His talents as a card-player, a narrator, an amiable man of the highest breeding, were so well known and appreciated that parties would have seemed a failure if the dainty connoisseur was absent. Masters of houses and their wives felt the need of his approving grimace.
Monsieur de Valois was the only man who could perfectly pronounce certain phrases of the olden time. In short, the chevalier had the privilege of superlatives. His compliments, of which he was stingy, won the good graces of all the old women; he made himself agreeable to every one, even to the officials of the government, from whom he wanted nothing.
His behavior at cards had a lofty distinction which everybody noticed: he never complained; he praised his adversaries when they lost; he did not rebuke or teach his partners by showing them how they ought to have played. When, in the course of a deal, those sickening dissertations on the game would take place, the chevalier invariably drew out his snuff-box with a gesture that was worthy of Mole, looked at the Princess Goritza, raised the cover with dignity, shook, sifted, massed the snuff, and gathered his pinch, so that by the time the cards were dealt he had decorated both nostrils and replaced the princess in his waistcoat pocket,—always on his left side.
He accepted poor players and knew how to make the best of them. His delightful equability of temper made many persons say,—. His conversation, his manners, seemed bland, like his person. He endeavored to shock neither man nor woman. Indulgent to defects both physical and mental, he listened patiently by the help of the Princess Goritza to the many dull people who related to him the petty miseries of provincial life,—an egg ill-boiled for breakfast, coffee with feathered cream, burlesque details about health, disturbed sleep, dreams, visits.
He died without any one suspecting him of even an allusion to the tender passages of his romance with the Princess Goritza. Has any one ever reflected on the service a dead sentiment can do to society; how love may become both social and useful? This will serve to explain why, in spite of his constant winning at play he never left a salon without carrying off with him about six francs , the old chevalier remained the spoilt darling of the town.
His losses—which, by the bye, he always proclaimed, were very rare. All who know him declare that they have never met, not even in the Egyptian museum at Turin, so agreeable a mummy. In no country in the world did parasitism ever take on so pleasant a form. Never did selfishness of a most concentrated kind appear less forth-putting, less offensive, than in this old gentleman; it stood him in place of devoted friendship. If some one asked Monsieur de Valois to do him a little service which might have discommoded him, that some one did not part from the worthy chevalier without being truly enchanted with him, and quite convinced that he either could not do the service demanded, or that he should injure the affair if he meddled in it.
Many of his friends he was by that time dead, you will please remark have contested mordicus this curious fact, declaring it to be a fable, and upholding the Chevalier de Valois as a respectable and worthy gentleman whom the liberals calumniated. Luckily for shrewd players, there are people to be found among the spectators who will always sustain them. Ashamed of having to defend a piece of wrong-doing, they stoutly deny it. Do not accuse them of wilful infatuation; such men have a sense of their dignity; governments set them the example of a virtue which consists in burying their dead without chanting the Misere of their defeats.
If the chevalier did allow himself this bit of shrewd practice,—which, by the bye, would have won him the regard of the Chevalier de Gramont, a smile from the Baron de Foeneste, a shake of the hand from the Marquis de Moncade,—was he any the less that amiable guest, that witty talker, that imperturbable card-player, that famous teller of anecdotes, in whom all Alencon took delight?
When so many persons are forced to pay annuities to others, what more natural than to pay one to his own best friend? But Laius is dead—. To return to the period of which we are writing: after about fifteen years of this way of life the chevalier had amassed ten thousand and some odd hundred francs. On the return of the Bourbons, one of his old friends, the Marquis de Pombreton, formerly lieutenant in the Black mousquetaires, returned to him—so he said—twelve hundred pistoles which he had lent to the marquis for the purpose of emigrating. When this noble act of the Marquis de Pombreton was lauded before the chevalier, the good man reddened even to his right cheek.
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Every one rejoiced frankly at this windfall for Monsieur de Valois, who went about consulting moneyed people as to the safest manner of investing this fragment of his past opulence. Confiding in the future of the Restoration, he finally placed his money on the Grand-Livre at the moment when the funds were at fifty-six francs and twenty-five centimes. Never was it known positively by what means the old chevalier obtained these two solemn consecrations of his title and merits.
