(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Scenes from a courtesan's life : The government clerks"

. "vKJr.w^i^''- -/ f^^^^'i*; 




D3 
> 

m 

C/5 



C/5 



PURDUE 




PURDUE 



anannd 




ananna 



anannd 







Hnaand 




C/5 
W 

< 

05 




snannj 




PURDUE 




PURDUE 



anannj 






PURDUE 




PURDUE 



Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive 
in 2010 



littp://www.arcli ive.org/details/scenesfromcourte12balz 



CONTENTS 

PART I 

PAGE 

INTRODUCTION - - - - - - ix 

SCENES FROM A COURTESAN'S LIFE: 

(Spletideurs et tnishes des Courtisanes) 

ESTHER HAPPY ------ I 

WHAT I.OVE COSTS AN OLD MAN ... 159 

THE END OF EVIt, WAYS - - - - 30I 

PART 11 
INTRODUCTION ix 

SCENES FRO 31 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

{ Concluded) : 

VAUTRIN'S LAST AVATAR . - . - i 

THE GOVERNMENT CLERKS - - - 147 

( Les Employes ; ) 
Translator, James Waring. 






ILLUSTRATIONS 



PART 1 

"open* the gate — THE PUBLIC PROSECUTOR SENT ME — 

TO SAVE THE DEAD MAN ! " i 409) - - Frontispiece 

PAGE 

LUCIEN" BURNT THE NOTE AT ONCE IN THE KEAME OF A 

CANDLE - - - - - _ - g7 

EUROPE LED THE WAY, CARRYING A CANDLE - - I40 



PART II 

THE CORSICAN AT ONCE KNELT DOWN AND PRETENDED 

TO BE ABOUT TO CONFESS - - - - 66 

'■don't say too MUCH ABOUT HER, MY DEAR FRIEND, 

OR YOU WILL SPOIL IT ALL" - - - - 187 



SCENES FROM A COURTESAN'S LIFE 



INTRODUCTION 

Splendeurs et Miseres des Courtisanes has the interest (which 
it shares with only one or two others of Balzac's works), if 
not exactly of touching the two extremities of his prosperous 
career, at any rate of stretching over a great part of it. It 
also exemplifies the very uncertain and fortuitous scheme of 
the Comiklie and its component scenes. At first nothing 
of it appeared but the first j)art, and only half of that, 
under the title of La Torpille (Esther Gobseck's nickname), 
which was published, together with La Femme Superieure, 
the first form of Les Employes, and La Maison Nucingen, 
in 1838. Five years later it appeared in a newspaper as 
Esther, ou Les Amours d'un vieux Banquier, the first part 
being now completed, and the second added. It was not till 
1846 that Ou menent les mauvais Chemins appeared, and 
this book itself had difi'erent titles. Finally, in Balzac's very 
last period of writing at the end of 1846, or the beginning 
of 1847 — for he and his bibliographer are at issue on that 
point, — La derniere Incarnation de Vautrin was added as a 
fourth part, making the book, already one of the longest, now 
by far the longest of all. But the four were not published to- 
gether till the edition definitive, many years after Balzac's 
death. 

It would in any case have been necessary to devote two 
of these volumes to so great a mass of matter, and I have 
taken the liberty of separating Vautrin from the rest for 

(ix) 



X INTRODUCTION 

the purposes of introduction. The truth is that the book 
ends much more artistically with Ou menent les mauvais 
Chemins; and if Balzac really intended to make La derniere 
Incarnation de Vautrin a continuation, this, as well as the 
great length of the book, would lead me to imagine that he 
had in mind rather a sort of sub-division of the Scenes de la 
Vie Parisienne than a single work. 

For it must be at once evident that with the deaths of 
Esther and of Lucien, art, sense, and truth require that the 
curtain should fall. It may have been very desirable to finish 
off Vautrin ; and, as I shall have occasion to point out, he is a 
very interesting person. But his mauvais chemin is quite a 
different one from that of Esther; and he is only indirectly 
concerned with the particular splendeurs et miseres. 

On the other hand, the history of "La Torpille" and of 
Lucien de Eubempre is by itself smoother and more com- 
plete. It affords Balzac, no doubt, opportunities of indulg- 
ing a very large number of his extensive assortment of fancies, 
not to say fads, and of bringing in a great number of the 
personages of his stock company. Vautrin, the terrible and 
mysterious, in his new avatar, is only one of these. Corentin 
reappears from the far distance of Les Chouans; but playing 
no very dissimilar part, though his machinations are directed 
against less innocent persons. We receive abundant informa- 
tion as to the way in which Baron Nucingen got rid of the 
money which he obtained by means already detailed with 
equal care elsewhere. Madame de Maufrigneuse and Madame 
de Serizy play important parts ; and many others come and go. 

But still Esther van Gobseck and Lucien Chardon de 
Eubempre are as much the hero and heroine of the story, 
and make the first three parts as much a story to themselves, 



INTRODUCTION xi 

as Le Pere Goriot and Eugenie Grandet are the hero and hero- 
ine of the books to which they very justly give their names. 
I forget whether Lucien de Rubempre, in the numerous and 
rather idle Balzac "keys" which MM. Cerfberr and Christophe 
have not deigned to include in their Repertoire, is identified 
with any actual personage. It has been, and will be observed, 
that Balzac was too great an artist either to need, or, indeed, 
often to attempt, this commonplace and catchpenny means of 
interest. But in the world of fiction in general, and of the 
Comedie in particular, Lucien is half-complement, half- 
counterpart of Eugene de Eastignac. He is the adventurer, 
not entirely without good blood in his veins, who ventures 
into the intersecting or overlapping worlds of fashion, of 
journalism, of speculation, and of politics, but who has not, 
like Eastignac, either strength or coolness of head to swim 
through the whirlpool and reach the shore. It may be in- 
teresting to the reader to form his own opinion how far 
Lucien' s ruin — brought about, be it remembered, by charges 
of which he is actually innocent — is due to the evil, though 
not in his case intentionally hostile, influence of Vautrin, 
how far it is due to his own weakness. Balzac was too much 
of an artist to decide very definitely either way; but despite 
his rather mistaken admiration of Vautrin, I think he had 
the sense to give most weight to the internal causes. The 
moral — for there is always a moral in Balzac — is, of course, 
the old one of a thousand fables and a thousand forms, the 
best of which perhaps is the Spenserian apposition of "Be 
bold, be bold, and everywhere be bold," with "Be not too bold" 
— the moral that on the "Brigg of Dread" of ambition and 
covetousness there is nothing but absolute perdition for him 
who cannot keep his feet and his head. There is not perhaps 



xll INTRODUCTION 

so much irony as there would be in some writers about the 
presentation of Lucien, who is really a poor creature enough, 
as the very darling of all the great ladies of Paris as well as 
of persons at the other end of the scale ; but it is there. 

With Esther it is even plainer sailing. Her history is 
simply that of a courtesan, embodying "lights and shadows"' 
on a more fantastic and gorgeous scale, with the final fortune 
thrown in (this applies to Lucien as well as to her) for a 
climax of Kemesis. Perhaps there is another moral here — 
that when any one has once embarked on this particular 
mauvais chemin it is not merely idle, but ruinous, to in- 
dulge in sincere affection for anybody — that you must "play 
the game," here as elsewhere, and that you cannot be per- 
mitted to play the fair game and the foul at once. 

On the whole, I should put this book a little below Balzac's 
very best, but in the forefront of his average work. Some I 
know have rated it very highly ; but such a slightly glorified 
"Alphonse" as Eubempre is too disgusting a hero to be toler- 
ated without even greater power that Balzac has here put 
forth, even though Esther to no small extent redeems him. 

A good deal of the rather complicated bibliography of 
Splendeurs et Miseres has necessarily been given above. 
Some additional details here may complete the information, 
in regard to the whole of it, as Balzac finalty arranged it, 
that is to say, with the Derniere Incarnation included. La 
Torpille {vide supra) came out as a book without any previous 
newspaper publication, but with La Femme Superieure (now 
called Les Employes) and La Maison Nucingen in 1838, pub- 
lished in two volumes by Werdet. It was divided into three 
chapters with a view to feuilUton publication in the Presse. 
But this did not appear. The rest of the present Comment 
aiment les Filles, with most of A Combien I'Amour revient 



INTRODUCTION xiii 

aux Vieillards, did appear in this form in Le Parisien dur- 
ing the month of June 1843 and a few day in May and July. 
The first part was included as well in this publication. Le 
Parisien was not successful, and the end of A Combien 
V Amour never came out, but is included in a three-volume 
book publication of the thing next year by de Potter. Then 
the whole, which had in Le Parisien been called Esther, ou 
Les Amours d'un vieux Banquier, received its present general 
heading with the addition "Esther.'' The book was next 
entered in the Gomedie, the first part being called Esther 
Heureuse. Ou menent les mauvais Chemins appeared in the 
newspaper UEpoque during July 1846, and was then called 
Une Instruction criiaineUe; but it was forthwith included in 
the Comedie under its actual title, and a year later published 
separately by Souverain. But Splendeurs et Miseres had a 
bad habit of killing journals under it ; and L'Epoque too, 
having died, La derniere Incarnation appeared in the Presse 
(strangely enough, seeing that this was the journal which 
ought to have published the first part ten years earlier) in 
April and May ISIT. Chlendowski published it as a book 
the same year. The date "December 1847" appears to have 
been a mistake or a whim of Balzac's. 

G. S. 



SCENES FROM A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

To His Highness 
Prince Alfonso Serafino di Porcia. 

Allow me to place your name at the beginning of an essen- 
tially Parisian work, thought out in your house during these latter 
days. Is it not natural that I should offer you the flowers of 
rhetoric that blossomed in your garden, watered with the regrets 
I suffered from home-sickness, which you soothed, as I wandered 
under the boschetti whose elms reminded me of the Champs- 
;^lysees? Thus, perchance, may I .expiate the crime of having 
dreamed of Paris under the shadow of the Duomo, of having 
longed for our muddy streets on the clean and elegant flagstones 
of Porta-Renza. When I have some book to publish which may 
be dedicated to a Milanese lady, I shall have the happiness of 
finding names already dear to your old Italian romancers among 
those of women whom we love, and to whose memory I would 

beg you to recall your sincerely affectionate 

De Balzac. 

July 1838. 

ESTHER happy; OR, HOW A COURTESAN CAN LOVE 

In ''^824^ at the last opera ball of the season, several masks 
were struck by the beauty of a youth who was wandering 
about the passages and greenroom with the air of a man 
in search of a woman kept at home by unexpected 
circumstances. The secret of this behavior, now dilator}^ 
and again hurried, is known only to old women and to 
certain experienced loungers. In this immense assembly the 
crowd does not trouble itself much to watch the crowd; each 

(1) 



2 A COURTESANS LIFE 

one's interest is impassioned, and even idlers are pre- 
occupied. 

The young dandy was so much absorbed in his anxious 
quest that he did not observe his own success; he did not 
hear, he did not see the ironical exclamations of admiration, 
the genuine appreciation, the biting gibes, the soft invita- 
tions of some of the masks. Though he was so handsome 
as to rank among those exceptional persons who come to 
an opera ball in search of an adventure, and who expect it 
as confidently as men looked for a lucky conp at roulette 
in Frascati's day, he seemed quite philosophically sure of his 
evening; he must be the hero of one of those mysteries with 
three actors which constitute an opera ball, and are known 
only to those who play a part in them ; for, to young wives who 
come merely to say, "I have seen it," to country people, 
to inexperienced youths, and to foreigners, the opera house 
must on those nights be the palace of fatigue and dulness. 
To these, that black swarm, slow and serried — coming, going, 
winding, turning, returning, mounting, descending, com- 
parable only to ants on a pile of wood — is no more intelligible 
than the Bourse to a Breton peasant who has never heard of 
the Grand livre. 

With a few rare exceptions, men wear no masks in Paris; 
a man in a domino is thought ridiculous. In this the spirit 
of the nation betrays itself. Men who want to hide their 
good fortune can enjoy the opera ball witliout going there : 
and masks who are absolutely compelled to go in come out 
again at once. One of the most amusing scenes is the crush 
at the doors produced as soon as the dancing begins, by the 
rush of persons getting away and struggling with those who 
are pushing in. So the men who wear masks are either jeal- 
ous husbands who come to watch their wives, or husbands 
on the loose who do not wish to be watched by them — two 
situations equally ridiculous. 

Now, our young man was followed, though he knew it 
not, by a man in a mask, dogging his steps, short and stout, 
with a rolling gait, like a barrel. To every one familiar with 



ESTHER HAPPY 3 

the opera this disguise betrajed a stock-broker, a banker, a 
lawyer, some citizen sonl suspicious of infidelity. For in 
fact, in really high society, no one courts such humiliating 
proofs. Several masks had laughed as they pointed this pre- 
posterous figure out to each other; some had spoken to him, 
a few young men had made game of him, but his stolid man- 
ner showed entire contempt for these aimless shafts ; he went 
on whither the young man led him, as a hunted wild boar 
goes on and pays no heed to the bullets whistling about his 
ears, or the dogs barking at his heels. 

Though at first sight pleasure and anxiety wear the same 
livery — the noble black robe of Venice — and though all is 
confusion at an opera ball, the various circles composing 
Parisian society meet there, recognize, and watch each other. 
There are certain ideas so clear to the initiated that this 
scrawled medley of interests is as legible to them as any 
amusing novel. So, to these old hands, this man could not 
be here by appointment ; he would infallibly have worn some 
token, red. white, or green, such as notifies a happy meeting 
previously agreed on. Was it a case of revenge? 

Seeing the domino following so closely in the wake of a 
man apparently happy in an assignation, some of the gazers 
looked again at the handsome face, on which anticipation 
had set its divine halo. The youth was interesting; the 
longer he wandered, the more curiosity he excited. Every- 
thing about him proclaimed the habits of refined life. ]n 
obedience to a fatal law of the time we live in, there is not 
much diiference, physical or moral, between the most elegant 
and best bred son of a duke and peer and this attractive youth, 
whom poverty had not long since held in its iron grip in the 
heart of Paris. Beauty and youth might cover in him deep 
gulfs, as in many a young man who longs to play a part in 
Paris without having the capital to support his pretensions, 
and who, day after day, risks all to win all, by sacrificing to 
the god who has most votaries in this royal city, namely. 
Chance. At the same time, his dress and manners were 
above reproach; he trod the classic floor of the opera house 






(.0- 



4 A COURTESAN'S Llf^E 

as one accustomed there. Who can have failed to observe 
that there, as in every zone in Paris, there is a manner of 
being which shows who you are, what you are doing, whence 
you come, and what you want? 

"What a handsome young fellow; and here we may turn 
round to look at him," said a mask7Mn whom accustomed 
eyes recognized a lady of position. 

"Do not you remember him?" replied the man on whose 
arm she was leaning. "Madame du Chatelet introduced him 
to you " 

"What, is that the apothecary's son she fancied herself 
in love with, who became a journalist, Mademoiselle Coralie's 
lover?" 

"I fancied he had fallen too low ever to pull himself up 
again, and I cannot understand how he can show himself 
again in the world of Paris," said Comte Sixte du Chatelet. 

"He has the air of a prince," the mask went on, "and it is 
not the actress he lived with who could give it him. My 
cousin, who understood him, could not lick him into shape. 
I should like to know the mistress of this Sargine; tell me 
something about him that will enable me to mystify him." 

This couple, whispering as they watched the young man, 
became the object of study to the square-shouldered domino. 

"Dear Monsieur Chardon," said the Prefet of the Charente, 
taking the dandy's hand, "allow me to introduce you to some 
one who wishes to renew acquaintance with you " 

"Dear Comte Chatelet," replied the j^oung man, "that lady 
taught me how ridiculous was the name by which you address 
me. A patent from the king has restored to me that of my 
mother's family — the Rubempres. Although the fact has 
been announced in the papers, it relates to so unimportant 
a person that I need not blush to recall it to my friends, my 

enemies, and those who are neither You may class 

yourself where you will, but I am sure you will not disap- 
prove of a step to which I was advised by your wife when 
she was still only Madame de Bargeton." 

This neat retort, which made the Marquise smile, gave 



ESTHER HAPPY 5 

the Prefet of la Charente a nervous chill. "You may tell 
her,'" Lucien went on, "that 1 now bear gules, a bull raging 
argent on a meadow vert." 

"Eaging argent," echoed Chatelet. 

"Madame la Marquise will explain to you, if you do not 
know, why that old coat is a little better than the chamber- 
lain^s key and Imperial gold bees which you bear on yours, 
to the great despair of Madame Chatelet, nee Negrepelisse' 
d'Espard," said Lucien quickly. 

"Since you recognize me, I cannot puzzle you ; and I could 
never tell you how much you puzzle me," said the Marquise 
d'Espard, amazed at the coolness and impertinence to which 
the man had risen whom she had formerly despised. 
. "Then allow me, madame, to preserve my only chance of 
occupying your thoughts by remaining in that mysterious 
twilight," said he, with the smile of a man who does not 
wish to risk assured happiness. 

"I congratulate you on your changed fortunes," said the 
Comte du Chatelet to Lucien. 

"I take it as you offer it," replied Lucien, bowing with 
much grace to the Marquise. 

'^Vhat a coxcomb !" said the Count in an undertone to 
Madame d'Espard. "He has succeeded in winning an an- 
cestry." 

"With these young men such coxcombry, when it is ad- 
dressed to us, almost always implies some success in high 
places," said the lady ; "for with you older men it means ill- 
fortune. And I should very much like to know which of 
my grand lady friends has taken this fine bird under her 
patronage; then I might find the means of amusing myself 
this evening. My ticket, anonymously sent, is no doubt a bit 
of mischief planned by a rival and having something to do 
with this young man. His impertinence is to order; keep 
an eye on him. I will take the Due de Navarrein's 
arm. You will be able to find me again." 

Just as Madame d'Espard was about to address her cousin, 
the mysterious mask came between her and the Duke to 
whisper in her ear : 



6 A COUKTESAN'S LIFE 

"Lucien loves you; he wrote the note. Your Prefet is 
his greatest foe ; how can he speak in his presence T 

The stranger moved off, leaving Madame d'Espard a pi^ey 
to a double surprise. The Marquise knew no one in the 
world who was capable of playing the part assumed by this 
mask; she suspected a snare, and went to sit down out of 
.sight. The Comte Sixte du Chatelet — whom Lucien had 
abridged of his ambitious du with an emphasis that betrayed 
long meditated revenge — followed the handsome dandy, and 
presently met a young man to whom he thought he could 
speak without reserve. 

"Well, Kastignac. have you seen Lucien? He has come 
out in a new skin." 

"If I were half as good looking as he is, I should be twice 
as rich," replied the fine gentleman, in a light but meaning 
tone, expressive of keen raillery. 

"No !" said the fat mask in his ear, repaying a thousand 
ironies in one by the accent he lent the monosyllable. 

Rastignac, who was not the man to swallow an affront, 
stood as if struck by lightning, and allowed himself to be 
led into a recess by a grasp of iron which he could not 
shake off. 

"You young cockerel, hatched in Mother Vauquer's coop 
— you, whose heart failed you to clutch old Taillefer's mill- 
ions when the hardest part of the business was done — let 
me tell you, for your personal safety, that if you do not treat 
Lucien like the brother you love, you are in our power, while 
we are not in yours. Silence and submission ! or I shall 
join your game and upset the skittles. Lucien de Rubempre 
is under the protection of the strongest power of the day 
— the Church. Choose between life and death. — Answer.^' 

Eastignac felt giddy, like a man who has slept in a forest 
and wakes to see by his side a famishing lioness. He was 
frightened, and there was no one to see him; the boldest 
men yield to fear under such circumstances. 

"No one but /le can know — or would dare " he mur- 
mured to himself. 



^ ESTHER HAPPY 7 

The mask clutched his hand tighter to prevent his finish- 
ing his sentence. 

"Act us if I were he" he said. 

Eastignac then acted like a millionaire on the highroad 
with a brigand's pistol at his head; he surrendered. 

"My dear Count," said he to du Chatelet, to whom he 
presently returned, "if you care for your position in life, 
treat Lucien de Eubempre as a man whom you will one day 
see holding a place far above that where you stand." 

The mask made an imperceptible gesture of approbation, 
and went off in search of Lucien. 

"My dear fellow, you have changed your opinion of him 
very suddenly," replied the Prefet with justifiable surprise. 

"As suddenly as mpn change who belong to the centre and 
vote with the right," replied Eastignac to the Prefet-Depute, 
whose vote had for a few days failed to support the Ministry. 

"Are there such things as opinions nowadays? There are 
only interests," observed des Lupeaulx, who had heard them. 
"What is the case in point?" 

"The case of the Sieur de Eubempre, whom Eastignac is 
setting up as a person of consequence," said du Chatelet to 
the Secretary-General. 

"My dear Count," replied des Lupeaulx very seriously, 
"Monsieur de Eubempre is a young man of the highest merit, 
and has such good interest at his back tliat I should be de- 
lighted to renew my acquaintance with him." 

"There he is, rushing into the wasps' nest of the rakes of 
the day," said Eastignac. 

The three speakers looked towards a corner where a group 
of recognized wits had gathered, men of more or less celebrity, 
and several men of fashion. These gentlemen made com- 
mon stock of their jests, their remarks, and their scandal, try- 
ing to amuse themselves till something should amuse them. 
Among this strangely mingled party were some men with 
whom Lucien had had transactions, combining ostensibly 
kind offices with covert false dealing. 



8 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"Hallo ! Lucien, my boy, why here we are patched up 
again — new stuffing and a new cover. Where have we come 
from? Have we mounted the high horse once more with 
little offerings from Florine's boudoir ? Bravo, old chap !" 
and Blondet released Finot to put his arm afEectionately 
round Lucien and press him to his heart. 

Andoche Finot was the proprietor of a review on which 
Lucien had worked for almost nothing, and to which Blondet 
gave the benefit of his collaboration, of the wisdom of his 
suggestions and the depth of his views. Finot and Blondet 
embodied Bertrand and Raton, with this difference — that 
la Fontaine's cat at last showed that he knew himself to be 
duped, while Blondet, though he knew that he was being 
fleeced, still did all he could for Finot- This brilliant con- 
dottiere of the pen was, in fact, long to remain a slave. Finot 
hid a brutal strength of will under a heavy exterior, under 
the drowsiness of impertinent stupidity, with a superficial 
polish of wit, as a laborer rubs his bread with garlic. He 
knew how to garner what he gleaned, ideas and crown-pieces 
alike, in the fields of the dissolute life led by men engaged 
in letters or in politics. 

Blondet, for his sins, had placed his powers at the service 
of Finot's vices and idleness. Always at war with necessity, 
he was one of the race of poverty-stricken and superior men 
who can do everything for the fortune of others and nothing 
for their own, Aladdins who let other men borrow their 
lamp. These excellent advisers have a clear and penetrating 
judgment so long as it is not distracted by personal interest. 
In them it is the head and not the arm that acts. Hence 
the looseness of their morality, and hence the reproach heaped 
v« upon them by inferior minds. Blondet would share his purse 
' with a comrade he had affronted the day before; he would 
dine, drink, and sleep with one whom he would demolish 
on the morrow. His amusing paradoxes excused everything. 
Accepting the whole world as a jest, he did not want to be 
taken seriously; young, beloved, almost famous and con- 
tented, he did not devote himself, like Finot, to acquiring the 
fortune an . old man needs. 



ESTHER HAPPY 9 

The most difficult form of courage, perhaps, is that which 
Lucien needed at this moment to get rid of Blondet as he 
had just got rid of Madame d'Espard and Chatelet. In him, 
unfortunately, the joys of vanity hindered the exercise of 
pride — the basis, beyond doubt, of many great things. His 
vanity had triumphed in the previous encounter; he had 
shown himself as a rich man, happy and scornful, to two per- 
sons who had scorned him when he was poor and wretched. 
But how could a poet, like an old diplomate, run the gauntlet 
with two self-styled friends, who had welcomed him in misery, 
under whose roof he had slept in the worst of his troubles? 
Finot, Blondet, and he had groveled together; they had 
wallowed in such orgies as consume something more than 
money. Like soldiers who find no market ^or their courage, 
Lucien had just done what many men do in Paris : he had 
still further compromised his character by shaking Finot's 
hand, and not rejecting Blondet's afl^ection. 

Every man who has dabbled, or still dabbles, in journalism 
is under the painful necessity of bowing to men he despises,' 
of smiling at his dearest foe, of compounding the foulest 
meanness, of soiling his fingers to pay his aggressors in their 
own coin. He becomes used to seeing evil done, and passing 
it over; he begins by condoning it, and ends by committing 
it. In the long run the soul, constantly stained by shame- 
ful and perpetual compromise, sinks lower, the spring of 
noble thoughts grows rusty, the hinges of familiarity wear 
easy, and turn of their own accord. Alceste becomes Philinte, 
natures lose their firmness, talents are perverted, faith in great 
deeds evaporates. The man who yearned to be proud of 
his work wastes himself in rubbishy articles which his 
conscience regards, sooner or later, as so many evil actions. 
He started, like Lousteau or Vernou, to be a great writer; 
he finds himself a feeble scrivener. Hence it is impossible 
to honor too highly men whose character stands as high as 
their talent — men like d'Arthez, who know how to walk sure- 
footed across the reefs of literary life. 

Lucien could make no reply to Blondet's flattery; his wit 



10 A GOUKTESAN S LIFE 

liad an irresistible fliariii for him, and he maintained the 
hold of the corrupter over his j)npil ; besides, he held a posi- 
tion in the world through his connection with the Comtesse 
de Montcornet. 

"Has an uncle left you a fortune!'"* said Finot, laughing 
at him. 

"Like you, I have marked some fools for cutting down." 
replied Lucien in the same tone. 

"Then Monsieur has a review — a newspaper of his own?" 
Andoche Finot retorted, with the impertinent presumption 
of a chief to a subordinate. 

"I have something better," replied Lucien, whose vanity, 
nettled by the assumed superiority of his editor, restored 
him to the sense of his new position. 

"What is that, my dear boy ?" 

"I have a party." 

"There is a Lucien party?" said Vernou. smiling. 

"Finot, the boy has left you in the lurch; I told you he 
Avould. Lucien is a clever fellow, and you never were respect- 
ful to him. You used him as a hack. Repent, blockhead !" 
said Blondet. 

Blondet, as sharp as a needle, could detect more than one 
secret in Lucien's air and manner; while stroking him down, 
he contrived to tighten the curb. He meant to know the 
reasons of Lucien's return to Paris, his projects, and his 
means of living. 

"On your knees to a superiority you can never attain to, 
albeit you are Finot!" he went on. "Admit this gentleman 
forthwith to be one of the great men to whom the future 
belongs ; he is one of us ! So w4tty and so handsome, can he 
fail to succeed by j'our quibuscumque viisf Here he stands, 
in his good Milan armor, his strong sword half unsheathed, 
and his pennon tlyingi — Bless me, Lucien, where did you 
steal that smart waistcoat? Love alone can tind such stuff 
as that. Have you an address? At this moment I am 
anxious to know where my friends are domiciled ; I don't know 
where to sleep. Finot has turned me out of doors for the 
night, under the vulgar pretext of 'a lady in the case." " 



ESTHER HAPPY 11 

"My boy/' said Lueien, "I put into practice a motto by 
which you may secure a quiet life : Fuge, late, tace. I am 
off." 

"But I am not off till you pay me a sacred debt — that 
little supper, you know, heh?" said Blondet, who was rather 
too much given to good cheer, and got himself treated when 
he was out of funds. 

"What supper?" asked Lucien, with a little stamp of im- 
patience. 

"You don't remember? In that I recognize my pros- 
perous friend; he has lost his memory." 

"He knows what he owes us; I will go bail for his good 
heart," said Finot, taking up Blondet's joke. 

"Eastignac," said Blondet, taking the young dandy by the 
arm as he came up the room to the column where the so- 
called friends were standing. "There is a supper in the wind; 
you will join us — unless," he added gravely, turning to 
Lucien, "Monsieur persists in ignoring a debt of honor. He 
can." 

"Monsieur de Eubempre is incapable of such a thing; I 
will answer for him," said_^astignac, who never dreamed 
of a practical joke. 

"And there is Bixiou, he will come too," cried Blondet; 
"there is no fun without him. Without him champagne cloys 
my tongue, and I find everj-thing insipid, even the pepper 
of satire." 

"My friends," said Bixiou, "I see you have gathered round 
the wonder of the day. Our dear Lucien has revived the 
Metamorphoses of Ovid. Just as the gods used to turn into 
strange vegetables and other things to seduce the ladies, he 
has turned the Chardon (the Thistle) into a gentleman to 
bewitch — whom? Charles X. ! — My dear boy," he went on, 
holding Lucien by his coat button, "a journalist who apes 
the fine gentleman deserves rough music. In their place," 
said the merciless jester, as he pointed to Finot and Vernou, 
"I should take you up in my society paper; you would bring 
in a hundred francs for ten columns of fun." 



12 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"Bixiou," said Blondet, "an Amphitryon is sacred for 
twenty-four hours before the feast and twelve hours after. 
Our illustrious friend is giving us a supper." 

"What then !" cried Bixiou ; "what is more imperative 
than the duty of saving a great name from oblivion, of en- 
dowing the indigent aristocracy with a man of talent? 
Lucien, you enjoy the esteem of the press of which you were 
a distinguished ornament, and we will give you our support. 
— Finot, a paragraph in the 'latest items' ! — Blondet, a little 
butter on the fourth page of your paper ! — We must advertise 
the appearance of the finest book of the age, VArcher de 
Charles IX. ! We will appeal to Dauriat to bring out as soon 
as possible les Marguerites, those divine sonnets by the French 
Petrarch! We must carry our friend through on the shield 
of stamped paper by which reputations are made and un- 
made." 

"If you want a supper," said Lucien to Blondet, hoping to 
rid himself of this mob, which threatened to increase, "it 
seems to me that you need not work up hyperbole and parable 
to attack an old friend as if he were a booby. To-morrow 

night at Lointier's " he cried, seeing a woman come by, 

whom he rushed to meet. 

"Oh ! oh ! oh !" said Bisiou on three notes, with a mocking 
glance, and seeming to recognize the mask to whom Lucien 
addressed himself. "This needs confirmation." 

He followed the handsome pair, got past them, examined 
them keenly, and came back, to the great satisfaction of all 
the envious crowd, who were eager to learn the source of 
Lucien's change of fortune. 

"Friends," said Bixiou, "you have long known the goddess 
of the ^tre de Eubempre's fortune: She is des Lupeaulx's 
former 'rat.' " 

A form of dissipation, now forgotten, but still customary 
at the beginning of this century, was the keeping of "rats." 
The "rat" — a slang word that has become old-fashioned — ^was 
a girl of ten or twelve in the chorus of some theatre, more 
particularly at the opera, who was trained by young routes to 



ESTHER HAPPY 13 

vice and infamy. A "rat" was a sort of demon page, a tom- 
boy who was forgiven a trick if it were but funny. The "rat" 
might take what she pleased; she was to be watched like 
a dangerous animal, and she brought an element of liveliness 
into life, like Scapin, Sganarelle, and Frontin in old-fashioned 
comtdy. But a "rat" was too expensive; it made no return 
in honor, profit, or pleasure ; the fashion of rats so completely 
went 0U+, that in these days few people knew anything of this 
detail of fashionable life before the Restoration till certain 
writers took up the "rat" as a new subject. 

"What ! after having seen Coralie killed under him, Lucien 
means to rob us of La Torpille?" (the torpedo fish) said 
Blondet. 

As he heard the name the brawny mask gave a signi- 
ficant start, which, though repressed, was understood by 
Kastignac. 

"It is out of the question," replied Finot ; "La Torpille has 
not a sou to give away; Nathan tells me she borrowed a 
thousand francs of Fiorina." 

"Come, gentlemen, gentlemen !" said Rastignac, anxious 
to defend Lucien against so odious an imputation. 

"Well," cried Vernou, "is Coralie's kept man likel}^ to be 
so very particular?" 

"Oh !" replied Bixiou, "those thousand francs prove to me 
that our friend Lucien lives with La Torpille " 

"What an irreparable loss to literature, science, art, and 
politics !" exclaimed Blondet. "La Torpille is the only com- 
mon prostitute in whom I ever found the stuff for a superior 
courtesan; she has not been spoiled by education — she can 
neither read nor write, she would have understood us. We 
might have given to our era one of those magnificent Aspasias 
without which there can be no golden age. See how admira- 
bly Madame du Barry was suited to the eighteenth century, 
Ninon de FEnclos to the seventeenth, Marion Delorme to the 
sixteenth, Imperia to the fifteenth, Flora to Republican Rome, 
which she made her heir, and which paid off the public debt 
with her fortune ! What would Horace be without Lydia, 



14 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

Tibullus without Delia, Catullus without Lesbia, Propertius 
without Cyntliia, Demetrius without Lamia, who is his glory 
at this day?" 

"Blondet talking of Demetrius in the opera house seems 
to me rathertoostrongof the Dehats,'' said Bixiou in his neigh- 
Itor's ears. 

"And where would the empire of the Caesars have been 
but for these queens ?" Blondet went on ; "Lai's and Ehodope 
are Greece and Egypt. They all indeed are the poetry of 
the ages in which they lived. This poetry, which Napoleon 
lacked — for the Widow of his Great Army is a barrack jest, 
was not wanting to the Revolution ; it had Madame Tallien ! 
In these days there is certainly a throne to let in France 
Avhich is for her who can fill it. We among us could make 
a queen. I should have given La Torpille an aunt, for her 
mother is too decidedly dead on the field of dishonor; du 
Tillet would have given her a mansion, Loustean a carriage, 
Rastignac her footmen, des Lupeaulx a cook, Finot her hats" 
— Finot could not suppress a shrug at standing the point- 
blank fire of this epigram — "Vernou would have composed 
her advertisements, and Bixiou her repartees ! The aristoc- 
racy would have come to enjoy themselves with our Ninon, 
where we would have got artists together, under pain of death 
by newspaper articles. Ninon the second would have been 
magnificently impertinent, overwhelming in luxury. She 
would have set up opinions. Some prohibited dramatic mas- 
terpiece should have been read in her drawing-room ; it should 
have been written on purpose if necessary. She would not 
have been liberal; a^eourtesan is essentially monarchical. Oh, 
what a loss ! She ought to have embraced her whole century, 
and she makes love with a little young man ! Lucienwillmake 
a sort of hunting-dog of her." 

"None of the female powers of whom you speak ever 
trudged the streets," said Finot, "and that pretty little 'rat' 
has rolled in the mire." 

"Like a lily-seed in the soil," replied Vernou, "and she 
has improved in it and flowered. Hence her superiority. 



ESTHER HAPPY 15 

Must we not have known everything to be able to create the 
laughter and joy which are part of everytliing ?" 

"He is right/' said Lousteau, who had hitherto listened 
without speaking; "La Torpille can laugh and make others 
laugh. That gift of all great writers and great actors is 
proper to those who have investigated every social deep. At 
eighteen that girl had already known the greatest wealth, 
tlie most squalid misery — men of every degree. She bears 
about her a sort of magic wand by which she lets loose the 
brutal appetites so vehemently suppressed in men who still 
have a heart while occupied with politics or science, literatiire 
or art. There is not in Paris another woman who can say 
to the beast as she does : 'Come out !' And the beast leaves 
his lair and wallows in excesses. She feeds you up to the 
chin, she helps you to drink and smoke. In short, this 
woman is the salt of which Eabelais writes, which, thrown 
on matter, animates it and elevates it to the marvelous 
realms of art; her robe displays unimagined splendor, her 
fingers drop gems as her lips shed smiles ; she gives the spirit 
of the occasion to every little thing; her chatter twinkles 
with bright sayings, she has the secret of the quaintest 
onomatopoeia, full of color, and giving color; she " 

"You are wasting five francs' worth of copy," said Bixiou, 
interrupting Lousteau. "La Torpille is something far better 
than all that; you have all been_inJ[ove_ with her more or 
less, not one of you can say that she ever was his mistress. 
She can always command you; you will never command her. 
You may force your way in and ask her to do you a ser- 
vice '" 

"Oh, she is more generous than a brigand chief who knows 
his business, and more devoted than the best of school-fellows," 
said Blondet. "You may trust her with your purse or your 
secrets. But what made me choose her as queen is her Bour- 
bon-like indifference for a fallen favorite." 

"She, like her mother, is much too dear," said des Lupeauk. 
"The handsome Dutch woman would have swallowed up the 
income of the ArchbiBhop of Toledo ; she ate two notaries out 
of house and home " 



16 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"And kept Maxime de Trailles when he was a court page/' 
said Bixiou. 

"La Torpille is too dear, as Eaphael was, or Careme, or 
Taglioni, or Lawrence, or Boule, or any artist of genius is 
too dear/'" said Blondet. 

"Esther never looked so thoroughly a lady/' said Eastignac, 
pointing to the masked figure to whom Lucien had given 
his arm. "I will bet on its being Madame de Serizy." 

"Not a doubt of it," cried du Chatelet, "and Monsieur du 
Eubempre's fortune is accounted for." 

"Ah, the Church knows how to choose its Levites; what 
a sweet ambassador's secretary he will make !" remarked des 
Lupeaulx. 

"All the more so," Eastignac went on, "because Lucien is 
a really clever fellow. These gentlemen have had proof of 
it more than once," and he turned to Blondet, Finot, and 
Lousteau. 

"Yes, the boy is cut out of the right stuff to get on," said 
Lousteau, who was dying of jealousy. "And particularly 
because he has what we call independent ideas . . ." 

"It is you who trained him," said Vernou. 

"Well," replied Bixiou, looking at des Lupeaulx, "1 trust 
to the memory of Monsieur the Secretary-General and Master 
of Appeals — that mask is La Torpille, and I will stand a supper 
on it." 

"I will hold the stakes," said du Chatelet, curious to know 
the truth, 

"Come, des Lupeaulx," said Finot, "try to identify your 
rat's ears." 

"There is no need for committing the crime of treason 
against a mask," replied Bixiou. "La Torpille and Lucien 
must pass us as they go up the room again, and I pledge my- 
self to prove that it is she." 

"So our friend Lucien has come above water once more," 
said Nathan, joining the group. "I thought he had gono 
back to Angoumois for the rest of his days. Has he dis- 
covered some secret to ruin the English ?" 



ESTHER HAPPY 17 

"He has done what you will not do in a hurry," retorted 
Eastignac; "he has paid up." 

The burly mask nodded in confirmation. 

"A man who has sown his wild oats at his age puts him- 
self out of court. He has no pluck; he puts money in the 
funds," replied Nathan. 

"Oh, that youngster will always be a fine gentleman, and 
will always have such lofty notions as will place him far 
above many men who think themselves his betters," replied 
Eastignac. 

At this moment journalists, dandies, and idlers were all 
examining the charming subject of their bet as horse-dealers 
examine a horse for sale. These connoisseurs, grown old in 
familiarity with every form of Parisian depravity, all men 
of superior talent each his own way, equally corrupt, equally 
corrupting, all given over to unbridled ambition, accustomed 
to assume and to guess everything, had their eyes centered on 
a masked woman, a woman whom no one else could identify. 
They, and certain habitual frequenters of the opera balls, 
could alone recognize under the long shroud of the black 
domino, the hood and falling ruff which make the wearer un- 
recognizable, the rounded form, the individuality of figure 
and gait, the sway of the waist, the carriage of the head — 
the most intangible trifles to ordinary eyes, but to them the 
easiest to discern. 

In spite of this shapeless wrapper they could watch the 
most appealing of dramas, that of a woman inspired by a 
genuine passion. Were she La Torpille, the Duchesse de 
Maufrigneuse, or Madame de Serizy, on the lowest or highest 
rung of the social ladder, this woman was an exquisite crea- 
ture, a flash from happy dreams. These old young men, like 
these young old men, felt so keen an emotion, that they envied 
Lucien the splendid privilege of working such a metamorpho- 
sisifif^a woman into a goddess. The mask was there as 
though she Tiad been alone with Lucien ; for that woman the 
thousand other persons did not exist, nor the evil and dust- 
ladeu atmosphere; no, she moved under the celestial vault 



18 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

of love, as Raphael's Madonnas under their slender oval glory. 
She did not feel herself elbowed; the fire of her glance shot 
from the holes in her mask and sank into Lucien's e^'es; the 
thrill of her frame seemed to answer to every movement of 
her companion. Whence comes this flame that radiates from 
a woman in love and distinguishes her above all others? 
Whence that sylph-like lightness which seems to negative the 
laws of gravitation? Is the soul become ambient? Has 
happiness a physical effluence? 

The ingenuousness of a girl, the graces of a child were 
discernible under the domino. Though they walked apart, 
these two beings suggested the figures of Flora and Zephyr 
as we see them grouped by the cleverest sculptors; but they 
were beyond sculpture, the gi"eatest of the arts ; Lucien and his 
pretty domino were more like the angels busied with flowers 
or birds, which Gian Bellini has placed beneath the effigies of 
the Virgin ]\Iother. Lucien and this girl belonged to the 
realm of fancy, which is as far above art as cause is above 
effect. 

When the domino, forgetful of everything, was within a 
A ard of the group, Bixiou exclaimed : 

"Esther!" 

The unhappy girl turned her head quickly at hearing her- 
self called, recognized the mischievous speaker, and bowed 
her head like a dying creature that has drawn its last breath. 

A sharp laugh followed, and the group of men melted 
among the crowd like a knot of frightened field-rats whisking 
into their holes by the roadside. Eastignac alone went no 
further than was necessary, just to avoid making any shoM^ 
of shunning Lucien's flashing eye. He could thus note two 
phases of distress equally deep though unconfessed ; first, the 
liapless Torpille, stricken as by a lightning stroke, and then 
the inscrutable mask, the only one of the group who had 
remained. Esther murmured a word in Lucien's ear just as 
her knees gave way, and Lucien, supporting her, led her 
away, 

Eastignac watched the pretty pair, lost in meditation. 



ESTHER HAPPY Vb 

"How did she get her name of La Torpille?" asked a 
gloomy voice that struck to his vitals, for it was no longer 
disguised. 

''He again — he has made his escape !" muttered Eastignae 
to himself. 

"Be silent or I murder you," replied the mask, changing 
his voice. "I am satisfied with you, you have kept your 
word, and there is more than one arm ready to serve you. 
Henceforth be as silent as the grave ; but, before that, answer 
my question." 

"Well, the girl is such a witch that she could have mag- 
netized the Emperor Napoleon; she could magnetize a man 
more difficult to influence — you yourself," replied Eastignae, 
and he turned to go. 

"One moment," said the mask; "I will prove to you that 
you have never seen me anywhere." 

The speaker took his mask ofl"; for a moment Eastignae 
hesitated, recognizing nothing of the hideous being he had 
known formerly at Madame Vauqiier's. 

"The devil has enabled you to change in every particular, 
excepting your eyes, which it is impossible to forget," said he. 

The iron hand gripped his arm to enjoin eternal secrecy. 

At three in the morning des Lupeaulx and Finot found 
the elegant Eastignae on the same spot, leaning against the 
column where the terrible mask had left him. Eastignae 
had confessed to himself; he had been at once priest and 
pentient, culprit and judge. He allowed himself to be led 
away to breakfast, and reached home perfectly tipsy, but 
taciturn. 

The Kue de Langlade and the adjacent streets are a blot 
on the Palais Eoyal and the Eue de Eivoli. This portion 
of one of the handsomest quarters of Paris will long retain 
the stain of foulness left by the hillocks formed of the mid- 
dens of old Paris, on which mills formerly stood. These 
narrow streets, dark and muddy, where such industries are 
carried on as care little for appearances, wear at night an 



20 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

aspect of mystery full of contrasts. On coming from the 
well-lighted regions of the Eue Saint-Honore, the Rue Xeuve- 
des-Petits-Champs, and the Eue de Eichelieu, where the 
crowd is constantly pushing, where glitter the masterpieces 
of industry, fashion, and art, ever}'' man to whom Paris by 
night is unknown would feel a sense of dread and melancholy, 
on finding himself in the labyrinth of little streets which lie 
round that blaze of light reflected even from the sk3^ Dense 
blackness is here, instead of floods of gaslight; a dim oil- 
lamp here and there sheds its doubtful and smoky gleam, and 
many blind alleys are not lighted at all. Foot passengers 
are few, and walk fast. The shops are shut, the few that 
are open are of a squalid kind; a dirty, unlighted wineshop, 
or a seller of underclothing and eau-de-Cologne. An un- 
wholesome chill lays a clammy cloak over your shoulders. 
Few carriages drive past. There are sinister places here, 
especially the Rue de Langlade, the entrance to the Passage 
Saint-Guillaume, and the turnings of some streets. 

The municipal council has not yet been able to purge this 
vast lazar-place, for prostitution long since made it its head- 
quarters. It is, perhaps, a good thing for Paris that these 
alleys should be allowed to preserve their filthy aspect. Pass- 
ing through them by day, it is impossible to imagine what 
they become by night ; they are pervaded by strange creatures 
of no known world; white, half-naked forms cling to the 
walls — the darkness is alive. Between the passenger and 
the wall a dress steals by — a dress that moves and speaks. 
Half-open doors suddenly shout with laughter. Words fall 
on the ear such as Rabelais speaks of as frozen and melting. 
Snatches of songs come up from the pavement. The noise 
is not vague ; it means something. When it is hoarse it is a 
voice; but if it suggests a song, there is nothing human 
about it, it is more like a croak. Often you hear a sharp 
whistle, and then the tap of boot-heels has a peculiarly aggres- 
sive and mocking ring. This medley of things makes you 
giddy. Atmospheric conditions are reversed there — it is 
warm in winter and cool in summer. 



ESTHER HAPPY 21 

Still, whatever the weather, this strange world always 
wears the same aspect; it is the fantastic world of Hoffmann 
of Berlin. The most mathematical of clerks never thinks of 
it as real, after returning through the straits that lead into 
decent streets, where there are passengers, shops, and taverns. 
Modern administration, or modern policy, more scornful or 
more shamefaced than the queens and kings of past ages, 
no longer dare look boldly in the face of this plague of our 
capitals. Measures, of course, must change with the times, 
and such as bear on individuals and on their liberty are a 
ticklish matter ; still, we ought, perhaps, to show some breadth 
and boldness as to merely material measures — air, light, and 
construction. The moralist, the artist, and the sage adminis- 
trator alike must regret the old wooden galleries of the 
Palais Royal, where the l^mbs were to be seen who will always 
be found where there are loungers ; and is "it not best that 
the loungers should go where they are to be found? What 
is the consequence ? The gayest parts of the Boulevards, that 
delightfulest of promenades, are impossible in the evening 
for a family party. The police has failed to take advan- 
tage of the outlet afforded by some small streets to purge 
the main street. 

The girl whom we have seen crushed by a word at the 
opera ball had been for the last month or two living in 
the Rue de Langlade, in a very poor-looking house. This 
structure, stuck on to the wall of an enormously large one, 
badly stuccoed, of no depth, and immensely high, has all its 
windows on the street, and bears some resemblance to a 
parrot^s perch. On each floor are two rooms, let as separate 
flats. There is a narrow staircase clinging to the wall, 
queerly lighted by windows which mark its ascent on the 
outer wall, each landing being indicated by a sink, one of 
the most odious peculiarities of Paris. The shop and entresol 
at that time were tenanted by a tinman; the landlord oc- 
cupied the first floor; the four upper stories were rented by 
very decent working girls, who were treated by the portress 
and the proprietor with some consideration and an obliging- 



y 



22 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

ness called forth by the difficulty of letting a he oddly 

constructed and situated. The occupants of the quarier are 
accounted for by the existence there of many houses of the 
same character, for which trade has no use, and which can 
only be rented by the poorer kinds of industry, of a pre- 
carious or ignominious nature. 

At three in the afternoon the portress, who had seen 
Mademoiselle Esther brought home half dead by a young 
man at two in the morning, had just held council with the 
young woman of the floor above, who, before setting out in a 
cab to join some party of pleasure, had expressed her uneasi- 
ness about Esther ; she had not heard her move. Esther was, 
no doubt, still asleep, but this slumber seemed suspicious. 
The portress, alone in her cell, was regretting that she could 
not go to see what was happening oq the fourth floor, where 
Mademoiselle Esther lodged. 

Just as she had made up her mind to leave the tinman's 
son in charge of her room, a sort of den in a recess on the 
entresol floor, a cab stopped at the door. A man stepped out, 
wrapped from head to foot in a cloak evidently intended to 
conceal his dress or his rank in life, and asked for Made- 
moiselle Esther. The portress at one felt relieved; this ac- 
counted for Esther's silence and quietude. As the stranger 
mounted the stairs above the portress' room, she noticed silver 
buckles in his shoes, and fancied she caught sight of the black 
fringe of a priest's sash; she went downstairs and catechised 
the driver, who answered without speech, and again the wo- 
man understood. 

The priest knocked, received no answer, heard a slight 
gasp, and forced the door open with a thrust of his shoulder; 
charity, no doubt, lent him strength, but in any one else it 
would have been ascribed to practice. He rushed to the inner 
room, and there found poor Esther in front of an image of 
the Virgin in painted plaster, kneeling, or rather doubled up, 
on the floor, her hands folded. The girl was dying. A 
brazier of burnt charcoal told the tale of that dreadful morn- 
ing. The domino cloak and hood were lying on the ground. 



ERTHER HAPPY 23 

The bed was undisturbed. The unhappy creatu're, stricken 
to the heart by a mortal thrust, had, no doubt, n.mde all her 
arrangements on her return from the opera. A ciindle-wick, 
collapsed in the pool of grease that filled the can.dle-sconce, 
showed how completely her last meditations had absorbed 
her. A handkerchief soaked with tears proved the ^sincerity 
of the Magdalen's despair, while her classic attitude wfis that 
of the irreligious courtesan. This abject repentance made 
the priest smile. 

Esther, unskilled in dying, had left the door open, not 
thinking that the air of two rooms would need a lar^zer 
amount of charcoal to make it suffocating; she was only 
stunned by the fumes; the fresh air from the staircase 
gradually restored her to a consciousness of her woes. 

The priest remained standing, lost in gloomy meditation, 
without being touched by the girl's divine beauty, watching 
her first movements as if she had been some animal. His 
eyes went from the crouching figure to the surrounding ob- 
jects with evident indifference. He looked at the furniture 
in the room; the paved floor, red, polished, and cold, was 
poorly covered with a shabby carpet worn to the string. A 
little bedstead, of painted wood and old-fashioned shape, was 
hung with yellow cotton printed with red stars, one armchair 
and two small chairs, also of painted wood, and covered with 
the same cotton print of which the window-curtains were also 
made ; a gray wall-paper sprigged with flowers blackened and 
greasy with age; a fireplace full of kitchen utensils of the 
vilest kind, two bundles of fire-logs; a stone shelf, on which 
lay some jewelry false and real, a pair of scissors, a dirty 
pincushion, and some white scented gloves; an exquisite hat 
perched on the water- jug, a Ternaux shawl stopping a hole in 
the window, a handsome gown hanging from a nail; a little 
hard sofa, with no cushions ; broken clogs and dainty slippers, 
boots that a queen might have coveted; cheap china plates, 
cracked or chipped, with fragments of a past meal, and nickel 
forks — the plate of the Paris poor; a basket full of potatoes 
and dirty linen, with a smart gauze cap on the top ; a rickety 



24 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

wardrobe, ,with a glass door, open and empt}^ and on the 
shelves suridry pawn-tickets, — this was the medley of things, 
dismal or pleasing, abject and handsome, that fell on his 
eye. , 

These relics of splendor among the potsherds, these house- 
hold belongings — so appropriate to the bohemian existence of 
the girl who knelt stricken in her unbuttoned garments, like 
a horse dying in harness under the broken shafts entangled 
in the reins — did the whole strange scene suggest any thoughts 
to the priest ? Did he say to himself that this erring creature 
m,ust at least be disinterested to live in such poverty when her 
lover was young and rich? Did he ascribe the disorder of 
the room to the disorder of her life? Did he feel pity or 
terror? Was his charity moved? 

To see him, his arms folded, his brow dark, his lips set, 

his eye harsh, an}'' one must have supposed him absorbed in 

morose feelings of hatred, considerations that jostled each 

^ other, sinister schemes. He was certainly insensible to the 

**soft roundness of a bosom almost crushed under the weight 

. I of the bowed shoulders, and to the beautiful modeling of 

I the crouching Venus that was visible under the black petti- 

3Li3oat, so closely was the dying girl curled up. The drooping 

head which, seen from behind, showed the white, slender, 

flexible neck and the fine shoulders of a well-developed figure, 

did not appeal to him. He did not raise Esther, he did not 

seem to hear the agonizing gasps which showed that she was 

returning to life; a fearful sob and a terrifying glance from 

the girl were needed before he condescended to lift her, and 

he carried her to the bed with an ease that revealed enormous 

strength. 

"Lucien!" she murmured. 

"Love is there, the woman is not far behind," said the 
priest with some bitterness. 

The victim of Parisian depravity then observed the dress 
worn by her deliverer, and said, with a smile like a child's 
when it takes possession of something longed for : 

"Then I shall not die without being reconciled to Heaven ?" 



ESTHER HAPPY 25 

"You may yet expiate your sins," said the priest, moisten- 
ing her forehead with water, and making her smell at a cruet; 
of vinegar he found in a corner. 

■ "I feel that life, instead of departing, is rushing in on 
me," said she, after accepting the Father's care and express- 
ing her gratitude by simple gestures. This engaging pan- 
tomime, such as the Graces might have used to charm, per- 
fectly justified the nickname given to this strange girl. 

"Do you feel better?" said the priest, giving her a glass 
of sugar and water to drink. 

This man seemed accustomed to such queer establishments ; 
he knew all about it. He was quite at home there. This 
privilege of being everywhere at home is the prerogative of 
kings, courtesans, and thieves. 

"When you feel quite well," this strange priest went on 
after a pause, "you must tell me the reasons which prompted 
you to commit this last crime, this attempted suicide." 

"My story is very simple, Father," replied she. "Three 
months ago I was living the evil life to which I was born. 
I was the lowest and vilest of creatures ; now I am only the 
most unhappy. Excuse me from telling you the history of 
my poor mother, who was murdered " 

"By a Captain, in a house of ill-fame," said the priest, in- 
terrupting the penitent. "I know your origin, and I know 
that if a being of your sex can ever be excused for leading 
a life of shame, it is you, who have always lacked good 
examples." 

"Alas ! I was never baptized, and have no religious teach- 
ing." 

"All may yet be remedied then," replied the priest, "pro- 
vided that your faith, your repentance, are sincere and with- 
out ulterior motive." 

"Lueien and God fill my heart," said she with ingenuous 
pathos. 

"You might have said God and Lueien," answered the 
priest, smiling. "You remind me of the purpose of my visit. 
Omit nothing that concerns that young man." 



2e A. COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"You have come from him?" she asked^, with a tender look 
that would have touched any other priest ! "Oh, he thought 
I should do it !" 

"No/' replied the priest ; "it is not your death, but your life 
that we are interested in. Come, explain your position 
toward each other." 

"In one word," said she. 

The poor child quaked at the priest's stern tone, but as 
a woman quakes who has long ceased to be surprised at 
brutality. 

"Lucien is Lucien," said she, "the handsomest young man, 
the kindest soul alive: if you know him, my love must seem 
to you quite natural. I met him by chance, three months 
ago, at the Porte-Saint-Martin theatre, where I went one day 
when I had leave, for we had a day a week at Madame Mey- 
nardie's, where I then was. Xext day, you understand, I 
went out without leave. Love had come into my heart, and 
had so completely changed me, that on my return from the 
theatre I did not know myself: I had a horror of m3rself. 
Lucien would never have known. Instead of telling him 
what I was, I gave him my address at these rooms, where a 
friend of mine was then living, who was so kind as to give 
them up to me. I swear on my sacred word " 

"You must not swear." 

"Is it swearing to give your sacred word? — Well, from 
that day I have worked in this room like a lost creature at 
shirt-making at twenty-eight sous apiece, so as to live by 
honest labor. For a month I have had nothing to eat but 
potatoes, that I might keep myself a good girl and worthy 
of Lucien, who loves me and respects me as a pattern of 
virtue. I have made my declaration before the police to 
recover my rights, and submitted to two years' surveillance. 
They are ready enough to enter your name on the lists of 
disgrace, but make every difficulty about scratching it out 
again. All I asked of Heaven was to enable me to keep my 
resolution. 

"I shall be nineteen in the month of April; at my age 



ESTHER HAPPY 27 

there is still a chance. It seems to me that I was never born 
till three months ago. — I prayed to God every morning that 
Lucien might never know what my former life had been. 
I bought that Virgin you see there, and I prayed to her in 
my own way, for I do not know any prayers; I cannot read 
nor write, and I have never been into a church ; I have never 
seen anything of God excepting in processions, out of 
curiosity." 

"And what do you say to the Virgin?" 

"I talk to her as I talk to Lucien, with all my soul, till 
I make him cry." 

"Oh, so he cries ?" 

"With joy," said she eagerly, "poor dear boy! "We un- 
derstand each other so well that we have but one soul ! He 
is so nice, so fond, so sweet in heart and mind and man- 
ners ! He says he is a poet ; I say he is god. — Forgive me ! 
You priests, you see, don't know what love is. But, in fact, 
only girls like me know enough of men to appreciate such as 
Lucien. A Lucien, you see, is as rare as a woman without . 
sin. When you come across him you can love no one else;^ 
so there ! But such a being must have his fellow ; so I want 
to be worthy to be loved by my Lucien. That is where my 
trouble began. Last evening, at the opera, I was recognized 
by some young men who have no more feeling than a tiger 
has pity — for that matter, I could come round the tiger! 
The veil of innocence I had tried to Avear was torn off; their 
laughter pierced my brain and my heart. Do not think you 
have saved me; I shall die of grief." 

"Your veil of innocence?" said the priest. "Then you 
have treated Lucien with the sternest severity?" 

"Oh, Father, how can you, who know him, ask me such 
a question!" she replied with a smile. "Who can resist a 
god?" 

"Do not be blasphemous," said the priest mildly. "No 
one can be like God. Exaggeration is out of place with true 
love; you had not a pure and genuine love for your idol. 
If you had undergone the conversion you boast of having 



28 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

felt, you would have acquired the virtues which are a part 
of womanhood ; you would have known the charm of chastity, 
the refinements of modesty, the two virtues that are the glory 
of a maiden. — You do not love." 

Esther's gesture of horror was seen by the priest, but it 
had no effect on the impassibility of her confessor. 

"Yes; for you love him for yourself and not for himself, 
for the temporal enjoyments that delight you, and not for 
love itself. If he has thus taken possession of you, you 
cannot have felt that sacred thrill that is inspired by a being 
on whom God has set the seal of the most adorable perfec- 
tions. Has it never occurred to you that you would degrade 
him by your past impurit}', that you would corrupt a child 
by the overpowering seductions which earned you your nick- 
name glorious in infamy? You have been illogical with 
yourself, and your passion of a day " 

"Of a day ?" she repeated, raising her eyes. 

"By what other name can you call a love that is not eternal, 
that does not unite us in the future life of the Christian, to 
the being we love?" 

"Ah, I will be a Catholic !" she cried in a hollow, vehement 
tone, that would have earned her the mercy of the Lord. 

"Can a girl who has received neitlier the baptism of the 
Church nor that of knowledge; who can neither read, nor 
write, nor pray; who cannot take a step without the stones 
in the street rising up to accuse her; noteworthy only for 
the fugitive gift of beauty which sickness may destroy to- 
morrow; can such a vile, degraded creature, fully aware too 
of her degradation — for if you had been ignorant of it and 
less devoted, you would have been more excusable — can the 
intended victim to suicide and hell hope to be the wife of 
Lucien de Eubempre?" 

Every word was a poniard thrust piercing the depths of her 
heart. At every word the louder sobs and abundant tears of 
the desperate girl showed the power with which light had 
ilashed upon an intelligence as pure as that of a savage, upon 
a soul at length aroused, upon a nature over which depravity 



ESTHER HAPPY 29 

had laid a sheet of foul ice now thawed in the sunshine of 
faith. 

"Why did I not die !" was the only thought that found ut- 
terance in the midst of a torrent of ideas that racked and 
ravaged her brain. 

"My daughter/' said the terrible judge, "there is a love 
which is unconfessed before men, but of which the secret 
is received by the angels with smiles of gladness." 

"What is that?" 

" Love wi t hout hope, when it inspires our life, when it 
fills us with the spirit of sacrifice, when it ennobles every 
act by the thought of reaching some ideal perfection. Yes, 
the angels approve of such love; it leads to the knowledge 
of God. To aim at perfection in order to be worthy of the 
one you love, to make for him a thousand secret sacrifices, 
adoring him from afar, giving your blood drop by drop, 
abnegating your self-love, never feeling any pride or anger 
as regards him, even concealing from him all knowledge of 
the dreadful jealousy he fires in your heart, giving him all 
he wishes were it to your own loss, loving what he loves, 
always turning your face to him to follow him without his 
knowing it — such love as that religion would have forgiven; 
it is no offence to laws human or divine, and would have 
led you into another road than that of your foul voluptuous- 
ness." 

As she heard this horrible verdict, uttered in a word — 
and such a word ! and spoken in such a tone ! — Esther's spirit 
rose up in fairly legitimate distrust. This word was like a 
thunder-clap giving warning of a storm about to break. She 
looked at the priest, and felt the grip on her vitals which 
wrings the bravest when face to face with sudden and im- 
minent danger. No eye could have read what was passing 
in this man's mind; but the boldest would have found more 
to quail at than to hope for in the expression of his eyes, 
once bright and yellow like those of a tiger, but now shrouded, 
from austerities and privations, with a haze like that which 
overhangs the horizon in the dog-days, when, though the 



30 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

earth is hot and luminous, the mist makes it indistinct and 
dim — almost invisible. 

The gravity of a Spaniard, the deep furrows wliich the 
myriad scars of virulent smallpox made hideously like broken 
ruts, were ploughed into his face, which was sallow and 
tanned by the sun. The hardness of this countenance was 
all the more conspicuous, being framed in the meagre dry 
wig of a priest who takes no care of his person, a black wig 
looking rusty in the light. His athletic frame, his hands 
like an old soldier's, his broad, strong shoulders were those 
of the Caryatides which the architects of the Middle Ages 
introduced into some Italian palaces, remotely imitated in 
those of the front of the Porte-Saint-Martin theatre. The 
least clear-sighted observer might have seen that fiery pas- 
sions or some unwonted accident must have thrown this man 
into the bosom of the Church; certainly none but the most 
tremendous shocks of lightning could have changed him, if 
indeed such a nature were susceptible of change. 

