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With Eugenie Grandet^ as with one or two, but only 
one or two others of Balzac's works, we come to a case 
of ^uis vituperavii F Here, and perhaps here only, with 
Le Aledecin de Campagne and Le Pere Goriot^ though 
there may be carpers and depreciators, there are no 
open deniers of the merit of the work. uThe pathos 
of Eugenie, the mastery of Grandet, the success of the 
minor characters, especially Nanon, are universally 
recognised. |The importance of the work has some- 
times been slightly questioned even by those who admit 
its beauty : but this questioning can only support itself 
on the unavowed but frequently present conviction or 
suspicion that a * good * or ' goody ' book must be a 
weak one. As a matter of fact, no book can be, or can 
be asked to be, better than perfect on its own scheme, 
and with its own conditions. And on its own scheme 
and with its own conditions Eugenie Grandet is very 
nearly perfect. 

On the character of the heroine will turn the final 
decision whether, as has been said by some (I believe I 
might be charged with having said it myself), Balzac's 
virtuous characters are always more theatrical than real. 
The decision must take in the Benassis of Le Medecin 
de Campagne^ but with him it will have less difficulty; 

viii Preface 

for Benassis, despite the beauty and pathos of his con- 
fession, is a little ' a person of the boards ' in his unfailingly 
providential character and his complete devotion to 
others. Must Eugenic, his feminine companion in 
goodness, be put on these boards likewrisc ? 

I admit that of late years, and more particularly since 
the undertaking of this present task made necessary to 
me a more complete and methodical study of the whole 
works, including the most miscellaneous miscellanies^ 
than I had previously given, my estimate of Balzac's 
goodness has gone up very much — that of his greatness 
had no need of raising. But I still think that even 
about Eugenie there is a very little unreality, a slight 
/ touch of that ignorance of thd actual nature of girls 
which even fervent admirers of French novelists in 
general, and of Balzac in particular, have confessed to 
finding in them and him. That Eugenie should be 
entirely subjugated first by the splendour, and then by 
f\/ the misfortune, of her Parisian cousin, is not in the least 
unnatural ; nor do I for one moment pretend to deny the 
possibility or the likelihood of her having 

• lifted up her eyw, 
And loved him with that love which was her doom.' 

It is also difficult to make too much allowance for the 
fatal effect of an education under an insignificant if 
amiable mother and a tyrannical father, and of a con- 
finement to an excessively small circle of extremely 
provincial society, on a disposition of more nobility than 
intellectual height or range, j Still it must, I think, be 
permitted to the advocatus diaholi to urge that Eugenie's 
— martyrdom is almost too thorough ; that though complete, 

Preface ix 

it is not, as Gauticr said of his own ill luck, ^ artistement 
complet ' ; that though it may be difficult to put the finger on— 
any special blot, to say, ' Here the girl should have revolted,' 
or ' Here she would have behaved in some other way 
differently ' ; still there is a vague sense of incomplete 
lifelikeness — of that tendency to mirage and e xagge ration / 
which has been, and will be, so often noticed. 

Still it is vague and not unpleasantly obtrusive, and in 
all other ways Eugenie is a triumph. It is noticeable that 
her creator has dwelt on the actual traits of her face 
with much more distinctness than is usual with him ; for 
Balzac's extraordinary minuteness in many ways does 
not invariably extend to physical charms. This minute- 
ness is indeed so great that one has a certain suspicion of 
tlte head being taken from a live and special original. 
/Nor is her physical presence — abominably libelled, there is 
no doubt, by Mme. des Grassins — the only distinct thing 
about Eugenie. We see her hovering about the heau^ 
cousin with an innocent officiousness capable of commit- 
ting no less the major crime of lending him money than 
the minor, but even more audacious, because open, one of 
letting him have sugar. She is perfectly natural in the 
courage with which she bears her father's unjust rage,^ 
and in the forgiveness which, quite as a matter of -. 
course, she extends to him after he has broken her own^ 
peace and her mother's heart. It is perhaps necessaiy to 
be French to comprehend' entirely why she could not 
heap that magnificent pile of coals of fire on her unworthy - 
cousin's head without flinging herself and her seventeen 
millions into the arms of somebody else ; but the thing 
can be accepted if not quite understood. And the whole 
transaction of this heaping is admirable. 

X Preface 

If the criticism be not thought something ot a super- 
subtlety, it may perhaps be suggested that the inferiority 
which has generally been acknowledged in the lover is a 
confession or indication that there is something very 
slightly wrong wiYh the scheme of Eugenie herself — 
that if she had been absolutely natural, it would not have 
,been necessary to make Charles not merely a thankless 
brute, but a heedless fool. However great a scoundrel 

^he ex-slave-trader may have been (and as presented to us 
earlier he does not seem so much scoundrelly as shallow), 
his respectable occupation must have made him a smart 
man of business ; and as such, before burning his boats 
by such a letter as he writes, he might surely have found 
cut how the land lay. But this does not matter much. 

/'' -Nanon is, of course, quite excellent. She is not stupid, 
as her kind are supposed to be ; she is only blindly 

^faithful, as well as thoroughly gojDid-hearted. Nor is the 
unfortunate Madame Grandet an idiot, nor are any of 
the comparses mere dummies. But naturally they all, 
\ even Eugenie herself to some extent, serve mainly as sets- 
ofF to the terrible Grandet. In him Balzac, a French- 
/man of Frenchmen, has boldly depicted perhaps the worst 

/and the commonest vice of the French character, the 
vice which is more common, and certainly worse than 
either the frivolity or the license with which the nation 
is usually charged — the pushing, to wit, of thrift to the 
loathsome excess of an inhuman avarice. But he has 
justified himself to his country by communicating to his 
hero an unquestioned grandeur. The mirage works 
again, but it works with splendid effect. One need not 
be a sentimentalist to shudder a little at the ta ta ia ta 
of Grandet, the refrain of a money-grubbing which 

Preface xi 

almost escapes greediness by its diabolic extravagance and 

The bibliography of the book is not complicated. 
Balzac tried the first chapter (there were originally 
seven) in V Europe Litter aire for September 19, 1833; 
but he did not continue it there, and it appeared com- 
plete in the first volume of Scenes de la Vie de Province next 
year. Charpentier republished it in a single volume in 
1839. The Comedie engulfed it in 1843, ^^® chaptei 
divisions then disappearing. 

» 1 ^ 


To Maria, 

Your portrait is the fairest ornament of this book-^. 
and here it is fitting that your name should be sety 
like the branch of box taken from some unknown 
garden to lie for a while in the holy water^ and 
afterwards set by pious hands above the threshold^ 
where the green spray^ ever renewed^ is a sacred 
talisman to ward off all evil from the house. 

In some country towns there are houses more depressing 
to the sight than the dimmest cloister, the most melan* 
choly ruins, or the dreariest stretch of sandy waste. 
Perhaps such houses as these combine the characteristics 
of all the three, and to the dumb silence of the monastery 
they unite the gauntness and grimness of the ruin, and 
the arid desolation of the waste. So little sign is there 
of life or of movement about them, that a stranger 
might take them for uninhabited dwellings ; but the 
sound of an unfamiliar footstep brings some one to the 
window, a passive face suddenly appears above the sill, 
and the traveller receives a listless and indifferent glance 
— it is almost as if a monk leaned out to look for a 
moment on the world. 

There is one particular house front in Saumur which 
possesses all these melancholy characteristics ; the house 
is still standing at the end of the steep street which leads 



i ' ' ;Eugenie Grandet 

'to the'C'istlfe-j'at't^e 'upjiei*. end of the town. The street 
is very quiet nowadays ; it is hot in summer and cold 
in winter, and very dark in places ; besides this, it is 
remarkably narrow and crooked, there is a peculiarly 
formal and sedate air about its houses, and it is curious 
how every sound reverberates through it — the cobble 
stones (always clean and dry) ring; with every passing 

This is the oldest part of the town, the ramparts rise 
immediatelv above it. The houses of the quarter have 
stood for three centuries ; and albeit they are built of 
wood, they are strong and sound yet. Each house has 
a cerrain character of its own, so that for the artist and 
antiquary this is the most attractive part of the town of 
Saumur. Indeed, it would hardly be possible to go past 
the houses without a wondering glance at the grotesque 
figures carved on the projecting ends of the huge beams, 
set like a black bas-relief above the ground floor of 
almost every dwelling. Sometimes, where these beams 
have been protected from the weather bv slates, a strip 
of dull blue runs across the crumbling walls, and crown- 
ing the whole is a high-pitched roof oddly curved and 
bent with age ; the shingle boards that cover it are all 
warped and twisted by the alternate sun and rain of 
many a year. There are bits of delicate carving too, 
here and there, though you can scarcely make them out, 
on the worn and blackened window sills that seem 
scarcely strong enough to bear the weight of the red 
flower-pot in which some poor workwoman has set her 
tree carnation or her monthly rose. 

Still further along the street there are more pretentious 
house doors studded with huge nails. On these our 
forefathers exercised their ingenuity, tracing hieroglyphs 
and mysterious signs which were once understood in 
everv household, but all clues to their meaning are 
forgotten now — they will be understood no more of ->"" 
mortal. In such wise would a Protestant make his 

me Grandet 

fession of faith, there also would a Leaguer curse Henrv 
IV. in graven symbols. A burgher would commemorate 
his civic dignities, the glory of his long-forgotten tenure 
of office as alderman or sheriff. On those old 
houses, if we could but read it, the history of France is 

Beside the rickety little tenement built of wood, with 
masonry of the roughest, upon the wall of which the 
craftsman has set the glorified image of his trade — his 
plane — stands the mansion of some noble, with its 
massive round arched gateway ; you can still see some 
traces above it of the arms borne by the owner, though 
they have been torn down in one of the many revolutions 
which have convulsed the country since 1789. 

You will find no imposing shop windows in the 
street ; strictly speaking indeed, there are no shops at 
all, for the rooms on the ground floor in which articles 
are exposed for sale are neither more nor less than the 
workshops of the times of our forefathers ; lovers oi 
the Middle Ages will find here the primitive simplicity 
of an older world. The low-ceiled rooms are dark, 
cavernous, and guiltless ahke of plate glass windows or 
of show cases ; there is no attempt at decoration either 
within or without, no efi^ort is made to display the wares. 
The door as a rule is heavily barred with iron and 
divided into two parts ; the upper half is thrown back 
during the day, admitting fresh air and daylight into the 
damp little cave ; while the lower portion, to which a 
bell is attached, is seldom still. The shop front consists 
of a low wall of about elbow height, which fills half the 
space between floor and ceiling ; there is no window 
sash, but heavy shutters fastened with iron bolts fit into 
a groove in the top of the wall, and are set up at night 
and taken down in the morning. The same wall serves 
as a counter on which to set out goods fjr the customer's 
inspection. There is no sort of charlatanism about the 
proceeding. The samples submitted to the pubhc vary 

4 Eugenie Grandet 

according to the nature of the trade. You behold a keg 
or two of salt or of salted fish, two or three bales of sail- 
cloth or coils of rope, some copper wire hanging from 
the rafters, a few cooper's hoops on the walls, or a length 
or two of cloth upon the shelves. 

You go in. A neat and tidy damsel with a pair of 
bare red arms, the fresh good looks of youth, and a white 
handkerchief pinned about her throat, lays down her 
knitting and goes to summon a father or mother, who 
appears and sells goods to you as you desire, be it a 
matter of two sous or of twenty thousand francs ; the 
manner of the transaction varying as the humour of the 
vendor is surly, obliging or independent. You will see 
a dealer in barrel-staves sitting in his doorway, twirling 
his thumbs as he chats with a neighbour ; judging from 
appearances, he might possess nothing in this world but 
the bottles on his few rickety shelves, and two or three 
bundles of laths ; but his well-stocked timber yard on 
the quay supplies all the coopers in Anjou, he knows 
to a barrel-stave how many casks he can 'turn out,' as 
he says, if the vines do well and the vintage is good ; a 
few scorching days and his fortune is made, a rainy 
summer is a ruinous thing for him ; in a single morn- 
ing the price of puncheons will rise as high as eleven 
francs or drop to six. 

Here, as in Touraine, the whole trade of the district 
depends upon an atmospherical depression. Landowners, 
vinegrowers, timber merchants, coopers, innkeepers, and 
lightermen, one and all are on the watch for a ray of 
sunlight. Not a man of them but goes to bed in fear 
and trembling lest he should hear in the morning that 
there has been a frost in the night. If it is not rain that 
they dread, it is wind or drought ; they must have cloudy 
weather or heat, and the rainfall and the weather generally 
all arranged to suit their peculiar notions. 

Between the clerk of the weather and the vine-growing 
interest there is a duel which never ceases. Faces visibly 

Eugenie Grandet 5 

lengthen or shorten, grow bright or gloomy, with the 
ups and downs of the barometer. Sometimes you hear 
from one end to the other of the old High Street of 
Saumur the words, ' This is golden weather ! ' or again, 
in language which likewise is no mere figure of speech, 
' It is raining gold louis ! * and they all know the exact 
value of sun or rain at the right moment. 

After twelve o'clock or so on a Saturday in the summer 
time, you will not do a pennyworth of business among 
the worthy townsmen of Saumur. Each has his little 
farm and his bit of vineyard, and goes to spend the 
' week end ' in the country. As everybody knows this 
beforehand, just as everybody knows everybody else's 
business, his goings and comings, his buyings and sellings, 
and profits to boot, the good folk are free to spend ten 
hours out of the twelve in making up pleasant little parties, 
in taking notes and making comments, and keeping a 
sharp look-out on their neighbours' affairs. The mistress 
of a house cannot buy a partridge but the neighbours 
will inquire of her husband whether the bird was done to 
a turn ; no damsel can put her head out of the window 
without being observed by every group of unoccupied 

Impenetrable, dark, and silent as the houses may seem, 
they contain no mysteries hidden from public scrutiny, 
and in the same way every one knows what is passing in 
every one else's mind. To begin with, the good folk 
spend most of their lives out of doors, they sit on the steps 
of their houses, breakfast there and dine there, and adjust 
any little family differences in the doorway. Every 
passer-by is scanned with the most minute and diligent 
attention ; hence, any stranger who may happen to arrive 
in such a country town has, in a manner, to run the 
gauntlet, and is severely quizzed from every doorstep. 
By dint of perseverance in the methods thus indicated a 
quantity of droll stories may be collected ; and, indeed, 
the people of Anders, who are of an inp^enious turn, and 

6 Eugenie Grandet 

quick at repartee, have been nicknamed ' the tattlers ' on 
these very grounds. 

The largest houses of the old quarter in which the 
nobles once dwelt are all at the upper end of the street, 
and in one of these the events took place which are about 
to be narrated in the course of this story. As has been 
already said, it was a melancholy house, a venerable relic 
of a bygone age, built for the men and women of an 
older and simpler world, from which our modern France 
is further and further removed day by day. After you 
have followed for some distance the windings of the 
picturesque street, where memories of the past are called 
up by every detail at every turn, till at length you fall 
unconsciously to musing, you come upon a sufficiently 
gloomy recess in which a doorway is dimly visible, the 
door of AI. Grandet's house. Of all the pride and 
glory of proprietorship conveyed to the provincial mind 
by those three words, it is impossible to give any idea, 
except by giving the biography of the owner — M. 

M. Grandet enjoyed a certain reputation in Saumur. 
Its causes and effects can scarcely be properly estimated 
by outsiders who have not lived in a country town for 
a longer or shorter time. There were still old people 
in existence who could remember former times, and 
called M. Grandet ' Goodman Grandet,' but there were 
not many of them left, and they were rapidly disappear- 
ing year by year. 

In 1789 Grandet was a master cooper, in a very good 
way of business, who could read and write and cast 
accounts. When the French Republic, having confiscated 
the lands of the Church in the district of Saumur, proceeded 
to sell them by auction, the cooper was forty years of age, 
and had just married the daughter of a wealthy timber 
merchant. As Grandet possessed at that moment his 
wife's dowry as well as some considerable amount of 
ready money of his own, he repaired to the bureau of 

Eugenie Grandet 7 

the district ; and making due allowance for two hundred 
double louis offered by his father-in-law to that man of 
stern morals, the Republican who conducted the sale, 
the cooper acquired some of the best vineland in the 
neighbourhood, an old abbey, and a few little farms, for 
an old song, to all of which property, though it might be 
ill-gotten, the law gave him a clear title. 

There was Httle sympathy felt with the Revolution in 
Saumur. Goodman Grandet was looked upon as a bold 
spirit, a Republican, a patriot, an 'advanced thinker,* 
and what not ; but all the ' thinking ' the cooper ever 
did turned simply and solely on the subject of his vines. 
He was nominated as a member of the administration of 
the district of Saumur, and exercised a pacific influence 
both in politics and in commerce. Politically, he be- 
friended the ci-devants, and did all that he could to pre- 
vent the sale of their property ; commercially, he con- 
tracted to supply two thousand hogsheads of white wine 
to the Republican armies, taking his payment for the 
aforesaid hogsheads in the shape of certain broad acres of 
rich meadow land belonging to a convent, the property 
of the nuns having been reserved till the last. 

In the days of the Consulate, Master Grandet became 
mayor j did prudently in his public capacity, and did 
very well for himself. Times changed, the Empire was 
established, and he became Monsieur Grandet. But M. 
Grandet had been looked upon as a red Republican, and 
Napoleon had no liking for Republicans, so the mayor 
was replaced by a large landowner, a man with a de 
before his name, and a prospect of one day becoming a 
baron of the Empire. M. Grandet turned his back upon 
municipal honours without a shadow of regret. He had 
looked well after the interests of the town during his 
term of office, excellent roads had been made, passing 
in every case by his own domains. His house and land 
had been assessed very moderately, the burden of the 
taxes did not fall too grievously upon him, since the 

8 Eugenie Grandet 

assessment moreover he had given ceaseless attention and 
care to the cultivation of his vines, so that they had 
become the tete du pays^ the technical term for those 
vineyards which produce wine of the finest quality. He 
had a fair claim to the Cross of the Legion of Honour, 
and he received it in 1806. 

By this time M. Grandet was fifty-seven years old, and 
his wife about thirty-six. The one child of the marriage 
was a daughter, a little girl ten years of age. Providence 
doubtless sought to console M. Grandet for his official 
downfall ; for in this year he succeeded to three fortunes, 
the total value was matter for conjecture, no certain 
information being forthcoming. The first fell in on the 
death of Mme. de la Gaudiniere, Mme. Grandet's mother ; 
the deceased lady had been a de la Bertelliere, and her 
father, old M. de la Bertelliere, soon followed her ; the 
third in order was Mme. Gentillet, M. Grandet's grand- 
mother on the mother's side. Old M. de la Bertelliere 
used to call an investment 'throwing money away'; the 
sight of his hoards of gold repaid him better than any 
rate of interest upon it. The town of Saumur, therefore, 
roughly calculated the value of the amount that the late 
de la Bertelliere was likely to have saved out of his 
yearly takings ; and M. Grandet received a new distinc- 
tion which none of our manias for equality can efface — 
he paid more taxes than any one else in the country 

He now cultivated a hundred acres of vineyard ; in a good 
year they would yield seven or eight hundred puncheons. 
He had thirteen little farms, an old abbey (motives of 
economy had led him to wall up the windows, and so 
preserve the traceries and stained glass), and a hundred 
and twenty-seven acres of grazing land, in which three 
thousand poplars, planted in 1793, were growing taller 
and larger every year. Finally, he owned the house in 
which he Hved. 

In these visible ways his prosperity had increased. As 

Eugenie Grandet 9 

to his capital, there were only two people in a position to 
make a guess at its probable amount. One of these was 
the notary, M. Cruchot, who transacted all the necessary 
business whenever M. Grandet made an investment ; and 
the other was M. des Grassins, the wealthiest banker in the 
town, who did Grandet many good offices which were 
unknown to Saumur. Secrets of this nature, involving 
extensive business transactions, are usually well kept ; but 
the discreet caution of MM. Cruchot and des Grassins 
did not prevent them from addressing M. Grandet in 
public with such profound deference that close observers 
might draw their own conclusions. Clearly the wealth 
of their late mayor must be prodigious indeed that he 
should receive such obsequious attention. 

There was no one in Saumur who did not fully believe 
the report which told how, in a secret hiding-place, M. 
Grandet had a hoard of louis, and how every night he 
went to look at it and gave himself up to the inexpres- 
sible delight of gazing at the huge heap of gold. He 
was not the only money-lover in Saumur. Sympathetic 
observers looked at his eyes and felt that the story was 
true, for they seemed to have the yellow metallic glitter 
of the coin over which it was said they had brooded. 
Nor was this the only sign. Certain small indefinable 
habits, furtive movements, slight mysterious promptings 
of greed did not escape the keen observation of fellow- 
worshippers. There is something vulpine about the eyes 
of a man who lends money at an exorbitant rate or 
interest ; they gradually atnd surely contract like those of 
the gambler, the sensualist, or the courtier ; and there 
is, so to speak, a sort of freemasonry among the passions, 
a written language of hieroglyphs and signs for those who 
can read them. 

M. Grandet therefore inspired in all around him the 
respectful esteem which is but the due of a man who has 
never owed any one a farthing in his life ; a just and 
legitimate tribute to ^n astute old cooper ^nd vinegrower 

lO Eugenic Grand-et 

who knew beforehand with the certainty of an astronomer 
when live hundred casks would serve for the vintage, and 
when to have a thousand in readiness ; a man who had 
never lost on any speculation, who had always a stock of 
empty barrels whenever casks were so dear that they 
fetched more than the contents were worth ; who could 
store his vintage in his own cellars, and aftbrd to bide his 
time, so that his puncheons would bring him in a couple 
of hundred francs, while many a little proprietor who 
could not wait had to be content with half that amount. 
His famous vintage in the year 1811, discreetly held, and 
sold only as good opportunities offered, had been worth 
two hundred and forty thousand livres to him. 

In matters financial M. Grandet might be described as 
combining the characteristics of the Bengal tiger and the 
boa constrictor. He could lie low and wait, crouching, 
watching for his prey, and make his spring unerringly at 
last ; then the jaws of his purse would unclose, a torrent 
of coin would be swallowed down, and, as in the case of 
the gorged reptile, there would be a period of inaction ; 
like the serpent, moreover, he was cold, apathetic, methodi- 
cal, keeping to his own mysterious times and seasons. 

No one could see the man pass without feeling a 
certain kind of admiration, which was half dread, half 
respect. The tiger's clutch was like steel, his claws 
were sharp and swift j was there any one in Saumur who 
had not felt them ? Such an one, for instance, wanted 
to borrow money to buy that piece of land which he had 
set his heart upon ; M. Cruchot had found the money for 
him — at eleven per cent. And there was So-and-so 
yonder ; M. des Grassins had discounted his bills, but it 
was at a ruinous rate. 

There were not many days when M. Grandet's name 
did not come up in conversation, in familiar talk in the 
evenings, or in the gossip of the town. There were 
people who took a kind of patriotic pride in the old vine- 
grower's wealth. More than one innkeeper or merchant 

Eugenie Grandet 1 1 

had found occasion to remark to a stranger with a certain 
complacency, ' There are millionaires in two or three of 
our firms here, sir ; but as for M. Grandet, he himself 
could hardlv tell you how much he was worth ! ' 

In 1816 the shrewdest heads in Saumur set down the 
value of the cooper's landed property at about four 
millions ; but as, to strike a fair average, he must have 
drawn something like a hundred thousand francs (they 
thought) from his property between the years 1793 and 
1817, the amount of money he possessed must nearly 
equal the value of the land. So when M. Grandet's 
name was mentioned over a game at boston, or a chat 
about the prospects of the vines, these folk would look 
wise and remark, ' Who is that vou are talking of? Old 
Grandet ? . . Old Grandet must have five or six millions, 
there is no doubt about it.' 

' Then you are cleverer than I am ; I have never been 
able to find out how much he has,' M. Cruchot or M. 
des Grassins would put in, if they overheard the speech. 

If any one from Paris mentioned the Rothschilds or 
M. Laffitte, the good people in Saumur would ask if any 
of those persons were as rich as \L Grandet ? And if 
the Parisian should answer in the affirmative with a pity- 
ing smile, thev looked at one another incredulously and 
flung up their heads. So great a fortune was like a 
golden mantle ; it covered its owner and all that he did. 
At one time some of the eccentricities of his mode of life 
gave rise to laughter at his expense ; but the satire and 
the laughter had died out, and M. Grandet still went his 
way, till at last even his slightest actions came to be 
taken as precedents, and every trifling thing he said or 
did carried weight. His remarks, his clothing, his 
gestures, the way he blinked his eves, had all been 
studied with the care with which a naturalist studies the 
workings of instinct in some wild creature ; and no one 
failed to discern the taciturn and profound wisdom that 
underlay all these manifestations. 

12 Eugenie Grandet 

*• We shall have a hard winter,' they would say ; * old 
Grandet has put on his fur gloves, we must gather 
the grapes.' Or, ' Goodman Grandet is laying in a lot 
of cask staves ; there will be plenty of wine this year.' 

M. Grandet never bought either meat or bread. Part 
of his rents were paid in kind, and every week his tenants 
brought in poultry, eggs, butter, and wheat sufficient for 
the needs of his household. Moreover, he owned a mill, 
and the miller, besides paying rent, came over to fetch a 
certain quantity of corn, and brought him back both the 
bran and the flour. Big Nanon, the one maid-servant, 
baked all the bread once a week on Saturday mornings 
(though she was not so young as she had been). Others 
of the tenants were market gardeners, and M. Grandet 
had arranged that these were to keep him supplied with 
fresh vegetables. Of fruit there was no lack ; indeed, he 
sold a good deal of it in the market. Firewood was 
gathered from his own hedges, or taken from old 
stumps of trees that grew by the sides of his fields. His 
tenants chopped up the wood, carted it into the town, 
and obligingly stacked his faggots ibr him, receiving in 
return — his thanks. So he seldom had occasion to spend 
money. His only known items of expenditure were for 
sacramental bread, for sittings in the church for his wife 
and daughter, their dress, Nanon's wages, renewals of the 
linings of Nanon's saucepans, repairs about the house, 
candles, rates and taxes, and the necessary outlays of 
money for improvements. He had recently acquired six 
hundred acres of woodland, and, being una,ble to look 
after it himself, had induced a keeper belonging to a 
neighbour to attend to it, promising to repay the man 
for his trouble. After this purchase had been made, and 
not before, game appeared on the Grandets' table. 

Grandet's manners were distinctly homely. He did 
not say very much. He expressed his ideas, as a rule, in 
brief, sententious phrases, uttered in a low voice. Since 
the time of the Revolution, when for awhile he had 

Eugenie Grandet 13 

attracted some attention, the worthy man had contracted 
a tiresome habit of stammering as soon as he took part 
in a discussion or began to speak at any length. He had 
other peculiarities. He habit' ally drowned his ideas in 
a flood of wor^' f-^ore o»- V-- incoherent ; his singular 
inaptitude for reasoning logically was usually set down to 
a defective education ; but this, like his unwelcome fluency, 
the trick of stammering, and various other mannerisms, 
was assumed, and for reasons which, in the course of the 
story, will be made sufliciently clear. In conversation, 
moreover, he had other resources : four phrases, Hke 
algebraical formulae, which fitted every case, were always 
forthcoming to solve every knotty problem in business or 
domestic life — ' I do not know,' ' I cannot do it,' ' I will 
have nothing to do with it,* and ' We shall see.' He 
never committed himself; he never said Yes or No j he 
never put anything down in writing. He Hstened with 
apparent indifference when he was spoken to, caressing 
his chin with his right hand, while the back of his left 
supported his elbow. When once he had formed his 
opinion in any matter^of business, he never changed it ; 
but he pondered long even over the smallest transactions. 
When in the course of deep and weighty converse he 
had managed to fathom the intentions of an antagonist, 
who meanwhile flattered himself that he at last knew 
where to have Grandet, the latter was wont to say, * I 
must talk it over with my wife before I can give a 
definite answer.' In business matters the wife, whom he '' 
had reduced to the most abject submission, was unques- 
tionably a most convenient support and screen. 

He never paid visits, never dined away from home, noi 
asked any one to dinner ; his movements were almost ^i 
noiseless ; he seemed to carry out his principles of economy 
in everything ; to make no useless sound, to be chary of 
spending even physical energy. His respect for the rights 
of ownership was so habitual that he never displaced nor 
disturbed anything belonging to another. And yet, in 

14 Eugenie Grandet 

spite of the low tones of his voice, in spite of his di^ 
cretion and cautious bearing, the cooper's real character 
showed itself in his langua^-^;; and aianners, and this was 
more especially the case in own I- njse, where he was 
less on his guard than elsewhere. 

As to Grandet's exterio Be was a broad, square- 
shouldered, thick-set man, about live feet high ; his legs 
were thin (he measured perhaps twelve inches round the 
calves), his knee joints large and prominent. He had a 
bullet-shaped head, a sun-burned face, scarred with the 
smallpox, and a narrow chin ; there was no trace of a 
curve about the lines of his mouth. He possessed a set 
of white teeth, eyes with the expression of stony avidity 
in them with which the basilisk is credited, a deeply- 
furrowed brow on which there were prominences not 
lacking in significance, hair that had once been of a 
sandy hue, but which was now fast turning grey ; so 
that thoughtless youngsters, rash enough to make jokes 
on so serious a subject, would say that M. Grandet's very 
hair was 'gold and silver.' On his nose, which was 
broad and blunt at the tip, was a variegated wen ; gossip 
affirmed, not without some appearance of truth, that 
spite and rancour was the cause of this affection. There 
was a dangerous cunning about this face, although the 
man, indeed, was honest according to the letter of the 
law ; it was a selfish face ; there were but two things in 
the world for which its owner cared — the delights of 
hoarding wealth in the first place, and in the second, the 
only being who counted for anything in his estimation, 
his daughter Eugenie, his only child, who one day should 
inherit that wealth. His attitude, manner, bearing, and 
everything about him plainly showed that he had the 
belief in himself which is the natural outcome of an 
unbroken record of successful business speculations. 
Pliant and smooth-spoken though he might appear to 
be, M. Grandet was a man of bronze. He was always 
dressed after the same fashion; in 1819 he looked in 

Eugenie Grandet 15 

this respect exactly as he had looked at any time since 
1791. His heavy shoes were secured by leather laces; 
he wore thick woollen stockings all the year round, knee 
breeches of chestnut brown homespun, silver buckles, a 
brown velvet waistcoat adorned with yellow stripes and 
buttoned up to the throat, a loosely-fitting coat with 
ample skirts, a black cravat, and a broad-brimmed Quaker- 
like hat. His gloves, like those of the gendarmerie, were 
chosen with a view to hard wear ; a pair lasted him nearly 
two years. In order to keep them clean, he always laid 
them down on the same place on the brim of his hat, 
till the action had come to be mechanical with him. 
So much, and no more, Saumur knew of this her 

A few fellow townspeople, six in all, had the rightof entry 
to Grandet's house and society. First among these in order 
of importance was M. Cruchot's nephew. Ever since 
his appointment as president of the court of first instance, 
this young man had added the appellation ' de Bonfons ' 
to his original name of Cruchot ; in time he hoped that 
the Bonfons would efface the Cruchot, when he meant 
to drop the Cruchot altogether, and was at no little pains 
to compass this end. Already he styled himself C. de 
Bonfons. Any litigant who was so ill inspired as to 
address him in court as *M. Cruchot,' was soon made 
painfully aware that he had blundered. The magistrate 
was about thirty-three years of age, and the owner of 
the estate of Bonfons [^oni Fontis\ which brought in 
annually seven thousand livres. In addition to this he 
had prospects ; he would succeed some day to the pro- 
perty of his uncle the notary, and there was yet another 
uncle besides, the Abbe Cruchot, a dignitary of the 
chapter of Saint Martin of .Tours ; both relatives were 
commonly reported to be men of substance. The three 
Cruchots, with a goodly number of kinsfolk, connected 
too by marriage with a score of other houses, formed a 
sort of party in the town, like the family oT the Medicis 

i^ Eugenie Grandet 

in Florence long ago ; and, like the Medicis, the Cruchots 
had their rivals — their Pazzi. 

Mme. des Grassins, the mother of a son twenty-three 
years of age, came assiduously to take a hand at cards 
with Mme. Grandet, hoping to marry her own dear 
Adolphe to Mademoiselle Eugenie. She had a powerful 
ally in her husband the banker, who had secretly rendered 
the old miser many a service, and who could give 
opportune aid on her field of battle. The three des 
Grassins had likewise their host of adherents, their 
cousins, and trusty auxiliaries. 

The Abbe (the Talleyrand of the Cruchot faction), 
well supported by his brother the notary, closely 
disputed the ground with the banker's wife ; they 
meant to carry off the wealthy heiress for their 
nephew the president. The struggle between the 
two parties for the prize of the hand of Eugenie 
Grandet was an open secret ; all Saumur watched it with 
the keenest interest. Which would Mile. Grandet marry ? 
Would it be M. le President or M. Adolphe des 
Grassins ? Some solved the problem by saying that 
M. Grandet would give his daughter to neither. The 
old cooper (said they) was consumed with an ambition 
to have a peer of France for his son-in-law, and he was 
on the look-out for a peer of France, who for the con- 
sideration of an income of three hundred thousand livres 
would find all the past, present, and future barrels of the 
Grandets no obstacle to a match. Others demurred to 
this, and urged that both M. and Mme. des Grassins 
came of a good family, that they had wealth enough for 
anything, that Adolphe was a very good-looking, pretty 
behaved young man, and that unless the Grandets had 
a Pope's nephew somewhere in the background, they 
ought to be satisfied with a match in every way so 
suitable ; for they were nobodies after all ; all Saumur had 
seen Grandet going about with an adze in his hands, and 
moreover he had worn the red cap of Liberty in his time. 

Eugenie Grand et 17 

The more astute observers remarked that M. Cruchot 
de Bonfons was free of the house in the High Street, 
while his rival only visited there on Sundays. Some 
maintained that Mme. des Grassins, being on more 
intimate terms with the women of the house, had 
opportunities of inculcating certain ideas which sooner 
or later must conduce to her success. Others retorted 
that the Abbe Cruchot had the most insinuating manner 
in the world, and that with a churchman on one side and 
a woman on the other the chances were about even. 

' It is gown against cassock,' said a local wit. 

Those whose memories went further back, said that 
the Grandets were too prudent to let all that property go 
out of the family. Mile. Eugenie Grandet of Saumur 
would be married one of these days to the son of the 
other M. Grandet of Paris, a rich wholesale wine 
merchant. To these both Cruchotins and Grassinistes 
were wont to reply as follows : — 

' In the first place, the brothers have not met twice 
in thirty years. Then M. Grandet of Paris is ambitious 
for that son of his. He himself is mayor of his division 
of the department, a deputy, a colonel of the National 
Guard, and a judge of the tribunal of commerce. He 
does not own to any relationship with the Grandets of 
Saumur, and is seeking to connect himself with one of 
Napoleon's dukes.' 

What will not people say of an heiress ? Eugenie 
Grandet was a stock subject of conversation for twenty 
leagues round ; nay, in public conveyances, even as far 
as Angers on the one hand and Blois on the other ! 

In the beginning of the year 181 1 the Cruchotins 
gained a signal victory over the Grassinistes. The young 
Marquis de Froidfond being compelled to realise his 
capital, the estate of Froidfond, celebrated for its park 
and its handsome chateau, was for sale ; together with 
its dependent farms, rivers, fishponds, and forest ; 
altogether it was worth three million francs. M. Cruchot, 


1 8 Eugenie Grandet 

President Cruchot, and the Abbe Cruchot by uniting 
their forces had managed to prevent a proposed division 
into small lots. The notary made an uncommonly good 
bargain for his client, representing to the young marquis 
that the purchase money of the small lots could only 
be collected after endless trouble and expense, and that 
he would have to sue a large proportion of the purchasers 
for it ; while here was M. Grandet, a man whose credit 
stood high, and who was moreover ready to pay for the 
land at once in hard coin, it would be better to take 
M. Grandet's offer. In this way the fair marquisate of 
Froidfond was swallowed down by M. Grandet, who, to 
the amazement of Saumur, paid for it in ready money 
(deducting discount of course) as soon as the required 
formalities were completed. The news of this trans- 
action travelled far and wide ; it reached Orleans, it 
was spoken of at Nantes. 

M. Grandet went to see his chateau, and on this 
wise ; a cart happened to be returning thither, so he 
embraced this opportunity of visiting his newly acquired 
property, and took a look round in the capacity of owner. 
Then he returned to Saumur, well convinced that this 
investment would bring him in a clear five per cent., 
and fired with a magnificent ambition ; he would add 
his own bits of land to the marquisate of Froidfond, and 
everything should lie within a ring fence. For the 
present he would set himself to replenish his almost 
exhausted coffers ; he would cut down every stick of 
timber in his copses and forests, and fell the poplars in 
his meadows. 

It is easy after this explanation to understand all that ' 
was conveyed by the words, 'M. Grandet's house* — the 
cold, dreary, and silent house at the upper end of the J 
town, under the shadow of the ruined ramparts. | 

Two pillars supported the arch above the doorway, ' 
and for these, as also for the building of the house itselfj 
a porous crumbling stone peculiar to the district along j 

Eugenie Grandet 19 

the banks of the Loire had been employed, a kind of 
tufa so soft that at most it scarcely lasts for two hundred 
years. Rain and frost had gnawed numerous irregular 
holes in the surface, with a curious effect ; the piers and 
the voussoirs looked as though they were composed of 
the vermicular stones often met with in French architec- 
ture. The doorway might have been the portal of a 
gaol. Above the arch there was a long sculptured 
bas-relief of harder stone, representing the four Seasons, 
four forlorn figures, aged, blackened, and weather worn. 
Above the bas-relief there was a projecting ledge of 
masonry where some chance -sown plants had taken 
root ; yellow pellitory, bindweed, a plantain or two, 
and a little cherry-tree, that even now had reached a 
fair height. 

The massive door itself was of dark oak, shrunk and 
warped, and full of cracks ; but, feeble as it looked, it 
was firmly held together by a series of iron nails with 
huge heads, driven into the wood in a symmetrical 
design. In the middle there was a small square grating 
covered with rusty iron bars, which served as an excuse 
for a door knocker which hung there from a ring, and 
struck upon the menacing head a great iron bolt. 
The knocker itself, oblong in shape, was of the kind 
that our ancestors used to call a 'Jaquemart,' and not 
unlike a huge note of admiration. If an antiquary 
had examined it carefully, he might have found some 
traces of the grotesque human head that it once re- 
presented, but the features of the typical clown had 
long since been effaced by constant wear. The little 
grating had been made in past times of civil war, so 
that the household might recognise their friends without 
before admitting them, but now it afforded to inquisitive 
eyes a view of a dank and gloom.y archway, and a flight 
of broken steps leading to a not unpicturesque garden 
shut in by thick walls through which the damp was 
oozing, and a hedge of sickly-looking shrubs. The 

20 Eugenic Grandet 

walls were part of the old fortifications, and up above 
upon the ramparts there were yet other gardens belong- 
ing to some of the neighbouring houses. 

A door beneath the arch of the gateway opened into 
a large parlour, the principal room on the ground floor. 
Fev/ people comprehend the importance of this apartment 
in little towns in Anjou, Berri, and Touraine. The 
parlour is also the hall, drawing-room, study, and 
boudoir all in one ; it is the stage on which the drama 
of domestic life is played, the very heart and centre of 
the home. Hither the hairdresser repaired once in six 
months to cut M. Grandet's hair. The tenants and the 
cure, the sous-prefet and the miller's lad, were all alike 
shown into this room. There were two windows which 
looked out upon the street, the floor was boarded, the 
walls were panelled from floor to ceiling, covered with 
old carvings, and painted gray. The rafters were left 
visible, and were likewise painted grey, the plaster in 
intervening spaces was yellow with age 

An old brass clock case inlaid with arabesques in 
tortoise-shell stood on the chimney-piece, which was oi 
white stone, and adorned with rude carvings. Above it 
stood a mirror of a greenish hue, the edges were bevelled 
in order to display the thickness of the glass, and reflected 
a thin streak of coloured light into the room, which was 
caught again by the polished surface of another mirror 
of Damascus steel, which hung upon the wall. 

Two branched sconces of gilded copper which adorned 
either end of the chimney-piece answered a double pur- 
pose. The branch roses which served as candle-sockets 
were removable, and the main stem, fitted into an antique 
copper contrivance on a bluish marble pedestal, did duty 
as a candlestick for ordinary days. 

The old-fashioned chairs were covered with tapestry, 
on which the fables of La Fontaine were depicted ; but 
a thorough knowledge of the author was required in order 
to make out the subjects, for the colours had faded badly, 

Eugenie Grandet 21 

and the outlines of the figures were hardly visible through 
a multitude of darns. Four sideboards occupied the four 
corners of the room, each of these articles of furniture 
terminating in a tier of very dirty shelves. An old inlaid 
card- table with a chess-board marked out upon its surface 
stood in the space between the two windows, and on the 
wall, above the table, hung an oval barometer in a dark 
wooden setting, adorned by a carved bunch of ribbons ; 
they had been gilt ribbons once upon a time, but genera- 
tions of flies had wantonly obscured the gilding, till its 
existence had become problematical. Two portraits in 
pastel hung on the wall opposite the fireplace. One 
was believed to represent Mme. Grandet's grandfather, 
old M. de la Bertelliere, as a lieutenant in the 
Guards, and the other the late Mme. Gentillet, as a 

Crimson curtains of gros de lours were hung in the 
windows and fastened back with silk cords and huge 
tassels. This luxurious upholstery, so little in harmony 
with the manners and customs of the Grandets, had been 
included in the purchase of the house, like the pier-glass, 
the brass timepiece, the tapestry-covered chairs, and the 
rosewood corner sideboards. In the further window 
stood a straw-bottomed chair, raised on blocks of wood, 
so that Mme. Grandet could watch the passers-by as she 
sat. A work-table of cherry wood, bleached and faded by 
the light, filled the other window space, and close beside 
it Eugenie Grandet's little armchair was set. 

The Hves of mother and daughter had flowed on^ 
tranquilly for fifteen years. Day after day, from April 
to November, they sat at work in the windows ; but the 
first day of the latter month found them beside the fire, 
where they took up their positions for the winter. 
Grandet would not allow a fire to be lighted in the 
room before that date, nor again after the 31st of March, 
let the early days of spring or of autumn be cold as they 
might. Big Nanon managed by stealth to fill a little 

22 Eugenie Grandet 

brazier with glowing ashes from the kitchen fire, and in 
this way the chilly evenings of April and October were 
rendered tolerable for Mme. and Mile. Grandet. All 
the household linen was kept in repair by the mother 
and daughter ; and so conscientiously did they devote 
their days to this duty (no light task in truth), that if 
Eugenie wanted to embroider a collarette for her mother 
she was obliged to steal the time from her hours of 
slumber, and to resort to a deception to obtain from her 
father the candle by which she worked. For a long 
while past it had been the miser's wont to dole out the 
candles to his daughter and big Nanon in the same way 
that he gave out the bread and the other matters daily 
required by the household. 

Perhaps big Nanon was the one servant in existence 
who could and would have endured her master's tyrannous 
rule. Every one in the town used to envy M. and 
Mme. Grandet. ' Big Nanon,' so called on account oi 
her height of five feet eight inches, had been a part of 
the Grandet household for thirty-five years. She was 
held to be one of the richest servants in Saumur, and this 
on a yearly wage of seventy livres I The seventy livres 
had accumulated for thirty-five years, and quite recently 
Nanon had deposited four thousand livres with M. 
Cruchot for the purchase of an annuity. This result of 
a long and persevering course of thrift appealed to the 
imagination — it seemed tremendous. There was not a 
maid-servant in Saumur but was envious af the poor 
woman, who by the time she had reached her sixtieth 
year would have scraped together enough to keep herself 
from want in her old age ; but no one thought of the 
hard life and all the toil which had gone to the making 
of that little hoard. 

Thirty-five years ago, when Nanon had been a homely, 
hard-featured girl of two-and- twenty, she had not been 
able to find a place because her appearance had been so 
much against her. Poor Nanon I it was really very 

Eugenic Grandet 23 

hard. If her head had been set on the shoulders of a 
grenadier it would have been greatly admired, but there 
is a fitness in things, and Nanon''s style of beauty was 
inappropriate. She had been a herdswoman on a farm for 
a time, till the farmhouse had been burnt down, and then 
it was, that, full of the robust courage that shrinks from 
nothing, she came to seek service in Saumur. 

At that time M. Grandet was thinking of marriage, and 
already determined to set up housekeeping. The girl, 
who had been rebuffed from door to door, came under his 
notice. He was a cooper, and therefore a good judge of 
physical strength ; he foresaw at once how useful this 
feminine Hercules could be, a strongly-made woman who 
stood planted as firmly on her feet as an oak tree rooted in the 
soil where it has grown for two generations, a woman with 
square shoulders, large hips, and hands like a ploughman's, 
and whose honesty was as unquestionable as her virtue. 
He was not dismayed by a martial countenance, a dis- 
figuring wart or two, a complexion like burnt clay, and a 
pair of sinewy arms j neither did Nanon's rags alarm the 
cooper, whose heart was not yet hardened against misery. 
He took the poor girl into his service, gave her food, 
clothes, shoes, and wages. Nanon found her hard life 
not intolerably hard. Nay, she secretly shed tears of joy 
at being so treated; she felt a sincere attachment for this 
master, who expected as much from her as ever feudal 
lord required of a serf. 

Nanon did all the work of the house. She did the 
cooking and the washing, carrying all the linen down 
to the Loire and bringing it back on her shoulders. She 
rose at daybreak and went to bed late. It was she who, 
without any assistance, cooked for the vintagers in the 
autumn, and looked sharply after the market-folk. She 
watched over her master's property like a faithful dog, 
and with a blind belief in him ; she obeyed his most 
arbitrary commands without a murmur — his whims were 
law to her. 

24 Eugenie Grandet 

After twenty years of service, in the famous year i8i i, 
when the vintage had been gathered in after unheard-of 
toil and trouble, Grandet made up his mind to present 
Nanon with his old watch, the only gift she had ever 
received from him. She certainly had the reversion ot 
his old shoes (which happened to fit her), but as a rule 
they were so far seen into already that they were of little 
use to any one else, and could not be looked upon as a 
present. Sheer necessity had made the poor girl so 
penurious that Grandet grew quite fond of her at last, 
and regarded her with the same sort of affection that a 
man gives to his dog ; and as for Nanon, she cheerfully 
wore the collar of servitude set round with spikes that 
she had ceased to feel. Grandet might stint the day's 
allowance of bread, but she did not grumble. The fare 
might be scanty and poor, but Nanon's spirits did not 
suffer, and her health appeared to benefit; there was 
never any illness in that house. 

And then Nanon was one of the family. She shared 
every mood of Grandet's, laughed when he laughed, was 
depressed when he was out of spirits, took her views of 
the weather or of the temperature from him, and worked 
with him and for him. This equality was an element of 
sweetness which made up for many hardships in her lot. 
Out in the vineyards her master had never said a word 
about the small peaches, plums, or nectarines eaten under 
the trees that are planted between the rows of vines. 

' Come, Nanon, take as much as you like,* he would 
say, in years when the branches were bending beneath 
their load, and fruit was so abundant that the farmers 
round about were forced to give* it to the pigs. 

For the peasant girl, for the outdoor farm servant, who 
had known nothing but harsh treatment from childhood, 
for the girl who had been rescued from starvation by 
charity, old Grandet's equivocal laughter was like a ray 
of sunshine. Besides, Nanon's simple nature and limited 
intelligence could only entertain one idea at a time ; and 

Eugenic Grandet 25 

during those thirty-five years of service one picture was 
constantly present to her mind — she saw herself a bare- 
footed girl in rags standing at the gate of M. Grandet's 
timber yard, and heard the sound of the cooper's voice, 
saying, ' What is it, lassie ? ' and the warmth of gratitude 
filled her heart to-day as it did then. Sometimes, as he 
watched her, the thought came up in Grandet's mind 
how that no syllable of praise or admiration had ever 
been breathed in her ears, that all the tender feelings that 
a woman inspires had no existence for her, and that she 
might well appear before God one day as chaste as the 
Virgin Mary herself. At such times, prompted by a sudden 
impulse of pity, he would exclaim, ' Poor Nanon ! * 

The remark was always followed by an indescribable 
look from the old servant. The words so spoken from 
time to time were separate links in a long and unbroken 
chain of friendship. But in this pity in the miser's soul, 
which gave a thrill of pleasure to the lonely woman, there 
was something indescribably revolting ; jit was a cold- 
blooded pity that stirred t]j£ cooper's ft€art ; it was a 
luxury that cost him nothing] But for Nanon it meant 
the height of happiness ! Who will not likewise say, 
* Poor Nanon ! ' God will one day know His angels by 
the tones of their voices and by the sorrow hidden in their 

There were plenty of households in Saumur where 
servants were better treated, but where their employers, 
nevertheless, enjoyed small comfort in return. Wherefore 
people asked, ' What have the Grandets done to that big 
Nanon of theirs that she should be so attached to them ? 
She would go through fire and water to serve them ! ' 

Her kitchen, with its barred windows that looked out 
into the yard, was always clean, cold, and tidy, a thorough 
miser's kitchen, in which nothing was allowed to be 
wasted. When Nanon had washed her plates and dishes, 
put the remains of the dinner into the safe, and raked 
out the fire, she left her kitchen (which was only 

26 '> Eugenie Grandet 

separated from the dining-room by the breadth of a 
passage), and sat down to spin hemp in the company of 
her employers, for a single candle must suffice for the 
whole family in the evening. The serving-maid slept in 
a little dark closet at the end of the passage, lit only by 
a borrowed light. Nanon had an iron constitution and 
sound health, which enabled her to sleep with impunity 
year after year in this hole, where she could hear the 
slightest sound that broke the heavy silence brooding day 
and night over the house ; she lay like a watch-dog, with 
one ear open ; she was never off duty, not even while she 

Some description of the rest of the house will be 
necessary in the course of the story in connection with 
later events ; but the parlour, wherein all the splendour 
and luxury of the house was concentrated, has been 
sketched already, and the emptiness and bareness of the 
upper rooms can be surmised for the present. 