But one thing is certain; the cross of Saint-Louis authorized him to take the rank of retired colonel in view of his service in the Catholic armies of the West. Besides his fiction of an annuity, about which no one at the present time knew anything, the chevalier really had, therefore, a bona fide income of a thousand francs. But in spite of this bettering of his circumstances, he made no change in his life, manners, or appearance, except that the red ribbon made a fine effect on his maroon-colored coat, and completed, so to speak, the physiognomy of a gentleman.
Many persons envied the quiet existence of this old bachelor, spent on whist, boston, backgammon, reversi, and piquet, all well played, on dinners well digested, snuff gracefully inhaled, and tranquil walks about the town. Nearly all Alencon believed this life to be exempt from ambitions and serious interests; but no man has a life as simple as envious neighbors attribute to him.
You will find in the most out-of-the way villages human mollusks, creatures apparently dead, who have passions for lepidoptera or for conchology, let us say,—beings who will give themselves infinite pains about moths, butterflies, or the concha Veneris. Not only did the chevalier have his own particular shells, but he cherished an ambitious desire which he pursued with a craft so profound as to be worthy of Sixtus the Fifth: he wanted to marry a certain rich old maid, with the intention, no doubt, of making her a stepping-stone by which to reach the more elevated regions of the court.
There, then, lay the secret of his royal bearing and of his residence in Alencon. On a Wednesday morning, early, toward the middle of spring, in the year 16,—such was his mode of reckoning,—at the moment when the chevalier was putting on his old green-flowered damask dressing-gown, he heard, despite the cotton in his ears, the light step of a young girl who was running up the stairway. Presently three taps were discreetly struck upon the door; then, without waiting for any response, a handsome girl slipped like an eel into the room occupied by the old bachelor.
One word here on the topography of the house. The wash-rooms occupied the whole of the ground floor. The little courtyard was used to hang out on wire cords embroidered handkerchiefs, collarets, capes, cuffs, frilled shirts, cravats, laces, embroidered dresses,—in short, all the fine linen of the best families of the town. The chevalier assumed to know from the number of her capes in the wash how the love-affairs of the wife of the prefect were going on.
Though he guessed much from observations of this kind, the chevalier was discretion itself; he was never betrayed into an epigram he had plenty of wit which might have closed to him an agreeable salon. You are therefore to consider Monsieur de Valois as a man of superior manners, whose talents, like those of many others, were lost in a narrow sphere. Only—for, after all, he was a man—he permitted himself certain penetrating glances which could make some women tremble; although they all loved him heartily as soon as they discovered the depth of his discretion and the sympathy that he felt for their little weaknesses.
Above them were the attics where the linen was dried in winter. Each apartment had two rooms,—one lighted from the street, the other from the courtyard. As for Madame Lardot, who occupied the other lodging on the first floor, she had so great a weakness for persons of condition that she may well have been thought blind to the ways of the chevalier. To her, Monsieur de Valois was a despotic monarch who did right in all things. A born confidant to all the little intrigues of the work-rooms, the chevalier never passed the door, which usually stood open, without giving something to his little ducks,—chocolate, bonbons, ribbons, laces, gilt crosses, and such like trifles adored by grisettes; consequently, the kind old gentleman was adored in return.
Women have an instinct which enables them to divine the men who love them, who like to be near them, and exact no payment for gallantries. In this respect women have the instinct of dogs, who in a mixed company will go straight to the man to whom animals are sacred. The poor Chevalier de Valois retained from his former life the need of bestowing gallant protection, a quality of the seigneurs of other days. But the poor chevalier could no longer ruin himself for a mistress. Instead of the choicest bonbons wrapped in bank-bills, he gallantly presented paper-bags full of toffee. All these grisettes fully understood the fallen majesty of the Chevalier de Valois, and they kept their private familiarities with him a profound secret for his sake.
