bread and a
glass of water, or in luxury at the Café Anglais. But I have not
finished. 'Happy be those,' exclaimed Horace, 'who know how to suffer
uncomplainingly the hardships of poverty--/qui duram que callet
pauperiem pati/!' Of whom does he speak--of Lollius, or of our friend,
who not only endures his poverty but who loves it, cherishes it as a
lover adores his mistress? And the final trait, what to you think of
it? Lollius was always ready to die for his country--'/non ille pro
patria timidus perire/.' In good faith, is it not curious? Does it not
seem as though Horace had known Count Larinski at Rome or at Tibur?"
"I do not doubt it for an instant," replied M. Moriaz, taking the book
from the hands of Abbe Miollens and placing it respectfully on the
table. "Luckily, our friend Larinski, as you call him, fell upon the
excellent idea of resuscitating himself some thirty years ago, which
procured for us the great joy of meeting him at Saint Moritz; and
while we are on the subject-- My dear abbe, have you a free, impartial
mind? Can you listen to me? I have a question to propound, an
elucidation to demand. It is not only the friend to whom I address
myself, it is the confessor, the director of consciences, the man of
the whole universe in whose discretion I place most reliance."
"I am all ears," responded the abbe, crossing the shapely legs in
which he took no little pride.
M. Moriaz entered at once into the subject that troubled him. It was
some moments before Abbe Miollens divined whither he was tending. As
soon as he had grasped a ray of light, his face contracted, and
uncrossing his limbs, he cried: "Ah, what a misfortune! You will have
to renounce your delightful dream, my dear Monsieur, and, believe me,
no one can be more grieved than I. I fully comprehend with what joy
you would have seen your charming daughter consecrate, I will not say
her fortune, for you know as well as I how little Count Larinski would
care for that, but consecrate, I say, her graces, her beauty, and all
the qualities of her angelic character to the happiness of a man of
rare merit who has been cruelly scourged by Providence. She loves him,
she is loved by him; Heaven would have blest their union. Ah, what a
misfortune! I must repeat it, this marriage is impossible; our friend
is already married."
"You are sure of it?" cried M. Moriaz, in a burst of enthusiasm that
the good abbe mistook for an access of despair.
"I scarcely can pardon myself for causing you this pain. You ask if I
am sure of it! I have it from our friend himself. One evening, apropos
of I scarcely remember what, it occurred to me to ask if he were
married, and he replied, briefly: 'I thought I had told you so.' Ah!
my dear professor, it were needless to discuss whether such a marriage
would be a happy one, for it never can take place."
"Well, now we have something positive," M. Moriaz hastened to observe,
"and there is nothing to do but yield to evidence."
"Alas! yes," rejoined the abbe; and, then, after a pause, during which
he wore a reflective air, he added, "However--"
"There is no 'however,' M. l'Abbe. Believe me, your word suffices."
"But I might possibly have misunderstood."
"I have entire confidence in your ears--they are excellent."
"But pray allow me to observe that it is never worth while to despair
too soon. Do you know what? Count Larinski came recently to see me
without finding me at home. I owe him a farewell visit. To-morrow
morning, I promise you, I will call on him."
"For what purpose?" interrupted M. Moriaz. "I thank you a thousand
times for your kindly intentions, but God forbid that I should
uselessly interfere with your daily pursuits; your time is too
precious! I declare myself completely edified. I consider the proof
firmly established; there is no further doubt."
As Madame de Lorcy had remarked, Abbe Miollens was not one to easily
relax his hold upon an idea he had once deemed good. In vain M. Moriaz
combated his proposition, bestowing secret maledictions on his excess
of zeal; the abbe would not give up, and M. Moriaz was forced to be
resigned. It was agreed that the next day the worthy man should call
on Count Larinski, and that from Paris he should repair to Cormeilles,
in order to communicate to the proper person the result of his
mission. M. Moriaz perceived the advantage of having Antoinette learn
from the abbe's own lips the fatal truth; and he did not leave without
impressing upon him to be very circumspect, as prudent as a serpent,
as discreet as a father confessor. He started for home with quite a
contented mind, seeing the future lie smoothly and pleasantly before
him, and it really seemed to him that the drive from Maisons to
Cormeilles was a much shorter and more agreeable one than that from
Cormeilles to Maisons.
Samuel Brohl was seated before an empty trunk, which he was apparently
about to pack, when he heard some one knock at his door. He went to
open it and found himself face to face with Abbe Miollens. From the
moment of their first meeting, Samuel Brohl had conceived for the abbe
that warm sympathy, that strong liking, with which he was always
inspired by people in whom he believed he recognised useful animals
who might be of advantage to him, whom he considered destined to
render him some essential service. He seldom mistook; he was a
admirable diagnostician; he recognised at first sight the divine
impress of predestination. He gave the most cordial reception to his
reverend friend, and ushered him into his modest quarters with all the
more /empressement/, because he detected at once the mysterious,
rather agitated air he wore. "Does he come in the quality of a
diplomatic agent, charged with some mission extraordinary?" he asked
himself. On his side the abbe studied Samuel Brohl without seeming to
do so. He was struck with his physiognomy, which expressed at this
moment a manly yet sorrowful pride. His eyes betrayed at intervals the
secret of some heroic grief that he had sworn to repress before men,
and to confess to God alone.
He sat down with his guest, and they began to talk; but the abbe
directed the conversation into topics of the greatest indifference.
Samuel Brohl listened to him and replied with a melancholy grace.
Lively as was his curiosity he well knew how to hold it in check.
Samuel Brohl never had been in a hurry; during the month that had
elapsed he had proved that he knew how to wait--a faculty lacking in
more diplomates than one.
Abbe Miollens's call had lasted during the usual time allotted to a
polite visit, and the worthy man seemed about to depart, when,
pointing with his forefinger to the open valise, he remarked: "I see
here preparations that grieve me. I did dream, my dear count, of
inviting you to Maisons. I have a spare chamber there which I might
offer to you. /Hoc erat in votis/, I should indeed have been happy to
have had you for a guest. We should have chatted and made music to our
hearts' content, close by a window opening on a garden. 'Hae latebrae
dulces, etiam, si credis, amoenae.' But, alas! you are going to leave
us; you do not care for the friendship accorded you here. Has Vienna
such superior attractions for you? But I remember, you will doubtless
be restored there to a pleasant home, a charming wife, children
Samuel looked at him with an astonished, confused air, as he had
viewed Mme. de Lorcy when she undertook to speak to him of the
Countess Larinski. "What do you mean?" he finally asked.
"Why, did you not confide to me yourself that you were married?"
Samuel opened wide his eyes; during some moments he seemed to be in a
dream; then, suddenly putting his hand to his brow and beginning to
smile, he said: "Ah! I see--I see. Did you take me literally? I
thought you understood what I said. No, my dear abbe, I am not
married, and I never shall marry; but there are free unions as sacred,
as indissoluble as marriage."
The abbe knit his brows, his countenance assumed an expression of
chagrin and disapproval. He was about delivering to his dear count a
sermon on the immorality and positive danger of free unions, but
Samuel Brohl gave him no time. "I am not going to Vienna to rejoin my
mistress," he interposed. "She never leaves me, she accompanies me
everywhere; she is here."