It was in the middle of November, in the year 1819, 
twilight was coming on, and big Nanon was lighting a 
fire in the parlour for the first time. It was a festival 
day in the calendar of the Cruchotins and Grassinistes, 
wherefore the six antagonists were preparing to set forth, 
all armed cap-a-pie, for a contest in which each side 
meant to outdo the other in proofs of friendship. The 
Grandets' parlour was to be the scene of action. That 
morning Mme. and Mile. Grandet, duly attended by 
Nanon, had repaired to the parish church to hear mass. 
All Saumur had seen them go, and every one had been 
put in mind of the fact that it was Eugenie's birthday. 
M. Cruchot, the Abbe Cruchot, and M. C. de Bonfons, 
therefore, having calculated the hour when dinner would 
be over, were eager to be first in the field, and to 
arrive before the Grassinistes to congratulate Mile. 
Grandet. All three carried huge bunches of flowers 
gathered in their little garden plots, but the stalks of 

Eugenie Grandet 27 

the magistrate's bouquet were ingeniously bound round 
by a white satin ribbon with a tinsel fringe at the ends. 

In the morning M. Grandet had gone to Eugenie's 
room before she had left her bed, and had solemnly pre- 
sented her with a rare gold coin. It was her father's 
wont to surprise her in this way twice every year — once 
on her birthday, once on the equally memorable day of 
her patron saint. Mme. Grandet usually gave her 
daughter a winter or a summer dress, according to cir- 
cumstances. The two dresses and two gold coins, which 
she received on her father's birthday and on New Year's 
Day, altogether amounted to an annual income of nearly 
a hundred crowns ; Grandet loved to watch the money 
accumulating in her hands. He did not part with his 
money ; he felt that it was only like taking it out of one 
box and putting it into another ; and besides, was it not, 
so to speak, fostering a proper regard for gold in his 
heiress ? she was being trained in the way in which she 
should go. Now and then he asked for an account of 
her wealth (formerly swelled by gifts from the La 
Bertellieres), and each time he did so he used to tell her, 
* This will be your dozen when you are married.' 

The dozen is an old-world custom which has lost none 
of its force, and is still religiously adhered to in several 
midland districts in France. In Berri or Anjou when a 
daughter is married, it is incumbent upon her parents, or 
upon her bridegroom's family, to give her a purse contain- 
ing either a dozen, or twelve dozen, or twelve hundred 
gold or silver coins, the amount varying with the means 
of the family. The poorest herd-girl would not be 
content without her dozen when she married, even if she 
could only bring twelve pence as a dower. They talk 
even yet at Issoudun of a fabulous dozen once given to a 
rich heiress, which consisted of a hundred and forty-four 
Portuguese moidores ; and when Catherine de Medicis 
was married to Henry 11., her uncle, Clement vii., gave 
the bride a dozen antique gold medals of priceless value. 

28 Eugenie Grandcf 

Eugenie wore her new dress at dinner, and looked 
prettier than usual in it ; her father was in high good 

' Let us have a fire,' he cried, ' as it is Eugenie's birth- 
day ! It will be a good omen.' 

' Mademoiselle will be married within the year, 
that 's certain,' said big Nanon, as she removed the 
remains of a goose, that pheasant of the coopers of 
Saumur. ' 

'There is no one that I know of in Saumur who 
would do for Eugenie,' said Mme. Grandet, with a timid 
glance at her husband, a glance that revealed how com- 
pletely her husband's tyranny had broken the poor 
woman's spirit. 

Grandet looked at his daughter, and said merrily, 
' We must really begin to think about her; the little girl 
is twenty-three years old to-day.' 
. Neither Eugenie nor her mother said a word, but they 
A exchanged glances ; they understood each other. 

Mme. Grandet's face was thin and wrinkled and 
yellow as saffron ; she was awkward and slow in her 
movements, one of those beings who seem born to be 
tyrannised over. She was a large-boned v^oman, with a 
large nose, large eyes, and a prominent forehead ; there 
seemed to be, at first sight, some dim suggestion of a 
resemblance between her and some shrivelled, spongy, 
dried-up fruit. The few teeth that remained to her 
were dark and discoloured ; there were deep lines fretted 
about her mouth, and her chin was something after 
the ' nut-cracker ' pattern. She was a good sort of 
woman, and a La Bertelliere to the backbone. The 
Abbe Cruchot had more than once found occasion to 
tell her that she had not been so bad looking when 
she was young, and she did not disagree with him. 
An angelic sweetness of disposition, the helpless meek- 
ness of an insect in the hands of cruel children, a sincere 
piety, a kindly heart, and an even temper that nothing 

Eugenie Grandet 29 

could ruffle or sour, had gained universal respect and pity 
for her. 

Her appearance might provoke a smile, but she had 
brought her husband more than three hundred thousand 
francs, partly as her dowry, partly through bequests. 
Yet Grandet never gave his wife more than six francs 
at a time for pocket money, and she always regarded 
herself as dependent upon her husband. The meek 
gentleness of her nature forbade any revolt against his 
tyranny ; but so deeply did she feel the humiliation of her 
position, that she had never asked him for a sou, and when 
M. Cruchot demanded her signature to any document, 
she always gave it without a word. This foolish sensitive 
pride, which Grandet constantly and unwittingly hurt, 
this magnanimity which he was quite incapable of under- 
standing, were Mme. Grandet's dominant characteristics.) 

Her dress never varied. Her gown was always of the 
same dull, greenish shade of laventine, and usually lasted 
her nearly a twelvemonth ; the large handkerchief at 
her throat was of some kind of cotton material j she wore 
a straw bonnet, and was seldom seen without a black 
silk apron. She left the house so rarely that her walking 
shoes were seldom worn out ; indeed, her requirements 
were very few, she never wanted anything for herself. 
Sometimes it would occur to Grandet that it was a long 
while since he had given the last six francs to his wife, 
and his conscience would prick him a little ; and after 
the vintage, when he sold his wine, he always demanded 
pin-money for his wife over and above the bargain. 
These four or five louis out of the pockets of the Dutch 
or Belgian merchants were Mme. Grandet's only certain 
source of yearly income. But although she received her 
five louis, her husband would often say to her, as if they 
had had one common purse, ' Have you a few sous that 
you can lend me ? ' and she, poor woman, glad that it 
was in her power to do anything for the man whom her 
confessor always taught her to regard as her lord and 


JO Eugenie Grandet 

master, used to return to him more than one crown out 
of her little store in the course of the winter. Every 
month, when Grandet disbursed the five-franc piece 
which he allowed his daughter for needles, thread, and 
small expenses of dress, he remarked to his wife (after 
he had buttoned up his pocket), ' And how about you, 
mother ; do you want anything ? ' And with a mother's 
dignity Mme. Grandet would answer, 'We will talk 
about that by-and-by, dear.' 

Her magnanimity was entirely lost upon Grandet ; he 
considered that he did very handsomely by his wife. The 
philosophic mind contemplating the Nanons, the Mme. 
Grandets, the Eugenics of this life, holds that the Author 
of the universe is a profound satirist, and who will 
quarrel with the conclusion of the philosophic mind ? 
After the dinner, when the question of Eugenie's 
marriage had been raised for the first time, Nanon went 
up to M. Grandet's room to fetch a bottle of black- 
currant cordial, and very nearly lost her footing on the 
staircase as she came down. 

' Great stupid ! Are you going to take to tumbling 
about ? ' inquired her master. 

* It is all along of the step, sir ; it gave way. The 
staircase isn't safe.' 

'She is quite right,' said Mme. Grandet. *You 
ought to have had it mended long ago. Eugenie all but 
sprained her foot on it yesterday.' 

' Here,' said Grandet, who saw that Nanon looked 
very pale, 'as to-day is Eugenie's birthday, and you have 
nearly fallen downstairs, take a drop of black currant 
cordial ; that will put you right again.' 

' I deserve it, too, upon my word,' said Nanon. 
'Many a one would have broken the bottle in my 
place ; I should have broken my elbow first, holding 
it up to save it.' 

* Poor Nanon ! ' muttered Grandet, pouring out the 
black-currant cordial for her. 

Eugenie Grandet 31 

•Did you hurt yourself ?* asked Eugenie, looking at 
her in concern. 

' No, I managed to break the fall ; I came down on 
my side.' 

' Well,' said Grandet, ' as to-day is Eugenie's birthday, 
I will mend your step for you. Somehow, you women 
folk cannot manage to put your foot down in the corner, 
where it is still soHd and safe.' 

Grandet took up the candle, left the three women . 
without any other illumination in the room than the ^ 
bright dancing firelight, and went to the bakehouse, 
where tools, nails, and odd pieces of wood were kept. 

' Do you want any help ? ' Nanon called to him, 
when the first blow sounded on the staircase. 

' No ! no ! I am an old hand at it,' answered the 

At this very moment, while Grandet was doing the 
repairs himself to his worm-eaten staircase, and whistling 
with all his might as memories of his young days came 
up in his nund, the three Cruchots knocked at the 
house door. 

' Oh, it 's you, is it, M. Cruchot .? * asked Nanon, as 
she took a look through the small square grating. 

' Yes,' answered the magistrate. 

Nanon opened the door, and the glow of the firelight 
shone on the three Cruchots, who were groping in the 

* Oh ! you have come to help us keep her birthday,' 
Nanon said, as the scent of flowers reached her. 

' Excuse me a moment, gentlemen,' cried Grandet, who 
recognised the voices of his acquaintances ; ' I am your 
very humble servant ! There is no pride about me j 
I am patching up a broken stair here myself.' 

' Go on, go on, M. Grandet ! The charcoal burner is 
mayor in his own house,' said the magistrate sententiously. 
Nobody saw the allusion, and he had his laugh all to 

J 2 Eugenic Grandet 

Mme. and Mile. Grandet rose to greet them. The 
magistrate took advantage of the darkness to speak to 

'Will you permit m.e, mademoiselle, on the anniversary 
of your birthday, to wish you a long succession of 
prosperous years, and may you for long preserve the 
health vv^ith w^hich you are blessed at present.' 

He then offered her such a bouquet of flowers as 
was seldom seen in Saumur ; and taking the heiress by 
both arms, gave her a kiss on either side of the throat, 
a fervent salute which brought the colour into Eugenie's 
face. The magistrate was tall and thin, somewhat 
resembling a rusty nail ; this was his notion of paying 

' Do not disturb yourselves,' said Grandet, coming back 
into the room. *Fine doings these of yours, M. le 
President, on high days and holidays ! ' 

'With mademoiselle beside him every day would be 
a holiday for my nephew,' answered the Abbe Cruchot. 
also armed with a bouquet ; and with that the Abbe 
kissed Eugenie's hand. As for M. Cruchot, he kissed 
her unceremoniously on both cheeks, saying, ' This sort 
of thing makes us feel older, eh ? A whole year older 
every twelve months.' 

Grandet set down the candle in front of the brass 
clock on the chimney-piece ; whenever a joke amused 
him he kept on repeating it till it was worn threadbare ; 
he did so now. 

' As to-day is Eugenie's birthday,' he said, ' let us have 
an illumination.' 

He carefully removed the branches from the two 
sconces, fitted the sockets into either pedestal, took from 
Nanon's hands a whole new candle wrapped in a scrap 
of paper, fixed it firmly in the socket, and lighted it. 
Then he went over to his wife and took up his 
position beside her, looking by turns at his daughter, his 
friends, and the two lighted candles. 

Eugenie Grandet 33 

The Abbe Cruchot was a fat, dumpy little man with 
a well-worn sandy peruke. His peculiar type of face 
might have belonged to some old lady whose life is 
spent at the card table. At this moment he was stretch- 
ing out his feet and displaying a very neat and strong 
pair of shoes with silver buckles on them. 

'The des Grassins have not come round ? * he asked, 

' Not yet,* answered Grandet. 

* Are they sure to come ? * put in the old notary, 
with various contortions of a countenance as full of 
holes as a colander. 

' Oh ! yes, I think they will come,' said Mme. Grandet. 

' Is the vintage over ? ' asked President de Bonfons, 
addressing Grandet ; ' are all your grapes gathered ? * 

' Yes, everywhere ! ' answered the old vinegrower, 
rising and walking up and down the length of the room, 
he straightened himself up as he spoke with a conscious 
pride that appeared in that word ' everywhere.' 

As he passed by the door that opened into the 
passage, Grandet caught a glimpse of the kitchen ; the 
fire was still alight, a candle was burning there, and 
big Nanon was about to begin her spinning by the 
hearth ; she did not wish to intrude upon the birth- 
day party. 

' Nanon ! ' he called, stepping out into the passage, 
' Nanon ! why ever don't you rake out the fire ; put 
out the candle and come in here ! Pardieu ! the room 
is large enough to hold us all.' 

' But you are expecting grand visitors, sir.' 

' Have you any objection to them ? They are all 
descended from Adam just as much as you are.' 

Grandet went back to the president. 

'Have you sold your wine ?' he inquired. 

' Not I ; I am holding it. If the wine is good now, 
it will be better still in two years' time. The growers, as 
you know, of course, are in a ring, and mean to keep 
prices up. The Belgians shall not have it all their own 


34 Eugenie Grandet 

way this year. And if they go away, well and good, let 
them go ; they will come back again.' 

' Yes ; but we must hold firm,' said Grandet in a 
tone that made the magistrate shudder. 

' Suppose he should sell his wine behind our backs ? ' 
he thought. 

At that moment another knock at the door announced 
the des Grassins, and interrupted a quiet talk between 
Mme. Grandet and the Abbe Cruchot. 

Mme. des Grassins was a dumpy, lively, little person 
with a pink-and-white complexion, one of those women 
for whom the course of life in a country town has flowed 
on with almost claustral tranquillity, and who, thanks to 
this regular and virtuous existence, are still youthful at 
the age of forty. They are something like the late roses in 
autumn, which are fair and pleasant to the sight, but the 
almost scentless petals have a pinched look, there is a vague 
suggestion of coming winter about them. She dressed 
tolerably well, her gowns came from Paris, she was a 
leader of society in Saumur, and received on certain 
evenings. Her husband had been a quartermaster in 
the Imperial Guard, but he had retired from the army 
with a pension, after being badly wounded at AusterHtz. 
In spite of his consideration for Grandet, he still retained, 
or affected to retain, the bluff manners of a soldier. 

' Good day, Grandet,' he said, holding out his hand to 
the cooper with that wonted air of superiority with which 
he eclipsed the Cruchot faction. ' Mademoiselle,' he 
added, addressing Eugenie, after a bow to Mme. Grandet, 
* you are always charming, ever good and fair, and what 
more can one wish you ? ' 

With that he presented her with a small box, which a 
servant was carrying, and which contained a Cape heath, a 
plant only recently introduced into Europe, and very rare. 

Mme. des Grassins embraced Eugenie very affec- 
tionately, squeezed her hand, and said, ' I have com- 
missioned Adolphe to give you my little birthda 

Eugenie Grandet 35 

A tall, fair-haired young man, somewhat pallid and 
weakly in appearance, came forward at this ; his manners 
were passably good, although he seemed to be shy. He 
had just completed his law studies in Paris, where he had 
managed to spend eight or ten thousand francs over and 
above his allowance. He now kissed Eugenie on both 
cheeks, and laid a workbox with gilded silver fittings 
before her ; it was a showy, trumpery thing enough, in 
spite of the little shield on the lid, on which an E. G. 
had been engraved in Gothic characters, a detail which 
gave an imposing air to the whole. Eugenie raised the 
lid with a little thrill of pleasure, the happiness was as 
complete as it was unlooked for — the happiness that 
brings bright colour into a young girl's face and makes 
her tremble with delight. Her eyes turned to her father 
as if to ask whether she might accept the gift ; M. 
Grandet answered the mute inquiry with a ' Take it, my 
daughter ! ' in tones which would have made the reputa- 
tion of an actor. The three Cruchots stood dumb- 
founded when they saw the bright, delighted glance that 
Adolphe des Grassins received from the heiress, who 
seemed to be dazzled by such undreamed-of splendours. 

M. des Grassins offered his snuff-box to Grandet, 
took a pinch himself, brushed off a few stray specks from 
his blue coat and from the ribbon of the Legion ot 
Honour at his button-hole, and looked at the Cruchots, 
as who should say, 'Parry that thrust if you can!* 
Mme. des Grassins' eyes fell on the blue glas^ jars in 
which the Cruchots' bouquets had been set. She looked 
at their gifts with the innocent air of pretended interest 
which a satirical woman knows how to assume upon 
occasion. It was a delicate crisis. The Abbe got up 
and left the others, who were forming a circle round the 
fire, and joined Grandet in his promenade up and down 
the room. When the two elders had reached the em- 
brasure of the window at the further end, away from the 
group by the fire, the priest said in the miser's ear, 

^6 Eugenie Grandet 

' Those people yonder are throwing their money out of 
the windows.' 

' What does that matter to me, so long as it comes 
my way ? * the old vinegrower answered. 

' If you had a mind to give your daughter golden 
scissors, you could very well afford it,' said the Abbe. 

' I shall give her something better than scissors,' 
Grandet answered. 

' What an idiot my nephew is ! ' thought the Abbe, 
as he looked at the magistrate, whose dark, ill-favoured 
countenance was set off to perfection at that moment by 
a shock head of hair. ' Why couldn't he have hit on 
some expensive piece of foolery ? ' 

' We will take a hand at cards, Mme. Grandet,' said 
Mme. des Grassins. 

' But as we are all here, there are enough of us for two 
tables . . .' 

* As to-day is Eugenie's birthday, why not all play 
together at loto ? ' said old Grandet ; ' these two children 
could join in the game.' 

The old cooper, who never played at any game what- 
e\er, pointed to his daughter and Adolphe. 

* Here, Nanon, move the tables out.' 

' We will help you. Mademoiselle Nanon,' said Mme. 
des Grassins cheerfully ; she was thoroughly pleased, 
because she had pleased Eugenie. 

' I have never seen anything so pretty anywhere,' the 
heiress had said to her. ' I have never beenjso happy in 
my life before.' 

' It was Adolphe who chose it,' said Mme. des Grassins 
in the girl's ear ; ' he brought it from Paris.' 

' Go your ways, accursed scheming woman,' muttered 
the magistrate to himself ' If you or your husband 
ever find yourselves in a court of law, you shall be hard 
put to it to gain the day.' 

The notary, calmly seated in his corner, watched the 
Abbe, and said to himself, ' The des Grassins may do 

Eugenie Grandet 37 

what they like ; my fortune and my brother's and my 
nephew*s fortunes altogether mount up to eleven hundred 
thousand francs. The des Grassins, at the very most, 
have only half as much, and they have a daughter. Let 
them give whatever they like, all will be ours some day 
— the heiress and her presents too.' 

Two tables were in readiness by half-past eight o'clock. 
Mme. des Grassins, with her winning ways, had succeeded 
in placing her son next to Eugenie. The actors in the 
scene, so commonplace in appearance, so full of interest 
beneath the surface, each provided with slips of paste- 
board of various colours and blue glass counters, seemed 
to be listening to the little jokes made by the old notary, 
who never drew a number without making some remark 
upon it, but they were all thinking of M. Grandet's 
millions. The old cooper himself eyed the group with a 
certain self-complacency ; he looked at Mme. des Grassins 1 
with her pink feathers and fresh toilette, at the banker's I 
soldierly face, at Adolphe, at the magistrate, at the / 
Abbe and the notary, and within himself he said: 'They 
are all after my crowns ; that is what they are here for. 
It is for my daughter that they come to be bored here. 
Aha ! and my daughter is for none of them, and all 
these people are so many harpoons to be used in my 

The merriment of this family party, the laughter, only 
sincere when it came from Eugenie or her mother, and 
to which the low whirring of Nanon's spinning-wheel 
made an accompaniment, the sordid meanness playing 
for high stakes, the young girl herself, like some rare 
bird, the innocent victim of its high value, tracked down 
and snared by specious pretences of friendship ; taken / 
altogether, it was a sorry comedy that was being played / j 
in the old grey-painted parlour, by the dim light of the / ^^ 
two candles. Was it not, however, a drama of all time, 
played out everywhere all over the world, but here 
reduced to its simplest expression ? Old Grandet 

2% Eugenie Grandet 

towered above the other actors, turning all this sham 
affection to his own account, and reaping a rich harvest 
from this simulated friendship. His face hovered above 
the scene like the interpretation of an evil dream. He 
was like the incarnation of the one god who yet finds 
worshippers in modern times, of Money and the power 
of wealth. 

With him the gentler and sweeter impulses of human 

Hfe only occupied the second place; but they so filled 

three purer hearts there, that there was no room in them 

for other thoughts — the hearts of Nanon, and of Eugenie 

and her mother. And yet, how much ignorance mingled 

^ with their innocent simplicity I Eugenie and her mother 

/" knew nothing of Grandet's wealth ; they saw everything 

through a medium of dim ideas peculiar to their own 

narrow world, and neither desired nor despised money, 

accustomed as they were to do without it. Nor were they 

conscious of an uncongenial atmosphere ; the strength of 

their feelings, their inner life, made of them a strange 

exception in this gathering, wholly intent upon material 

J , ' interests. Appalling is the condition of man ; there is no 

-^V* / drop of happiness in his lot but has its source in ignorance. 

Just as Mme. Grandet had won sixteen sous, the 
largest amount that had ever been punted beneath that 
roof, and big Nanon was beaming with delight at the 
sight of Madame pocketing that splendid sum, there was 
a knock at the house-door, so sudden and so loud that 
the women started on their chairs. 

' No one in Saumur would knock in that way ! * said 
the notary. 

' What do they thump like that for ? ' said Nanon. 
* Do they want to break our door down ? ' 

' Who the devil is it ? * cried Grandet. 

Nanon took up one of the two candles and went to 
open the door, Grandet followed her. 

' Grandet ! Grandet ! * cried his wife ; a vague terror 
seized her, and she hurried to the door of the room. 

Eugenie Grandet 39 

The players all looked at each other. 

* Suppose we go too ? ' said M. des Grassins. *That 
knock meant no good, it seemed to me.' 

But M. des Grassins scarcely caught a gHmpse of a 
young man's face and of a porter who was carrying two 
huge trunks and an assortment of carpet bags, before 
Grandet turned sharply on his wife and said — 

' Go back to your loto, Mme. Grandet, and leave me to 
settle with this gentleman here.' 

With that he slammed the parlour door, and the loto 
players sat down again, but they were too much excited 
to go on with the game. 

' Is it any one who lives in Saumur, M. des Grassins ? ' 
his wife inquired. 

' No, a traveller.' 

' Then he must have come from Paris.' 

'As a matter of fact,' said the notary, drawing out a 
heavy antique watch, a couple of fingers breadth in 
thickness, and not unlike a Dutch punt in shape, ' as a 
matter of fact, it is nine o'clock. Peste! the mail coach 
is not often behind time.' 

' Is he young looking ? ' put in the Abbe Cruchot. 

'Yes,' answered M. des Grassins. 'The luggage 
he has with him must weigh three hundred kilos at 

' Nanon does not come back,' said Eugenie. 

' It must be some relation of yours,' the President 

' Let us put down our stakes,' said Mme. Grandet 
gently. ' M. Grandet was vexed, I could tell that by the 
sound of his voice, and perhaps he would be displeased 
if he came in and found us all discussing his affairs.' 

'Mademoiselle,' Adolphe addressed his neighbour, 
* it will be your cousin Grandet no doubt, a very nice- 
looking young fellow whom I once met at a ball at M. 
de Nucingen's.' 

Adolphe went no further, his mother stamped on 


4.0 Eugenie Grandet 

his foot under the table. Aloud, she asked him for two 
sous for his stake, adding in an undertone, meant only 
for his ears, ' Will you hold your tongue, you great silly ! ' 

They could hear the footsteps of Nanon and the 
? porter on the staircase, but Grandet returned to the 
■ room almost immediately, and just behind him came the 
traveller who had excited so much curiosity, and loomed 
so large in the imaginations of those assembled ; indeed, 
his sudden descent into their midst might be compared 
to the arrival of a snail in a beehive, or the entrance of a 
peacock into some humdrum village poultry-yard.^ 

'Take a seat near the fire,' said Grandet, addressing 
the stranger. 

The young man looked round the room and bowed 
very gracefully before seating himself. The men rose 
and bowed politely in return, the women curtseyed rather 

' You are feeling cold, I expect, sir,' said Mme. 
Grandet ; ' you have no doubt come from ' 

' Just like the women ! ' broke in the goodman, looking 
up from the letter which he held in his hand. ' Do let 
the gentleman have a httle peace.' 

' But, father, perhaps the gentleman wants something 
^fter his journey,' said Eugenie. 

' He has a tongue in his head,' the vinegrower 
answered severely. 

The stranger alone felt any surprise at this scene, the 
rest were quite used to the worthy man and his arbitrary 
behaviour. But after the two inquiries had received 
these summary answers, the stranger rose and stood with 
his back to the fire, held out a foot to the blaze, so as to 
warm the soles of his boots, and said to Eugenie, ' Thank 
you, cousin, I dined at Tours. And I do not require 
anything,' he added, glancing at Grandet ; ' I am not in 
the least tired.' 

' Do you come from Paris ? ' (it was Mme. des Grassins 
who now put the inquiry). 

Eugenie Grandet 41 

M. Charles (for this was the name borne by the son of 
M. Grandet of Paris), hearing some one question him, 
took out an eyeglass that hung suspended from his neck 
by a cord, fixed it in his eye, made a deliberate survey of 
the objects upon the table and of the people sitting 
round it, eyed Mme. des Grassins very coolly, and said 
(when he had completed his survey), ' Yes, madame. — 
You are playing at loto, aunt,' he added ; ' pray go 
on with your game, it is too amusing to be broken 
ofF . . . ' 

' I knew it was the cousin,' thought Mme. des Grassins, 
and she gave him a side-glance from time to time. 

'Forty-seven,' cried the old Abbe. 'Keep count. 
Mme. des Grassins, that is your number, is it not ? ' 

M. des Grassins put down a counter on his wife's card; 
the lady herself was not thinking of loto, her mind was 
full of melancholy forebodings, she was watching Eugenie 
and the cousin from Paris. She saw how the heiress 
now and then stole a glance at her cousin, and the 
banker's wife could easily discover in those glances a 

J crescendo of amazement or of curiosity*— : 

f There was certainly a strange contrast between M. 
Charles Grandet, a handsome young man of two-and- 
twenty, and the worthy provincials, who, tolerably 
disgusted already with his aristocratic airs, were scorn- 
fully studying the stranger with a view to making game 
of him. This requires some explanation. 

At two-and-twenty childhood is not so very far away, 
/ and youth, on the borderland, has not finally and for ever 
put away childish things ; Charles Grandet's vanity was 
childish, but perhaps ninety-nine young men out of a 
hundred would have been carried away by it and behaved 
exactly as he did. 

Some days previously his rather had bidden him to go 
on a visit of several months to his uncle in Saumur ; 
perhaps M. Grandet (of Paris) had Eugenie in his mind. 
Charles, launched in this way into a county town for 

42 Eugenie Grandet 

the first time in his life, had his own ideas. He would 
make his appearance in provincial society with all the 
superiority of a young man of fashion ; he would reduce 
the neighbourhood to despair by his splendour ; he would 
7 inaugurate a new epoch, and introduce all the latest and 
most ingenious refinement of Parisian luxury. To be 
brief, he meant to devote more time at Saumur than in 
Paris to the care of his nails, and to carry out schemes 
of elaborate and studied refinements in dress at his 
leisure ; there should be none of the not ungraceful 
negligence of attire which a young man of fashion some- 
times affects. 

So Charles took with him into the country the most 
charming of shooting costumes, the sweetest thing in 
hunting-knives and sheaths, and a perfect beauty of a 
rifle. He packed up a most tasteful collection of waist- 
coats ; gray, white, black, beetle-green shot with gold, 
speckled and spangled ; double waistcoats, waistcoats 
with rolled collars, stand-up collars, turned-down collars, 
open at the throat, buttoned up to the chin with a row of 
gold buttons. He took examples of all the ties and 
cravats in favour at that epoch. He took two of 
Buisson's coats. He took his finest linen, and the dress- 
ing-case with gold fittings that his mother had given 
him. He took all his dandy's paraphernalia, not forget- 
ting an enchanting Httle writing-case, the gift of the 
most amiable of women (for him at least), a great lady 
whom he called Annette, and who at that moment was 
travelling with her husband in Scotland, a victim to 
suspicions which demanded the temporary sacrifice of 
her happiness. 

In short, his cargo of Parisian frivolities was as com- 
plete as it was possible to make it ; nothing had been 
omitted, from the horse-whip, useful as a preliminary, to 
the pair of richly chased and mounted pistols that ter- 
minate a duel. There was all the ploughing gear 
required by a young idler in the field of life. 

Eugenie Grandet 43 

His rather had told him to travel alone and modestly, 
and he had obeyed. He had come in the coupe of the 
diligence, which he secured all to himself; and was not 
ill-satisfied to save wear, in this way, to a smart and 
comfortable travelling carriage which he had ordered, 
and in which he meant to go to meet his Annette, the 
aforesaid great lady who . . . etc., and whom he was 
to rejoin next June at Baden-Baden. 

Charles expected to meet scores of people during his 
visit to his uncle ; he expected to have some shooting on 
his uncle's land ; he expected, in short, to find a large 
house on a large estate ; he had not thought to find his 
relatives in Saumur at all ; he had only found out that 
they lived there by asking the way to Froidfond, and 
even after this discovery he expected to see them in a 
large mansion. But whether his uncle lived in Saumur 
or at Froidfond, he was determined to make his first 
appearance properly, so he had assumed a most fascinating 
travelling costume, made with the simplicity that is the 
perfection of art, a most adorable creation, to use the 
word which in chose days expressed superlative praise of 
ihe special qualities of a thing or of a man. At Tours 
he had summoned a hairdresser, and his handsome chest- 
nut hair was curled afresh. He had changed his linen and 
put on a black satin cravat, which, in combination with 
a round collar, made a very becoming setting for a pale 
and satirical face. A long overcoat, fitting tightly at the 
waist, gave glimpses of a cashmere waistcoat with a rolled 
collar, and beneath this again a second waistcoat of some 
white material. His watch was carelessly thrust into a 
side pocket, and save in so for as a gold chain secured it 
to a buttonhole, its continuance there appeared to be 
purely accidental. His grey trousers were buttoned at 
the sides, and the seams were adorned with designs 
embroidered in black silk. A pair of grey gloves had 
nothing to dread from contact with a gold-headed cane, 
which he managed to admiration. A discriminating 


44 Eugenie Grandet 

taste was evinced throughout the costume, and shone con- 
spicuous in the traveUing cap. Only a Parisian, and a 
Parisian moreover from some remote and lofty sphere, 
could trick himself out in such attire, and bring all its 
absurd details into harmony by coxcombry carried to 
such a pitch that it ceased to be ridiculous ; this young 
man carried it off, moreover, with a swaggering air 
befitting a dead shot, conscious of the possession of a 
handsome pair of pistols and the good graces of an 

If, moreover, you wish to thoroughly understand the 
surprise with which the Saumurois and the young 
Parisian mutually regarded each other, you must behold, 
as did the former, the radiant vision of this elegant 
traveller shining in the gloomy old room, as well as the 
figures that composed the family picture that met the 
stranger's eyes. There sat the Cruchots ; try to imagine 

To begin with, all three took snufF, with utter dis- 
regard of personal cleanliness or of the black deposit with 
which their shirt frills were encrusted. Their limp silk 
handkerchiefs were twisted into a thick rope, and wound 
tightly about their necks. Their collars were crumpled 
and soiled, their Hnen was dingy ; there was such a vast 
accumulation of underwear in their presses, that it was 
only necessary to wash twice in the year, and the linen 
acquired a bad colour with lying by. Age and ugliness 
might have wrought together to produce a masterpiece 
in them. Their hard-featured, furrowed, and wrinkled 
faces were in keeping with their creased and threadbare 
clothing, and both they and their garments were worn, 
shrunken, twisted out of shape. Dwellers in country 
places are apt to grow more or less slovenly and 
careless of their appearance ; they cease by degrees to 
dress for others ; the career of a pair of gloves is in- 
definitely prolonged, there is a general want of freshness 
and a decided neglect of detail. The slovenliness of the 

Eugenie Grandet 43 

Cruchots, therefore, was not conspicuous; they were in 
harmony with the rest of the company, for there was one 
point on which both Cruchotins and Grassinistes were 
agreed for the most part — they held the fashions in 

The Parisian assumed his eyeglass again in order to 
study the curious accessories of the room ; his eyes 
travelled over the rafters in the ceiling, over the dingy 
i^anels covered with fly-spots in sufficient abundance to 
punctuate the whole of the Encyclopedie methodique and 
the Moniteur besides. The loto-players looked up at 
this and stared at him; if a giraffe had been in their 
midst they could hardly have gazed with more eager 
curiosity. Even M. des Grassins and his son, who had 
beheld a man of fashion before in the course of their 
lives, shared in the general amazement ; perhaps they 
felt the indefinable influence of the general feeling about 
the stranger, perhaps they regarded him not unapprov- 
ingly. 'You see how they dress in Paris,' their satirical 
glances seemed to say to their neighbours. 

One and all were at liberty to watch Charles at their 
leisure, without any fear of ofl^ending the master of the 
house, for by this time Grandet was deep in a long letter 
which he held in his hand. He had taken the only 
candle from the table beside him, without any regard for 
the convenience of his guests or for their pleasure. / 

It seemed to Eugenie, who had never in her life beheld 
such a paragon, that her cousin was some seraphic vision, tfr 
some creature fallen from the skies. The perfume ' 
exhaled by those shining locks, so gracefully curled, was 
delightful to her. She would fain have passed her 
fingers over the delicate, smooth surface of those 
wonderful gloves. She envied Charles his little hands, 
his complexion, the youthful refinement of his features. 
In fact, the sight of her cousin gave her the same sensa- . 

tions of exquisite pleasure that might be aroused in a 
young man by the contemplation of the fanciful portraits 

4.6 Eugenie Grandet 

of ladies in English Keepsakes^ portraits drawn by Westall 
and engraved by Finden, with a burin so skilful that you 
fear to breathe upon the vellum surface lest the celestial 
vision should disappear. And yet — how should the im- 
pression produced by a young exquisite upon an ignorant 
girl whose life was spent in darning stockings and mend- 
y ing her father's clothes, in the dirty wainscoted window 

embrasure whence, in an hour, she saw scarcely one 
passer-by in the silent street, how should her dim im- 
pressions be conveyed by such an image as this ? 

Charles drew from his pocket a handkerchief em- 
broidered by the great lady who was travelling in 
Scotland. It was a dainty piece of work wrought by 
love, in hours that were lost to love ; Eugenie gazed at 
her cousin, and wondered, was he really going to use it ? 
Charles's manners, his way of adjusting his eyeglass, his 
superciliousness, his affectations, his manifest contempt 
for the little box which had but lately given so much 
pleasure to the wealthy heiress, and which in his eyes 
seemed to be a very absurd piece of rubbish ; everything, 
in short, which had given offence to the Cruchots and 
the Grassinistes pleased Eugenie so much that she lay 
awake for long that night thinking about this phoenix of 
a cousin. 

Meanwhile the numbers were drawn but languidly, 
and very soon the loto came to an end altogether. Big 
Nanon came into the room and said aloud, 'Madame, 
you will have to give me some sheets to make the 
gentleman's bed.' 

Mme. Grandet disappeared with Nanon, and Mme. des 
Grassins said in a low voice, ' Let us keep our sous, and 
give up the game.' 

Each player took back his coin from the chipped saucer 
which held the stakes. Then there was a general stir, 
and a wheeling movement in the direction of the fire. 

' Is the game over ? ' inquired Grandet, still reading his 

Eugenie Grandet 47 

* Yes, yes,' answered Mme. des Grassins, seating her- 
self next to Charles. 

Eugenic left the room to help her mother and Nanon, 
moved by a thought that came with the vague feeling 
that stirredther heart for the first time. If she had been 
questioned by a skilful confessor, she would have no doubt 
admitted that her thought was neither for Nanon nor for 
her mother, but that she was seized with a restless and 
urgent desire to see that all was right in her cousin's 
room, to busy herself on her cousin's account, to see that 
nothing was forgotten, to think of everything he might 
require, and to make sure that it was there, to make 
certain that everything was as neat and pretty as might 
be. She alone, so Eugenie thought already, could enter 
'nto her cousin's ideas and understand his tastes. 

As a matter of fact, she came just at the right moment. 
Her mother and Nanon were about to leave the room in 
the belief that it was all in readiness; Eugenie convinced 
them in a moment that everything was yet to do. She 
filled Nanon's head with these ideas : the sheets had not 
been aired, Nanon must bring the warming-pan, there 
were ashes, there was a fire downstairs. She herself 
covered the old table with a clean white cloth, and told 
Nanon to mind and be sure to change it every morning. 
There must be a good fire in the room ; she overcame her 
mother's objections, she induced Nanon to put a good 
supply of firewood outside in the passage, and to say 
nothing about it to her father. She ran downstairs into 
the parlour, sought in one of the sideboards for an old 
japanned tray which had belonged to the late M. de la 
Bertelliere, and from the same source she procured a 
hexagonal crystal glass, a little gilt spoon with almost 
all the gilding rubbed oiF, and an old slender-necked glass 
bottle with Cupids engraved upon it ; these she deposited 
in triumph on a corner of the chimney-piece. More ideas 
had crowded upin her mind during thatonequarterofan hour 
than in all the years since she had come into the world. 

48 Eugenie Graridet 

' Mamma,' she began, ' he will never be able to beai 
the smell of a tallow candle. Suppose that we buy a wax 
candle •* ' 

She fled, lightly as a bird, to find her purse, and drew 
thence the five francs which she had received for the 
month's expenses. 

' Here, Nanon, be quick.' 

' But what will your father say ? ' 

This dreadful objection was raised by Mme. Grandet, 
when she saw her daughter with an old Sevres china 
sugar-basin which Grandet had brought back with him 
from the chateau at Froidfond. 

' And where is the sugar to come from ? ' she went on. 
' Are you mad ? ' 

' Nanon can easily buy the sugar when she goes for 
the candle, mamma.' 

' But how about your father ? ' 

'Is it a right thing that his nephew should not have a j 
glass of eau sucree to drink if he happens to want it ? ^ 
Besides, he will not notice it.' 

' Your father always notices things,' said Mme. Grandet, 
shaking her head. 

Nanon hesitated ; she knew her master. 

* Do go, Nanon ; it is my birthday to-day, you know ! ' 

Nanon burst out laughing in spite of herself at the first 
joke her young mistress had ever been known to make, 
and did her bidding. 

While Eugenie and her mother were doing their best 

to adorn the room which M. Grandet had allotted to his 

nephew, Mme. des Grassins was bestowing her attention on 

\ Charles, and making abundant use of her eyes as she did so. 

' You are very brave,' she said, ' to leave the pleasures 

of the capital in winter in order to come to stay in 

Saumur. But if you are not fi-ightened away at first 

sight of us, you shall see that even here we can amuse 

V ourselves.' And she gave him a languishing glance, in 

. true provincial style. 


Eugenie Grandct 4p 

Women in the provinces are wont to affect a demurt 
and staid demeanour, which gives a furtive and eager 
eloquence to their eyes, a peculiarity which may be noted 
in ecclesiastics, for whom every pleasure is stolen or for- 
bidden. Charles was so thoroughly out of his element in 
this room, it was all so far removed from the great chateau 
and the splendid surroundings in which he had thought 
to find his uncle, that, on paying closer attention to 
Mme. des Grassins, she almost reminded him of Parisian 
faces half obliterated already by these strange, new 
impressions. He responded graciously to the advances 
which had been made to him, and naturally they fell 
into conversation. 

Mme. des Grassins gradually lowered her voice to tones 
suited to the nature of her confidences. Both she and 
Charles Grandet felt a need of mutual confidence, of 
explanations and an understanding; so after a few minutes 
spent in coquettish chatter and jests that covered a serious 
purpose, the wily provincial dame felt free to converse 
without fear of being overheard, under cover of a con- 
versation on the sale of the vintage, the one all-absorbing 
topic at that moment in Saumur. 

' If you will honour us with a visit,' she said, * you 
will certainly do us a pleasure ; my husband and I shall 
be very glad to see you. Our salon is the only one in 
Saumur where you will meet both the wealthy merchant 
society and the noblesse. We ourselves belong in a 
manner to both ; they do not mix with each other at all 
except at our house ; they come to us because they find 
it amusing. My husband, I am proud to say, is very 
highly thought of in both circles. So we will do our 
best to beguile the tedium of your stay. If you are 
going to remain with the Grandets, what will become 
of you ! Bon Dieu ! Your uncle is a miser, his mind 
runs on nothing but his vine cuttings ; your aunt is a 
saint who cannot put two ideas together; and your 
cousin is a silly little thing, a common sort of girl, 


JO Eugenic Grandet 

with no breeding and no money, who spends her life in 
mending dish-cloths,' 

''Tis a very pretty woman,' said Charles to himself; 
Mme. des Grassins' coquettish glances had not been 
thrown away upon him. 

'It seems to me that you mean to monopolise the 
gentleman,' said the big banker, laughing, to his wife, an 
unlucky observation, followed by remarks more or less 
spiteful from the notary and the president ; but the Abbe 
gave them a shrewd glance, took a pinch of snuff, and 
handed his snuff-box to the company, while he gave 
expression to their thoughts, 'Where could the gentle- 
man have found any one better qualified to do the 
honours of Saumur ? ' he said. 

' Come, Abbe, what do you mean by that ? ' asked 
M. des Grassins. 

'It is meant, sir, in the most flattering sense for 
you, for madame, for the town of Saumur, and for this i 
gentleman,' added the shrewd ecclesiastic, turning 
towards Charles. Without appearing to pay the slightest 
heed to their talk, he had managed to guess the drift 
of it. 

Adolphe des Grassins spoke at last, with what was 
meant to be aii offhand manner. ' I do/ not know,' he 
said, addressing Charles, 'whether you have any recollec- 
tion of me ; I once had the pleasure of dancing in the 
same quadrille at a ball given by M. le Baron de 
Nucingen, and . . .' 

'I remember it perfectly,' answered Charles, sur- 4 
prised to find himself the object of general attention. 

' Is this gentleman your son ? ' he asked of Mme. des 

The Abbe gave her a spiteful glance. 

' Yes, I am his mother,' she answered. 

' You must have been very young when you came to 
Paris ? ' Charles went on, speaking to Adolphe. 

' We cannot help ourselves, sir,' said the Abbe. 'Our 

Eugenie Grandet 51 

babes are scarcely weaned before we send them to 

Mme. des Grassins gave the Abbe a strangely penetrat- 
ing glance ; she seemed to be seeking the meaning of 
those words. 

' You must go into the country,' the Abbe went on, 'if 
you want to find women not much on the other side of 
thirty, with a grown-up son a licentiate of law, who look as 
fresh and youthful as Mme. des Grassins. It only seems 
like the other day when the young men and tke ladies 
stood on chairs to see you dance, madame,' the Abbe 
added, turning towards his fair antagonist ; ' your triumphs 
are as fresh in my memory as if they had happened 

' Oh ! the old wretch ! ' said Mme. des Grassins to 
herself, *is it possible that he has guessed ? ' 

'It looks as though I should have a great success in 
Saumur,' thought Charles. He unbuttoned his overcoat 
and stood with his hand in his waistcoat pocket, gazing 
into space, striking the attitude which Chantrey thought 
fit to give to Byron in his statue of that poet. 

Meanwhile Grandet's inattention, or rather his pre- 
occupation, during the reading of his letter had escaped 
neither the notary nor the magistrate. Both of them 
tried to guess at the contents by watching the almost 
imperceptible changes in the worthy man's face, on 
which all the light of a candle was concentrated. The 
vinegrower was hard put to it to preserve his wonted 
composure. His expression must be left to the imagina- 
tion, but here is the fatal letter : — 

' My Brother, — It is nearly twenty-three J^ears now 
since we saw each other. The last time we met it 
was to make arrangements for my marriage, and we 
parted in high spirits. Little did I then think, when 
you were congratulating yourself on our prosperity, 
that one day you would be the sole hope and stay of our 

52 Eugenie Grandet 

family. By the time that this letter reaches your hands, 
I shall be no more. In my position, I could not survive 
the disgrace of bankruptcy ; I have held up my head 
above the surface till the last moment, hoping to v^^eather 
the storm ; it is ,all of no use, I must sink now. Just 
after the failure of my stockbroker came the failure of 
Roguin (my notary) ; my last resources have been swept 
away, and I have nothing left. It is my heavy mis- 
fortune to owe nearly four millions ; my assets only 
amount to twenty-five per cent, of my debts. I hold 
heavy stocks of wine, and owing to the abundance and 
good quality of your vintages, they have fallen ruinously 
in value. In three days time all Paris will say, "M, 
Grandet was a rogue ! " and I, honest though I am, 
shall lie wrapped in a winding sheet of infamy. I have 
despoiled my own son of hi^s mother's fortune and of the 
spotless name on which 1 have brought disgrace. He 
knows nothing of all this — the unhappy child whom 
I have idolised. Happily for him, he did not know when 
we bade each other good-bye, and my heart overflowed 
with tenderness for him, how soon it should cease to 
beat. Will he not curse me some day ? Oh ! my 
brother, my brother, a child's curse is an awful thing ! 
If we curse our children, they may appeal against us, 
but their curses cling to us for ever 1 Grandet, you are 
my older brother, you must shield me from this ; do 
not let Charles say bitter things of me when I am lying 
in my grave. Oh ! my brother, if every v.^ord in this 
letter were written in my tears, in my blood, it would 
not cost me such bitter anguish, for then I should be 
weeping, bleeding, dying, and the agony would be 
ended ; but now I am still suffering — I see the death 
before me with dry eyes. You therefore are Charles's 
father, now ! He has no relations on his mother's side 
for reasons which you know. Why did I not defer to 
social prejudices ? Why did I yield to love ? Why did 
I marry the natural daughter of a noble ? Char)*** «« <-he 

Eugenie Grandet 53 

last of his family ; he is alone in the world. Oh ! my 
unhappy boy, my son ! . . . Listen, Grandet, I am ask- 
ing nothing for myself, and you could scarcely satisfy 
my creditors if you would ; your fortune cannot be 
sufficient to meet a demand of three millions ; it is for 
my son's sake that I write. You must Icnow, my brother, 
that as I think of you my petition is made with clasped 
hands ; that this is my dying prayer to you. Grandet, 
I know that you will be a father to him ; I know that 
I shall not ask in vain, and the sight of my pistols does 
not cause me a pang. 

' And then Charles is very fond of me ; I was kind 
to him, I never said him nay ; he will not curse me I 
For the rest, you will see how sweet-tempered and 
obedient he is ; he takes after his mother j he will never 
give you any trouble, poor boy ! He is accustomed to 
luxurious ways ; he knows nothing of the hardships that 
you and I experienced in the early days when we were 
poor. . . . And now he has not a penny, and he is alone 
in the world, for all his friends are sure to leave him, 
and it is I who have brought these humiHations upon 
him. Ah ! if I had only the power to send him straight 
to heaven now, where his mother is ! This is madness ! 
To go back to my misfortunes and Charles's share in 
them. I have sent him to you so that you may break 
the news of my death and explain to him what his 
future must be. Be a father to him ; ah ! more than 
that, be an indulgent father ! Do not expect him to 
give up his idle ways all at once ; it would kill him. On 
my knees I beg him to renounce all claims to his 
mother's fortune ; but I need not ask that of him, his 
sense of honour will prevent him from adding himself to 
the Hst of my creditors j see that he resigns his claims 
when the right time comes. And you must lay every- 
thing before him, Grandet — the struggle and the hard- 
ships that he will have to face in the life that I have 
spoiled for him -, and then if he has any tenderness still 

J4 Eugenie Grandet 

left for me, tell him from me that all is not lost for 
him — be sure you tell him that. Work, which was 
our salvation, can restore the fortune which I have lost ; 
and if he will listen to his father's voice, which would 
fain make itself heard yet a little while from the grave, 
let him leave this country and go to the Indies ! And, 
brother, Charles is honest and energetic ; you will help 
him with his first trading venture, I know you will j 
he would die sooner than not repay you ; you will do as 
much as that for him, Grandet, or you will lay up regrets 
for yourself. Ah ! if my boy finds no kindness and no 
help in you, I shall for ever pray God to punish your 
hard-heartedness. If I could have withheld a few pay- 
ments, I might have saved a little sum for him — he surely 
has a right to some of his mother's fortune — but the pay- 
ments at the end of the month taxed all my resources, 
and I could not manage it. I would fain have died with 
my mind at rest about his future ; I wish I could have 
received your solemn promise, coming straight from 
your hand it would have brought warmth with it for 
me ; but time presses. Even while Charles is on his 
way, I am compelled to file my schedule. My affairs 
are all in order ; I am endeavouring so to arrange every- 
thing that it will be evident that my failure is due 
neither to carelessness nor to dishonesty, but simply to 
disasters which I could not help. Is it not for Charles's 
sake that I take these pains ? Farewell, my brother. 
May God bless you in every way for the generosity with 
which you (as I cannot doubt) will accept and fulfil this, 
trust. There will be one voice that will never cease to 
pray for you in the world whither we must all go sooner 
or later, and where I am even now. 

Victor-Ange-Guillaume Grandet. 

•So you are having a chat ? ' said old Grandet, folding 
up the letter carefully in the original creases, and putting 
it into his waistcoat pocket. 

Eugenie Grandet J5 

He looked at his nephew in a shy and embarrassed 
way, seeking to dissemble his feelings and his calculations. 

' Do you feel warmer ? ' 

'I am very comfortable, my dear uncle.' 

' Well, what ever are the women after ? ' his uncle 
went on ; the fact that his nephew would sleep in the 
house had by that time slipped from his memory. 
Eugenie and Mme. Grandet came into the room as 
he spoke. 