If they were questioned about him in certain houses when they carried home the linen, they always spoke respectfully of the chevalier, and made him out older than he really was; they talked of him as a most respectable monsieur, whose life was a flower of sanctity; but once in their own regions they perched on his shoulders like so many parrots. He liked to be told the secrets which washerwomen discover in the bosom of households, and day after day these girls would tell him the cancans which were going the round of Alencon. So it may be said that in the mornings, while breakfasting, the chevalier usually amused himself as much as the saints in heaven.
Suzanne was one of his favorites, a clever, ambitious girl, made of the stuff of a Sophie Arnold, and handsome withal, as the handsomest courtesan invited by Titian to pose on black velvet for a model of Venus; although her face, fine about the eyes and forehead, degenerated, lower down, into commonness of outline.
The particular point about the chevalier which would have made him noticeable from Paris to Pekin, was the gentle paternity of his manner to grisettes. They reminded him of the illustrious operatic queens of his early days, whose celebrity was European during a good third of the eighteenth century. It is certain that the old gentleman, who had lived in days gone by with that feminine nation now as much forgotten as many other great things,—like the Jesuits, the Buccaneers, the Abbes, and the Farmers-General,—had acquired an irresistible good-humor, a kindly ease, a laisser-aller devoid of egotism, the self-effacement of Jupiter with Alcmene, of the king intending to be duped, who casts his thunderbolts to the devil, wants his Olympus full of follies, little suppers, feminine profusions—but with Juno out of the way, be it understood.
In spite of his old green damask dressing-gown and the bareness of the room in which he sat, where the floor was covered with a shabby tapestry in place of carpet, and the walls were hung with tavern-paper presenting the profiles of Louis XVI. All the libertine graces of his youth reappeared; he seemed to have the wealth of three hundred thousand francs of debt, while his vis-a-vis waited before the door.
He was grand,—like Berthier on the retreat from Moscow, issuing orders to an army that existed no longer. The chevalier, who, you must know, was a sly old bird, lowered his right eye on the grisette, still holding the razor at his throat, and pretended to understand. But you are rather previous, it seems to me. After political overturn comes the overturn of morals. The reigns of Louis XIV. He drew the magnificent Suzanne before him, holding her legs between his knees. She let him do as he liked, although in the street she was offish enough to other men, refusing their familiarities partly from decorum and partly for contempt for their commonness.
She now stood audaciously in front of the chevalier, who, having fathomed in his day many other mysteries in minds that were far more wily, took in the situation at a single glance. He knew very well that no young girl would joke about a real dishonor; but he took good care not to knock over the pretty scaffolding of her lie as he touched it.
Want us in your Instagram? The Gargoyle : Trope is referenced by name and explained in relation to Sayuri and her family; she disregards the 'rule' and goes off to America, where she eventually meets and marries a man named Gregor, although the wedding comes a bit late , and well after Extreme example but Justified Trope considering that girls married very young in those days. In Hello, Dolly! An ice cream bar. The Heiress plays with this trope and ends up being one of the few works to portray it positively ; the main character never marries her Gold Digger love interest or anyone, and is shown to embrace spinsterhood and be confident in herself in a way she never was when she had to worry about the prospects of marriage. Chuka Ummuna.
Russians, Austrians, Britons, have millions on which we have an eye. Besides, we are patriotic; we want to help France in getting back her money from the pockets of those gentry. The world you live in may cry out a bit, but success justifies all things. Listen, my queen, you who know life pretty well; you would me great harm and give me much pain,—harm, because you would prevent my marriage in a town where people cling to morality; pain, because if you are in trouble which I deny, you sly puss! It takes nerve and superior ideas to do it, my angel, and therefore you have won my respectful esteem.
She colored, and did not dare to say more. The chevalier, with a single glance, had guessed and fathomed her whole plan. I do believe it. But take my advice: go to Monsieur du Bousquier. If you are as clever as I suppose, you can go to Paris at his expense. There, run along, my little doe; go and twist him round your finger.