Abbe Miollens cast about him a startled, bewildered gaze, expecting to
see a woman start out of some closet or come forward from behind some
"I tell you that she is here," repeated Samuel Brohl, pointing to an
alabaster statuette, posed on a /piedouche/. The statuette represented
a woman bound tightly, on whom two Cossacks were inflicting the knout;
the socle bore the inscription, "Polonia vincta et flagellata."
The abbe's countenance became transformed in the twinkling of an eye,
the wrinkles smoothed away from his brow, his mouth relaxed, a joyous
light shone in his eyes. "How well it is that I came!" thought he.
"And under what obligations M. Moriaz will be to me!"
Turning towards Samuel he exclaimed:
"I am simply a fool; I imagined-- Ah! I comprehend, your mistress is
Poland; this is delightful, and it is truly a union that is as sacred
as marriage. It has, besides, this advantage--that it interferes with
nothing else. Poland is not jealous, and if, peradventure, you should
meet a woman worthy of you whom you would like to marry, your mistress
would have nothing to say against it. To speak accurately, however,
she is not your mistress; one's country is one's mother, and
reasonable mothers never prevent their sons from marrying."
It was now Samuel's turn to assume a stern and sombre countenance. His
eye fixed upon the statuette, he replied:
"You deceive yourself, M. l'Abbe, I belong to her, I have no longer
the right to dispose of either my heart, or my soul, or my life; she
will have my every thought and my last drop of blood. I am bound to
her by my vows quite as much, I think, as is the monk by his."
"Excuse me, my dear count," said the abbe; "this is fanaticism, or I
greatly mistake. Since when have patriots come to take the vow of
celibacy? Their first duty is to become the fathers of children who
will become good citizens. The day when there will cease to be Poles,
there will cease also to be a Poland."
Samuel Brohl interrupted him, pressing his arm earnestly, and saying:
"Look at me well; have I not the appearance of an adventurer?" The
abbe recoiled. "This word shocks you?" continued Samuel. "Yes, I am a
man of adventures, born to be always on my feet, and ready to start
off at a moment's warning. Marriage was not instituted for those whose
lives are liable at any time to be in jeopardy." With a tragic accent,
he added: "You know what occurred in Bosnia. How do we know that war
may not very shortly be proclaimed, and who can foresee the
consequences? I must hold myself in readiness for the great day.
Perhaps an inscrutable Providence may ere long offer me a new occasion
to risk my life for my country; perhaps Poland will call me, crying,
'Come, I have need of thee!' If I should respond: 'I belong no more to
myself, I have given my heart to a woman who holds me in chains; I
have henceforth a roof, a family, a hearthstone, dear ties that I dare
not break!' I ask you, M. l'Abbe, would not Poland have a right to say
to me, 'Thou hast violated thy vow; thou hast denied me; upon thy head
rest forever my maledictions?' "
Abbe Miollens had just taken a pinch of snuff, and he hearkened to
this harangue, tapping his fingers impatiently on the lid of his
handsome gold snuff-box, which had been presented to him by the most
amiable of his penitents.
"If this be the way you view it," replied he, "is your conscience
quite tranquil, my dear friend? for you will permit me, I trust, to
call you so. Ay, is it sure that from your standpoint your conscience
has no accusations to make you? Is it certain that your heart has not
been unfaithful to its mistress? If I may believe a certain rumour
that has reached my ear, there took place a most singular scene
yesterday at the house of Mme. de Lorcy."
Samuel Brohl trembled violently; he changed colour; he buried his face
in his hands, doubtless to hide from the abbe the blushes remorse had
caused to mantle his cheeks. In a faint voice he murmured:
"Not a word more! you know not how deep a wound you have probed."
"It is, then, true that you love Mlle. Antoinette Moriaz?" asked the
"I have sworn that she never shall know it," replied Samuel, in
accents of the most humble contrition. "Yesterday I had the unworthy
weakness to betray myself. /Mon Dieu!/ what must she have thought of
As he spoke thus, his face buried in his hands, he slightly moved
apart his fingers, and fixed upon the abbe two glittering eyes that,
like cats' eyes, were capable of seeing clearly in the dark.
"What she thinks of you!" echoed the abbe, taking a fresh pinch of
snuff. "Bah! my dear count, women never are angry when a man swoons
away because of their bright eyes, especially when this man is a noble
chevalier, a true knight of the Round Table. I have reason to believe
that Mlle. Moriaz did not take your accident unkindly. Shall I tell
you my whole thought? I should not be surprised if you had touched her
heart, and that, if you take the pains, you may flatter yourself with
the hope of one day being loved by her."
At this moment the voice of his worthy friend appeared to Samuel Brohl
the most harmonious of all music. He felt a delicious thrill quiver
through his frame. The abbe was telling him nothing he had not known
before; but there are things of which we are certain, things that we
have told ourselves a hundred times, and yet that seem new when told
us for the first time by another.
"You are not misleading me?" ejaculated Samuel Brohl, overwhelmed with
joy, transported beyond himself. "Can it really be true!--One day I
may flatter myself--one day she may judge me worthy-- Ah! what a
glorious vision you cause to pass before my eyes! How good and cruel
together you are to me! What bitterness is intermingled with the
ineffable sweetness of your words! No, I never could have believed
that there could be so much joy in anguish, so much anguish in joy."
"What would you imply, my dear count?" interposed Abbe Miollens. "Have
you need of a negotiator? I can boast of having had some experience in
that line. I am wholly at your service."
These words calmed Samuel Brohl. Quickly recovering himself, he coldly
"A negotiator? What occasion would I have for a negotiator? Do not
delude me with a chimera, and above all do not tempt me to sacrifice
my honour to it. This height of felicity that you offer to me I must
renounce forever; I have told you why."
Abbe Miollens was at first inclined to be indignant; he even took the
liberty to rebuke, to expostulate with his noble friend. He
endeavoured to prove to him that his principles were too rigorous,
that such a thing is possible as exaggeration in virtue, too great
refinement in delicacy of conscience. He represented to him that noble
souls should beware of exaltation of sentiment. He cited the Gospels,
he cited Bossuet, he also cited his well-beloved Horace, who censored
all that was ultra or excessive, and recommended the sage to flee all
extremities. His reasoning was weak against the unwavering resolution
of Samuel, who resisted, with the firmness of a rock, all his
remonstrances, and finally ended these with the words:
"Peace, I implore you! Respect my folly, which is surely wisdom in the
eyes of God. I repeat it to you, I am no longer free, and, even if I
were, do you not know that there is between Mlle. Moriaz and myself an
"And pray, what is that?" demanded the abbe.
"Her fortune and my pride," said Samuel. "She is rich, I am poor; this
adorable being is not made for me. I told Mme. de Lorcy one day what I
thought of this kind of alliances, or, to speak more clearly, of
bargains. Yes, my revered friend, I love Mlle. Moriaz with an ardour
of passion with which I reproach myself as though it were a crime.
Nothing remains to me but to avoid seeing her, and I never will see
her again. Let me follow to its end my solitary and rugged path. One
consolation will accompany me: I can say that happiness has not been
denied to me: that it is my conscience, admonished from on high, which
has refused to accept it, and there is a divine sweetness in great
trials religiously accepted. Believe me, it is God who speaks to me,
as he spoke to me of old in San Francisco, to enjoin me to forsake
everything and give my blood for my country. I recognise his voice,
which to-day bids my heart be silent and immolate itself on the altar
of its chosen cause. God and Poland! Beyond this, my watch-word, I
have no longer the right to yield to anything."