' Is everything ready upstairs ? ' the goodman inquired. 
He had now quite recovered himself, and recollected the 
facts of the case. 

' Yes, father.' 

' Very well then, nephew, if you are feeling tired, 
Nanon will show you to your room. Lord ! there is 
nothing very smart about it, but you will overlook that 
Here among poor vinegrowers, who never have a penny 
to bless themselves with. The taxes swallow up every- 
thing we have.' 

' We don't want to be intrusive. Grander,' said the 
banker. ' You and your nephew may have some things 
to talk over ; we will wish you good evening. Good- 
bye till to-morrow.' 

f Every one rose at this, and took leave after their 
several fashions. The old notary went out under the 
archway to look for his lantern, lighted it, and offered to 
see the des Grassins to their house. Mme. des Grassins 
had not been prepared for the event which had brought 
jfcthe evening so early to a close, and her maid had not 
* appeared. 

' Will you honour me by taking my arm, madame ? ' 
said the Abbe Cruchot, addressing Mme. des Grassins. 

' Thank you, M. 1' Abbe,' said the lady drily ; ' my 
son is with me.' 

' I am not a compromising acquaintance for a lady,* 
the Abbe continued. 

' Take M. Cruchot's arm,' said her husband. 

56 Eugenie Grandet 

The Abbe, with the fair lady on his arm, walked on 
quickly for several paces, so as to put a distance between 
them and the rest of the party. 

' That young man is very good-looking, madame,' he 
Said, with a pressure on her arm to give emphasis to the 
remark. ' 'Tis goodbye to the baskets, the vintage is 
over ! You must give up Mile. Grandet ; Eugenie is 
meant for her cousin. Unless he happens to be smitten 
with some fair face in Paris, your son Adolphe will have 
yet another rival * 

< Nonsense, M. TAbbe.' 

* It will not be long before the young man will find 
out that Eugenie is a girl who has nothing to say for 
herself; and she has gone off in looks. Did you notice 

ft j her ? She was as yellow as a quince this evening.' 

' Which, possibly, you have already pointed out to her 
cousin ? ' 

' Indeed, I have not taken the trouble * 

\ ' If you always sit beside Eugenie, madame,* interrupted 
I the Abbe, ' you will not need to tell the young man much 
labout his cousin j he can make his own comparisons.' 
' ' He promised me at once to come to dine with us 
the day after to-morrow.' 

' Ah ! madame,' said the Abbe, ' if you would only . . .* 
' Would only what, M. I'Abbe ? Do you mean to put 
evil suggestions into my mind ? I have not come to the 
age of thirty-nine with a spotless reputation (Heaven be 
thanked) to compromise myself now — not for the Empire 
of the Great Mogul ! We are both of us old enough ta|^ 
know what that kind of talk means ; and I must say that 
your ideas do not square very well with your sacred 
calling. For shame ! this is worthy of Faublas.* 
' So you have read Faublas ? ' 

* No, M. I'Abbe ; Les Liaisons dangereuses is what I 
meant to say.' 

' Oh ! that book is infinitely more moral,' said the 
Abbe, laughing. * But you would make me out to be as 

Eugenie Grandet 57 

depraved as young men are nowadays. I only meant 
that you ' 

' Do you dare to tell me that you meant no harm ? 
The thing is plain enough. If that young fellow (who 
certainly is good-looking, that I grant you) paid court to 
me, it would not be for the sake of my interest with that 
cousin of his. In Paris, I know, there are tender mothers 
who sacrifice themselves thus for their children's happi- 
ness and welfare, but we are not in Paris, M. I'Abbe.* 

' No, madame.* 

* And,' continued she, ' neither Adolphe nor I would 
purchase a hundred millions at such a price.' 

' Madame, I said nothing about a hundred milHons. 
Perhaps such a temptation might have been too much 
for either of us. Still, in my opinion, an honest woman 
may indulge in a little harmless coquetry, in the strictest 
propriety ; it is a part of her social duties, and * 

' You think so ? ' 

' Do we not owe it to ourselves, madame, to endeavour 
to be as agreeable as possible to others ? . . . Permit me 
to blow my nose. Take my word for it, madame,' 
resumed the Abbe, ' that he certainly regarded you with 
rather more admiration than he saw fit to bestow on me, 
but I can forgive him for honouring beauty rather than 
grey hairs ' 

' It is perfectly clear,' said the President in his thick 
voice, ' why M. Grandet of Paris is sending his son to 
Saiimur ; he has made up his mind to make a match ' 

' Then why should the cousin have dropped from the 
skies like this ? ' answered the notary. 

' There is nothing in that,' remarked M. des Grassins, 
• old Grandet is so close.' 

' Des Grassins,' said his wife, * I have asked that young 
man to come and dine with us. So you must go to M. 
and Mme. de Larsonniere, dear, and ask them to come, 
and the du Hautoys ; and they must bring that pretty 
girl of theirs, of course; I hope she will dress herself 

58 Eugenie Grandet 

properly for once. Her mother is jealous of her, and 
makes her look such a figure. I hope that you gentlemen 
will do us the honour of coming too ? ' she added, stopping 
the procession in order to turn to the two Cruchots, who 
had fallen behind. 

' Here we are at your door, madame,* said the notary. 
The three Cruchots took leave of the three des Grassins, 
and on their way home the talent for pulling each other 
to pieces, which provincials possess in perfection, was 
fully called into play j the great event of the evening 
was exhaustively discussed, and all its bearings upon the 
respective positions of Cruchotins and Grassinistes were 
duly considered. Clearly it behoved both alike to prevent 
Eugenie from falling in love with her cousin, and to 
hinder Charles from thinking of Eugenie. Sly hints, 
plausible insinuations, faint praise, vindications under- 
taken with an air of candid friendliness — what resistance 
could the Parisian offer when the air hurtled with decep- 
tive weapons such as these ? 

As soon as the four relatives were left alone in the 
great room, M. Grandet spoke to his nephew. 

' We must go to bed. It is too late to begin to talk 
to-night of the business that brought you here ; to- 
morrow will be time enough for that. We have break- 
fast here at eight o'clock. At noon we take a snatch of 
something, a little fruit, a morsel of bread, and a glass of 
white wine, and, like Parisians, we dine at five o'clock. 
That is the way of it. If you care to take a look at the 
town, or to go into the country round about, you are 
quite free to do so. You will excuse me if, for business 
reasons, I cannot always accompany you. Very likely 
you will be told hereabouts that I am rich : 'tis always 
M. Grandet here and M. Grandet there. I let them 
talk. Their babble does not injure my credit in any way. 
But I have not a penny to bless myself with ; and, old as 
I am, I work like any young journeyman who has nothing 
in the world but his plane and a pair of stout arms. 

Eugenie Grandet 59 

perhaps you will find out for yourself some of these days 
what a lot of work it takes to earn a crown when you 
have to toil and moil for it yourself. Here, Nanon, 
bring the candles.* 

' I hope you will find everything you want, nephew,' 
said Mme. Grandet ; * but if anything has been forgotten, 
you will call Nanon.' 

' It would be difficult to want anything, my dear 
aunt, for I believe I have brought all my things with 
me. Permit me to wish you and my young cousin good 

Charles took a lighted wax-candle from Nanon ; it was 
a commodity of local manufacture, which had grown old 
in the shop, very dingy, very yellow, and so like the 
ordinary tallow variety that M. Grandet had no suspicion 
of the article of luxury before him ; indeed, it never 
entered into his head to imagine that there could be such 
a thing in the house. 

' I will show you the way,' said the goodman. 

One of the doors in the dining-room gave immediate 
access to the archway and to the staircase ; but to-night, 
out of compliment to his guest, Grandet went by way of 
the passage which separated the kitchen from the dining- 
room. A folding-door, with a large oval pane of glass 
let into it, closed in the passage at the end nearest the 
staircase, an arrangement intended to keep out the blasts 
of cold air that rushed through the archway. With a 
like end in view, strips of Hst had been nailed to the 
doors ; but in winter the east wind found its way in, and 
whistled none the less shrewdly about the house, and the 
dining-room was seldom even tolerably warm. 

Nanon went out, drew the bolts on the entrance gate, 
fastened the door of the dining-room, went across to the 
stable to let loose a great wolf-dog with a cracked voice ; 
it sounded as though the animal was suffering from 
laryngitis. His savage temper was well known, and 
Nanon was the only human being who could manage 


60 Eugenie Grandet 

him. There was some wild strain in both these children 
of the fields ; they understood each other. 

Charles glanced round at the dingy yellow walls and 
smoke-begrimed ceiling, and saw how the crazy, worm- 
eaten stairs shook beneath his uncle's heavy tread ; he 
was fast coming to his senses, this was sober reality 
indeed ! The place looked like a hen-roost. He looked 
round questioningly at the faces of his aunt and cousin, 
but they were so thoroughly accustomed to the staircase 
and its peculiarities that it never occurred to them that it 
could cause any astonishment ; they took his signal of 
distress for a simple expression of friendliness, and smiled 
back at him in the most amiable way. That smile was 
the last straw ; the young man was at his wits' end. 

' What the devil made my father send me here ? ' said 
he to himself. 

Arrived on the first landing, he saw before him three 
doors painted a dull red-brown colour ; there were no 
mouldings round any of them, so that they would have 
been scarcely visible in the dusty surface of the wall if it 
had not been for the very apparent heavy bars of iron 
with which they were embellished, and which terminated 
in a sort of rough ornamental design, as did the ends of 
the iron scutcheons which surrounded the keyholes. A 
door at the head of the stairs, which had once given 
entrance into the room over the kitchen, was evidently 
blocked up. As a matter of fact, the only entrance was 
through Grandet's own room, and this room over the 
kitchen was the vinegrower's sanctum. 

Daylight was admitted into it by a single window 
which looked out upon the yard, and which, for greater 
security, was protected by a grating of massive iron bars. 
The master of the house allowed no one, not even Mme. 
Grandet, to set foot in this chamber ; he kept the right 
of entry to himself, and sat there, undisturbed and alone, 
like an alchemist in the midst of his crucibles. Here, no 
doubt, there was some cunningly contrived and secret 

Eugenie Grandet 6i 

hiding-place ; for here he stored up the title-deeds of his 
estates ; here, too, he kept the delicately adjusted scales in 
which he weighed his gold louis ; and here every night 
he made out receipts, wrote acknowledgments of sums 
received, and laid his schemes, so that other business 
men seeing Grandet never busy, and always prepared 
for every emergency, might have been excused for 
imagining that he had a fairy or familiar spirit at his 
beck and call. ^Here, no doubt, when Nanon's snoring 
shook the rafters^ when the savage watch-dog bayed and 
prowled about the yard, when Mme. Grandet and 
Eugenie were fast asleep, the old cooper would come to 
be with his gold, and hug himself upon it, and toy with 
it, and fondle it, and brood over it, and so, with the 
intoxication of the gold upon him, at last to sleep. The 
walls were thick, the closed shutters kept their secret. 
He alone had the key of this laboratory, where, if reports 
spoke truly, he pored over plans on which every fruit 
tree belonging to him was mapped out, so that he could 
reckon out his crops, so much to every vine stem ; and 
his yield of timber, to a faggot. 

The door of Eugenie's room was opposite this closed- 
up portal, the room occupied by M. and Mme. Grandet 
was at the end of the landing, and consisted of the entire 
front of the house. It was divided within by a partition, 
Mme. Grandet's chamber was next to Eugenie's, with 
which it communicated by a glass door ; the other half of 
the room, separated from the mysterious cabinet by a 
thick wall, belonged to the master of the house. Good- 
man Grandet had cunningly lodged his nephew on the 
second story, in an airy garret immediately above his 
own room, so that he could hear every sound and 
inform himself of the young man's goings and comings, 
if the latter should take it into his head to leave his 

Eugenie and her mother, arrived on the first landing, 
kissed each other, and said goodnight j they took leave of 

62 Eugenie Grandet 

Charles in a few formal words, spoken with an apparent 
indifference, v/hich in her heart the girl was far from 
feeling, and went to their rooms. 

'This is your room, nephew,* said Grandet, addressing 
Charles as he opened the door. * If you should wish to 
go out, you will have to call Nanon ; for if you don't, 
it will be " no more at present from your most obedient," 
the dog will gobble you down before you know where 
you are. Goodnight, sleep well. Ha ! ha ! the ladies 
have lighted a fire in your room,' he went on. 

Just at that moment big Nanon appeared, armed with 
a warming-pan. 

' Did any one ever see the like ? ' said M. Grandet. 
' Do you take my nephew for a sick woman ; he is not 
an invalid. Just be off, Nanon ! you and your hot 

' But the sheets are damp, sir, and the gentleman looks 
as delicate as a woman.' 

' All right, go through with it, since you have taken 
it into your head,' said Grandet, shrugging his shoulders, 
*but mind you don't set the place on fire,' and the 
miser groped his way downstairs, muttering vaguely to 

Charles, breathless with astonishment, was left among 
his trunks. He looked round about him, at the sloping 
roof of the attic, at the wallpaper of a pattern peculiar to 
little country inns, bunches of flowers symmetrically 
arranged on a buff-coloured background ; he looked at 
the rough stone chimney-piece full of rifts and cracks 
(the mere sight of it sent a chill through him, in spite of 
the fire in the grate), at the ramshackle cane-seated chairs, 
at the open night-table large enough to hold a fair-sized 
sergeant-at-arms, at the strip of worn rag-carpet beside 
the canopied bedstead, at the curtains which shook every 
moment as if the whole worm-eaten structure would fall 
to pieces ; finally, he turned his attention to big Nanon, 
and said earnestly — 

Eugenic Grandet 6j 

* Look here, my good girl, am I really in M. Grandet*s 
house ? M. Grandet, formerly Mayor of Saumur, and 
brother of M. Grandet of Paris ? ' 
^ 'Yes, sir, you are ; and you are staying with a very 
kind, a very amiable and excellent gentleman. Am I 
to help you to unpack those trunks of yours ? ' 
^ ' Faith, yes, old soldier, I wish you would. Did you 
serve in the horse marines ? ' 

' Oh ! oh ! oh ! ' chuckled Nanon. ' What may they 
be } What are the horse marines ? Are they old salts ? 
Do they go to sea ? ' 

' Here, look out my dressing-gown ; it is in that 
portmanteau, and this is the key.' 

Nanon was overcome with astonishment at the sight 
of a green silk dressing-gown, embroidered with gold 
flowers after an antique pattern. 

' Are you going to sleep in that ? ' she inquired. 

' Yes.' 

' Holy Virgin ! What a beautiful altar cloth it would 
make for the parish church ! Oh, my dear young 
gentleman, you should give it to the Church, and you 
will save your soul, which you are like to lose for that 
' thing. Oh ! how nice you look in it. I will go and 
call m^ademoiselle to look at you.' 

' Come now, Nanon, since that is your name, will you 
hold your tongue, and let me go to bed. I will set my 
• things straight to-morrow, and as you have taken such a 
fancy to my gown, you shall have a chance to save your 
soul. I am too good a Christian to take it away with me 
when I go ; you shall have it, and you can do whatever 
you Hke with it.' 

Nanon stood stockstill, staring at Charles ; she could 
not bring herself to beHeve that he really meant what he 

' You are going to give that grand dressing-gown to 
me ! ' she said, as she turned to go. ' The gentleman is 
dreaming already. Goodnight.' 

64 Eugenie Grandet 

'Good night, Nanon. — What ever am I doing here ?' 
said Charles to himself, as he dropped ofF to sleep. i 
* My father is no fool ; I have not been sent here for 
nothing. Pooh ! " Serious business to-morrow," as 
some old Greek wiseacre used to say.' 

' Sainte Vierge ! how nice he is ! ' said Eugenie to 
herself in the middle of her prayers, and that night they 
) remained unfinished. 

Mme. Grandet alone lay down to rest, with no thought 
in her quiet mind. Through the door in the thin 
partition she could hear her husband pacing to and fro 
in his room. Like all sensitive and timid women, she 
had thoroughly studied the character of her lord and 
master. Just as the sea-mew foresees the coming storm, 
she knew by almost imperceptible signs that a tempest 
\ was raging in Grandet's mind, and, to use her own ex- 
j pression, she 'lay like one dead ' at such seasons. Grandet's 
leyes turned towards his sanctum ; he looked at the door, 
which was lined with sheet iron on the inner side (he him- 
self had seen to that), and muttered, 'What a preposterous 
notion this is of my brother's, to leave his child to me ! 
A pretty legacy ! I haven't twenty crowns to spare, 
and what would twenty crowns be to a popinjay like 
that, who looked at my weather-glass as if it wasn't fit 
to hght the fire with ? ' 
I And Grandet, meditating on the probable outcome of 
\ this mournful dying request, was perhaps more perturbed 
I in spirit than the brother who had made it. 

' Shall I really have that golden gown ? ' Nanon said, 
and she fell asleep wrapped round in her altar cloth, 
dreaming for the first time in her life of shining 
embroideries and flowered brocade, just as Eugenie 
dreamed of love. 

In a girl's innocent and uneventful life there comes a 
mysterious hour of joy when the sunlight spreads through 
the soul, and it seems to her that the flowers express the 

Ei^cnie Grandet 65 

thoughts that rise within her, thoughts that are quickened 
by everv heart beat, only to blend in a vague feeling of 
longing, whei the days are filled with innocent 
melancholy and .delicious happiness. Children smile ^ 
when they see the light for the first time, and when a / | 
girl dimly diyirjes the presence of love in the world she . * 
smiles as she s-niled in her babyhood. If light is the 
first thing that we leaixi to love, is not love like light 
in the heart ? This moment had come for Eugenie ; 
she saw the things of life clearly for the first time. 

Early rising is the rule in the country, so, like most 
other girls, Eugenie was up betimes in the morning ; 
this morning she rose earlier than usual, said her prayers, 
and began to dress ; her toilette was henceforth to possess 
an interest unknown before. She began by brushing her 
chestnut hair, and wound the heavy plaits about her 
head, careful that no loose ends should escape from the 
braided coronet which made an appropriate setting for 
\ a face both frank and shy, a simple coiffure which 
harmonised with the girlish outlines. 

As she washed her hands again and again in the cold 
spring water that roughened and reddened the skin, she 
looked down at her pretty rounded arms and wondered 
what her cousin did to have hands so soft and so white, 
and nails so shapely. She put on a pair of new stockings, 
and her best shoes, and laced herself carefully, without 
passing over a single eyelet-hole. For the first time in 
her life, in fact, she wished to look her best, and felt 
that it was pleasant to have a pretty new dress to wear, 
a becoming dress which was nicely made. 

The church clock struck just as she had finished 
dressing ; she counted the strokes, and was surprised to 
find that it was still only seven o'clock. She had been 
so anxious to have plenty of time for her toilette, that 
she had risen too early, and now there was nothing left 
to do. Eugenie, in her ignorance, never thought of 
studying the position of a tress of hair, and of altering it 


66 Eugenie Grandet 

a dozen times to criticise its effect^ she simply folded 
her arms, sat down by the vi indow, a; id looked out 
upon the yard, the long strip of garden, a id the terraced 
gardens up above upon the ramparts. 

It was a somewhat dreary outlook thus shut in by the 
grim rock walls, but not without a charm of its own, the 
mysterious beauty of quiet over-shaded gardens, or of 
wild and solitary places. Under the Jdtchen window 
there was a well with a stone coping round it ; a pulley 
was suspended above the water from an iron bracket over- 
grown by a vine ; the vine-leaves were red and faded 
now that the autumn was nearly at an end, and the 
crooked stem was plainly visible as it wound its way to 
the house wall, and crept along the house till it came to an 
end by the wood stack, where the faggots were arranged 
with as much neatness and precision as thevolumeson some 
book-lover's shelves. The flag-stones in the yard were dark 
with age and mosses, and dank with the stagnant air of 
the place; weeds "grew here and there among the chinks. 
The massive outworks of the old fortifications were 
green with moss, with here and there a long dark brown 
streak where water dripped, and the eight tumble-down 
steps, which gave access to the garden at the further 
end of the yard, were almost hidden by a tall growth 
j of plants; the general effect ^of the crumbling stones 
I had a vague resemblance to some crusader's tomb erected 
i by his widow in the days of yore and long since fallen 
; into ruin. 

Along the low mouldering stone wall there was a 
fence of open lattice-work, rotten with age, and fast 
falling to pieces ; overrun by various creeping plants 
that clambered over it at their own sweet will. A 
couple of stunted apple trees spread out their gnarled 
and twisted branches on either side of the wicket gate 
that led into the garden — three straight gravel walks 
with strips of border in between, and a line of box- 
edging on either side ; and, at the further end, 

Eugenie Grandet 67 

underneath the ramparts, a sort of arbour of lime trees, 
and a row of raspberry canes. A huge walnut tree 
grew at the end nearest to the house, and almost over- 
shadowed the cooper's strong room with its spreading 

It was one of those soft bright autumn mornings 
peculiar to the districts along the Loire ; there was not a 
trace of mist ; the light frosty rime of the previous night 
was rapidly disappearing as the mild rays of the autumn 
sun shone on the picturesque surroundings, the old walls, 
the green tangled growth in the yard and garden. 

All these things had been long familiar to Eugenie's 
eyes, but to-day it seemed to her that there was a new 
beauty about them. A throng of confused thoughts 
filled her mind as the sunbeams overflowed the world 
without. A vague, inexplicable new happiness stirred 
within her, and enveloped her soul, as a bright cloud 
might cling about some object in the material world. 
The quaint garden, the old walls, every detail in her 
little world seemed to be living through this new ex- 
perience with her ; the nature without her was in har- 
mony with her inmost thoughts. The sunlight crept 
along the wall till it reached a maiden-hair fern -, the 
changing hues of a pigeon's breast shone from the thick ^ 
fronds and glossy stems, and all Eugenie's future grew 
bright with radiant hopes. Henceforward the bit of wall, 
its pale flowers, its blue harebells and bleached grasses, 
was a pleasant sight for her j it called up associations 
which had all the charm of the memories of childhood. 

The rustling sound made by the leaves as they fell 
to the earth, the echoes that came up from the court, 
seemed like answers to the girl's secret questionings 
as she sat and mused ; she might have stayed there 
by the window all day and never have noticed how 
the hours went by, but other thoughts surged up within 
her soul. Again and again she rose and stood before 
the glass, and looked at herself, as a conscientious writer 

69 Eugenic Grandet 

scrutinises his work, criticises it, and says hard things 
about it to himself. 

*I am not pretty enough for him ! ' 

This was what Eugenie thought, in her humility, and , 
the thought was fertile in suffering. The poor child did | 
not do herself justice ; but humility, or more truly, fear, | 
is born with love. Eugenie's beauty was of a robust type ' 
often found among the lower middle classes, a type 
which may seem somewhat wanting in refinement, but 
in her the beauty of the Venus of Milo was ennobled 
and purified by the beauty of Christian sentiment, which 
invests woman with a dignity unknown to ancient 
sculptors. Her head was very large ; the masculine but 
delicate outlines of her forehead recalled the Jupiter of 
Phidias ; all the radiance of her pure life seemed to shine 
from the clear grey eyes. An attack of smallpox, so 
mild that it had left no scars on the oval face or features, 
had yet somewhat blurred their fresh fair colouring, and 
coarsened the smooth and delicate surface, still so fine 
and soft that her mother's gentle kiss left a passing trace 
of faint red on her cheek. Perhaps her nose was a little 
too large, but it did not contradict the kindly and affec- 
tionate expression of the mouth, and the red lips covered 
with finely-etched lines. Her throat was daintily rounded. 
There was something that attracted attention and stirred 
the imagination in the curving lines of her figure, covered 
to the throat by her high-necked dress ; no doubt she 
possessed little of the grace that is due to the toilette, and 
her tall frame was strong rather than lissome, but this was 
not without its charm for judges of beauty. 

For Eugenie was both tall and strongly built. She 
had nothing of the prettiness that ordinary people admire; 
but her beauty was unmistakable, and of a kind in which 
artists alone delight. A painter in quest of an exalted 
and spiritual type, searching women's faces for the beauty 
which Raphael dreamed of and conjured into being, the 
eyes full of proud humility, the pure outlines, often due 

Eugenie Grandet 69 

to some chance inspiration of the artist, but which a 
virtuous and Christian life can alone acquire or preserve, 
— a painter haunted by this ideal would have seen at once 
in Eugenie Grandet's face her unconscious and innate 
nobility of soul, a world of love behind the quiet brow, 
and in the way she had with her eyelids and in her eyes \ 
that divine something which baffles description. Therb 
was a serene tranquillity about her features, unspoiled 
and unwearied by the expression of pleasure ; it was as if 
you watched, across some placid lake, the shadowy out- 
lines of hills far off against the sky. The beauty ipf 
Eugenie's face, so quiet and so softly coloured, was like 
that of some fair, half-opened flower about which the 
light seems to hover 5 in its quality of restfulness, its 
subtle revelation of a beautiful nature, lay the charm that 
attracted beholders. Eugenie was still on the daisied 
brink of life, where illusions blossom and joys are gathered 
which are not known in later days. So she looked in the 
glass, and with no thought of love as yet in her mind, 
she said, 'He will not give me a thought; I am too 
ugly ! ' 

Then she opened her door, went out on to the landing, 
and bent over the staircase to hear the sounds in the 

'He is not getting up yet,* she thought. She heard 
Nanon*s morning cough as the good woman went to and 
fro, swept out the dining-room, lit the kitchen fire, 
chained up the dog, and talked to her friends the brutes 
in the stable. 

Eugenie fled down the staircase, and ran over to Nanon, 
who was milking the cow. 

' Nanon,* she cried, ' do let us have some cream for my 
cousin's coffee, there's a dear.* 

'But, mademoiselle, you can't have cream off this 
morning's milk,' said Nanon, as she burst out laughing. 
' I can't make cream for you. Your cousin is as charm- 
ing as charming can be, that he is ! You haven't seen 

70 Eugenie Grandet 

him in that silk night rail of his, all flowers and gold ' 
I did though ! The linen he wears is every bit as fine 
as M. le Cure's surplice.* 

' Nanon, make some cake for us.' 

' And who is to find the wood to heat the oven and 
the flour and the butter ? ' asked Nanon, who in her 
capacity of Grandet's prime minister was a person of 
immense importance in Eugenie's eyes, and even in 
Eugenie's mother's. ' Is he to be robbed to make a feast 
for your cousin ? Ask for the butter and the flour and 
the firewood ; he is your father, go and ask him, he may 
give them to you. There ! there he is, just coming 
downstairs to see after the provisions ' 

But Eugenie had escaped into the garden \ the sound 
of her father's footstep on the creaking staircase terrified 
her. She was conscious of a happiness that shrank from 
the observation of others, a happiness which, as we are 
apt to think, and perhaps not without reason, shines from 
our eyes, and is written at large upon our foreheads. And 
not only so, she was conscious of other thoughts. The 
bleak discomfort of her father's house had struck her for 
the first time, and, with a dim feeling of vexation, the 
poor child wished that she could alter it all, and bring it 
more into harmony with her cousin's elegance. She felt 
a passionate longing to do something for him, without 
the slightest idea what that something should be. The 
womanly instinct awakened in her at the first sight of her 
cousin was only the stronger because she had reached her 
three-and-twentieth year, and mind and heart were fully 
developed ; and she was so natural and simple that she 
acted on the promptings of her angelic nature without 
submitting herself, her impressions, or her feelings to any 
introspective process. 

For the first time in her life the sight of her father 
struck a sort of terror into her heart ; she felt that he 
was the master of her fate, and that she was guiltily 
hiding some of her thoughts from him. She began to 

Eugenie Grandet 71 

walk hurriedly up and down, wondering how it was that 
the air was so fresh ; there was a reviving force in the 
sunlight, it seemed to be within her as well as without, 
it was as if a new life had begun. 

While she was still thinking how to gain her end 
concerning the cake, a quarrel came to pass between 
Nanon and Grandet, a thing as rare as a winter swallow. 
The goodman had just taken his keys, and was about to 
dole out the provisions required for the day. 

' Is there any bread left over from yesterday ? * he asked 
of Nanon. 

' Not a crumb, sir.' 

Grandet took up a large loaf, round in form and close in 
consistence, shaped in one of the fiat baskets which they 
use for baking in Anjou, and was about to cut it, when 
Nanon broke in upon him with — 

' There are five of us to-day, sir.* 

* True,' answered Grandet ; ' but these loaves of yours 
weigh six pounds apiece ; there will be some left over. 
Besides, these young fellows from Paris never touch 
bread, as you will soon see.' 

' Then do they eat " kitchen " ? ' asked Nanon. 

This word kitchen in the Angevin dictionary signifies 
anything which is spread upon bread ; from butter, the 
commonest variety, to preserved peaches, the most dis- 
tinguished of all kitchens ; and those who, as small 
children, have nibbled ofF the kitchen and left the bread, 
will readily understand the bearing of Nanon's remark. 

'No,' replied Grandet with much gravity, 'they eat 
neither bread nor kitchen; they are like a girl in love, as 
you may say.' 

Having at length cut down the day's rations to the 
lowest possible point, the miser was about to go to his 
fruit-loft, first carefully locking up the cupboards of his 
storeroom, when Nanon stopped him. 

' Just give me some flour and butter, sir,' she said, •^' 
* and I will make a cake for the children,' p ^ 

72 Eugenie Grandet 

' Are you going to turn the house upside down because 
my nephew is here ? * 

' Your nephew was no more in my mind than your 
dog, no more than he was in yours. . . . There, now ! 
you have only put out six lumps of sugar, and I want eight.* 

' Come, come, Nanon ; I have never seen you like this 
before. What has come over you ? Are you mistress 
here ? You will have six lumps of sugar and no more.' 

' Oh, very well ; and what is your nephew to sweeten 
his coffee with ? ' 

' He can have two lumps ; I shall go without it myself.' 

' Tou go without sugar ! and at your age ! I would 
sooner pay for it out of my own pocket.' 

' Mind your own business.' 

In spite of the low price of sugar, it was, in Grandet's 
eyes, the most precious of all colonial products. For him 
it was always something to be used sparingly ; it was still 
worth six francs a pound, as in the time of the Empire, and 
this pet economy had become an inveterate habit with him. 
But every woman, no matter how simple she may be, 
can devise some shift to gain her ends; and Nanon 
allowed the question of the sugar to drop, in order to 
have her way about the cake. 

' Mademoiselle,' she called through the window, 
' wouldn't you like some cake ? ' 

' No, no,' answered Eugenie. 

' Stay, Nanon,' said Grandet as he heard his daughter's 
voice ; ' there ! ' 

He opened the flour-bin, measured out some flour, 
and added a few ounces of butter to the piece which he 
had already cut. 

' And firewood ; I shall want firewood to heat the 
oven,' said the inexorable Nanon. 

' Ah ! well, you can take what you want,' he answered 
ruefully ; ' but you will make a fruit tart at the same 
time, and you must bake the dinner in the oven, that 
will save lighting another fire.' 

Eugenie Grandet 73 

* ^ien ! * cried Nanon ; ' there is no need to tell mc 
that ! ' 

Grandet gave his trusty prime minister a glance that 
was almost paternal. 

* Mademoiselle,' cried the cook, ' we are going to have 
a cake.' 

Grandet came back again with the fruit, and began by 
setting down a plateful on the kitchen table. 

' Just look here, sir,' said Nanon, 'what lovely boots your 
nephew has ! What leather, how nice it smells ! What 
are they to be cleaned with ? Am I to put your egg- 
blacking on them ? ' 

' No, Nanon,' said Eugenie ; ' I expect the egg would 
spoil the leather. You had better tell him that you have 
no idea how to clean black morocco. . . . Yes, it is 
morocco, and he himself will buy you something in 
Saumur to clean his boots with. I have heard it said 
that they put sugar into their blacking, and that is what 
makes it so shiny.' 

' Then is it good to eat ? ' asked the maid, as she 
picked up the boots and smelt them. ' ^ien^ quien ! 
they smell of madame's eau-de-Cologne ! Oh, how 
funny ! ' 

' Funny ! ' said her master ; ' people spend more money 
on their boots than they are worth that stand in them, 
and you think it funny ! ' He had just returned from a 
second and final expedition to the fruit-loft, carefully 
locking the door after him. 

' You will have soup once or twice a week while your 
nephew is here, sir, will you not ? * 

' Yes.' 

' Shall I go round to the butcher's ? * 

' You will do nothing of the kind. You can make 
some chicken-broth; the tenants will keep you going. 
But I shall tell Cornoiller to kill some ravens for me. 
That kind of game makes the best broth in the world.* 

' Is it true, sir, that they live on dead things ? ' 

74 Eugenie Grandet 

' You are a fool, Nanon ! They live, like everybody 
else, on anything that they can pick up. Don't we all live 
on dead things ? What about legacies ? ' And goodman 
Grandet, having no further order to give, drew out his 
watch, and finding that there was yet half an hour to 
spare before breakfast, took up his hat, gave his daughter 
a kiss, and said, ' Would you like to take a walk along 
the Loire ? I have something to see after in the meadows 
down there.* 

Eugenie put on her straw hat lined with rose-coloured 
silk ; and then father and daughter went down the 
crooked street towards the market-place. 

' Where are you off to so early this morning ? ' said 
the notary Cruchot, as he met the Grandets. 

' We are going to take a look at something,' responded 
his friend, in nowise deceived by this early move on the 
notary's part. 

Whenever Grandet was about to ' take a look at some- 
thing,' the notary knew by experience that there was 
something to be gained by going with him. With him, 
therefore, he went. 

* Come along, Cruchot,' said Grandet, addressing the 
notary. ' You are one of my friends j I am going to 
show you what a piece of folly it is to plant poplars in 
good soil ' 

' Then the sixty thousand francs that you fingered for 
those poplars of yours in the meadows by the Loire are a 
mere trifle to you ? ' said Cruchot, opening his eyes 
wide in his bewilderment. ' And such luck as you had 
too ! . . . Felling your timber just when there was no 
white wood to be had in Nantes, so that every trunk 
fetched thirty francs ! ' 

Eugenie heard and did not hear, utterly unconscious 
that the most critical moment of her life was rapidly 
approaching, that a paternal and sovereign decree was 
about to be pronounced, and that the old notary was to 
bring all this about. Grandet had reached the magnificent 

Eugenie Grandet 75 

meadow-land by the Loire, which had come into his 
hands in his Republican days. Some thirty labourers 
were busy digging out the roots of the poplars that once 
stood there, filling up the holes that were left, and 
levelling the ground. 

' Now, M. Cruchot, see how much space a poplar 
takes up,' said he, addressing the notary. 'Jean,* he 
called to a workman, ' m — m — measure r — round the 
sides with your rule.' 

' Eight feet four times over,' said the workman when 
he had finished. 

' Thirty-two feet of loss,' said Grandet to Cruchot. 
' Now along that line there were three hundred poplars, 
weren't there ? Well, then, three hundred t — t — times 
thirty-two f — feet will eat up five hundredweight of hay, 
allow twice as much again for the space on either side, and 
you get fifteen hundredweight ; then there is the interven- 
ing space — say a thousand t — t — trusses of hay altogether.' 

' Well,' said Cruchot, helping his friend out, ' and a 
thousand trusses of that hay would fetch something like 
six hundred francs.' 

' S — s — say t — twelve hundred, because the s — second 
crop is worth three or four hundred francs. Good, then 
reckon up what t — t — twelve hundred francs per annum 
d — d — during f — forty years comes to, at compound 
interest of course.' 

' Sixty thousand francs, or thereabouts,' said the notary. 

* That is what I make it ! Sixty thousand f — f — francs. 
Well,' the vinegrower went on without stammering, 
' two thousand poplars will not bring in fifty thousand 
francs in forty years. So you lose on them. That 1 
found out,' said Grandet, who was vastly pleased with 
himself. 'Jean,' he continued, turnmg to the labourer, 
' fill up all the holes except those along the riverside, 
where you can plant those poplar saplings that I bought. 
If you set them along by the Loire, they will grow there 
finely at the expense of the Government,' he added, and 

76 Eugenie Grandet 

as he looked round at Cruchot the wen on his nose 
twitched slightly, the most sardonic smile could not have 
said more. 

' Yes, it is clear enough, poplars should only be planted 
in poor soil,' said Cruchot, quite overcome with amaze- 
ment at Grandet's astuteness. 

' Y — e — s, sir,* said the cooper ironically. 

Eugenie was looking out over the glorious landscape 
and along the Loire, without heeding her father's 
arithmetic ; but Cruchot's talk with his client took 
another turn, and her attention was suddenly aroused. 

' So you have a son-in-law come from Paris ; they are 
talking about nothing but your nephew in all Saumur. I 
shall soon have settlements to draw up ; eh, pere Grandet ? * 

' Did you come out early to t — t — tell me that ? ' 
inquired Grandet, and again the wen twitched. ' Very 
well, you are an old crony of mine ; I will be p — plain 
with you, and t — t — tell you what you w — want to 
know. I would rather fling my d — d — daughter into 
the Loire, look you, than g — give her to her cousin. 
You can give that out. But, no ; 1 — 1 — let people 

Everything swam before Eugenie's eyes. Her vague 
hopes of distant happiness had suddenly taken definite 
shape, had sprung up and blossomed, and then her harvest 
of flowers had been as suddenly cut down and lay on 
the earth. Since yesterday she had woven the bonds of 
happiness that unite two souls, and henceforwaid sorrow, it 
seemed, was to strengthen them. Is it not written in 
the noble destiny of woman that the grandeur of sorrow 
should touch her more closely than all the pomp and 
splendour of fortune ? 

How came it that a father's feelings had been extin- 
guished (as it seemed) in her father's heart ? What 
crime could be laid at Charles's door ? Mysterious 
questions I Mysterious and sad forebodings already sur- 
rounded her growing love, that mystery within her soul. 

Eugenie Grandet 77 

When they turned to go home again, she trembled in 
every limb 5 and as they went up the shady street, along 
which she had lately gone so joyously, the shadows looked 
gloomy, the air she breathed seemed full of the melan- 
choly of autumn, everything about her was sad. Love, 
that had brought these keener perceptions, was quick to 
interpret every boding sign. As they neared home, she 
walked on ahead of her father, knocked at the house door, 
and stood waiting beside it. But Grandet, seeing that 
the notary carried a newspaper still in its wrapper, asked, 
' How are consols ? ' 

' I know you will not take my advice, Grandet,* 
Cruchot replied. ' You should buy at once ; the chance 
of making twenty per cent, on them in two years is still 
open to you, and they pay a very fair rate of interest 
besides, five thousand livres is not a bad return on eighty 
thousand francs. You can buy now at eighty francs 
fifty centimes. * 

' We shall see,' remarked Grandet pensively, rubbing 
his chin. 

* Mon Dieu ! * exclaimed the notary, who by this time 
had unfolded his newspaper. 

' Well, what is it ? ' cried Grandet as Cruchot put the 
paper in his hands and said — 

* Read that paragraph.' 

'M. Grandet, one of the most highly respected 
merchants in Paris, shot himself through the head 
yesterday afternoon, after putting in an appearance on 
Change as usual. He had previously sent in his resigna- 
tion to the President of the Chamber of Deputies, resign- 
ing his position as Judge of the Tribunal of Commerce 
at the same time. His affairs had become involved 
through the failures of his stockbroker and notary, MM. 
Roguin and Souchet. M. Grandet, whose character was 
very greatly esteemed, and whose credit stood high, 
would no doubt have found temporary assistance on the 


78 Eugenie Grandet 

market which would have enabled him to tide over his 
difficulties. It is to be regretted that a man of such high 
character should have given way to the first impulse of 
despair ' — and so forth, and so forth. 

*I knew it,' the old vinegrower said. 

Phlegmatic though Cruchot was, he felt a horrible 
shudder run through him at the words ; perhaps Grandet 
of Paris had stretched imploring hands in vain to the 
millions of Grandet of Saumur ; the blood ran cold in his 

* And his son ? ' he asked presently -, * he was in such 
spirits yesterday evening.' 

'His son knows nothing as yet,' Grandet answered, 
imperturbable as ever. 

'Good morning, M. Grandet,' said Cruchot. He 
understood the position now, and went to reassure the 
President de Bonfons. 

Grandet found breakfast ready. Mme. Grandet was 
already seated in her chair, mounted on the wooden blocks, 
and was knitting woollen cufFs for the winter. Eugenie 
ran to her mother and put her arms about her, with the 
eager hunger for affection that comes of a hidden trouble. 

'You can get your breakfast,' said Nanon, bustling 
downstairs in a hurry ; 'he is sleeping like a cherub. 
He looks so nice with his eyes shut ! I went in and 
called him, but it was all one, he never heard me.' 

'Let him sleep,' said Grandet ; 'he will wake soon 
enough to hear bad news, in any case.' 

' What is the matter ? ' asked Eugenie. She was 
putting into her cup the two smallest lumps of sugar, 
weighing goodness knows how many grains ; her worthy 
parent was wont to amuse himself by cutting up sugar 
whenever he had nothing better to do. 

Mme. Grandet, who had not dared to put the question 
herself, looked at her husband. 

' His father has blown his brains out.' 

Eugenie Grandet 79 

* My uncle f * said Eugenie. 

* Oh ! that poor boy ! ' cried Mme. Grandet. 

* Poor indeed ! ' said Grandet ; ' he has not a penny.' 
'Ah ! well, he is sleeping as if he were the king of all 

the world,' said Nanon pityingly. 

Eugenie could not eat. Her heart was wrung as a 
woman's heart can be when for the first time her whole 
soul is filled with sorrow and compassion for the sorrow 
of one she loves. She burst into tears. 

* You did not know your uncle, so what is there to 
cry about ? ' said her father with a glance like a hungry 
tiger's ; just such a glance as he would give, no doubt, 
to his heaps of gold. 

' But who wouldn't feel sorry for the poor young man, 
sir ? ' said the serving-maid ; ' sleeping there like a log, 
and knowing nothing of his fate.' 

' I did not speak to you, Nanon ! Hold your tongue.' 

In that moment Eugenie learned that a woman who 
loves must dissemble her feelings. She was silent. 

'Until I come back, Mme. Grandet, you will say 
nothing about this to him, I hope,' the old cooper con- 
tinued. ' They are making a ditch in my meadows along 
the road, and I must go and see after it. I shall come back 
for the second breakfast at noon, and then my nephew 
and I will have a talk about his affairs. As for you, 
Mademoiselle Eugenie, if you are crying over that popin- 
jay, let us have no more of it, child. He will be off 
poste-haste to the Indies directly, and you will never set 
eyes on him any more.' 

Her father took up his gloves, which were lying on 
the rim of his hat, put them on in his cool, dehberate 
way, inserting the fingers of one hand between those of 
the other, dovetail fashion, so as to thrust them down 
well into the tips of the gloves, and then he went out. 

' Oh ! mamma, I can scarcely breathe ! ' cried Eugenie 
when she was alone with her mother ; ' I have never 
suffered like this ! ' 

8o Eugenie Grandet 

Mme. Grandet, seeing her daughter's white face, 
opened the window and let fresh air into the room. 

' I feel better now,' said Eugenie after a little. 

This nervous excitement in one who was usually so 
quiet and self-possessed produced an effect on Mme. 
Grandet. She looked at her daughter, and her mother's 
love and sympathetic instinct told her everything. But, 
in truth, the celebrated Hungarian twin-sisters, united to 
each other by one of Nature's errors, could scarcely have 
lived in closer sympathy than Eugenie and her mother. 
Were they not always together ; together in the window 
where they sat the livelong day, together at church, did 
they not breathe the same air even when they slept ? 

'My poor little girl!' said Mme. Grandet, drawing 
Eugenie's head down till it rested upon her bosom. 

Her daughter lifted her face, and gave her mother a 
questioning look which seemed to read her inmost 

' Why must he be sent to the Indies ? ' said the girl, 
' If he is in trouble, ought he not to stay here with us ? 
Is he not our nearest relation ? ' 

' Yes, dear child, that would only be natural ; but your 
father has reasons for what he does, and we must respect 

Mother and daughter sat in silence ; the one on her 
chair mounted on the wooden blocks, the other in her 
little armchair. Both women took up their needlework. 
Eugenie felt that her mother understood her, and her 
heart was full of gratitude for such tender sympathy. 

' How kind you are, dear mamma ! ' she said as she 
took her mother's hand and kissed it. 

The worn, patient face, aged with many sorrows, 
Hghted up at the words. 

' Do you like him ? ' asked Eugenie. 

For all answer, Mme. Grandet smiled. Then after a 
moment's pause she murmured, ' You cannot surely love 
him already ? That would be a pity.' 

Eugenic Grandet Si 

* Why would it be a pity ? * asked Eugenie. * You like 
him, Nanon likes him, why should I not like him too ? 
Now then, mamma, let us set the table for his breakfast.' 

She threw down her work, and her mother followed 
her example, saying as she did so, ' You are a mad girl ! ' 

But none the less did she sanction her daughter's freak 
by assisting in it. 

Eugenie called Nanon. 

' Haven't you all you want yet, mamselle ? * 

' Nanon, surely you will have some cream by twelve 
o'clock ? ' 

' By twelve o'clock ? Oh ! yes,' answered the old 

'Very well, then, let the coffee be very strong. I 
have heard M. des Grassins say that they drink their 
coffee very strong in Paris. Put in plenty.' 

' And where is it to come from ? ' 

' You must buy some." 

' And suppose the master meets me ? ' 

* He is down by the river.' 

' I will just slip out then. But M. Fessard asked me 
when I went about the candle if the Three Holy Kings 
were paying us a visit. Our goings on will be all over 
the town.' 

' Your father would be quite capable of beating us,* 
said Mme. Grandet, ' if he suspected anything of all this.' 

' Oh I well, then, never mind ; he will beat us, we 
will take the beating on our knees.' 

At this Mme. Grandet raised her eyes to heaven, and 
said no more. Nanon put on her sun-bonnet and went 
out. Eugenie spread a clean linen tablecloth, then she 
went upstairs in quest of some bunches of grapes which 
she had amused herself by hanging from some strings up 
in the attic. She tripped lightly along the corridor, so as 
not to disturb her cousin, and could not resist the tempta- 
tion to stop a moment before the door to listen to hi« 
even breathing. 


82 Eugenie Grandet 

'Trouble wakes while he is sleeping,' she said to 

She arranged her grapes on the few last green vine 
leaves as daintily as any experienced chef d\ffice^ and set 
them on the table in triumph. She levied contributions 
on the pears which her father had counted out, and piled 
them up pyramid-fashion, with autumn leaves among 
them. She came and went, and danced in and out. She 
might have ransacked the house ; the will was in nowise 
lacking, but her father kept everything under lock 'and 
key, and the keys were in his pocket. Nanon came back 
with two new-laid eggs. Eugenie could have flung her 
arms round the girl's neck. 

' The farmer from La Lande had eggs in his basket ; I 
asked him for some, and to please me he let me have 
these, the nice man.' 

After two hours of industrious application, Eugenie 
succeeded in preparing a very simple meal ; it cost but 
Httle, it is true, but it was a terrible infringement of the 
immemorial laws and customs of the house. No one sat 
down to the mid-day meal, which consisted of a little bread, 
some fruit or butter, and a glass of wine. Twenty times 
in those two hours Eugenie had left her work to watch the 
coffee boil, or to listen for any sound announcing that her 
cousin was getting up ; now looking round on the table 
drawn up to the fire, with one of the armchairs set beside 
it for her cousin, on the two plates of fruit, the egg-cups, 
the bottle of white wine, the bread, and the Httle pyramid 
of white sugar in a saucer ; Eugenie trembled from head 
to foot at the mere thought of the glance her father 
would give her if he should happen to come in at that 
moment. Often, therefore, did she look at the clock, to 
see if there was yet time for her cousin to finish his 
breakfast before her parent's return. 

' Never mind, Eugenie, if your father comes in, I will 
take all the blame,' said Mme. Grandet. 

Eugenie could not keep back the tears. ' Oh ! 

Eugenie Grandet 83 -, -/ 

my kind mother,' she cried ; ' I have not loved you 
enough ! ' 

Charles, after making innumerable pirouettes round his 
room, came down at last, singing gay little snatches of 
song. Luckily it was only eleven o'clock after all. 
He had taken as much pains with his appearance (the 
Parisian ! ) as if he had been staying in the chateau 
belonging to the high-born fair one who was travelling 
in Scotland ; and now he came in with that gracious 
air of condescension which sits not ill on youth, and 
which gave Eugenie a melancholy pleasure. He had 
come to regard the collapse of his castles in Anjou 
as a very good joke, and went up to his aunt quite 

* I hope you slept well, dear aunt ? And you too, 
cousin ? ' 

' Very well, sir j how did you sleep ! ' 

* Soundly.' 

'Cousin, you must be hungry,' said Eugenie; 'sit 

' Oh ! I never breakfast before twelve o'clock, just 
after I rise. But I have fared so badly on my journey, 

that I will yield to persuasion. Besides ' he drew 

out the daintiest little watch that ever issued from 
Breguet's workshop. _ ' Dear me, it is only eleven 
o'clock ; I have been up betimes.' 

' Up betimes ? ' asked Mme. Grandet. 

' Yes, but I wanted to set my things straight. Well, 
I am quite ready for something, something not very 
substantial, a fowl or a partridge.' 

' Holy Virgin ! ' exclaimed Nanon, hearing these 

'A partridge,' Eugenie said to herself. She would 
willingly have given all she had for one. 

'Come and take your seat,' said Mme. Grandet, 
addressing her nephew. 

The dandy sank into the armchair in a graceful 

84 Eugenie Grandet 

attitude, much as a pretty woman might recline on her 
sofa. Eugenie and her mother drew their chairs to 
the fire and sat near him. 

' Do you always live here.?* Charles inquired, thinking 
that the room looked even more hideous by daylight 
than by candle light. 

' Always,' Eugenie answered, watching him as she 
spoke. ' Always, except during the vintage. Then 
we go to help Nanon, and we all stay at the Abbey 
at Noyers.* 

' Do you never take a walk ? * 

* Sometimes, on Sundays after vespers, when it is fine, 
we walk down as far as the bridge,* said Mme. Grandet, 
'or we sometimes go to see them cutting the hay.* 

* Have you a theatre here ? * 

*Go to the play ! * cried Mme. Grandet ; 'go to see 
play-actors ! Why, sir, do you not know that that is a 
mortal sin ? * 

' There, sir,' said Nanon, bringing in the eggs, ' we 
will give you chickens in the shell.' 