Only, mind this: be as supple as silk; at every word take a double turn round him and make a knot. He is a man to fear scandal, and if he has given you a chance to put him in the pillory—in short, understand; threaten him with the ladies of the Maternity Hospital. A man succeeds through his wife, and you are handsome and clever enough to make the fortune of a husband. The chevalier, however, divined her desire to be off, and favored it by asking her to tell Cesarine to bring up his chocolate, which Madame Lardot made for him every morning. Suzanne then slipped away to her new victim, whose biography must here be given.
Born of an old Alencon family, du Bousquier was a cross between the bourgeois and the country squire. Finding himself without means on the death of his father, he went, like other ruined provincials, to Paris.
On the breaking out of the Revolution he took part in public affairs. In spite of revolutionary principles, which made a hobby of republican honesty, the management of public business in those days was by no means clean. A political spy, a stock-jobber, a contractor, a man who confiscated in collusion with the syndic of a commune the property of emigres in order to sell them and buy them in, a minister, and a general were all equally engaged in public business. From to du Bousquier was commissary of provisions to the French armies. Du Bousquier cursed Kellermann and Desaix; he dared not curse Bonaparte, who might owe him millions.
This alternative of millions to be earned and present ruin staring him in the face, deprived the purveyor of most of his faculties: he became nearly imbecile for several days; the man had so abused his health by excesses that when the thunderbolt fell upon him he had no strength to resist. Out of all his past opulence du Bousquier saved only twelve hundred francs a year from an investment in the Grand Livre, which he had happened to place there by pure caprice, and which saved him from penury.
A man ruined by the First Consul interested the town of Alencon, to which he now returned, where royalism was secretly dominant. He still wore republican whiskers and his hair very long; his hands, adorned with bunches of hair on each knuckle, showed the power of his muscular system in their prominent blue veins. He had the chest of the Farnese Hercules, and shoulders fit to carry the stocks. And yet in him, as in the chevalier, symptoms appeared which contrasted oddly with the general aspect of their persons.
The late purveyor had not the voice of his muscles.
We do not mean that his voice was a mere thread, such as we sometimes hear issuing from the mouth of these walruses; on the contrary, it was a strong voice, but stifled, an idea of which can be given only by comparing it with the noise of a saw cutting into soft and moistened wood,—the voice of a worn-out speculator. In spite of the claims which the enmity of the First Consul gave Monsieur du Bousquier to enter the royalist society of the province, he was not received in the seven or eight families who composed the faubourg Saint-Germain of Alencon, among whom the Chevalier de Valois was welcome.
He had offered himself in marriage, through her notary, to Mademoiselle Armande, sister of the most distinguished noble in the town; to which offer he received a refusal. In fact, all his hopes now converged to the perspective of a fortunate marriage. He was not without a certain financial ability, which many persons used to their profit. Like a ruined gambler who advises neophytes, he pointed out enterprises and speculations, together with the means and chances of conducting them. He was thought a good administrator, and it was often a question of making him mayor of Alencon; but the memory of his underhand jobbery still clung to him, and he was never received at the prefecture.
All the succeeding governments, even that of the Hundred Days, refused to appoint him mayor of Alencon,—a place he coveted, which, could he have had it, would, he thought, have won him the hand of a certain old maid on whom his matrimonial views now turned. He now returned to his old opinions, and became the leader of the liberal party in Alencon, the invisible manipulator of elections, and did immense harm to the Restoration by the cleverness of his underhand proceedings and the perfidy of his outward behavior.
Du Bousquier, like all those who live by their heads only, carried on his hatreds with the quiet tranquillity of a rivulet, feeble apparently, but inexhaustible. His hatred was that of a negro, so peaceful that it deceived the enemy. His vengeance, brooded over for fifteen years, was as yet satisfied by no victory, not even that of July, The liberal and the royalist had mutually divined each other in spite of the wide dissimulation with which they hid their common hope from the rest of the town. The two old bachelors were secretly rivals.
