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Full text of "Criquette"

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TO 

S. C. AND J. C. 

IN MEMORY OP MANY HAPPY DAYS 

IN EVANSTON, 

THIS TRANSLATION IS DEDICATED. 

Cbicaqo, January 1, 1891. 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2007 with funding from 

.IVIicrosoft Corporation 



http://www.archive.org/details/criquetteOOhaleiala 



Criquette^ ^^^ig^^^^ 
if ^ ^ ^ ^ By Ludovic Halevy 

Translated by Arthur D. Hall if ^ -g 




Chicago and New York ♦ « ♦ 
Rand, McNally & Company 



Copyright, 1891, by Rand, McNally & Co. 



iSRLF 
URU 

5140S54 



CRIQUETTE. 



I. 

It was early in the month of April, 1859. The 
school in the Place de la Mairie, of Belleville, had 
Just been dismissed, and the little girls came 
pouring out in tumultuous disorder, all chatter- 
ing and screaming at once. Suddenly a dispute 
arose, followed by a skirmish. A big girl threw 
down a poor little thing, who cried and struggled. 
All the others formed a circle and maliciously 
enjoyed the spectacle. 

A boy passed along, carrying upon his head an 
empty basket. He approached, broke the circle, 
placed his basket on the ground, and, snatching 
the little girl from the grasp of the big one, 
exclaimed, defiantly: 

"Let her alone! Don't one of you dare to 
touch her again!" 

The boy had a determined look about him, and 
no one ventured to move. 

"Come with me," he said to the little girl. 

But she was wild with anger, and she made a 
movement to Jump at her big opponent. 

"Stop that! Stop that!" cried the boy. 
"Come with me, I tell you! " 

(7) 



8 ORIQUKTTK. 

He dragged her off, and after they had gone a 
litlto way down the street, he said: 

" Where do you live?" 

"Not very far from here; No. 7 Rue de Tour- 
tiUe." 

"I will take you home. That big coward is 
following us, ready to grab you again. Do you 
live with your mamma?" 

"Yes." 

"What does she do?" 

"She sells apples at the comer of a street — 
apples in winter and flowers in summer. Do you 
live with your mamma, too?" 

"I have no mamma." 

"With your papa, then?" 

"I have no papa, either." 

" Are they dead? " 

" I suppose so; I never had any." 

"How old are you?" 

"Twelve. How old are youf " 

" Ten. Are you a pastry-cook? " 

"I am a pastry-cook's boy; the one at the 
comer of the Rue de Paris, near the omnibus 
stand." 

"Do you make much money?" 

"Oh, not millions. Ten francs a month. But 
I get my board and clothes. So, with my ten 
francs 1 can buy plays at four sous apiece. When 
I grow up, I am going to be an actor." 

* * An actor ! They play in theatres, don' t they? ' ' 

" Yes. Have you ever been to the theatre? " 

"No." 



CRIQUETTE. 9 

"I have been seven times in Belleville with my 
friends, and once to the Ambigu. I saw tragedies 
played. Oh! tragedies are splendid; full of fight- 
ing and killing. Ah, here's your house. Good- 
bye!" 

' ' What' s your name? ' ' 

' ' Pascal. What' s yours? ' ' 

"Mine? Celine. But mamma calls me Cri- 
quette." 

"Criquette is funnier. I like it better than 
Celine. Well, good-bye, Criquette!" 

"Good-bye, Pascal! Say — do you want to be 
friends with me? I don' t go to school on Sundays. 
Come and see me, and we will play together." 

"Oh, I can't. Sundays I sell cakes for my 
master on the boulevards. But when I pass the 
school on week-days, I will watch for you. Good- 
bye, Criquette! " 

"Good-bye, Pascal!" 

She was well named Criquette, for in appear- 
ance she was not unlike a cricket — thin, lank, and 
pale, but with a healthy, intelligent look. Great 
black eyes lighted up her sallow face. Criquette' s 
mother, the vender of fruits and flowers, was 
very, very poor, although she had once been in 
more comfortable circumstances. The father, 
Louis Brinquart, was a house-painter, a good 
workman, who toiled all day; never went to the 
public houses, loved his wife, and adored his little 
girl. Three years before, he had been instantly 
killed, by a fall from the scaffolding to the pave- 
ment. His comrades followed him to the grave, 



^ 



10 OBIQUETTB. 

and after leaving the cemetery, repaired to the 
nearest drinking-place. The mother took her 
little one by the hand and walked home through 
the snow to Belleville. 

One morning at daybreak, dnring the winter of 
1828, some masons, on their way to their work, 
found something wrapped up in an old number of 
an illustrated paper at the comer of the Fauborg 
Saint-Antoine and the Rue Saint-Maur; they took 
this something to the police station; it was a 
child of the female sex, a little bundle of human 
flesh, all icy and blue with the cold. Why is it 
that it is so hard for some children to live, and so 
hard for others to die? This something lived and 
became the poor woman who, thirty years after, 
found herself in exactly the same condition she 
had been the first day of her life— alone in the 
world, absolutely alone. As a token of those 
short years of rest — for the poor, rest is happiness 
— there remained to her only a poor, cheap photo- 
graph, the portrait of her man^ taken soon after 
her marriage, by a traveling photographer at the 
fair of Neuilly. And this portrait was already 
growing pale, and would soon fade away entirely. 

Brinquart left in the savings bank four hun- 
dred and fifty francs, which he had laid aside 
sou by sou. *' So that thqi little one shall not 
starve," he said, "if any incident should hap- 
pen." The accident was death. The four hun- 
dred and fifty francs were soon eaten up. The 
poor woman then tried to establish a little busi- 
ne88 in fruit and flowers; she had plenty of 



CRIQUETTE. 11 

courage, but no strength, no health; her lungs 
were weak; she had never recovered from the 
terrible cold she took the day she was brought 
into the world. The business was a very hard 
one; she had to go early every morning to the 
market and return to Belleville, bending beneath 
the weight of her burden. How many times she 
had sat down on the edge of the sidewalk, sore 
and weary, before mounting the terrible hill of 
Belleville! The people of the neighborhood often 
gave her a helping hand. She never complained, 
did the best she could, and appealed to the board 
of charity only at the last extremity. She was 
resigned to her own lot, but she suffered greatly 
that she could not do more for her little Criquette. 
Bread, soup, and potatoes formed their usual bill 
of fare; they almost never had meat. For six 
years she lived in this way, aided a little by her 
neighbor who dealt in charcoal — an excellent 
woman, not rich, but with a tender, compassion- 
ate heart. The poor are helped by the poor much 
oftener than by the rich. 

Such then was the first meeting of Criquette 
and Pascal; and the next day, when school was 
out, the boy was there, in the Place de la Mairie, 
watching for the little girl. She appeared, car- 
rying her books and lunch-basket. 

"I was waiting for you," said Pascal, "I 
wanted to see if that big girl was going to 
jump on you again. Do you want to take a 
little walk? I have the time. And then, here, 
I have brought you a cake. Our master gives us 



19 OKIQUETTB. 

one sometimes — old ones that are left over. Here, 
take it!" 

*' If there is only one, let us divide it." 

" No, that is for you. I have already eaten one 
this morning. It is still good, isn't it?" 

**0h, yes!" replied the little girl, crunching 
the cake between her teeth. 

'*Our master is a very good man; we have 
plenty to eat. Do youl Not too much? Is your 
mamma poor!" 

*'0h, yes." 

"I don't suppose she makes very much 
money?" 

"Oh, no." 

"I will bring you cakes, sometimes, if you 
like them." 

"Oh, yes." 

"And then there is something else that I have 
been thinking about since yesterday. There is 
no school on Sundays, and you might come with 
me. I would sell my cakes, and you flowers. 
Your mamma could arrange them for you in a 
little basket. You are bright and nice, and you 
would please the people, I am sure of it. That 
is important in business. We could make lots of 
money." 

"Oh, but mamma would not let me go like 
that, all alone." 

" Not all alone — with me! Listen. I am going 
to ask your mamma. Day after to-mon*ow is 
Sunday. We will begin at once." 

Criquette's mother at first made some objections 



CEIQUETTE. 13 

to the plan, but Pascal was eloquent and finally 
succeeded in overcoming them. 

"Go to my master," he said, "and inquire 
about me in Belleville, wherever you like. Every- 
one knows me. And have no fear. I will take 
good care of your little girl. We will not go 
into Paris, that is forbidden; but around the 
suburbs to Saint-Fargeau Lake. You will see 
that every Sunday she will bring you home forty 
sous, and money that she has made, not begged. 
She will have a good walk; it will amuse her and 
do her good. It is bad for her to stay every 
Sunday in this miserable street. And then," he 
added with an air of confidence and authority, 
"we shall succeed; Madame Brinquart, we shall 
succeed!" 

And indeed they did succeed. From the very 
first Sunday, Criquette sold all her flowers, and 
sold them at good prices. She attracted custom- 
ers by her pretty manners, and she kept them by 
her bright chatter; her bunches of violets at a sou 
apiece disappeared as by enchantment; two or 
three brought ten sous. Criquette returned home 
with an enormous sum — three francs. The little 
firm of Pascal and Criquette very soon became 
popular in Belleville; to such a point that at the 
end of two months, after nine Sundays all profit- 
able, one day the receipts were over five francs, 
and Pascal went to have a serious business talk 
with Madame Brinquart. He asked her to confide 
Criquette to him not only Sunday, but every day 
in the week. 



14 CRIQUETTK, 

"There is no need of her going to school any 
more. She knows how to read, write, and cipher. 
One day when we got a little mixed up with our 
money, Criquette took a bit of paper and added 
up two long rows of figures without making a 
single mistake. There is no use for a woman 
knowing any more than that. We get along so 
well together. She helps me to sell my cakes, 
and I help her to sell her flowers. And then she 
is full of ideas. Why, last Sunday at live o'clock 
our stock was all sold out; and it was she, 
Criquette, who thought of buying from a grocer 
some sticks of barley-sugar and some gingercakes 
for a sou apiece, and we sold them for two sous. 
That's something like business! And that was 
how Criquette had more thali five francs. If you 
only knew how clever she is. She doesn't 
waste any time. She can tell right away who 
will buy and who won't. Don't be cross, Madame 
Brinquart; let me have Criquette, and we will 
make a fortune; you see if we don't." 

Criquette begged and prayed, promised to be 
very careful, never to leave Pascal, and always to 
return before dark. The mother allowed herself 
to be persuaded. A new life began for the two 
children— a life happy and free. They were their 
own ma-sters; they worked, they supported them- 
selves, and every day the number of their custom- 
ers increased. Everybody in Belleville and the 
suburbs knew them and bore them goodwill. 
They felt that they were something more than 
mere children when, at night, they figured up their 



CRIQTJETTE. 15 

receipts and counted their money. Pascal was the 
head of the firm. He was proud to protect Cri- 
quette, and Criquette was happy to be protected. 
But Pascal, after all, always yielded to Criquette' s 
wishes. When Pascal said, "Let us go to the 
left," if Criquette answered, "No, let us go to 
the right," there would be a dispute; but the 
end of the dispute was always the same: Criquette 
always had her way. 

For three months the life in the open air, in a 
sort of active, hard-working vagabondage, seemed 
to them delightful. They started off every morn- 
ing, tramped the streets of Belleville, and then 
reached the Saint-Gervais meadows. 

The surroundings of Paris have changed very 
much during the last thirty years. Thirty years 
ago, after the fortifications were passed you found 
yourself at once in the country. A poor, bar- 
ren country, to be sure, but still the country, 
with little stunted trees, which gave Pascal and 
Criquette the impression of deep, majestic for- 
ests. 

Here they stopped; here, in the heat of the 
midday, they found a little coolness and shade; 
and here they lunched off a big piece of bread, 
four sous' worth of cherries or strawberries, and 
the clear water of the fountain, drank from the 
hollow of the hand. A meagre fare, but one 
which, helped by the fresh air, agreed admirably 
with Criquette. She was less pale and thin than 
formerly. Sparkling with mischief and gaiety, 
her big black eyes blazed merrily in the middle 



16 ORIQUETTB. 

of her healthy, sunburned face. She walked 
from morning till night, and never felt tired. 

After lunch they rested for an hour; but it was 
an hour well occupied, all the same. Pascal had 
promised Madame Brinquart to finish Criquette's 
education, and he kept his word. He had l)een 
one of the most brilliant pupils of the Belleville 
public school. The previous year, when eleven 
years of age, he had taken all the prizes — the prize 
for reading, the prize for spelling, the prize for 
geography, and the prize for arithmetic. Every 
day now he gave Criquette a lesson in dictation; 
and the words were invariably taken from one 
of those play-books which composed the library 
of the young professor. Criquette sat down upon 
the ground, with her back against the tree, a 
block of paper in her lap and a pencil in her 
hand; and Pascal, also seated on the ground, dic- 
tated to her, for example, this tirade from "The 
Man with the Three Faces; or. The Outlaw of 
Venice:" "I know that to succeed, there are 
many obstacles to be vanquished; I know that 
under the name of Vivaldi^ I can not escape the 
decree which has set a price upon my head; that, 
under the name of Edgar , I am a mark for the 
daggers of the conspirators; and, finally, under 
that of Ahelino^ I am exposed to an infamous 
death!" (With enthusiasm.) And then Pascal 
was obliged to explain to Criquette that these last 
words must be placed in parentheses, and why. 

(With enthusiasm.) " But what matters death 
to him who immortalizes himself ! If I fall I carry 



CRIQUETTE. 17 

with me the consoling thought of having per- 
formed a glorious action, and leave behind the 
regrets and esteem of my friends." 

"A period. That will do," said Pascal; and 
he proceeded conscientiously to correct Criquette's 
task, which was generally full of bad spelling. 
When the dictation was not too bad, the professor 
gave a cake to his pupil; and the pupil, in grat- 
itude to the professor, offered him a stick of bar- 
ley-sugar — for she had added the sale of barley- 
sugar to her trade in flowers. 

Then came the turn of reading, always from the 
theatrical pamphlets; Pascal cared only for dra- 
mas, and Criquette was soon imbued with the 
same passion. The more sombre, extravagant, 
and incomprehensible the dramas were, the more 
keen was their enjoyment. They read in a loud 
voice, each in turn, frightened, charmed, over- 
whelmed with surprise and terror at all these 
adventures and atrocities, combats and duels, 
kidnapings and assassinations. Sometimes the 
scene was a sumptuous Venetian palace and 
sometimes a dirty Parisian lodging-house. Some- 
times the poison of the Borgias flowed in streams, 
and sometimes the rag-picker's bludgeon fell with 
a thud. 

They glided into mysterious subterranean cav- 
erns, and they heard resound the echoes of the 
famous Tower of the North. The dead bodies 
disappeared by dozens in the water of the la- 
goons. The walls had ears, and they walked 
within these walls with ears. It was a fantastic 

2 



18 ORIQUSTTE. 

defile of cniel tyrants, masked spies, rag-pickers, 
gagged maidens, noble lords, cabmen, dsiy^ling 
princesses, and pretty iiower-girls. Pascal and 
Criquette reveled in all these inexplicable and 
terrible things, delighted to tremble, delighted 
not to understand it all. 

It is claimed that the drama is dead; perhaps 
that is because it tried to become too sensible, 
too reasonable. It flourished once, because 
authors were not bothered as to style, proba- 
bility, and historical truth. The drama spoke 
then a language peculiar to itself, and one which 
was the delight of the public. 

They applauded when the villain exclaimed: 
"Unfortunate mortals, do not envy the prosper- 
ity of crime; the pillow of remorse is stuffed 
with thorns! " 

They applauded when an old sergeant, still 
black with powder, cried: " The Cossacks! Bah! 
Don't you know that we beat them at Austerlitz, 
two hours ago? " 

Criquette had written these two speeches under 
the dictation of Pascal. He was highly satisfied 
with his little pupil. The faults in spelling were 
less frequent. But the month of October arrived, 
bringing short, chilly, and rainy days. There was 
less life in the streets, fewer promenaders in the 
Saint-Gervais meadows and at Romain ville. The re- 
ceipts diminished. Every evening Pascal brought 
home three-quarters of his cakes, and Criquette 
half of her barley-sugar; when winter came with 
its ice and snow, what would become of them both? 



CRIQUETTE. 19 

To crown their misfortunes, about the end of 
October Madame Brinquart fell ill. She was 
attacked with fever, was obliged to give up her 
trips to the market, and finally was unable to 
leave her bed. She was dependent upon Cri- 
quette, and the affairs of the poor child were in 
a very bad condition. No more flowers. Noth- 
ing but barley-sugar, which cost a sou a stick 
and had to be sold for two sous. Criquette 
experienced some very miserable days: twelve 
sous, fifteen sous, sometimes twenty sous, never 
more. 

It was poverty — utter, complete poverty. And 
one Saturday afternoon, about five o'clock, as 
the two children were descending the Rue de 
Paris, after a day which had been even worse 
than the preceding days, Pascal said to Criquette: 

" How much have you made^' 

"Nine sous." 

" Only nine sous? " 

"Yes; I had eighteen sticks this morning, and 
I have nine left, a sou's profit a stick — " 

" Yes, that makes only nine sous." 

They walked on in silence. Then, after a 
moment's reflection, Pascal said: 

"Look here, Criquette, this is Saturday, my 
pay-day. The master has raised my wages. He 
gives me now a hundred sous a week. You come 
with me to the shop, wait for me, and I will give 
you my hundred sous." 

"Oh, no! I won't take them. It is your 
money, Pascal." 



90 ORIQUKITE. 

*' Now, see here, Criquett-fi; Vif^ten to mo. If I 
had u mamma, and if she were poor and Hick, and 
if I did not have any money, and if you had a 
hundred sons, wouldn't you give them to me?" 

*'0f course I would give them to you." 

"Well, then, you ought to understand— here 
we are at the shop. Waitl I am going to bring 
you the hundred sous, and I will give them to 
you every Saturday as long as your mamma has 
to remain in bed. You will take them; you 
promise?" 

" Yes; I promise." 

"Thank you, Criquette." 

She took the hundred sous. Mamma Brinquart 
was affected to tears when Criquette brou^lit her 
Pascal's big coin. The same evening she related 
to the charcoal-woman what had occurred. Tlie 
next morning the charcoal- woman told it to the 
butcher's wife, who told it to the cook at No. 22 
Rue de Paris, who told it to her master. This 
master was the manager of the Belleville theatre, 
and a very good man as well. He knew the two 
children, who very often stationed themselves on 
the sidewalk in front of the stage door, to see the 
actors and actresses pass by. Pascal's one i)assion 
was the theatre. Not a day passed that he did 
not say to Criquette: 

"When we grow up, we will go on the stage." 

The manager of the Belleville theatre had 
noticed Criquette' s brightness and prettiness. He 
had stopped many times in the street to buy flowers 
of her, and to make her talk. He found means to 



CRIQUETTE. 21 

come to Criquette's aid without untying his 
purse-strings. 

The next evening, between the first and second 
acts of "The Pearl of Savoy," Criquette appeared 
at the entrance of the first gallery, and cried out 
at the top of her voice: 

"Here you are! Cakes piping hot! Who 
wants hot cakes? Two sous for a hot cake! " 

This was called out so boldly, in such a pierc- 
ing and comical voice, that an immense burst of 
laughter broke out all over the house. Every- 
body turned around. Some gallery boys recog- 
nized her. 

"Criquette! It's Criquette!'' 

At the same time, Pascal made his appearance 
at the other entrance to the gallery and repeated 
Criquette's cry: 

"Here you are! Cakes piping hot! Who 
wants hot cakes? Two sous for a hot cake! " 

The experiment was a tremendous success. 
Everybody wanted to buy cakes from Criquette. 
It became the fashion, the rage. Through the 
influence of the manager, a little contract in 
proper form was drawn up between the two chil- 
dren and Pascal's employer, by which they were to 
receive two centimes for each cake they sold. At 
once their sales amounted to from one hundred 
and fifty to two hundred cakes on week-days, and 
from three to four hundred on Sundays. United 
by the strongest and most innocent affection, the 
children made a common purse of their money; 
that is to say, all they made from the sale of the 



SS ORIQUETTX. 

cakes went for food and medicine for Mamma 
Brinquart. 

The good lady recovered the following month, 
and resumed her old occupation at the street 
comer. The popularity which Criquette had 
gained in selling cakes was of advantage to her in 
her trade in flowers and barley -candy. The two 
children made on an average six or seven francs a 
day. They were literally rolling in money. 
Pascal added to his library quite a member of 
melodramas. 

But this was not all. They went every evening 
to the theatre free. When the entr'acte was 
over, they climbed up to the third gallery, and 
there, beside the policeman on duty, with all 
their eyes and all their ears, devoured greed- 
ily the spectacle. 

And what a variety there was in the repertoire! 
Always dramas, and a new piece every Saturday. 
So, during the course of the winter, Pascal and 
Criquette heard seven times each, without losing 
a syUable, "The Pearl of Savoy," "The Old Cor- 
poral," "The Pirates of the Savanna," "The 
Willow Copse," "Don Cffisar de Bazan," " Rich- 
ard Arlington," etc., and fourteen times "The 
Tower of Nesle," which had an immense 
success and obtained the honor — a rare thing at 
Belleville — of a second series of representations. 

" The Tower of Nesle ' ' was the drama Criquette 
and Pascal liked best; their favorite reading, one 
of their classic works, and which had served for 
many dictations. So it happened that on the 



CEIQUETTE. 23 

evening of the fourteenth performance the two 
children discovered that they knew the entire 
piece by heart; and the fancy took them, during 
the second tableau of the third act, to go and play 
in the corridor the great scene between Buridan 
and Margaret of Burgundy. There, before three 
or four oumeases^ who abandoned their knitting 
to watch them, they attacked resolutely the cele- 
brated dialogue in the Orsini tavern. 

" It is not the Bohemian." 

"No, it is the captain; but if the captain is the 
Bohemian, it will come to the same thing." 

Et coder a^ et ccetera^ et ccetera. 

It did not go badly at all. The oumeuses ap- 
plauded and laughed till they cried. The two 
children skipped and mutilated many sentences, 
but their acting was full of confidence and spirit. 
They were absorbed by their parts, and their 
audacious variation of the text added to the charm 
of their interpretation. 

At the moment that Criquette was delivering 
the speech, "What do you want of me, then? 
Do you want gold? You shall plunge your hands 
deep in the treasury of the State" — at that 
moment, chance brought toward the corridor the 
manager of the theatre, together with Bidache, a 
comedian of the Porte-Saint-Martin, who was 
interested in an actress of the company, and who, 
the preceding month, had come one evening to 
Belleville to play at the young lady's benefit. 

Bidache and the manager stopped, listened, 
and brusquely entering the corridor, interrupted 



M OBIQUBTTB. 

the tirade of Margaret of Burgundy^ who, red as 
a poppy, 8tammei*ed and 8topi>ed short. 

"That wasn't bad," said the manager. "Go 
on, Criquette, go on." 

Go on! Play before a manivgerl Play before 
Monsieur Bidache! Criquette resisted but weakly, 
and soon regained all her confidence. The 
scene was resumed and brought to a close by 
the two children, with much spirit and drollery. 

"They are very amusing," said the comedian 
of the Porte-Saint- Martin, "and they have both 
much talent, much talent, especially the little 
girl." 

These last words vexed Pascal; he loved Cri- 
quette with all his heart, but he was already an 
artist, with all an artist's weakness. 



CEIQUETTE. 25 



n. 

Two weeks afterward, Thursday, March 15, 
1860, the following notice was pasted on all the 
bill-boards of the Porte- Saint-Martin theatre: 

CLOSED 

For the rehearsals of 

GRI-GRI ! 

A Fairy i^pectacle in Four Acts and Twenty Tableaux. 

On Saturday the first public representation 

wiU positively be given. 

It was nine o'clock in the evening, and the first 
act was just finished; the rehearsal was given 
before about twenty persons, seated in the orches- 
tra stalls — the manager, the authors, the censor 
of plays, and some fifteen journalists. The 
authors of the piece were three in number — all 
three grave and gray-haired, all three furnished 
with a memorandum-book and a pencil, and all 
three taking notes. They were grouped about 
the manager, all three faces wearing a stern, 
threatening expression; and every now and then 
they exchanged looks full of meaning. From 
time to time, one of the three gentlemen would 
half rise, boiling with indignation, and try to 
interrupt the rehearsal and address the actors. 

"Sit down! Sit down!" exclaimed the man- 
ager. ' ' Let the rehearsal go on. ' ' 



96 ORIQUETTK. 

'*But they do not respect the text. Gifflard, 
eepecially, gags all the time. Fancy! at rehears- 
al, before the first performance! What will it be 
afterward?" 

"Please sit down. Take notes of everything. 
You can speak to Gifflard during the inter- 
mission." 

The curtain fell upon a ballet of giants and 
dwarfs, a dance quite original in its way, and 
one that appeared to rather please, than other- 
wise, the fifteen newspaper men. They even 
deigned to applaud. The manager was delighted; 
but one of the three authors, the most important, 
tapping him dryly upon the shoulder, said to 
him in a most tragical tone: 

" Let us go down to your ojffice! " 

"Yes," repeated the other two. "Let us go 
down to your office! " 

"Very well." 

A^'hen the door of the managerial apartment 
was closed upon them, the chief of the coUabora- 
teurs — he was decorated — spoke as follows: 

" In the first place, let us try to be calm." 

This was the beginning of a violent scene. 
The three authors declaimed in the most furious 
manner possible. 

" The actors do not know a word of their parts! 
They have missed every point! The scenery is 
miserably handled! The electric light is all wrong! 
Half of the costumes must be made over! The 
chorus sung false! We will not allow our piece to 
be product Saturday under such conditions! " 



CRIQUETTE. 27 

And all three, pale with, anger, repeated: 

"No! No! No! You shall not play it on 
Saturday!" 

The manager faced them with a great display 
of courage and determination. 

"The piece shall be played on Saturday. 
Everything is in readiness. The actors know 
their lines, but they are too weary to repeat 
them. They are worn out with all their rehears- 
als; but Saturday, at the public performance, 
they will have recovered, and will play admirably. 
If I should listen to you, more evenings would 
be given up to the rehearsals than to the per- 
formances. I am not willing to ruin myself 
simply to please you. Do you know what the 
twelve nights I have closed my house have cost 
mel More than two hundred thousand francs." 

"Oh! Oh! Two hundred thousand francs!" 

"Yes; more than two hundred thousand 
francs." 

Then, one of the three authors, drawing nearer 
the manager, with folded arms and scowling 
brows, said portentiously: 

"And how about your little Charlotte? What 
can you say of your little Charlotte? For three 
months we have told you again and again that 
she would not do, but you would not listen to us; 
and this evening you see what a failure your 
little Charlotte is." 

" That is the first reasonable remark you have 
made," responded the manager. "Yes; I ac- 
knowledge that the child is incompetent." 



38 OBIQURTTB. 

*' Incompetent! No one could hear a word she 
said! No one!" 

*' Granted. She was frightened, and her voice 
failed her; but the part is one of such slight 
importance — " 

" Slight importance! Slight importance! Why, 
you evidently know nothing of the piece you have 
been rehearsing for the last three months. You 
pay all your attention to the ballets! There is 
the play also, the play, you understand, the play, 
which should count for something! " 

'*The part of the little Princess has not ten 
8i)eeches." 

"Yes, but what speeches! The entire piece 
centers about Colibri; and the climax is the kick- 
ing scene, at the end of the third act." 

"And if the kicking scene fails in effect, the 
situation, and the end of the act, go for nothing. 
The whole piece is a failure. You will see that 
presently. Our third act will be ruined ; and there 
are newspaper men in front. Your Charlotte 
will never make a success of the kicking scene." 

The three authors, excited to the highest pitch, 
marched up and down the manager's office, gestic- 
ulating, and urging each other on; and it was 
ever the same cry: 

"The kicking scene! Charlotte! The kicking 
scene! Charlotte! Never! never!" 

The manager had thrown himself down in an 
arm-chair, and was reflecting. In spite of his 
prejudice in favor of the ballet, he was a good 
theatrical man. He knew the piece well; and he 



CRIQUETTE. 29 

realized that the kicking scene would indeed have 
much to do with its success. 

At this moment the prompter entered, timidly 
followed by a yoang man dressed in a costume of 
yellow satin. 

"Bidache complains of his costume," said the 
prompter. 

"Oh! " retorted the manager, "what difference 
does it make about Bidache' s costume?" 

Then his anger was suddenly turned against 
the unfortunate prompter. 

"It is all your fault! It was you who recom- 
mended that Charlotte to me! These gentlemen 
think she is execrable, and they are right. She 
is execrable!" 

"But, Monsieur, we tried all the little girls 
connected with the theatre, and Charlotte was 
the best of them all; but this evening she saw 
the people in the front of the house, and she was 
frightened." 

" You should have sought in other theatres, in 
the suburbs." 

"I have done so. Monsieur, but in vain. The 
part is not a long one, but it is difficult and im- 
portant." 

" Important! You hear? " exclaimed one of the 
authors, triumphantly. 

" Come, don't let us quarrel any more. Let us 
try to find a remedy. There was another one, 
named Mathilde, who was better than Charlotte." 

"Oh, no, Monsieur. She was very weak, very 
weak, indeed." 



80 ORIQUETTE. 

At this moment, it occurred to Bidache, the 
gentleman in yellow satin who was dissatisfied 
with his costume, that he might appropriately 
take part in the discussion. 

"I beg your pardon, gentlemen, if I interfere, 
but it is in the general interest; before the re- 
hearsals commenced, I happened one evening to 
be at Belleville, and there I heaixi a little girl 
recite the r61e of Margaret of Burgundy with so 
much intelligence, and aptitude, that just now, 
when I saw the failure of Charlotte, I thought of 
that little girl. She would be just the one for you. ' * 

" Has she ever been on the stage? " 

*' I don't know. It was in the corridor of the 
theatre that I heard her. She sells cakes during 
the intermissions; but there is no question about 
her cleverness." 

"Look here, Bidache," said the manager, "you 
are not on in the second act; change your clothes, 
take a cab, go to Belleville, and bring the little 
girl here. We can hear what she has to say dur- 
ing the intermission, and try her this very 
evening." 

" I will go at once, Monsieur. But," remem- 
bering what had brought him there, "you will 
think about my costume? " 

"Yes, mylriend, yes." 

"The cloak is too long — much too long. If it 
were shorter, every time that I turn I could pro- 
duce a comic effect." 

"That is an excellent idea," said one of the 
three authors, gravely. 



ORIQTJETTE. 31 

"Is it not, Monsieur? And then, you know, I 
must have some sort of business to depend upon, 
for my part, in itself, is not funny." 

*' Not funny, your part? Not funny? " 

"Now, don't quarrel," said the manager. 
"Keep your temper. Go, Bidache, go! " 

Half an hour afterward, Bidache reached Belle- 
ville. They were playing "Lazarus the Shep- 
herd," and the third act was about to begin. 

" I would like," said Bidache to the doorkeeper, 
" to speak to that little girl who sells cakes dur- 
ing the intermissions." 

"Criquette? She is in the gallery, listening 
to the play. Don't take the trouble to go up, 
Monsieur Bidache! I will send an usher for 
her." 

The doorkeeper had the deepest respect for 
Bidache, who had filled the house the night he 
had deigned to play at Belleville. 

In a few minutes Criquette appeared, followed 
by Pascal. 

"What is the matter?" she asked. 

"Here is Monsieur Bidache, who wants to 
speak to you." 

The two children regarded Bidache with admir- 
ing awe. An actor — an actor from Paris! 

Bidache led Criquette a little aside into the 
vestibule, and said to her: 

"Would you like to act a child's part in a 
play?" 

" Upon a stage — ^upon a real stage? " 

" Yes; at the Porte- Saint-Martin." 



«i OBIQUXTTB. 

" The Port^-Snint ISfm tini That is a big thea- 
tre, isn't itr' 

"A very big theatie." 

"In Paris!" 

"Yes, in Paris." 

"And there will be a part for Pascal, too? 
Here is Pascal — you remember him, don't you? 
He acted Buridan the other evening; and he acts 
better than I — much better than I. It was he 
who taught me all I know. There must be a 
part for Pascal." 

"We will try to find something for him; but 
you are the one I came for. Do you want to take 
the part, or don't you? " 

"Yes! yes!" cried Pascal, excitedly. "Of 
course she does — of course she does! " 

" Then I will take her to the manager at once." 

"At once! " exclaimed Criquette. "And what 
will become of our cakes?" 

" Oh, you will be paid for your cakes. Come! 
Come! " 

" Not without Pascal! I will never go without 
Pascal!" 

" Is he your brother? " 

" Not really, but just like one." 

"Well, m take him, too. Come, both of 
you." 

The doorkeeper looked on in amazement at this 
summary carrying off of Criquette by Bidache. 
The cab drove rapidly toward Paris, and at last 
landed the two children in the Rue de Bondy, 
before the stage door of the Porte- Saint- Martin. 



CEIQTTETTE. 33 

They mounted the dark, winding staircase which 
led to the theatre proper. Bidache pushed open 
with his foot an old canvas-covered door, which 
was half off its hinges and gradually falling to 
pieces. Suddenly, the children perceived the 
immense stage of the Porte- Saint-Martin. They 
stopped short in amazement and delight. "Go 
on! Go on ! " said Bidache; and with a sort of 
terror and religious awe they approached the 
side scenes. 

However, Criquette and Pascal were already in 
a certain sense professionals. Now and then 
they had wandered about behind the scenes of the 
Belleville theatre, and talked with the actors who 
amused themselves by teaching them the terms 
and slang of the stage. But what was that poor 
little suburban play-house in comparison with 
this vast and magnificent theatre, ablaze with 
millions of gas-jets, and resounding with a grand, 
heroic march, played by a band stationed upon 
the stage? 

It was the close of the second act. Labori- 
ously, and jerkily, a huge platform rose through 
a trap-door in the stage, laden with garlands of 
scantily clothed women, supposed to represent 
flowers; and who were fastened to the branches 
by iron bands. Stiff, cramped, and jolted by the 
irregular movement of the ascent, they were 
forced to conceal their discomfort, smile idiot- 
ically, and wave their arms about with meaning- 
less gestures. From the flies descended at the 
same time an immense cluster of women, with 

3 



84 OBiQinnTB. 

even less drapery, who, beneath the glare of the 
electric light, moved down to meet their comrades. 
You could hear the grinding of the windlasses 
and the creaking of the ropes. The flooring of 
the stage shook, and the whole building trembled 
slightly. Now and then one of the poor girls 
uttered a little cry of alarm. " Don't be afraidl 
It's all right — there's no dangerl" called out the 
head machinist, he himself turning a little pale, 
however. Louder and faster played the band. 
Bengal lights flashed their green and red flames 
on all sides, and enveloped the two children as in 
the glare of a conflagration. Revolving suns with 
glittering rays whirled on the stage behind the 
garlands of women as they hung grouped in 
space. And the big red curtain fell slowly, 
slowly, slowly, so as to prolong as much as pos- 
sible the bewildering spectacle. This transfor- 
mation scene was the glory of the piece. 

Criquette was wild with excitement. At the 
first flash of the Bengal lights, she seized Pascal's 
hand and held on to it until the fall of the cur- 
tain, digging her little nails into his flesh in her 
admiration. Pascal, however, felt nothing, and 
it was not until the next day that he found in 
the palm of his hand, and laughingly showed to 
Criquette, "the marks of her claws." 

The act had gone well. The fifteen journalists 
had been greatly pleased with the transformation 
scene, and the three authors had entirely recov- 
ered their good humor. After the act was over, 
when they came behind the scenes with the man- 



CEIQUETTE. 36 

ager, they found Bidache waiting for them, full 
of pride at the success of his expedition. 

"Here she is," he said, presenting Criquette. 
"I must go and dress! I have only just time; 
but you will remember my costume? " 

"Of course! of course!" 

At the very first glance, Criquette captured 
the hearts of her judges. One thing struck 
them immediately: the bright intelligence of her 
expression. "Your face is all eyes," Pascal said 
to her one day. And it was true. Criquette' s 
beauty was all in her eyes — in her tender, shining 
eyes — which spoke, smiled with her lips, and 
gave soul and life to her whole countenance. 

"Well, so you wish to act, do you?" said the 
manager. 

"Oh, yes, Monsieur; yes, indeed." 

Her voice trembled, and she clutched Pascal's 
hand, which she still held. 

"Are you afraid already? " 

"It isn't that, Monsieur, but what I saw just 
now was so beautiful — so beautiful! I can not for- 
get it." 

The manager turned to the authors. 

' ' Shall we go to the green-room now, during this 
intermission, and see what she can do?" 

"Yes, of course." 

" Send to the green-room," said the manager to 
the prompter, ' ' little Edouard, the two ambassa- 
dors, and come yourself with the prompt-copy." 

In a few minutes they were all gathered 
together in the green-room, and Mademoiselle 



88 OBIQUETTE. 

Bosita, the leading actress of the extravaganza, 
with a far cloak thrown over her stage costume, 
came, out of curiosity, to witness the rehearsal. 
*'Now, pay attention," said the manager to 
Criquette, *'and I will explain to you the scene. 
You have only one speech to make, but it must 
be spoken well; and then there are many things 
to be done in pantomime. You are the daughter 
of a great king, who is very powerful and very 
rich. You are called the Princess Colibri. You 
make your entrance preceded by a brilliant pro- 
cession of lords, soldiers, and attendants. You 
wear a beautiful dress, all of gold, with a crown 
on your head, like a queen, and a splendid 
mantle of velvet with a long train. There will be 
two little negroes behind you to carry your train. 
You descend from your carriage — a little carriage 
where you sit all alone, drawn by four little 
white ponies — you descend with an air of 
haughtiness, pride, and dignity. Do you under- 
stand me?" 

"Yes, Monsieur. Goon! Gk) on!" 
" There are, on the stage, two rows of noblemen, 
who bow before you very low — very low. You 
give them your hand to kiss, but only the tips of 
your fingers, and you pass by them almost with- 
out glancing at them, with your grand air still; 
in fact the grander air you assume, the more 
effective it will be, because of what follows. You 
stop five or six steps from the place where that 
line of gas-jets is, and there Monsieur — you see 
that gentleman in a red dress — Monsieur says to 



CRIQUETTE. 37 

you, ' Princess, this is the young prince, your be- 
trothed.' You look at the young prince, that 
little fellow there — he is not handsome, with his 
red hair, his parrot nose, and the hump on his 
back — you look at him and you say — " 

Then the manager stopped, and turning to the 
prompter, said: 

"Lombard, give her the exact words." 
And the prompter, an old man with eye-glasses 
and a patriarchal air — ^it was said in the theatre 
that he had been a sub-prefect during the Hun- 
dred Days — the prompter, in a deep, sepulchral 
voice, read the following sentence: 

"Ah! bah! he is too ugly. I won't have such 
a clown as that! " 

"That is all," said the manager. "Can you 
remember that speech, or do you want it written 
on a piece of paper? " 

" It isn't worth while. I shall remember." 
And slowly, without emphasis or expression, 
Criquette, to fix the words in her memory, 
repeated them softly to herself. 

"Ah! bah! he is too ugly. I won't have such 
a clown as that!" 
Then, addressing the manager, she said: 
" I know them now. Is there anything else? " 
"Yes; one thing more. As you finish that 
speech, and in order that it may have more effect, 
you swing about and give a disdainful kick of 
your train, with a little gesture, not too much. 
Do you understand?" 
"Yes; vulgar, without really being so." 



38 ORIQUKTTB. 

This was said so simply and naturally that they 
all stored in surprise. 

** Ah!" exclaimed the manager, "she will suit. 
Let us commence. Let us commence at once. Go 
there, to the other end of the room. These three 
gentlemen will have the kindness to represent the 
noblemen. You find them at your right, as you 
descend from the carriage, and you hold out to 
them your hand. There, now. You descend — ^" 

"Oh, don't tell it to me again; I understand." 

Then Criquette, with imperturbable dignity, re- 
hearsed the whole scene — haughty, cold, disdain- 
ful, insolent — receiving from the height of her 
grandeur the congratulations of the three noble- 
men, and scarcely allowing them to brush the 
tips of her fingers with their lips. She walked 
down to the little prince; and while the ambassa- 
dor spoke, she regarded her betrothed fixedly, 
without a gesture, without a movement, and, 
finally, at the exact moment when the speech was 
to be made, she burst out with: "Ah! bah!" 
etc., with such vivacity, and such drollness, that 
all, beginning with the old prompter, laughed 
heartily. 

As for the kick, that was a masterpiece. As she 
kicked her train, the right arm of the Princess 
Colibrij with a marvelous meaning in the gest- 
ure, performed the most expressive pantomime. 
Then, by one of those instinctive movements 
which show a nature made for the stage, Criquette 
turned her back and hurriedly marched to the 
other end of the room, her arms in the air, all 



CEIQUETTE. 39 

trembling with fury and indignation. A great 
actress could not have done better. 

The three authors were in transports. 

"Try to do just the same on the stage," said 
the manager. 

"Oh! IshaU." 

"You must rehearse at once upon the stage." 

" You are a love, do you know it? " said Rosita, 
kissing Criquette in a burst of enthusiasm; "a 
real love! Come to my dressing-room during 
the next intermission and I will give you some 
bonbons." 

An hour afterward, on the stage, at the end of 
the third act, it was quite another thing. The 
costumer had tried to dress Criquette in the gown 
of the Princess Colihri, but Criquette was much 
smaller and thinner than Charlotte. The dress 
hung all about her, a shapeless mass; so the 
costumer had to be satisfied with placing upon 
her head the jeweled crown, and attaching the 
big mantle by two clasps to her back. The effect 
was very odd when Criquette appeared, the last 
in the gorgeous procession, with her train of red 
velvet, lined with white satin, over her shabby 
dress of well-worn black alpaca, and beneath, 
her heavy shoes, all white with the dust of 
Belleville. 

The three authors were uneasy. "Never," 
they said to themselves, "will she do as well as 
she did at first. ' ' They were wrong to be alarmed, 
however. Criquette surpassed herself; she re- 
peated all her effects with astonishing precision. 



40 ORIQUETTE. 

spoke the speech with the same confidence, and 
gave the kick with the same gusto; but tliere 
was also a new effect, unexpected, irresistible, 
startling. 

When Criquette in exasperation turned to dash 
up the stage, she dragged violently along the 
two little negroes, who, not expecting anything 
of the sort — this business was entirely Criquette' s 
own creation — were surprised at the sudden move- 
ment of the Princess, and fell flat upon their 
noses. 

The spectators were wildly enthusiastic. The 
fifteen journalists applauded with might and 
main. The mothers of the ballet-girls, crowded 
together at the end of the auditorium, doubled 
over with laughter. The musicians of the orches- 
tra stamped their feet. The three authors with 
one accord, which rarely happened, exclaimed: 

"That is excellent! The two little negroes 
thrown down! We must keep that! They must 
fall every evening." 

But the poor little things were hurt; not much, 
but a little, and they began to yell lustily; at 
which all the journalists, the mothers of the 
ballet-girls, and the musicians laughed all the 
louder. Then one of the three authors said: 

"The little negroes must not cry; it is too 
sad." 

" Yes," said another, " it is very funny. They 
must cry." 

A violent discussion now broke out between the 
two. The thiid author was undecided. 



CRIQUETTE. 41 

"I don't know," he said, " whetlier they ought 
to cry or not; there are reasons for and there are 
reasons against it." 

"There is no need for them to cry," said the 
manager. "They cried well to-night, because 
they were hurt, but to-morrow they will not be 
hurt, and they will not cry well." 

While this grave debate was going on, all the 
people on the stage tendered Criquette an ovation. 
Rosita was wild with enthusiasm. 

"Don't forget," she said to Criquette, "to 
come soon to my dressing-room for your bon- 
bons." 

"No, Madame, I will not forget." 

But Criquette was looking for Pascal in the 
crowd. Was he satisfied with her? That is what 
she wanted to know. She perceived him at last, 
and, running to him, said: 

" Were you in front? " 

"Yes." 

"Did'Idowell? TeUme!" 

" Yes, indeed. You must ask a big price from 
the manager." 

"Oh! not too much! not too much! Suppose 
he should be angry! And it is so nice to act — so 
nice — so nice!" 

"Don't be afraid. It will be all right. Every- 
body about me was saying, ' She is worth money! 
She is worth money!' There is the manager. 
Leave me to arrange it. He must give you a lot 
of money." 

The manager took the two children into his 



42 ORIQUETTR. 

oiBoe, and aaid to Criquette, who was still arrayed 
in her royal crown and her long train: 

*' You were very good, my child, and you shall 
play the part. Have you a father living? " 

*'No, Monsieur, papa is dead.'* 

" And your mother? " 

"Yes, I have mamma." 