Women who have lived the life that Esther had so violently 
repudiated come to feel absolute indifference as to the ex- 
ternal form of a man. They are like the literary critics of 
our day, who may be compared with them in some respects, 
and who feel at last perfect disregard of the formulas of 
art; they have read so many books, they see so many pass 
away, they are so much accustomed to written pages, they 
have gone through so many plots, they have seen so many 
dramas, they have written so many articles without saying 
what they meant, and have so often been treasonable to the 
cause of Art in favor of their personal likings and aversions, 
that they acquire a feeling of disgust of everything, and yet 
continue to pass judgment. It needs a miracle to make 
such a writer produce sound work, just as it needs another 
miracle to give birth to pure and noble love in the heart of 
a courtesan. 

The tone and manner of this priest, who seemed to have 
escaped from a picture by Zurbaran, struck this poor girl 
as so hostile, little as externals affected her, that she per- 



ESTHER HAPPY 

ceived herself to be less the object ol his solicitude than 
instrument he needed for some scheme. Being unable 
distinguish between the insinuating tongue of personal in 
terest and the unction of true charity, for we must be acutely 
awake to recognize false coin when it is offered by a friend, 
she felt herself, as it were, in the talons of some fierce and 
monstrous bird of prey who, after hovering over her for long, 
had pounced down on her; and in her terror she cried in a 
voice of alarm: 

"I thought it was a priest's duty to console us, and you 
are killing me !'' 

At this innocent outcry the priest started and paused; 
he meditated a moment before replying. During that in- 
stant the two persons so strangely brought together studied 
each other cautiously. The priest understood the girl, though 
the girl could not understand the priest. 

He, no doubt, put aside some plan which had threatened 
the unhappy Esther, and came back to his first ideas. 

"We are the physicians of the soul," said he, in a mild 
voice, "and we know what remedies suit their maladies." 

"Much must be forgiven to the wretched," said Esther. 

She fancied she had been wrong; she slipped off the bed, 
threw herself at the man's feet, kissed his gown with deep 
humility, and looked up at him with eyes full of tears. 

"I thought I had done so much !" she said. 

"Listen, my child. Your terrible reputation has cast 
Lueien's family into grief. They are afraid, and not with- 
out reason, that you may lead him into dissipation, into 
endless folly " 

"That is true ; it was 1 who got him to the ball to mystify 
him." 

"You are handsome enough to make him wish to triumph 
in you in the eyes of the world, to show you with pride, 
and make you an object for display. And if he wasted money 
only ! — but he will waste his time, his powers ; he will lose 
his inclination for the fine future his friends can secure ro 
him. Instead of being some day an ambassador, rich, ad- 



A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

-•ed, and triumphant, he, like so many debauchees who 

oke their talents in the mud of Paris, will have been the 
. over of a degraded woman. 

"As for 3'^ou, after rising for a time to the level of a 
sphere of elegance, you will presently sink back to your 
former life, for you have not in yon the strength bestowed by 
a good education to enable you to resist vice and think of the 
future. You would no more be able to break with the women 
of your own class than you have broken with the men who 
shamed you at the opera this morning. Lucien's true friends, 
alarmed by his passion for you, have dogged his steps and 
know all. Filled with horror, they have sent me to you to 
sound your views and decide your fate; but though they are 
powerful enough to clear a stumbling-stone out of the young 
man's way, they are merciful. Understand this, child: a 
girl whom Lucien loves has claims on their regard, as a true 
Christian M'orships the slough on which, by chance, the divine 
light falls. 1 came to be the instrument of a beneficent pur- 
pose ; — still, if I had found you utterly reprobate, armed with 
effrontery and astuteness, corrupt to the marrow, deaf to 
the voice of repentance, 1 should have abandoned you to their 
wrath. 

"The release, civil and political, which it is so hard to 
win, which the police is so right to withhold for a time in 
the interests of society, and which I heard you long for 
with all the ardor of true repentance — is here," said the 
priest, taking an othcial-lookiug paper out of his belt. "You 
\7ere seen yesterday, this letter of release is dated to-day. 
You see how powerful the people are who take an interest in 
Lucien." 

At the sight of this document Esther was so ingenuously 
overcome by the convulsive agitation produced b}' unlooked- 
for joy, that a fixed smile parted her lips, like that of a crazy 
creature. The priest paused, looking at the girl to see 
whether, when once she had lost the horrible strength which 
corrupt natures find in corruption itself, and was thrown 
back on her frail and delicate primitive nature, she could 



ESTHER HAPPY 33 

endure so much excitement. If she had been a deceitful 
courtesan, Esther would have acted a part; but now that she 
was innocent and herself once more, she might perhaps die, 
as a blind man cured may lose his sight again if he is ex- 
posed to too bright a light. At this moment this man looked 
into the very depths of human nature, but his calmness was 
terrible in its rigidity; a cold alp, snow-bound and near to 
heaven, impenetrable and frowning, with flanks of granite, 
and yet beneficent. 

Such women are essentially impressionable beings, passing 
without reason from the most idiotic distrust to absolute con- 
fidence. In this respect they are lower than animals. Ex- 
treme in everything — in their joy and despair, in their 
religion and irreligion — they would almost all go mad if 
they were not decimated b}^ the mortality peculiar to their 
class, and if happy chances did not lift one now and then 
from the slough in which they dwell. To understand the 
very depths of the wretchedness of this horrible existence, 
one must know how far in madness a creature can go without 
remaining there, by studying La Torpille's violent ecstasy 
at the priest's feet. The poor girl gazed at the paper of re- 
lease with an expression which Dante has overlooked, and 
which surpassed the inventiveness of his Inferno. But a 
reaction came with tears. Esther rose, threw her arms round 
the priest's neck, laid her head on his breast, which she 
wetted with her weeping, kissing the coarse stuff that covered 
that heart of steel as if she fain would touch it. She seized 
hold of him; she covered his hands with kisses; she poured 
out in a sacred efEusion of gratitude her most coaxing caresses, 
lavished fond names on him, saying again and again in the 
midst of her honeyed words, "Let me have it !" in a thousand 
different tones of voice; she wrapped him in tenderness, 
covered him with her looks with a .swiftness that found him 
defenceless; at last she charmed away his wrath. 

The priest perceived how well the girl had deserved her 
nickname ; he understood how difficult it was to resist this 
bewitching creature ; he suddenly comprehended Lucien's love, 



84 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

and just what must have fascinated the poet. Such a pas- 
sion hides among a thousand temptations a dart-like hook 
which is most apt to catch the lofty soul of an artist. These 
passions, inexplicable to the vulgar, are perfectly accounted 
for by the thirst for ideal beauty, which is characteristic of 
a creative mind. For are we not, in some degree, akin to 
the angels, whose task it is to bring the guilty to a better 
mind? are we not creative when we purify such a creature? 
How delightful it is to harmonize moral with physical beauty ! 
What joy and pride if we succeed ! How noble a task is that 
which has no instrument but love ! 

Such alliances, made famous by the example of Aristotle, 
Socrates, Plato, Alcibiades, Cethegus, and Pompey, and yet 
so monstrous in the eyes of the vulgar, are based on the same 
feeling that prompted Louis XIY. to build Versailles, or 
that makes men rush into any ruinous enterprise — into con- 
verting the miasma of a marsh into a mass of fragrance sur- 
rounded by living waters; placing a lake at the top of a 
hill, as the Prince de Conti did at Xointel ; or producing 
Swiss scenery at Cassan, like Bergeret, the farmer-general. 
In short, it is the application of art in the realm of morals. 

The priest, ashamed of having jdelded to this weakness, 
hastily pushed Esther away, and she sat down quite abashed, 
for he said: 

"You are still the courtesan." And he calmly replaced the 
paper in his sash. 

Esther, like a child who has a single wish in its head, 
kept her eyes fixed on the spot where the document lay 
hidden. 

"My child," the priest went on after a pause, "your mother 
was a Jewess, and you have not been baptized ; but, on the 
other hand, you have never been taken to the synagogue. 
You are in the limbo where little children are '' 

"Little children !" she echoed, in a tenderly pathetic tone. 

"As you are on the books of the police, a cipher outside 
the pale of social beings," the priest went on, unmoved. "If 
love, seen as it swept past, led you to believe three montlis 



ESTHER HAPPY 35 

since that you were then born, you must feel that since that 
day you have been really an infant. You must, therefore, be 
led as if you were a child; you must be completely changed, 
and I will undertake to make you unrecognizable. To begin 
with, you must forget Lucien." 

The words crushed the poor girl's heart; she raised her 
eyes to the priest and shook her head; she could not speak, 
finding the executioner in the deliverer again. 

"At any rate, you must give up^seeing him," he went on. 
"I will take you to a religious house where young girls of 
the best families are educated; there you will become a 
Catholic, you will be trained in the practice of Christian 
exercises, you will be taught religion. You may come out 
an accomplished young lady, chaste, pure, well brought up, 
if " The man lifted up a finger and paused. 

"If," he went on, "you feel brave enough to leave the 
'Torpille' behind you here." 

"Ah!" cried the poor thing, to whom each word had been 
like a note of some melody to which the gates of Paradise 
were slowly opening. "Ah ! if it were possible to shed all 
my blood here and have it renewed !" 

"Listen to me." 

She was silent. 

"Your future fate depends on your power of forgetting. 
Think of the extent to which you pledge yourself. A word, 
a gesture, which betrays" La Torpille will kill Lucien's wife. 
A word murmured in a dream, an involuntary thought, an 
immodest glance, a gesture of impatience, a reminiscence of 
dissipation, an omission, a shake of the head that might reveal 
what you know, or what is known about you for your 
woes " 

"Yes, yes. Father," said the girl, with the exaltation of 
a saint. "To walk in shoes of red-hot iron and smile, to 
live in a pair of stays set with nails and maintain the grace 
of a dancer, to eat bread salted with ashes, to drink worm- 
wood, — all will be sweet and easy !" 

She fell again on her knees, she kissed the priest's shoes, 



36 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

she melted into tears that wetted them, she clasped his knees, 
and clung to them, murmuring foolish words as she wept for 
joy. Her long and beautiful light hair waved to the ground, 
a sort of carpet under the feet of the celestial messenger, 
whom she saw as gloomy and hard as ever when she lifted 
herself up and looked at him. 

"What have I done to offend j^ou?" cried she, quite 
frightened. "I have heard of a woman, such as I am, who 
washed the feet of Jesus with perfumes. Alas ! virtue has 
made me so poor that I have nothing but tears to offer you." 

"Have you not understood ?" he answered, in a cruel voice. 
"I tell you, you must be able to come out of the house to 
which I shall take you so completely changed, physically and 
morally, that no man or woman you have ever known will 
be able to call you 'Esther' and make you look round. Yes- 
terday your love could not give you strength enough so com- 
pletely to bury the prostitute that she could never reappear; 
and again to-day she revives in adoration which is due to none 
but God." 

"Was it not He who sent you to me ?" said she. 

"If during the course of your education you should even 
see Lucien. all would be lost," he went on ; "remember that." 

"Who will comfort him ?" said she. 

"What was it that you comforted him for?" asked the 
priest, in a tone in which, for the first time during this scene, 
there was a nervous quaver. 

"I do not know; he was often sad when he came." 

"Sad!" said the priest. "Did he tell you why?" 

"Never," answered she. 

"He was sad at loving such a girl as you !" exclaimed he. 

"Alas ! and well he might be," said she, with deep humility. 
"I am the most despicable creature of my sex, and I could 
find favor in his eyes only by the greatness of my love." 

"That love must give you the courage to obey me blindly. 
If I were to take you straight from hence to the house where 
you are to be educated, everybody here would tell Lucien that 
you had gone away to-day, Sunday, with a priest; he might 



ESTHER HAPPY 3T 

follow in 3'our tracks. In the course of a week, the portress, 
not seeing me again, might suppose me to be what I am not. 
So, one evening — this day week — at seven o'clock, go out 
quietly and get into a cab that will be waiting for you at the 
bottom of the Hue des Frondeurs. During this week avoid 
Lucien. find excuses, have him sent from the door, and if he 
should come in, go up to some friend's room. I shall know 
if you have seen him, and in that event all will be at an end. 
I shall not even come back. These eight days you will need 
to make up some suitable clothing and to hide your look of 
a prostitute," said he, laying a purse on the chimney-shelf. 
"There is something in your manner, in your clothes — some- 
thing indefinable which is well known to Parisians, and pro- 
claims you what you are. Have you never met in the streets 
or on the Boulevards a modest and virtuous girl walking with 
her mother?" 

"Oh yes, to my sorrow ! The sight of a mother and 
daughter is one of our most cruel punishments; it arouses 
the remorse that lurks in the innermost folds of our hearts, 
and that is consuming us. — I know too well all I lack." 

"Well, then, you know how you should look next Sun- 
day," said the priest, rising. 

"Oh !" said she, "teach me one real prayer before you go, 
that I may pray to God." 

It was a touching thing to see the priest making this girl 
repeat Ave Maria and Paternoster in French. 

"That is very fine !" said Esther, when she had repeated 
these two grand and universal utterances of the Catholic 
faith vidthout making a mistake. 

"What is your name?" she asked the priest when he took 
leave of her. 

"Carlos Herrera; I am a Spaniard banished from my 
country." 

Esther took his hand and kissed it. She was no longer 
the courtesan; she was an angel rising after a fall. 

In a religious institution, famous for the aristocratic and 
3 



38 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

pious teaching imparted there, one Monday morning in the 
beginning of March 1824 the pupils found their pretty flock 
increased by a newcomer, whose beauty triumphed without 
dispute not only over that of her companions, but over the 
special details of beauty which were found severally in per- 
fection in each one of them. In France it is extremely rare, 
71 ot to say impossible, to meet with the thirty points of per- 
fection, described in Persian verse, and engraved, it is said, 
in the Seraglio, which are needed to make a woman abso- 
lutely beautiful. Though in France the whole is seldom seen, 
we find exquisite parts.- As to that imposing union which 
sculpture tries to produce, and has produced in a few rare 
examples like the Diana and the Callipyge, it is the privileged 
possession of Greece and Asia Minor. 

Esther came from that cradle of the human race; her 
mother was a Jewess. The Jews, though so often deteriorated 
by their contact with other nations, have, among their many 
races, families in which this sublime type of Asiatic 
beauty has been preserved. When they are not repulsively 
hideous, they present the splendid characteristics of Arme- 
nian beauty. Esther would have carried off the prize at the 
Seraglio; she had the thirty points harmoniously combined. 
Far from having damaged the finish of her modeling and 
the freshness of her flesh, her strange life had given her the 
mysterious charm of womanhood; it is no longer the close, 
waxy texture of green fruit and not yet the warm glow of 
maturity; there is still the scent of the flower. A few days 
longer spent in dissolute living, and she would have been 
too fat. This abundant health, this perfection of the animal 
in a being in whom voluptuousness took the place of thought, 
must be a remarkable fact in the eyes of physiologists. A 
circumstance so rare, that it may be called impossible in 
very young girls, was that her hands, incomparably fine 
in shape, were as soft, transparent, and white as those of a 
woman after the birth of her second child. She had exactly 
the hair and the foot for which the Duchesse de Berri was so 
famous, hair so thick that no hairdresser could gather it 



ESTHEK HAPPY 39 

into his hand, and so long tliat it fell to the ground in rings ; 
for Esther was of that medium height which makes a woman 
;i sort of toy, to be taken up and set down, taken up again 
and carried without fatigue. Her skin, as fine as rice-paper, 
of a warm amber hue showing the purple veins, was satiny 
without dryness, soft without being clammy. 

Esther, excessively strong though apparently fragile, ar- 
rested attention by one feature that is conspicuous in the 
faces in which Eaphael has shown his most artistic feeling, 
for Raphael is the painter who has most studied and best 
rendered Jewish beauty. This remarkable effect was pro- 
duced by the depth of the eye-socket, under which the eye 
moved free from its setting: the arch of the brow was so 
accurate as to resemble the groining of a vault. When youth 
lends this beautiful hollow its pure and diaphanous coloring, 
and edges it with closely-set eyebrows, when the light steal- 
ing into the circular cavity beneath lingers there with a rosy 
hue, there are tender treasures in it to delight a lover, beauties 
to drive a painter to despair. Those luminous curves, where 
the shadows have a golden tone, that tissue as firm as a sinew 
and as mobile as the most delicate membrane, is a crowniug 
achievement of nature. The eye at rest within is like a 
miraculous egg in a nest of silken wings. But as time goes 
on this marvel acquires a dreadful melancholy, when passions 
have laid dark smears on those fine forms, when grief has 
furrowed that network of delicate veins. Esther's nationality 
proclaimed itself in this Oriental modeling of her eyes with 
their Turkish lids; their color was a slate-gray which by 
night took on the blue sheen of a raven's wing. It was only 
the extreme tenderness of her expression that could moderate 
their fire. 

Only those races that are native to deserts have in the 
eye the power of fascinating everybody, for any woman can 
fascinate some one person. Their eyes preserve, no doubt, 
something of the infinitude they have gazed on. Has nature, 
in her foresight, armed their retina with some reflecting back- 
ground to enable them to endure the mirage of the sand. 



40 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

the torrents of sunshine, and the burning cobalt of the sky? 
or, do human beings, hke other creatures, derive something 
from the surroundings among which they grow up, and pre- 
serve for ages the qualities they have imbibed from them? 
The great solution of this problem of race lies perhaps in 
the question itself. Instincts are living facts, and their 
cause dwells in past necessity. Variety in animals is the 
result of the exercise of these instincts. 

To convince ourselves of this long-sought-for truth, it is 
enough to extend to the herd of mankind the observation 
recently made on flocks of Spanish and English sheep which, 
in low meadows where pasture is abundant, feed side by side 
in close array, but on mountains, where grass is scarce, scatter 
apart. Take these two kinds of sheep, transfer them to 
Switzerland or France ; the mountain breeds will feed apart 
even in a lowland meadow of thick grass, the lowland sheep 
will keep together even on an alp. Hardly will a succession 
of generations eliminate acquired and transmitted instincts. 
After a century the highland spirit reappears in a refractory 
lamb, just as, after eighteen centuries of exile, the spirit of 
the East shone in Esther's eyes and features. 

Her look had no terrible fascination; it shed a mild 
warmth, it was pathetic without being startling, and the 
sternest wills were melted in its flame. Esther had con- 
quered hatred, she had astonished the depraved souls of Paris ; 
in short, that look and the softness of her skin had earned her 
the terrible nickname which had just led her to the verge of 
the grave. Everything about her was in harmony with these 
characteristics of the Peri of the burning sands. Her forehead 
was firmly and proudly molded. Her nose, like that of the 
Arab race, was delicate and narrow, with oval nostrils M^ell 
set and open at the base. Her mouth, fresh and red, was a 
rose unblemished by a flaw, dissipation had left no trace 
there. Her chin, rounded as though some amorous sculptor 
had polished its fulness, was as white as milk. One thing 
onlv that she had not been able to remedy betrayed the 
courtesan fallen very low: her broken nails, which needed 



ESTHER HAPFY 41 

time to recover their shape, so much had they been spoiled 
by the vulgarest household tasks. 

The young boarders began by being jealous of these marvels 
of beauty, but they ended by admiring them. Before the 
first week was at an end they were all attached to the artless 
Jewess, for they were interested in the unknown misfortunes 
of a girl of eighteen who could neither read nor write, to 
whom all knowledge and instruction were new, and who was 
to earn for the Archbishop the triumph of having converted 
a Jewess to Catholicism and giving the convent a festival in 
her baptism. They forgave her her beauty, finding them- 
selves her superiors in education. 

Esther very soon caught the manners, the accent, the car- 
riage and attitudes of these highly-bred girls; in short, her 
first nature reasserted itself. The change was so complete that 
on his first visit Herrera was astonished— Herrera, whom 
nothing in the world could astonish as it would seem — and 
the Mother Superior congratulated him on his ward. Never 
in their existence as teachers had these sisters met with a 
more charming nature, more Christian meekness, true 
modesty, nor a greater eagerness to learn. When a girl has 
suffered such misery as had overwhelmed this poor child, and 
looks forward to such a reward as the Spaniard held out to 
Esther, it is hard if she does not realize the miracles of the 
early Church which the Jesuits revived in Paraguay. 

"She is edifying," said the Superior, kissing her on the 
brow. 

And this essentially Catholic word tells all. 

In recreation hours Esther would question her companions, 
but discreetly, as to the simplest matters in fashionable life, 
which to her were like the first strange ideas of life to a 
child. When she heard that she was to be dressed in white 
on the day of her baptism and first Communion, that she 
would wear a white satin fillet, white bows, white shoes, white 
gloves, and white rosettes in her hair, she melted into tears, 
to the amazement of her companions. It was the reverse of 
the scene of Jephtha on the mountain- The courtesan was 



42 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

afraid of being understood; she ascribed this dreadful de- 
jection to the joy with which she looked forward to the 
function. As there is certainly as wide a gulf between the 
habits she had given up and the habits she was acquiring as 
there is between the savage state and civilization, she had the 
grace and simplicity and depth which distinguished the won- 
derful heroine of the American Puritans. She had too, with- 
out knowing it, a love that was eating out her heart — a 
strange love, a desire more violent in her who knew every- 
thing than it can be in a maiden who knows notliing, though 
the two forms of desire have the same cause, and the same 
end in view. 

During the first few months the novelty of a secluded life, 
the surprises of learning, the handiworks she was taught, the 
practices of religion, the fer^-ency of a holy resolve, the gentle 
affections she called forth, and the exercise of the faculties 
of her awakened intelligence, all helped to repress her 
memory, even the effort she made to acquire a new one, for 
she had as much to unlearn as to learn. There is more than 
one form of memory : the body and mind have each their 
own; home-sickness, for instance, is a malady of the physical 
memory. Thus, during the third month, the vehemence of 
this virgin soul, soaring to Paradise on outspread wings, was 
not indeed quelled, but fettered by a dull rebellion, of which 
Esther herself did not know the cause. Like the Scottish 
sheep, she wanted to pasture in solitude, she could not con- 
quer the instincts begotten of debauchery. 

Was it that the foul ways of the Paris she had abjured 
were calling her back to them ? Did the chains of the hideous 
habits she had renounced cling to her by forgotten rivets, 
and was she feeling them, as old soldiers suffer still, the 
surgeons tell us, in the limbs they have lost? Had vice and 
excess so soaked into her marrow that holy waters had not 
yet exorcised the devil lurking there? Was the sight of him 
for whom her angelic efforts were made, necessary to the 
poor soul, whom God would surely forgive for mingling 
human and sacred love? One had led to the other. Was 



ESTHER HAPPY 43 

there some transposition of the vital force in her involving 
her in inevitable suffering? Everything is doubtful and ob- 
scure in a case which science scorns to study, regarding the 
subject as too immoral and too compromising, as if the 
physician and the writer, the priest and the political student, 
were not above all suspicion. However, a doctor who was 
stopped by death had the courage to begin an investigation 
which he left unfinished. 

Perhaps the dark depression to which Esther fell a victim, 
and which cast a gloom over her happy life, was due to all 
these causes ; and perhaps, unable as she v/as to suspect them 
herself, she suffered as sick creatures suffer who know noth- 
ing of medicine or surgery. 

The fact is strange. Wholesome and abundant food in 
the place of bad and inflammatory nourishment did not sus- 
tain Esther. A pure and regular life, divided between recre- 
ation and studies intentionally abridged, taking the place of 
a disorderly existence of which the pleasures and the pains 
were equally horrible, exhausted the convent-boarder. The 
coolest rest, the calmest nights, taking the place of crushing 
fatigue and the most torturing agitation, gave her low fever, 
in which the common symptoms were imperceptible to the 
nursing Sister's eye or finger. In fact, virtue and happiness 
following on evil and misfortune, security in the stead of 
anxiety, were as fatal to Esther as her past wretchedness 
would have been to her young companions. Planted in cor- 
ruption, she had grown up in it. That infernal home still 
had a hold on her, in spite of the commands of a despotic 
will. What she loathed was life to her, what she loved was 
killing her. 

Her faith was so ardent that her piety was a delight to 
those about her. She loved to pray. She had opened her 
spirit to the lights of true religion, and received it without 
an effort or a doubt. The priest who was her director was 
delighted with her. Still, at every turn her body resisted 
the spirit. 

To please a whim of Madame de Maintenon's, who fed 



44 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

them with scraps from the royal table, some carp were taken 
oiit of a muddy pool and placed in a marble basin of bright, 
clean water. The carp perished. The animals might be 
sacrificed, but man could never infect them with the leprosy 
of flattery. A courtier remarked at Versailles on th's mute 
resistance. "They are like me,"' said the uncrowned queen ; 
"they pine for their obscure mud." 

This speech epitomizes Esther's story. 

At times the poor girl was driven to run about the splen- 
did convent gardens; she hurried from tree to tree, she 
rushed into the darkest nooks — seeking? What? She did 
not know, but she fell a prey to the demon; she carried on 
a flirtation with the trees, she appealed to them in unspoken 
words. Sometimes, in the evening, she stole along under the 
walls, like a snake, without any shawl over her bare 
shoulders. Often in chapel, during the service, she remained 
with her eyes fixed on the Crucifix, melted to tears ; the others 
admired her; but she was crying with rage. Instead of the 
sacred images she hoped to see, those glaring nights when she 
had led some orgy as Habeneck leads a Beethoven symphony 
at the Conservatoire — nights of laughter and lasciviousness, 
with vehement gestures, inextinguishable laughter, rose be- 
fore her. frenzied, furious, and brutal. She was as mild to 
look upon as a virgin that clings to earth only by her woman's 
shape; within raged an imperial Messalina. 

She alone knew the secret of this struggle between the 
devil and the angel. When the Superior reproved her for 
having done her hair more fashionably than the rule of the 
House allowed, she altered it with prompt and beautiful sub- 
mission; she would have cut her hair ofE if the Mother had 
required it of her. This moral home-sickness was truly 
pathetic in a girl who would rather have perished than have 
returned to the depths of impurity. She grew pale and 
altered and thin. The Superior gave her shorter lessons, 
and called the interesting creature to her room to question 
her. But Esther was happy; she enjoyed the society of her 
companions; she felt no pain in any vital part; still, it was 



ESTHER HAPPY 45 

vitality itself that was attacked. She regretted nothing; 
she wanted nothing. The Superior, puzzled by her boarder's 
answers, did not know what to think when she saw her pining 
under consuming debility. 

The doctor was called in when the girl's condition seemed 
serious; but this doctor knew nothing of Esther's previous 
life, and could not guess it; he found every organ sound, 
the pain could not be localized. The invalid's replies were 
such as to upset every hypothesis. There remained one way 
of clearing up the learned man's doubts, which now lighted 
on a frightful suggestion; but Esther obstinately refused to 
submit to a medical examination. 

In this difficulty the Superior appealed to the Abbe 
Herrera. The Spaniard came, saw that Esther's condition 
was desperate, and took the physician aside for a moment. 
After this confidential interview, the man of science told the 
man of faith that the only cure lay in a journey to Italy. 
The Abbe would not hear of such a journey before Esther's 
baptism and first Communion. 

"How long will it be till then ?" asked the doctor. 

"A month," replied the Superior. 

"She will be dead," said the doctor. 

"Yes, but in a state of grace and salvation," said the 
Abbe. 

In Spain the religious question is supreme, above all 
political, civil, or vital considerations; so the physician did 
not answer the Spaniard. He turned to the Mother Superior, 
but the terrible Abbe took him by the arm and stopped 
him. 

"Not a word, monsieur !" said he. 

The doctor, though a religious man and a Monarchist, 
looked at Esther with an expression of tender pity. The girl 
was as lovely as a lily drooping on its stem. 

"God help her, then !" he exclaimed as he went away. 

On the very day of this consultation, Esther was taken by 
her protector to the Rocher de Cancale, a famous restaurant, 
for his wish to save her had suggested strange expedients to 



46 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

the priest. He tried the effect of two excesses — an excellent 
dinner, which might remind the poor cliild of jjast orgies; 
and the opera, which would give her mind some images of 
worldliness. His despotic authority was needed to tempt the 
young saint to such profanation. Herrera disguised himself 
so effectually as a military man, that Esther hardly recognized 
him: he took care to make his companion wear a veil, and 
put her in a box where she was hidden from all eyes. 

This palliative, which had no risks for innocence so sin- 
cerely regained, soon lost its effect. The convent-boarder 
viewed her protector's dinners with disgust, had a religious 
aversion for the theatre, and relapsed into melancholy, 

"She is dying of love for Lucien,'" said Herrera to him- 
self; he had wanted to sound the depths of this soul, and 
know how much could be exacted from it. 

So the moment came when the poor child was no longer 
upheld by moral force, and the body was about to break 
down. The priest calculated the time with the hideous prac- 
tical sagacity formerly shown by executioners in the art of 
torture. He found his protegee in the garden, sitting on a 
bench under a trellis on which the April sun fell gently; she 
seemed to be cold and trying to warm herself : her companions 
looked with interest at her pallor as of a faded plant, her 
e3^es like those of a dying gazelle, her drooping attitude. 
Esther rose and went to meet the Spaniard with a lassitude 
that showed how little life there was in her, and, it may 
be added, how little care to live. This hapless outcast, this 
wild and wounded swallow, moved Carlos Herrera to com- 
passion for the second time. The gloomy minister, whom 
God should have employed only to carry out His revenges, 
received the sick girl with a smile, which expressed. Indeed, 
as much bitterness as sweetness, as much vengeance as 
charity. Esther, practised in meditation, and used to revul- 
sions of feeling since she had led this almost monastic life, 
felt on her part, for the second time, distrust of her pro- 
tector; but, as on the former occasion, his speech reassured 
her. 



ESTHER HAPPY 47 

"Well, my dear child," said he, "and why have you never 
spoken to me of Lucien?" 

"I promised you," she said, shuddering convulsively from 
head to foot; "I swore to you that I would never breathe his 
name." 

"And yet you have not ceased to think of him." 

"That, monsieur, is the only fault I have committed. I 
think of him always; and just as you came, I was saying his 
name to myself." 

"Absence is killing you ?" 

Esther's only answer was to hang her head as the sick do 
who already scent the breath of the grave. 

"If you could see him ?" said he. 

"It would be life !" she cried. 

"And do you think of him only spiritually?" 

"Ah, monsieur, love cannot be dissected!" 

"Child of an accursed race ! I have done everything to 
save you; I send you back to your fate. — You shall see him 
again." 

"Why insult my happiness ? Can I not love Lucien and be 
virtuous ? Am I not ready to die here for virtue, as I should 
be ready to die for him? Am I not dying for these two 
fanaticisms — for virtue, which was to make me worthy of 
him, and for him who flung me into the embrace of virtue? 
Yes, and ready to die without seeing him or to live by seeing 
him. God is my Judge." 

The color had mounted to her face, her whiteness had 
recovered its amber warmth. Esther looked beautiful again. 

"The day after that on which you are washed in the waters 
of baptism you shall see Lucien once more ; and if you think 
you can live in virtue by living for him, you shall part no 
more." 

The priest was obliged to lift up Esther, whose knees failed 
her; the poor child dropped as if the ground had slipped 
from under her feet. The Abbe seated her on a bench; and 
when she could speak again she asked him : 

^'Why not to-day?" 

"Do you want to rob Monseigneur of the triumph of your 



48 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

baptism and conversion ? You are too close to Lucien not to 
be far from God." 

"Yes, I was not thinking " 

^ "You will never be of any religion," said the priest, with 
' a touch of the deepest irony. 

"God is good," said she ; "He can read my heart." 
Conquered by the exquisite artlessness that shone in her 
look, ]\v her tone of voice, her attitude and gestures, Herrera 
kissed her on the forehead for the first time. 

"Your libertine friends named you well; you would be- 
witch God the Father. — A few days more must pass, and 
then you will both be free." 

"Both !" she echoed in an ecstasy of joy. 

This scene, observed from a distance, struck pupils and 

superiors alike; they fancied they had looked on at a miracle 

as they compared Esther with herself. She was completely 

j| changed; she was alive. She reappeared her natural self, 

: all love, sweet, coquettish, playful, and gay; in short, it was 

a resurrection. 

Herrera lived in the Eue Cassette, near Saint-Sulpice, the 
church to which he was attached. This building, hard and 
stern in style, suited this Spaniard, whose discipline was that 
of the Dominicans. A lost son of Ferdinand VII.'s astute 
policy, he devoted himself to the cause of the constitution, 
knowing that this devotion could never be rewarded till the 
restoration of the Rey netto. Carlos Herrera had thrown him- 
self body and soul into the Camarilla at the moment when 
the Cortes seemed likely to stand and hold their own. To the 
world this conduct seemed to proclaim a superior soul. The 
Due d'Angouleme's expedition had been carried out, King 
Ferdinand was on the throne, and Carlos Herrera did not 
go to claim the reward of his services at Madrid. Fortified 
against curiosity by his diplomatic taciturnity, he assigned 
as his reason for remaining in Paris his strong affection for 
Lucien de Rubempre, to which the young man already owed 
the King's patent relating to his change of name. 



ESTHER HAPPY 49 

1 lerrera lived very obscurely, as priests employed on serret 
missions traditionally live. He fulfilled his religious duties 
at Saint-Sulpice, never went out but on business, and then 
after dark, and in a hackney cab. His day was filled up 
with a siesta in the Spanish fashion, which arranges for sleep 
between the two chief meals, and so occupies the hours when 
Paris is in a busy turmoil. The Spanish cigar also played its^ 
part, and consumed time as well as tobacco. Laziness is : 
a mask as gravity is, and that again is laziness. 

Herrera lived on the second floor in one wing of the house, 
and Lucien occupied the other wing. The two apartments 
were separated and joined by a large reception room of 
antique magnificence, suitable equally to the grave priest 
and to the young poet. The courtyard was gloomy; large, 
thick trees chaded the garden. Silence and reserve are always 
found in the dwellings chosen by priests. Herrera's lodging 
may be described in one word — a cell. Lucien's, splendid 
with luxury, and furnished with every refinement of com- 
fort, combined everything that the elegant life of a dandy 
demands — a poet, a writer, ambitious and dissipated, at once 
vain and vainglorious, utterly heedless, and yet wishing for 
order, one of those incomplete geniuses who have some power 
to wish, to conceive — which is perhaps the same thing — but 
no power at all to execute. 

These two, Lucien and Herrera, formed a body politic. 
This, no doubt, was the secret of their union. Old men in 
whom the activities of life have been uprooted and trans- 
planted to the sphere of interest, often feel the need of a 
pleasing instrument, a young and impassioned actor, to carry 
out their schemes. Richelieu, too late, found a handsome 
pale face with a young moustache to cast in the v/ay of women 
whom he wanted to amuse. Misunderstood by giddy-pated 
younger men, he was compelled to banish his master's mother 
and terrify the Queen, after having tried to make each 
fall in love with him, though he was not cut out to be loved 
by queens. 

Do what we will, always, in the course of an ambitious life. 



50 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

we find a woman in the way just when we least expect such 
an obstacle. However great a political man may be, he al- 
ways needs a woman to set against a woman, Just as the 
Dutch use a diamond to cut a diamond. Eome at the height 
of its power yielded to this necessity. And observe how im- 
measurably more imposing was the life of Mazarin, the 
Italian cardinal, than that of Richelieu, the French 
cardinal. Richelieu met with opposition from the great 
nobles, and he applied the axe; he died in the flower 
of his success, worn out by this duel, for which he had only 
a Capuchin monk as his second. Mazarin was repulsed by 
the citizen class and the nobility, armed allies who sometimes 
victoriously put royalty to flight; but Anne of Austria's 
devoted servant took off no heads, he succeeded in vanquish- 
ing the whole of France, and trained Louis XIV., who com- 
pleted Richelieu's work by strangling the nobility with gilded 
cords in the grand Seraglio of Versailles. Madame de 
Pompadour dead, Choiseul fell ! 

Had Herrera soaked his mind in these high doctrines? 
Had he judged himself at an earlier age than Richelieu? 
Had he chosen Lucien to be his Cinq-Mars, but a faithful 
Cinq-Mars ? No one could answer these questions or measure 
this Spaniard's ambition, as no one could foresee what his end 
might be. These questions, asked by those who were able to 
see anything of this coalition, which was long kept a secret, 
might have unveiled a horrible mystery which Lucien himself 
had known but a few days. Carlos was ambitious for two ; 
that was what his conduct made plain to those persons who 
knew him, and who all imagined that Lucien was the priest's 
illegitimate son. 

Fifteen months after Lucien's reappearance at the opera 
ball, which led him too soon into a world where the priest 
had not wished to see him till he should have fully armed 
him against it, he had three fine horses in his stable, a coupe 
for evening use, a cab and a tilbury to drive by day. He 
dined out every day. Herrera's foresight was Justified; his 
pupil Avas carried away by dissipation; he thought it neees- 



ESTHER HAPP^t 51 

sary to effect some diversion in the frenzied passion for 
Esther that the young man still cherished in his heart. After 
spending something like forty thousand francs, every folly 
had brought Lucien back with increased eagerness to La 
Torpille; he searched for her persistently; and as he could 
not find her, she became to him what game is to the sports- 
man. 

Could Herrera understand the nature of a poet's love ? 

When once this feeling has mounted to the brain of one 
of these great little men, after firing his heart and absorbing 
his senses, the poet becomes as far superior to humanity 
through love as he already is through the power of his 
imagination. A freak of intellectual heredity has given him 
the faculty of expressing nature by imager}^ to which he 
gives the stamp both of sentiment and of thought, and he 
lends his love the wings of his spirit ; he feels, and he paints, 
he acts and meditates, he multiplies his sensations by thought, 
present felicity becomes threefold through aspiration for 
the future and memory of the past; and with it he mingles 
the exquisite delights of the soul, which make him the prince 
of artists. Then the poet's passion becomes a fine poem in 
which human proportion is often set at nought. Does not 
the poet then place his mistress far higher than Avomen crave 
to sit? Like the sublime Knight of la Mancha, he trans- 
figures a peasant girl to be a princess. He uses for his own 
behoof the wand with which he touches everything, turning 
it into a wonder, and thus enhances the pleasure of 
loving by the glorious glamour of the ideal. 

Such a love is the very essence of passion. It is extreme 
in all things, in its hopes, in its despair, in its rage, in its 
melancholy, in its joy; it flies, it leaps, it crawls; it is not 
like any of the emotions known to ordinary men; it is to 
everyday love what the perennial Alpine torrent is to the 
lowland brook. 

These splendid geniuses are so rarely understood that 
they spend themselves in hopes deceived ; they are exhausted 
by the search for their ideal mistress, and almost always 



52 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

die like gorgeous insects splendidly adorned for their love- 
festival by the most poetical of nature's inventions, and 
crushed under the foot of a passer-by. But there is another 
danger ! When they meet with the form that answers to 
their soul, and which not unfrequently is that of a baker's 
wife, they do as Raphael did, as the beautiful insect does, 
they die in the Fornarina's arms. 

Lucien was at this pass. His poetical temperament, ex- 
cessive in all things, in good as in evil, had discerned the 
angel in this girl, who was tainted by corruption rather than 
corrupt; he alwaj^s saw her white, winged, pure, and mys- 
terious, as she had made herself for him, understanding that 
he would have her so. 

Towards the end of the month of May 1825 Lucien had 
lost all his good spirits; he never went out, dined with 
Herrera, sat pensive, worked, read volumes of diplomatic 
treatises, squatted Turkish-fashion on a divan, and smoked 
three or four hookahs a day. His groom had more to do in 
cleaning and perfuming the tubes of this noble pipe than 
in currying and brushing down the horses' coats, and dress- 
ing them with cockades for driving in the Bois. As soon as 
the Spaniard saw Lucien pale, and detected a malady in the 
frenzy of suppressed passion, he determined to read to the 
bottom of this man's heart on which he founded his life. 

One fine evening, when Lucien, lounging in an armchair, 
was mechanically contemplating the hues of the setting sun 
through the trees in the garden, blowing up the mist of 
scented smoke in slow, regular clouds, as pensive smokers 
are wont, he was roused from his reverie by hearing a deep 
sigh. He turned and saw the Abbe standing by him with 
folded arms. 

"You were there !" said the poet. 

"For some time," said the priest, "my thoughts have been 
following the wide sweep of yours." Lucien understood his 
meaning. 

"I have never affected to have an iron nature such as yours 
is. To me life is by turns paradise and hell ; when by chance 
it is neither, it bores me ; and I am bored " 



ESTHER HAPPY 53 

"How can you be bored when you huve such splendid pros- 
pects before you?" 

"If I have no faith in those prospects, or if they are too 
much shrouded?" 

"Do not talk nonsense/' said the priest. "It would be far 
more worthy of you and of me that you should open your 
heart to me. There is now that between us which ought never 
to have come between us — a secret. This secret has subsisted 
for sixteen months. You are in love." 

"And what then?" 

"A foul hussy called La Torpille '^ 

"Well?"' 

"My boy, I told you you might have a mistress, but a wo- 
man of rank, pretty, young, influential, a Countess at least. 
I had chosen Madame d'Espard for you, to make her the 
instrument of your fortune without scruple; for she would 
never have perverted your heart, she would have left you 
free. — To love a prostitute of the lowest class when you have 
not, like kings, the power to give her high rank, is a monstrous 
blunder." 

"And am I the first man who has renounced ambition to 
follow the lead of a boundless passion?" 

"Good!" said the priest, stooping to pick up the mouth- 
piece of the hookah which Lucien had dropped on the floor. 
"I understand the retort. Cannot love and ambition be 
reconciled? Child, you have a mother in old Herrera — a 
mother who is wholly devoted to you " 

"I know it, old friend," said Lucien, taking his hand and 
shaking it. 

"You wished for the toys of wealth; you have them. You 
want to shine; I am guiding you into the paths of power, I 
kiss very dirty hands to secure your advancement, and you 
vvdll get on. A little while yet and you will lack nothing 
of what can charm man or woman. Though effeminate in 
your caprices, your intellect is manly. I have dreamed all 
things of you ; I forgive you all. You have only to speak to 
have your ephemeral passions gratified. I have aggrandized 



54 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

your life by introducing into it that which makes it de- 
lightful to most people — the stamp of political influence and 
dominion. You will be as great as you now are small; but 
we must not break the machine by which we coin money. I 
grant you all you will excepting such blunders as will destroy 
your future prospects. When I can open the drawing-rooms 
of the Faubourg Saint-Germain to you, I forbid your wallow- 
ing in the gutter. Lucien, I mean to be an iron stanchion 
in your interest ; I will endure everything from you, for you. 
Thus I have transformed your lack of tact in the game of 
life into the shrewd stroke of a skilful player " 

Lucien looked up with a start of furious impetuosity. 

"I carried off La Torpille !" 

"You?" cried Lucien. 

In a fit of animal rage the poet jumped up, flung the 
jeweled mouthpiece in the priest's face, and pushed him with 
such violence as to throw down that strong man. 

"1," said the Spaniard, getting up and preserving his ter- 
rible gravity. 

His black wig had fallen oft'. A bald skull, as shining as 
a death's-head, showed the man's real countenance. It was 
appalling. Lucien sat on his divan, his hands hanging limp, 
overpowered, and gazing at the AJ)be with stupefaction, 

"I carried her off," the priest repeated. 

"What did you do with her? You took her away the day 
after the opera ball." 

"Yes, the day after I had seen a woman who belonged to 
you insulted by wretches whom I would not have con- 
descended to kick downstairs." 

"Wretches !" interrupted Lucien, "say rather monsters, 
compared with whom those who are guillotined are angels. 
Do you know what the unhappy Torpille had done for three 
of them? One of them was her lover for two months. She 
was poor, and picked up a living in the gutter; he had not a 
sou ; like me, when you rescued me, he was very near the river; 
this fellow would get up at night and go to the cupboard where 
the girl kept the remains of her dinner and eat it. At last 



ESTHER HAPPY 55 

she discovered the trick; she understood the shameful thing, 
nnd took care to leave a great deal; then she was happy. She 
never told any one but me, that night, coming home from 
the opera. 

"The second had stolen some money; but before the theft 
was found out, she lent him the sum, which he was enabled 
to replace, and which he always forgot to repay to the poor 
child. 

"As to the third, she made his fortune by playing out a 
farce worthy of Figaro's genius. She passed as his wife and 
became the mistress of a man in power, who believed her to 
be the most innocent of good citizens. To one she gave life, 
to another honor, to the third fortune — what does it all count 
for to-day ? And this is how they reward her !" 

"Would you like to see them dead ?" said Herrera, in whose 
eyes there were tears. 

"Come, that is just like you ! I know you by that " 

"Nay, hear all, raving poet," said the priest. "La Torpille 
is no more." 

Lucien flew at Herrera to seize him by the throat, with 
such violence that any other man must have fallen back- 
wards; but the Spaniard's arm held off his assailant. 

"Come, listen," said he coldly. "I have made another 
Avoman of her, chaste, pure, well bred, religious, a perfect 
lady. She is being educated. She can, if she may, under 
the influence of your love, become a Mnon, a Marion Delorme, 
a dii Barry, as the Journalist at the opera ball remarked. 
You may proclaim her your mistress, or you may retire be- 
hind a curtain of your own creating, which will be wiser. 
By either method you Mdll gain profit and pride, pleasure 
and advancement ; but if you are as great a politician as you 
are a poet, Esther will be no more to you than any other 
woman of the town ; for, later, perhaps she may help us out 
of difficulties; she is worth her weight in gold. Drink, but 
do not get tipsy. 

"If I had not held the reins of your passion, where would 
you be now? Eolling with La Torpille in the slough of 



56 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

misery from which I dragged 5^ou. Here, read this," said 
Herrera, as simply as Talma in Manlius, which he had never 
seen. 

A sheet of paper was laid on the poet's knees, and startled 
him from the ecstasy and surprise with which he had listened 
to this astounding speech : he took it, and read the first letter 
written by Mademoiselle Esther: — 



To Monsieur VAhhe Carlos H err era. 

"My dear Protector, — Will you not suppose that grati- 
tude is stronger in me than love, when you see that the first 
use I make of the power of expressing my thoughts is to thank 
you, instead of devoting it to pouring forth a passion that 
Lucien has perhaps forgotten. But to you, divine man, I 
can say what I should not dare to tell him, who, to my joy, 
still clings to earth. 

"Yesterday's ceremony has filled me with treasures of 
grace, and I place my fate in your hands. Even if I must 
die far away from m}^ beloved, I shall die purified like the 
Magdalen, and my soul will become to him the rival of his 
guardian angel. Can I ever forget yesterday's festival? 
How could I wish to abdicate the glorious throne to which I 
was raised? Yesterday I washed away every stain in the 
waters of baptism, and received the Sacred Body of my Ke- 
deemer; I am become one of His tabernacles. At that 
moment I heard the songs of angels, I was more than a wo- 
man, was born to a life of light amid the acclamations of 
the whole earth, admired by the world in a cloud of incense 
and prayers that were intoxicating, adorned like a virgin for 
the lieavenly Spouse. 

"Thus finding myself worthy of Lucien, which I had never 
hoped to be, I abjured impure love and vowed to walk only 
in the paths of virtue. If my flesh is weaker than my spirit, 
let it perish. Be the arbiter of my destiny; and if I die, tell 
Lucien that I died to him when I was born to God/' 



ESTHER HAPPY 57 

Lucien looked up at the Abbe with eyes full of tears. 

"You know the rooms fat Caroline Bellefeuille had, in the 
Rue Taitbout," the Spaniard said. "The poor creature, cast 
off by her magistrate, was in the greatest poverty; she was 
about to be sold up. I bought the place all standing, and she 
turned out with her clothes. Esther, the angel who aspired 
to heaven, has alighted there, and is waiting for you." 

At this moment Lucien heard his horses pawing the ground 
in the courtyard; he was incapable of expressing his admira- 
tion for a devotion which he alone could appreciate ; he threw 
himself into the arms of the man he had insulted, made 
amends for all by a look and the speechless effusion of his 
feelings. Then he flew downstairs, confided Esther's ad- 
dress to his tiger's ear, and the horses went off as if their 
master's passion had lived in their legs. 

The next day a man, who by his dress might have been 
mistaken by the passers-by for a gendarme in disguise, was 
passing the Rue Taitbout, opposite a house, as if he were 
waiting for some one to come out ; he walked with an agitated 
air. You will often see in Paris such vehement promenaders, 
real gendarmes watching a recalcitrant National Guardsman, 
bailiff's taking steps to effect an arrest, creditors planning a 
trick on the debtor who has shut himself in, lovers, or jealous 
and suspicious husbands, or friends doing sentry for a friend ; 
but rarely do you meet a face portending such coarse and 
fierce thoughts as animated that of .the gloomy and powerful 
man who paced to and fro under Mademoiselle Esther's win- 
dows with the brooding haste of a bear in its cage. 

At noon a window was opened, and a maid-servant's hand 
was put out to push back the padded shutters. A few min- 
utes later, Esther, in her dressing-gown, came to breathe the 
air, leaning on Lucien; any one who saw them might have 
taken them for the originals of some pretty English vignette. 
Esther was the first to recognize the basilisk eyes of the 
Spanish priest ; and the poor creature, stricken as if she had 
been shot, gave a cry of horror. 



58 A COURTESAN'S TJFE 

"There is that terrible priest," said she, pointing him out 
to Lucien. 

"He!" said Lucien, smiling, "he is no more a priest than 
you are." 

"What then?" she said in alarm. 

"Why, an old villain who believes in nothing but the 
devil," said Lucien. 

This light thrown on the sham priest's secrets, if revealed 
to any one less devoted than Esther, might have ruined Lucien 
for ever. 

As they went along the corridor from their bedroom to 
the dining-room, w^here their breakfast was served, the lovers 
met Carlos Herrera. 

"What have you come here for?" said Lucien roughly. 

"To bless you," replied the audacious scoundrel, stopping 
the pair and detaining them in the little drawing-room of the 
apartment. "Listen to me, my pretty dears. Amuse your- 
selves, be happy — well and good ! Happiness at^ any price 
is my motto. — But you," he went on to Esther, "you whom 
I dragged from the mud, and have soaped down body and 
soul,, you surely do not dream that you can stand in Lucien's 
way? — As for you, my boy," he went on after a pause, look- 
ing at Lucien, "you are no longer poet enough to allow your- 
self another Coralie. This is sober prose. What can be 
done with Esther's lover? Nothing. Can Esther become 
Madame de Kubempre? No. 

"Well, my child," said he, laying his hand on Esther's, and 
making her shiver as if some serpent had wound itself round 
her, "the world must never know^ of your existence. Above 
all, the world must never know that a certain Mademoiselle 
Esther loves Lucien, and that Lucien is in love with her. — 
These rooms are your prison, my pigeon. If you wish to go 
out — and your health will require it — you must take ex- 
ercise at night, at hours when you cannot be seen; for your 
youth and beauty, and the style you have acquired at the Con- 
vent, would at once be observed in Paris. The day when 
any one in the world, whoever it be," he added in an awful 



ESTHER HAPPY 59 

voice, seconded by an awful look, "learns that Lucien is your 
lover, or that you are his mistress, that day will be your last 
but one on earth. I have procured that boy a patent per- 
mitting him to bear the name and arms of his maternal an- 
cestors. Still, this is not all; we have not yet recovered the 
title of Marquis; and to get it, he must marry a girl of 
good family, in whose favor the King will grant this distinc- 
tion. Such an alliance will get Lucien on in the world and 
at Court. This boy, of whom I have made a man, will be 
first Secretary to an Embassy; later, he shall be Minister at 
some German Court, and God, or I — better still — helping 
him, he will take his seat some day on the bench reserved for 
peers " 

"Or on the bench reserved for " Lucien began, in- 
terrupting the man. 

"Hold your tongue !" cried Carlos, laying his broad hand 
on Lucien's mouth. "Would you tell such a secret to a 
woman?" he muttered in his ear. 

"Esther ! A woman !" cried the poet of Les Marguerites. 

"Still inditing sonnets !" said the Spaniard. "Nonsense ! 
Sooner or later all these angels relapse into being women, 
and every woman at moments is a mixture of a monkey and a 
child, two creatures who can kill us for fun. — Esther, my 
jewel," said he to the terrified girl, "I have secured as your 
waiting-maid a creature who is as much mine as if she were 
my daughter. For your cook, you shall have a mulatto wo- 
man, which gives style to a house. With Europe and Asie 
you can live here for a thousand-franc note a month like a 
queen — a stage queen. Europe has been a dressmaker, a 
milliner, and a stage super; Asie has cooked for an epicure 
Milord. These two women will serve you like two fairies." 

Seeing Lucien go completely to the wall before this man, 
who was guilty at least of sacrilege and forgery, this woman, 
sanctified by her love, felt an awful fear in the depths of her 
heart. She made no reply, but dragged Lucien into her 
room, and asked him: 

"Ls he the devil ?" 



60 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"He is far worse to me!" he vehemently replied. "But 
if you love me, try to imitate that man's devotion to me, and 
obey him on pain of death ! " 

"Of death !" she exclaimed, more frightened than ever. 

"Of death," repeated Lucien. "Alas ! my darling, no 
death could be compared with that which would befall me 
if " 

Esther turned pale at his words, and felt herself fainting-. 

"Well, well/' cried the sacrilegious forger, 'Tiave you not 
yet spelt out your daisy-petals ?" 

Esther and Lucien came out, and the poor girl, not dar- 
ing to look at the mysterious man, said: 

"You shall be obeyed as God is obeyed, monsieur." 

"Good," said he. "You may be very happy for a time, 
and you will need only nightgowns and wrappers — that will 
be very economical." 

The two lovers went on towards the dining-room, but 
Lucien's patron signed to the pretty pair to stop. And they 
stopped. 

"I have just been talking of your servants, my child/' said 
he to Esther. "I must introduce them to you." 

The Spaniard rang twice. The women he had called 
Europe and Asie came in, and it was at once easy to see the 
reason of these names. 

Asie, who looked as if she might have been born in the 
Island of Java, showed a face to scare the eye, as flat as a 
board, with the copper complexion peculiar to Malays, with 
a nose that looked as if it had been driven inwards by some 
violent pressure. The strange conformation of the maxillary 
])ones gave the lower part of this face a resemblance to that 
of the larger species of apes. The brow, though sloping, was 
not deficient in intelligence produced by habits of cunning. 
Two fierce little eyes had the calm fixity of a tiger's, but they 
never looked you straight in the face. Asie seemed afraid 
lest she might terrify people. Her lips, a dull blue, were 
parted over prominent teeth of dazzling whiteness, but grown 
across. The leading expression of this animal countenance 



-^ -Y^ 



'V 



ESTHER HAPPY 61 



was one of meanness. Her black hair, straight and greasy- 
looking like her skin, lay in two shining bands, forming an 
edge to a very handsome silk handkerchief. Her ears were 
remarkably pretty, and graced with two large dark pearls. 
Small, short, and squat, Asie bore a likeness to the grotesque 
figures the Chinese love to paint on screens, or, more exactly, 
to the Hindoo idols which seem to be imitated from some 
non-existent type, found, nevertheless, now and again by 
travelers. Esther shuddered as she looked at this mon- 
strosity, dressed out in a white apron over a stuff gown. 

"Asie," said the Spaniard, to whom the woman looked 
up with a gesture that can only be compared to that of a 
dog to its master, "this is your mistress." 

And he pointed to Esther in her wrapper. 

Asie looked at the young fairy with an almost distressful 
expression; but at the same moment a flash, half hidden be- 
tween her thick, short eyelashes, shot like an incendiary spark 
at Lucien, who, in a magnificent dressing-gown thrown open 
over a fine Holland linen shirt and red trousers, with a 
fez on his head, beneath which his fair hair fell in thick 
curls, presented a godlike appearance. 

Italian genius could invent the tale of Othello; English 
genius could put it on the stage; but Nature alone reserves 
the power of throwing into a single glance an expression of 
jealousy grander and more complete than England and Italy 
together could imagine. This look, seen by Esther, made 
her clutch the Spaniard by the arm, setting her nails in it 
as a cat sets its claws to save itself from falling into a gulf 
of which it cannot see the bottom. 

The Spaniard spoke a few words, in some unfamiliar 
tongue, to the Asiatic monster, who crept on her knees to 
Esther's feet and kissed them. 

"She is not merely a good cook," said Herrera to Esther; 
"she is a past-master, and might make Careme mad with 
jealousy. Asie can do everything by way of cooking. She' 
will turn you out a simple dish of beans that will make you 
wonder whether the angels have not come down to add some 



62 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

herb from heaven. She will go to market herself every morn- 
ing, and fight like the devil she is to get things at the lowest 
prices ; she will tire out curiosity by silence. 

"You are to be supposed to have been in India, and Asie 
will help you to give effect to this fiction, for she is one of 
those Parisians who are born to be of any nationality they 
please. But I do not advise that you should give yourself 
out to be a foreigner. — Europe, what do you say?" 

Europe was a perfect contrast to Asie, for she was the 
smartest waiting-maid that Monrose could have hoped to see 
as her rival on the stage. Slight, with a scatter-brain man- 
ner, a face like a ^yeasel, and a sharp nose, Europe's features 
offered to the observer a countenance worn by the corruption 
of Paris life, the unhealthy complexion of a girl fed on raw 
apples, lymphatic but sinewy, soft but tenacious. One little 
foot was set forward, her hands were in her apron-pockets, 
and she fidgeted incessantly without moving, from sheer ex- 
cess of liveliness. Grisette and stage super, in spite of her 
youth she must have tried many trades. As full of evil as 
a dozen Madelonnettes put together, she might have robbed 
her parents, and sat on the bench of a police-court. 

Asie was terrifying, but you knew her thoroughly from 
the first ; she descended in a straight line from Locusta ; while 
Europe filled you with uneasiness, which could not fail to in- 
crease the more j'^ou had to do with her; her corruption 
seemed boundless. You felt that she could set the devils 
by the ears. 

"Madame might say she had come from Valenciennes," 
said Europe in a precise little voice. "I was born there — 
Perhaps monsieur," she added to Lucien in a pedantic tone, 
"will be good enough to say what name he proposes to give to 
madame?" 

"Madame van Bogseck," the Spaniard put in, reversing 
Esther's name. "Madame is a Jewess, a native of Holland, 
the widow of a merchant, and suffering from a liver-com- 
plaint contracted in Java. No great fortune — not to excite 
curiosity." 



ESTHER HAPPY 63 

"Enough to live on — six thousand francs a year; and we 
shall complain of her stinginess?" said Europe. 

"That is the thing," said the Spaniard, with a bow. 
"You limbs of Satan !" he went on, catching Asie and Europe 
exchanging a glance that displeased him, "remember what I 
have told you. You are serving a queen; you owe her as 
much respect as to a queen; you are to cherish her as you 
would cherish a revenge, and be as devoted to her as to me. 
Neither the door-porter, nor the neighbors, nor the other 
inhabitants of the house — in short, not a soul on earth is 
to know what goes on here. It is your business to balk 
curiosity if any should be roused. — And madame," he went 
on, laying his broad hairy hand on Esther's arm, "madame 
must not commit the smallest imprudence ; you must prevent 
it in case of need, but always with perfect respect. 

"Y"ou, Europe, are to go out for madame in anything that 
concerns her dress, and you must do her sewing from motives 
of economy. Finally, nobody, not even the most insignificant 
creature, is ever to set foot in this apartment. You two, be- 
tween you, must do all there is to be done. 

"And you, my beauty," he went on, speaking to Esther, 
"when you want to go out in your carriage by night, you can 
tell Europe; she will know where to find your men, for 
you will have a servant in livery, of my choosing, like these 
two slaves." 

Esther and Lucien had not a word ready. They listened 
to the Spaniard, and looked at the two precious specimens to 
whom he gave his orders. What was the secret hold to which 
he owed the submission and servitude that were written on 
these two faces — one mischievously recalcitrant, the other so 
malignantly cruel? 

He read the thoughts of Lucien and Esther, who seemed 
paralyzed, as Paul and Virginia might have been at the sight 
of two dreadful snakes, and he said in a good-natured un- 
dertone : 

"You can trust them as you can me; keep no secrets from 
them; that will flatter them. — Go to your work, my little 



64 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

Asie," he added to the cook. — "And you, my girl, lay another 
place/' he said to Europe; "the children cannot do less than 
ask papa to breakfast/' 

When the two women had shut the door, and the Spaniard 
could hear Europe moving to and fro, he turned to Lucien 
and Esther, and opening a wide palm, he said: 

"I hold them in the hollow of my hand." 

The words and gesture made his hearers shudder. 

'^^here did you pick them up?" cried Lucien. 

^^hat the devil ! I did not look for them at the foot of 
the throne !" replied the man. "Europe has risen from the 
mire, and is afraid of sinking into it again. Threaten them 
with Monsieur Abbe when they do not please you, and you 
will see them quake like mice when the cat is mentioned. I 
am used to taming wild beasts," he added with a smile. 

'T^ou strike me as being a demon," said Esther, clinging 
closer to Lucien. 

"My child, I tried to win you to heaven; but a repentant 
Magdalen is always a practical joke on the Church. If 
ever there were one, she would relapse into the courtesan in 
Paradise. You have gained this much: you are forgotten, 
and have acquired the manners of a lady, for you learned in 
the convent what you never could have learned in the ranks 
of infamy in which you were living. — You owe me nothing," 
said he, observing a beautiful look of gratitude on Esther's 
face. "I did it all for him," and he pointed to Lucien. 
"You are, you will always be, you will die a prostitute; for 
in spite of the delightful theories of cattle-breeders, you can 
never, here below, become anything but what you are. The 
man who feels bumps is right. You have the bump of love." 

The Spaniard, it will be seen, was a fatalist, like Xapoleon, 
Mahomet, and many other great politicians. It is a strange 
thing that most men of action have a tendency to fatalism, 
just as most great thinkers have a tendency to believe in 
Providence. 

*^hat I am, I do not know," said Esther with angelic 



ESTHER HAPPY 65 

sweetness; 'T)ut I love Lucien, and shall die worshiping 
him." 

"Come to breakfast," said the Spaniard sharpl3^ "And 
pray to God that Lucien may not marry too soon, for then 
you would never see him again." 

"His marriage would be my death," said she. 

She allowed the sham priest to lead the Avay, that she 
might stand on tiptoe and whisper to Lucien without being 
seen. 

"Is it your wish," said, she, "that I should remain in the 
power of this man who sets two hyaenas to guard me ?" 

Lucien bowed his head. 

The poor child swallowed down her grief and affected glad- 
ness, but she felt cruelly oppressed. It needed more than 
a year of constant and devoted care before she was accustomed 
to these two dreadful creatures whom Carlos Herrera called 
the two watch-dogs. 

Lucien's conduct since his return to Paris had borne the 
stamp of such profound policy that it excited — and could not 
fail to excite — the jealousy of all his former friends, on whom 
he took no vengeance but by making them furious at his 
success, at his exquisite "get up," and his way of keeping 
every one at a distance. The poet, once so communicative, 
so genial, had turned cold and reserved. De Marsa)^, the 
model adopted by all the youths of Paris, did "not make a 
greater display of reticence in speech and deed than did 
Lucien. As to brains, the journalist had ere now proved his 
mettle. De Marsay, against whom many people chose to pit 
Lucien, giving a preference to the poet, was small-minded 
enough to resent this. 