Each had formed a plan to marry the Demoiselle Cormon, whom Monsieur de Valois had mentioned to Suzanne. Both, ensconced in their idea and wearing the armor of apparent indifference, awaited the moment when some lucky chance might deliver the old maid over to them. Thus, if the two old bachelors had not been kept asunder by the two political systems of which they each offered a living expression, their private rivalry would still have made them enemies. Epochs put their mark on men. These two individuals proved the truth of that axiom by the opposing historic tints that were visible in their faces, in their conversation, in their ideas, and in their clothes.
One, abrupt, energetic, with loud, brusque manners, curt, rude speech, dark in tone, in hair, in look, terrible apparently, in reality as impotent as an insurrection, represented the republic admirably. The other, gentle and polished, elegant and nice, attaining his ends by the slow and infallible means of diplomacy, faithful to good taste, was the express image of the old courtier regime. The two enemies met nearly every evening on the same ground. The war was courteous and benign on the side of the chevalier; but du Bousquier showed less ceremony on his, though still preserving the outward appearances demanded by society, for he did not wish to be driven from the place.
They themselves fully understood each other; but in spite of the shrewd observation which provincials bestow on the petty interests of their own little centre, no one in the town suspected the rivalry of these two men. Monsieur le Chevalier de Valois occupied a vantage-ground: he had never asked for the hand of Mademoiselle Cormon; whereas du Bousquier, who entered the lists soon after his rejection by the most distinguished family in the place, had been refused. But the chevalier believed that his rival had still such strong chances of success that he dealt him this coup de Jarnac with a blade namely, Suzanne that was finely tempered for the purpose.
The chevalier had cast his plummet-line into the waters of du Bousquier; and, as we shall see by the sequel, he was not mistaken in any of his conjectures. Suzanne tripped with a light foot from the rue du Cours, by the rue de la Porte de Seez and the rue du Bercail, to the rue du Cygne, where, about five years earlier, du Bousquier had bought a little house built of gray Jura stone, which is something between Breton slate and Norman granite.
There he established himself more comfortably than any householder in town; for he had managed to preserve certain furniture and decorations from the days of his splendor. But provincial manners and morals obscured, little by little, the rays of this fallen Sardanapalus; these vestiges of his former luxury now produced the effect of a glass chandelier in a barn. Harmony, that bond of all work, human or divine, was lacking in great things as well as in little ones.
Like the period which du Bousquier himself represented, the house was a jumble of dirt and magnificence. Being considered a man of leisure, du Bousquier led the same parasite life as the chevalier; and he who does not spend his income is always rich. His master had taught him, as he might an orang-outang, to rub the floors, dust the furniture, black his boots, brush his coats, and bring a lantern to guide him home at night if the weather were cloudy, and clogs if it rained. Often, when du Bousquier went to a grand dinner, he would take Rene to wait at table; on such occasions he made him take off his blue cotton jacket, with its big pockets hanging round his hips, and always bulging with handkerchiefs, clasp-knives, fruits, or a handful of nuts, and forced him to put on a regulation coat.
Rene would then stuff his fill with the other servants. This duty, which du Bousquier had turned into a reward, won him the most absolute discretion from the Breton servant. The pretty girl went upstairs, leaving Rene to finish his porringer of buckwheat in boiled milk. Du Bousquier, still in bed, was revolving in his mind his plans of fortune; for ambition was all that was left to him, as to other men who have sucked dry the orange of pleasure.
Ambition and play are inexhaustible; in a well-organized man the passions which proceed from the brain will always survive the passions of the heart. So—between ourselves, be it said— is what has happened a misfortune? Who and what are you working for now? Du Bousquier rubbed his cotton night-cap to the top of his head with a rotatory motion, which plainly indicated the tremendous fermentation of his ideas.