*'But her mamma," interrupted Pascal, "her 
mamma does not bother about any of these things. 
Criquette and I for a long time have managed our 
own business. We have treated directly with 
the pastry-cook for the cakes." 

"Oh! you have treated directly," laughed the 
manager; "but, nevertheless, her mamma must 
sign the contract, if I engage her." 

"Oh! Mamma Brinquart will sign anything we 
want, with closed eyes. I will explain to you the 
situation. Criquette and I are partners in the 
sale of cakes at the Belleville theatre, and, by the 
way, we have lost at least twenty francs worth of 
cakes to-night." 

" I will give you your twenty francs." 

" We make money, a good deal of money. So, 
if you want to engage Criquette, Monsieur, you 
must pay for her. She can not come here for less 
than— for less than — " 

Pascal paused. He recoiled before the enormity 
of the sum. 

"For less than?" 

"For less than ten francs a night." 

"Well, I don't wish to beat you down. I will 
give her ten francs every evening, so long as we 
play the piece." 



CEIQUETTE. 43 

"Very well, Monsieur, very well." 

'* No, it isn't very well, Pascal. You must not 
go too quickly. I can not come here alone. We 
always go together, Pascal and I." 

"Well, I'll engage him, also. I will let him 
play a monkey in the second act." 

" At ten francs a night? " 

"Oh, no! The monkeys have only fifteen 
sous." 

"I receive ten francs, and he fifteen sous!" 
exclaimed Criquette; "that isn't fair." 

"We must be reasonable," said Pascal; "the 
monkeys are probably silent parts." 

"Yes, exactly." 

"It is agreed. Monsieur; Criquette, ten francs, 
and I a monkey at fifteen sous." 

"But, Pascal, you know we always share. 
You must take half of my ten francs, and I will 
take half of your fifteen sous." 

After these generous words, the manager dis- 
missed them. He had no more need of Criquette 
to-night — the little Princess simply appeared, 
without saying a word, in the last act. The 
rehearsal would last till very late, and he advised 
Criquette to go to bed as soon as possible and 
sleep well, in order not to be fatigued the next 
day. She must come to the theatre at noon, with 
her mother, to sign the contract, after which 
she could rehearse all the afternoon the two little 
scenes of the first and second acts. 

"And shall I also sign my contract to-morrow?" 
asked Pascal. 



44 OBIQimTJB. 

" Oh, it is not worth while for you; there is no 
contract for the monkeys." 

As they were about to go, the manager stopped 
them and said to Criquette: 

" I forgot to ask you your name." 

*'C61ineBrinquart." 

*' A poor name for the stage." 

*'But that is not what I am usually called. 
Everyone calls me Criquette." 

"Criquette. That is very pretty. We will 
put on the programme: Ldlile Oriqueiiey 

" Upon the programme! I shall be upon the 
programme?" 

" To-morrow." 

"Ah! Pascal, I shall be upon the programme 
to-morrow! Upon the programme! " 

And she flew, dancing with joy, from the room. 
The costumer relieved her of her crown and train. 
Her dear crown! Her dear train! 

"Ah!" she said, ".I wish I could carry them 
home, and take them to bed with me, and sleep 
with them!" 

As they were about to leave the theatre, she 
remembered that a beautiful lady, all covered 
with diamonds, had promised her some bonbons. 
She asked the way to Mademoiselle Rosita's 
dressing-room, and the two children were shown 
into a very pretty little room, all hung with yel- 
low cretonne with big red flowers stamped 
upon it. 

Rosita was not alone; a man was there, seated 
upon a little sofa in a comer of the room — a man 



CRIQUETTE. 46 

in evening dress with his hat on his head, tall, a 
powerful figure, a ruddy face, with long mustache 
and side-whiskers, slightly gray. He was a Rus- 
sian of lofty birth and immense fortune, Prince 
Andre Saveline. 

"Oh! Prince," cried Rosita, "there she is, 
that little wonder! Come in, my love, come in; 
and here are your bonbons! and here! and here! " 

As she spoke, she placed three boxes of candied 
fruits in Criquette's arms. 

"How sorry I am, Prince, that yon did not see 
her. She was marvelons! It was all the fault of 
those three miserable authors, who would not 
allow yon to go in front; but yon can be sure that 
such a thing shall not happen again. In my next 
contract, I shall have the following article inserted: 
' The Prince shall have the right to be present at 
all the dress rehearsals.' Good night, my little 
angel; come here till I kiss you; and you kiss 
her, too. Prince. Good night! Good night! " 

"Let us go and eat some of the bonbons," 
said Criquette to Pascal, when they were alone 
behind the scenes. 

"Yes, indeed," rejoined Pascal. 

They had become children again. But, sud- 
denly, they heard stifled sobs. A little girl was 
weeping, seated at the foot of a flight of stairs, 
with her head in her hands. 

"What is the matter? What are you crying 
about?" asked Criquette. 

The little girl raised her head and looked at 
Criquette; her grief burst forth with redoubled 



46 CRIQUETTE. 

violence, and, in the midst of her tears, she fal- 
tered: 

**Iam crying— because— because — because you 
have taken — my part^ — away from me." 

**0h! you are Charlotte. It is not my fault. 
You must not be angry with me. Come, don't 
cry any more." 

Charlotte had risen, and was trying to escape, 
not wishing to be touched by Criquette. 

'*No, don't cry. Listen a minute. It is not 
right that I should have all — the part and the 
bonbons. Here, take the bonbons." 

She placed the three boxes in her arms, and ran 
away, calling: 

"Come, Pascal, come!" 

A few minutes afterward, they were walking 
side by side along the boulevard, in the direction 
of Belleville, when suddenly Criquette said: 

''It was a prince who kissed me just now. I 
have never been kissed by a prince before. His 
mustache pricked me. Princes are great men. 
In what piece, Pascal, is there a prince?" 

"hi 'The Mysteries of Paris'— Prince Ru- 
dolpJieJ'^ 



OEIQUETTE. 47 



III. 

Criquette's debut was an astounding success, 
and the newspapers vied with each other in her 
praise. An illustrated journal published a por- 
trait of the Princess Colihri in the performance 
of the now famous kick. That kick! It set the 
audience on fire the evening of the first repre- 
sentation. One cry went up from all throats: 
Bis! Bis! Bis! It was an outburst of spontane- 
ous, irresistible enthusiasm. Criquette, half-be- 
wildered by the applause, did not know what to 
do. She watched the clapping of that multitude 
of hands, and then she heard from the side- scenes 
voices calling to her: " Repeat it! " " No! don't 
repeat it!" 

Fresh dissensions were torturing the three 
authors of "Gri-Gri." 

" She must not repeat it! She must not repeat 
it ! " exclaimed the first. ' ' It would kill the situa- 
tion. The piece is ruined if that scene is repeated. ' ' 

"Pooh! The public demand it!" said the 
second. 

' ' Let her do it over again. An effect is always 
an effect." 

The third author was in a quandary. He bit 
his mustache, and murmured: 

"There are reasons for and there are reasons 
against it." 



48 ORIQUKTTX. 

Bat the public demanded the repetition of the 
kick 80 peniBtently, that Criquette was forced to 
go through with the scene and the business once 
more. The same enthusiasm was again aroused. 
Enormous bunches of roses and white lilacs fell 
at the feet of the little actress. The gallery gods 
threw oranges, which fell in the orchestra upon 
the terrified musicians, who tried to shield them- 
selves from the avalanche beneath their music- 
racks. 

This repetition of a kick was an event without 
precedent in the history of the French theatre. 
It was the occasion of a bitter war in the press. 
The critics were divided into camps; one party 
full of indulgence, and the other pitiless in its 
denunciation. 

" See what we have come to! " said the adher- 
ents of the latter party. "A kick is encored 
upon that stage where once were fought the grand 
battles of romanticism! " 

Scarcely had the curtain fallen, when Criquette, 
escaping from all the hands which were stretched 
out to detain her, pushed her way through the 
crowds of lords and ladies, and threw herself 
into the arms of a hideous yeUow monkey, who 
was standing piteously behind the scenes, with 
his liead buried in his hands. 

"Kiss me, Pascal! Kiss mel I am so happy 
— so happy! " 

But, in her kind little heart, a little sadness 
was soon mingled with her joy; and turning to 
one of the authors who happened to be standing 
near, she said: 



CEIQITETTE. 49 

"Ah! Monsieur, promise me that in your next 
piece there will be a part for him — not a monkey, 
you know, but a real part." / 

Madame Brinquart had come to the theatre, 
and had witnessed from the front of the house 
Criquette's startling success. When she re- 
turned to Belleville with the two children after the 
performance, she was obliged to take a cab; for 
never could the three on foot have carried the 
enormous mass of flowers, bonbons, oranges, and 
cakes with which Criquette's dressing-room was 
packed. She could, however, afford this unheard- 
of expense; for, after the third act, the manager 
had presented to Criquette a hundred-franc note! 
Since the death of her husband, Madame Brin- 
quart had not held in her hands a hundred-franc 
note. 

It was two o'clock in the morning when the 
mother and daughter entered their wretched 
lodging in the Rue de Tourtille. Two garret 
chambers, with whitewashed walls, a brick floor 
which crumbled beneath the feet, and two rick- 
ety, dusty sky-lights, through which a ray of 
sunshine was never known to penetrate. 

But to-night hope was a guest in this squalid 
place, and in Criquette's dreams unwound again 
the procession of Princess Colihri. Her rest 
was broken; she threw off the coarse coverlet of 
her bed and murmured, in a sleepy voice: "Ah! 
bahl he is too ugly! I won't have such a 
clown!" And raising her little naked foot, she 
drowsily repeated the kick which had given her 



00 ORIQUETTS. 

that moment of triumph, so haxd to obtain, in 
most cases, a second time. 

The next day about noon Pascal arrived. He 
brought a paper which already spoke of Criquette. 
After the young lady had regaled herself with 
her first notice, she said, assuming a very grave, 
important air: 

"Let us sit down and talk a little. I did not 
sleep much last night, and so I had time to think. 
In the first place, mamma, now that I am making 
ten f luncs a day, I dou' t want you to get up in 
the dark mornings and go to the market. The 
day for selling apples and liowers is past; there 
is no use in worrying yourself about that any 
more. You are not well, and you have been 
coughing for the last week. I heard you last 
night. You must not do anything more, nothing 
at all except look after the little household of us 
three." 

"Us three?" said Pascal. 

"Yes, us three, Pascal, because the manager 
said to me last night — he said: 'Now that you 
are an actress and are on the stage, and you make 
so much money, you must not run about in Belle- 
ville with cakes and taffy. You must rest during 
the day, so as not to be tired in the evening.' " 

"Yes, you can with your ten francs; but I, 
with my fifteen sous — " 

" It is not ten francs, nor fifteen sous either; it 
is ten francs, fifteen sous. What is mine is yours, 
Pascal." 

"No, Oiquette, nol" 



CEIQUETTE. 61 

"And your hundred sous — this winter — your 
hundred sous! Didn't I take them every Satur- 
day? I did not want to at first, but you 
explained to me that I must take them, and so I 
did. And it's just the same thing now! You are 
going to leave your employer to-morrow; I ar- 
ranged all that in my head last night. You must 
hire a room in this house. There is one to let on 
the other side of the entry. The hundred francs 
the manager gave us last night ought to be enough 
to furnish it for you. It will be, won't it, 
mamma? And we will live together, all three of 
us. Mamma will have two children to take care 
of her. Now, don't be naughty, Pascal, and 
make up such cross faces. I won't love you, if 
you don't want me to; and yet, I don't know 
how I could help loving you." 

Pascal finally agreed to the proposition, and 
things were arranged as Criquette had suggested. 
Two months passed away. The spectacle was a 
great success, a success to which Criquette con- 
tributed her share. Her photograph, with the 
two little negroes behind, bearing her train, was 
sold in all the shops. 

Criquette had become a person of no little 
importance in the theatre. Rosita made a great 
pet of her, took her to her dressing-room every 
evening after the second act, and loaded her with 
fruit and bonbons. Criquette usually found there 
a very numerous and brilliant company. It was 
like a little club. Usually about ten o'clock the 
Prince appeared, accompanied by two or three of 



09 ORIQUETTE. 

his friends. The gentlemen sat down in the 
dressing-room with tlie hair-dresser, the maid, 
etc., and all on a footing of the utmost equality. 
Bidache came very regularly sinoe the evening 
Rosita had said to him: 

*' Bidache, the Prince likes yon very much. I 
dined with him to-night at the Caf6 Anglais, and 
this is what he said — exactly what he said: 'That 
Bidache is very amusing, and there is frequently 
much sense in what he says.' " 

Highly flattered, Bidache had become a con- 
stant visitor to Rosita' s dressing-room. The 
Prince complacently made room for him by his 
side upon a very narrow divan between the win- 
dow and the toilet-table, and there they would 
sit, the Prince and Bidache, squeezed against one 
another, and scarcely able to breathe in the 
asphyxiating heat of the room. Above their 
heads were hung the tulle skirts of Rosita, and 
the thin fabric brushed the Prince's fair hair and 
Bidache' s flame-colored wig. The dresser was 
sometimes obliged to interrupt the conversation 
of Bidache and the Prince. With an "Excuse 
me, gentlemen," she would step up on the end of 
the divan and carefully unhook tlie skirts desired. 
For some moments, then, the Prince and the 
comedian would disappear, inundated, submerged 
beneath a cascade of perfumed lace. One evening 
Bidache' s wig was carried away by the avalanche, 
and the Prince had the exquisite kindness to 
recover it, and with his own hands replace it on 
the head of the comedian, who, confused and 
delighted, repeated again and again: 



CEIQUETTE. 63 

"Oh, Prince! Oh, Prince!" 

And then the conversation which this episode 
had interrupted was resumed. 

"What were we talking about? Oh, of that 
very funny conundrum you invented yesterday. 
Tell it to me." 

" It is snch a trifle, Prince." 

" Tell it to me, please. I am very fond of your 
conundrums. They are not like those we hear 
every day." 

" You are too good. Prince. Well, this was it. 
I asked the Duke of Landry- Raton what was the 
warmest letter in the alphabet." 

" The warmest letter?" 

"Of course he could not gness. Then I told 
him: 'A, because it is in the middle of flame.' " 

"In the middle of flame?" 

The Prince did not understand. The workings 
of his mind were a little slow. 

"Yes, Prince. F-1-a-m-e — a in the middle, of 
flame." 

"Oh, yes, I see. Charming! charming!" 

The conversation then took a graver turn, and 
Bidache showed his serious side. They discussed 
politics. 

"France," said the Prince, "will never become 
France again, and recover her former position, 
except by the return of the legitimate monarchy 
and the entrance of its king." 

"I am grieved. Prince, not to share your opin- 
ion, bnt, next to the empire, I believe in the re- 
public." 



54 ORIQUBTTS. 

"So do I," growled the hair-dresser, his comb 
between his teeth. 

The hair-dresser, Michel Grandin, a dried-up 
little man of about fifty years, witli an intelligent 
face, had been prominent in a barricade fight in 
December, 1861, and had been transported to 
Lambessa. Six months after, he obtained his 
pardon, without having solicited it himself, at the 
request of a Senator who could refuse nothing to 
Rosita. Michf 1 at first declared squarely that he 
would not leave Lambessa, not knowing whence 
this shameful pardon had come to him; but he 
ended by yielding to the entreaties of Rosita, 
who wrote to him: 

Michel, my dear, accept. I don't know what 
to do wdthout you. There is no one in Paris who 
knows how to dress my hair; besides, you owe no 
gratitude to the President. It is not Bonaparte 
who pardons you; it is I. 

To and fro in the dressing-room, with calm and 
measured step, went and came a woman of an 
uncertain age, tall, spare, and dark, who appeared 
to see nothing, hear nothing, understand nothing, 
and yet who was the first to see, hear, and under- 
stand all. This was Mademoiselle Aurelie, Ro- 
sita' s maid. Her jet-black hair was arranged in 
two flat, shining bands. Her dress of a dark 
color was very simple, well made, and without 
ornament. She wore a linen collar and cuffs of 
a dazzling whiteness and stiff with starch. In 
Mademoiselle Aurelie' s manners, movements, and 
dress there was something that recalled the clois- 



ORIQUETTE. 55 

ter. She watched everything with a keen eye, 
and when anything did not go according to her 
taste, when Rosita' s friends appeared to her too 
noisy, from her thin, colorless lips, upon which a 
smile never appeared, would issue short, biting 
sentences: 

"The gentlemen prevent Madame from dress- 
ing." 

"The gentlemen will make Madame late for her 
change." 

"Madame will miss her entrance, as she did 
last week." 

"I shall be obliged to send the gentlemen 
away." 

The gentlemen then respectfully drew back into 
their corner, making themselves as small as possi- 
ble, fearing to be turned out, which had happened 
to them more than once. Rosita herself obeyed 
in the most docile manner, never revolting against 
Aurelie's authority — she who passed her life in 
perpetual imprecations against costumes, stage- 
managers, and authors. 

Then, when all was in order, Mademoiselle 
Aurelie would sit down upon a stool in a corner 
of the room, open Rosita' s jewel-case, and, with 
a slow and regular motion, begin to polish the 
two hundred thousand francs' worth of diamonds, 
which she carried herself every evening to the 
theatre, and would entrust to no one, not even to 
her mistress. 

It was to this dressing-room of Rosita' s that 
Criquette came every evening to take lessons in 



66 OBIQURTTK. 

Parisian elegance and corruption. She made 
rapid progress and soon cjiuglit the tone and 
manners of the place. They all smiled at her 
prettiness and grace, and the fun and assurance 
of her chatter. She had a way of saying "Good 
evening, Prince," which highly amused them all; 
and she received with imperturbable dignity his 
highness' reply: " Good evening, Princess." 

Mademoiselle Aur61ie was the only one who 
accorded no attention to Criquette; she had even 
two or three times sent her away somewhat 
roughly. Slight expressions of annoyance, very 
quickly suppressed, contracted Mademoiselle Au- 
r61ie's enigmatical, passive face when all in the 
dressing-room amused themselves by exciting 
Criquette, and making her say funny things. 

One evening even, when the Prince had made 
a speech which possessed less wit than coarse- 
ness, Aurelie could not contain herself, and sud- 
denly interrupting him, she said, dryly: 

*'The Prince ought not to say such things be- 
fore that child." 

There was a moment of amazed silence, and 
Kosita was about to intervene, but the Prince 
did not give her time. 

"You are right, Aurelie," he said, " and I was 
wrong." 

Such were Criquette' s evenings, and in such 
familiarity did the daughter of the Belleville 
apple-woman live with the most brilliant and 
most useless portion of society. 

Very different were her mornings. Her mother 



CRIQUETTE. 67 

grew feebler day by day, and now she could not 
even go out for the provisions of the day. About 
nine o'clock Criquette herself went to the baker's 
and the dairy. Pascal would gladly have spared 
her that trouble, but his mornings were no longer 
his own. Intelligent, active, and impatient to 
render himself useful, he had been able to gain 
the good graces of the stage-manager, and he 
now served as aid to the messenger of the theatre. 
He carried every morning half the notices for 
rehearsals; twenty -five sous had been added to his 
monkey- salary of fifteen sous; so he now received 
forty sous a day; quite a respectable sum. 

Often in the morning, with a big loaf of bread 
under her arm, a pitcher of milk in one hand, 
and a sou's worth of liver for her cat in the 
other, with her stuff dress buttoned awry, her 
hair mussed and tumbled, her eyes still heavy 
with sleep, her shoes unlaced, Criquette would 
stop in the Rue de Paris before the window of 
a stationer, where were exposed for sale photo- 
graphs of the Princess Colihri in the costume of 
the last scene, a brilliant costume, all of gold and 
silver gauze with a blazing star upon the head. 
She found consolation for her shabbiness of the 
morning in her magnificence of the evening. 

But nothing could console Criquette for her 
mother's illness. The last days of May had come, 
and the poor woman could only with the greatest 
difficulty drag herself in the afternoon to a 
bench in the shade of the sorry-looking trees of 
the outer boulevard. She was so weak and worn- 



68 ORIQUXTTK. 

out when she returned, that in mounting the five 
flights of stairs she was obliged to stop on each 
landing and lean, breathless, against the wall. 

The two children were her constant companions, 
and when they were all three seated on the boule- 
vard, Criquette made an effort to distract and 
cheer her mother. 

*' I am going to tell you all about the theatre. 
If you only knew, Mamma, how well the play is 
doing — six thousand francs every evening. They 
could not make more. You ought to see the 
crowd of people waiting to buy tickets when 
Pascal and I reach the theatre. The line stretches 
way into the Rue de Bondy. The piece will run 
two hundred nights at least, perhaps three hun- 
dred. And I shall have my ten fi-ancs all the 
time, and a hundred-franc note besides, if I do 
not miss a night before the hundredth. The 
manager told me so, and I shall not miss one. 
After "Gri-Gri," they will play another piece, a 
drama full of blood, and Pascal and I will both 
have parts. The manager told me that, too. The 
manager likes me; he never meets me without 
stopping to speak to me. And Mademoiselle 
Rosita likes me ever so much, too. You know — 
you have seen the piece — the tall blonde who 
plays the fairy that is always angry. In the 
month of July we will take another apartment, 
Madame Durand's, the vest-maker's. She is going 
away. Then you will have a big room, looking 
out on the street, with a fire-place, and there will 
be a fire all the winter there, a blazing fire. And 



CKIQUETTE. 59 

then, when Pascal has a part, we shall make not 
twelve francs, but twenty. We will lay some 
money aside, and after the winter is over, when 
the fine weather comes, we will go to the country, 
all three of us. You will see the flowers and 
trees, and it will do you good, Mamma, and you 
will not cough any more, and you will get well. 
Promise me that you will get well. Mamma, and 
a little smile for Criquette. Say, will you?" 

Criquette embraced the poor woman, who smiled, 
softly lulled by these dreams of the future. She 
was dying, but she did not realize it. That is a 
mercy God grants to consumptives. 

On the 30th of May, when Madame Brinquart 
tried to rise, she fell back in a fainting-fit, motion- 
less, and white as wax. Pascal hastened for a 
physician. When the latter arrived the faint- 
ness had passed away. The invalid complained 
only of great weakness. The doctor made an 
examination. 

"She must remain in bed, and she must not 
speak. She needs strength. Give her plenty of 
nourishing food, milk, and soup." 

Going down the stairs, the charcoal- woman, 
who had been present during his call, said to 
him: 

"WeU, doctor?" 

" She is doomed. I can do nothing." 

The next four days were peaceful enough. The 
poor woman began to smile again, and to hope. 
The two children passed the day with her, and, 
in the evening, when they were obliged to go to 



60 OBIQUBTTK. 

the theat3*e, the charcoal -womau took their place, 
and sat near the bed with her work. 

On Monday, the fourth of June, at eight o'clock, 
the stage-manager and call-boys of the Porte- 
Saint- Martin were in a state of great excitement. 
They skurried about behind the scenes, entered 
all the dressing-rooms, and everywhere asked the 
same question: 

"Have you seen Criquette?" 

No one had seen Griquette. 

"And Pascal?" 

No one had seen Pascal. 

It was the eightieth representation of "Gri- 
Gri." They were already a quarter of an hour 
late in beginning; the audience was commencing 
to be impatient, and Griquette was in the third 
scene of the first act, ten minutes after the rising 
of the curtain. What was to be done? Ghar- 
lotte was not there; she knew the part and might 
at a pinch have taken Griquette' s place. 

The stage-manager went down to the sidewalk 
opposite the stage entrance on the Rue de Bondy, 
and saw Griquette alone come running toward 
him. 

"Tell them to commence," he cried to one of 
the call-boys. " In ten minutes she will be ready. 
I will set two women to dress her." Then, as 
Griquette reached him: 

" Hurry! Hurry, you naughty girll " he said. 

" Ah, Monsieur, do not scold me. It is mamma. 
She has been spitting blood all day and she is ill, 
very ill.'* 



CEIQUETTE. 61 

Out of breath with her long run, and at the 
end of her strength, Criquette threw herself into 
the arms of the stage-manager, and burst into 
tears. 

" I am not going to scold you, my poor child. 
You are a good little girl and always very 
prompt; but it is the audience, you know. Come, 
come quickly; and don't cry any more. Your 
mamma will be better when you return. How 
old is she?" 

"Not thirty." 

"Oh, at that age it is not hard to get well. 
Come, come! " 

As he spoke he hurried her up the steps. They 
had commenced. The orchestra was playing the 
overture. Two dressers seized Criquette. She 
allowed them to undress and dress her like a 
doll. In a twinkling her poor garments, almost 
snatched off her body, lay scattered all about on 
the floor. The stage-manager had remained to 
hurry the dressers. 

Over Criquette' s bare shoulders they passed a 
chemisette adorned with lace, while the hair- 
dresser placed on her head a curly, yellow wig 
crowned with rosebuds. And Criquette, passed 
from hand to hand, continued to speak broken 
words to the stage-manager. 

"Ah, Monsieur, I forgot to tell you; you will 
excuse Pascal. He staid behind with mamma." 

"All right, my child, all right." 

" You will not discharge him? " 

"No, no, my child; have no fear, have no fear." 



(S ORIQITBTTB. 

"As there are ten monkeys in the scene of the 
monkeys, I thought that one monkey more or 
less would not make much differtMice. T came 
because I had a part, and it would have put you 
in a fix, and then, besides, because the manager 
told me that if I did not miss a night before the 
hundredth, I should have a hundred francs, and 
that will be very useful to us if mamma is sick a 
long time." 

The voice of the call-boy was heard: 

''Colibri! (7oZ^^>r^is caUedl " 

*'You hear?" said the stage-manager to the 
dressers. 

"She is ready, Monsieur, all ready. Just a 
pin here. So! You can take her." 

The stage-manager almost carried Criquette to 
the proper entrance, and a few minutes after 
pushed her upon the stage. 

" Go, my child, go. That is your cue." 

He was a little uneasy, and he watched Cri- 
quette through an oi)ening in the scenery. 

" Poor little thing! How I have knocked her 
about! " 

But Criquette, although breathing hard, recov- 
ered her courage in the presence of the audience, 
and spoke in a clear enough voice the ten or 
twelve speeches of the scene of the first act. 

When she left the stage she found Rosita wait- 
ing for her. 

"My angel, my little angel, do not worry; I 
have sent Aur§lie to your mamma, with the doc- 
tor of the theatre. Aurelie wUl see if she wants 



CRIQUETTE. 63 

anything, and will bring ns news of her. It will 
be good news; don't cry." 

Aurelie returned in about two hours with the 
doctor. The news was not good, far from it. 

"I think that she will survive the night," said 
the doctor; "but before to-morrow evening she 
will die." 

The news soon spread behind the scenes, and 
all hearts were sorry for Criquette, whom every- 
one loved. She was so good and sweet. The 
week before, a machinist had been killed by a 
fall from the flies, and Criquette had taken up a 
collection. 

"Give," she said, "give something for his 
poor wife, who will be left all alone." 

The poor little girl herself would now be left 
all alone. Five or six machinists, grouped on the 
stage behind the curtain, were talking in a low 
voice. A fireman was listening to them. 

" We must take up a collection to-morrow to 
bury Criquette's mother," said one of the ma- 
chinists. 

"Yes, yes," responded his comrades. 

"Criquette? " asked the fireman. " Is not that 
the little girl who is so funny, and who made me 
laugh so much one evening when I watched her 
from the side-scenes? ' ' 

"Yes." 

" And her mother is dead? " 

"No; but she can not live through the night." 

Then the fireman, producing an old, dilapidated 
pocket-book, said: 



64 oBiQusrrx. 

*'Here; I shall not be on service to-morrow 
night. Here are two sous for your collection." 

Rosita, as she listened to Aur61ie's recital, wept 
real tears. She had a very sincere affection for 
Criqaette. Aur61ie preserved her usual com- 
posure. 

"Madame is all marked up," she said, **and 
will be obliged to make up her face again." 

Aur61ie had delivered her report in a calm, 
quiet voice, without the slightest appearance of 
emotion. When Criquette entered the dress- 
ing-room after the second act, crying, "Mamma? 
How is mamma?" Aurelie, in a few brief words, 
forced herself to reassure her. And when Rosita 
said to her, at the commencement of the 'fourth 
act: 

'* Aur61ie, that child must not return to Belle- 
ville alone to-night. You must go with her, and, 
if it seems necessary to you, pass the night 
there." 

"Very well, Madame," responded Aurelie, in 
the same tone in which she would have answered, 
"Very well, Madame," had Rosita said to her, 
" Go to-morrow to the Palais-Royal and procure 
me a box." 

But Rosita, suddenly changing her mind, said: 

"No; I will go myself. And yet, heaven 
knows how afraid I am of death! But I can not 
forsake the little girl. Yes, I will go. The Prince 
has gone to the Opera, and is to come to the 
house after it is over. Explain to him what has 
happened, and tell him to wait for me." 



CillQtJETTE. 66 

Again the same answer: 

"Very well, Madame." 

That is how, for the first time in her life, Cri- 
quette, at half after midnight, entered a little 
coupe, lined with cherry satin, upon the box of 
which sat an English coachman and a little groom 
in knee-breeches and top-boots. 



00 CRIQUKTTS. 



IV. 

Never, at a like hour, had Rosita's coach- 
man ventured into such a quarter; but he was 
piloted by C^lestin, the groom, a boy of Paris, 
born at Menilmontant, and who knew the Rue 
de Tourtille. They approached the house, and 
Criquette, putting her head out of the window, 
cried: 

*' There it is! There to the left." 

The coupe stopped. Two women were before 
the door, standing on the sidewalk of the black 
and deserted street — two working -women who 
lived in the house. They had heard Criquette' s 
voice. 

"Is that you, Criquette?" 

"Yes. And Mammal Mamma?" 

"Come quickly. She has been asking for 
you." 

Criquette was out of the carriage in a moment, 
and, followed by one of the women, ran up the 
^dark, unlighted stairs. The other woman, in 
astonishment, watched Rosita descend from the 
coupe. Rosita was very elegantly dressed in 
pearl-gray from head to foot; in her ears were 
two large pendants of diamonds, worth at least 
thirty thousand francs. She put them on every 
evening for the fourth act, and, in her hurry, she 
had forgotten to remove them. 



CRIQUETTE. 67 

" Where is it? " asked Rosita. " Show me the 
way." 

"Do you wish to go up, Madame?" 

"Yes, yes." 

"The stairs are not lighted. We who are used 
to them know the way, but you will find it hard 
work." 

"Celestin," said Rosita, "take a lantern from 
the carriage and lead the way." 

They all three started up the stairs, which were 
wet and dirty; the day had been rainy. The 
groom mounted first, holding the lantern in both 
hands and walking sideways to light the way for 
his mistress. Then came Rosita, and finally the 
working- woman, who scrutinized the pearl-gray 
satin boots and pearl-gray silk stockings. She 
said to herself , "It must be one of the actresses 
from the theatre," and she protected with her 
hands Rosita' s skirts, which were too voluminous 
for the narrow staircase. 

The ascent was laborious, and they had not 
reached the first landing when Criquette rushed 
into her mother's room and threw herself down 
on the bed. 

"Here I am! Mamma! Mamma! You are better. 
Tell me that you are better! " 

The poor woman made an effort to raise herself; 
she seized Criquette and kissed her eagerly on the 
hair, on the cheeks, on the eyes, while with her 
thin hands she feverishly touched the child's 
arms, hands, shoulders, and neck, as if to take 
and carry away with her into the grave as much 
as possible. 



68 ORiQUvrrB. 

And she repeated: 

'*My Criquettel my Criquette! I was so afraid 
not to see you again, and here you are. My 
Criquettel my Criquette! " 

While speaking in a weak voice, she continued 
to cover Criquette' s face with kisses. Bathed in 
an icy perspiration, feeling already the chill of 
death, she found a little life and heat upon Cri- 
quette's cheeks, which, burning and inflamed, 
were still covered with the rouge and powder of 
the theatre. 

But the effort soon wearied her. Her arms fell 
down, she sighed deeply, and sunk back exhausted 
upon the pillows. 

At this moment Rosita appeared. The groom 
remained upon the landing with his lantern, 
whose brilliant reflector threw into the chamber 
a very bright light, and made apparent the con- 
trast between the poverty-stricken apartments 
and Rosita' s costly costume. 

"Come, Madame, come! She does not kiss me 
any more, she does not speak to me, she does not 
hear me!" 

Pascal was weeping hot tears in a corner, and 
the charcoal-woman, standing at the head of the 
bed, was mopping her eyes with her handkerchief. 
For two hours she had been there, anxious and 
undecided. These words had come again and 
again, like a refrain from the lips of the dying 
woman: 

"Criquette — my Criquette! all alone in the 
world, without anyone! " 



OEIQUETTE. 69 

The charcoal- woman said to herself: "We 
already have three children, who sleep crowded 
together in the back shop. Can they crowd a 
little more to make room for Criquette? Yes; but 
would my man like it, when I say to him to-mor- 
row morning. Do you know, we have another 
child? I have taken the little girl from upstairs?' ' 

The eyes of the dying woman reopened, and 
with a fixed gaze, not understanding, she re- 
garded Rosita. What struck her especially was 
the glittering of the two ear-rings. 

"Mamma," said Criquette, "it is Madame 
Rosita; you know — Madame Rosita, who gives 
me bonbons." 

"Ah! is it you, Madame? Criquette has told 
me very often how good you were to her. Cri- 
quette, my poor Criquette, she is going to be 
alone, all alone." 

Then Rosita, carried away by her emotion, with 
a most sincere and generous impulse, exclaimed: 
"No, not alone, not alone! Give her to me. I 
want her. I will take her! " 

"You — ah! — you — my daughter. Yes — yes — I 
give her to you — thanks — thanks." 

The words were articulated with difficulty. She 
had, however, strength enough to take both 
Rosita' s ungloved hands, and, kissing them, she 
repeated: 

"Thanks! Thanks!" 

What struck her then were the rings which 
sparkled on Rosita' s fingers. She did not ques- 
tion who this woman was, and what would be- 



70 ORIQUETTX. 

come of her child. She had only one idea in her 
weak, confused brain: 

"This lady is rich, very rich, and she will take 
Criquette; and Criquette will be warmly clothed 
in winter, and in summer will play in the gar- 
dens under the big trees with the children of the 
rich. And Criquette will not be cold as I have 
been cold, nor hungry as I have been hungry." 

So was settled the fate of this poor little thing, 
tossed about like a stray leaf in the whirlwind of 
the world. Her life would have been different, 
and better, perhaps, if the charcoal-woman had 
spoken first. 

The dying woman released Rosita's hands, and 
groping blindly, for her eyes were growing dim, 
she murmured: 

"Criquette, where are you, my child, and you, 
too, Pascal? They are so good, so kind — both. 
Thanks, Madame. Good-bye, Criquette — good- 
bye, good-bye! " 

She died peacefully, without pain, her cheek 
pressed against Criquette' s. There was no more 
a word, no more a movement, no more anything. 
It was finished. Everybody was weeping. Rosita 
had sunk down on her knees at the foot of the 
bed, and was trying to recall one of the prayers 
of her childhood; but she could remember only 
the first sentence. 

The groom had advanced just across the thresh- 
old, the lantern in one hand, his hat in the 
other. He had never seen anyone die. He stood 
looking at the scene, his eyes round with fear and 



OEIQUETTE. 71 

curiosity. The silence, the tears, the lack of 
movement — this then was death! 

Criquette felt her mother's arms fall away from 
her, inert and icy. She recoiled in terror. 

"Ah, Mamma! Mamma! Speak to me! Speak 
to me!" 

Then, glancing at those around her, she asked: 

"Is she dead?" 

No one replied. 

"No, no! she is not dead! Mamma, it is I, 
Criquette. Speak, Mamma! say that you are not 
dead!" 

A quarter of an hour afterward the poor child 
had to be taken from the room. She did not wish 
to go; she clung to the furniture, demanding to 
remain with her mother as long as she was there, 
and she could see her. 

"I want to kiss her — once more — only once 
more — only once." 

And her face, wet with tears, was pressed to the 
discolored lips of the dead. At last, however, 
she was obliged to allow Rosita to take her away; 
but just as they were going she exclaimed: 

"Stay here, Pascal! Don't leave her, don't 
leave her!" 

"No; I promise." 

" Perhaps she is not dead! " 

Her sobs broke out afresh as they descended 
the stairs. "Mamma! Mamma! I want to see 
mamma!" Doors on all the landings were 
opened, and the lodgers appeared, half -dressed, 
and asked Boslta; 



79 ORIQUKTTE. 

'* Is it all over ui)6tair8l " 
"Yes." 

They watched Criquette descend. 

'* Poor little thing! Poor little thing! " 

The groom, pale as a ghost, marched ahead 
with his lantern. 

It was half -past two in the morning when the 
coup6 rolled under the portico of a little hotel in 
the Rue Trudon. During the entire drive Cri- 
quette had not spoken a word. Rosita held the 
weeping child in her arms, and from time to time 
dried her eyes with a lace handkerchief, which 
soon became nothing more than a little wet ball. 

A domestic in livery ojjened the door of a vesti- 
bule where flamed the gas-jets of two immense 
gilded candelabra. Aurelie had heard the car- 
riage, and with an unruffled, tranquil air, she 
descended the staircase which, between two bal- 
ustrades of green marble, led to the upper floor. 

"Is it over?" she asked Rosita. 

"Yes, it is over, and I have taken Criquette, 
and I shall keep her always." 

"Always?" 

"Yes; always! always! She is my child, my 
daughter." 

Then, suddenly changing her tone, she asked: 

" Is the Prince here? " 

"Yes, Madame, in the smoking-room." 

"Take Criquette to my room, I am going to 
speak to the Prince, and will be up in a mo- 
ment." 

"Very well, Madame." 



ORIQUETTE. 73 

Criquette was utterly exhausted, and she let 
them do with her as they pleased. She ascended 
the stairs, supported, almost carried, by Aurelie. 

Rosita entered the smoking-room. The Prince 
was asleep in an arm-chair, with an extinguished 
cigar held between his fingers. The pages of a 
sporting journal lay scattered on the carpet. The 
noise of the opening door awoke him. 

"Oh, here you are at last!" he said, as he 
saw Eosita. 

"Yes." 

"It must be late. I have been asleep. Well, 
how is that poor woman? " 

"She died an hour ago in my arms. And do 
you know what I have done? Something that 
you will approve of, I am sure. I have taken 
Criquette." 

"For to-night." 

"No, forever." 

"Forever?" 

" Yes; she is upstairs, and I am obliged — " 

"To send me away! " 

"Yes. But come to-morrow morning before 
ten o'clock; you must attend to the funeral and 
the purchase of a lot in the cemetery. I will 
explain to you what I want." 

"Can not Aurelie see to all that, my dear? " 

"No, I shall need Aurelie for something else. 
Criquette has nothing to wear, and she must 
have a black dress for day after to-morrow. 
Aurelie will take her to my dressmaker's. Go, 
my friend, go, and come to-morrow." 



74 ClUQUETTB. 

"Yea, to-morrow morning." 

"I have done right, have I not? Say that I 
have done right." 

"Yes, certainly." 

** Then kiss me for my good action." 

He kissed her, lit a cigar in the vestibule, and 
walked slowly away along the Rue de Gramniont. 

Rosita ran quickly upstairs. As she opened 
the door of her room, she saw Aur^lie coming 
toward her. 

*' Hush, Madame! She is worn out with fatigue. 
She fell like a log on that sofa, and at once was 
asleep." 

" It is better to leave her there." 

"I think so." 

"But put one of my wraps over her so that 
she won't take cold." 

"Very well, Madame." 

While Aurelie was placing a shawl over Cri- 
quette, the child, opening her eyes, murmured: 

' ' Mamma! Mamma! ' ' 

And she gazed sleepily up at the two gilded 
cupids which upheld the heavy curtains of blue 
brocade draped about Rosita' s bed. 

" Sleep, my child, sleep." 

She fell asleep again, and the two women stood 
looking at her. 

At the same moment the Prince was mounting 
the steps of one of the boulevard clubs, where 
every night a great Turkish lord, enormously 
rich, played piquet, and accepted all the beis 
offered him. 



CBIQUETTE. 76 

A game was Just finished, and another was 
about to begin. Saveline said to the Turk: 

" Will you take another bet?" 

' ' With pleasure. ' ' 

"A louis the point." 

"Very weU." 

At four o'clock in the morning, the Prince left 
the club; he had won fifteen hundred points, that 
is, thirty thousand francs. 

"Well," he thought to himself, "I shall 
have a good profit left after burying Criquette's 
mother. Rosita's good action has, perhaps, taken 
the spell off me. Before to-night I have had 
atrocious luck for six weeks." 

The funeral took place the next day at eleven 
o'clock in the morning. Criquette, with Pascal, 
was the chief mourner. Then came Rosita and 
the charcoal- woman; then the manager and one 
of the authors, the one who usually represented 
the literary firm at interments; then the Prince 
and Bidache; then all the personnel of the thea- 
tre: artists, dancers, chorus, dressers, machinists. 

While the procession was slowly ascending 
the Rue de Paris, the author spoke to the mana- 
ger of Criquette. 

"Poor little thing!" he said. "Poor little 
thing! " He repeated five or six times mechan- 
ically these words: " Poor little thing! Poor lit- 
tle thing! " Then, without any transition: 

" When will she play again? " 



76 OMQUKTTE. 



V. 

The next day at two o'clock Kosita went to see 
her man of business, whose name was Narcisse 
Plan tin, and who was the son of a provincial law- 
yer. He had succeeded his father in 1847, and 
immediately admonitions and reprimands from 
the chamber of advocates inundated the office. 
Two years afterward, Plantin was forced to aban- 
don the business. His career had been one long 
succession of questionable and illegal practices. 

There was only one thing for him to do — to 
come to Paris, the natural refuge of all shady 
personages. He bought for ten thousand francs 
a business, the affairs of which were in a lan- 
guishing condition. Plantin was active, intelli- 
gent, and audacious; he soon brought the business 
up, and increased its customers; and he sought 
these customers in the world devoted to pleasure; 
that is, in that society where flourished protests, 
injunctions, seizures, and sheriff's sales. The 
former lawyer was an expert in the art of unrav- 
eling his clients' affairs, unless it was for his 
interest to entangle them still more, in which 
case he did not hesitate to do so. 

He had no longer anything to fear from the 
chamber of advocates, so he launched himself 
boldly into the most risky enterprises. There 
was, of course, th« imperial prosecutor, who from 



ORIQUETTE. 77 

time to time summoned him before him; but from 
these trying interviews Plantin always departed 
without any serious injury, which proved his dex- 
terity in gliding through the meshes of the code 
and the fissures of the law. 

Plantin had made for himself many pleasant 
and even brilliant acquaintances; he had found 
backers for two or three theatrical managers who 
were in difficulties; he had helped out of very 
embarrassing circumstances a number of aristo- 
cratic young men, who, whether they wished to or 
not, were obliged, through gratitude, to speak 
to him in public and to shake his hand. 
So Plantin began to be seen the first nights 
at the theatres and at public funerals, and to 
count among the notabilities of that famous all 
Paris^ which is composed of a thousand persons. 
And all this because he had led the life of a fili- 
buster in a little provincial city and been driven 
away. His fellow-lawyers, by obliging him to sell 
out, had thought to ruin him; but, on the contrary, 
they had been the making of him. He had made, 
buried in Limousin, a wretched six or seven thou- 
sand francs a year, and at Paris his income was 
sixty or seventy thousand. Sometimes misfort- 
une, even dishonor, in a worldly point of view, 
proves a blessing. 

"Ah!" said Plantin, as he saw Rosita enter 
his office, "another quarrel with your uphol- 
sterer? He demands of you fifty-eight thousand 
francs, and you offer twenty-three." 

This, in fact, was the matter which had first 



78 ORIQUKTTE. 

brought Rosita to Plan tin; but the actress, with 
n grave and serious face and a theatrical gesture, 
replied: 

*' No jokes, please, my dear Plan tin! Tliis is 
not the moment for that. When you know what 
has brought me here, you will see for yourself. I 
have a daughter, Plantin; I have a daughter! '* 

"Since when?" 

" For the last three days." 

" For the last three days?*" 

*'Yes;Criquette!" 

*• Ah, to be sure; you have taken Criquette. I 
read it in the papers. Well! what have I to do 
with that? I don't understand." 

** You will in a moment. I wish to bind Cri- 
quette to myself by the strongest ties. I wish to 
make her legally my daughter, to adopt her, in 
fact." 