Lucien, now in high favor with men who secretly pulled 
the wires of power, was so completely indifferent to literary 
fame, that he did not care about the success of his romance, 
republished under its real title, L'Archer de Charles JX., or 
the excitement caused by his volume of sonnets called Les 



66 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

Marguerites, of which Daiiriat sold out the edition in a 
week. 

"It is posthumous fame," said he, with a laugh, to Made- 
moiselle des Touches, who congratulated him. 

The terrible Spaniard held his creature with an iron hand, 
keeping him in the road towards the goal where the trumpets 
and gifts of victory await patient politicians. Lucien had 
taken Beaudenord's bachelor quarters on the Quai Malaquais, 
to be near the Rue Taitbout, and his adviser was lodging 
under the same roof on the fourth floor. Lucien kept only 
oTie horse to ride and drive, a man-servant, and a groom. 
When he was not dining out, he dined "with Esther. 

Carlos Herrera kept such a keen eye on the service in 
the house on the Quai Malaquais, that Lucien did not spend 
ten thousand francs a year, all told. Ten thousand more 
were enough for Esther,- thanks to the unfailing and in- 
explicable devotion of Asie and Europe. Lucien took the 
utmost precautions in going in and out at the Rue Taitbout. 
He never came but in a cab, with the blinds down, and al- 
ways drove into the courtyard. Thus his passion for Esther 
and the very existence of the establishment in the Rue Tait- 
bout, being unknown to the world, did him no harm in his 
connections or undertakings.. Xo rash word ever escaped 
him on this delicate subject. His mistakes of this sort with 
regard to Coralie, at the time of his first stay in Paris, had 
given him experience. 

In the first place, his life was marked by the correct reg- 
ularity under which many mysteries can be hidden; he re- 
mained in society every night till one in the morning; he 
was always at home from ten till one in the afternoon; then 
he drove in the Bois de Boulogne and paid calls till five. He 
was rarely to be seen on foot, and thus avoided old acquaint- 
ances. When some journalist or one of his former associates 
waved him a greeting, he responded with a bow, polite enough 
to avert annoyance, but significant of such deep contempt 
as killed all French geniality. He thus had very soon got rid 
of persons whom he would rather never have known. 



ESTHER HAPPY 67 

An old-established aversion kept him from going to see 
Madame d'Espard, who often wished to get him to her house ; 
but when he met her at those of the Duchesse de Maufri- 
gneuse, of Mademoiselle des Touches, of the Comtesse de 
Montcornet or elsewhere, he was always exquisitely polite to 
her. This hatred, fully reciprocated by Madame d'Espard, 
compelled Lucien to act with prudence; but it will be seen 
how he had added fuel to it by allowing himself a stroke 
of revenge, Avhich gained him indeed a severe lecture from 
Carlos. 

"You are not yet strong enough to be revenged on any 
one, whoever it may be," said the Spaniard. "When we are 
walking under a burning sun we do not stop to gather even 
the finest flowers." 

Lucien was so genuinely superior, and had so fine a future 
before him, that the young men who chose to be offended 
or puzzled by his return to Paris and his unaccountable good 
fortune were enchanted whenever they could do him an ill 
turn. He knew that he had many enemies, and was well 
aware of these hostile feelings among his friends. The Abbe, 
indeed, took admirable care of his adopted son, putting him 
on his guard against the treachery of the world and the fatal 
imprudence of youth. Lucien was expected to tell, and did 
in fact tell the Abbe each evening, every trivial incident of 
the day. Thanks to his Mentor's advice, he put the keenest 
curiosity — ^the curiosity of the world — off the scent. En- 
trenched in the gravity of an Englishman, and fortified by 
the redoubts cast up by diplomatic circumspection, he never 
gave any one the right or the opportunity of seeing a corner 
even of his concerns. His handsome young face had, by 
practice, become as expressionless in society as that of a 
princess at a ceremonial. 

Towards the middle of 1829 his marriage began to be 
talked of to the eldest daughter of the Duchesse de Grandlieu, 
who at that time had no less than four daughters to provide 
for. No one doubted that in honor of such an alliance the 
King would revive for Lucien the title of Marquis. This 



68 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

distinction would establish Lucien's fortune as a diplomats, 
and he would probably be accredited as Minister to 
some German Court. For the last three years Lucien's life 
had been regular and above reproach ; indeed, de Marsay had 
made this remarkable speech about him: 

"That young fellow must have a very strong hand behind 
him." 

Thus Lucien was almost a person of importance. His 
passion for Esther had, in fact, helped him greatly to play 
his part of a serious man. A habit of this kind guards an 
ambitious man from many follies ; having no connection with 
any woman of fashion, he cannot be caught by the reactions 
of mere physical nature on his moral sense. 

As to happiness, Lucien's was the realization of a poet's 
dreams — a penniless poet's, hungering in a garret. Esther, 
the ideal courtesan in love, while she reminded Lucien of 
1 Coralie, the actress with whom he had lived for a year, com- 
pletely eclipsed her. Every loving and devoted woman in- 
vents seclusion, incognito, the life of a pearl in the depths of 
the sea ; but to most of them this is no more than one of the 
delightful whims which supply a subject for conversation, 
a proof of love which they dream of giving, but do not give ; 
Avhereas Esther, to whom her first enchantment was ever new, 
who lived perpetually in the glow of Lucien's first incendiary 
glance, never, in four years, had an impulse of curiosity. 
She gave her whole mind to the task of adhering to the terms 
of the programme prescribed by the sinister Spaniard. Nay, 
more ! In the midst of intoxicating happiness she never took 
unfair advantage of the unlimited power that the constantly 
revived desire of a lover gives to the woman he loves to ask 
Lucien a single question regarding Herrera, of whom indeed 
she lived in constant awe ; she dared not even think of him. 
The elaborate benefactions of that extraordinary man, to 
whom Esther undoubtedly owed her feminine accomplish- 
ment and her well-bred manner, struck the poor girl as ad- 
vances on account of hell. 

"T shall have to pay for all this some day," she would tell 
herself with dismay. 



ESTHER HAPPY 69 

• 

Every fine night she went out in a hired carriage. She 
was driven with a rapidity no doubt insisted on by the Abbe, 
in one or another of the beautiful woods round Paris, 
Boulogne, Vincennes, Eomainville, or Ville-d'Avray, often 
with Lucien, sometimes alone with Europe. There she could 
walk about without fear; for when Lucien was not with her, 
she was attended by a servant dressed like the smartest of 
outriders, armed with a real knife, whose face and brawny 
build alike proclaimed him a ruthless athlete. This pro- 
tector was also provided, in the fashion of English footmen, 
with a stick, but such as single-stick players use, with which 
they can keep off more than one assailant. In obedience to 
an order of the Abbe's, Esther had never spoken a word to 
this escort. When madame wished to go home, Europe gave 
a call; the man in waiting whistled to the driver, who was 
always within hearing. 

When Lucien was walking with Esther, Europe and this 
man remained about a hundred paces behind, like two of 
the infernal minions that figure in the Thousand and One 
Nights, which enchanters place at the service of their devotees. 

The men, and yet more the women of Paris, know noth- 
ing of the charm of a vvalk in the woods on a fine night. 
The stillness, the moonlight effects, the solitude, have the 
soothing effect of a bath. Esther usually went out at ten, 
walked about from midnight till one o'clock, and came in at 
half-past two. It was never daylight in her rooms till eleven. 
She then bathed and went through the elaborate toilet which 
is unknown to most women, for it takes up too much time, 
and is rarely carried out by any but courtesans, women of 
the town, or fine ladies who have the day before them. She 
was only just ready when Lucien came, and appeared before 
him as a newly opened flower. Her only care was that her 
poet should be happy; she Avas his toy, his chattel; she gave 
him entire liberty. She never cast a glance beyond the circle 
where she shone. On this the Abbe had insisted, for it was 
part of his profound policy that Lucien should have gallant 
adventures. 



70 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

• 

Happiness has no history, and the story-tellers of all 
lands have understood this so well that the words, "They 
were happy/' are the end of every love tale. Hence only 
the ways and means can be recorded of this really romantic 
happiness in the heart of Paris. It was happiness in its 
loveliest form, a poem, a symphony, of four years' duration. 
Every woman will exclaim, "Tliat was much !" Neither 
Esther nor Lucien had ever said, "This is too much !" And 
the formula, "They were happy," was more emphatically true 
than even in a fairy tale, for "they had no children." 

So Lucien could coquet with the world, give way to his 
poet's caprices, and, it may be plainly admitted, to the 
necessities of his position. All this time he was slowly making 
his wa}', and was able to render secret service to certain 
political personages by helping them in their work. In such 
matters he was eminently discreet. He cultivated Madame 
de Serizy's circle, being, it was rumored, on the very best 
terms with that lady. Madame de Serizy had carried him 
off from the Duchesse de Maufrigneuse, who, it was said, had 
"thrown him over," one of the phrases by which women 
avenge themselves on happiness they envy. Lucien was in 
the lap, so to speak, of the High Almoner's set. and intimate 
with women who were the Archbishop's personal friends. 
He was modest and reserved ; he waited patiently. So de 
Marsay's speech — de ]\Iarsay was now married, and made his 
wife live as retired a life as Esther — was significant in more 
ways than one. 

But the submarine perils of such a course as Lucien's will 
be sufficiently obvious in the course of this chronicle. 

Matters were in this position when, one fine night in 
August, the Baron de Xucingen was driving back to Paris 
from the country residence of a foreign banker, settled in 
Prance, Avith whom he had been dining. The estate lay at 
eight leagues from Paris in the district of la Brie. Xow, 
the Baron's coachman having undertaken to drive his master 
there and back with his own horses, at nightfall ventured 
to moderate the pace. 



ESTHER HAPPY 71 

As they entered the forest of Vincennes the position of 
beast, man, and master was as follows: — The coachman, 
liberally soaked in the kitchen of the aristocrat of the Bourse, 
was perfectly tipsy, and slept soundly, while still holding 
the reins to deceive other wayfarers. The footman, seated 
behind, was snoring like a wooden top from Germany — the 
land of little carved figures, of large wine-vats, and of 
humming-tops. The Baron had tried to think; but after 
passing the bridge at Gournay, the soft somnolence of diges- 
tion had sealed his eyes. The horses understood the coach- 
man's plight from the slackness of the reins; they heard the 
footman's hasso continuo from his perch behind; they saw 
that they were masters of the situation, and took advantage 
of their few minutes' freedom to make their own pace. Like 
intelligent slaves, they gave highway robbers the chance of 
plundering one of the richest capitalists in France, the most 
deeply cunning of the race which, in France, have been en- 
ergetically styled lynxes — loups-cerviers. Finally, being in- 
dependent of control, and tempted by the curiosity which 
every one must have remarked in domestic animals, they 
stopped where four roads met, face to face with some other 
horses, whom they, no doubt, asked in horses' language: 
"Who may you be? What are you doing? Are you com- 
fortable?" 

When the chaise stopped, the Baron awoke from his nap. 
At first he fancied that he was still in his friend's park; 
then he was startled by a celestial vision, which found him 
unarmed with his usual weapon— self-interest. The moon- 
light was brilliant ; he could have read by it — even an evening 
paper. In the silence of the forest, under this pure light, 
the Baron saw a woman, alone, who, as she got into a hired 
chaise, looked at the strange spectacle of this sleep-stricken 
carriage. At the sight of this angel the Baron felt as though 
a light had flashed into glory within him. The young lady, 
seeing herself admired, pulled down her veil with terrified 
haste. The man-servant gave a signal which the driver per- 
fectly understood, for the vehicle went off like an arrow. 



-i v 



72 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

The old banker was fearfully agitated; the blood left his 
feet cold and carried fire to his brain, his head sent the flame 
back to his heart; he was choking. The unhappy man fore- 
saw a fit of indigestion, but in spite of that supreme terror 
he stood up. 

"Follow qvick, fery qvick. — Tam ' you, you are ashleep !" 
he cried. "A hundert franc if you catch up dat chaise." 

At the words "A hundred francs," the coachman woke up. 
The servant behind heard them, no doubt, in his dreams. 
The Baron reiterated his orders, the coachman urged the 
horses to a gallop, and at the Barriere du Trone had suc- 
ceeded in overtaking a carriage resembling that in which 
Nucingen had seen the divine fair one, but which contained 
a swaggering head-clerk from some first-class shop and a 
lady of the Rue Vivienne. 

This blunder filled the Baron with consternation. 

"If only I had prought Chorge inshtead of you, shtupid 
fool, he shall have fount dat voman," said he to the servant, 
while the excise officers were searching the carriage. 

"Indeed, Monsieur le Baron, the devil was behind the 
chaise, I believe, disguised as an armed escort, and he sent 
this chaise instead of hers." 

"Dere is no such ting as de Teufel," said the Baron. 

The Baron de ISTucingen owned to sixty; he no longer 
cared for women, and for his wife least of all. He boasted 
that he had never known such love as makes a fool of a 
man. He declared that he was happy to have done with 
women; the most angelic of them, he frankly said, was not 
worth w^hat she cost, even if you got her for nothing. He 
was supposed to be so entirely blase, that he no longer paid 
two thousand francs a month for the pleasure of being de- 
ceived. His eyes looked coldly down from his opera box on 
the corps de ballet; never a glance was shot at the capitalist 
by any one of that formidable swarm of old young girls, and 
young old women, the cream of Paris pleasure. 

Natural love, artificial and love-of-show love, love based 
on self-esteem and vanity, love as a display of taste, decent, 



ESTHER HAPPY 73 

conjugal love, eccentric love — the Baron had paid for them 
all, had known them all excepting real spontaneous love. 
This passion had now pounced down on him like an eagle on 
its prey, as it did on Gentz, the confidential friend of His 
Highness the Prince of Metternich. All the world knows 
what follies the old diplomate committed for Fanny Elssler, 
whose rehearsals took up a great deal more of his time than 
the concerns of Europe. 

The woman who had just overthrown that iron-bound 
money-box, called Nucingen, had appeared to him as one of 
those who are unique in their generation. It is not certain 
that Titian's mistress, or Leonardo da Vinci's Monna Lisa, 
or Raphael's Fornarina were as beautiful as this exquisite 
Esther, in whom not the most practised eye of the most ex- 
perienced Parisian could have detected the faintest trace of 
the ordinary courtesan. The Baron was especially startled 
by the noble and stately air, the air of a well-born woman, 
which Esther, beloved, and lapped in luxury, elegance, and 
devotedness, had in the highest degree. Happy love is the 
divine unction of women; it makes them all as lofty as 
empresses. 

For eight nights in succession the Baron went to the forest 
of Vincennes, then to the Bois de Boulogne, to the woods 
of Ville-d'Avray, to Meudon, in short, everywhere in the 
neighborhood of Paris, but failed to meet Esther. Thai 
beautiful Jewish face, which he called "a face out of te 
Biple," was always before his eyes. By the end of a fort- 
night he had lost his appetite. 

Delphine de Nucingen, and her daughter Augusta, whom 
the Baroness was now taking out, did not at first perceive 
the change that had come over the Baron. The mother 
and daughter only saw him at breakfast in the morning and 
at dinner in the evening, when they all dined at home, and 
this was only on the evenings when Delphine received com- 
pany. But by the end of two m.onths, tortured by a fever 
of impatience, and in a state like that produced by acute 
home-sickness, the Baron, amazed to find his millions im>po- 



74 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

tent, grew so thin, and seemed so seriously ill, that Delphine 
had secret hopes of finding herself a widow. She pitied 
her husband, somewhat hypocritically, and kept her daughter 
in seclusion. She bored her husband with questions; he an- 
swered as Englishmen answer when suffering from spleen, 
hardly a word. 

Delphine de Nucingen gave a grand dinner every Sunday. 
She had chosen that day for her receptions, after observing 
that no people of fashion went to the play, and that the 
day was pretty generally an open one. The emancipation of 
the shopkeeping and middle classes makes Sunday almost 
as tiresome, in Paris as it is deadly in London. So the 
Baroness invited the famous Desplein to dinner, to consult 
him in spite of the sick man, for Nucingen persisted in as- 
serting that he was perfectly well. 

Keller, Eastignac, de Marsay, du Tillet, all their friends 
had made the Baroness understand that a man like Nucingen 
could not be allowed to die without any notice being taken 
of it; his enormous business transactions demanded some 
care; it was absolutely necessary to know where he stood. 
These gentlemen also were asked to dinner, and the Comte 
de Gondreville, Francois Keller's father-in-law, the Chevalier 
d'Espard, des Lupeaulx, Doctor Bianchon — Desplein's best 
beloved pupil — Beaudenord and his wife, the Comte and 
Comtesse de Montcornet, Blondet, Mademoiselle des Touches 
and Conti, and finally, Lucien de Rubempre, for whom 
Eastignac had for the last five years manifested the warmest 
regard — by order, as the advertisements have it. 

"We shall not find it easy to get rid of that young fellow,'* 
said Blondet to Eastignac, when he saw Lucien come in 
handsomer than ever, and uncommonly well dressed. 

"It is wiser to make friends with him, for he is formidable," 
said Eastignac. 

"He?" said de Marsay. "No one is formidable to my 
knowledge but men whose position is assured, and his is 
unattacked rather than unattackable ! Look here, what does 
he live on? Where does his money come from? He has, 
I am certain, sixty thousand francs in debts." 



ESTHER HAPPY 75 

"He has found a friend in a ver}^ rich Spanish priest who 
has taken a fancy to him/' replied Eastignac. 

"He is going to be married to the eldest Mademoiselle 
de Grandlieu," said Mademoiselle des Touches. 

"Yes," said the Chevalier d'Espard, "but they require him 
to buy an estate worth thirty thousand francs a year as 
security for the fortune he is to settle on the young lady, 
and for that he needs a million francs, which are not to be 
found in any Spaniard's shoes." 

"That is dear, for Clotilde is very ugly," said the Baron- 
ess. 

Madame de Nueingen affected to call Mademoiselle de 
Grandlieu by her Christian name, as though she, nee Goriot, 
frequented that society. 

"Xo," replied du Tillet, "the daughter of a duchess is 
never ugly to the like of us, especially when she brings with 
her the title of Marquis and a diplomatic appointment. But 
the great obstacle to the marriage is Madame de Serizy's 
insane passion for Lucien. She must give him a great deal 
of money." 

"Then I am not surprised at seeing Lucien so serious ; for 
Madame de Serizy will certainly not give him a million 
francs to help him to marry Mademoiselle de Grandlieu. He 
probably sees no way out of the scrape," said de Marsay. 

"But Mademoiselle de Grandlieu worships him," said the 
Comtesse de Montcornet; "and with the young person's as- 
sistance, he may perhaps make better terms." 

"And what will he do with his sister and brother-in-law at 
Angouleme?" asked the Chevalier d'Espard. 

"Well, his sister is rich," replied Rastignac, "and he now 
speaks of her as Madame Sechard de Marsae." 

"Whatever difficulties there may be, he is a very good-look- 
ing fellow," said Bianchon, rising to greet Lucien. 

"How 'do, my dear fellow ?" said Rastignac, shaking hands 
warmly with Lucien. 

De Marsay bowed coldly after Lucien had first bowed to 
him. 



76 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

Before dinner Desplein and Bianchon, who studied the 
Baron while amusing him, convinced themselves that his 
malady was entirely nervous; but neither could guess the 
cause, so impossible did it seem that the great politician of 
the money market could be in love. When Bianchon, seeing 
nothing but love to account for the banker's condition, hinted 
as much to Delphine de jSTucingen, she smiled as a woman wlio 
has long known all her husband's weaknesses. After dinner, 
however, when thty all adjourned to the garden, the more 
intimate of the party gathered round the banker, eager to 
clear up this extraordinary ease when they heard Bianchon 
pronounce that Xucingen must be in love. 

"Do 5^ou know. Baron," said de Marsay, "that you have 
grown very thin? You are suspected of violating the laws 
of financial Xature." 

"Ach, nefer!" said the Baron. 

"Yes, yes," replied de Marsay. "They dare to say that 
you are in love." 

"Dat is true," replied iSTucingen piteously ; "I am in lof for 
somebod}^ I do not know." 

"You, in love, you? You are a coxcomb !" said the Cheva- 
lier d'Espard. 

"In lof, at my aje ! I know dat is too ridicilous. But 
vat can I help it? Dat is so." 

"A woman of the world?" asked Lucien. 

"Nay," said de Marsay. "The Baron would not grow 
so thin but for a hopeless love, and he has money enough to buy 
all the women who will or can sell themselves !" 

"I do not know who she it," said the Baron. "And as 
Motame de jSTucingen is inside de trawing-room, I may say so. 
dat till now I have nefer known what it is to lof. Lof ! I 
tink it is to grow tin." 

"And where did you meet this innocent daisy?" asked 
Rastignac. 

"In a carriage, at mitnight, in de forest of Fincennes." 

"Describe her," said de Marsay. 

"A vhite gaze hat, a rose gown, a vhite scharf , a vhite feil — 



ESTHER HAPPY 77 

a face yust out of de Biple. Eyes like feuer, an Eastern 
color " 

"You were dreaming," said Lucien, with a smile. 

"Dat is true; I vas shleeping like a pig — a pig mit his 
shkin full," he added, "for I vas on my vay home from tinner 
at mine friend's " 

"Was she alone?" said du Tillet, interrupting him. 

"Ja," said the Baron dolefully ; "but she had ein heid/uque 
behind dat carriage and a maid-shervant " 

"Lucien looks as if he knew her," exclaimed Eastignac, 
seeing Esther's lover smile. 

"Who doesn't know the woman who would go out at mid- 
night to meet Nucingen?" said Lucien, turning on his heel. 

"Well, she is not a woman who is seen in society, or the 
Baron would have recognized the man," said the Chevalier 
d'Espard. 

"I have nefer seen him," replied the Baron. "And for 
forty days now I have had her seeked for by de Police, and 
dey do not find her." 

"It is better that she should cost you a few hundred francs 
than cost 3^ou your life," said Desplein; "and, at your age, a 
passion without hope is dangerous, you might die of it." 

"Ja, ja," replied the Baron, addressing Desplein. "And 
vat I eat does me no goot, de air I breade feels to choke me. 
I go to de forest of Fincennes to see de place vat I see her — 
and dat is all my life. I could not tink of de last loan — I 
trust to my partners vat haf pity on me. I could pay one 
million franc to see dat voman — and I should gain by dat, 
for I do nothing on de Bourse. — Ask du Tillet." 

"Very true," replied du Tillet; "he hates business; he is 
quite unlike himself; it is a sign of death." 

"A sign of lof," replied Nucingen ; "and for me, dat is all de 
same ting." 

The simple candor of the old man, no longer the stock- 
jobber, who, for the first time in his life, saw that something 
was more sacred and more precious than gold, really moved 
these world-hardened men; some exchanged smiles; others 



78 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

looked at Xiicingen with an expression that plainl}'^ said, 
"Such a man to have come to this !" — And then they all re- 
turned to the drawing-room, talking over the event. 

For it was indeed an event calculated to produce the great- 
est sensation. Madame de Nucingen went into fits of laugh- 
ter when Lucien betrayed her husband's secret; but the 
Baron, when he heard his wife's sarcasms, took her by the 
arm and led her into the recess of a window. 

"Motame," said he in an undertone, "have I ever laughed 
at all at your passions, that you should laugh at mine? A 
goot frau should help her husband out of his difficulty vidout 
making game of him like vat you do.'' 

From the description given by the old banker, Lucien had 
recognized his Esther. Much annoyed that his smile should 
have been observed, he took advantage of a moment when 
coffee was served, and the conversation became general, to 
vanish from the scene. 

'TVliat has become of Monsieur de Eubempre?" said the 
Baroness. 

"He is faithful to his motto: Quid me continehit?" said 
Eastignac. 

"Which means, 'Who can detain me?' or 'I am uncon- 
querable,' as you choose," added de Marsay, 

"Just as Monsieur le Baron was speaking of his unknown 
lad}', Lucien smiled in a way that makes me fancy he may 
know her," said Horace Bianchon, not thinking how danger- 
ous such a natural remark might be. 

"Goot !" said the banker to himself. 

Like all incurables, the Baron clutched at everything that 
seemed at all hopeful ; he promised himself that he would 
have Lucien watched by some one besides Louchard and his 
men — Louchard, the sharpest commercial detective in Paris 
— to whom he had applied about a fortnight since. 

Before going home to Esther, Lucien was due at the Hotel 
Grandlieu, to spend the two hours which made Mademoiselle 
Clotilde Frederique de Grandlieu the happiest girl in the 
Faubourg Saint-Germain. But the prudence characteristic 



ESTHER HAPPY 79 

of this ambitious youth warned him to inform Carlos Herrera 
forthwith of the effect resulting from the smile wrung from 
him b}^ the Baron's description of Esther. The banker's pas- 
sion for Esther, and the idea that had occurred to him of 
setting the police to seek the unknown beauty, were indeed 
events of sufficient importance to be at once communicated 
to the man who had sought, under a priest's robe, the shelter 
which criminals of old could find in a church. And Lucien's 
road from the Rue Saint-Lazare, where ISTucingen at that time 
lived, to the Eue Saint-Dominique, where was the Hotel 
Grandlieu, led him past his lodgings on the Quai Malaquais. 

Lucien found his formidable friend smoking his breviary 
— that is to say, coloring a short pipe before retiring to 
bed. The man, strange rather than foreign, had given up 
Spanish cigarettes, finding them too mild. 

"Matters look serious," said the Spaniard, when Lucien 
had told him all. "The Baron, who employs Louchard to 
hunt up the girl, will certainly be sharp enough to set a spy 
at your heels, and everything will come out. To-night and 
to-morrow morning will not give me more than enough time 
to pack the cards for the game I must play against the Baron ; 
first and foremost, I must prove to him that the police can- 
not help him. When our lynx has given up all hope of find- 
ing his ewe-lamb, I will undertake to sell her for all she is 
worth to him " 

"Sell Esther !" cried Lucien, whose first impulse was al- 
ways the right one. 

"Do you forget where we stand?" cried Carlos Herrera. 

"No money left," the Spaniard went on, "and sixty 
thousand francs of debts to be paid ! If you want to marry 
Clotilde de Grandlieu, you must invest a million of francs 
in land as security for that ugly creature's settlement. Well, 
then, Esther is the quarry I mean to set before that lynx to 
help us to ease him of that million. That is my concern." 

"Esther will never " 

"That is my concern." 

"She will die of it." 



80 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"That is the undertaker's concern. Besides, what then?" 
cried the savage, cliecking Lucien's lamentations merely by 
his attitude. "How many generals died in the prime of life 
for the Emperor Xapoleon?" he asked, after a short silence. 
"There are always plenty of women. In 1821 Coralie was 
unique in 5'our eyes; and yet you found Esther. After her 
will come — do you know who ? — the unknown fair. And she 
of all women is the fairest, and 3'ou will find her in the 
capital where the Due de Grandlieu's son-in-law will bt' 
Minister and representative of the King of France. — And 
do you tell me now, great Baby, that Esther will die of 
it ? Again, can Mademoiselle de Grandlieu's husband keep 
Esther ? 

"You have only to leave everything to me; 3'OU need not 
take the trouble to think at all; that is my concern. Only 
you must do without Esther for a week or two; but go to 
the Eue Taitbout, all the same. — Come, be off to bill and coo 
on your plank of salvation, and play your part well ; slip the 
flaming note j'ou wrote this morning into Clotilde's hand, and 
bring me back a warm response. She will recompense her- 
self for many woes in writing. I take to that girl. 

"You will find Esther a little depressed, but tell her to 
obey. We must display our livery of virtue, our doublet of 
honesty, the screen behind which all great men hide their 
infamy. — I must show off my handsomer self — you must 
never be suspected. Chance has served us better than my 
brain, which has been beating about in a void for these two 
months past." 

All the while he was jerking out these dreadful sentences, 
one by one, like pistol shots, Carlos Herrera was dressing 
himself to go out. 

"You are evidently delighted," cried Lu'cien. "You never 
liked poor Esther, and you look forward with joy to the 
moment when you will be rid of her." 

"You have never tired of loving her, have you? Well, 
I have never tired of detesting her. But have I not always 
behaved as though I were sincerely attached to the hussy — i, 



ESTHER HAPPY 81 

who, through Asie, hold her life in my hands? A few bad 
mushrooms in a stew — and there an end. But Mademoiselle 
Esther still lives ! — and is happy ! — And do you know why ? 
Because you love her. Do not be a fool. For four years we 
have been waiting for a chance to turn up, for us or against 
us; well, it will take something more than mere cleverness 
to wash the cabbage luck has flung at us now. There are 
good and bad together in this turn of the wheel — as there 
are in everything. Do you know what I was thinking of 
when vou came in ?" 

"No." 
' "Of making myself heir here, as I did at Barcelona, to 
an old bigot, by Asie's help." 

"A crime?" 

"I saw no other way of securing your fortune. The 
creditors are making a stir. If once the bailiffs were at your 
heels, and you were turned out of the Hotel Grandlieu, where 
would you be? There would be the devil to pay then." 

And Carlos Herrera, by a pantomimic gesture, showed the 
suicide of a man throwing himself into the water; then he 
fixed on Lucien one of those steady, piercing looks by which 
the will of a strong man is injected, so to speak, into a weak 
one. This fascinating glare, which relaxed all Lucien's fibres 
of resistance, revealed the existence not merely of secrets of 
life and death between him and his adviser, but also of feel- 
ings as far above ordinary feeling as the man himself was 
above his vile position. 

Carlos Herrera, a man at once ignoble and magnanimous, 
obscure and famous, compelled to live out of the world from 
which the law had banned him, exhausted by vice and by 
frenzied and terrible struggles, though endowed with powers 
of mind that ate into his soul, consumed especially by a fever 
of vitality, now lived again in the elegant person of Lucien 
de Rubempre, whose soul had become his own. He was rep- 
resented in social life by the poet, to whom he lent his tenacity 
and iron will. To him Lucien was more than a son, more 
than a woman beloved, more than a family, more than his 



82 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

life; he was his revenge; and as souls cling more closely to 
a feeling than to existence, he had bound the young man to 
him by insoluble ties. 

After rescuing Lucien's life at the moment when the poet 
in desperation was on the verge of suicide, he had proposed 
to him one of those infernal bargains which are heard ot 
only in romances, but of which the hideous possibility has 
often been proved in courts of justice by celebrated criminal 
dramas. While lavishing on Lueien all the delights of Paris 
life, and proving to him that he yet had a great future be- 
fore him, he had made him his chattel. 

But, indeed, no sacrifice was too great for this strange man 
when it was to gratify his second self. With all his strength, 
he was so weak to this creature of his making that he had 
even told him all his secrets. Perhaps this abstract com- 
plicity was a bond the more between them. 

Since the day when La Torpille had been snatched away, 
Lueien had known on what a vile foundation his good fortune 
rested. That priest's robe covered Jacques Collin, a man 
famous on the hulks, who ten years since had lived under 
the homely name of Vautrih'in the Maison Vauquer, where 
Rastignac and Bianchon were at that time boarders. 

Jacques Collin, known as Trompe-la-Mort, had escaped 
from Rochefort almost as soon as he was recaptured, profit- 
ing by the example of the famous Comte de Sainte-Helene, 
while modifying all that was ill planned in Goignard's daring 
scheme. To take the place of an honest man and carry on 
the convict's career is a proposition of which the two terms 
are too contradictory for a disastrous outcome not to be in- 
evitable, especially in Paris ; for, by establishing himself in a 
family, a convict multiplies tenfold the perils of such a sub- 
stitution. And to be safe from all investigation, must not 
a man assume a position far above the ordinary interests 
of life. A man of the world is subject to risks such as rarely 
trouble those who have no contact with the world ; hence the 
priest's gown is the safest disguise when it can be authen- 
ticated by an exemplary life in solitude and inactivity. 



ESTHER HAPPY 83 

"So a priest I will be," said the legally dead man, who 
was quite determined to resuscitate as a figure in the world, 
and to satisfy passions as strange as himself. 

The civil war caused by the Constitution of 1812 in Spain, 
whither this energetic man had betaken himself, enabled 
him to murder secretly the real Carlos Herrera from an 
ambush. This ecclesiastic, the bastard son of a grandee, long 
since deserted by his father, and not knowing to what woman 
he owed his birth, was intrusted by King Ferdinand VII., 
to whom a bishop had recommended him, with a political 
mission to France. The bishop, the only man who took 
any interest in Carlos Herrera, died while this foundling 
son of the Church was on his journey from Cadiz to Madrid, 
and from Madrid to France. Delighted to have met with 
this longed-for opportunity, and under the most desirable 
conditions, Jacques Collin scored his back to efface the fatal 
letters, and altered his complexion by the use of chemicals. 
Thus metamorphosing himself face to face with the corpse, 
he contrived to achieve some likeness to his Sosia. And to 
complete a change almost as marvelous as that related in 
the Arabian tale, where a dervish has acquired the power, old 
as he is, of entering into a young body, by a magic spell, the 
convict, who spoke Spanish, learned as much Latin as an 
Andalusian priest need know. 

As banker to three hulks, Collin was rich in the cash in- 
trusted to his known, and indeed enforced, honesty. Among 
such company a mistake is paid for by a dagger thrust. To 
this capital he now added the money given by the bishop to 
Don Carlos Herrera. Then, before leaving Spain, he was 
able to possess himself of the treasure of an old bigot at 
Barcelona, to whom he gave absolution, promising that he 
would make restitution of the money constituting her fortune, 
which his penitent had stolen by means of murder. 

Jacques Collin, now a priest, and charged with a secret 
mission which would secure him the most brilliant introduc- 
tions in Paris, determined to do nothing that might com- 
promise the character he had assumed, and had given himself 



84 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

up to the chances of his new life, when he met Lucien on 
the road between Angouleme and Paris. In this youth the 
sham priest saw a wonderful instrument for power; he saved 
him from suicide, saying: 

"Give j^ourself over to me as to a man of God, as men give 
themselves over to the devil, and you will have every chance 
of a new career. You will live as in a dream, and the worst 
awakening that can come to you will be death, which you 
now wish to meet." 

The alliance between these two beings, who were to be- 
come one, as it were, was based on this substantial reason- 
ing, and Carlos Herrera cemented it by an ingeniously plotted 
complicity. He had the very genius of corruption, and un- 
dermined Lucien's honesty by plunging him into cruel 
necessity, and extricating him by obtaining his tacit consent 
to bad or disgraceful actions, which nevertheless left him 
pure, loyal, and noble in the eyes of the world. Lucien was 
the social magnificence under whose shadow the forger meant 
to live. 

"I am the author, you are the play; if you fail, it is I 
who shall be hissed," said he on the day when he confessed 
his sacrilegious disguise. 

Carlos prudently confessed only a little at a time, measur- 
ing the horrors of his revelations by Lucien's progress and 
needs. Thus Trompe-la-Mort did not let out his last secret 
till the habit of Parisian pleasures and success, and gratified 
vanity, had enslaved the weak-minded poet body and soul. 
Where Eastignac, when tempted by this demon, had stood 
firm, Lucien, better managed, and more ingeniously com- 
promised, succumbed, conquered especially by his satisfaction 
in having attained an eminent position. Incarnate evil, 
whose poetical embodiment is called the Devil, displayed 
every delightful seduction before this youth, who was half 
a woman, and at first gave much and asked for little. The 
great argument used by Carlos was the eternal secret prom- 
ised by Tartufe to Elmire. 

The repeated proofs of absolute devotion, such as that of 



ESTHER HAPPY 85 

Said to Mahomet, put the finishing touch to the horrible 
achievement of Lucien's subjugation by a Jacques Collin. 

At this moment not only had Esther and Lucien devoured 
all the funds intrusted to the honesty of the banker of the 
hulks, who, for their sakes, had rendered himself liable to a 
dreadful calling to account, but the dandy, the forger, and 
the courtesan were also in debt. Thus, at the very moment 
of Lucien's expected success, the smallest pebble under the 
foot of either of these three persons might involve the ruin 
of the fantastic structure of fortune so audaciously built up. 

At the opera ball Eastignac had recognized the man he 
had known as Vautrin at Madame Vauquer's; but he knew 
that if he did not hold his tongue, he was a dead man. So 
Madame de Nucingen's lover and Lucien had exchanged 
glances in which fear lurked, on both sides, under an ex- 
pression of amity. In the moment of danger, Eastignac, it 
is clear, would have been delighted to provide the vehicle that 
should convey Jacques Collin to the scaffold. From all this 
it may be understood that Carlos heard of the Baron's pas- 
sion with a glow of sombre satisfaction, while he perceived 
in a single flash all the advantage a man of his temper might 
derive by means of the hapless Esther. 

^'Go on," said he to Lucien. "The Devil is mindful of his 
chaplain." 

"You are smoking on a powder barrel." 

"Incedo per ignes," replied Carlos with a smile. "That is 
my trade." 

The House of Grandlieu divided into two branches about 
the middle of the last century : first, the ducal line destined 
to lapse, since the present duke has only daughters ; and then 
the Vicomtes de Grandlieu, who will now inherit the title 
and armorial bearings of the elder branch. The ducal house 
bears ^w/es^ three broad axes or in fess,with the famous motto : 
Caveo non timeo, which epitomizes the history of the family. 

The coat of the Vicomtes de Grandlieu is the same quar- 
tered with that of Navarreins : gules, a fess crenelated or. 



86 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

surmounted by a knight's helmet, with the motto: Grands 
faits, grand lieu. The present Viscountess, widowed in 1813, 
has a son and a daughter. Though she returned from the 
Emigration almost ruined, she recovered a considerable for- 
tune by the zealous aid of Derville the lawj-er. 

The Due and Duchesse de Grandlieu, on coming home 
in 1804, were the object of the Emperor's advances; indeed, 
jSTapoleon, seeing them come to his court, restored to them all 
of the Grandlieu estates that had been confiscated to the 
nation, to the amount of about forty thousand francs a year. 
Of all the great nobles of the Faubourg Saint-Germain who 
allowed themselves to be won over by Xapoleon, this Duke 
and Duchess — she was an Ajuda of the senior branch, and 
connected with the Braganzas — were the only family who 
afterwards never disowned him and his liberality. When 
the Faubourg Saint-Germain remembered this as a crime 
against the Grandlieus, Louis XVIII. respected them for 
it; but perhaps his only object was to annoy Moxsieur. 

A marriage was considered likely between the young 
Vicomte de Grandlieu and Marie- Athenais, the Duke's young- 
est daughter, now nine years old. Sabine, the youngest but 
one, married the Baron du Guenic after the revolution of 
July 1830; Josephine, the third, became Madame d'Ajuda- 
Pinto after the death of the Marquis' first wife. Made- 
moiselle de Eochefide, or Eochegude. The eldest had taken 
the veil in 1822. The second. Mademoiselle Clotilde 
Frederique, at this time seven-and-twenty years of age, was 
deeply in love with Lucien de Eubempre. It need not be 
asked whether the Due de Grandlieu's mansion, one of the 
finest in the Eue Saint-Dominique, did not exert a thousand 
spells over Lucien's imagination. Every time the heavy gate 
turned on its hinges to admit his cab, he experienced the grati- 
fied vanity to which Mirabeau confessed. 

"Though my father was a mere druggist at I'Houmeau, I 
may enter here !" This was his thought. 

And, indeed, he would have committed far worse crimes 
than allying himself with a forger to preserve his right to 



ESTHER HAPPY 87 

mount the steps of that entrance, to hear himself announced, 
"Monsieur de Eubempre" at the door of the fine Louis XIV. 
drawing-room, decorated in the time of the grand monarque 
on the pattern of those at Versailles, where that choicest cir- 
cle met, that cream of Paris society, called then le petit 
chateau. 

The noble Portuguese lady, one of those who never care 
to go out of their own home, was usually the centre of her 
neighbors' attentions — the Chaulieus, the ISTavarreins, the 
Lenoncourts. The pretty Baronne de Macumer — nee de 
Chaulieu — the Duchesse de Maufrigneuse, Madame d'Espard, 
Madame de Camps, and Mademoiselle des Touches — a con- 
nection of the Grandlieus, who are a Breton family — were 
frequent visitors on their way to a ball or on their return 
from the opera. The Vicomte de Grandlieu, the Due de 
Ehetore, the Marquis de Chaulieu — afterwards Due de Len- 
oncourt-Chaulieu — his wife, Madeleine de Mortsauf, the Due 
de Lenoncourt's grand-daughter, the Marquis d'Ajuda-Pinto, 
the Prince de Blamont-Chauvry, the Marquis de Beauseant, 
the Vidame de Pamiers, the Vandenesses, the old Prince de 
Cadignan, and his son the Due de Maufrigneuse, were con- 
stantly to be seen in this stately drawing-room, where they 
breathed the atmosphere of a Court, where manners, tone, 
and wit were in harmony with the dignity of the Master and 
Mistress whose aristocratic mien and magnificence had ob- 
literated the memory of their servility to Napoleon. 

The old Duchesse d'Uxelles, mother of the Duchesse de 
Maufrigneuse, was the oracle of this circle, to which Madame 
de Serizy had never gained admittance, though nee de 
Eonquerolles. 

Lucien was brought thither by ]\'radame de Maufrigneuse, 
who had won over her mother to speak in his favor, for she 
had doted on him for two years; and the engaging young 
poet had kept his footing there, thanks to the influence of 
the high Almoner of France, and the support of the Arch- 
bishop of Paris. Still, he had not been admitted till he had 
obtained the patent restoring to him the name and arms of 



88 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

the Rubempre family. The Due de Ehetore, the Chevalier 
d'Espard, and some others, jealous of Lucien, periodically 
stirred up the Due de Grandlieu's prejudices against him by 
retailing anecdotes of the young man's previous career; biu 
the Duchess, a devout Catholic surrounded by the great prel- 
ates of the Church, and her daughter Clotilde would not give 
him up. 

Lucien accounted for these hostilities by his connection 
Avith Madame de Bargeton, Madame d'Espard's cousin, and 
now Comtesse du Chatelet. Then, feeling the importance 
of allying himself with so powerful a family, and urged by 
his privy adviser to win Clotilde, Lucien found the courage of 
the parvenu; he came to the house five days in the week, he 
swallowed all the affronts of the envious, he endured im- 
jDcrtinent looks, and answered irony with wit. His per- 
sistency, the charm of his manners, and his amiability, at 
last neutralized opposition and reduced obstacles. He was 
still in the highest favor with Madame de Maufrigneuse, 
whose ardent letters, written under the influence of her pas- 
sion, were preserved by Carlos Herrera ; he was idolized by 
Madame de Seriz}-, and stood well in Mademoiselle des 
Touches' good graces; and v»-ell content with being received 
in these houses, Lucien was instructed by the Abbe to be as 
reserved as possible in all other quarters. 

"You cannot devote yourself to several houses at once," 
said his Mentor. "The man who goes everywhere finds no 
one to take a lively interest in him. Great folks only 
patronize those who emulate their furniture, whom they see 
every day, and who have the art of becoming as necessary 
to them as the seat they sit on." 

Thus Lucien, accustomed to regard the Grandlieus' draw- 
ing-room as his arena, reserved his wit, his jests, his news, 
and his courtier's graces for the hours he spent there every 
evening. Insinuating, tactful, and warned by Clotilde of 
the shoals he should avoid, he flattered Monsieur de Grand- 
lieu's little weaknesses. Clotilde, having begun by envying 
Madame de Maufri.crncuse her happiness, ended by falling 
desperately in tove with Lucien. 



ESTHER HAPPY 89 

Perceiving all the advantages of such a connection, Lucien 
played his lover's part as well as it could have been acted 
by Armand, the latest jeune premier at the Comedie Frangaise. 

He wrote to Clotilde, letters which were certainly master- 
pieces of literary workmanship ; and Clotilde replied, vying 
with him in genius in the expression of perfervid love on 
paper, for she had no other outlet. Lucien went to church 
at Saint-Thomas-d'Aquin every Sunday, giving himself out 
as a devout Catholic, and he poured forth monarchical and 
pious harangues which were a marvel to all. He also wrote 
some exceedingly remarkable articles in papers devoted to the 
"Congregation," refusing to be paid for them, and signing 
them only with an "L." He produced political pamphlets 
when required by King Charles X. or the High Almoner, 
and for these he would take no payment. 

"The King," he would say, "has done so much for me, 
that I owe him my blood." 

For some days past there had been an idea of attaching 
Lucien to the prime ministers cabinet as his private secre- 
tary ; but Madame d'Espard brought so many persons into the 
field in opposition to Lucien, that Charles X.'s Maitre Jacques 
hesitated to clinch the matter. Nor was Lucien's position 
by any means clear; not only did the question, "What does 
he live on?" on everybody's lips as the j^oung man rose in 
life, require an answer, but even benevolent curiosit}^ — as 
much as malevolent curiosity — went on from one inquiry 
to another, and found more than one joint in the ambitious 
youth's harness. 

Clotilde de Grandlieu unconsciously served as a spy for 
her father and mother. A few days since she had led Lucien 
into a recess and told him of the difficulties raised by her 
family. 

"Invest a million francs in land, and my hand is yours : 
that is my mother's ultimatum," Clotilde had explained. 

"And presently they will ask you where you got the money," 
said Carlos, when Lucien reported this last word in the 
bargain. 



90 A COrRTESAN'S LIFE 

"My brother-in-law will have made his fortune/' remarked 
Lucien; "we can make him the responsible backer.'^ 

"Then only the million is needed/' said Carlos. "I will 
think it over." 

To be exact as to Lucien's position in the Hotel Grand- 
lieu, he had never dined there. Neither Clotilde, nor the 
Duchesse d'Uxelles, nor Madame de Maufrigneuse, who was 
always extremely kind to Lucien, could ever obtain this favor 
from the Duke, so persistently suspicious was the old noble- 
man of the man he designated as "le Sire de Eubempre." 
This shade of distinction, understood by every one who visited 
at the house, constantly wounded Lucien's self-respect, for he 
felt that he was no more than tolerated. But the world is 
justified in being suspicious ; it is so often taken in ! 

To cut a figure in Paris with no known source of wealth 
and no recognized employliient is a position which can by 
no artifice be long maintained. So Lucien, as he crept up 
in the world, gave more and more weight to the question. 
"What does he live on?" He had been obliged indeed to 
confess to Madame de Serizy, to whom he owed the patronage 
of Monsieur Granville, the Public Prosecutor, and of the 
Comte Octave de Bauvan, a Minister of State, and President 
of one of the Supreme Courts : "I am dreadfully in debt." 

As he entered the courtyard of the mansion where he found 
an excuse for all his vanities, he was saying to himself as he 
reflected on Trompe-la-]\Iort's scheming: 

"I can hear the ground cracking under my feet !" 

He loved Esther, and he wanted to marry Mademoiselle 
de Grandlieu ! A strange dilemma ! One must be sold to 
buy the other. 

Only one person could effect this bargain without damage 
to Lucien's honor, and that was the supposed Spaniard. Were 
they not bound to be equally secret, each for the other? 
Such a compact, in which each is in turn master and slave, 
is not to be found twice in any one life. 

Lucien drove away the clouds that darkened his brow, and 
walked into the Grandlieu drawing-room gay and beaming. 



ESTHER HAPPY 91 

At this moment the windows were open, the fragrance from 
the garden scented the room, the flower-basket in the centre 
displayed its pyramid of flowers. The Duchess, seated on a 
sofa in the corner, was talking to the Duchesse de Chaulieu. 
Several women together formed a group remarkable for their 
various attitudes, stamped with the different expression which 
each strove to give to an affected sorrow. In the fashionable 
world nobody takes any interest in grief or suffering; every- 
thing is talk. The men were walking up and doAvn the room 
or in the garden. Clotilde and Josephine were busy at the 
tea-table. The Vidame de Pamiers, the Due de Grandlieu, 
the Marquis d'Ajuda-Pinto, and the Due de Maufrigneuse 
were playing Wisk, as they called it, in a corner of the 
room. 

When Lucien was announced he walked across the room 
to make his bow to the Duchess, asking the cause of the grief 
he could read in her face. 

"Madame de Chaulieu has just had dreadful news; her 
son-in-law, the Baron de Macumer, ex-duke of Soria, is just 
dead. The young Due de Soria and his wife, who had gone 
to Chantepleurs to nurse their brother, have written this sad 
intelligence. Louise is heart-broken." 

"A woman is not loved twice in her life as Louise was 
loved by her husband," said Madeleine de Mortsauf. 

"She will be a rich widow," observed the old Duchesse 
d'L^xelles, looking at Lucien, whose face showed no change of 
expression. 

"Poor Louise !" said Madame d'Espard. "I understand 
her and pity her." 

The Marquise d'Espard put on the pensive look of a woman 
full of soul and feeling. Sabine de Grandlieu, who was but 
ten years old, raised knowing eyes to her mother's face, but 
the satirical glance was repressed by a glance from the Duch- 
ess. This is bringing children up properly. 

"If my daughter lives through the shock," said Madame de 
Chaulieu, with a very maternal manner, "I shall be anxious 
about her future life. Louise is so very romantic." 



^'SS-'" A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"It is so difficult nowadays," said a venerable Cardinal, 
"to reconcile feeling with the proprieties.'"' 

Lucien, who had not a word to say, went to the tea-table 
to do what was polite to the demoiselles de Grandlieu. When 
the poet had gone a few yards away, the Marquise d'Espard 
leaned over to whisper in the Duchess' ear: 

"And do you really think that that young fellow is so much 
in love with your Clotilde?" 

The perfidy of this question cannot be fully understood 
but with the help of a sketch of Clotilde. That young lady 
was, at this moment, standing up. Her attitude allowed the 
Marquise d'Espard's mocking eye to take in Clotilde's lean, 
narrow figure, exactly like an asparagus stalk ; the poor girl's 
bust was so flat that it did not allow of the artifice known to 
dressmakers as fichus menteurs, or padded habitshirts. And 
Clotilde, who knew that her name was a sufficient advantage 
in life, far from trying to conceal this defect, heroically made 
a display of it. By wearing plain, tight dresses she achieved 
the effect of that stiff prim shape which mediaeval sculptors 
succeeded in giving to the statuettes whose profiles are con- 
spicuous against the background of the niches in which they 
stand in cathedrals. 

Clotilde was more than five feet four in height ; if we may 
be allowed to use a familiar phrase, which has the merit at 
any rate of being perfectly intelligible— she was all legs. 
These defective proportions gave her figure an almost de- 
formed appearance. With a dark complexion, harsh black 
hair, very thick eyebrows, fiery eyes, set in sockets that were 
already deeply discolored, a side face shaped like the moon 
in its first quarter, and a prominent brow, she was the carica- 
ture of her mother, one of the handsomest women in Portugal. 
Nature amuses herself with such tricks. Often we see in 
one family a sister of wonderful beauty, whose features in 
her brother are absolutely hideous, though the two are amaz- 
ingly alike. Clotilde's lips, excessively thin and sunken, wore 
a permanent expression of disdain. And yet her mouth, 
better than any other feature of her face, revealed every secret 



ESTHER HAPPY 93 

impulse of her heart, for affection lent it a sweet expression, 
which was all the more remarkable because her cheeks were 
too sallow for blushes, and her hard, black eyes never told 
anything. Notwithstanding these defects, notwithstanding 
her board-like carriage, she had by birth and education a 
grand air, a proud demeanor, in short, everything that has 
been well named le je ne sais quoi, due partly, perhaps, to her 
uncompromising simplicity of dress, which stamped her as 
a woman of noble blood. She dressed her hair to advantage, 
and it might be accounted to her for a beauty, for it grew 
vigorously, thick and long. 

She had cultivated her voice, and it could cast a spell; she 
sang exquisitely. Clotilde was just the woman of whom one 
says, "She has fine eyes," or, "She has a delightful temper.'' 
If any one addressed her in the English fashion as "Your 
Grace," she would say, "You mean 'Your leanness.' " 

"Why should not my poor Clotilde have a lover?" replied 
the Duchess to the Marquise. "Do you know what she said 
to me yesterday? 'If I am loved for ambition's sake, I un- 
dertake to make him love me for my own sake.' — She is 
clever and ambitious, and there are men who like those two 
qualities. As for him — my dear, he is as handsome as a 
vision; and if he can but repurchase the Eubempre estates, 
out of regard for us the King will reinstate him in the title 
of Marquis. — After all, his mother was the last of the 
Rubempres." 

"Poor fellow ! where is he to find a million francs ?" said 
the Marquise. 

"That is no concern of ours," replied the Duchess. "He 
is certainly incapable of stealing the money. — Besides, we 
would never give Clotilde to an intriguing or dishonest man 
even if he were handsome, young, and a poet, like Monsieur 
de Eubempre." 

"You are late this evening," said Clotilde, smiling at Lucien 
with infinite graciousness. 

"Yes, I have been dining out." 

"You have been quite gay these last few days," said she, 
concealing her jealousy and anxiety behind a smile. 



94 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"^Quite gay?" replied Lucien. "No — only by the merest 
chance 1 have been dining every day this week with bankers; 
to-day with the Nucingens, yesterday with du Tiilet, the day 
before with the Kellers " 

Whence, it may be seen, that Lucien had succeeded in 
assuming the tone of light impertinence of great people. 

"You have many enemies," said Clotilde, offering him — 
how graciously ! — a cup of tea. "Some one told my father 
that you have debts to the amount of sixty thousand francs, 
and that before long Sainte-Pelagie will be your summer 
quarters. — If you could know what all these calumnies are 
to me ! — It all recoils on me. — I say nothing of my own 
suffering — my father has a way of looking that crucifies me 
— but of what you must be suffering if any least part of it 
should be the truth." 

"Do not let such nonsense worry you; love me as I love 
you, and give me time — a few months " said Lucien, re- 
placing his empty cup on the silver tray. 

"Do not let my father see you; he would say something 
disagreeable; and as you could not submit to that, we should 
be done for. — That odious Marquise d'Espard told him that 
your mother had been a monthly nurse and that your sister 
did ironing " 

"We were in the most abject poverty," replied Lucien, the 
tears rising to his eyes. "That is not calumny, but it is most 
ill-natured gossip My sister now is a more than millionaire, 
and my mother has been dead two years. — This information 
has been kept in stock to use just when I should be on the 
verge of success here " 

"But what have you done to Madame d'Espard?" 

"I was so rash, at Madame de Serizy's, as to tell the story, 
with some added pleasantries, in the presence of j\IM. d(» 
Bauvan and de Granville, of her attempt to get a commission 
of lunacy appointed to sit on her husband, the Marquis 
d'Espard. Bianchon had told it to me. Monsieur de Gran- 
ville's opinion, siipported by those of Bauvan and Serizy, in- 
fluenced the decision of the Keeper of the Seals. They all 



ESTHER HAPPY 95 

were afraid of the Gazette des Trihunaux, and dreaded the 
scandal, and the Marquise got her knuckles rapped in the 
summing np for the judgment finally recorded in that miser- 
able business. 

"Though M. de Serizy by his tattle has made the Marquise 
my mortal foe, I gained his good offices, and those of the 
Public Prosecutor, and Comte Octave de Bauvan ; for Madame 
de Serizy told them the danger in which I stood in con- 
sequence of their allowing the source of their information to 
be guessed at. The Marquis d'Espard was so clumsy as to 
call upon me, regarding me as the first cause of his winning 
the day in that atrocious suit." 

'"I will rescue you from Madame d'Espard," said Clotilde. 

"How ?" cried Lucien. 

"My mother shall ask the young d'Espards here; they are 
charming boys, and growing up now. The father and sons 
will sing your praises, and then we are sure never to see their 
mother again." 

"Oh, Clotilde, you are an angel ! If I did not love you 
for yourself, I should love you for being so clever." 

"It is not cleverness," said she, all her love beaming on 
her lips. "Good-night. Do not come again for some few 
days. When you see me in church, at Saint-Thomas-d'Aquin, 
with a pink scarf, my father will be in a better temper. — You 
will find an answer stuck to the back of the chair you are 
sitting in; it will comfort you perhaps for not seeing me. 
Put the note you have brought under my handkerchief " 

This young person was evidently more than seven-and- 
twenty. 

Lucien took a cab in the Rue de la Planche, got out of it 
on the Boulevards, took another by the Madeleine, and desired 
the driver to have the gates opened and drive in at the house 
in the Eue Taitbout. 

On going in at eleven o'clock, he found Esther in tears, 
but dressed as she was wont to dress to do him honor. She 
awaited her Lucien reclining on a sofa covered with white 



96 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

satin brocaded with yellow flowers, dressed in a bewitching 
wrapper of India muslin with cherry-colored bows; without 
her stays, her hair simply twisted into a knot, her feet in 
little velvet slippers lined with cherry-colored satin; all the 
candles were burning, the hookah was prepared. But she had 
not smoked her own, which stood beside her unlighted, em- 
blematical of her loneliness. On hearing the doors open, 
she sprang up like a gazelle, and threw her arms round 
Lucien, wrapping him like a web caught by the wind and 
flung about a tree. 

"Parted.— Is it true?" 

"Oh, just for a few days," replied Lucien. 

Esther released him, and fell back on her divan like a dead 
thing. 

In these circumstances, most women babble like parrots. 
Oh ! how they love ! At the end of five years they feel as if 
their first happiness were a thing of yesterday, they cannot 
give you up, they are magnificent in their indignation, de- 
spair, love, grief, dread, dejection, presentiments. In short, 
they are as sublime as a scene from Shakespeare. But make 
no mistake ! These women do not love. When they are 
really all that these profess, when they love truly, they do 
as Esther did, as children do, as true love does; Esther did 
not say a word, she lay with her face buried in the 
pillows, shedding bitter tears. 

Lucien, on his part, tried to lift her up, and spoke to her. 

"But, my child, we are not to part. What, after four years 
of happiness, is this the way you take a short absence. — 
What on earth do I do to all these girls ?" he added to himself, 
remembering that Coralie had loved him thus. 

"Ah, monsieur, you are so handsome," said Europe. 

The senses have their own ideal. When added to this 
fascinating beauty we find the sweetness of nature, the poetry, 
that characterized Lucien, it is easy to conceive of the mad 
passion roused in such women, keenly alive as they are to ex- 
ternal gifts, and artless in their admiration. Esther was 
sobbing quietly, and lay in an attitude expressive of the 
deepest distress. 




Lucieu burnt the uote at once iu the flame of a candle. 



ESTHER HAPPY 97 

"But, little goose,'^ said Lucien, "did you not understand 
that my life is at stake?" 

At these words, which he chose on purpose, Esther started 
up like a wild animal, her hair fell, tumbling about her 
excited face like wreaths of foliage. She looked steadily at 
Lucien. 

"Your life?" she cried, throwing up her arms, and letting 
them drop with a gesture known only to a courtesan in peril. 
"To be sure; that friend's note speaks of serious risk." 

She took a shabby scrap of paper out of her sash ; then see- 
ing Europe, she said, "Leave us, my girl." 

When Europe had shut the door she went on — "Here, this 
is what he writes," and she handed to Lucien a note she had 
just received from Carlos, which Lucien read aloud : — 

"You must leave to-morrow at five in the morning; you 
will be taken to a keeper's lodge in the heart of the Forest 
of Saint-Germain, where you will have a room on the first 
floor. Do not quit that room till I give you leave ; you will want 
for nothing. The keeper and his wife are to be trusted. Do 
not write to Lucien. Do not go to the window during day- 
light ; but you may walk by night with the keeper if you wish 
for exercise. Keep the carriage blinds down on the way. 
Lucien's life is at stake. ^ 

"Lucien will go to-night to bid you good-bye; burn this 
in his presence." 

Lucien burned the note at once in the flame of a candle. 

"Listen, my own Lucien," said Esther, after hearing him 
read this letter as a criminal hears the sentence of death; 
"I will not tell you that I love you; it would be idiotic. For 
nearly five years it has been as natural to me to love you as 
to breathe and live. From the first day when my happiness 
began under the protection of that inscrutable being, who 
placed me here as you place some little curious beast in a 
cage, I have known that you must marry. Marriage is a 



98 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

necessary factor in your career, and God preserve me from 
hindering the development of your fortunes. 

"That marriage will be my death. But I will not worry 
you; I will not do as the common girls do who kill themselves 
by means of a brazier of charcoal; I had enough of that 
once; twice raises your gorge, as Mariette says. No, I will go 
a long way off, out of France. Asie knows the secrets of her 
country; she will help me to die quietly. A prick — whiff, 
it is all over ! 

"I ask but one thing, my dearest, and that is that you will 
not deceive me. I have had my share of living. Since the 
day I first saw you, in 1824, till this day, I have known more 
happiness than can be put into the lives of ten fortunate 
wives. So take me for what I am — a woman as strong as 
I am weak. Say 'I am going to be married.' I will ask no 
more of you than a fond farewell, and you shall never hear 
of me again." 

There was a moment's silence after this explanation as 
sincere as her action and tone were guileless. 

"Is it that you are going to be married?" she repeated, 
looking into Lucien's blue eyes with one of her fascinating 
glances, as brilliant as a steel blade. 

"We have been toiling at my marriage for eighteen months 
past, and it is not yet settled," replied Lucien. "I do not 
know when it can be settled; but it is not in question now. 
child ! — It is the Abbe, I, you. — We are in real peril. Nucin- 
gen saw you " 

"Yes, in the wood at Yincennes," said she. "Did he rec- 
ognize me?" 

"No," said Lucien. "But he has fallen so desperately in 
love with you, that he would sacrifice his coffers. After 
dinner, when he was describing how he had met you, I was 
so foolish as to smile involuntarily, and most imprudently, 
for I live in the world like a savage surrounded by the traps 
of a hostile tribe. Carlos, who spares me the pains of think- 
ing, regards the position as dangerous, and he has undertaken 
to pay Nucingen out if the Baron takes it into his head to 



ESTHER HAPPY 99 

spy on us; and he is quite capable of it; he spoke to me of 
the incapacity of the police. You have lighted a flame in 
an old chimne}^ choked with soot." 

"And what does j^our Spaniard propose to do?" asked 
Esther very softly. 

"I do not know in the least," said Lucien; "he told me I 
might sleep soundly and leave it to him ;" — but he dared not 
look at Esther. 

"If that is the case, I will obey him with the dog-like sub- 
mission I profess," said Esther, putting her hand through 
Lucien's arm and leading him into her bedroom, saying, "x\t 
any rate, I hope you dined well, my Lulu, at that detestable 
Baron's ?" 

"Asie's cooking prevents my ever thinking a dinner good, 
nowever famous the chef may be, where I happen to dine. 
However, Carenie did the dinner to-night, as he does every 
Sunday." 

Lucien involuntarily compared Esther with Clotilde. The 
mistress was so beautiful, so unfailingly charming, that she 
had as yet kept at arm's length the monster who devours the 
most perennial loves — Satiety. 