' Oh ! new-laid eggs,* said Charles, who, after the 
manner of those accustomed to luxury, had quite for- 
gotten all about his partridge. ' Delicious ! Do you 
happen to have any butter, eh, my good girl ? * 

' Butter ? If you have butter now, you will have no 
cake by-and-by,* said the handmaid. 

' Yes, of course, Nanon ; bring some butter,* cried 

The young girl watched her cousin while he cut his 
bread and butter into strips, and felt happy. The most 
romantic shop-girl in Paris could not more thoroughly 
enjoy the spectacle of innocence triumphant in a melo- 
drama. It must be conceded that Charles, who had 
been brought up by a graceful and charming mother, 
and had received his ' finishing education ' from an 
accomplished woman of the world, was as dainty, neat, 
and elegant in his ways as any coxcomb of the gentler 

Eugenie Grandet 85 

sex. The girl's quiet sympathy produced an almost 
magnetic effect. Charles, finding himself thus waited 
upon by his cousin and aunt, could not resist the influence 
of their overflowing kindness. He was radiant with 
good-humour, and the look he gave Eugenie was almost 
a smile. As he looked at her more closely he noticed 
her pure, regular features, her unconscious attitude, the 
wonderful clearness of her eyes, in which love sparkled, 
though she as yet knew nothing of love but its pain and v. 
a wistful longing. 7. 

' Really, my dear cousin,' he said, ' if you were in 
a box at the opera and in evening dress, and I would 
answer for it, my aunt's remark about deadly sin would 
be justified, all the men would be envious, and all the 
women jealous.' 

Eugenie's heart beat fast with joy at this compli- 
ment, though it conveyed no meaning whatever to her 

'You are laughing at a poor little country cousin,' she 

' If you knew me better, cousin, you would know that 
I detest banter ; it sears the heart and deadens the 
feelings.' And he swallowed down a strip of bread and 
butter with perfect satisfaction. 

' No,' he continued, ' I never make fun of others, 
very likely because I have not wit enough, a defect 
which puts me at a great disadvantage. They have 
a deadly trick in Paris of saying, " He is so good-natured," 
which, being interpreted, means — "the poor youth is 
as stupid as a rhinoceros.'^ But as I happen to be 
rich, and it is known that I can hit the bull's eye straight 
off at thirty paces with any kind of pistol anywhere, these 
witticisms are not levelled at me.' 

' It is evident from what you say, nephew,' said Mme. 
Grandet gravely, ' that you have a kind heart.' 

' That is a very pretty ring of yours,' said Eugenie j 
*is there any harm in asking to see it ? ' 

86 Eugenie Grandet 

Charles took off the ring and held it out ; Eugenie 
reddened as her cousin's rose-pink nails came in contact 
with her finger-tips. 

* Mother, only see how fine the work is!' 

' Oh, what a lot of gold there is in it ! ' said Nanon, 
who brought in the coffee. 

' What is that ? ' asked Charles, laughing, as he pointed 
to an oval pipkin, made of glazed brown earthenware, 
ornamented without by a circular fringe of ashes. It 
was full of a brown boiling liquid, in which coffee 
grounds were visible as they rose to the surface and fell 

* Coffee ; boiling hot ! ' answered Nanon. 

' Oh ! my dear aunt, I must at least leave some 
beneficent trace of my stay here. You are a long way 
behind the times ! I will show you how to make decent 
coffee in a cafetiere a la ChaptaV Forthwith he 
endeavoured to explain the principles on which this 
utensil is constructed. 

' Bless me ! if there is all that to-do about it,' said 
Nanon, ' you would have to give your whole time to it. 
I ' 11 never make coffee that way, I know. Who is to 
cut the grass for our cow while I am looking after the 
coffee pot ? ' 

' I would do it,' said Eugenie. 

' Child ! ' said Mme. Grandet, with a look at her 
daughter ; and at the word came a swift recollection 
of the misery about to overwhelm the unconscious 
young man, and the three women were suddenly silent, 
and gazed pityingly at him. He could not understand it. 

* What is it, cousin ? ' he asked Eugenie. 

' Hush ! ' said Mme. Grandet, seeing that the girl 
was about to reply. ' You know that your father means 
to speak to the gentleman ' 

' Say " Charles," ' said young Grandet. 

' Oh, is your name Charles ? ' said Eugenie. ' it is a 
nice name.' 

Eugenic Grandet 87 

Evil forebodings are seldom vain. 

Just at that moment Mme. Grandet, Eugenie, and 
Nanon, who could not think of the cooper's return 
without shuddering, heard the familiar knock at the 

' That is papa ! ' cried Eugenie. 

She took away the saucer full of sugar, leaving one or 
two lumps on the tablecloth. Nanon hurried away with 
the egg-cups. Mme. Grandet started up like a frightened 
fawn. There was a sudden panic of terror, which 
amazed Charles, who was quite at a loss to account for it. 

' Why, what is the matter ? ' he asked. 

* My father is coming in,* explained Eugenie. 

' Well, and what then ? * 

M. Grandet entered the room, gave one sharp glance 
at the table, and another at Charles. He saw how it was 
at once. 

' Aha ! you are making a fete for your nephew. 
Good, very good, oh ! very good, indeed ! ' he said, 
without stammering. 'When the cat is away, the mice 
may play.' 

' Fete ? ' thought Charles, wjio had not the remotest 
conception of the state of affairs in the Grandet house- 

' Bring me my glass, Nanon,' said the goodman. 

Eugenie went for the glass. Grandet drew from his 
waistcoat pocket a large clasp-knife with a stag's horn 
handle, cut a slice of bread, buttered it slowly and 
sparingly, and began to eat as he stood. Just then 
Charles put some sugar into his coffee j this called 
Grandet's attention to the pieces of sugar on the table j 
he looked hard at his wife, who turned pale, and came 
a step or two towards him j he bent down and said in 
the poor woman's ear — 

'Where did all that sugar come from ? ' 

' Nanon went out to Fessard's for some ; there was 
none in the house."* 

88 Eugenie Grandet 

It is impossible to describe the painful interest that 
this dumb show possessed for the three women ; Nanon 
had left her kitchen, and was looking into the dining- 
room to see how things went there. Charles meanwhile 
tasted his coffee, found it rather strong, and looked 
round for another piece of sugar, but Grandet had 
already pounced upon it and taken it away. 

' What do you want, nephew ? * the old man in- 

' The sugar.* 

' Pour in some more milk if your coffee is too strong,' 
answered the master of the house. 

Eugenie took up the saucer, of which Grandet had 
previously taken possession, and set it on the table, 
looking quietly at her father the while. Truly, the 
fair Parisian who exerts all the strength of her weak arms 
to help her lover to escape by a ladder of silken cords, 
displays less courage than Eugenie showed when she 
put the sugar upon the table. The Parisian will 
have her reward. She will proudly exhibit the bruises 
on a round white arm, her lover will bathe them with 
tears and cover them with kisses, and pain will be 
extinguished in bliss ; but Charles had not the remotest 
conception of what his cousin endured for him, or of the 
horrible dismay that filled her heart as she met her 
father's angry eyes; he would never even know of her 

' You are eating nothing, wife ? * 

The poor bond-slave went to the table, cut a piece of 
bread in fear and trembling, and took a pear. Eugenie, 
grown reckless, offered the grapes to her father, saying 
as she did so — 

'Just try some of my fruit, papa! You will take 
some, will you not, cousin ? I brought those pretty 
grapes down on purpose for you.' 

* Oh ! if they could have their way, they would 
turn Saumur upside down for you, nephew '. As soon 

Eugenie Grandet 89 

a? you have finished we will take a turn in the garden 
together; I have some things to tell you that would take 
a deal of sugar to sweeten them.' 

Eugenie and her mother both gave Charles a look, 
which the young man could not mistake. 

' What do you mean by that, uncle ? ' since my 
mother died . , . (here his voice softened a little) there 
is no misfortune possible for me . . . ' 

' Who can know what afflictions God may send to 
make trial of us, nephew,' said his aunt. 

'Tut, tut, tut,' muttered Grandet, 'here you are 
beginning with your folly already ! I am sorry to see 
that you have such white hands, nephew.' 

He displayed the fists, like shoulders of mutton, with 
which nature had terminated his own arms. 

'That is the sort of hand to rake the crowns 
together ! You put the kind of leather on your feet 
that we used to make pocket-books of to keep bills in. 
That is the way you have been brought up. That's 
bad ! that's bad ! ' 

' What do you mean, uncle ? I'll be hanged if I 
understand one word of this.' 

' Come along,' said Grandet. 

The miser shut his knife with a snap, drained his glass, 
and opened the door. 

' Oh ! keep up your courage, cousin ! ' 

Somethmg in the girl's voice sent a sudden chill 
through Charles; he followed his formidable relative 
with dreadful misgivings. Eugenie and her mother and 
Nanon went into the kitchen ; an uncontrollable anxiety 
led them - to watch the two actors in the scene which 
was about to take place in the damp little garden. 

Uncle and nephew walked together in silence at first. 
Grandet felt the situation to be a somewhat awkward 
one ; not that he shrank at all from telling Charles 
of his father's death, but he felt a kind of pity for a 
young man left in this way without a penny in the 

90 Eugenie Grandet 

world, and he cast about for phrases that should break 
this cruel news as gently as might be. ' You have lost 
your father ! ' he could say that ; there was nothing ia 
that ; fathers usually predecease their children. But, 
' You have not a penny ! ' All the woes of the world 
were summed up in those words, so for the third time 
the worthy man walked the whole length of the path 
in the centre of the garden, crunching the gravel 
beneath his heavy boots, and no word was said. 

At all great crises in our lives, any sudden joy or 
great sorrow, there comes a vivid consciousness of our 
surroundings that stamps them on the memory for ever ; 
and Charles, with every faculty strained and intent, saw 
the box-edging to the borders, the falling autumn leaves, 
the mouldering walls, the gnarled and twisted boughs 
of the fruit-trees, and till his dying day every 
picturesque detail of the little garden came back 
with the memory of the supreme hour of that early 

'It is very fine, very warm,* said Grandet, drawing 
in a deep breath of air. 

* Yes, uncle, but why ' 

'Well, my boy,' his uncle resumed, 'I have some bad 
news for you. Your father is very ill . . .' 

' What am I doing here ? * cried Charles. ' Nanon ! ' he 
shouted, ' order post horses ! I shall be sure to find a 
carriage of some sort in the place, I suppose,' he added, 
turning to his uncle, who had not stirred from where 
he stood. 

' Horses and a carriage are of no use,' Grandet answered, 
looking at Charles, who immediately stared straight 
before him in silence. 'Yes, my poor boy, you guess 
what has happened ; he is dead. But that is nothing ; 
there is something worse ; he has shot himself through 
the head ' 

^ My father?' 

'Yes, but that is nothing either. The newspapers 

Eugenie Grandet 91 

are discussing it, as if it were any business of theirs. 
There, read for yourself.' 

Grandet had borrowed Cruchot's paper, and now he 
laid the fatal paragraph before Charles. The poor 
young fellow — he was only a lad as yet — made no attempt 
to hide his emotion, and burst into tears. 

' Come, that is better,' said Grandet to himself. 
'That look in his eyes frightened me. He is crying; 
he will pull through. — Never mind, my poor nephew,' 
Grandet resumed aloud, not knowing whether Charles 
heard him or no, ' that is nothing, you will get over it, 
but ' 

' Never ! never ! My father ! my father j * 

' He has ruined you ; you are penniless.' 

' What is that to me. Where is my father ? . . , 
my father ! ' The sound of his sobbing filled the Httle 
garden, reverberated in ghastly echoes from the walls. 
Tears are as infectious as laughter ; the three women 
wept with pity for him. Charles broke from his uncle 
without waiting to hear more, and sprang into the yard, 
found the staircase, and fled to his own room, where he 
flung himself across the bed and buried his face in the 
bedclothes, that he might give way to his grief in 
solitude as far as possible from these relations. 

'Let him alone till the first shower is over,' said 
Grandet, going back to the parlour. Eugenie and her 
mother had hastily returned to their places, had 
dried their eyes, and were sewing with cold trembling 

• 'But that fellow is good for nothing,' went on 
Grandet; 'he is so taken up with dead folk that he 
doesn't even think about the money.' -»^ 

Eugenie shuddered to hear the most sacred of sorrows 
spoken of in such a way ; from that moment she began 
to criticise her father. Charles's sobs, smothered though 
they were, rang through that house of echoes ; the 
sounds seemed to come from under the earth, a heart 

9 2 Eugenie Grandet 

rending wail that grew fainter towards the ena ot the 
day, and only ceased as night drew on. 

' Poor boy ! * said Mme. Grandet. 

It was an unfortunate remark ! Goodman Grandet 
looked at his wife, then at Eugenie, then at the sugar 
basin ; he recollected the sumptuous breakfast prepared 
that morning for their unhappy kinsman, and planted 
himself in the middle of the room. 

' Oh ! by the by,' he said, in his usual cool, deliberate 
way, ' I hope you will not carry your extravagance 
any further, Mme. Grandet j I do not give you MY 
money for you to squander it on sugar for that young 

'Mother had nothing whatever to do with it,' said 
Eugenie. ' It was I ' 

'Because you are come of age,' Grandet interrupted 
his daughter, ' you think you can set yourself to thwart 
me, I suppose ? Mind what you are about, Eugenie ' 

'But, father, your own brother's son ought not to 
have to go without sugar in your house.' 

' Tut, tut, tut, tut ! ' came from the cooper in a 
cadence of four semitones. ' 'Tis " my nephew " here, 
and " my brother's son " there ; Charles is nothing to us, 
he has not a brass farthing. His father is a bankrupt, 
and when the young sprig has cried as much as he 
wishes, he shall clear out of this ; I will not have my 
house turned topsy-turvy for him.' 

' What is a bankrupt, father ? ' asked Eugenic. 

' A bankrupt,' replied her father, ' is guilty of the 
most dishonourable action that can dishonour a man.' 

'It must be a very great sin,' said Mme. Grandet, 
' and our brother will perhaps be eternally lost.' 

' There you are with your preachments,' her husband 
retorted, shrugging his shoulders. 'A bankrupt, 
Eugenie,' her father continued, 'is a thief whom the 
law unfortunately takes under its protection. People 
trusted Guillaume Grandet with their goods, confiding 

Eugenie Grandet 9J 

in his character for fair-dealing and honesty ; he has taken 
all they have, and left them nothing but the eyes in their 
heads to cry over their losses vi^ith. A bankrupt is worse than 
a highwayman ; a highwayman sets upon you, and you 
have a chance to defend yourself; he risks his life besides, 
while the other Charles is disgraced in fact.* 

The words filled the poor girl's heart ; they weighed 
upon her with all their weight ; she herself was so 
scrupulously conscientious ; no flower in the depths o{ 
a forest had grown more delicately free from spot or 
stain ; she knew none of the maxims of worldly wisdom, 
and nothing of its quibbles and its sophistries. So she 
accepted her father's cruel definition and sweeping 
statements as to bankrupts ; he drew no distinction 
between a fraudulent bankruptcy and a failure from 
unavoidable causes, and how should she ? 

' But, father, could you not have prevented this mis- 
fortune ? ' 

* My brother did not ask my advice ; besides, his 
liabilities amount to four millions.' 

* How much is a million, father ? ' asked Eugenie, with 
the simplicity of a child who would fain have its wish 
fulfilled at once. 

*A million ?' queried Grandet. * Why, it is a million 
francs, four hundred thousand five-franc pieces ; there 
are twenty sous in a franc, and it takes five francs of 
twenty sous each to make a five-franc piece.' 

' Afon Dieu ! Man Dieu ! ' cried Eugenie, ' how came 
my uncle to have four millions of his own ? Is there 
really anybody in France who has so many millions as 
that ? ' 

Grandet stroked his daughter's chin and smiled. The 
wen seemed to grow larger. 

' What will become of cousin Charles ? ' 

' He will set out for the East Indies, and try to make 
a fortune. That is his father's wish.' 

' But has he any money to go with ? ' 

94 Eugenie Grandet 

' I shall pay his passage out as far as . . yes ... as 
far as Nantes/ 

Eugenie sprang up and flung her arms about her 
father's neck. 

' Oh ! father,' she said, ' you are good ! ' 

Her warm embrace embarrassed Grandet somewhat, 
perhaps, too, his conscience was not quite at ease. 

' Does it take a long while to make a million ? ' she 

' Lord ! yes,' said the cooper ; ' you know what a 
Napoleon is ; well, then, it takes fifty thousand of them 
to make a million.' 

' Mamma, we will have a neuvaine said for him.' 

* That was what I was thinking,' her mother replied. 

* Just like you ! always thinking how to spend money. 
Really, one might suppose that we had any amount of 
money to throw away ! ' 

As he spoke, a sound of low hoarse sobbing, more 
ominous than any which had preceded it, came from the 
garret. Eugenie and her mother shuddered. 

' Nanon,' called Grandet, ' go up and see that he is 
not killing himself.' 

' Look here ! you two,' he continued, turning to his 
wife and daughter, whose cheeks grew white at his tones, 
' there is to be no nonsense, mind ! I am leaving the 
house. I am going round to see the Dutchmen who are 
going to-day. Then I shall go to Cruchot's, and have a 
talk with him about all this.' 

He went out. As soon as the door closed upon 
Grandet, Eugenie and her mother breathed more freely. 
The girl had never felt constraint in her father's presence 
until that morning ; but a few hours had wrought rapid 
changes in her ideas and feelings. 

' Mamma, how many louis is a hogshead of wine worth ? ' 

'Your father gets something between a hundred and 
a hundred and fifty francs for his ; sometimes two 
hundred I believe, from what I have heard him say.' 

Eugenie Grandct pj 

'And would there be fourteen hundred hogsheads in 
a vintage ? ' 

*I don't know how many there are, child, upon my 
word ; your father never talks about business to me.' 

'But, anyhow, papa must be rich.' 

* May be. But M. Cruchot told me that your father 
bought Froidfond two years ago. That would be a 
heavy pull on him.' 

Eugenie, now at a loss as to her father's wealth, went 
no further with her arithmetic. 

* He did not even so much as see me, the poor dear ! ' 
said Nanon on her return. ' He is lying there on his 
bed like a calf, crying like a Magdalen, you never saw 
the like ! Poor young man, what can be the matter 
with him ? ' 

' Let us go up at once and comfort him, mamma ; if 
we hear a knock, we will come downstairs.' 

There was something in the musical tones of her 
daughter's voice which Mme. Grandet could not resist. 
Eugenie was sublime ; she was a girl no longer, she 
was a woman. With beating hearts they climbed the 
stairs and went together to Charles's room. The door 
was open. The young man saw nothing, and heard 
nothing ; he was absorbed in his grief, an inarticulate cry 
broke from him now and again. 

' How he loves his father ! * said Eugenie in a low 
voice, and in her tone there was an unmistakable accent 
which betrayed the passion in her heart, and hopes of 
which herself was unaware. Mme. Grandet, with the 
quick instinct of a mother's love, glanced at her daughter 
and spoke in a low voice in her ear. 

' Take care,' she said, ' or you may love him.* 

' Love him ! ' said Eugenie. ' Ah ! if you only knew 
what my father said.' 

Charles moved slightly as he lay, and saw his aunt and 

' I have lost my father,' he cried j ' my poor father ! 

g6 Eugenie Grandet 

If he had only trusted me and told me about his losses^ 
we might have worked together to repair them. Alon 
Dieu ! my kind father ! I was so sure that I should see 
him again, and I said goodbye so carelessly, I am afraid, 
never thinking . . .' 

His words were interrupted by sobs. 

' We will surely pray for him,' said Mme. Grandet, 
' Submit yourself to the will of God.* 

* Take courage, cousin,' said Eugenie gently ; ' nothing 
can give your father back to you j you must now think 
how to save your honour . . .' 

A woman always has her wits about her, even in her 
capacity of comforter, and with instinctive tact Eugenie 
sought to divert her cousin's mind from his sorrow by 
leading him to think about himself. 

' My honour ? ' cried the young man, hastily pushing 
back the hair from his eyes. He sat upright upon the 
bed, and folded his arms. ' Ah ! true. My uncle said 
that my father had failed.* 

He hid his face in his hands with a heartrending cry 
of pain. 

* Leave me ! leave me ! cousin Eugenie,' he entreated. 
* Oh ! God forgive my father, for he must have been 
terribly unhappy ! ' 

There was something in the sight of this young sorrow, 
this utter abandonment of grief, that was horribly 
engaging. It was a sorrow that shrank from the gaze 
of others, and Charles's gesture of entreaty that they 
should leave him to himself was understood by Eugenie 
and her mother. They went silently downstairs again, 
took their places by the great window, and sewed on for 
nearly an hour without a word to each other. 

Eugenie had looked round the room ; it was a stolen 
glance. In one of those hasty surveys by which a girl 
sees everything in a moment, she had noticed the pretty 
trifles on the toilette-table — the scissors, the ra2wrs 
mounted with gold. The gleams of splendour and 

Eugenie Grandet p7 

luxury, seen amidst all this misery, made Charles still 
more interesting in her eyes, perhaps by the very force of 
the contrast. Their life had been so lonely and so quiet \ 
such an event as this, with its painful interest, had never 
broken the monotony of their lives, little had occurred to 
stir their imaginations, and now this tragical drama was 
being enacted under their eyes. 

' Mamma,' said Eugenie, ' shall we wear mourn- 

' Your father will decide that,' replied Mme. Grandet, 
and once more they sewed in silence. Eugenie's needle 
moved with a mechanical regularity, which betrayed her 
preoccupation of mind. The first wish of this adorable 
girl was to share her cousin's mourning. About four 
o'clock a sharp knock at the door sent a sudden thrill of 
terror through Mme. Grandet. 

' What can have brought your father back ? ' she said 
to her daughter. 

The vinegrower came in in high good-humour. He 
rubbed his hands so energetically that nothing but a skin 
like leather could have borne it, and indeed his hands were 
tanned like Russia leather, though the fragrant pine-rosin 
and incense had been omitted in the process. For a 
time he walked up and down and looked at the weather, 
but at last his secret escaped him. 

' I have hooked them, wife,' he said, without stam- 
mering ; ' I have them safe. Our wine is sold ! The 
Dutchmen and Belgians were setting out this morning ; 
I hung about in the market-place in front of their inn, 
looking as simple as I could. What 's-his-name — you 
know the man — came up to me. All the best growers 
are hanging off and holding their vintages ; they wanted 
to wait, and so they can, I have not hindered them. Our 
Belgian was at his wits' end, I saw that. So the bargain 
was struck ; he is taking the whole of our vintage at 
two hundred francs the hogshead, half of it paid down at 
once in gold, and I have promissory notes for the rest. 


9$ Eugenie Grandet 

There are six louis for you. In three months' time 
prices will go down.' 

The last words came out quietly enough, but there 
was something so sardonic in the tone that if the Httle 
knots of growers, then standing in the twilight in the 
market-place of Saumur, in dismay at the news of 
Grandet's sale, had heard him speak, they would have 
shuddered ; there would have been a panic on the market 
— wines would have fallen fifty per cent. 

* You have a thousand hogsheads this year, father, have 
you not ? ' asked Eugenie. 

' Yes, little girl.' 

These words indicated that the cooper's joy had indeed 
reached high-water mark. 

' That will mean two hundred thousand francs ? * 

' Yes, Mademoiselle Grandet.' 

' Well, then, father, you can easily help Charles.' 

The surprise, the wrath and bewilderment with which 
Belshazzar beheld Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin written 
upon his palace wall were as nothing compared with 
Grandet's cold fury ; he had forgotten all about Charles, 
and now he found that all his daughter's inmost thoughts 
were of his nephew, and that this arithmetic of hers 
referred to him. It was exasperating. 

' Look here ! ' he thundered ; ' ever since that scape- 
grace set foot in my house everything has gone askew. 
You take it upon yourselves to buy sugar-plums, and make 
a great set-out for him. I will not have these doings. 
I should think, at my age, I ought to know what is right 
and proper to do. At any rate, I have no need to take 
lessons from my daughter, nor from any one else. I shall 
do for my nephew whatever it is right and proper for me to 
do ; it is no business of yours, you need not meddle in it. — 
And now, as for you, Eugenie,' he added, turning towards 
her, ' if you say another word about it, I will send you 
and Nanon off to the Abbey at Noyers, see if I don't. 
Where is that boy ? has he come downstairs yet ? * \ 

Eugenie Grandet 99 

* No, dear,* answered Mme. Grandet. 

* Why, what is he doing then ? ' 

* He is crying for his father,* Eugenie said. 
Grandet looked at his daughter, and found nothing to 

say. There was some touch of the father even in him. 
He took one or two turns up and down, and then went 
straight to his strong-room to think over possible invest- 
ments. He had thoughts of buying consols. Those 
two thousand acres of woodland had brought him in six 
hundred thousand francs ; then there was the money 
from the sale of the poplars, there was last year's income 
from various sources, and this year's savings, to say 
nothing of the bargain which he had just concluded j so 
that, leaving those two hundred thousand francs out of 
the question, he possessed a lump sum of nine hundred 
thousand livres. That twenty per cent., to be made in 
so short a time upon his outlay, tempted him. Consols 
stood at seventy. He jotted down his calculations on 
the margin of the paper that had brought the news of his 
brother's death ; the moans of his nephew sounded in his 
ears the while, but he did not hear them ; he went on 
with his work till Nanon thumped vigorously on the 
thick wall to summon her master to dinner. On the 
last step of the staircase beneath the archway, Grandet 
paused and thought. 

' There is the interest beside the eight per cent. — I will 
do it. Fifteen hundred thousand francs in two years 
time, in gold from Paris too, full weight. — Well, what 
has become of my nephew ? * 

* He said he did not want anything,' replied Nanon. 
* He ought to eat, or he will fall ill.* 

* It is so much saved,' was her master's comment. 

* Lord ! yes,' she replied. 

* Pooh ! he will not keep on crying for ever. Hunger 
drives the wolf from the wood.' 

'i Dinner was a strangely silent meal. When the cloth 
/ had been removed, Mme. Grandet spoke to her husband. 

lOO Eugenie Grandet 

' We ought to go into mourning, dear.' 

' Really, Mme. Grandet, you must be hard up for ways 
of getting rid of money. Mourning is in the heart ; it is 
not put on with clothes.* 

* But for a brother mourning is indispensable, and the 
Church bids us ' 

' Then buy mourning out of your six louis ; a band of 
crape will do for me ; you can get me a band of crape.' 

Eugenie said nothing, and raised her eyes to heaven. 
Her generous instincts, so long repressed and dormant, 
had been suddenly awakened, and every kindly thought 
had been harshly checked as it had arisen. Outwardly this 
evening passed just as thousands of others had passed in 
their monotonous lives, but for the two women it was 
the most painful that they had ever spent. Eugenie 
sewed without raising her head ; she took no notice of 
the workbox which Charles had looked at so scornfully 
yesterday evening. Mme. Grandet knitted away at hei 
cufFs. Grandet sat twirling his thumbs, absorbed in 
schemes which should one day bring about results that 
would startle Saumur. Four hours went by. Nobody 
dropped in to see them. As a matter of fact, the whole 
town was ringing with the news of Grandet's sharp 
practice, following on the news of his brother's failure 
and his nephew's arrival. So imperatively did Saumur 
feel the need to thrash these matters thoroughly out, 
that all the vinegrowers, great or small, were assembled 
beneath the des Grassins' roof, and frightful were the 
imprecations which were launched at the head of their 
late Mayor. 

Nanon was spinning ; the whirr of her wheel was the 
only sound in the great room beneath the grey-painted 

'Our tongues don't go very fast,' she said, showing 
her large teeth, white as blanched almonds. 

*■ There is no call for them to go,' answered Grandet, 
roused from his calculations. 

Eugenie Grandet koi 

He beheld a vision of the future — he saw eight millions 
in three years time — he had set forth on a long voyage 
upon a golden sea. 

' Let us go to bed. I will go up and wish my nephew 
a goodnight from you all, and see if he wants anything.' 

Mme. Grandet stayed on the landing outside her room 
door to hear what her worthy husband might say to 
Charles. Eugenie, bolder than her mother, went a step 
or two up the second flight. 

' Well, nephew, you are feeling unhappy ? Yes, cry, 
it is only natural, a father is a father. But we must bear 
our troubles patiently. Whilst you have been crying, I 
have been thinking for you ; I am a kind uncle, you see. 
Come, don't lose heart. Will you take a little wine ? 
Wine costs nothing at Saumur ; it is common here ; they 
oiFer it as they might offer you a cup of tea in the Indies. 
— But you are all in the dark,' Grandet went on. ' That 's 
bad, that 's bad ; one ought to see what one is doing.' 

Grandet went to the chimney-piece. 

' What ! ' he cried, ' a wax candle ! Where the devil 
have they fished that from ? I believe the wenches 
would pull up the floor of my house to cook eggs for that 

Mother and daughter, hearing these words, fled to 
their rooms, and crept into their beds like frightened 

' Mme. Grandet, you have a lot of money somewhere, 
it seems,' said the vinegrower, walking into his wife's 

' I am saying my prayers, dear ; wait a little,' faltered 
the poor mother. 

' The devil take your pious notions ! ' growled 

Misers have no belief in a life to come, the present is 
all in all to them. But if this thought gives an insight ' 
into the miser's springs of action, it possesses a wider 
application, it throws a pitiless light upon our own era — 

io2 ' ' '^^ ' * ' ' Eugenvc Grandet 

for money is the one all-powerful force, ours is pre- 
eminently the epoch when money is the lawgiver, 
feocially and politically. Books and institutions, theories 
and practice, all alike combine to weaken the belief in a 
future life, the foundation on which the social edifice 
has been slowly reared for eighteen hundred years. The 
grave has almost lost its terrors for us. That Future 
which awaited us beyond the Requiem has been trans- 
ported into the present, and one hope and one ambition 
possesses us all — to pass per fas et nefas into this earthly 
paradise of luxury, vanity, and pleasure, to deaden the 
soul and mortify the body for a brief possession of this 
promised land, just as in other days men were found 
willing to lay down their lives and to suffer martyrdom 
for the hope ot eternal bliss. This thought can be read 
at large ; it is stamped upon our age, which asks of the 
voter — the man who makes the laws — not 'What do 
you think ? ' but ' What can you pay ? ' — And what will 
become of us when this doctrine has been handed down 
from the bourgeoisie to the people ? 

' Mme. Grandet, have you finished ? ' asked the 

' I am praying for you, dear.' 

' Very well, good night. To-morrow morning I shall 
have something to say to you.' 

Poor woman ! she betook herself to sleep like a school- 
boy who has not learned his lessons, and sees before him 
the angry face of the master when he wakes. Sheer 
terror led her to wrap the sheets about her head to shut 
out all sounds, but just at that moment she felt a kiss on 
her forehead ; it was Eugenie who had slipped into the 
room in the darkness, and stood there barefooted in her 

' Oh ! mother, my kind mother,' she said, ' I shall tell 
him to-morrow morning that it was all my doing.' 

' No, don't ; if you do, he will send you away to Noyers, 
Let me manage it ; he will not eat me, after all.' 

Eugenie Grander 103 

* Oh ! mamma, do you hear ? ' 

' What ? ' 

' He is crying still.' 

' Go back to bed, dear. The floor is damp, it will 
strike cold to your feet.' 

So ended the solemn day, which had brought for the 
poor wealthy heiress a lifelong burden of sorrow ; never 
again would Eugenie Grandet sleep as soundly or as 
lightly as heretofore. It not seldom happens that at 
some time in their lives this or that human being will , 
act literally 'unlike himself,' and yet in very truth in li 
accordance with his nature. Is it not rather that we ' ' 
form our hasty conclusions of him without the aid of 
such light as psychology affords, without attempting to 
trace the mysterious birth and growth of the causes 
which led to these unforeseen results ? And this passion, 
which had its roots in the depths of Eugenie's nature, 
should perhaps be studied as if it were the delicate fibre 
of some living organism to discover the secret of its 
growth. It was a passion that would influence her 
whole life, so that one day it would be sneeringly called 
a malady. Plenty of people would prefer to consider a 
catastrophe improbable rather than undertake the task 
of tracing the sequence of the events that led to it, to 
discovering how the links of the chain were forged one 
by one in the mind of the actor. In this case Eugenie's 
past life will suffice to keen observers of human nature ; 
her artless impulsiveness, her sudden outburst of tender- 
ness will be no surprise to them. Womanly pity, that 
treacherous feeling, had filled her soul but the more 
completely because her life had been so uneventful that 
it had never been so called forth before. 

So the trouble and excitement of the day disturbed he»* 
rest ; she woke again and again to listen for any sound 
from her cousin's room, thinking that she still heard the 
moans that all day long had vibrated through her heart. 
Sometimes she seemed to see him lying up there, dying 

104 Eugenie Grandet 

of grief; sometimes she dreamed that he was being 
[ starved to death. Towards morning she distinctly heard 
I a terrible cry. She dressed herself at once, and in the 
dim light of the dawn fled noiselessly up the stairs to hqr 
cousin's room. The door stood open, the wax candle 
had burned itself down to the socket. Nature had 
asserted herself; Charles, still dressed, was sleeping in the 
armchair, with his head fallen forward on the bed ; he 
had been dreaming as famished people dream. Eugenie 
admired the fair young face. It was flushed and tear- 
stained ; the eyelids were swollen with weeping ; he 
seemed to be still crying in his sleep, and Eugenie's own 
tears fell fast. Some dim feeling that his cousin was 
present awakened Charles ; he opened his eyes, and saw 
her distress. 

' Pardon me, cousin,' he said dreamily. Evidently 
he had lost all reckoning of time, and did not know where 
he was. 

'There are hearts here that feel for you, cousin, and 
we thought that you might perhaps want something. You 
should go to bed ; you will tire yourself out if you sleep 
like that.' 

' Yes,' he said, ' that is true.' 

' Goodbye,' she said, and fled, half in confusion, half 
glad that she had come. Innocence alone dares to be 
thus bold, and virtue armed with knowledge weighs its 
' actions as carefully as vice. 

Eugenie had not trembled in her cousin's presence, 
but when she reached her own room again she could 
scarcely stand. Her ignorant life had suddenly come to 
an end ; she remonstrated with herself, and blamed 
herself again and again. ' What will he think of me ? 
He will believe that I love him.' Yet she knew that 
this was exactly what she wished him to believe. Love 
spoke plainly within her, knowing by instinct how love 
calls forth love. The moment when she stole into her 
cousin's room became a memorable event in the girl's 

Eugenic Grandet 105 

lonely life. Are there not thoughts and deeds which, in 
love, are for some souls like a solemn betrothal ? 

An hour later she went to her mother's room, to help 
her to dress, as she always did. Then the two women 
went downstairs and took their places by the window, 
and waited for Grandet's coming in the anxiety which 
freezes or burns. Some natures cower, and others grow 
reckless, when a scene or painful agitation is in prospect ; 
the feeling of dread is so widely felt that domestic 
animals will cry out when the slightest pain is inflicted 
on them as a punishment, while the same creature if 
hurt inadvertently will not utter a sound. 

The cooper came downstairs, spoke in an absent- 
minded way to his wife, kissed Eugenie, and sat down 
to table. He seemed to have forgotten last night's 

* What has become of my nephew ? The child is not 
much in the way.' 

' He is asleep, sir,' said Nanon. 

'So much the better, he won't want a wax candle for 
that,' said Grandet facetiously. 

His extraordinary mildness and satirical humour puzzled 
Mme. Grandet ; she looked earnestly at her husband. 
The goodman — here perhaps it may be observed that in 
Touraine, Anjou, Poitou, and Brittany the designation 
goodman [bonhomme)^ which has been so often applied to 
Grandet, conveys no idea of merit ; it is allowed to 
people of the worst temper as well as to good-natured 
idiots, and is applied without distinction to any man of a 
certain age — the goodman, therefore, took up his hat and 
gloves with the remark — 

' I am going to have a look round in the market-place ; 
I want to meet the Cruchots.' 

' Eugenie, your father certainly has something on 
his mind.' 

As a matter of fact, Grandet always slept but little, and 
was wont to spend half the night in revolving and 

io6 Eugenie Grandet 

maturing schemes, a process by which his views, observa- 
tions, and plans gained amazingly in clearness and pre- 
cision ; indeed, this was the secret of that constant success 
which was the admiration of Saumur. Time and 
patience combined will effect most things, and the 
man who accomplishes much is the man with the 
\ strong will who can wait. The miser's life is a con- 

stant exercise of every human faculty in the service of 
a personality. He believes in self-love and interest, 
and in no other motives of action, but interest is in some 
> .. sort another form of self-love, to wit, a practical form 
I dealing with the tangible and the concrete, and both 
forms are comprised in one master-passion, for self-love 
and interest are but two manifestations of egoism. 
Hence perhaps the prodigious interest which a miser 
excites when cleverly put upon the stage. What man 
is utterly without ambition ? And what social ambition 
can be obtained without money ? Every one has some- 
thing in common with this being ; he is a personification 
of humanity, and yet is revolting to all the feelings of 

Grandet really ' had something on his mind,' as his wife 
used to say. In Grandet, as in every miser, there was 
a keen relish for the game, a constant craving to play 
men off one against another for his own benefit, to 
mulct them of their crowns without breaking the law. 
And did not every victim who fell into his clutches 
renew his sense of power, his just contempt for the weak 
of the earth who let themselves fall such an easy prey ? 
Ah ! who has understood the meaning of the lamb that 
lies in peace at the feet of God, that most touching 
symbol of meek victims who are doomed to suffer here 
below, and of the future that awaits them hereafter, 
of weakness and suffering glorified at last ? But here on 
earth it is quite otherwise j the lamb is the miser's 
legitimate prey, and by him (when it is fat enough) it 
is contemptuously penned, killed, cooked, and eaten. 

Eugenie Grandet 107 

On money and on this feeling of contemptuous superiority 
the miser thrives. 

During the night this excellent man's ideas had taken 
an entirely new turn -, hence his unusual mildness. He 
had been weaving a web to entangle them in Paris ; he 
would envelop them in its toils, they should be as clay 
in his hands ; they should hope and tremble, come and 
go, toil and sweat, and all for his amusement, all for the 
old cooper in the dingy room at the head of the worm- 
eaten staircase in the old house at Saumur ; it tickled his 
sense of humour. 

He had been thinking about his nephew. He wanted 
to save his dead brother's name from dishonour in a way 
that should not cost a penny either to his nephew or to 
himself He was about to invest his money for three 
years, his mind was quite at Jeisure from his own affairs ; 
he really needed some outlet for his malicious energy, 
and here was an opportunity supplied by his brother's 
failure. The claws were idle, he had nothing to squeeze 
between them, so he would pound the Parisians for 
Charles's benefit, and exhibit himself in the light of 
an excellent brother at a very cheap rate. As a matter 
of fact, the honour of the family name counted for very 
little with him in this matter ; he looked at it from 
the purely impersonal point of view of the gambler, 
who likes to see a game well played although it is no 
affair of his. The Cruchots were necessary to him, but 
he did not mean to go in search of them ; they should 
come to him. That very evening the comedy should 
begin, the main outlines were decided upon already, 
to-morrow he would be held up as an object of 
admiration all over the town, and his generosity should 
not cost him a farthing ! 

Eugenie, in her father's absence, was free to busy 
herself openly for her cousin, to feel the pleasure of 
pouring out for him in many ways the wealth of pity 
that filled her heart ; for in pity alone women are 

io8 Eugenie Grandet 

content that we should feel their superiority, and the 
sublimity of devotion is the one height which they can 
pardon us for leaving to them. 

Three or four times Eugenie went to listen to her 
cousin's breathing, that she might know whether he was 
awake or still sleeping ; and when she was sure that he 
was rising, she turned her attention to his breakfast, and 
cream, coffee, fruit, eggs, plates, and glasses were all in 
turn the objects of her especial care. She softly climbed 
the rickety stairs to listen again. Was he dressing ? 
Was he still sobbing ? She went to the door at last and 
spoke — 

' Cousin ! ' 

' Yes, cousin.' 

' Would you rather have breakfast downstairs or up 
here in your room ? ' 

' Whichever you please.' 

* How do you feel ? ' 

' I am ashamed to say that I am hungry.' 

This talk through the closed door was like an episode 
in a romance for Eugenie. 

' Very well then, we will bring your breakfast up to 
your room, so that my father may not be vexed about 

She sprang downstairs, and ran into the kitchen with 
the swiftness of a bird. 

' Nanon, just go and set his room straight.' 

The familiar staircase which she had gone up and 
down so often, and which echoed with every sound, 
seemed no longer old in Eugenie's eyes ; it was radiant 
with light, it seemed to speak a language which she 
understood, it was young again as she herself was, young 
like the love in her heart. And the mother, the kind, 
indulgent mother, was ready to lend herself to her 
daughter's whims, and as soon as Charles's room was ready 
they both went thither to sit with him. Does not 
Christian charity bid us comfort the mourner ? Little 

Eugenie Grandet 109 

religious sophistries were not wanting by which the 
women justified themselves. 

Charles Grandet received the most tender and affec- 
tionate care. Such delicate tact and sweet kindness 
touched him very closely in his desolation ; and for 
these two souls, they found a moment's freedom from 
the restraint under which they lived ; they were at home 
in an atmosphere of sorrow ; they could give him the 
quick sympathy of fellowship in misfortune. Eugenie 
could avail herself of the privilege of relationship to set 
his linen in order, and to arrange the trifles that lay on the 
dressing-tablei; she could admire the wonderful knick- 
knacks at her leisure j all the paraphernalia of luxury, 
the delicately-wrought gold and silver passed through her 
hands, her fingers dwelt lingeringly on them under the 
pretext of looking closely at the workmanship. 

Charles was deeply touched by the generous interest 
which his aunt and cousin took in him. He knew 
Parisian life quite sufficiently to know that under these 
circumstances his old acquaintances and friends would 
have grown cold and distant at once. But his trouble 
had brought out all the peculiar beauty of Eugenie's 
character, and he began to admire the simplicity of 
manner which had provoked his amusement but yester- 
day. So when Eugenie waited on her cousin with such 
frank goodwill, taking from Nanon the earthenware 
bowl full of coffee and cream to set it before him herself, 
the Parisian's eyes filled with tears ; and when he met 
her kind glance, he took her hand in his and kissed it. 

* Well, what is the matter now ? ' she asked. 

' Oh ! they are tears of gratitude,' he answered. 

Eugenie turned hastily away, took the candles from 
the chimney-piece and held them out to Nanon. 

' Here,' she said, * take these away.' 

When she could look at her cousin again, the flush 
was still on her face, but her eyes at least did not betray 
her, and gave no sign of the excess of joy that flooded 

I lo Eugenie Grandet 

her heart ; yet the same thought was dawning in both 
their souls, and could be read in the eyes of either, and 
they knew that the future was theirs. This thrill of 
happiness was all the sweeter to Charles in his great 
sorrow, because it was so little expected. 

There was a knock at the door, and both the women 
hurried down to their places by the window. It was 
lucky for them that their flight downstairs was suffi- 
ciently precipitate, and that they were at their work 
when Grandet came in, for if he had met them beneath 
the archway, all his suspicions would be aroused at once. 
After the mid-day meal, which he took standing, the 
keeper, who had not yet received his promised reward, 
appeared from Froidfond, bringing with him a hare, 
some partridges shot in the park, a few eels, and a couple 
of pike sent by him from the miller's. 

' Aha ! so here is old Cornoiller ; you come just when 
you are wanted, like salt fish in Lent. Is all that fit to 
eat ? * 

' Yes, sir ; all killed the day before yesterday.' 

' Come, Nanon, look alive ! Just take this, it will do 
for dinner to-day ; the two Cruchots are coming.' 

Nanon opened her eyes with amazement, and stared 
first at one and then at another. 

' Oh ! indeed,' she said ; ' and where are the herbs and 
the bacon to come from ? * 

'Wife,' said Grandet, Met Nanon have six francs, and 
remind me to go down into the cellar to look-out a bottle 
of good wine.' 

' Well, then, M. Grandet,' the gamekeeper began (he 
wished to see the question of his salary properly settled, 
and was duly primed with a speech), 'M. Grandet—- — ' 

'Tut, tut, tut,' said Grandet, 'I know what you are 
going to say ; you are a good fellow, we will see about 
that to-morrow, I am very busy to-day. Give him five 
francs, wife,' he added, looking at Mme. Grandet, and 
with that he beat a retreat. The poor woman was only 

Eugenie Grandet iii 

too happy to purchase peace at the price of eleven francs. 
She knew by experience that Grandet usually kept quiet 
for a fortnight after he had made her disburse coin by 
coin the money which he had given her. 

'There, Cornoiller,' she said, as she slipped ten francs 
into his hand ; ' we will repay you for your services one 
of these days.' 

Cornoiller had no answer ready, so he went. 

'Madame,' said Nanon, who had by this time put on 
her black bonnet and had a basket on her arm, ' three 
francs will be quite enough ; keep the rest. I shall 
manage just as well with three.' 

' Let us have a good dinner, Nanon ; my cousin is 
coming downstairs,' said Eugenie. 

' There is something very extraordinary going on, I am 
sure,' said Mme. Grandet. ' This makes the third time 
since we were married that your father has asked any one 
here to dinner.' 

It was nearly four o'clock in the afternoon ; Eugenic 
and her mother had laid the cloth and set the table for 
six persons, and the master of the house had brought up 
two or three bottles of the exquisite wines, which are 
jealously hoarded in the cellars of the vine-growing 

Charles came into the dining-room looking white and 
sad ; there was a pathetic charm about his gestures, his 
face, his looks, the tones of his voice ; his sorrow had 
given him the interesting look that women like so well, 
and Eugenie only loved him the more because his features 
were worn with pain. Perhaps, too, this trouble had 
brought them nearer in other ways. Charles was no 
longer the rich and handsome young man who lived in a 
sphere far beyond her ken ; he was a kinsman in deep 
and terrible distress, and sorrow is a great leveller. 
Woman has this in common with the angels — all suffer- 
ing creatures are under her protection. 

Charles and Eugenie understood each other without a 

111 "" ' Eugenie Grandet 

word being spoken on either side. The poor dandy 
of yesterday, fallen from his high estate, to-day was an 
orphan, who sat in a corner of the room, quiet, composed, 
and proud ; but from time to time he met his cousin's 
eyes, her kind and affectionate glance rested on him, and 
compelled him to shake off his dark and sombre broodings, 
and to look forward with her to a future full of hope, in 
which she loved to think that she might share. 

The news of Grandet's dinner-party caused even 
greater excitement in Saumur than the sale of his vintage, 
although this latter proceeding had been a crime of the 
blackest dye, an act of high treason against the vine- 
growing interest. If Grandet's banquet to the Cruchots 
has been prompted by the same idea which on a memor- 
able occasion cost Alcibiades' dog its tail, history might 
perhaps have heard of the miser ; but he felt himself to 
be above public opinion in this town which he exploited j 
he held Saumur too cheap. 

It was not long before the des Grassins heard of 
Guillaume Grandet's violent end and impending bank- 
ruptcy. They determined to pay a visit to their client 
that evening, to condole with him in his affliction, and 
to show a friendly interest ; while they endeavoured to 
discover the motives which could have led Grandet to 
invite the Cruchots to dinner at such a time. 

Precisely at five o'clock President C. de Bonfons and 
his uncle the notary arrived, dressed up to the nines this 
time. The guests seated themselves at table, and began 
by attacking their dinner with remarkably good appetites. 
Grandet was solemn, Charles was silent, Eugenie was 
dumb, and Mme. Grandet said no more than usual ; if it 
had been a funeral repast, it could not well have been less 
lively. When they rose from the table, Charles addressed 
his aunt and uncle — 

' Will you permit me to withdraw ? I have some long 
and difficult letters to write,* 

* By all means, nephew.* 

Eugenie Grandet 113 

Wherj Charles had left the room, and his amiable rela- 
tive could fairly assume that he was out of earshot and 
deep in his correspondence, Grandet gave his wife a 
sinister glance. 

' Mme. Grandet, what we are going to say will be 
Greek to you ; it is half-past seven o'clock, you ought to 
be off to bed by this time. Good night, my daughter.' 
He kissed Eugenie, and mother and daughter left the room. 

Then the drama began. Now, if ever in his life, 
Grandet displayed all the shrewdness which he had 
acquired in the course of his long experience of men and 
business, and all the cunning which had gained him the 
nickname of ' old fox * among those who had felt his 
teeth a little too sharply. Had the ambition of the late 
Mayor of Saumur soared a little higher ; if he had had the 
luck to rise to a higher social sphere, and destiny had sent 
him to mingle in some congress in which the fate of 
nations is at stake, the genius which he was now devoting 
to his own narrow ends would doubtless have done France 
glorious service. And yet, after all, the probability is 
that once away from Saumur the worthy cooper would 
have cut but a poor figure, and that minds, like certain 
plants and animals, are sterile when removed to a distant 
climate and an alien soil. 

' M-m-monsieur le P-p-president, you were s-s-saying 
that b-b-bankruptcy ' 

Here the trick of stammering which it had pleased 
the vinegrower to assume so long ago that every one 
believed it to be natural to him (like the deafness of which 
he was wont to complain in rainy weather), grew so 
unbearably tedious for the Cruchot pair, that as they 
strove to catch the syllables, they made unconscious 
grimaces, moving their lips as if they would fain finish 
the words in which the cooper entangled both himself 
and them at his pleasure. 