"Adopt her! Adopt her! How you do goon! 
In the first place, are you fifty years old? " 

" Fifty! I? No, I am not fifty. What a ques- 
tion!" 

"Well, then, it is impossible for you to adopt 
her. Return when you are fifty, if you still 
have the same fancy." 

"Fancy! Ah! I see what you think. You 
think that, without reflecting, I have yielded to 
an impulse which time will modify. No, Plan- 
tin, no! Criquette is my daughter to-day, and 
will remain my daughter always, always, always, 
always! Do you understand? " 

" Yes, yes, I understand." 



ORIQUETTE. 79 

** And I can't adopt her nntil I am fifty? Does 
the law say anything so stupid as that? I have 
no right to be good before I am fifty; no right 
to have any heart! Come, Plan tin, there must 
be some way to do it. Read up your code a 
little." 

"Very well," taking up a book. "Adoption 
of children is scarcely my specialty. WaitI 
Adoption. I don't know — oh, yes. Article 343, 
and following. Ah! this is what I was looking 
for. Yes, there is such a thing as official guardi- 
anship, but for that, as well as for adoption, the 
necessary age is fifty." 

"The idiots!" 

"There might be something else. This child 
has no father, nor mother, nor family of any 
sort?" 

" She has absolutely no relations. I sent 
Aurelie yesterday to Belleville — ^" 

"Oh, is AureUe weU? " 

"Very well." 

" You have a valuable maid there, who knows 
your affairs better than you do yourself, and who 
looks after your interests." 

" I know, I know. She had a long talk with a 
charcoal-woman who was a friend of Criquette's 
mother. This is the way things stand: Her 
mother was a foundling, and, consequently, there 
are no relatives on that side. When her father 
died, they wrote to the mayor of his village; it 
was thought he had some connections there, but 
none could be found." 



80 OBIQIUBTTX. 

"Oh! when there is no money to receive, rel- 
atives are never found. Well, in that case, per- 
haps what is called a family council might be 
appointed to act as guardians of the child." 

" And I could form a part of it." 

"Yes." 

" How many are there in a family council? " 

"Six. When there are no relations, people 
who are interested in the child are chosen." 

"I, first of all." 

"Of course." 

"Then my mother. Write down the names." 

"Very well." 

" I — my mother — the Prince — " 

"No, not the Prince." 

"Not the Princel Do you think he won't 
consent? I should like to see him refuse 1 " 

"He would consent, I am sure, but the law 
would not allow him." 

" The law again! " 

" In France, a foreigner can not form part of a 
family council." 

"That's a shame! Here is a foreigner, rich, 
very rich, who is all ready to devote himself to a 
child's welfare, and the law forbids him. Well, 
we will give up the Prince, but I would like some- 
one like him, some gentleman. I will ask Jau- 
nard, the little Baron Jaunard. Do you know 
him?" 

" Is not there a judgment out against him? " 

" No; he discharged that three weeks ago." 

" If it still stood, he could not — " 



CRIQUETTE. 81 

"He has discharged it, I tell you." 

"I will write down his name, then." 

"Then, Bidache, one of my fellow-actors." 

"I know, I know. He is very funny in 'Gri- 
Gri.' " 

"He overacts a little, at times." 

"I did not think so." 

" Let me see, that is four, is it not? " 

"Yes, four." 

"Monnet, our stage-manager. He is a good 
fellow, and we want the very best in the council." 

" That makes five." 

"And you. Will you be one?" 

"Why, if you choose." 

" There are your six, then. This family council 
will be a very good one." 

"It will not be bad — a little of everything." 

"Now be serious, Plantin, please, and arrange 
the matter. I want to assure Criquette's future. 
I want to leave all my fortune to her." 

"Oh! Oh!" 

"I know that just now my affairs are a little in 
disorder." 

"A little! Very much so. We examined your 
pecuniary position the other day with Aurelie." 

"I know, but I am going to ask the Prince to 
arrange matters for me once more; and then I 
shall be sensible, and commence to save. Cri- 
quette will oblige me to be serious and honest. I 
shall be better, thanks to her; I shall be another 
woman. Poor, dear child! Do you want to see 
her? She is below there in my carriage. Look! " 



89 OBIQUBTTK. 

Rosita raised the shade, and Plantin, standing 
at his client's side, looked out. Criquette was 
seated in Rosita' s barouche, dressed in deep, but 
very elegant, mourning. Rosita had ordered a 
black dress, very plain and simple; but even the 
plainest and simplest costumes that came from 
Rosita' s dressmaker had an indescribable style 
about them. 

Near the carriage-door stood C61estin, the 
groom. Out of the comer of his eye he was 
regarding his new little mistress. Rosita had 
given him tickets one evening for "Gri-Gri," and 
Criquette had sent him into convulsions of laugh- 
ter. How he did long to talk to her! They 
would have understood each other very well. 
They were of about the same age, and they came 
from neighboring places. Criquette was from 
Belleville, and he, Celestin, from Menilmontant. 
Rosita was a native of Vaugirard. As /or the 
English coachman, who held himself erect in the 
most iiTeproachable manner ui)on the box, he 
boasted with pride that he was the natural son of 
a lord. He only, therefore, of them all, was of 
illustrious birth. 

Plantin watched Rosita enter the carriage and 
drive away, then he drew down the shade and 
returned to his desk, thoroughly resolved not to 
bother his head much about Criquette' s family 
council. To be sure, he had agreed to form part 
of it; but this had been, in the first place, in order 
not to disoblige his client, and, secondly, because 
he was certain that this brilliant council would 
never be formed. 



ORIQUETTE. 83 

"She will have forgotten all about it in six 
weeks! " he said to himself. 

Whereupon he returned to his work, and racked 
his brains as to how he could induce, without too 
much scandal, the dowager Marquise de Chatel- 
Benard to pay twenty-five thousand francs to 
Mademoiselle Rose Glandier on account of the 
young Vicomte de Chatel-Benard, who, being a 
minor, did not have the wherewithal to satisfy 
those young persons who amused themselves by 
making him sign his name on bits of stamped 
paper. Plantin did not like scandal, on princi- 
|)le, and never resorted to it except in the last 
extremity. 

There was some exaggeration in Plantin' s pre- 
diction. At the end of six weeks, Rosita still 
thought of becoming the adopted mother of Cri- 
quette. She thought a little less of it, but still 
she thought of it. 

Rosita' s maternal exaltation was maintained, 
during the first month, at the very highest pitch. 
The child breakfasted with her every morning 
and dined with her every evening. Criquette had 
returned to her duties at the theatre, but she had 
not resumed her place in the dressing-room in 
the flies, where she had dressed with the four 
little girls who attended her as maids of honor 
in the procession. There was a sort of closet 
communicating with Rosita' s dressing-room. In 
twenty-four hours this had been transformed into 
a very elegant little room for Criquette. So she 
lived absolutely the same life that Rosita did, 



84 ORIQUETTE. 

going with her every day to take a drive in the 
Bois. At first, during these drives, Criquette 
felt awkward and ill at ease; she held herself 
erect, not daring to lean back; but very quickly 
she became accustomed to all the luxury that 
surrounded her, and she assumed in her corner of 
the carriage an easy, nonchalant attitude, disjilay- 
ing a sort of immature grace. 

Rosita made Criquette walk every day in the 
Bois for half an hour. And then she delivered 
the same ready-made speeches to everyone she 
met. 

"This is my child! my daughter! and I am so 
happy! The sentiment of duty, you know. I 
have always wanted to have children, a daughter 
especially; and you shall see how well I will 
bring her up. Just now, her work at the theatre 
is enough for her, and I don't dare to have her do 
anything more. But, after 'Gri-Gri' is over, I 
want her to receive a thorough education. I shall 
give her a governess. The Prince has already 
written for one to England," etc. 

Meanwhile, Criquette' s list of acquaintances 
was extending. She had known for a long time 
how to say "Prince." She learned one evening 
in Rosita' s dressing-room to say "Monseigneur" 
and "Your Highness." She was destined to 
learn more still. 

It was about a month after the death of her 
mother. Passing through Paris was a young 
monarch who, plying conscientiously his trade of 
king, desired to be informed on all points, and to 



CEIQUETTE. 85 

see everything for himself. He was curious to 
visit the hotel of one of the most beautiful women 
in Paris, whom he had noticed the evening before 
in a spectacular piece at the Porte- Saint-Martin 
theatre. Afterward he was to be present at a 
session of the Legislative Assembly, where about 
four o'clock a speech was expected from Jules 
Pavre, in opposition to the official candidates. 

His engagements for the day and evening were 
thus entered upon the memorandum-book of his 
chamberlain: 

Three o'clock — Mademoiselle Rosita. 

Four o'clock — Palais-Bourbon. 

Six o'clock — Audience to the Austrian ambas- 
sador. Question of tariff customs. 

Half -past eight o' clock — Palais-Royal Theatre. 
*' Mimi's Memories." Boxes 2 and 4 in one. 

So at three o'clock in the afternoon, as Cri- 
quette was seated in the dining-room near a win- 
dow, looking over a picture-book, she saw Aurelie 
enter, and rose. The appearance of the woman 
always inspired her with a certain emotion which 
was akin to fear; she did not know exactly why, 
but it was so. 

" Listen, my child," said Aurelie. 

"Yes, Mademoiselle." 

" And pay strict attention to my words. There 
is in Madame' s room a person who desires to see 
you. This person was at the theatre last night, 
and thought you very nice. You must not speak 
to this person as you would to ordinary people. 
You must say to him Sire, and Your Majesty, and 



86 ORIQtTSITX. 

you most pat all yonr sentences in the third per- 
son. Do you understand)" 

** I think so, Mademoiselle." 

'* Let us see. For example: To an ordinary per- 
son you would say, * How do you dol ' but what 
would you say to this person? " 

" How does Your Majesty dol " 

" Exactly. Go, my child, gol '* 

Criquette entered the room, and the personage 
who was there said to her: 

"Good-day, my child.'* 

"I have the honor to salute Your Majesty." 

* ' Approach. Do not be afraid. ' ' 

" I am not afraid. Sire." 

*' Can you repeat for me your kick of last even- 
ing?" 

"I should be very glad to, Sire; but Your 
Majesty understands that it is a little difficult — 
without the excitement and the words." 

Rosita then rose and gave her the cue. Th^ 
kick was assuredly not so well done as it was in 
the evening on the stage, but it was very good, 
however. The august visitor deigned to be 
pleased, and placed two louis in Criquette's hand, 
saying: 

" Here; that is to buy you a doll." 

Such was the beginning of that thorough edu- 
cation Criquette was to receive from Rosita. 

Criquette carefully placed the two louis she had 
received from the young king in a twelve-sou 
porte-monnaie Pascal had given her for a birth- 
day present; but she had the misfortune to lose 



ORIQTTETTE. 87 

this porte-monnaie the next day. This was a 
great grief to her; but, to do her justice, it was not 
the two louis she regretted most, but Pascal's 
present. 

Criquette was destined to recover one day, and 
at a very opportune moment, both the porte-mon- 
naie and the two louis. 

One forgets quickly at eleven years old. A 
month at that age counts for many months. Cri- 
quette, however, stUl thought of her mother, and 
tears would mount to her eyes at the remem- 
brance. Rosita resigned herself to a separation 
from Criquette at night, and the child slept in a 
room next to that occupied by Aurelie. One 
night she awoke with a start, crying out: 

" Mamma! Mamma! " and looked about her in 
astonishment not to see the attic-room in Belle- 
ville. Then she heard Aurelie' s voice saying: 

" Go to sleep, my child; go to sleep." 

Another night Criquette had a horrible night- 
mare. She thought she felt upon her lips the 
chill of her mother's last kisses. She commenced 
to cry. Aurelie rose hurriedly, and had much 
difficulty in calming the child, who, however, at 
last became quiet. Aurelie watched her closely, 
and when she had fallen asleep again, kissed her 
— for the first time. 

Thus passed the first weeks in the new abode. 
Wus Criquette unhappy? No, certainly not; she 
was only a child, and of course she liked to live in 
this pretty house, to go to the Bois in magnificent 
carriages, to wear fine dresses, «nd to eat good 



86 ORXQUXm. 

things; but still she was not exactly happy, for 
she had a great trial to l)ear. She saw Pascal 
only in the evenings at the theatre, and then but 
for a few minutes at a time. He was her only 
friend on earth, her comrade, her brother. She 
almost reproached herself for being so well-housed, 
well-fed, and well-dressed; for being rich, in short 
(for she thought that she was rich and would 
always be so), while Pascal had remained poor. 
She longed to be able to share everything with 
him. She never forgot to place aside for him the 
half of her dessert, watching for the moment 
when Rosita was not looking, and then hiding in 
her pocket little cakes and candies. One evening, 
Rosita caught her. 
"Oh! j'^ou greedy little thing! " she said. 
"It isn't for me," answered Criquette, blushing 
scarlet. " It is for Pascal." 

"Poor little thing, how sweet of you I Take 
them, my angel; take all that you want." 

From that day, Pascal had every evening a 
princely dessert. He came to the theatre early, 
put on his monkey-skin, and went to the side- 
scenes to watch for Criquette; not for the bon- 
bons and the cakes, but for Criquette herself, 
whom he loved with all his heart, and whom he 
longed to see again. The two would go and sit 
down in a little dark comer where no one could 
disturb them, and there they talked for a quarter 
of an hour or so. These were the happiest mo- 
ments of Criquette' s life. 

"Come, eat, eat! It is good, isn't it? It is 



CRIQUETTE. 88 

one of the same kind tliat you liked so much the 
other night." 

They formed plans for the future. The theatre, 
always the theatre! They would enter the Con- 
servatory; they would take all the prizes; they 
would be engaged by the same manager, and they 
would live together always! 

At the end of the first month, an incident oc- 
curred which brought about a great change iK 
Criquette's life. Lying flat on the carpet of the 
salon, she was playing one afternoon with Rosita's 
little dog. From time to time she stopped to 
listen, thinking that she heard loud voices and 
the sound of a quarrel in the next room. Then 
she began to play with the dog again. 

It was indeed a quarrel, and a violent one, 
which had broken out between the Prince and 
the actress. Rosita, after much hesitation, for 
she knew it was a dangerous subject to broach, 
had asked Saveline, for the sake of Criquette, 
her daughter, to once more pay her debts. She 
had thought to soften the Prince by mentioning, 
in the very beginning, Criquette's name. But 
the result was disastrous. 

"For Criquette's sake!" exclaimed the Prince. 
"Well, yes, let us speak of Criquette, my dear, 
if you like. To have taken that child was folly." 

"Ah! There you go, just like Plantin, the 
other day, reproaching me for being charitable, 
for having some heart." 

" No, I do not reproach you. The little girl is 
very nice and interesting. If you sent her to 



90 CRIQUKTTE. 

school and paid the expenses of her education, 
very well. I should be quite ready for that. 
But to have installed the child here with you, 
and to exhibit her every day in the Bois — " 

*'0h! Exhibit her!" 

" Yes; exhibit her. I say that it is absurd and 
bad, in the interest of the child herself. That is 
my opinion. As for paying your debts, no! I 
give you ten thousand francs a month, and that 
ought to be sufficient for you. Besides this 
hundred and twenty thousand francs a year, I 
have twice, in the last five years, paid your 
debts, which each time amounted to two or tliree 
hundred thousand francs. You ai*e too extrava- 
gant. I can not aflford it. Then, besides, I have 
been very unlucky at cards lately, and have lost 
a large sum. So, what has happened? I have 
been obliged to make my property yield me more 
money than it did formerly — to force my stewards 
to more severity. I did not like to do that. 1 
am not naturally cruel, and it annoys me to be 
obliged to squeeze my people because of you." 

** Say, rather, because of gambling." 

"Because of gambling and because of you. 
Both things, if you like; but especially because 
of you. You cost me much more than gambling 
does." 

"Oh!" 

'• Yes, mwch more." 

"Indeed!" 

"And that is not all. Our czar is surrounded 
by a miserable set of advisers, and they have filled 



CEIQUETTE. 91 

his head with extravagant liberal ideas. They 
counsel a mad act — emancipation of the serfs; 
and such a piece of folly would make a great 
change in my affairs. It would reduce my income 
by at least one-third. For all these reasons, I 
will not pay your debts." 

The discussion went on, and finally became so 
heated that Saveline, in exasperation, seized his 
hat and abruptly left the room. 

Criquette was still on the carpet, making the 
little dog play with a paper ball attached to a 
string. 

The Prince's movement to depart was so vio- 
lent that he could not stop himself, and he 
stepped on one of Criquette' s hands. The child 
uttered a loud cry, and sprung trembling to her 
feet. 

"It is unbearable having this child always in 
one's way! " 

And, taking her by the arm, he flung her across 
the room upon a divan. The Cossack reappeared I 
Then Criquette, frightened and hanging on to the 
edge of the divan, faltered: 

"I beg your pardon. I ought not to have been 
there." 

Rosita threw herself down on her knees beside 
Criquette, and encircled her with her arms to pro- 
tect her. Attracted by the child's cry of pain, 
Aurelie appeared in one of the doorways. 

Saveline recovered himself. He was not bad- 
hearted, and his act of cruelty suddenly horrified 
him. 



M OBIQUXTTB. 

''It \b I," he said to Oriqaette, "it is I who 
should ask your pardon. I was wrong. Did I 
hurt you?" 

"No, Prince, no." 

" Show me your little hand." 

"It is nothing. It is nothing at all. I was 
frightened. I ought not to have screamed." 

** Don't cry. I will send you a beautiful toy. 
Would you like a beautiful toy?" 

" Yes, indeed," answered Criquette, smiling 
through her tears. 

Before leaving, Saveline turned to Rosita 
and said: 

"Yes, I was wrong; but she ought not to have 
been there. She said it heraelf, not I." 

An hour afterward, in the boudoir, a servant 
turned the handle of a parlor organ, upon the 
cover of which was a monkey playing a violin, 
with winkings and grinnings that showed his 
white teeth. 

Criquette sat on a low chair and watched it; 
but there was no joy on her face at the possession 
of this marvelous plaything; on the contrary, 
there was a shade of sadness. A monkey! She 
thought of Pascal. 



CEIQUETTE. 93 



VL 

Meanwhile, Aurelie and Rosita were discussing 
the situation. In serious matters, Rosita always 
consulted Aurelie, and usually followed her 
advice. Aurelie was very calm, sensible, and 
prudent. Her manners and education were much 
above her station. She spoke slowly and cor- 
rectly, in short, crisp sentences. A hundred times 
people had said to Rosita: "Your maid is really 
a well-bred person." Aurelie' s spelling was the 
admiration of Rosita; she never made a mistake; 
and thanks to this, Rosita passed, among her 
acquaintance, for a person who wrote very well, 
the greater part of her letters being written and 
composed by Aurelie. 

Despite all these merits, Aurelie remained 
strictly in her place, never sought to become 
familiar, and always addressed her mistress, even 
when they were alone, with the utmost deference. 
She had been fifteen years in the house, and no 
one, not even Rosita herself, had succeeded in 
drawing from her the slightest information in 
regard to her former life. She never received 
either letters or visitors. She never went out, 
except to go about once in three months to see a 
broker who had once been intimate in Rosita's 
household. 

Curious and piqued at all this mystery, Rosita 



M ORIQFRTTIS. 

had one day tried to confess Aur^lie; but the 
latter answered very decidedly: 

*' I shall be grateful to Madame not to ask me 
any questions as to my past. My early life waa a 
very hard one, and I had many sorrows. I don't 
like to think of it all. Do not force me to recall 
painful memories. I serve you faithfully, and 
that is the essential thing. Let the past sleep in 
peace." 

However, during the first part of 1860, Aur61ie 
appeared to feel a certain friendship for a Madame 
Guarena, who came for two or three weeks to give 
Rosita lessons in Spanish, but lessons of a rather 
peculiar sort. Rosita had been cast for a part in 
which there were eight or ten Spanish sentences 
to be spoken, and it was Madame Guarena' s task 
to make the actress repeat these sentences over 
and over again. Madame Guarena was a woman 
of about sixty, thin and sickly-looking, but with 
very distinguished manners. She arrived very 
promptly at the hour appointed for the lesson, 
and Rosita, whose time was always very much 
occupied, would send Aurelie to ask her to have 
the kindness to wait a little. This little usually 
absorbed three-quarters of the hour which was to 
have been devoted to the lesson. 

To Rosita' 8 great surprise, Aurelie fell into the 
habit of keeping Madame Guarena company. A 
sort of friendship had evidently sprung up be- 
tween the two women, and the end of the lessons 
did not put an end to the friendship. During the 
five months that followed, Madame Guarena came 



CEIQUETTE. ' 96 

very often to see Anrelie, and they had long con- 
ferences together. Finally, toward the end of 
April, Aurelie informed Rosita that she desired to 
have one or two days' leave of absence each month. 
She left early in the morning, and always returned 
in the evening in time for the theatre. 

One morning, early in July, the servants sent 
the groom to follow Aurelie. He returned an 
hour later and reported that she had gone to 
the Northern Station, where she had purchased a 
ticket, but for what destination Celestin could 
not tell, as he was naturally obliged to keep at a 
distance. But after Aurelie' s departure, he 
copied the names of the stations on the bulletin 
board: Beaumont, Meru, Beauvais, Saint-Omer, 
Amiens, Le Treport. They never knew anything 
further. 

As we have said, Rosita and Aurelie discussed 
the situation. The maid squarely declared that 
the Prince was in the right. 

"But what is to be done?" asked Rosita. 
"Abandon Criquette? Never! " 

"There is no question of that, Madame. If we 
could at once take the child from the theatre, and 
place her in school, it would be the best thing to 
do; but Criquette has a contract, and the mana- 
ger will not release her so long as ' Gri-Grri ' is on 
the bill." 

"What is to be done, then? What is to be 
done?" 

"Criquette passes the night upstairs with me. 
She might pass the day there also. The Prince 



86 ORIQUETTB. 

will not see her uuy more, aud all annoyance will 
be averted." 

*' I had thought of that, but I did not want to 
speak to you about it. I was afraid of disturbing 
you." 

** Nothing disturbs me when I can oblige 
Madame." 

"And then, it is not that only. I thought I 
had noticed that you did not like Criquette." 

"Oh, yes, Madame," responded Aur61ie, in her 
chilly tones, " I like Criquette; I like her as much 
as I can like anyone. Madame knows very well 
that I am not demonstrative." 

"Then you will take her with you? " 

"Yes, that would be best for the child. It 
is not good for her to be mixed up in Madame' s 
life. I will give her lessons in writing, spelling, 
and geography. I am capable of teaching her." 

"I know, I know. Well, let us try that." 

A new life began for Criquette, a very monoto- 
nous and colorless life. She had now only one 
pleasure — the theatre; that is to say, her part and 
Pascal. But how long the day seemed to herl 
Aurelie made her work for two hours every morn- 
ing. The lesson always commenced with a dicta- 
tion, invariably taken from the Scriptures. 

And while Criquette wrote, leaning over the 
little table, she thought of Pascal's dictations, 
mingled with jokes and laughter. Work was a 
pleasure then! And the speeches of their dear 
melodramas returned to her memory, so that the 
poor little thing, one day, instead of writing that 



CRIQUETTE. 97 

"the spirit of the Lord descended upon David," 
wrote that " the spirit of the Lord descended upon 
Buridan?'' 

When Aurelie took the dictation to read it over 
and correct it, Criquette was scolded; not too 
much, however, for Aurelie was never harsh or 
severe. She even did her best to be gentle; but 
habit was too strong for her. One can not learn 
to be tender with children; one must be so nat- 
urally, by inclination. To love is the surest 
means to make oneself loved. Now, Aurelie did 
not love Criquette, and yet, coldly and calculat- 
ingly, she devoted much of her time to the child. 

That evening Pascal said to Criquette: 

" You look sad. Is Mademoiselle Aurelie cross 
to you?" 

" No, she is not cross. I should be ungrateful 
if I said that. She is kind. Yes, she is kind. 
She kisses me every morning and every evening; 
but — it is silly what I am going to say, it is silly, 
but it is true — it seems to me that she does not 
know how to kiss. Mamma knew. Ah, she is 
not mamma! And then, you see, Pascal, I think 
that no one else could be mamma." 

Gradually the talks of Criquette with Pascal 
at the theatre became shorter and less frequent. 
Aurelie watched Criquette very closely; she 
would not allow her to run about behind the 
scenes, but obliged her to remain in the dressing- 
room until it was time for her to go on the stage, 
and to return there when she had finished, Pascal 
was forced to roam about and catch glimpses of 

7 



96 OUQUETTB. 

Criqaette, who, every evening at the end of the 
play, perched upon a platform during the trans- 
formation scene, threw with both her hands to 
Pascal, crouched behind the scenes, the kisses 
which the authors had told her to throw to the 
audience. 

Soon there were no more talks at all, for there 
was no more going to the theatre. Early in 
August "Gri-Gri" disappeared from the bill, 
killed by the heat, after a very respectable run of 
one hundred and thirty nights. It waa followed 
by a drama, in which there was no part for Rosita 
or Criquette, but which served as a debut for Pas- 
cal. He had one sentence to speak, a sentence of 
five words, uttered by a boy in the midst of an 
uproarious crowd. 

Pascal's debut! Rosita was to be present at 
the first representation, and Criquette, the evening 
before, said to her: 

"Oh! please take me with you to the theatre 
to-morrow evening. I would so like to see Pas- 
cal make his debut." 

Rosita was touched, and promised to take her; 
but after a long conversation with Aurelie, she 
changed her mind and told Criquette that she was 
not to go. It was a terrible blow to the child, 
and she wept bitter tears. The next evening it 
was impossible for her to sleep. Pascal was 
making his debut, and she was not there to 
applaud him with all the strength of her little 
hands. She turned back and forward restlessly 
in bed. The door into the next room was open, 



CRIQUETTE. 99 

and when midnight sounded Criquette saw Aure- 
lie methodically lay aside her work, rise and 
leave the room; not, however, without casting a 
glance at the child, who pretended to be sound 
asleep. Aurelie went down-stairs to read the 
evening paper while waiting for her mistress. 

Then Criquette had an idea. An hour after- 
ward, when she heard Kosita's carriage stop in 
the courtyard, she slipped out of bed, and in her 
bare feet, her black hair floating over her shoul- 
ders, she looked down over the balusters. She 
was about to call out, "Madame, Madame, did 
Pascal do well? " when she saw the Prince slowly 
mounting the stairs after Rosita. Then she 
jumped backward, trembling and alarmed, 
remembering the Prince's anger the day when 
she was playing in the salon with the little dog. 

All she heard were these words, spoken by the 
Prince: 

" That play was a terrible bore! " 

The next morning Criquette watched for Pascal; 
but Pascal did not come. The whole day passed, 
and still Pascal did not appear. Criquette could 
not speak to Rosita, as the latter was very busy. 
The Prince was to depart that evening for Saint 
Petersburg. As marshal of the nobility, he was 
obliged to go home to Saratov and look into 
that terrible question of the emancipation of the 
serfs. Rosita was to leave the next day for 
Dieppe, with Aurelie and Criquette. 

About five o'clock Criquette was alone in her 
room, pretending to study her geography, but 



100 ORIQUETTE. 

her thonghts were elsewhere. Suddenly she saw 
the door open and the^groom cautiously appear. 

*' Is there anyone here* " he whispered. 

"No; no one." 

" Take that, then, quickly. It comes from a 
little actor you know; but take care and don't let 
Mademoiselle Aui-elie see it. The little actor is 
waiting in the street. If there is an answer, I 
will take it to him. You can give it to me with- 
out anyone seeing you. I shall be below in the 
hall." 

He placed in Criquette's hands a folded piece of 
paper, and hurried away. 

It was a letter from Pascal, and this is what he 
wrote: 

Mv speech went very well. It made them 
laugh, and that was all right, for it is a comic 
speech. Sometimes, there are speeches which 
make them laugh when they ouglit not to, but 
my speech was meant to be funny. The author 
was pleased. He told me that I did well. I 
came this morning to tell you about it, but they 
would not let me m; they had orders from Made- 
moiselle Aurelie. The groom told me this. A 
good fellow, the groom. He will take you my 
letter. They want to separate us, Criquette. It 
is that wicked woman; but she can not do it; 
we shall see each other again, Criquette, and I 
shall love you always, always; remember, always. 
I kiss you, Criquette, and I am very glad that I 
did well, and I am sure that you are glad, too, 
Criquette. 

Yes, she was glad, the dear little thing, and yet 
her eyes filled with tears. They wanted to sepa- 



CKIQUETTE. 101 

rate her from Pascal! He was waiting for her 
answer in the street, and, as the house was built 
between a courtyard and a garden, there was not 
a window that looked out on the street. Cri- 
quette's first impulse was to run out to see Pascal. 
But would the congierge let her pass? All the 
servants were afraid of Aurelie. Criquette knew 
that, and they were not all as brave as the little 
groom. The poor child, already condemned to 
stratagem and deceit, thought it all over, and 
finally concluded that it would be better to write 
and not expose herself to the wrath of Made- 
moiselle Aurelie, who might then forbid her ever 
to see Pascal again. And then, too, she might 
discharge the groom. This last thought decided 
Criquette; she took a piece of paper and wrote: 

Yes, I am glad, but very unhapy to. So will 
I, Pascal, luv you allwaze, allwaze, allwaze. 

At this point, she heard Mademoiselle Aurelie 
enter the room, and she hurried away, carrying 
her letter. The groom was alone in the hall, and 
Criquette, not knowing how to show her grati- 
tude, kissed him on both cheeks, saying: 

" Thank you! Thank you! " 

She felt that, like herself, he was of the people, 
and kind, like herself. 

The next day, at ten o'clock in the morning, 
Rosita said to Aurelie: 

"Take a cab and go at once to see Plantin. I 
have not had a minute to myself lately, and this 
morning I am worn out." 

*' What am I to ask Monsieur Plantin? '' 



108 ORIQTTKTTE. 

"Ask him how the family council for Criquette 
is progressing. He will know what that means. 
It was very wrong of me to have neglected it, but 
the Prince's departure has completely upset me." 

"Is there uny need to huny? We shall return 
in a month." 

Aur6lie spoke this last sentence very slowly and 
deliberately, like a person who has in her head 
something different from that on her lips. Then, 
suddenly, she continued: 

" Yes, Madame, I will go to Monsieur Plantin's. 
I will go at once." 

And, in fact, without losing a moment, she 
started off. When she arrived at Plantin's office, 
she said to him: 

"What is this guardianship, this family coun- 
cil for that little girl Madame has taken in? " 

"Nothing serious. I mentioned the thing to 
your mistress to quiet her. Has she still such 
a plan in her head? " 

" It seems so, since she has sent me here. What 
is it that Madame wishes?" 

" To be appointed guardian of the child." 

" And that is difficult? " 

" It is impossible." 

"Why so?" 

" Because, in the first place, she is not yet fifty." 

"Ah! that is essential? " 
"Yes." 

"You said in the first place. Is there any 
other difficulty?" 

"Yes; a very serious one. No judge would 



OKIQUETTE. 103 

give a child to the guardianship of a woman who 
lives the life your mistress does. You under- 
stand me, I think." 

"Perfectly. Then, if Madame' s life were dif- 
ferent — " 

"Ah! if she were a respected person." 

"Respected and more than fifty. Could you 
show the articles of the law in which this is 
stated?" 

"Why do you wish to see them? " 

"Because of Madame. To prove to her that I 
have interested myself in the matter. Show them 
to me, please." 

"Willingly. Look! Article 361, and follow- 
ing, on official guardianship. But it is a little long 
and complicated. There are a dozen articles." 

Aurelie read only the first two articles; then, 
handiifg the book back to Plantin, she said: 

"It is, indeed, a little complicated for me. I 
will simply say to Madame that it is impossible." 

And that is what she did say to Rosita on her 
return; but what she did not say to her was that 
she had bought a code at a bookstore, on her way 
home; and she took this code in her bag with her 
to Dieppe. 

A week afterward, at Dieppe, Rosita received 
the following letter from Saveline: 

My Dear Rosita: I have found my affairs here 
in very bad shape. I intended to remain only 
two weeks, but I shall be forced to stay three 
months, perhaps six. I can not live without you. 
Come and join me at once, at once. On this con- 



104 ORIQUETTE. 

dition only will I pay your debts. And come 
without the little girl, of course. Put her at 
school. I will pay tlie bills. Our czar is resolved 
to proclaim this ruinous emancipation. I love 
you. God bless youl Sa valine. 

The czar was to emancipatis Saveline's serfs. 
That was in his power; but it was not in his 
power to emancipate their master, who lived in a 
slavery harsher and more humiliating still. 

Rosita received this letter in the morning at 
nine o^ clock. She at once sent for Aurelie and 
said to her: 

"We leave at noon for Paris, and this evening 
for Baint Petersburg. Here is what the Prince 
writes me. On this condition, he will pay my 
debts." 

Aur61ie read the letter attentively, and, hand- 
ing it back to Rosita, replied: 

" Madame can not hesitate. Madame must go; 
but I can not go." 

"You can not go!" 

"No; I regret to be obliged to leave Madame' s 
service." 

"To leave my service! You are not serious, 
Aureliel" 

" Very serious, Madame. I am worn out and 
far from well. I might have remained, and even 
desired to remain, some time with Madame in 
Paris; but I do not feel that I have the strength 
to go to Saint Petersburg." 

"You are rich, it seems, to be able to retire." 

"I am not rich, Madame. I have enough to 



CRIQT7ETTB. 106 

live upon, it is true, but I am not rich. The 
money I have made with you the last fifteen 
years I think I have earned. My profits have 
been large, doubtless. Why should I deny it? 
But if it had not been for me, you would have 
been robbed worse than you have been. I have 
always considered your interests." 

"I believe that; but why leave me so ab- 
ruptly? " 

"I should not have left Madame abruptly, if 
Madame had not announced abruptly that it was 
necessary to go to Russia." 

"Well, then, don't go this evening. I will go 
alone. Take your time. Take a rest, if you are 
tired. You can join me in a week, or in two 
weeks." 

" No, not in a week, nor in two weeks. I shall 
not go to Russia." 

"That is decisive?" 

"I am very sorry, Madame, but it can not 
be." 

"And that is not all. There is Criquette. 
What shall I do with Criquette? Aurelie, render 
me one service, at least. It gives me great pain 
to separate from Criquette, but I must do so. I 
am going to place her in a school in Paris. 
Promise me to go and see her several times a 
week, and write me after each visit." 

" Even that is impossible. I do not intend to 
remain in Paris." 

"If you will do me this favor, I will continue 
your wages during my absence. It is fifteen hun- 



106 OBIQUKTTB. 

dred francs a year, I think, that I have given 
you." 

"Yes; but fifteen hundred francs would not 
induce me to remain in Paris." 

** Ahl you must be rich, certainly." 

"But I can do more and better than what 
Miidame asks me." 

"More and better?" 

"Yes; I am willing to take entire charge of 
Criquette, and for nothing, without accepting a 
sou from Madame; but the child must be mine, 
and mine alone." 

"Yours alone!" 

" I intend to live in the provinces." 

"Where?" 

" In Lyons. I have friends there. I will will- 
ingly devote myself to the child. It will give 
me something to do. I will bring her up well^ 
give her a taste for work, marry her to an honest 
man, and she will be an honest woman." 

Rosita ended by yielding, but not without a 
tearful struggle. She had thought for a moment 
of confiding Criquette to the care of her mother, 
but she knew how she herself had been brought 
up by that mother, and sold by her after a long 
bargaining, to a banker, for the sum of twelve 
hundred francs a year. "I will marry her to an 
honest man and she will be an honest woman." 
Words of this sort always appeal strongly to 
women like Rosita, when they have any heart, 
and Rosita was not without that commodity. She 
thought that she would be doing her duty if she 
gave Criquette to Aurelie, 



CRIQUETTE. 107 

Three hours afterward, in the Dieppe station, 
Rosita smothered Criquette with kisses. 

"My angel, my love! Yon will write to me, 
will you not? And I will write to you. Auerlie, 
when do you intend to go away?" 

"In a fortnight." 

"And you will live in Lyons?" 

" With the friends I spoke to you about." 

" What is their address? " 

"No. 11 Quai des Celestins." 

The train moved away, and Rosita leaned out 
of the window as long as she could see Criquette. 
The poor child did not understand anything of 
what was happening. Naturally, she had not 
been consulted. 

That same evening Aurelie addressed the fol- 
lowing letter to Madame Pinglet, Congierge^ 11 
Quai des Celestins, Lyons: 

If you receive at Lyons any letters addressed 
to me, send them under a second envelope to 
Mademoiselle Aurelie Richard, Poste Restante, 
Beaavais. From Beauvais, I will send you from 
time to time letters, which you will simply mail at 
Lyons. If anyone comes to ask for me at your 
house, say that I live there, but that I am away 
for a month or two. If they speak of a little girl, 
twelve years old, who is now with me, say that she 
is well. 

Some years previous, this Madame Pinglet, who 
was then Louise Rimblot, came to work by the 
day for Rosita; and Aurelie had found in the 
working- woman's pocket a ring belonging to her 
mistress, which she had looked everywhere for. 



108 OBIQUBTTB. 

She could have had the woman arrested; she had 
spared her, but hud airiuiged uever to lose sight 
of her. 

The evening of Rosita's departure, when Cri- 
quette was asleep, Aur61ie read over carefully the 
ten articles of the code relating to official guard- 
ianship. 



OKIQUETTE. 109 



VII. 

It may be well to explain into what hands Cri- 
qnette had fallen. 

Aurelie Richard was bom the seventeenth of 
September, 1810, in Burgundy, at the Chateau de 
Marigny, the home of the Count de Lustrac; 
her mother, although very young, was the sole 
housekeeper of that great house, and managed 
things with a skillful hand; her father was head 
gardener of the chateau; both were excellent serv- 
ants and possessed the esteem, confidence, and 
almost affection, of their employers. 

Three days after Aurelie was born, Madame de 
Lustrac gave birth to a daughter. The two 
children were brought up together, absolutely 
together, until they were seventeen. Valentine 
de Lustrac was amiable, bright, laughing, and 
affectionate, but turbulent, undisciplined, and 
idle. Aurelie, on the contrary, cold, serious, and 
of a reflective mind, showed from her earliest 
years extreme application and an eager desire to 
learn. For this reason she was given as a com- 
panion- to Valentine. Aurelie was easily the 
master-mind of the two, and the result was that 
at seventeen she knew all that Valentine ought to 
have known, and that, in her position, she herself 
had no need to know. 

Very intelligent and very well educated, Aur6- 



110 ORIQUETTE. 

lie, on the day of Valentine's marria^, found 
herself little better than a servant. She was con- 
fined to the linen-room, and passed all her time 
in sewing and embroidering. She was religious, 
went often to church, and even spoke sometimes 
of becoming a nun. She was nineteen when 
Madame de Lustrac proposed that she should 
marry the son of a neighboring farmer. Aur^lie 
refused. She did not want a peasant; she wished 
to marry a shopkeeper or a clerk, to become a 
lady, and go to live at Dijon. Valentine, on her 
wedding-day, had told her that she would give 
her a dowry of ten thousand francs. Tliis sum, 
which is nothing to-day, even for a waiting-maid, 
was considerable in 1829. 

Two years after, Aurelie lost her mother, and 
took her place as housekeeper. Firm, severe, and 
honest, she had the gift of command; in spite of 
her youth, she knew how to make herself 
respected and obeyed. This did not prevent her, 
however, from being extremely unhappy. There 
is nothing harder than to feel above one's posi- 
tion. 

In 1834, Aurelie was twenty-four; she was thin 
and sharp-featured. Two or three other offers of 
marriage had been refused by her disdainfully 
and without discussion. Always people of no 
account — gardeners and farm laborers. 

It was in the spring of that year that a cele- 
brated sculptor was summoned from Paris by 
Count de Lustrac to direct the work of repairing 
the stonework of the chateau, which was an 



ORIQUETTE. Ill 

example of the purest art of the Renaissance. 
This sculptor did not come alone; he brought 
with him a tall fellow of about thirty, with black 
hair and white teeth, half workman, half artist, 
very skillful in his profession, a fine talker, and 
a Parisian. His name was Pierre Grassou. His 
master came and went between Paris and Mar- 
tigny; but Pierre installed himself at the cha- 
teau, and stayed there six months. 

The work was ended in the beginning of the 
autumn. Pierre left on the seventeenth of No- 
vember. The next day Aurelie disappeared. She 
had followed him to Paris. Nothing burns like 
dry wood when it takes fire, and Aurelie had 
taken lire. One evening she had thrown herself 
into the arms of this man and given herself to 
him without conditions. He did not love her, 
but he was a Parisian, and the country bored him. 

When Aurelie arrived at Pierre's house in 
Paris, he was angry and tried to drive her away. 
He did not wish to be encumbered with a woman. 
He had promised her nothing, nor had she even 
asked anything. Aurelie, throwing herself at his 
feet, begged and prayed to remain. She asked 
only one thing, that he would keep her, no matter 
where, in any corner. She would keep house for 
him, prepare his meals, and look after his linen. 
A word, a look from him now and then, would be 
all she asked, and would repay her for everything. 
He yielded, annoyed, but flattered at the same 
time to be loved with such violence. 

Then began for Aurelie four years of a verita- 



119 ORIQUXTTB. 

ble martyrdom. Pierre beat her, and twenty 
times brutally cast her out, tired of her love. She 
always returned, humble and submissive, passing 
entire nights upon the landing, and weeping — 
seated on the floor near the door — she who had 
never wept, not even when she lost her mother. 
And yet, she had loved her mother and regretted 
her; but there were no tears in her eyes the day of 
her death. 

One morning Pierre said to her: 

" I am going to be married." 

"When?" 

*' To-morrow." 

She leaned against the wall so as not to fall. 
He collected her garments and packed them in a 
trunk. She watched him with dry eyes. She had 
wept her last tear. She hesitated between these 
three things: to kill heraelf, to kill him, or to kill 
her. She did neither. She lived, if it can be 
called living. Her heart was dead. 

She had expended on one person all that there 
was in her of warmth and passion. Henceforth, 
she was inspired with a profound disgust of all 
that resembled love. Insults and blows were what 
love had meant for her. She was destined to 
find love again, or something that passed for it, 
and to study it at her leisure in Rosita's house; 
and there was nothing there to give her a very 
high idea of it. Anrelie was twenty-nine wh^'U 
she was turned out forever by Pierre Grassou, 
and from that day man counted for nothing in 
her life. 



CRIQUETTE. 113 

She went to a second-class employment office, 
accepted what was offered her, and for twenty 
francs a month went to live with a clerk of the 
ministry of finance, who wanted a maid-of -all- 
work. During six or seven years she lived in at 
least twenty places. No one cared to keep her. 
Everyone gave her excellent recommendations, 
for she did her work well, but they all found her 
too depressing. 

She was not, however, very unhappy. She felt 
a certain relief in being no longer that woman 
who had suffered so much, in being no longer 
herself, in being a thing belonging to her employ- 
ers; they commanded, she obeyed mechanically. 
She rarely spoke, never laughed. 

Early in October, 1845, Aurelie was seated on 
a bench in the employment office — how many 
hours she had passed upon that bench! — when, 
smart and dapper, there entered Mademoiselle 
Julie, Rosita's waiting-maid. She was in need 
of a good seamstress. She engaged Aurelie, and 
from morning to night for three months the lat- 
ter passed her time in sewing near a window, with 
no other distraction than to watch the coachmen 
water their horses in the courtyard. Aurelie 
was very clever with her needle, and from time to 
time Rosita complimented her on her work. 

"Julie is pleased with you," she said one day; 
" very much pleased with you; but why do you 
look so sad? Shall I send you to the theatre this 
evening? You will see me play." 

Aurelie thanked her, but refused. She received 



114 ORIQUETTE. 

forty francs a month, and began to save with that 
savage economy which was one day to bring her 
to fortune. During the meals Aur^lie did not 
open her lips, but she heard the servants talk. 
What a frightful system of stealing went on in 
the house! Everyone stole whatever he or she 
could, and the thought came at times to the former 
housekeeper that she would soon bring about a 
change if she had these people under her. 

And all of a sudden that really came to pass. 
Rosita in a fit of anger turned her maid away, 
and sending for Aurelie, said to her: 

" I have discharged Julie. Take her place as 
ivell as you can until I obtain another maid." 

" I will try to please Madame." 

A week after, Rosita said to Aurelie: 

"I shall not look for another maid. I will 
keep you. You are a very intelligent person." 