"What a pity," thought he, "to find one's wife in two 
volumes. In one — poetry, delight, love, devotion, beauty, 
sweetness " 

Esther was fussing about, as women do, before going to 
bed; she came and went and fluttered round, singing all the 
time; you might have thought her a humming-bird. 

"In the other — a noble name, family, honors, rank, 
knowledge of the world ! — And no earthly means of com- 
bining them !" cried Lucien to himself. 

Next morning, at seven, when the poet awoke in the pretty 
pink-and-white room, he found himself alone. He rang, 
and Europe hurried in. 

"What are monsieur's orders?" 

"Esther?" 

"Madame went off this morning at a quarter to five. By 
Monsieur 1' Abbe's order, I admitted a new face — carriage 
paid." 



100 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"A woman?" 

"No, sir, an English woman — one of those people who do 
their day's work by night, and we are ordered to treat her as 
if she were madame. What can you have to say to such hack ! 
— Poor madame, how she cried when she got into the carriage. 
'Well, it has to be done !' cried she. 'I left that poor dear 
boy asleep,' said she, wiping away her tears; 'Europe, if he 
had looked at me or spoken my name, I should have stayed 
— I could but have died with him.' — I tell you, sir, I am so 
fond of madame, that I did not sbow her the person who 
has taken her place; some waiting-maids would have broken 
her heart by doing so." 

"And is the stranger there?" 

"Well, sir, she came in the chaise that took away madame, 
and I hid her in my room in obedience to my instruc- 
tions " 

"Is she nice-looking?" 

"So far as such a second-band article can be. But she 
will find her part easy enough if you play yours, sir," said 
Europe, going to fetch the false Esther. 

The night before, ere going to bed, the all-powerful banker 
had given his orders to his valet, who, at seven in the morn- 
ing, brought in to him the notorious Louchard, the most 
famous of the commercial police, whom he left in a little 
sitting-room; there the Baron joined him, in a dressing-gown 
and slippers. 

"You haf mate a fool of me!" he said, in reply to this 
official's greeting. 

"I could not help myself, Monsieur le Baron. I do not 
want to lose my place, and I had the honor of explaining to 
you that I could not meddle in a matter that had nothing to 
do with my functions. What did I promise you? To put 
you into communication with one of our agents, who, as it 
seemed to me. would be best able to serve you. But you know, 
Monsieur le Baron, the sharp lines that divide men of differ- 
ent trades: if vou build a house, you do not set a carpenter 



ESTHER HAPPY 101 

/ 

to do smith's work. Well, there are two branches of the 
police — the political police and the -.judicial , police. The 
political police never interfere with tne'~-otlig^r branch, and 
vice versa. If you apply to the chief of the political police, 
he must get permission from the Minister to take up your 
business, and you would not dare to explain it to the head of 
the police throughout the kingdom. A police-agent who 
should act on his own account would lose his place. 

''Well, the ordinary police are quite as cautious as the 
political police. So no one, whether in the Home Office or 
at the Prefecture of Police, ever moves excepting in the in- 
terests of the State or for the ends of Justice. 

"If there is a plot or a crime to be followed up, then, in- 
deed, the heads of the corps are at your service; but you 
must understand, Monsieur le Baron, that they have other 
fish to fry than looking after the fifty thousand love affairs 
in Paris. As to me and my men, our only business is to 
arrest debtors; and as soon as anything else is to be done, 
we run enormous risks if we interfere with the peace and 
quiet of any man or woman. I sent you one of my men, 
but I told you I could not answer for him ; j'-ou instructed him 
to find a particular woman in Paris; Contenson bled you of 
a thousand-franc note, and did not even move. You might 
as well look for a needle in the river as for a woman in Paris, 
• who is supposed to haunt Vincennes, and of whom the 
description answers to every pretty woman in the capital." 

"And could not Contenson haf tolt me de truf, instead of 
making me pleed out one tousand franc?" 

"Listen to me, Monsieur le Baron," said Louchard. '^ill 
you give me a thousand crowns ? I will give you — sell you — 
a piece of advice?" 

"Is it vort one tousand crown — your atvice?" asked Nucin- 
gen. 

"I am not to be caught, Monsieur le Baron," answered 
Louchard. "You are in love, you want to discover the ob- 
ject of your passion; you are getting as yellow as a lettuce 
without water. Two physicians came to see you yesterday, 



102 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

your man tells me, who think your life is in danger; now, I 
alone can put you in the hands of a clever fellow. — But 
the deuce is in it! If your life is not worth a thousand 
crowns *' 

"Tell me de name of dat defer fellow, and depent on my 
generosity ■ " 

Louchard took up his hat, bowed, and left the room. 

"Wat ein teufel I" cried Nucingen. "Come back — look 
here " 

"Take notice," said Louchard, before taking the money, 
"I am only selling a piece of information, pure and simple. 
I can give you the name and address of the only man who 
is able to be of use to you — but he is a master " 

"Get out mit you," cried Xucingen. "Dere is not no name 
dat is vort one tousant crown but dat von A'arschild — and 
dat only ven it is sign at the bottom of a bank-bill. — I shall 
gif you one tousant franc." 

Louchard, a little weasel, who had never been able to pur- 
chase an otBce as lawyer, notary, clerk, or attorney, leered 
at the Baron in a significant fashion. 

"To you — a thousand crowns, or let it alone. You will 
get them back in a few seconds on the Bourse," said he. 

"I vill gif you one tousant franc," repeated the Baron. 

"You would cheapen a gold mine !" said Louchard, bow- 
ing and leaving. 

"I shall get dat address for five hundert franc !" cried the 
Baron, who desired his servant to send his secretary to him. 

Turcaret is no more. In these days the smallest banker, 
like the greatest, exercises his acumen in the smallest trans- 
actions ; he bargains over art, beneficence, and love ; he would 
bargain with the Pope for a dispensation. Thus, as he 
listened to Louchard, Xucingen had hastily concluded tha^^ 
Contenson, Louchard's right-hand man, must certainly kno\<^ 
the address of that master spy. Contenson would tell him for 
five hundred francs what Louchard wanted to see a thousand 
crowns for. The rapid calculation plainly proves that if 
the man's heart was in possession of love, his head was still 
that of the lynx stock-jobber. 



ESTHER HAPPf 103 

"Go your own self, mensieur," said the Baron to his secre- 
tary, "to Contenson, dat spy of Louchart's de bailiff man — 
but go in one capriolette, very qvick, and pring him here 
qvick to me. I shall vait. — Go out trough de garten. — Here 
is dat ke}', for no man shall see dat man in here. You shall 
take him into dat little garten-house. Try to do dat little 
business very defer." 

Visitors called to see ISTucingen on business; but he waited 
for Contenson, he was dreaming of Esther, telling himself 
that before long he would see again the woman who had 
aroused in him. such unhoped-for emotions, and he sent every- 
body away with vague replies and double-edged promises. 
Contenson was to him the most important person in Paris, 
and he looked out into the garden every minute. Finally, 
after giving orders that no one else was to be admitted, he 
had his breakfast served in the summer-house at one corner 
of the garden. In the banker's office the conduct and hesi- 
tancy of the most knowing, the most clearsighted, the shrewd- 
est of Paris financiers seemed inexplicable. 

"What ails the chief?" said a stockbroker to one of the 
head-clerks. 

"No one knows; they are anxious about his health, it 
would seem. Yesterday, Madame la Baronne got Desplein 
and Bianchon to meet." 

One day, when Sir Isaac Newton was engaged in physick- 
ing one of his dogs, named "Beauty'^ (who, as is well known, 
destroyed a vast mass of work, and whom he reproved only 
in these words, "Ah! Beauty, you little know the mischief 
you have done !"), some strangers called to see him; but they 
at once retired, respecting the great man's occupation. In 
every more or less lofty life, there is a little dog "Beauty." 
When the Mareehal de Eichelieu came to pay his respects to 
jouis XV. after taking Mahon, one of the greatest feats of 
trms of the eighteenth century, the King said to him, "Have 
you heard the great news? Poor Lansmatt is dead." — Lans- 
matt was a gatekeeper in the secret of the King's intrigues. 

The bankers of Paris never knew how much they owed 



104 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

to Contenson. That spy was the cause of N'ucingen's allow- 
ing an immense loan to be issued in which his share was 
allotted to him, and which he gave over to them. The stock- 
jobber could aim at a fortune any day with the artillery of 
speculation, but the man was a slave to the hope of 
happiness. 

The great banker drank some tea, and was nibbling at a 
slice of bread and butter, as a man does whose teeth have for 
long not been sharpened by appetite, when he heard a carriage 
stop at the little garden gate. In a few minutes his secretary 
brought in Contenson, whom he had run to earth in a cafe 
not far from Sainte-Pelagie, where the man was breakfasting 
on the strength of a bribe given to him by an imprisoned 
debtor for certain allowances that must be paid for. 

Contenson, you must know, was a whole poem — a Paris 
poem. Merely to see him would have been enough to tell 
you that Beaumarchais' Figaro, Moliere's Mascarille, Mari- 
vaux's Frontin, and Dancourt's Lafleur — those great repre- 
sentatives of audacious swindling, of cunning driven to ba}", 
of stratagem rising again from the ends of its broken wires — 
were all quite second-rate by comparison with this giant of 
cleverness and meanness. When in Paris you find a real 
type, he is no longer a man, he is a spectacle : no longer a 
factor in life, but a whole life, many lives. 

Bake a plaster cast four times in a furnace, and you get 
a sort of bastard imitation of Florentine bronze. Well, the 
thunderbolts of numberless disasters, the pressure of terrible 
necessities, had bronzed Contenson's head, as though sweating 
in an oven had three times over stained his skin. 
Closely-set wrinkles that could no longer be relaxed made 
eternal furrows, whiter in their cracks. The yellow face was 
all wrinkles. The bald skull, resembling Voltaire's, was as 
parched as a death's-head, and but for a few hairs at the 
back it would have seemed doubtful whether it was that of 
a living man. Under a rigid brow, a pair of Chinese eyes, 
like those of an image under a glass shade in a tea-shop — 
artificial eyes, which sham life but never vary — moved but 



ESTHER HAPPY 105 

expressed nothing. The nose, as flat as that of a skull, 
sniffed at fate ; and the mouth, as thin-lipped as a miser's, 
was always open, but as expressionless as the grin of a letter- 
box. 

Contenson, as apathetic as a savage, with sunburned hands, 
affected that Diogenes-like indifference which can never bend 
to any formality of respect. 

And what a commentary on his life was written on his 
dress for any one who can decipher a dress ! Above all, 
what trousers ! made, by long wear, as black and shiny as 
the camlet of which lawyers' gowns are made ! A waistcoat, 
bought in an old clothes shop in the Temple, with a deep 
embroidered collar ! A rusty black coat ! — and everything 
well brushed, clean after a fashion, and graced by a watch 
and an imitation gold chain. Contenson allowed a triangle 
of shirt to show, with pleats in which glittered a sham dia- 
mond pin; his black velvet stock set stiff like a gorget, over 
which lay rolls of flesh as red as that of a Caribbee. His 
silk hat was as glossy as satin, but the lining would have 
yielded grease enough for two street lamps if some grocer 
had bought it to boil down. 

But to enumerate these accessories is nothing; if only I 
could give an idea of the air of immense importance that 
Contenson contrived to impart to them ! There was some- 
thing indescribably knowing in the collar of his coat, and 
the fresh blacking on a pair of boots with gaping soles, to 
which no language can do justice. However, to give some 
notion of this medley of effect, it may be added that 
any man of intelligence would have felt, only on seeing 
Contenson, that if instead of being a sp}'' he had been a 
thief, all these odds and ends, instead of raising a smile, 
would have made one shudder with horror. Judging only 
from his dress, the observer would have said to himself, "That 
is a scoundrel ; he gambles, he drinks, he is full of vices ; but 
he does not get drunk, he does not cheat, he is neither a 
thief nor a murderer." And .Contenson remained inscrutable) 
till the word spy suggested itself. 



106 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

This man had followed as many unrecognized trades as 
there are recognized ones. The sly smile on his lips, the 
twinkle of his green eyes, the queer twitch of his snub nose, 
showed that he was not deficient in humor. He had a face of 
sheet-tin, and his soul must probably be like his face. Every 
movement of his countenance was a grimace wrung from 
him by politeness rather than any expression of an inmost 
impulse. He would have been alarming if he had not seemed 
so droll. 

Contenson, one of the most curious products of the scum 
that rises to the top of the seething Paris caldron, where every- 
thing ferments, prided himself on being, above all things, a 
philosopher. He would say, without any bitter feeling: 

"I have grand talents, but of what use are they ? I might 
as well have been an idiot." 

And he blamed himself instead of accusing mankind. 
Find, if you can, many spies who have not more venom about 
them than Contenson had. 

"Circumstances are against me," he would say to his chiefs. 
"We might be fine crystal; we are but grains of sand,, that 
is all." 

His indifference to dress had some sense. He cared no 
more about his everyday clothes than an actor does; he ex- 
celled in disguising himself, in "make-up"; he could have 
given Frederic Lemaitre a lesson, for he could be a dandy 
when necessary. Formerly, in his younger days, he must 
have mingled in the out-at-elbows society of people living on 
a humble scale. He expressed excessive disgust for the crim- 
inal police corps; for, under the Empire, he had belonged 
to Fouche's police, and looked upon him as a great man. Since 
the suppression of this Government department, he had de- 
voted his energies to the tracking of commercial defaulters; 
but his well-known talents and acumen made him a valuable 
auxiliar}', and the unrecognized chiefs of the political police 
had kept his name on their lists. Contenson, like his fellows, 
was only a super in the dramas of which the leading parts 



ESTHER HAPPY 107 

were played by his chief when a political investigation was 
in the wind. 

"Go 'vay/' said Nucingen, dismissing his secretary with 
a wave of the hand. 

"Why should this man live in a mansion and I in a lodg- 
ing?" wondered Contenson to himself. "He has dodged his 
creditors three times; he has robbed them; I never stole a 
farthing; I am a cleverer fellow than he is " 

"Contenson, mein freund/' said the Baron, "you haf vat 
you call pleed me of one tousand-franc note." 



A" 



"My girl owed God and the devil " 

"Vat, you haf a girl, a mistress !" cried Nucingen, look- 
ing at Contenson with admiration not unmixed with envy. 

"I am but sixty-six," replied Contenson, as a man whom 
vice has kept young as a bad example. 

"And vat do she do?" 

"She helps me," said Contenson. "When a man is a thief, 
and an honest woman loves him, either she becomes a thief 
or he becomes an honest man. I have always been a spy." 

"And you vant money — alvays?" asked Nucingen. 

"Always," said Contenson, with a smile. "It is part of 
my business to want money, as it is yours to make it ; we 
shall easily come to an understanding. You find me a little, 
and I will undertake to spend it. You shall be the well, 
and I the bucket." 

"Vould you like to haf one note for fife hundert franc ?" 

"What a question ! But what a fool I am ! — You do not 
offer it out of a disinterested desire to repair the slights of 
Fortune ?" 

"Not at all. I gif it besides the one tousand-franc note 
vat you pleed me off. Dat makes fifteen hundert franc vat 
I gif you." 

"Very good, you give me the thousand francs I have had, 
and you will add five hundred francs." 

"Yust so," said Nucingen, nodding. 

"But that still leaves only five hundred francs," said Con- 
tenson imperturbably. 



r 



108 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"Dat I gif," added the Baron. 

"That I take. Very good; and what. Monsieur le Baron, 
do you want for it?" 

''T haf been told dat dere vas in Paris one man vat could 
find the voman vat I lof, and dat you know his address. . . . 
A real master to spy.'' 

"Yery true." 

"Yell den, gif me dat address, and I gif you fife hundert 
franc." 

"Where are they?" said Contenson. 

"Here dey are," said the Baron, drawing a note out of his 
pocket. 

"All right, hand them over," said Contenson, holding out 
his hand. 

"Xoting for noting ! Let us see de man, and you get de 
money; 3'ou might sell to me many address at dat price." 

Contenson began to laugh. 

"To be sure, you have a right to think that of me," said 
he, with an air of blaming himself. "The more rascally 
our business is, the more honesty is necessary. But look 
here, Monsieur le Baron, make it six hundred, and I will 
give you a bit of advice." 

"Gif it, and trust to my generosity." 

"I will risk it," Contenson said, 'Tjut it is playing high. 
In such matters, you see, we have to work underground. You 
say, 'Quick march !' — You are rich ; you think that money 
can do everything. Well, money is something, no doubt. 
Still, money can only buy men, as the two or three best heads 
in our force so often say. And there are many things you 
.vould never think of which money cannot buy. — You cannot 
buy good luck. So good police work is not done in this 
style. Will you show yourself in a carriage with me? We 
should be seen. Chance is just as often for us as against 
us." 

'T?eally-truly ?" said the Baron. 

"Why, of course, sir. A horseshoe picked up in the street 
led the chief of the police to the discovery of the infernal 



ESTHER HAPPY 109 

machine. Well, if we were to go to-night in a hackney coach 
to Monsieur de Saint-Germain, he would not like to see you 
walk in any more than you would like to be seen going 
there." 

"Dat is true," said the Baron. 

"Ah, he is the greatest of the great! such another as the 
famous Corentin, Fouche's right arm, who was, some say, 
his natural son, born while he was still a priest; but that is 
nonsense. Fouche knew how to be a priest as he knew how 
to be a Minister. Well, you will not get this man to do any- 
thing for you, you see, for less than ten thousand-franc 
notes — think of that. — But he will do the job, and do it well. 
Neither seen nor heard, as they say. I ought to give Mon- 
sieur de Saint-Germain notice, and he Avill fix a time for 
your meeting in some place where no one can see or hear, 
for it is a dangerous game to play policeman for private in- 
terests. Still, what is to be said? He is a good fellow, 
the king of good fellows, and a man who has undergone 
much persecution, and for having saved his country too ! — 
like me, like all who helped to save it." 

"Veil den, write and name de happy day," said the Baron, 
smiling at his humble jest. 

"And Monsieur le Baron will allow me to drink his health ?" 
said Contenson, with a manner at once cringing and threaten- 
ing. 

"Shean," cried the Baron to the gardener, "go and tell 
Chorge to sent me one twenty francs, and pring dem to 
me " 

"Still, Monsieur le Baron, if you have no more informa- 
tion than you have just given me, I doubt whether the great 
man can be of any use to you." 

"I know off oders !" replied the Baron with a cunning 
look. 

"I have the honor to bid you good-morning, Monsieur le 
Baron," said Contenson, taking the twenty-franc piece. "I 
shall have the honor of calling again to tell Georges where 
you are to go this evening, for we never write anything in 
such cases when they are well managed." 



110 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"It is funny how sharp dese rascals are V said the Baron 
to himself ; "it is de same mit de police as it is in buss^niss." 

When he left the Baron, Contenson went quietly from 
the Rue Saint-Lazare to the Eue Saint-Honore, as far as 
the Cafe David. He looked in through the windows, and 
saw an old man who was known there by the name of le 
Pere Canquoelle. 

The Cafe David, at the corner of the Rue de la Monnaie 
and the Rue Saint-Honore, enjoyed a certain celebrity dur- 
ing the first thirty years of the century, though its fame was 
limited to the quarter known as that of the Bourdonnais. 
Here certain old retired merchants, and large shopkeepers 
still in trade, were wont to meet — the Camusots, the Lebas, 
the Pilleraults, the Popinots, and a few house-owners like 
little old Molineux. Now and again old Guillaume might be 
seen there, coming from the Rue du Colombier. Politics 
were discussed in a quiet way, but cautiously, for the opiu- 
ions of the Cafe David were liberal. The gossip of the neigh- 
borhood was repeated, men so urgently feel the need of laugh- 
ing at each other ! 

This cafe, like all cafes for that matter, had its eccentric 
character in the person of the said Pere Canquoelle, who 
had been regular in his attendance there since 1811, and who 
seemed to be so completely in harmony with the good folks 
who assembled there, that they all talked politics in his pres- 
ence without reserve. Sometimes this old fellow, whose guile- 
lessness was the subject of much laughter to the customers, 
would disappear for a month or two; but his absence never 
surprised anybody, and was always attributed to his in- 
firmities or his great age, for he looked more than sixty in 
1811. 

"What has become of old Canquoelle?" one or another 
would ask of the manageress at the desk. 

"I quite expect that one fine day we shall read in the ad- 
vertisment-sheet that he is dead," she would reply. 
, Old Canquoelle bore a perpetual certificate of his native 



ESTHEtl HAPPY 111 

province in "his accent. He spoke of une estatue (a statue), 
le peuble (the people), and said tu7-e for turc. His name 
"was that of a tiny estate called les Canquoelles, a word mean- 
ing cockchafer in some districts, situated in the department of 
Vaucluse, whence he had come. At last every one had fallen 
into the habit of calling him Canquoelle, instead of des Can- 
quoelles, and the old man took no offence, for in his opinion 
the nobility had perished in 1793; and besides, the land of 
les Canquoelles did not belong to him; he was a younger 
son's younger son. 

Nowadays old Canquoelle's costume would look strange, 
but between 1811 and 1820 it astonished no one. The old 
man wore shoes with cut-steel buckles, silk stockings with 
stripes round the leg, alternately blue and white, corded silk 
knee-breeches with oval buckles cut to match those on his 
shoes. A white embroidered waistcoat, an old coat of olive- 
brown with metal buttons, and a shirt with a flat-pleated 
frill completed his costume. In the middle of the shirt-frill 
twinkled a small gold locket, in which might be seen, under 
glass, a little temple worked in hair, one of those pathetic 
trifles which give men confidence, just as a scarecrow frightens 
sparrows. Most men, like other animals, are frightened or 
reassured by trifles. Old Canquoelle's breeches were kept 
in place by a buckle which, in the fashion of the last century, 
tightened them across the stomach ; from the belt hung on 
each side a short steel chain, composed of several finer chains, 
and ending in a bunch of seals. His white neckcloth was 
fastened behind by a small gold buckle. Finally, on his 
snowy and powdered hair, he still, in 1816, wore the munici- 
pal cocked hat which Monsieur Try, the President of the Law 
Courts, also used to wear. But Pere Canquoelle had recently 
substituted for this hat, so dear to old men, the undignified 
top-hat, which no one dares to rebel against. The good man 
thought he owed so much as this to the spirit of the age. A 
small pigtail tied with a ribbon had traced a semicircle on 
the back of his coat, the greasy mark being hidden by powder. 

If you looked no further than the most conspicuous feature 



112 A COrRTESAN'S LIFE 

of his face, a nose covered with excrescences red and swollen 
enough to figure in a dish of truffles, you might have inferred 
that the worthy man had an easy temper, foolish and easy- 
going, that of a perfect gaby; and you would have been de- 
ceived, like all at the Cafe David, where no one had ever 
remarked the studious brow, the sardonic mouth, and the 
cold eyes of this old man, petted by his vices, and as calm as 
Yitellius, whose imperial and portly stomach reappeared in 
him palingenetically, so to speak. 

In 1816 a 3'oung commercial traveler named Gaudissart, 
who frequented the Cafe David, sat drinking from eleven 
o'clock till midnight with a half-pay officer. He was so rash 
as to discuss a conspiracy against the Bourbons, a rather 
serious plot then on the point of execution. There was no 
one to be seen in the cafe but Pere Canquoelle, who seemed 
to be asleep, two waiters who were dozing, and the account- 
ant at the desk. Within four-and-twenty hours Gaudissart 
was arrested, the plot was discovered. Two men perished 
on the scaffold. Neither Gaudissart nor any one else ever 
suspected that worthy old Canquoelle of having peached. The 
waiters were dismissed; for a year they were all on their 
guard and afraid of the police — as Pere Canquoelle was too : 
indeed, he talked of retiring from the Cafe David, such horror 
had he of the police. 

Contenson went into the cafe, asked for a glass of brandy, 
and did not look at Canquoelle, who sat reading the papers; 
but when he had gulped down the brandy, he took out the 
Baron's gold piece, and called the waiter by rapping three 
short raps on the table. The lady at the desk and the waiter 
examined the coin with a minute care that was not flattering 
to Contenson; but their suspicions were justified by the as- 
tonishment produced on all the regular customers by Con- 
tenson's appearance. 

"Was that gold got by theft or by murder?" 

This was the idea that rose to some clear and shrewd 
minds as they looked at Contenson over their spectacles, while 
affecting to read the news. Contenson, who saw everything, 



ESTHER HAPPY 113 

and never was surprised at anything, scornfully wiped his 
lips with a bandana, in which there were but three darns, 
took his change, slipped all the coppers into his side pocket, 
of which the lining, once white, was now as black as the 
cloth of the trousers, and did not leave one for the waiter. 

"What a gallows-bird !" said Pere Canquoelle to his neigh- 
bor Monsieur Pillerault. 

"Pshaw !" said Monsieur Camusot to all the company, for 
he alone had expressed no astonishment, "it is Contenson, 
Louchard's right-hand man, the police agent we employ in 
business. The rascals want to nab some one who is hanging 
about perhaps." 

It would seem necessary to explain here the terrible and 
profoundly cunning man who was hidden under the guise of 
Pere Canquoelle, as Vautrin was hidden under that of the 
Abbe Carlos. 

Born at Canquoelles, the only possession of his family, 
which was highly respectable, this Southerner's name was 
I'eyrade,'^ He belonged, in fact, to the younger branch of 
tlie"Peyrade family, an old but impoverished house of Franche 
Comte, still owning the little estate of la Peyrade. The 
seventh child of his father, he had come on foot to Paris in 
1 773 at the age of seventeen, with two crowns of six francs in 
his pocket, prompted by the vices of an ardent spirit and the 
coarse desire to "get on," which brings so many men to Paris 
from the south as soon as they understand that their father's 
property can never supply them with means to gratify their 
passions. It is enough to say of Peyrade's youth that in 1782 
he was in the confidence of chiefs of the police and the hero 
of the department, highly esteemed by MM. Lenoir and 
d' Albert, the last Lieutenant-Generals of Police. 

The Eevolution had no police; it needed none. Espion-^ 
age, though common enough, was called public spirit. 

The Directorate, a rather more regular government than 
that of the Committee of Public Safety, was obliged to re- 
organize the Police, and the first Consul completed the work 



114 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

by instituting a Prefect of Police and a department of police 

,_ supervision. 

■^ — Peyrade, a man knowing the traditions, collected the force 
with the assistance of a man named Corentin, a far cleverer 
man than Peyrade, though younger; but he was a genius only 
in the subterranean ways of police inquiries. In 1808 the 
great services Peyrade was able to achieve were rewarded by 
an appointment to the eminent position of Chief Commis- 
sioner of Police at Antwerp. In Napoleon's mind this sort 
of Police Governorship was equivalent to a Minister's post, 
.^ with the duty of superintending Holland. At the end of 

J/ the campaign of 1809, Peyrade was removed from Antwerp 

P by an order in Council from the Emperor, carried in a chaise 
to Paris between two gendarmes, and imprisoned in la Force. 
Two months later he was let out on bail furnished by his 
friend Corentin, after having been subjected to three ex- 
aminations, each lasting six hours, in the office of the head 
of the Police. 

Did Peyrade owe his overthrow to the miraculous energy 
he displayed in aiding Fouche in the defence of the French 
coast when threatened by what was known at the time as 
the Walcheren expedition, when the Duke of Otranto mani- 
fested such abilities as alarmed the Emperor? Fouche 
thought it probable even then ; and now, when everybody 
knows what went on in the Cabinet Council called together 
by Cambaceres, it is absolutely certain. The Ministers, thun- 
derstruck by the news of England's attempt, a retaliation on 
Napoleon for the Boulogne expedition, and taken by sur- 
prise when the Master was entrenched in the island of Lobau, 
where all Europe believed him to be lost, had not an idea 
which way to turn. The general opinion was in favor of 
sending post haste to the Emperor; Fouche alone was bold 
enough to sketch a plan of campaign, which, in fact, he 
carried into execution. 

"Do as you please," said Cambaceres; '^T)ut I, who prefer 
to keep my head on my shoulders, shall send a report to the 
Emperor." 



ESTHER HAPPY 115 

It is well known that the Emperor on his return found 
an absurd pretext, at a full meeting of the Council of State, 
for discarding his Minister and punishing him for having 
saved France without the Sovereign's help. From that time 
forth, Napoleon had doubled the hostility of Prince de Talley- 
rand and the Duke of Otranto, the only two great politicians 
formed by the Eevolution, who might perhaps have been able 
to save Napoleon in 1813. 

To get rid of Peyrade, he was simply accused of connivance 
in favoring smuggling and sharing certain profits with the 
great merchants. Such an indignity was hard on a man 
who had earned the Marshal's baton of the Police Depart- 
ment by the great services he had done. This man, who had 
grown old in active business, knew all the secrets of every 
Government since 1775, when he had entered the service. 
The Emperor, who believed himself powerful enough to create 
men for his own uses, paid no heed to the representations 
subsequently laid before him in favor of a man who was 
reckoned as one of the most trustworthy, most capable, and 
most acute of the unknown genii whose task it is to watch over 
the safety of a State. He thought he could put Contenson 
in Pe3Tade's place; but Contenson was at that time employed 
by Corentin for his own benefit. 

Peyrade felt the blow all the more keenly because, being 
greedy and a libertine, he had found himself, with regard 
to women, in the position of a pastry-cook who loves sweet- 
meats. His habits of vice had become to him a second na- 
ture; he could not live without a good dinner, without 
gambling, in short, without the life of an unpretentious fine 
gentleman, in which men of powerful faculties so generally 
indulge when they have allowed excessive dissipation to be- 
come a necessity. Hitherto, he had lived in style without 
ever being expected to entertain ; and living well, for no one 
ever looked for a return from him, or from his friend Coren- 
tin. He was cynically witty, and he liked his profession; 
he was a philosopher. And besides, a spy, whatever grade 
he may hold in the machinery of the police, can no more 



116 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

return to a profession regarded as honorable or liberal, than 
a prisoner from the hulks can. Once branded, once matric- 
ulated, spies and convicts, like deacons, have assumed an in- 
delible character. There are beings on whom social condi- 
tions impose an inevitable fate. 

Peyrade, for his further woe, was very fond of a pretty 
little girl whom he knew to be his own child by a celebrated 
actress to whom he had done a signal service, and who, for 
three months, had been grateful to him. Peyrade, who had 
sent for his child from Antwerp, now found himself without 
employment in Paris and with no means beyond a pension of 
twelve hundred francs a year allowed him by the Police De- 
partment as Lenoir's olS disciple. He took lodgings in the 
Eue des Moineaux on the fourth floor, five little rooms, at 
a rent of two hundred and fifty francs. 

If any man should be aware of the uses and sweets of 
friendship, is it not the moral leper known to the world as 
a spy, to the mob as a mouchard, to the department as an 
"agent" ? Peyrade and Corentin were such friends as Orestes 
and Pylades. Peyrade had trained Corentin as Vien trained 
David; but the pupil soon surpassed his master. They had 
carried out more than one undertaking together. Peyrade, 
happy at having discerned Corentin's superior abilities, had 
started him in his career by preparing a success for him. He 
obliged his disciple to make use of a mistress who had scorned 
him as a bait to catch a man (see The Chouans). And Co- 
rentin at that time was hardly five-and-twenty. 

Corentin, who had been retained as one of the generals of 
whom the Minister of Police is the Pligh Constable, still held 
under the Due de Rovigo the high position he had filled under 
the Duke of Otranto. Xow at that time the general police 
and the criminal police were managed on similar principles. 
When any important business was on hand, an account was 
opened, as it were, for the three, four, five, really capable 
agents. The Minister, on being warned of some plot, by 
whatever means, would say to one of his colonels of the police 
force : 



ESTHER HAPPY 117 

"How much will you want to achieve this or that result ?" 

Corentin or Contenson would go into the matter and 
reply : 

"Twenty, thirty, or forty thousand francs." 

Then, as soon as the order was given to go ahead, all 
the means and the men were left to the judgment of Coren- 
tin or the agent selected. And the criminal police used to 
act in the same way to discover crimes with the famous 
Vidocq. 

Both branches of the police chose their men chiefly from 
among the ranks of well-known agents, who have matriculated 
in the business, and are, as it were, as soldiers of the secret 
army, so indispensable to a government, in spite of the public 
orations of philanthropists or narrow-minded moralists. But 
the absolute confidence placed in two men of the temper of 
Peyrade and Corentin conveyed to them the right of employ- 
ing perfect strangers, under the risk, moreover, of being re- 
sponsible to the Minister in all serious cases. Peyrade's ex- 
perience and acumen were too valuable to Corentin, who, 
after the storm of 1820 had blown over, employed his old 
friend, constantly consulted him, and contributed largely to 
his maintenance. Corentin managed to put about a thousand 
francs a month into Peyrade's hands. 

Peyrade, on his part, did Corentin good service. In 1816 
Corentin, on the strength of the discovery of the conspiracy 
in which the Bonapartist Gaudissart was implicated, tried 
to get Peyrade reinstated in his place in the police office ; but 
-some unknown influence was working against Peyrade. This 
was the reason why. 

In their anxiety to make themselves necessary, Peyrade, 
Corentin, and Contenson, at the Duke of Otranto's instiga- 
tion, had organized for the benefit of Louis XVIII. a sort 
of opposition police in which very capable agents were em- 
ployed. Louis XVIII. died possessed of secrets which will 
remain secrets from the best informed historians. The 
struggle between the general police of the kingdom, and the 
Ejng's opp osition police, led to many horrible disasters, of 



118 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

which a certain number of executions sealed the secrets. 
This is neither the place nor the occasion for entering into 
details on this subject, for these "Scenes of Paris Life" are 
not "Scenes of Political Life." Enough has been said to 
show what were the means of living of the man who at the 
Cafe David was known as good old Canquoelle, and by what 
threads he was tied to the terrible and mysterious powers of 
the police. 

Between 1817 and 1822, Corentin, Contenson, Peyrade, 
and their myrmidons, were often required to keep watch over 
the Minister of Police himself. This perhaps explains why 
the Minister declined to employ Peyrade and Contenson, on 
whom Corentin contrived to cast the Minister's suspicions, 
in order to be able to make use of his friend when his re- 
1 instatement was evidently out of the question. The ^linistry 
j put their faith in Corentin; they enjoined him to keep an 
eye on Peyrade, which amused Louis XVIII. Corentin and 
Peyrade were then masters of the position. Contenson, long 
attached to Peyrade, was still at his service. He had joined 
the force of the commerical police (the Gardes du Com- 
merce) by his friend's orders. And, in fact, as a result of 
the sort of zeal that is inspired by a profession we love, these 
two chiefs liked to place their best men in those posts where 
information was most likely to flow in. 

And, indeed, Contenson's vices and dissipated habits, which 
had dragged him lower than his two friends, consumed so 
much money, that he needed a great deal of business. 

Contenson, without committing any indiscretion, had told 
Louchard that he knew the onh'' man who was capable of 
doing what the Baron de Nucingen required. Peyrade was, 
in fact, the only police-agent who could act on behalf of a 
' private individual with impunity. At the death of Louis 
XVIII., Peyrade had not only ceased to be of consequence, 
but had lost the profits of his position as spy-in-ordinary to 
His Majesty. Believing himself to be indispensable, he had 
lived fast. Women, high feeding, and the club, the Cercle 
des Etrangers, had prevented this man from saving, and, like 



ESTHER HAPPY 119 

all men cut out for debauchery, he enjoyed an iron constitu- 
tion. But between 1826 and 1829, when he was nearly 
seventy-four years of age, he had stuck half-way, to use 
his own expression. Year by year he saw his comforts 
dwindling. He followed the police department to its grave, 
and saw with regret that Charles X.'s government was de- 
parting from its good old traditions. Every session saw the 
estimates pared down which were necessary to keep up the 
police, out of hatred for that method of government and a 
firm determination to reform that institution. 

"It is as if they thought they could cook in white gloves," 
said Peyrade to Corentin. 

In 1822 this couple foresaw 1830. They knew how bit- 
terly Louis XVIII. hated his successor, which accounts for 
his recklessness with regard to the younger branch, and Avith- 
out which his reign would be an unanswerable riddle. 

As Peyrade grew older, his love for his natural daughter) ^ 
had increased. For her sake he had adopted his citizen guise, 
for he intended that his Lydie should marry respectably. So 
for the last three years he had been especially anxious to find 
a corner, either at the Prefecture of Police, or in the general 
Police Office — some ostensible and recognized post. He had 
ended by inventing a place, of which the necessity, as he 
told Corentin, would sooner or later be felt. He was anxious 
to create an inquiry office at the Prefecture of Police, to be 
intermediate between the Paris police in the strictest sense, 
the criminal police, and the superior general police, so as to 
enable the supreme board to profit by the various scattered 
forces. No one but Peyrade, at his age, and after fifty-five 
years of confidential work, could be the connecting link be- 
tween the three branches of the police, or the keeper of the 
records to whom political and Judicial authority alike could 
apply for the elucidation of certain cases. By this means 
Peyrade hoped, with Corentin's assistance, to find a husband 
and scrape together a portion for his little Lydie. Corentin 
had already mentioned the matter to the Director-General 



120 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

of the police forces of the realm, without naming Peyrade; 
and the Director-General, a man from the south, thought it 
necessary that the suggestion should come from the chief of 
the city police. 

At the moment when Contenson struck three raps on the 
table with the gold piece, a signal conveying, "I want to 
speak to you," the senior was reflecting on this problem: 
"By whom, and under what pressure can the Prefet of Police 
be made to move?" — And he looked like a noodle studying 
his Courrier Franqais. 

"Poor Foucho!" thought he to himself, as he made his 
way along the Eue Saint-Honore, "that great man is dead ! 
our go-betweens with Louis XYIII. are out of favor. And 
besides, as Corentin said only yesterday, nobody believes in 
the activity or the intelligence of a man of seventy. Oh, 
Avliy did I get into a habit of dining at Very's, of drinking 
choice wines, of singing La Mere Godichon, of gambling when 
I am in funds? To get a place and keep it, as Corentin 
says, it is not enough to be clever, you must have the gift of 
management. Poor dear M. Lenoir was right when he wrote 
to me in the matter of the Queen's necklace, TTou will never 
do any good,' when he heard that I did not stay under that 
slut Oliva's bed." 

If the venerable Pere Canquoelle — he was called so in the 
house — lived on in the Eue des Moineaux, on a fourth floor, 
you may depend on it he had found some peculiarity in the 
arrangement of the premises which favored the practice of 
his terrible profession. 

The house, standing at the corner of the Eue Saint-Eoch, 
had no neighbors on one side; and as the staircase up the 
middle divided it into two, there were on each floor two per- 
fectly isolated rooms. Those two rooms looked out on the 
Eue Saint-Eoch. There were garret rooms above the fourth 
floor, one of them a kitchen, and the other a bedroom for 
Pere Canquoelle's only servant, a Fleming named Katt. for- 
merly Lydie's wet-nurse. Old Canquoelle had taken one of 
the outside rooms for his bedroom, and the other for his 



ESTHER HAPPY 121 

study. The study ended at the party-wall, a very thick one. 
The window opening on the Rue des Moineaux looked on a 
blank wall at the opposite corner. As this study was divided 
from the stairs by the whole width of Peyrade's bedroom, 
the friends feared no eye, no ear, as they talked business in 
this study made on purpose for his detestable trade. 

Peyrade, as a further precaution, had furnished Katt's 
room with a thick straw bed, a felt carpet, and a very heavy 
rug, under the pretext of making his child's nurse comfort- 
able. He had also stopped up the chimney, warming his room 
by a stove, with a pipe through the wall to the Rue Saint- 
Roch. Finally, he laid several rugs on his floor to prevent 
the slightest sound being heard by the neighbors beneath. An 
expert himself in the tricks of spies, he sounded the outer 
wall, the ceiling, and the floor once a week, examining them 
as if he were in search of noxious insects. It was the security 
of this room from all witnesses or listeners that had made 
Corentin select it as his council-chamber when he did not 
hold a meeting in his own room. 

Where Corentin lived was known, to no one but the Chief -^^ 
of the Superior Police and to Peyrade ; he received there such 
personages as the Ministry or the King selected to conduct 
very serious cases; but no agent or subordinate ever went 
there, and he plotted everything connected with their busi- 
ness at Peyrade's. In this unpretentious room schemes were 
matured, and resolutions passed, which would have furnished 
strange records and curious dramas if only walls could talk. 
Between 1816 and 1826 the highest interests were discussed 
there. There first germinated the events which grew to weigh 
on France. There Peyrade and Corentin, with all the fore- 
sight, and more than all the information of Bellart, the At- 
torney-General, had said even in 1819: "If Louis XVIII. 
does not consent to strike such or such a blow, to make away 
with such or such a prince, is it because he hates his brother ? 
He must wish to leave him heir to a revolution." 

Peyrade's door was graced with a slate, on which very 
strange marks might sometimes be seen, figures scrawled in 



122 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

chalk. This sort of devil's algebra bore the clearest mean- 
ing to the initiated. 

Lydie's rooms, opposite to Peyrade's shabby lodging, con- 
sisted of an ante-room, a little drawing-room, a bedroom, and 
a small dressing-room. The door, like that of Peyrade's 
room, was constructed of a plate of sheet-iron three lines 
thick, sandwiched between two strong oak planks, fitted with 
locks and elaborate hinges, making it as impossible to force 
it as if it were a prison door. Thus, though the house had 
a public passage through it, with a shop below and no door- 
keeper, Lydie lived there without a fear. The dining-room, 
the little drawing-room, and her bedroom — every window- 
balcony a hanging garden — were luxurious in their Dutch 
cleanliness. 

The Flemish nurse had never left Lydie, whom she called 
her daughter. The two went to church with a regularity 
that gave the roj^alist grocer, who lived below, in the corner 
shop, an excellent opinion of the worthy Canquoelle. The 
grocer's family, kitchen, and counter-jumpers occupied the 
first floor and the entresol; the landlord inhabited the second 
floor; and the third had been let for twenty 3'ears past to a 
lapidary. Each resident had a key of the street door. The 
grocer's wife was all the more willing to receive letters and 
parcels addressed to these three quiet households, because the 
grocer's shop had a letter-box. 

Without these details, strangers, or even those M'ho know 
Paris well, could not have understood the privacy and 
quietude, the isolation and safety which made this house ex- 
ceptional in Paris. After midnight, Pere Canquoelle could 
hatch plots, receive spies or ministers, wives or hussies, with- 
out any one on earth knowing anything about it. 

Peyrade, of whom the Flemish woman would say to the 
grocer's cook, "He would not hurt a fly !" was regarded as 
the best of men. He grudged his daughter nothing. Lydie, 
who had been taught music by Schmucke, was herself a 
musician capable of composing; she could wash in a sepia 
drawing, and paint in gouache and water-color. Every Sun- 



ESTHER HAPPY 123 

day Peyrade dined at home with. her. On that day this 
worthy was wholly paternal. 

Lydie, religious but not a bigot, took the Sacrament at 
Easter, and confessed every month. Still, she allowed her- 
self from time to time to be treated to the play. She walked 
in the Tuileries when it was fine. These were all her 
pleasures, for she led a sedentary life. Lydie, who wor- 
shiped her father, knew absolutely nothing of his sinister 
gifts and dark employments. Not a wish had ever disturbed 
this pure child's pure life. Slight and handsome like her 
mother, gifted with an exquisite voice, and a delicate face 
framed in fine tair hair, she looked like one of those angels, 
mystical rather than real, which some of the early painters 
grouped in the background of the Holy Family. The glance 
of her blue eyes seemed to bring a beam from the sky on those 
she favored with a look. Her dress, quite simple, with no ex- 
aggeration of fashion, had a delightful middle-class modesty. 
Picture to yourself an old Satan as the father of an angel. 
and purified in her divine presence, and you will have an 
idea of Peyrade and his daughter. If anybody had soiled 
this jewel, her father would have invented, to swallow him 
p.live, one of those dreadful plots in which, under the Eestora- 
tion, the unhappy wretches were trapped who were designate 
to die on the scaffold. A thousand crowns were ample main- 
tenance for Lydie and Katt, whom she called nurse. 

As Peyrade turned into the Rue des Moineaux, he saw Con- 
tenson ; he outstripped him, went upstairs before him, heard 
the man's steps on the stairs, and admitted him before the 
woman had put her nose out of the kitchen door. A bell 
rung by the opening of a glass door, on the third story v,'hei'e 
the lapidary lived, warned the residents on that and the fourth 
floors when a visitor was coming to them. It need hardly 
be said that, after midnight, Peyrade muffled this bell. 

"^'^hat is up in such a hurry. Philosopher?" 

Philosopher was the nickname bestowed on Contenson bv 
Peyrade, and well merited by this Epictetus among police 
agents. The name of Contenson, alas! hid one of the most 
ancient names of feudal Normandy. 



124 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"Well, there is something like ten thousand francs to be 
netted." 

"What is it ? Political ?" 

"No, a piece of idiotcy. Baron de Xucingen, you know, 
the old certified swindler, is neighing after a woman he saw 
in the Bois de Vincennes, and she has got to be found, or he 
will die of love. — They had a consultation of doctors yester- 
day, by what his man tells me. — I have already eased him of 
a thousand francs under pretence of seeking the fair one." 

And Contenson related Xucingen's meeting with Esther, 
adding that the Baron had now some further information. 

"All right," said Peyrade, "we will find his Dulcinea; tell 
the Baron to come to-night in a carriage to the Champs- 
Elysees — the corner of the Avenue de Gabriel and the Allee 
de Marigny." 

Peyrade saw Contenson out, and knocked at his daughter's 
rooms, as he always knocked to be let in. He was full of 
glee; chance had just offered the means, at last, of getting 
the place he longed for. 

He flung himself into a deep armchair, after kissing Lydie 
on the forehead, and said: 

"Play me something." 

Lydie played him a composition for the piano by Beethoven. 

"That is very well played, my pet," said he, taking Lydie 
on his knees. "Do you know that we are one-and-twenty years 
old? We must get married soon, for our old daddy is more 
than seventy " 

"I am quite happy here," said she. 

"You love no one but your ugly old father?" asked Pey- 
rade. 

"Why, whom should I love?" 

"I am dining at home, my darling; go and tell Katt. I 
am thinking of settling, of getting an appointment, and find- 
ing a husband worthy of you ; some good young man, very 
clever, whom you may some day be proud of " 

"I have never seen but one yet that I should have liked 
for a husband " 



\A v*^ 



C- ESTHER HAPPY 125 

"You have seen one then ?" 

"Yes, in the Tuileries," replied Lydie. "He walked past 
me; he was giving his arm to the Comtesse de Serizy." 

"And his name is?" 

"Lueien de Eubempre. — I was sitting with Katt under a 
lime-tree, thinking of nothing. There were two ladies sitting 
by me, and one said to the other, 'There are Madame de Serizy 
and that handsome Lueien de Eubempre.' — I looked at the 
couple the two ladies were watching. 'Oh, my dear !' said the 
other, 'some women are very lucky ! That woman is allowed 
to do everything she pleases just because she was a de 
Eonquerolles, and her husband is in power.' — 'But, my dear,' 
said the other lady, 'Lueien costs her very dear.' — What did 
she mean, papa?" 

"Just nonsense, such as people of fashion will talk," replied 
Peyrade, with an air of perfect candor. "Perhaps they were 
alluding to political matters." 

"Well, in short, you asked me a question, so I answer you. 
If you want me to marry, find me a husband just like that 
young man." 

"Silly child !" replied her father. "The fact that a man 
is handsome is not always a sign of goodness. Young men 
gifted with an attractive appearance meet with no obstacles 
at the beginning of life, so they make no use of any talent; 
they are corrupted by the advances made to them by society, 
and they have to pay interest later for their attractiveness ! ^ 
— What I should like for you is what the middle classes, the 
rich, and the fools loave unholpen and unprotected " 

"What, father?" 

"An unrecognized man of talent. But, there, child; I 
have it in my power to hunt through every garret in Paris, 
and carry out your programme by offering for your affection 
a man as handsome as the young scamp you speak of; but 
a man of promise, with a future before him destined to glory 
and fortune. — By the way, I was forgetting. I must have a 
whole flock of nephews, and among them there must be one 



126 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

worthy of you ! — I will write, or get some one to write to 
Provence." 

A strange coincidence ! At this moment a young man, 
half-dead of hunger and fatigue, who had come on foot from 
the department of Vaucluse — a nephew of Pere Canquoelle's, 
in search of his uncle, was entering Paris through the Bar- 
riere de I'ltalie. In the day-dreams of the family, ignorant 
of this uncle's fate, Peyrade had supplied the text for many 
hopes; he was supposed to have returned from India with 
millions ! Stimulated by these fireside romances, this grand- 
nephew, named Theodore, had started on a voyage round the 
world in quest of this eccentric uncle. 

After enjoying for some hours the joys of paternity, Pey- 
rade, his hair washed and dyed — for his powder was a disguise 
— dressed in a stout, coarse, blue frock-coat buttoned up to 
the chin, and a black cloak, shod in strong, thick-soled boots, 
furnished himself with a private card and walked slowly 
along the Avenue Gabriel, where Contenson, dressed as an old 
costermonger woman, met him in front of the gardens of 
the Elysee-Bourbon. 

"Monsieur de Saint-Germain," said Contenson, giving his 
old chief the name he was officially known by, "you have put 
me in the way of making five hundred pieces (francs) ; but 
what I came here for was to tell you that that damned Baron, 
before he gave me the shiners, had been to ask questions 
at the house (the Prefecture of Police)." 

"I shall want you, no doubt," replied Peyrade. "Look up 
numbers 7, 10, and 21; we can employ those men without 
any one finding it out, either at the Police Ministry or at 
the Prefecture." 

Contenson went back to a post near the carriage in which 
Monsieur de Nucingen was waiting for Peyrade. 

"I am Monsieur de Saint-Germain," said Peyrade to the 
Baron, raising himself to look over the carriage door. 

"Ver' goot; get in mit me," replied the Baron, ordering 
the coachman to go on slowly to the Arc de I'fitoile. 



ESTHER HAPPY 127 

'Ton have been to the Prefecture of Police, Monsieur le 
Baron? That was not fair. Might I ask what you said to 
M. le Pref et, and what he said in reply ?" asked Peyrade. 

"Before I should gif fife hundert francs to a filain like 
Contenson, I vant to know if he had earned dein. I simply 
said to the Prefet of Police dat I vant to employ ein agent 
name Peyrate to go abroat in a delicate matter, an' should I 
trust him — unlimited ! — The Prefet telt me you vas a very 
defer man an' ver' honest man. An' dat vas everyting." 

"And now that you have learned my true name, IMonsieur 
le Baron, will you tell me what it is you want?" 

When the Baron had given a long and copious explanation, 
in his hideous Polish-Jew dialect, of his meeting with Esther 
and the cry of the man behind the carriage, and his vain 
efforts, he ended by relating what had occurred at his house 
the night before, Lucien's involuntary smile, and the opinion 
expressed by Bianchon and some other young dandies that 
there must be some acquaintance between him and the un- 
known fair. 

"Listen to me. Monsieur le Baron; you must, in the first 
instance, place ten thousand francs in my hands, on account 
for expenses: for, to you, this is a matter of life or death; 
and as your life is a business-manufactory, nothing must be 
left undone to find this woman for you. Oh, you are ^ 
caught! " v^^ 

"Ja, I am caught !" ^ 

"If more money is wanted. Baron, I will let you know; 
put your trust in me," said Peyrade. "I am not a spy, as 
you perhaps imagine. In 1807 I was Commissioner-General 
of Police at Antwerp; and now that Louis XVIII. is dead, I 
may tell you in confidence that for seven years I was the 
chief of his counter-police. So there is no beating me down. 
You must understand, Monsieur le Baron, that it is impossible 
to make any estimate of the cost of each man's conscience 
before going into the details of such an affair. Be quite easy; 
I shall succeed. Do not fancy that you can satisfy me with 
a sum of money : I want something else for my reward " 

"So long as dat is not a kiugtom !"' said the Baron. 



128 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"It is less than nothing to you." 

"Den I am your man." 
/ J "You know the Kellers ?" 
y "Oh ! ver' well." 

L" "Francois Keller is the Comte de Gondreville's son-in-law, 
and the Comte de Gondreville and his son-in-law dined with 
you yesterday." 
-^ "Who der teufel tolt you dat?" cried the Baron. "Dat 
*^ vill be Georche; he is alvays a gossip." Peyrade smiled, 
and the banker at once formed strange suspicions of his man- 
servant. 

"The Comte de Gondreville is quite in a position to obtain 
me a place I covet at the Prefecture of Police; within forty- 
eight hours the prefet will have notice that such a place is to 
be created," said Peyrade in continuation. "Ask for it for 
me; get the Comte de Gondreville to interest himself in the 
matter with some degree of warmth — and you will thus repay 
me for the service I am about to do you. I ask your word 
only; for, if you fail me, sooner or later you will curse the 
day you were born — you have Peyrade's word for that." 

"I gif you mein vort of honor to do vat is possible."' 

"If I do no more for you than is possible, it will not be 
enough." 

"Veil, veil, I vill act qvite frankly." 

"Frankly — that is all I ask," said Peyrade, "and frankness 
is the only thing at all new that you and I can offer to each 
other." 

"Franklv," echoed the Baron. "Vere shall I put you 
down." 

"At the corner of the Pont Louis XVI." 

"To the Pont de la Chambre," said the Baron to the foot- 
man at the carriage door. 

"Then I am to get dat unknown person," said the Baron 
to himself as he drove home. 

"What a queer business !" thought Peyrade, going back on 
foot to the Palais-Eoyal, where he intended trying to multiply 
his ten thousand francs by three, to make a little fortune for 



ESTHER HAPPY 129 

Lydie. "Here am I required to look into the private con- 
cerns of the very young man who has bewitched my little girl 
by a glance. He is, I suppose, one of those men who have an 
eye for a woman," said he to himself, using an expression of 
a language of his own, in which his observations, or Coren- 
tin's, were summed up in words that were anything rather 
than classical, but, for that very reason, energetic and pict- 
uresque. 

The Baron de Nucingen, when he went in, was an altered 
man; he astonished his household and his wife by showing 
them a face full of life and color, so cheerful did he feel. 

''Our shareholders had better look out for themselves," said 
du Tillet to Eastignac. 

They were all at tea, in Delphine de Nucingen's boudoir, 
having come in from the opera. 

"Ja," said the Baron, smiling; "I feel ver' much dat I 
shall do some business." 

"Then you have seen the fair being?" asked Madame de 
Nucingen. 

"No,'' said he; "I have only hoped to see her." 

"Do men ever love their wives so?" cried Madame de 
Nucingen, feeling, or affecting to feel, a little jealous. 

"When you have got her, you must ask us to sup with 
her," said du Tillet to the Baron, "for I am very curious 
to study the creature who has made you so young as you 
are." 

"She is a cheff-d'ceufre of creation !" replied the old banker. 

"He will be swindled like a boy," said Eastignac in Del- 
phine's ear. 

"Pooh ! he makes quite enough money to " 

"To give a little back, I suppose," said du Tillet, interrupt- 
ing the Baroness. 

Nucingen was walking up and down the room as if his legs 
had the fidgets. 

"Now is your time to make him pay your fresh debts," said 
Eastignac in the Baroness' ear. 

At this very moment Carlos was leaving the Eue Taitbout 



130 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

full of hope; he had been there to give some last advice to 
Europe, who was to play the principal part in the farce devised 
to take in the Baron de Xucingen. He was acconpanied as 
far a5 the Boulevard by Lucien, who was not at all easy at 
finding this demon so perfectly disguised that even he had 
only recognized him by his voice. 

"Where the devil did you find a handsomer woman than 
Esther?" he asked his evil genius. 

"My boy, there is no such thing to be found in Paris. 
Such a complexion is not made in France.'" 

"I assure you, I am still quite amazed. Venus Callipyge 
has not such a figure. A man would lose his soul for her. 
But where did she spring from ?" 

- "She was the handsomest girl in London. Drunk with 
gin, she killed her lover in a fit of jealousy. The lover was 
a wretch of whom the London police are well quit, and this 
woman has been packed off to Paris for a time to let the matter 
blow over. The hussy was well brought up — the daughter of 
a clergATQan. She speaks French as if it were her mother 
tongue. She does not know, and never will know, why she is 
here. She was told that if you took a fancy to her she might 
fleece you of millions, but that you were as jealous as a tiger, 
and she was told how Esther lived." 

'^But supposing Xucingen should prefer her to Esther?" 

"Ah, it is out at last !" cried Carlos. "You dread now 
lest what dismayed you yesterday should not take place after 
all ! Be quite easy. That fair and fair-haired girl has blue 
eyes; she is the antipode.'^ of the beautiful Jewe?s, and only 
such eyes as Esther's could ever stir a man so rotten as Xucin- 
gen. What the devil ! you could not hide an ugly woman. 
When this puppet has played her part, I will send her off in 
safe custody to Home or to Madrid, where she will be the 
rage." 

"If we have her only for a short time," said Lucien, "1 
will go back to her " 

"Go, my boy, amuse yourself. You will be a day older 
to-morrow. For my part, I must wait for some one whont I 



ESTHER HAPPY 131 

have instructed to learn what is going on at the Baron de 
Nucingen's." 

"Who n 

"His valet's mistress ; for, after all, we must keep ourselves 
informed at every moment of what is going on in the enemy's 
camp." 

At midnight, Paccard, Esther's tall chasseur, met Carlos 
on the Pont des Arts, the most favorable spot in all Paris 
for saying a few words which no one must overhear. All 
the time they talked the servant kept an eye on one side, while 
his master looked out' on the other. 

"The Baron went to the Prefecture of Police this morn- 
ing between four and five," said the man, "and he boasted 
this evening that he should find the woman he saw in the 
Bois de Vincennes — he had been promised it " 

"We are watched !" said Carlos. "By whom ?" 

"They have already emploj'-ed Louchard the bailiff." 

"That would be child's play," replied Carlos. "We need 
fear nothing but the guardians of public safety, the criminal 
police ; and so long as that is not set in motion, we can 
go on !" 

"That is not all." 

"What else?" 

"Our chums of the hulks. — I saw Lapouraille yesterday 

He has choked off a married couple, and has bagged ten 
thousand five-franc pieces — in gold." 

"He will be nabbed," said Jacques Collin. "That is the 
Rue Boucher crime." 

"What is the order of the day?" said Paccard, with the 
respectful demeanor a marshal must have assumed when tak- 
ing his orders from Louis XVIII. 

"You must get out every evening at ten o'clock," replied 
Herrera. "Make your way pretty briskly to the Bois de 
Vincennes, the Bois de Meudon, and de Ville-d'Avray. If 
any one should follow you, let them do it ; l)o free of speech, 
chatty, open to a bribe. Talk about Rubempre's jealousy 
and his mad passion for madame, saying that he would not 



132 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

on any account liave it known that he had a mistress of that 
kind." 

"Enough. — Must I have any weapons?" 

"Never!'' exclaimed Carlos vehemently. "A weapon? 
Of what use w^ould that be? To get us into a scrape. Do 
not under any circumstances use your hunting-knife. When 
you know that you can break the strongest man's legs by the 
trick I showed you — when you can hold your own against 
three armed warders, feeling quite sure that you can account 
for two of them before they have got out flint and steel, what 
is there to be afraid of? Have not you your cane?" 

"To be sure," said the man. 

Paccard, nicknamed The Old Guard, Old Wide-Awake, or 
The Right Man — a man with legs of iron, arms of steel, 
Italian whiskers, hair like an artist's, a beard like a sapper's, 
and a face as colorless and immovable as Contenson's, kept 
his spirit to himself, and rejoiced in a sort of drum-major 
appearance which disarmed suspicion. A fugitive from 
Poissy or Melun has no such serious self-consciousness and 
belief in his own merit. As Giafar to the Haroun el Rasheed 
of the hulks, he served him with the friendly admiration 
which Peyrade felt for Corentin. 

This huge fellow, with a small body in proportion to his 
legs, flat-chested, and lean of limb, stalked solemnly about 
on his two long pins. Whenever liis right leg moved, his 
right eye took in everything around him with the placid 
swiftness peculiar to thieves and spies. The left eye followed 
the right eye's example. Wiry, nimble, ready for anything 
at any time, but for a weakness for Dutch courage Paccard 
would have been perfect, Jacques Collin used to say, so com- 
pletely was he endowed with the talents indispensable to a 
man at war with vsociety; but the master had succeeded in 
persuading his slave to drink only in the evening. On going 
home at night, Paccard tippled the liquid gold poured into 
small glasses out of a pot-bellied stone jar from Danzig. 

'^e will make them open their eyes," said Paccard, putting 
on his grand hat and feathers after bowing to Carlos, whom 
he called his Confessor. 



ESTHER HAPPY 133 

These were the events which had led three men, so clever, 
each in his way, as Jacques Collin, Peyrade, and Corentin^ to 
a hand-to-hand fight on the same ground, each exerting his 
talents in a struggle for his own passions or interests. It 
was one of those obscure but terrible conflicts on which are 
expended in marches and countermarches, in strategy, skill, 
hatred, and vexation, the powers that might make a fine for- 
tune. Men and means were kept absolutely secret by Pey- 
rade, seconded in this business by his friend Corentin — a 
business they thought but a trifle. And so, as to them, 
history is silent, as it is on the true causes of many revolu- 
tions. 

But this was the result. 

Five days after Monsieur de Nucingen's interview with 
Peyrade in the Champs Elysees, a man of about fifty called 
in the morning, stepping out of a handsome cab, and flinging 
the reins to his servant. He had the dead-white complexion 
which a life in the "world" gives to diplomates, was dressed 
in blue cloth, and had a general air of fashion — almost that 
of a Minister of State. 

He inquired of the servant who sat on a bench on the steps 
whether the Baron de Nucingen were at home ; and the man 
respectfully threw open the splendid plate-glass doors. 

'^our name, sir?" said the footman. 

"Tell the Baron that I have come from the Avenue Gabriel," 
said Corentin. "If anybody is with him, be sure not to say 
so too loud, or you will find yourself out of place !" 

A minute later the man came back and led Corentin by 
the back passages to the Baron's private room. 

Corentin and the banker exchanged impenetrable glances, 
and both bowed politely, 

"Monsieur Ic Baron," said Corentin, "I come in the name 
of Peyrade " 

"Yer' goot !" said the Baron, fastening the bolts of both 
doors. 

"Monsieur de Eubempre's mistress lives in the Eue Tait- 
bout, in the apartment formerly occupied by Mademoiselle 



134 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

de Bellefeuille, M. de Granville's ex-mistress — the Attornev- 
General " 

"Vat, so near to me?" exclaimed the Baron. "Dat is ver* 
strange." 