And, turning towards the statuette, he exclaimed: "It is at her feet
that I lay down my dolorous offering; she it is who will cure my
bruised and broken heart."
Samuel Brohl spoke in a voice thrilling with emotion; the breath of
the Divine Spirit seemed to play through his hair, and make his eyes
grow humid. The eyes of the good abbe also grew moist: he was
profoundly moved; he gazed with veneration upon this hero; he was
filled with respect for this antique character, for this truly
celestial soul. He never had seen anything like it, either in the odes
or in the epistles of Horace. Lollius himself was surpassed.
Transported with admiration, he opened wide his arms to Samuel Brohl,
spreading them out their full length, as though otherwise they might
fail to accomplish their object, and, clasping him to his bosom, he
"Ah! my dear count, how grand you are! You are immense as the world!"
Abbe Miollens hastened to repair to Cormeilles, where he gave a
faithful circumstantial account of his conference with Count Larinski.
He was still warm from the interview, and he gave free vent to the
effusions of his enthusiasm. He struck up a Canticle of Zion in honour
of the antique soul, the celestial soul, which had just been revealing
to him all its hidden treasures. M. Moriaz, both astonished and
scandalized, observed, dryly:
"You are right, this Pole is a prodigy; he should either be canonized
or hanged, I do not know which."
Antoinette said not a word; she kept her reflections to herself. She
retired to her chamber, where she paced to and fro for some time,
uncertain regarding what she was about to do, or, rather more restless
than uncertain. Several times she approached her writing-table, and
gazed earnestly at her inkstand; then, seized with a sudden scruple,
she would move away. At last she formed a resolute decision, seized
her pen, and wrote the following lines:
"MONSIEUR: Before setting out for Vienna, will you be so good as to
come and pass some moments at Cormeilles? I desire to have a
conversation with you in the presence of my father.
"Accept, monsieur, I beg of you, the expression of my most profound
The next morning she received by the first mail the response she
awaited, and which was thus fashioned:
"This test would be more than my courage could endure. I never
shall see you again, for, should I do so, I would be a lost man."
This short response caused Mlle. Moriaz a disappointment full of
bitterness, and blended with no little wrath. She held in her hand a
pencil, which she deliberately snapped in two, apparently to console
herself for not having broken the proud and obstinate will of Count
Abel Larinski. And yet can one break iron or a diamond? The carrier
had brought her at the same time another letter, which she opened
mechanically, merely to satisfy her conscience. She ran through the
first lines without succeeding in comprehending a single word that she
read. Suddenly her attention became riveted, her face brightened up,
her eyes kindled. This letter, which a kind Providence had sent her as
a supreme resource in her distress, was from the hand of Mlle. Galet,
and here was what this retired florist of the Rue Mouffetard wrote:
"MA CHERE DEMOISELLE: I learn that you have returned. What
happiness for me! and how I long to see you! You are my good
angel, whom I should like to see every day of my life, and the
time has seemed so long to me without you. When you enter the
garret of the poor, infirm old woman, it seems to her as though
there were three suns in the heavens; when you abandon her, the
blackness of midnight surrounds her. Mme. de Lorcy has been very
good to me. As my angel requested her, she came a fortnight since
to pay me the quarter due of my pension. She is a very charitable
lady, and she dresses beautifully; but she is a little hard on
poor people. She asks a great many questions; she wants to know
everything. She reproached me with spending too much, being too
fond of luxury, and you know how that is. She forgets that
everything is higher priced than it used to be, that meat and
vegetables are exorbitant, and that just now eggs cost one franc
and fifty centimes a dozen. Besides, a poor creature, deprived of
the use of her limbs, as I am, cannot go to market herself, and it
is quite possible that my /femme de menage/ does not purchase as
wisely as she might. I know I have great scenes with her sometimes
for bringing me early vegetables; /le bon Dieu/ can, at least,
bear me witness that I am no glutton.
"The good Mme. de Lorcy scolded me about a bouquet of camellias she
saw on my table, just like those for which I have been grateful to
my angel. I don't know what notions she got into her head about
them. Ah! well, /ma chere demoiselle/, I have learned since that
these double camellias--they are variegated, red and white--came
to me from a man, for, at present, as it would appear, men have
taken to give me bouquets and making me visits; it is rather late
in the day. The particular man to whom I refer presented himself
one fine morning, and, telling me that you had spoken to him of
me, said that he wished to assure himself that I was well and
wanted nothing. He returned several times, always pampering me
with some attention or other. But the best of all was when he came
to tell me that my angel had returned. What a man he is! he has
surely dropped right down from the skies! One evening when I was
sick he gave me my medicine himself, and would have sat up with me
all night if I had been willing to let him. You must tell me who
he is, for it puzzles me greatly. He has the head of some grand
lion; he is as generous as he is handsome, but very sad. He must
have some great sorrow on his heart. The misfortune, so far as I
am concerned, is that he cannot spoil me much longer--it is almost
over now. He expects to leave here in two days; and he has
announced to me that he will come to make his adieus, to-morrow
"You will come soon, won't you, /ma chere demoiselle/? I burn with
impatience to embrace you, since you permit me to embrace you. You
are my angel and my sunshine, and I am your very humble and
This letter of Mlle. Louise Galet continued nothing definite, beyond,
perhaps, the passage relative to the early vegetables, and the
supposed scenes with her /chambriere/. Whatever may have been the good
demoiselle's past record, she certainly was not void of principles,
and she prided herself on her truthfulness; only she did not always
see the necessity of telling everything she knew; in her narratives
she frequently omitted certain details. She had written at the
instigation of Samuel Brohl, who had not explained to her his motives.
To be sure, she had partially divined these, being shrewd and sly. He
had commended himself to her discretion, for which he had paid
liberally. Mlle. Galet had at first refused the round sum he had
offered her; she had ended by accepting it with tender gratitude.
These little pampering attentions make good friends.
An audacious idea suddenly came to Mlle. Moriaz; there was no time to
recoil from it. She ordered up her coupe. M. Moriaz had just gone out
to make a call in the neighbourhood. She determined to profit by his
absence, and besought Mlle. Moiseney to make ready in haste to
accompany her to Paris, where she had to confer with her dressmaker.
Ten minutes later she stepped into her carriage, having ordered her
coachman to drive like the wind.
Her dressmaker did not detain her long; from the Rue de la Paix she
ordered to be driven to No. 27 Rue Mouffetard. She never was in the
habit of permitting Mlle. Moiseney, who was very short of breath, to
climb with her to the fifth story, where Mlle. Galet lodged; upon this
occasion she indicated to her an express order to remain peaceably
below in the coupe to await her return.