Aurelie bowed. In six months she was sover- 
eign mistress of the household. She had stopped 
the thieving and reduced the servants to obedi- 
ence. She herself was the only one to steal. 

And yet was it stealing? She received from all 
the tradesmen a percentage, which is the general 
custom in Paris. She accepted, without ever 
soliciting them, presents from Rosita' s friends 
and acquaintances. She sold back every year to 
a dry-goods house large pieces of satin, velvet, 
and lace. These were Aurelie' s ordinary reve- 
nues; but she had extraordinary ones also, and 
very important at that. A veritable fury for 
speculation broke out in France immediately 



CRIQUETTE. 116 

after the proclamation of the Empire. To make 
money was easy. All one had to do was to buy, 
and after a time to sell again. Everything 
increased in value. Well advised by a prominent 
financier, who had taken a violent fancy to 
Rosita, Aurelie, from 1852 to 1856, amassed a 
hundred thousand francs. Half this sum was 
made by a single operation. She bought at par 
thirty shares of Credit Mobilier and sold them at 
the highest figure; the profit was fifteen hundred 
francs a share. 

It would not be uninteresting to enter into the 
details of Aurelie' s makings and savings, with 
the accumulated interest for fifteen years; but, 
after all, but one thing is of importance, the 
result, which was most brilliant. When Aurelie 
made up her accounts the first of January, 1860, 
she had for her own — her very own — more than 
three hundred thousand francs, represented by 
first-class property. It was just about- what 
Rosita owed at the same time. 

So for fifteen years the establishment had paid 
its expenses, nothing more. The savings of the 
maid balanced the debts of the mistress. It was 
for this that Rosita, who had, to be sure, begun 
very young, was already in her eighteenth year 
of a life of glittering vice. 

It was for this that for eighteen years the poor 
girl had lied so much, eaten so much without 
hunger, drank so much without thirst, loved so 
much without love. 

It was for this that a young man, dismissed by 



116 ORIQUETTE. 

her, had blown out his brains, and that the 
mother of this young man had died of grief six 
months after. 

It was for this that a woman had boen forced to 
separate from her husband, had gone insane, was 
confined in a mad-house, and struggled furiously 
in the embrace of a straight-jacket, while three 
little children were without a mother. 

It was for this that a man — almost an old man 
— of a great and ancient family, after thirty years 
of an irreproachable life, had one evening, because 
Rosita had pressing need of fifty thousand francs, 
cheated at play, been driven from his club, and 
had stolen away to hide himself in an American 
mining-camp. 

It was for this that a young man, ruined to his 
last sou, had enlisted at twenty-six in a line regi- 
ment and been killed under the walls of Sebas- 
topol, redeeming, at least, his life by his death. 

It was for this that in the government of Sara- 
tov, at nine hundred leagues from that chamber 
where flew the Cupids with gilded wings, the 
serfs of Prince Saveline (five thousand souls) 
worked harder than in the past and suffered more 
cruelly from hunger and cold. 

Yes, for this! — that Mademoiselle Aurolie 
might become rich and could go to live at Beau- 
vais, a respected member of society; for that was 
her dream, and it was a dream that was about to 
be realized. 

Yes, for this, and also for the unhappiness of 
Criquette. 



OEIQUETTE. 117 

For some time Aurelie had been haunted by 
projects of a peaceful retreat. But where? And 
how? To remain in Paris was not to be thought 
of. She wished to live somewhere quietly and 
respectably. After being for fifteen years the 
introducer to her mistress of pleasure-seekers, 
Aurelie was exposed to be saluted at every step 
in Paris by imperceptible nods of the head, 
accompanied by a slight smile, in which were 
mingled, in equal doses, gratitude and disdain. 
These smiles meant: "It is I! I was your mas- 
ter for a year, for six months^ or for less, much 
less, than that. Do you recognize me?" And 
sometimes she did not recognize them — in which 
there was nothing very extraordinary, for that 
had happened two or three times to Eosita her- 
self. 

Aurelie' s father had died, a broken-down man, 
a few years after his daughter's flight. Dead also 
was a brother, who had sailed for America, and 
been carried ofi, almost immediately after land- 
ing, by yellow fever. All her family were gone, 
and she alone remained. She had a revenge to 
take upon life;' she wished it, and she would 
have it. 

Clearly, to end her days with her gray hairs 
held in honor, she must leave Paris. But what 
difficulties stood in her way! Provincial society 
is narrow and exclusive. It is easier to enter the 
first circles of Paris than those of a little city 
like Bruges or Perpignan. 

It was about this time that Rosita was obliged 



118 ORIQUETTR. 

to learn eight or ten Spanish sentences, and one 
of her friends said to her: 

*'My piano teacher is just the person you 
want." 

"Does she know Spanish?" 

"Quite well enough for your purpose. She is 
a Fi-enchwoman, but the widow of a Spanish 
count." 

" A Spanish count! " 

*' Yes; the poor woman has met with misfort- 
une. I will send her to you." 

"How much must I pay her?" 

" She charges a hundred sous an hour for music 
lessons. It ought not to be more for Spanish." 

"Well, send her to me. I am curious to see 
your countess at a hundred sous an hour." 

Rosita began to laugh. She did not believe in 
the Spanish countess. But she was mistaken; 
although Madame Guarena did not use her title, 
she was a real, authentic countess. 

Count Guarena, although more than sixty years 
of age, had joined the bands of Cabrera in the 
Carlist uprising of 1838. After the defeat of the 
celebrated chieftain, the Count succeeded in pass- 
ing the frontier, and took refuge in France. He 
had some resources — four or five thousand francs a 
year. He went to Beauvais, and hired a first-floor 
apartment in the Rue de la Taillerie. Three 
months after, he married Mademoiselle Celestine 
Ragonnet, daughter of one of the prefects, who 
lived in the same house, on the third floor. She 
was a person of about forty, insignificant and 



CEIQUETTE. 119 

gentle, who had long since abandoned all thoughts 
of marriage. Guarena was old and in feeble 
health, and he needed a nurse. 

Madame Guarena lost her father in 1849, and 
her husband in 1852. After the Count's death, 
his affairs were examined, and, when all his debts 
had been paid, the notary handed to the widow 
three or four bank-notes for a thousand francs 
each. All scarred, shattered and shaky, as he 
was, the old Carlist had been still tormented by 
memories of his youth, and the grisettes of Beau- 
vais had a very pronounced taste for rings, 
brooches, and ear-rings. It is in vain to be covered 
with honorable wounds; a man is not loved for 
himself after he has passed sixty, even in the 
provinces! 

Poor Madame Guarena came to Paris to tempt 
fortune; she managed to obtain a few scholars in 
music and Spanish, which kept her from starva- 
tion; but she regretted Beauvais, her former life, 
her old friends, the quiet, slow provincial society 
with its games of whist at a sou a corner. The 
life she led in Paris was very painful to her. At 
first she had accepted pupils only in respectable 
houses; but she had to live, and so she finally 
became the teacher of Rosita's friend, and then 
of Rosita herself. 

She was glad to talk of her misfortunes, and 
one day she made a confidant of Aurelie. The 
latter, who was busy with her needle, listened 
at first in an absent manner, but soon she let her 
work fall, raised her head, looked at the teacher 



190 ORIQUKTTE. 

of Spanish, and began to think that the recital of 
her troubles was not devoid of interest. 

All at once, she saw the possibility of a strange 
partnership; MatlanieGuarenafurnisliing respect- 
ability and an entrance into provincial society, 
and she, Aurelie, advancing the funds for the 
enterprise — honor on one side and money on the 
other. 

But she must be careful not to embark lightly 
in such a venture. Was this fine story told by 
the Carlist's widow entirely true? After ques- 
tioning Madame Guarena very closely, she pro- 
posed to her one day to go to Beauvais. Madame 
Guarena consented, and Aur61ie accompanied her 
in her calls on her old friends. Her reception 
everywhere was full of warmth and respect. 
Aurelie discreetly took part in the conversation; 
she said that she was weary of Parisian life, and 
she thought very seriously of retiring to Beauvais, 
with her dear friend^ the Countess Chmrena. At 
these words, no one betrayed any astonishment. 
Madame Guarena had spoken the truth. She 
was a countess, and perfectly respectable houses 
were open to her in Beauvais. 

These calls, where the conversation was made 
up of commonplace platitudes, appeared delight- 
ful to Aurelie. 

At Madame Rigaud's, the doctor's wife, Aure- 
lie did not lose a word of a long discussion upon 
the new priests of Saint Stephen s Church. 

"After you went away," said Madame Rigaud, 
"we had the misfortune to lose that excellent 



CRIQUETTE. 121 

Abbe Clairget. His place was taken by a young 
priest, Abbe Maigrin, whose sermons are very 
good. He preached all during Lent." 

' ' And Abbe Martillon?' ' 

*' Still at the cathedral. I had the pleasure of 
dining with him last Saturday, at Madame Rib- 
let' s. We played whist in the evening. Whist, 
you know, is his one little weakness." 

" Yes, indeed, I know. Did he revoke?" 

*'Ah! you remember! Yes, he revoked in 
spades, and it was inexcusable, for he had three 
of them. I played the king — " and Madame 
Rigaud related the details of the hand. Aurelie 
did not understand whist, but she was interested, 
nevertheless, and she listened. The voices were 
well modulated and the words measured. She 
suddenly felt transported a thousand leagues 
from Paris and the Rue Trudon. What a con- 
trast to Rosita's explosions of anger, with her 
violent denunciations of men in general and cred- 
itors in particular. 

Aurelie felt herself leading a regular, tranquil 
life. She thought of her early ambition, to live 
respectably in Dijon. Beauvais and Dijon — they 
seemed very like. 

And then, in all these houses, they showed her 
consideration, they offered her the place of honor, 
they saluted her politely, they conducted her to 
the door with extreme deference. 

The pact was concluded, not without some 
resistance on Madame Guarena's part. She felt 
that she was selling herself; but Aurelie easily 



122 ORIQUETTE. 

quieted this last qualm of conscience. Besides, 
Madame Guarena was broken down by poverty, 
and tlie sentiments of pride and honor were 
duUed. 

Early in June, 1860, Aur61ie hired at Beauvais, 
in the name of Madame Guarena, a little house 
with a garden, situated near the railway station, 
in a street which bore this singular name, Rue du 
Bout-du-Mur. An upholsterer agreed to furnish 
the house very simply, but comfortably, in six 
weeks. It was therefore arranged that on the 
fifteenth of July the two women should install 
themselves at Beauvais; but on the tenth of July, 
as the house was ready, Aurelie said to Madame 
Guarena: 

"Go alone, and renew your old ties; take up 
the thread of your former life. I will come and 
join you in a fortnight. That will be the best 
way." 

A new combination had suggested itself to Aure- 
lie' s fertile brain. She wished to take Criquette. 
She was struck with the child's intelligence, grace, 
and gentleness, as well as by her promise of rare 
beauty. Criquette would be charming; and no 
one understood better than Mademoiselle Rosita's 
stew^ardess that beauty is one o€ the greatest forces 
with which to rule the world. Criquette could 
give consequence and a future to Aurelie' s plans. 
She would bring her up well, make her a culti- 
vated woman, and marry her honorably in Beau- 
vais. The pretty girl would easily find a suitor, 
if suitably dowered. 



CRIQUETTE. 128 

And this was not all. Aurelie was not pre- 
cisely tormented by remorse — that was scarcely 
in her nature — but for some time, since she had 
felt that she was sufficiently rich, a certain vague 
uneasiness was mingled with her pleasure at 
having made all that money. She intended to 
become religious again — seriously religious; this 
was part of her programme, where nothing was left 
to chance. She thought that a good action would 
dispel those slight qualms which astonished and 
annoyed her. She had supposed that she had 
ended forever with any struggle with conscience, 
but she was mistaken; there was still something 
of it left, as when a limb has been lost, left on a 
field of battle or a hospital table, still its former 
owner will suffer at times, and exclaim: 

"Accursed limb! I have it no more and yet it 
pains me!" 

This is why, on the third of October, 1860, after 
the vacation, Aurelie confided to Mother Marie- 
Josephe, the superior of the Convent of Sainte- 
Marie, at Beauvais, the child who, on the seven- 
teenth of March of the same year, played on the 
stage of the Porte- Saint-Martin theatre the r61e 
of the Princess Colibri. 



184 OKIQUETTS. 



VIII. 

Rosita had been gone about two months, when 
Criquette entered the convent; for, in order to 
preserve clearness in this recital, we shall con- 
tinue to call her Criquette, although she became 
CS^line Brinquart when she entered for the first 
time the little house in the Rue du Bout-du- 
Mnr. 

It was a Monday when Rosita left Dieppe, and 
the next day Aurelie took Criquette directly to 
Beauvais, by the way of Rouen and Amiens. 
Aurelie remained there five or six days, then she 
told the child that she was obliged to return to 
Paris for a short time. 

" Oh, godmother, take me with you! " 

Godmother was the name by which Criquette 
was henceforth to caU Aurelie. 

'* Take you? No. I am going to leave you here 
with Madame Guarena." 

"Take me, please. I want so much to see 
Pascal." 

"Pascal! Pascal!" 

This boy of thirteen was decidedly Aur61ie's 
most dangerous enemy, and the adversary which 
she must promptly rid herself of. 

She showed some faint signs of irritation, but, 
at once recovering herself, said: 

"I promise you that you shall see Pascal 



CRIQFETTE. 126 

again. I will send for him to come here at New 
Year's!" 

"When is New Year's?" 

"In four or five months." 

"Oh! that is too long. Before that, god- 
mother, before that! " 

"No, not before New Year's; and then only 
if you are good up to that time." 

"Oh! I will be good." 

" Yes; but you must understand what I mean 
by being good. You will probably go to school 
in a convent, and there you will be with children 
whose parents are rich, who have not been obliged, 
like you, to sell flowers in the street and act in a 
theatre. These little girls have only one thing to 
do — obey their mammas; and I am your mamma 
now." 

"You?" 

" I have explained to you that it was no longer 
Madame Rosita." 

" Yes, you told me that." 

Poor Criquette! This was her third mother in 
three months. 

"You must listen attentively to what I say, 
and obey." 

"I will obey." 

"In the first place, I am going to explain some- 
thing that you will understand, because you 
understand very quickly. If the little girls with 
whom you will be should learn that you had been 
very poor, running after passers-by for sous, they 
would sneer at you." 



196 OBIQUSITE. 

'*Why1 It is unfortunate to be poor, but it 
isn't wicked. And then, what I did was to make 
money for mamma when she was sick. That 
wasn't bad." 

*'No, it wasn't bad." 

"I worked, I did not beg; and yet if it had 
been necessary for mamma I would have begged. 
I did so once — only once, one day when I hadn't 
made anything at all. It was of an old gentle- 
man who was so kind. I said to him: 'Mamma 
is sick,' and I cried. He saw that it was true, 
and he gave me ten sons. Was it wrong to take 
them?" 

"No; but I assure you that those little girls 
would sneer at you." 

* ' They would be wrong. ' ' 

" Possibly, but still they would do so; besides," 
and Aurelie's voice became harsher, "pay strict 
attention to what I am going to say. You want to 
see Pascal again?" 

"Oh, yesi" 

"Well, if I hear that you have spoken of those 
things you must not mention, for instance, that 
you have been a little actress in a Parisian the- 
atre, you shall never, do you understand, never 
see Pascal again." 

"I will say nothing, godmother, I vnll say 
nothing." 

"You promise?" 

"Yes, I promise." 

And as she longed with all her heart to see 
Pascal, she kept her word. She would have kept 



CEIQUETTE. 127 

it, however, even without that great longing, for 
she was an honest, loyal little creature, who 
never in her life had broken a promise. 

She asked and received permission to write to 
Pascal, and she wrote a letter four pages long, 
full of affection and mistakes in spelling. Aure- 
lie took charge of it to send to Pascal, but he 
was destined never to receive it. 

At Paris, Aurelie attended to a vast amount of 
business in a very short space of time. Soon 
after her arrival she received a visit from Pascal, 
who had been watching for her. She was very 
clever, and conquered the boy by her kindness. 
She knew that he loved Criquette, and so she 
spoke to him only in Criquette's interest. She 
was about to enter a convent, work hard, and 
become an educated and cultivated woman. 

" If you want to write to her," she said to Pas- 
cal, "you may; but write her a very sensible 
letter; give her good advice, and then, if you do 
what I wish, at the New Year you shall spend a 
week with us in Lyons." 

And as Pascal found some difficulty in writing 
this letter, in which he was to give good advice 
to Criquette, Aurelie was kind enough to dictate 
it to him: 

My Dear Criquette: Mademoiselle Aurelie 
has told me what she is going to do with you. 
She is ^ood; you must love her and obey her in 
everything. 

Then Aurelie, who was fond of brevity, said: 
*' That is very good as it is. Now sign it." 



1S8 OBIQUBTTX. 

But Pascal was very anxious to add a few lines 
of his own: 

Write me, and I will answer. I love you, 
Criquette, and I shall think of you all the time. 
I send you, bv Mademoiselle Aur61ie, a paper 
which speaks of m v d6but. There is a whole Ime 
about me. Don' t lose it, for I want to keep it. 

This paper, like Criquette' s letter, never 
reached its destination. When Criquette de- 
manded it, Aui*61ie replied that she had lost it. 

Pascal went away resigned; he had Aurelie's 
address at Lyons; she gave it to him without hes- 
itation, for she wanted him to write and receive 
no answer, so that he might believe himself for- 
gotten, and forget himself. 

An hour after Pascal's departure, Aurelie re- 
ceived a letter from Rosita, who wrote as follows: 

Aurelie: Since you have kindly consented to 
attend to my affaii*s in Paris, these are my in- 
structions. In a few days. Plan tin will have the 
money to pay what I owe. Pay off everybody. 
Sell the horses and carriages at private sale, not 
by auction; I do not care to seem to be ruined 
when quite the contrary is the case. The Prince 
is perfect, but how I shall be bored in Russia! 
and I am afraid I shall have to remain here a 
long time. With the money from the horses and 
carriages, pay off the servants and send them 
away. I owe you some money; you lent me 
some five or six thousand francs, I think; you 
must know the exact sum. Pay youi-self, and 
take five hundred francs more for etiquette's 
wardrobe. Kiss her for me, and write me about 
her. Poor little thing, how I would have loved 
her, if it had been possible and I had had the 



CBIQUETTE. 129 

time! I took only my jewels with me. Send me 
here my dresses, hats, linen, in fact everything. 
Oh, if you would only change your mind, and 
come, Aurelie! But still, for Criquette's sake, it 
is better that you should stay. Take good care 
of her. The two bay horses are very handsome. 
They cost ten thousand francs; don't sell them 
for less than five. 

Aurelie had not changed her mind. She paid 
off all the bills very rapidly, in four or five days, 
and with the strictest honesty. She was rich 
enough now. There was something left over, 
three thousand francs, which she placed in Plan- 
tin's hands; told him that she was about to go to 
Lyons, and tranquilly gave him her address: No. 
11 Quai des Celestins. She was careful to have 
the appearance of hiding nothing. 

That same day, an omnibus from the Lyons 
railway waited before the door of the house in 
the Rue Trudon, loaded with five or six large 
trunks, containing all that belonged to Aurelie 
and all that belonged to Criquette. Nothing 
more. Aurelie was accustoming herself to hon- 
esty. The whole Rue Trudon saw her depart for 
Lyons. 

When the omnibus reached the boulevard, and 
was opposite the Fauborg Poissoniere, she or- 
dered the driver to take her to the northern sta- 
tion. Three hours after, she arrived at Beauvais, 
perfectly easy in her mind. Who would come to 
seek her at Lyons and Beauvais? She owed no 
one any money. She could begin a new life. 
Criquette was hers — solely hers. 



130 ORIQUETTS. 

Nearly five months passed away. Aur61ie, 
under Madame Guarena's patronage, slowly and 
prudently obtained a foothold in a score of houses 
in Beauvais. Everywhere she succeeded. Cri- 
quette at the convent won all hearts, she was so 
gentle and sweet; but she was very sad and anx- 
ious. Since her arrival in Beauvais she had, with 
Aurelie's permission, written seven times- to Pas- 
cal; she had received two answers, and then noth- 
ing more. To Pascal went only the first two 
letters, which Aurelie allowed to go, as there was 
nothing said in them of Beauvais. 

The children continued to write to each other, 
with mutual reproaches for their silence, but 
their poor little letters were stopped on the way, 
and burned into ashes in Aurelie's grate. The 
word tJieatre occurred in every line of Pascal's 
letters, and that was the very word that Criquette 
was not to hear; and when she spoke of Pascal to 
her godmother, the latter answered: 

"He has forgotten you; forget him." 

Pascal had not forgotten. His letters arrived 
constantly at Beauvais from Paris, by the way of 
Lyons. Imagine an affection so faithful, so perse- 
vering, in a child of thirteen! Was it to wear 
itself out? Was it to fall asleep, like Rosita's? 

During these five months Aurelie received from 
Russia only one letter; it was delivered about the 
last of September, and was a model of brevity: 

Aurelie: Send me news of Criquette. The 
Prince married me last week. 

Princess Sa valine. 



ORIQUETTE. 131 

Aurelie answered that Criquette was well, con- 
gratulated the new princess, and that was all. 

This is what had taken place at Saratov. The 
Prince's affairs were in a very tangled condition, 
and he found that he would be obliged to re- 
main in Russia to look after them. Rosita said to 
him: 

" I can not sacrifice for you my situation at the 
theatre. Marry me, or I return to France." 

The Prince then summoned a very humble, 
filthy, old priest, and said something to him in 
Russian. All the servants of the castle were sum- 
moned. A number had already been present at a 
like ceremony. Ten years before the Prince had 
married, under the same conditions, a dancer from 
the Vienna Opera; he knew well how such knots 
could be tied and untied. 

The old priest, in his turn, muttered something 
in Russian, and then the Prince said to Rosita: 

" It is done! You are a princess." 

Rosita had strong suspicions that the marriage 
was not entirely correct, but everybody in the 
castle called her "Princess," she could write to 
Bidache and her other Paris friends letters signed 
"Princess Saveline," and that was sufficient for 
the time being. 

Saveline was no longer a young man — he was 
forty -eight; he drank too much champagne, and 
he was growing fat and red in the face. In July, 
1861, he received a warning in the shape of a slight 
stroke of apoplexy, but he paid no attention to it, 
and continued to be too fond of champagne. 



189 ORIQURTTE. 

Rosita then imperiously demanded a more solid 
marriage before a better priest. She obtained it. 
Sav^line died six months after, and Rosita inher- 
ited a million of roubles. 

The first of January, 1861, arrived, and Pascal 
heard nothing from either Criquette or Aur^lie. 

For two months and a half he had been saving 
up his money, laying aside each day one out of 
the three francs he made at the theatre. He went 
to the Lyons station, and they told him that the 
fare to Lyons and back, third-class, was sixty-two 
francs. The thirty-first of December he had sev- 
enty-two francs. He bought for Mademoiselle 
Aurelie a bouquet for three francs, and for Cri- 
quette a beautiful book, bound in red, with gilt 
edges, for four francs; total, seven francs. He 
added up the figures on a little bit of paper: six- 
ty-two and seven — sixty-nine. Three francs for 
his meals on the way would be enough. He 
would stay in Lyons with Mademoiselle Aurelie — 
she had invited him; so he started at noon, in an 
accommodation train. 

The next day, January first, he arrived at Lyons 
early in the morning. The weather was frightful; 
the snow fell in heavy flakes. He hid his book 
under his jacket, but his bouquet would be 
spoiled. He inquired the way to the Quai des 
Celestins, but as he was about to enter the court- 
yard, a woman who was sweeping off the side- 
walk stopped him and inquired in a harsh voice: 

" Where are you going? Whom do you want 
to seel" 



CEIQUETTE. 133 

" Mademoiselle Auerlie." 

" She is not here." 

*'Has she left already?" 

" She is away on a journey." 

" Will she be gone long?" 

"Two months." 

" And Criquette? " 

"WhoisCriquette?" 

"A little girl who lives with Mademoiselle 
Aurelie." 

" Oh, the little girl! She is away, too." 

*' Where have they gone? Very far? " 

*' I don't know; I haven't the address." 

"And I have come all the way from Paris to 
bring them their New Year's presents — ^this bou- 
quet for Mademoiselle Aur§lie and this book 
for Criquette." 

The disappointment was too cruel. His heart 
was broken, and bitter tears filled his eyes. At 
that very moment Criquette was crying, too, a 
hundred leagues from there. It was New Year's 
Day, the day on which it had been promised her 
that she should see Pascal, and her first thought 
as she awoke was: 

" I shall not see Pascal again. He has forgot- 
ten me. He does not love me any more. While 
I — I shall love him always." 

Meanwhile, Pascal, at Lyons, was asking 
Madame Pinglet for news of Criquette. Madame 
Pinglet was not ordinarily very sympathetic, but 
she was a little touched at Pascal's distress, and 
she tried to comfort him. 



184 CRIQUETTB. 

"The little girl is well— very well. I will try 
to send your bouquet and book." 

**0h, it is no matter about the bouquet. It 
would be faded; keep it for yourself; but let 
me write a little letter to Criquette." 

And, in the congierg^s room, Pascal wrote the 
follov\'ing letter: 

My Dear Criquette: I am so unhappy. I have 
come from Paris with a bouquet for Mademoiselle 
Aurelie and a book for you. They say that you 
will not return for two months. I can not wait 
till then; they have only given me a week's 
absence at the theatre, and I have only twenty-six 
sous left. I wish you a happy New Year, Cri- 
quette, and I kiss you in my heart. 

Pascal returned to Paris, and his life for the 
next six years may be summed up in a dozen 
lines. He had really considerable talent for the 
stage. In 1864, after an examination, he entered 
the Conservatory as a pupil. In 1866 he obtained 
a second prize for tragedy and a first prixe for 
comedy. He was only nineteen, and they said to 
him: "Stay another year at the Conservatory; 
next year you will receive the highest honors, 
and that will mean the Frangais or the Od6on." 
He hesitated, for he longed to begin at once in 
the provinces, and he ended by accepting a posi- 
tion to play the juveniles with a company at 
Vichy. 

August 7, 1866, at noon, Pascal was rehears- 
ing, on the Casino stage at Vichy, the part 
of Octave in Murger's "Olden Times." The same 
day, at the same hour, Criquette was asking 



CRIQUETTE. 135 

Mother Marie-Josephe, the superior of the con- 
vent of Sainte-Marie, to grant her a private 
audience. Criquette had finished her studies, 
and at four o'clock was to leave the convent to 
return no more, and to go and live with Aurelie 
and Madame Guarena in their little house. 

A sister came for Criquette. 

"Our mother superior will see you," she said. 

A few moments after, Criquette, casting herself 
at the superior's feet and seizing both her hands, 
exclaimed: 

" I do not want to go. Mother; I do not want to 
leave you! Keep me, I implore you. I want to 
become a nun, and to live and die here. You 
have been so good to me. Mother, the last six 
years — you and all the other sisters — everybody! 
Here only do I feel that I am loved — loved by you, 
and also, I hope, by the good God. Keep me, 
Mother, keep me! " 

Thus spoke Criquette, who was no longer a 
child, but a charming young girl of seventeen; 
still Criquette, however, with her great, deep, 
tender dark eyes, her white, slender hands, and 
her delicate beauty, full of grace and distinction. 
And, nevertheless, she was the daughter of a 
house-painter and an apple-woman. Chance plays 
strange freaks at times. 

The superior raised Criquette. She was a very 
intelligent woman, who had for a long time read 
the child's heart. She knew that alone, of all the 
pupils of the convent, this girl looked forward to 
the arrival of the vacations with a sort of sadness, 



186 OBIQUBTTB. 

amounting almost to terror. She knew that it 
Tsus not a real vocation which would cast her into 
the amis of Gk)d. The house of the Lord would 
be to her only an asylum, a plac43 of refuge. 
Ought she to grant this aaylum to her? And, 
moreover, could she? Criquette had been placed, 
three years before, under the legal guardianship 
of Aur61ie. The thing was done without the lejiat 
difficulty. Aur^lie was held in the highest 
respect at Beauvais. 

Her life for the past six years had been irre- 
proachable. She devoted considerable time to 
the poor, was a member of several charitable 
societies, visited the prisoners, and displayed 
great activity and zeal. Her hair had grown 
white, which gave her a highly respectable air; 
she had changed her manner of dressing it; instead 
of the two flat bands, large puffs framed in her 
face — in fact, she was almost unrecognizable. 

One Sunday, however, in the spring of 1866, 
Aurelie had a moment of terrible uneasiness. A 
young captain of hussars had come from Paris 
to pass the afternoon at Beauvais with one 
of his friends, the lieutenant-colonel of the regi- 
ment of infantry stationed in the town. The 
band was playing in the public square. All 
Beauvais was there. The two officers strolled 
about in the crowd. Suddenly the captain saw 
coming toward him an old lady, grave and digni- 
fied, with a prayer-book in her hand. The hus- 
sar started with surprise. There flashed l)efore 
him the three months of his life in which he had 



CRIQUETTE. 137 

spent the most money. It was not Aur§lie he 
saw again, but Rosita, and, consequently, much 
else. He looked attentively at Aurelie, who at 
the first glance had recognized him. She con- 
tinued on her way, however, not turning aside a 
hair's breadth, and passed him, apparently im- 
movable, sustaining his gaze without the slight- 
est change in her face. The captain resumed the 
conversation with his friend. This was the only 
danger Aur§lie ever incurred. 

The interview between Mother Marie- Josephe 
and Criquette was a very long one. The young 
girl was peculiarly frank and straightforward. 
She did not utter any high-flown phrases express- 
ive of her desire to devote herself to God, and 
to renounce the pleasures of this world. She 
would not have disdained these pleasures, per- 
haps. She loved the convent because she was 
loved there, and that is the reason she wished to 
remain. She had only one desire in the world — 
to be loved. Her mother had loved her; Pascal 
had loved her. So she still held close in her mem- 
ory her mother and Pascal. 

And Mademoiselle Aurelie! Criquette re- 
proached herself very often for her coldness to 
her godmother. She even accused herself of 
harshness and ingratitude. Mademoiselle Aure- 
lie had received her and paid all the expenses of 
her education; she came to see her at the convent 
twice every week. During the Easter and New 
Year's vacations, she did her best to interest and 
amuse her. All this was a great deal, and yet it 



188 ORIQUETTB. 

was nothing. Criquette did not feel that she was 
loved. 

On the other hand, at the convent slie was 
surrounded with tenderness and sympathy. The 
little cake-seller of Belleville found some diffi- 
culty at first in adapting herself to such a reg- 
ular, orderly, monotonous existence; but little 
by little she grew to love it. She was delighted 
with the brilliantly decorated chapel and the 
somewhat theatrical services; the procession of 
the pupils with their voluminous white muslin 
veils, while the organ thundered loudly or mur- 
mured sweetly. The odor of the incense mounted 
to her brain, and the harmony of the psalms filled 
her with ecstatic emotion. Every Sunday, at 
mass, one of the sisters sung alone; she had a 
superb voice, ardent and full of expression, a real 
stage voice; as she listened, Criquette often felt 
the tears run down her cheeks. 

There remained a little of the Princess Colibri 
in the school-girl of Sainte-Marie; there were so 
many confused memories troubling her brain. 
At eleven years of age, in Rosita's dressing-room, 
she said Monseigneur to an Imperial Highness 
who had come to see her act, and at thirteen 
years of age, in the convent garden, she also said 
Monseigneur to the bishop, who that morning 
had administered to her her first communion. 

At first, Criquette was often assailed in chapel 
by singular visions. Above the altar was a statue 
of the Virgin, with arms outstretched, and all 
covered with votive offerings: necklaces and brace- 



CEIQUETTE. 139 

lets of sparkling stones. Placed in a deep niche 
in the wall, the statue was bathed in light, which 
fell on it from above. In contrast with the ob- 
scurity of the chapel, this produced a most start- 
ling effect. And often it was no longer the music 
of the organ that Criquette heard, but the crash 
of the orchestra in the transformation scene of 
" Gri-Gri." It was no longer the Holy Virgin 
that she saw, but Rosita on the stage, in the 
glare of the calcium light, and adorned with dia- 
monds and pearls. 

But this vision soon faded away, and Criquette 
saw only the Virgin, with outstretched arms, smil- 
ing down upon her. She even ended by fancy- 
ing she heard her speak, and to her ears came 
very distinctly the words: 

' ' Remain with me, my child. I will be thy 
friend, if thou hast no friend, and thy mother, if 
thou hast no mother." 

To the convent was attached an orphan asylum 
for little girls, which was also under the direction 
of the sisterhood. The children came to the serv- 
ices in the chapel, and sat on benches opposite 
the choir. 

One day during Lent, the almoner of the con- 
vent, an old priest without any eloquence, but 
gentle and simple, took for the text of his sermon 
this verse from the Psalms: 

"Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and 
the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay 
her young, even Thine altars, O Lord of Hosts, my 
King and my God." 



140 ORIQUXTTB. 

And the old priest said to the orphans: 

"Come to the God of the poor and the for- 
saken, to the God of those who have no inherit- 
ance of love. He is the family of those who 
have no family, the support of those who have 
no support, the hope of those who have no hope. 
Come to God, you who are alone, and you will 
be no longer lonely. Come to God, you who are 
not loved, and you will be loved." 

Criquette applied these words to herself. She 
remembered that she had once been as poor as 
were those little girls who sat there, squeezed 
together, in their humble black frocks; and, 
although she was seated in the ranks of the rich 
pupils — the pupils who had a family — Criquette 
felt herself an orphan, alone, and abandoned. 

God offered himself, and the poor girl who had 
known once, but knew no longer, the sweetness of 
being loved, accepted him. And yet she was no 
angel, but a thorough woman. If Pascal had 
been there, she would have preferred him, per- 
haps; but Pascal was not there. 

The superior questioned Criquette, and said to 
herself: 

"She is not called by God; life frightens her; 
I ought not to keep this child." 

Still, Criquette' s emotion was so great, her sup- 
plications so touching, that the superior promised 
to speak to Mademoiselle Aurelie, who was to 
come herself at four o'clock to take the girl away. 

"You are a minor," she said to Criquette, 
"and I can not keep you here without the consent 



CEIQUETTE. 141 

of your guardian. And, besides, I should not be 
disposed, even with her consent, to allow you to 
begin to-day your two years' novitiate. I am not 
sure enough of your vocation. But I will ask 
Mademoiselle Aur^lie to allow you to return after 
the vacation and remain a year longer." 

"That is better than nothing. Mother; but no 
vacation ! no vacation ! ' ' 

" That is all that I can do. Go, my child, go." 

The interview between Mother Marie-Josephe 
and Aurelie was not so long. The only answer 
the superior obtained was a short, distinct re- 
fusal. 

"The child," said Aurelie, "has no vocation 
whatever. You know my sentiments. Mother, 
and you know how gladly, were it otherwise, I 
would allow her to embrace religion. I desire 
only her happiness — and her happiness does not 
lie in that direction." 

She took Criquette away, and they went on foot 
along the boulevard, walking side by side in 
silence for some time. 

Then Mademoiselle Aurelie, suddenly turning 
to Criquette, said: 

" Where did you get such a foolish idea as to 
remain in the convent and become a nun?" 

And as Criquette was slow to answer, she 
added: 

" I have other plans for you, I assure you." 

"What plans?" 

"You shall know soon." 

Mademoiselle Aurelie, for six years, had offered 



142 ORIQUKTTE. 

to the world the most edifying spectacle. She 
went to church assiduously, and her Prie-Diea 
bore her name engraved upon a copper plate. 
Hour after hour she passetl there, kneeling upon 
that low chair and trying to force herself to 
fervent prayer; but neither love nor prayer can 
be attained by an effort of the will. Real prayer 
mounts natui'ally from the heart to the lips. 

Mademoiselle Aurolie continued, however, to 
perform punctiliously her duties to God, as to a 
very influential person, and one quite capable of 
rendering her very useful services in this world, 
if not in the next. God to her was not an end, 
but a means. 

Doubtless it would have been well to give Cri- 
quette to the church — that would have had an ex- 
cellent effect in Beauvais — but it appeared to Au- 
relie to be much more advantageous to give her 
to some husband in comfortable circumstances 
and of good family. Aurelie's social relations 
would be thus heightened and extended, and her 
jwsition solidified. 

The doors of Beauvais first! The doors of heaven 
could be considered later. There was a time for 
all things. 



OEIQUETTB. 14^ 



IX. 

From the time of her entrance into the convent, 
Criquette had never worn anything, even during 
the vacations, but the very simple and rather unbe- 
coming dress of the school-girls. The best-born 
girls of Beauvais were given to the charge of the 
ladies of Sainte-Marie, and it pleased Aur^lie to 
walk the streets of the town with Criquette, wear- 
ing the conventual garb, at her side; it was a sort 
of hall-mark, so to speak. 

But for two or three months Aurelie had been 
preparing a coup de theatre which should reveal 
to all the young girl's grace and beauty, hitherto 
concealed. She became once more the lady's 
maid she had been for fifteen years, in the employ 
of a woman whose business it was to be beautiful, 
and never beautiful in the same way two days in 
succession. Aurelie disinterred her former talents. 
She had made Rosita a success, and it was now 
her task to make Criquette an equal one; but this 
time the circumstances were vastly different. It 
was done for a good motive, for an honorable 
marriage. 

Criquette left the convent on a Wednesday, and 
the next morning the young girl who, the pre- 
vious evening, had spoken of consecrating her 
life to God, was examining, with evident curi- 
osity, five or six dresses, real masterpieces, 



144 ORIQUBTTE. 

created by Aur61ie, and in which were happily 
blended Parisian elegance and provincial simplic- 
ity. Criquette waa to make her d6but that 
evening, at Madame Rigaud's, who gave enter- 
tainments every Thursday, consisting of music 
and tea. 

During the day Aur61ie devoted herself to the 
arrangement of Criquette' s hair, which was very 
beautiful. This was a tremendous task, which 
lasted three hours. After many trials and many 
experiments, Aurelie exclaimed, triumphantly: 
"That is exactly right!" and so it was. But 
while Aur61ie was brushing, smoothing, and curl- 
ing Criquette' s hair, the latter was thinking of 
how, when a little girl, she had seen Rosita's 
blonde locks brushed, smoothed, and curled by 
those same hands. 

Very proud of the result obtained, Aurelie 
called down from the top of the stairs: 

"Madame Guarena! Come up, Madame Guar- 
ena!" 

And when that lady entered the chamber, she 
continued, triumphantly: 

"Look, my dear, look! The prettiest girl in 
Beauvais." 

Aurelie was confident that she was not mistaken 
the day she said that Criquette would be charm- 
ing, but the reality surj^assed her anticipations. 
She felt the pride of the general who sees his fore- 
sight justified, and who scents victory in the air. 

That evening, at Madame Rigaud's, there waa 
only one opinion: 



ORIQUETTE. 145 

"The prettiest girl in Beauvais! " 

Criquette was showered with attentions, feted 
and petted; and yet she was bored to death, 
this prettiest girl in Beauvais! What a life, 
alone with those two women! 

Madame Guarena did not count. She was 
neither good nor bad — a mere nonentity. After 
so many years of poverty and privation, she 
became torpid in this life of comfort which had 
come to her as if by a miracle. She passed entire 
days playing solitaire, three kinds of solitaire, 
always the same — Napoleon's Favorite, The 
Monks, and Mr. Smith. She kept an exact ac- 
count of her games. In the evening she wrote 
upon a little memorandum-book: "To-day, 
August 22, 1866, played seventy-nine games of 
solitaire; succeeded in doing The Monks twelve 
times, Mr. Smith eleven times, and Napoleon's 
Favorite fourteen times." And so it went on the 
the whole year through. 

Madame Guarena dragged herself away from 
her dear solitaire only to make Criquette practice 
on the piano two hours a day. To this lesson 
succeeded two hours of reading aloud by Cri- 
quette to the two women — always novels, and 
always moral novels, taken from the circulating 
library of Madame Pingat, who guaranteed all 
the works in her catalogue to be pure in tone. 
Then an hour's walk beside Mademoiselle Aurelie 
down the boulevards of the town, which were 
very handsome, but very gloomy. After dinner 
they paid visits, except on Tuesday, which was 

10 



146 ORIQUETTB. 

AnrfiUe's reception-day. Thus passed dully 
enough for Criquette the first six weeks after her 
return from the convent. 

In the chilly, silent house Criquette had only 
one friend, a big black Newfoundland dog named 
Pierrot. From the first day, Pierrot and Cri- 
quette understood and loved one another. The 
sweetest moments in the young girPs life were 
those she passed seated upon a bench in the gar- 
den, with Pierrot's head in her lap. Never mov- 
ing, Pierrot regarded his mistress fixedly with 
his kind, sympathetic eyes. 

In these hours of reverie Criquette' s conscience 
was at times troubled. She would say to herself: 
"Where am I? What is my guardian? What 
does she want of me?" It is of no avail to have 
been brought up in a convent, it is in vain to 
have been fed only on moral stories, when one is 
seventeen and very intelligent, and when to girl- 
ish impressions are added the memories of a child 
who had roamed freely about the streets of Paris, 
explored the regions behind the curtain of a thea- 
tre, and lived in the house of a noted actress. 

One day when Criquette was seated upon the 
bench with Pierrot, she suddenly heard Made- 
moiselle Aurelie's voice within the house. She 
was roundly scolding Therdse, their little maid. 
Why was she so severe with that poor girl? She 
must remember that she herself — Criquette 
remembered. No, she was not mistaken, Aurelie 
had been Rosita's maid; but then how, all of a 
sudden, had she become rich? For she was rich, 



ORIQUETTE. 147 

since she spoke of giving her — Criquette — a 
dowry. Where did this money come from which 
Criquette would bring to her husband? That was 
what constantly perplexed and worried her. 

The great match-maker of Beauvais was Ma- 
dame Rigaud. The wife of a physician, and 
therefore knowing all grades of society, she was 
in an admirable position to ply her useful trade. 
On two occasions during the last six weeks she 
had made overtures to Aurelie, facts of which 
Criquette was unaware. The first time it was a 
captain, young, distinguished, not without fort- 
une. Aurelie formally refused him. A soldier? 
A garrison life? By no means. The second time 
it was a doctor whose family lived in Beauvais, 
but who himself resided in Paris, and who already 
had a very respectable practice. The answer was 
the same. When her ward married, she must 
live near her at Beauvais. 

But one day about the middle of September, in 
the midst of the reading of a novel in which the 
word love was everywhere replaced by the word 
sympathy^ Madame Rigaud arrived, highly ex- 
cited and all out of breath: 

"I want to speak to you — to you alone," she 
said to Aurelie. 

They went out together to take a walk in the 
garden, and when they were twenty paces or so 
from the house, Madame Rigaud exclaimed: 

"Ah, my dear, if you only knew! if you only 
knew! You will not say no this time! A young 
man is in love with your ward, and that young 
mauls — " 



148 CRIQUETTE. 

♦♦Yeel" 

** Stanislas Mennier, the son of Monsieur Jean 
Meunier." Tlies© three words, Monsieur Jean 
Mennier, were of extraordinary importance, and 
this is why: 

From 1810 to 18.32 Pierre Mennier manufact- 
ured bone buttons of all styles at Beauvais; he 
employed a score of workmen. Then came the 
turn of Louis Meunier, with fifty workmen, from 
1832 to 1850; and since 1850 Jean Meunier had 
been at the head of one hundred workmen in that 
same button factory, founded by his grandfather 
and increased by his father. He had two chil- 
dren: A daughter, married to a judge of Douai, 
and a son, Stanislas, a tall, light-haired young 
man of twenty-three, who was studying law in 
Paris, but in the most desultory manner, for he 
had begun in 1862, and as yet had passed only 
two examinations. 

To the great chagrin of his father, Stanislas 
appeared determined not to manufacture bone 
buttons of any sort. Perhaps this was a little 
the fault of Jean Meunier himself. The three 
first Meuniers had been brought up in the follow- 
ing manner: At school until they were thirteen 
or fourteen, when they knew how to read, write, 
aud cipher, to ajyeU. well enougli, and with a little 
history and geogi-aphy in their heads ^o boot. 
Their apprenticeship then commenced; they 
passed successively through all the workshops, 
studying all the details of the trade, so that later, 
when a workman appeared to him awkward, any 



CRIQUETTE. 149 

one of the three Meimiers could say to him, roll- 
ing Tip his sleeves: 

" Stop, my boy, and watch me; I will show you 
how to do it." 