"1 can quite understand your being crazy about that 
splendid creature ; it was a pleasure to me to look at her,'" re- 
plied Corentin. "Lucien is so jealous of the girl that he never 
allows her to be seen; and she loves him devotedly; for in 
four years, since she succeeded la Bellefeuille in those rooms, 
inheriting her furniture and her profession, neither the neigh- 
bors, nor the porter, nor the other tenants in the house have 
ever set eyes on her. My lady never stirs out but at night. 
When she sets out, the blinds of the carriage are pulled 
down, and she is closely veiled. 

"Lucien has other reasons besides jealousy for concealing 
this woman. He is to be married to Clotilde de Grandlieu, 
and he is at this moment Madame de Serizy's favorite fancy. 
He naturally wishes to keep a hold on his fashionable mis- 
tress and on his promised bride. So, you are master of the 
position, for Lucien will sacrifice his pleasure to his interests 
and his vanity. You are rich; this is probably your last 
chance of happiness; be liberal. You can gain your end 
through her waiting-maid. Give the slut ten thousand 
francs; she will hide you in her mistress' bedroom. It must 
be quite worth that to you." 

No figure of speech could describe the short, precise tone 
of finality in which Corentin spoke ; the Baron could not fail 
to observe it, and his face expressed his astonishment — an 
expression he had long since expunged from his impenetrable 
features. 

"I have also to ask you for five thousand francs for my 
friend Peyrade, who has dropped five of your thousand-franc 
notes — a tiresome accident," Core'ntin went on, in a lordly 
tone of command. "Peyrade knows his Paris too well to 
spend money in advertising, and he trusts entirely to you. 
But this is not the most important point," added Corentin, 
checking himself in such a way as to make the request for 



ESTHER HAPPY 135 

money seem quite a trifle. "If you do not want to end your 
days miserably, get the place for Peyrade that he asked you 
to procure for him — and it is a thing you can easily do. The 
Chief of the General Police must have had notice of the 
matter yesterday. All that is needed is to get Gondreville 
to speak to the Prefet of Police. — Very well, just say to 
Malin, Comte de Gondreville, that it is to oblige one of the 
men who relieved him of MM. de Simeuse, and he will work 
it " 

"Here den, mensieur," said the Baron, taking out five 
thousand-franc notes and handing them to Corentin. 

"The waiting-maid is great friends with a tall chasseur 
named Paccard, living in the Eue de Provence, over a car- 
riage-builder's ; he goes out as heyduque to persons who give 
themselves princely airs. You can get at Madame van Bog- 
seck's woman through Paccard, a brawny Piemontese, who 
has a liking for vermouth." 

This information, gracefully thrown in as a postscript, 
was evidently the return for the five thousand francs. The 
Baron was trying to guess Corentin's place in life, for he 
quite understood that the man was rather a master of spies 
than a spy himself; but Corentin remained to him as mys- 
terious as an inscription is to an archseologist when three- 
quarters of the letters are missing. 

"Vat is dat maid called?" he asked. 

"Eugenie," replied Corentin, who bowed and withdrew. 

The Baron, in a transport of joy, left his business for the 
day, shut up his office, and went up to his rooms in the happy 
frame of mind of a young man of twenty looking forward 
to his first meeting with his first mistress. 

The Baron took all the thousand-franc notes out of his 
private cash-box — a sum sufficient to make a whole villaare 
happy, fifty-five thousand francs — and stuffed them into the 
pocket of his coat. But a millionaire's lavishness can only 
be compared with his easrernpss for arain. As soon as a whim 
or a passion is to be gratified, money is dross to a Croesus; 
in fact, he finds it harder to have whims than gold. A 



136 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

keen pleasure is the rarest thing in these satiated lives, full 
of the excitement that comes of great strokes of speculation, 
in which these driecl-up hearts have burned themselves out. 

For instance, one of the richest capitalists in Paris one day 
met an extremely pretty little working-girl. Her mother 
was with her, but the girl had taken the arm of a young fellow 
in very doubtful finery, with a very smart swagger. The 
millionaire fell in love with the girl at first sight; he fol- 
lowed her home, he went in; he heard all her story, a record 
of alternations of dancing at Mabille and days of starvation, 
of play-going and hard work; he took an interest in it, and 
left five thousand-franc notes under a five-franc piece — an 
act of generosity abused. Next day a famous upholsterer, 
Braschon, came to take the damsel's orders, furnished rooms 
that she had chosen, and laid out twenty thousand francs. 
She gave herself up to the wildest hopes, dressed her mother 
to match, and flattered herself she would find a place for her 
ex-lover in an insurance office. She waited — a day, two days 
— then a week, two weeks. She thought herself bound to be 
faithful; she got into debt. The capitalist, called away to 
Holland, had forgotten the girl; he never went once to the 
Paradise where he had placed her, and from which she fell 
as low as it is possible to fall even in Paris. 

Nucingen did not gamble, Nucingen did not patronize the 
Arts, Nucingen had no hobby ; thus he flung himself into his 
passion for Esther with a headlong blindness, on which Carlos 
Herrera had confidently counted. 

After his breakfast, the Baron sent for Georges, his body- 
servant, and desired him to go to the Eue Taitbout and ask 
Mademoiselle Eugenie, Madame van Bogseck's maid, to come 
to his office on a matter of importance. 

'TTou shall look out for her," he added, "an' make her 
valk up to my room, and tell her I shall make her fortune." 

Georges had the greatest difficulty in persuading Europe- 
Eugenie to come. 

"Madame never lets me go out," said she; 'T^ might lose 
my place," and so forth ; and Georges sang her praises loudly 
to the Baron, who gave him ten louis. 



ESTHER HAPPY 137 

"If madame goes out without her this evening," said 
Georges to his master, whose eyes glowed like carbuncles, "she 
will be here by ten o'clock." 

"Goot. You shall come to dress me at nine o'clock — and 
do my hair. I shall look so goot as possible. I belief I shall 
really see dat mistress — or money is not money any more." 

The Baron spent an hour, from noon till one, in dyeing his 
hair and whiskers. At nine in the evening, having taken a 
bath before dinner, he made a toilet worthy of a bridegroom 
and scented himself — a perfect Adonis. Madame de Nucin- 
gen, informed of this metamorphosis, gave herself the treat 
of inspecting her husband. 

"Good heavens !" cried she, "what a ridiculous figure ! Do, 
at least, put on a black satin stock instead of that white neck- 
cloth which makes your whiskers look so black; besides, it is 
so 'Empire,' quite the old fogy. You look like some super- 
annuated parliamentary counsel. And take off these dia- 
mond buttons; they are worth a hundred thousand francs 
apiece — that slut will ask you for them, and you will not be 
able to refuse her; and if a baggage is to have them, I may 
as well wear them as earrings." 

The unhappy banker, struck by the wisdom of his wife's 
reflections, obeyed reluctantly. 

"Eidikilous, ridikilous ! I hafe never telt you dat you 
shall be ridikilous when you dressed yourself so smart to see 
your little Mensieur de Eastignac !" 

"I should hope that you never saw me make myself 
ridiculous. Am I the woman to make such blunders in the 
first syllable of my dress? Come, turn about. Button your 
coat up to the neck, all but the two top buttons, as the Due 
de Maufrigneuse does. In short, try to look young." 

"Monsieur," said Georges, "here is Mademoiselle Eugenie." 

"Adie, motame," said the banker, and he escorted his wife 
as far as her own rooms, to make sure that she should not 
overhear their conference. 

On his return, he took Europe by the hand and led her 
into his room with a sort of ironical respect. 



188 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"Veil, my chili, you are a happy creature, for you are de 
maid of dat mc t besutiful voman in de vorlt. And your 
fortune shall be made if you vill talk to her for me and in 
mine interests." 

"I would not do such a thing for ten thousand francs !" 
exclaimed Europe. "I would have you to know, Monsieur le 
Baron, that I am an honest girl." 

"Oh yes. I expect to pay dear for your honesty. In 
business dat is vat ve call curiosity." 

"And that it not everything," Europe went on. "If you 
should not take madame's fancy — and that is on the cards — 
she would be angry, and I am done for ! — and my place is 
worth a thousand francs a year." 

"De capital to make ein tousant franc is twenty tousand 
franc ; and if I shall gif you dat, you shall not lose noting." 

"Well, to be sure, if that is the tone you take about it, 
my worthy old fellow," said Europe, "that is quite another 
story. — Where is the money?" 

"Here," replied the Baron, holding up the banknotes, one 
at a time. 

He noted the flash struck by each in turn from Europe's 
eyes, betraying the greed he had counted on. 

"That pays for my place, but how about my principles, my 
conscience?" said Europe, cocking her crafty little nose and 
giving the Baron a serio-comic leer. 

"Your conscience shall not be pait for so much as your 
place ; but I shall say flfe tousand franc more," said he. 
adding five thousand-franc notes. 

"j^o, no. Twenty thousand for my conscience, and five 
thousand for my place if I lose it " 

"Yust vat you please," said he, adding the five notes. "But 
to earn dem you shall hite me in your lady's room by night 
ven she shall be 'lone." 

"If you swear never to tell who let you in, I agree. But 
I warn you of one thing. — Madame is as strong as a Turk, 
she is madly in love with Monsieur de Eubempre, and if you 
paid a million francs in banknotes she would never be un- 



ESTHER HAPPY 139 

faithful to him. It is very silly, but that is her way when 
she is in love; she is worse than an honest woman, I tell 
you ! When she goes out for a drive in the woods at night, 
monsieur very seldom stays at home. She is gone out this 
evening, so I can hide you in my room. If madame comes 
in alone, I will fetch you ; you can wait in the drawing-room. 
I will not lock the door into her room, and then — well, the 
rest is your concern — so be ready." 

"I shall pay you the twenty-fife tousand francs in dat draw- 
ing-room. — You gife — I gife !" 

"Indeed !" said Europe, "you are so confiding as all that ? 
On my word !" 

"Oh, you will hafe your chance to fleece me yet. We shall 
be friends." 

"Well, then, be in the Rue Taitbout at midnight; but 
bring thirty thousand francs about you. A waiting-woman's 
honesty, like a hackney cab, is much dearer after midnight." 

"It shall be more prudent if I gif you a cheque on my 
bank " 

"No, no," said Europe. "Notes, or the bargain is off." 

So at one in the morning the Baron de Nucingen, hidden 
in the garret where Europe slept, was suffering all the 
anxieties of a man who hopes to triumph. His blood seemed 
to him to be tingling in his toe-nails, and his head ready to 
burst like an overheated steam engine. 

"I had more dan one hundert tousand crowns' vort of en- 
joyment — in my mind," said he to du Tillet when telling him 
the story. 

He listened to every little noise in the street, and at two 
in the morning he heard his mistress' carriage far away on 
the boulevard. His heart beat vehemently under his silk 
waistcoat as the gate turned on its hinges. He was about to 
behold the heavenly, the glowing face of his Esther ! — the 
clatter of the carriage-step and the slam of the door struck 
upon his heart. He was more agitated in expectation of 
this supreme moment than he would have been if his fortune 
had been at stake. 



140 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"Ah, ha!" cried he, "dis is vat I call to lif — it is too 
much to lif; I shall be incapable of everything." 

'"Madame is alone; come down," said Europe, looking in. 
"Above all, make no noise, great elephant." 

"Great Elephant !" he repeated, laughing, and walking as 
if he trod on red-hot iron. 

Europe led the way, carrying a candle. 

"Here — count dem!" said the Baron when he reached the 
drawing-room, holding out the notes to Europe. 

Europe took the thirty notes very gravely and left the 
room, locking the banker in. 

Nucingen went straight to the bedroom, where he found 
the handsome Englishwoman. 

"Is that you, Lucien?" said she. 

"Nein, my peauty," said Nucingen, but he said no more. 

He stood speechless on seeing a woman the very antipodes 
to Esther; fair hair where he had seen black, slenderness 
where he had admired a powerful frame ! A soft English 
evening where he had looked for the bright sun of Arabia. 

"Heyday ! were have you come from ? — who are you ? — 
what do you want?" cried the Englishwoman, pulling the 
bell, which made no sound. 

"The bells dey are in cotton-vool, but hafe not any fear 
— I shall go 'vay," said he. "Dat is dirty tousant franc T 
hafe tron in de vater. Are you dat mistress of Mensieur 
Lucien de Eubempre?" 

"Eather, my son," said the lady, who spoke French well. 
"But vat vas you?" she went on, mimicking Nucingen's ac- 
cent. 

"Ein man vat is ver' much took in," replied he lamentably. 

"Is a man took in ven he finds a pretty voman ?" asked she, 
with a laugh. 

"Permit me to sent you to-morrow some chewels as a 
soufenir of de Baron von Nucingen." 

"Don't know him !" said she, laughing like a crazy creature. 
"But the chewels will be welcome, my fat burglar friend." 

"You shall know him. Goot night, motame. You are 




Europe led the way, carryiug a caudle 



ESTHER HAPPY 141 

a tidbit for ein king.; but I am only a poor banker more dan 
sixty year olt, and you hafe make me feel vat power the 
voman I lofe hafe ofer me since your difine beauty hafe not 
make me forget her." 

"Veil, dat is ver' pretty vat you say," replied the English- 
woman. 

"It is not so pretty vat she is dat I say it to." 

"You spoke of thirty thousand francs — to whom did you 
give them?" 

"To dat hussy, your maid " 

The Englishwoman called Europe, who was not far off. 

"Oh!" shrieked Europe, "a man in madame's room, and 
he is not monsieur — how shocking !" 

"Did he give you thirty thousand francs to let him in?" 

"JSTo, madame, for we are not worth it, the pair of us." 

And Europe set to screaming "Thief" so determinedly, that 
the banker made for the door in a fright, and Europe, 
tripping him up, rolled him down the stairs. 

"Old wretch !" cried she, "you would tell tales to my mis- 
tress ! Thief ! thief ! stop thief !" 

The enamored Baron, in despair, succeeded in getting 
unhurt to his carriage, which he had left on the boulevard ; 
but he was now at his wits' end as to whom to apply to. 

"And pray, madame, did you think to get my earnings out 
of me?" said Europe, coming back like a fury to the lady's 
room. 

"I know nothing of French customs," said the English- 
woman. 

"But one word from me to-morrow to monsieur, and you, 
madame, would find yourself in the streets," retorted Europe 
insolently. 

"Dat dam' maid !" said the Baron to Georges, who naturally 
asked his master if all had gone well, "hafe do me out of 
dirty tousant franc — but it vas my own fault, my own great 
fault " 

"And so monsieur's dress was all wasted. The deuce is 
in it, I should advise you. Monsieur le Baron, not to have 
taken your tonic for nothing " 



142 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"Georches, I shall be dying of despair. I hafe cold — I 
hafe ice on mein heart — no more of Esther, my good friend." 

Georges was always the Baron's friend when matters were 
serious. 

Two days after this scene, which Europe related far more 
amusingly than it can be written, because she told it with 
much mimicry, Carlos and Lucien were breakfasting tete- 
a-tete. 

"My dear boy, neither the police nor anybody else must 
be allowed to poke a nose into our concerns," said Herrera 
in a low voice, as he lighted his cigar from Lucien's. "It 
would not agree with us. I have hit on a plan, daring but 
effectual, to keep our Baron and his agents quiet. You must 
go to see Madame de Serizy, and make yourself very agree- 
able to her. Tell her, in the course of conversation, that to 
oblige Eastifrnac, who has long been sick of Madame de Nucin- 
gen, you have consented to play fence for him to conceal a 
mistress. Monsieur de Nucingen, desperately in love with 
the woman Hastignac keeps hidden — that will make her laugh 
— has taken it into his head to set the police to keep an eye 
on you — on you, who are innocent of all his tricks, and whose 
interest with the Grandlieus may be seriously compromised. 
Then you must beg the Countess to secure her husband's 
support, for he is a Minister of State, to carry you to the 
Prefecture of Police. 

'•When 3'ou have got there, face to face with the Prefet. 
make your complaint, but as a man of political consequence, 
who will sooner or later be one of the motor powers of the 
huge machine of government. You will speak of the police 
as a statesman should, admiring everything, the Prefet in- 
cluded. The very best machines make oil-stains or splutter. 
Do not be angr}^ till the right moment. You have no sort of 
grudge against Monsieur le Prefet, but persuade Mm to kee]> 
a sharp lookout on his people, and pity him for having to 
blow ihem up. The quieter and more gentlemanly you are, 
the more terrible will the Prefet be to his men. Then we 



ESTHER HAPPY 143 

shall be left in peace, and we may send for Esther back, for 
she must be belling like the does in the forest." 

The Prefet at that time was a retired magistrate. Eetired 
magistrates make far too young Prefets. Partisans of the 
right, riding the high horse on points of law, they are not 
light-handed in arbitary action such as critical circumstances 
often require ; eases in which the Prefet should be as prompt 
as a fireman called to a conflagration. So, face to face with 
the Vice-President of the Council of State, the Prefet con- 
fessed to more faults than the police really has, deplored its 
abuses, and presently was able to recollect the visit paid him 
by the Baron de Nucingen and his inquiries as to Peyrade. 
The Prefet, while promising to check the rash zeal of his 
agents, thanked Lucien for having come straight to him, 
promised secrecy, and affected to understand the intrigue. 

A few fine speeches about personal liberty and the sacred- 
ness of home life were bandied between the Prefet and the 
Minister; Monsieur de Serizy observing in conclusion that 
though the high interests of the kingdom sometimes necessi- 
tated illegal action in secret, crime began when these State 
measures were applied to private cases. 

Next da}'', just as Peyrade was going to his beloved Cafe 
David, where he enjoyed watching the bourgeois eat, as an 
artist watches flowers open, a gendarme in private clothes 
spoke to him in the street. 

"I was going to fetch you," said he in his ear. "I have 
orders to take you to the Prefecture." 

Peyrade called a hackney cab, and got in without saying 
a single word, followed by the gendarme. 

The Prefet treated Peyrade as though he were the lowest 
warder on the hulks, walking to and fro in a side path of the 
garden of the Prefecture, which at that time was on the Quai 
des Orfevres. 

'It is not without good reason, monsieur, that since 1830 
you have been kept out of office. Do not you know to what 
risk you expose us, not to mention yourself?" 

The lecture ended in a thunderstroke. The Prefet sternly 



144 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

informed poor Pevrade that not only would his yearly allow- 
ance be cut oft', but that he himself would be narrowly 
watched. The old man took the shock with an air of perfect 
calm. Nothing can be more rigidly expressionless than a 
man struck by lightning. Peyrade had lost all his stake in 
the game. He had counted on getting an appointment, and 
he found himself bereft of ever3i;hing but the alms bestowed 
by his friend Corentin. 

"I have been Prefet of Police myself ; I think you perfectly 
right," said the old man quietly to the functionary who stood 
before him in his judicial majesty, and who answered with 
a significant shrug. 

"But allow me, without any attempt to justify myself, to 
point out that you do not know me at all," Peyrade went 
on, with a keen glance at the Prefet. '^^our language is 
either too severe to a man who has been the head of the police 
in Holland, or not severe enough for a mere spy. But, Mon- 
sieur le Prefet," Peyrade added after a pause, while the other 
kept silence, 'T^ear in mind what I now have the honor of 
telling you : I have no intention of interfering with 3^our police 
nor of attempting to justify myself, but you will presently 
discover that there is some one in this business who is being 
deceived; at this moment it is your humble servant; by and 
by you will say, ^t was I.' " 

And he bowed to the chief, who sat passive to conceal his 
amazement. 

Peyrade returned home, his legs and anus feeling broken, 
and full of cold fury with the Baron. Nobody but that burly 
banker could have betrayed a secret contained in the minds 
of Contenson, Peyrade, and Corentin. The old man accused 
the banker of wishing to avoid paying now that he had gained 
his end. A single interview had been enough to enable him 
to read the astuteness of this most astute of bankers. 

"He tries to compound with every one, even with us; but 
I will be revenged," thought the old fellow. "I have never 
asked a favor of Corentin ; I will ask him now to help me to 
be revenged on that imbecile money-box. Curse the Baron! 



ESTHER HAPPY 145 

— Well, you will know the stufE I am made of one fine morn- 
ing when you find your daughter disgraced ! — But does he 
love his daughter, I wonder?'^ 

By the evening of the day when this catastrophe had upset 
the old man's hopes he had aged by ten years. As he talked 
to his friend Corentin, he mingled his lamentations with 
tears wrung from him by the thought of the melancholy pros- 
pects he must bequeath to his daughter, his idol, his treasure, 
his peace-ofi'ering to God. 

"We will follow the matter up," said Corentin. "First of 
all, we must be sure that it was the Baron who peached. 
Were we wise in enlisting Gondreville's support? That old 
rascal owes us too much not to be anxious to swamp us; 
indeed, I am keeping an eye on his son-in-law Keller, a 
simpleton in politics, and quite capable of meddling in some 
conspiracy to overthrow the elder Branch to the advantage 
of the younger. — I shall know to-morrow what is going on at 
Nucingen's, whether he has seen his beloved, and to whom we 
owe this sharp pull up. — Do not be out of heart. In the first 
place, the Prefet will not hold his appointment much longer ; 
the times are big with revolution, and revolutions make good 
fishing for us." 

A peculiar whistle was just then heard in the street. 

"That is Contenson," said Peyrade, who put a light in 
the window, "and he has something to say that concerns 
me." 

A minute later the faithful Contenson appeared in the 
presence of the two gnomes of the police, whom he revered 
as though they were two genii. 

"What is up?" asked Corentin. 

"A new thing! I was coming out of 113, where I lost 
everything, when whom do I spy under the gallery ? Georges ! 
The man has been dismissed by the Baron, who suspects him 
of treachery." 

"That is the effect of a smile I gave him," said Peyrade. 

"Bah ! when I think of all the mischief I have known caused 
by smiles !" said Corentin. 



146 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"To say nothing of that caused by a whip-lash," said Pey- 
rade, referring to the Simeuse case. (In Une Tmebreuse 
affaire.) "But come, Contenson, what is going on?" 

"This is what is going on," said Contenson. "I made 
Georges blab b}' getting him to treat me to an endless series 
of liqueurs of every color — I left him tipsy; I must be as 
full as a still myself ! — Our Baron has been to the Kue Tait- 
bout, crammed with Pastilles du Serail. There he found the 
fair one you know of ; but — a good joke ! The English beauty 
is not his fair unknown ! — And he has spent thirty thousand 
francs to bribe the lady's-maid, a piece of folly I 

"That creature thinks itself a great man because it does 
mean things with great capital. Reverse the proposition, 
and you have the problem of which a man of genius is the 
solution. — The Baron came home in a pitiable condition. 
Xext day Georges, to get his finger in the pie, said to his 
master : 

" 'Why, Monsieur le Baron, do you employ such black- 
guards? If you would only trust to me, I would find the 
unkno-mi lady, for your description of her is enough. I 
would turn Paris upside down.' — 'Go ahead,' says the Baron ; 
'T shall reward you handsomely !' — Georges told me the whole 
stor}' with the most absurd details. But — man is born to be 
rained upon I 

"Xext day the Baron received an anonymous letter some- 
thing to this eifect : 'Monsieur de Xucingen is dying of love 
for an unknown lady ; he has already spent a great deal 
utterly in vain ; if he will repair at midnight to the end of 
the Xeuilly Bridge, and get into the carriage behind which 
the chasseur he saw at Vincennes will be standing, allowing 
himself to be blindfolded, he will see the woman he loves. 
As his wealth may lead him to suspect the intentions of per- 
sons who proceed in such a fasliion, he may bring, as an 
escort, his faithful Georges. And there will be nobody in 
the carriage.' — Ofl^ the Baron goes, taking Georges with him. 
but telling him nothing. They both submit to have their 
eyes bound up and their heads wrapped in veils; the Baron 
reeognis^es the man-servant. 



ESTHER HAPPY 147 

'*Two hours later, the carriage, going at the pace of Louis 
XVIII. — God rest his soul ! He knew what was meant by 
the police, he did ! — pulled up in the middle of a wood. The 
Baron had the handkerchief off, and saw, in a carriage stand- 
ing still, his adored fair — when, whifl: ! she vanished. And 
the carriage, at the same lively pace, brought him back to 
the Neuilly Bridge, where he found his own. 

"Some one had slipped into Georges' hand a note to this 
effect : 'How many banknotes will the Baron part with to be 
put into communication with his unknown fair?' Georges 
handed this to his master ; and the Baron, never doubting that 
Georges was in collusion with me or with you, Monsieur Pey- 
rade, to drive a hard bargain, turned him out of the house. 
What a fool that banker is ! He ought not to have sent away 
Georges before he had known the unknown !" 

"Then Georges saw the woman?" said Corentin. 

"Yes," replied Contenson. 

"Well," cried Peyrade, "and what is she like?" 

"Oh," said Contenson, "he said but one word — 'A sun of 
loveliness.' " 

"We are being tricked by some rascals who beat us at the 
game," said Peyrade. "Those villains mean to sell their 
woman very dear to the Baron." 

"Ja, mein Herr/' said Contenson. "And so, when I heard 
you got slapped in the face at the Prefecture, I made Georges 
blab." 

"I should very much like to know who it is that has 
stolen a march on me," said Peyrade. "We would measure 
our spurs !" 

"We must play eavesdropper," said Contenson. 

"He is right," said Peyrade. "We must get into chinks 
to listen, and wait " 

"We will study that side of the subject," cried Corentin. 
"For the present, I am out of work. You, Peyrade, be a 
very good boy. We must always obey Monsieur le Prefet !" 

"Monsieur de Nucingen wants bleeding," said Contenson; 
"he has too many banknotes in his veins." 



148 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"But it was Lydie's marriage-portion I looked for there !" 
said Peyrade, in a whisper to Corentin. 

"Xow, come along, Contenson, let ns be off, and leave our 
daddy to by-bye, by-bye!" 

"Monsieur," said Contenson to Corentin on the doorstep, 
"what a queer piece of brokerage our good friend was plan- 
ning ! Hell ! — What, marry a daughter with the price of 

Ah, ha ! It would make a pretty little play, and very moral 
too, entitled "^A Girl's Dower.' "' 

"You are highly organized animals, indeed," replied Coren- 
tin. "What ears you have ! Certainly Social Nature arms 
all her species with the qualities needed for the duties she ex- 
pects of them ! Society is second nature." 

"Tliat is a highly philosophical view to take," cried Conten- 
son. "A professor would work it up into a system." 

"Let us find out all we can," replied Corentin with a smile, 
as he made his way down the street ■wdth the spy, "as to 
what goes on at Monsieur de Xucingens with regard to this 
girl — the main facts; never mind the details " 

"Just watch to see if his cliimneys are smoking !" said 
Contenson. 

"Such a man as the Baron de Xucingen cannot be happy 
incognito," replied Corentin. "And besides, we for whom 
men are but cards, ought never to be tricked by them." 

"By Gad ! it would be the condemned jail-bird amusing 
himself by cutting the executioner's throat." 

"You always have something droll to say," replied Co- 
rentin, with a dim smile, that faintly wrinkled his set white 
face. 

This business was exceedingly important in itself, apart 
from its consequences. If it were not the Baron who had 
betrayed Peyrade, who could have had any interest in seeing 
the Prefet of Police? From Corentin's point of Aaew it 
seemed suspicious. Were there any traitors among his men? 
And as he went to bed, he wondered what Peyrade, too, was 
considering. 

"Who can have gone to complain to the Prefet? Whom 
does the woman belong to?" 



ESTHER HAPPY 149 



And thus, without knowing each other, Jacques ColHn, 
Peyrade, and Corentin were converging to a common point; 
while the unhappy Esther, Nucingen, and Lucien were in- 
evitably entangled in the struggle which had already begun, 
and of which the point of pride, peculiar to police agents, 
was making a war to the death. 

Thanks to Europe's cleverness, the more pressing half of 
the sixty thousand francs of debt owed by Esther and Lucien 
was paid oif. The creditors did not even lose confidence. 
Lucien and his evil genius could breathe for a moment. Like 
two wild animals, drinking for an instant of the waters of 
some pool, they could start again along the edge of the 
precipice where the strong man was guiding the weak man to 
the gibbet or to fortune. 

"We are staking now," said Carlos to his puppet, "to 
win or lose all. But, happily, the cards are beveled, and 
the punters young." 

For some little time Lucien, by his terrible Mentor's orders, 
had been very attentive to Madame de Serizy. It was, in 
fact, indispensable that Lucien should not be suspected of 
having a kept woman for his mistress. And in the pleasure 
of being loved, and the excitement of fashionable lii'e, he 
found a spurious power of forgetting. He obeyed Made- 
moiselle Clotilde de Grandlieu by never seeing her excepting 
in the Bois or the Champs-filysees. 

On the day after Esther was shut up in the park-keeper's 
house, the being who was to her so enigmatic and terrible, 
who weighed upon her soul, came to desire her to sign three 
pieces of stamped paper, made terrible by these fateful words : 
on the first, accepted payable for sixty thousand francs; on 
the second, accepted payable for a hundred and twenty thou- 
sand francs ; on the third, accepted payable for a hundred and 
twenty thousand francs — three hundred thousand francs in 
all. By writing Bon four, you simply promise to pay. The 
word Accepted constitutes a bill of exchange, and makes you 
liable to imprisonment. The word entails, on the person 



150 A COURTESAN'8 MFE 

who is so imprudent as to sign, the risk of five years' im- 
prisonment — a punishment which the police magistrate hardly 
ever inflicts, and which is reserved at the assizes for confirmed 
rogues. The law of imprisonment for debt is a relic of the 
days of barbarism, which combines with its stupidity the 
rare merit of being useless, inasmuch as it never catches 
swindlers. 

"The point," said the Spaniard to Esther, "is to get Lucien 
out of his difficulties. We have debts to the tune of sixty 
thousand francs, and with these three hundred thousand 
francs we may perhaps pull through." 

Having antedated the bills by six months, Carlos had had 
them drawn on Esther by a man whom the county court 
had "misunderstood," and whose adventures, in spite of the 
excitement they had caused, were soon forgotten, hidden, lost, 
in the uproar of the great symphony of July 1830. 

This young fellow, a most audacious adventurer, the son 
of a lawyer's clerk of Boulogne, near Paris, was named 
Georges Marie Destourny. His father, obliged by adverse 
circumstances to sell his connection, died in 1824, leaving his 
son without the means of living, after giving him a brilliant 
education, the folly of the lower middle class. At twenty- 
three the clever young law-student had denied his paternity 
by printing on his cards 

Georges d'Estourny. 

This card gave him an odor of aristocracy; and now, as 
a man of fashion, he was so impudent as to set up a tilbury 
and a groom and haunt the clubs. One line will account 
for this : he gambled on the Bourse with the money intrusted 
to him by the kept women of his acquaintance. Finally he 
fell into the hands of the police, and was charged with play- 
ing at cards with too much luck. 

He had accomplices, youths whom he had corrupted, his 
compulsory satellites, accessory to his fashion and his credit. 
Compelled to fly, he forgot to pay his differences on the 



ESTHER HAPPY 151 

Bourse. All Paris — the Paris of the Stock Exchange and 
Clubs — was still shaken by this double stroke of swindling. 

In the days of his splendor Georges d'Estourny, a hand- 
some youth, and, above all, a jolly fellow, as generous as a 
brigand chief, had for a few months "protected" La Torpille. 
The false Abbe based his calculations on Esther's former in- 
timacy with this famous scoundrel, an incident peculiar to 
women of her class. 

Georges d'Estourny, whose ambition grew bolder with suc- 
cess, had taken under his patronage a man who had come from 
the depths of the country to carry on a business in Paris, and 
whom the Liberal party were anxious to indemnify for certain 
sentences endured with much courage in the struggle of the 
press with Charles X.'s government, the persecution being 
relaxed, however, during the j\Iartignac administration. The 
Sieur Cerizet had then been pardoned, and he was thenceforth 
known as the Brave Cerizet. 

Cerizet then, being patronized for form's sake by the big- 
wigs of the Left, founded a house which combined the business 
of a general agency with that of a bank and a commission 
agency. It was one of those concerns which, in business, 
remind one of the servants who advertise in the papers as 
being able and willing to do everything. Cerizet was very 
glad to ally himself with Georges d'Estourny, who gave him 
hints. 

Esther, in virtue of the anecdote about Ninon, might be 
regarded as the faithful guardian of part of Georges 
d'Estoumy's fortune. An endorsement in the name of 
Georges d'Estourny made Carlos Herrera master of the money 
he had created. This forgery was perfectly safe so long as 
Mademoiselle Esther, or some one for her, could, or was 
bound to pay. 

After making inquiries as to the house of Cerizet, Carlos 
perceived that he had to do with one of those humble men 
who are bent on making a fortune, but — lawfully. Cerizet, 
with whom d'Estourny had really deposited his moneys, had 
in hand a considerable sum with which he was speculating 



152 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

for a rise on the Bourse, a state of affairs which allowed him 
to style himself a banker. Such things are done in Paris; a 
man may be despised, — but money, never. 

Carlos went ofP to Cerizet intending to work him after 
his manner; for, as it happened, he was master of all this 
worthy's secrets — a meet partner for d'Estourny. 

Cerizet the Brave lived in an entresol in the Eue du Gros- 
Chenet, and Carlos, who had himself mysteriously announced 
as coming from Georges d'Estourny, found the self-styled 
banker quite pale at the name. The Abbe saw in this humble 
private room a little man with thin, light hair ; and recognized 
him at once, from Lucicn's description, as the Judas who had 
ruined David Sechard. 

"Can we talk here without risk of being overheard ?"' 
said the Spaniard, now metamorphosed into a red-haired Eng- 
lishman with blue spectacles, as clean and prim as a Puritan 
going to meeting. 

"Why, monsieur?" said Cerizet. '^^ho are you?" 

"Mr. William Barker, a creditor of M. d'Estourny's ; and 
I can prove to you the necessity for keeping your doors closed 
if you wish it. We know, monsieur, all about your con- 
nections with the Petit-Clauds, the Cointets, and the Sechards 
of Angouleme " 

On hearing these words, Cerizet rushed to the door and shut 
it, flew to another leading into a bedroom and bolted it ; then 
he said to the stranger: 

"Speak lower, monsieur," and he studied the sham Eng- 
lishman as he asked him, "What do you want with me ?" 

"Dear me," said William Barker, "every one for himself in 
this world. You had the money of that rascal d'Estourny. 
— Be quite easy, I have not come to ask for it; but that 
scoundrel, who deserves hanging, between you and me, gave 
me tliese bills, saying that there might be some chance of 
recovering the money; and as 1 do not choose to prosecute in 
my own name, he told me you would not refuse to back 
them." 

Cerizet looked at the bills. 



ESTHER HAPPY 153 

''But he is no longer at Frankfort," said he. 

''I know it/' replied Barker, "but he may still have been 
there at the date of those bills " 

"I will not take the responsibility," said Cerizet. 

''I do not ask such a sacrifice of you," replied Barker; "you 
may be instructed to receive them. Endorse them, and I 
will undertake to recover the money." 

"1 am surprised that d'Estourny should show so little con- 
fidence in me," said Cerizet. 

"In his position," replied Barker, "you can hardly blame 
him for having put his eggs in different baskets." 

"Can you believe " the little broker began, as he handed 

back to the Englishman the bills of exchange formally ac- 
cepted. 

"1 believe that you will take good care of his money," said 
Barker. "1 am sure of it ! It is already on the green table 
of the Bourse." 

"My fortune depends " 

"On your appearing to lose it," said Barker. 

"Sir !" cried Cerizet. 

"Look here, my dear Monsieur Cerizet," said Barker, coolly 
interrupting him, "you will do me a service by facilitating 
tiiis payment. Be so good as to write me a letter in which 
yoti tell me that you are sending me these bills receipted on 
d'Es'tourny's account, and that the collecting officer is to 
regard the holder of the letter as the possessor of the three 
bills." 

"Will you give me your name?" 

"No names," replied the English capitalist. "Put "^The 
bearer of this letter and these bills.' — You will be handsomely 
repaid for obliging me." 

"How?" said Cerizet. 

"In one word — You mean to stay in France, do not you ?" 

"Yes, monsieur." 

"Well, Georges d'Estourny will never re-enter the country." 

"Pray why ?" 

"There are five persons at least to my knowledge who 
would murder him, and he knows it." 



154 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"^Then no wonder he is asking me for money enough lo 
start him trading to the Indies ?" cried Cerizet. "And unfor- 
tunately he has compelled me to risk everything in State 
speculation. We already owe heavy differences to the house 
of du Tillet. I live from hand to mouth." 

"Withdraw your stakes." 

"Oh ! if only I had known this sooner !" exclaimed Cerizet. 
"I have missed my chance !" 

"One last word," said Barker. "Keep your own counsel, 
you are capable of that ; but you must be faithful too, which 
is perhaps less certain. We shall meet again, and I will help 
you to make a fortune." 

Having thus tossed this sordid soul a crumb of hope that 
would secure silence for some time to come, Carlos, still 
disguised as Barker, betook himself to a bailiff whom he 
could depend on, and instructed him to get the bills brought 
home to Esther. 

"They will be paid all right," said he to the officer. "It 
is an affair of honor ; only we want to do the thing reg- 
ularly." 

Barker got a solicitor to represent Esther in court, so that 
judgment might be given in presence of both parties. The 
collecting officer, who was begged to act v/ith civility, took 
with him all the warrants for procedure, and came in person 
to seize the furniture in the Eue Taitbout, where he was re- 
ceived by Europe. Her personal liability once proved, Esther 
was ostensibly liable, beyond dispute, for three hundred and 
more thousand francs of debts. 

In all this Carlos displayed no great powers of invention. 
The farce of false debts is often played in Paris. There are 
many sub-Gobsecks and sub-Gigonnets who, for a percentage, 
will lend themselves to this subterfuge, and regard the in- 
famous trick as a jest. In France everything — even a crime 
— is done with a laugh. By this means refractory parents 
are made to pay, or rich mistresses who might drive a hard 
bargain, but who, face to face with flagrant necessity, or 
some impending dishonor, pay up, if with a bad grace. 



ESTHER HAPPY 155 

Maxime de Trailles had often used such means, borrowed 
from the comedies of the old stage. Carlos Herrera, who 
wanted to save the honor of his gown, as well as Lucien's, had 
worked the spell by a forgery not dangerous for him, but now 
so frequently practised that Justice is beginning to object. 
There is, it is said, a Bourse for falsified bills near the Palais 
Eoyal, where you may get a forged signature for three francs. 

Before entering on the question of the hundred thousand 
crowns that were to keep the door of the bedroom, Carlos de- 
termined first to extract a hundred thousand more from M. 
de Nucingen. 

And this was the way: By his orders Asie got herself up 
for the Baron's benefit as an old woman fully informed as 
to the unknown beauty's affairs. 

Hitherto, novelists of manners have placed on the stage 
a great many usurers ; but the female money-lender has been 
overlooked, the Madame la Kessource of the present day — a 
very singular figure, euphemistically spoken of as a "ward- 
robe purchaser"; a part that the ferocious Asie could play, 
for she had two old-clothes shops managed by women she 
could trust — one in the Temple, and the other in the Rue 
Neuve- Saint-Marc. 

"You must get into the skin of Madame de Saint-Esteve," 
said he. 

Herrera wished to see Asie dressed. 

The go-between arrived in a dress of flowered damask, 
made of the curtains of some dismantled boudoir, and one 
of those shawls of Indian design — out of date, Avorn, and 
valueless, which end their career on the backs of these women. 
She had a collar of magnificent lace, though torn, and a 
terrible bonnet ; but her shoes were of fine kid, in which the 
flesh of her fat feet made a roll of black-lace stocking. 

"And my waist buckle !" she exclaimed, displaying a piece 
of suspicious-looking finery, prominent on her cook's stomach. 
"There's style for you ! and my front ! — Oh, Ma'me Nourris- 
son has turned me out quite spiff !" 



156 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"Be as sweet as honey at first," said Carlos; "be almost 
timid, as suspicious as a cat ; and, above all, make the Baron 
ashamed of having employed the police, without betraying 
that you quake before the constable. Finally, make your 
customer understand in more or less plain terms that you 
defy all tlie police in the world to discover his jewel. Take 
care to destroy your traces. 

"When the Baron gives you a right to tap him on the 
stomach, and call him a pot-bellied old rip, you may be as 
insolent as you please, and make him trot like a footman." 

Nucingen — threatened by Asie with never seeing her again 
if he attempted the smallest espionage — met the woman on 
his way to the Bourse, in secret, in a wretched entresol in the 
Rue Neuve-Saint-Marc. How often, and with what rapture, 
have amorous millionaires trodden these squalid paths ! the 
pavements of Paris know. Madame de Saint-Esteve, by 
tossing the Baron from hope to despair by turns, brought him 
to the point when he insisted on being informed of all that 
related to the unkno^Ti beauty at any cost. Meanwhile, the 
law was put in force, and with such effect that the bailiffs, 
finding no resistance from Esther, put in an execution on her 
effects without losing a day. 

Lucien, guided by his adviser, paid the recluse at Saint- 
Germain five or six visits. The merciless author of all these 
machinations thought this necessary to save Esther from 
pining to death, for her beauty was now their capital. When 
the time came for them to quit the park-keeper's lodge, he 
took Lucien and the poor girl to a place on the road whence 
they could see Paris, where no one could overhear them. 
They all three sat down in the rising sun, on the trunk of a 
felled poplar, looking over one of the finest prospects in the 
world, embracing the course of the Seine, with Montmartre, 
Paris, and Saint-Denis. 

"My children," said Carlos, "your dream is over. — You, 
little one, will never see Lucien again ; or if you should, 
you must have known him only for a few days, five years 
ago." 



ESTHER HAPPY 157 

"Death has come upon me then," said she, without 
shedding a tear. 

"Well, you have been ill these iive years," said Herrera. 
"Imagine yourself to be consumptive, and die without bor- 
ing us with your lamentations. But you will see, you can 
still live, and very comfortably too. — Leave us, Lucien — go 
and gather sonnets !" said he, pointing to a field a little way 
off. 

Lucien cast a look of humble entreaty at Esther, one of 
the looks peculiar to such men — weak and greedy, with ten- 
der hearts and cowardly spirits. Esther answered with a 
bow of her head, which said: "I will hear the executioner, 
that I may know hoM'- to lay my head under the axe, and I 
shall have courage enough to die decently." 

The gesture was so gracious, but so full of dreadful mean- 
ing, that the poet wept; Esther flew to him, clasped him in 
her arms, drank away the tears, and said, "Be quite easy!" 
one of those speeches that are spoken with the manner, the 
look, the tones of delirium. 

Carlos then explained to her quite clearly, without attenua- 
tion, often with horrible plainness of speech, the critical posi- 
tion in which Lucien found himself, his connection with the 
Hotel Grandlieu, his splendid prospects if he should succeed ; 
and finally, how necessary it was that Esther should sacrifice 
herself to secure him this triumphant future. 

"What must I do?" cried she, with the eagerness of a 
fanatic. 

"Obey me blindly," said Carlos. "And what have you to 
complain of ? It rests u-ith you to achieve a happy lot. You 
may be what Tullia is, what your old friends Florine, 
Mariette, and la Val-Noble are — the mistress of a rich man 
whom you need not love. When once our business is settled, 
your lover is rich enough to make you happy." 

"Happy !" said she, raising her eyes to heaven. 

"You have lived in Paradise for four years," said he. "Can 
you not live on such memories?" 

"I will obey you," said she, wiping a tear from the corner 



158 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

of her eye. "For the rest, do not worry yourself. You have 
said it; my love is a mortal disease." 

"That is not enough," said Carlos ; "you must preserve your 
looks. At a little past two-and-twenty you are in the prime 
of your beauty, thanks to your past happiness. And, above 
all, be the 'Torpille' again. Be roguish, extravagant, 
cunning, merciless to the millionaire I put in your power. 
Listen to me ! That man is a robber on a grand scale ; he 
has been ruthless to many persons; he has grown fat on the 
fortunes of the widow and the orphan; you will avenge 
them! 

"Asie is coming to fetch you in a hackney coach, and you 
will be in Paris this evening. If you allow any one to sus- 
pect your connection with Lucien, you may as well blow his 
brains out at once. You will be asked where you have been 
for so long. You must say that you have been traveling with 
a desperately jealous Englishman. — You used to have wit 
enough to humbug people. Find such wit again now." 

Have you ever seen a gorgeous kite, the giant butterfly of 
childhood, twinkling with gilding, and soaring to the sky? 
The children forget the string that holds it, some passer-by 
cuts it, the gaudy toy turns head over heels, as the boys say, 
and falls with terrific rapidity. Such was Esther as she 
listened to Carlos. 



WHAT LOVE COSTS AN OLD MAN 

For a whole week Nucingen went almost every day to 
the shop in the Rue Neuve-Saint-Marc to bargain for the wo- 
man he was in love with. Here, sometimes under the name 
of Saint-Esteve, sometimes under that of her tool, Madame 
Nourrisson, Asie sat enthroned among beautiful clothes in 
that hideous condition when they have ceased to be dresses 
and are not yet rags. 

The setting was in harmony with the appearance assumed 
by the woman, for these shops are among the most hideous 
characteristics of Paris. You find there the garments tossed 
aside by the skinny hand of Death ; you hear, as it were, the 
gasping of consumption under a shawl, or you detect the 
agonies of beggary under a gown spangled with gold. The 
horrible struggle between luxury and starvation is written 
on filmy laces; you may picture the countenance of a queen 
under a plumed turban placed in an attitude that recalls 
and almost reproduces the absent features. It is all hideous 
amid prettiness ! Juvenal's lash, in the hands of the ap- 
praiser, scatters the shabby muffs, the ragged furs of courte- 
sans at bay. 

There is a dunghill of flowers, among which here and there 
we find a bright rose plucked but yesterday and worn for a 
day; and on this an old hag is always to be seen crouching 
— first cousin to Usury, the skinflint bargainer, bald and 
toothless, and ever ready to sell the contents, so well is she 
used to sell the covering — the gown without the woman, or 
the woman vtithout the gown ! 

Here Asie was in her element, like the warder among 
convicts, like a vulture red-beaked amid corpses; more ter- 
rible than the savage horrors that made the passer-by shud- 
der in astonishment sometimes, at seeing one of their yonng- 

(159) 



160 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

est and sweetest reminiscences hung up in a dirty shop win- 
dow, behind which a Saint-Esteve sits and grins. 

From vexation to vexation, a thousand francs at a time, 
the banker had gone so far as to offer sixty thousand francs 
to Madame de Saint-Esteve, who still refused to help him, 
with a grimace that would have outdone any monkey. xA.fter 
a disturbed night, after confessing to himself that Esther 
completely upset his ideas, after realizing some unexpected 
turns of fortune on the Bourse, he came to her one day, 
intending to give the hundred thousand francs on which Asie 
insisted, but he was determined to have plenty of informa- 
tion for the money. 

"Well, have you made up your mind, old higgler?" said 
Asie, clapping him on the shoulder. 

The most dishonoring familiarit}^ is the tirst tax these wo- 
men levy on the frantic passions or griefs that are confided 
to them; they never rise to the level of their clients; they 
make them squat beside them on their mudheap. Asie, it 
will be seen, obeyed her master admirably. 

"Xeed must !" said jSTucingen. 

"And you have the best of the bargain," said Asie. ^'Wo- 
men have been sold much dearer than this one to 3'ou — rela- 
tively speaking. There are women and women ! De Marsay 
paid sixty thousand francs for Coralie, who is dead now. 
The woman you want cost a hundred thousand francs when 
new; but to you, you old goat, it is a matter of agreement." 

"But vere is she?" 

"Ah ! you shall see. I am like you — a gift for a gift ! Oh, 
my good man, your adored one has been extravagant. These 
girls know no moderation. Your j^rincess is at this moment 
what we call a fly by night " 

"A fly ?" 

"Come, come, don't play the simpleton. — Louchard is at 
her heels, and I — I — have lent her fifty thousand 
francs " 

"Tventy-fife say !" cried the banker. 

"Well, of course, twenty-five for fift}'-, that is only natural," 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 161 

replied Asie. "To do the woman justice, she is honesty it- 
self. She had nothing left but herself, and says she to me: 
'My good Madame Saint-Esteve, the bailiffs are after me ; no 
one can help me but you. Give me twenty thousand francs. 
I will pledge my heart to you.' Oh, she has a sweet heart; 
no one but me knows where it lies. Any folly on my part, 
and I should lose my twenty thousand francs. 

"Formerly she lived in the Eue Taitbout. Before leav- 
ing — (her furniture was seized for costs — those rascally 
bailiffs — You know them, you who are one of the great men 
on the Bourse) — well, before leaving, she is no fool, she let 
her rooms for two months to an Englishwoman, a splendid 
creature who had little thingummy — Eubempre — for a lover, 
and he was so jealous that he only let her go out at night. 
But as the furniture is to be seized, the Englishwoman has 
e:;t her stick, all the more because she cost too much for a 
little whipper-snapper like Lucien." 

"You cry up de goots," said Nucingen. 

"Naturally," said Asie. "I lend to the beauties ; and it 
pays, for you get two commissions for one job." 

Asie was amusing herself by caricaturing the manners of 
a class of women who are even greedier but more wheedling 
and mealy-mouthed than the Malay woman, and who put a 
gloss of the best motives on the trade they ply. Asie af- 
fected to have lost all her illusions, five lovers, and some 
children, and to have submitted to be robbed by everybody 
in spite of her experience. From time to time she exhibited 
some pawn-tickets, to prove how much bad luck there was in 
her line of business. She represented herself as pinched 
and in debt, and to crown all, she was so undisguisedly 
hideous that the Baron at last believed her to be all she said 
she was. 

"Veil den, I shall pay de hundert tousant, and vere shall 
I see her ?" said he, with the air of a man who has made up 
his mind to any sacrifice. 

"My fat friend, you shall come this evening — in your car- 
riage, of course — opposite the Gymnase. It is on the way," 



162 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

said -Asie. "Stop at the corner of the Rue Saint-Barbe. I 
will be on the lookout, and we will go and find my mortgaged 
beauty with the black hair. — Oh, she has splendid hair, has 
my mortgage. If she pulls out her comb, Esther is covered 
as if it were a pall. But though you are knowing in arith- 
metic, you strike me as a muff in other matters ; and I advise 
you to hide the girl safely, for if she is found she will be 
clapped into Sainte-Pelagie the very next day. — And they are 
looking for her." 

"Shall it not be possible to get holt of de bills?" said the 
incorrigible bill-broker. 

"The bailiffs have got them — but it is impossible. The 
girl has had a passion, and has spent some money left in 
her hands, which she is now called upon to pay. By the 
poker ! — A queer thing is a heart of two-and-twenty." 

'^'er' goot, ver' goot, I shall arrange all dat," said Nucin- 
gen, assuming a cunning look. "It is qvite settled dat I 
shall protect her." 

"Well, old noodle, it is your business to make her fall in 
love with you, and you certainly have ample means to buy 
sham love as good as the real article. I will place your 
princess in your keeping; she is bound to stick to you, and 
after that I don't care. — But she is accustomed to luxury and 
the greatest consideration. I tell you, my boy, she is quite 
the lady. — If not, should I have given her twenty thousand 
francs?"* 

"Yer goot, it is a pargain. Till dis efening."' 

The Baron repeated the bridal toilet he had already once 
achieved; but this time, being certain of success, he took a 
double dose of pillules. 

At nine o'clock he found the dreadful woman at the ap- 
pointed spot, and took her into his carriage. 

"Vere to?" said the Baron. 

"Where ?" echoed Asie. "Rue de la Perle in the Marais — 
an address for the nonce ; for your pearl is in the mud, but 
you will wash her clean." 

Having reached the spot, the false Madame de Saint-Esteve 
said to ISTucingen with a hideous smile: 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 163 

"We must go a short way on foot; I am not such a fool 
as to have given you the right address." 

"You tink of eferytink !" said the Baron. 

"It is my business/' said she. 

Asie led Nucingen to the Eue Barbette, where, in furnished 
lodgings kept by an upholsterer, he was led up to the fourth 
floor. 

On finding Esther in a squalid room, dressed as a work- 
woman, and employed on some embroidery, the millionaire 
turned pale. At the end of a quarter of an hour, while Asie 
affected to talk in whispers to Esther, the young old man 
could still hardly speak. ♦ 

"Montemisselle," said he at length to the unhappy girl, 
"vill you be so goot as to let me be your protector?" 

"Why, I cannot help myself, monsieur," replied Esther, 
letting fall two large tears. 

"Do not veep. I shall make you de happiest of vomen. 
Only permit that I shall lof you — you shall see." 

"Well, well, child, the gentleman is reasonable," said Asie. 
"He knows that he is more than sixty, and he will be very 
kind to you. You see, my beauty, I have found you quite a 
father — I had to say so," Asie whispered to the banker, who 
was not best pleased. "You cannot catch swallows by firing 
a pistol at them. — Come here," she went on, leading Nucin- 
gen into the adjoining room. "You remember our bargain, 
my angel ?" 

Nucingen took out his j)ocketbook and counted out the 
hundred thousand francs, which Carlos, hidden in a cup- 
board, was impatiently Avaiting for, and which the cook 
handed over to him. 

"Here are the hundred thousand francs our man stakes 
on Asie. Now we must make him lay on Europe," said Car- 
los to his confidante when they were on the landing. 

And he vanished after giving his instruction to the Malay, 
who went back into the room. She found Esther weeping 
bitterly. The poor girl, like a criminal condemned to death, 
had woven a romance of hope, and the fatal hour had 
tolled. 



164 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"My dear children/' said Asie, "where do you mean to 
go? — For the Baron de Nucingen " 

Esther looked at the great banker with a start of surprise 
that was admirably acted. 

"Ja, mein kind, I am dat Baron von Kucingen." 

"The Baron de Kucingen must not, cannot remain in such 
a room as this/' Asie went on. "Listen to me; your former 
maid Eugenie.'' 

"Eugenie, from de Eue Taitbout ?" cried the Baron. 

"Just so ; the w^oman placed in possession of the furniture," 
replied Asie, "and who let the apartment to that handsome 
Englishwoman " 

"Hah ! I onderstant !" said the Baron. 

"Madame's former waiting-maid," Asie went on, respect- 
fully alluding to Esther, "will receive you very comfortably 
this evening; and the commercial police will never think of 
looking for her in her old rooms which she left three months 
ago ^" 

"Feerst rate, feerst rate !" cried the Baron. "An' besides, 
I know dese commercial police, an' I know vat sorts shall 
make dem disappear." 

"You will find Eugenie a sharp customer," said Asie. "I 
found her for madame." 

"Hah ! I know her !" cried the millionaire, laughing. "She 
haf fleeced me of dirty tousant franc." 

Esther shuddered with horror in a way that would have led 
a man of any feeling to trust her with his fortune. 

"Oh, dat vas mein own fault," the Baron said. "I vas 
seeking for you." 

And he related the incident that had arisen out of the letting 
of Esther's rooms to the Englishwoman. 

"There, now, you see, madame, Eugenie never told you 
all that, the sly thing!" said Asie. — "Still, madame is used 
to the hussy," she added to the Baron. "Keep her on, all 
the same." 

She drew Nucingen aside and said : 

"If you give Eugenie five hundred francs a month, which 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 165 

will fill up her stocking finely, you can know everything that 
madame does : make her the lady's-maid. Eugenie will be all 
the more devoted to you since she has already done you. — 
jSTothing attaches a woman to a man more than the fact that 
she has once fieeced him. But keep a tight rein on Eugenie ; 
she will do any earthly thing for money; she is a dreadful 
creature !"' 

"An" vat of you ?" 

"I," said Asie, "I make both ends meet." 

Nucingen, the astute financier, had a bandage over his 
eyes; he allowed himself to be led like a child. The sight 
of that spotless and. adorable Esther wiping her eyes and 
pricking in the stitches of her embroidery as demurely as 
an innocent girl, revived in the amorous old man the sensa- 
tions he had experienced in the Forest of Vincennes; he 
would have given her the key of his safe. He felt so young, 
his heart was so overflowing with adoration; he only waited 
till Asie should be gone to throw himself at the feet of this 
Raphael's Madonna. 

This sudden blossoming of youth in the heart of a stock- 
broker, of an old man, is one of the social phenomena which 
must be left to physiology to account for. Crushed under 
the burden of business, stifled under endless calculations 
and the incessant anxieties of million-hunting, young emo- 
tions revive with their sublime illusions, sprout and flower 
like a forgotten cause or a forgotten seed, whose effects, 
whose gorgeous bloom, are the sport of chance, brought out by 
a late and sudden gleam of sunshine. 

The Baron, a clerk by the time he was twelve years old in 
the ancient house of Aldrigger at Strasbourg, had never set 
foot in the world of sentiment. So there he stood in front 
of his idol, hearing in his brain a thousand modes of speech, 
while none came to his lips, till at length he acted on the 
brutal promptings of desire that betrayed a man of sixty- 
six. 

"Vill you come to Eue Taitbout ?" said he. 

"Wherever you please, monsieur," said Esther, rising. 



166 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"Verever I please !" he echoed in rapture. "'You are ein 
anchel from de sky, and I lofe you more as if I was a little 
young man, vile I hafe gray hairs " 

"You had better say white, for they are too fine a biack 
to be only gray,"' said Asie. 

"Get out, foul dealer in human flesh ! You hafe got your 
moneys ; do not slobber no more on dis flower of lofe !" cried 
the banker, indemnifying himself by this violent abuse for 
all the insolence he bad submitted to. 

"You old rip ! I will pay you out for that speech !" said 
Asie, threatening the banker with a gesture worthy of the 
Halle, at which the Baron merely shrugged his shoulders. 
"Between the lip of the pot and that of the guzzler there is 
often a viper, and you will find me there !" she went on, 
furious at Nucingen's contempt. 

Millionaires, whose money is guarded by the Bank of 
France, whose mansions are guarded by a squad of footmen, 
whose person in the streets is safe behind the rampart of a 
coach with swift English horses, fear no ill; so the Baron 
looked calmly at Asie, as a man who had just given her a hun- 
dred thousand francs. 

This dignity had its effect. Asie beat a retreat, growling 
down the stairs in highly revolutionary language; she spoke 
of the guillotine ! 

"What have you said to her?" asked the Madonna a la 
hroderie, "for she is a good soul." 

"She hafe solt you, she hafe robbed you " 

"When we are beggared," said she, in a tone to rend the 
heart of a diplomate, "v/ho has ever any money or considera- 
tion for us?" 

"Poor leetle ting !" said ISTucingen. "Do not stop here 
ein moment longer." 

The Baron offered her his arm; he led her away just as 
she was, and put her into his carriage with more respect per- 
liaps than he would have shown to the handsome Duchesse 
de Maufrigneuse. 

"You shall hafe a fine carriage, de prettiest carriage in 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 167 

Paris," said Nucingen, as they drove along. "Everyting dat 
luxury shall sopply shall be for you. Not any qveen shall 
be more rich dan vat you shall be. You shall be respected 
like ein Cherman Brant. I shall hafe you to be free. — Do 
not veep ! Listen to me — I lof e you really, truly, mit de 
purest lofe. Efery tear of yours breaks my heart." 

''Can one truly love a woman one has bought?" said the 
poor girl in the sweetest tones. 

"Choseph vas solt by his broders for dat he was so comely. 
Dat is so in de Biple. An' in de Eastern lants men buy deir 
wifes." 

On arriving at the Eue Taitbout, Esther could not return 
to the scene of her happiness without some pain. She re- 
mained sitting on a couch, motionless, drying away her tears 
one by one, and never hearing a word of the crazy speeches 
poured out by the banker. He fell at her feet, and she let 
him kneel without saying a word to him, allowing him to take 
her hands as he would, and never thinking of the sex of the 
creature who was rubbing her feet to warm them ; for Nucin- 
gen found that they were cold. 

This scene of scalding tears shed on the Baron's head, and 
of ice-cold feet that he tried to warm, lasted from midnight 
till, two in the morning. 

f^'Eugeme," cried the Baron at last to Europe, ''persvade 
your^mis'ess that she shall go to bet." 

"No !" cried Esther, starting to her feet like a scared 
horse. "Never in this house !" 

"Look here, monsieur, I know madame; she is as gentle 
and kind as a lamb," said Europe to the Baron. "Only you 
must not rub her the wrong way, you must get at her sideways 
— she had been so miserable here. — You see how worn the 
furniture is. — Let her go her own way. 

"Furnish some pretty little house for her, very nicely. 
Perhaps when she sees everything new about her she will 
feel a stranger there, and think you better looking than you 
are, and be angelically sweet. — Oh ! madame has not her 
match, and you may boast of having done a very good stroke 



1(58 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

of business: a good heart, genteel manners, a fine instep — 
and a skin, a complexion ! Ah ! 

"And witty enough to make a condemned wretch laugh. 
And madame can feel an attachment. — And then how she 
can dress ! — Well, if it is costly, still, as they say, you get 
your money's worth. — Here all the gowns were seized, every- 
thing she has is three months old. — But madame is so kind, 
you see, that I love her, and she is my mistress ! — But in all 
justice — such a woman as she is, in the midst of furniture 
that has been seized ! — And for whom ? For a young scamp 
who has ruined her. Poor little thing, she is not at all 
herself." 

"Esther, Esther ; go to bet, my anchel ! If it is me vat 

frighten you, I shall stay here on dis sofa " cried the 

Baron, fired by the purest devotion, as he saw that Esther 
was still weeping. 

"Well, then," said Esther, taking the "lynx's" hand, and 
kissing it with an impulse of gratitude which brought some- 
thing very like a tear to his eye, "I shall be grateful to 

you " 

~^ And she fled into her room and locked the door. 

"Dere is someting fery strange in all dat," thought Nucin- 
gen, excited by his pillules. "Vat shall dey say at home?" 

He got up and looked out of the window. "My carriage 
still is dere. It shall soon be daylight." He walked up 
and down the room. 

"Vat Montame de Nucingen should laugh at me ven she 
should know how I hafe spent dis night !" 

He applied his ear to the bedroom door, thinking himself 
rather too much of a simpleton. 

"Esther !" 

No reply. 

"Mein Gott! an' she is still veeping!" said he to himself, 
as he stretched himself on the sofa. 

About ten minutes after sunrise, the Baron de Nucingen, 
who was sleeping the uneasy slumbers that are snatched by 
compulsion in an awkward position on a couch, was aroused 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 169 

with a start by Europe from one of those dreams that visit 
us in such moments, and of which the swift complications are 
a phenomenon inexplicable by medical physiology. 

"Oh, God help us, madame !" she shrieked. "Madame ! 
— the soldiers — gendarmes — bailiffs! They have come to 
take us." 

At the moment when Esther opened her door and appeared, 
hurriedly, wrapped in her dressing-gown, her bare feet in 
slippers, her hair in disorder, lovely enough to bring 
the angel Kaphael to perdition, the drawing-room door 
vomited into the room a gutter of liuman mire that came 
on, on ten feet, towards the beautiful girl, who stood like 
an angel in some Flemish church picture. One man came 
foremost. Contenson, the horrible Contenson, laid his hand 
on Esthers dewy shoulder. 