She slowly mounted the stairs; on her way up she encountered a
servant, who informed her that Mlle. Galet was lying down taking a
nap, being somewhat indisposed, but that the key was in the door. The
apartment of which Mlle. Moriaz was in quest was composed of three
rooms, a vestibule serving as a kitchen, a tiny /salon/, and a bed-
chamber. She paused a few moments in the vestibule to regain her
breath, to gather together all her courage, to compose her mind; she
had at once divined that there was some one in the /salon/. She
entered; Mlle. Galet was not there, but he was there, the man whom she
had come to seek. Apparently, he awaited the awakening of the mistress
of the place. In perceiving the woman whom he had sworn never to see
again, he trembled violently, and his eyes sought some loophole of
escape; there was none. Standing upon the threshold, Antoinette barred
the passage. She looked fixedly at him and felt certain of her
victory; he had the air of one vanquished, and his defeat resembled a
She crossed her arms, she smiled, and, in a firm, half-mocking tone,
"So this is the way you rob me of my poor people! They flourish under
it, I am well aware. Confess now that there is a little hypocrisy in
your virtue. Mlle. Galet never for a moment doubted that these famous
camellias were given for my sake. Bouquets costing sixty francs!
absolute folly! How you despise money! Why, then, do you not despise
mine? You are afraid of it, you fear to burn your fingers by touching
it. You will not aid me to throw it out of the windows? Your poor and
mine will surely pick it up. Say, will you not? My fortune is not such
a great affair; but it is certain that I alone do not suffice to spend
it properly; there is plenty for two--for two would really only be
one. You cannot consent to share it with me? You are too proud--that
is it. The day before yesterday you were playing comedy; you do not
love me. It costs little to owe something to those we love."
He made a gesture of despair and cried:
"I implore you, let me go!"
"Presently; I propose telling you first all that is in my mind. I do
not place much reliance on your boasted nobility of spirit; it is
pride, egotistical pride. Yes, your pride is your god--a pitiful sort
of a god! And as to Poland--" He winced at this word. After a pause,
Antoinette continued: "It is she herself who will give, or rather
lend, you to me. I solemnly promise that if ever she has need of you I
will say to her, 'Here he is, take him'; and to you, yourself, I will
say, 'She calls you--go.' But speak to me and look at me; you will not
die of so doing. Are you so very much afraid of me? Come, have courage
to repeat to me what you have said to others?"
He fell back into a chair, where he remained, his arms hanging
helplessly at his sides, his head drooping on his breast, and he
"I knew well that if I saw you again I should be lost."
"Say, rather, saved. Your mind was sick; I have cured you. I work
miracles; you once took the pains to write me so. Will you touch my
hand? That will not bind you to anything; you can return it to me if
He took the hand she extended to him; he did not carry it to his lips,
but he held it within his own.
"Listen to me," she resumed. "To-day, this very hour, you will set out
for Cormeilles, and you will say to my father: 'She has given me her
hand; it has seemed good to me to keep it; allow me to do so?' Is it
agreed upon? Will you obey me?"
He exclaimed: "You are here, you speak to me, the world has
disappeared; henceforth I believe only in you!"
"Well done! You see when two people frankly discuss matters they soon
come to an understanding; but the main essential is to see each other.
Since you are so wise when you see me, I naturally desire to have you
see me always. There--take that!" And she handed him a medallion
containing her portrait; then she moved towards the door. On the
threshold she turned. "Please tell Mlle. Galet," said she, "that I
respect her nap, and will return to-morrow. Mlle. Moiseney awaits me,
and must be growing impatient. I have your word of honour? Adieu,
then, until this evening. I must hasten away."
And she did hasten, or, rather, she flew away.
Returning from as well as driving into Paris, the coachman put his
horses to full speed, and Cormeilles was reached before the soup was
cold. Nevertheless, M. Moriaz had had abundant time for anxiety. He
did not take his seat at table without first questioning Mlle.
Moiseney; knowing nothing, she could give him no information; but she
responded indefinitely to his queries with that air of mystery beneath
which it was her wont to disguise her ignorance. He resolved to
question Antoinette after dinner. She anticipated him, taking him
aside and recounting to him what had occurred.
"I presume," said she, "that henceforth you will believe in his pride
and his disinterestedness. Did I not foretell you that I should have
to put myself on my knees to compel him to marry me?"
He could not repress a movement of indignation.
"Oh, reassure yourself!" she resumed; "that is only my way of
speaking. He was at my feet and I was standing."
M. Moriaz opened his lips and closed them again three times without
speaking. He finally contented himself with a gesture, which
signified, "The die is cast, let come what must."
Samuel Brohl religiously kept his word. After having made a most
faultless toilet, he repaired by the railway to Argenteuil, where he
took a carriage. He reached Cormeilles as the clock struck nine. He
was ushered into the /salon/, where M. Moriaz was reading his journal.
Samuel was pale, and his lips trembled with emotion. He greeted M.
Moriaz with profound respect, saying:
"I feel, monsieur, like a criminal. Be merciful, and refuse her to
M. Moriaz replied: "The fact is, you come, monsieur, in the words of
the evangelist, 'like a thief in the night'; but I have nothing to
refuse you. You are not the son-in-law I frankly avow, whom I should
have chosen. This matters not; my daughter belongs to herself, she is
mistress of her own actions, and I have no reason to believe that she
errs in her choice. You are a man of taste and of honour, and you know
the worth of what she has given you. If you render Antoinette happy,
you will find in me a warm friend. I have said all that is necessary;
let us suppose that you have replied to me, and talk of something
Samuel Brohl considered the matter settled; he insisted no longer, and
entered at once upon another topic. He knew how to be agreeable and
dignified at the same time. He was as amiable and gracious as his
lively emotion would permit. M. Moriaz was obliged to confess to
himself that Count Larinski was as good company at Cormeilles as he
had been at Saint Moritz, and had no other fault than having taken it
into his head to become his son-in-law.
Their interview was a prolonged one. During this time Antoinette had
been promenading the walk in front of the house, inhaling the jasmine-
perfumed air, pouring out her heart to the night and to the stars. Her
happy reverie was troubled only by the presence of a bat, flitting
incessantly from one end of the terrace to the other, flapping its
wings about her head. The loathsome creature seemed to be especially
in quest of her, circling around and above her with obstinate
persistency, even venturing to graze her hair in passing; Antoinette
even fancied that she could distinguish its hideous face, with deep
pouches and long ears, and she moved away, quivering with disgust.
She heard a step on the gravel-walk. Samuel Brohl had taken leave of
M. Moriaz and was crossing the terrace to regain his carriage. He
recognised Antoinette, approached her and clasped on her wrist a
bracelet he held in his hand, saying as he did so: "What could I give
you that would equal in value the medallion you deigned to offer me
and that should never leave me? However, here is a trinket by which I
set great store. My mother loved it; she always refused to part with
it, even in the time of her greatest distress; she wore it on her arm
when she died."
We are not all moulded alike; and there is no human clay in which are
not intermingled some spangles of gold. Intriguers as well as
downright knaves are often capable of experiencing moments of sincere
and pure sentiments; in certain encounters every human being rises
superior to him-or herself. The upper part of Mlle. Moriaz's face was
shaded by her red hood, the lower part lit up by the moon, which was
slowly rising above the hills. Samuel Brohl contemplated her in
silence; she seemed to him as beautiful as a dream. During two entire
minutes he forgot that she had an income of a hundred thousand livres,
and that, according to all probabilities, M. Moriaz would die one day.