Du Bousquier was torn with conflicting sentiments, joy, distrust, calculation. He had long determined to marry Mademoiselle Cormon; for the Charter, on which he had just been ruminating, offered to his ambition, through the half of her property, the political career of a deputy. Besides, his marriage with the old maid would put him socially so high in the town that he would have great influence. Consequently, the storm upraised by that malicious Suzanne drove him into the wildest embarrassment. Without this secret scheme, he would have married Suzanne without hesitation.
In which case, he could openly assume the leadership of the liberal party in Alencon. After such a marriage he would, of course, renounce the best society and take up with the bourgeois class of tradesmen, rich manufacturers and graziers, who would certainly carry him in triumph as their candidate. Du Bousquier already foresaw the Left side. This solemn deliberation he did not conceal; he rubbed his hands over his head, displacing the cap which covered its disastrous baldness. Suzanne, meantime, like all those persons who succeed beyond their hopes, was silent and amazed.
To hide her astonishment, she assumed the melancholy pose of an injured girl at the mercy of her seducer; inwardly she was laughing like a grisette at her clever trick. These strong-minded persons are usually weak men who have a special catechism in the matter of womenkind. To them the whole sex, from queens of France to milliners, are essentially depraved, licentious, intriguing, not a little rascally, fundamentally deceitful, and incapable of thought about anything but trifles. To them, women are evil-doing queens, who must be allowed to dance and sing and laugh as they please; they see nothing sacred or saintly in them, nor anything grand; to them there is no poetry in the senses, only gross sensuality.
Where such jurisprudence prevails, if a woman is not perpetually tyrannized over, she reduces the man to the condition of a slave. Under this aspect du Bousquier was again the antithesis of the chevalier. When he made his final remark, he flung his night-cap to the foot of the bed, as Pope Gregory did the taper when he fulminated an excommunication; Suzanne then learned for the first time that du Bousquier wore a toupet covering his bald spot.
I have not abased myself to weep like a silly fool; I have not insisted; I have not tormented you. You now know my situation. Poor work-girl that I am, must I go to the hospital?
My mother could find an excuse to send me there,—an uncle who wants me, or a dying aunt, or a lady who sends for me. But I must have some money for the journey and for—you know what. This extraordinary piece of news was far more startling to du Bousquier than to the Chevalier de Valois. Without this agitation and without his inward delight for vanity is a swindler which never fails of its dupe , he would certainly have reflected that, supposing it were true, a girl like Suzanne, whose heart was not yet spoiled, would have died a thousand deaths before beginning a discussion of this kind and asking for money.
Du Bousquier then began bitter lamentations: he had the last payments to make on his house; the painter, the mason, the upholsterers must be paid. Suzanne let him run on; she was listening for the figures. Du Bousquier offered her three hundred francs. Suzanne made what is called on the stage a false exit; that is, she marched toward the door. Saving your presence, the ladies of the town have created an institution to protect poor creatures from destroying their infants, like that handsome Faustine of Argentan who was executed for it three years ago. She compared du Bousquier with that charming chevalier, who had given her nothing, it is true, but who had comprehended her, advised her, and carried all grisettes in his heart.
Recalled to a sense of gallantry, du Bousquier had a remembrance of past happiness and grunted his assent. Suzanne hid the sack in a sort of gamebag made of osier which she had on her arm, all the while cursing du Bousquier for his stinginess; for one thousand francs was the sum she wanted.
Once tempted of the devil to desire that sum, a girl will go far when she has set foot on the path of trickery. As she made her way along the rue du Bercail, it came into her head that the Maternity Society, presided over by Mademoiselle Cormon, might be induced to complete the sum at which she had reckoned her journey to Paris, which to a grisette of Alencon seemed considerable.
Besides, she hated du Bousquier. The latter had evidently feared a revelation of his supposed misconduct to Madame Granson; and Suzanne, at the risk of not getting a penny from the society, was possessed with the desire, on leaving Alencon, of entangling the old bachelor in the inextricable meshes of a provincial slander. In all grisettes there is something of the malevolent mischief of a monkey.