But Jean Meunier, the third of the dynasty, 
wished to give his heir presump,tive a complete 
liberal education — the whole layout, as he ex- 
pressed it. Stanislas passed ten years in one of 
the biggest Parisian colleges, where he was taught 
rhetoric, astronomy, geology, ethics, logic, and 
psychology. He learned nothing of all this, but 
still he was taught it. He had all the difficulty 
in the world to obtain his degree as bachelor of 
arts. He had to try three times, and, after leav- 
ing college, to pass a year at one of those hideous 
establishments where they cram candidates with 
all the notions exacted for a degree^ Just as 
poultry-raisers cram fowls with the most indigest- 
ible of food. And it is absolutely necessary that 
this food should be indigestible, for otherwise 
they would digest it and not grow fat; but still 
their fat is unnatural and the flesh tasteless and 
flabby; it is bloat, not health. 

Stanislas obtained his degree and returned to 
Beauvais. That was a great day! He was the 
first bachelor of arts in the family. They were 
all waiting for him at the station. His father 
embraced him warmly, and said to him: 

"Now to the factory! " 

"Oh, no, papa, not yet. I wish to study law; 
not to practice, but simply to have the title of 
lawyer." 



160 ORIQUETTE. 

Father Meunier was not a lawyer, which did 
not prevent him, however, being esteemed one of 
the most sensible and judicious membera of the 
Beaavais Chamber of Commerce. And yet he was 
tempted, the imbecilel His son a lawyerl 

"Very well,, then, go and study law; but 
immediately after that you must go to the fac- 
tory 1" 

** I promise faithfully, papa." 

Stanislas had been in Paris four years, and had 
worked very hard. He had become a first-class 
billiard player. He was already spoken of as in 
the first rank of amateurs, and he was only 
twenty- three I 

Statisticians are agreed, it seems, upon this 
point, that France has made considerable progress 
in the art of billiards. The great improvement 
commenced under the Empire, and has never 
stopped since. There are very skillful, clever, 
and learned professors of the art; and, in all 
probability, there will one day spring up in the 
heart of Paris a sumptuous and costly university 
of billiards — laical, of course. 

Stanislas engaged a professor, quite a young 
man, and a bachelor of arts, like himself. Who 
is not a bachelor of arts in France? This young 
professor was the son of one of the masters of 
billiards, who, like Monsieur Meunier, wished to 
give his son a grand liberal education. The 
young man was an excellent student, took prizes 
at college, an accessit for Latin verses at the gen- 
eral competition, and easily passed the examina- 



CEIQUETTE. 161 

tions for his degree. When his father was 
congratulated, the day after this success, he 
answered: 

" Yes, all that is very nice, but serious matters 
must be thought of now. George must devote 
himself to billiards." 

George did devote himself to billiards, and suc- 
ceeded admirably; there is such a thing as 
hereditary talent. Stanislas, by dint of unremit- 
ting labor, became one of his most brilliant pupils. 
He worked, or played, from seven to eight hours 
a day. Bat the mind can not be devoted to seri- 
ous things all the time. Stanislas amused himself 
a little, and pleasure is anything but cheap in 
Paris. His follies, however, were not ruinous. 
He had an allowance of four thousand francs, and 
generally arrived at Beauvais, in the month of 
August, during the vacation, in debt from five to 
six thousand francs. Jean Meunier raved and 
stormed, but his wife intervened, and he always 
paid — always for the last time. 

Stanislas passed two months at Beauvais. He 
astonished the frequenters of the Cafe Potard 
and the Cafe Velut, the two great cafes of Beau- 
vais, in the Place de 1' Hotel de Ville. While 
declaring "he would do much better to enter the 
factory," his father was flattered to know that his 
son could give fifty points in a game of a hundred 
to the best player in Beauvais. And one day the 
best player in Amiens came expressly to play 
with Stanislas a game of a thousand points, five 
hundred at a time, at the Cafe Potard, The gen- 



ISS ORIQUETTK. 

tieman from Amiens sustained a shameful defeat. 
This caused quite an excitement in the two cities. 
A wordy battle was engaged in between the news- 
imi)ers of the Somme and the Oise. The editor 
of the Somme Watchdog said: 

Our champion would not have been beaten if he 
had been familiar with the billiard- table of the 
Caf6 Potard; but he was not familiar with it, 
while Monsieur Stanislas Meunier has been 
brought up on that billiard-table. 

The Propagator of the Oise^ a liberal organ, 
found these quarrels deplorable: 

A polemic about a game of billiards! That is 
what we are reduced to in this great stagnation 
of the Empire! 

The first of September, 1866, Stanislas had not 
yet reappeared in Beauvais. His father was 
obliged to go for him and bring him back by 
force. Stanislas obeyed, but with a tragical air. 
The situation was, in fact, more serious than 
usual. Six months before, he had had the 
pleasure and misfortune to encounter a rather 
pretty young person who had very black eyes 
and very yellow hair. This was a rare combi- 
nation once, but is now very common, thanks 
to the improvements in chemistry; but love has 
nothing to do with these details. In short, Stan- 
islas' debts amounted to twenty thousand francs; 
he was frightfully dunned by his creditors, and 
two or three of them had the indelicacy to appeal 
directly to his rich father. Those who estimated 
the fortune of the elder Meunier at a million 



CRIQUETTE. 153 

were somewhat below the truth; and the piofits 
of the factory averaged, good and bad years taken 
together, about sixty thousand francs. 

But to pay, in one lump, twenty thousand 
francs! And it would probably be forty thousand 
francs the next year! Never! Then young Stan- 
islas exclaimed: 

" I am dishonored; there is nothing left for me 
to do except to blow out my brains. Six thousand 
francs of my debts are debts of honor." 

Debts of honor are gambling debts; that is to 
say, the least honorable in the world. A man is 
not dishonored when he does not pay the six thou- 
sand francs he owes his tailor, but he is dishonored 
when he does not pay the six thousand francs he 
owes an adventurer who knows how to turn the 
king at ecarte. Such are the morals of this world! 

Father Meunier ended by softening. He agreed 
to pay the money, but on condition that Stanislas 
should marry at once and settle down with his 
wife at Beauvais. This was precisely the suitor 
Aurelie desired. 

There were in Beauvais exactly three young 
girls who would be a suitable match for Stanislas; 
between them they represented, in dowries and 
hopes, between two hundred and fifty and three 
hundred thousand francs. Stanislas consented to 
see the three young girls. They were all of them 
remarkably ugly. Stanislas refused. He pre- 
ferred dishonor. 

Things were in this state when one day, as the 
father and son were crossing the Place de 1' Hotel 



154 ORIQinTTS. 

de Ville, they met, close to the statue of Jeanne 
Hachette, Mademoiselle Aar61ie and her wacd. 
Scarcely had they passed when Stanislas said to 
his father: 

"Did you see, papa? Did you seel** 

"See what?" 

" That young girl! How pretty she wasl '* 

"I did not notice." 

" Her eyes! Didn't yon see her eyes? " 

" I saw nothing, I tell you." 

"Ahl if I could marry her, I would. Let us 
follow her, papa; let us follow her." 

And Monsieur Meunier, the respected mer- 
chant, member of the Chamber of Commerce, did 
at ftfty-eight years what he had never done in his 
life at Beauvais — he followed a woman. 

"But you know, papa, to follow a woman 
prox)erly you should go in front of her." 

Stanislas evidently had not entirely wasted his 
time in Paris. He had brought back pretty cor- 
rect ideas on the art of following a woman. 

The father and son passed the two ladies, and 
immediately after Stanislas asked: 

"Do you know them?" 

"I have met them occasionally, but I do not 
know them." 

"Ah, papa, they are stopping; they have met 
Doctor Rigaud. They are talking with him. 
Come, let us take a little turn in the Rue des 
Jacobins, and when Doctor Rigaud has quitted 
them we will join him. He will tell us who she 
is." 



ORIQUETTE. ■ 156 

Vanquished and docile, Father Meunier took a 
little turn in the Rue des Jacobins, and an hour 
afterward there was a great conference with Ma- 
dame Rigaud, who bore enthusiastic witness to 
the virtues of Mademoiselle Aurelie. There was 
not a large dowry, fifty thousand francs, but a 
hundred thousand crowns in expectations. 

After this, bubbling over with excitement, 
Madame Rigaud hastened to see Aurelie. Every- 
thing appeared to conspire to bring about Cri- 
quette's prompt happiness. It was a Thursday, 
Madame Rigaud' s reception-day, and the inter- 
view could take place at her house that very 
evening. 

Aurelie considered that she ought to inform 
Criquette of the situation of affairs. That young 
lady received the news graciously enough. She 
could not be angry with the young man for fall- 
ing in love with her at first sight; besides, mar- 
riage would be in every way quite a different 
thing from the existence to which she was con- 
demned, and anything rather than that — any- 
thing! 

In the evening, while dressing, she looked at 
herself in the glass with a little more attention 
than usual. 

"Am I really so pretty," she thought, "as to 
have turned the head of that gentleman? ' ' 

When Aurelie and Criquette arrived at the 
Rigauds, all the Meuniers were already there — 
father, mother, and son. The entertainment at 
once began. A gentleman recited some verses. 



106 ORIQUETTR. 

Another gentleman — a mortgage clerk in the city 
hall— sung with a lady the duet from " Favorita." 
Criquette herself played, without requiring to be 
urged, one of Beethoven's sonatas, neither well 
nor ill, but prettily and naturally. 

Aur61ie departed from her usual gravity; smiles 
wandered over her lips; she was enacting the rCle 
of a mother — a real mother — and she was happy. 
She had never felt more respectable and re- 
spected. 

Stanislas looked at Criquette, and thought her 
much prettier than the young person who had 
made him spend so much money in Paris. He 
reflected that, with the aid of this charming 
girl, he could resign himself to live at Beauvais. 

Tea was served; and Madame Rigaud very 
adroitly arranged it so as to leave Criquette and 
Stanislas together in a comer. They sat there 
side by side, now and then raising the cups of hot 
tea to their lips to keep themselves in counte- 
nance. 

Criquette was thinking, "It is his place to 
si^eak first," and Stanislas was thinking, "How 
shall I begin?" 

This sentence was in his mind: 

" How pretty you are, and how I would like to 
marry you! " 

If he had said this, who knows, perhaps things 
would have turned out quite differently; but it is 
scarcely proper to conduct matters so bluntly. 

Stanislas at last summoned up his courage and, 
¥dth evident effort, said to Criquette: 



ORIQUETTE. 167 

" This tea is very hot, Mademoiselle." 

"Oh, yes. Monsieur, very hot." 

"I think we shall be obliged to let it cool a 
little." 

"I think so, Monsieur." 

And this was all. With the same regular 
movement, they commenced to stir their little 
spoons about their cups, appearing absorbed in 
this interesting occupation, which, however, could 
not be prolonged indefinitely. After a few min- 
utes, Stanislas, without raising his head, said to 
the young girl: 

" It is not long since you left the convent, is it, 
Mademoiselle?" 

"About six weeks, Monsieur." 

"And you are not to return there again. Made- 
moiselle?" 

"No, Monsieur." 

The conversation for the second time came to 
a dead stop. Stanislas was profoundly discour- 
aged, and he thought: " It is all over. I am lost. 
I shall never find anything else to say." 

The tea had cooled somewhat, and they each 
took a little sip. Then Stanislas had a sudden 
inspiration. 

"It has been very pleasant to-day. Mademoi- 
selle." 

" Yes, Monsieur." 

" I had the pleasure of meeting you this after- 
noon." 

"Yes, I know it. Monsieur." 

This "I know it, Monsieur," was a slip. She 



168 ORIQUETTE. 

perceived at once that she had said something she 
ought not to have said. She should have pre- 
tended to know nothing. She should have an- 
swered. "Ah, really, Monsieur! And where was 
that?" So would have spoken a young girl of 
pure provincial birth, born with the instinct of mid- 
dle-class propriety, but such was not Criquette. 
Her unfortunate frankness had betrayed her. 
They were both greatly embarrassed. Stanislas 
mechanically moved his little spoon about his cup, 
and Criquette mechanically followed his example. 

Father Meunier was watching them, and he 
whispered to Madame Rigaud: 

"They are not getting on." 

"No, they are not getting on. I think I shall 
be forced to go to their aid; but let us wait a 
little longer. The breaking the ice is always a 
little hard." 

Criquette felt that she had made a mistake, and 
she knew that she ought to repair it. At all costs 
she must start the conversational ball rolling 
again, and so she asked, heroicaUy: 

" Do you usually live in Paris, Monsieur? " 

" Yes, Mademoiselle, I have lived there for four 
years; but I come to Beauvais every summer for 
two mouths." 

" Beauvais is less gay than Paris? " 

*' A little less." 

" Are there many pleasures in Paris? " 

"Yes, certainly. The races, the theatres — " 

" The theatres 1 Do you go often to the theatre 
in Paris? " 



OEIQUETTE. 169 

"Very often." 

This word theatre aroused Criquette to some- 
thing approaching animation. Then Stanislas, 
delighted to have found at last a subject for con- 
versation, continued: 

"Yes, very often, Mademoiselle. Why, the 
evening before I left I went to the Porte- Saint- 
Martin." 

" The Porte-Saint-Martin! " repeated Criquette, 
looking up for the first time. 

"Yes, Mademoiselle." 

"And what were they playing there? " 

"A fairy piece." 

"What was the name of it^' 

" ' The White Fawn.' " 

"Was it pretty?" 

"Very pretty." 

" Tell me about it, will you? " 

"Willingly." 

Their embarrassment had disappeared. They 
both simultaneously placed their cui)s upon a 
small table, and approached a little nearer. 

Madame Rigaud said to Aurelie: 

" The ice is broken. Look!" 

"Yes, I see — I see." 

Stanislas proceeded to tell Criquette the plot of 
the piece. 

"There is a young princess, who has been 
changed into a fawn while she was crossing the 
forest of sycamores; then. Prince Charming is 
obliged to go to the bottom of the sea to recover 
a talisman which he has lost and which has been 



160 ORIQUBTTB. 

swallowed by the queen of the fishes. He ad- 
dresses himself to the .king of the fishes, the 
salmon; and this part was played by a very funny 
actor — Bidache. ' * 

"Bidache!'* 

"Yes, Bidache.'* 

Oriquette, half-unconscioosly. repeated the 
name again. 

"Bidachel" 

" A queer name, is it not? " 

"Yes, very queer — very queer," she answered, 
slowly and gravely. 

"Then the scene changes to the kingdom of 
vegetables. Cantelope LXVI. gives the prince a 
marvelous herb, specially adapted to cure the 
wounds of fawns — for I have not told you the 
fawn has been wounded — and the prince delivers 
the fawn at the very moment she is about to be- 
come the prey of lions at the court of an African 
princess." 

At this moment, Stanislas perceived that Cri- 
quette was no longer listening. Her thoughts were 
elsewhere. The memories of her childhood sud- 
denly came back to her, evoked by this name of 
Bidache. The Porte-Saint-Martin! "Gri-Gri!" 
Those four months during which she had lived 
beneath skies of painted canvas, and in palaces 
of pasteboard, those four months became to her 
the luminous point of her life. Mignon regretted 
her country. 

Once more very nervous, Stanislas, to awaken 
Criquette' 8 attention, repeated:" 



OEIQUETTE. 161 

"At the court of an African princess — at tlie 
court of an African princess." 

*'Ali, yes, pardon me; you said 'at the court 
of an African princess.' " 

A question had been burning on her lips for 
some instants. She could not resist the tempta- 
tion, and lowering her voice, she said: 

" Among the actors, was there not one named 
Pascal?" 

"Pascal? No, Mademoiselle, I do not think 
so. But why do you ask me that? " 

She was embarrassed, and saw that she would 
be forced to lie, which was a terrible thing to her. 

"Why," she said, "when I was quite a little 
girl they took me to see a play at the Porte- Saint- 
Martin, and there was an actor in it named Pas- 
cal who amused me very much, and so I asked 
you — " 

"Pascal? No, I certainly do not remember 
that name." 

Criquette had become very serious, and Stanis- 
las found nothing more to say. He looked at 
Criquette, and the more he looked at her the 
more pretty and charming he thought her. Cri- 
quette' s eyes were fixed on vacancy. She saw 
Pascal again. 

Madame Rigaud never lost sight of them. ' ' For 

a first interview," she said to herself, "things 

have gone admirably; but the conversation seems 

to be languishing just now. I must inteiTupt 

them." 

This was not difficult, for they were not t^Ik- 
11 



168 OKiQuans. 

ing now; beflidQB, it was eleven o'clock, and it was 
time to go. The two young people could meet 
the next evening at another bouse. 

Anr61ie, Madame Guarena, and Criquette re- 
turned home on foot. The distance was short. 
The mortgage clerk asked the ladies for permis- 
sion to escort them to their door. During the 
walk he bore all the burden of the conversation. 
He was thinking of turning his voice to account 
and studying for the stage. His father was 
opposed to it, and had obtained him a position in 
the municipal government. It was more respecta- 
ble, of coui*se, but still if he could enter the Paris 
Opera, which was subventioned by the govern- 
ment, it was almost like being a functionary. 

Madame Guarena was the only one who listened 
to him with interest. Criquette was absorbed in 
very serious thoughts. Aurelie was impatient 
to hear from the young girl what had been said in 
that conversation which for the time being had 
been so animated; so she accompanied Criquette 
to her room, and when they were alone, with the 
door closed, she said to her: 

"Well, how did you like that young man? " 

"Why, I can scarcely form an opinion of a 
person whom I saw this evening for the first time, 
and with whom I talked for only a quarter of an 
hour." 

"You appeared to get along wonderfully well 
together. What were you talking about?" 

" What were we talking about? " 

"Yes." 



CEIQUETTE. 163 

"Well, I will tell you very frankly. I must 
speak the truth. I lied to him, and it was very 
painful to me." 

" You lied to him? " 

"Yes, lied. He told me that he went some 
two or three weeks ago to the Porte- Saint-Martin 
theatre." 

" The Porte-Saint-Martin theatre!" 

"Yes; and he saw there a fairy-piece. Then I 
could not help asking him if among the actors 
who played, in the piece there was one named 
Pascal." 

"Pascal!" 

"Yes, Pascal. But do not be alarmed. I 
repaired it all by a very clever little lie. Monsieur 
Meunier was surprised, and wanted to know why 
I asked him such a question, and I told him that 
I had once seen a play at that theatre, and had 
been very much amused by an actor named 
Pascal." 

"It would have been better to have avoided 
any necessity for falsehood." 

" I shall not place myself in such a position 
again. I shall not lie. I am resolved upon that; 
so strongly resolved that, if I see that young 
man again, I am determined to tell him that I 
acted, when I was a little girl, a child's part in 
a fairy-piece at the Porte- Saint-Martin." 

"You are mad! " 

"No, I am not mad. Let me speak, please. 
What I am about to say to you, I have wanted 
to say for a long time, and it must be said sooner 



164 oRiQinrrrs. 

or later. Yon ordered me to be silent at the 
convent in regard to my past, in order not to 
expose myself to the jests of my school-fellows." 

"And I still order you to be silent. You would 
eicpose yourself now to the jests of the world, 
which are more cruel still." 

"I have kept my promise np to the present 
moment; but to-day the situation is no longer 
the same. I find myself introduced to a young 
man who, it seems, wishes to marry me. It 
seems to me that I have no longer the right to be 
silent, and that I ought to tell him the truth." 

" You can tell your husband whatever you like 
after your marriage, but not before. Afterward, 
he can not escape." 

These last words, which unmasked the true Aur§- 
lie, were like a knife-thrust in Criquette's heart. 
Aurelie immediately regretted having allowed 
them to escape her, but she was unstrung and 
nervous — she who was ordinarily so calm, so com- 
pletely mistress of herself. She was surprised to 
find, all at once, before her a woman instead of a 
child. 

There was a moment of silence. Criquette was 
reflecting, and it was some little time before she 
answered: 

"What you have said to me does not change 
my resolution. I have done nothing bad, it seems 
to me, when I was a child; so why should I be 
silent?" 

*'If you have done nothing bad, why speak?" 

*' For a yery simple reason. I am no longer a 



CRIQUETTE. 165 

little girl; I am seventeen years old. You have 
given me a good education. I have been brought 
up, thanks to you, by excellent women who have 
taught me what was meant by duty; and I am 
convinced that it is my duty to speak. To-mor- 
row, then, for I understand that I am to see this 
young man again to-morrow evening — " 

"Yes, you were to see him again to-morrow 
evening," answered Aurelie, who had her eyes 
fixed on Criquette, and was listening to her very 
attentively. 

"To-morrow evening I will go to this young 
man, or, if you prefer it, and that is what I 
should prefer myself, to his mother, and tell 
all there is to tell concerning myself. Of you, I 
shall say nothing. It is I that he is going to 
marry, not you." 

"One moment, my child; I do not understand 
those last words. You promise not to say any- 
thing of me. What is there that can be said of 
me? What have you to reproach me with?" 

"Nothing. On the contrary, I owe you grati- 
tude — much gratitude. But — and I beg you 
to pardon me — explain to me why my gratitude 
weighs upon me, why I know you so little, you 
whom I ought to know so well; why you have 
never spoken to me of your father or your mother. 
Pardon me, I implore, but I feel that I am sur- 
rounded by things I do not understand, and that 
I would like to understand." 

" Go on, if you have not said all; I will answer 
afterward." 



166 ORIQUKTTE. 

"No, I have not said all; and what remains 
to be said is the most diiiicult of all. You wish 
me to marry, and I do not refuse to marry, if this 
young man loves me, and if I, in my turn, can 
love him a little. You acknowledge, I suppose, 
that that is necessary. One should not marry 
without love. If I marry, it is you who will give 
me my dowry, and a very large one. But — my 
memory deceives me, perhaps, I wa« so young; 
and besides, there is nothing wrong in occupying 
a very humble position — but when you were with 
Mademoiselle Rosita — " 

At this, all Aur^lie's apparent composure for- 
sook her. 

"You wretched child, never dare to pronounce 
that name again; do you understand? Never!" 

She seized Criquette violently by both hands, 
and repeated: 

"Never that namel Do you understand? 
Never! " 

She was very strong, and her graap bruised 
Criquette' 8 hands. The girl turned frightfully 
pale. 

Aurelie brusquely released her. 

" I was wrong," she said. " It is foolish to lose 
one's temper; it does no good." 

For some minutes she walked in silence up 
and down the chamber. Criquette looked at her 
hands, which were beginning to turn black and 
blue. 

Aurelie stopped at last before Criquette' s dress- 
ing-table, bathed her face with a little water, and 



CRIQUETTE. 167 

then continued for some minutes her promenade. 
Then, addressing Criquette at a little distance — 
she did not dare to come near her, for fear she 
should lose control of herself again — she said: 

" You shall not leave this room until you have 
promised me to marry that young man, if he 
really wishes you for a wife, and never to say a 
word of your past — of our past, you understand 
— either before or after your marriage." 

"I will never promise that." 

"We shall see. Mght brings counsel. Good- 
night." 

Aurelie took out the key, left the room, and 
Criquette heard her lock the door on the outside. 



168 OBIQUKTIS. 



X. 

Criqnette slept well, like a brave little woman 
who has done her duty and whose heart is at 
peace. She had tasted to the full the pleasure of 
asserting herself, after a long oppression, and of 
freely expressing her real sentiments. 

Anrelie did not sleep. Such resistance, such 
obstinacy! And why? She did not understand, 
she could not understand. She had wished to 
save the child from the theatrical life whose 
dangers she knew so well. Rosita was considered 
to be one of the fortunate and brilliant ones of 
her profession; but how many deceptions, mis- 
eries, and troubles she had to cope with. PVom 
all that, she had wished to preserve this young 
girl. She was on the eve of attaining her end. 
She offered her x)eace and fortune, and Criquette, 
instead of thanking her, rebelled, threatened to 
ruin her, and to overthrow the scaffolding, so 
laboriously erected, of a respected life, recon- 
quered at the cost of so many calculations, so 
many struggles. 

And those romantic ideas in the head of that 
child! That need of loving and being loved! 
Criquette had said to her: " You acknowledge, I 
suppose, that to marry, love is necessary." No, 
she did not acknowledge that. Love to mnk above 
the proprieties? Never! The proprieties first, and 



OEIQUETTE. 169 

then love, if there remains a little place for it in 
a corner. Such had been nine-tenths of the mar- 
riages Anrelie had seen arranged at Beauvais 
during the last six years. The greater part had 
turned out tolerably well; but the marriages of 
love had almost all resulted badly, for they 
almost all began in poverty, which is the worst of 
evils. Besides, Aurelie had had some experience 
in love. She remembered Pierre Grassou and 
that long martyrdom of four years. 

In the middle of the night, Aurelie rose and 
walked up and down her chamber. In all proba- 
bility she would soon find Criquette resigned and 
obedient; but if she found the same obstinacy, 
she knew what she would do. She would never 
submit to be conquered by that child. Just be- 
fore day-break, worn out with fatigue, she closed 
her eyes, and for two or three hours slept an 
uneasy slumber. 

She was awakened by Therese, the little maid, 
who entered her chamber to open the shutters. 

"Mademoiselle Celine is not very well this 
morning, ' ' said Aurelie. ' ' She will not be able to 
go down to breakfast. Bring me her chocolate at 
once upon a waiter. I will take it to her myself. ' ' 

" Very well. Mademoiselle." 

A few minutes after, Aurelie entered Cri- 
quette' s chamber. Criquette was sound asleep. 
Aurelie placed the waiter upon a table, and ap- 
proaching the bed, scrutinized the sleeping girl. 

"So!" she muttered; "does that child think 
herself stronger than I? We shall see." 



170 ORIQUBTTB. 

She toached Criqaette lightly on the shoulder. 
The girl stirred and awoke, fresh and rosy, her 
little head on the white pillow half-buried in its 
masses of disheveled black hair. As she caught 
sight of Aur61ie, she sat up in bed and with both 
hands threw back her hair. 

" You have slept well, it seems?" 

"Yes; very well." 

" And did you sleep well all night?" 

"Yes." 

"Then you have had no time to reflect on what 
passed between us last evening." 

"This morning, no; but last night, yes, a little 
before I went to sleep." 

As she spoke, Criquette leaped out of bed, 
thrust her little naked feet into her slippers, and 
threw a dressing-gown over her shoulders. 

"And have you changed your resolution?" 

"Not in the least." 

"You are quite sure? " 

"Perfectly." 

"Do you care to think it over a little more this 
morning?" 

"It would be quite useless." 

"For my part, I have not slept. I spent the 
night in reflection. You did considerable talking 
last evening; I, very little. Do you remember 
all that you said? " 

"Yes, very well." 

"Try, then, to remember equally well what I 
am about to say to you in my turn. You will 
have plenty of time to reflect on it. You have 



OEIQUETTE. 171 

been frank, and I will be equally so. Your 
memory has not deceived you. Yes, we both, 
lived in the house of Mademoiselle Rosita, who 
was an actress and a woman of no character. You 
passed several months there, and I long years. I 
was her maid, and it was in that way I made a 
fortune. Are you satisfied? Is there anything else 
that you desire to know? " 

" Yes, there is one thing." 

" Speak! I will answer you." 

"Was Mademoiselle Rosita the one who first 
took care of me?" 

"Yes." 

" Yes, I recollect. It is a little confused in my 
mind, but still I recollect. The night of mamma's 
death. Mademoiselle Rosita took me away in her 
carriage, and I slept that night in her room upon 
a sofa." 

"Yes." 

"Why have I never heard anything of her? Is 
she dead?" 

"No." 

" What has become of Her? " 

"Do you remember a Russian prince?" 

"Yes, who stepped on my hand one day when 
I was playing with a little dog." 

"Exactly. Well, this prince — he was called 
Prince Saveline; you see I tell you all — this 
prince married Mademoiselle Rosita, and died 
soon after. She is therefore a rich widow and a 
princess." 

"Has Mademoiselle Rosita ever tried to know 



179 ORIQUETTB. 

what has become of me since you took charge 
ofmel" 

"Yes; but I iirranged it so that all relations 
between us should be broken." 

'* It was easy, however. She must have known 
that you were at Beauvais." 

"She did not know it. She thought I was at 
Lyons." 

"And Pascal?" 

Aurelie hesitated. 

"I ask you if Pascal knew where I was?" 

" He did not know." 

" And he thought me at Lyons? " 

"Yes." 

" You deceived him, then? " 

"Yes." 

"And he also tried to know what had become 
of me?" 

" Yes, at first; but not for the last four years." 

" Do you know where Pascal is? " 

"No." 

" Not even if he is alive? " 

" No. I have not troubled myself about him." 

"But how do you know that Mademoiselle 
Rosita is living? " 

" Because I read not long ago, in a Paris paper, 
that she was building a villa at Nice." 

" And she was not a good woman?" 

"No." 

" Yet she was good to me." 

" It was her whim to be so." 

" That makes no difference. If I should meet 



ORIQTJETTE. 173 

her some day, even were I on the arm of my hus- 
band, and if she recognized me and came to me 
and recalled what she once did for me — she received 
me when I was poor and alone in the world, and I 
owe her gratitude — it would be my duty to thank 
her. You see that I must tell all, before mar- 
riage, to the man who wishes to make me his wife. 
Afterward, he might reproach me for having de- 
ceived him, and I am not willing that that should 
happen." 

"Ah I yon insist upon that? " 

"I will tell no more lies. And, by the way, I 
can understand and appreciate why you separated 
me from Mademoiselle Rosita. But Pascal — why 
from Pascal?" 

"Because Pascal and Rosita were both con- 
nected with theatrical life — Bohemian life. I 
suppose that is what you would like! Well, you 
shall not have it. That I have not led a perfect 
life myself is possible; but in all that concerns 
you I have acted wisely and well. I wish you to 
lead, near me, a tranquil, honored life, sheltered 
from need and trouble. Is it culpable to wish 
that?" 

" To wish to bring it about by a lie — yes." 

"And so you would proclaim through Beau- 
vais — " 

" I would proclaim nothing through Beauvais; 
and stay — that I do not speak, that I never 
speak, may be easily arranged. Let there be no 
more question of my marriage. Let me become a 
nun. That is not theatrical life; that is not Bo- 



174 ORIQUIETTE. 

hernia. And at the convent I swear to yon that 
I will never say anything, not even to my con- 
fessor. If that is wrong, Qod will pardon it." 

" You shall not enter the convent. I will pre- 
vent it. I have the same control of you that a 
mother would have." 

"A mother!" 

"And I will force you to marry this young 
man." 

*' Without speaking, no." 

"Ahl you said yesterday that you did not 
know me; nor did I know you. You have 
strength of character; so have I. We shall see 
who will yield the first." 

"It will not be I." 

" Nor I. At noon, I will bring you your break- 
fast. Reflect! You will not be disturbed in your 
reflections, I promise you." 

She left the room, locking the door behind her. 

"Well," thought Criquette, "I asked for the 
convent, and I have it. I am going to live here 
all alone, in a cell. I shall not be bored. All 
alone? I have Pierrot, and I will talk with him 
through the window." 

She had heard Pierrot bark outside. He was 
calling her. He was always there, beneath her 
window, when she awoke. She breakfasted with 
a very good appetite, throwing Pierrot half of 
her bread. She had never felt freer or more 
light-hearted. 

Aurelie sought Madame Guarena and sum- 
moned Tker^. 



OKIQUETTE. 176 

"Celine is not well this morning," she said to 
them; " I alone will enter her room and bring her 
her meals. If anyone asks for her, say that she 
is ill; and that is not all, you will both take care 
not to go into that part of the garden which is 
beneath Celine's window. I insist upon that." 

They both bowed. It was well. What Aurelie 
said was always well. When she had spoken, no 
one in the house held a contrary opinion. Aurelie 
had been a servant, and she knew how to rule 
servants. 

Four days passed. Aurelie brought Criquette 
her chocolate in the morning, her breakfast at 
noon, and her dinner at night. 

Every evening as she was about to go, she said: 

"StiUnor' 

"Still no." 

Criquette was not unhappy. She had some 
embroidery, and from morning till night she 
worked. She had also Pierrot, who passed 
entire hours under her window, seated with his 
nose in the air, looking at her, and seeming to 
say: 

"Why don't you come down? What are you 
doing up there? Come out! Go and sit on your 
bench; I will put my head on your knees, and we 
will be happy." 

But on the afternoon of the third day Aurelie 
discovered that Pierrot was Criquette' s faithful 
companion. That was a distraction for the pris- 
oner and must be removed; so, before Criquette' s 
eyes, she herself took Pierrot away. The dog 



176 OBIQiriBTTE, 

resisted, but had to obey; and Criquette heard 
Aar6Ue say to Th6rdse: 

'*Keep Pierrot chained np through the day, 
and release him only at night." 

And, moreover, Aur§lie had seen Criquette at 
the window. The garden was not large, and from 
the adjoining houses other persons could see the 
young girl, who, a little out of bravado, showed a 
merry, laughing face. These persons would not 
believe in Criquette's illness, and it was necessary 
that they should believe in it. 

Madame Rigaud came every day to inquire for 
Criquette; young Stanislas wanted to see her 
again — spoke only of her, thought only of her. 
Aurelie answered that Criquette was unwell. 
"Nothing serious," she added; "it is needless 
for Doctor Rigaud to call for so slight a matter." 
But she must take all precautions to prevent Cri- 
quette being seen; so she made an additional call 
on her ward in the afternoon. She appeared car- 
rying a chain and padlock. She passed the chain 
through the slats of the shutters and fastened it 
with the padlock, which was a very strong one. 

Criquette could open the window, but not the 
shutters. She would not be seen any more. 

The sixth day Criquette' s supply of embroid- 
ery silk was exhausted. She was of an active 
temperament, and while she had no fear of soli- 
tude, she shuddered at the thought of idleness. 
No more work possible! She summoned up 
courage in the evening to say very humbly to 
Aurelie: 



CRIQUETTE. 177 

"I have no more silks. If you could give me 
some I should be very grateful." 

Aurelie had not thought of that — to prevent 
her working! 

" You shall have no more silks." 

She seized Criquette's work-basket, containing 
the embroidery, and carried away everything — 
scissors, needles, and all. 

What was to become of Criquette? Anxiety 
took possession of her for the first time. She no 
longer had her poor embroidery, no longer her 
poor dog. Fortunately, she found in one of the 
bureau drawers two books, both masterpieces: 
" The Imitation of Christ" and "Paul and Vir- 
ginia." She had placed the two volumes there 
during the Easter vacation, and thought she had 
returned them to the little book-case in the salon. 

She kissed the two books over and over again. 
She was saved, for she had something to read. 
But she must not allow her godmother to suspect 
that she had the books, or they would share the 
fate of the embroidery. 

Criquette had no watch, and her clock was out 
of order, but she could hear the big clock of the 
cathedral sound the hours, the halves, and the 
quarters; that gratification Aurelie could not de- 
prive her of — she could not stop the cathedral 
clock. Half an hour before Aurelie' s visits, Cri- 
quette hid the two volumes. 

Those two volumes, both so ardent, so passion- 
ate! Both speaking of love, but not of the same 
love. 



178 ORIQUKTTE. 

This is what the young girl read in '*The Imi- 
tation of Christ:" ** Nothing is sweeter than 
love, nothing is stronger, more elevating, more 
satisfying; there is nothing better, nothing so 
perfect on earth or in heaven, because love is 
bom of God and should be given to God beyond 
all other creatures. When one loves, he runs, he 
flies; he is in ecstasy; he is free, and nothing can 
curb him. The ardor of a soul on fire with love 
rises to God, as with a great cry: My God! My 
lovel Thou art all mine, and I am all thine! " 

Everywhere was the same language, the same 
enthusiasm, the same exaltation, "There is no 
love except in me, thy Lord and thy God! Seek 
death before death, and thou wilt find life. Come 
to me! Be all mine! " 

And so, on the eighth day of her captivity, 
Criquette, after having lived in that book from 
morning till evening, said to Aurelie, when she 
came to extinguish her candle: 

*' I beg you, let me enter the convent." 

"No." 

But the next day, the ninth day, Criquette 
opened " Paul and Virginia." She was suddenly 
brought down from heaven to earth; she read and 
re-read it; she learned by heart Paul's burning 
declaration to Virginia: 

*' When I am weary, the sight of you refreshes 
me. When, from the top of the mountain, I see 
you at the bottom of this valley, you appear to 
me like a rosebud among the vines. Although I 
lose sight of you among the trees, I do not need 



CRIQUETTE. 179 

to see you to find you again; something of you, 
which I can not explain, remains in the air where 
you have passed, upon the grass where you have 
sat. When I approach you, you delight my 
senses. If I touch you only with the tip of my 
finger, all my being trembles with pleasure." 

Then Criquette longed to live, longed to love. 
She thought no more of God. She thought of 
Pascal. She remembered that he had said to her: 
" When we grow up we will love each other and be 
married." To have separated her from Pascal — 
from Pascal, who had not forgotten her! That is 
what she could not pardon Aurelie, that is what 
gave her firmness and courage. She would never 
yield! 

If Pascal were only there! How old must Pas- 
cal be? He was older than she — not much, but a 
little; so, if he is not dead, he is a man to-day. 
And if he were there, perhaps to touch her with 
the tip of his finger would — 

It was thus that the poor child fluttered be 
tween heaven and earth. Moreover, her thoughts 
were beginning to be vague and undecided. It 
was now eight days that she had been impris- 
oned. She no longer ate. She had nightmares 
in her sleep. To-day at about four o'clock she 
felt frightfully weary. She could read no more. 
She let the book fall into her lap and fell asleep, 
just as the cathedral clock was striking four. 
Half -past four! Five! Criquette did not wake. 
Half -past five! She was still asleep. Six! Au- 
relie came to bring the dinner; she saw the two 



180 ORIQUETTE. 

books and seized them, while Criquette in dismay 
exclaimed: 

** Oh, nol Let me have them. Think! I shall 
have nothing — nothing at all! " 

"Yield, then." 

But Criquette had already recovered her cour- 
age. 

*'No, no, no!*' 

She had nothing now, nothing at all. The 
ninth day passed, and the tenth, and the eleventh, 
and the twelfth. Sustained by a nervous strength, 
Criquette for hours at a time paced up and down 
her chamber like an imprisoned animal. Then 
she fell exhausted into an arm-chair; and then, to 
occupy her mind, she counted the little roses pro- 
fusely strewn over the wall-paper. There were 
four hundred and forty, or fifty, or sixty; she 
never arrived at the same total. 

Through the slats of the blinds, she took care 
to cast after each meal little pellets of bread for 
the birds. That at least brought something liv- 
ing beneath her window. 

The thirteenth day, Aurelie came in the morn- 
ing, and found Criquette so pale and listless that 
she could not repress a feeling of pity. 

"Are you ill?" 

Criquette raised her head. 

" m? No, no. I am very well.' 

After Aurelie had departed, Criquette rose. 
She could scarcely walk. What was to be done? 
Then she discovered that by mounting upon a 
chair she could see, through the slats of the 



OEIQUETTE. ISl 

blinds, into the court of a factory which was to 
the left, on the other side of the wall. The wind 
blew to and fro the smoke of the big brick chim- 
ney. Criquette watched this smoke; it was a sort 
of occupation. Then came workmen and girls, 
who proceeded to hang, on posts in the court, im- 
mense pieces of red cloth. Their task completed, 
one of the men tried to kiss one of the girls, who 
defended herself. Their comrades formed a cir- 
cle around this little battle, which had nothing of 
the tragic in it. The man was the stronger; he 
seized the girl in his arms and planted a big kiss 
on her cheek. They all laughed, beginning with 
the victim. 

Her position on the chair was very fatiguing, 
and Criquette descended. What should she do? 
What should she do? Count the little roses? She 
could not do it any more. It seemed to her that 
her eyesight was dim. She opened mechanically, 
without knowing why, the door of a little closet 
filled with dresses and trunks. About the height 
of one's head there were shelves, with boxes of 
all sorts upon them. 

One of these boxes attracted Criquette' s atten- 
tion, recalled something to her. What? She did 
not know. At last she remembered. The box 
contained a doll given her, the evening of the 
hundredth representation, by the authors of 
" Gri-Gri." If the doll was there, she would play 
with it, dress it and undress it. Her head was so 
weak. She had become a child again, and the 
idea of having a doll delighted her. She was 



189 0RIQUETT1C. 

about to mount upon a chair to take down the 
box, when she heaixl twelve o'clock strike. Her 
godmother would be there presently. She closed 
the door of the closet. It waa better to wait. 

And when Aurelie had gone, without touching 
her breakfast, Criquette mounted upon the chair 
again and took down the box. How heavy it 
wasl She could scarcely caiTy it. It was not 
the doll, the box would not be so heavy. 

But it was the doll, all the same, and with the 
doll a crowd of little playthings which, the eve 
of her departure, Aurelie had thrown in by 
chance; for most part, broken remnants of toys, 
puppets, a game of loto, jack-straws, dominos, 
etc. 

For two hours Criquette, seated upon the floor, 
played with the doll. She dressed and undressed 
it, she arranged its hair, she made it walk, dance, 
and bow. Then she examined the other toys, 
first the dominos, which were all in disorder in 
their wooden box. She took them out one by 
one, counted them, and suddenly, at the bottom 
of the box, she perceived a little porte-monnaie. 

Ahl the porte-monnaie; she recognized it at 
once, and her heart leaped for joy. It was that 
cheap little porte-monnaie Pascal had given her, 
which she had lost and grieved over so. Dear 
porte-monnaie 1 She kissed it again and again! 
But her joy was followed by despair. The tears 
rolled down her cheeks as she thought of Pascal. 
The fit of weeping, however, did her good — 
relieved her brain. Her head felt lighter, her 



CEIQIJETTE. 183 

thoughts were clearer, and suddenly she remem- 
bered there was money in that porte-monnaie! 
Much money, given her by a king. She opened 
it, and there were the two pieces of money which 
had slept there for six years. Money! She had 
money! She rose; all her strength of mind and 
body returned to her. If she could escape, take the 
railroad, and reach Paris! 

In the early days of her captivity, she had 
thought much of escaping. It did not appear to 
her impossible; but without money what could 
she do. Paris was twenty leagues away, and it 
was impossible to walk; but now she could take 
the railway. 

It was beginning to grow dark, and Aurelie 
would come soon. Criquette put the doll and 
toys back in the box and hid the box itself in the 
closet. Pascal's porte-monnaie and the money 
were in her pocket. She had eaten nothing since 
morning, but with the dawn of hope her appetite 
returned. She had just finished -her breakfast 
when Aurelie appeared with her dinner. 

The regular question was asked, "Still no?" 
and the usual answer given, " Still no." 

At last she was alone. When her godmother 
should return, to-morrow morning at eight 
o'clock, she must be gone. She did not doubt 
the success of her undertaking. She commenced 
by going to bed at seven o'clock. She suspected 
Aurelie of coming at times to spy through the 
keyhole. She went to bed, but she did not sleep. 
She calmly reviewed all the details of her pro- 



184 OKEQUXITS. 

posed escape. She heard the cathedral clock 
strike the hours; how slowly they i>aHsedI 

Finally, at three o'clock in the morning, she 
rose and listened. Not a sound in the house. 
Everyone was asleep. She put on a plain gray 
dress and stout shoes, so as to be able to walk 
oomfortably. There were nearly two leagues to 
be traveled on foot that night. The brilliant 
moonlight gave her sufficient light. 

The chain and padlock amounted to nothing. 
With her table-knife, she quickly cut through 
the slat around which the chain was passed, and 
could open the shutters. She threw a wrap over 
her shoulders, and fastened her hat to her head 
with two strong pins. She was perfectly calm 
and composed. 

To descend from the window was nothing, 
either. Her room was on the first floor, and close 
to the window grew an enormous tree a hundred 
years old. She remembered playing ' ' Hide and Go 
Seek" in the garden with Madame Rigaud's little 
girl and hiding in the leafy branches. 

She crawled out of the window, and seizing a 
bough, found that it would bear her weight per- 
fectly. The bright moonlight made her uneasy. 
If anyone should be at the window of the neigh- 
boring houses, she would be seen. But then, who 
was awake in Beauvais at that hour? Before 
descending, she fortunately remembered to close 
the blinds. 

She descended very easily, but just as she was 
close to the ground she slipped and fell into a 



OEIQUETTE. 185 

mass of rose-bushes which was just below the 
window. 

There was a slight noise of breaking branches, 
which was answered by the barking of a dog on 
the other side of the house. It was Pierrot, who 
had heard the noise and ran barking in that direc- 
tion. He recognized Criquette, and continued to 
bark more furiously still, in his delight at seeing 
her again after so long a separation. He threw 
himself upon the young girl, whose skirts were 
caught by the long thorns of the roses. She suc- 
ceeded at length in disentangling herself, but 
then she heard the noise of a window opening in 
her guardian's room. She was lost! 