His head was completely turned by the thought that this woman loved
him, that soon she would be his. Yes, for precisely two minutes,
Samuel Brohl was as passionately in love with Mlle. Moriaz as might,
perchance, have been Count Larinski.
He could not resist the impulse that transported him. He folded in his
arms the slender, supple form of Antoinette, and imprinted upon her
hair a kiss of flame, a true Polish kiss. She offered no resistance;
but at this moment the bat that had already forced upon her its
distasteful company renewed the attack, struck her full in the face,
and stuck fast in her hood. Antoinette felt the touch of its cold,
clammy wings, of its hooked claws. She tore the hood from her head and
flung it away in horror. Samuel Brohl sprang forward to pick it up,
pressed it to his lips, and made his escape, like a thief carrying off
When Antoinette re-entered the /salon/, she found there Mlle.
Moiseney, whose boisterous, overwhelming joy had just put M. Moriaz to
flight. This time Mlle. Moiseney knew everything. She had seen Samuel
Brohl arrive, she had been unable to control her overweening
curiosity, and, without the slightest scruples, she had listened at
the door. She cast herself into Antoinette's arms, pressed her to her
heart, and cried: "Ah, my dear! oh, my dear! Did I not always say that
it would end thus?"
Mlle. Moriaz hastened to free herself from her embraces; she felt the
need of being alone. On entering her chamber she took a hasty survey
of it: her furniture, her pretty knick-knacks, her rose-tined
tapestry, the muslin hangings of her bed, the large silver crucifix
hanging on the extreme wall, all seemed to regard her with
astonishment, asking, "What has happened?" And she replied:
"You are right, something has happened."
She remained in contemplation before a portrait of her mother, whom
she had lost very young.
"I have been told," she mused, "that you were a great romance-reader.
I do not care for romances at all--I scarcely ever read them; but I
have just been making one myself, with which you would not be
discontented. This man would astonish you a little; he would please
you still more. Some hours ago he seemed lost to me forever. I
brazened it out. I went in search of him, and when he saw me he
surrendered. Only now he was with me on the terrace; his lips touched
me here on my hair, and thrilled me from head to foot. Do not feel
displeased with me--his are pure and royal lips! They have been
touched by the sacred fire; they never have lied; never have there
fallen from them other than proud and noble words; they modestly
recount the history of a life without blemish Ah! why are you not
here? I have a thousand things to say to you, which you alone could
comprehend; others do not comprehend me."
She began her toilet for the night. When she had unfastened her hair,
she remembered that there was One in her chamber who could comprehend
everything, and to whom she had yet said nothing. She knelt down, her
wealth of hair streaming over her beautiful shoulders, her hands
reverently clasped, her eyes fixed on the silver crucifix, and she
said, in a low tone:
"Forgive me that I have forgotten thee, thou who never hast forgotten
me! I return thanks to thee that thou hast granted my desires; thou
hast given me the happiness of which I have dreamed without daring to
ask it. Ah, yes, I am happy, perfectly happy! I promise thee that I
will cast the reflection of my joy among the poor and unfortunate of
this world: I will love them as I have never loved them before! When
we give them food and drink, we give it also unto thee; and when we
give them flowers, this crown of thorns that has wounded thy brow
bursts into bloom. I will give them flowers and bread. It is vain to
say that thou art a jealous God. Full as may be my heart, thou knowest
that there is always room for thee, and that thou never canst knock at
the door without my crying: 'Enter; the house and all that therein is
belong unto thee! My happiness blesses thee: oh, bless thou it!' "
While Mlle. Moriaz thus held communion with her crucifix, Samuel Brohl
was rolling along the great highway from Cormeilles to Argenteuil, a
distance of six kilometres. His head was held erect, his face was
radiant, his eyes were like balls of fire, his temples throbbed, and
it seemed to him that his dilated chest might have held the world. He
was speaking to himself--murmuring over and over again the same
phrase. "She is mine!" he repeated to the vines bordering the road, to
the mill of Trouillet, to the Sannois Hills, whose vague outlines
loomed up against the sky. "She is mine!" he cried to the moon, which
this evening shone for him alone, whose sole occupation was to gaze
upon Samuel Brohl. It was plain to see that she was in the secret,
that she knew that before long Samuel Brohl would marry Mlle. Moriaz.
She had donned her festal garments to celebrate this marvellous
adventure; her great gleaming face expressed sympathy and joy.
Although he had exhorted his coachman to make haste, Samuel missed the
train, which was the last. He decided to put up for the night at
Argenteuil, and sought hospitality at the inn of the Coeur-Volant,
where he ordered served forthwith a great bowl of punch, his favourite
drink. He betook himself to bed in the full expectation of enjoying
most delicious dreams; but his sleep was troubled by a truly
disagreeable incident. Glorious days are at times succeeded by most
wretched nights, and the inn of Coeur-Volant was destined to leave
most disagreeable reminiscences with Samuel Brohl.
Towards four o'clock he heard some one knocking at his door, and a
voice not unknown to him cried:
"Open, I beseech you!"
He was seized with an insupportable anguish; he felt like one
paralyzed, and it was with great difficulty that he rose up in a
sitting posture. He remembered that the bolt was drawn, and this
reassured him. What was not his stupefied amazement to see the bolt
glide back in its shaft! The door opened; some one entered, slowly
approached Samuel, drew back the curtains of his bed, and bent towards
him, fixing upon him great eager eyes that he recognised. They were
singular eyes, these, at once full of sweetness and full of fire, of
audacity and of candour; a child, a grand soul, an unbalanced weakling
--all this in one was in this gaze.
Samuel Brohl quailed with horror. He tried to speak, but his tongue
was powerless to move. He made desperate efforts to unloose it; he
finally succeeded in moving his lips, and he murmured:
"Is it you, Abel? I believed you dead."
Evidently Count Abel, the veritable Abel Larinski, was not dead. He
was on his feet, his eyes were terribly wide open, and his face never
had worn more life-like colouring. Nothing remained but to believe
that he had been buried alive, and that he had been resuscitated. In
coming forth from the tomb, he had carried with him a portion of its
dust; his hair was covered with a singular powder of an earthy hue,
and at intervals he shook himself as though to make it fall from him.
With the exception of this there was nothing alarming in his
appearance; but a mocking, half-crafty smile played about his lips.
After a long pause, he said to Samuel:
"Yes, it is indeed I. You did not expect me?"
"Are you sure that you are not dead?" rejoined Samuel.
"Perfectly sure," he replied, once more shaking a mass of dust from
his head. "Does my return incommode you, Samuel Brohl?" he added.
"Your name is Samuel, I believe; it is a pretty name. Why have you
taken mine? You must give it back to me."
"Not to-day," pleaded Samuel, in a stifled voice, "nor to-morrow, nor
the day after to-morrow; but after the marriage."
Count Abel burst out laughing, which was by no means his habit, and
which therefore greatly surprised Samuel. Then he cried:
"It is I she will marry--she will be the Countess Larinski."
Suddenly the door opened again, and Mlle. Antoinette Moriaz appeared,
robed in white like a bride, a crown on her head, a bouquet in her
hand. She bent her steps towards Samuel, but the apparition arrested
her progress, saying:
"It is not he whom you love; it is my history. Do you not see that
this is a false Pole? His father was a German Jew, who kept a tavern.