"You are Mademoiselle van " he began. Europe, by a 

back-handed slap on Contenson' s cheek, sent him sprawling 
to measure his length on the carpet, and with all the more 
effect because at the same time she caught his leg with the 
sharp kick known to those who practise the art as a coup de 
savate. 

"Hands off!" cried she. "No one shall touch my mis- 
tress.^' 

"She has broken my leg !" yelled Contenson, picking him- 
self up ; "I will have damages !" 

From the group of bumbailiffs, looking like what they 
were, all standing with their horrible hats on their yet more 
horrible heads, with mahogany-colored faces and bleared 
eyes, damaged noses, and hideous mouths, Louchard now 
stepped forth, more decently dressed than his men, but keep- 
ing his hat on, his expression at once smooth-faced and 
smiling. 

"Mademoiselle, I arrest you !" said he to Esther. "As for 
you, my girl," he added to Europe, "any resistance will be 
punished, and perfectly useless." 

The noise of muskets, let down, with a thud of their stocks 



170 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

on the floor of the dining-room, showing that the invaders 
had soldiers to back them, gave emphasis to this speech. 

"And what am I arrested for?" said Esther. 

"What about our little debts?" said Louchard. 

"To be sure," cried Esther; "give me leave to dress." 

"But, unfortunately, mademoiselle, I am obliged to make 
sure that you have no way of getting out of your room," said 
Louchard. 

All this passed so quickly that the Baron had not yet had 
time to intervene. 

"Well, and am I still a foul dealer in human flesh. Baron 
de Nucingen?" cried the hideous Asie, forcing her way past 
the sheriff's officers to the couch, where she pretended to 
have just discovered the banker. 

"Contemptible wretch !" exclaimed Nucingen, drawing him- 
self up in financial majesty. 

He placed himself between Esther and Louchard, who took 
off his hat as Contenson cried out, "Monsieur le Baron de Nu- 
cingen." 

At a signal from Louchard the bailiffs vanished from the 
room, respectfully taking their hats off. Contenson alone 
was left. 

"Do you propose to pay, Monsieur le Baron?" asked he, 
hat in hand. 

"I shall pay," said the banker; "but I must know vat dis 
is all about." 

"Three hundred and twelve thousand francs and some 
centimes, costs paid; but the charges for the arrest not in- 
cluded." 

"Three hundred thousand francs," cried the Baron; "dat 
is a fery 'xpensive vaking for a man vat has passed de night 
on a sofa," he added in Europe's ear. 

"Is that man really the Baron de Nucingen ?" said Europe 
to Louchard, giving weight to the doubt by a gesture which 
Mademoiselle Dupont, the low comedy servant of the 
Frangais, might have envied. 

"Yes, mademoiselle," said Louchard. 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 171 

"Yes/' replied Contenson. 

"I shall be answerable/' said the Baron, piqued in his 
honor by Europe's doubt. "You shall 'llow me to. say ein 
vort to her.'' 

Esther and her elderly lover retired to the bedroom, 
Louchard finding it necessary to apply his ear to the key- 
hole. 

"I lofe you more as my life, Esther; but vy gife to your 
creditors moneys vich shall be so much better in your pocket ? 
Go into prison. I shall undertake to buy up dose hundert 
tousant croAvns for ein hundert tousant francs, an' so you 
shall hafe two hundert tousant francs for you " 

"That scheme is perfectly useless," cried Louchard through 
the door. "The creditor is not in love with mademoiselle — 
not he ! You understand ? And he means to have more 
than all, now he knows that you are in love with her." 

"You dam' sneak !" cried Nucingen, opening the door, 
and dragging Louchard into the bedroom; "you know not 
dat vat you talk about. I shall gife you, you'self, tventy per 
cent if you make the job." 

"Impossible, M. le Baron." 

"What, monsieur, you could have the heart to let my mis- 
tress go to prison?" said Europe, intervening. "But take 
my wages, my savings; take them, madame; I have forty 
thousand francs " 

"Ah, my good girl, I did not really know you !" cried 
Esther, clasping Europe in her arms. 

Europe proceeded to melt into tears. 

"I shall pay," said the Baron piteously, as he drew out a 
pocket-book, from which he took one of the little printed 
forms which the Bank of France issues to bankers, on which 
they have only to write a sum in figures and in words to 
make them available as cheques to bearer. 

"It is not worth the trouble. Monsieur le Baron/' said 
Louchard; "I have instructions not to accept payment in 
anything but coin of the realm — gold or silver. As it is you, 
I will take banknotes." 



172 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"Der Teufel !" cried the Baron. "Well, show me your 
papers." 

Contenson handed him three packets covered with blue 
paper, which the Baron took, looking at the man, and adding 
in an undertone: 

"It should hafe been a better day's vork for you ven you 
had gife me notice." 

"Wh}^ how should I know you were here, Monsieur le 
Baron?" replied the spy, heedless whether Louchard heard 
him. "You lost my services by withdrawing your con- 
fidence. You are done," added this philosoplier, shrugging 
his shoulders. 

•"Qvite true," said the Baron. "Ah, my chilt," he ex- 
claimed, seeing the bills of exchange, and turning to Esther, 
"you are de fictim of a torough scoundrel, ein highway 
tief !" 

"Alas, yes," said poor Esther; "T)ut he loved me truly." 

"Ven I should hafe known — I should hafe made you to 
protest " 

"You are off your head. Monsieur le Baron," said 
Louchard; "there is a third endorsement." 

"Yes, dere is a tird endorsement — Cerizet ! A man of 
de opposition." 

"Will you write an order on your cashier, Monsieur le 
Baron?" said Louchard. "I will send Contenson to him and 
dismiss my men. It is getting late, and everybody will know 
that " 

"Go den, Contenson," said Nucingen. "My cashier lives 
at de corner of Rue des Mathi:^ins and Rue de I'Arcate. 
Here is ein vort for dat he shall go to du Tillet or to de 
Kellers, in case ve shall not hafe a hundert tousant franc — 
for our cash shall be all at de Bank. — Get dress', my anchel," 
he said to Esther. "You are at liberty. — An' old vomans," 
he went on, looking at Asie, "are more dangerous as young 
vomans." 

"I will go and give the creditor a good laugh," said Asie, 
"and he will give me something for a treat to-day. — We bear 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 173 

no malice, Monsieur le Baron," added Saint-Esteve with a 
horrible courtesy. 

Louchard took the bills out of the Baron's hands, and re- 
mained alone with him in the drawing-room, whither, half 
an hour later, the cashier came, followed by Contenson. 
Esther then reappeared in a bewitching, though improvised, 
costume. When the money had been counted by Louchard, 
the Baron wished to examine the bills; but Esther snatched 
them with a cat-like grab, and carried them away to her 
desk. 

"What will you give the rabble?" said Contenson to Nu- 
cingen. 

"You hafe not shown much consideration," said the Baron. 

"And what about my leg?" cried Contenson. 

"Louchart, you shall gife ein hundert francs to Contenson 
out of the change of the tousand-franc note." 

"De lady is a beauty," said the cashier to the Baron, as 
they left the Eue Taitbout, "but she is costing you ver' dear. 
Monsieur le Baron." 

"Keep my segret," said the Baron, who had said the same 
to Contenson and Louchard. 

Louchard went away with Contenson; but on the boule- 
vard Asie, who was looking out for him, stopped Louchard. 

"The bailiff and the creditor are there in a cab," said she. 
"They are thirsty, and there is money going." 

While Louchard counted out the cash, Contenson studied 
the customers. He recognized Carlos by his eyes, and traced 
the form of his forehead under the wig. The wig he shrewdly 
regarded as suspicious; he took the number of the cab while 
seeming quite indifferent to what was going on ; Asie and 
Europe puzzled him beyond measure. He thought that the 
Baron was the victim of excessively clever sharpers, all the 
more so because Louchard, when securing his services, had 
been singularly close. And besides, the twist of Europe's 
foot had not struck his shin only. 

"A trick like that is learned at Saint-Lazare," he had re- 
flected as he got up. 



174 A COURTESANS LIFE 

Carlos dismissed the bailift', paying him liberally, and as 
he did so, said to the driver of the cab, "To the Perron, Palais 
Eoyal." 

"The rascal !" thought Contenson as he heard the order. 
"There is something up !" Carlos drove to the Palais Eoyal 
at a pace which precluded all fear of pursuit. He made his 
way in his own fashion through the arcades, took another 
cab on the Place du Chateau d'Eau, and bid the man go "to 
the Passage de I'Opera, the end of the Eue Pinon." 

A quarter of a hour later he was in the Eue Taitbout. 
On seeing him, Esther said : 

"Here are the fatal papers." 

Carlos took the bills, examined them, and then burned them 
in the kitchen fire. 

"We have done the trick," he said, showing her three hun- 
dred and ten thousand francs in a roll, which he took out of 
the pocket of his coat. "This, and the hundred thousand 
francs squeezed out by Asie, set us free to act." 

"Oh God, oh God !" cried poor Esther. 

"But, you idiot," said the ferocious swindler, "you have 
only to be ostensibly Nucingen's mistress, and you can al- 
ways see Lucien; he is Nucingen's friend; I do not forbid 
your being madly in love with him." 

Esther saw a glimmer of light in her darkened life; she 
breathed once more. 

"Europe, my girl," said Carlos, leading the creature into 
a corner of the boudoir where no one could overhear a word, 
"Europe, I am pleased with you." 

Europe held up her head, and looked at this man with an 
expression which so completely changed her faded features, 
that Asie, witnessing the interview, as she watched her from 
the door, wondered whether the interest by which Carlos held 
Europe might not perhaps be even stronger than that by 
which she herself was bound to him. 

"That is not all, my child. Four hundred thousand francs 
are a mere nothing to me. Paccard will give you an account 
for some plate, amounting to thirty thousand francs, on which 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 175 

money has been paid on account; bnt our goldsmith, Biddin, 
has paid money for us. Our furniture, seized by him, will 
no doubt be advertised to-morrow. Go and see Biddin; he 
lives in the Eue de I'Arbre Sec; he will give you Mont-de- 
Piete tickets for ten thousand francs. You understand, 
Esther ordered the plate ; she has not paid for it, and she put 
it up the spout. She will be in danger of a little summons 
for swindling. So we must pay the goldsmith the thirty 
thousand francs, and pay up ten thousand francs to the Mont- 
de-Piete to get the plate back. Forty-three thousand francs 
in all, including the costs. The silver is very much alloyed ; 
the Baron will give her a new service, and we shall bone a 
few thousand francs out of that. You owe — what ? two years' 
account with the dressmaker?" 

"Put it at six thousand francs," replied Europe. 

"Well, if Madame Auguste wants to be paid and keep our 
custom, tell her to make out a bill for thirty thousand francs 
over four years. Make a similar arrangement with the 
milliner. The jeweler, Samuel Frisch the Jew, in the Rue 
Sainte-Avoie, will lend you some pawn-tickets; we must owe 
him twenty-five thousand francs, and we must want six thou- 
sand for jewels pledged at the Mont-de-Piete. We will re- 
turn the trinkets to the jeweler, half tlie stones will be imita- 
tion, but the Baron will not examine them. In short, you 
will make him fork out another hundred and fifty thousand 
francs to add to our nest-eggs within a week." 

"Madame might give me a little help," said Europe. "Tell 
her so, for she sits there mumchance, and obliges me to find 
more inventions than three authors for one piece." 

"If Esther turns prudish, just let me know," said Carlos. 
"Wucingen must give her a carriage and horses ; she will have 
to choose and buy everything herself Go to the horse-dealer 
and the coachmaker who are employed by the job-master 
where Paccard finds work. We shall get handsome horses, 
very dear, which will go lame within a month, and we shall 
have to change them." 

"We might get six thousand francs out of a perfumer's 
bill," said Europe. 



176 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"Oh !" said he, shaking his head, "we must go gently. !N"u- 
cingen has only got his. arm into the press; we must have 
his liead. Besides all this, I must get five hundred thousand 
francs." 

"You can get them," replied Europe. "Madame will 
soften towards the fat fool for about six hundred thousand, 
and insist on four hundred thousand more to love him truly !" 

"Listen to me, my child," said Carlos. "The day when I 
get the last hundred thousand francs, there shall be twenty 
thousand for you." 

"What good will they do me?" said Europe, letting her 
arms drop like a woman to whom life seems impossible. 

"You could go back to Valenciennes, buy a good business, 
and set up as an honest woman if you chose ; there are many 
tastes in human nature. Paccard thinks of settling some- 
times; he has no encumbrances on his hands, and not much 
on his conscience ; you might suit each other," replied Carlos. 

"Go back to Valenciennes ! What are you thinking of, 
monsieur?" cried Europe in alarm. 

Europe, who was born at Valenciennes, the child of very 
poor parents, had been sent at seven years of age to a, spin- 
ning factory, where the demands of modern industry had im- 
paired her physical strength, just as vice had untimely de- 
praved her. Corrupted at the age of twelve, and a mother 
at thirteen, she found herself bound to the most degraded 
of human creatures. On the occasion of a murder case, she 
had been called as a witness before the Court. Haunted at 
sixteen by a remnant of rectitude, and the terror inspired by 
the law, her evidence led to the prisoner being sentenced to 
twenty years of hard labor. 

The convict, one of those men who have been in the hands 
of justice more than once, and whose temper is apt at terrible 
revenge, had said to the girl in open court : 

"In ten years, as sure as you live. Prudence" (Europe's 
name was Prudence Servien), "I will return to be the death 
of you, if I am scragged for it." 

The President of the Court tried to reassure the girl by 
promising her the protection and the care of the law; but 
the poor child was so terror-stricken that she fell ill, and 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 177 

was in hospital nearly a year. Justice is an abstract being, 
represented by a collection of individuals who are incessantly 
changing, whose good intentions and memories are, like them- 
selves, liable to many vicissitudes. Courts and tribunals can 
do nothing to hinder crimes; their business is to deal with 
them when done. From this point of view, a preventive 
police would be a boon to a country; but the mere word 
Police is in these days a bugbear to legislators, who no longer 
can distinguish between the three words — Government, Ad- 
ministration, and Law-making. The legislator tends to 
centralize everything in the State, as if the State could act. 

The convict would be sure always to rem.ember his victim, 
and to avenge himself when Justice had ceased to think of 
either of them. 

Prudence, who instinctively appreciated the danger — in 
a general sense, so to speak — left Valenciennes and came to 
Paris at the age of seventeen to hide there. She tried four 
trades, of which the most successful was that of a "super" at 
a minor theatre. She was picked up by Paccard, and to him 
she told her woes. Paccard, Jacques Collin's disciple and 
right-hand man, spoke of this girl to his master, and when 
the master needed a slave he said to Prudence: 

"If you will serve me as the devil must be served, I will 
rid you of Durut." 

Durut was the convict; the Damocles' sword hung over 
Prudence Servien's head. 

But for these details, many critics would have thought 
Europe's attachment somewhat grotesque. And no one could 
have understood the startling announcement that Carlos had 
ready. 

"Yes, my girl, you can go back to Valenciennes. Here, 
read this." 

And he held oiit to her yesterday's paper, pointing to this 
paragraph : 

" Toulon — Yesterday, Jenn Francois Dunit was executed here. Early 
in the morning the garrison," etc. 



178 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

Prudence dropped the paper; her legs gave way under the 
weight of her body; she lived again; for, to use her own 
words, she never liked the taste of her food since the day 
when Durut had threatened her. 

"You see, I have kept my word. It has taken four years 
to bring Durut to the scaffold by leading him into a snare. 
— Well, finish my job here, and you will find yourself at the 
head of a little country business in your native towju with 
twenty thousand francs of your own as Paccard's wife, and I 
will allow him to be virtuous as a form of pension.'^' 

Europe picked up the paper and read with greedy eyes all 
the details, of which for twenty years the papers have never 
been tired, as to the death of convicted criminals: the im- 
pressive scene, the chaplain — who has always converted the 
victim — the hardened criminal preaching to his fellow con- 
victs, the battery of guns, the convicts on their knees ; and then 
the twaddle and reflections which never lead to any change 
in the management of the prisons where eighteen hundred 
crimes are herded. 

"We must place Asie on the staff once more,"' said Carlos. 

Asie came forward, not understanding Europe's panto- 
mime. 

"In bringing her back here as cook, you must begin by 
giving the Baron such a dinner as he never ate in his life," 
lie went on. "Tell him that Asie has lost all her money at 
play, and has taken service once more. We shall not need 
;m outdoor servant. Paccard shall be coachman. Coach- 
men do not leave their box, where they are safe out of the 
way; and he will run less risk from spies. Madame must 
turn him out in a powdered wig and a braided felt cocked 
hat; that will alter his appearance. Besides, I will make 
him up." 

"Are we going to have men-servants in the house?" asked 
Asie with a leer. 

"All honest folks," said Carlos. 

"All soft-heads,'" retorted the mulatto. 

"If the Baron takes a house, Paccard has a friend who will 



WHAT r.OYE COSTS 179 

suit as the lodge porter," said Carlos. "Then we shall only 
need a footman and a kitchen-maid, and you can surely keep 
an eye on the two strangers " 

As Carlos was leaving, Paccard made his appearance. 

"Wait a little while, there are people in the street," said 
the man. 

This simple statement was alarming. Carlos went up to 
Europe's room, and stayed there till Paccard came to fetch 
him, having called a hackney cab that came into the court- 
yard. Carlos pulled down the blinds, and was driven ofE at 
a pace that defied pursuit. 

Having reached the Faubourg Saint- Antoine, he got out 
at a short distance from a hackney coach stand, to which he 
went on foot, and thence returned to the Quai Malaquais, 
escaping all inquiry. 

"Here, child," said he to Lucien, showing him four hun- 
dred banknotes for a thousand francs, "here is something 
on account for the purchase of the estates of Eubempre. We 
will risk a hundred thousand. Omnibuses have just been 
started; the Parisians will take to the novelty; in three 
months we shall have trebled our capital. I know the con- 
cern; they will pay splendid dividends taken out of the 
capital, to put a head on the shares — an old idea of Nucin- 
gen's revived. If we acquire the Eubempre land, we shall 
not have to pay on the nail. 

"You must go and see des Lupeaulx, and beg him to give 
you a personal recommendation to a lawyer named Desroches, 
a cunning dog, whom you must call on at his office. Get 
him to go to Eubempre and see how the land lies; promise 
him a premium of twenty thousand francs if he manages to 
secure you thirty thousand francs a year by investing eight 
hundred thousand francs in land round about the ruins of the 
old house." 

"How you go on — on ! on !" 

"I am always going on. This is no time for joking. — You 
must then invest a hundred thousand crowns in Treasury 
bonds, so as to lose no interest; you may safely leave it to 



180 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

Desroches, he is as honest as he is knowing. — That being 
done, get off to Angoulenie, and persuade your sister and 
your brother-in-law to pledge themselves to a little fib" in 
the way of business. Your relations are to have given you 
six hundred thousand francs to promote your marriage with 
Clotilde de Grandlieu ; there is no disgrace in that." 

"We are saved !" cried Lucien, dazzled. 

"You are, yes !" replied Carlos. "But even you are not 
safe till you walk out of Saint-Thomas d'Aquin with Clotilde 
as your wife." 

"And what have you to fear?" said Lucien, apparently 
much concerned for his counselor. 

"Some inquisitive souls are on my track — I must assume 
the manners of a genuine priest ; it is most annoying. The 
Devil wall cease to protect me if he sees me with a breviary 
under my arm." 

At this moment the Baron de ISTueingen, who was leaning 
on his cashier's arm, reached the door of his mansion. 

"1 am ver' much afrait," said he, as he went in, "dat I 
hafe done a bat day's vork. Veil, we must make it up some 
oder vays." 

"De misfortune is dat you shall hafe been caught, mein 
Herr Baron," said the worthy German, whose whole care was 
for appearances. 

"Ja, my miss'ess en titre should be in a position vordy of 
me," said this Louis XIV. of the counting-house. 

Feeling sure that sooner or later Esther would be his, 
the Baron was now himself again, a masterly financier. He 
resumed the management of his affairs, and with such effect 
that his cashier, finding him in his office room at six o'clock 
next morning, verifying his securities, rubbed his hands with 
satisfaction. 

"Ah, ha ! mein Herr Baron, you shall hafe saved money 
last night !" said he, with a half-cunning, half-loutish 
German grin. 

Though men who are as rich as the Baron de Nucingen 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 181 

have more opportunities than others for losing money, they 
also have more chances of making it, even when they indulge 
their follies. Though the financial policy of the house of 
Nucingen has been explained elsewhere, it may be as well 
to point out that such immense fortunes are not made, are 
not built up, are not increased, and are not retained in the 
midst of the commercial, political, and industrial revolu- 
tions of the present day but at the cost of immense losses, or, 
if you choose to view it so, of heavy taxes on private fortunes. 
Very little newly-created wealth is thrown into the common 
treasury of the world. Every fresh accumulation represents 
some new inequality in the general distribution of wealth. 
What the State exacts it makes some return for; but what a 
house like that of Nucingen takes, it keeps. 

Such covert robbery escapes the law for the reason which 
would have made a Jacques Collin of Frederick the Great, 
if, instead of dealing with provinces by means of battles, he 
had dealt in smuggled goods or transferable securities. The 
high politics of money-making consist in forcing the States 
of Europe to issue loans at twenty or at ten per cent, in 
making that twenty or ten per cent by the use of public 
funds, in squeezing industry on a vast scale by buying up raw 
material, in throwing a rope to the first founder of a business 
just to keep him above water till his drowned-out enterprise 
is safely landed — in short, in all the great battles for money- 
getting. 

The banker, no doubt, like the conqueror, runs risks; but 
there are so few men in a position to wage this warfare, that 
the sheep have no business to meddle. Such grand struggles 
are between the shepherds. Thus, as the defaulters are guilty 
of having wanted to win too much, very little sympathy is 
felt as a rule for the misfortunes brought about by the coali- 
tion of the Nucingens. If a speculator blows his brains out, 
if a stockbroker bolts, if a lawyer makes off with the fortune 
of a hundred families — which is far worse than killing a 
man — if a banker is insolvent, all these catastrophes are for- 
gotten in Paris in a few months, and buried under the oceanic 
surges of the great city. 



182 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

The colossal fortunes of Jacques Coeur, of the Medici, of 
the Angos of Dieppe, of the Auffredis of la Kochelle, of the 
Fuggers, of the Tiepolos, of the Corners, were honestly made 
long ago by the advantages they had over the ignorance of 
the people as to the sources of precious products; but nowa- 
days geographical information has reached the masses, and 
competition has so effectually limited the profits, that every 
rapidly made fortune is the result of chance, or of a discover}^ 
or of some legalized robbery. The lower grades of mercantile 
enterprise have retorted on the perfidious dealings of higher 
commerce, especially during the last ten years, by base adul- 
teration of the raw material. "Wherever chemistry is prac- 
tised, wine is no longer procurable ; the vine industry is con- 
sequentl}'^ waning. Manufactured salt is sold to avoid the 
excise. The tribunals are appalled by this universal dis- 
honest3^ In short, French trade is regarded with suspicion 
by the whole world, and England too is fast being demoral- 
ized. 

With us the mischief has its origin in the political situa- 
tion. The Charter proclaimed the reign of Money, and suc- 
cess has become the supreme consideration of an atheistic 
age. And, indeed, the corruption of the higher ranks is in- 
finitely more hideous, in spite of the dazzling display and 
specious arguments of wealth, than that ignoble and more 
personal corruption of the inferior classes, of which certain 
details lend a comic element — terrible, if you will — to this 
drama. The Government, always alarmed by a new idea, 
has banished these materials of modern comedy from the 
stage. The citizen class, less liberal than Louis XIV., dreads 
the advent of its Manage de Figaro, forbids the appearance 
of a political Tartuffe, and certainly would not allow Tur- 
caret to be represented, for Turearet is king. Consequently, 
comedy has to be narrated, and a book is now the weapon — 
less swift, but no more sure — that writers wield. 

In the course of this morning, amid the coming and going 
of callers, orders to be given, and brief interviews, making 
Nucingen's private office a sort of financial lobby, one of his 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 183 

stockbrokers announced to him the disappearance of a mem- 
ber of the Company, one of the richest and cleverest too — 
Jacques Falleix, brother of Martin Palleix, and the suc- 
cessor of Jules Desmarets. Jacques Falleix was stockbroker 
in ordinary to the house of ISTucingen. In concert with du 
Tillet and the Kellers, the Baron had plotted the ruin of this 
man in cold blood, as if it had been the killing of a Passover 
lamb. 

"He could not hafe belt on," replied the Baron quietly. 

Jacques Falleix had done them immense service in stock- 
jobbing. During a crisis a few months since he had saved 
the situation by acting boldly. But to look for gratitude 
from a money-dealer is as vain as to try to touch the heart 
of the wolves of the Ukraine in winter. 

"Poor fellow !" said the stockbroker. "He so little an- 
ticipated such a catastrophe, that he had furnished a little 
house for his mistress in the Eue Saint-Georges ; he has spent 
a hundred and fifty thousand francs in decorations and furni- 
ture. He was so devoted to Madame du Yal-Noble ! The 
poor woman must give it all up. And nothing is paid 
for.'-' 

"Goot, goot !" thought ISTucingen, "dis is de very chance to 
make up for vat I hafe lost dis night ! — He hafe paid for 
noting?" he asked his informant. 

"Why," said the stockbroker, "where would you find a 
tradesman so ill informed as to refuse credit to Jacques 
Falleix? There is a splendid cellar of wine, it would seem. 
By the way, the house is for sale; he meant to buy it. The 
lease is in his name. — What a piece of folly ! Plate, furni- 
ture, wine, carriage-horses, everything will be valued in a 
lump, and what will the creditors get out of it ?" 

"Come again to-morrow," said Nucingen. "I shall hafe 
seen all dat; and if it is not a declared bankruptcy, if tings 
can be arranged and compromised, I shall tell you to offer 
some reasonaple price for dat furniture, if I shall buy de 
lease " 

"That can be managed," said his friend. "If you go there 



184 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

this morning, you will find one of Falleix's partners there 
with the tradespeople, who want to establish a first claim ; but 
la Val-ISToble has their accounts made out to Falleix." 

The Baron sent off one of his clerks forthwith to his lawyer. 
Jacques Falleix had spoken to him about this house, which 
was worth sixty thousand francs at most, and he wished to be 
put in possession of it at once, so as to avail himself of the 
privileges of the householder. 

The cashier, honest man, came to inquire whether his 
master had lost anything by Falleix's bankruptcy. 

"On de contrar', mein goot Volfgang, I stant to vin ein 
hundert tousant francs." 

"How vas dat ?*' 

"Veil, I shall hafe de little house vat dat poor Teufel 
Falleix should furnish for his mis'ess this year. I shall hafe 
all dat for fifty tousant franc to de creditors ; and my notary, 
Maitre Cardot, shall hafe my orders to buy de house, for de 
lan'lord vant de money — I Imew dat, but I hat lost mein 
head. Yer' soon my difine Esther shall life in a little 
palace. ... I hafe been dere mit Falleix — it is close to 
liere. — It shall fit me like a glofe." 

Falleix's failure required the Baron's presence at the 
Bourse; but he could not bear to leave his house in the Rue 
Saint-Lazare without going to the Rue Taitbout; he was al- 
ready miserable at having been away from Esther for 
so many hours. He would have liked to keep her at his 
elbow. The profits he hoped to make out of his stockbrokers' 
plunder made the former loss of four hundred thousand 
francs quite easy to endure. 

Delighted to announce to his "anchel" that she was to move 
from the Rue Taitbout to the Rue Saint-Georges, where she 
was to have "ein little palace" where her memories would no 
longer rise up in antagonism to their happiness, the pavement 
felt elastic under his feet ; he walked like a young man in a 
vounc man's dream. As he turned the corner of the Rue des 
Trois Freres, in the middle of his dream, and of the road, 
the Baron beheld Europe coming towards him, looking very 
much upset. 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 185 

''Vere shall you go?" he asked. 

"Weil, monsieur, I was on my way to you. You were 
quite right yesterday. I see now that poor madame had 
better have gone to prison for a few days. But how should wo- 
men understand money matters? When madame's creditors 
heard that she had come home, they all came down upon us like 
birds of prey. — Last evening, at seven o'clock, monsieur, men 
came and stuck horrible posters up to announce a sale of 
furniture on Saturday — but that is nothing. — Madame, who 
is all heart, once upon a time to oblige that wretch of a man 
you know " 

"Vat wretch?" 

"Well, the man she was in love with, d'Estourny — well, 
he was charming ! He was only a gambler " 

"He gambled with beveled cards !" 

"Well — and what do you do at the Bourse ?" said Europe. 
"But let me go on. One day, to hinder Georges, as he said, 
from blowing out his brains, she pawned all her plate and 
her jewels, which had never been paid for. ISTow on hearing 
that she had given something to one of her creditors, they 
came in a body and made a scene. They threaten her with 
the police-court — ^your angel at that bar ! Is it not enough 
to make a wig stand on end? She is bathed in tears; she 
talks of throwing herself into the river — and she will do it." 

"If I shall go to see her, dat is goot-bye to de Bourse; an' 
it is impossible but I shall go, for I shall make some money 
for her — ^you shall compose her. I shall pay her debts; I 
shall go to see her at four o'clock. But tell me, Eugenie, 
dat she shall lofe me a little " 

"A little ? — A great deal ! — I tell you what, monsieur, noth- 
ing but generosity can win a woman's heart. You would, 
no doubt, have saved a hundred thousand francs or so by 
letting her go to prison. Well, you would never have won 
her heart. As she said to me — 'Eugenie, he has been noble, 
grand — he has a great soul.' " 

"She hafe said dat, Eugenie ?" cried the Baron. 



186 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"Yes, monsieur, to me, myself." 

"Here — take dis ten louis." 

"■'Thank you. — But she is crying at this moment; she has 
been crying ever since yesterday as much as a weeping Mag- 
dalen could have cried in six months. The woman you love 
is in despair, and for debts that are not even hers I Oh ! 
men — thev devour women as women devour old fogies — 
there !" 

"Dey all is de same I — She hafe pledge' herself. — Yy, no 
one shall ever pledge herself. — Tell her dat she shall sign 
noting more. — I shall pay; but if she shall sign something 
more — I '' 

*^What will you do?" said Europe with an air. 

"Mein Gott I I hafe no power over her. — I shall take de 

management of her little affairs Dere, dere, go to comfort 

her, and you shall say that in ein mont she shall live in a 
little palace." 

"You have invested heavily. Monsieur le Baron, and for 
large interest, in a woman's heart. I tell you — jou look to 
me younger. I am but a waiting-maid, but I have often seen 
such a change. It is happiness — happiness gives a certain 
glow. ... If you have spent a little money, do not let 
that worr}- you; you "will see what a good return it will 
bring. And I said to madame, I told her she would be the 
lowest of the low, a perfect hussy, if she did not love you, 
for you have picked her out of hell. — When once she has noth- 
ing on her mind, you will see. Between you and me, I may 
tell you, that night when she cried so much — What is to be 
said, we value the esteem of the man who maintains us — 
and she did not dare tell vou ever^i:hing. She wanted to 
fly." 

"To fly I" cried the Baron, in dismay at the notion. "But 
the Bourse, the Bourse I — Go 'vay, I shall not come in. — But 
tell her that I shall see her at her vindow — dat shall gife me 
courage !'' 

Esther smiled at Monsieur de Xucingen as he passed the 
house, and he went ponderously on his way, saying: 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 187 

"She is ein anchel !" 

This was how Europe had succeeded in achieving the im- 
possible. At about half-past two Esther had finished dress- 
ing, as she was wont to dress when she expected Lucien; she 
was looking charming. Seeing this. Prudence, looking out 
of the window, said, "There is monsieur !" 

The poor creature flew to the window, thinking she should 
see Lucien; she saw Nucingen. 

"Oh ! how cruelly 3^ou hurt me !" she said. 

"There was no other way of getting you to seem to be 
gracious to a poor old man, who, after all, is going to pay 
your debts," said Europe. "For they are all to be paid." 

"What debts ?" said the girl, who only cared to preserve her 
love, which dreadful hands were scattering to the winds. 

"Those which Monsieur Carlos made in your name." 

"Why, here are nearly four hundred and fifty thousand 
francs," cried Esther. 

"And you owe a hundred and fifty thousand more. But 
the Baron took it all very well. — He is going to remove you 
from hence, and place you in a little palace. — On my honor, 
you are not so badly off. In your place, as you have got on 
the right side of this man, as soon as Carlos is satisfied, I 
should make him give me a house and a settled income. You 
are certainly the handsomest woman I ever saw, madame, and 
the most attractive, but we so soon grow ugly ! I was fresh and 
good-looking, and look at me ! I am twenty-three, about the 
same age as madame, and I look ten years older. An illness is 
enough. — Well, but when you have a house in Paris and in- 
vestments, you need never be afraid of ending in the streets.''--T^ 

Esther had ceased to listen to Europe-Eugenie-Prudence : 
Servien. The will of a man gifted with the genius of cor- 
ruption had thrown Esther back into the mud with as much 
force as he had used to drag her out of it. 

Those who know love in its infinitude know that those who 
do not accept its virtues do not experience its pleasures. 
Since the scene in the den in the Eue de Langlade, Esther 
had utterly forgotten her former existence. She had since 



1 
188 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

lived very virtuously, cloistered by her passion. Hence, to 
avoid any obstacle, the skilful fiend had been clever enough 
to lay such a train that the poor girl, prompted by her devo- 
tion, had raerely to utter her consent to swindling actions 
already done, or on the point of accomplishment. This sub- 
tlety, revealing the mastery of the tempter, also characterized 
the methods by which he had subjugated Lucien. He created 
a terrible situation, dug a mine, filled it with powder, and at 
the critical moment said to his accomplice, "You have only to 
nod, and the whole will explode !" 

Esther of old, knowing only the morality peculiar to 
courtesans, thought all these attentions so natural, that she 
measured her rivals only by what they could get men to spend 
on them. Euined fortunes are the conduct-stripes of these 
creatures. Carlos, in counting on Esther's memor}^, had not 
^calculated wrongly. 

These tricks of warfare, these stratagems employed a thou- 
sand times, not only by these women, but by spendthrifts too, 
did not disturb Esther's mind. She felt nothing but her per- 
sonal degradation ; she loved Lucien, she was to be the Baron 
de Xucingen's mistress "by appointment" ; this was all she 
thought of. The supposed Spaniard might absorb the earnest- 
mone}-, Lucien might build up his fortune with the stones of 
her tomb, a single night of pleasure might cost the old banker 
so many thousand-franc notes more or less, Europe might 
extract a fevr hundred thousand francs by more or less in- 
genious tricker}^, — none of these things troubled the enam- 
ored girl ; this alone was the canker that ate into her heart. 
For five years she had looked upon herself as being as white 
as an angel. She loved, she was happy, she had never com- 
mitted the smallest infidelity. This beautiful pure love was 
now to be defiled. 

There was, in her mind, no conscious contrasting of her 
happy isolated past and her foul future life. It was neither 
interest nor sentiment that moved her, only an indefinable 
and all powerful feeling that she had been white and was now- 
black, pure and was now impure, noble and was now ignoble. 



WHAT LOVE COSTS ISO 

Desiring to be the ermine, moral taint seemed to her unen- 
durable. And when the Baron's passion had threatened her, 
she had really thought of throwing herself out of the window. 
In short, she loved Lueien wholly, and as women very rarely^ 
love a man. Women who say they love, who often think they 
love best, dance, waltz, and flirt with other men, dress for the 
world, and look for a harvest of concupiscent glances; but 
Esther, without any sacrifice, had 'achieved miracles of true 
love. She had loved Lueien for six years as actresses love and 
courtesans — women who, having rolled in mire and impurity, 
thirst for something noble, for the self-devotion of true love, 
and who practise exclusiveness — the only word for an idea so 
little known in real life. 

Vanished nations, Greece, Eome, and the East, have at all 
times kept women shut up ; the woman who loves should shut 
herself up. So it may easily be imagined that on quitting the 
palace of her fancy, where this poem had been enacted, to go 
to this old man's "little palace," Esther felt heartsick. Urged 
by an iron hand, she had found herself waist-deep in disgrace 
before she had time to reflect; but for the past two days she 
had been reflecting, and felt a mortal chill about her heart. 

At the words, "End in the street," she started to her feet 
and said: 

"In the street ! — ISTo, in the Seine rather." 

"In the Seine? And what about Monsieur Lueien?" said 
Europe. 

This single word brought Esther to her seat again ; she re- 
mained in her armchair, her eyes fixed on a rosette in the 
carpet, the fire in her brain drying up her tears. 

At four o'clock Nucingen found his angel lost in that sea 
of meditations and resolutions whereon a woman's spirit 
floats, and whence she emerges with utterances that are in- 
comprehensible to those who have not sailed it in her convoy. 

"Clear your brow, meine Schone," said the Baron, sitting 
down by her. "You shall hafe no more debts — I shall ar- 
range mit Eugenie, an' in ein mont you shall go 'vay from 
dese rooms and go to dat little palace. — Vas a pretty hant. — 



190 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

Gife it me dat I shall kiss it." Esther gave him her hand as 
a dog gives a paw, "Ach, ja ! You shall gife de hant, but 
not de heart, and it is dat heart I lofe !" 

The words were spoken with such sincerity of accent, that 
poor Esther looked at the old man with a compassion in her 
eyes that almost maddened him. Lovers, like martyrs, feel a 
brotherhood in their sufferings ! Xothing in the world gives 
such a sense of kindred as community of sorrow. 

"Poor man !" said she, 'Tie really loves." 

As he heard the words, misunderstanding their meaning, 
the Baron turned pale, the Dlood tingled in his veins, he 
breathed the airs of heaven. At his age a millionaire, for such 
a sensation, will pay as much gold as a woman can ask. 

"I lofe you like vat I lofe my daughter," said he. "An' I 
feel dere" — and he laid her hand over his heart — "dat I shall 
not bear to see you anyting but happy." 

"If you would only be a father to me, I would love you very 
much; I would never leave you; and you would see that I am 
not a bad woman, not grasping or greedy, as I must seem to 
you now " 

"You hafe done some little follies," said the Baron, "like 
all dose pretty vomen — dat is all. Say no more about dat. It 
is our pusiness to make money for you. Be happy ! I shall be 
your fater for some days yet, for I know I must make you 
accustom' to my old carcase." 

"Really !" she exclaimed, springing on to Nucingen's knees, 
and clinging to him with her arm round his neck. 

"Eeally !" repeated he, trying to force a smile. 

She kissed his forehead ; she believed in an impossible com- 
bination — she might remain untouched and see Lucien. 

She was so coaxing to the banker that she was La Torpille 
once more. She fairly bewitched the old man, who promised 
to be a father to her for forty days. Those forty days were 
to be emp'loyed in acquiring and arranging the house in the 
Eue Sain^t- Georges. 

When he was in the street again, as he went home, the 
Baron said to himself, "I am an old flat." 






WHAT LOVE COSTS 191 

But though in Esther's presence he was a mere child, away 
from her he resumed his lynx's skin; just as the gambler (in 
le Joueur) becomes affectionate to Angelique when he has not 
a Hard. 

"A half a million francs I hafe paid, and I hafe not yet seen 
vat her leg is like. — Dat is too silly ! but, happily, nobody 
shall hafe known it !" said he to himself three weeks after. 

And he made great resolutions to come to the point with 
the woman who had cost him so dear ; then, in Esther's pres- 
ence once more, he spent all the time he could spare her in 
making up for the roughness of his first words. 

"After all," said he, at the end of a month, "I cannot be de 
fater eternal !" 

Towards the end of the month of December 1829, just be- 
fore installing Esther in the house in the Eue Saint-Georges, 
the Baron begged du Tillet to take Florine there, that she 
might see whether everything was suitable to Nucingen's 
fortune, and if the description of "a little palace" were duly 
realized by the artists commissioned to make the cage worthy 
of the bird. 

Every device known to luxury before the Eevolution of 
1830 made this residence a masterpiece of taste. Grindot 
the architect considered it his greatest achievement as a deco- 
rator. The staircase, which had been reconstructed of marble, 
the judicious use of stucco ornament, textiles, and gilding, 
the smallest details as much as the general effect, outdid 
everything of the kind left in Paris from the time of 
iWs XV. 

"This is my dream ! — This and virtue !" said Florine with 
a smile. "And for whom are you spending all this money ?" 
she asked Nucingen. "A virgin sent down from heaven ?" 

"For a voman vat is going up there," replied the Baron. 

"A way of playing Jupiter?" replied the actress. "And 
when is she on show ?" 

"On the day of the house-warming," cried du Tillet. 

"Not before dat," said the Baron. 

"My word, how we must lace and brush and fig ourselves 



1U2 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

out/*' Florine went on. '^'TThat a dance the women will lead 
their dressmakers and hairdressers for that evening's fun I — 
And when is it to he ?'' 

"Dat is not for me to say.*' 

'^VThat a woman she must be !" cried Florine. "How much 
I should like to see her !"' 

'■'An' so should I,'' answered the Baron artlessly. 

'^*hat I is eventhiiig new together — the house, the furni- 
ture, and the woman?"' 

"Even the banker," said du Tillet, ''for my old friend seems 
to me quite young again." 

"Well, he must go back to his twentieth year," said Florine ; 
"at any rate, for once." 

In the early days of 1830 ever}'body in Paris was talking of 
Xucingen's passion and the outrageous splendor of his house. 
The poor Baron, pointed at, laughed at, and fuming with 
rage, as may easily be imagined, took it into his head that on 
the occasion of giving the house-warming he would at the same 
time get rid of his paternal disguise, and get the price of so 
much generosity. Always circumvented by "La Torpille," 
he determined to treat of their union by correspondence, so as 
to win from her an autograph promise. Bankers have no 
faith in anything less than a promissory note. 

So one morning early in the year he rose early, locked him- 
self into his room, and composed the following letter in very 
good French; for though he spoke the language very badly, 
he could write it very well : — 

"Dear Esther, the flower of my thoughts and the only joy 
of my life, when I told you that I loved you as I love my 
daughter, I deceived you, I deceived myself. I only wished 
to express the holiness of my sentiments, which are unlike 
those felt by other men, in the first place, because I am an old 
man, and also because I have never loved till now. I love you 
=0 much, that if you cost me my fortune I should not love you 
the less. 

"Be just ! Most men would not. like me, have seen the 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 193 

angel in you ; I have never even glanced at your past. I love 
you both as I love iny daughter Augusta, and as I might love 
my wife, if my wife could have loved me. Since the only ex- 
cuse for an old man's love is that he should be happy, ask 
yourself if I am not playing a too ridiculous part. I have 
taken you to be the consolation and joy of my declining days. 
You know that till I die you will be as happy as a woman 
can be; and you know, too, that after my death you will be 
rich enough to be the envy of many women. In every stroke 
of business I have effected since I have had the happiness of 
your acquaintance, your share is set apart, and you have a 
standing account with ISTucingen's bank. In a few days you 
will move into a house which, sooner or later, will be your 
own if you like it. Now, plainly, will you still receive me 
then as a father, or will you make me happy? 

"Forgive me for writing so frankly, but when I am with 
you I lose all courage; I feel too keenly that you are indeed 
my mistress. I have no wish to hurt you ; I only want to tell 
you how much I suffer, and how hard it is to wait at my age, 
when every day takes with it some hopes and some pleasures. 
Besides, the delicacy of my conduct is a guarantee of the sin- 
cerity of my intentions. Have I ever behaved as your cred- 
itor? You are like a citadel, and I am not a young man. 
In answer to my appeals, you say your life is at stake, and 
when I hear you, you make me believe it ; but here I sink into 
dark melancholy and doubts dishonorable to us both. You 
seemed to me as sweet and innocent as you are lovely ; but you 
insist on destroying my convictions. Ask yourself ! — You tell 
me you bear a passion in your heart, an indomitable passion, 
but you refuse to tell me the name of the man you love. — Is 
this natural ? 

"You have turned a fairly strong man into an incredibly 
weak one. You see what I have come to ; I am induced to ask 
you at the end of five months what future hope there is for 
my passion. Again, I must know what part I am to play at 
the opening of your house. Money is nothing to me when it 



194 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

is spent for you ; I will not be so absurd as to make a merit 
to you of this contempt ; but though my love knows no limits, 
my fortune is limited, and I care for it only for your sake. 
Well, if by giving you everything I possess I might, as a poor 
man, win your affection, I would rather be poor and loved 
than rich and scorned by you. 

"You have altered me so completely, my dear Esther, that 
no one knows me ; I paid ten thousand francs for a picture by 
Joseph Bridau because you told me that he was clever and 
unappreciated. I give every beggar I meet five francs in your 
name. Well, and what does the poor old man ask, who 
regards himself as your debtor when you do him the honor of 
accepting anything he can give you? He asks only for a 
hope — and what a hope, good God ! Is it not rather the cer- 
tainty of never having anything from you but what my pas- 
sion may seize ? The fire in my heart will abet your cruel de- 
ceptions. You find me ready to submit to every condition 
you can impose on my happiness, on my few pleasures; but 
promise me at least that on the day when you take possession 
of your house you will accept the heart and service of him 
who, for, the rest of his days, must sign himself your slave, 

"Fe^d^ric de ISTucingen." 

"Faugh ! how he bores me — this money bag !" cried Esther, 
a courtesan once more. She took a small sheet of notepaper 
and wrote all over it, as close as it could go, Scribe's famous 
phrase, which has become a proverb, "Prenez mon ours." 

A quarter of an hour later, Esther, overcome by remorse, 
wrote the following letter: — 

"Monsieur le Baron, — 

"Pay no heed to the note you have just received from me ; 
I had relapsed into the folly of my youth. Forgive, monsieur, 
a poor girl who ought to be your slave. I never more keenly 
felt the degradation of my position than on the day when I 
was handed over to you. \"ou have paid ; I owe myself to you. 
There is nothing more sacred than a debt of dishonor. I 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 195 

have no right to compound it by throwing myself into the 
Seine. 

"A debt can always be discharged in that dreadful coin 
which is good only to the debtor; you will find me yours to 
command. I will pay off in one night all the sums for which 
that fatal hour has been mortgaged ; and I am sure that such 
an hour with me is worth millions — all the more because it 
will be the only one, the last. I shall then have paid the debt, 
and may get away from life. A good woman has a chance of 
restoration after a fall ; but we, the like of us, fall too low. 

"My determination is so fixed that I beg you will keep this 
letter in evidence of the cause of death of her who remains, 
for one day, your servant, 

"Esther." 

Having sent this letter, Esther felt a pang of regret. Ten 
minutes after she wrote a third note, as follows : — 

"Forgive me, dear Baron — it is I once more. I did not 
mean either to make game of you or to wound you; I only 
want you to reflect on this simple argument: If we were to 
continue in the position towards each other of father and 
daughter, your pleasure would be small, but it would be en- 
during. If you insist on the terms of the bargain, you will 
live to mourn for me. 

"I will trouble you no more: the day when you shall choose 
pleasure rather than happiness will have no morrow for me. — 
Your daughter, 

"Esther." 

On receiving the first letter, the Baron fell into a cold fury 
such as a millionaire may die of ; he looked at himself in the 
glass and rang the bell. 

"An hot bat for mein feet," said he to his new valet. 

While he was sitting with his feet in the bath, the second 
letter came ; he read it, and fainted away. He was carried to 
bed. 



196 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

When the banker recovered consciousness, Madame de Nu- 
cingen was sitting at the foot of the bed. 

"The hussy is right !" said she. "Wh}'- do you try to buy 
love? Is it to be bought in the market? — Let me see your 
letter to her." 

The Baron gave her sundry rough drafts he had made; 
Madame de ISTucingen read them, and smiled. Then came 
Esther's third letter. 

"She is a wonderful girl !" cried the Baroness, when she 
^^had read it. 

"Vat shall I do, montame ?" asked the Baron of his wife. 

"Wait." 

"Wait ? But nature is pitiless !" he cried. 

"Look here, my dear, you have been admirably kind to me," 
said Delphine; "I will give you some good advice." 

"You are a ver' goot voman," said he. "Ven you hafe any 
debts I shall pay." 

"Your state on receiving these letters touches a woman far 
more than the spending of millions, or than all the letters 
you could write, however fine they may be. Try to let her 
know it, indirectly; perhaps she will be yours! And — have 
no scruples, she will not die of that," added she, looking 
keenly at her husband. 

But Madame de Nucingen knew nothing whatever of the 
nature of such women. 

"Vat a defer voman is Montame de Nueingen !" said the 
Baron to himself when his wife had left him. 

Still, the more the Baron admired the subtlety of his 
wife's counsel, the less could he see how he might act upon it ; 
and he not only felt that he was stupid, but he told himself so. 

The stupidity of wealthy men, though it is almost pro- 
verbial, is only comparative. The faculties of the mind, like 
the dexterity of the limbs, need exercise. The dancer's 
strength is in his feet; the blacksmith's in his arms; the 
market porter is trained to carry loads ; the singer works his 
larynx ; and the pianist hardens his wrist. A banker is prac- 
tised in business matters; he studies and plans them, and 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 197 

pulls the wires of various interests, just as a playwright trains 
his intelligence in combining situations, studying his actors, 
giving life to his dramatic figures. 

We should no more look for powers of conversation in the 
Baron de Nucingen than for the imagery of a poet in the 
brain of a mathematician. How many poets occur in an age, 
who are either good prose writers, or as witty in the inter- 
course of daily life as Madame Cornuel? Buffon was dull 
company; Newton was never in love; Lord Byron loved no- 
body but himself; Eousseau was gloomy and half crazy; La 
Fontaine absent-minded. Human energy, equally distrib- 
uted, produces dolts, mediocrity in all ; unequally bestowed it 
gives rise to those incongruities to whom the name of Genius 
is given, and which, if we only could see them, would look like 
deformities. The same law governs the body ; perfect beauty 
is generally allied with coldness or silliness. Though Pascal 
was both a great mathematician and a great writer, though 
Beaumarchais was a good man of business, and Zamet a pro- 
found courtier, these rare exceptions prove the general prin- 
ciple of the specialization of brain faculties. 

Within the sphere of speculative calculations the banker 
put forth as much intelligence and skill, finesse and mental 
power, as a practised diplomatist expends on national affairs. 
If he were equally remarkabl}^ outside his office, the banker 
would be a great man. Nucingen made one with the Prince 
de Ligne, with Mazarin or with Diderot, is a human formula 
that is almost inconceivable, but which has nevertheless been 
known as Pericles, Aristotle, Voltaire, and JSTapoleon. The 
splendor of the Imperial crown must not blind us to the merits 
of the individual ; the Emperor was charming, well informed, 
and witty. 

Monsieur de Nucingen, a banker and nothing more, having 
no inventiveness outside his business, like most bankers, had 
no faith in anything but sound security. In matters of art 
he had the good sense to go, cash in hand, to experts in every 
branch, and had recourse to the best architect, the best sur- 
geon, the greatest connoisseur in pictures or statues, the 
13 



198 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

cleverest lawyer, when he wished to build a house, to attend 
to his health, to purchase a work of art or an estate. But as 
there are no recognized experts in intrigue, no connoisseurs in 
love affairs, a banker finds himself in difficulties when he is 
in love, and much puzzled as to the management of a woman. 
So Nucingen could think of no better method than that he 
had hitherto pursued — to give a sum of money to some Fron- 
• tin, male or female, to act and think for him. 

Madame de Saint-Esteve alone could carry out the plan 
imagined by the Baroness, Nucingen bitterly regretted hav- 
ing quarreled with the odious old clothes-seller. However, 
feeling confident of the attractions of his cash-box and the 
soothing documents signed Garat, he rang for his man and 
told him to inquire for the repulsive widow in the Eue Saint- 
Mare, and desire her to come to see him. 

In Paris extremes are made to meet by passion. Vice is 
constantly binding the rich to the poor, the great to the mean. 
The Empress consults Mademoiselle Lenormand; the fine 
gentleman in every age can always find a Ramponneau. 

The man returned within two hours. 

"Monsieur le Baron," said he, "Madame de Saint-Esteve is 
ruined."' 

"Ah ! so much de better !" cried the Baron in glee. "I shall 
hafe her safe den.^' 

"The good woman is given to gambling, it would seem," 
the valet went on. "And, moreover, she is under the thumb 
of a third-rate actor in a suburban theatre, whom, for de- 
cency's sake, she calls her godson. She is a first-rate cook, it 
would seem, and wants a place." 

"Dose teufel of geniuses of de common people hafe alvays 
ten vays of making money, and ein dozen vays of spending it," 
said the Baron to himself, quite unconscious that Panurge 
had thought the same thing. 

He sent his servant off in quest of Madame de Saint- 
Esteve, who did not come till the next day. Being questioned 
by Asie, the servant revealed to this female spy the terrible 
effects of the notes written to Monsieur le Baron by his mis- 
tress. 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 199 

"Monsieur must be desperately in love with the woman," 
said he in conclusion, "for he was very near dying. For my 
part, I advised him never to go back to her, for he will be 
wheedled over at once. A woman who has already cost Mon- 
sieur le Baron five hundred thousand francs, they say, with- 
out counting what he has spent on the house in the Eue Saint- 
Georges ! But the woman cares for money, and for money 
only. — As madame came out of monsieur's room, she said 
with a laugh: 'If this goes on, that slut will make a widow 
of me !' " 

"The devil !" cried Asie ; "it will never do to kill the goose 
that lays the golden eggs." 

"Monsieur le Baron has no hope now but in you," said the 
valet. 

"Ah ! The fact is, I do know how to make a woman go." 

"Well, walk in," said the man, bowing to such occult 
powers. 

'^ell," said the false Saint-Esteve, going into the suf- 
ferer's room with an abject air, "Monsieur le Baron has met 
with some little difficulties? What can you expect ! Every- 
body is open to attack on his weak side. Dear me, I have had 
my troubles too. Within two months the wheel of Fortune 
has turned upside down for me. Here I am looking out for 
a place ! — We have neither of us been very wise. If Monsieur 
le Baron would take me as cook to Madame Esther, I would 
be the most devoted of slaves. I should be useful to you, 
monsieur, to keep an eye on Eugenie and madame." 

"Dere is no hope of dat," said the Baron. "I cannot suc- 
ceet in being de master, I am let such a tanee as " 

"As a top," Asie put in. "Well, you have made others 
dance, daddy, and the little slut has got you, and is making 
a fool of you. — Heaven is just !" 

"Just ?" said the Baron. "I hafe not sent for you to preach 
to me " 

"Pooh, my boy ! A little moralizing breaks no bones. It 
is the salt of life to the like of us, as vice is to your bigots. — 
Come, have you been generous? You have paid her debts?" 



200 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"Ja," said the Baron lamentably. 

"That is well ; and you have taken her things out of pawn, 
and that is better. But you must see that it is not enough. 
All this gives her no occupation, and these creatures love to 
cut a dash " 

"I shall hafe a surprise for her, Eue Saint-Georches — she 
knows dat/' said the Baron. "But I shall not be made a 
fool of." 

"Very well then, let her go." 

"I am only af rait dat she shall let me go !" cried the Baron. 

"And we want our money's worth, my boy," replied Asie. 
"Listen to me. We have fleeced the public of some millions, 
my little friend? Twenty-five millions I am told you 
possess." 

The Baron could not suppress a smile. 

"Well, you must let one go." 

"I shall let one go, but as soon as I shall let one go, I shall 
hafe to give still another." 

"Yes, I understand," replied Asie. "You will not say B 
for fear of having to go on to Z. Still, Esther is a good 
girl " 

"A ver' honest girl," cried the banker. "An' she is ready 
to submit ; but only as in payment of a debt." 

"In short, she does not want to be your mistress ; she feels 
an aversion. — Well, and I understand it ; the child has always 
done just what she pleased. When a girl has never known 
any but charming young men, she cannot take to an old one. 
You are not handsome ; you are as big as Louis XVIII., and 
rather dull company, as all men are who try to cajole for- 
tune instead of devoting themselves to women. — Well, if you 
don't think six hundred thovisand francs too much," said Asie, 
"I pledge myself to make her whatever you can wish." 

"Six huntert tousant franc !" cried the Baron, with a start. 
"Esther is to cost me a million to begin with !" 

"Happiness is surely worth sixteen hundred thousand 
francs, you old sinner. You must know, men in these days 
have certainly spent more than one or two millions on a mis- 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 201 

tress. I even know women who have cost men their lives, for 
whom heads have rolled into the basket. — You know the 
doctor who poisoned his friend? He wanted the money to 
gratify a woman." 

"Ja, I know all dat. But if I am in lofe, I am not ein 
idiot, at least vile I am here; but if I shall see her, I shall 
gife her my pocket-book " 

"Well, listen, Monsieur le Baron," said Asie, assuming the 
attitude of a Semiramis. "You have been squeezed dry 
enough already. Now, as sure as my name is Saint-Esteve — 
in the way of business, of course — I will stand by you." 

"Goot, I shall repay you." 

"I believe you, my boy, for I have shown you that I know 
how to be revenged. Besides, I tell you this, daddy, I know 
how to snuff out your Madame Esther as you would snuff a 
candle. And I know my lady ! When the little huzzy has 
once made you happy, she will be even more necessary to you 
than she is at this moment. You paid me well ; you have 
allowed yourself to be fooled, but, after all, you have forked 
out. — I have fulfilled my part of the agreement, haven't I? 
Well, look here, I will make a bargain with you." 

"Let me hear." 

"You shall get me the place as cook to Madame, engage 
me for ten years, and pay the last five in advance — what is 
that? Just a little earnest-money. When once I am about 
madame, I can bring her to these terms. Of course, you 
must first order her a lovely dress from Madame Auguste, 
who knows her style and taste; and order the new carriage 
to be at the door at four o'clock. After the Bourse closes, 
go to her rooms and take her for a little drive in the Bois de 
Boulogne. Well, by that act the woman proclaims herself 
your mistress; she has advertised herself to the eyes and 
knowledge of all Paris: A hundred thousand francs. — You 
must dine with her — I know how to cook such a dinner ! — 
You must take her to the play, to the Varietes, to a stage-box, 
and then all Paris will say, 'There is that old rascal Nucingen 
with his mistress.' It is very flattering to know that such 



202 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

things are said. — Well, all this, for I am not grasping, is in- 
cluded for the first hundred thousand francs. — In a week, by 
such conduct, you will have made some wa}^ " 

"But I shall hafe paid ein hundert tousant franc." 

"In the course of the second week," Asie went on, as though 
she had not heard this lamentable ejaculation, "madame, 
tempted by these preliminaries, will have made up her mind 
to leave her little apartment and move to the house you are 
giving her. Your Esther will have seen the world again, have 
found her old friends; she will wish to shine and do the 
honors of her palace — it is in the nature of things : Another 
hundred thousand francs ! — By Heaven ! you are at home 
there, Esther compromised — she must be yours. The rest is 
a mere trifle, in which you must play the principal part, old 
elephant. (How wide the monster opens his eyes!) Well, 
I will undertake that too: Four hundred thousand — and 
that, my fine fellow, you need not pay till the day after. What 
do you think of that for honesty? I have more confidence 
in you than you have in me. If I persuade madame to show 
herself as your mistress, to compromise herself, to take every 
gift you offer her, — perhaps this very day, you will believe 
that I am capable of inducing her to throw open the pass of 
the Great Saint Bernard. And it is a hard job, I can tell 
you ; it will take as much pulling to get your artillery through 
as it took the -first Consul to get over the Alps." 

"But vy?" 

"Her heart is full of love, old shaver, rasibus, as you say 
who know Latin," replied Asie. "She thinks herself the 
Queen of Sheba, because she has washed herself in sacrifices 
made for her lover — an idea that that sort of woman gets 
into her head ! Well, well, old fellow, we must be just. — It 
is fine ! That baggage would die of grief at being your mis- 
tress — I really should not wonder. But what I trust to, and 
I tell you to give you courage, is that there is good in the girl 
at bottom." 

"You hafe a genius for corruption," said the Baron, who 
had listened to Asie in admiring silence, "just as I hafe de 
knack of de banking," 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 203 

"Then it is settled, my pigeon ?" said Asie. 

"Done for fifty tousant franc insteat of ein hundert tou- 
sant ! — An' I shall give you fife hundert tousant de day after 
my triumph." 

"Very good, I will set to work," said Asie. "And you may 
come, monsieur," she added respectfully. "You will find 
madame as soft already as a cat's back, and perhaps inclined 
to make herself pleasant." 

"Go, go, my goot voman," said the banker, rubbing his 
hands. 

And after seeing the horrible mulatto out of the house, he 
said to himself: 

"How vise it is to hafe much money." 

He sprang out of bed, went down to his office, and resumed 
the conduct of his immense business with a light heart. 

Nothing could be more fatal to Esther than the steps taken 
\ by Nucingen. The hapless girl, in defending her fidelity, 
""was defending her life. This very natural instinct was what 
Carlos called prudery. Now Asie, not without taking such 
precautions as usual in such cases, went off to report to Carlos 
the conference she had held with the Baron, and all the profit 
she had made by it. The man's rage, like himself, was terri- 
ble ; he came forthwith to Esther, in a carriage with the blinds 
dra^M3, driving into the courtyard. Still almost white with 
fury, the double-dyed forger went straight into the poor girl's 
room; she looked at him — she was standing up — and she 
dropped on to a chair as though her legs had snapped. 

"What is the matter, monsieur ?" said she, quaking in every 
limb. 

"Leave us, Europe," said he to the maid. 

Esther looked at the woman as a child might look at its 
mother, from whom some assassin had snatched it to mur- 
der it. 

"Do you know where you will send Lucien?" Carlos went 
on when he was alone with Esther. 

"Where ?" asked she in a low voice, venturing to glance at 
her executioner. 



204 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"Where I come from, my beauty." Esther, as she looked at 
the man, saw red. "To the hulks," he added in an undertone. 

Esther shut her eyes and stretched herself out, her arms 
dropped, and she turned white. The man rang, and Prudence 
appeared. 

"Bring her round," he said coldly ; "I have not done." 

He walked up and down the drawing-room while waiting. 
Prudence-Europe was obliged to come and beg monsieur to 
lift Esther on to the bed; he carried her with an ease that 
betrayed athletic strength. 

They had to procure all the chemist's strongest stimulants 
to restore Esther to a sense of her woes. An hour later the 
poor girl was able to listen to this living nightmare, seated at 
the foot of her bed, his eyes fixed and glowing like two spots 
of molten lead. 