And here, perhaps, is the fitting place to record the 
history of Grandet's deafness and the impediment in his 


114 Eugenic Grandet 

speech. No one in Anjou had better hearing or could 
speak Angevin French more clearly and distinctly than 
the wily vinegrower — when he chose. Once upon a 
time, in spite of all his shrewdness, a Jew had got the 
better of him. In the course of their discussion the 
Israelite had applied his hand to his ear, in the manner 
of an ear-trumpet, the better to catch what was said, and 
had gibbered to such purpose in his search for a word, 
that Grandet, a victim to his own humanity, felt con- 
strained to suggest to that crafty Hebrew the words and 
ideas of which the Israelite appeared to be in search, to 
finish himself the reasonings of the said Hebrew, to say 
for that accursed alien all that he ought to have said for 
himself, till Grandet ended by fairly changing places 
with the Jew. 

From this curious contest of wits the vinegrower did 
not emerge triumphant ; indeed, for the first and last 
time in his business career he made a bad bargain. But 
loser though he was from a money point of view, he had 
received a great practical lesson, and later on he reaped 
the fruits of it. Wherefore in the end he blessed the Jew 
who had shown him how to wear out the patience of an 
opponent, and to keep him so closely employed in express- 
ing his adversary's ideas that he completely lost sight of 
his own. The present business required more deafness, 
more stammering, more of the mazy circumlocutions in 
which Grandet was wont to involve himself, than any 
previous transaction in his life ; for, in the first place, he 
wished to throw the responsibility of his ideas on some 
one else ; some one else was to suggest his own schemes 
to him, while he was to keep himself to himself, and 
leave every one in the dark as to his real intentions. 

'Mon-sieur de B-B-Bonfons.' (This was the second time 
in three years that he had called the younger Cruchot 
'M. de Bonfons,' and the president might well consider 
that this was almost tantamount to being acknowledged 
as the crafty cooper's son-in-law.) 

Eugenie Grandet 115 

* You were s-s-s-saying that in certain cases, p-p-p-pro- 
ceedings in b-b- bankruptcy might be s-s-s-stopped 
b-b-by ' 

' At the instance of a Tribunal of Commerce. That 
is done every day of the year,' said M. C. de Bonfons, 
guessing, as he thought, at old Grandet's idea, and 
running away with it. ' Listen ! ' he said, and in the 
most amiable way he prepared to explain himself. 

' 1 am 1-listening,' replied the older man meekly, and 
his face assumed a demure expression ; he looked like 
some small boy who is laughing in his sleeve at his 
schoolmaster while appearing to pay the most respectful 
attention to every word. 

'When anybody who is in a large way of business 
and is much looked up to, like your late brother in Paris, 
for instance ' 

' My b-b-brother, yes.' 

'When any one in that position is likely to find 
himself insolvent ' 

' Ins-s-solvent, do they call it ? ' 

'Yes. When his failure is imminent, the Tribunal 
of Commerce, to which he is amenable (do you follow 
me ?) has power by a judgment to appoint liquidators 
to wind up the business. Liquidation is not bankruptcy, 
do you understand ? It is a disgraceful thing to be a 
bankrupt, but a liquidation reflects no discredit on a 

' It is quite a d-d-d-difFerent thing, if only it d-d-does 
not cost any more,' said Grandet. 

' Yes. But a liquidation can be privately arranged 
without having recourse to the Tribunal of Commerce,' 
said the president as he took a pinch of snufF. ' How is 
a man declared bankrupt ? ' 

'Yes, how ? ' inquired Grandet. ' I have n-n-never 
thought about it.' 

' In the first place, he may himself file a petition and 
leave his schedule with the clerk of the court, the debtor 

1 1 6 Eugenie Grandet 

himself draws it up or authorises some one else to do so, 
and it is duly registered. Or, in the second place, his 
creditors may make him a bankrupt. But supposing 
the debtor does not file a petition, and none of his 
creditors make application to the court for a judgment 
declaring him bankrupt ; now let us see what happens then ! ' 

' Yes, let us s-s-see.' 

'In that case, the family of the deceased, or his 
representatives, or his residuary legatee, or the man 
himself (if he is not dead)^ or his friends for him (if 
he has absconded), liquidate his affairs. Now, possibly, 
you may intend to do this in your brother's case \ ' 
inquired the president. 

' Oh ! Grandet,' exclaimed the notary, ' that would 
be acting very handsomely. We in the provinces have 
our notions of honour. If you saved your name from 
dishonour, for it is your name, you would be ' 

'Sublime ! ' cried the president, interrupting his uncle. 

' Of course, my b-b-brother's n-n-name was Grandet, 
th-that is certain sure, I d-d-don't deny it, and anyhow 
this 1-1-1-1-liquidation would be a very g-good thing for 
my n-n-nephew in every way, and I am very f-f-fond of 
him. But we shall see. I know n-n-nothing of those 
sharpers in P-Paris, and their t-tricks. And here am I 
at S'Saumur, you see ! There are my vine-cuttings, 
m-my d-d-draining ; in sh-sh-short, there are my own 
af-f-fairs, to s-s-see after. / have n-n-never accepted 
a bill. What is a bill ? I have t-t-taken many a one, 
b-b-but I have n-n-never put my n-n-name to a piece of 
p-paper. You t-t-take 'em and you can d-d-d-discount 
'em, and that is all I know. I have heard s-s-say that 
you can b-b-b-buy them ' 

' Yes,' assented the president. ' You can buy bills on 
the market, less so much per cent. Do you under- 
stand ? ' 

Grandet held his hand to his ear, and the president 
repeated his remark. 

Eugenie Grandet 117 

*But it s-s-seems there are t-t-two s-sides to all this ? ' 
replied the vinegrower. 'At my age, I know n-n-n- 
nothing about this s-s-s-sort of thing. I must st-top 
here to l-look after the g-g-grapes, the vines d-d-don't 
stand still, and the g-g-grapes have to p-pay for every- 
thing. The vintage m-must be 1-1-looked after before 
anything else. Then I have a g-great d-d-deal on 
my hands at Froidfond that I can't p-p-possibly 1-1-1-leave 
to any one else. I don't underst-t-tand a word of all 
this ; it is a p-p-pretty kettle of fish, confound it ; 1 can't 
1-1-leave home to s-see after it. You s-s-s-say that to 
bring about a 1-1-liquidation 1 ought to be in Paris. 
Now you can't be in t-t-two p-places at once unless 
you are a b-b-bird.' 

' / see what you mean,' cried the notary. ' Well, my 
old friend, you have friends, friends of long standing 
ready to do a great deal for you.' 

' Come, now ! ' said the vinegrower to himself, ' so 
you are making up your minds, are you ? ' 

' And if some one were to go to Paris, and find up 
your brother Guillaume's largest creditor, and say to 
him ' 

' Here, just 1-1-listen to me a moment,' the cooper 

struck in. ' Say to him what ? S-s-something like 

this : " M. Grandet of Saumur th-this, M. Grandet of 
Saumur th-th-that. He 1-1-loves his brother, he has a r-r-re- 
gard for hisn-nephew ; Grandet thinks a 1-1-lot of his f- family, 
he means to d-do well by them. He has just s-s-sold his 
vintage uncommonly well. Don't drive the thing into 
b-b-b-bankruptcy, call a meeting of the creditors, and 
ap-p-point 1-1-liquidators. Then s-see what Grandet 
will do. You will do a great d-deal b-b-better for your- 
selves by coming to an arrangement than by 1-1-letting 
the 1-1-1-lawyers poke their noses into it." That is how 
it is, eh ? ' 

' Quite so ! ' said the president. 

' Because, look you here, Monsieur de Bon-Bon-Bon- 

ii8 Eugenie Grandet 

fons, you must 1-1-look before you 1-1-1-leap. And yon 
can't d-do more than you can. A big af-f-fair like this 
wants 1-1-1-looking into, or you may ru-ru-ruin yourself. 
That is so, isn't it ? eh ? ' 

'Certainly,' said the president. *I myself am of the 
opinion that in a few months time you could buy up the 
debts for a fixed sum and pay by instalments. Aha ! 
you can trail a dog a long way with a bit of bacon. 
When a man has not been declared bankrupt, as soon 
as the bills are in your hands, you will be as white as 

* As s-s-s-snow ? ' said Grandet, holding his hand to 
to his ear. ' S-s-s-snow ? I don't underst-t-tand.' 

' Why, then, just listen to me ! ' cried the president. 

' I am 1-1-listening ' 

' A bill of exchange is a commodity subject to 
fluctuations in value. This is a deduction from Jeremy 
Bentham's theory of interest. He was a publicist who 
showed conclusively that the prejudices entertained 
against money-lenders were irrational.' 

' Bless me ! ' put in Grandet. 

' And seeing that, according to Bentham, money it- 
self is a commodity, and that that which money repre- 
sents is no less a commodity,' the president went on ; 
* and since it is obvious that the commodity called 
a bill of exchange is subject to the same laws of 
supply and demand that control production of all kinds, 
a bill of exchange bearing this or that signature, like 
this or that article of commerce, is scarce or plenti- 
ful in the market, commands a high premium or is 
worth nothing at all. Wherefore the decision of this 

Court There ! how stupid I am, I beg your 

pardon ; I mean I am of the opinion that you could 
easily buy up your brother's debts for twenty-five per 
cent, of their value.' 

' You m-m-m-mentioned Je-je-je-jeremy Ben ' 

' Bentham, an Englishman.' 

Eugenie Grandet 119 

* That is a Jeremiah who will save us many lamenta- 
tions in business matters,' said the notary, laughing. 

'The English s-s-sometimes have s-s-s-sensible notions,' 
said Grandet. 'Then, according to B-Bentham, how 
if my b-b-brother's b-bills are worth n-n-n-nothing ? If 
I am right, it looks to me as if . . , the creditors would 
. . . n-no, they wouldn't. ... I underst-t-tand.' 

'Let me explain all this to you,' said the president. 
' In law, if you hold all the outstanding bills of the firm 
of Grandet, your brother, his heirs and assigns, would 
owe no one a penny. So far, so good.* 

' Good,' echoed Grandet. 

' And in equity ; suppose that your brother's bills were 
negotiated upon the market (negotiated, do you under- 
stand the meaning of that term ?) at a loss of so much per 
cent. ; and suppose one of your friends happened to be pass- 
ing, and bought up the bills ; there would have been no 
physical force brought to bear upon the creditors, they gave 
them up of their own free-will, and the estate of the late 
Grandet of Paris would be clear in the eye of the law.' 

' True,' Ltuttered the cooper, ' b-b-business is business. 
So that is s-s-s-settled. But, for all that, you underst- 
tand that it is a d-d-difficult matter. I have not the 
m-m-money, nor have I the t-t-t-time, nor ' 

' Yes, yes ; you cannot be at the trouble. Well, now, 
I will go to Paris for you if you like (you must stand 
the expenses of the journey, that is a mere trifle). I 
will see the creditors, and talk to them, and put them ofF; 
it can all be arranged ; you will be prepared to add some- 
thing to the amount realised by the liquidation so as to 
get the bills into your hands.' 

' We shall s-see about that ; I cannot and will not 
under-t-t-take anything unless I know. . . . You can't 
d-d-do more than you can, you know.' 

' Quite so, quite so.' 

'And 1 am quite bewildered with all these head- 
splitting ideas that you have sp-prung upon me. Th- 

I20 Eugenie Grandet 

this is the f-f-f- first t-time in my 1-1-life that I have had 
to th-th-think about such th ' 

* Yes, yes, you are not a consulting barrister.' 

' I am a p-p-poor vineg rower, and I know n-n-nothing 
about what you have just t-t-t-told me j I m-m-must 
th-think it all out.' 

' Well ! then,' began the president, as if he meant to 
reopen the discussion. 

' Nephew ! ' interrupted the notary reproachfully. 

' Well, uncle ? ' answered the president. 

' Let M. Grandet explain what he means to do. It 
is a very important question, and you are to receive 
his instructions. Our dear friend might now very 
pertinently state ' 

A knock at the door announced the arrival of the 
des Grassins ; their coming and exchange of greetings 
prevented Cruchot senior from finishing his sentence. 
Nor was he ill-pleased with this diversion ; Grandet was 
looking askance at him already, and there was that about 
the wen on the cooper's face which indicated that a 
storm was brewing withm. And on sober reflection it 
seemed to the cautious notary that a president of a court 
of first instance was not exactly the person to dispatch 
to Paris, there to open negotiations with creditors, and to 
lend himself to a more than dubious transaction which, 
however you looked at it, hardly squared with notions of 
strict honesty ; and not only so, but he had particularly 
noticed that goodman Grandet had shown not the 
slightest inclination to disburse anything whatever, and 
he trembled instinctively at the thought of his nephew 
becoming involved in such a business. He took advantage 
of the entrance of the des Grassins, took his nephew by 
the arm, and drew him into the embrasure of the window. 

' You have gone quite as far as there is any need,' 
he said, 'that is quite enough of such zeal ; you are over- 
reaching yourself in your eagerness to marry the girl. 
The devil ! You should not rush into a thing open- 

Eugenie Grandet I2i 

mouthed, like a crow at a walnut. Leave the steering 
of the ship to me for a bit, and just shift your sails 
according to the wind. Now, is it a part you ought to 
play, compromising your dignity as magistrate in such 
a ' 

He broke ofF suddenly, for he heard M. des Grassins 
saying to the old cooper, as he held out his hand — 

' Grandet, we have heard of the dreadful misfortunes 
which have befallen your family — the ruin of the firm 
of Guillaume Grandet and your brother's death ; we 
have come to express our sympathy with you in this sad 

' There is only one misfortune,' the notary interrupted 
at this point — 'the death of the younger M. Grandet; 
and if he had thought to ask his brother for assistance, 
he would not have taken his own life. Our old friend 
here, who is a man of honour to his finger tips, is 
prepared to discharge the debts contracted by the firm 
of Grandet in Paris. In order to spare our friend the 
worry of what is, after all, a piece of lawyer's business, 
my nephew the president offers to start immediately 
for Paris, so as to arrange with the creditors, and duly 
satisfy their claims.' 

The three des Grassins were thoroughly taken aback 
by these words ; Grandet appeared to acquiesce in what 
had been said, for he was pensively stroking his chin. 
On their way to the house the family had commented 
very freely upon Grandet's niggardliness, and indeed had 
almost gone so far as to accuse him of fratricide. 

'Ah' just what I expected!' cried the banker, 
looking at his wife. ' What was I saying to you 
only just now as we came along, Mme. des Grassins ? 
Grandet, I said, is a man who will never swerve a hair's- 
breadth from the strict course of honour -, he will not 
endure the thought of the slightest spot on his name ! 
Money without honour is a disease. Oh ! we have a 
keen sense of honour in the provinces! This is noble 

122 Eugenie Grandet 

— really noble of you, Grandet. I am an old soldier, 
and I do not mince matters, I say what I think straight 
out ; and mille tonnerres! this is sublime ! ' 

' Then the s-s-sub-sublime costs a great d-d- deal,' 
stuttered the cooper, as the banker shook him warmly by 
the hand. 

' But this, my good Grandet (no offence to you, M. 
le President), is simply a matter of business,' des Grassins 
went on, ' and requires an experienced man of business 
to deal with it. There will have to be accounts kept of 
sales and outgoing expenses ; you ought to have tables of 
interest at your finger ends. I must go to Paris on 
business of my own, and I could undertake ' 

' Then we must s-s-see about it, and t-t-t-try to 
arrange between us to p-p-provide for anything that 
m-may t-t-turn up, but I d-d-don't want to be d-d-drawn 
into anything that I would rather not d-d-d-do,' con- 
tinued Grandet, * because, you see, M. le President 
naturally wants me to pay his expenses.' The good 
man did not stammer over these last words. 

* Eh ? ' said Mme. des Grassins. ' Why, it is a pleasure 
to stay in Paris ! For my part, I should be glad to go 
there at my own expense.' 

She made a sign to her husband, urging him to seize 
this opportunity of discomfiting their enemies and cheat 
them of their mission. Then she flung a withering 
glance at the now crestfallen and miserable Cruchots. 
Grandet seized the banker by the buttonhole and drew 
him aside. 

' I should feel far more confidence in you than in the 
president,' he remarked ; 'and besides that,"* he added 
(and the wen twitched a little), ' there are other fish 
to fry. I want to make an investment. I have several 
thousand francs to put into consols, and I don't mean 
to pay more than eighty for them. Now, from all I 
can hear, that machine always runs down at the end of 
the month. You know all about these things, I expect ? ' 

Eugenie Grandet 123 

* Tardieu ! I should think I did. Well, then, I shall 
have to buy several thousand livres worth of consols for 
you ? ' 

'Just by way of a beginning. But mum, I want to 
play at this game without letting any one know about 
it. You will buy them for me at the end of the month, 
and say nothing to the Cruchots ; it would only annoy 
them. Since you are going to Paris, we might as well 
see at the same time what trumps are for my poor 
nephew's sake.' 

'That is an understood thing. I shall travel post 
to Paris to-morrow,' said des Grassins aloud, 'and I will 
come round to take your final instructions at — when 
shall we say ? ' 

' At five o'clock, before dinner,' said the vinegrower, 
rubbing his hands. 

The two factions for a little while remained facing 
each other. Des Grassins broke the silence again, clapping 
Grandet on the shoulder, and saying — 

' It is a fine thing to have a good uncle like ' 

' Yes, yes,' returned Grandet, falling into the stammer 
again, 'without m-making any p-p-parade about it ; I am a 
good uncle ; 1 1-1-loved my brother ; I will give p-p-p-proof 
of it, if-if-if it d-doesn't cost ' 

Luckily the banker interrupted him at this point. 

'We must go, Grandet. If I am to set out sooner 
than I intended, 1 shall have to see after some business 
at once before I go.' 

' Right, quite right. I myself, in connection with 
you know what, must p-p-put on my cons-s-sidering cap, 
as P-President Cruchot s-s-says.' 

' Plague take it ! I am no longer M. de Bonfons,' 
thought the magistrate moodily, and his face fell; he 
looked like a judge who is bored by the cause before 

The heads of the rival clans went out together. Both 
had completely forgotten Grandet's treacherous crime 

124 Eugenie Grandet 

of that morning ; his disloyal behaviour had faded from 
their minds. They sounded each other, but to no 
purpose, as to the goodman*s real intentions (if inten- 
tions he had) in this new turn that matters had taken. 

' Are you coming with us to Mme. Dorsonval's ? * 
des Grassins asked the notary. 

' We are going there later on,* replied the president. 
'With my uncle's permission, we will go first to see 
Mile, de Gribeaucourt j I promised just to look in on her 
to say good-night.' 

'We shall meet again, then,' smiled Mme. des Grassins. 

But when the des Grassins were at some distance from 
the two Cruchots, Adolphe said to his father, ' They are 
in a pretty stew, eh ? ' 

' Hush ! ' returned his mother, ' they can very likely 
hear what we are saying, and besides, that remark of 
yours was not in good taste ; it sounds Hke one of your 
law school phrases.' 

' Well, uncle ! ' cried the magistrate, when he saw 
the des Grassins were out of earshot, ' I began by 
being President de Bonfons, and ended as plain Cruchot.' 

' I saw myself that you were rather put out about it ; 
and the des Grassins took the wind out of our sails. 
How stupid you are, for all your sharpness! Let them set 
sail, on the strength of a " We shall see " from Grandet ; 
be easy, my boy, Eugenie shall marry you for all that.' 

A few moments later, and the news of Grandet's 
magnanimity was set circulating in three houses at once; 
the whole town talked of nothing but Grandet's devotion 
to his brother. The sale of his vintage in utter disregard 
of the agreement made among the vinegrowers was 
forgotten ; every one fell to praising his scrupulous in- 
tegrity, and to lauding his generosity, a quality which no 
one had suspected him of possessing. There is that in 
the French character which is readily excited to fury or to 
passionate enthusiasm by any meteor that appears above 

Eugenie Grandet 125 

their horizon, that is captivated by the bravery of a 
blatant fact. Can it be that collectively men have no 
memories ? 

As soon as Grandet had bolted the house door he 
called to Nanon. 

' Don't go to bed,* he said, ' and don't unchain the 
dog ; there is something to be done, and we must do it 
together. Cornoiller will be round with the carriage 
from Froidfond at eleven o'clock. You must sit up 
for him, and let him in quietly ; don't let him rap at 
the door, and tell him not to make a noise. You get 
into trouble with the poHceif you raise a racket at night. 
And besides, there is no need to let all the quarter know 
that I am going out.' 

Having thus delivered himself, Grandet went up to his 
laboratory, and Nanon heard him stirring about, rummag- 
ing, going, and coming, all with great caution. Clearly 
he had no wish to waken his wife or daughter, and above 
all things he desired in nowise to excite any suspicion in 
the mind of his nephew ; he had seen that a light was 
burning in the young man's room, and had cursed his 
relative forthwith. 

In the middle of the night Eugenie heard a sound like 
the groan of a dying man j her cousin was always in her 
thoughts, and for her the dying man was Charles. How 
white and despairing he had looked when he wished her 
good-night ; perhaps he had killed himself. She hastily 
wrapped herself in her capuchine, a sort of long cloak 
with a hood to it, and determined to go to see for her- 
self. Some rays of bright light streaming through the 
cracks of her door frightened her not a little at first, 
perhaps the house was on fire ; but she was soon 
reassured. She could hear Nanon's heavy footsteps 
outside, and the sounds of the old servant's voice mingled 
with the neighing of several horses. 

' Can my father be taking Charles away ? ' she asked 
herself, as she set her door ajar, cautiously for fear the 

126 Eugenie Grandet 

hinges should creak, so that she could watch all that was 
going on in the corridor. 

All at once her eyes met those of her father, and, 
absent and indifferent as they looked, a cold shudder ran 
through her. The cooper and Nanon were coming along 
carrying something which hung by a chain from a stout 
cudgel, one end of which rested on the right shoulder of 
either ; the something was a little barrel such as Grandet 
sometimes amused himself by making in the bakehouse, 
when he had nothing better to do. 

' Holy Virgin ! how heavy it is, sir ! * said Nanon in a 

' What a pity it is only full of pence ! ' replied the cooper. 
' Look out ! or you will knock down the candlestick.' 

The scene was lighted by a single candle set between 
two balusters. 

' Cornoiller,' said Grandet to his gamekeeper in 
partibus^ ' have you your pistols with you ? ' 

* No, sir. Lord, love you ! What can there be to 
fear for a keg of coppers ? ' 

' Oh! nothing, nothing,* said Goodman Grandet. 

'Besides, we shall get over the ground quickly,* the 
keeper went on ; ' your tenants have picked out their best 
horses for you.' 

' Well, well. You did not let them know where I 
was going ? ' 

' I did not know that myself.' 

* Right. Is the carriage strongly built ? ' ,. 

* That's all right, mister. Why, what is the weight 
of a few paltry barrels like those of yours ? It would 
carry two or three thousand of the like of them.' 

* Well,' said Nanon, ' I know there's pretty well 
eighteen hundred weight there^ that there is ! ' 

* Will you hold your tongue, Nanon ! You tell my 
wife that I have gone into the country, and that I shall 
be back to dinner. — Hurry up, Cornoiller j we must be in 
Angers before nine o'clock.' 

Eugenie Grandet 127 

The carriage started. Nanon bolted the gateway, 
let the dog loose, and lay down and slept in spite of her 
bruised shoulder ; and no one in the quarter had any 
suspicion of Grandet's journey orof its object. The worthy 
man was a miracle of circumspection. Nobody ever 
saw a penny lying about in that house full of gold. He 
had learned that morning from the gossip on the quay 
that some vessels were being fitted out at Nantes, and 
that in consequence gold was so scarce there that it was 
worth double its ordinary value, and speculators were 
buying it in Angers. The old cooper, by the simple 
device of borrowing his tenants' horses, was prepared to 
sell his gold at Angers, receiving in return an order 
upon the Treasury from the Receiver-General for 
the sum destined for the purchase of his consols, 
and an addition in the shape of the premium paid on 
his gold. 

'My father is going out,* said Eugenie to herself. 
She had heard all that had passed from the head of the 

Silence reigned once more in the house. The rattle of 
the wheels in the streets of sleeping Saumur grew more 
and more distant, and at last died away. Then A was that a 
sound seemed to reach Eugenie's heart before it fell on 
her ears, a wailing sound that rang through the thin walls 
above — it came from her cousin's room. There was a 
thin line of light, scarcely wider than a knife edge, 
beneath his door; the rays slanted through the darkness 
and left a bright gleaming bar along the balusters of the 
crazy staircase. 

' He is unhappy,' she said, as she went up a little 

A second moan brought her to the landing above. 
The door stood ajar ; she thrust it open. Charles was 
sleeping in the rickety old armchair, his head drooped 
over to one side, his hand hung down and nearly touched 
the floor, the pen that he had let fall lay beneath his 

128 Eugenie Grandet 

fingers. Lying in this position, his breath came in 
quick, sharp jerks that startled Eugenie, She entered 

* He must be very tired,' she said to herself, as she saw 
a dozen sealed letters lying on the table. She read the 
addresses — MM. Farry^ Breilman and Co.y carriage 
builders , M. Buisson^ tailor ; and so forth. 

' Of course, he has been settling his affairs, so that he 
may leave France as soon as possible,' she thought. 

Her eyes fell upon two unsealed letters. One of them 
began — ' My dear Annette . . .' she felt dazed, and could 
see nothing more for a moment. Her heart beat fast, her 
feet seemed glued to the floor. 

' His dear Annette ! He loves, he is beloved ! . . 
Then there is no more hope ! . . . What does he say 
to her ? ' These thoughts flashed through her heart and 
brain. She read the words everywhere : on the walls, on 
the very floor, in letters of fire. 

' Must I give him up already ? No, I will not read 
the letter. I ought not to stay. , , . And yet, even if 1 
did read it ? ' 

She looked at Charles, gently took his head in her 
hands, and propped it against the back of the chair. He 
submitted like a child, who even while he is sleeping 
knows that it is his mother who is bending over him, and, 
without waking, feels his mother's kisses. Like a mother, 
Eugenie raised the drooping hand, and, like a mother, 
■" laid a soft kiss on his hair. ' Dear Annette / ' A mocking 
voice shrieked the words in her ear. 

' I know that perhaps I may be doing wrong, but I will 
read that letter,' she said. 

Eugenie turned her eyes away ; her high sense of 
honour reproached her. For the first time in her life 
there was a struggle between good and evil in her soul. 
y Hitherto she had never done anything for which she 
needed to blush. Love and curiosity silenced her scruples. 
Her heart swelled higher with every phrase as she read ; 

Eugenie Grandet 129 

her quickened pulses seemed to send a sharp, tingling 
glow through her veins, and to heighten the vivid 
emotions of her first love. 

*My dear Annette, — Nothing should have power 
to separate us save this overwhelming calamity that has 
befallen me, a calamity that no human foresight could 
have predicted. My father has died by his own hand ; 
his fortune and mine are both irretrievably lost. I am 
left an orphan at an age when, with the kind of educa- 
tion I have received, I am almost a child ; and, never- 
theless, I must now endeavour to show myself a man, and 
to rise from the dark depths into which I have been 
hurled. I have been spending part of my time to-night 
in revolving plans for my future. If I am to leave 
France as an honest man, as of course I mean to do, I 
have not a hundred francs that I can call my own with 
which to tempt fate in the Indies or in America. Yes, my 
poor Anna, I am going in quest of fortune to the most 
deadly foreign climes. Beneath such skies, they say, fortunes 
are rapidly and surely made. As for living on in Paris, 
I could not bring myself to do it. I could not face the 
coldness, the contempt, and the affronts that a ruined 
man, the son of a bankrupt, is sure to receive. Great 
heaven ! to owe two millions ! . . . I should fall in a 
duel before a week had passed. So I shall not return to 
Paris. Your love — the tenderest, the most devoted love 
that ever ennobled the heart of man — would not seek to 
draw me back. Alas ! my darling, I have not money 
enough to take me to you, that I might give and receive 
one last kiss, a kiss that should put strength into me for 
the task that lies before me. . . .* 

'Poor Charles, I did well to read this. I have money, 
and he shall have it,' said Eugenie. She went on with 
the letter when she could see for her tears. 

* I have not even begun to think of the hardships of 


130 Eugenie Grandet 

poverty. Supposing that I find I have the hundred louis 
to pay for my passage out, I have not a sou to lay 
out on a trading venture. Yet, no ; I shall not have a 
hundred louis, nor yet a hundred sous ; I have no idea 
whether anything will be left when I have settled all my 
debts in Paris. If there is nothing, I shall simply go to 
Nantes and work my passage out. I will begin at the 
bottom of the ladder, like many another man of energy 
who has gone out to the Indies as a penniless youth, to 
return thence a rich man. This morning I began to 
look my future steadily in the face. It is far harder for 
me than for others ; I have been the petted child of a 
mother who idolised me, indulged by the best and kindest 
of fathers ; and at my very entrance into the world I met 
with the love of an Anna ! As yet I have only known 
the primrose paths of life ; such happiness could not last. 
Yet, dear Annette, I have more fortitude than could be 
looked for from a thoughtless youth ; above all, from a 
young man thus lapped round in happiness from the 
cradle, spoiled and flattered by the most delightful 
woman in Paris, the darling of Fortune, whose wishes 
were as law to a father who ... Oh ! my father ! 
He is dead, Annette ! . . . Well, I have thought 
seriously over my position, and I have likewise thought 
over yours. I have grown much older in the last 
twenty-four hours. Dear Anna, even if, to keep me 
beside you, you were to give up all the luxuries that 
you enjoy, your box at the opera, and your toilette, 
we should not have nearly sufficient for the necessary 
expenses of the extravagant life that I am accustomed 
to; and besides, I could not think of allowing you to 
make such sacrifices for me. To-day, therefore, we part 
for ever.' 

* Then this is to take leave of her ! Sainte V'terge I 
what happiness ! ' 

Eugenie started and trembled for joy. Charles stirred 

Eugenie Grandet 131 

in his chair, and Eugenie felt a chill of dread. Luckily, 
however, he did not wake. She went on reading. 

' When shall I come back ? I cannot tell. Europeans 
grow old before their time in those tropical countries, 
especially Europeans who work hard. Let us look forward 
and try to see ourselves in ten years time. In ten years 
from now your little girl will be eighteen years old ; she 
will be your constant companion ; that is, she will be a 
spy upon you. If the world will judge you very harshly, 
your daughter will probably judge more harshly still ; 
such ingratitude on a young girl's part is common 
enough, and we know how the world regards these 
things. Let us take warning and be wise. Only, keep 
the memory of those four years of happiness in the depths 
of your soul, as I shall keep them buried in mine ; and be 
faithful, if you can, to your poor friend. I shall not be 
too exacting, dear Annette ; for, as you can see, I must 
submit to my altered lot ; I am compelled to look at life 
in a business-like way, and to base my calculations on 
dull, prosaic fact. So I ought to think of marriage as a 
necessary step in my new existence ; and I will confess 
to you that here, in my uncle's house in Saumur, there is 
a cousin whose manners, face, character, and heart you 
would approve ; and who, moreover, has, it appears ' 

' How tired he must have been to break off like this 
when he was writing to her ! * said Eugenie to herself, as 
the letter ended abruptly in the middle of a sentence. 
She was ready with excuses for him. 

How was it possible that an inexperienced girl should 
discover the coldness and selfishness of this letter ? For 
young girls, religiously brought up as she had been, are 
innocent and unsuspecting, and can see nothing but love 
when they have set foot in love's enchanted kingdom. 
It is as if a light from heaven shone in their own souls, 
shedding its beams upon their path ; their lover shines 

132 Eugenie Grandet 

transfigured before them in reflected glory, radiant with 
fair colours from love's magic fires, and endowed with 

' noble thoughts which perhaps in truth are none of his. 
\A Women's errors spring, for the most part, from a belief in 

1 goodness, and a confidence in truth. In Eugenie's heart 
the words, ' My dear Annette — my beloved,' echoed like 
the fairest language of love ; they stirred her soul like 
organ music — like the divine notes of the Venite adoremus 
falling upon her ears in childhood. 

Surely the tears, not dry even yet upon her cousin's 
eyelids, betokened the innate nobility of nature that never 
fails to attract a young girl. How could she know that 
Charles's love and grief for his father, albeit genuine, was 
due rather to the fact that his father had loved him than 
to a deeply-rooted affection on his own part for his 
father ? M. and Mme. Guillaume Grandet had indulged 
their son's every whim ; every pleasure that wealth could 
bestow had been his ; and thus it followed that he had 
never been tempted to make the hideous calculations that 
are only too common among the younger members of a 
family in Paris, when they see around them all the de- 
lights of Parisian life, and reflect with disgust that, so 
long as their parents are alive, all these enjoyments are 
not for them. The strange result of the father's lavish 

\ kindness had been a strong affection on the part of his 
son, an affection unalloyed by any after thought. But, 
for all that, Charles was a thorough child of Paris, with 
the Parisian's habit of mind ; Annette herself had impressed 
upon him the importance of thinking out all the con- 
sequences of every step ; he was not youthful, despite the 
mask of youth. 

He had received the detestable education of a world in 
which more crimes (in thought and word at least) are 
committed in one evening than come before a court of 
justice in the course of a whole session ; a world in which 
great ideas perish, done to death by a witticism, and 
where it is reckoned a weakness not to see things as they 

Eugenie Grandet 133 

are. To see things as they are — that means, believe in 
nothing, put faith in nothing and in no man, for there is 
no such thing as sincerity in opinion or affection ; mis- 
trust events, for even events at times have been known 
to be manufactured. To see things as they are you must 
weigh your friend's purse morning by morning; you must 
know bv instinct the right moment to interfere for your 
own profit in every matter that turns up ; you must keep 
your judgment rigorously suspended, be in no hurry to 
admire a work of art or a noble deed, and give every 
one credit for interested motives on every possible 

After many follies, the great lady, the fair Annette, 
compelled Charles to think seriously ; she talked to him 
of his future, passing a fragrant hand through his hair, 
and imparted counsel to him on the art of getting on in 
the world, while she twisted a stray curl about her fingers. 
She had made him effeminate, and now she set herself to 
makeamateriahstof him, a twofold work of demoralisation, 
a corruption none the less deadly because it never offended 
against the canons of good society, good manners, and 
good taste. 

' You are a simpleton, Charles,' she would say ; 'I see 
that it will be no easy task to teach you the ways of the 
world. You were very naughty about M. des Lupeaulx. 
Oh ! he is not over-fastidious, I grant you, but you 
should wait until he falls from power, and then you may 
despise him as much as you like. Do you know what 
Mme. Campan used to say to us ? " %b/ children, so 
long as a man is a Minister, adore him ; if he falls, help 
to drag him to the shambles. He is a kind of deity so 
long as he is in power, but after he is fallen and ruined 
he is viler than Marat himself, for he is still alive, while 
Marat is dead and out of sight. Life is nothing but a 
series of combinations, which must be studied and 
followed very carefully if a good position is to be success- 
fully maintained."' 

134 Eugenie Grandet 

Charles had no very exalted aims ; he was too much 
of a worldling ; he had been too much spoiled by his 
father and mother, too much flattered by the society in 
which he moved, to be stirred by any lofty enthusiasm. 
In the clay of his nature there was a grain of gold, due to 
his mother's teaching ; but it had been passed through the 
Parisian draw-plate, and beaten out into a thin surface 
gilding which must soon be worn away by contact with 
the world. 

At this time Charles, however, was only one-and- 
twenty, and it is taken for granted that freshness of heart 
accompanies the freshness of youth ; it seems so unlikely 
that the mind within should be at variance with the 
young face, and the young voice, and the candid glance. 
Even the hardest judge, the most sceptical attorney, the 
flintiest-hearted money-lender will hesitate to believe that 
a wizened heart and a warped and corrupted nature can 
dwell beneath a young exterior, when the forehead is 
smooth and tears come so readily to the eyes. Hitherto 
Charles had never had occasion to put his Parisian 
maxims in practice ; his character had not been tried, 
and consequently had not been found wanting ; but, all 
unknown to him, egoism had taken deep root in his 
nature. The seeds of this baneful political economy had 
been sown in his heart ; it was only a question of time, 
they would spring up and flower so soon as the soil was 
stirred, as soon as he ceased to be an idle spectator and 
became an actor in the drama of real Hfe. 

A young girl is nearly always ready to believe un- 
questioningly in the promise of a fair exterior ; but even 
if Eugenie had been as keenly observant and as cautious 
as girls in the provinces sometimes are, how could she 
have brought herself to mistrust her cousin, when all he 
did and said, and everything about him, seemed to be the 
spontaneous outcome of a noble nature ? This was the 
last outburst of real feeling, the last reproachful sigh of 
conscience in Charles's life ; fate had thrown them 

Eugenie Grandet 135 

together at that moment, and, unfortunately for her, all 
her sympathies had been aroused for him. 

So she laid down the letter that seemed to her so full 
of love, and gave herself up to the pleasure of watching 
her sleeping cousin ; the dreams and hopes of youth 
seemed to hover over his face, and then and there she 
vowed to herself that she would love him always. She 
glanced over the other letter j there could be no harm in 
reading it, she thought ; she should only receive fresh 
proofs of the noble qualities with which, womanlike, she 
had invested the man whom she had idealised. 

' My dear Alphonse,' so it began, ' by the time this 
letter is in your hands I shall have no friends left ; but I 
will confess that though I put no faith in the worldly- 
minded people who use the word so freely, I have no 
doubts of your friendship for me. So I am commission- 
ing you to settle some matters of business. I look to 
you to do the best you can for me in this, for all I have 
in the world is involved in it. By this time you must 
know how I am situated. I have nothing, and have 
made up my mind to go out to the Indies. I have just 
written to all the people to whom any money is owing, 
and the enclosed Hst is as accurate as I can make it 
from memory. I think the sale of my books, furniture, 
carriages, horses, and so forth ought to bring in sufficient 
to pay my debts. I only mean to keep back a few 
trinkets of little value, which will go some way towards 
a trading venture. I will send you a power of attorney 
in due form for this sale, my dear Alphonse, in case 
any difficulty should arise. You might send my guns 
and everything of that sort to me here. And you must 
take " Briton " ; no one would ever give me anything 
like as much as the splendid animal is worth ; I would 
rather give him to you, you must regard him as the 
mourning ring which a dying man leaves in his will to 
his executor. Farry, Breilman and Co. have been 

136 "" ' Eugenie Grandet 

building a very comfortable travelling carriage for me, 
but they have not sent it home yet ; get them to keep it 
if you can, and if they decline to have it left on their 
hands, make the best arrangement you can for me, and 
do all you can to save my honour in the position in which 
I am placed. I lost six louis at play to that fellow from 
the British Isles, mind that he is . . .* 

* Dear cousin,' murmured Eugenie, letting the sheet 
fall, and, seizing one of the lighted candles, she hastened 
on tiptoe to her own room. 

Once there, it was not without a keen feeling of 
pleasure that she opened one of the drawers in an old oak 
chest — a most beautiful specimen of the skill of the crafts- 
men of the Renaissance, you could still make out the 
half-effaced royal salamander upon it. From this drawer 
she took a large red velvet money-bag, with gold tassels, 
and the remains of a golden fringe about it, a bit of faded 
splendour that had belonged to her grandmother. In the 
pride of her heart she felt its weight, and joyously set to work 
to reckon up the value of her little hoard, sorting out the 
different coins. Imprimis^ twenty Portuguese moidores 
as new and fresh as when they were struck in 1725, in 
the reign of John v. ; each was nominally worth five 
lisbonines, or a hundred and sixty-five francs, but actually 
they were worth a hundred and eighty francs (so her 
father used to tell her), a fancy value on account of the 
rarity and beauty of the aforesaid coins, which shone like 
the sun. Item^ five genovines, rare Genoese coins of a 
hundred livres each, their current value was perhaps about 
eighty francs, but collectors would give a hundred for 
them. These had come to her from old M. de la 
Bertelliere. Item^ three Spanish quadruples of the time 
of Philip v., bearing the date 1729. Mme. Gentillet had 
given them to her, one by one, always with the same 
little speech : ' There 's a little yellow bird, there 's a 
buttercup for you, worth ninety-eight livres ! Take 

Eugenie Grandct 137 

great care of it, darling ; it will be the flower of your 
flock.' Item (and those were the coins that her father 
thought most of, for the gold was a fraction over the 
twenty-three carats), a hundred Dutch ducats, struck 
at the Hague in 1756, and each worth about thirteen 
francs. Item^ a great curiosity ! . . . a few coins dear 
to a miser's heart, three rupees bearing the sign of the 
Balance, and five with the sign of the Virgin stamped 
upon them, all pure gold of twenty-four carats — the 
magnificent coins of the Great Mogul. The weight oi 
metal in them alone was worth thirty-seven francs forty 
centimes, but amateurs who love to finger gold would 
give fifty francs for such coins as those. Item^ the double 
napoleon that had been given to her the day before, and 
which she had carelessly slipped into the red velvet bag. 

There were new gold pieces fresh from the mint among 
her treasures, real works of art, which old Grandet liked 
to look at from time to time, so that he might count them 
over and tell his daughter of their intrinsic value, 
expatiating also upon the beauty of the bordering, the 
sparkling field, the ornate lettering with its sharp, clean, 
flawless outlines. But now she gave not a thought to 
their beauty and rarity ; her father's mania, and the risks 
she ran by despoiling herself of a hoard so precious in his 
eyes, were all forgotten. She thought of nothing but her 
cousin, and managed at last to discover, after many 
mistakes in calculation, that she was the owner of 
eighteen hundred francs all told, or of nearly two 
thousand francs if the coins were sold for their actual 
value as curiosities. 

She clapped her hands in exultation at the sight of her 
riches, like a child who is compelled to find some outlet 
for his overflowing glee and dances for joy. Father 
and daughter had both counted their wealth that night ; 
he in order to sell his gold, she that she might cast it 
abroad on the waters of love. She put the money back into 
the old purse, took it up, and went upstairs with it without 


138 Eugenie Grandet 

a moment's hesitation. Her cousin's distress was the one 
thought in her mind ; she did not even remember that it 
was night, conventionalities were utterly forgotten ; her 
conscience did not reproach her, she was strong in her 
happiness and her love. 

As she stood upon the threshold with the candle in 
one hand and the velvet bag in the other, Charles awoke, 
saw his cousin, and was struck dumb with astonishment. 
Eugenie came forward, set the light on the table, and 
said with an unsteady voice — 

' Cousin Charles, I have to ask your forgiveness for 
something I have done ; it was very wrong, but if you 
will overlook it, God will forgive me.' 

' What can it be ? ' asked Charles, rubbing his eyes. 

' I have been reading those two letters.' 

Charles reddened. 

' Do you ask how I came to do it ? ' she went on, ' and 
why I came up here ? Indeed, I do not know now ; and 
I am almost tempted to feel glad that I read the letters, 
for through reading them 1 have come to know your 
heart, your soul, and . . .' 

' And what ? ' asked Charles. 

' And your plans — the difficulty that you are in for 
want of money- 

' My dear cousin- 

' Hush I hush ! do not speak so loud, do not let us 
wake anybody. Here are the savings of a poor girl who 
has no wants,' she went on, opening the purse. ' You 
must take them, Charles. This morning I did not know 
what money was; you have taught me that it is simply a 
means to an end, that is all. A cousin is almost 3 
brother ; surely you may borrow from your sister.' 

Eugenie, almost as much a woman as a girl, had not 
foreseen a refusal, but her cousin was silent. 

' Why, are you going to refuse me ? ' asked Eugenie. 
The silence was so deep that the beating of her heart 
was audible. Her pride was wounded by her cousin's 

Eugenie Grandet 139 

hesitation, but the thought of his dire need came vividly 
before her, and she fell on her knees. 

' I will not rise,' she said, ' until you have taken that 
money. Oh ! cousin, say something, for pity's sake ! . . . 
so that I may knovi^ that you respect me, that you are 
generous, that . . .' 

This cry, wrung from her by a noble despair, brought 
tears to Charles's eyes ; he would not let her kneel, she 
felt his hot tears on her hands, and sprang to her purse, 
which she emptied out upon the table. 

' Well, then, it is " Yes," is it not ? ' she said, crying 
for joy. ' Do not scruple to take it, cousin ; you will be 
quite rich. That gold will bring you luck, you know. 
Some day you shall pay it back to me, or, if you like, we 
will be partners ; I will submit to any conditions that 
you may impose. But you ought not to make so much 
of this gift.' 

Charles found words at last. 

' Yes, Eugenie, I should have a little soul indeed if I 
would not take it. But nothing for nothing, confidence 
for confidence.' 

' What do you mean ? ' she asked, startled. 

' Listen, dear cousin, I have there ' 

He interrupted himself for a moment to show her a 
square box in a leather case, which stood on the chest of 

' There is something there that is dearer to me than 
life. That box was a present from my mother. Since 
this morning I have thought that if she could rise from her 
tomb she herself would sell the gold that in her tender- 
ness she lavished on this dressing-case, but I cannot do 
it — it would seem like sacrilege.' 

Eugenie grasped her cousin's hand tightly in hers at 
these last words. 

' No,' he went on after a brief pause, during which 
they looked each at each with tearful eyes, ' I do not 
want to pull it to pieces, nor to risk taking it with me 

I40 Eugenie Grandct 

on my wanderings. I will leave it in your keeping, dear 
Eugenie, Never did one friend confide a more sacred 
trust to another ; but you shall judge for yourself. 

He drew the box from its leather case, opened it, and 
displayed before his cousin's astonished eyes a dressing- 
case resplendent with gold — the curious skill of the 
craftsman had only added to the value of the metal. 

' All that you are admiring is nothing,' he said, press- 
ing the spring of a secret drawer. ' There is something 
which is worth more than all the world to me,' he added 

He took out two portraits, two of Mme. de Mirbel's 
masterpieces, handsomely set in pearls. 

' How lovely she is ! Is not this the lady to whom you 
were writing ? ' 

* No,' he said, with a little smile ; ' that is my mother, 
and this is my father — your aunt and uncle. Eugenie, I 
could beg and pray of you on my knees to keep this 
treasure safe for me. If I should die, and lose your little 
fortune, the gold will make good your loss ; and to you 
alone can I leave those two portraits, for you alone are 
worthy to take charge of them, but do not let them pass 
into any other hands, rather destroy them . . .* 

Eugenie was silent. 

* Well, " it is 3^<?j, is it not ? " ' he said, and there was 
a winning charm in his manner. 

As the last words were spoken, she gave him for the 
first time such a glance as a loving woman can, a bright 
glance that reveals a depth of feeling within her. He 
took her hand and kissed it. 

' Angel of purity ! what is money henceforward between 
us two ? It is nothing, is it not ? but the feeling, which 
alone gave it worth, will be everything.' 

' You are like your mother. Was her voice as musical 
as yours, I wonder ? * 

' Oh ! far more sweet . . .* 

' Yes, for you,' she said, lowering her eyelids. * Come, 

Eugenie Grandet 141 

Charles, you must go to bed ; I wish it. You are very 
tired. Good-night.' 

Her cousin had caught her hand in both of his ; she 
drew it gently away, and went down to her room, her 
cousin lighting the way. In the doorway of her room 
they both paused. 

* Oh ! why am I a ruined man ? ' he said. 

* Pshaw ! my father is rich, I believe,' she returned. 

' My poor child,' said Charles, as he set one foot in her 
room, and propped himself against the wall by the door- 
way, ' if your father had been rich, he would not have 
let my father die, and you would not be lodged in such a 
poor place as this ; he would live altogether in quite a 
different style.' 

' But he has Froidfond.' 

' And what may Froidfond be worth ? ' 

* I do not know ; but there is Noyers too.' 
' Some miserable farmhouse ! ' 

' He has vineyards and meadows ' 

' They are not worth talking about,' said Charles scorn- 
fully. ' If your father had even twenty-four thousand 
livres a year, do you suppose that you would sleep in a 
bare, cold room like this ? ' he added, as he made a step 
forward with his left foot. ' That is where my treasures 
will be,' he went on, nodding towards the old chest, a 
device by which he tried to conceal his thoughts from her. 

' Go,' she said, ' and try to sleep,' and she barred his 
entrance into an untidy room. Charles drew back ; and 
the cousins bade each other a smiling good-night. 

They fell asleep, to dream the same dream ; and from 
that time forward Charles found that there were still 
roses to be gathered in the world in spite of his mourn- 
ing. The next morning Mme. Grandet saw her daughter 
walking with Charles before breakfast. He was still sad 
and subdued ; how, indeed, should he be otherwise than 
sad ? He had been brought very low in his distress ; he 
was gradually finding out how deep the abyss was into 

142 Eugenie Grandet 

which he had fallen, and the thought of the future 
weighed heavily upon him. 

' My father will not be back before dinner,' said 
Eugenie, in reply to an anxious look in her mother's eyes. 

The tones of Eugenie's voice had grown strangely 
sweet y it was easy to see from her face and manner that 
the cousins had some thought in common. Their souls 
had rushed together, while perhaps as yet they scarcely 
knew the power or the nature of this force which was 
binding them each to each. 

Charles sat in the dining-room ; no one intruded upon 
his sorrow. Indeed, the three women had plenty to do. 
Grandet had gone without any warning, and his work- 
people were at a standstill. The slater came, the 
plumber, the bricklayer, and the carpenter followed ; so 
did labourers, tenants, and vinedressers, some came to 
pay their dues, and others to receive them, and yet others 
to make bargains for the repairs which were being done. 
Mme. Grandet and Eugenie, therefore, were continually 
coming and going ; they had to listen to interminable 
histories from labourers and country people. 

Everything that came into the house Nanon promptly 
and securely stowed away in her kitchen. She always 
waited for her master's instructions as to what should be 
kept, and what should be sold in the market. The 
worthy cooper, like many little country squires, was 
wont to drink his worst wine, and to reserve his spoiled 
or wind-fallen orchard fruit for home consumption. 

Towards five o'clock that evening Grandet came 
back from Angers. He had made fourteen thousand 
francs on his gold, and carried a Government certificate 
bearing interest until the day when it should be trans- 
ferred into rentes. He had left Cornoiller also in 
Angers to look after the horses, which had been nearly 
foundered by the night journey, and had given instruc- 
tions to bring them back leisurely after they had had a 
thorough rest. 

Eugenie Grandet 143 

* I have been to Angers, wife,' he said j * and I am 

' Have you had nothing to eat since yesterday ? ' called 
Nanon from her kitchen. 

' Nothing whatever,' said the worthy man. 