Here it was that this hero grew up. I will relate to you how."
Here Samuel put his hand over his mouth, and stammered: "Oh, for
mercy's sake, say nothing!"
Heeding him not, the apparition continued: "Yes, Samuel Brohl is a
hero. For five years he was the pledged lover of an old woman, and he
fulfilled all the duties of his post. This cherished hero well earned
his money. Are you not eager to be called Mme. Brohl?"
With these words, he opened wide his arms to Mlle. Moriaz, who fixed
upon him a gaze at the same time astonishing and tender, and straining
her to his bosom, kissed her hair and her crown.
Then Samuel Brohl recovered strength, life, movement; clinching his
hands, he sprang forward to dispute with Abel Larinski his prey.
Suddenly, with a shiver of terror and dismay, he paused; he had heard
proceeding from a distant corner of the chamber a shrill, malignant
laugh. He turned, and distinctly perceived his father--a greasy cap on
his head, wrapped in a forlorn, threadbare, dirty caftan. This was
unquestionably Jeremiah Brohl, and this night it seemed truly that the
whole world had arisen from the dead. The little old man continued to
laugh jeeringly; then in a sharp, peevish voice, he cried:
"/Schandbube! vermaledeiter Schlingel! ich will dich zu Brei
schlagen!/" which signifies: "Scoundrel! accursed blackguard! I will
beat you to a jelly!" It was a mode of address that Samuel had heard
often in his infancy; but familiar though he might be with paternal
amenities, when he saw his father uplift a withered, claw-like hand, a
cry escaped his lips; he started back to evade the blow, entangled his
feet in the legs of a chair, stumbled, and flung himself violently
against a table.
He opened his eyes and saw no one. He ran to the window and threw open
the shutter; the growing dawn illumined the chamber with its grayish
light. Thank God! there was no one there. The vision had been so real
that it was some time before Samuel Brohl could fully regain his
senses, and persuade himself that his nightmare was forever
dissipated, that phantoms were phantoms, that cemeteries do not
surrender their prey. When he had once acquired this rejoicing
conviction, he spoke to the dead man who had appeared to him, and
whose provoking visit had indiscreetly troubled his sleep, and with
considerable hauteur he said, in a tone of superb defiance: "We must
be resigned, my poor Abel; we shall see each other again only in the
valley of Jehosaphat; I have seen twenty shovelfuls of earth cast upon
you--you are dead; I live, and she is mine!"
Thereupon he hastened to settle his account, and to quit the Coeur-
Volant, within whose walls he promised himself never again to set
At the very same moment, M. Moriaz, who had risen early, was engaged
in writing the following letter:
"It is done, my dear friend--I have yielded. Pray, do not reproach
me with my weakness; what else could I do? When one has been for
twenty years the most submissive of fathers, one does not
emancipate one's self in a day; I never have been in the habit of
erecting barriers, and it is scarcely likely that I could learn to
do so at my age. Ah! /mon Dieu!/ who knows if, after all, her
heart has not counselled her well, if one day she will not satisfy
us all that she was in the right/ It must be confessed that this
/diable/ of a man has an indescribable charm about him. I can
detect only one fault in him: he has committed the error of
existing at all; it is a grave error, I admit, but thus far I have
nothing else with which to reproach him.
"When one loses a battle, nothing remains but to plan an orderly
retreat. Count Larinski, I regret to inform you, is armed with all
needful weapons; he carries with him his certificate of birth, and
certificate of the registry of death of both his parents. No
pretext can be made on this score, and my future son-in-law will
not aid me to gain time. The sole point upon which we must
henceforth direct our attention is the contract. We scarcely can
take too many precautions; we must see that this Pole's hands are
absolutely tied. If you will permit me, I will one day ask you to
confer with me and my notary, who is also yours. I venture to hope
that upon this point Antoinette will consent to be guided by our
"I am not gay, my friend; but, having been born a philosopher, I
bear my misfortunes patiently, and I will forthwith reread /Le
Monde comme il va, ou la Vision de Babouc/, in order to endeavour
to persuade myself that, if all is not well, all is at least
The evening of the same day, M. Moriaz received the following
"I never will pardon you. You are a great chemist, I grant, but a
pitiful, a most deplorable father. Your weakness, which well
merits another name, is without excuse. You should have resisted;
you should have stood your ground firmly. Antoinette, although she
is of age, never in the world would have decided to address to you
a formal request of consent to this marriage. She would have made
some scenes; she would have pouted; she would have endeavoured to
soften you by assuming the airs of a tearful, heart-broken widow;
she would have draped herself in black crape. And after that?
Desperate case! These Artemisias are very tiresome, I admit; but
one can accustom one's self to anything. Should philosophers, who
plead such sublime indifference about the affairs of this mundane
sphere, be at the mercy of a fit of the sulks, or a dress of black
crape? Besides, black is all the fashion just now, even for those
who are not in mourning.
"You speak of contracts! You are surely jesting! What! distrustful
of a Pole? take precautions against an antique man?--I quote from
Abbe Miollens--against a soul as noble as great? Think what you
are doing! At the mere thought of his disinterestedness being
called into question, M. Larinski would swoon away as he did in my
/salon/. It is a little way he has, which is most excellent, since
it proves successful. Do not think of such trifles as contracts;
marry them with equal rights, and leave the consequences to
Providence! Follies have neither beauty nor merit, unless they are
complete. Ah, my good friend, Poland has its charm, has it?
Admirable! But you must swallow the whole thing. I am your
The pitiless sentence pronounced by Mme. de Lorcy grieved M. Moriaz,
but did not discourage him. It was his opinion that, let her say what
she might, precautions were good; that, well though it might be to
bear our misfortunes patiently, there was no law forbidding us to
assuage them; that it was quite permissible to prefer to complete
follies those of a modified character, and that a bad cold or an
influenza was decidedly preferable to inflammation of the lungs, which
is so apt to prove fatal. "Time and myself will suffice for all
things," proudly said Philip II. M. Moriaz said, with perhaps less
pride: "To postpone a thing so long as possible, and to hold
deliberate counsel with one's notary, are the best correctives of a
dangerous marriage that cannot be prevented." His notary, M. Noirot,
in whom he reposed entire confidence, was absent; a case of importance
had carried him to Italy. Nothing remained but to await his return,
until which everything stood in suspense.
In the first conversation he had with his daughter on the subject, M.
Moriaz found her very reasonable, very well disposed to enter into his
views, to accede to his desires. She was too thoroughly pleased with
his resignation not to be willing to reward him for it with a little
complaisancy; besides, she was too happy to be impatient; she had
gained the main points of her case--it cost her little to yield in
matters of secondary detail.
"You will be accused of having taken a most inconsiderate step," said
her father to her. "You are little sensible to the judgment of the
world, to what people say; I am much more so. Humour my weakness or
cowardice. Let us endeavour to keep up appearances; do not let us
appear to be in a hurry, or to have something to hide; let us act with
due deliberation. Just at present no one is in Paris; let us give our
friends time to return there. We will present Count Larinski to them.
Great happiness does not fear being discussed. Your choice will be
regarded unfavourably by some, approved by others. M. Larinski has the
gift of pleasing; he will please, and all the world will pardon my
resignation, which Mme. de Lorcy esteems a crime."