Fortunately, a few steps away was a very thick 
alley of lindens, which ran along the wall and 
led to the little gate through which Criquette 
intended to go. Before Aurelie had opened her 
blinds and appeared at the window, Criquette, 
followed by Pierrot, was able to reach this alley. 
She was completely hidden in the shade, but it 
was necessary to silence Pierrot. She leaned 
against the trunk of one of the lindens, the dog 
placed his two front paws upon her shoulders, 
and she put both her hands over his mouth to 
prevent his barking. They remained thus per- 
fectly still, with their heads close together. Cri- 
quette whispered low in his ear: 

"Be still, Pierrot, be still! " 

Aurelie leaned out of the window and looked 
down into the garden, but she could neither see 
nor hear anything. Criquette thanked her lucky 



186 OBIQUXTTS. 

stars that she had thought to close the blinds. 
Aar61ie called: 

"Pierrot! Pierrot!" 

Criquette pressed with all her strength Pierrot's 
head in her hands, whispering: 

*' Be still, Pierrot, be still! " 

And Pierrot was still. He was happy in the 
arms of his dear little mistress. Two or three 
minutes passed, which seemed an eternity to Cri- 
quette. The cathedral clock struck four. Aure- 
lie closed her window, but Criquette remained 
for five or six minutes hidden behind the tree, 
with Pierrot's paws upon her shoulders. 

Finally, she decided to continue her way, but 
bending over, with one hand still holding the dog. 
She had only one anxiety now. She knew that 
the key of the garden gate was kept hidden be- 
neath a mat at the end of the alley. If the key 
should not be there! She raised the mat and, 
groping in the darkness, found the key. 

All that remained now was to open the gate 
and separate from Pierrot. At the thought of 
leaving the dog, Criquette' s eyes filled with tears. 
She would have taken him with her if he had not 
been so big, but under the circumstances it was 
not to be thought of. She kissed Pierrot ten or 
twelve times, as one would kiss a child, then she 
put the key in the lock and opened the door; but 
Pierrot struggled in his desire to go with her. It 
took all her courage to repulse the poor animal. 

At last Criquette is free; but behind the closed 
gate she can hear the complaints of the only 
friend she leaves in that house. 



CEIQUETTE. 187 



XI. 

The theatrical agency, under the direction of 
Monsieur Carmelle, has been installed for half a 
century in an old, gloomy house of the Rue de 
Louvois. 

How many sopranos and tenors, how many 
comedians and tragediennes, have ascended the 
damp, dark staircase which leads to the office of 
the agency! How many Ruy Bias and Lucrezia 
Borgias! How many Fernandos and Leonoras! 
How many old colonels and young widows of 
Scribe's comedies! How many Giboyers and 
Dalilas! How many Perrichons and Marguerite 
Gauthiers! How many Adrienne Lecouvreurs 
and Marquises de la Seigliere! How many Indi- 
anas and Charlemagnes! 

It is from here that have been sent in great 
haste, and without being warranted, to all pro- 
vincial directors in embarrassment, tenors and 
baritones, singers of grand opera and singers of 
opera-bo off e, leading men, juveniles, first old men 
and first old women, low comedians, utility men, 
comic old men and old women no less comic, and 
ingenues of all degrees. 

And all these, spreading themselves over the 
surface of France, Europe, and the two Americas, 
under the form of dramas, operas, vaudevilles, 
and operettas, have let loose upon the world 



188 OBIQURTB. 

screams, displays of anger, assassinations, buf- 
fooneries, poisonings, punning burlesques, lies, 
marriages of inclination and marriages of con- 
venience, suicides, family quarrels, prayers, 
threats, anathemas, frights, practical jokes, ecsta- 
sies, drunken scenes, mad scenes, paternal curses, 
feminine coquetries, serenades, balcony-scalings, 
ambuscades, sword- thrusts, pistol-shots, Platonic 
passions and those that are anything but Platonic, 
vows to die rather than be unfaithful, farewells to 
life and happiness, quarrels and reconciliations, 
lost wills, thefts, reveries under the starry skies, 
invocations to love, glory and honor; in short, all 
that can be sung, all that can be declaimed, all 
that can be danced, all that is pathetic, all that is 
humorous, all that deserves to be applauded, all 
that deserves to be hissed, all that can give rise to 
burning declarations, tender barcarolles, comio 
songs, tirades, and dialogues of every description 

This great commission -house of dramatic ex 
portation has its offices on the first floor; you 
enter a large room where a clerk is seated before 
a table covered with letters, telegrams, photo- 
graphs, and theatrical journals. 

Behind the clerk's desk are two lithographs, one 
representing Talma as Augtisttts, with these 
words from "Cinna" below: 

Sit, Cinna, sit, and listen carefully to the 
commands I place upon thee. 

The other representing Grassot as Punch, with 
these two words beneath: 

Onouf! Chfwuf! 



CRIQUETTE. 189 

Lithographs and inscriptions fall of eloquence! 
How much in a few words! A whole lecture on 
history and dramatic literature! For the patrons 
of the agency, here is the choice between two 
branches, the way open to all talents, all ambi- 
tions. One can follow in the footsteps of Talma, 
or in those of Grassot. 

A case, divided into twenty little compart- 
ments, bears these inscriptions: " Leading come- 
dians, juveniles, soubrettes," etc. On each side 
of the case are advertisements of perfumery, 
rouge, theatrical materials, wardrobes to sell, 
etc. 

It was at the door of this theatrical agency that 
Criquette knocked the morning of September 
29, 1866. Her journey had been a roundabout 
one, and full of complications; but she had con- 
ducted her enterprise with the cool calculation 
of an old criminal accustomed to escapes. She 
never once dreamed of taking the seven o'clock 
train at Beauvais; she might be recognized, stop- 
ped, and taken back to Aurelie. She therefore 
walked three miles to Rochy-Conde, the first sta- 
tion on the line to Paris. 

She knew the country, and alone on the high- 
way she walked with a firm step, knowing neither 
fear nor fatigue. The moon had disappeared, but 
the stars still spangled the sky. Criquette drank 
in the fresh air with delight; she was born again, 
she lived again, she had free space before her, and 
hope at the end of the road. One by one the 
stars grew dim and disappeared; it was day, and 



100 CRIQITETTE. 

abont six o'clock Criquette amved at Rochy- 
Condt'i. 

She bonght a ticket for the last station this side 
of Paris — Saint-Denis. At eight o'clock Aurelie 
would enter her room and her flight would be dis- 
covered; the train was not due in Paris until half- 
past nine, therefore there would be time for a 
telegram to overtake her, and she would run a 
serious danger at the Paris station; but at Saint- 
Denis there was nothing to fear. 

The fare, third-class, was only four francs, so 
she had left thirty-six francs, with which amount 
she could go, third-class, to the limits of France 
to find Pascal; that was her chief desire, her chief 
hope. 

At Saint-Denis she took an omnibus which 
brought her to Paris. The passengers laughed 
and talked, and after the long silence to which she 
had been condemned, the sound of human voices 
was delightful to her. She recognized the fan- 
borgs of Paris, and the streets where she had 
rambled with Pascal. She saw the posters of the 
theatres, and read, in colossal letters, "The 
White Fawn," which recalled to her mind her 
conversation with young Stanislas. 

The omnibus stopped in the Rue Saint- Denis, 
near the boulevard. In the crowd of people and 
carriages Criquette was for a moment dismayed; 
but, like the little Parisian she was, she tried to 
find her way for herself. She did not succeed, 
however, and being forced to inquire, she chose 
a respectable-looking old gentleman; but one can 



CEIQUETTE. 191 

not be too careful in Paris, and respectable-look- 
ing old gentlemen are no better than anyone else. 

' ' Would you have the kindness, Monsieur, to 
tell me the way to the Porte- Saint-Martin 
theatre?" 

"It is only a step or two, and if you will come 
with me I will show you." 

"No, please; just tell me how to get there." 

"Turn to your left, and you will see the 
theatre." 

She no longer walks; she runs. She knows 
where she is now. There is the Rue de Bondy 
and the stage door. She enters the room of the 
congierge, and finds that good dame resting in a 
big arm-chair. 

"I beg your pardon, Madame." 

The congierge turned, looked at her — ^looked 
again, with evident surprise, and then suddenly 
exclaimed: 

" Why, it is Criquette! " 

" You recognize me, and yet I should not have 
recognized you." 

"Ah! but I have not your eyes. Could one 
forget those eyes? It is so queer, too, that you 
should turn up this morning, for there was some- 
one here yesterday who was speaking of you." 

"Of me! Who was it?" 

"Your old friend Pascal. Don't you remem- 
ber?" 

Remember! Pascal was here yesterday! And 
he had not forgotten her! She threw her arms 
about the neck of the congierge and kissed her, a 



lOS OBIQUXTTR. 

little for her own sake, to be sure, but more — 
much more — for Pascal. 

Questions poured forth from Criquette's lips. 
Yes, Pascal was there yesterday, and he had 
talked to the stage- manager about her. Tlie ad- 
dress — Pascal's address? The converge did not 
know it, but as he went away he said tliat he 
¥ras going to sign an engagement for Mans at the 
Carmelle agency; and the concierge knew the ad- 
dress of the agency — 28 Rue de Louvois. 

Criquette hastened away. As she came out of 
the theatre she almost ran into the respectable- 
looking old gentleman, who was walking up and 
down in front of the stage door; she stepped 
quickly aside and hastened away. In half an 
hour she was seated upon a sofa of frayed velvet, 
beside a woman of about forty, with a painted, 
faded face, dressed in an old soiled dress of gray 
silk. The clerk of the agency had said to Cri- 
quette: 

" Have the kindness to wait a minute. After I 
have done with Monsieur and Madame, I am at 
your service." 

Monsieur was a tall, pale, thin young man. 
His interview with the clerk was drawing to a 
close. 

"So," said the clerk, "you failed at Beziers?" 

"Yes, I failed; but I must tell you why. I had 
come from Nancy, where I was engaged last sea- 
son as second tenor. They have taste in the 
North, so I got into the habit of singing with 
taste, and that is what killed me at Beziers. 



ORIQUETTE. 193 

Those Southerners are all squallers, and to please 
them, you must squall. Now, as I had taste, I 
did not squall, and they hissed me the first night. 
They might have had a little patience. I could 
have learned to squall as well as anyone. The 
habit of singing with taste is lost as easily as 
acquired." 

"In short, you failed at Beziers?" said the 
clerk, who went straight to the point in question, 
and appeared little disposed to listen to the 
tenor's disquisition on taste. 

"WeU, yes, I failed." 

" And you want a position as light tenor? " 

"Yes." 

"Return at four o'clock. There is a place 
open at Rennes, and the manager will be here 
then." 

"I should rather like Rennes. They must have 
taste in Rennes. Be sure and tell the manager 
that what ruined me at Beziers was because — " 

"Yes, yes. Good- day." 

It was now the turn of Criquette's neighbor; 
and the following conversation took place be- 
tween her and the clerk: 

"Are you one of the patrons of the agency? " 

"Yes." 

"Did we obtain an engagement for you last 
year? " 

"Yes." 

"Where?" 

"At Bourges." 

"Your name is — ^" 

18 



194 OUQinnTB. 

*' Louise Jacquot, but I am known on the stage 
as Pauline Bruvdre." 

**You did not renew your engagement at 
BourgesI" 

"No." 

"What was your salary?" 

"Three hundred francs a month." 

"And you would like — " 

"At least as much as that." 

" What is your line of business?" 

"Juveniles." 

"Ah!" 

And after that " ah! " the clerk raised his eyes 
to the face of the poor woman, who understood 
the meaning of the look, for she hastened to say: 

"I have always played juvenile parts." 

" I don't deny it. Well, call again to-morrow. 
Have you a photograph?" 

"Yes, here is one." 

"Rather old, isn't it?" 

"No, it was taken last year." 

"Ah!" 

" Last year, I assure you." 

"Return to-morrow at three. I will tell you 
then if there is anything possible for you." 

She rose, and Criquette was about to take her 
place, when the poor juvenile lady turned again 
to the clerk and said: 

"If it were absolutely necessary, I would 
change my line and play the young mothers." 

" I think it would be wiser." 



CRIQUETTE. 196 

"Well, do the best you can for me," she an- 
swered, resignedly. 

She went away slowly, very slowly, and as she 
went, she looked at Criquette. Ah! if she had 
that face and those eyes, she would not be obliged 
to take the young mothers. 

"It is your turn now, Mademoiselle," said the 
clerk to Criquette. "Ah! now you have the 
appearance for juveniles, if you care to play 
them." 

" I did not come for an engagement. Monsieur. 
I wanted to obtain an address." 

"What address?" 

"The address of a young man who signed a 
contract here yesterday; I think for Mans — 
Monsieur Pascal." 

" Possibly; but we do not give addresses." 

"You don't give them! Oh, Monsieur, if you 
knew why I ask you for it. He is a friend whom 
I have not seen for six years. Please tell me 
where I can find him." 

What a thing it is to be pretty and have bright 
eyes! 

" She can't be a creditor! " thought the clerk. 

So he gave Criquette the address: Hotel de 
Calais, 7 Rue de Clery. 

"Oh, thanks, Monsieur, thanks!" 

She was already at the door. 

" I repeat: if you care to do so, you can obtain 
an engagement on your appearance alone." 

" Who knows, Monsieur? Perhaps; but mean^ 
while a thousand thanks." 



IM ORIQURTTB. 

She liastoBed away and hurried along the boule- 
vards. She was not in the least tired. It seemed 
to her that to find Pascal she could go on foot 
to the other end of the world. 

But her hejirt beat very quickly when she per- 
ceived a sign with these words: " H6tel de Cal- 
ais.*' At the right, in a narrow, dark alley, was 
the office of the landlady. She was absorbed in 
a cheap story- paper when Criquette asked her, in 
a trembling voice: 

*' Is Monsieur Pascal in? " 

" Monsieur Pascal? Wait a moment and I will 
tell you." 

She glanced up at the key-board. 

"His key is not here, so he must be in his 
room — third floor, second door to the right, 
No. 29.'» 

While Criquette was ascending the stairs, a 
tall, fair-haired young man was walking up and 
down the floor of No. 29; and as he walked, 
he gesticulated and declaimed aloud. He was 
repeating to himself the part of the Duke de 
Montmeyran in "Monsieur Poirier's Son-in-law." 
He was trying to fix in his head the following 
sentences: 

"Those patriotic ideas at which we laugh in 
Parisian cafes make the heart beat wonderfully 
quick when in face of the enemy. The first 
sound of the cannon silences criticism, and the 
flag is no longer a bit of rag at the end of a pole, 
bat the imperial insignia of our fatherland." 



CEIQUETTE. 197 

As Pascal for the third time was repeating 
this speech, "Those patriotic ideas," etc., he 
heard some one knock at the door. 

' ' Come in, ' ' he said. ' ' Come in. ' ' 

The knob turned, the door opened, and there 
were two simultaneous exclamations; 

"Criquette!" 

"Pascal!" 

Already they were in one another's arms. 

Those six years that had passed without their 
seeing each other no longer counted — no longer 
existed. It seemed to them that they had sepa- 
rated only yesterday. Their old affection had no 
need to be awakened. It had remained the same. 
The same? No, not entirely. It was already 
sweeter and stronger, for from that first embrace, 
those first kisses, their friendship became love. 

Like those rosebuds sent from Nice to Paris in 
hermetically sealed boxes, until the end of a long 
journey in the darkness of their prison they 
remain buds, even closing still tighter; but when 
the little box is opened, when the poor flowers 
recover the light and air that they need, in an 
instant they begin to live again, and they burst 
forth into bloom in all their glory — such was Cri- 
quette! She had found again light, warmth, 
sunshine. Her heart opened! She loved! She 
was beloved! 

But although Pascal and Criquette had had 
time to recognize one another, they had not had 
time to see one another. The same thought came 
to them at the same time, and the same desire. 



108 ORIQUBTTB. 

They drew away from one another, and, face to 
face, hand in hand, they ga^ed and gazed, and 
then kissed again. There must have been many 
kisses in that old room of that old Paris house, 
but such happy kisses, neverl 

There was then a torrent of words. How many 
things they had to tell each otherl Six years to 
relate! Their separated lives to join and bind 
together again! They began to talk incoherently, 
confusedly, as memories crowded in upon their 
brains. Their first meeting in Belleville, the 
quarrel with the big girl, the little cakes they 
sold, their debut at the Porte-Saint-Martin, the 
Princess Colibri^ the fifteen -sou monkey, Rosita, 
Aur^lie, their separation, Pascal's journey to 
Lyons and that poor little book which Criquette 
had never received, Dieppe, Beauvais, the Convent 
of Sainte-Marie, the prizes of the Conservatory, 
young Stanislas Meunier, the Vichy theatre, the 
porte-monnaie recovered, Pierrot, Criquette' s 
flight, and finally the chance which, after a long 
separation, had united them upon that sofa in a 
hotel room. 

Criquette pressed closely to Pascal, repeating: 

" I am no longer alone! I am no longer alone! 
For you will never leave me, will you — never? " 

"No, never." 

" I have been too much alone the last six years, 
since I lost you; and I am so happy to have 
found you. Tell me, tell me again, that you will 
never leave me." 

"Never! Never!" 



CRIQUETTE. 199 

"Thank you," she said, laughing; "but to 
make it sure, we must be married at once." 

"Married!" 

"Yes, certainly. What would become of me, 
Pascal, if you did not marry me? I have only 
you in all the world." 

This was said so sweetly and innocently that 
Pascal knelt at her feet, and kissing her two 
little hands, said: 

"Whatever you wish, Criquette; whatever you 
wish." 

How happy she was! She felt that she had 
ceased to live during all those years, and was 
just beginning to breathe again. She saw only 
one thing: Pascal at her feet! She had only one 
thought in her head: " He will be my husband! " 

But Pascal was looking grave. 

' ' Marry ! Can we marry? ' ' 

"What do you mean? " 

"Why, in the first place, I am only nineteen. 
Can a man marry at nineteen? " 

"Why not?" 

' ' I don' t know. And how old are you? ' ' 

"Seventeen." 

" Seventeen. And that woman is your guard- 
ian?" 

"Yes." 

"I don't think you can marry without her 
consent." 

"Indeed, she had the right to prevent my 
entering the convent, and she must have the 
right to prevent my marriage." 



20() ORTQUSITB. 

And 80 Criquette's liappiness flew away. She 
felt that she was still in the hands of Aar61ie. 

"Do not worry," said Pascal. "There is per- 
haps some way out of it. When we go to 
breakfast, we will consult one of my friends, who 
is a clerk in a lawyer's office, a few steps from 
here." 

The consultation was not a long one. The bud- 
ding lawyer gave them an audience in the 
entry- way. 

*' At what age can a man marry? " 

"Seriously?" 

" Seriously." 

" Before the mayor?" 

"Before the mayor." 

"Article 141 of the Civil Code: 'A man 
under eighteen and a woman under fifteen may 
not marry.' " 

Eighteen! Fifteen! There were no obstacles 
there; but Pascal continued: 

" Can a young girl who has neither father nor 
mother marry without the consent of her guard- 
ian?" 

"Before twenty-one, no." 

A quarter of an hour after, Pascal and Cri- 
quette were discussing the situation, seated at a 
table in a little restaurant of the Rue Saint- 
Denis. 

"Listen," said Pascal; "I am going to take the 
first train to Beauvais, and once there, I shall 
threaten Mademoiselle Aurelie with a fine scan- 
daL If she does not give her consent, all 



CKIQUETTE. 301 

Beauvais shall soon know how she made her 
money." 

"Never, Pascal, never! I forbid you to do 
that. I don't wish yon to go to Beauvais. It 
would ruin her, and I have no right to do that, 
even to save myself. She received me and brought 
me up, and I still owe her gratitude." 

"Even after what she has done? " 

"Even after what she has done. She foresaw 
certain sorrows and dangers for me, and she was 
right, perhaps. That does not change my resolu- 
tion never to leave you; but I think I ought my- 
seK to try if I can influence her." 

"How?" 

"By writing." 

"Writing?" 

"Yes." 

"And tell her where you are? " 

"Oh, that makes no difference, for she knows 
already. I have found you. She could do the 
same and so reach me. Let me do it, Pascal. I 
assure you that it is my duty; but if she does not 
consent, if she wishes to take me back, you will 
not abandon me, Pascal; you will help me to 
defend myself?" 

"I swear it." 

" And I will defend myself! " 

When they had finished breakfast, Criquette 
wrote, upon the marble top of the table, the fol- 
lowing letter to Aurelie: 

I have found Pascal again, and we felt at once 
that we had never ceased to love one another. 



S08 ORIQUETTE. 

He wishes to marry me. He is engaged at the 
theatre in Mans. Consent to our marriage, I 
implore you. 

She signed it, and said to Pascal: 

" Sign it yourself, and put the address of the 
hotel beneath.'* 

"You have quite decided?" 

'•Quite. It is my duty." 

He signed his name and wrote down the ad- 
dress. They left the restaurant and posted the 
letter, and then Criquette said to Pascal: 

" Now, let us go to see mamma." 

An hour after, Criquette was praying at her 
mother's grave— that grave which had been paid 
for by Prince Saveline. 

It was half -past five, and already growing dark, 
when they left Pere Lachaise. 

" Mamma had a friend at Belleville, a charcoal- 
woman. Do you remember?" 

*' Yes, very well." 

"Let us go and see if she is still there." 

The charcoal-woman was still there. She was 
Just sitting down to dinner with her husband and 
children. The arrival of Criquette was a great 
event. They would not let the two young people 
go, and so they dined there off potato soup and a 
dish of lentils. 

But when Criquette rose from the table she 
suddenly felt completely worn out. What a day 
it had been! It was not four o'clock in the morn- 
ing when she had escaped from the little house in 
Beauvais, and how many emotions she had passed 
through since thenl 



CRIQtJETTE. 208 

Pascal went for a carriage, and when Criquette 
was seated in it by his side, she said to him: 

"My poor boy, how good you are, and how 
much money I cost you! I am ruining you. And 
I bring you as a dowry only thirty -six francs in 
your porte-monnaie. Do you want my thirty-six 
francs?" 

"No," answered Pascal, laughing; "I am rich — 
very rich. I signed my contract yesterday and 
received a month's salary in advance." 

"How much is that? " 

"Four hundred francs. We shall be able to 
live very well with that." 

"With that and with what I make. I am well 
educated and I have courage. I worked very 
hard at the convent, and I can give lessons in 
language and music; but there is something 
that I would like better — a little corner beside 
you at the theatre. I am an old actress, you 
know." 

" Yes, yes; and I also have thought of that. 
We will go to-morrow morning to see Pere Le- 
muche." 

' ' Pere Lemuche? ' ' 

" He is my manager at Mans. I have had rare 
good luck to fall into the hands of a very good 
man. We will go to see him to-morrow." 

"Ahl Pascal, if he would take me, for little 
parts at first, and then better ones, I hope — but 
at first no matter what — no matter what — pro- 
vided I am in your theatre — and never leave you 
— never!" 



90i ORIQUETTB. 

She was very sleepy; her head sunk upon Pas- 
cal's shoulder, and he, putting his arm about 
her, 8upi)orted her as he would have supported a 
sleeping child. But suddenly opening her eyes, 
she said: 

"We forgot, this morning, before going out — " 

"Forgot what?" 

" To take a room for me at the hotel. Suppose 
they should not have one." 

"Oh, there will be one; have no fear. The 
hotel is almost empty just now." 

She slept again, encircled in Pascal's arms, so 
quietly and trustingly that no thought of wrong 
crossed the brain of the young man, who, how- 
ever, had lived since childhood in a world where 
morality is at a low ebb and purity rare. 

There was a room for Criquette — No. 28. 
They were to sleep separated by a wall an inch 
thick. 

Pascal looked at this wall and thought: 

"Criquette is there, and I have promised to 
marry her — and I will marry her! " 

But his reflections were interrupted by: 

"Good-night, Pascal, good-night!" 

"Good-night, Criquette, good-nightl " 

" Good-night, good-night! " 

And this was all. Criquette slept under the 
protection of Pascal, the leading juvenile of the 
theatre of Mans. 



CKIQUETTE. 205 



xn. 

The night of Criquette's flight Aurelie did not 
sleep. She was at the end of her strength and 
patience. When would this struggle be over? 
Early in the morning she rose and went out into 
the garden. When she came to the rose-bushes 
under Criquette's window she noticed that they 
were crushed and broken. She looked up; the 
chain of the padlock was gone. She hurried into 
the house, ran upstairs, and entered the room. 
Criquette was gone! 

To avoid scandal, at all costs, was Aurelie' s first 
thought. She must gain time. No one must 
suspect her ward's flight. She went down for 
Criquette's chocolate, and ascended again to her 
room. At noon for breakfast, and at six o'clock 
for dinner, she did the same. Madame Guarena 
and Therese must believe that Criquette was still 
there. 

Aurelie found herself in the most terrible of 
positions, because of her unfortunate past. She 
tried to believe herself free from it, but it was 
always rising up before her. All the morning 
she reflected and waited. She expected at any 
moment to see Criquette return, docile and re- 
pentant after her rebellious escapade. Where 
could she have gone? To the convent? The supe- 
rior would not have kept her. To Paris? With- 



906 ORIQURTTE. 

out money that was imiwssible. Criquette had 
no money; Aur^lie was very sure of that. 

To inform the police and telegraph in all direc- 
tions would give rise to scandal. If she consulted 
a lawyer, he would talk; and then, what was the 
use? Aur^lie knew perfectly well the limit of her 
authority over her ward. The law had not abso- 
lutely given the custody of the child to this 
woman; but still Criquette knew nothing of this. 
Aurelie had informed her that until she was 
twenty-one she was under her sole and sovereign 
control; and Criquette had not doubted her word. 
It was not so, however; the official guardianship 
did not give to Aur61ie all the rights of a mother 
over her ward. Under grave circumstances — her 
lawyer had told her so — she could not act with- 
out the authorization of the mayor, who, in legal 
language, represented the family council of the 
young girl; but to appeal to the mayor would 
also give rise to scandal. 

During the day Aurelie concluded to make 
some calls in Beauvais. Everywhere they asked 
after her ward, and all faces bore the usual impress 
of provincial stolidity. Evidently no one had seen 
Criquette, and no one had heard of her. "She 
will return to-night, when it begins to grow dark," 
she said to herself, "and ask my pardon." But 
the evening and the night passed; Aurelie laid 
awake, listening for the slightest sound, but 
Criquette did not return. 

In the morning, at half -past eight, the postman 
brought a letter — Criquette' s letter, countersigned 



CRlQtTETTE. 207 

by Pascal. Aurelie's first feeling was one of 
anger — of fury even. She thought of taking the 
first train, appealing to the commissary of police, 
and bringing Criquette back by force. Yes; but 
would the commissary of police consent? She was 
not the girl's mother. And then Criquette would 
resist; Pascal would defend her, call the people 
of the hotel, the passers in the streets, and would 
not allow the lovely creature who had been cast 
into his arms to be carried off without a struggle. 
The Paris newspapers would bring to Beauvais a 
report of the affair, names and all. 

Aurelie would have been willing enough to con- 
sent to the marriage, if by that means she could 
have got rid of Criquette. She knew what she 
could say to explain her ward's disappearance. 
Yes; but the publication of the bans would have 
to be made at Beauvais, the last residence of the 
young girl; and on the bulletin-board of the 
mayor's office would appear: " There is a prom- 
ise of marriage between Celine Brinquart and 
Pascal, dramatic artist." This again would cause 
scandal. 

After lengthy deliberation, Aurelie at last took 
a sheet of paper and wrote a letter, consisting of 
a few lines. She placed this letter in two envel- 
opes, the first bearing the name of her ward, and 
the second that of Pascal. The clerks in the 
Beauvais post-office must not know that the girl 
was in Paris. Aurelie went out and posted the 
leljter herself. 



906 ORIQUETTE. 

Jost as the postman was ringing the bell of the 
little house in the Rue du Bout-du-Mur, Criquette 
awoke and rapped on the wall of her chamber, 
calling out: 

'* Good-morning, Pascal." 

" Gk>od-morning, Criquette." 

"At what time shall we go to see the man- 
ager?" 

" At once. P^re Lemuche is an early bird." 

But, before starting out, they consulted a rail- 
way guide. Criquette knew that the postman 
never rung at the door of the little house in Beau- 
vais before half -past eight. Aurelie, to come to 
Paris — and she would come, without any doubt — 
could take no train before ten o'clock, and she 
would not arrive in the Rue de Clery until half- 
past twelve. They both wished to be there to 
receive her. 

Pdre Lemuche was the oldest patron of the 
Hotel of Dunkirk and Lisbon, in the Rue de 
Bouloi. This hotel, since 18:37, had changed 
its manager six times, and each of the six mana- 
gers had piously left to his successor Pere 
Lemuche as a legacy. Each of them learned from 
his predecessor that when Monsieur Lemuche an- 
nounced his near arrival in Paris, Room 17, on 
the first floor, at the end of the court, must be 
reserved for him; and in this room must be hung 
four pictures which were the private property of 
the guest. 

Three of these pictures were portraits of dra- 
matic authors not altogether unknown to fame: 



CRIQUETTE. 209 

Molidre, Corneille, Kacine. For thirty years 
Cesar Lemuche had been a manager of provincial 
theatres, and when he came to Paris every year to 
engage his company, he did not wish to be alone 
in his room at the hotel. He liked to find every 
evening on his return familiar faces smiling 
down upon him. And such were the comrades he 
gave himself. He might have made a worse 
selection. 

The fourth frame contained a marvel of callig- 
raphy, the masterpiece of a professor of writing 
of the time of the Restoration. High up on the 
right was the tragic mask of Melpomene, and on 
the left the smiling mask of Thalia, both won- 
ders of intricate lines. Below the two masks, 
combining ingeniously all fashions of calligraphy, 
was consigned to posterity the following state- 
ment: 

Cf)SAR LEMUCHE. 

His Creations at the Thefitre Francais. 

1823-1824. 

1. Jean of Burgundy. 
Tragedy in five acts, by Guilleau de Formont, 
December 4, 1823. 
Played by Talma, Lafon, Desmousseaux, Dumilfitre, Damas, 
Ligier, Lemuche, and Mile. Duchesnois. 

2. A Rogue in Spite op Himself. 
Comedy in three acts, by Dumersan. 
May 29, 1824. 
Played by Firmin, Devigny, Michelot, Desmousseaux, Arxnand 
Dailly, Lemuche, and Mile. Mars. 

8, EUDORA AND CyMODOCKUS. 

Tragedy in five acts, by Gray. 
July 17, 1824. 
Played by Sainte-Aulaire, Lafon, Desmousseaux, Firmin, 
Dumilatre, Menjaud, Michelot, Lemuche, Mile. Brochard, and 
Mme. Tousey. 
14 



210 OBIQUXTTB. 

All this, moreover, was most scrupulously true. 
Yes, O^ear Lemuche, from the month of October, 
1823, to the month of October, 1824, was a mem- 
ber of the company of the Th6&tre Franyais. He 
had been one of the comedians in ordinary of His 
Majesty Louis XVIII., and of His Majesty 
Charles X., as he had the good fortune to play in 
two reigns; and the old manager of the theatre of 
Mans could, without lying, and even appropri- 
ately, utter the following sentences: 

"When I belonged to the Comedie Fran- 
jaise — " 

" When I played there both tragedy and com- 
edy—" 

*' When I acted my scene with Talma — " 

"When I shared in the success of Mademoi- 
selle Mars — " 

"When I created three idles at the Th6S,tre 
Franjais — " 

As to the importance and extent of these three 
r61es Lemuche gave no detail; but it occurred to an 
old habitue of the Poitiers theatre to send to Paris 
for copies of "Jean of Burgundy," "A Rogue 
in Spite of Himself," and "Eudora and Cymodo- 
ceus. Then, under the heading "The Truth 
in Regard to the Three Creations of Monsieur 
Lemuche," he published in the Vienna Journal 
an article which contained the following revela- 
tions: 

In "John of Burgundy," Lemuche played an 
officer of the palace. He made a rapid entrance 
in Scene VI., Act 2, and said to the dauphin: 



CRIQUETTE. 211 

"Prince, an immense crowd is at this moment 
invading the palace. All our efforts are vain." 

This was all there was of the part. 

In "Eudora and Cymodoceus," Lemuche 
played a Roman; he advanced down the stage, 
pointed to the amphitheatre of Nero, and said to 
the people: 

"Behold the circus open for the sanguinary 
games. The tigers, the lions, and the victims, all 
are ready." 

More modest still was Lemuche' s creation in 
the comedy repertoire. He played a lackey in 
"A Rogue in Spite of Himself." The door 
opened at the end of the first act. The principal 
characters were grouped upon the stage. Le- 
muche said to them: 

" Gentlemen, dinner is served! " 

Nothing more; and yet Lemuche spoke with 
pride of this creation. 

" I played only a secondary role," he said; " a 
domestic — a simple domestic, but I placed my 
own individual stamp upon that domestic; in 
fact, I made of him a Lemuche! " 

The city of Mans had the honor of being the 
birthplace of Cesar Lemuche, in the month of 
September, 1802; but it was not until much later, 
after many adventures and journeys, that the 
ex-actor of the Comedie-Frangaise returned there 
permanently. His father was an usher to the 
civil tribunal of Mans; he had hoped that Cesar 
would one day succeed him, wear like him the 
black robe, and like him announce in a loud, clear 



212 ORIQUETTE. 

voice the parties summoned to the bar of the tri- 
bunal. 

''Yes," said Cfisar Lemuche, when he related 
his life, and he related it often, as he considered 
it the most interesting thing in the world to talk 
about; " yes, my father destined me for Themis, 
but the gods decided otherwise. Melpomene and 
Thalia were the stronger." 

Lemuche was a pure classicist; he would never 
have mentioned Thalia before Melpomene, he 
respected too much the order of precedence. In 
1820, Cesar Lemuche, fascinated by the stage, 
joined a company of traveling actors who hap- 
pened to pass through Mans. In 1823 he had the 
good fortune to enter the Comedie-Fran^aise at 
the modest salary of eight hundred francs a year. 
He filled there, moreover, the same functions that 
his father did at the tribunal of Mans. The one 
oi)ened the door of the court-room and exclaimed: 
*' Gentlemen, the tribunal!" The other opened 
the door of the dining-room and exclaimed: 
"Gentlemen, you are served!" The father an- 
nounced the court and the son the dinner. 

They praised at the theatre Cesar Lemuche' s 
zeal and punctuality, but he was dismissed at the 
end of twelve months, for a very odd reason — he 
was too thin. To give him all the valets, lackeys, 
and domestics of the old and new repertoire, the 
old and legendary liveries of the Theatre Frangais 
would have to be made over. An actor presented 
himself who had the necessary amount of flesh, 
and so poor Lemuche remained only a short time 



ORIQUETTE. 213 

the comrade of Talma and Mademoiselle Mars. 
It was sufficient, however, to make the glory of 
his whole existence. 

Lemuche put on the harness again, and for fif- 
teen years played comedy in the provinces. He 
was neither good nor bad; in some towns he suc- 
ceeded, in others he fell flat; he had partisans at 
Montpellier and detractors at Nimes. He had a 
secret ambition to become the manager of a thea- 
tre, to direct a company, and train actors. This 
ambition he was able to realize, on the death of 
his father, who left to each of his children — 
Cesar had a sister — the sum of twenty thousand 
francs. Six months after, Lemuche obtained the 
lease of the theatre at Amiens. He was a very 
ordinary actor, but he was an excellent manager. 
He was in love with his profession, which is in all 
things the first element of success. He lived only 
in his theatre and for his theatre. He had his 
ups and downs, his good years and his bad years; 
but on the whole he succeeded. After twenty 
years of theatrical management in all parts of 
France, he had laid aside twenty thousand francs. 
He could then obtain the lease of the theatre 
at Mans. This was a quiet enterprise, a half- 
retreat; not much money to make in good years, 
but not much to lose in bad years. He lived 
thus very happily for six years, greatly beloved 
in the city. He intended to run the theatre for 
two or three seasons more and then retire, and 
end his life in his little house in the Avenue de 
Paris. 



914 CRIQU15TTE. 

It was usually during Easter week, after the 
closing of the theatre, that Lemuche came to 
Paris every year to spend a month and select the 
members of his company; but this year they 
were making great changes in the theatre, and the 
reojiening was to take place the first of Novem- 
ber, and for that reason Lemuche did not arrive 
in Paris until the middle of September. He had, 
moreover, renewed the contracts of most of his 
company of the previous season. He had only 
four more people to engage — an old man, a juven- 
ile, a comic old woman, and an ingenue. He had 
found his juvenile — Pascal — his comic old woman, 
and his old man. He was hesitating between two 
ingenues. 

At the moment that Pascal and Criquette were 
ascending the stairs of the hotel, Pdre Lemuche, 
wrapped in a big dressing-gown, was promenad- 
ing up and down, and wondering which of the 
two ingenues he should take. He walked with a 
quick, alert step. He was a little old man, who 
talked nervously, with many gestures; he always 
wore a white cravat and a crisply curling wig of 
the most intense black. Pere Lemuche was inter- 
rupted in his promenade and his reflections by a 
discreet little tap at his chamber jdoor. 

" Come in! '* he cried. " Come in! " 

The door opened, and Pascal appeared. 

" Ah! is it you, my boy? You have come to see 
your old manager? " 

" Yes, Monsieur Lemuche; but I am not alone. 
Did you not say to me yesterday that you had 
not yet found an ingenue? " 



CRIQUETTE. 216 

*' An ingenue? Yes, I am still looking for one." 

" Well, I have found you someone who I think 
will suit you." 

" Where is she? " 

" Outside in the entry." 

"Bring her in." 

"Comein, Criquette." 

And Criquette appeared on the threshold, 
blushing a little. 

".Where did you find her?" asked Lemuche, 
brusquely. 

"Where did I find her? Why, she is an old 
friend of mine." 

"An old friend? I congratulate you on your 
old friends. What a face for the stage! How 
pretty she is — how pretty! Come in, my child — 
come in and let me look at you a little. You are 
good to look at. Humph! if your song is equal 
to your plumage, and if your ideas are not too 
high, Cesar Lemuche will engage you." 

"Oh, my ideas are not very high, Monsieur. 
If I can only stay with Pascal and never leave 
him! " 

With one of the most charming and natural of 
movements, she approached Pascal and took his 
hand. 

"How she said that!" cried Pdre Lemuche. 
"A perfect ingenue. And you have already 
acted?" 

"Yes, Monsieur," replied Pascal. "She has 
already — " 

"Let her speak, my boy. I want to hear her, 



S16 CRIQUETTS. 

not you. I know all about you. Well, my dear,'' 
addressing Criquette. "Pardon mo, I always 
call the ladies of my company my dear. It is 
more convenient at rehearsals; so, if I engage 
you, I shall call you my dear." 

"Ohl begin immediately, if you like," answered 
Criquette, laughing. 

**I ask nothing better, especially as I think 
you will probably make acquaintance with Mans." 

" I want to do so with all my heart." 

" So you have already acted?" 

"Yes, Monsieur, but a long time ago." 

"Oh! a long time ago? " 

"Yes; a very long time ago. I was quite a 
little girl, only eleven." 

" And where did you play? " 

" At the Porte-Saint-Martin." 

"In what piece?" 

"A fairy-piece." 

"That is bad to commence with. Spectacles 
and burlesques are the ruin of the drama. What 
was the name of this fairy-piece? " 

"'Gri-Gri.'" 

" ' Gri-Gri! ' I saw that. One has to see every- 
thing; and I remember — What was the queer 
little name they called you then? " 

"Criquette." 

"Criquette! Little Criquette! Why, people 
talked about you then. You played the part of 
a little princess who kicked up her skirts." 

"Yes, Monsieur." 

"You made a success — a great success. And 



ORIQUETTE. 217 

after that, what became of you? Were you at 
the Conservatory with Pascal?" 

"Oh! no, Monsieur. I passed six years in the 
convent." 

"In the convent. And after leaving the con- 
vent you commenced to run about with this big 
fellow here. There is some romance under this." 

"There is a little." 

"Well, that is your business, not mine. What 
interests me is my ingenue. You have the ap- 
pearance for the parts; but fine eyes and a 
pretty face are not everything. You must recite 
something for me. Do you know anything? " 

"No; nothing." 

"But at the convent — Racine wrote tragedies 
for convents." 

"Ah! I know by heart the first three acts of 
'Athalie.' " 

" Racine! 'Athalie! ' I have played in 'Athalie' 
at the Comedie-Fran§aise." 

Played! Figured would have been more exact, 
for Lemuche was charged with the absolutely 
mute r61e of one of the Levites who rush upon 
the stage, in the fifth act, when Joas cries: 

' ' Soldiers of the living God, defend your king! ' ' 

"Yes," he continued; "I played in 'Athalie.' 
And Racine is one of my gods. I have a little 
old edition there. Moliere, Corneille, Racine! 
Their portraits! Their works! I could not live 
without them. There, my boy, take the volume 
and give her the cues. In the second act, the ex- 
amination of Joas. You take the part of Athalie^ 
and let her speak the lines of JocbsP 



918 OBIQUXTTB. 

He rolled his arm-chair near the window, sat 
down with his back to the light, and told the 
young people to take up their station before him. 
They commenced: 

PascxU. — " What is your name?" 

CfrigueUe. — "My name is Eliacin." 

Pascal. — "And your father? " 

Oriqtiette. — "I am, they say, an orphan. In the 
arms of God," etc. 

Lemuche was happy. A recital, a recital in 
verse — a classical recital! And an excellent one, 
too! Criquette's voice was a little thin in com- 
pass, but of charming quality. She pronounced 
correctly — a little too correctly for Lemuche' s 
taste. 

" You are very intelligent; but you do not sep- 
arate the verses and mark the rhythm sufficiently. 
I am of the old school — the school of fine decla- 
mation. It is great music — great poetry. Verses 
should not be spoken, but sung; but it was not 
bad — not bad at all." 

" And you engage me?" 

* ' Oh, not yet — not yet! We do not play ' Atha- 
alie' at Mans." 

He commenced to rummage amidst a pile of 
paper-covered plays which lay upon his bureau. 

"This will do," he said; " 'The Olden Times.' 
Two young people who adore each other, and an 
old man who is interested in their love affair. 
Quite appropriate, is it not?" 

"A little," answered Criquette. 

"A little! Entirely so." Then, addressing 



CEIQUETTE. 219 

Pascal, lie asked: "Do you know the part of 
OctaDeV* 

" I played it last summer at yichy." 

' ' Good. Let her study Jacqueline^ and return 
to-morrow at four o'clock. You make a very nice 
couple, and I should like very much to take you 
to Mans. I have had many ingenues in my com- 
panies during the last thirty years, but none so 
sweet and pretty as you, my dear. By the way, 
I told you that I always called my actresses ' my 
dear;' and that is not all, when they are pretty 
girls I kiss them." 

Criquette came to him with a smile, and he 
placed two great kisses upon her cheeks — classic 
salutes, real stage kisses. 

It is very rare that presentiments prove correct; 
but Criquette left the room feeling that she had 
found a friend, and she was not mistaken. 

On the way back to their own hotel, Pascal 
told her the plot of the piece. This meant a con- 
versation on love, for the pretty comedy is a 
touching little poem of tenderness and affection. 
They breakfasted alone in the hotel dining-room. 
Criquette stood up before her, against a carafe, 
the book of the play. To learn a part, a real 
part, with Pascal for a teacher! In her delight, 
she thought no more of Aurelie; but suddenly 
she came upon the following passage. The old 
man asks Jacqueline to tell him her history, and 
she answers: " It is not long. My mother died 
when I was twelve years old. My father married 
again, a wicked woman who beat me all the 



220 OBIQinRTB. 

blessed day. Then I ran away from the house, 
and I live as I can, working hard, and neither 
thinking nor doing anything wrong. That is my 
history." 

It was Criquette's history also, or almost so. 
She looked at her hands, which still bore the 
marks of Aur§lie's clutch. All her delight van- 
ished. It was noon. Aurelie might be expected 
now at any moment. 

"You will never abandon me, Pascal. You 
have promised." 

'* And I promise again." 

" I was wrong to write to her. Suppose we run 
away and go far off— to America." 

** And my engagement? I have no right to go 
away." 

"True!" 

" And then, how about money? We must have 
money to go far." 