Nanon brought in the soup. Des Grassins came to 
take his client's instructions just as the family were 
sitting down to dinner. Grandet had not so much as 
seen his nephew all this time. 

' Go on with your dinner, Grandet,' said the banker. 
' We can have a little chat. Have you heard what gold 
is fetching in Angers, and that people from Nantes are 
buying it there ? I am going to send some over.' 

' You need not trouble yourself,' answered his worthy 
client ; ' they have quite enough there by this time. I 
don't like you to lose your labour when I can prevent it ; 
we are too good friends for that.' 

'But gold is at thirteen francs fifty centimes premium * 

' Say was at a premium.' 

' How the deuce did you get to know that ? * 

* I went over to Angers myself last night,' Grandet 
told him in a low voice. 

The banker started, and a whispered conversation 
followed ; both des Grassins and Grandet looked at 
Charles from time to time, and once more a gesture ot 
surprise escaped the banker, doubtless at the point when 
the old cooper commissioned him to purchase rentes to 
bring in a hundred thousand livres. 

' M. Grandet,' said des Grassins, addressing Charles, 
* I am going to Paris, and if there is anything I can do 
for you ' 

' Thank you, sir, there is nothing,' Charles replied. 

' You must thank him more heartily than that, 
nephew. This gentleman is going to wind up your 
father's business and settle with his creditors.' 

* Then is there any hope of coming to an arrangement V 
asked Charles. 

144 ^ '^ Eugenie Grandet 

' Why, are you not my nephew ? ' cried the cooper, 
with a fine assumption of pride. ' Our honour is involved ; 
is not your name Grandet ? ' 

Charles rose from his chair, impulsively flung his arms 
about his uncle, turned pale, and left the room. Eugenie 
looked at her father with affection and pride in her 

' Well, let us say good-bye, my good friend,' said 
Grandet. ' I am very much at your service. Try to 
get round those fellows over yonder.* 

The two diplomatists shook hands, and the cooper 
went to the door with his neighbour ; he came back to 
the room again when he had closed the door on des 
Grassins, flung himself down in his easy-chair, and said 
to Nanon : ' Bring me some cordial.' 

But he was too much excited to keep still ; he rose and 
looked at old M. de la Bertelliere's portrait, and began to 
' dance a jig,' in Nanon's phrase, singing to himself — 

' Once in the Gardes francaises 
I had a grandpapa . . .' 

Nanon, Mme. Grandet, and Eugenie all looked at each 
other in silent dismay. The vinegrower's ecstasies never 
boded any good. 

The evening was soon over. Old Grandet went off^ 
early to bed, and no one was allowed to stay up after 
that ; when he slept, every one else must likewise sleep, 
much as in Poland, in the days of Augustus the Strong, 
whenever the king drank all his subjects were loyally 
tipsy. Wherefore, Nanon, Charles, and Eugenie were 
no less tired than the master of the house ; and as for 
Mme. Grandet, she slept or woke, ate or drank, as her 
husband bade her. Yet during the two hours allotted to 
the digestion of his dinner the cooper was more facetious 
than he had ever been in his life before, and uttered not a 
few of his favourite aphorisms ; one example will serve to 
plumb the depths of the cooper's mind. When he had 

Eugenic Grandet 145 

finished his cordial, he looked pensively at the glass, and 
thus delivered himself — 

' You have no sooner set your lips to a glass than it is 
empty ! Such is life. You cannot have your cake and 
eat it too, and you can't turn over your money and keep 
it in your purse j if you could only do that, life would be 
too glorious.' 

He w^as not only jocose, he was good-natured, so 
that when Nanon came in with her spinning-wheel 
— ' You must be tired,' he said j ' let the hemp 

' And if I did,' the servant answered, ' ^uien^ I should 
have to sit with my hands before me.' 

' Poor Nanon ! would you like some cordial ? ' 

' Cordial ? Oh ! I don't say no. Madame makes it 
much better than the apothecaries do. The stuff they 
sell is like physic' 

' They spoil the flavour with putting too much sugar 
in it,' said the goodman. 

The next morning, at the eight o'clock breakfast, the 
party seemed, for the first time, almost like one family. 
Mme. Grandet, Eugenie, and Charles had been drawn 
together by these troubles, and Nanon herself uncon- 
sciously felt with them. As for the old vinegrower, he 
scarcely noticed his nephew's presence in the house, his 
greed of gold had been satisfied, and he was very shortly 
to be quit of this young sprig by the cheap and easy 
expedient of paying his nephew's travelling expenses as far 
as Nantes. 

Charles and Eugenie meanwhile were free to do what 
seemed to them good. They were under Mme. Grandet's 
eyes, and Grandet reposed complete faith in his wife in 
all matters of conduct and religion. Moreover, he had 
other things to think ofj his meadows were to be 
drained, and a row of poplars was to be planted along the 
Loire, and there was all the ordinary winter work at 


146 Eugenie Grandet 

Froidfond and elsewhere ; in fact, he was exceedingly 

And now began the springtime of love for Eugenie. 
Since that hour in the night when she had given her gold 
to her cousin, her heart had follpwed the gift. They 
shared a secret between them ; they were conscious of 
this understanding whenever they looked at each other ; 
and this knowledge, that brought them more and more 
closely together, drew them in a manner out of the 
current of everyday Hfe. And did not relationship justify 
a certain tenderness in the voice and kindness in the eyes ? 
Eugenie therefore set herself to make her cousin forget 
his grief in the childish joys of growing love. 

For the beginnings of love and the beginnings of Hfe 
are not unlike. Is not the child soothed by smiles and 
cradle-songs, and fairy tales of a golden future that lies 
before him ? Above him, too, the bright wings of hope 
are always spread, and does he not shed tears of joy or of 
sorrow, wax petulant over trifles and quarrelsome over 
the pebbles with which he builds a tottering palace, or 
the flowers that are no sooner gathered than forgotten ? 
Is he not also eager to outstrip Time, and to live in the 
future ? Love is the soul's second transformation. 

Love and childhood were almost the same thing for 
Charles and Eugenie ; the dawn of love and its childish 
beginnings were all the sweeter because their hearts were 
full of gloom ; and this love, that from its birth had been 
enveloped in crape, was in keeping with their homely 
surroundings in the melancholy old house. As the 
cousins interchanged a few words by the well in the 
silent courtyard, or sat out in the little garden towards 
sunset time, wholly absorbed by the momentous nothings 
that each said to each, or wrapped in the stillness that 
always brooded over the space between the ramparts and 
the house, Charles learned to think of love as something 
sacred. Hitherto, with his great lady, his *dear Annette,* 
he had experienced little but its perils and storms ; but 

Eugenie Grandet 147 

that episode in Paris was over, with its coquetry and 
passion, its vanity and emptiness, and he turned to this 
love in its purity and truth. 

He came to feel a certain fondness for the old house, 
and their way of life no longer seemed absurd to him. 
He would come downstairs early in the morning so as to 
snatch a few words with Eugenie before her father gave 
out the stores ; and when the sound of Grandet's heavy 
footstep echoed on the staircase, he fled into the garden. 
Even Eugenie's mother did not know of this morning 
tryst of theirs, and Nanon made as though she did not 
see it ; it was a small piece of audacity that gave the 
keen relish of a stolen pleasure to their innocent love. 
Then when breakfast was over, and Goodman Grandet 
had gone to see after his business and his improvements, 
Charles sat in the grey parlour between the mother and 
daughter, finding a pleasure unknown before in holding 
skeins of thread for them to wind, in listening to their 
talk, and watching them sew. There was something that 
appealed to him strongly in the almost monastic simplicity 
of the life, which had led him to discover the nobleness of 
the natures of these two unworldly women. He had not 
believed that such lives as these were possible in France ; 
in Germany he admitted that old-world manners lingered 
still, but in France they were only to be found in fiction 
and in Auguste Lafontaine's novels. It was not long 
before Eugenie became an embodiment of his ideal, 
Goethe's Marguerite without her error. 

Day after day, in short, the poor girl hung on his 
words and looks, and drifted further along the stream of 
love. She snatched at every happiness as some swimmer 
might catch at an overhanging willow branch, that so 
he might reach the bank and rest there for a little 

Was not the time of parting very near now ? The 
shadow of that parting seemed to fall across the brightest 
hours of those days that fled so fast ; and not one of them 

148 Eugenie Grandet 

went by but something happened to remind her how 
sOon it would be upon them. 

For instance, three days after des Grassins had started 
for Paris, Grandet had taken Charles before a magistrate ] 
with the funereal solemnity with which such acts arc 
performed by provincials, and in the presence of that 
functionary the young man had had to sign a declaration 
that he renounced all claim to his father's property. 
Dreadful repudiation ! An impiety amounting to 
apostasy ! He went to M. Cruchot to procure two 
powers of attorney, one for des Grassins, the other for 
the friend who was commissioned to sell his own per- 
sonal effects. There were also some necessary formali- 
ties in connection with his passport ; and finally, on the 
arrival of the plain suit of mourning which Charles had 
ordered from Paris, he sent for a clothier in Saumur, 
and disposed of his now useless wardrobe. This transac- 
tion was peculiarly pleasing to old Grandet. 

' Ah ! Now you look like a man who is ready to set 
out, and means to make his way in the world,' he said, 
as he saw his nephew in a plain, black overcoat of rough 
cloth. ' Good, very good ! ' 

'I beg you to believe, sir,' Charles replied, 'that I 
shall face my position with proper spirit.' 

' What does this mean ? ' asked his worthy relative ; 
there was an eager look in the goodman's eyes at the 
sight of a handful of gold which Charles held out to 

'I have gathered together my studs and rings and 
everything of any value that I have ; I am not likely to 
want them now ; but I know of nobody in Saumur, and 
this morning I thought I would ask you ' 

' To buy it ? ' Grandet broke in upon him. 

' No, uncle, to give me the name of some honest man 
who * 

* Give it to mc, nephew ; I will take it upstairs and 
find out what it is worth, and let you know the value to 

Eugenie Grandet 149 

a centime. Jeweller's gold,' he commented, after an 
examination of a long chain, 'jeweller's gold, eighteen 
to nineteen carats, I should say.' 

The worthy soul held out his huge hand for it, and 
carried ofF the whole collection. 

' Cousin Eugenie,' said Charles, ' permit me to offer 
you these two clasps ; you might use them to fasten 
ribbons round your wrists, that sort of bracelet is all the 
rage just now.' 

' I do not hesitate to take it, cousin,' she said, with a 
look of intelligence. 

' And, aunt, this is my mother's thimble ; I have 
treasured it up till now in my dressing-case,' and he gave 
a pretty gold thimble to Mme. Grandet, who for the past 
ten years had longed for one. 

' It is impossible to thank you in words, dear nephew,' 
said the old mother, as her eyes filled with tears. 'But 
morning and evening I shall repeat the prayer for 
travellers, and pray most fervently for you. If anything 
should happen to me, Eugenie shall take care of it for 

' It is worth nine hundred and eighty-nine francs 
seventy-five centimes, nephew,' said Grandet, as he came 
in at the door. 'But to save you the trouble of selling 
it, I will let you have the money in Hvres.' 

This expression ' in livres ' means, in the districts along 
the Loire, that a crown of six livres is to be considered 
worth six francs, without deduction. 

' I did not venture to suggest such a thing,' Charles 
answered, ' but I shrank from hawking my trinkets 
about in the town where you are living. Dirty linen 
ought not to be washed in public, as Napoleon used to 
say. Thank you for obliging me.' 

Grandet scratched his ear, and there was a moment's 
silence in the room. 

' And, dear uncle,' Charles went on, somewhat 
nervously, and as though he feared to wound his uncle's 

150 Eugenie Grandet 

susceptibilities, 'my cousin and aunt have consented to 
receive trifling mementoes from me ; w^ill you not in 
your turn accept these sleeve-links, v^^hich are useless to 
me now ; they may perhaps recall to your memory a 
poor boy, in a far-off country, whose thought will 
certainly often turn to those who are all that remain to 
him now of his family.' 

'Oh ! my boy, my boy, you must not strip yourself 
like that for us — — ' 

' What have you there, wife ? ' said the cooper, turning 
eagerly towards her. ' Ah ! a gold thimble ? And you, 
little girl ? Diamond clasps ; what next ! Come, I will 
accept your studs, my boy,' he continued, squeezing 
Charles's hand. * But . . . you must let me pay . . . 
your . . . yes, your passage out to the Indies. Yes, I 
mean to pay your passage. Besides, my boy, when I 
estimated your jewellery I only took it at its value as 
metal, you see, without reckoning the workmanship, and 
it may be worth a trifle more on that account. So that 
is settled. 1 will pay you fifteen hundred francs ... in 
livres ; Cruchot will lend it me, for I have not a brass 
farthing in the house ; unless Perrotet, who is getting 
behindhand with his dues, will pay me in coin. There ! 
there ! I will go and see about it,' and he took up his hat, 
put on his gloves, and went forthwith. 

'Then you are going ? ' said Eugenie, with sad, admir- 
ing eyes. 

* I cannot help myself,' he answered, with his head 
bent down. 

For several days Charles looked, spoke, and behaved 
like a man who is in deep trouble, but who feels the 
weight of such heavy obligations, that his misfortunes 
only brace him for greater effort. He had ceased to pity 
himself; he had become a man. Never had Eugenie 
augured better of her cousin's character than she did on 
the day when she watched him come downstairs in his 
plain, black mourning suit, which set off his pale^ sad face 

Eugenie Grandet 151 

to such advantage. The two women had also gone into 
mourning, and went with Charles to the Reqnie?n mass 
celebrated in the parish church for the soul of the late 
Guillaume Grandet. 

Charles received letters from Paris as they took the 
mid-day meal ; he opened and read them. 

'Well, cousin,' said Eugenie, in a low voice, 'are 
your affairs going on satisfactorily ? ' 

' Never put questions of that sort, my girl,' remarked 
Grandet. ' I never talk to you about my affairs, and 
why the devil should you meddle in your cousin's ? 
Just let the boy alone.' 

' Oh ! I have no secrets of any sort,' said Charles. 

'Tut, tut, tut. You will find out that you must 
bridle your tongue in business, nephew.' 

When the two lovers were alone in the garden, Charles 
drew Eugenie to the old bench under the walnut tree 
where they so often sat of late. 

'I felt sure of Alphonse, and I was right,' he said ; 'he 
has done wonders, and has settled my affairs prudently 
and loyally. All my debts in Paris are paid, my furni- 
ture sold well, and he tells me that he has acted on the 
advice of an old sea captain who had made the voyage 
to the Indies, and has invested the surplus money in 
ornaments and odds and ends for which there is a great 
demand out there. He has sent my packages to Nantes, 
where an East Indiaman is taking freight for Java, and 
so, Eugenie, in five days we must bid each other fare- 
well, for a long while at any rate, and perhaps for ever. 
My trading venture and the ten thousand francs which 
two of my friends have sent me, are a very poor start ; I 
cannot expect to return for many years. Dear cousin, 
let us not consider ourselves bound in any way ; I may 
die, and very likely some good opportunity for settling 
yourself ' 

* You love me ? , . . ' she asked. 

' Oh ! yes, indeed,' he repHed, with an earnestness of 

152 Eugenie Grandet 

manner that betokened a like earnestness in his feel 
ings. * 

' Then I will wait for you, Charles. T)ieu ! my 
father is looking out of his window,' she exclaimed, 
evading her cousin, who had drawn closer to embrace 

She fled to the archway ; and seeing that Charles 
followed her thither, she retreated further, flung back the 
folding door at the foot of the staircase, and with no very 
clear idea, save that of flight, she rushed towards the 
darkest corner of the passage, outside Nanon's sleeping 
hole ; and there Charles, who was close beside her, 
grasped both hands in his and pressed her to his heart; 
his arms went round her waist, Eugenie resisted no 
longer, and leaning against her lover she received and 
gave the purest, sweetest, and most perfect of all 

' Dear Eugenie, a cousin is better than a brother ; he 
can marry you,' said Charles. 

' Amen, so be it ! ' cried Nanon, opening the door 
behind them, and emerging from her den. Her voice 
startled the two lovers, who fled into the dining-room, 
where Eugenie took up her sewing, and Charles seized on 
Mme. Grandet's prayer book, opened it at the litanies of 
the Virgin, and began to read industriously. 

'.^«/V«/' said Nanon, 'so we are all saying our 
prayers ! ' 

As soon as Charles fixed the day for his departure, 
Grandet bustled about and affected to take the greatest 
interest in the whole matter. He was liberal with advice, 
and with anything else that cost him nothing, first 
seeking out a packer for Charles, and then, saying that 
the man wanted too much for his cases, setting to work 
with all his might to make them himself, using odd 
planks for the purpose. He was up betimes every 
morning planing, fitting, nailing deal boards together, 

Eugenie Grandet 153 

squaring and shaping ; and, in fact, he made some strong 
cases, packed all Charles's property in them, and undertook 
to send them by steamer down the Loire to Nantes in 
time to go by the merchant ship, and to insure them 
during the voyage. 

Since that kiss given and taken in the passage, the 
hours sped with terrible rapidity for Eugenie. At times 
she thought of following her cousin ; for of all ties that 
bind one human being to another, this passion of love is 
the closest and strongest, and those who know this, and 
know how every day shortens love's allotted span, and 
how not time alone but age and mortal sickness and all 
the untoward accidents of life combine to menace it, — 
these will know the agony that Eugenie suffered. She 
shed many tears as she walked up and down the little 
garden ; it had grown so narrow for her now ; the court- 
yard, the old house, and the town had all grown narrow, 
and her thoughts fared forth already across vast spaces 
of sea. 

It was the day before the day of departure. That 
morning, while Grandet and Nanon were out of the 
house, the precious casket that held the two portraits 
was solemnly deposited in Eugenie's chest, beside the 
now empty velvet bag in the only drawer that could be 
locked, an installation which was not effected without 
many tears and kisses. When Eugenie locked the drawer 
and hid the key in her bosom, she had not the courage 
to forbid the kiss by which Charles sealed the act. 

' The key shall always stay there, dear.' 

' Ah ! well, my heart will always be there with it 

' Oh ! Charles, you should not say that,' she said a 
little reproachfully. 

*Are we not married?' he replied. 'I have your 
word ; take mine.' 

' Thine for ever ! ' they said together, and repeated it a 
second time. No holier vow was ever made on earth ; 

154 Eugenie Grandet 

for Charles's love had received a moment's consecration 
in the presence of Eugenie's simple sincerity. 

It w^as a melancholy group round the breakfast-table 
next morning. Even Nanon herself, in spite of Charles's 
gift of a new^ gown and a gilt cross, had a tear in her 
eye ; but she was free to express her feelings, and did so. 

* Oh ! that poor, delicate young gentleman who is 
going to sea,' was the burden of her discourse. 

At half-past ten the whole family left the house to see 
Charles start for Nantes in the diligence. Nanon had 
let the dog loose, and locked the door, and meant to 
carry Charles's handbag. Every shopkeeper in the ancient 
street was in the doorway to watch the little procession 
pass. M. Cruchot joined them in the market-place. 

' Eugenie,' whispered her mother, * mind you do not 
cry ! ' 

They reached the gateway of the inn, and there 
Grandet kissed Charles on both cheeks. ' Well ! 
nephew,' he said, ' set out poor and come back rich ; you 
leave your father's honour in safe keeping. I — Grandet — 
will answer to you for that ; you will only have to do 
your part ' 

' Oh ! uncle, this sweetens the bitterness of parting. 
Is not this the greatest gift you could possibly give me ? ' 

Charles had broken in upon the old cooper's remarks 
before he quite understood their drift ; he put his arms 
round his uncle's neck, and let fall tears of gratitude on 
the vinegrower's sunburned cheeks j Eugenie clasped her 
cousin's hand in one of hers, and her father's in the other, 
and held them tightly. Only the notaiy smiled to 
himself; he alone understood the worthy man, and he 
could not help admiring his astute cunning. The four 
Saumurois and a little group of onlookers hung about the 
diligence till the last moment ; and looked after it until 
it disappeared across the bridge, and the sound of the 
wheels grew faint and distant. 

* A good riddance ! ' said the cooper. 

Eugenie Grandct 155 

Luckily, no one but M. Cruchot heard this ejaculation; 
Eugenie and her mother had walked along the quay to a 
point of view whence they could still see the diligence, 
and stood there waving their handkerchiefs and watching 
Charles's answering signal till he was out of sight ; then 
Eugenie turned. 

' Oh ! mother, mother, if I had God's power for one 
moment,' she said. 

To save further interruption to the course of the story, 
it is necessary to glance a little ahead, and give a brief 
account of the course of events in Paris, of Grandet's 
calculations, and the action taken by his worthy lieutenant 
the banker in the matter of Guillaume Grandet's affairs. 
A month after des Grassins had gone, Grandet received a 
certificate for a hundred thousand livres per annum of 
rentes J purchased at eighty francs. No information was ever 
forthcoming as to how and when the actual coin had been 
paid, or the receipt taken, which in due course had been 
exchanged for the certificate. The inventory and state- 
ment of his affairs which the miser left at his death threw 
no light upon the mystery, and Cruchot fancied that in some 
way or other Nanon must have been the unconscious 
instrument employed ; for about that time the faithful 
serving-maid was away from home for four or five days, 
ostensibly to see after matters at Froidfond, as if its 
worthy owner were likely to forget anything there that 
required looking after ! As for Guillaume Grandet's 
creditors, everything had happened as the cooper had 
intended and foreseen. 

At the Bank of France (as everybody knows) they 
keep accurate lists of all the great fortunes in Paris or 
in the departments. The names of des Grassins and of 
Felix Grandet of Saumur were duly to be found inscribed 
therein ; indeed, they shone conspicuous there as well- 
known names in the business world, as men who were 
not only financially sound, but owners of broad acres 
unencumbered by mortgages. And now it was said that 

1^6 Eugenie Grandet 

des Grassins of Saumur had come to Paris with intent tc 
call a meeting of the creditors of the firm of Guillaume 
Grandet ; the shade of the wine merchant was to be 
spared the disgrace of protested bills. The seals were 
broken in the presence of the creditors, and the family 
notary proceeded to make out an inventory in due 

Before very long, in fact, des Grassins called a meeting 
of the creditors, who with one voice appointed the banker 
of Saumur as trustee conjointly with Francois Keller, the 
head of a large business house, and one of the principal 
creditors, empowering them to take such measures as they 
thought fit, in order to save the family name (and the 
bills) from being dishonoured. The fact that des Grassins 
was acting as his agent produced a hopeful tone in the 
meeting, and things went smoothly from the first ; the 
banker did not find a single dissentient voice. No one 
thought of passing his bill to his profit and loss account, 
and each one said to himself — 

' Grandet of Saumur is going to pay ! ' 

Six months went by. The Parisian merchants had 
withdrawn the bills from circulation, and had consigned 
them to the depths of their portfolios. The cooper had 
gained his first point. Nine months after the first 
meeting the two trustees paid the creditors a dividend of 
forty-seven per cent. This sum had been raised by the 
sale of the late Guillaume Grandet's property, goods, 
chattels and general effects ; the most scrupulous in- 
tegrity characterised these proceedings ; indeed, the whole 
affair was conducted with the most conscientious honesty, 
and the delighted creditors fell to admiring Grandet's 
wonderful, indubitable and high-minded probity. When 
these praises had duly circulated for a sufficient length of 
time, the creditors began to ask themselves when the 
remainder of their money would be forthcoming, and be- 
thought them of collectively writing a letter to Grandet. 

' Here we are ! ' was the old cooper's comment, as he 

Eugenie Grandet 157 

flung the letter in the fire. ' Patience, patience, my 
dear friends.' 

By way of a reply to the propositions contained in the 
letter, Grandet of Saumur required them to deposit with 
a notary all the bills and claims against the estate of his 
deceased brother, accompanying each with receipts for 
the payments already made. The accounts were to be 
audited, and the exact condition of affairs was to be 
ascertained. Innumerable difficulties were cleared away 
by this notion of the deposit. 

A creditor, generally speaking, is a sort of maniac ; 
there is no saying what a creditor will do. One day he 
is in a hurry to bring the thing to an end, the next he is 
all for fire and sword, a little later and he is sweetness 
and benignity itself. To-day, very probably, his wife 
is in a good humour, his youngest hope has just cut a 
tooth, everything is going on comfortably at home, he 
has no mind to abate his claims one jot 3 but to-morrow 
comes, and it rains, and he cannot go out ; he feels low 
in his mind, and agrees hastily to anything and every- 
thing that is likely to settle the affair ; the next morning 
brings counsel ; he requires a guarantee, and by the end of 
the month he talks about an execution, the inhuman, 
bloodthirsty wretch ! The creditor is not unlike that 
common or house sparrow on whose tail small children are 
encouraged to try to put a grain of salt — a pleasing simile 
which the creditor may twist to his own uses, and apply 
to his bills, from which he fondly hopes to derive some 
benefit at last. Grandet had observed these atmospheric 
variations among creditors ; and his forecasts in the 
present case were correct, his brother's creditors were 
behaving in every respect exactly as he wished. Some 
waxed wroth, and flatly declined to have anything to do 
with the deposit, or to give up the vouchers. 

' Good ! ' said Grandet ; ' that is all right ! ' He 
rubbed his hands as he read the letters which des Grassins 
wrote to him on the subject. 

158 Eugenie Grandet 

Yet others refused to consent to the aforesaid deposit 
unless their position was clearly defined in the first place ;i 
it was to be made without prejudice, and they reserved 
the right to declare the estate bankrupt should they 
deem it advisable. This opened a fresh correspondence, 
and occasioned a further delay, after which Grandet 
finally agreed to all the conditions, and as a consequence 
the more tractable creditors brought the recalcitrant to 
hear reason, and the deposit was made, not, however, 
without some grumbling. 

' That old fellow is laughing in his sleeve at you and at 
us too,* said they to des Grassins. 

Twenty-three months after Guillaume Grandet's 
death, many of the merchants had forgotten all about 
their claims in the course of events in a business life in 
Paris, or they only thought of them to say to themselves— 

* It begins to look as though the forty-seven per cent, 
is about all I shall get out of that business.* 

The cooper had reckoned on the aid of Time, who, so 
he was wont to say, is a good fellow. By the end of 
the third year, des Grassins wrote to Grandet saying 
that he had induced most of the creditors to give up 
their bills, and that the amount now owing was only 
about ten per cent, of the outstanding two million four 
hundred thousand francs. Grandet rephed that there yet 
remained the notary and the stockbroker, whose failures 
had been the death of his brother ; they were still alive. 
They might be solvent again by this time, and proceed- 
ings ought to be taken against them ; something m.ight 
be recovered in this way which would still further reduce 
the sum-total of the deficit. 

When the fourth year drew to a close the deficit had 
been duly brought down to the sum of twelve hundred 
thousand francs ; the limit appeared to have been reached. 
Six months were further spent in parleyings between the 
trustees and the creditors, and between Grandet and the 
trustees. In short, strong pressure being brought to 

Eugenie Grandet 159 

bear upon Grandet of Saumur, he announced, somewhere 
about the ninth month of the same year, that his nephew, 
who had made a fortune in the East Indies, had signified 
his intention of settling in full all claims on his father's 
estate ; and that meantime he could not take it upon 
himself to act, nor to defraud the creditors by winding 
up the affair before he had consulted his nephew ; he 
added that he had written to him, and was now awaiting 
an answer. 

The middle of the fifth year had been reached, and 
still the creditors were held in check by the magic words 
in full ^ let fall judiciously from time to time by the sub- 
lime cooper, who was laughing at them in his sleeve ; 
'those Parisians,' he would sav to himself, with a mild 
oath, and a cunning smile would steal across his features. 

In fact, a martyrdom unknown to the calendars of 
commerce was in store for the creditors. When next 
they appear in the course of this story, they will be 
found in exactly the same position that they were in 
now when Grandet had done with them. Consols 
went up to a hundred and fifteen, old Grandet sold out, 
and received from Paris about two million four hundred 
thousand francs in gold, which went into his wooden 
kegs to keep company with the six hundred thousand 
francs of interest which his investment had brought in. 

Des Grassins stayed on in Paris, and for the following 
reasons. In the first place, he had been appointed a 
deputy ; and in the second, he, the father of a family, 
bored by the exceeding dulness of existence in Saumur, 
was smitten with the charms of Mile. Florine, one of the 
prettiest actresses of the Theatre de Madame, and there 
was a recrudescence of the quarter-master in the banker. 
It is useless to discuss his conduct ; at Saumur it was 
pronounced to be profoundly immoral. It was very 
lucky for his wife that she had brains enough to 
carry on the concern at Saumur in her own name, 
and could extricate the remains of her fortune, which had 

i6o Eugenie Grandet 

suffered not a little from M. des Grassins' extravagance 
and folly. But the quasi-widow was in a false position, 
and the Cruchotins did all that in them lay to make 
matters worse ; she had to give up all hope of a match 
between her son and Eugenie Grandet, and married her 
daughter very badly. Adolphe des Grassins went to join 
his father in Paris, and there acquired, so it was said, an 
unenviable reputation. The triumph of the Cruchotins 
was complete. 

' Your husband has taken leave of his senses,' Grandet 
took occasion to remark as he accommodated Mme. des 
Grassins with a loan (on good security). ' I am very 
sorry for you ; you are a nice little woman.* 

' Ah ! ' sighed the poor lady, ' who could have believed 
that day when he set out for Paris to see after that 
business of yours that he was hurrying to his own ruin ? ' 

'Heaven is my witness, madame, that to the very last 
I did all I could to prevent him, and M. le President was 
dying to go ; but we know now why your husband was 
so set upon it.' 

Clearly, therefore, Grandet lay under no obligation to 
des Grassins. 

In every situation a woman is bound to suffer in many 
ways that a man does not, and to feel her troubles more 
acutely than he can ; for a man's vigour and energy is 
constantly brought into play ; he acts and thinks, comes 
and goes, busies himself in the present, and looks to the 
future for consolation. This was what Charles was 
doing. But a woman cannot help herself — hers is a 
passive part ; she is left face to face with her trouble, 
and has nothing to divert her mind from it ; she sounds 
the depths of the abyss of sorrow, and its dark places 
are filled with her prayers and tears. So it was with 

y,_ Eugenie. She was beginning to understand that the 
I web of a woman's Hfe will always be woven of love and 

'm^ sorrow and hope and fear and self-sacrifice j hers was to be 

Eugenic Grandet i6i r \^^\ 

a woman's lot in all things without a woman's consola- 
tions and her moments of happiness (to make use of 
Bossuet's wonderful illustration) were to be like the 
scattered nails driven into the wall, when all collected 
together they scarcely filled the hollow of the hand. 
Troubles seldom keep us waiting for them, and for 
Eugenie they were gathering thick and fast. 

The day after Charles had gone, the Grandet house- 
hold fell back into the old ways of life ; there was no 
difference for any one but Eugenie — for her the house 
had grown very empty all on a sudden. Charles's room 
should remain just as he had left it j Mme. Grandet and 
Nanon lent themselves to this whim of hers, willingly 
maintained the statu quo, and said nothing to her father. 

* Who knows ? ' Eugenie said. ' He may come back 
to us sooner than we think.' 

' Ah ! I wish I could see him here again,' replied 
Nanon. ' I could get on with him well enough ! He 
was very nice, and an excellent gentleman ; and he was 
pretty-like, his hair curled over his head just like a 

Eugenie gazed at Nanon. 

' Holy Virgin ! mademoiselle, with such eyes, you are 
like to lose your soul. You shouldn't look at people in 
that way.' 

From that day Mile. Grandet's beauty took a new 
character. The grave thoughts of love that slowly 
enveloped her soul, the dignity of a woman who is 
beloved, gave to her face the sort of radiance that early 
painters expressed by the aureole. Before her cousin 
came into her life, Eugenie might have been compared 
to the Virgin as yet unconscious of her destiny ; and 
now that he had passed out of it, she seemed like the 
Virgin Mother ; she, too, bore love in her heart. Spanish 
art has depicted these two Marys, so different each from 
each — Christianity, with its many symbols, knows no 
more glorious types than these. 


1 62 Eugenic Grandet 

The day after Charles had left them, Eugenie went to 
mass (as she had resolved to do daily), and on her way 
back bought a map of the world from the only bookseller 
in the town. This she pinned to the wall beside her glass, 
so that she might follow the course of her cousin's 
voyage to the Indies ; and night and morning might be 
beside him for a little while on that far-off vessel, and see 
him and ask all the endless questions she longed to ask. 

*Are you well ? Are you not sad? Am I in your 
thoughts when you see the star that you told me about ? 
You made me see how beautiful it was.* 

In the morning she used to sit like one in a dream 
under the great walnut tree, on the old grey, lichen- 
covered, worm-eaten bench where they had talked so 
kindly and so foolishly, where they had built such fair 
castles in the air in which to live. She thought of the 
future as she watched the little strip of sky shut in by 
the high walls on every side, then her eyes wandered 
over the old buttressed wall and the roof — Charles's room 
lay beneath it. In short, this solitary persistent love 
mingling with all her thoughts became the substance, 
or, as our forefathers would have said, the 'stuff' of her life. 

If Grandet's self-styled friends came in of an evening, 
she would seem to be in high spirits, but the liveliness 
was only assumed ; she used to talk about Charles with 
her mother and Nanon the whole morning through, and 
Nanon — who was of the opinion that without faltering 
in her duty to her master she might yet feel for her 
young mistress's troubles — Nanon spoke on this wise — 

' If I had had a sweetheart, I would have . • . I would 
have gone with him to hell. I would have . . . well, then, 
I would just have laid down my life for him, but . . . 
no such chance ! I shall die without knowing what it 
is to hve. Would you believe it, mam'selle, there is that 
old Cornoiller, who is a good man all the same, dangling 
about after my savings, just like the others who come 
here paying court to you and sniffing after the master's 

Eugenic Grandet 163 

money. I see through it ; I may be as big as a hay stack, 
but 1 am as sharp as a needle yet. Well ! and yet do 
you know, mam'selle, it may not be love, but I rather 
like it.' 

In this way two months went by. The secret that 
Dound the three women so closely together had brought 
a new interest into the household life hitherto so 
monotonous. For them Charles still dwelt in the house, 
and came and went beneath the old grey rafters of the 
parlour. Every morning and evening Eugenie opened 
the dressing-case and looked at her aunt's portrait. Her 
mother, suddenly coming into her room one Sunday 
morning, found her absorbed in tracing out a likeness to 
Charles in the lady of the miniature, and Mme. Grandet 
learned for the first time a terrible secret, how that 
Eugenie had parted with her treasures and had taken the 
case in exchange. 

'You have let him have it all!' cried the terrified 
mother. ' What will you say to your father on New 
Year's Day when he asks to see your gold ? ' 

Eugenie's eyes were set in a fixed stare ; the horror of 
this thought so filled the women that half the morning 
went by, and they were distressed to find themselves 
too late for high mass, and were only in time for the 
military mass. The year 18 19 was almost overj there 
were only three more days left. In three days a terrible 
drama would begin, a drama undignified by poison, 
dagger, or bloodshed, but fate dealt scarcely more cruelly 
with the princely house of Atreus than with the actors 
in this bourgeois tragedy. 

*■ What is to become of us ? ' said Mme. Grandet, 
laying down her knitting on her knee. 

Poor mother ! all the events of the past two months 
had sadly hindered the knitting, the woollen cufFs for 
winter wear were not finished yet, a homely and 
apparently insignificant feet which was to work trouble 
enough for her. For want of the warm cuiFs she caught 

164 Eugenie Grandet 

a chill after a violent perspiration brought on by one of 
her husband's fearful outbursts of rage. 

' My poor child, I have been thinking that if you had 
only told me about this, w^e should have had time to 
write to M. des Grassins in Paris. He might have 
managed to send us some gold pieces like those of yours ; 
and although Grandet knows the look of them so well, 
still perhaps . . .' 

* But where could we have found so much money ? ' 

'I would have raised it on my property. Besides, 
M. des Grassins would have befriended us . . .' 

' There is not time enough now,' faltered Eugenie in 
a smothered voice. ' To-morrow morning we shall have 
to go to his room to wish him a happy New Year, shall 
we not ? * 

' Oh ! Eugenie, why not go and see the Cruchots 
about it ? ' 

' No, no, that would be putting ourselves in their 
power J I should be entirely in their hands then. Besides, 
I have made up my mind. I have acted quite rightly, and 
I repent of nothing ; God will protect me. May His holy 
will be done ! Ah ! if you had read that letter, mother, 
you would have thought of nothing but him.' 

The next morning, January i, 1820, the mother and 
daughter were in an agony of distress that they could not 
hide ; sheer terror suggested the simple expedient of 
omitting the solemn visit to Grandet's room. The 
bitter weather served as an excuse ; the winter of 
1819-20 was the coldest that had been known for years, 
and snow lay deep on the roofs. 

Mme. Grandet called to her husband as soon as she 
heard him stirring, ' Grandet, just let Nanon light a bit 
of fire in here for me, the air is so sharp that I am shiver- 
ing under the bedclothes, and at my time of life I must 
take care of myself. And then,' she went on after a 
little pause, ' Eugenie shall come in here to dress. The 

Eugenie Grandet 165 

poor girl may do herself a mischief if she dresses in her own 
room in such cold. We will come downstairs into the sitting- 
room and wish you a happy New Year there by the fire.' 

' Tut, tut, tut, what a tongue ! What a way to 
begin the year, Mme. Grandet ! You have never said 
so much in your life before. You have not had a sop of 
bread in wine, I suppose ? ' 

There was a moment's pause. Doubtless his wife's 
proposal suited his notions, for he said, ' Very well, I 
will do as you wish, Mme. Grandet. You really are a 
good sort of woman, it would be a pity for you to expire 
before you are due, though, as a rule, the La Bertellieres 
make old bones, don't they, hey ? ' he cried, after a 
pause. ' Well, their money has fallen in at last ; I forgive 
them,' and he coughed. 

* You are in spirits this morning,' said the poor wife. 

* I always am in spirits.' 

Hey ! hey ! cooper gay, 

Mend your tub and take your pay. 

He had quite finished dressing, and came into his wife's 
room. ' Yes, nom (Tun petit bonhomme ! it is a mighty 
hard frost, all the same. We shall have a good breakfast 
to-day, wife. Des Grassins has sent me a pate de foies 
gras, truffled ! I am going round to the coach office to 
see after it. He should have sent a double napoleon for 
Eugenie along with it,' said the cooper, coming closer, 
and lowering his voice. 'I have no gold, I certainly 
had a few old coins still left, I may tell you that in 
confidence, but I had to let them go in the course of 
business,' and by way of celebrating the first day of the 
year he kissed his wife on the forehead. 

' Eugenie,' cried the kind mother, as soon as Grandet 
had gone, 'I don't know which side of the bed your 
father got out on, but he is in a good humour this 
morning. Pshaw ! we shall pull through.' 

' What can have come over the master ? ' cried Nanon 
as she came into the room to light the fire. ' First of 

1 66 Eugenie Grandet 

all, he says, ** Good morning, great stupid, a happy New 
Year ! Go upstairs and light a fire in my wife's room ; 
she is feeling cold." I thought I must be ofF my head 
when I saw him holding out his hand with a six-franc 
piece in it that hadn't been clipped a bit ! There ! 
madame, only look at it ! Oh ! he is a worthy man, 
all the same — he is a good man, he is. There are some 
as get harder-hearted the older they grow ; but he turns 
sweeter, like your cordial that improves with keeping. 
He is a very good and a very excellent man . . . ' 

Grandet's speculation had been completely successful ; 
this was the cause of his high spirits. M. des Grassins — 
after deducting various amounts which the cooper owed 
him, partly for discounting Dutch bills to the amount of 
a hundred and fifty thousand francs, and partly for 
advances of money for the purchase of a hundred 
thousand livres worth of consols — M. des Grassins was 
sending him, by diligence, thirty thousand francs in 
crowns, the remainder (after the aforesaid deductions 
had been made) of the cooper's half-yearly dividends, 
and informed Grandet that consols were steadily rising. 
They stood at eighty-nine at the present moment, and 
well-known capitalists were buying for the next account 
at the end of January at ninety-two. In two months 
Grandet had made twelve per cent, on his capital ; he had 
straightened his accounts ; and henceforward he would 
receive fifty thousand francs every half year, clear of 
taxes or any outgoing expenses. In short, he had 
grasped the theory of consols (a class of investment of 
which the provincial mind is exceedingly shy), and 
looking ahead, he beheld himself the master of six 
millions of francs in five years time — six miUions, which 
would go on accumulating with scarcely any trouble 
on his part — six millions of francs ! And there was the 
value of his landed property to add to this ; he saw him- 
self in a fair way to build up a colossal fortune. The 
six francs given to Nanon were perhaps in reality the 

Eugenie Grandet 167 

payment for an immense service which the girl had 
unwittingly done her master. 

* Oho ! what can Goodman Grandet be after ? He 
is running as if there were a fire somewhere,' the shop- 
keepers said to each other as they took down their 
shutters that New Year's morning. 

A httle later when they saw him coming back from 
the quay followed by a porter from the coach office, who 
was wheeling a barrow piled up with little bags full of 

' Ah ! * said they, ' water always makes for the river, 
the old boy was hurrying after his crowns.' 

' They flow in on him from Paris, and Froidfond, and 
Holland,' said one. 

' He will buy Saumur before he has done,' cried 

' He does not care a rap for the cold ; he is always 
looking after his business,' said a woman to her husband. 

' Hi ! M. Grandet ! if you have more of that than 
you know what to do with, I can help you to get rid of 
some of it.' 

' Eh ! they are only coppers,* said the vinegrower. 

'Silver, he means,"* said the porter in a low voice. 

' Keep a still tongue in your head, if you want me to 
bear you in mind,' said the goodman as he opened the 

' Oh ! the old fox, I thought he was deaf,' said the 
porter to himself, ' but it looks as though he could hear 
well enough in cold weather.' 

' Here is a franc for a New Year's gift, and keep quiet 
about this. Off with you ! Nanon will bring back the 
barrow. Nanon ! ' cried Grandet, ' are the women-folk 
gone to mass ? * 

« Yes, sir.' 

' Come, look sharp and lend a hand here, then,' he 
cried, and loaded her with the bags. In another minute 

1 68 Eugenie Grandet 

the crowns were safely transferred to his room, where he 
locked himself in. 

' Thump on the wall when breakfast is ready,* he called 
through the door, ' and take the wheelbarrow back to the 
coach office.' 

It was ten o'clock before the family breakfasted. 

' Your father will not ask to see your gold now,' said 
Mmc. Grandet as they came back from mass ; ' and if he 
does, you can shiver and say it is too cold to go upstairs for 
it. We shall have time to make up the money again 
before your birthday . . . ' 

Grandet came down the stairs with his head full of 
schemes for transforming the five-franc pieces just re- 
ceived from Paris into gold coin, which should be neither 
clipped nor light weight. He thought of his admirably 
timed investment in Government stock, and made up 
his mind that he would continue to put his money into 
consols until they rose to a hundred francs. Such medita- 
tions as these boded ill for Eugenie. As soon as he 
came in the two women wished him a prosperous New 
Year, each in her own way ; Mme. Grandet was grave 
and ceremonious, but his daughter put her arms round 
his neck and kissed him. ' Aha ! child,' he said, kissing 
heron both cheeks, ' I am thinking and working for you, 
you see ! . . . I want you to be happy and if you are 
to be happy, you must have money ; for you won't get 
anything without it. Look ! here is a brand new 
napoleon, I sent to Paris on purpose for it. ISlom d'un 
petit honhomme ! there is not a speck of gold in the house, 
except yours, you are the one who has the gold. Let 
me see your gold, little girl.' 

'Bah ! it is too cold, let us have breakfast,' Eugenie 

'Well, then, after breakfast we will have a look at it, 
eh ? It will be good for our digestions. That great des 
Grassins sent us this, all the same,' he went on, ' so get 
your breakfasts, children, for it costs us nothing. Des 

Eugenie Grandet i6q 

Grassins is going on nicely ; I am pleased with him ; the 
old fish is doing Charles a service, and all free gratis. 
Really, he is managing poor dear Grandct's affairs very 
cleverly. Ououh ! ououh ! ' he cried, with his mouth 
full, ' this is good ! Eat away, wife } there is enough 
here to last us for two days at least.* 

' I am not hungry. I am very poorly, you know that 
very well.' 

' Oh ! Ah ! but you have a sound constitution ; you 
are a La Bertelliere, and you can put away a great deal 
without any fear of damaging yourself. You may be a 
trifle sallow, but I have a liking for yellow myself,' 

The prisoner shrinking from a public and ignominious 
death could not well await his doom with a more sicken- 
ing dread than Mme. Grandet and Eugenie felt as they 
foresaw the end of breakfast and the inevitable sequel. 
The more boisterously the cooper talked and ate, the 
lower sank their spirits ; but to the girl, in this crisis, 
a certain support was not lacking, love was strong within 
her. 'I would die a thousand deaths,' she thought, ' for 
him, for him ! ' 

She looked at her mother, and courage and defiance 
shone in her eyes. 

By eleven o'clock they had finished breakfast. ' Clear 
everything away,' Grandet told Nanon, 'but leave us the 
table. We can look over your little treasure more com- 
fortably so,' he said with his eyes on Eugenie. ' Little^ 
said I ? 'Tis not so small, though, upon my word. 
Your coins altogether are actually worth five thousand 
nine hundred and fifty-nine francs, then with forty more 
this morning, that makes six thousand francs all but one. 
Well, I will give you another franc to make up the sum, 
because, you see, little girL . . . Well ! now, why are 
you listening to us ? Just take yourself off, Nanon, and 
set about your work ! ' 

Nanon vanished. 

' Listen, Eugenie, you must let me have your gold. 



170 Eugenie Grandet 

You will not refuse to let your papa have it ? Eh, little 
daughter ? ' 

Neither of the women spoke. 

* 1 myself have no gold left. I had some once, but I 
have none now. I will give you six thousand francs 
in silver for it, and you shall invest it ; I will show you 
how. There is really no need to think of a dozen. 
When you are married (which will be before very long) 
I will find a husband for you who will give you the 
handsomest dozen that has ever been heard of hereabouts. 
There is a splendid opportunity just now; you can invest 
your six thousand francs in Government stock, and every 
six months, when dividends are due, you will have about 
two hundred francs coming in, all clear of taxes, and no 
repairs to pay for, and no frosts nor hail nor bad seasons, 
none of all the tiresome drawbacks you have to lay your 
account with if you put your money into land. You 
don't like to part with your gold, eh ? Is that it, little 
girl ? Never mind, let me have it all the same. I will 
look out for gold coins for you, ducats from Holland, 
and genovines and Portuguese moidores and rupees, 
the Mogul's rupees ; and what with the coins I shall 
give you on your birthday and so forth, you will have 
half your little hoard again in three years time, 
beside the six thousand francs in the funds. What do 
you say, little girl ? Look up, child ! There ! there ! 
bring it here, my pet. You owe me a good kiss 
for telling you business secrets and mysteries of 
the life and death of five-franc pieces. Five-franc 
pieces ! Yes, indeed, the coins live and gad about 
just like men do ; they go and come and sweat and 

Eugenie rose and made a few steps towards the door ; 
then she turned abruptly, looked her father full in the 
face, and said — 

' All my gold is gone ; I have none left.* 

* All your gold is gone ! ' echoed Grandet, starting 

Eugenie Grandet 171 

up, as a horse might rear when the cannon thunders not 
ten paces from him. 

' Yes, it is all gone.' 

* Eugenie ! you are dreaming ! ' 


' By my father's pruning-hook ! ' Whenever the 
cooper swore in this fashion, the floors and ceilings 

' Lord have mercy ! ' cried Nanon ; ' how white the 
mistress is ! ' 

' Grandet ! you will kill me with your angry fits,' said 
the poor wife. 

' Tut, tut, tut ; none of your family ever die. Now, 
Eugenie ! what have you done with your money ? ' he 
burst out as he turned upon her. 

The girl was on her knees beside Mme. Grandet. 

*Look! sir,' she said, 'my mother is very ill . . . do not 
kill her.' 

Grandet was alarmed ; his wife's dark, sallow com- 
plexion had grown so white. 

' Nanon, come and help me up to bed,* she said in a 
feeble voice. 'This is killing me . . .' 

Nanon gave an arm to her mistress, and Eugenie sup- 
ported her on the other side ; but it was only with the 
greatest difficulty that they reached her room, for the 
poor mother's strength completely failed her, and she 
stumbled at every step. Grandet was left alone in the 
parlour. After a while, however, he came part of the 
way upstairs, and called out — 

' Eugenie ! Come down again as soon as your mother 
is in bed.' 

'Yes, father.' 

In no long time she returned to him, after comforting 
her mother as best she could. 

' Now, my daughter,' Grandet addressed her, ' you will 
tell me where your money is.' 

' If I am not perfectly free to do as I like with your 

172 Eugenie Grandet 

presents, father, please take them back again,' said Eugenie 
coldly. She went to the chimney-piece for the napoleon, 
and gave it to her father. 

Grandet pounced upon it, and slipped it into his waist- 
coat pocket. 

'I will never give you anything again, I know,' he 
said, biting his thumb at her. ' You look down on your 
father, do you ? You have no confidence in him ? Do 
you know what a father is ? If he is not everything to 
you, he is nothing. Now ; where is your gold ? * 

' I do respect you and love you, father, in spite of your 
anger 5 but I would very humbly point out to you that 
I am twenty-two years old. You have told me that I 
am of age often enough for me to know it. I have done 
as I liked with my money, and rest assured that it is in 
good hands ' 


' That is an inviolable secret,* she said. ' Have you 
not your secrets ? ' 

' Am I not the head of my family ? May I not be 
allowed to have my own business affairs ? ' 

' This is my own affair.' 

' It must be something very unsatisfactory. Mile. 
Grandet, if you cannot tell your own father about it.' 

' It is perfectly satisfactory, and I cannot tell my father 
about it.' 

'Tell me, at any rate, when you parted with your 

Eugenie shook her head. 

'You still had it on your birthday, hadn't you ? Eh ?' 