"You promised me that your resignation would be mingled with
cheerfulness: I find it somewhat melancholy."
"You scarcely could expect me to be intoxicated with joy."
"Will you at least assure me that you have taken your part bravely,
and that you will think of no further appeal?"
"I swear it to you!"
"Very good; then we will honour your weakness," she replied, and she
said Amen to all that he proposed.
It was agreed that the marriage should take place during the winter,
and that two months should be allowed to elapse before proceeding to
the preliminary formalities. M. Moriaz undertook to explain matters to
Samuel Brohl, who found the arrangement little to his taste. He took
pains, however, to give no signs of this. He told M. Moriaz that he
was still in the first bewildering surprise of his happiness, that he
was not sorry to have time to recover from it; but he secretly
promised himself to devise some artifice for abridging delays, for
hastening the /denoument/. He was apprehensive of accidents,
unforeseen occurrences, squalls, storms, tornadoes, sudden blights, in
short everything that might damage or destroy a harvest; he
impatiently longed to gather in his, and to have it carefully stowed
away in his granary. In the interim he wrote to his old friend M.
Guldenthal a letter at once majestic and confidential, which produced
a most striking effect. M. Guldenthal concluded that a good marriage
was much better security than a poor gun. Besides, he had had the
agreeable surprise of being completely reimbursed for his loan,
capital and interest. He was charmed to have so excellent a debtor
return to him, and he hastened to advance to him all that he could
possibly want, even more.
A month passed peaceably by, during which time Samuel Brohl repaired
two or three times each week to Cormeilles. He made himself adored by
the entire household, including the gardener, the porter and his
family, and the Angora cat that had welcomed him at the time of his
first visit. This pretty, soft white puss had conceived for Samuel
Brohl a most deplorable sympathy; perhaps she had recognised that he
possessed the soul of a cat, together with all the feline graces. She
lavished on him the most flattering attentions; she loved to rub
coaxingly against him, to spring on his knee, to repose in his lap. In
retaliation, the great, tawny spaniel belonging to Mlle. Moriaz
treated the newcomer with the utmost severity and was continually
looking askance at him; when Samuel attempted a caress, he would growl
ominously and show his teeth, which called forth numerous stern
corrections from his mistress. Dogs are born gendarmes or police
agents; they have marvellous powers of divination and instinctive
hatred of people whose social status is not orthodox, whose
credentials are irregular, or who have borrowed the credentials of
others. As to Mlle. Moiseney, who had not the scent of a spaniel, she
had gone distracted over this noble, this heroic, this incomparable
Count Larinski. In a /tete-a-tete/ he had contrived to have with her,
he had evinced much respect for her character, so much admiration for
her natural and acquired enlightenment, that she had been moved to
tears; for the first time she felt herself understood. What moved her,
however, still more was that he asked her as a favour never to quit
Mlle. Moriaz and to consider as her own the house he hoped one day to
possess. "What a man!" she ejaculated, with as much conviction as
The principal study of Samuel Brohl was to insinuate himself into the
good graces of M. Moriaz, whose mental reservations he dreaded. He
succeeded in some measure, or at least he disarmed any lingering
suspicions by the irreproachable adjustment of his manners, by the
reserve of his language, by his great show of lack of curiosity
regarding all questions that might have a proximate or remote
connection with his interests. How, then, had Mme. de Lorcy come to
take it into her head that there was something of the appraiser about
Samuel Brohl, and that his eyes took an inventory of her furniture? If
he had forgotten himself at Maisons, he never forgot himself at
Cormeilles. What cared he for the sordid affairs of the sublunary
sphere? He floated in ether; heaven had opened to him its portals; the
blessed are too absorbed in their ecstasy to pay heed to details or to
take an inventory of paradise. Nevertheless, Samuel's ecstasies did
not prevent him from embracing every opportunity to render himself
useful or agreeable to M. Moriaz. He frequently asked permission to
accompany him into his laboratory. M. Moriaz flattered himself that he
had discovered a new body to which he attributed most curious
properties. Since his return he had been occupied with some very
delicate experiments, which he did not always carry out to his
satisfaction; his movements were brusque, his hands all thumbs; very
often he chanced to ruin everything by breaking his vessels. Samuel
proposed to assist him in a manipulation requiring considerable
dexterity; he had very flexible fingers, was as expert as a juggler,
and the manipulation succeeded beyond all hopes.
Mme. de Lorcy was furious at having been outwitted by Count Larinski;
she retracted all the concessions she had made concerning him; her
rancour had decided that the man of fainting-fits could not be other
than an imposter. She had disputes on this subject with M. Langis, who
persisted in maintaining that M. Larinski was a great comedian, but
that this, strictly considered, did not prevent his being a true
count; in the course of his travels he had met specimens of them who
cheated at cards and pocketed affronts. Mme. de Lorcy, in return,
accused him of being a simpleton. She had written again to Vienna, in
hopes of obtaining some further intelligence; she had been able to
learn nothing satisfactory. She did not lose courage; she well knew
that, in the important affairs of life, M. Moriaz found it difficult
to dispense with her approbation, and she promised herself to choose
with discretion the moment to make a decisive assault upon him. In the
meanwhile she gave herself the pleasure of tormenting him by her
silence, and of grieving him by her long-continued pouting. One day M.
Moriaz said to his daughter:
"Mme. de Lorcy is displeased with us; this grieves me. I fear you have
dropped some word that has wounded her. I shall be greatly obliged to
you if you will go and see her and coax her into good-humour."
"You gave me a far from agreeable commission," she rejoined, "but I
can refuse you nothing; I shall go to-morrow to Maisons."
At the precise moment when this conversation was taking place, Mme. de
Lorcy, who was passing the day in Paris, entered the Ecole des Beaux-
Arts. The exhibition of the work of a celebrated painter, recently
deceased, had attracted thither a great throng of people. Mme. de
Lorcy moved to and fro, when suddenly she descried a little old woman,
sixty years of age, with a snub nose, whose little gray eyes gleamed
with malice and impertinence. Her chin in the air, holding up her eye-
glasses with her hand, she scrutinized all the pictures with a
critical, disdainful air.
"Ah! truly it is the Princess Gulof," said Mme. de Lorcy to herself,
and turned away to avoid an encounter. It was at Ostend, three years
previous, during the season of the baths, that she had made the
acquaintance of the princess; she did not care to renew it. This
haughty, capricious Russian, with whom a chance occurrence at the
/table d'hote/ had thrown her into intercourse, had not taken a place
among her pleasantest reminiscences.