"Truel Truel" 

They went up to Pascal's room, which was 
larger than Criquette's, and more convenient for 
rehearsing. Criquette was anxious to know the 
whole r61e by the next day, from the first line to 
the last. Her work occupied her and drove away 
the depression that was beginning to weigh upon 
her mind. 

She repeated her lines, clutching Pascal and 
throwing herself into his arras whenever she 
heard a carriage in the street or a step upon the 
stairs, afraid each time that it was the dreaded 
Aurelie. 



CRIQUETTE. 221 

So passed the entire day. Why did Aurelie 
not come? Perhaps she had appealed to the mag- 
istrates or the police. She would not come her- 
self, and Criquette would lose the hope of soften- 
ing her by her entreaties, or frightening her by 
her resistance. Men would come — men who in 
the name of the law would seize her and take her 
back to Beauvais, despite her tears and cries. 

"If that does happen," she said to Pascal, 
"you must follow me — you must follow me! " 

She crept close to him, feeling that he was her 
refuge, her love, her life. The same fear pos- 
sessed them both; they were one in their anxiety 
and affection. 

The day drew to a close. They did not dare to 
go down to dinner in the common dining-room. 
The approach of night added to their nervous- 
ness; something vague weighed upon them, some- 
thing worse than their worst imaginings. They 
ordered their dinner to be served in Pascal's room; 
but they scarcely touched what was brought 
them, and leaving the table they sat down on the 
little sofa. 

"I am afraid," said Criquette. "Let us do 
something. Let us try to rehearse." 

She had a wonderful memory, and, despite her 
worry, she had succeeded in learning nearly all 
the role of Jacqueline. The sentences mechan- 
ically left her lips — sentences of love — and Pascal, 
mechanically also, recited the words of his role. 
Now and then he kissed Criquette' s hair. She 
looked up at him with a smile. Soon they spoke 



999 ORIQUETTB. 

no more. Half-asleep, they rested in one an- 
other's arms. 

A knock at the door suddenly roused them from 
sentiment to reality. It was one of the servants 
of the hotel with a letter for Pascal. Criquette 
eagerly examined the address, and when the 
servant had departed, she exclaimed: 

" It is from her! I know the writing. Open it! 
Open it quickly! " 

He broke the seal, but in the first envelope was 
a second upon which were written these two 
words: "For her." Within was the following 
letter: 

I can not consent to such a marriage; nor will 
I ever consent to it. If you will return alone, 
tractable and obedient, I can still pardon you. 
No one here suspects your departure. If you do 
not wish to return, I ask only one thing, which I 
have the right to ask of you: Never appear again 
in Beauvais. I shall say that you have gone to 
enter a convent in Paris. Understand what I say: 
Return at once or not at all. 

AuRi;LiE. 

Criquette read and re-read the letter very care- 
fully, and then she handed it to Pascal. In a few 
minutes, he returned it to her without a word. 

The evening was mild and warm. She went to 
the open window, and he joined her there. She 
leaned her head on his shoulder, still without a 
word. They remained thus a long time — a very 
long time. She was reflecting, and he did not 
disturb her. 

Then, suddenly, Criquette said to Pascal : 
"Take me! Keep me! 1 am your wife! " 



CEIQUETTE. ^ 323 



XIII. 

The next day at three o'clock Aurelie received 
the following communication: 

" You will never hear of me again." 

Aurelie put on her hat and cloak, and went to 
pay a visit to Madame Meunier. She explained 
to her that her ward, unable to resist the dic- 
tates of her conscience, had departed to commence 
her novitiate in a Parisian convent. 

"Your son must not be angry with her," she 
said, in conclusion. "She has preferred no one 
to him but God." 

Young Stanislas was resigned. He espoused 
the least ugly of the three marriageable girls in 
Beauvais. 

As for Aurelie, she continued to live at Beau- 
vais in the peace of a provincial life, respected 
byaU. 

At the very moment that Criquette's guardian 
was addressing to Madame Meunier a carefully pre- 
pared discourse on her ward's irresistible predi- 
lection for a religious life, that ward was indeed 
contracting an engagement, but it was not with 
God n'or for eternity; it was with Cesar Lemuche, 
manager of the theatre of Mans; and it was only 
for seven months, from October 1, 1866, to May 
1, 1867. She promised to devote to him her 
talents, exclusively and without any reserve, in 
the acting of ingmue parts. 



9M OBIQUBTTX. 

Criquette had done hei^self credit at her seoond 
redtal, and had acted with much grace and sweet- 
ness the pretty part of Jacqueline. 

"You are charming," Lemuche said to her. 
**0f course, you must work and learn your pro- 
fession; but I will attend to that. I will be 
your teacher. And now, my children, if you 
like, leave for Mans to-morrow. I advise you t-o 
live at The Conqueror, a good old house, half- 
hotel, half-inn, at the gates of Mans, almost in 
the country. You will spend less money there 
than in Paris. We shall not begin to rehearse 
for ten days, but you will have plenty to do. 
Pascal has a dozen parts to commit to memory, 
and you, my dear, will have as many. My busi- 
ness will detain me in Paris until the end of the 
week, but I invite you to dine with me a week 
from to-morrow at my little house in Mans. 
You will make the acquaintance of Mademoiselle 
Clementine, my sister, and if you do not at once 
win her friendship, as you did mine, I shall be 
very much astonished, Criquette. Yes, Criquette 
— for I too am going to call you Criquette." 

They left Paris the next day, and Criquette 
finally discovered what happiness was. The first 
two weeks of October were delightful— those early 
days in autumn which have all the softness of 
spring. And it was spring also in the hearts of 
the youth and maiden, whose friendship had 
become love. They commenced again their walks 
and wanderings of the old days, but this time 
through the real country. Early in the morning, 



CRIQUETTE. 226 

they set out, carrying a copy of a sombre drama 
or a lively farce, " The Willow Copse " or "What 
is Love? " As a rule, they went to Yvre-l' Eveque. 
This was a walk of about three miles, along a 
beautiful road bordered with tall poplars. They 
breakfasted in a little restaurant near the bridge 
that crosses the Huisne, beyond the village; 
then they passed the day in the open air, under 
the shade of four great chestnuts, on the side of 
the Auvours hills. There, lying on the grass, or 
seated upon the trunk of an old tree, they gravely 
exchanged tirades of melodrama or merry speeches 
of farces. They had an audience— an old shep- 
herd who pastured his sheep on the hill-side. He 
came and sat down beside them, in his goat-skin 
dress, his crook between his legs, and laughed 
confidently when he saw them laugh, without 
understanding a single word of what they said. 
The shepherd's dog also sometimes joined the 
party, barking with all his might when foolish 
laughter seized at once the two young people and 
the old shepherd. 

Criquette and Pascal dined, as had been ar- 
ranged, with Pere Lemuche, and were presented 
to Mademoiselle Clementine, an odd-looking little 
woman, very short, very plump, and very much 
surprised to finish among actors and actresses an 
existence which had been passed almost entirely 
amidst the most aristocratic surroundings. 

In 1832 she was a school-mistress at Sarge, a 
large village a few miles from Mans, when a lady 
of the neighborhood, the Marquise de Louvercy, 

15 



9M ORIQUETTB. 

engaged her as governess to her little grand- 
daughter. Mademoiselle Lemuche entered the 
Chateau de Louvercy, and remained there thirty 
years. After the education of her young pupil 
was finished, she was liaised to the nink of reader 
and companion to the Marquise. From 1842 to 
1802, all the romances of the eighteenth century, 
and the nineteenth as well, rolled in torrents from 
the lips of Mademoiselle Lemuche. She never 
left the Marquise, but went to Paris with her in 
winter, and thus moved in the highest possible 
society. So that if Cesar Lemuche could say to 
his sister, " Talma explained to me one day," etc., 
or, "I remarked one evening to Mademoiselle 
Mars," etc., Clementine Lemuche could reply to 
her brother, "One night when I was at the Duch- 
esse d'Estignac's," etc., or, "I heard the Prince 
de Valgeneuse relate," etc. 

While she was reader and companion, Made- 
moiselle Lemuche also taught, from 1848 to 1862, 
young Etienne de Serignan, the son of her former 
pupil, how to read, write, and cipher. The Mar- 
quise died in 1862, leaving her reader an annuity 
of twelve hundred francs, and the old maid, sud- 
denly fallen from her grandeur, came to ask the 
hospitality of her brother, who received her with 
open arms. Mademoiselle Lemuche' s advent, 
however, was preceded by a very decided declara- 
tion; she would have nothing whatever to do with 
the business and people of the theatre; having 
lived as she had, she could not associate with 
actors, whom she looked upon as vagabonds; she 
admitted only one exception — her brother. 



CRIQUETTE. 227 

A month rolled by, during which Clementine 
Lemuche affected to ignore completely the pro- 
fession followed by Cesar Lemuche. 

But, during breakfast one morning, early in the 
second month, she said to her brother: 

"Well, how goes your frightful theatre? " 

"Pretty well." 

" And your frightful actors? " 

"Pretty well, also." 

"I saw yesterday in the Place du Marche your 
advertisement.' ' 

" My frightful advertisement." 

"You are playing 'The Pearl of Savoy.' A 
drama, is it not? I read it once to the Mar- 
quise." 

"Yes, it is a drama." 

"Did you have a good house last evening? " 

" Yes, very good." 

" What were the receipts? " 

' ' Over six hundred francs. ' ' 

" And is that good? " 

"Yes, when the expenses are only three hun- 
dred and fifty." 

Mademoiselle Lemuche did not ask any further 
questions then, but a few days after she said to 
Cesar; 

"I was all alone last evening. You had left 
upon my desk a memorandum from your cos- 
tumer, and I cast my eyes over it mechanically, 
without exactly thinking what I was doing — " 

"It was my costumer's accounts." 

"Precisely. Well, there were two or three 



228 CTRTQUETTE. 

errors in them, and not to yoar advantage. I 
have rectified them." 

The next day, Mademoiselle Lemuche took int-o 
her own hands the 8ui)ervi8ion of the costume 
department; then, the next week, that of the 
accounts and the box-office. She was soon seen 
at all hours everywhere in the theatre, directing 
the workmen, watching the doorkeeper, making 
np the accounts, and carrying home, every even- 
ing after the play, the receipts in a little velvet 
bag which had been given her by Madame de 
Louvercy. 

The day that Pascal and Criquette sat down for 
the first time at their manager's table, there were 
present two other guests. Monsieur and Madame 
Lacalprandde, who were respectively the heavy 
man and the second old woman of the company. 

Lacalpranede was playing the leading parts at 
Montpellier when the childless widow of a drug- 
gist, with an income of four or five thousand 
livres a year, fell madly in love with him. Lacal- 
prandde resigned himself to marry, but only 
after the following declaration: 

" You say that you can not live without me, 
and I have no wish to cause your death. I offer 
you my hand; but we must have a perfect 
understanding. An artist has no right to self- 
ishly devote himself to one woman. He must 
qunff without cessation the living sources of pas- 
sion, pass through violent and varied sensations, 
study constantly in himself the various phases of 
love, in order that he may present them vividly 



CRIQUETTE. 229 

upon the stage; so I shall, in all probability, love 
other women besides you; and more than that, as 
I am of a frank, expansive nature, I shall speak 
to yOu of my love affairs and tell you how they 
progress. If this arrangement suits you, be Ma- 
dame Lacalpranede. If not, farewell forever." 

She accepted, promising never to worry him 
with reproaches or jealousy. To promise was 
nothing — one promises everything when one is in 
love — but, strange to say, Clarisse kept her word. 
Her name was Clarisse. Lacalpranede, in her 
eyes, was not a man, he was a god; so that, though 
often tortured, she ended by becoming interested 
in his love affairs and proud of his successes. 
Clarisse passed her life in making frills and ruf- 
fles for Lacalpranede — who still wore frills and 
ruffles — and after a few years, in order to be 
always with her adored husband, she engaged in 
his company as second old woman, making forty 
francs a month singing in choruses, forming one 
of a mob, and devouring with her eyes her hus- 
band when she happened to be on the stage 
behind her idol. 

One evening at Nancy, an incident happened 
which threw the audience into a veritable frenzy. 
Clarisse was playing the part of a chamber-maid. 
At the end of the fourth act she brought a letter 
to Lacalpranede, who was alone on the stage. 
She said to him: "There is an answer," and 
retired to the back to wait, like a servant who 
knows her place. This letter was an important 
point in the drama; it brought to Lacalpranede 



980 ORIQUETTE. 

shocking revelations. It informed him that his 
wife had deceived him for twenty years, with his 
beet friend. Lacalpranede read this letter in a 
hollow, suppressed voice; as he finished, he was 
about to burst into tears, but he restrained him- 
self by a powerful effort, on account of the pres- 
ence of the maid. This was the great scene of 
the part 

After the reading of the letter, Clarisse should 
have approached and said to LacalpranMe: "Is 
there any answer, Monsieur?" and Lacalpranede, 
now master of himself, should have replied: 
"No answer.*' But the unfortunate Clarisse was 
so overcome by the reading of the letter, her 
husband appeared to her so touching, so noble, and 
so handsome, that she approached him slowly — 
slowly, and cast herself into his arms, when he had 
ceased sj^eaking, crying: "Ahl my Hippolyte, 
what genius you have! what genius! " 

This gave rise to a frightful rumpus in the 
auditorium, and they were obliged to lower the 
curtain. Some of the audience roared with 
laughter, but the majority were exasperated and 
cried furiously: 

"Apologize! Apologize! " 

Poor Madame Lacalpranede was forced to 
come before the curtain and very humbly present 
her excuses to the public. She did so in the fol- 
lowing words: 

" I beg your pardon, ladies and gentlemen, but 
I could not help it. You see, he is my husband, 
and I love him so much! " 



CEIQUETTE. 231 

She was overwhelmed with applause, and never 
had so lauch success upon the stage, before or 
since. 

Cesar and Clementine Lemuche, Hippolyte and 
Clarisse Lacalpranede, were destined to be, for 
the next three years, the best friends of Criquette, 
who, at seventeen, had already lived with char- 
coal-sellers, burlesque actresses, princes, kings, 
nuns, and respectable members of provincial 
society. Frank and kind, tender and merry, she 
in herself was the grace and youth of that little 
troup of comedians, who said to her: 

"You are too pretty for the provinces. You 
will leave us soon and go to Paris." 

But Criquette answered them: 

"I will go where Pascal goes." 

They both made their debut the same evening, 
in the same piece, and they both succeeded; but 
Pascal's success was more marked than that of 
Criquette. After the last act, Lemuche took her 
aside, and said to her: 

" You have had some success, but he has played 
better than you; and yet you ought to play better 
than he, for you are more intelligent." 

" Oh, no. Monsieur Lemuche." 

"Oh, yes, Mademoiselle Criquette. You were 
not actress enough. You were too natural — too 
simple. They like that in Paris, but in the prov- 
inces — no. And then, every time that you are on 
the stage with Pascal you are too much engaged 
with him. You seem to love him better than your 
part." 



889 CRIQITETTF. 

" But I do." 

*'Love him at home, but not on tjie stage. 
Now he thought only of his jmrt, sukI h« was 
right. Each for himself at the theatre, and the 
public for all." 

The first year was one long dream of delight for 
Criquette, and her life may be related in one line: 
**He loved her, and she was happy." 

At the theatre, everything amused Criquette, 
but especially the stories and reminiscences of 
Lacalpranede. During the intermissions, in the 
little green-room, the actors would whisi)er among 
themselves: 

"We must make Criquette laugh. Let us ask 
Lacalpranede to tell us a story." 

"Which one?" 

"Oh, Fr6d6rick Lemaitre at Montpellier." 

Then, one of the actors, addressing Lacalpra- 
ndde, would say: 

"It was at Montpellier, I think, that you met 
Frederick Lemaitre." 

" Yes, at Montpellier. Poor FrM^rick! Since 
the beginning of the season I had played nine 
times in ' Thirty Years; or. The Life of a Gam- 
bler.' I had made Frederick's part, the part of 
the gambler, my own; as, indeed, I made all my 
parts my own. A drama represented nine times 
at Montpellier in the same season! The fact was 
without precedent! The evening of the ninth per- 
formance, the Mayor himself came to the theatre 
to congratulate me in person. Now, one day, Fre- 
derick arrived at Montpellier, with the intention of 



CRIQUETTE. 233 

giving a few performances. He was traveling with 
a post-chaise and horses. The manager of the 
theatre received him on his arrival. Frederick's 
first words, as he descended from his carriage, were: 
' Is not Monsieur Lacalpranede within your walls? ' 
' Yes, Monsieur Frederick.' 'And he has played 
"Thirty Years" here?' 'Yes, Monsieur Fre- 
derick.' 'Very well, then; I shall not stop here. 
I go straight on to Marseilles.' They changed 
horses, and he drove away in ten minutes. He 
did not care to attempt to rival me, and he was 
right. I do not know if at Paris he had the 
women with him, but he would not have had them 
at Montpellier; and when you have not the women 
on your side, you have nothing. Now, I held 
them all at Montpellier. You can testify to that, 
Madame Lacalprandde." 

"Yes, my friend." 

"No man can boast of having had so many ad- 
mirers as I." 

"Beginning with me," said Clarisse. 

"Yes; but hundreds of others, also. Women, 
follies, pleasures — I have exhausted them all! " 

He accompanied these words with an immense 
sweeping gesture that seemed to embrace all 
enjoyment of every kind, without letting one 
escape. 

Madame Lacalpranede looked at him in ecstasy, 
her eyes round with adoration. Poor woman! 
How touching she was in her devotion and admira- 
tion! She was proud and happy to have borne 
and' pardoned all, for after each escapade he had 



2H4 ORIQUETTE. 

always returned to her. And to-day, her god— 
old, wrinkled, and gray, condemned to play the 
heavy parts — was her god still, and to her alone 
he seemed ever handsome — ever young. 

How Criquette laughed at that speech of Lacal- 
pranede: "Women, follies, pleasures— I have 
exhausted them all! " 

*' You laugh. Mademoiselle Criquette," he said 
to her; "you laugh, young dove, at the lion 
grown old. Ah! if I were only twenty years 
younger, it would not be that tall fellow there 
that you would love, but I, Lacalpranede." 

"I don't say no. Monsieur Lacalprandde." 

But just now it was that tall fellow there that 
she loved, and that tall fellow alone. She did 
not, however, lack admirers. Pretty girls are 
rare in provincial theatres; and the rumor soon 
spread that Cesar Lemuche had in his company a 
little marvel of grace and beauty. A number of 
the young dandies, who usually disdained the 
Mans theatre, came to admire and applaud 
Criquette. The servants of The Conqueror 
received for her many notes, and bouquets of 
roses and white lilacs. It was all pure waste of 
time. The young men of Mans, as they loitered 
about the stage-door after the performance, saw 
Criquette come out on the arm of Pascal, and, 
pressed close to him, walk slowly away under the 
big trees of the Promenade des Jacobins; they 
were lovers in private life as well as on the stage. 

Criquette was entirely wrapped up in Pascal — 
a little too much so, in the opinion of Pere Lem- 



CEIQUETTE. 236 

uche, who now and then preached her a little 
sermon. 

''Take care, my child," he would say to her, 
"take care! You have only love, and you ought 
to have ambition also. Pascal has it. He loves 
you, but he loves the stage as well." 



S86 ORIQUETTE. 



XIV. 

When Pascal rehearsed in the day-time, and 
Criquette had no part in the play, she geuemlly 
went to pass the afternoon with Mademoiselle 
Lemuche, who, charmed to find so much grace 
and distinction in an employe of her brother, 
conceived for the young actress a very sincere and 
tender affection. 

Now, one day at one o'clock, about the middle 
of April, 1868, Criquette arrived at the little 
house in the Avenue de Paris. 

" Mademoiselle Clementine was obliged to go 
out for a short time," the maid said to her; " but 
she told me, if you came, not to let you go and to 
ask you to wait for her." 

Criquette had brought her work. She took off 
her hat and sat down in the salon^ with her em- 
broidery, near an open window. Suddenly she 
heard the sound of a horse's hoofs, and raising 
her eyes she perceived a young man, who, with 
the reins in his left hand and his hat in his right, 
had stopped his horse exactly before the win- 
dow, and was looking at Criquette with a surprise 
evidently mingled with jjleasure. 

"Pardon me, Mademoiselle," he said; "does 
not Monsieur Lemuche live here now?" 

"Yes, Monsieur, certainly." 



CEIQUETTE. 237 

" Then pardon me; I came to see Mademoiselle 
Clementine." 

" She has gone out, Monsieur, but will be back 
very shortly. Wait for her, I beg. She would be 
so sorry to miss your visit." 

"You know me, then. Mademoiselle?" 

"I do not know you, but I recognize who you 
are." 

" I am curious to know how." 

"Oh, I will tell you. It is the simplest of mys- 
teries; but dismount and I will open the door for 
you." 

He dismounted and passed his horse's bridle 
through a ring fixed in the wall. Criquette was 
on the threshold to meet him, and when they had 
entered the salon, pointing to a photograph hung 
over the piano, she said to him: 

"There, Monsieur; that is why I recognized 
you. I know that you are Count Etienne de S§r- 
ignan, and I know that Mademoiselle Clementine 
will be very glad to see you again." 

" Is that all you know of me, Mademoiselle?" 
he said, laughingly. 

"Oh, nol" she answered in the same tone, 
quite won by his charming manners; "I know 
more — much more." 

' ' What? Tell me, please. ' ' 

" I know that you have just returned from a 
trip around the world; I know that four or five 
months ago you were walking upon the great 
wall of China; that six weeks later you were gal- 
loping upon a big black pony in the streets of a 



ORIQUETTE. 

J^paneBe city; that yon then went for a little 
visit to San Francisco, and that you embarked 
the first of this month at New York upon the 
Pereire. Is not all this true?" 

" Perfectly. You are a sorceress." 

" A very poor sorceress, I assure you. Made- 
moiselle Clementine speaks of you constantly, 
and she has read me three or four letters that you 
had the kindness to write her during the last 
year. You gave her great pleasure by writing to 
her, for she loves you with all her heart." 

" And I thoroughly return the affection she has 
for me. It was she who brought me up." 

"At the Chateau de Louvercy, a few miles 
from here. I have been there more than once to 
walk in the woods with Mademoiselle Clemen- 
tine." 

"In short, all that one can know of me you 
know, while I know nothing of you." 

"Oh, since Mademoiselle Clementine is not 
here to introduce me, I will introduce myself, 
gladly. Under what name, however? I have 
several. I will tell you my stage name, I think." 

" Your stage name! " 

"Mademoiselle Gilberte. I belong to Monsieur 
Lemuche's company." 

"You belong — " 

"Why, yes. I play comedy — the ingenues ^ 

Before Monsieur de Serignan could reply, the 
door of the salon was hastily thrown open and 
Mademoiselle Lemuche appeared. The good lady 
was all out of breath, for she had run all the way 



CEIQUETTE. 239 

down the street, as she perceived the horse fast- 
ened in front of the door. She threw her arms 
about the young man, and kissed him three or 
four times. 

"Monsieur Etienne, is it you? How happy I 
am! Come to the window, that I may get a good 
look at you. How brown you are! And how big 
your mustache is! " Then, turning to Criquette, 
she continued: "This is Monsieur de Serignan, 
of whom I have spoken to you so often. I must 
present you." 

"I have already presented myself, Mademoi- 
selle." 

"And have you told him that you are the 
sweetest and best little woman there is in the 
world?" 

"No; I did not say that." 

"But I perceived it," said Monsieur de Serig- 
nan. 

Criquette wished to withdraw, but she yielded 
to the protests of Mademoiselle Lemuche and the 
young count. She therefore remained, and it is 
very certain that if she had gone Monsieur de 
Serignan' s visit would have been much shorter. 
The conversation was scarcely more than a mono- 
logue descriptive of travel; the young man en- 
joyed relating his experiences, and showing 
delicately that he was not commonplace. He had 
much wit and that delightful vivacity only to be 
found in youth. While speaking, he addressed 
himself a little to Mademoiselle Lemuche, but 
much to Criquette, attracted by those great. 



MO ORIQUETTB. 

speaking black eyes which, unconsciously, with a 
sort of hardy frankness, sought and demanded 
sympathy. 

He spoke, and Criquette listened to his dis- 
course with the closest attention. For the first 
time in her life she found herself in the presence 
of a really cultivated, amiable, and distinguished 
gentleman. There was in him a superiority of 
thought and language which charmed her and 
troubled her at the same time. Very often at 
the theatre she was wounded by the vulgarity 
or brutality of her comrades* remarks. She 
struggled against this feeling, for they were, in 
the main, kind-hearted people, and it was among 
them tliat her life was to be passed; but here 
there opened to her a new world; there were other 
ways of living, feeling, and speaking. Her keen 
intelligence and the excellent education she had 
received permitted her to appreciate the grace 
and refinement of this young man's speech — at 
once serious and light, solid and brilliant. 

And he talked on and on, inspired by the girl's 
attention, until four o'clock sounded. Then Cri- 
quette arose abruptly, as if awakened suddenly 
from a dream. She had told Pascal that she 
would meet him at the theatre at three o'clock, 
and for the first time in her life she had forgotten 
him. 

"Pour o'clock!" she exclaimed. "It is im- 
possible! Pardon me, Monsieur, for interrupting 
you, but I must go at once." 

" We shall meet again, I hope." 



CEIQUETTE. 241 

"I hope so, sincerely. I have listened to you 
with so much interest and pleasure." 

^^ Au remir, then, Mademoiselle." 

" Au reGoir^ Monsieur." 

With a natural, thoughtless impulse, she gave 
him her hand, as to an old friend, and after kiss- 
ing Mademoiselle Clementine, she departed. 

Criquette played that evening, and Monsieur 
de Serignan wa^s the first person she saw as she 
came upon the stage. He was alone in a prosce- 
nium-box. It was a Tuesday — the company played 
only three times a week, Tuesdays, Thursdays, 
and Sundays. The following Thursday and Sun- 
day Criquette played again, and both nights Mon- 
sieur de Serignan was there in the same box. 
Criquette glanced toward it, and the lorgnette 
which was fixed upon her was immediately low- 
ered. 

Two or three days during that week she had no 
rehearsal; but she did not go to see Mademoiselle 
Lemuche. On Sunday evening the latter came to 
the theatre and reproached her for her neglect. 

"You do not rehearse to-morrow," she said. 
Come. I shall expect you." 

Criquette did not know how to refuse. She 
arrived about two o'clock, fearing and yet long- 
ing to see Monsieur de Serignan again. He was 
not there, but she had not been seated long with 
her embroidery when she heard the sound of a 
horse's hoofs. It was he. 

She had played three different parts during the 
week; he complimented her, but without stupid- 

16 



MS CKIQUETTE. 

ity or ezagg<iration, and with a little smiling crit- 
icism. Fulsome praise would have disgusted her; 
but she was very grateful for this calm, discreet 
eulogy. The young man seemed to be frankness 
itself, and it was impossible that he would say 
anything except what he thought; but his looks 
spoke even more than his words; he could not 
remove his eyes from Criquette's face. He was 
manifestly anxious to please her, while she, 
uneasy and happy at the same time, abandoned 
herself to the charm of a personality hitherto 
unknown to her. At their first interview she had 
sjKjken but little, but this afternoon she talked 
more, and all that she said was easy, natural, 
and charming. 

Nevertheless, she watched the clock, and did 
not forget that Pascal, at three o'clock, would be 
waiting for her at the theatre. She found him 
at the stage entrance, engaged in an animated 
discussion in regard to a quarrel which had 
broken out during the rehearsal. The leading 
lady and the soubrette had almost come to 
blows in their rivalry for the affections of the 
comedian, who was frightfully ugly. The com- 
pany was divided into two camps, one side taking 
the part of the leading lady and the other that of 
the soubrette. The discussion continued with 
coarse and violent speech, and Pascal excitedly 
took part in it. Criqnette led him away, impa- 
tient to put an end to his share in the dispute; 
but Pascal, full of the matter, all the way home 
related to her, with the most insignificant details. 



CRIQUETTE. 243 

all that had taken place. And Criquette, as she 
listened, thought: 

"I will not go to Mademoiselle Lemuche's 
again. I should draw a comparison which I must 
not — will not make. Is it Pascal's fault that he 
has not the distinction of that young man? 'He 
was good to my mother, and he is good to me. 
It is my duty to love him as he is, love him now, 
and love him forever." 

And Criquette did not go to Mademoiselle 
Lemuche's again, but Count Etienne continued 
for a month to come to the theatre every time 
that Criquette' s name appeared upon the bill. 

One day, toward the end of the month, Cri- 
quette was rehearsing a three-act piece. They 
had finished the first act. 

" I am not on in the second act," she said to 
Pascal; "I am going to take a little walk, and I 
will be back for the third act." 

It was very warm, and Criquette, to get a little 
fresh air, made her way toward those peaceful, 
silent streets which slept in the shadow of the 
cathedral. Leaving the Promenade des Jacobins, 
she entered the Rue de I'Eveche, turned to the 
left by the Rue du Chateau, and reached that little 
square where is situated the house of Scarron, 
which is one of the marvels of Mans. Dominated 
by the enormous mass of the cathedral, and sur- 
rounded by old houses which seemed to have 
absorbed from their very nearness to the church 
an ecclesiastical, monkish air, this little square, 
sombre, dark, and dead, had only one outlet — the 



M4 onQuxm. 

alley which gave access to the Pans-de-Garron 
stjiircase. 

Here Criqnette stopped and leaned against the 
tower of 8<»rron's house, between the two high 
walls that inclosed the broad, chipi)ed, and worm- 
eaten steps of the staircase; from here she could 
contemplate a vast extent of country sparkling 
in the sunshine and bathed in the golden haze 
which floated and trembled over the verdure of 
the meadows. The cathedral chimes, soft and 
velvety, rung out in that immense silence, that 
grand ipeace. And Criquette remained there, 
dazed by the light, lulled by the music of the 
bells, in a sort of vague reverie, a thousand 
leagues from the theatre and her rehearsal. 

She thought herself alone, and yet there was 
someone not three steps behind her. As she left 
the theatre, Count Etienne was passing in a car- 
riage through one of the streets which run into 
the Promenade des Jacobins. He stopped his 
horse, threw the reins to his groom, and followed 
Criquette. He was very young, only twenty-four, 
and very much in love, which must be his excuse 
— admitting the necessity of an excuse. 

When Criquette stopped near the tower, he 
approached her slowly, his heart beating fast, but 
resolved to si)eak. 

So Criquette heard suddenly this single word, 
spoken scarcely above a breath: 

"Mademoiselle!" 

She turned, uttered a slight exclamation as she 
recognized him, and remained there before him, 



CEIQUETTE. 245 

trembling a little, with her back against tne 
wall. 

"Mademoiselle, pardon me; it is all due to 
chance. I saw you from a distance, and I could 
not resist the temptation. You know what I 
want to say to you, I think. I love you — I love 
you with all my soul." 

"Oh! Monsieur, hush! Hush, please! If you 
only knew how unhappy it makes me. It is my 
fault, too. Yes, from the first day I saw you, I 
knew, from the way you looked at me — from the 
way you spoke to me — that you were according 
me more attention than I deserved." 

" Yes, from the first day I began to love you." 

"And I, from the first day, should have had 
courage — should have told you how things are. 
Do you know that many times, seeing you come 
to the theatre every evening, I have thought of 
writing you? But it was too difficult. I have 
the courage now, however, to tell you all. My 
life is not my own. You must know that. You 
were at the theatre night before last?" 

" Yes, I was there." 

" A young man played my lover." 

' ' Monsieur Pascal? ' ' 

" I see that you suspect what I am going to tell 
you. Yes, Pascal. He would be my husband if 
very cruel circumstances had not prevented me 
marrying him. I have not always been happy, 
but I am so now, as much as I can ever be, thanks 
to him — you understand — thanks to him. I have 
given myself to him entirely, freely, and forever. 



SM6 ORIQUETTE. 

I never loved anyone before liim; and I think, if 
he should leave me, I could never love anyone 
after him." 

"But even if, without the slightest hope, it 
pleases me to love you; if I find happiness in 
that—" 

**Do not speak like that. In such a case, we 
should both of us find only pain and sorrow. It 
would make me suffer to think that you suffered 
through me, and you would suffer if you love me. 
Go awayl I implore you, go away! You must 
not remain here longer. The day of your first 
visit to Mademoiselle Clementine you said that 
you intended to pass only two weeks at Louvercy, 
then go to Paris for two or three months, and 
then, with one of your friends, depart on a long 
journey." 

" Yes; those were my plans." 

"You must carry them out." 

"Those were my plans, but I saw you, and I 
have staid here on your account." 

"And now you must go away on my account. 
I know what you are; I know all your goodness 
and kindness. Mademoiselle Clementine has 
spoken of you to me so often! Your tastes are 
noble ones. You are not one of those who are of 
no use except to wander about the stage-door of a 
theatre; you can — ^you must — make another use of 
your life than to near every evening a poor little 
provincial actress attempt drama and farce." 

"Go on, say what you like; but take care! Do 
you know what will be the result of your words? 
I am going to love you more than ever." 



CEIQUETTE. 247 

"I do not forbid you to love me, but only a 
little and at a distance. Let us both keep a sweet 
memory of our short acquaintance. Ah, yes; I 
wish that! But go away. If not for your own 
sake, then for mine. You see I am speaking 
very openly. I am very sincere, and I shall be so 
until the end, certain that you will not misinter- 
pret the sense of my words. I have had no 
thought of rendering you love for love. No, 
never! You must have no doubt of that, no hope; 
but you have brought into my life a certain 
uneasiness— a vague trouble. I shall be more 
tranquil when you are no longer here. That is 
why I ask you to go." 

"I will go to-morrow." 

"I thank you." 

She gave him her hand. She had not put on 
her gloves when she left the theatre. He raised 
Criquette's hand to his lips, and placed a long 
kiss upon her fingers. 

"If you take this long journey, and you must 
take it, write to Mademoiselle Clementine, and I 
shall hear of you." 

"And I of you, through her answers. And if 
I am at the end of the world, there will be there, 
at the end of the world, someone who has not for- 
gotten you." 

"Nor shall I forget you. Au revoir! Who 
knows? We shall meet again, perhaps; but not 
before your departure. Promise me that." 

"I promise." 

She had not withdrawn her hand, and he 



948 ORIQUBTTB. 

impressed npon it a second kiss, longer than the 
first. She disengaged herself, made a few steps 
to go, and then, turning, said to liim: 

In his turn, he remained with his back to the 
tower, watching her as she walked away. 

" That charming girl," he said to himself, "is 
a very good woman." 

He was right to think so, but the distribution 
of rOles in this world is not always what it should 
be; there are many errors in the cast of the 
immense tragicomedy played on this terrestrial 
stage by a billion human creatures who love and 
hate. The parts of good women are not always 
taken by good women; and, on the other hand, 
she who was made to walk with a firm, calm 
step in the straight path is condemned very often 
to drag herself, with feet torn and bleeding, 
through the brambles and thorns of winding 
ways. 

Criquette played that evening. Mademoiselle 
Lemuche came to her dressing-room before the 
curtain rose. 

*'He came to see me," she said, "after leaving 
you, and told me all. You did perfectly right." 

"I did my duty, that is all." 

" He goes away to-morrow. I have understood 
why you have not been to see me lately. You 
must come again now." 

"Yes, I will come." 

Monsieur de Serignan was not in the audience, 
but, seated in the orchestra stalls, was a person- 



CEIQUETTE. 249 

age whose presence wrought the actors and 
actresses up to the highest pitch of excitement. 
The rumor spread like a train of powder: ' ' There 
is a manager from Paris in front!" And for 
whom did this manager come? For whom? Anxi- 
ety seized all hearts. Poor people! resigned and 
brave in a hard calling, having many littlenesses, 
jealousies, and absurdities — what profession is ex- 
empt from them? — but preserving still, in spite of 
all, hope and illusion, watching eternally, as for a 
Messiah, for a manager from Paris, who, touched 
by their simulated anguish, or amused by one of 
their grimaces, shall carry them away from their 
obscure provincial theatre and launch them in 
the great city upon the full tide of success. 

This evening the manager came for no one. He 
was passing a day or two at Mans with one of his 
friends, and was to return to Paris the next day 
by the eleven o'clock express. Curiosity had 
brought him to the theatre; he might possibly 
find there some unlooked-for treasure. There is 
much chance in the discovery of stars, on the 
stage as well as in the sky. 

All Criquette's comrades, excited to excess by 
the presence of the Paris manager, tried to show 
forth their good qualities to the best advantage, 
and only succeeded in exaggerating their faults; 
they were detestable, everyone of them, begin- 
ning with Pascal. Criquette played a role full of 
tenderness and emotion; under the influence of 
her meeting with Monsieur de Serignan — content 
with him, content with herself— she had in her 



960 ORIQUETTE. 

heart precisely the sentiments demanded by her 
part. She plaj'ed very naturally, very simply; 
not like an actress animated by a fictitious emo- 
tion, but like a woman moved by a real passion. 

The next day was beautifully bright and sunny, 
and Pascal proposed to Criquette to go and 
breakfast at Yvr6-rEveque, at Tempier's restau- 
rant. There was no rehearsal, and they would 
have the entire day to themselves. Criquette 
accepted eagerly. The poor child's conscience 
troubled her. She reproached herself for that 
slight emotion awakened in her heart by a love 
other than that of Pascal. She determined to 
think no more of anyone but him. If there ex- 
isted a world where tastes were more delicate and 
words gentler, this world was not and never 
would be hers. Her world was the world of Pas- 
cal — her life the life of Pascal. 

At half-past nine they were both passing 
through the court of the hotel, when they were 
stopped by a visitor, who was none other than 
the famous manager from Paris. 

"Mademoiselle," said he, "I have come to see 
you." 

"Me, Monsieur?" 

"I am the manager of a theatre in Paris. I 
saw you play last night. If you like, there is a 
place in my company for you." 

"For me? And for him, also?" she asked, 
designating Pascal, who played a supernumerary 
in this scene, and whose face was flushed with 
embarrassment. 



CRIQUETTE. 251 

"Ah!" rejoined tlie director. "You form a 
partnership, do you?" 

"An indissoluble one," replied Criquette, 
smiling. 

"Of course, last evening I listened to you with 
much pleasure. Monsieur. You have talent, but 
you play the lover's parts; and at present I am 
overstocked with lovers." 

" Well, Monsieur, have the kindness to remem- 
ber our names — Monsieur Pascal, Mademoiselle 
Gilberte — and when you are not overstocked with 
lovers, when you have need of both an ingenue 
and a lover, think of us." 

While she was speaking, the manager scruti- 
nized her with extreme attention. Seen thus near 
to, in the full light of day, she seemed to him 
more charming even than she did the evening 
before. She was really young, which was not the 
case with all stage ingenues. 

"Well," he said, with a shrug of his shoulders, 
"although I have too many lovers already, if you 
do not ask too much money, and I do not have to 
pay too dear for this indissoluble partnership — " 

"Oh, we will be reasonable. Monsieur," inter- 
rupted Pascal, quickly. 

But Criquette stopped him. 

"No, Pascal, we can not go to Paris just at 
present. Our manager, Monsieur Lemuche, is to 
retire next year. We have been members of his 
company for two years, Monsieur, and he has 
been very kind to us; so we have promised him 
not to leave him until his retirement." 



0BIQT7ETTE. 

**That is true," said Pascal; *' but perhaps he 
would release us." 

" I think he would, if we asked him to do so; 
but we must not ask him." 

^' Still, he would understand that our inter- 
ests — " 

"No, Pascal," she said, very firmly; "it would 
not be right." Then, addressing the manager, 
she continued: *' We thank you for your offer, 
but we can not accept it. In a year, when we 
are free, we will write and place ourselves at 
your disposal. Au revoir, Monsieur." 

They therefore remained at Mans. Criquette 
had another year of tranquil happiness, without, 
however, the enchantment of the first two years. 
At times she was seized by a vague uneasiness. 
It seemed to her that Pascal was no longer the 
same. She had very quickly recovered from the 
little shock given her by Monsieur de Serignan, 
and had become herself again; that is to say — the 
sweetest and most affectionate of creatures. Pas- 
cal was everything to her, but she felt that she 
was no longer everything to Pascal. 

She adapted herself wonderfully to her peace- 
able, obscure existence in a little provincial thea- 
tre. Her affection for Pere Cesar and Mademoi- 
selle Lemuche became, day by day, stronger and 
more tender. She would have liked to pro- 
long this halt in her life, to remain in that city 
where everybody was kind and good to her, to 
continue to play to that audience which was 
almost always the same and which always ap- 



CRIQUETTE. 263 

plauded her. The unknown frightened her; it 
attracted Pascal. 

Toward the end of October, 1868, Criquette's 
conversation with the Paris manager had its 
direct counterpart in a conversation of Pascal 
with a manager from Bordeaux. The latter had 
passed an evening at the Mans theatre, and the 
next day he offered Pascal an engagement for the 
coming season at six hundred francs a month. 

Pascal in his turn replied, referring to Cri- 
quette: 

"We two are one." 

"Ah! So much the worse. They don't like 
married people at Bordeaux. You are married, 
I suppose? ' ' 

"No," replied Criquette. 

"Then it is less serious." 

"I beg your pardon," said Criquette; "it is 
quite as serions." 

"No, no, there is always a difference — for the 
public, at least." 

He paid Criquette many compliments; but it 
was not an ingenue he was in search of, but a 
juvenile man. However, he consented to take 
Criquette also; he would give her three hundred 
francs a month. 

"A thousand francs for us both," said Pascal. 

" Nine hundred francs. Not a sou more." 

Criquette wished to accept at once, but Pascal 
asked a delay of three days before deciding. 
He wished to write to that Paris manager who, 
six months before, had appeared disposed to 



964 ORIQUBTTR. 

engage them. He did so, and the reply was by 
no means aatisfiu^ry. The manager offered Cri- 
quette two thousand francs a year, and he advised 
Pascal to come and tempt fortune in Paris. ' ' You 
are," he wrote, "essentially an actor of melo- 
drama, and you could certainly obtain a berth at 
the 6^alt6 or the Porte-Saint Martin." 

That same evening, Pascal and Criquette sent 
their signatures to the Bordeaux manager. 

The last representation given by Pdre Cesar's 
company took place April 30, 1869. The posters 
bore these words: "For the benefit of Monsieur 
Lemuche, who retires after thirty years of the- 
atrical management, eight of which have been 
passed at Mans." The prices were doubled, 
and the receipts reached the enormous sum 
of one thousand six hundred and twenty-two 
francs. 

Pascal and Criquette were to leave for Bordeaux 
the next day at midnight. The evening of their 
departure they dined with Pere Lemuche. When 
they arrived, their host left Pascal alone with his 
sister, and took Criquette into his study. 

" Listen," he said to her; " promise me not to 
refuse what I am going to give you." 

" But I must know first what it is." 

"No, no; you shall know nothing until you 
have promised." 

"Very well, I promise." 

" Well, there was a big lie on my poster yester- 
day. It was not for my henelit that I gave that 
performance, but for yours, my child." 



CRIQUETTE. 265 

"Oh! I will not allow it, Monsieur Lemuche; 
I will not allow it." 

" You have promised." 

''Yes, I have promised; but money — " 

"You have promised, and you will pain me 
very much if you do not accept it." 

" Then I will accept it." 

"Besides, to put you at your ease, I have 
arranged everything in a business-like way. I 
shall not give you the entire receipts; I have 
taken out my expenses. My performance yester- 
day will not bring me in anything, but it will 
not cost me anything. There are twelve hundred 
francs in this little pocket-book." 

"Twelve hundred francs! But what can I do 
with all that? Pascal and I have saved more 
than a thousand francs, and we shall be rich at 
Bordeaux with our nine hundred francs a month. 
Give me the pocket-book without the money. 
That is what I would like." 

"No, you must take all. Criquette, do not 
spoil my last evening with you." 

"Very well, it shall be as you wish." 

"Thank you, my dear; but that is not all. 
Remember this little house. You have come 
here very often in the last three years." 

" Yes; and it is a great sorrow to leave it. You 
have been so good to me. If you only knew how 
grateful I am!" 

"I do know, my child; but the best way of 
showing your gratitude will be never to forget 
this: So long as we are alive, my sister and I, or 



9M ORIQtnSTTB. 

BO long as one of us is alive, this house will be 
yours. There will be always here a poor old 
oouple who love you with all their hearts, and 
who will be always ready to receive you if — which 
God forbid — you find yourself, some day, alone in 
the world and unhappy. You will never, I think, 
be one of those who forget and console themselves 
in twenty-four hours." 

"No, I think not." 