But if greed had made her father crafty, love had 
taught Eugenie to be wary ; she shook her head again. 

' Did any one ever hear of such obstinacy, or of such a 
robbery ? ' cried Grandet, in a voice which gradually rose 
till it rang through the house. ' What ! here^ in my 
house, in my own house, some one has taken your gold ! 
Taken all the gold that there was in the place ! And 

Eugenie Grandet 173 

I am not to know who it was ? Gold is a precious thing. 
The best of girls go wrong and throw themselves away 
one way or another ; that happens among great folk, and 
even among decent citizens ; but think of throwing gold 
away ! For you gave it to somebody, I suppose, eh ? * 

Eugenie gave no sign. 

' Did any one ever see such a daughter ! Can you be 
a child of mine ? If you have parted with your money, 
you must have a receipt for it ' 

' Was I free to do as I wished with it — Yes or No ? 
Was it mine ? ' 

* Why, you are a child.' 

* I am of age.' 

At first Grandet was struck dumb by his daughter 
daring to argue with him, and in this way ! He turned 
pale, stamped, swore, and finding words at last, he 
shouted — 

' Accursed serpent ! Miserable girl ! Oh ! you know 
well that I love you, and you take advantage of it ! You 
ungrateful child ! She would rob and murder her own 
father ! Pard'teu ! you would have thrown all we have 
at the feet of that vagabond with the morocco boots. 
By my father's pruning-hook, I cannot disinherit you, 
but nom d'un tonneau^ I can curse you ; you and your 
cousin and your children. Nothing good can come out 
of this ; do you hear ? If it was to Charles that . . . 
But, no, that is impossible. What if that miserable 
puppy should have robbed me ? ' 

He glared at his daughter, who was still silent and 

' She does not stir ! She does not flinch ! She is 
more of a Grandet than I am. You did not give your 
gold away for nothing, anyhow. Come, now j tell me 
about it ? ' 

Eugenie looked up at her father ; her satirical glance 
exasperated him. 

' Eugenie, this is my house j so long as you are under 

174 Eugenie Grandet 

your father's roof you must do as your father bids you. 
The priests command you to obey me,' 

Eugenie bent ler head again. 

'You are wounding all my tenderest feelings,' he 
went on. ' Get out of my sight until you are ready to 
obey me. Go to your room and stay there until I give 
you leave to come out of it. Nanon will bring you 
bread and water. Do you hear what I say ? Go ! ' 

Eugenie burst into tears, and fled away to her mother. 
Grandet took several turns in his garden without heeding 
the snow or the cold ; then, suspecting that his 
daughter would be in his wife's room, and delighted with 
the idea of catching them in flagrant disobedience to 
orders, he climbed the stairs as stealthily as a cat, and 
suddenly appeared in Mme. Grandet's room. He was 
right ; she was stroking Eugenie's hair, and the girl lay 
with her face hidden in her mother's breast. 

' Poor child ! Never mind, your father will relent.' 

' She has no longer a father ! ' said the cooper. ' Is it 
really possible, Mme. Grandet, that we have brought such 
a disobedient daughter into the world ? A pretty 
bringing up ; and pious, too, above all things ! Well ! 
how is it you are not in your room ? Come, off to prison 
with you; to prison, miss.' 

' Do you mean to take my daughter away from me, 
sir ? * said Mme. Grandet, as she raised a flushed face 
and bright, feverish eyes. 

'If you want to keep her, take her along with you, 
and the house will be rid of you both at once. . . . 
Tonnerre ! Where is the gold ? What has become of 
the gold ? ' 

Eugenie rose to her feet, looked proudly at her father, 
and went into her room j the good man turned the key 
in the door. 

' Nanon ! ' he shouted, ' you can rake out the fire in 
the parlour ^ then he came back and sat down in an 

Eugenic Grandet 175 

easy-chair that stood between the fire and his wife's bed- 
side, saying as he did so, ' Of course she gave her gold to 
that miserable seducer Charles, who only cared for our 

Mme. Grandet's love for her daughter gave her 
courage in the face of this danger ; to all appearance she 
was deaf, dumb, and blind to all that was implied by this 
speech. She turned on her bed so as to avoid the angry 
glitter of her husband's eyes. 

' I knew nothing about all this,' she said. * Your 
anger makes me so ill, that if my forebodings come 
true I shall only leave this room when they carry me 
out feet foremost. I think you might have spared me 
this scene, sir. I, at all events, have never caused you 
any vexation. Your daughter loves you, and I am sure 
she is as innocent as a new-born babe ; so do not make 
her miserable, and take back your word. This cold is 
terribly sharp ; it might make her seriously ill.* 

' I shall neither see her nor speak to her. She shall 
stop in her room on bread and water until she has done 
as her father bids her. What the devil ! the head of a 
family ought to know when gold goes out of his house, 
and where it goes. She had the only rupees that there are 
in France, for aught I know ; then there were genovines 
besides, and Dutch ducats-" ' 

' Eugenie is our only child, and even if she had flung 
them into the water ' 

' Into the water ! ' shouted the worthy cooper. * Into the 
water ! Mme. Grandet, you are raving ! When I say 
a thing I mean it, as you know. If you want to have 
peace in the house, get her to confess to you, and worm 
this secret out of her. Women understand each other, 
and are cleverer at this sort of thing than we are. 
Whatever she may have done, I certainly shall not eat 
her. Is she afraid of me ? If she had covered her cousin 
with gold from head to foot, he is safe on the high seas 
by this time, hein ? We cannot run after him ' 

176 Eugenie Grandet 

'Really, sir . . .' his wife began. 

But Mme. Grandet's nature had developed during hei 
daughter's trouble ; she felt more keenly, and perhaps 
her thoughts moved more quickly, or it may be that 
excitement and the strain upon her over-wrought nerves 
had sharpened her mental faculties. She saw the wen on 
her husband's face twitch ominously even as she began 
to speak, and changed her purpose without changing her 

* Really, sir, have I any more authority over her than 
you have ? She has never said a word about it to me. 
She takes after you.' 

' Goodness ! your tongue is hung in the middle this 
morning ! Tut, tut, tut ; you are going to fly in my 
face, I suppose ? Perhaps you and she are both in it.' 

He glared at his wife. 

' Really, M. Grandet, if you want to kill me, you have 
only to keep on as you are doing. I tell you, sir, and ii 
it were to cost me my life, I would say it again — you are 
too hard on your daughter ; she is a great deal more 
sensible than you are. The money belonged to her ; she 
could only have made a good use of it, and our good 
works ought to be known to God alone. Sir, I implore 
you, take Eugenie back into favour. It will lessen the 
effect of the shock your anger gave me, and perhaps will 
save my life. My daughter, sir ; give me back my 
daughter ! ' 

* I am off,' he said. ' It is unbearable here in my 
house, when a mother and daughter talk and argue as 
if . . , Brooouh ! Pouah ! You have given me bitter | 
New Year's gifts, Eugenie!' he called. 'Yes, yes, cry ^ 
away ! You shall repent it, do you hear ? What is the 
good of taking the sacrament six times a quarter if you 
give your father's gold away on the sly to an idle rascal 
who will break your heart when you have nothing else 
left to give him ? You will find out what he is, that 
Charles of yours, with his morocco boots and his stand-off 

Eugenie Grandct 177 

airs. He can have no heart and no conscience either, 
when he dares to carry ofF a poor girl's money without 
the consent of her parents.' 

As soon as the street-door was shut, Eugenie stole out 
of her room and came to her mother's bedside. 

' You were very brave for your daughter's sake,' she said. 

* You see where crooked ways lead us, child ! . . , 
You have made me tell a lie.' 

' Oh ! mother, 1 will pray to God to let all the punish- 
ment fall on me.' 

' Is it true ? ' asked Nanon, coming upstairs in dismay, 
' that mademoiselle here is to be put on bread and water 
for the rest of her life ? ' 

' What does it matter, Nanon ?' asked Eugenie calmly. 

* Why, before I would eat " kitchen " while the 
daughter of the house is eating dry bread, I would . , . 
no, no, it won't do.' 

' Don't say a word about it, Nanon,' Eugenie warned 

' It would stick in my throat ; but you shall see.' 

Grandet dined alone, for the first time in twenty-four 

' So you are a widower, sir,' said Nanon. ' It is a very 
dismal thing to be a widower when you have a wife and 
daughter in the house.' 

' I did not speak to you, did I ? Keep a still tongue 
in your head, or you will have to go. What have you in 
that saucepan that I can hear boiling away on the stove ? ' 

' Some dripping that I am melting down ' 

* There will be some people here this evening j light 
the fire.' 

The Cruchots and their friends, Mme. des Grassins 
and her son, all came in about eight o'clock, and to their 
amazement saw neither Mme. Grandet nor her daughter. 

' My wife is not very well to-day, and Eugenie is up- 
stairs with her,' replied the old cooper, without a trace of 
perturbation on his face. 


178 Eugenie Grande t 

After an hour spent, in more or less trivial talk, Mme 
des Grassins, who had gone upstairs to see Mme. Grandet, 
came down again to the dining-room, and was met with 
a general inquiry of ' How is Mme. Grandet ? * 

' She is very far from well,* the lady said gravely. 
' Her health seems to me to be in a very precarious state. 
At her time of life you ought to take great care of her, 
papa Grandet.' 

' We shall see,* said the vinegrower abstractedly, and 
the whole party took leave of him. As soon as the 
Cruchots were out in the street and the door was shut 
behind them, Mme. des Grassins turned to them and 
said, ' Something has happened among the Grandets. 
The mother is very ill ; she herself has no idea how ill 
she is, and the girl's eyes are red, as if she had been crying 
for a long while. Are they wanting to marry her against 
her will?' 

That night, when the cooper had gone to bed, Nanon, 
in list slippers, stole up to Eugenie's room, and displayed 
a raised pie, which she had managed to bake in a saucepan. 

* Here, mademoiselle,' said the kind soul, ' Cornoiller 
brought a hare for me. You eat so little that the pie 
will last you for quite a week, and there is no fear of 
its spoiling in this frost. You shall not live on dry bread, 
at any rate j it is not at all good for you.' 

' Poor Nanon ! ' said Eugenie, as she pressed the girl's 

' I have made it very dainty and nice, and he never 
found out about it. I paid for the lard and the bay-leaves 
out of my six francs ; I can surely do as I like with my 
own money,' and the old servant fled, thinking that she 
heard Grandet stirring. 

Several months went by. The cooper went to see his 
wife at various times in the day, and never mentioned his 
daughter's name — never saw her, nor made the slightest 
allusion to her. Mme. Grandet's health srew worse and 

Eugenie Grandet 179 

worse; she had not once left her room since that terrible 
January morning. But nothing shook the old cooper's 
determination ; he was hard, cold, and unyielding as a 
block of granite. He came and went, his manner of life 
was in nowise altered ; but he did not stammer now, and 
he talked less ; perhaps, too, in matters of business, people 
found him harder than before, but errors crept into his 

Something had certainly happened in the Grandet 
family, both Cruchotins and Grassinistes were agreed on 
that head ; and ' What can be the matter with the 
Grandets ? * became a stock question which people asked 
each other at every social gathering in Saumur. 

Eugenie went regularly to church, escorted by Nanon. 
If Mme. des Grassins spoke to her in the porch as she 
came out, the girl would answer evasively, and the lady''s 
curiosity remained ungratified. But after two months 
spent in this fashion it was almost impossible to hide 
the real state of affairs from Mme. des Grassins or from 
the Cruchots ; a time came when all pretexts were 
exhausted, and Eugenie's constant absence still demanded 
an explanation. A little later, though no one could say 
how or when the secret leaked out, it became common 
property, and the whole town knew that ever since New 
Year's Day Mile. Grandet had been locked up in her 
room by her father's orders, and that there she lived on 
bread and water in solitary confinement, and without a 
fire. Nanon, it was reported, cooked dainties for her, and 
brought food secretly to her room at night. Further 
particulars were known. It was even said that only 
w!ien Grandet was out of the house could the young 
girl nurse her mother, or indeed see her at all. 

People blamed Grandet severely. He was regarded as 
an outlaw, as it were, by the whole town ; all his hard- 
ness, his bad faith was remembered against him, and 
every one shunned him. They whispered and pointed 
at him as he went by ; and as his daughter passed along 

i8o Eugenie Grandet 

the crooked street on her way to mass or to vespers, with 
Nanon at her side, people would hurry to their windows 
and look curiously at the wealthy heiress's face — a face so 
sad and so divinely sweet. 

The town gossip reached her ears as slowly as it 
reached her father's. Her imprisonment and her father's 
displeasure was as nothing to her ; had she not her map 
of the world ? And from her window could she not see 
the little bench, the old wall, and the garden walks ? 
Was not the sweetness of those past kisses still upon her 
lips ? So, sustained by love and by the consciousness of 
her innocence in the sight of God, she could patiently 
endure her solitary life and her father's anger ; but there 
was another sorrow, so deep and so overwhelming that 
Eugenie could not find a refuge from it. The gentle, 
patient mother was gradually passing away ; it seemed as 
if the beauty of her soul shone out more and more 
brightly in those dark days as she drew nearer to the 
tomb. Eugenie often bitterly blamed herself for this 
illness, telling herself that she had been the innocent 
cause of the painful malady that was slowly consuming 
her mother's life ; and, in spite of all her mother said to 
comfort her, this remorseful feeling made her cHng more 
closely to the love she was to lose so soon. Every 
morning, as soon as her father had left the house, she 
went to sit at her mother's bedside. Nanon used to 
bring her breakfast to her there. But for poor Eugenie 
in her sadness, this suff^ering was almost more than she 
could bear j she looked at her mother's face, and then at 
Nanon, with tears in her eyes, and was dumb ^ she 
did not dare to speak of her cousin now. It was always 
Mme. Grandet who began to talk of him ; it was she 
who was forced to say, ' Where is he ? Why does he 
not write ? ' 

Neither mother nor daughter had any idea of the 

* Let us think of him without talking about him, 

Eugenie Grandet i8i 

mother,' Eugenie would answer. ' You are suffering ; 
you come before every one ; ' and when she said, ' every 
one,' Eugenie meant ' him.'' 

' I have no wish to live any longer, children,* Mme. 
Grandet used to say. ' God in His protecting care has 
led me to look forward joyfully to death as the end of 
my sorrows.' 

Everything that she said was full of Christian piety. 
For the first few months of the year her husband break- 
fasted in her room, and always, as he walked restlessly 
about, he heard the same words from her, uttered with 
angelic gentleness, but with firmness ; the near approach 
of death had given her the courage which she had lacked 
all her life. 

' Thank you, sir, for the interest which you take 
in my health,' she said in response to the merest formality 
of an inquiry j ' but if you really wish to sweeten the 
bitterness of my last moments, and to alleviate my 
sufferings, forgive our daughter, and act like a Christian, 
a husband, and father.' 

At these words Grandet would come and sit down by 
the bed, much as a man who is threatened by a shower 
betakes himself resignedly to the nearest sheltering arch- 
way. He would say nothing, and his wife might say 
what she liked. To the most pathetic, loving, and 
fervent prayers, he would reply, ' My poor wife, you are 
looking a bit pale to-day.' 

His daughter seemed to have passed entirely out of his 
mind ; the mention of her name brought no change over 
his stony face and hard-set mouth. He always gave the 
same vague answers to her pleadings, couched in almost 
the same words, and did not heed his wife's white face, 
nor the tears that flowed down her cheeks. 

' May God forgive you, as I do, sir,' she said. ' You 
will have need of mercy some day.' 

Since his wife's illness had began he had not ventured 
to make use of his formidable ' Tut, tut, tut,' but his 


1 82 Eugenie Grandct 

tyranny was not relaxed one whit by his wife's angelic 

Her plain face was growing almost beautiful now as a 
beautiful nature showed itself more and more, and her 
soul grew absolute. It seemed as if the spirit of prayer 
had purified and refined the homely features — as if they 
were lit up by some inner light. Which of us has not 
known such faces as this, and seen their final trans- 
figuration—the triumph of a soul that has dwelt for so 
long among pure and lofty thoughts that they set their 
seal unmistakably upon the roughest lineaments at last ? 
The sight of this transformation wrought by the physical 
suffering which stripped the soul of the rags of humanity 
that hid it, had a certain eff*ect, however feeble, upon that 
man of bronze — the old cooper. A stubborn habit of 
silence had succeeded to his old contemptuous ways, a 
wish to keep up his dignity as a father of a family was 
apparently the motive for this course. 

The faithful Nanon no sooner showed herself in the 
market place than people began to rail at her master and 
to make jokes at his expense ; but however loudly public 
opinion condemned old Grandet, the maid-servant, 
jealous for the honour of the family, stoutly defended 

' Well, now,' she would say to those who spoke ill of 
her master, ' don't we all grow harder as we grow older ? 
And would you have him different from other people ? 
Just hold your lying tongues. Mademoiselle lives like a 
queen. She is all by herself no doubt, but she likes it ; 
and my master and mistress have their very good reasons 
for what they do.' 

At last, one evening towards the end of spring, Mme. 
Grandet, feeling that this trouble, even more than her 
illness, was shortening her days, and that any further 
attempt on her part to obtain forgiveness for Eugenie 
was hopeless, confided her troubles to the Cruchots. 

' To put a girl of twenty-three on a diet of bread and 

Eugenie Grandet 183 

water ! . . , * cried the President de Bonfons, * and 
without just and sufficient cause ! Why, that con- 
stitutes legal cruelty ; she might lodge a complaint ; in 
as much as ' 

' Come, nephew,' said the notary, ' that is enough of 
your law court jargon. Be easy, madame ; I will bring 
this imprisonment to an end to-morrow.' 

Eugenie heard, and came out of her room. 

' Gentlemen,' she said, impelled by a certain pride, 
* do nothing in this matter, I beg of you. My father is 
master in his own house, and so long as I live under his 
roof I ought to obey him. No one has any right to 
criticise his conduct ; he is answerable to God, and to 
God alone. If you have any friendly feeling for me, I 
entreat you to say nothing whatever about this. If you 
expose my father to censure, you would lower us all in 
the eyes o( the world. I am very thankful to you, 
gentlemen, for the interest you have taken in me, and 
you will oblige me still further if you will put a stop to 
the gossip that is going on in the town. 1 only heard 
of it by accident.' 

' She is right,' said Mme. Grandet. 

' Mademoiselle, the best possible way to stop people's 
talk would be to set you at liberty,' said the old notary 
respectfully ; he was struck with the beauty which 
solitude and love and sadness had brought into Eugenie's 

'Well, Eugenie, leave it in M. Cruchot's hands, as 
he seems to think success is certain. He knows 
your father, and he knows, too, how to put the matter 
before him. You and your father must be reconciled at 
all costs, if you want me to be happy during the little 
time I have yet to live.' 

The next morning Grandet went out to take a certain 
number of turns round the little garden, a habit that he 
had fallen into during Eugenie's incarceration. He chose 
to take the air while Eugenie was dressing ; and when he 

184 Eugenie Grandct 

had reached the great walnut tree, he stood behind it 
for a few moments and looked at her window. He 
watched her as she brushed her long hair, and there was 
a sharp struggle doubtless, between his natural stubborn 
will and a longing to take his daughter in his arms and 
kiss her. 

He would often go to sit on the little worm-eaten bench 
where Charles and Eugenie had vowed to love each 
other for ever ; and she, his daughter, also watched her 
father furtively, or looked into her glass and saw him 
reflected there, and the garden and the bench. If he 
rose and began to walk again, she went to sit in the 
window. It was pleasant to her to be there. She 
studied the bit of old wall, the delicate sprays of wild 
flowers that grew in its crevices, the maidenhair fern, 
the morning glories, and a little plant with thick leaves 
and white or yellow flowers, a sort of stone-crop that 
grows everywhere among the vines at Saumur and 

Old M. Cruchot came early on a bright June morning 
and found the vinegrower sitting on the little bench 
with his back against the wall, absorbed in watching his 

' What can I do for you, M. Cruchot ? ' he asked, as 
he became aware of the notary's presence. 

' I have come about a matter of business.* 

' Aha ! Have you some gold to exchange for .crowns ? ' 

' No, no. It is not a question of money this time, 
but of your daughter Eugenie. Everybody is talking 
about you and her.' 

' What business is it of theirs ? A man's house is his 

' Just so ; and a man can kill himself if he has a mind, 
or he can do worse, he can throw his money out of the 


* Eh ! but your wife is very ill, my friend. You 

Eugenie Grandet 185 

ought even to call in M. Bergerin, her life is in danger. 
If she were to die for want of proper care, you would 
hear of it, I am sure.' 

'Tut, tut, tut ! you know what is the matter with 
her, and when once one of these doctors sets foot in 
your house, they will come five or six times a day.* 

'After all, Grandet, you will do as you think best. 
We are old friends ; there is no one in all Saumur who 
has your interests more at heart than I, so it was only my 
duty to let you know this. Whatever happens, you are 
responsible, and you understand your own business, so 
there it is. Besides, that was not what I came to speak 
about. There is something else more serious for you, 
perhaps ; for, after all, you do not wish to kill your wife, 
she is too useful to you. Just think what your position 
would be if anything happened to Mme. Grandet ; you 
would have your daughter to face. You would have to 
give an account to Eugenie of her mother's share of your 
joint estate ; and if she chose, your daughter might demand 
her mother's fortune, for she, and not you, will succeed 
to it ; and in that case, you might have to sell Froid- 

Cruchot's words were like a bolt from the blue ; for 
much as the worthy cooper knew about business, he 
knew very little law. The idea of a forced sale had 
never occurred to him. 

' So I should strongly recommend you to treat her 
kindly,' the notary concluded. 

' But do you know what she has done, Cruchot ? ' 

' No. What was it ? ' asked the notary j he felt curious 
to know the reason of the quarrel, and a confidence from 
old Grandet was an interesting novelty. 

' She has given away her gold.' 

' Oh ! well, it belonged to her, didn't it ? ' 

' That is what they all say ! ' said the goodman, letting 
his arms fall with a tragic gesture. 

* And for a trifle like that you would shut yourself out 

1 86 Eugenie Grandet 

from all hope of any concessions which you will want her 
to make if her mother dies ? ' 

' Ah ! do you call six thousand francs in gold a 
trifle ? ' 

' Eh ! my old friend, have you any idea what it will 
cost you to have your property valued and divided if 
Eugenie should compel you to do so ? ' 

*■ What would it cost ? ' 

*Two, three, or even four thousand francs. How 
could you know what it is worth unless you put it up to 
public auction ? While if you come to an under- 
standing ' 

* By my father's pruning hook ! * cried the vinegrower, 
sinking back, and turning quite pale. ' We will see 
about this, Cruchot.' 

After a moment of agony or of dumb bewilderment, 
the worthy man spoke, with his eyes fixed on his neigh- 
bour's face. ' Life is very hard ! ' he said. * It is full of 
troubles. Cruchot,' he went on, earnestly, 'you are 
incapable of deceiving me ; give me your word of 
honour that this ditty of yours has a solid foundation. 
Let me look at the Code j I want to see the Code ! ' 

' My poor friend,' said the notary, ' I ought to under- 
stand my own profession.' 

' Then it is really true ? I shall be plundered, cheated, 
robbed, and murdered by my own daughter I ' 

' She is her mother's heiress.' 

' Then what is the good of having children ? Oh ! 
my wife, I love my wife ; luckily she has a sound con- 
stitution ; she is a La Bertelliere.' 

' She has not a month to live.* 

The cooper struck his forehead, took a few paces, and 
then came back again. 

' What is to be done ? ' he demanded of Cruchot, with 
a tragic expression on his face. 

'Well, perhaps Eugenie might simply give up her 
claims to her mother's property. You do not mean to 

Eugenic Grandet 187 

disinherit her, do you ? But do not treat her harshly if 
you want her to make a concession of that kind. I am 
speaking against my own interests, my friend. How do 
I make a living but by drawing up inventories and convey- 
ances and deeds of arrangement and by winding up 
estates ? ' 

' We shall see, we shall see. Let us say no more 
about this now, Cruchot. You have wrung my very 
soul. Have you taken any gold lately ? ' 

' No J but I have some old louis, nine or ten perhaps, 
which you can have. Look here, my good friend, make 
it up with Eugenie; all Saumur is pointing a finger at you.' 

' The rogues ! * 

' Well, consols have risen to ninety-nine, so you should 
be satisfied for once in your life.' 

' At ninety-nine, Cruchot ? ' 

« Yes.' 

' Hey ! hey ! ninety-nine ! ' the old man said, as he 
went with the notary to the street door. He felt too 
much agitated by what he had just heard to stay 
quietly at home ; so he went up to his wife's room. 

' Come, mother, you may spend the day with your 
daughter, I am going to Froidfond. Be good, both of 
you, while I am away. This is our wedding day, dear 
wife. — Stay ! here are ten crowns for you, for the Fete- 
Dieu procession ; you have wanted to give it for long 
enough. Take a holiday ! have some fun, keep up your 
spirits and get well. Vive la joie I ' 

He threw down ten crov/ns of six francs each upon 
the bed, took her face in his hands, and kissed her on the 

' You are feeling better, dear wife, are you not ? ' 

' But how can you think of receiving God, who forgives, 
into your house, when you have shut your heart against 
your daughter ? ' she said, with deep feeling in her voice. 

' Tut, tut, tut ! ' said the father soothingly ; ' we will 
see about that.' 

1 88 Eugenie Grandet 

' Merciful heaven ! Eugenie ! ' called the mother, 
her face flushed with joy ; ' Eugenie, come and give your 
father a kiss, you are forgiven ! * But her worthy father 
had vanished. He fled with all his might in the direction 
of his vineyards, where he set himself to the task of con- 
structing his new world out of this chaos of strange 

Grandet had just entered upon his sixty-seventh year. 
Avarice had gained a stronger hold upon him during the 
past two years of his life ; indeed, all lasting passions 
grow with man's growth ; and it had come to pass with 
him, as with all men whose lives are ruled by one master- 
i idea, that he clung with all the force of his imagination 
\ to the symbol which represented that idea for him. 
; Gold — to have gold, that he might see and touch it, had 
become with him a perfect monomania. His disposition 
to tyrannise had also grown with his love of money, and 
it seemed to him to be moristrous that he should be called 
upon to give up the least portion of his property on the 
death of his wife. Was he to render an account of 
her fortune, and to have an inventory drawn up of every- 
thing he possessed — personalty and real estate, and put 
it all up to auction ? 

* That would be stark ruin,' he said aloud to himself, 
as he stood among his vines and examined their stems. 

He made up his mind at last, and came back to 
Saumur at dinner time fully determined on his course. 
He would humour Eugenie, and coax and cajole her so 
that he might die royally, keeping the control of his 
millions in his hands until his latest sigh. It happened 
that he let himself in with his master key ; he crept 
noiselessly as a wolf up the stairs to his wife's room, 
which he entered just as Eugenie was setting the dress- 
ing-case, in all its golden glory, upon her mother's bed. 
The two women had stolen a pleasure in Grandet's 
absence ; they were looking at the portraits and tracing 
out Charles's features in his mother's likeness. 

Eugenic Grandet 189 

* It is just his forehead and his mouth ! * Eugenie was 
saying, as the vinegrower opened the door. 

Mme. Grandet saw how her husband's eyes darted 
upon the gold. ' Oh ! God have pity upon us ! ' she 

The vinegrower seized upon the dressing-case as a 
tiger might spring upon a sleeping child. 

' What may this be ? * he said, carrying off the 
treasure to the window, where he ensconced himself 
with it. 'Gold! solid gold!' he cried, 'and plenty 
of it too ; there is a couple of pounds' weight here. Aha I 
so this was what Charles gave you in exchange for your 
pretty gold pieces ! Why did you not tell me ? It was 
a good stroke of business, little girl. You are your 
father's own daughter, I see. (Eugenie trembled from 
head to foot.) This belongs to Charles, doesn't it ? ' 
the good man went on. 

' Yes, father j it is not mine. That case is a sacred 

' Tut, tut, tut ! he has gone off with your money ; 
you ought to make good the loss of your little treasure.' 

' Oh ! father ! . . .' 

The old man had taken out his pocket-knife, with a 
view to wrenching away a plate of the precious metal, 
and for the moment had been obliged to lay the case on 
a chair beside him. Eugenie sprang forward to secure 
her treasure j but the cooper, who had kept an eye upon 
his daughter as well as upon the casket, put out his arm 
to prevent this, and thrust her back so roughly that she 
fell on to the bed. 

'Sir ! sir ! ' cried the mother, rising and sitting upright. 

Grandet had drawn out his knife, and was about to 
i insert the blade beneath the plate. 

' Father ! ' cried Eugenie, going down on her knees 
and dragging herself nearer to him as she knelt ; ' father, 
in the name of all the saints, and the Holy Virgin, for 
the sake of Christ who died on the cross, for your own 

190 Eugenie Grandet 

soul's salvation, father, if you have any regard for my life, 
do not touch it ! The case is not yours, and it is not 
mine. It belongs to an unhappy kinsman, who gave it 
into my keeping, and I ought to give it back to him 

* What do you look at it for if it is a deposit ? Look- 
ing at it is worse than touching it.* 

' Do not pull it to pieces, father ! You will bring dis- 
honour upon me. Father ! do you hear me ? ' 
' For pity's sake, sir ! ' intreated the mother. 

* Father!' 

The shrill cry rang through the house and brought 
the frightened Nanon upstairs. Eugenie caught up a 
knife that lay within her reach. 

' Well ? ' said Grandet, calmly, with a cold smile on 
his lips. 

*Sir ! you are killing me ! ' said the mother. 

* Father, if you cut away a single scrap of gold, I shall 
stab myself with this knife. It is your doing that my 
mother is dying, and now my death will also be laid at 
your door. It shall be wound for wound.' 

Grandet held his knife suspended above the case, looked 
at his daughter, and hesitated. 

* Would you really do it, Eugenie ? * he asked. 

* Yes, sir ! ' said the mother. 

'She would do as she says,' cried Nanon. 'Do be 
sensible, sir, for once in your life.' 

The cooper wavered for a moment, looking first at the 
gold, and then at his daughter. 

Mme. Grandet fainted. 

' There ! sir, you see, the mistress is dying,' cried 

< There ! there ! child, do not let us fall out about a 
box. Just take it back ! ' cried the cooper hastily, throw- 
ing the case on to the bed. 'And, Nanon, go for 
M. Bergerin. Come ! come ! mother,' he said, and he 
kissed his wife's hand -, ' never mind, there ! there ! we 

Eugenie Grandet 191 

have made it up, haven't we, little girl ? No more dry 
bread ; you shall eat whatever you like . . . Ah ! she is 
opening her eyes. Well, now, little mother, dear little 
mother, don't take on so ! Look ! I am going to kiss 
Eugenie ! She loves her cousin, does she ? She shall 
marry him if she likes ; she shall keep his little case for 
him. But you must live for a long while yet, my poor 
wife ! Come ! turn your head a little. Listen ! you 
shall have the finest altar at the Fete-Dieu that has ever 
been seen in Saumur,' 

' Oh ! mon Dieu ! how can you treat your wife and 
daughter in this way ! ' moaned Mme. Grandet. 

' I will never do so again, never again I ' cried the 
cooper. ' You shall see, my poor wife.' 

He went to his strong room and returned with a hand- 
ful of louis d'or, which he scattered on the coverlet. 

'There ! Eugenie, there ! wife, those are for you,' he 
said, fingering the gold coins as they lay. 'Come! 
cheer up, and get well, you shall want for nothing, 
neither you nor Eugenie. There are a hundred louis for 
her. You will not give them away, will you, eh, 
Eugenie ? ' 

Mme. Grandet and her daughter gazed at each other 
in amazement. 

'Take back the money, father; we want nothing, 
nothing but your love.' 

' Oh ! well, just as you like,' he said, as he pocketed 
the louis, 'let us live together like good friends. Let us 
all go down to the dining-room and have dinner, 
and play loto every evening, and put our two sous 
into the pool, and be as merry as the maids. Eh ! my 

' Alas ! how I wish that I could, if you would like it,* 
said the dying woman, ' but I am not strong enough to 
get up.' 

' Poor mother ! ' said the cooper, ' you do not know 
how much I love you ; and you too, child ! ' 

192 Eugenie Grandet 

He drew his daughter to him and embraced her with 

' Oh ! how pleasant it is to kiss one's daughter after 
a squabble, my little girl ! There ! mother, do you 
see ? We are quite at one again now. Just go and 
lock that away,' he said to Eugenie, as he pointed to 
the case. ' There ! there ! don't be frightened ; I will 
never say another word to you about it.' 

M. Bergerin, who was regarded as the cleverest doctor 
in Saumur, came before very long. He told Grandet 
plainly after the interview that the patient was very 
seriously ill ; that any excitement might be fatal to her ; 
that with a light diet, perfect tranquillity, and the most 
constant care, her life might possibly be prolonged until 
the end of the autumn. 

' Will it be an expensive illness ? ' asked the worthy 
householder. 'Will she want a lot of physic ? ' 

' Not much physic, but very careful nursing,' answered 
the doctor, who could not help smiling. 

'After all, M. Bergerin, you are a man of honour,' 
said Grandet uneasily. ' I can depend upon you, can I 
not ? Come and see my wife whenever, and as often as 
you think it really necessary. Preserve her life. My 
good wife — I am very fond of her, you see, though I 
may not show it ; it is all shut up inside me, and I 
am one that takes things terribly to heart ; I am in 
trouble too. It all began with my brother's death j I am 
spending, oh ! — heaps of money in Paris for him, — the 
very eyes out of my head in fact, and it seems as if there 
were no end to it. Good day, sir. If you can save my 
wife, save her, even if it takes a hundred, or two hundred 

In spite of Grandet's fervent wishes that his wife 
might be restored to health, for this question of the 
inheritance was like a foretaste of death for him ; in 
spite of his readiness to fulfil the least wishes of the 
astonished mother and daughter in every possible way; 

Eugenie Grandet 193 

in spite of Eugenie's tenderest and most devoted care, 
it was evident that Mme. Grandet's life was rapidly 
drawing to a close. Day by day she grew weaker, and, 
as often happens at her time of life, she had no strength 
to resist the disease that was wasting her away. She 
seemed to have no more vitality than the autumn leaves ; 
and as the sunlight shining through the leaves turns 
them to gold, so she seemed to be transformed by the 
light of heaven. Her death was a fitting close to her 
life, a death wholly Christian ; is not that saying that it 
was sublime ? Her love for her daughter, her meek 
virtues, her angelic patience, had never shone more 
brightly than in that month of October 1822, when she 
passed away. All through her illness she had never 
uttered the slightest complaint, and her spotless soul left 
earth for heaven with but one regret — for the daughter 
whose sweet companionship had been the solace of her 
dreary life, and for whom her dying eyes foresaw troubles 
and sorrows manifold. She trembled at the thought of 
this lamb, spotless as she herself was, left alone in the 
world among selfish beings who sought to despoil her of 
her fleece, her treasure. \ j- . 

'There is no happiness save in heaven,' she said just \ y 
before she died j 'you will know that one day, my Ws 


On the morrow after her mother's death, it seemed to 
Eugenie that she had yet one more reason for clinging 

' fondly to the old house where she had been born, and 
where she had found Hfe so hard of late — it became for 
her the place where her mother had died. She could 

I not see the old chair set on little blocks of wood, the 

[ place by the window where her mother used to sit, with- 
out shedding tears. Her father showed her such tender- 
ness, and took such care of her, that she began to think 
that she had never understood his nature ; he used to 
come to her room and take her down to breakfast on his 

; arm, and sit looking at her for whole hours with some- 


194 Eugenie Grandet 

thing almost like kindness in his eyes, with the same 
brooding look that he gave his gold. Indeed, the old 
cooper almost trembled before his daughter, and was I 
altogether so unlike himself, that Nanon and the 
Cruchotins wondered at these signs of weakness, and set 
it down to his advanced age ; they began to fear that 
the old man's mind was giving way. But when the 
day came on which the family began to wear their 
mourning, M. Cruchot, who alone was in his client's 
confidence, was invited to dinner, and these mysteries 
were explained. Grandet waited till the table had been 
cleared, and the doors carefully shut. 

Then he began. 'My dear child, you are your 
mother's heiress, and there are some little matters of 
business that we must settle between us. Is not that 
so, eh, Cruchot .? ' 

' Yes.' 

* Is it really pressing ; must it be settled to-day, 
father ? ' 

' Yes, yes, little girl. I could not endure this sus- 
pense any longer, and I am sure that you would not 
make things hard for me.' 

' Oh ! father ' 

' Well, then, everything must be decided to-night.* 

* Then what do you want me to do ? ' 
' Why, little girl, it is not for me to tell you. You 

tell her, Cruchot.' -l 

' Mademoiselle, your father wants neither to divide 
nor to sell his property, nor to pay a heavy succession 
duty upon the ready money he may happen to have 
just now. So if these complications are to be avoided, 
there must be no inventory made out, and all the 

property must remain undivided for the present ' 

' Cruchot, are you quite sure of what you are saying 
that you talk in this way before a child ? ' 
' Let me say what I have to say, Grandet.' 
' Yes, yes, my friend. Neither you nor my daughter 

Eugenie Grandet 195 

would plunder me. You would not plunder me, would 
you, little girl? 

' But what am I to do, M. Cruchot ? * asked Eugenie, 
losing patience. 

' Well,' said the notary, ' you must sign this deed, by 
which you renounce your claims to vour mother's 
property ; the property would be secured to you, but 
your father would have the use of it for his life, and there 
would be no need to make a division now.' 

' I understand nothing of all this that you are saying,' 
Eugenie answered j ' give me the deed, and show me 
I where I am to sign my name.' 

I Grandet looked from the document to his daughter, 
' and again from his daughter to the document. His 
agitation was so great that he actually wiped several 
drops of perspiration from his forehead. 

' I would much rather you simply waived all claim to 
your poor dear mother's property, little girl,' he broke 
in, 'instead of signing that deed. It will cost a lot to 
register it. I would rather you renounced your claims 
and trusted to me for the future. I would allow you a 
good round sum, say a hundred francs every month. 
You could pay for masses then, you see j you could have 
masses said for any one that , • . Eh ? A hundred francs 
(in livres) every month ? ' 

'I will do just as you like, father.' 

' Mademoiselle,' said the notary, ' it is my duty to point out 
to you that youarerobbingyourself withoutguarantee ' 

' Eh ! mon Dieu ! ' she answered. ' What does that 
matter to me ? ' 

' Do be quiet, Cruchot. So it is settled, quite settled ! ' 
cried Grandet, taking his daughter's hand and striking his 
own into it. 'You will not go back from your word, 
Eugenie ? You are a good girl, hein ! * 

'Oh! father ' 

In his joy he embraced his daughter, almost* suffocating 
her as he did so. 

154 Eugenie Grandet 

for Charles's love had received a moment's consecration 
in the presence of Eugenie's simple sincerity. 

It was a melancholy group round the breakfast-table 
next morning. Even Nanon herself, in spite of Charles's 
gift of a new^ gov^^n and a gilt cross, had a tear in her 
eye ; but she was free to express her feelings, and did so. 

^ Oh ! that poor, delicate young gentleman who is 
going to sea,' was the burden of her discourse. 

At half-past ten the whole family left the house to see 
Charles start for Nantes in the diligence. Nanon had 
let the dog loose, and locked the door, and meant to 
carry Charles's handbag. Every shopkeeper in the ancient 
street was in the doorway to watch the little procession 
pass. M. Cruchot joined them in the market-place. 

' Eugenie,' whispered her mother, ' mind you do not 
cry ! ' 

They reached the gateway of the inn, and there 
Grandet kissed Charles on both cheeks. ' Well ! 
nephew,' he said, ' set out poor and come back rich ; you 
leave your father's honour in safe keeping. I — Grandet — 
will answer to you for that ; you will only have to do 
your part ' 

' Oh ! uncle, this sweetens the bitterness of parting. 
Is not this the greatest gift you could possibly give me ? ' 

Charles had broken in upon the old cooper's remarks 
before he quite understood their drift ; he put his arms 
round his uncle's neck, and let fall tears of gratitude on 
the vinegrower's sunburned cheeks ; Eugenie clasped her 
cousin's hand in one of hers, and her father's in the other, 
and held them tightly. Only the notary smiled to 
himself; he alone understood the worthy man, and he 
could not help admiring his astute cunning.- The four 
Saumurois and a little group of onlookers hung about the 
diligence till the last moment ; and looked after it until 
it disappeared across the bridge, and the sound of the 
wheels grew faint and distant. 

* A good riddance ! ' said the cooper. 


Eugenie Grandct 155 

Luckily, no one but M. Cruchot heard this ejaculation ; 
Eugenie and her mother had walked along the quay to a 
point of view whence they could still see the diligence, 
and stood there waving their handkerchiefs and watching 
Charles's answering signal till he was out of sight j then 
Eugenie turned. 

'Oh ! mother, mother, if I had God's power for one 
moment,' she said. 

To save further interruption to the course of the story, 
it is necessary to glance a little ahead, and give a brief 
account of the course of events in Paris, of Grandet's 
calculations, and the action taken by his worthy lieutenant 
the banker in the matter of Guillaume Grandet's affairs. 
A month after des Grassins had gone, Grandet received a 
certificate for a hundred thousand livres per annum of 
rentes J purchased at eighty francs. No information was ever 
forthcoming as to how and when the actual coin had been 
paid, or the receipt taken, which in due course had been 
exchanged for the certificate. The inventory and state- 
ment of his affairs which the miser left at his death threw 
no light upon the mystery, and Cruchot fancied that in some 
way or other Nanon must have been the unconscious 
instrument employed ; for about that time the faithful 
serving-maid was away from home for four or five days, 
ostensibly to see after matters at Froidfond, as if its 
worthy owner were likely to forget anything there that 
required looking after ! As for Guillaume Grandet's 
creditors, everything had happened as the cooper had 
intended and foreseen. 

At the Bank of France (as everybody knows) they 
keep accurate lists of all the great fortunes in Paris or 
in the departments. The names of des Grassins and of 
Felix Grandet of Saumur were duly to be found inscribed 
therein 5 indeed, they shone conspicuous there as well- 
known names in the business world, as men who were 
not only financially sound, but owners of broad acres 
unencumbered by mortgages. And now it was said that 

196 Eugenie Grandct 

'There! child, you have given fresh life to your 
father ; but you are only giving him what he gave you, 
so we are quits. This is how business ought to be con- 
ducted, and life is a business transaction. Bless you f 
You are a good girl, and one that really loves her old 
father. You can do as you like now. Then good-bye 
till to-morrow, Cruchot,' he added, turning to the horrified 
notary. ' You will see that the deed of renunciation is 
properly drawn up for the clerk of the court.' 

By noon next day the declaration was drawn up, and 
Eugenie herself signed away all her rights to her heritage. 
Yet a year slipped by, and the cooper had not kept his 
promise, and Eugenie had not received a sou of the 
monthly income which was to have been hers ; when 
Eugenie spoke to him about it, half laughingly, he could 
not help blushing ; he hurried up to his room, and when 
he came down again he handed her about a third of the 
jewellery which he had purchased of his nephew. 

' There ! child,' he said, with a certain sarcastic ring in 
his voice ; ' will you take these for your twelve hundred 
francs ? ' 

' Oh ! father, really ? Will you really give them to 

' You shall have as much next year again,' said he, 
flinging it into her lap ; ' and so, before very long, you 
will have all his trinkets,' he added, rubbing his hands. 
He had made a very good bargain, thanks to his daughter's 
sentiment about the jewellery, and was in high good- 

Yet, although the old man was still hale and vigorous, 
he began to see that he must take his daughter into his 
confidence, and that she must learn to manage his con- 
cerns. So with this end in view he required her to be 
present while he gave out the daily stores, and for two 
years he made her receive the portion of the rent which 
was paid in kind. Gradually she came to know the 
names of the vineyards and farms j he took her with him 


Eugenie Grandet 197 

when he visited his tenants. By the end of the third 
year he considered the initiation was complete ; and, in 
truth, she had fallen into his ways unquestioningly, till 
it had become a matter of habit with her to do as her 
father had done before her. He had no further doubts, 
gave over the keys of the storeroom into her keeping, and 
installed her as mistress of the house. 

Five years went by in this way, and no event disturbed 
their monotonous existence. Eugenie and her father 
lived a life of methodical routine with the same regularity 
of movement that characterised the old clock; doing the-^V 
same things at the same hour day after day, year after ' 
year. Every one knew that there had been a profound 
sorrow in Mile. Grandet's life ; every circle in Saumur 
had its theories of this secret trouble, and its suspicions 
as to the state of the heiress's heart, but she never let 
fall a word that could enlighten any one on either 

She saw no one but the three Cruchots and a few of 
their friends, who had gradually been admitted as visitors 
to the house. Under their instruction she had mastered 
the game of whist, and they dropped in nearly every 
evening for a rubber. In the year 1827 her father began 
to feel the infirmities of age, and was obliged to take her 
still further into his confidence 3 she learned the full 
extent of his landed possessions, and was recommended 
in all cases of difficulty to refer to the notary Cruchot, 
whose integrity could be depended upon. Grandet had 
reached the age of eighty-two, and towards the end of 
the year had a paralytic seizure, from which he never 
rallied. M. Bergerin gave him up, and Eugenie realised 
that very shortly she would be quite alone in the world ; 
the thought drew her more closely to her father ; she 
clung to this last link of affection that bound her to 
another soul. Love was all the world for her, as it is 
for all women who love ; and Charles had gone out of >- 
her world. She nursed her father with sublime devotion ; 

^98 Eugenie Grandet 

the old man's intellect had grown feeble, but the greed 
of gold had become an instinct which survived his 

Grandet died as he had lived. Every morning during 
that slow death he had himself wheeled across his room 
to a place beside the fire, whence he could keep the door 
of his cabinet in view ; on the other side of the door, no 
doubt, lay his hoarded treasures of gold. He sat there, 
passive and motionless; but if any one entered the room, 
he would glance uneasily at the nevv-comer, and then at 
the door with its sheathing of iron plates. He would ask 
the meaning of every sound, however faint, and, to the 
notary's amazement, the old man heard the dog bark in 
the yard at the back of the house. He roused from this 
apparent stupor at the proper hour on the days for receiv- 
ing his rents and dues, for settling accounts with his 
vine-dressers, and giving receipts. Then he shifted his 
armchair round on its castors, until he faced the door of his 
cabinet, and his daughter was called upon to open it, and 
to put away the little bags of money in neat piles, one 
upon the other. He would watch her until it was all 
over and the door was locked again ; and as soon as she 
had returned the precious key to him, he would turn 
round noiselessly and take up his old position, putting 
the key in his waistcoat pocket, where he felt for it from 
time to time. 

His old friend the notary felt sure that it was only a 
question of time, and that Eugenie must of necessity 
marry his nephew the magistrate, unless, indeed, Charles 
Grandet returned ; so he redoubled his attentions. He 
came every day to take Grandet's instructions, went at 
his bidding to Froidfond, to farm and meadow and vine- 
yard ; sold vintages, and exchanged all moneys received 
for gold, which was secretly sent to join the piles of bags 
stored up in the cabinet. 

Then death came up close at last, and the vinegrower's 
strong frame wrestled with the Destroyer. Even in 


Eugenie Grandet 199 

those days he would sit as usual by the fire, facing the 
door of his cabinet. He used to drag ofF the blankets 
that they wrapped round him, and try to fold them, and 
say to Nanon, ' Lock that up ; lock that up, or they will 
rob me.' 

So long as he could open his eyes, where the last 
sparks of life seemed to linger, they used to turn at once 
to the door of the room where all his treasures lay, and 
he would say to his daughter, in tones that seemed to 
thrill with a panic of fear — 

' Are they there still ? ' -; 

' Yes, father.' 

' Keep watch over the gold ! . . . Let me see the 

Then Eugenie used to spread out the louis on a table 
before him, and he would sit for whole hours with his 
eyes fixed on the louis in an unseeing stare, like that of 
a child who begins to see for the first time ; and some- 
times a weak infantine smile, painful to see, would steal 
across his features. 

' That warms me ! ' he muttered more than once, and 
his face expressed a perfect content. 

When the cure came to administer the sacrament, all 
the life seemed to have died out of the miser's eyes, but 
they lit up for the first time for many hours at the sight 
of the silver crucifix, the candlesticks, and holy water 
vessel, all of silver ; he fixed his gaze on the precious 
metal, and the wen twitched for the last time. 

As the priest held the gilded crucifix above him that 
the image of Christ might be laid to his lips, he made a 
frightful effort to clutch it — a last effort which cost him 
his life. He called to Eugenie, who saw nothing; she 
was kneeling beside him, bathing in tears the hand that 
was growing cold already. 'Give me your blessing, 
father,' she entreated. ' Be very careful I ' the last words 
came from him ; ' one day you will render an account to j 
me of everything here below.' Which utterance clearly / 

200 Eugenie Grandct 

shows that a miser should adopt Christianity as his 

So Eugenie Grandet was alone in the world, and her 
house was left to her desolate. There was no one but 
Nanon with whom she could talk over her troubles ; she 
could look into no other eyes and find a response in 
them ; big Nanon was the only human being who loved 
her for herself. For Eugenie, Nanon was a providence j 
she was no longer a servant, she was a humble friend. 

M. Cruchot informed Eugenie that she had three 
hundred thousand livres a year, derived from landed 
property in and around Saumur, besides six millions in 
the three per cents, (invested when the funds were at 
sixty francs, whereas they now stood at seventy-seven), 
and in ready money two millions in gold, and a hundred 
thousand francs in silver, without counting any arrears 
that were due. Altogether her property amounted to 
about seventeen million francs. 

' Where can my cousin be ? ' she said to herself. 

On the day when M. Cruchot laid these facts before 
his new client, together with the information that the 
estate was now clear and free from all outstanding 
liabihties, Eugenie and Nanon sat on either side of the 
hearth, in the parlour, now so empty and so full of memories ; 
everything recalled past days, from her mother's chair set 
on its wooden blocks to the glass tumbler out of which 
her cousin once drank. 

' Nanon, we are alone, you and I.' 