"My little sweetheart," said he, "Lucien now stands be- 
tween a splendid life, honored, happy, and respected, and the 
hole full of water, mud, and gravel into which he was going 
to plunge when I met him. The house of Grandlieu requires 
of the dear boy an estate worth a million francs before secur- 
ing for him the title of Marquis, and handing over to him 
that may-pole named Clotilde, by whose help he will rise to 
power. Thanks to you, and me, Lucien has just purchased 
his maternal manor, the old Chateau de Rubempre, which, 
indeed, did not cost much — thirty thousand francs: but his 
lawyer, by clever negotiations, has succeeded in adding to it. 
estates worth a million, on which three hundred thousand 
francs are paid. The chateau, the expenses, and percentages 
to the men who were put forward as a blind to conceal the 
transaction from the country people, have swallowed up the 
remainder. 

"We have, to be sure, a hundred thousand francs invested 
in a business here, which a few months hence will be worth 
two to three hundred thousand francs ; but there will still be 
four hundred thousand francs to be paid. 

"In three days Lucien will be home from Angouleme, 
where he has been, because he must not be suspected of having 
found a fortune in remaking your bed " 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 205 

"Oh no !" cried she, looking up with a noble impulse. 

"I ask you, then, is this a moment to scare off the Baron ?"" 
he went on calmly. "And you very nearly killed him the day 
before yesterday; he fainted like a woman on reading your 
second letter. You have a fine style — I congratulate you! 
If the Baron had died, where should we be now? — When 
Lucien walks out of Saint-Thomas d'Aquin son-in-law to the 

Due de Grandlieu, if you want to try a dip in the Seine 

Well, my beauty, I offer you my hand for a dive together. It 
is one way of ending matters. 

"But consider a moment. Would it not be better to live 
and say to yourself again and again, 'This fijie fortune, this 
happy family' — for he will have children — children! — Have 
you ever thought of the joy of running your fingers through 
the hair of his children ?" 

Esther closed her eyes with a little shiver. 

"Well, as you gaze on that structure of happiness, you may 
say to yourself, 'This is my doing !' " 

There was a pause, and the two looked at each other. 

"This is what I have tried to make out of such despair 
as saw no issue but the river," said Carlos. "Am I selfish? 
That is the way to love ! Men show such devotion to 
none but kings! But I have anointed Lucien king. If I 
were riveted for the rest of my days to my old chain, I fancy 
I could stay there resigned so long as I could say, 'He is gay, 
he is at Court.' My soul and mind would triumph, while 
my carcase was given over to the jailers ! You are a mere 
female ; you love like a female ! But in a courtesan, as in all 
degraded creatures, love should be a means to motherhood, 
in spite of Nature, which has stricken you with barrenness! 

"If ever, under the skin of the Abbe Carlos Herrera, any 
one were to detect the convict I have been, do you know what 
I would do to avoid compromising Lucien?" 

Esther awaited the reply with some anxiety. 

"Well," he said after a brief pause, "I would die as the 
negroes do — without a word. And you, with all your airs, 
will put folks on my traces. What did I require of you ? — To 



.206 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

be La Torpille again for six months — for six weeks; and to 
do it to clutch a million. 

"Lucien will never forget you. Men do not forget the 
being of whom they are reminded day after day by the joy 
of awaking rich every morning. Lucien is a better fellow 
than you are. He began by loving Coralie. She died — good ; 
but he had not money enough to bury her; he did not do as 
you did just now, he did not faint, though he is a poet; he 
wrote six rollicking songs, and earned three hundred francs, 
with which he paid for Coralie's funeral. I have those songs ; 
I know them by heart. Well, then, do you too compose your 
songs : be cheerful, be wild, be irresistible and — insatiable ! 
You hear me? — Do not let me have to speak again. 

"Kiss papa. Good-bye." 

When, half an hour after, Europe went into her mistress' 
room, she found her kneeling in front of a crucifix, in the 
attitude which the most religious of painters has given to 
Moses before the burning bush on Horeb, to depict his deep 
and complete adoration of Jehovah. After saying her 
prayers, Esther had renounced her better life, the honor she 
had created for herself, her glory, her virtue, and her love. 

She rose. 

"Oh, madame, you will never look like that again !" cried 
Prudence Servien, struck by her mistress' sublime beauty. 

She hastily turned the long mirror so that the poor girl 
should see herself. Her eyes still had a light as of the soul 
flying heavenward. The Jewess' complexion was brilliant. 
Sparkling with tears unshed in the fervor of prayer, her eye- 
lashes were like leaves after a summer shower, for the last 
time they shone with the sunshine of pure love. Her lips 
seemed to preserve an expression as of her last appeal to the 
angels, whose palm of martyrdom she had no doubt borrowed 
while placing in their hands her past unspotted life. And she 
had the majesty which Mary Stuart must have shown at the 
moment when she bid adieu to her crown, to earth, and to 
love. 

"I wish Lucien could have seen me thus !" she said with a 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 20T 

smothered sigh. "Now," she added, in a strident tone, "now 
for a fling !" 

Europe stood dumb at hearing the words, as though she 
had heard an angel blaspheme. 

"Well, why need you stare at me to see if I have cloves in 
my mouth instead df teeth ? I am nothing henceforth but a 
vile, foul creature, a thief — and I expect milord. So get me 
a hot bath, and put my dress out. It is twelve o'clock; the 
Baron will look in, no doubt, when the Bourse closes ; I shall 
tell him I was waiting for him, and Asie is to prepare us 
dinner, first-chop, mind you ; I mean to turn the man's brain. 
— Come, hurry, hurry, my girl; we are going to have some 
fun — that is to say, we must go to work." 

She sat down at the table and wrote the following note : — 

"My Friend, — If the cook you have sent me had not 
already been in my service, I might have thought that your 
purpose was to let me know how often you had fainted yes- 
terday on receiving my three notes. (What can I say? I was 
very nervous that day; I was thinking over the memories of 
my miserable existence.) But I know how sincere Asie is. 
Still, I cannot repent of having caused you so much pain, 
since it has availed to prove to me how much you love me. 
This is how we are made, we luckless and despised creatures ; 
true affection touches us far more deeply than finding our- 
selves the objects of lavish liberality. For my part, I have al- 
ways rather dreaded being a peg on which you would hang 
your vanities. It annoyed me to be nothing else to you. 
Yes, in spite of all your protestations, I fancied you re- 
garded me merely as a woman paid for. 

"Well, you will now find me a good girl, but on condition 
of your always obeying me a little. 

"If this letter can in any way take the place of the doctor's 
prescription, prove it by coming to see me after the Bourse 
closes. You will find me in full fig, dressed in your gifts, 
for I am for life your pleasure-machine, 

"Esther." 



208 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

At the Bourse the Baron de Nucingen was so gay, so cheer- 
ful, seemed so easy-going, and allowed himself so many jests, 
that du Tillet and the Kellers, who were on 'change, could 
not help asking him the reason of his high spirits. 

"I am belofed. Ye shall soon gife dat house-varming,'" he 
told du Tillet. 

"And how much does it cost you?" asked Frangois Keller 
rudely — it was said that he had spent twenty-five thousand 
francs a year on Madame Colleville. 

"Dat voman is an anchel ! She never has ask' me for one 
sou." 

"They never do," replied du Tillet. "And it is to avoid 
asking that they have always aunts or mothers." 

Between the Bourse and the Eue Taitbout seven times did 
the Baron say to his servant : 

"You go so slow — vip de horse !" 

He ran lightly upstairs, and for the first time saw his mis- 
tress in all the beauty of such women, who have no other 
occupation than the care of their person and their dress. Just 
out of her bath the flower was quite fresh, and perfumed 
so as to inspire desire in Eobert d'Arbrissel. 

Esther was in a charming toilette. A dress of black corded 
silk trimmed with rose-colored gimp opened over a petticoat 
of gray satin, the costume subsequently worn by Amigo, the 
handsome singer, in / Puritani. A Honiton lace kerchief fell 
or floated over her shoulders. The sleeves of her gown were 
strapped round with cording to divide the puffs, which for 
some little time fashion has substituted for the large sleeves 
which had grown too monstrous. Esther had fastened a 
Mechlin lace cap on her magnificent hair with a pin, a la folle, 
as it was called, ready to fall, but not really falling, giving 
her an appearance of being tumbled and in disorder, though 
the white parting showed plainly on her little head between 
the waves of her hair. 

"Is it not a shame to see niadame so lovely in a shabby 
drawing-room like this?" said Europe to the Baron, as she 
admitted him. 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 209 

''Vel, den, come to de Rue Saint-Georches," said the Baron, 
coming to a full stop like a dog marking a partridge. "The 
veather is splendit, ve shall drife to de Champs filysees, and 
Montame Saint-Estefe and Eugenie shall carry dere all your 
clo'es an' your linen, an' ve shall dine in de Rue Saint- 
Georches." 

"I will do whatever you please," said Esther, "if only you 
will be so kind as to call my cook Asie, and Eugenie Europe. 
I have given those names to all the women who have served 
me ever since the first two. I do not love change " 

"Asie, Europe !" echoed the Baron, laughing. "How ver' 
droll you are. — You hafe infentions. — I should hafe eaten 
many dinners before I should hafe call' a cook Asie." 

"It is our business to be droll," said Esther. "Come, now, 
may not a poor girl be fed by Asia and dressed by Europe 
when you live on the whole world ? It is a myth, I say ; some 
women would devour the earth, I only ask for half. — You 
see?" 

"Vat a voman is Montame Saint-Estefe !" said the Baron 
to himself as he admired Esther's changed demeanor. 

"Europe, my girl, I want my bonnet," said Esther. "I 
must have a black satin bonnet lined with pink and trimmed 
with lace." 

"Madame Thomas has not. sent it home. — Come, Monsieur 
le Baron ; quick, off you go ! Begin your functions as a man- 
of-all-work — that is to say, of all pleasure ! Happiness is 
burdensome. You have your carriage here, go to Madame 
Thomas," said Europe to the Baron. "Make your servant 
ask for the bonnet for Madame van Bogseck. — And, above 
all," she added in his ear, "bring her the most beautiful bou- 
quet to be had in Paris. It is winter, so try to get tropical 
flowers." 

The Baron went downstairs and told his servants to go to 
"Montame Thomas." 

The coachman drove to a famous pastrycook's. 

"She is a milliner, you damn' idiot, and not a cake-shop !" 
cried the Baron, who rushed off to Madame Prevot's in the 



210 A COURTESAN'S LWE 

Palais-Royal, where he had a bouquet made up for the price 

of teu louis, while his man went to the great modiste. 

A superficial observer, walking about Paris, wonders who 
the fools can be that buy the fabulous flowers that grace the 
illustrious bouquetiere's shop window, and the choice products 
displayed by Chevet of European fame — the only purveyor 
who can vie Mdth the Eocher de Cancale in a real and deli- 
cious Revue des deux Mondes. 

Well, every day in Paris a hundred or more passions a la 
Nucingen come into being, and find expression in offering 
such rarities as queens dare not purchase, presented, kneeling, 
to baggages who, to use Asie's word, like to cut a dash. But 
for these little details, a decent citizen would be puzzled to 
conceive how a fortune melts in the hands of these women, 
whose social function, in Fourier's scheme, is perhaps to 
rectify the disasters caused by avarice and cupidity. Such 
squandering is, no doubt, to the social body what a prick of 
the lancet is to a plethoric subject. In two months Nucingen 
had shed broadcast on trade more than two hundred thousand 
francs. 

By the time the old lover returned, darkness was falling; 
the bouquet was no longer of any use. The hour for driving 
in the Champs-filysees in winter is between two and four. 
However, the carriage was of use to convey Esther from the 
Rue Taitbout to the Rue Saint-Georges, where she took pos- 
session of the "little palace." Never before had Esther been 
the object of such worship or such lavishness, and it amazed 
her; but, like all royal ingrates, she took care to express no 
surprise. 

When you go into St. Peter's at Rome, to enable you to 
appreciate the extent and height of this queen of cathedrals, 
you are shovni the little finger of a statue which looks of a 
natural size, and which measures I know not how much. De- 
scriptions have been so severel}^ criticised, necessary as they 
are to a history of manners, that I must here follow the ex- 
ample of the Roman Cicerone. As they entered the dining- 
room, the Baron could not resist asking Esther to feel the 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 211 

stuff of which the window curtains were made, draped with 
magnificent fulness, lined with white watered silk, and bor- 
dered with a gimp fit to trim a Portuguese princess' bodice. 
The material was silk brought from Canton, on which Chi- 
nese patience had painted Oriental birds with a perfection 
only to be seen in mediaeval illuminations, or in the Missal 
of Charles V., the pride of the Imperial library at Vienna. 

"It hafe cost two tousand franc' an ell for a milord who 
brought it from Intia " 

"It is very nice, charming," said Esther. "How I shall 
enjoy drinking champagne here; the froth will not get dirty 
here on a bare floor." 

"Oh ! madame !" cried Europe, "only look at the carpet !" 

"Dis carpet hafe been made for de Due de Torlonia, a 
frient of mine, who fount it too dear, so I took it for you who 
are my qveen," said Nucingen. 

By chance this carpet, by one of our cleverest designers, 
matched with the whimsicalities of the Chinese curtains. 
The walls, painted by Schinner and Leon de Lora, represented 
voluptuous scenes, in carved ebony frames, purchased for 
their weight in gold from Dusommerard, and forming panels 
with a narrow line of gold that coyly caught the light. 

From this you may judge of the rest. 

"You did well to bring me here," said Esther. "It will 
take me a week to get used to my home and not to look like a 
parvenu in it " 

"My home ! Den you shall accept it ?" cried the Baron in 
glee. 

"Why, of course, and a thousand time of course, stupid 
animal," said she, smiling. 

"Animal vas enough " 

"Stupid is a term of endearment," said she, looking at him. 

The poor man took Esther's hand and pressed it to his 
heart. He was animal enough to feel, but too stupid to find 
words. 

"Feel how it beats — for ein little tender vort " 

And he conducted his goddess to her room. 



212 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"Oh, madame, I cannot stay here!" cried Eugenie. "It 
makes me long to go to bed." 

"Well," said Esther, "I mean to please the magician who 
has worked all these wonders. — Listen, my fat elephant, after 
dinner we will go to the play together. I am starving to see 
a play." 

It was just five years since Esther had been to a theatre. 
All Paris was rushing at that time to the Porte-Saint-Martin, 
to see one of those pieces to which the power of the actors 
lends a terrible expression of realitj, Richard Darlington. Like 
all ingenuous natures, Esther loved to feel the thrills of fear 
as much as to yield to tears of pathos. 

"Let us go to see Frederick Lemaitre," said she ; "he is an 
actor I adore." 

"It is a horrible piece," said Nucingen, foreseeing the mo- 
ment when he must show himself in public. 

He sent his servant to secure one of the two stage-boxes on 
the grand tier. — And this is another strange feature of Paris. 
Whenever success, on feet of clay, fills a house, there is always 
a stage-box to be had ten minutes before the curtain rises. 
The managers keep it for themselves, unless it happens to be 
taken for a passion d la Nucingen. This box, like Chevet's 
dainties, is a tax levied on the whims of the Parisian 
Olympus. 

It would be superfluous to describe the plate and china. 
Nucingen had provided three services of plate — common, 
medium, and best ; and the best — plates, dishes, and all, was 
of chased silver gilt. The banker, to avoid overloading the 
table with gold and silver, had completed the array of each 
service with porcelain of exquisite fragility in the style of 
Dresden china, which had cost more than the plate. As to the 
linen — Saxony, England, Flanders, and France vied in the 
perfection of flowered damask. 

At dinner it was the Baron's turn to be amazed on tasting 
Asie's cookery. 

"I understant," said he, "vy you call her Asie ; dis is Asiatic 
cooking." 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 213 

"I begin to thiuk he loves me," said Esther to Europe ; "he 
has said something almost like a bon mot." 

"I said many vorts," said he. 

"Well ! he is more like Turcaret than I had heard he was !" 
cried the girl, laughing at this reply, worthy of the many 
artless speeches for which the banker was famous. 

The dishes were so highly spiced as to give the Baron an 
indigestion, on purpose that he might go home early; so this 
was all he got in the way of pleasure out of his first evening 
with Esther. At the theatre he was obliged to drink an im- 
mense number of glasses of eau sucree, leaving Esther alone 
between the acts. 

By a coincidence so probable that it can scarcely be called 
chance, Tullia, Mariette, and Madame du Val-Noble were at 
the play that evening. Richard Darlington enjoyed a wild 
success — and a deserved success — such as is seen only in Paris. 
The men who saw this play all came to the conclusion that a 
lawful wife might be thrown out of window, and the wives 
loved to see themselves unjustly persecuted. 

The women said to each other : "This is too much ! we are 
driven to it — but it often happens !" 

jSTow a woman as beautiful as Esther, and dressed as Esther 
was, could not show off with impunity in a stage-box at the 
Porte-Saint-Martin. And so, during the second act, there 
was quite a commotion in the box where the two dancers were 
sitting, caused by the undoubted identity of the unknown fair 
one with La Torpille. 

"Heyday ! where has she dropped from ?" said Mariette 
to Madame du Val-Noble. "I thought she was drowned." 

"But is it she ? She looks to me thirty-seven times younger 
and handsomer than she was six years ago." 

"Perhaps she has preserved herself in ice like Madame 
d'Espard and Madame Zayonchek," said the Comte de Bram- 
bourg, who had brought the tlij-ee women to the play, to a pit- 
tier box. "Isn't she the 'rat' you meant to send me to hocus 
my uncle ?" said he, addressing Tullia. 

"The very same," said the singer. "Du Bruel, go down to 
the stalls and see if it is she." 
14 



214 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"What brass she has got !" exclaimed Madame du Val- 
Noble, using an expressive but vulgar phrase. 

''Oh !" said the Comte de Brambourg, "she very well may. 
She is with my friend the Baron de Nucingen — I will go " 

"Is that the immaculate Joan of Arc who has taken Nu- 
cingen by storm, and who has been talked of till we are all 
sick of her, these three months past ?" asked Mariette. 

"Good-evening, my dear Baron," said Philippe Bridau, as 
he went into Nucingen's box. "So here you are, married to 
Mademoiselle Esther. — Mademoiselle, I am an old officer 
whom you once on a time were to have got out of a scrape — 
at Issoudun — Philippe Bridau " 

"I know nothing of it," said Esther, looking round the 
house through her opera-glasses. 

"Dis lady," said the Baron, "is no longer known as 'Esther' 
so short ! She is called Montame de Champy — ein little es- 
tate vat I have bought for her " 

"Though you do things in such style," said the Comte, 
"these ladies are saying that Madame de Champy gives her- 
self too great airs. — If you do not choose to remember me, 
will you condescend to recognize Mariette, Tullia, Madame 
du Val-Noble?" the parvenu went on — a man for whom the 
Due de Maufrigneuse had won the Dauphin's favor. 

"If those ladies are kind to me, I am willing to make 
myself pleasant to them," replied Madame de Champy drily. 

"Kind ! Why, they are excellent ; they have named you 
Joan of Arc," replied Philippe. 

"Veil den, if dese ladies vill keep you company," said Nu- 
cingen, "I shall go 'vay, for I hafe eaten too much. Your 
carriage shall come for you and your people. — Dat teufel 
Asie !" 

"The first time, and you leave me alone !" said Esther. 
"Come, come, you must have courage enough to die on deck. 
I must have my man with me as I go out. If I were insulted, 
am I to cry out for nothing?" 

The old millionaire's selfishness had to give way to his 
duties as a lover. The Baron suffered but stayed. 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 215 

Esther had her own reasons for detaining "her man." If 
she admitted her acquaintance, she would be less closely ques- 
tioned in his presence than if she were alone. Philippe 
Bridau hurried back to the box where the dancers were sitting, 
and informed them of the state of affairs. 

"Oh ! so it is she who has fallen heir to my house in the 
Eue Saint-Georges," observed Madame du Val-Noble with 
some bitterness ; for she, as she phrased it, was on the loose. 

"Most likely," said the Colonel. "Du Tillet told me that 
the Baron had spent three times as much there as your poor 
Falleix." j 

"Let us go round to her box," said Tullia. 

"Not if I know it," said Mariette ; "she is much too hand- 
some. I will call on her at home." 

"I think myself good-looking enough to risk it," remarked 
Tullia. 

So the much-daring leading dancer went round between the 
acts and renewed acquaintance with Esther, who would 
talk only on general subjects. 

"And where have you come back from, my dear child?" 
asked Tullia, who could not restrain her curiosity. 

"Oh, I was for five years in a castle in the Alps with an 
Englishman, as jealous as a tiger, a nabob ; I called him a 
nabot, a dwarf, for he was not so big as le bailli de Ferrette. 

"And then I came across a banker — from a savage to salva- 
tion, as Florine might say. And now here I am in Paris 
again; I long so for amusement that I mean to have a rare 
time. I shall keep open house. I have five years of solitary 
confinement to make good, and I am beginning to do it. Five 
years of an Englishman is rather too much ; six weeks are the 
allowance according to the advertisements." 

"Was it the Baron who gave you that lace?" 

"No, it is a relic of the nabob. — What ill-luck I have, my 
dear! He was as yellow as a friend's smile at a success; I 
thought he would be dead in ten months. Pooh ! he was as 
strong as a mountain. Always distrust men who say they 
have a liver complaint. I will never listen to a man who talks 



216 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

of his liver. — I have had too much of livers — who cannot die. 
My nabob robbed me ; he died without making a will, and the 
family turned me out of doors like a leper. — So, then, I said 
to my fat friend here, 'Pay for two !' — You may well call me 
Joan of Arc ; I have ruined England, and perhaps I shall die 
at the stake " 

"Of love ?" said Tullia. 

"And burnt alive," answered Esther, and the question made 
her thoughtful. 

The Baron laughed at all this vulgar nonsense, but he did 
not always follow it readily, so that his laughter sounded like 
the forgotten crackers that go off after fireworks. 

We all live in a sphere of some kind, and the inhabitants 
of every sphere are endowed with an equal share of curiosity. 

Next evening at the opera, Esther's reappearance was the 
great news behind the scenes. Between two and four in the 
afternoon all Paris in the Champs-Elysees had recognized 
La Torpille, and knew at last who was the object of the Baron 
de Nucingen's passion. 

"Do you know," Blondet remarked to de Marsay in the 
greenroom at the opera-house, "that La Torpille vanished 
the very day after the evening when we saw her here and rec- 
ognized her in little Rubempre's mistress." 

In Paris, as in the provinces, everything is known. The 
police of the Rue de Jerusalem are not so efficient as the world 
itself, for every one is a spy on every one else, though uncon- 
sciously. Carlos had fully understood the danger of Lucien's 
position during and after the episode of the Rue Taitbout. 

No position can be more dreadful than that in which Ma- 
dame du Val-Noble now found herself ; and the phrase to be 
on the loose, or, as the French say, left on foot, expresses it 
perfectly. The recklessness and extravagance of these women 
precludes all care for the future. In that strange world, far 
more witty and amusing than might be supposed, only such 
women as are not gifted with that perfect beauty which time 
can hardly impair, and which is quite unmistakable — only 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 217 

such women, in short, as can be loved merely as a fancy, ever 
think of old age and save a fortune. The handsomer they are, 
the more improvident they are. 

"Are you afraid of growing ugly that you are saving 
money?" was a speech of Florine's to Mariette, which may 
give a clue to one cause of this thriftlessness. 

Thus, if a speculator kills himself, or a spendthrift comes 
to the end of his resources, these women fall with hideous 
promptitude from audacious wealth to the utmost misery. 
They throw themselves into the clutches of the old-clothes 
buyer, and sell exquisite jewels for a mere song ; they run into 
debt, expressly to keep up a spurious luxury, in the hope of 
recovering what they have lost — a cash-box to draw upon. 
These ups and downs of their career account for the costliness 
of such connections, generally brought about as Asie had 
hooked (another word of her vocabulary) Nucingen for 
Esther. 

And so those who know their Paris are quite aware of the 
state of affairs when, in the Champs-£)lysees — that bustling 
and mongrel bazaar — they meet some woman in a hired fly 
whom six months or a year before they had seen in a magnifi- 
cent and dazzling carriage, turned out in the most luxurious 
style. 

"If you fall on Sainte-Pelagie, you must contrive to re- 
bound on the Bois de Boulogne," said Florine, laughing with 
Blondet over the little Vicomte de Portenduere. 

Some clever women never run the risk of this contrast. 
They bury themselves in horrible furnished lodgings, where 
they expiate their extravagance by such privations as are en- 
dured by travelers lost in a Sahara; but they never take the 
smallest fancy for economy. They venture forth to masked 
balls; they take journeys into the provinces; they turn out 
well dressed on the boulevards when the weather is fine. And 
then they find in each other the devoted kindness which is 
known only among proscribed races. It costs a woman in 
luck no effort to bestow some help, for she says to herself, "I 
may be in the same plight by Sunday !" 



218 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

However, the most efficient protector still is the purchaser 
of dress. When this greedy money-lender finds herself the 
creditor, she stirs and works on the hearts of all the old men 
she knows in favor of the mortgaged creature in thin boots 
and a fine bonnet. 

In this way Madame du Val-Noble, unable to foresee the 
downfall of one of the richest and cleverest of stockbrokers, 
was left quite unprepared. She had spent Falleix's money on 
her whims, and trusted to him for all necessaries and to 
provide for the future. 

"How could I have expected such a thing in a man who 
seemed such a good fellow ?" 

In almost every class of society the good fellow is an open- 
handed man, who will lend a few cro\^Tis now and again with- 
out expecting them back, who always behaves in accordance 
with a certain code of delicate feeling above mere vulgar, 
obligatory, and commonplace morality. Certain men, re- 
garded as virtuous and honest, have, like Nucingen, ruined 
their benefactors ; and certain others, who have been through 
a criminal court, have an ingenious kind of honesty towards 
women. Perfect virtue, the dream of Moliere, an Alceste, is 
exceedingly rare; still, it is to be found everywhere, even in 
Paris. The "good fellow" is the product of a certain facility 
of nature which proves nothing. A man is a good fellow, as 
a cat is silky, as a slipper is made to slip on to the foot. And 
so, in the meaning given to the word by a kept woman, Falleix 
ought to have warned his mistress of his approaching bank- 
ruptcy and have given her enough to live upon. 

D'Estourny, the dashing swindler, was a good fellow; he 
cheated at cards, but he had set aside thirty thousand francs 
for his mistress. And at carnival suppers women would re- 
tort on his accusers: "No matter. You may say what you 
like, Georges was a good fellow; he had charming manners, 
he deserved a better fate." 

These girls laugh laws to scorn, and adore a certain kind 
of generosity ; they sell themselves, as Esther had done, for a 
secret ideal, which is their religion. 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 219 

After saving a few jewels from the wreck with great diffi- 
culty, Madame du Val-Noble was crushed under the burden 
of the horrible report : "She ruined Falleix." She was almost 
thirty; and though she was in the prime of her beauty, still 
she might be called an old woman, and all the more so be- 
cause in such a crisis all a woman's rivals are against her. 
Mariette, Florine, Tullia would ask their friend to dinner, 
and gave her some help ; but as they did not know the extent 
of her debts, they did not dare to sound the depths of that 
gulf. An interval of six years formed rather too long a gap 
in the ebb and flow of the Paris tide, between La Torpille and 
Madame du Val-Noble, for the woman "on foot" to speak to 
the woman in her carriage; but La Val-Noble knew that 
Esther was too generous not to remember sometimes that she 
had, as she said, fallen heir to her possessions, and not to 
seek her out by some meeting which might seem accidental 
though arranged. To bring about such an accident, Madame 
du Val-Noble, dressed in the most lady-like way, walked out 
every day in the Champs-filysees on the arm of Theodore 
Gaillard, who afterwards married her, and who, in these 
straits, behaved very well to his former mistress, giving her 
boxes at the play, and inviting her to every spree. She flat- 
tered herself that Esther, driving out one fine day, would meet 
her face to face. 

Esther's coachman was Paccard — for her household had 
been made up in five days by Asie, Europe, and Paccard under 
Carlos' instructions, and in such a way that the house in the 
Eue Saint-Georges was an impregnable fortress. 

Peyrade, on his part, prompted by deep hatred, by the 
thirst for vengeance, and, above all, by his wish to see his 
darling Lydie married, made the Champs-filysees the end of 
his walks as soon as he heard from Contenson that Monsieur 
de Nucingen's mistress might be seen there. Peyrade could 
dress so exactly like an Englishman, and spoke French so 
perfectly with the mincing accent that the English give the 
language; he knew England itself so well, and was so familiar 
with all the customs of the country, having been sent to Eng- 



220 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

land by the police authorities three times between 1779 and 
1786, that he could play his part in London and at ambas- 
sadors' residences without awaking suspicion. Peyrade, 
who had some resemblance to Musson the famous juggler, 
could disguise himself so effectually that once Contenson did 
not recognize him. 

Followed by Contenson dressed as a mulatto, Peyrade ex- 
amined Esther and her servants with an eye which, seeming 
heedless, took everything in. Hence it quite naturally hap- 
pened that in the side alley where the carriage-company walk 
in fine dry weather, he was on the spot one day when Esther 
met Madame du Val-N^oble. Peyrade, his mulatto in livery 
at his heels, was airing himself quite naturally, like a nabob 
who is thinking of no one but himself, in a line with the two 
women, so as to catch a few words of their conversation. 

"Well, my dear child," said Esther to Madame du Val- 
Noble, "come and see me. Nucingen owes it to himself not 
to leave his stockbroker's mistress without a sou " 

"All the more so because it is said that he ruined Falleix," 
.remarked Theodore Gaillard, "and that we have every right to 
squeeze him." 

"He dines with me to-morrow," said Esther; "come and 
meet him." Then she added in an undertone: 

"I can do what I like with him, and as yet he has not that !" 
and she put the nail of a gloved finger under the prettiest of 
her teeth with the click that is familiarly known to express 
with peculiar energy: "Just nothing." 

"You have him safe " 

"My dear, as yet he has only paid my debts." 

"How mean !" cried Suzanne du Val-JSToble. 

"Oh !" said Esther, "I had debts enough to frighten a min- 
ister of finance. Now, I mean to have thirty thousand a year 
before the first stroke of midnight. Oh ! he is excellent, I 
have nothitig to complain of. He does it well. — In a week 
we give a house-warming ; you must come. — That morning he 
is to make me a present of the lease of the house in the Eue 
Saint-Georges. In decency, it is impossible to live in such a 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 221 

house on less than thirty thousand francs a year — of my own, 
so as to have them safe in case of accident. I have known 
poverty, and I want no more of it. There are certain ac- 
quaintances one has had enough of at once." 

"And you, who used to say, 'My face is my fortune !' — How 
you have changed !" exclaimed Suzanne. 

"It is the air of Switzerland; you grow thrifty there. — 
Look here ; go there yourself, my dear ! Catch a Swiss, and 
you may perhaps catch a husband, for they have not yet 
learned what such women as we are can be. And, at any rate, 
you may come back with a passion for investments in the 
funds — a most respectable and elegant passion ! — Good-bye." 

Esther got into her carriage again, a handsome carriage 
drawn by the finest pair of dappled gray horses at that time 
to be seen in Paris. 

"The woman who is getting into the carriage is handsome," 
said Peyrade to Contenson, "but I like the one who is walking 
best ; follow her, and find out who she is." 

"That is what that Englishman has just remarked in 
English," said Theodore Gaillard, repeating Peyrade's re- 
mark to Madame du Val-ISToble. 

Before making this speech in English, Peyrade had uttered 
a word or two in that language, which had made Theodore 
look up in a way that convinced him that the journalist under- 
stood English. 

Madame du Val-lSToble very slowly made her way home to 
very decent furnished rooms in the Eue Louis-le-Grand, 
glancing round now and then to see if the mulatto were fol- 
lowing her. 

This establishment was kept by a certain Madame Gerard, 
whom Suzanne had obliged in the days of her splendor, and 
who showed her gratitude by giving her a suitable home. This 
good soul, an honest and virtuous citizen, even pious, looked 
on the courtesan as a woman of a superior order; she had 
always seen her in the midst of luxury, and thought of her 
as a fallen queen ; she trusted her daughters with her ; and — 
which is a fact more natural than might be supposed — the 



222 . A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

courtesan was as scrupulously careful in taking them to the 
play as their mother could have been, and the two Gerard 
girls loved her. The worthy, kind lodging-house keeper was 
like those sublime priests who see in these outlawed women 
only a creature to be saved and loved. 

Madame du Val-ISToble respected this worth ; and often, as 
she chatted with the good woman, she envied her while be- 
wailing her own ill-fortune. 

"You are still handsome; you may make a good end yet," 
Madame Gerard would say. 

But, indeed, Madame du Yal-Noble was only relatively 
impoverished. This woman's wardrobe, so extravagant and 
elegant, was still sufficiently well furnished to allow of her 
appearing on occasion — as on that evening at the Porte-Saint- 
Martin to see Richard Darlington — in much splendor. And 
Madame Gerard would most good-naturedly pay for the cabs 
needed by the lady "on foot" to go out to dine, or to the play, 
and to come home again. 
^ "Well, dear Madame Gerard," said she to this worthy 
mother, "my luck is about to change, I believe." 

"Well, well, madame, so much the better. But be prudent ; 
do not run into debt any more. I have such difficulty in get- 
ting rid of the people who are hunting for you." 

"Oh, never worry yourself about those hounds ! They have 
all made no end of money out of me. — Here are some tickets 
for the Varietes for your girls — a good box on the second tier. 
If any one should ask for me this evening before I come in, 
show them up all the same. Adele, my old maid, will be here ; 
I will send her round." 

Madame du Val-Noble, having neither mother nor aunt, 
was obliged to have recourse to her maid — equally on foot — 
to play the part of a Saint-Esteve with the unknown follower 
whose conquest was to enable her to rise again in the world. 
She went to dine with Theodore Gaillard, who, as it hap- 
pened, had a spree on that day, that is to say, a dinner given 
by ISTathan in payment of a bet he had lost, one of those orgies 
when a man says to his guests, "You can bring a woman," 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 223 

It was not without strong reasons that Peyrade had made up 
his mind to rush in person on to the field of this intrigue. 
At the same time, his curiosity, like Corentin's, was so keenly 
excited, that, even in the absence of reasons, he would have 
tried to play a part in the drama. 

At this moment Charles X.'s policy had completed its last 
evolution. After confiding the helm of State to Ministers of 
his own choosing, the King was preparing to conquer Algiers, 
and to utilize the glory that should accrue as a passport to 
what has been called his Coup d'Etat. There were no more 
conspiracies at home ; Charles X, believed he had no domestic 
enemies. But in politics, as at sea, a calm may be deceptive. 

Thus Corentin had lapsed into total idleness. In such a 
case a true sportsman, to keep his hand in, for lack of larks 
kills sparrows. Domitian, we know, for lack of Christians, 
killed flies. Contenson, having witnessed Esther's arrest, had, 
with the keen instinct of a spy, fully understood the upshot 
of the business. The rascal, as we have seen, did not attempt 
to conceal his opinion of the Baron de Nucingen. 

"Who is benefiting by making the banker pay so dear for 
his passion ?" was the first question the allies asked each other. 
Recognizing Asie as a leader in the piece, Contenson hoped to 
find out the author through her ; but she slipped through his 
fingers again and again, hiding like an eel in the mud of 
Paris ; and when he found her again as the cook in Esther's es- 
tablishment, it seemed to him inexplicable that the half-caste 
woman should have had a finger in the pie. Thus, for the 
first time, these two artistic spies had come on a text that 
they could not decipher, while suspecting a dark plot to the 
story. 

After three bold attempts on the house in the Eue Taitbout, 
Contenson still met with absolute dumbness. So long as Es- 
ther dwelt there the lodge porter seemed to live in mortal 
terror. Asie had, perhaps, promised poisoned meat-balls to 
all the family in the event of any indiscretion. 

On the day after Esther's removal, Contenson found this 
man rather more amenable ; he regretted the lady, he said, 



224 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

who had fed him with the broken dishes from her table. Con- 
tenson, disguised as a broker, tried to bargain for the rooms, 
and listened to the porter's lamentations while he fooled him, 
casting a doubt on all the man said by a questioning 
^'Eeally?" 

"Yes, monsieur, the lady lived here for five years without 
ever going out, and more by token, her lover, desperately 
jealous though she was beyond reproach, took the greatest 
precautions when he came in or went out. And a very hand- 
some young man he was too !" 
^ Lucien was at this time still staying with his sister, Ma- 
dame Sechard ; but as soon as he returned, Contenson sent the 
porter to the Quai Malaquais to ask ]\Ionsieur de Eubempre 
whether he were willing to part with the furniture left in the 
rooms lately occupied by Madame van Bogseck. The porter 
\ then recognized Lucien as the young widow's mysterious 
lover, and this was all that Contenson wanted. The deep but 
suppressed astonishment may be imagined with which Lucien 
and Carlos received the porter, whom they affected to regard 
as a madman ; they tried to upset his convictions. 

Within twenty-four hours Carlos had organized a force 
which detected Contenson red-handed in the act of espionage. 
Contenson, disguised as a market-porter, had twice already 
brought home the provisions purchased in the morning by 
Asie, and had twice got into the little mansion in the Rue 
Saint-Georges. Corentin, on his part, was making a stir ; but 
he was stopped short by recognizing the certain identity of 
Carlos Herrera ; for he learned at once that this Abbe, the 
secret envoy of Ferdinand VIL, had come to Paris towards 
the end of 1823. Still, Corentin thought it worth while to 
study the reasons which had led the Spaniard to take an in- 
terest in Lucien de Eubempre. It was soon clear to him, 
beyond doubt, that Esther had for five years been Lucien's 
mistress; so the substitution of the Englishwoman had 
been effected for the advantage of that young dandy. 

Xow Lucien had no means; he was rejected as a suitor for 
]\Iademoiselle de Grandlieu; and he had just bought tip the 
lands of Rubempre at the cost of a million francs. 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 225 

Corentin very skilfully made the head of the General Police 
take the first steps ; and the Prefet de Police a propos to Pey- 
rade, informed his chief that the appellants in that affair had 
been in fact the Comte de Serizy and Lucien de Kubempre. 

"We have it !" cried Peyrade and Corentin. 

The two friends had laid plans in a moment. 

"This hussy," said Corentin, "has had intimacies ; she must 
have some women friends. Among them we shall certainly 
find one or another who is down on her luck ; one of us must 
play the part of a rich foreigner and take her up. We will 
-throw them together. They always want something of each 
other in the game of lovers, and we shall then be in the 
citadel." 

Peyrade naturally proposed to assume his disguise as an 
Englishman. The wild life he should lead during the time 
that he would take to disentangle the plot of which he had 
been the victim, smiled on his fancy ; while Corentin, grown 
old in his functions, and weakly too, did not care for it. .Dis- 
guised as a mulatto, Contenson at once evaded Carlos' force. 
Just three days before Peyrade's meeting with Madame du 
Val-Noble in the Champs-filysees, this last of the agents 
employed by MM. de Sartine and Lenoir had arrived, pro- 
vided with a passport, at the Hotel Mirabeau, Hue de la Paix, 
having come from the Colonies via le Havre, in a traveling 
chaise, as mud-splashed as though it had really come from le 
Havre, instead of no further than by the road from Saint- 
Denis to Paris. 

Carlos Herrera, on his part, had his passport vise at the 
Spanish Embassy, and arranged everything at the Quai Mala- 
quais to start for Madrid. And this is why. Within a few 
days Esther was to become the owner of the house in the Eue 
Saint-Georges and of shares yielding thirty thousand francs 
a year; Europe and Asie were quite cunning enough to per- 
suade her to sell these shares and privately transmit the 
money to Lucien. Thus Lucien, proclaiming himself rich 
through his sister's liberality, would pay the remainder of 
the price of the Kubempre estates. Of this transaction no 



226 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

one could complain. Esther alone could betray herself; but 
she would die rather than blink an eyelash. 

Clotilde had appeared with a little pink kerchief round her 
crane's neck, so she had won her game at the Hotel de Grand- 
lieu. The shares in the Omnibus Company were already 
worth thrice their initial value. Carlos, by disappearing for 
a few days, would put malice off the scent. Human prudence 
had foreseen everything; no error was possible. The false 
Spaniard was to start on the morrow of the day when Peyrade 
met Madame du Val-Noble. But that very night, at two in 
the morning, Asie came in a cab to the Quai Malaquais, and 
found the stoker of the machine smoking in his room, and 
reconsidering all the points of the situation here stated in a 
few words, like an author going over a page of his book to dis- 
cover any faults to be corrected. Such a man would not allow 
himself a second time such an oversight as that of the porter 
in the Kue Taitbout. 

"Paccard," whispered Asie in her master's ear, "recognized 
Contenson yesterday, at half-past two, in the Champs-filysees, 
disguised as a mulatto servant to an Englishman, who for the 
last three days has been seen walking in the Champs-filysees, 
watching Esther. Paccard knew the hound by his eyes, as I 
did when he dressed up as a market-porter. Paccard drove 
the girl home, taking a round so as not to lose sight of the 
wretch. Contenson is at the Hotel Mirabeau ; but he ex- 
changed so many signs of intelligence with the Englishman, 
that Paccard says the other cannot possibly be an English- 
man." 
} ^t' "We have a gadfly behind us," said Carlos. "I will not 
leave till the day after to-morrow. That Contenson is cer- 
tainly the man who sent the porter after us from the Rue 
Taitbout; we must ascertain whether this sham Englishman 
is our foe." 

At noon Mr. Samuel Johnson's black servant was solemnly 
waiting on his master, who always breakfasted too heartily, 
with a purpose. Peyrade wished to pass for a tippling Eng- 
lishman; he never went out till he was half-seas over. He 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 227 

wore black cloth gaiters up to his knees, and padded to make 
his legs look stouter ; his trousers were lined with the thickest 
fustian ; his waistcoat was buttoned to the chin ; a blue hand- 
kerchief wrapped his throat up to his cheeks; a red scratch 
wig hid half his forehead, and he had added nearly three 
inches to his height; in short, the oldest frequenter of the 
Cafe David could not have recognized him. From his square- 
cut coat of black cloth with full skirts he might have been 
taken for an English millionaire. 

Contenson made a show of the cold insolence of a nabob's 
confidential servant; he was taciturn, abrupt, scornful, and 
uncommunicative, and indulged in fierce exclamations and 
uncouth gestures. 

Peyrade was finishing his second bottle when one of the 
hotel waiters unceremoniously showed in a man in whom 
Peyrade and Contenson both at once discerned a gendarme 
in mufti. 

"Monsieur Peyrade," said the gendarme to the nabob, 
speaking in his ear, "my instructions are to take you to the 
Prefecture." 
( Peyrade, without saying a word, rose and took down his 

"You will find a hackney coach at the door," said the man 
as they went downstairs. "The Prefet thought of arresting 
you, but he decided on sending for you to ask some explana- 
tion of your conduct through the peace-officer whom you will 
find in the coach." 

"Shall I ride with you ?" asked the gendarme of the peace- 
officer when Peyrade had got in. 

"No," replied the other; "tell the coachman quietly to 
drive to the Prefecture." 

Peyrade and Carlos were now face to face in the coach. 
Carlos had a stiletto under his hand. The coach-driver was 
a man he could trust, quite capable of allowing Carlos to get 
out without seeing him, or being surprised, on arriving at 
his journey's end, to find a dead body in his cab. No in- 
quiries are ever made about a spy. The law almost always 






228 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

leaves such murders unpunished, it is so difficult to know the 
rights of the case. 

Peyrade looked with his keenest eye at the magistrate sent 
y to examine him by the Prefet of Police. Carlos struck him 
as satisfactory : a bald head, deeply wrinkled at the back, and 
powdered hair; a pair of very light gold spectacles, with 
double-green glasses over weak eyes, with red rims, evidently 
needing care. These eyes seemed the trace of some squalid 
malady. A cotton shirt with a flat-pleated frill, a shabby 
black satin waistcoat, the trousers of a man of law, black 
spun silk stockings, and shoes tied with ribbon ; a long black 
overcoat, cheap gloves, black, and worn for ten days, and a 
gold watch-chain — in every point the lower grade of magis- 
trate known by a perversion of terms as a peace-officer. 

"My dear Monsieur Peyrade, I regret to find such a man 
as you the object of surveillance, and that you should act 
so as to justify it. Your disguise is not to the Prefet's taste. 
If you fancy that you can thus escape our vigilance, you are 
mistaken. You traveled from England by way of Beaumont- 
sur-Oise, no doubt." 

"Beaumont-sur-Oise ?" repeated Peyr^4^.- — ^ 

"Or by Saint-Denis ?" said the sham lawyer. ^ 

Peyrade lost his presence of mind. The question must 
be answered. Now any reply might be dangerous. In the 
affirmative is was farcical ; in the negative, if this man knew 
the truth, it would be Peyrade's ruin. 

"He is a sharp fellow," thought he. 

He tried to look at the man and smile, and he gave him 
a smile for an answer; the smile passed muster without 
protest. 

"For what purpose have you disguised yourself, taken 
rooms at the Mirabeau, and dressed Contenson as a black 
servant?" asked the peace-officer. 

"Monsieur le Prefet may do what he chooses with me, but 
I owe no account of my actions to any one but my chief," 
said Peyrade with dignity. 

"If you mean me to infer that you are acting by the orders 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 229 

of the General Police," said the other coldly, "we will change 
our route, and drive to the Rue de Grenelle instead of the 
Rue de Jerusalem. I have clear instructions with regard to 
you. But be careful ! You are not in any deep disgrace, 
and you may spoil your own game in a moment. As for me 
— I owe you no grudge. — Come; tell me the truth." 

"Well, then, this is the truth," said Peyrade, with a glance 
at his Cerberus' red eyes. 

The sham lawyer's face remained expressionless, impassi- 
ble; he was doing his business, all truths were the same to 
him, he looked as though he suspected the Prefet of some 
caprice. Prefets have their little tantrums. 

"I have fallen desperately in love with a woman — the mis- 
tress of that stockbroker who is gone abroad for his own 
pleasure and the displeasure of his creditors — Falleix." 

"Madame du Val-Noble?" 

"Yes," replied Peyrade. "To keep her for a month, which 
will not cost me more than a thousand crowns, I have got myself 
up as a nabob and taken Contenson as my servant. This is 
so absolutely true, monsieur, that if you like to leave me in 
the coach, where I will wait for you, on my honor as an old 
Commissioner-General of Police, you can go to the hotel 
and question Contenson. Not only will Contenson conjfirm 
what I have the honor of stating, but you may see Madame 
du Val-Noble's waiting-maid, who is to come this morning 
to signify her mistress' acceptance of my offers, or the con- 
ditions she makes. 

"An old monkey knows what grimaces mean: I have of- 
fered her a thousand francs a month and a carriage — that 
comes to fifteen hundred ; five hundred francs' worth of pres- 
ents, and as much again in some outings, dinners and play- 
going; you see, I am not deceiving you by a centime when I 
say a thousand crowns. — A man of my age may very well 
spend a thousand crowns on his last fancy." 
- "Bless me, Papa Peyrade ! and you still care enough for 
women to ? But you are deceiving me. I am sixty my- 
self, and I can do without 'em. — However, if the case is as 
15 



230 A COU-^TESAN'S LIFE 

you state it, I quite understand that you should have found 
it necessary to get yourself up as a foreigner to indulge your 
fancy." 

"You can understand that Peyrade, or old Canquoelle of 
the Eue des Moineaux " 

"Ay, neither of them would have suited ]\Iadame du Val- 
Noble," Carlos put in, delighted to have picked up Can- 
quoelle's address. "Before the Revolution," he went on, "I 
had for my mistress a woman who had previously been kept 
by the gentleman-in-waiting, as they then called the execu- 
tioner. One evening at the play she pricked herself with a 
pin, and cried out — a customary ejaculation in those days — 
'Ah ! Bourreau !' on which her neighbor asked her if this were 
a reminiscence ? — Well, my dear Peyrade, she cast off her man 
for that speech. 

"I suppose you have no wish to expose yourself to such 
a slap in the face. — Madame du Val-ISToble is a woman for gen- 
tlemen. I saw her once at the opera, and thought her very 
handsome. 

"Tell the driver to go back to the Rue de la Paix, my dear 
Peyrade. I will go upstairs with you to your rooms and see 
for myself. A verbal report will no doubt be enough for 
Monsieur le Prefet." 

Carlos took a snuff-box from his side-pocket — a black snuff- 
box lined with silver-gilt — and offered it to Peyrade with 
an impulse of delightful good-fellowship. Peyrade said to 
himself : 

"And these are their agents ! Good Heavens ! what would 
Monsieur Lenoir say if he could come back to life, or Mon- 
sieur de Sartines ?" 

"That is part of the truth, no doubt, but it is not all," 
said the sham lawyer, snitfing up his pinch of snuff. "You 
have had a finger in the Baron de ISTucingen's love affairs, 
and you wish, no doubt, to entangle him in some slip-knot. 
Y^ou missed fire with the pistol, and you are aiming at him 
with a field-piece. Madame du Val-Noble is a friend of 
Madame de Champy's " 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 231 

*T)evil take it. I must take care not to founder/' said Pey- 
rade to himself. "He is a better man than I thought him; 
He is playing me ; he talks of letting me go, and he goes on 
making me blab." 

"Well?" asked Carlos with a magisterial air. 

"Monsieur, it is true that I have been so foolish as to seek 
a woman in Monsieur de Nucingen's behoof, because he was 
half mad with love. That is the cause of my being out of 
favor, for it would seem that quite unconsciously I touched 
some important interests." 

The officer of the law remained immovable. 

"But after fifty-two years' experience," Peyrade went on, 
"I know the police well enough to have held my hand after 
the blowing up I had from Monsieur le Pref et, who, no doubt, 
was right " 

"Then you would give up this fancy if Monsieur le Prefet 
required it of you? That, I think, would be the best proof 
you could give of the sincerity of what you say." 

"He is going it ! he is going it !" thought Peyrade. "Ah ! 
by all that's holy, the police to-day is a match for that of 
Monsieur Lenoir." 

"Give it up ?" said he aloud. "I will wait till I have Mon- 
sieur le Prefet's orders. — But here we are at the hotel, if you 
wish to come up." 

"Where do you find the money?" said Carlos point-blank, 
with a sagacious glance. 

"Monsieur, I have a friend " 

"Get along," said Carlos ; "go and tell that story to an ex- 
amining magistrate !" 

This audacious stroke on Carlos' part was the outcome 
of one of those calculations, so simple that none but a man 
of his temper would have thought it out. 

At a very early hour he had sent Lucien to Madame de 
Serizjr's. Lucien had begged the Count's private secretary 
— as from the Count — to go and obtain from the Prefet of 
Police full particulars concerning the agent employed by the 
Baron de Nucingen. The secretary came back provided with 



232 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

a note concerning Peyrade, a copy of the summary noted on 
the back of his record: — 

"In the police force since 1778, having come to .Paris from 
Avignon two years previously. 

"Without money or character; possessed of certain State 
secrets. 

"Lives in the Bue des Moineaux under the name of Can- 
quoelle, the name of a little estate where his family resides 
in the department of Vaucluse; very respectable people. 

'^as lately inquired for by a grand-nepliew named Theo- 
dore de la Peyrade. (See the report of an agent, Xo. 37 of 
the Documents.)" 

"He must be the man to whom Contenson is playing the 
mulatto servant !" cried Carlos, when Lueien returned with 
other information besides this note. 

Within three hours this man, with the energ}^ of a Com- 
mander-in-Chief, had found, by Paccard's help, an innocent 
accomplice capable of playing the part of a gendarme in dis- 
guise, and had got himself up as a peace-officer. Three times 
in the coach he had thought of killing Peyrade, but he had 
made it a rule never to commit a murder with his own hand ; 
he promised himself that he would get rid of Peyrade all in 
good time by pointing him out as a millionaire to some re- 
leased convicts about the town. 

Peyrade and his Mentor, as they went in, heard Conten- 
son's voice arguing with Madame du Val-Noble's maid. Pey- 
rade signed to Carlos to remain in the outer room, with a 
look meant to convey : "Thus you can assure yourself of my 
sincerity." 

"Madame agrees to everything," said Adele. "Madame is 
at this moment calling on a friend, Madame de Champy, who 
has some rooms in the Eue Taitbout on her hands for a year, 
full of furniture, which she will let her have, no doubt. 
Madame can receive Mr. Johnson more suitably there, for the 
furniture is still very decent, and monsieur might buy it for 
madame by coming to an agreement with Madame de 
Champy." 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 233 

"Very good/ my girl. If this is not a job of fleecing, it is 
a bit of the wool," said the mulatto to the astonished woman. 
"However, we will go shares " 

"That is your darkey all over !" cried Mademoiselle Adele. 
"If your nabob' is a nabob, he can very well afEord to give 
madame the furniture. The lease ends in April 1830 ; your 
nabob may renew it if he likes." 

"I am quite willing," said Peyrade, speaking French with 
a strong English accent, as he came in and tapped the woman 
on the shoulder. 

He cast a knowing look back at Carlos, who replied by 
an assenting nod, understanding that the nabob was to keep 
up his part. 

But the scene suddenly changed its aspect at the entrance 
of a person over whom neither Carlos nor Peyrade had the 
least power. Corentin suddenly came in. He had found 
the door open, and looked in as he went by to see how his old 
friend played his part as nabob. 

"The Prefet is still bullying me!" said Peyrade in a 
whisper to Corentin. "He has found me out as a nabob." 

"We will spill the Prefet," Corentin muttered in reply. 

Then after a cool bow he stood darkly scrutinizing the 
magistrate. 

"Stay here till I return," said Carlos; "I will go to the 
Prefecture. If you do not see me again, you may go your own 
way." 

Having said this in an undertone to Peyrade, so as not to 
humiliate him in the presence of the waiting-maid, Carlos 
went away, not caring to remain under the eye of the new- 
comer, in whom he detected one of those fair-haired, blue- 
eyed men, coldly terrifying. 

"That is the peace-officer sent after me by the Prefet," 
said Peyrade. 

"That?" said Corentin. "You have walked into a trap. 
That man has three packs of cards in his shoes ; you can see 
that by the place of his foot in the shoe; besides, a peace- 
officer need wear no dis^ise." 



234 '^' A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

Corentin hurried downstairs to verify his suspicions: Car- 
los M'as getting into the fly. 

"Hallo ! Monsieur I'Abbe !" cried Corentin. 

Carlos looked around, saw Corentin, and got in quickly. 
Still, Corentin had time to say: 

"That was all I wanted to know. — Quai Malaquais," he 
shouted to the driver with diabolical mockery in his tone 
and expression. 

"I am done !" said Jacques Collin to himself. "They have 
got me. I must get ahead of them by sheer pace, and, above 
all, find out what they want of us." 

Corentin had seen the Abbe Carlos Herrera five or six 
times, and the man's eyes were unforgettable. Corentin had 
suspected him at once from the cut of his shoulders, then by 
his puffy face, and the trick of three inches of added height 
gained by a heel inside the shoe. 

"Ah ! old fellow, they have drawn you," said Corentin, find- 
ing no one in the room but Peyrade and Contenson. 

"Who?" cried Peyrade, with metallic hardness; "I will 
spend my last days in putting him on a gridiron and turning 
him on it." 

"It is the Abbe Carlos Herrera, the Corentin of Spain, as 
I suppose. This explains everything. The Spaniard is a 
demon of the first water, who has tried to make a fortune for 
that little young man by coining money out of a pretty 
baggage's bolster. — It is your lookout if you think you can 
measure your skill with a man who seems to me the very devil 
to deal with." 

"Oh !" exclaimed Contenson, "he fingered the three hun- 
dred thousand francs the day when Esther was arrested; 
he was in the cab. I remember those eyes, that brow, and 
those marks of the smallpox." 

"Oh ! what a fortune my Lydie might have had !" cried 
Peyrade. 

"You m'^y still play the nabob," said Corentin. "To keep 
an eye on Esther you must keep up her intimacy with Val- 
Noble. She was really Lucien's mistress." 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 235 

"They have got more than five hundred thousand francs 
out of Nucingen already," said Contenson. 

"And they want as much again," Corentin went on. "The 
Eubempre estate is to cost a million. — Daddy," added he, 
slapping Peyrade on the shoulder, "you may get more than 
a hundred thousand francs to settle on Lydie." 

"Don't tell me that, Corentin. If your scheme should fail, 
I cannot tell what I might not do " 

"You will have it by to-morrow perhaps ! The Abbe, my 
dear fellow, is most astute; we shall have to kiss his spurs; 
he is a very superior devil. But I have him sure enough. 
He is not a fool, and he will knock under. Try to be a 
gaby as well as a nabob, and fear nothing." 

In the evening of this day, when the opposing forces had 
met face to face on level ground, Lucien spent the evening 
at the Hotel Grandlieu. The party was a large one. In the 
face of all the assembly, the Duchess kept Lucien at her side 
for some time, and was most kind to him. 

"You are going away for a little while?" said she. 

"Yes, Madame la Duchesse. My sister, in her anxiety 
to promote my marriage, has made great sacrifices, and I 
have been enabled to repurchase the lands of the Rubempres, 
to reconstitute the whole estate. But I have found in my 
Paris lawyer a very clever man, who has managed to save 
me from the extortionate terms that the holders would have 
asked if they had known the name of the purchaser." 

"Is there a chateau?" asked Clotilde, with too broad a 
smile. 

"There is something which might be called a chateau ; but 
the wiser plan would be to use the building materials in the 
construction of a modern residence." 

Clotilde's eyes blazed with happiness above her smile of 
satisfaction. 

"You must play a rubber with my father this evening," 
said she. "In a fortnight I hope you will be asked to 
dinner." 



236 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"Well, my dear sir/' said the Due de Grandlieu, "I am 
told that you have bought the estate of Eubempre. I con- 
gratulate you. It is an answer to those who say you are in 
debt. We bigwigs, like France or England, are allowed to 
have a public debt; but men of no fortune, beginners, you 
see, may not assume that privilege " 

"Indeed, Monsieur le Due, I still owe five hundred thou- 
sand francs on my land." 

"Well, well, you must marry a wife who can bring you 
the money; but you will have some difficulty in finding a 
match with such a fortune in our Faubourg, where daughters 
do not get large dowries." 

"Their name is enough," said Lucien. 

"We are only three wisk players — Maufrigneuse, d'Espard, 
and I — will you make the fourth?" said the Duke, pointing 
to the card-table. 

Clotilde came to the table to watch her father's game. 

"She expects me to believe that she means it for me," said 
the Duke, patting his daughter's hands, and looking round 
at Lucien, who remained quite grave. 

Lucien, Monsieur d'Espard's partner, lost twenty louis. 

"My dear mother," said Clotilde to the Duchess, "he was 
so judicious as to lose." 

At eleven o'clock, after a few affectionate words with 
Mademoiselle de Grandlieu, Lucien went home and to bed, 
thinking of the complete triumph he was to enjoy a month 
hence ; for he had not a doubt of being accepted as Clotilde's 
lover, and married before Lent in 1830. 

On the morrow, when Lucien was smoking his cigarettes 
after breakfast, sitting with Carlos, who had become much 
depressed, M. de Saint-Esteve was announced — what a touch 
of irony — who begged to see either the Abbe Carlos Herrera 
or Monsieur Lucien de Eubempre. 

"Was he told downstairs that I had left Paris?" cried the 
Abbe. 

"Yes, sir," replied the groom. 

*^ell, then, you must see the man," said he to Lucien. 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 237 

"But do not say a single compromising word, do not let a 
sign of surprise escape you. It is the enemy." 

"You will overhear me/' said Lucien. 

Carlos hid in the adjoining room, and through the crack 
of the door he saw Corentin, whom he recognized only by his 
voice, such powers of transformation did the great man 
possess. This time Corentin looked like an old paymaster- 
general. 

"I have not the honor of being known to you, monsieur," 
Corentin began, %ut " 

"Excuse my interrupting you, monsieur, but " 



"But the matter in point is your marriage to Mademoiselle 
Clotilde de Grandli^a — which will never take place," Coren- 
tin added eagerly. 

Lucien sat down and made no reply, 

"You are in the power of a man who is able and willing 
and ready to prove to the Due de Grandlieu that the lands of 
Rubempre are to be paid for with the money that a fool has 
given your mistress, Mademoiselle Esther," Corentin went on. 
"It will be quite easy to find the minutes of the legal opinions 
in virtue of which Mademoiselle Esther was summoned ; there 
are ways too of making d'Estourny speak. The very clever 
manoeuvres employed against the Baron de Nucingen will be 
brought to light. 

"As yet all can be arranged. Pay down a hundred thou- 
sand francs, and you will have peace. — All this is no concern 
of mine. I am only the agent of those who levy this black- 
mail ; nothing more." 

Corentin might have talked for an hour; Lucien smoked 
his cigarette with an air of perfect indifference. 

"Monsieur," replied he, "I do not want to know who you 
are, for men who undertake such jobs as these have no name — 
at any rate, in my vocabulary. I have allowed you to talk at 
your leisure; I am at home. — You seem to me not bereft of 
common sense; listen to my dilemma." 

There was a pause, during which Lucien met Corentin's 
cat-like eye fixed on him with a perfectly icy stare. 



238 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"Either you are building on facts that are absolutely false, 
and I need pay no heed to them," said Lucien ; "or you are in 
the right; and in that case, by giving you a hundred thou- 
sand francs, I put you in a position to ask me for as many 
hundred thousand francs as your employer can find Saint- 
Esteves to ask for. 

"However, to put an end, once for all, to your kind inter- 
vention, I would have you know that I, Lucien de Rubempre, 
fear no one. I have no part in the jobbery of which you 
speak. If the Grandlieus make difficulties, there are other 
young ladies of very good family ready to be married. After 
all, it is no loss to me if I remain single, especially if, as you 
imagine, I deal in blank bills to such advantage." 

"If Monsieur I'Abbe Carlos Herrera " 

"Monsieur," Lucien put in, "the Abbe Herrera is at this 
moment on the way to Spain. He has nothing to do with my 
marriage, my interests are no concern of his. That remark- 
able statesman was good enough to assist me at one time with 
his advice, but he has reports to present to His Majesty the 
King of Spain ; if you have anything to say to him, I recom- 
mend you to set out for Madrid." 

"Monsieur," said Corentin plainly, "you will never be 
Mademoiselle Clotilde de Grandlieu's husband." 

"So much the worse for her !" replied Lucien, impatiently 
pushing Corentin towards the door. 

"You have fully considered the matter?" asked Corentin 
coldly. 

"Monsieur, I do not recognize that you have any right 
either to meddle in my affairs, or to make me waste a cigar- 
ette," said Lucien, throwing away his cigarette that had goiie 
out. 

"Good-day, monsieur," said Corentin. "We shall not meet 
again. — But there will certainly be a moment in your life 
when you would give half your fortune to have called me 
back from these stairs." 

In answer to this threat, Carlos made as though he were 
cutting off a head. 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 239 

"Now to business !" cried he, looking at Lucien, who was 
as white as ashes after this dreadful interview. 