** No. If you meet with unhappy days, you 
must come here immediately, without any false 
shame. We shall certainly be sad to see you sad, 
but happy at the same time to have you with us. 
We understand one another, do we not? " 

"Yes; if I am ever alone in the world, I will 
come back here." 

"Exactly. And now kiss your poor old man- 
ager, and try to be happy, and try not to come 
back." 



OEIQUETTE. 257 



xy. 

The third of May, 1870, a train stopped at 
Mans about ten o'clock in the morning; a young 
woman alighted from a second-class carriage and 
presented her luggage-check to a porter. The 
man looked at her and said: 

" What! have you returned? I see that you do 
not recognize me. Louis — big Louis. My wife 
is the washerwoman opposite The Conqueror. 
You used to give sticks of barley-sugar to our 
little daughter." 

"I remember now. Is your little daughter 
well?" 

" Yes, very well. And you? You don't look 
very well." 

"I am a little tired." 

" And your friend, that tall young man, Mon- 
sieur — what was his name? You were always 
together. Monsieur ' ' 

"Pascal." 

"That's it. Monsieur Pascal. Is Monsieur 
Pascal weU?" 

"Very weU." 

" He has not come back with you?" 

"No. Please send my luggage to Monsieur 
liemuche's." 

"Avenue de Paris. I know. And are you 

17 



9B8 ORIQUETTS. 

going to walk there! Don't you want me to get 
you a carriagel" 

"No, no." 

*' But you are so pale." 

" I have passed the night on the railway. I 
prefer to walk. The fresh air will do me good. 
Good-bye, my friend." 

She left the station and walked slowly through 
the streets to the Avenue de Paris. 

Pdre C^sar and Mademoiselle Clementine had 
just sat down to breakfast, when they saw the 
door open and Criquette appear. 

"Yes," she said to them, "it is I. I am un- 
happy, I am alone, and you see I keep my prom- 
ise. I have come here. Do you want me? " 

"Do we want you?" cried Lemuche. 

He drew her toward him, kissed her tenderly, 
and then it was the turn of Clementine. Her 
reception was so warm and cordial that Cri- 
quette felt a little life enter her heart. 

"You will remain here, dear child," said Cle- 
mentine; "and forever, if you like — forever!" 

"Forever! Oh, no — only time enough for me 
to look around a little; but, in the first place, I 
must not keep you from your breakfast. Sit 
down, again, please. And, besides, I passed such 
a hard day, after such a cruel night, that I could 
eat neither breakfast nor dinner; so that, in spite 
of all, I am hungry now." 

She ate some breakfast, and then, in spite of 
their protests, she insisted on telling her story. 
"Later, my child," they said to her; "rest and 



CRIQUETTE. 259 

think of nothing. We are going to take care of 
you; cure and comfort you." 

"No," she answered; "let me speak. I want 
to have your opinion whether I have done right 
or not." 

" I do not believe you have done wrong." 

" Nor do I; but listen to me. In the first place, 
understand that I do not blame him — that I never 
shall blame him. I have had three years of hap- 
piness, and it is not every life that has had that. 
But at Bordeaux I very quickly perceived that 
something was beginning which was very differ- 
ent from what had gone before. In the first 
place, you two were no longer with me, and I 
commenced to love you away even more than I 
had loved you when near. You two formed a 
larger part of my happiness than I thought before 
I lost you. I had imagined that Pascal was 
everything to me; but there were you also." 

"And you find us still the same." 

" Yes, yes; I see it, I see it. We installed our- 
selves at Bordeaux in a rather uncomfortable 
apartment, and I commenced to pass there alone 
long hours — very long hours. Pascal was always 
out, always busy. Finally, last November, an 
actress came from Paris to replace one of Ours 
who had been taken ill. She was neither very 
young nor very handsome, but she was very styl- 
ish, with quantities of diamonds. She made 
her debut in a new drama, in which Pascal played 
an important part. I was not in the piece; 
but I went every evening to the theatre, and 



900 ORIQUETTK. 

we returned home together after the j)erfonn- 
ance. The evening of the fourth representation, 
I put on my hat as usual after dinner, when Pas- 
cal said to me that I was making myself absurd 
by being always at his heels, and it made him 
look like a child in the care of its nurse. I 
made no reply, but took off my hat and staid 
at home. He returned very late that night — very 
late. About ten o'clock one evening of the fol- 
lowing week, I was alone, as usual, when there 
came a ring at the bell. It was one of the mem- 
bers of the company, a young girl named Fanny, 
who had always been kind and pleasant to me. 
She was very indignant, and had come to tell me 
what was taking place at the theatre. I had sus- 
I)ected it beforehand. She gave me some advice, 
and explained to me how I could win Pascal back 
from this woman — how men like him should be 
treated. *Seem to care for him no more,' she 
said, 'and he will adore you.' She wanted me 
to go to supper with her that very evening, but I 
refused. I wanted to speak to Pascal. He did 
not try to lie, but acknowledged all; he wept and 
threw himself at my feet — made me all the prom- 
ises and vows in the world. This woman would 
never be anything more to him. He was in ear- 
nest, however, 1 am sure, when he spoke to me as 
he did; but three days after he allowed himself 
to be captured by her again. And that was my 
life for six months! You remember Madame 
Lac^lpranede; it was something like that, only I 
had not her courage and resignation. He loved 



ORIQUETTE. 261 

me still, however, for he suffered from the pain 
he inflicted upon me, and came back to me with 
outbursts of repentance and tenderness; but the 
other was the cleverer and stronger. She obtained 
an engagement in Paris for herself, and one for 
him in the same theatre. They left together yes- 
terday morning. He fled without daring to bid 
me good-bye. He made a mistake — I have noth- 
ing to reproach him with. Is it his fault that he 
no longer loves me? I thought of following him 
to Paris, and hesitated between him and you. He 
would have taken pity on me and would not have 
repulsed me. But afterward? The same strug- 
gle would have recommenced, and I had not the 
strength to face it. Moreover, there are people 
who know how to love a little after having loved 
much, but I am not one of them; so I have come 
to you. Jf your successor, Monsieur Lemuche, 
would coi^sent to engage me, that would arrange 
everything. I should have the theatre, work, 
something to do, and at the same time I should 
have you." 

"The Mans theatre amounts to nothing at all 
since I left it. I have other plans and other ideas 
for you, my child." 

"And so have I, Cesar," said Clementine. "We 
will talk about it this evening." 

There was a wide abyss between the plans 
and ideas of the brother and those of the sister. 
This was what Cesar said to Clementine that 
evening: 

"I am going to begin to-morrow and make her 



S09 ORIQUETTS. 

work at one of the great r61e8 of the r^pertou-e, 
probably Syloia in the *'Gteme of Love and 
Chance," with all the traditions of Mademoiselle 
Mars. Then, in six months, I take Criquette to 
Paris ; she will make her debut at the Com^die- 
Francaise; or the Odeon, and the Parisians will 
see that she is a pupil of Cesar Lemuche." 

But this was Clementine's answer to C^sar: 

"Take Criquette to Paris, where she will find 
Pascal again and all her sorrows! No! No more 
theatre for her! No more theatre! We must 
keep her with us; and I am sure that some day 
she will meet some good fellow who will have 
the courage to marry her without worrying too 
much about the past." 

Thereupon the brother and sister discussed the 
question very warmly, the one for the stage and 
the other against it; but they were both agreed 
on this point, that they must keep Criquette and 
try to reconcile her as gently as possible to her 
lot. They would both work for this end with all 
their hearts. The poor child placed herself in 
their hands, and, in her gratitude for so much 
devotion and affection, she did not dare to appear 
sad; it would have made her seem an ingrate. 

One evening, toward the end of May, Pere 
Lemuche, during dinner, to amuse Criquette, 
repeated two or three of his most brilliant theat- 
rical anecdotes, and, to please P^re Lemuche, 
Criquette laughed, without too visible effort, her 
old-time laugh — that laugh which the little house 
in Mans had not heard since her return. 



CRIQUETTE. 263 

When Clementine was alone with her brother, 
she said: 

"She laughed." 

" Yes, she laughed." 

" Oh, we will cure her." ^ 

"And I will make her a great actress." 

"As to that — no. She shall never tread the 
boards again." 

During this colloquy, Criquette was in her room 
reading a letter from Monsieur de Serignan which 
had arrived that day addressed to Mademoiselle 
Lemuche. The passage which particularly at- 
tracted her attention was as follows: 

Say to your little friend, if she is still in 
Mans, and if she is not there, have the goodness 
to write her, that a certain traveler was at sea 
the tenth of March, 1870, on board the QTiow- 
Phya, between Bangkok and Singapore. This 
traveler imagines very often that he can hear 
sound in his ears the cathedral bells of Mans. 
He has only to close his eyes to see again dis- 
tinctly a young woman leaning against the tower 
of an old house. He has not forgotten this young 
woman, and he never will forget her. That she 
may be happy is his dearest wish. 

At these words, "That she may be happy," 
the tears blinded Criquette's eyes. She let them 
flow unchecked, and found some sweetness in 
them instead of the usual bitterness. 

And that evening, with all her soul, she prayed 
for that friend whom she scarcely knew, and who 
had thought of her the tenth of March, between 
Bangkok and Singapore. 



964 ORIQUETTB. 



*► XVI. 

This friend, Angnst 14, 1870, stopped before a 
little arch of triumph, erected in a meadow, in 
honor of a widow who had remained faithful to 
the memory of her husband. This was in the 
middle of (jhina, at the gates of Kouy-fou, on 
the banks of the Blue River. Monsieur de Serig- 
nan and his traveling companion. Marcel de 
Breme, deciphered laboriously the inscription 
engraved upon the arch of triumph: 

^^Tcliong tcTienpou se eul Kiun, tchen foupou 
se evZfouy 

Then, with the aid of a father of the Hou-Pe 
mission who consented to serve as interpreter, 
they translated no less laboriously the Chinese 
inscription: 

"Jl good svJbject does not serve two sovereigns; 
a virtiwiLs woman does not take two husbands.'''' 

The two young men were meditating upon 
this irreproachable maxim, when they perceived 
Lieou, one of their servants, running toward 
them and waving triumphantly in the air a little 
bundle of tarred cloth. It was a package of let- 
ters and newspapers which had been forwarded 
to them by the French consul at Shanghai. They 
had left this city early in July, and since that 
time they had always been far from the coast, 
journeying sometimes in a junk upon the rivers, 



OEIQUETTE. 266 

sometimes in a palanquin upon the roads. Their 
plan was to penetrate into the interior as far as 
Tchong-Kin-fou. 

Letters from France! The bundle was soon 
ripped open. Serignan seized a letter from his 
sister, and Marcel one from his mother. They de- 
voured them at first with a glance, then read them 
slowly, sentence by sentence, word by word. All 
their people were well in the beginning of June, 
for the letters were more than two months old. 

Then, reassured and breathing more easily, 
they sat down in the shade of a clump of bam- 
boos and proceeded to demolish their voluminous 
correspondence. There were a dozen letters for 
each of them. The missionary took possession of a 
bundle of French newspapers, the most recent of 
which bore the date of June 9th. Twenty feet 
awa}^, a laborer in a tucked-up blue robe, with his 
cue wound about his head, regarded the three 
Frenchmen who had found again their family, 
their friends, and their country. 

Etienne and Marcel first opened the letters 
directed in known and loved handwriting, and 
that is why the last letter opened by Monsieur de 
Serignan was one whose envelope bore no stamp, 
and whose address was in an unknown hand; but 
when he had cast his eyes over it, he leaped to 
his feet, crying: 

" Marcel! And you, too, Father! " 

The priest was standing a short distance away, 
but at the exclamation he came forward. 

" What is it? " asked Marcel. 



906 OBIQUETTE. 

** War! " answered S6rignan. "War declared. 
War begun between Prance and Prussia. They 
are fighting, perhaps at this moment, upon the 
Rhine." 

They were indeed fighting that day, but it was 
not upon the Rhine; it was under the walls of 
Metz. 

The two young men had only to glance at one 
another to come to an understjinding and agree 
on what they must do. An hour after, they de- 
parted for Shanghai. They arrived there the 
second of September, waited five days for the 
departure of the Messageries boat, and disem- 
barked at Marseilles the twentieth of October, 
after a voyage of terrible anxiety; for all the way — 
at Saigon, Colombo, Aden, Port- Said, everywhere 
awaited them frightful news, which planted de- 
spair in their French hearts. Finally, at Mar- 
seilles, they learned that the war was not ended. 
They would at least have the consolation of fight- 
ing. 

Jean de Breme, Marcel' s brother, had once served 
in Rome as an officer of the pontifical guards. A 
corps was reorganizing at Mans under the name 
of the Western Volunteers; Jean de Breme com- 
manded the second company of the first battalion, 
and it was under his orders that the two young 
men were to serve. 

They reached Tours by way of Bordeaux. 
Etienne left Marcel to go on, hastened to greet 
his sister, who inhabited a chateau not far from 
Tours, and departed the next day for Mans. 



CRIQTTETTE. .267 

Forty-eight hours later he was equipped, and 
under the blue vest of the zouaves, was drilling 
upon the Place des Jacobins, in front of the thea- 
tre. He was a little new to the trade, and so in 
the beginning he worked alone under the direc- 
tion of one of his friends, who was a corporal in 
his company. While executing as well as he 
could the various manoeuvres, he looked at the 
theatre, and thought of Cesar Lemuche and Cle- 
mentine Lemuche, and especially of a charming 
girl who had acted in that building. He did not 
know what had become of her, for he had no 
time to go and see his old governess. If he had 
left Shanghai twenty-four hours later, he would 
have received the letter in which Mademoiselle 
Lemuche told him that their little Criquette had 
come back to them. 

At six o'clock he was free, and rung the bell 
of the little house in the Avenue de Paris. Pere 
Lemuche' s maid was out, and Criquette was work- 
ing alone in the salon. She came to open the 
door without a light. The night was dark, and 
she could only faintly distinguish the outlines of 
a soldier. 

"What do you want, my friend?" she asked. 

But he recognized the voice of the young girl. 

"You here, Mademoiselle? " 

She also recognized him now, and held out both 
her hands. 

"Ah! how glad Mademoiselle Clementine will 
be! She is in her room; I will call her." 

But he would not release her hands. 



908 OBIQUXTTS. 

" In a minute," he said; '* in a minute. I am 
so happy to find you again." 

He led her into the sdUni, and gazed upon her 
bonny face. 

"Do you find me changed!" 

"Yes." 

"I have had much sorrow. He has left me. 
He no longer loved me." 

*' He no longer loved youl " 

"No." 

" But then another has the right to love you — 
the right to tell you so." 

" No! nol No one has that right. I consented 
not to seek Mademoiselle Clementine at once, be- 
cause I thought that an explanation between us 
two was necessary." 

"An explanation! Why? I commenced to love 
you two years ago. Let me continue." 

"That is precisely what I do not wish, and you 
will understand why, presently. Sad and for- 
saken, I came here. I have suffered much. I am 
a little less unhappy to-day; and then, besides, 
one sees so many heart-rending things now that 
one has scarcely the time to suffer for one's own 
troubles. By what an excellent good woman I 
was receivedin my distress, you know better than 
anyone. She treats me like her own child. Only 
this morning she said to me: * You are my daugh- 
ter.' Now, you must understand what duties 
such a situation imposes on us both." 

' ' Yes, I understand, ' ' 

" I was sure you would. I will call Mademoi- 
selle Clementine." 



CRIQUETTE. 260 

Etienne de Serignan did not leave Mans until 
the tenth of November, to go with the first two 
battalions of volunteers to encounter the Prus- 
sians. Till then he passed an hour or two almost 
every evening in Pere Lemuche's little house; but 
he kept his promise, and Criquette was troubled 
by no word or look. 

He came as usual the evening before his de- 
parture; he was to start the next morning at five 
o'clock, and he bade all three farewell. He kissed 
Mademoiselle Lemuche, and then he extended his 
hand to Criquette. 

"Kiss her, too," said Clementine, brusquely, 
with her eyes full of tears. 

He kissed her. 

Three weeks after, the second of December, in 
the heroic charge of Loigny, fell, never to rise 
again, one of those two young men who, three 
months before, had amused themselves in deci- 
phering the inscription on the arch of triumph 
of the widow of Kouy-fou. This was Marcel de 
Breme. Etienne was unhurt; he dug himself, 
after dark, at Patay, under the snow in the mid- 
dle of a field, the grave of the friend of his child- 
hood, the companion of his youth. 

The first battalion of zouaves was reduced to 
five hundred men, ragged and torn, absolutely in 
no condition to fight. They were sent to Poitiers, 
from there to Tours, and finally, on the twenty- 
third of December, a train transported them to 
Mans. It was in this city that was collected from 
all sides, under the command of General Chanzy, 



270 ORIQUKTTE. 

that crowd of a hundred and fifty thousand 
men which was destined to be the last army of 
Prance. 

On this day, they sent from Tours to Mans 
more than twenty military trains, which advanced 
very slowly, being constantly checked by the 
obstructions on the road. Cooped up since seven 
o'clock in the morning in freight-cars, the zouaves 
did not arrive at Mans until nightfall, worn out 
with fatigue, icy with cold, dying with hunger. 

Under the direction of two sisters of charity, a 
hospital had been established in the largest of the 
railroad waiting-rooms. The sick and wounded, 
as they left the train, could thus receive immedi- 
ate care. Many ladies of the city came to offer 
their assistance, and among them, the most active, 
gentle, and brave was Criquette. She passed all 
her days there, and sometimes her nights. Made- 
moiselle Lemuche was often obliged to come and 
take her away by force in order that she might 
obtain some rest. 

One of the sisters had taken a great fancy to 
Criquette. 

" You were made to be a nun," she said to her 
one day. 

" I thought of taking the veil once, sister, but 
circumstances prevented me. I have regretted it 
very often." 

As the train bringing the zouaves entered the 
station, Criquette was wrapping his cloak about a 
dragoon who had spent some hours in the hos- 
pital; wounded in the right arm, he could not 



CEIQUETTE. 271 

assist himself. Wlien his cloak was adjusted, he 
said to Criquette: 

"I had a woolen scarf also." 

It was an old muffler all in rags. Criquette 
shook it out and tied it about his neck. 

"Thank you, Mademoiselle, thank you," said 
the dragoon. " You have been very kind tome. 
I must go to the mayor's office now. Where is 
the mayor's office?" 

She conducted him to the door of the station 
and pointed out the way. 

He shook her hand. 

"Thank you, Mademoiselle, thank you." 

No one ever said Madame. Everybody called 
her Mademoiselle. With her thin, pale face, 
which made her eyes look larger and brighter 
still, she had, in spite of her twenty-one years, 
the appearance of a young girl — almost of a child. 

She was about to return to the hospital, when 
these words fell upon her ear: 

"Here is the train with the pontifical zou- 
aves." 

The zouaves! and among them, doubtless. Mon- 
sieur de Serignan. She had received from him 
two letters of ten or twelve lines each, the first 
dated from Meung, twenty-four hours after the 
battle of Patay, and the second from Tours; but 
she had received another letter, from Paris — one 
of those poor little letters, wet with fog, which 
were thrown from balloons. Pascal had written 
to her. 

Criquette went out upon the platform, and im- 



273 0BIQT7ETTE. 

mediately recognized the blue mantles of the 
zouaves. Stiff with the cold, and embarrassed 
with their guns and knapsacks, they alighted 
painfully, one by one. 

She perceived Monsieur de S6rignan standing 
in the doorway of one of the cars. He also saw 
her, and it was upon her he leaned as he de- 
scended, for he was obliged to lean upon some- 
one. 

** You tremble," she said to him. 

"A little fever — it is nothing; but how do you 
happen to be here? " 

"To receive you, and to take care of you if 
you are ill. Come! I will explain." 

There was a stove with benches about it in a 
corner of the hospital. Criquette led him there, 
made him sit down, and returned in a few min- 
utes with a large bowl of bouillon; and he, with- 
out a word, commenced to drink slowly, while she 
stood near watching him. 

*' Say nothingl Drink! Rest and warm your- 
self!" 

It was only a chill, which soon passed away, 
and Criquette' s presence certainly contributed to 
the prompt cure. Other soldiers came and stood 
silently about the stove. 

" I am better," he said; " I am well." 

" What do you intend to do? Where are you 
going?" 

"Our battalion is to be quartered in the city, 
at Sainte-Croix, but I have obtained leave of 
absence for twenty-four hours. I shall pass the 



CEIQUETTE. 273 

day at home — at Louvercy. I wrote yesterday 
from Tours to my steward, to tell him to come 
and meet me with a carriage. I wonder if he 
received my letter? " 

*' I will see if he is here." 

"Presently. Wait — give me a few minutes. I 
am so happy to see you again." 

''And I am also very happy to see you." 

Yes, very happy — too happy even. She drew 
away her hand, which Monsieur de Serignan held 
clasped in his. She felt that she must resist the 
emotion which was taking possession of her. She 
felt that she had something to say, and she said 
it bravely. 

" During your absence I have received a letter 
from him." 

"Where is he?" 

"In Paris." 

"And what did he write you? " 

" That he loves me still, that he has never loved 
anyone but me, that he can not live without me. 
He implores me to forgive him. When he can 
come, he will." 

"And what do you intend to do? " 

" If he is alone and unhappy, how can I repulse 
him — him, who never repulsed me when I was 
alone and unhappy? How could I help forgiving 
him?" 

The arrival of the steward put an abrupt end 
to their interview; for a quarter of an hour he 
had been searching for his master, without being 
able to find him in the crowd at the station. 

18 



274 ORIQITETTE. 

Criquette was left alone, and immediately re- 
sumed her work in the hospital, but without 
being able to shake off the feeling of oppression 
that had seized uikhi her. She asked herself if 
there was still a little happiness in store for her, 
and who would give her that happiness — the 
one who was below there in Paris and who was 
once everything to her, or the one whom she had 
just seen, and who occupied to-day so large a place 
in her thoughts) 

Her very doubt was the clearest and most piti- 
less of answers. From the moment that she delib- 
erated, it was no longer Pascal that she loved; 
after loving so much, to love less is to love not 
at all. From her father and mother, who were 
simple, honest people, she had received a heart 
prone to duty and honor. She had said one day to 
Pascal: "Take me, keep me, I am your wife." It 
was for life that she had given herself, and she had 
no right to retract the gift. Whatl She would an- 
swer Pascal: " I no longer love you, I love another; 
and that other is rich, while you are poor." 
Never should such words pass her lips. Never I 
Neverl It seemed that she could belong neither 
to the man she had loved nor to the one she loved 
now. She had given herself hardily, with a clear 
conscience, to her first love; but before a second 
love, her loyalty and purity revolted. She fore- 
saw with horror the third after the second. That 
had been Rosita's life; sometimes forsaken, some- 
times forsaking. She was not made for such an 
existence. 



CRIQUETTE. 275 

She looked about her with an immense pity for 
all the misery and suffering she saw. At Beauvais, 
she had passed through an attack of religious 
fervor, and, in the distress of her soul, had wished 
to remain in the convent and give herself to God. 
It was the same impulse now, but nobler and 
loftier. She was inspired with a longing for self- 
sacrifice and charity. She wished to give herself 
to the poor and the sick. What tempted her 
now was no more the premature death of the 
cloister, but a life of sacrifice and immolation. 
She would have no more struggles with herself, 
no more heart-burns. She would no longer have 
to support the burden of her own existence; her 
sufferings would disappear and be swallowed up 
in the sufferings of others. 

During the two weeks that followed, she saw 
Monsieur de Serignan several times, in the even- 
ing, at Mademoiselle Clementine's. She scarcely 
dared to speak to him or look at him. Fortu- 
nately, she was spared the pain of bidding him 
another farewell. During the night of the eighth 
of January, the first battalion of zouaves re- 
ceived orders to march early in the morning and 
take up a position at Yvre-FEveque; they were 
placed under the orders of General Gougeard. 

At eight o'clock the battalion started, with 
drums beating and flags flying, and four hundred 
soldiers, belonging almost all to the greatest and 
richest families of France, encamped upon the 
banks of the Huisne, close to a camp of Breton 
volunteers. Those who had left their chateaux. 



276 ORIQUETTK. 

and those who had left their huts, were to die 
side by side upon the hill -sides of Auvours. To 
all is due the same remembrance — to all the same 
gratitude. 

On the tenth of January, General Gougeard, 
with the zouaves at the head of the column, made 
a sortie in the direction of Ardenay. For two 
hours there was a constant fusillade in the woods, 
and even in the fields and roads. The Prussians 
were driven back. In the evening the French 
troops reformed, and in good order returned to 
Yvre. The battalion of zouaves and the battalion 
of Breton volunteers had both cruelly suffered. 
This time again, as at Loigny, Monsieur de Serig- 
nan escaped without a scratch. 

The next morning they were all under arms 
again. Everyone felt that the decisive hour was 
approaching. The battle was at first to the ad- 
vantage of the French, but at two o'clock the 
Prussian columns mounted the hiUs of Auvours 
and succeeded in driving away the division 
charged with defending them. 

The zouaves were waiting in the village, with 
their ranks formed, when they saw the French 
troops descend in disorder upon Yvre and pour 
over the little bridge. Protected by trees, 
shrubs, and bushes, the Prussian infantry held 
the hills, which must be retaken or the battle was 
lost. 

Then, uniting a battalion of infantry, two bat- 
talions of volunteers, and tlie pontifical zouaves. 
General Gougeard himself took command of the 



ORIQUETTE. 277 

attack, and addressing the zouaves, who led the 
column, he cried: 

"Now, forward, gentlemen! Forward, for God 
and the fatherland!" 

Then, with the general at the head, they charged 
forward, under the fire of the Prussians, without 
stopping to answer them. On the way, the zou- 
aves met a battalion of the Tenth Chasseurs, stand- 
ing there steady at their post in the midst of the 
general rout. "Long live the chasseurs!" cried 
the zouaves. ' ' Long live the zouaves! ' ' responded 
the chasseurs. They dashed forward together, 
and were soon masters of the place. All the 
positions were retaken; but two-thirds of the bat- 
talion of zouaves lay stretched upon the snow. 

Etienne de Serignan succeeded in traversing 
only half of this space strewn with the dead and 
wounded. He was stopped on the way by a Prus- 
sian bullet. He felt a sensation as of a violent 
blow upon his right arm. The pain was not very 
great. "Some spent ball," he thought; "it is 
nothing." He continued to advance, but sud- 
denly his arm fell to his side. He tried to raise 
it, but could not; his hand was covered with 
blood. He felt faint and weak, and, stopping, 
leaned against a tree. Twenty steps distant was 
an abandoned house, and near the house a shed, 
beneath which was a little straw. He made a 
great effort to drag himself there — fell, finally 
reached it, and fainted. The bullet had opened a 
vein, which caused a violent hemorrhage, checked 
suddenly by his unconsciousness. It was already 



978 OKIQITSITX. 

growing dark. S^rignan could hear faintly the 
trumpets sounding the charge upon the hills of 
Auvours. Then he heard nothing more, and 
remained there, forgotten, abandoned, in the 
darkness, under that ice-covered shed. 



CEIQUETTE. 279 



XVII. 

It was there that Serignan was found an hour 
later, by a man with a lantern, who was search- 
ing the ground for the wounded. He called his 
companion. 

"Here is one!" 

"Where?" 

"Under the shed. Ah! he is not wounded; he 
is dead. He does not move." 

"No, he is not dead. His fingers just moved 
a little. Let us raise him." 

Serignan murmured: 

"Drink! Drink!" 

They placed him upon the litter, and carried 
him to the hospital which had been established 
at Yvre, in the school-room of the convent. Just 
as they arrived there, two zouaves, who had been 
wounded, one in the shoulder and the other in 
the hand, were leaving the hospital, where their 
wounds had been dressed, and were just about to 
enter a carriage which was waiting to take them 
to Mans. They recognized Serignan, took his 
hand and spoke to him. Not a word, not a 
movement. They thought him dead, and left 
him. 

When they alighted from the carriage at Mans, 
they were surrounded by a crowd of anxious rel- 
atives and friends eager for news. Criquette* 



280 ORIQUETTE. 

was there, and she managed with difficulty to ap' 
proach one of the zouaves. 

"Monsieur de S^rignan?" she asked. 

*'S6rignanr' 

He was about to add, ** He is dead," but Cri- 
quette's eyes were flxed upon liim with such sor- 
rowful eagerness that the cruel answer refused 
to pass his lips. 

'* He has been wounded," he said. 

'* Seriously?" 

"I fear so." 

"Have you seen him?" 

"Yes; I saw them carrying him to the hos- 
pital." 

"What hospital?" 

" With the sisters, at Yvre." 

Seriously wounded, with the sisters at Yvr6. 
Criquette remained lost in thought for some little 
time, and then she rapidly made her way in the 
direction of the Avenue de Paris. It was seven 
o'clock in the evening. Clementine knew that 
Criquette had gone to Sainte-Croix, and when 
she saw her, she exclaimed: 

" Have you heard anything?" 

"No; but I want your permission to go away 
at once. There are many wounded men at the 
station, and I have promised the sisters to pass 
the night with them." 

"But you have not dined." 

" I am not hungry. Please do not detain me." 

"You will kill yourself with overwork." 

" Not 1 1 I was never better. ' ' 



CEIQUETTE. 281 

She went up to her room and wrapped herself up 
as warmly as possible, for the cold was terrible. 
In a few minutes she started out, enveloped in a 
big cloak, and with a heavy scarf of black worsted 
wrapped round her head. She was going to Yvre; 
but she was stopped at the gates of the city, 
where there were indescribable tumult and con- 
fusion. Isolated soldiers, wagons filled with the 
wounded, others full of furniture, women with 
children in their arms, peasants driving cattle 
before them; in short, war and invasion. 

A score of the National Guards were stationed 
at the gates, and they questioned those who 
wished to enter, and exacted passports from those 
who wished to depart. When Criquette pre- 
sented herself, one of the men said to her: 

" Your passport! " 

"I have none." 

" Go to the mayor and get one." 

"Oh! do not send me back! I am going to 
Yvre. My — ^my brother has been wounded. He 
is at the hospital with the sisters." 

"And you are going there all alone?" 

" Oh, I know the road well, and I am not afraid. 
Please let me pass." 

He stood aside, and she passed through the 
gate. Yes, she knew the road-=-that road to 
Yvre! How many times, for three years, had she 
walked gaily over it, arm in ^rm with Pascal, in 
the shade of those poplars which now rose before 
her like great phantoms in the night! She 
walked on alone in the direction of Yvr§, and 



ORIQnKTTR. 

suddenly ran into a crowd of disbanded soldiers. 
Among the number were many who, wounded 
and dnigging themselves i)ainfully along, stopped 
now and then and leaned :igainst the trees to 
regain their strength and recover tlieir breath. 
There were also some who, worn out, incapable 
of a longer effort, burned up with fever, tortured 
with their wounds, fell in the middle of the road, 
no matter where, upon the hardened snow, and 
remained there motionless, unconscious, inert, 
half-dead. They would have let themselves be 
crushed by the wagons and trampled upon by 
the horses, if their comrades had not raised them 
and carried them to the fields, where they left 
them to the mercy of God. 

Everyone was thinking of himself, and no one 
paid any attention to Criquette. She ran almost 
all the way of the two miles which separated 
Mans from the outskirts of Yvre. She knew 
that the convent was on the left of the principal 
street, near the church. She remembered that 
she had stopped there one day with Pascal, to see 
the children come out of school. They had even 
talked to a pretty little girl with blue eyes and 
floating golden hair. At each step all along the 
road she had been assailed by memories of other 
days — days of happiness and love. 

Here at last was the convent. All the windows 
were lighted. A ^numerous group of soldiers 
were standing before the door, and among them 
some zouaves. Then an agonizing thought seized 
her — if he were dead! She had not thought of 



OEIQUETTE. , 283 

that before; he might have died in the last two 
hours. 

She addressed one of the zouaves: 

"I am seeking a wounded man," she said to 
him; "one of your men, Monsieur de Serignan." 

" Serignan? He is there in a little room to the 
right as you go in." 

"How is he?" 

' ' Better — much better. ' ' 

The ■ two big school-rooms were crowded full 
when Monsieur de Serignan was brought to the 
hospital; so they had placed him upon some 
straw in a little room on the ground floor. He 
very soon recovered his consciousness. A sur- 
geon cut away one of his sleeves and dressed the 
wound, which was not serious. A bullet had 
passed through his fore-arm, but without break- 
ing it and without rupturing an artery; but a 
large vein had been opened. As soon as the sur- 
geon had finished his work they left the wounded 
man upon the straw, all dressed, with his blue 
cloak thrown over him. The room was lighted 
by a smoking candle planted in a bottle. Serig- 
nan lay there, his eyes closed, in a sort of mental 
and physical torpor. 

As Criquette entered, his left hand was moving 
about with vague, uncertain gestures. He was 
evidently seeking something. 

Criquette bent over him. 

"What do you want? " she asked. 

"My flask," he said in a weak voice. "My 
flask; there was a little brandy in it." 



964 OBiQuxxn. 

*' Where was itr* 

" Where was it? In one of the i)ockets of my 
cloak, I think." 

Criquette found the flask, unscrewed the top, 
and placed it to his lips. 

*' Thanks, sister, thanks." 

One of the sisters, a quarter of an hour before, 
had given him a drink. 

Refreshed by the brandy, S^rignan opened his 
eyes, raised his head a little, looked about him, 
and saw two great black eyes smiling sweetly at 
him. 

"You! Is it you?" 

"Yes, it is I. You know well that I always 
come to you when you are suffering." 

" We are at Mans, then; in the hospital at the 
station." 

"No; you are at Yvr6. But don't fatigue 
yourself; don't try to undei-stand anything. You 
have been wounded very slightly. Rest, and try 
to sleep a little." 

"Then sit down there near me." 

He took her hand, and she sunk down beside 
him upon the straw which covered all the floor of 
the room. 

" I will say nothing; but speak to me, speak to 
mel Let me hear your voice. How do you hap- 
]f>en to be here?" 

She told him how she had gone to Sainte-Croix 
to try to obtain news of him, and how she had 
learned from one of his comrades that he was in 
the hospital at Yvre. 



CRIQUETTE. 286 

"And you came to me all alone in the night! 
Ah! my dear child! my dear child! " 

He held Criquette' s hand close to his lips, and 
upon this hand, mingling with his kisses, fell 
slowly the hot tears from his eyes. They both 
remained thus a long time, a very long time, in a 
silence more eloquent and more impassioned than 
all the words in the world. 

About midnight, as his arm was paining him, 
Criquette went for some warm water and band- 
ages, and herself bathed his wound with much 
skill and delicacy. 

"You see," she said, smiling, " I am not a very 
bad nurse. I have missed my vpcation. I should 
have been a sister of charity. I am more fitted 
for that than for the theatre. I told you so the 
other day, but you would not believe me. Do 
you believe me now? " 

The day dawned; but a gray, sombre day, with 
skies still full of snow. The battle was begun 
again before Yvre; the Prussians were trying to 
force the passage of the river. 

" They are fighting quite near here," said Se- 
rignan to Criquette; * ' perhaps it would be better if 
you were to return to Mans. I wish you to go." 

" I shall not leave you," she answered. 

The fusillade, which was at first very lively, 
gradually grew less and less, and had completely 
died away when the surgeon came, about nine 
o'clock, to the room where Serignan lay. 

" Well," said he, "are you better? " 

" Yes, much better. But what has happened?" 



986 CRIQUKTTB. 

"The Prussians tried to cross the river; they 
have been repulsed and driven beyond the rail- 
'X)ad." 

" Then all is going well for us?" 

*'0n that side, yes; but elsewhere, no. We are 
invaded on the right toward Pontlieue; orders 
have been received to retreat to Alenjon." 

" And the wounded? " 

"The wounded? Those who can rise and walk 
must try to reach Mans. The rest will remain 
here. I have not a carriage at my disposal. 
There is not a wagon left in the village." 

"Then I must walk." 

"Do not try it. You can not." 

S^rignan made an effort to rise, but fell back at 
once, almost fainting. 

"Oh, you can walk, can you?" said the sur- 
geon, ironically. 

"But could he be taken in a carriage?" asked 
Criquette. "Would there be no danger? ' ' 

" Danger? No, if he was well wrapped up. It is 
frightfully cold. But I tell you again that there 
is no carriage." 

" Perhaps I can find one." 

A few minutes afterward, despite the prayers 
and supplications of Serignan, Criquette started 
out again, on foot and alone. 

There were two large farms belonging to the 
domain of Louvercy, and one of them, Fonte 
nilles, was between the chateau and Yvre- 
I'Eveque, about a mile and a half from tlie 
village. Criquette had been many times to Fonte- 



CEIQUETTE. 287 

nilles with Mademoiselle Clementine, who con- 
sidered herself a little at home upon Monsieur de 
Serignan's property, and who was always glad to 
do the honors there. Besides, the tenants of Fonte- 
nilles, Pere and Mere Brunet, were old friends of 
Mademoiselle Lemuche. 

Criquette knew well the short cuts which in 
half an hour would take her to the farm. There 
she would find a carriage. She did not wish him 
to fall into the hands of the Prussians; she wished 
to take him home to Louvercy, and then only 
would her task be accomplished. 

She had not gone far, however, before she was 
seized with a terrible weariness. It was too much 
fatigue for the frail, delicate girl. The road was 
rough and slippery. Criquette came to a steep 
ascent, and she was obliged to rest for some min- 
utes to recover her breath. She felt at one and 
the same time burning hot and icy cold. A slight 
pain now and then seized her side and seemed to 
stop her respiration. In spite of all, however, her 
courage and energy did not fail. 

She reached the farm at last. The gate was 
solidly padlocked. She saw, through the fog, the 
vast buildings which surrounded the court; all 
the doors and windows were closed. Not a sign 
of life anywhere. Criquette called out. No 
answer. She called again as loudly as she could, 
but every time that she cried, "Monsieur Brunet! 
Monsieur Brunet!" it seemed to tear her lungs. 
And still no answer. 

What would become of her, if the farm was 



\ 



988 OEIQUXTTE. 

abandoned? Her limbs were sore and bruised. 
She oould never return on foot to Yvr6. Slie 
made a new eflfort to make herself heard: ** Mon- 
sieur Brunet! Monsieur Brunet! " and stood there, 
olinging with one hand to the gate, in order not to 
fall, and with the other waving her handkerchief. 

And then a slight noise broke the death-like 
silence. It was the sound of an opening window. 
Brunet had not quitted Fontenilles, but alone 
with his wife and his dairy-maid — his two sons 
were in the army — he had barricaded himself in. 
He looked out of the window, and seeing the 
girl who had called to him, he came out. 

All the carriages and horses had been confis- 
cated; he had nothing left but a rickety wagon 
and an old spavined horse; but the drive from 
Fontenilles to Yvre and from Yvr6 to Louvercy is 
not long; the wagon-wheels could turn round and 
the horse walk for two hours. 

Madame Brunet lighted a great fire, and Cri- 
quette, regaining her confidence, recovered also a 
little warmth and strength. She took, however, 
only a few minutes' rest; there was not an instant 
to lose. She made them put in the wagon a 
mattress and some blankets. With his great-coat 
buttoned about him and a fur cap pulled down 
over his ears, Brunet took his place on the front 
seat. Criquette crept into the wagon under the 
tattered old awning, and, nestling down among 
the blankets, she did not suffer much from the 
cold on the way to Yvre. 

But an hour after it was Monsieur de S6rig- 



CRIQUETTE. 289 

nan who took his place in the body of the wagon. 
He lost consciousness as he was being carried 
from the convent. Criquette piled upon him 
all the blankets, but his fainting-fit contin- 
ued. The surgeon had warned her, above all, to 
guard him from the cold. Then she took off her 
cloak and Brunet his overcoat, and both garments 
were added to the mountain of coverings which 
already enveloped Serignan. 

Seated in the wagon, open to all the winds, Cri- 
quette felt penetrated by the icy cold; chill after 
chill shook her, followed by sudden waves of heat 
which seemed to burn her chest. 

Serignan recovered his senses very slowly. He 
smiled at Criquette, slipped one of his arms out- 
side the coverings, sought and found one of the 
hands of the poor girl, who at that moment was 
shaken by a chill; her hand trembled and her 
teeth chattered. Then Serignan perceived that 
she had despoiled herself of her cloak to cover 
him; he forced her to take it back and to put on 
as well the farmer's great-coat. 

"I was a little cold," said Criquette; "but I 
shall be warm presently. We are almost there. 
Look! There is the chateau. I have brought 
you home — yes, home! And I am so happy! so 
happy! " 

She could scarcely speak. Her breathing was 
painful; she suffered cruelly, and yet she spoke 
only the truth. She was happy, and it was 
indeed a smile of happiness that played feebly 
about her trembling lips. 

19 



^90 cKigri-nTE. 

Tb« wagou stopped in the couit-yara of the 
chateau, and the steward and servants ran out to 
meet it. Criquette, despite the pain she was suf- 
fering, liad still the coui-age to look after Serig- 
nan, who, frightened at the change in her face, 
tried to induce her to take some i-est. 

" Do not worry on my account," she answered. 
*'They have sent to Mans for a doctor, and for 
Mademoiselle Clementine. As soon as she is here, 
I promise that 1 will rest. I am not ill, really." 

When Mademoiselle Lemuche arrived, Cri- 
quette met her and said: 

"He is better — much better. Do not be un- 
easy." 

"But you, my poor childf' 

"I; You arrive in time to take my place at 
his side. I can not hold out any longer." 

The doctor, after he had seen both Serignan 
and Criquette, said to Mademoiselle Lenuiche: 

" He is all right; he will be on his feet in a few 
days; but with her it is a different thing. She 
has inflammation of the lungs." 

In the chamber at the chateau, which had been 
hers for thirty years, Mademoiselle Lemuche 
watched for eight days at Criquette' s bedside. 

It was the twentieth of January. Since morn- 
ing Ciiquette's thoughts had been clouded, and 
among the confused words which issued i)ainfully 
from her lips could scarcely be distinguished these 
fragments of sentences: 

''The Princefis fo/yftri— Wounded— With the 
sisters — At Yvre — 1 am cold — 1 am cold — A part 



CRIQUETTE. 291 

— There inust be u part for Pascal — I had a friend 
at Beauvais — A big black dog— Pierrot — Send for 
him — I would like to see him — Pascal's porte- 
monnaie — I have money — I have money — I am 
cold — But he is not cold — Keep me — I am your 
wife — " 

Many times during the day she looked at 
Cesar Lemuche. 

"Monsieur Lemuche," she said, "is it really 
you, Monsieur Lemuche? " 

" Yes, my child, it is I." 

" I want to work — My part, you know — Syltda 
— There is a speech — What is it? — Yes, Dor ante — 
Yes, Dor ante, you love me — Ah! I can not re- 
member — I can not remember — " 

Monsieur de Serignan had himself carried to 
Criquette's room, and it was to him that she 
addressed her last intelligible words: "To love 
you both — I could not. It is better so — yes, 
better so." 

Criquette did not resist death, and death was 
kind to her and took her gently. 



One morning in the month of May, 1873, a 
horseman rode slowly along the road which leads 
to Yvre-FEveque, across the hills of Auvours. 
On his way he looked at a ruined house with a 
shed near it, and remembered under what circum- 
stances he had fallen one evening, unconscious, 
beneath that shed; and then in his recollections 
there was a hiatus of several hours. 

He continued on his way, crossed the old bridge 



9d9 ciuQi'KTn':. 

over the HaUne, followed the chief street of the 
village, and came in iiight of another house, a 
oonvtot. Then the memories of other days 
awoke again. He saw again leaning ov^r him, 
with her lai'ge dark eyes smiling down upon 
him, the noble, coui-ageous girl who had come 
to his aid almost under the bullets of the Prus- 
sians. 

He again continued his way, and after a few 
minutes stopped his horse. Over the little wall 
of the cemetery could be seen a grave, on which 
bis eyes rested. There slept, in the eternal sleep, 
the one who had died for him. 

At the same moment — it waa eleven o'clock in 
the morning — they were placarding at Marseilles, 
upon the wall of the Theatre- Fran9ais, an an- 
nouncement which ran as follows : 

THIB KVKNINO. 

THE TOWER OP NESLE. 
Monsieur Pascal will play the rdle nf Buridak. 

And at the same moment, also, at Beauvais, 
Mademoiselle Aui-elie was preparing to go out, 
and was carefully tying, before a glass, the strings 
of her bonnet. She was to be present, at half- 
past eleven, at a meeting of the lady patronesses 
of the Society for the Protection of Friendless 
Young Girls. 

THE END. 



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