'Yes, mam'selle^ if I only knew where he was, the 
charming young gentleman, 1 would set oft on foot to 
find him.* ** 

' The sea lies between us,' said Eugenie. 

While the poor lonely heiress, with her faithful old 
servant for company, was shedding tears in the cold, 
dark house, which was all the world she knew, men 

Eugenie Grandet 201 

talked from Orleans to Nantes of nothing but Mile. 
Grandet and her seventeen millions. One of her first 
acts was to settle a pension of twelve hundred francs on 
Nanon, who, possessing already an income of six hundred 
francs of her own, at once became a great match. In 
less than a month she exchanged her condition of spinster 
for that of wife, at the instance and through the persua- 
sion of Antoine Cornoiller, who was promoted to the 
position of bailiff and keeper to Mile. Grandet. Mme. 
Cornoiller had an immense advantage over her contem- 
poraries ; her large features had stood the test of time 
better than those of many a comelier woman. She might 
be fifty-nine years of age, but she did not look more than 
forty ; thanks to an almost monastic regimen, she 
possessed rude health and a high colour, time seemed to 
have no efi^ect on her, and perhaps she had never looked 
so well in her life as she did on her wedding day. She 
had the compensating qualities of her style of ugHness ; 
she was tall, stout, and strong ; her face wore an inde- 
structible expression of good humour, and Cornoiller*s 
lot seemed an enviable one to many beholders. 

' Fast colour,' said the draper. 

' She might have a family yet,' said the drysalter ; 
' she is as well preserved as if she had been kept in brine, 
asking your pardon.' 

' She is rich ; that fellow Cornoiller has done a good 
day's work,' said another neighbour. 

When Nanon left the old house and went down the 
crooked street on her way to the parish church, she met 
with nothing but congratulations and good wishes. Nanon 
ivas very popular with her neighbours. Eugenie gave 
her three dozen spoons and forks as a wedding present. 
Cornoiller, quite overcome with such munificence, spoke 
of his mistress with tears in his eyesj he would have let 
himself be cut in pieces for her. Mme. Cornoiller 
became Eugenie's confidential servant ; she was not only 
married, and had a husband of her own, her dignity was 


202 Eugenie Grandet 

yet further increased, her happiness was doubled. She 
had at last a storeroom and a bunch of keys ; she too 
gave out provisions just as her late master used to do. 
Then she had two subordinates — a cook and a waiting- 
woman, who took charge of the house linen and made 
Mile. Grandet's dresses. As for Cornoiller, he combined 
the functions of forester and steward. It is needless to 
say that the cook and waiting-woman of Nanon's 
choosing were real domestic treasures. The tenants 
scarcely noticed the death of their late landlord ; they were 
thoroughly broken in to a severe discipline, and M. and 
Mme. Cornoiller's reign was no whit less rigorous than 
that of the old regime. 

{ Eugenie was a woman of thirty, and as yet had known 
none of the happiness of life. All through her joyless, 
•V monotonous childhood she had had but one companion, 
the broken-spirited mother, whose sensitive nature had 
found little but suffering in a hard life. That mother 
had joyfully taken leave of existence, pitying the daughter 
who must still live on in the world. Eugenie would 
never lose the sense of her loss, but little of the bitter- 
ness of self-reproach mingled with her memories of her 
Love, her first and only love, had been a fresh source 
iF suffering for Eugenie. For a few brief days she had 
een her lover ; she had given her heart to him between 
two stolen kisses ; then he had left her, and had set the lands 
and seas of the world between them. Her father had 
cursed her for this love ; it had nearly cost her her 
mother's life j it had brought her pain and sorrow and a 
few faint hopes. She had striven towards her happiness 
till her own forces had failed her, and another had not 
come to her aid. 

Our souls live by giving and receiving ; we have need 
of another soul ; whatever it gives us we make our own, 
and give back again in overflowing measure. This is as 
vitally necessary for our inner life as breathing is for our 
corporeal existence. Without that wonderful physical 

Eugenie Grandet 203 

process we perish ; the heart suffers from lack of air, and 
ceases to beat. Eugenie was beginning to sufFer. 

She found no solace in her wealth ; it could do nothing 
for her ; her love, her religic^n, her faith in the future 
made up all her life. Love was teaching her what 
eternity meant. Her own heart and the Gospel each 
spoke to her of a life to come ; life was everlasting, and 
love no less eternal. Night and day she dwelt with these 
two infinite thoughts, perhaps for her they were but one. 
She withdrew more and more into herself; she loved, and 
believed that she was loved. 

For seven years her passion had wholly engrossed her. 

Her treasures were not those millions left to her by her 
father, the money that went on accumulating year after 
year ; but the two portraits which hung above her bed, 
Charles's leather case, the jewels which she had bought 
back from her father, and which were now proudly set 
forth on a layer of cotton wool inside the drawer in the 
old chest, and her aunt*s thimble which Mme. Grandet 
had used j every day Eugenie took up a piece of em- 
broidery, a sort of Penelope's web, which she had only 
begun that she might wear the golden thimble, endeared 
to her by so many memories. 

It seemed hardly probable that Mile. Grandet would 
marry while she still wore mourning. Her sincere piety 
was well known. So the Cruchot family, counselled by 
the astute old Abbe, was fain to be content with sur- 
rounding the heiress with the most affectionate attentions. 
Her dining-room was filled every evening with the 
warmest and most devoted Cruchotins, who endeavoured 
to surpass each other in singing the praises of the mistress 
of the house in every key. She had her physician-in- 
ordinary, her grand almoner, her chamberlain, her mistress 
of the robes, her prime minister, and last, but by no 
means least, her chancellor — a chancellor whose aim it 
was to keep her informed of everything. If the heiress 
had expressed any wish for a train-bearer, they would 
have found one for her. She was a queen in fact, and 


ao4 Eugenic Gnuidct 

nrvci w;ts (\\irrfi so .idroilly flattered. A f>;reat SOul never 
stoops to flattery; it is the resource of little natures, who 
succeed in niakni/j; tlienisclves smaller still, that they may 
the hetter cr(<:|) into the hearts of those about whom they 
circle. Mattery, hy its very nature, im|)lies an interested 
motive. So the peopN: who filled Mile, (irandet's sitting- 
room eve/ y cvenini* (they addressed her and spoke of lier 
aujonj' llnMiselves as Mile, de I'roidfond now) lie;iped 
their p/;iises upon their hostess in a ni;in/iei truly mar- 
vellous. This cliorus ol |)raise eniharrassed l^uj'enie at 
lust i l)ul however pross (he flattery mij^ht he, she hecame 
accustomed to hear her beauty extolled, aiul if some new- 
comer had considered lier to be plain, she certainly would 
have wincetl more under the (rititism than she nji|'lit 
have done ei|'ht years ;i|'o. Siie tame at l;ist to wehoiiie 
lh<rr hom.ij'e, whr( h rn lier set ret luait she lard al the 
teet ol her idol. So also, by de|' rces, she accepted the 
position, ami allowed her sell to l)e treated as a (preen, and 
saw her little court full every evenin|». 

M. le J^resiilent de Hoiiloris was the heio ol the circle; 
they lauded his talents, his personal appearance, his 
learrtin]', his annabihly; hr was an inexhaustible subject 
of admirinj' lornment. Su( h an one would call atten- 
tion to the hut that in seven years the maj'ist rale 
lar|»,ely irrcreased his (ortirne; Hoiiloris had at least ten 
thousand francs u year ; .md his pi()|)er ty, like the lands ol 
all the Cruchots in lact, lay within the c< nipass oi the 
hciress*s vast estates. 

"^ Oo you know, madcmoiselle,\mother c«)Ui tier would 
remark, * that the CJruchots have forty thousand livres a 
year amorij' them ' ' 

* And they ,iie puttinp^ money by,* said Mile, de 
( Ir ibcauiour t, an old and trusty Ciucholine. M^iicc 
lately a {.\enlleman came Irom Maris on purj)osc to otter 
M. C'riuhot two hundied thousand Ir.incs fttr his pro- 
l(*ssronal ionriei lion. ll he loiild ^',ain an appornlmcnt 
as justice cl the peace, he ou|>hl to take the ofler.* 

luigcnie (irancict lo^ 

* He ni(!;ins to succeed M. (!<' IJonloris ,r. IVritidml, 
and is taking; steps to lliat <n(l,' saiti IVlnn-. d', 
* (or M. Ic President will be a ('ouiu ill<ii, and then a 
Frcsitlent of a Comt ; lie is so /'illcd lie it •Mm- lo 

'Yes,* said another, 'lie is a very 
Do yon not think so^ inadeinoiselle ? ' 

* JVI. le President ' had striven to act up to the p,n i h<- 
wanted to |)l.iy. Ihwasloiiy years old, his ( oinn«ii,in(e 
was dark and ill- favoured, he had, nioreovci, the wi/.ened 
h)ok which is frecpicully seen in men ol his piotesMo/i j 
hut he aft'cctcd the airs of youth, sported a nialacca canr, 
refrained from taking sinili in Mile, (irandet's house, and 
went thither arrayed in a white cravat and a shirt with 
huj!;e (tills, whi( h gave him a (piaint (ainily res( ndihincc 
to a turkcy-gohhier. lie called the fair heiress *our dear 
l',u;M-nie,* aiul spoke as if lie wcic an ititimate friend of 
the lainily. In fact, hut for the numherof those assenihled, 
and the suhstitution of whist for loto, and the absence of 
M. and Mine, (iratulet, the scene was scarcely changed ; 
it tuight almost have been that first evening on which 
this story began. 

I'he pack was still in pursuit of Eugenie's millions; it 
was a more numerous pac k now ; they gave tongue 
together, ami hunted down their prey more systematically. 

If Charles had come back fiom the far-oft Indies, he 
wotild have found the same niotivcs at work and almost 
the sante jieople. Mme. des (Jrassins, for whom Kugenic 
had nothing but kindness and pity, still remained to vex 
the Cruchots. Eugenie's face still shone out against the 
dark background, and Charles (though invisible) reigned 
theie supreme as in other days. 

Yet some advance had been made. P^ugenie's birthday 
boiKptet was never forgotten by the magistrate. Indeed, 
it had become an institution ; every evening he brought 
the heiress a huge and wonderful bourpjct. Mme. 
Cornoiller ostentatiously placed these offerings in a vase, 

2o6 Eugenie Grandet 

and promptly flung them into a corner of the yard as 
soon as the visitors had departed. 

In the early spring Mme. des Grassins made a move, 
and sought to trouble the felicity of the Cruchotins by 
talking to Eugenie of the Marquis de Froidfond, whose 
ruined fortunes might be retrieved if the heiress vvrould 
return his estate to him by a marriage contract. Mme. 
des Grassins lauded the Marquis and his title to the 
skies ; and, taking Eugenie's quiet smile for consent, she 
urent about saying that M. le President Cruchot's 
marriage was not such a settled thing as some people 

' M. de Froidfond may be fifty years old,* she said, 
' but he looks no older than M. Cruchot ; he is a 
widower, and has a family, it is true; but he is a 
marquis, he will be a peer of France one of these days, 
it is not such a bad match as times go. I know of my 
own certain knowledge that when old Grandet added 
his own property to the Froidfond estate he meant to 
graft his family into the Froidfonds. He often told 
me as much. Oh ! he was a shrewd old man, was 

' Ah ! Nanon,' Eugenie said one evening, as she went 
to bed, ' why has he not once written to me in seven 
years ? ' . . . 

While these events were taking place in Saumur, 
Charles was making his fortune in the East. His first 
venture was very successful. He had promptly realised 
the sum of six thousand dollars. Crossing the line had 
cured him of many early prejudices ; he soon saw very 
clearly that the best and quickest way of making money 
was the same in the tropics as in Europe — by buying and 
selling men. He made a descent on the African coasts 
and bargained for negroes and other goods in demand in 
various markets. He threw himself heart and soul into 
his business, and thought of nothing else. He set one 

Eugenie Grandet 207 

clear aim before him, to reappear in Paris, and to dazzle 
the world there with his wealth, to attain a position 
even higher than the one from which he had fallen. 

By dint of rubbing shoulders with many men, travel-r 
ling in many lands, coming in contact with various\ 
customs and rehgions, his code had been relaxed, and\ 
he had grown sceptical. His notions of right and \ 
wrong became less rigid when he found that what was \ 
looked upon as a crime in one country was held up to 1 
admiration in another. He saw that every one was \ 
working for himself, that disinterestedness was rarely to « 
be met with, and grew selfish and suspicious j the 
hereditary failings of the Grandets came out in him — the 
hardness, the shiftiness, and the greed of gain. He sold 
Chinese coolies, negro slaves, swallow-nests, children, 
artists, anything and everything that brought in money. 
He became a money lender on a large scale. Long 
practice in cheating the customs authorities had made 
him unscrupulous in other ways. He would make the 
voyage to St. Thomas, buy booty of the pirates there for 
a low price, and sell the merchandise in the dearest 

During his first voyage Eugenie's pure and noble 
face had been with him, like the image of the Virgin 
which Spanish sailors set on the prows of their vessels ; 
he had attributed his first success to a kind of magical 
efficacy possessed by her prayers and vows ; but as time 
went on, the women of other countries, negresses, 
mulattoes, white skins, and yellow skins, orgies and 
adventures in many lands, completely effaced all recollec- 
tion of his cousin, of Saumur, of the old house, of 
the bench, and of the kiss that he had snatched in the 
passage. He remembered nothing but the little garden 
shut in by its crumbHng walls where he had learned the 
fate that lay in store for him 5 but he rejected all connec- 
tion with the family. His uncle was an old fox who had 
filched his jewels. Eugenie had no place in his heart, 

2o8 Eugenie Grandet 

he never gave her a thought ; but she occupied a page in 
his ledger as a creditor for six thousand francs. 

Such conduct and such ideas explained Charles 
Grandet's silence. In the East Indies, at St. Thomas, 
on the coast of Africa, at Lisbon, in the United States, 
Charles Grandet the adventurer w^as know^n as Carl 
Sepherd, a pseudonym which he assumed so as not to 
compromise his real name. Carl Sepherd could be 
indefatigable, brazen, and greedy of gain ; could conduct 
himself, in short, like a man who resolves to make a 
fortune quibuscumque viisj and makes haste to have done 
with villainy as soon as possible, in order to live respected 
for the rest of his days. 

With such methods his career of prosperity was rapid 
and brilliant, and in 1827 he returned to Bordeaux on 
board the Marie Caroline^ a fine brig belonging to a 
Royalist firm. He had nineteen hundred thousand francs 
with him in gold dust, carefully secreted in three strong 
casks ; he hoped to sell it to the Paris mint, and to make 
eight per cent, on the transaction. There was also on 
board the brig a gentleman-in-ordinary to his Majesty 
J-'/Charles x., a M. d'Aubrion, a worthy old man who had 
\^)j /been rash enough to marry a woman of fashion whose 
money came from estates in the West India Islands. 
Mme. d'Aubrion's reckless extravagance had obliged 
^.him to go out to the Indies to sell her property. 
* M. and Mme. d'Aubrion, of the house of d'Aubrion 
de Buch, which had lost its captal or chieftain 
just before the Revolution, were now in straitened cir- 
cumstances. They had a bare twenty thousand francs 
of income and a daughter, a very plain girl, whom her 
mother made up her mind to marry without a dowry \ 
for life in Paris is expensive, and, as has been seen, their 
means were reduced. It was an enterprise the success 
of which might have seemed somewhat problematical to a 
man of the world, in spite of the cleverness with which 
a woman of fashion is generally credited. Perhaps even 


Eugenie Grandet 209 

Mme. d'Aubrion herself, when she looked at her daughter, 
was almost ready to despair of getting rid of her to any one, 
even to the most besotted worshipper of rank and titles. 

Mile. d'Aubrionwas a tall, spare demoiselle, somewhat 
like her namesake the insect ; she had a disdainful mouth, 
overshadowed by a long nose, thick at the tip, sallow in 
its normal condition, but very red after a meal, an organic 
change which was all the more unpleasant by reason of 
contrast with a pallid, insipid countenance^ From some 
points of view she was all that a worldly mother, who 
was thirty-eight years of age, and had still some preten- 
sions to beauty, could desire. But by way of compensat- 
ing advantages, the Marquise d'Aubrion's distinguished 
air had been inherited by her daughter, and that young 
lady had been submitted to a Spartan regimen, which for 
the time being subdued the offending hue in her feature 
to a reasonable flesh-tint. Her mother had taught her 
how to dress herself. Under the same instructor she had 
acquired a charming manner, and had learned to assume 
that pensive expression which interests a man and leads 
him to imagine that here, surely, is the angel for whom 
he has hitherto sought in vain. She was carefully 
drilled in a certain manoeuvre with her foot — to let it peep 
forth from beneath her petticoat, and so call attention to 
its small size — whenever her nose became unseasonably 
red ; indeed, the mother had made the very best of her 
daughter. By means of large sleeves, stiff skirts, puffs, 
padding, and high pressure corsets she had produced a 
highly curious and interesting result, a specimen of 
femininity which ought to have been put into a museum 
for the edification of mothers generally. 

Charles became very intimate with Mme. d'Aubrion ; 
the lady had her own reasons for encouraging him. 
People said that during the time on board she left no 
stone unturned to secure such a prize for a son-in-law. 
It is at any rate certain that when they landed at 
Bordeaux Charles stayed in the same hotel with M., 


y \ 

210 Eugenic Grandet 

Mme., and Mile. d'Aubrion, and they all travelled 
together to Paris. The hotel d'Aubrion was hampered 
with mortgages, and Charles was intended to come to 
the rescue. The mother had gone so far as to say that 
it would give her great pleasure to establish a son-in-law 
on the ground floor. She did not share M. d'Aubrion's 
aristocratic prejudices, and promised Charles Grandet to 
obtain letters patent from that easy-tempered monarch, 
Charles x., which should authorise him, Grandet, to 
bear the name and assume the arms of the d'Aubrions, 
and (by purchasing the entail) to succeed to the pro- 
perty of Aubrion, which was worth about thirty-six 
thousand hvres a year, to say nothing of the titles of 
Captal de Buch and Marquis d'Aubrion. They could 
be very useful to each other in short ; and what with this 
arrangement of a joint establishment, and one or two 
posts about the court, the hotel d'Aubrion might count 
upon an income of a hundred thousand francs and more. 

' And when a man has a hundred thousand francs a 
year, a name, a family, and a position at Court — for I 
shall procure an appointment for you as gentleman of the 
bedchamber — the rest is easy. You can be anything you 
choose ' (so she instructed Charles), ' Master of Requests 
in the Council of State, Prefect, Secretary to an Embassy, 
the Ambassador himself if you like. Charles x. is much 
attached to d'Aubrion j they have known each other from 

She fairly turned his head with these ambitious schemes, 
and during the voyage Charles began to cherish the 
hopes and ideas which had been so cleverly insinuated 
in the form of tender confidences. He never doubted 
but that his uncle had paid his father's creditors ; he had 
been suddenly launched into the society of the Faubourg 
St. Germain, at that time the goal of social ambition ; 
and beneath the shadow of Mile. Mathilde's purple nose, 
he was shortly to appear as the Comte d'Aubrion, very 
much as the Dreux shone forth transformed into Brezes. 

Eugenic Grande t 211 

He was dazzled by the apparent prosperity of the 
restored dynasty, which had seemed to be tottering to 
its fall when he left France ; his head was full of wild 
ambitious dreams, which began on the voyage, and did 
not leave him in Paris. He resolved to strain every nerve 
to reach those pinnacles of glory which his egotistical 
would-be mother-in-law had pointed out to him. His 
cousin was only a dim speck in the remote past ; she had 
no place in this brilliant future, no part in his dreams, 
but he went to see Annette. That experienced woman 
of the world gave counsel to her old friend ; he must by 
no means let slip such an opportunity for an alliance ; she 
promijed to aid him in all his schemes of advancement. 
In her heart she was delighted to see Charles thus secured 
to such a plain and uninteresting girl. He had grown 
very attractive during his stay in the Indies ; his com- 
plexion had grown darker, he had gained in manliness 
and self-possession ; he spoke in the firm, decided tones 
of a man who is used to command and to success. Ever 
since Charles Grandet had discovered that there was a 
definite part for him to play in Paris, he was himself at 

Des Grassins, hearing of his return, his approaching 
marriage, and his large fortune, came to see him, and 
spoke of the three hundred thousand francs still owing to 
his father's creditors. He found Charles closeted with a 
goldsmith, from whom he had ordered jewels for Mile. 
d'Aubrion's corhcille^ and who was submitting designs. 
Charles himself had brought magnificent diamonds from 
the Indies ; but the cost of setting them, together with 
the silver plate and jewellery of the new establishment, 
amounted to more than two hundred thousand francs. 
He did not recognise des Grassins at first, and treated 
him with the cool insolence of a young man of fashion 
who is conscious that he has killed four men in as many 
duels in the Indies. As M. des Grassins had already 
called three or four times, Charles vouchsated to hear 

212 Eugenie Grandet 

him, but it was with bare politeness, and he did not pay 
the slightest attention to what the banker said. 

' My father's debts are not mine,' he said coolly. ' 1 
am obliged to you, sir, for the trouble you have been 
good enough to take, but I am none the better for it 
that I can see. I have not scraped together a couple of 
millions, earned with the sweat of my brow, to fling it 
to my father's creditors.' 

'But suppose that your father were to be declared 
bankrupt in a few days' time ? ' 

' In a few days' time I shall be the Comte d'A ubrion, 
sir J so you can see that it is a matter of entire indiffer- 
ence to me. Besides, you know even better than I do 
that when a man has a hundred thousand Hvres a year, 
his father never has been a bankrupt,' and he poHtely 
edged the deputy des Grassins to the door. 

In the early days of the month of August, in that same 
year, Eugenie was sitting on the little bench in the 
garden where her cousin had sworn eternal love, and 
where she often took breakfast in summer mornings. 
The poor girl was almost happy for a few brief moments; 
she went over all the great and little events of her love 
before those catastrophes that followed. The morning 
was fresh and bright, and the garden was full of sunlight ; 
her eyes wandered over the wall with its moss and flowers ; 
it was full of cracks now, and all but in ruins, but no one 
was allowed to touch it, though Cornoiller was always 
prophesying to his wife that the whole thing would come 
down and crush somebody or other one of these days. 
The postman knocked at the door, and gave a letter into 
the hands of Mme. Cornoiller, who hurried into the 
garden, crying, ' Mademoiselle ! A letter ! Is it the 
letter ? ' she added, as she handed it to her mistress. 

The words rang through Eugenie's heart as the spoken 1 
sounds rang from the ramparts and the old garden 

Eugenic Grandct 213 

* Paris ! . • • It is his writing ! Then he has come 

Eugenie's face grew white ; for several seconds she kept 
the seal unbroken, for her heart beat so fast that she 
could neither move nor see. Big Nanon stood and 
waited with both hands on her hips ; joy seemed to 
puff" like smoke from every wrinkle in her brown 

' Do read it, mademoiselle ! ' 

' Oh ! why does he come back by way of Paris, Nanon, 
when he went by way of Saumur ? ' 

' Read it ; the letter will tell you why.* 

Eugenie's fingers trembled as she opened the envelope; 
a cheque on the firm of ' Mme. des Grassins et Corret, 
Saumur,' fell out of it and fluttered down. Nanon picked 
it up. 

* My dear Cousin . . .' 

(' I am not " Eugenie " now,' she thought, and her 
heart stood still.) *You . . .' 

' He used to say thou ! ' She folded her arms and 
dreaded to read any further ; great tears gathered in her 

' What is it ? Is he dead ? ' asked Nanon. 

* If he were, he could not write,' said Eugenie, and 
she read the letter through. It ran as follows : — 

* My dear Cousin, — You will, I am sure, hear with 
pleasure of the success of my enterprise. You brought 
me luck ; I have come back to France a wealthy man, 
as my uncle advised. I have just heard of his death, 
together with that of my aunt, from M. des Grassins. 
Our parents must die in the course of nature, and we 
ourselves must follow them. I hope that by this time 
you are consoled for your loss ; time cures all trouble, as 
I know by experience. Yes, my dear cousin, the day of 
illusions is gone by for me. I am sorry, but it cannot 

214 Eugenie Grandet 

be helped. I have knocked about the world so much, 
and seen so much, that I have been led to reflect on 
life. I w^as a child w^hen I went away ; I have come 
back a man, and I have many things to think about now 
which I did not even dream of then. You are free, my 
cousin, and I too am free still ; there is apparently 
nothing to hinder the realisation of our youthful hopes, 
but I am too straightforward to hide my present situation 
from you. I have not for a moment forgotten that I am 
bound to you ; through all my wanderings I have always 
remembered the little wooden bench — ■ — ' 

Eugenie started up as if she were sitting on burning 
coals, and sat down on one of the broken stone steps in 
the yard. 

— ' the little wooden bench where we vowed to love each 
other for ever ; the passage, the grey parlour, my attic 
room, the night when in your thoughtfulness and tact 
you made my future easier to me. Yes, these memories 
have been my support ; I have said in my heart that you 
were always thinking of me when I thought of you at the 
hour we had agreed upon. Did you not look out into 
the darkness at nine o'clock ? Yes, I am sure you did. 
I would not prove false to so sacred a friendship ; I cannot 
deal insincerely with you. 

'A marriage has been proposed to me, which is in 
every way satisfactory to my mind. Love in a marriage 
is romantic nonsense. Experience has clearly shown me 
that in marrying we must obey social laws and conform 
to conventional ideas. There is some difference of age 
between you and me, which would perhaps be more 
likely to affect your future than mine, and there are 
other differences of which I need not speak ; your 
bringing up, your ways of life, and your tastes have 
not fitted you for Parisian life, nor would they harmonise 
with the future which I have marked out for myself. 

Eugenie Grandet 215 

For instance, it is a part of my plan to maintain a great 
household, and to see a good deal of society ; and you, 
I am sure, from my recollections of you, would prefer a 
quiet, domestic life and home-keeping ways. No, I will 
be open with you ; I will abide by your decision ; but 
I must first, however, lay all the facts of the case before 
you, that you may the better judge. 

'I possess at the time of writing an income of eighty 
thousand livres. With this fortune I am able to marry 
into the d'Aubrion family ; I should take their name on 
my marriage with their only daughter, a girl of nineteen, 
and secure at the same time a very brilliant position in 
society, and the post of gentleman-of-the-bedchamber. I 
will assure you at once, my dear cousin, that I have not 
the slightest affection for Mile. d'Aubrion, but by this 
marriage I shall secure for my children a social rank 
which will be of inestimable value in the future. Mon- 
archical principles are daily gaining ground. A few years 
hence my son, the Marquis d'Aubrion, would have an 
entailed estate and a yearly rental of forty thousand 
livres ; with such advantages there would be no position 
to which he might not aspire. We ought to live for 
our children. 

' You see, my cousin, how candidly I am laying the state 
of my heart, my hopes, and my fortunes before you. 
Perhaps after seven years of separation you may yourself 
have forgotten our childish love affair, but I have never 
forgotten your goodness or my promise. A less con- 
scientious, a less upright man, with a heart less youthful 
than mine, might scarcely feel himself bound by it ; but 
for me a promise, however lightly given, is sacred. 
When I tell you plainly that my marriage is solely a 
marriage of suitabiHty, and that I have not forgotten the 
love of our youthful days, am I not putting myself entirely 
into your hands, and making you the arbitress of my 
fate ? Is it not implied that if I must renounce my 
social ambitions, I shall willingly content myself with 

2i6 Eugenie Grandet 

the simple and pure happiness which is always called up 
by the thought of you . . • 

' Tra-la-la-tan-ta-ti ! ' sang Charles Grandet to the air 
of Non piu andra'i^ as he signed himself, 

Your devoted cousin, 


* By Jove ! that is acting handsomely,' he said to 
himself. He looked about him for the cheque, slipped 
it in, and added a postscript. 

^ P.S. — I enclose a 'cheque on Mme. des Grassins for 
eight thousand francs, payable in gold to your order, 
comprising the capital and interest of the sum you were 
so kind as to advance me. I am expecting a case from 
Bordeaux which contains a few things which you must 
allow me to send you as a token of my unceasing 
gratitude. You can send my dressing-case by the 
diligence to the Hotel d'Aubrion, Rue Hillerin-Bertin.* 

' By the diligence ! ' cried Eugenie, ' when I would 
have given my hfe for it a thousand times ! ' 

Terrible and complete shipwreck of hope ; the vessel 
had gone down, there was not a spar, not a plank in the 
vast ocean. There are women who when their lover 
forsakes them will drag him from a rival's arms and 
murder her, and fly for refuge to the ends of the earth, 
to the scaffold, or the grave. There is a certain 
grandeur in this no doubt ; there is something so sub- 
lime in the passion of indignation which prompts the 
crime, that man's justice is awed into silence ; but there 
are other women who suffer and bow their heads. 
They go on their way, submissive and broken-hearted, 
weeping and forgiving, praying till their last sigh for him 
whom they never forget. And this no less is love, love 
such as the angels know, loves that bears itself proudly 

Eugenie Grandet 217 

in anguish, that lives by the secret pain of which it 
dies at last. This was to be Eugenie's love now that 
she had read that horrible letter. .-^' 

She raised her eyes to the sky and thought of her 
mother's prophetic words, uttered in the moment of clear 
vision that is sometimes given to dying eyes ; and as she 
thought of her mother's life and death, it seemed to her 
that she was looking out over her own future. There 
was nothing left to her now but to live prayerfully till the 
day of her deliverance should come and the soul spread 
its wings for heaven. 

' My mother was right,' she said, weeping. * Suffer— C" 
and die.' 

She went slowly from the garden into the house, 
avoiding the passage ; but when she came into the old 
grey parlour, it was full of memories of her cousin. On 
the chimney-piece there stood a certain china saucer, 
which she used every morning, and the old Sevres sugar 

It was to be a memorable and eventful day for Eugenie. 
Nanon announced the cure of the parish church. He 
was related to the Cruchots, and therefore in the 
interests of the President de Bonfons. For some days 
past the Abbe had urged the cure to speak seriously 
to Mile. Grandet about the duty of marriage from a 
religious point of view for a woman in her position. 
Eugenie, seeing her pastor, fancied that he had come 
for the thousand francs which she gave him every month 
for the poor of his parish, and sent Nanon for the 
money; but the curate began with a smile, 'To-day, 
mademoiselle, I have come to take counsel with you 
about a poor girl in whom all Saumur takes an interest, 
and who, through lack of charity to herself, is not living 
as a Christian should.* 

^ Mon Dieu ! M. le Cure, just now I can think of 
nobody but myself, I am very miserable, my only 
refuge is in the Church ; her heart is large enough to 

2i8 Eugenie Grandet 

hold all human sorrows, her love so inexhaustible that we 
need never fear to drain it dry.' 

' Well, mademoiselle, when we speak of this girl, we 
shall speak of you. Listen ! If you would fain work 
out your salvation, there are but two ways open to you j 
you must either leave the world, or live in the world and 
submit to its laws — you must choose between the earthly 
and the heavenly vocation.' 

' Ah ! your voice speaks to me when I need to hear a 
voice. Yes, God has sent you to me. I will bid the world 
farewell, and live for God alone, in silence and seclusion. 

'But, my daughter, you should think long and prayer- 
fully before taking so strong a measure. Marriage is life, 
the veil and the convent is death.' 

' Yes, death. Ah ! if death would only come quickly, 
M. le Cure,' she said, with dreadful eagerness. 

* Death ? But you have great obligations to fulfil 
towards society, mademoiselle. There is your family of 
poor, to whom you give clothes and firing in winter and 
work in summer. Your great fortune is a loan, of 
which you must give account one day. You have 
always looked on it as a sacred trust. It would be selfish 
to bury yourself in a convent, and you ought not to live 
alone in the world. In the first place, how can you 
endure the burden of yonr vast fortune alone ? You 
might lose it. You will be involved in endless Htigation ; 
you will find yourself in difficulties from which you will 
not be able to extricate yourself. Take your pastor's 
word, a husband is useful ; you ought not to lose what 
God has given into your charge. I speak to you as to a 
cherished lamb of my flock. You love God too sincerely 
to find hindrances to your salvation in the world ; you 
are one of its fairest ornaments, and should remain in it 
as an example of holiness.' 

At this point Mme. des Grassins was announced. 
The banker's wife was smarting under a grievous dis- 
appointment, and thirsted for revenge. 

Eugenie Grandet 219 

* Mademoiselle . . .' she began. ' Oh ! M. Ic Cure is 
here. ... I will say no more then. I came to speak 
about some matters of business, but I see you are deep in 
something else.* 

' Madame,' said the cure, ' I leave the field to you,* 
' Oh ! M. le Cure, pray come back again ; I stand in 
great need of your help just now.' 

' Yes, indeed, my poor child ! ' said Mme. des Grassins. 

* What do you mean ? ' asked Eugenie and the cure 
both together. 

' Do you suppose that I haven't heard that your cousin 
has come back, and is going to marry Mile. d'Aubrion ? 
A woman doesn't go about with her wits in her pocket.' 

Eugenie was silent, there was a red flush on her face, 
but she made up her mind at once that henceforward no 
one should learn anything from her, and looked as im- 
penetrable as her father used to do. 

' Well, madame,' she said, with a tinge of bitter- 
ness in her tones, ' it seems that I, at any rate, carry 
my wits in my pocket, for I am quite at a loss to under- 
stand you. Speak out and explain yourself; you can 
speak freely before M. le Cure, he is my director, as 
you know.' 

' Well, then, mademoiselle, see for yourself what des 
Grassins says. Here is the letter.' 

Eugenie read : — 

' My dear Wife, — Charles Grandet has returned from 
the Indies, and has been in Paris these two months ' 

* Two months ! ' said Eugenie to herself, and her hand 
fell to her side. After a moment she went on reading : — 

* I had to dance attendance on him, and called twice 
before the future Comte d'Aubrion would condescend to 
see me. All Paris is talking about his marriage, and the 
banns are published ' 

220 Eugenic Grandet 

' And he wrote to me after that ? ' Eugenie said to 
herself. She did not round off the sentence as a Parisienne 
would have done, with ' Wretch that he is ! ' but her 
scorn was not one whit the less because it was unexpressed. 

— * but it will be a good while yet before he marries ; it 
is not likely that the Marquis d*Aubrion will give his 
daughter to the son of a bankrupt wine merchant. 1 
called and told him of all the trouble we had been at, 
his uncle and I, in the matter of his father's failure, and 
of our clever dodges that had kept the creditors quiet so 
far. The insolent puppy had the effrontery to say to 
me — to me^ who for live years have toiled day and night 
in his interest and to save his credit — that his father's 
affairs were not his! A solicitor would have wanted 
thirty or forty thousand francs of him in fees at the rate 
of one per cent, on the total of the debt ! But, patience ! 
There is something that he does owe, however, and that 
the law shall make him pay, that is to say, twelve hundred 
thousand francs to his father's creditors, and I shall declare 
his father bankrupt. I mixed myself up in this affair on 
the word of that old crocodile of a Grandet, and I have 
given promises in the name of the family. M. le Comte 
d'Aubrion may not care for his honour, but I care a good 
deal for mine ! So I shall just explain my position to 
the creditors. Still, I have too much respect for Mile. 
Eugenie (with whom, in happier days, we hoped to be 
more closely connected) to take any steps before you 
have spoken to her ' 

There Eugenie paused, and quietly returned the letter. 

' I am obliged to you,' she said to Mme. des Grassins. 
' We shall see ' 

' Your voice was exactly Hke your father's just then,' 
exclaimed Mme. dcs Grassins. 

' Madame,' put in Nanon, producing Charles's cheque, 
* you have eight thousand francs to pay us.' 

Eugenie Grandet 221 

* True. Be so good as to come with me, Mme. 
Cornoiller.' ^' 

' M. le Cure,* said Eugenie, with a noble composure 
that came of the thought which prompted her, ' would it 
be a sin to remain in a state of virginity after marriage ? ' 

' It is a case of conscience which I cannot solve. If 
you care to know what the celebrated Sanchez says in his 
great work, De Matr'tmonio^ I could inform you to-morrow.' 

The cure took leave. Mile. Grandet went up to her 
father's room and spent the day there by herself; she 
would not even come down to dinner, though Nanon 
begged and scolded. She appeared in the evening at the 
hour when the usual company began to arrive. The 
grey parlour in the Grandet's house had never been so 
well filled as it was that night. Every soul in the town 
knew by that time of Charles's return, and of his faith- 
lessness and ingratitude ; but their inquisitive curiosity 
was not to be gratified. Eugenie was a little late, but 
no one saw any traces of the cruel agitation through 
which she had passed ; she could smile benignly in reply 
to the compassionate looks and words which some of the 
group thought fit to bestow on her ; she bore her pain 
behind a mask of politeness. 

About nine o'clock the card-players drew away from 
the tables, paid their losses, and criticised the game and 
the various points that had been made. Just as there was 
a general move in the direction of the door, an unex- 
pected development took place ; the news of it rang 
through Saumur and four prefectures round about for 
days after. 

' Please stay, M. le President.' 

There was not a person in the room who did not thrill 
with excitement at the words ; M. de Bonfons, who was 
about to take his cane, turned quite white, and sat down 

' The President takes the millions,* said Mile, de 

222 Eugenie Grandet 

* It is quite clear that President de Bonfons is going to 
marry Mile. Grandet,' cried Mme. d'Orsonval. 

' The best trick of the game ! * commented the Abbe. 

' A very pretty slam^^ said the notary. 

Every one said his say and cut his joke, every one 
thought of the heiress mounted upon her millions as if 
she w^ere on a pedestal. Here was the catastrophe of the 
drama, begun nine years ago, taking place under their 
eyes. To tell the President in the face of all Saumur to 
' stay ' was as good as announcing at once that she meant 
to take the magistrate for her husband. Social con- 
ventionalities are rigidly observed in Httle country towns, 
and such an infraction as this was looked upon as a 
binding promise. 

' M. le President,' Eugenie began in an unsteady 
voice, as soon as they were alone, ' I know what you care 
about in me. Swear to leave me free till the end of my 
life, to claim none of the rights which marriage will give 
you over me, and my hand is yours. Oh ! ' she said, 
seeing him about to fall on his knees, ' I have not finished 
yet. I must tell you frankly that there are memories in 
my heart which can never be effaced ; that friendship is 
all that I can give my husband ; I wish neither to 
affront him nor to be disloyal to my own heart. But 
you shall only have my hand and fortune at the price of 
an immense service which I want you to do me.' 

' Anything, I will do anything,' said the president. 

* Here are fifteen hundred thousand francs, M. le 
President,' she said, drawing from her bodice a certificate 
for a hundred shares in the Bank of France ; ' will you set 
out for Paris ? You must not even wait till the morning, 
but go at once, to-night. You must go straight to M. 
des Grassins, ask him for a list of my uncle's creditors, 
call them together, and discharge all outstanding claims 
upon Guillaume Grandet's estate. Let the creditors have 
capital and interest at five per cent, from the day the 
debts were contracted to the present time ; and see that 

Eugenie Grandet 223 

in every case a receipt in full is given, and that it is 
made out in proper form. You are a magistrate, you are 
the only person w^hom I feel that I can trust in such a 
case. You are a gentleman and a man of honour ; you 
have given me your word, and, protected by your name, 
I will make the perilous voyage of life. We shall know 
how to make allowances for each other, for we have been 
acquainted for so long that it is almost as if we were 
related, and I am sure you would not wish to make me 

The president fell on his knees at the feet of the rich 
heiress in a paroxysm of joy. 

' I will be your slave ! ' he said. 

'When all the receipts are in your possession, sir,' she 
went on, looking quietly at him, 'you must take them, 
together with the bills, to my cousin Grandet, and give 
them to him with this letter. When you come back, I 
will keep my word.' 

The president understood the state of afFairs perfectly 
well. ' She is accepting me out of pique,' he thought, 
and he hastened to do Mile. Grandet's bidding with all 
possible speed, for fear some chance might bring about a 
reconciliation between the lovers. 

As soon as M. de Bonfons left her, Eugenie sank into 
her chair and burst into tears. All was over, and this 
was the end. 

The president travelled post to Paris and reached his 
journey's end on the following evening. The next 
morning he went to des Grassins, and arranged for a 
meeting of the creditors in the office of the notary with 
whom the bills had been deposited. Every man of them 
appeared, every man of them was punctual to a moment 
— one should give even creditors their dues. 

M. de Bonfons, in Mile. Grandet's name, paid down 
the money in full, both capital and interest. They were 
paid interest ! It was an amazing portent, a nine days' 
wonder in the business world of Paris. After the whole 


224 ^ "^ ^ Eugenie Grandct 

affair had been wound up, and when, by Eugenie's desire^ 
des Grassins had received fifty thousand francs for 
his services, the president betook himself to the Hotel 
d'Aubrion, and was lucky enough to find Charles at home, 
and in disgrace with his future father-in-law. The old 
Marquis had just informed that gentleman that until 
Guillaume Grandet's creditors were satisfied, a marriage 
with his daughter was not to be thought of. 

To Charles, thus despondent, the president delivered 
the following letter :— 

'Dear Cousin, — M. le President de Bonfons has 
undertaken to hand you a discharge of all claims against 
my uncle's estate, and to deliver it in person, together 
with this letter, so that I may know that it is safely in 
your hands. I heard rumours of bankruptcy, and it 
occurred to me that difficulties might possibly arise as a 
consequence in the matter of your marriage with Mile. 
d'Aubrion. Yes, cousin, you are quite right about my 
tastes and manners ; I have lived, as you say, so entirely 
out of the world, that I know nothing of its ways or its 
calculations, and my companionship could never make up 
to you for the loss of the pleasures that you look to find 
in society. I hope that you will be happy according to 
the social conventions to which you have sacrificed our 
early love. The only thing in my power to give you 
to complete your happiness is your father's good name. 
Farewell j you will always find a faithful friend in your 
cousin, Eugenie.' 

In spite of himself an exclamation broke from the man 
of social ambitions when his eyes fell on the discharge 
and receipts. The president smiled. 

' We can each announce our marriage,' said he. 

'Oh ! you are to marry Eugenie, are you ? Well, I 
am glad to hear it ; she is a kind-hearted girl. Why ! ' 
struck with a sudden luminous idea, ' she must be rich ? ' 

Eugenie Grandct 225 

*Four days ago she had about nineteen millions,' the 
president said, with a malicious twinkle in his eyes , 

* to-day she has only seventeen.' 

Charles was dumbfounded ; he stared at the president. 

'Seventeen mil ' 

'Seventeen millions. Yes, sir; when we are married, 
Mile. Grandet and I shall muster seven hundred and 
fifty thousand livres a year between us.' 

'My dear cousin,' said Charles, with some return of 
assurance, *we shall be able to push each other's for- 

' Certainly,' said the president. ' There is something 
else here,' he added, 'a little case that I was to give only 
into your hands,' and he set down a box containing the 
dressing-case upon the table. 

The door opened, and in came Mme. la Marquise 
d'Aubrion ; the great lady seemed to be unaware of 
Cruchot's existence. ' Look here ! dear,' she said, ' never 
mind what that absurd M. d'Aubrion has been saying to 
you ; the Duchesse de Chaulieu has quite turned his 
head. I repeat it, there is nothing to prevent your 
marriage ' 

'Nothing, madame,' answered Charles. 'The three 
millions which my father owed were paid yesterday.' 

' In money ? * she asked. 

* In full, capital and interest ; I mean to rehabilitate 
his memory.' 

'What nonsense ! ' cried his mother-in-law. ' Who is 
this person .? ' she asked in Charles's ear, as she saw 
Cruchot for the first time. 

'My man of business,' he answered in a low voice. 
The Marquise gave M. de Bonfons a disdainful bow, and 
left the room. 

'We are beginning to push each other's fortunes 
already,' said the president drily, as he took up his hat. 

* Good day, cousin.* 

' The old cockatoo from Saumur is laughing at me ; 1 


226 Eugenie Grandet 

have a great mind to make him swallow six inches oi 
cold steel,' thought Charles. 

But the president had departed. 

Three days later M. de Bonfons was back in Saumur 
again, and announced his marriage with Eugenie. After 
about six months he received his appointment as 
Councillor to the Court-Royal at Angers, and they went 
thither. But before Eugenie left Saumur she melted 
down the trinkets that had long been so sacred and so dear 
a trust, and gave them, together with the eight thousand 
francs which her cousin had returned to her, to make a 
reredos for the altar in the parish church whither she had 
gone so often to pray to God for him. Henceforward 
her life was spent partly at Angers, partly at Saumur. 
Her husband's devotion to the government at a political 
crisis was rewarded ; he was made President of the 
Chamber, and finally First President. Then he awaited 
a general election with impatience ; he had visions of a 
place in the government ; he had dreams of a peerage ; 
and then, and then . . . 

' Then he would call cousins with the king, I suppose ? ' 
said Nanon, big Nanon, Mme. Cornoiller, wife of a 
burgess of Saumur, when her mistress told her of these 
lofty ambitions and high destinies. 

Yet, after all, none of these ambitious dreams were to 
be realised, and the name of M. de Bonfons (he had 
finally dropped the patronymic Cruchot) was to undergo 
no further transformation. He died only eight days after 
his appointment as deputy of Saumur. God, who sees 
all hearts, and who never strikes without cause, punished 
him, doubtless, for his presumptuous schemes, and for 
the lawyer's cunning with which, accurante Cruchot^ 
he had drafted his own marriage contract ; in which 
husband and wife, in case there was no issue of the marriage ^ 
bequeathed to each other all their property^ both real estate 
and personalty ^without exception or reservation^ dispensing 

Eugenie Grandet 227 

ruen Vjith the formality of an inventory^ provided that the 
omission of the said inventory should not injure their heirs 
and assigns^ it being understood that this deed of gift ^ etc. 
etc, a clause which may throw some light on the pro- 
found respect which the president constantly showed for 
his wife's desire to live apart. Women cited M. le 
Premier President as one of the most delicately con- 
siderate of men, and pitied him, and often went so far as 
to blame Eugenie for clinging to her passion and her 
sorrow ; mingling, according to their wont, cruel insinua- 
tions with their criticisms of the president's wife. 

' If Mme. de Bonfons lives apart from her husband, 
she must be in very bad health, poor thing. Is she likely 
to recover ? What can be the matter with her ? Is it 
cancer or gastritis, or what is it ? Why does she not go 
to Paris and see some specialist ? She has looked very 
sallow for a long time past. How can she not wish to 
have a child ? They say she is very fond of her husband ; 
why not give him an heir in his position ? Do you 
know, it is really dreadful ! If it is only some notion 
which she has taken into her head, it is unpardonable. 
Poor president !* 

There is a certain keen insight and quick apprehensive- 
ness that is the gift of a lonely and meditative life — and 
loneliness, and sorrow, and the discipline of the last few 
years had given Eugenie this clairvoyance of the narrow 
lot. She knew within herself that the president was 
anxious for her death that he might be the sole possessor 
of the colossal fortune, now still further increased by the 
deaths of the abbe and the notary, whom Providence had 
lately seen fit to promote from works to rewards. The 
poor solitary woman understood and pitied the president. 
Unworthy hopes and selfish calculations were his strongest 
motives for respecting Eugenie's hopeless passion. To 
give life to a child would be death to the egoistical dreams 
and ambitions that the president hugged within himself; 
ivas it for all these things that his career was cut short ? 

228 Eugenie Grandet 

while she must remain in her prison house, and the 
coveted gold for which she cared so little was to be 
heaped upon her. It was she who was to live, with the 
thought of heaven always before her, and holy thoughts 
for her companions, to give help and comfort secretly to 
Athose who were in distress. Mme. de Bonfons was left 
\ a widow three years after her marriage, with an income 
of eight hundred thousand livres. 

She is beautiful still, with the beauty of a woman 
who is nearly forty years of age. Her face is very pale 
and quiet now, and there is a tinge of sadness in the 
low tones of her voice. She has simple manners, all the 
dignity of one who has passed through great sorrows, 
and the saintliness of a soul unspotted by the world ; and, 
no less, the rigidness of an old maid, the little penurious 
ways and narrow ideas of a dull country town. 

Although she has eight hundred thousand Hvres a 
year, she lives just as she used to do in the days of 
^^stinted allowances of fuel and food while she was still 
Eugenie Grandet ; the fire is never lighted in the parlour 
before or after the dates fixed by her father, all the 
regulations in force in the days of her girlhood are 
still adhered to. She dresses as her mother did. That 
cold, sunless, dreary house, always overshadowed by the 
dark ramparts, is like her own life. 

She looks carefully after her affairs ; her wealth 
accumulates from year to year ; perhaps she might even 
be called parsimonious, if it were not for the noble use 
she makes of her fortune. Various pious and charitable 
institutions, almshouses, and orphan asylums, a richly 
endowed public library, and donations to various churches 
in Saumur, are a sufficient answer to the "charge of 
avarice which some few people have brought against 
\ They sometimes speak of her in joke as mademoiselle^ 
but, in fact, people stand somewhat in awe of Mme. de 
Bonfons. It was as if she, whose heart went out so readily 

Eugenie Grandet ^29 

to others, was always to be the victim of their interested 
calculations, and to be cut off from them by a barrier of 
distrust ; as if for all warmth and brightness in her life 
she was to find only the pale glitter of metal. 

' No one loves me but you/ she would sometimes say 
to Nanon. 

Yet her hands are always ready to bind the wounds 
ihat other eyes do not see, in any house ; and her way 
to heaven is one long succession of kindness and good 
deeds. The real greatness of her soul has risen above 
the cramping influences of her early Hfe. And this is 
the life history of a woman who dwells in the world, yet 
is not of it, a woman so grandly fitted to be a wife and 
mother, but who has neither husband nor children nor 

Of late the good folk of Saumur have begun to talk of 
a second marriage for her. Rumour is busy with her 
name and that of the Marquis de Froidfond ; indeed^ 
his family have begun to surround the rich widow, just 
as the Cruchots once flocked about Eugenie Grandet. 
Nanon and Cornoiller, so it is said, are in the interest 
of the Marquis, but nothing could be more false ; for 
big Nanon and Cornoiller have neither of them wit 
enough to understand the corruptions of the world. 


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