Accordingly, Suzanne now went to see Madame Granson, composing her face to an expression of the deepest dejection. Madame Granson, widow of a lieutenant-colonel of artillery killed at Jena, possessed, as her whole means of livelihood, a meagre pension of nine hundred francs a year, and three hundred francs from property of her own, plus a son whose support and education had eaten up all her savings.
She occupied, in the rue du Bercail, one of those melancholy ground-floor apartments which a traveller passing along the principal street of a little provincial town can look through at a glance. The street door opened at the top of three steep steps; a passage led to an interior courtyard, at the end of which was the staircase covered by a wooden gallery. From these indications it is easy to imagine Madame Granson in her cold salon with its yellow curtains and Utrecht velvet furniture, also yellow, as she straightened the round straw mats which were placed before each chair, that visitors might not soil the red-tiled floor while they sat there; after which she returned to her cushioned armchair and little work-table placed beneath the portrait of the lieutenant-colonel of artillery between two windows,—a point from which her eye could rake the rue du Bercail and see all comers.
She was a good woman, dressed with bourgeois simplicity in keeping with her wan face furrowed by grief. The rigorous humbleness of poverty made itself felt in all the accessories of this household, the very air of which was charged with the stern and upright morals of the provinces. At this moment the son and mother were together in the dining-room, where they were breakfasting with a cup of coffee, with bread and butter and radishes. Athanase Granson was a thin and pale young man, of medium height, with a hollow face in which his two black eyes, sparkling with thoughts, gave the effect of bits of coal.
The rather irregular lines of his face, the curve of his lips, a prominent chin, the fine modelling of his forehead, his melancholy countenance, caused by a sense of his poverty warring with the powers that he felt within him, were all indications of repressed and imprisoned talent. In any other place than the town of Alencon the mere aspect of his person would have won him the assistance of superior men, or of women who are able to recognize genius in obscurity. If his was not genius, it was at any rate the form and aspect of it; if he had not the actual force of a great heart, the glow of such a heart was in his glance.
Although he was capable of expressing the highest feeling, a casing of timidity destroyed all the graces of his youth, just as the ice of poverty kept him from daring to put forth all his powers. Provincial life, without an opening, without appreciation, without encouragement, described a circle about him in which languished and died the power of thought,—a power which as yet had scarcely reached its dawn. Moreover, Athanase possessed that savage pride which poverty intensifies in noble minds, exalting them in their struggle with men and things; although at their start in life it is an obstacle to their advancement.
Genius proceeds in two ways: either it takes its opportunity—like Napoleon, like Moliere—the moment that it sees it, or it waits to be sought when it has patiently revealed itself. Young Granson belonged to that class of men of talent who distrust themselves and are easily discouraged. His soul was contemplative. He lived more by thought than by action. The contempt which the world pours out on poverty was death to Athanase; the enervating heat of solitude, without a breath or current of air, relaxed the bow which ever strove to tighten itself; his soul grew weary in this painful effort without results.
Athanase was a man who might have taken his place among the glories of France; but, eagle as he was, cooped in a cage without his proper nourishment, he was about to die of hunger after contemplating with an ardent eye the fields of air and the mountain heights where genius soars.
His work in the city library escaped attention, and he buried in his soul his thoughts of fame, fearing that they might injure him; but deeper than all lay buried within him the secret of his heart,—a passion which hollowed his cheeks and yellowed his brow. He loved his distant cousin, this very Mademoiselle Cormon whom the Chevalier de Valois and du Bousquier, his hidden rivals, were stalking.
This love had had its origin in calculation. Moreover, he feared the ridicule the world would cast upon the love of a young man of twenty-three for an old maid of forty. Voucher Codes. Just Eat. National Trust. Premium Articles. Subscription offers. Subscription sign in. Read latest edition. UK Edition. US Edition. Log in using your social network account. Please enter a valid password. Keep me logged in. Want an ad-free experience?
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Certainly as late as , many men and women objected to women riding bicycles, not to mention wearing bloomers. And that classic doll Raggedy Ann received her own version of an Old Maid game in More recently, Old Maid helps children learn with computer games. Do you remember playing Old Maid?