Princess Gulof was the wife of a governor-general whom she had wedded
in second marriage after a long widowhood. He did not see her often,
two or three times a year, that was all. Floating about from one end
of Europe to another, they kept up a regular exchange of letters; the
prince never took any step without consulting his wife, who usually
gave him sound advice. During the first years of their marriage, he
had committed the error of being seriously in love with her: there are
some species of ugliness that inspire actually insane passions. The
princess found this in the most wretched taste, and soon brought
Dimitri Paulovitch to his senses. From that moment perfect concord
reigned between this wedded couple, who were parted by the entire
continent of Europe, united by the mail-bags. The princess did not
bear a very irreproachable record. She looked upon morality as pure
matter of conventionality, and she made no secret of her thoughts. She
was always on the alert for new discoveries, fresh experiences; she
never waited to read a book to the end before flinging it into the
waste-paper basket, most frequently the first chapter sufficed; she
had met with many disappointments, she had wearied of many caprices,
and she had arrived at the conclusion that man is, after all, of but
small account. Nevertheless, there had come to her late in life a
comparatively lasting caprice; during nearly five years she had
flattered herself that she had found what she sought. Alas! for the
first time she had been abandoned, forsaken, and that before she had
herself grown tired of her fancy. This desertion had inflicted a sharp
wound on her pride; she had conceived an implacable hatred for the
faithless one, and then she had forgotten him. She had plunged into
the natural sciences, she had made dissections--it was her way of
being avenged. She held very advanced ideas; she believed in the most
radical of the doctrines of evolution; she deemed it a clearly
demonstrated fact that man is a development of the monkey, the monkey
of the monad. She profoundly despised any one who permitted himself to
doubt this. She did not count melancholy; to analyze or dissect
everything, that was her way of being happy.
During their common sojourn at Ostend, Mme. de Lorcy had gained the
good graces of the Princess Gulof through the dexterity with which she
had dressed the wounds of Moufflard, her lapdog, whose paw had been
injured by some awkward individual. She had been quite pleased with
Mme. de Lorcy, her sympathy and her kindly services, and she had
bestowed her most amiable attentions upon her. Mme. de Lorcy had done
her best to respond to her advances; but she found herself revolted by
this old magpie whose prattling never ceased, and whose chief delight
was in the recital of the secret chronicles of every capital of
Europe; Mme. de Lorcy, in fact, soon grew disgusted with her
cosmopolitan gossip and her physiology; she found her cynical and
evil-minded. In meeting her at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, her first
impulse was to evade her; but suddenly she changed her mind. For some
weeks past she had been governed by a fixed idea, about which all else
revolved; an inspiration came over her, which doubtless fell directly
from the skies.
"Princess Gulof," said she to herself, "has passed her life in running
around the world; her real home is a railroad-car; there is not a
large city where she has failed to make a sojourn; she is acquainted
with the whole world: is it not possible that she knows Count
Mme. de Lorcy retraced her steps, cut her way through the crowd,
succeeded in approaching the princess, and, taking her by the arm,
exclaimed: "Ah! is it you, princess! How is Moufflard?"
The princess turned her head, regarded her fixedly a moment, and then
pressing her hand between her thumb and forefinger she rejoined with
as little ceremony as though they had met the day before: "Moufflard
does very poorly indeed, my dear. He died two months ago of
"How you must have mourned his loss!"
"I am still inconsolable."
"Ah! well, princess, I shall undertake to console you. I own a lapdog,
not yet six months old: you never saw a more charming one or one with
a shorter nose or whiter and more delicate hair. I am a great
utilitarian, as you know. I only care for large dogs that are of some
use. Will you accept of me Moufflard II? But you must come and fetch
him yourself, which will procure me the pleasure of seeing you at
The princess replied that she was on her way to England; that she was
merely taking Paris in passing; that her hours were numbered; and two
minutes later she announced to Mme. de Lorcy that she would call on
her the following day, in the afternoon.
True to her appointment, Princess Gulof entered Mme. de Lorcy's
/salon/ the following day. The ladies occupied themselves first of all
with the lapdog, which was found charming and quite worthy to succeed
to Moufflard I. Mme. de Lorcy watched all the time for a suitable
opportunity of introducing the subject nearest to her heart; when she
thought it had come, she observed:
"Apropos, princess, you who know everything, you who are a true
cosmopolitan, have you ever heard of a mysterious personage who calls
himself Count Abel Larinski?"
"Not that I am aware of, my dear, although his name may not be
absolutely unknown to me."
"Search among your reminiscences; you must have encountered him
somewhere; you have visited all the countries of the world--"
"Of the habitable world," she interposed; "but according to my
especial point of view Siberia scarcely can be called so, and it is
there, if I mistake not, that your Count Larinski must have been
"Would to heaven!-- Perhaps there was question of procuring this
little pleasure for his father; but, unfortunately, he took the
precaution to emigrate to America. The inconvenience of America is,
that people can return from there, for my Larinski has returned, and
it is that that grieves me."
"What has he done to you?" inquired the princess pinching the ears of
the dog who was slumbering in her lap.
"I spoke to you at Ostend about my goddaughter Mlle. Moriaz, who is an
adorable creature. I proposed to marry her to my nephew, M. Langis, a
most highly accomplished young man. This Larinski came suddenly on the
scene, he cast a charm over the child, and he will marry her."
"What a pity! Is he handsome?"
"Yes; that, to tell the truth, is his sole merit."
"It is merit sufficient," replied the princess, whose gray eyes
twinkled as she spoke. "There is nothing certain but a man's beauty;
all else is open to discussion."
"Pray, allow me to consider matters from a more matter-of-fact point
of view,: said Mme. de Lorcy. "Also I may as well confide to you my
whole perplexity: I suspect Count Larinski of being neither a true
Larinski nor a true count; I would stake my life that the Larinskis
are all dead, and that this man is some adventurer."
"You will end by interesting me," rejoined the princess. "Do not speak
too severely of adventurers, however; they are one of the most curious
varieties of the human family. Let your goddaughter marry hers; it
will bring a piquant element into her life; the poor world is so
generally a prey to ennui."
"Thank you! my goddaughter was not born to marry an adventurer. I
detest this Larinski, and I have vowed that I will play him some
"Do not become excited, my dear. What colour are his eyes?"
"Green as those of the cats or of the owls."
Once more the eyes of Princess Gulof flashed and twinkled, and she
cried: "An adventurer with green eyes! Why, it is a superb match, and
I find you hard to please."
"You grieve me, princess," said Mme. de Lorcy. "I had promised myself
that you would lend me the assistance of your judgment, your
incomparable penetration, your experienced eye; that you would aid me
in unmasking this Pole, in detecting in him some irremediable vice
that would at once prove an insurmountable obstacle to the marriage.
Be good, for once in your life; may I present him to you?"
"I repeat to you that I am merely taking Paris in passing," replied
the princess, "and I am expected in England. Besides, you do too much
honour to my incomparable penetration. I swear to you that I am no
connoisseur in Larinskis; you may as well spare yourself the pains of
presenting to me yours. I am a good-natured woman, who has often been
made a good dupe, and I do not complain of it. The best reminiscences
of my past are of sundry agreeable errors, and of men skilled in
deception. I have found it the wisest way to judge by the labels, and
never to ask any one to show me the contents of his sack, for I long
ago discovered that sacks are very apt to be empty or at best only
poorly filled. Let your goddaughter act according to her own head; if
she deceives herself, it is because she wishes to be deceived, and she
knows better than you what suits her. /Eh! bon Dieu/, what matters it
if there be one more unhappy household under the broad canopy of
heaven? Besides, it is only fools who are unhappy, and who stupidly
pause before a closed portal; others manage in some way to find a
loop-hole of escape. Marriage, my dear, is an institution worn
threadbare. Ten years hence there will be only free women and husbands
on trial. Ten years hence the Countess Larinski will be a liberated
countess. Let her serve her time as a galley-slave, and she will come
out entirely cured of her follies."
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