If among the small number of my readers who take an in- 
terest in the moral and philosophical side of this book there 
should be only one capable of believing that the Baron de 
Nucingen was happy, that one would prove how difficult it is 
to explain the heart of a courtesan by any kind of physiolog- 
ical formula. Esther was resolved to make the poor million- 
aire pay dearly for what he called his day of triumph. And 
at the beginning of February 1830 the house-warming party 
had not yet been given in the "little palace." 

"Well," said Esther in confidence to her friends, who re- 
peated it to the Baron, "I shall open house at the Carnival, 
and I mean to make my man as happy as a cock in plaster." 

The phrase became proverbial among women of her kidney. 

The Baron gave vent to much lamentation; like married 
men, he made himself very ridiculous, he began to complain 
to his intimate friends, and his dissatisfaction was generally 
known. 

Esther, meanwhile, took quite a serious view of her position 
as the Pompadour of this prince of speculators. She had 
given two or three small evening parties, solely to get Lucien 
into the house. Lousteau, Eastignac, du Tillet, Bixiou, 
ISTathan, the Comte de Brambourg — all the cream of the 
dissipated crew — frequented her drawing-room. And, as 
leading ladies in the piece she was playing, Esther accepted 
Tullia, Florentine, Fanny Beaupre, and Florine — two dancers 
and two actresses — besides Madame du Val-Noble. ISTothing 
can be more dreary than a courtesan's home without the spice 
of rivalry, the display of dress, and some variety of type. 

In six weeks Esther had become the wittiest, the most amus- 
ing, the loveliest, and the most elegant of those female pariahs 
who form the class of kept women. Placed on the pedestal 
that became her, she enjoyed all the delights of vanity which 
fascinate women in general, but still as one who is raised above 
her caste by a secret thought. She cherished in her heart an 



240 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

image of herself which she gloried in, while it made her 
blush; the hour when she must abdicate was ever present to 
her consciousness ; thus she lived a double life, really scorning 
herself. Her sarcastic remarks were tinged by the temper 
which was roused in her by the intense contempt felt by the 
Angel of Love, hidden in the courtesan, for the disgraceful 
and odious part played by the body in the presence, as it were, 
of the soul. At once actor and spectator, victim and judge, 
she was a living realization of the beautiful Arabian Tales, 
in which a noble creature lies hidden under a degrading form, 
and of which the type is the story of Nebuchadnezzar in the 
book of books — the Bible. Having granted herself a lease of 
life till the day after her infidelity, the victim might surely 
play awhile with the executioner. 

Moreover, the enlightenment that had come to Esther as to 
the secretly disgraceful means by which the Baron had made 
his colossal fortune relieved her of every scruple. She could 
play the part of Ate, the goddess of vengeance, as Carlos said. 
And so she was by turns enchanting and odious to the banker, 
who lived only for her. When the Baron had been worked up 
to such a pitch of suffering that he wanted only to be quit of 
Esther, she brought him round by a scene of tender affection. 

Herrera, making a great show of starting for Spain, had 
gone as far as Tours. He had sent the chaise on as far as 
Bordeaux, with a servant inside, engaged to play the part of 
master, and to wait for him at Bordeaux. Then, returning by 
diligence, dressed as a commercial traveler, he had secretly 
taken up his abode under Esther's roof, and thence, aided by 
Asie and Europe, carefully directed all his machinations, 
keeping an eye on every one, and especially on Peyrade. 

About a fortnight before the day chosen for her great en- 
tertainment, which was to be given in the evening after the 
first opera ball, the courtesan, whose witticisms were begin- 
ning to make her feared, happened to be at the Italian opera, 
at the back of a box which the Baron — forced to give a box — 
had secured in the lowest tier, in order to conceal his mistress, 
and not to flaunt her in public within a few feet of Madame 



L.V-'" 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 241 



de Nucingen. Esther had taken her seat, so as to "rake" that 
of Madame de Serizy, whom Lucien almost invariably accom- 
panied. The poor girl made her whole happiness centre in 
watching Lucien on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays by 
Madame de Serizy's side. 

At about half-past nine in the evening Esther could see 
Lucien enter the Countess' box, with a care-laden brow, pale, 
and with almost drawn features. These symptoms of mental 
anguish were legible only to Esther. The knowledge of a 
man's countenance is, to the woman who loves him, like that 
of the sea to a sailor. 

. "Good God ! what can be the matter ? What has happened ? 
Does he want to speak with that angel of hell, who is to him 
a guardian angel, and who lives hidden in an attic between 
those of Europe and Asie ?" 

Tormented by such reflections, Esther scarcely listened to 
the music. Still less, it may be believed, did she listen to the 
Baron, who held one of his "Anchel's" hands in both his, 
talking to her in his horrible Polish-Jewish accent, a jargon 
which must be as unpleasant to read as it is to hear spoken. 

"Esther," said he, releasing her hand, and pushing it away' 
with a slight touch of temper, "you do not listen to me." 

"I tell you what. Baron, you blunder in love as you gibber 
in French." 

"Der teufel!" 

"I am not in my boudoir here, I am at the opera. If you 
were not a barrel made by Huret or Fichet, metamorphosed-' 
into a man by some trick of nature, you would not make so 
much noise in a box with a woman who is fond of music. I 
don't listen to you ? I should think not ! There you sit rus- 
tling my dress like a cockchafer in a paper-bag, and making 
me laugh with contempt. You say to me, 'You are so pretty, 
I should like to eat you !' Old simpleton ! Supposing I were 
to say to you, 'You are less intolerable this evening than you 
were yesterday — we will go home ?' — Well, from the way you 
puff and sigh — for I feel you if I don't listen to you — I per- 
ceive that you have eaten an enormous dinner, and your diges- 



X 



242 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

tion is at work. Let me instruct you — for I cost you enough 
to give some advice for your money now and then — let me tell 
3^ou, my dear fellow, that a man whose digestion is so trouble- 
some as yours is, is not justified in telling his mistress that 
she is pretty at unseemly hours. An old soldier died of that 
very folly 'in the arms of Eeligion,' as Blondet has it. 

"It is now ten o'clock. You finished dinner at du Tillet's 
at nine o'clock, with your pigeon the Comte de Brambourg; 
you have millions and truffles to digest. Come to-morrow 
night at ten." 

"Vat you are cruel !" cried the Baron, recognizing the pro- 
found truth of this medical argument. 

"Cruel !" echoed Esther, still looking at Lucien. "Have 
you not consulted Bianchon, Desplein, old Haudry? — Since 
you have had a glimpse of future happiness, do you know 
what vou seem like to me ?" 

"No— vat?" 

"A fat old fellow wrapped in flannel, who walks every hour 
from his armchair to the window to see if the thermometer 
has risen to the degree marked 'Silkworms/ the temperature 
prescribed by his physician." 

"You are really an ungrateful slut !" cried the Baron, in 
despair at hearing a tune, which, however, amorous old men 
not uuf requently hear at the opera. 

"Ungrateful !" retorted Esther. "What have you given me 
till now ? A great deal of annoyance. Come, papa ! Can I 
1)6 proud of you ? You ! you are proud of me ; I wear your 
livery and badge with an air. You paid my debts? So you 
did. But you have grabbed so many millions — come, you 
need not sulk ; you admitted that to me — ^that you need not 
think twice of that. And this is your chief title to fame. A 
baggage and a thief — a well-assorted couple ! 

"You have built a splendid cage for a parrot that amuses 
you. Go and ask a Brazilian cockatoo what gratitude it owes 
to the man who placed it in a gilded cage. — Don't look at me 
like that ; 5^ou are just like a Buddhist Bonze. 

"Well, you show your red-and-white cockatoo to all Paris. 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 243 

You say, 'Does anybody else in Paris own such a parrot ? And 
how well it talks, how cleverly it picks its words !' If du 
Tillet comes in, it says at once, 'How'do, little swindler?' — 
Why, you are as happy as a Dutchman who has grown an 
unique tulip, as an old nabob pensioned off in Asia by Eng- 
land, when a commercial traveler sells him the first Swiss 
snuff-box that opens in three places. 

"You want to win my heart? "Well, now, I will tell you 
how to do it." 

"Speak, speak, dere is noting I shall not do for you. I lofe 
to be fooled by you." 

"Be young, be handsome, be like Lucien de Eubempre over 
there by your wife, and you shall have gratis what you can 
never buy with all your millions !" 

"I shall go 'vay, for really you are too bat dis evening !" 
said the banker, with a lengthened face. 

"Very well, good-night then," said Esther. "Tell Georches 
to make your pillows very high and place your feet low, for 
you look apoplectic this evening. — You cannot say, my dear, 
that I take no interest in your health." 

The Baron was standing up, and held the door-knob in his 
hand. 

"Here, Nucingen," said Esther, with an imperious gesture. 

The Baron bent over her with dog-like devotion. 

"Do you want to see me very sweet, and giving you sugar- 
and-water, and petting you in my house, this very evening, 
old monster?" 

"You shall break my heart !" 

"Break your heart — ^you mean bore you," she went on. 
"Well, bring me Lucien that I may invite him to our Bel- 
shazzar's feast, and you may be sure he will not fail to come. 
If you succeed in that little transaction, I will tell you that 
I love you, my fat Frederic, in such plain terms that you 
cannot but believe me." 

"You are ein enchantress," said the Baron, kissing Esther's 
glove. "I should be villing to listen to abuse for ein hour if 
alvays der vas a kiss at de ent of it." 



244 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"But if I am not obeyed, I " and she threatened the 

Baron with her finger as we threaten children. 

The Baron raised his head like a bird caught in a springe 
and imploring the trapper's pity. 

"Dear Heaven! What ails Lucien?" said she to herself 
when she was alone, making no attempt to check her falling 
tears; "I never saw him so sad." 

This is what had happened to Lucien that very evening. 

At nine o'clock he had gone out, as he did every evening, 
in his brougham to go to the Hotel de Grandlieu. Using his 
saddle-horse and cab in the morning only, like all young men, 
he had hired a brougham for winter evenings, and had chosen 
a first-class carriage and splendid horses from one of the best 
job-masters. For the last month all had gone well with him ; 
he had dined with the Grandlieus three times; the Duke was 
delightful to him ; his shares in the Omnibus Company, sold 
for three hundred thousand francs, had paid off a third more 
of the price of the land ; Clotilde de Grandlieu, who dressed 
beautifully now, reddened inch thick when he went into the 
room, and loudly proclaimed her attachment to him. Some 
personages of high estate discussed their marriage as a proba- 
])le event. The Due de Chaulieu, formerly Ambassador to 
Spain, and now for a short while Minisier for Foreign Affairs, 
had promised the Duchesse de Grandlieu that he would ask 
for the title of Marquis for Lucien. 

So that evening, after dining with Madame de Serizy, 
Lucien had driven to the Faubourg Saint-Germain to pay his 
daily visit. 

He arrives, the coachman calls for the gate to be opened, 
he drives into the courtyard and stops at the steps. Lucien, 
on getting out, remarks four other carriages in waiting. On 
seeing Monsieur de Eubempre, one of the footmen placed to 
open and shut the hall-door comes forward and out on to the 
steps, in front of the door, like a soldier on guard. 

"His Grace is not at home," says he. 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 245 

"Madame la Duchesse is receiving company," observes 
Lucien to the servant. 

"Madame la Duchesse is gone out/' replies the man sol- 
emnly. 

"Mademoiselle Clotilde " 

"I do not think that Mademoiselle Clotilde will see you, 
monsieur, in the absence of Madame la Duchesse." 

"But there are people here," replies Lucien in dismay. 

"I do not know, sir," says the man, trying to seem stupid 
and to be respectful. 

There is nothing more fatal than etiquette to those who 
regard it as the most formidable arm of social law. Lucien 
easily interpreted the meaning of this scene, so disastrous to 
him. The Duke and Duchess would not admit him. He 
felt the spinal marrow freezing in the core of his vertebral 
column, and a sickly cold sweat bedewed his brow. The con- 
versation had taken place in the presence of his own body- 
servant, who held the door of the brougham, doubting 
whether to shut it. Lucien signed to him that he was going 
away again ; but as he stepped into the carriage, he heard the 
noise of people coming downstairs, and the servant called out 
first, "Madame la Duchesse de Chaulieu's people," then "Ma- 
dame la Vicomtesse de Grandlieu's carriage !" 

Lucien merely said, "To the Italian opera" ; but in spite of 
his haste, the luckless dandy could not escape the Due de 
Chaulieu and his son, the Due de Ehetore, to whom he was 
obliged to bow, for they did not speak a word to him. A 
great catastrophe at Court, the fall of a formidable favorite, 
has ere now been pronounced on the threshold of a royal 
study, in one word from an usher with a face like a plaster 
cast. 

"How am I to let my adviser know of this disaster — this 
instant ?" thought Lucien as he drove to the opera- 
house. "What is going on?" 

He racked his brain with conjectures. 

This was what had taken place. That morning, at eleven 
o'clock, the Due de Grandlieu, as he went into the little room 



246 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

where the family all breakfasted together, said lu Clotiide 
after kissing her, "Until further orders, my child, think no 
more of the Sieur de Rubempre.'' 

Then he had taken the Duchess by the hand, and led hei 
into a window recess to say a few words in an undertone, 
which made poor Clotiide turn pale; for she watched her 
mother as she listened to the Duke, and saw her expression of 
extreme surprise. 

"Jean," said the Duke to one of his servants, "take this note 
to Monsieur le Due de Chaulieu, and beg him to answer by 
you. Yes or No. — I am asking him to dine here to-day," he 
added to his wife. 

Breakfast had been a most melancholy meal. The Duchess 
was meditative, the Duke seemed to be vexed with himself, 
and Clotiide could with difficulty restrain her tears. 

"My child, your father is right; you must obey him," the 
mother had said to the daughter with much emotion. "I do 
not say as he does, 'Think no more of Lucien." No — for I 
understand your suffering" — Clotiide kissed her mother's 
hand — "but I do say, my darling. Wait, take no step, suffer in 
silence since you love him, and put your trust in your parents' 
care. — Great ladies, my child, are great just because they can 
do their duty on every occasion, and do it nobly." 

"But what is it about ?" asked Clotiide as white as a lily. 

"Matters too serious to be discussed with you, my dearest," 
the Duchess replied. "For if they are untrue, your mind 
would be unnecessarily sullied ; and if they are true, you must 
never know them." 

At six o'clock the Due de Chaulieu had come to join the 
Due de Grandlieu, who awaited him in his study. 

"Tell me, Henri"' — for the Dukes were on the most familiar 
terms, and addressed each other by their Christian names. 
This is one of the shades invented to mark a degree of inti- 
macy, to repel the audacity of French familiarity, and hu- 
miliate conceit — "tell me, Henri, I am in such a desperate 
difficulty that I can only ask advice of an old friend who un- 
derstands business, and you have practice and experience. 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 247 

My daughter Clotilde, as 3 ou know, is in love with that little 
Rubempre, whom I have been almost compelled to accept as 
her promised husband. I have always been averse to the mar- 
riage; however, Madame de Grandlieu could not bear to 
thwart Clotilde's passion. When the young fellow had re- 
purchased the family estate and paid three-quarters of the 
price, I could make no further objectiojas. , 

"But last evening I received aa. anonymous letter — -you 
know how much that is worth — in which Tani informed that 
the young fellow's fortune is derived from some disreputable 
source, and that he is telling lies when he says that his sister 
is giving him the necessary funds for his purchase. For my 
daughter's happiness, and for the sake of our family, I am 
adjured to make inquiries, and the means of doing so are sug- 
gested to me. Here, read it." 

"I am entirely of your opinion as to the value of anonymous 
letters, my dear Ferdinand," said the Due de Chaulieu after 
reading the letter. "Still, though we may contemn them, 
we must make use of them. We must treat such letters as 
we would treat a spy. Keep the young man out of the house, 
and let us make inquiries 

"I know how to do it. Your lawyer is Derville, a man in 
whom we have perfect confidence; he knows the secrets of 
many families, and can certainly be trusted with this. He is 
an honest man, a man of weight, and a man of honor ; he is 
cunning and wily ; but his wiliness is only in the way of busi- 
ness, and you need only employ him to obtain evidence you 
can depend upon. 

"We have in the Foreign Office an agent of the superior 
police who is unique in his power of discovering State secrets ; 
we often send him on such missions. Inform Derville that 
he will have a lieutenant in the case. Our spy is a gentleman 
who will appear wearing the ribbon of the Legion of Honor, 
and looking like a diplomate. This rascal will do the hunt- 
ing; Derville will only look on. Your lawyer will then tell 
you if the mountain brings forth a mouse, or if you must 
throw over this little Rubempre. Within a week you will 
know what you are doing." 



248 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"The 3'oung man is not yet so far a Marquis as to take 
offence at my being 'ISTot at home' for a week/' said the Due 
de Grandlieu. 

. "Above all, if you end by giving him your daughter," re- 
plied the Minister. "If the anonymous letter tells the truth, 
what of that? You can send Clotilde to travel with my 
daughter-in-law Madeleine, who wants to go to Italy." 

"You relieve me immensely. I don't yet know whether I 
ought to thank vou." 

"Wait till the end." 

"By the way," exclaimed the Due de Grandlieu, "what is 
your man's name ? I must mention it to Derville. Send him 
to me to-morrow by five o'clock ; I will have Derville here and 
put them in communication." 

"His real name," said M. de Chaulieu, "is, I think, Coren- 
tin — a name you must never have heard, for my gentleman 
will come ticketed with his official name. He calls himself 
Monsieur de Saint-Something — Saint Yves — Saint- Valere ? — 
Something of the kind. — You may trust him; Louis XVIII. 
had perfect confidence in him." 

After this confabulation the steward had orders to shut the 
door on Monsieur de Kubempre — which was done. 

Lucien paced the waiting-room at the opera-house like a 
man who was drunk. He fancied himself the talk of all 
Paris. He had in the Due de Rhetore one of those unrelenting 
enemies on whom a man must smile, as he can never be 
revenged, since their attacks are in conformity with the rules 
of society. The Due de Ehetore knew the scene that had just 
taken place on the outside steps of the Grandlieus' house. 
Lucien, feeling the necessity of at once reporting the catas- 
trophe to his high privy councillor, nevertheless was afraid 
of compromising himself by going to Esther's house, where he 
might find company. He actually forgot that Esther was 
here, so confused were his thoughts, and in the midst of so 
much perplexity he was obliged to make small talk with Ras- 
tignac, who, knowing nothing of the news, congratulated him 
on his approaching marriage. 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 249 

At this moment Nucingen appeared smiling, and said to 
Lucien : 

"Vill you do me de pleasure to come to see Montame de 
Champy, vat vill infite you herself to von house-varming 
party " 

"With pleasure, Baron," replied Lucien, to whom the Baron 
appeared as a rescuing angel. 

"Leave us," said Esther to Monsieur de Nucingen, when she 
saw him come in with Lucien. "Go and see Madame du Val- 
Noble, whom I discover in a box on the third tier with her 
nabob. — A great many nabobs grow in the Indies," she added, 
with a knowing glance at Lucien. 

"And that one," said Lucien, smiling, "is uncommonly like 
yours." 

"And then," said Esther, answering Lucien with another 
look of intelligence, while still speaking to the Baron, ^'T)ring 
her here with her nabob; he is very anxious to make your 
acquaintance. They say he is very rich. The poor woman 
has already poured out I know not how many elegies; she 
complains that her nabob is no good; and if you relieve him 
of his ballast, perhaps he will sail closer to the wind." 

"You tink ve are all tieves !" said the Baron as he went 
away. 

"What ails you, my Lucien?" asked Esther in her friend's 
ear, just touching it with her lips as soon as the box door was 
shut. 

"I am lost ! I have just been turned from the door of the 
Hotel de Grandlieu under pretence that no one was admitted. 
The Duke and Duchess were at home, and five pairs of horses 
were champing in the courtyard." 

"What ! will the marriage not take place ?" exclaimed 
Esther, much agitated, for she saw a glimpse of Paradise. 

"I do not yet know what is being plotted against me " 

"My I^ucien," said she in a deliciously coaxing voice, "why 
be worried about it? You can make a better match by and 
by — I will get you the price of two estates " 

"Give us supper to-night that I may be able to speak in 



'4m A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

secret to Carlos, and, above all. invite the sham Englishman 
and Val-Noble. That nabob is my ruin; he is our enemy; 
we will get hold of him, and we " 

But l^ucien broke off with a gesture of despair. 

"Well, what is it?" asked the poor girl. 

''Oh ! Madame de Serizy sees me !"' cried Lucien, "and to 
crown our woes, the Due de Ehetore, who witnessed my 
dismissal, is with her." 

In fact, at that very minute, the Due de Ehetore was amus- 
ing himself with Madame de Serizy's discomfiture. 

"Do you allow Lucien to be seen in Mademoiselle Esther's 
box?"' said the young Duke, pointing to the box and to 
Lucien ; ^'you, who take an interest in him, should really tell 
liim such things are not allowed. He may sup at her house, 
he may even — But, in fact, I am no longer surprised at the 
Grandlieus' coolness towards the young man. I have just 
seen their door shut in his face — on the front steps '' 

"Women of tliat sort are very dangerous," said Madame de 
Serizy, turning her opera-glass on Esther's box. 

"Yes," said the Duke, "as much by what they can do as by 
what they wish '" 

"They will ruin him !" cried Madame de Serizy, "for T am 
told they cost as much whether they are paid or no." 

"Not to him !'' said the young Duke, affecting surprise. 
"They are far from costing him anything; they give him 
money at need, and all run after him." 

The Countess' lips showed a little nervous twitching which 
could not be included in any category of smiles. 

"Well, then," said Esther, "come to supper at midnight. 
Bring Blondet and Eastignac; let us have two amusing per- 
sons at any rate ; and we won't be more than nine." 

"You must find some excuse for sending the Baron to 
fetch Eugenie under pretence of warning Asie, and tell her 
what has befallen me, so that Carlos may know before he has 
the nabob under his claws." 

"That shall be done," said Esther. 

And thus Pe3rrade was probably about to find himself un- 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 251 

wittingly under the same roof with his adversary. The tiger 
was coming into the lion's den, and a lion surrounded by his 
guards. 

When Lucien went back to Madame de Serizy's box, in- 
stead of turning to him, smiling and arranging her skirts for 
him to sit by her, she affected to pay him not the slightest 
attention, but looked about the house through her glass. 
Lucien could see, however, by the shaking of her hand that 
the Countess was suffering from one of those terrible emo- 
tions by which illicit joys are paid for. He went to the front 
of the box all the same, and sat down by her at the opposite 
corner, leaving a little vacant space between himself and the 
Countess. He leaned on the ledge of the box with his elbow, 
resting his chin on his gloved hand ; then he half turned away, 
waiting for a word. By the middle of the act the Countess 
had still neither spoken to him nor looked at him. 

"I do not know," said she at last, "why you are here ; your 
place is in Mademoiselle Esther's box " 

"I will go there," said Lucien, leaving the box without 
looking at the Countess. 

"My dear," said Madame du Val-Noble, going into Esther's 
box with Peyrade, whom the Baron de ISTucingen did not 
recognize, "I am delighted to introduce Mr. Samuel Jolmson. 
He is a great admirer of M. de Nucingen's talents." 

"Indeed, monsieur," said Esther, smiling at Peyrade. 

"Oh yes, hocou," said Peyrade. 

"Why, Baron, here is a way of speaking French which is 
as much like yours as the low Breton dialect is like that of 
Burgundy. It will be most amusing to hear you discuss 
money matters. — Do you know, Monsieur Nabob, what I shall 
require of you if you are to make acquaintance with my 
Baron ?" said Esther with a smile. 

"Oh ! — Thank you so much, you will introduce me to Sir 
Baronet ?" said Peyrade with an extravagant English accent. 

"Yes," said she, "you must give me the pleasure of your 
company at supper. There is no pitch stronger than cham- 
pagne for sticking men together. Tt seals every kind of busi- 



252 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

ness, above all such as 3'ou put your foot in. — Come this even- 
ing; you will find some jolly fellows. — As for you, my little 
Frederic," she added in the Baron's ear, "you have your car- 
riage here — just drive to the Eue Saint-Georges and bring 
Europe to me here ; I have two words to say to her about the 
supper. I have caught Lucien; he will bring two men who 
will be fun. — We will draw the Englishman," she whispered 
to Madame du Val-!N"oble. 

Peyrade and the Baron left the women together. 

"Oh, my dear, if you ever succeed in drawing that great 
brute, you will be clever indeed," said Suzanne. 

"If it proves impossible, you must lend him to me for a 
week," replied Esther, laughing. 

"You would but keep him half a day," replied Madame du 
Val-Xoble.. "The bread I eat is too hard; it breaks my teeth. 
Never again, to my dying day, will I try to make an English- 
man happy. They are all cold and selfish — pigs on their 
hind legs." 

"What, no consideration?" said Esther with a smile. 

"On the contrary, my dear, the monster has never shown 
the least familiarity." 

"Under no circumstances whatever?" asked Esther. 

"The wretch always addresses me as Madame, and pre- 
serves the most perfect coolness imaginable at moments when 
every man is more or less amenable. To him love-making I — 
on my word, it is nothing more nor less than shaving himself. 
He wipes the razor, puts it back in its case, and looks in the 
glass as if he were saying, '1 have not cut myself !' 

"Then he treats me with such respect as is enough to send 
a woman mad. That odious Milord Potboiler amuses himself 
])y making poor Theodore hide in my dressing-room and 
stand there half the day. In short, he tries to annoy me in 
every way. And as stingy ! — As miserly as Gobseck and 
Gigonnet rolled into one. He takes me out to dinner, but he 
does not pay the cab that brings me home if I happen not to 
have ordered my carriage to fetch me." 

"Well," said Esther, "but what does he pay you for your 
services ?" 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 253 

"Oh, my dear, positively nothing. Five hundred francs a 
month and not a penny more, and the hire of a carriage. 
But what is it ? A machine such as they hire out for a third- 
rate wedding to carry an epicier to the Mairie, to Church, 
and to the Cadran bleu. — Oh, he nettles me with his respect. 

"If I try hysterics and feel ill, he is never vexed; he only 
says : 'I wish my lady to have her own way, for there is noth- 
ing more detestable — no gentleman — than to say to a nice 
woman, "You are a cotton bale, a bundle of merchandise." — 
Ha, hah ! Are you a member of the Temperance Society and 
anti-slavery?" And my horror sits pale, and cold, and 
hard while he gives me to understand that he has as much 
respect for me as he might have for a negro, and that it has 
nothing to do with his feelings, but with his opinions as an 
abolitionist." 

"A man cannot be a worse wretch," said Esther. "But I 
will smash up that outlandish Chinee." 

"Smash him up?" replied Madame du Val-Koble. "Not 
if he does not love me. You, yourself, would you like to ask 
him for two sous ? He would listen to you solemnly, and tell 
you, with British precision that would make a slap in the 
face seem genial, that he pays dear enough for the trifle that 
love can be to his poor life ;" and, as before, Madame du Val- 
Noble mimicked Peyrade's bad French. 

"To think that in our line of life we are thrown in the 
way of such men !" exclaimed Esther. 

"Oh, my dear, you have been uncommonly lucky. Take 
good care of your Nucingen." 

"But your nabob must have got some idea in his head." 

"That is what Adele says." 

"Look here, my dear; that man, you may depend, has laid 
a bet that he will make a woman hate him and pack him off 
in a certain time." 

"Or else he wants to do business with Nucingen, and took 
me up knowing that you and I were friends ; that is what 
Adele thinks," answered Madame du Val-Noble. "That is 
why I introduced him to you this evening. Oh, if only I 



254 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

could be sure what he is at, what tricks I could play with 
you and Nucingen !" 

"And you don't get angry ?" asked Esther ; "you don't speak 
your mind now and then?" 

"Try it — you are sharp and smooth. — Well, in spite of 
your sweetness, he would kill you with his icy smiles. 'I am 
anti-slavery,' he would say, 'and you are free.' — If you said 
the funniest things, he would only look at you and say, 'Very 
good !' and you would see that he regards you merely as a part 
of the show." 

"And if you turned furious?" 

"The same thing ; it would still be a show. You might cut 
him open under the left breast without hurting him in the 
least ; his internals are of tinned-iron, I am sure. I told him 
so. He replied, 'I am quite satisfied with that physical con- 
stitution.' 

"And always polite. My dear, he wears gloves on his 
soul . . . 

"I shall endure this martyrdom a few days longer to satisfy 
my curiosity. But for that, I should have made Philippe slap 
my lord's cheek — and he has not his match as a swordsman. 
There is nothing else left for it " 

"I was just going to say so," cried Esther. "But you must 
ascertain first that Philippe is a boxer; for these old English 
fellows, my dear, have a depth of malignity " 

"This one has no match on earth. No, if you could but see 
him asking my commands, to know at what hol^r he may come 
— to take me by surprise, of course — and pouring out respect- 
ful speeches like a so-called gentleman, you would say, 'Why, 
he adores her !' and there is not a woman in the world who 
would not say the same." 

"And they envy us, my dear !" exclaimed Esther. 

"Ah, well !" sighed Madame du Val-Xoble ; "in the course 
of our lives we learn more or less how little men value us. 
But, my dear, I have never been so cruelly, so deeply, so 
utterly scorned by brutality as I am by this great skinful of 
port wine. 



WHAT I.OYE costs 255 

'^hen he is tipsy he goes away — 'not to be unpleasant/ as 
he tells Adele, and not to be 'under two powers at once; wine 
and woman. He takes advantage of nay carriage ; he uses it 
more than I do. — Oh ! if only we could see him under the 
table to-night ! But he can drink ten bottles and only be 
fuddled; when his eyes are full, he still sees clearly." 

"Like people whose windows are dirty outside,"' said Esther, 
"but who can see from inside what is going on in the street. — 
I know that property in man. Du Tillet has it in the highest 
degree." 

"Try to get du Tillet, and if he and Kucingen between 
them could only catch him in some of their plots,' I should at 
least be revenged. They would bring him to beggary ! 

"Oh ! my dear, to have fallen into the hands of a hypocrit- 
ical Protestant after that poor Falleix, who was so amusing, 
so good-natured, so full of chaff ! How we used to laugh ! 
They say all stockbrokers are stupid. Well, he, for one, never 
lacked wit but once " 

"When he left you without a sou? That is what made you 
acquainted with the unpleasant side of pleasure." 

Europe, brought in by Monsieur de Nucingen, put her 
viperine head in at the door, and after listening to a fev,- 
words whispered in her ear by his mistress, she vanished. 

At half -past eleven that evening, five carriages were sta- 
tioned in the Eue Saint-Georges before the famous courte- 
san's door. There was Lucien's, who had brought Eastignac, 
Rixiou, and Blondet; du Tillet's, the Baron de Xucingen's, 
the Nabob's, and Florine's — she was invited by du Tillet. 
The closed and doubly-shuttered windows were screened by 
the splendid Chinese silk curtains. Supper was to be served 
at one; wax-lights were blazing, the dining-room and little 
drawing-room displayed all their magnificence. The party 
looked forward to such an orgy as only three such women and 
such men as these could survive. They began by playing 
cards, as they had to wait about two hours. 

"Do yon play, milord?" said du Tillet to Peyrade. 



256 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"I have played with O'Connell, Pitt, Fox, Canning, Lord 
Brougham, Lord " 

"Say at once no end of lords," said Bixiou. 

"Lord Fitzwilliam, Lord Ellenborough, Lord Hertford, 
Lord " 

Bixiou was looking at Peyrade's shoes, and stooped down. 

"What are you looking for?" asked Blondet. 

"For the spring one must touch to stop this machine," said 
Florine. 

"Do you play for twenty francs a point?" 

"I will play for as much as you like to lose." 

"He does it well !" said Esther to Lucien. "They all take 
him for an Englishman." 

Du Tillet, Kucingen, Peyrade, and Eastignac sat down to 
a whist-table; Florine, Madame du Yal-Noble, Esther, Blon- 
det, and Bixiou sat round the fire chatting. Lucien spent the 
time in looking through a book of fine engravings. 

"Supper is ready," Paccard presently announced, in mag- 
nificent livery. 

Peyrade was placed at Florine's left hand, and on the other 
side of him Bixiou, whom Esther had enjoined to make the 
Englishman drink freely, and challenge him to beat him. 
Bixiou had the power of drinking an indefinite quantity. 

Never in his life had Peyrade seen such splendor, or tasted 
of such cookery, or seen such fine women. 

"I am getting my money's worth this evening for the thou- 
sand crowns la Val-Noble has cost me till now," thought he ; 
"and besides, I have just won a thousand francs." 

"This is an example for men to follow !" said Suzanne, who 
was sitting by Lucien, with a wave of her hand at the splen- 
dors of the dining-room. 

Esther had placed Lucien next herself, and was holding his 
foot between her own under the table. 

"Do you hear?" said Madame du Val-Noble, addressing 
Peyrade, who affected blindness. "This is how you ought to 
furnish a house! When a man brings millions home from 
India, and wants to do business with the Nucingens, he should 
place himself on the same level." 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 257 

"I belong to a Temperance Society !" 

"Then you will drink like a fish !" said Bixiou, "for the 
Indies are uncommon hot, uncle !" 

It was Bixiou's jest during supper to treat Peyrade as an 
uncle of his, returned from India. 

"Montame du Fal-ISToble tolt me you shall have some iteas," 
said Nucingen, scrutinizing Peyrade. 

"Ah, this is what I wanted to hear," said du Tillet to Eas- 
tignac; "the two talking gibberish together." 

"You will see, they will understand each other at last," 
said Bixiou, guessing what du Tillet had said to Eastignac. 

"Sir Baronet, I have imagined a speculation — oh ! a very 
comfortable job — hocou profitable and rich in profits " 

"Now you will see," said Blondet to du Tillet, "he will not 
talk one minute without dragging in the Parliament and the 
English Government." 

"It is in China, in the opium trade " 

"Ja, I know," said Nucingen at once, as a man who is well 
acquainted with commercial geography. "But de English 
Gover'ment hafe taken up de opium trate as a means dat shall 
open up China, and she shall not allow dat ve " 

"Nucingen has cut him out with the Government," re- 
marked du Tillet to Blondet. 

"Ah ! you have been in the opium trade !" cried Madame 
du Val-Noble. "Now I understand why you are so narcotic ; 
some has stuck in your soul." 

"Dere ! you see !" cried the Baron to the self-styled opium 
merchant, and pointing to Madame du Val-Noble. "You are 
like me. Never shall a millionaire be able to make a voman 
lofe him." 

"I have loved much and often, milady," replied Peyrade. 

"As a result of temperance," said Bixiou, who had just seen 
Peyrade finish his third bottle of claret, and now had a bottle 
of port wine uncorked. 

"Oh !" cried Peyrade, "it is very fine, the Portugal of 
England." 

Blondet, du Tillet, and Bixiou smiled at each other. Pey- 



258 A COURTESANS LIFE 

rade had the power of travestying everything, even his wit. 
There are very few Englishmen who will not maintain that 
gold and silver are better in England than elsewhere. The 
fowls and eggs exported from Normandy to the London mar- 
ket enable the English to maintain that the poultry and eggs 
in London are superior {very fine) to those of Paris, which 
come from the same district. 

Esther and Lucien were dumfounded by this perfection 
of costume, language, and audacity. 

They all ate and drank so well and so heartily, while talk- 
ing and laughing, that it went on till four in the morning. 
Bixiou flattered himself that he had achieved one of the vic- 
tories so pleasantly related by Brillat-Savarin. But at the 
moment when he was saying to himself, as he offered his 
"uncle" some more wine, "I have vanquished England !'" 
Peyrade replied in good French to this malicious scoffer. 
''Tou jours, mon garqon" (Go it, my boy), which no one heard 
but Bixiou. 

"Hallo, good men all, he is as English as I am ! — My uncle 
is a Gascon ! I could have no other !" 

Bixiou and Peyrade were alone, so no one heard this an- 
nouncement. Peyrade rolled off his chair on to the floor. 
Paccard forth^vith picked him up and carried him to an attic, 
where he fell sound asleep. 

At six o'clock next evening, the Nabob was roused by the 
application of a wet cloth, with which his face was being 
washed, and awoke to find himself on a camp-bed, face to 
face with Asie, wearing a mask and a black domino. 

"Well, Papa Peyrade, you and I have to settle accounts," 
said she. 

"Where am I P"" asked he, looking about him. 

"Listen to me," said Asie, "and that will sober you. — 
Though you do not love Madame du Val-Noble, you love 
your daughter, I suppose?" 

"My daughter?" Peyrade echoed with a roar. 

"Yes, Mademoiselle Lydie." 

"What then?" 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 259 

*'What then ? She is no longer in the Rue des Moineaux ; 
phe has been carried off." 

Peyrade breathed a sigh like that of a soldier dying of a 
mortal wound on the battlefield. 

"While you were pretending to be an Englishman, some one 
else was pretending to be Peyrade. Your little Lydie thought 
she was with her father, and she is now in a safe place. — Oh ! 
you will never find her! unless you undo the mischief you 
have done." 

"What mischief?" 

"Yesterday Monsieur Lucien de Rubempre had the door 
shut in his face at the Due de Grandlieu's. This is due to 
your intrigues, and to the man you let loose on us. Do not 
speak, listen !" Asie went on, seeing Peyrade open his mouth. 
"You will have your daughter again, pure and spotless," she 
added, emphasizing her statement by the accent on every 
word, "only on the day after that on which Monsieur Lucien de 
Rubempre walks out of Saint-Thomas d'Aquin as the husband 
of Mademoiselle Clotilde. If, within ten days Lucien de 
Rubempre is not admitted, as he has been, to the Grandlieus" 
house, you, to begin with, will die a violent death, and nothing 
can save you from the fate that threatens you. — Then, when 
you feel yourself dying, you will have time before breathing 
your last to reflect, *My daughter is a prostitute for the rest 
of her life !' 

"Though you have been such a fool as give us this hold for 
onr clutches, you still have sense enough to meditate on this 
ultimatum from our government. Do not bark, say nothing 
to any one; go to Contenson's, and change your dress, and 
then go home. Katt will tell you that at a word from you 
your little Lydie went downstairs, and has not been seen 
since. If you make any fuss, if you take any steps, your 
daughter will begin where I tell you she will end — she is 
promised to de Marsay. 

"With old Canquoelle I need not mince matters, I should 

think, or wear gloves, heh ? Go on downstairs, and take 

care not to meddle in our concerns any more." 



260 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

Asie left Peyrade in a pitiable state ; every word had been a 
blow with a club. The spy had tears in his eyes, and tears 
hanging from his cheeks at the end of a wet furrow. 

"They are waiting dinner for Mr. Johnson," said Europe, 
putting her head in a moment after. 

Peyrade made no reply; he went down, walked till he 
reached a cab-stand, and hurried off to undress at Conten- 
son's, not saying a word to him; he resumed the costume of 
Pere Canquoelle, and got home by eight o'clock. He mounted 
the stairs with a beating heart. When the Flemish woman 
heard her master, she asked him : 

"Well, and where is mademoiselle?" with such simplicity, 
that the old spy was obliged to lean against the wall. The 
blow was more than he could bear. He went into his daugh- 
ter's rooms, and ended by fainting with grief when he found 
them empt}^, and heard Katt's story, which was that of an 
abduction as skilfully planned as if he had arranged it him- 
self. 

"Well, well," though he, "I must knock under. I will be 
revenged later; now I must go to Corentin. — This is the first 
time we have met our foes. Corentin will leave that hand- 
some boy free to marry an Empress if he wishes ! — Yes, I 
understand that my little girl should have fallen in love with 
him at first sight. — Oh ! that Spanish priest is a knowing one. 
Courage, friend Peyrade ! disgorge your prey !" 

The poor father never dreamed of the fearful blow that 
awaited him. 

On reaching Corentin's house, Bruno, the confidential ser- 
vant, who knew Peyrade, said : 

"Monsieur is gone away." 

"For a long time?" 

"For ten days." 

"Where?" 

"I don't know." 

"Good God, I am losing my wits ! I ask him where — as if 
we ever told them " thought he. 

A few hours before the moment when Peyrade was to be 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 261 

roused in his garret in the Rue Saint-Georges. Corentin, 
coming in from his country place at Passy, had made his way 
to the Due de Grandlieu's, in the costume of a retainer of a 
superior class. He wore the ribbon of the Legion of Honor 
at his button-hole. He had made up a withered old face 
with powdered hair, deep wrinkles, and a colorless skin. His 
eyes were hidden by tortoise-shell spectacles. He looked like 
a retired office-clerk. On giving his name as Monsieur de 
Saint-Denis, he was led to the Duke's private room, where he 
found Derville reading a letter, which he himself had dic- 
tated to one of his agents, the "number" whose business it 
was to write documents. The Duke took Corentin aside to 
tell him all he already knew. Monsieur de Saint-Denis lis- 
tened coldly and respectfully, amusing himself by studying 
this grand gentleman, by penetrating the tufa beneath the 
velvet cover, by scrutinizing this being, now and always ab- 
sorbed in whist and in regard for the House of Grandlieu. 

Such fine gentlemen are so guileless with their inferiors 
that Corentin had only to lay few questions humbly before 
Monsieur de Grandlieu to bring out his impertinence. 

"If you will take my advice, monsieur," said Corentin to 
Derville, after being duly introduced to the lawyer, "we shall 
set out this very afternoon for Angouleme by the Bordeaux 
coach, which goes quite as fast as the mail; and we shall not 
need to stay there six hours to obtain the information Mon- 
sieur le Due requires. It will be enough — if I have under- 
stood your Grace — to ascertain whether Monsieur de Rubem- 
pre's sister and brother-in-law are in a position to give him 
twelve hundred thousand francs ?" and he turned to the Duke. 

"You have understood me perfectly," said the Duke. 

"We can be back again in four days," Corentin went on, 
addressing Derville, "and neither of us will have neglected his 
business long enough for it to suffer." 

"That was the only difficulty I was about to mention to 
his Grace," said Derville. "It is now four o'clock. I am 
going home to say a word to my head-clerk, and pack my trav- 
eling-bag, and after dinner, at eight o'clock, I will be 



262 ^■'^ ' A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

But shall we get places ?"' he said to Monsieur de Saint-Denis, 
interrupting himself. 

"I will answer for that," said Corentin. "Be in the yard 
of the Chief Office of the Messageries at eight o'clock. If 
there are no places, they shall make some, for that is the way 
to serve Monseigneur le Due de Grandlieu." 

"Gentlemen,"' said the Duke most graciously, "I postpone 
my thanks " 

Corentin and the lawyer, taking this as a dismissal, bowed, 
and withdrew. 

At the hour when Peyrade was questioning Corentin's ser- 
vant, Monsieur de Saint-Denis and Derville, seated in the 
Bordeaux coach, were studying each other in silence as they 
drove out of Paris. 

Xext morning, between Orleans and Tours, Derville, being 
l)ored, began to converse, and Corentin condescended to amuse 
him, but keeping his distance ; he left him to believe that he 
was in the diplomatic service, and was hoping to become 
Consul-General by the good offices of the Due de Grandlieu. 
Two days after leaving Paris, Corentin and Derville got out 
at Mansle, to the great surprise of the lawyer, who thought 
he was going to Angouleme. 

"In this little town," said Corentin, "we can get the most 
positive information as regards Madame Sechard." 

"Do you know her then?" asked Derville, astonished to find 
Corentin so well informed. 

"I made the conductor talk, finding he was a native of An- 
gouleme. He tells me that Madame Sechard lives at Marsac, 
and Marsac is but a league away from Mansle. I thought we 
should be at greater advantage here than at Angouleme for 
verifying the facts." 

"And besides," thought Derville, "as Monsieur le Due said. 
I act merely as the witness to the inquiries made by this con- 
fidential agent " 

The inn at Mansle, la Belle Etoile, had for its landlord one 
of those fat and burl}' men whom we fear we may find no more 
on our return ; but who still, ten years after, are seen standing 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 263 

at their door with as much superfluous flesh as ever, in the 
same linen cap, the same apron, with the same knife, the same 
oiled hair, the same triple chin, — all stereotyped by novel- 
writers from the immortal Cervantes to the immortal Walter 
Scott. Are they not all boastful of their cookery ? have they 
not all "whatever you please to order" ? and do not all end 
by giving you the same hectic chicken, and vegetables cooked 
with rank butter ? They all boast of their fine wines, and all 
make you drink the wine of the country. 

But Corentin, from his earliest youth, had known the art 
of getting out of an innkeeper things more essential to him- 
self than doubtful dishes and apocryphal wines. So he 
gave himself out as a man easy to please, and willing to leave 
himself in the hands of the best cook in Mansle. as he told the 
fat man. 

"There is no difficulty about being the best — I am the only 
one," said the host. 

"Serve us in the side room," said Corentin, winking at 
Derville. "And do not be afraid of setting the chimney on 
fire ; we want to thaw out the frost in our fingers." 

"It was not warm in the coach," said Derville. 

"Is it far to Marsac?" asked Corentin of the innkeeper's 
wife, who came down from the upper regions on hearing 
that the diligence had dropped two travelers to sleep there. 

"Are you going to Marsac, monsieur ?" replied the woman. 

"I don't know," he said sharply. "Is it far from hence to 
Marsac ?" he repeated, after giving the woman time to notice 
his red ribbon. 

"In a chaise, a matter of half an hour," said the inn- 
keeper's wife. 

"Do you think that Monsieur and Madame Sechard are 
likely to be there in winter?" 

"To be sure ; they live there all the year round." 

"It is now five o'clock. We shall still find them up at nine." 

"Oh yes, till ten. They have company every evening — the 
cure, Monsieur Marron the doctor " 

"Good folks then?" said Derville. 



264 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"Oh, the best of good souls," replied the woman, "straight- 
forward, honest — and not ambitious neither. Monsieur 
Sechard, though he is very well off — they say he might have 
made millions if he had not allowed himself to be robbed of 
an invention in the paper-making of which the brothers Coin- 
tet are getting the benefit " 

"Ah, to be sure, the Brothers Cointet !" said Corentin. 

"Hold your tongue," said the innkeeper. "What can it 
matter to these gentlemen whether Monsieur Sechard 
has a right or no to a patent for his invention in paper- 
making? — If you mean to spend the night here — at the 

Belle J^toile " he went on, addressing the travelers, "here 

is the book, and please to put your names down. We have an 
officer in this town who has nothing to do, and spends all his 
time in nagging at us " 

"The devil !" said Corentin, while Derville entered their 
names and his profession as attorney to the lower Court in 
the department of the Seine, "I fancied the Sechards were 
very rich." 

"Some people say they are millionaires," replied the inn- 
keeper. "But as to hindering tongues from wagging, you 
might as well try to stop the river from flowing. Old Sechard 
left two hundred thousand francs' worth of landed property, 
it is said; and that is not amiss for a man who began as a 
workman. Well, and he may have had as much again in 
savings, for he made ten or twelve thousand francs out of his 
land at last. So, supposing he were fool enough not to invest 
his money for ten years, that would be all told. But even if 
he lent it at high interest, as he is suspected of doing, there 
would be three hundred thousand francs perhaps, and that is 
all. Five hundred thousand francs is a long way 'short of a 
million. I should be quite content with the difference, and 
no more of the Belle ^toile for me !" 

"Really !" said Corentin. "Then Monsieur David Sechard 
and his wife have not a fortune of two or three millions?" 

"Why," exclaimed the innkeeper's wife, "that is what the 
Cointets are supposed to have, who robbed him of his inven- 



y^^ 



/. 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 265 

tion, and he does not get more than twenty thousand francs 
out of them. Where do you suppose such honest folks would 
find millions ? They were very much pinched while the father 
was alive. But for Kolb, their manager, and Madame Kolb, 
who is as much attached to them as her husband, they could 
scarcely have lived. Why, how much had they with La 
Verberie? — A thousand francs a year perhaps." 

Corentin drew Derville aside and said: 

"In vino Veritas! Truth lives under a cork. For my 
part, I regard an inn as the real registry office of the country- 
side; the notary is not better informed than the innkeeper 
as to all that goes on in a small neighborhood. — You see ! we 
are supposed to know all about the Cointets and Kolb and 
the rest. 

"Your innkeeper is the living record of every incident ; he 
does the work of the police without suspecting it. A govern- 
ment should maintain two hundred spies at most, for in a 
country like France there are ten millions of simple-minded 
informers. — However, we need not trust to this report; 
though even in this little town something would be known 
about the twelve hundred thousand francs sunk in paying 
for the Eubempre estate. We will not stop here long " 

"I hope not !" Derville put in. 

"And this is why," added Corentin ; "I have hit on the most 
natural way of extracting the truth from the mouth of the 
Sechard couple. I rely upon you to support, by your au- 
thority as a lawyer, the little trick I shall employ to enable 
you to hear a clear and complete account of their affairs. — 
After dinner we shall set out to call on Monsieur Sechard," 
said Corentin to the innkeeper's wife. "Have beds ready for 
us; we want separate rooms. There can be no difficulty 
'under the stars.' " 

"Oh, monsieur," said the woman, "we invented the sign." 

"The pun is to be found in every department," said Coren- 
tin ; "it is no monopoly of yours." 

"Dinner is served, gentlemen," said the innkeeper. 

"But where the devil can that young fellow have found 



26« A COURTESANS I>1FE 

the money ? Is the anonymous writer accurate. Can it be the 
earnings of some handsome baggage?" said Derville, as they 
sat dovm to dinner. 

"Ah, that will be the subject of another inquiry," said 
Corentin. "Lucien de Kubempre, as the Due de Chaulieu 
tells me, lives with a converted Jewess, who passes for a Dutch 
woman, and is called Esther van Bogseck." 

"What a strange coincidence !"' said the lawyer. "I am 
hunting for the heiress of a Dutchman named Gobseck — it is 
the same name with a transposition of consonants." 

"Well," said Corentin, "you shall have information as to 
her parentage on my return to Paris." 

An hour after, the two agents for the Grandlieu family set 
out for La Verberie, where Monsieur and Madame Sechard 
were living. 

Never had Lucien felt any emotion so deep as that which 
overcame him at La Verberie when comparing his own fate 
with that of his brother-in-law. The two Parisians were 
about to witness the same scene that had so much struck 
Lucien a few days since. Everything spoke of peace and 
abundance. 

At the hour when the two strangers were arriving, a })arty 
of four persons were being entertained in the drawing-room 
of La Verberie: the cure of Marsac, a young priest of five- 
and twenty, who, at Madame Sechard's request, had become 
tutor to her little boy Lucien; the country doctor, Monsieui- 
Marron; the Maire of the commune; and an old colonel, who 
grew roses on a plot of land opposite to La Verberie on the 
other side of the road. Every evening during the winter 
these persons came to play an artless game of boston for 
centime points, to borrow the papers, or return those they 
had finished. 

When Monsieur and Madame Sechard had bought La 
Verberie, a fine house built of stone, and roofed with slate, 
the pleasure-grounds consisted of a garden of two acres. 
Li the course of time, by devoting her savings to the purpose, 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 267 

handsome Madame Sechard had extended her garden as far as 
a brook, by cutting down the vines on some ground she pur- 
chased, and replacing them with grass plots and clumps of 
shrubbery. At the present time the house, surrounded by a 
park of about twenty acres, and enclosed by walls, was con- 
sidered the most imposing place in the neighborhood. 

Old Sechard's former residence, with the outhouses at- 
tached, was now used as the dwelling-house for the manager 
of about twenty acres of vineyard left by him, of five farm- 
steads, bringing in about six thousand francs a year, and 
ten acres of meadow land lying on the further side of the 
stream, exactly opposite the little park; indeed, Madame 
Sechard hoped to include them in it the next year. La 
Verberie was already spoken of in the neighborhood as a 
chateau, and Eve Sechard was known as the Lady of Marsac. 
Lucien, while flattering her vanity, had only followed the 
example of the peasants and vine-dressers. Courtois, the 
owner of the mill, very picturesquely situated a few hundred 
yards from the meadows of La Verberie, was in treaty, it was 
said, with Madame Sechard for the sale of his property ; and 
this acquisition would give the finishing touch to the estate 
and the rank of a "place" in the department. 

Madame Sechard, who did a great deal of good, with as 
much Judgment as generosity, was equally esteemed and loved. 
Her beauty, now really splendid, was at the height of its 
bloom. She was about six-and-twenty, but had preserved 
all the freshness of youth from living in the tranquillity and 
abundance of a country life. Still much in love with her hus- 
band, she respected him as a clever man, who was modest 
enough to renounce the display of fame; in short, to com- 
plete her portrait, it is enough to say that in her whole ex- 
istence she had never felt a throb of her heart that was not 
inspired by her husband or her children. 

The tax paid to grief by this happy household was, as may 
be supposed, the deep anxiety caused by Lucien's career, in 
which Eve Sechard suspected mysteries, which she dreaded 
all the more because, during his last visit, Lucien roughly 



268 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

cut short all his sister's questions b}'^ saying that an ambitious 
man owed no account of his proceedings to any one but him- 
self. 

In six years Lucien had seen his sister but three times, and 
had not written her more than six letters. His first visit to 
La Yerberie had been on the occasion of his mother's death; 
and his last had been paid with a view to asking the favor 
of the lie which was so necessary to his advancement. This 
gave rise to a very serious scene between Monsieur and Ma- 
dame Sechard and their brother, and left their happy and 
respected life troubled by the most terrible suspicions. 

The interior of the house, as much altered as the surround- 
ings, was comfortable without luxury, as will be understood 
by a glance round the room where the little party were now 
assembled. A pretty Aubusson carpet, hangings of gray 
cotton twill bound mth green silk braid, the woodwork 
painted to imitate Spa wood, carved mahogany furniture 
covered with gray woolen stuff and green gimp, with flower- 
stands, gay with flowers in spite of the time of year, pre- 
sented a very pleasing and homelike aspect. The window 
curtains, of green brocade, the chimney ornaments, and the 
mirror frames were untainted by the bad taste that spoils 
everything in the provinces; and the smallest details, all 
elegant and appropriate, gave the mind and eye a sense of 
repose and of the poetry which a clever and loving woman 
can and ought to infuse into her home. 

Madame Sechard, still in mourning for her father, sat 
by the fire working at some large piece of tapestry with the 
help of Madame Kolb, the housekeeper, to whom she intrusted 
all the minor cares of the household. 

Just as the hackney chaise reached the first houses of 
Marsac, the usual party at La Verberie received the addition 
of Courtois the miller, a widower, who was anxious to retire 
from business, and who hoped to sell his property well, since 
Madame Eve was eager to have it — Courtois knew why. 

"A chaise has stopped at the door !" said Courtois, hear- 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 269 

ing the sound of wheels outside; "and to judge by the clatter 
of metal, it belongs to these parts " 

"Postel and his wife have come to see us, no doubt," said 
the doctor. 

"No," said Courtois, "the chaise has come from Mansle." 

"Montame," said Kolb, the burly Alsatian we have made 
acquaintance with in a former volume {IlliLsions perdues), 
''here is a lawyer from Paris who wants to speak with mon- 
sieur." 

"A lawyer !" cried Sechard ; "the very word gives me the 
colic !" 

"Thank you !" said the Maire of Marsac, named Cachan, 
who for twenty years had been an attorney at Angouleme, 
and who had once been required to prosecute Sechard. 

"My poor David will never improve; he will always be 
absent-minded !" said Eve, smiling. 

"A lawyer from Paris," said Courtois. "Have you any 
business in Paris ?" 

"No," said Eve. 

"But you have a brother there," observed Courtois. 

"Take care lest he should have anything to say about old 
Sechard's estate," said Cachan. "He had his finger in some 
very queer concerns, worthy man !" 

Corentin and Derville, on entering the room, after bowing 
to the company and giving their names, begged to have a 
private interview with Monsieur and Madame Sechard. 

"By all means," said Sechard. "But is it a matter of 
business ?" 

"Solely a matter regarding your father's property," said 
Corentin. 

"Then I beg you will allow monsieur — the Maire, a lawyer 
formerly at Angouleme — to be present also." 

"Are you Monsieur Derville?" said Cachan, addressing 
Corentin. 

"'No, monsieur, this is Monsieur Derville," replied Coren- 
tin, introducing the lawyer, who bowed. 

"But," said Sechard, "we are, so to speak, a family party: 



270 A. COURTESAN'S LIFE 

we have no secrets from our neighbors; there is no need to 
retire to my study, where there is no fire — our life is in the 
sight of all men " 

"But your father's/' said Corentin, "was involved in cer- 
tain mysteries which perhaps you would rather not make 
public." 

"Is it anything that we need blush for?" said Eve, in 
alarm. 

"Oh, no ! a sin of his youth," said Corentin, coldly setting 
one of his mouse-traps. "Monsieur, your father left an elder 
son " 

"Oh, the old rascal !" cried Courtois. "He was never very 
fond of you, Monsieur Sechard, and he kept that secret from 
you, the deep old dog! — Now I understand what he meant 
when he used to say to me, 'You shall see wliat you shall see 
when I am under the turf.' " 

"Do not be dismayed, monsieur," said Corentin to Sechard, 
while he watched Eve out of the corner of his eye. 

"A brother !" exclaimed the doctor. "Then your in- 
heritance is divided into two I" 

Derville was affecting to examine the fine engravings, 
proofs before letters, which hung on the drawing-room walls. 

"Do not be dismayed, madame," Corentin went on, seeing 
amazement written on Madame Sechard's handsome features, 
"it is only a natural son. The rights of a natural son are not 
the same as those of a legitimate child. This man is in the 
depths of poverty, and he has a right to a certain sum calcu- 
lated on the amount of the estate. The millions left by your 
father " 

At the word millions there was a perfectly unanimous cry 
from all the persons present. And now Derville ceased to 
study the prints. 

"Old Sechard ?— Millions ?" said Courtois. "Who on earth 
told you that? Some peasant " 

"Monsieur," said Cachan, "you are not attached to the 
Treasury? You may be told all the facts " 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 271 

"Be quite easy," said Corentin, "I give you my word of 
honor I am not employed by the Treasury." 

Cachan, who had just signed to everybody to say nothing, 
gave expression to his satisfaction. 

"Monsieur," Corentin went on, "if the whole estate were 
but a million, a natural child's share would still be something 
considerable. But we have not come to threaten a lawsuit : 
on the contrary, our purpose is to propose that you should 
hand over one hundred thousand francs, and we will de- 
part " 

"One hundred thousand francs !" cried Cachan, interrupt- 
ing him. "But, monsieur, old Sechard left twenty acres of 
vineyard, five small farms, ten acres of meadowland here, and 
not a sou besides '' 

"Nothing on earth," cried David Sechard, "would induce 
me to tell a lie, and less on a question of money than on 
any other. — Monsieur," he said, turning to Corentin and 
Derville, "my father left us, besides the land " 

Courtois and Cachan signaled in vain to Sechard ; he 
went on: 

"Three liundred thousand francs, which raises the whole 
estate to about five hundred thousand francs." 

"Monsieur Cachan," asked Eve Sechard, "what proportion 
does the law allot to a natural child?" 

"Madame," said Corentin, "we are not Turks; we only 
require you to swear before these gentlemen that you did not 
inherit more than five hundred thousand francs from your 
father-in-law, and we can come to an understanding." 

"First give me your word of honor that you really are a 
lawv'er," said Cachan to Derville. 

"Here is my passport," replied Derville, handing him a 
paper folded in four; "and monsieur is not, as you might 
suppose, an inspector from the Treasury, so be easy," he 
added. "We had an important reason for wanting to know 
the truth as to the Sechard estate, and we now know it." 

Derville took Madame Sechard's hand and led her very 
courteously to the further end of the room. 



272 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"Madame/' said he, in a low voice, "if it were not that 
the honor and future prospects of the house of Grandlieu 
are implicated in this affair, I would never have lent myself 
to the stratagem devised by this gentleman of the red ribbon. 
But you must forgive him; it was necessary to detect the 
falsehood by means of which your brother has stolen a march 
on the beliefs of that ancient family. Beware now of allow- 
ing it to be supposed that you have given your brother 
twelve hundred thousand francs to repurchase the Eubempre 
estates " 

"Twelve hundred thousand francs!" cried Madame 
Sechard, turning pale. "Where did he get them, wretched 
boy?" 

"Ah ! that is the question," replied Derville. "I fear that 
the source of his wealth is far from pure." 

The tears rose to Eve's eyes, as her neighbors could see. 

"We have, perhaps, done you a great service by saving you 
from abetting a falsehood of which the results may be posi- 
tively dangerous," the lawyer went on. 

Derville left Madame Sechard sitting pale and dejected 
with tears on her cheeks, and bowed to the company. 

"To Mansle!" said Corentin to the little boy who drove 
the chaise. 

There was but one vacant place in the diligence from 
Bordeaux to Paris; Derville begged Corentin to allow him 
to take it, urging a press of business ; but in his soul he was 
distrustful of his traveling companion, whose diplomatic 
dexterity and coolness struck him as being the result of prac- 
tice. Corentin remained three days longer at Mansle, unable 
to get away; he was obliged to secure a place in the Paris 
coach by writing to Bordeaux, and did not get back till nine 
days after leaving home. 

Peyrade, meanwhile, had called every morning, either at 
Passy or in Paris, to inquire whether Corentin had returned. 
On the eighth day he left at each house a note, written in their 
peculiar cipher, to explain to his friend what death hung 
over him, and to tell him of Lydie's abduction and the hor- 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 273 

rible end to which his enemies had devoted them. Peyrade, 
bereft of Corentin, but seconded by Contenson, still kept up 
his disguise as a nabob. Even though his invisible foes had 
discovered him, he very wisely reflected that he might glean 
some light on the matter by remaining on the field of the 
contest. 

Contenson had brought all his experience into play in his 
search for Lydie, and hoped to discover in what house she was 
hidden ; but as the days went by, the impossibility, absolutely 
demonstrated, of tracing the slightest clue, added, hour by 
hour, to Peyrade's despair. The old spy had a sort of guard 
about him of twelve or fifteen of the most experienced detec- 
tives. They watched the neighborhood of the Eue des Moi- 
neaux and the Eue Taitbout — where he lived, as a nabob, with 
Madame du Val-Noble. During the last three days of the 
term granted by Asie to reinstate Lucien on his old footing 
in the Hotel de Grandlieu, Contenson never left the veteran 
of the old general police office. And the poetic terror shed 
throughout the forests of America by the arts of inimical 
and warring tribes, of which Cooper made such good use in 
his novels, was here associated with the petty details of Paris 
life. The foot-passengers, the shops, the hackney cabs, a 
figure standing at a window, — everything had to the human 
ciphers to whom old Peyrade had intrusted his safety the 
thrilling interest which attaches in Cooper's romances to a 
beaver-village, a rock, a bison-robe, a floating canoe, a weed 
straggling over the water. 

"If the Spaniard is gone away, you have nothing to fear," 
said Contenson to Peyrade, remarking on the perfect peace 
they lived in. 

"But if he is not gone?" observed Peyrade. 

"He took one of my men at the back of the chaise ; but at 
Blois, my man having to get down, could not catch the chaise 
up again." 

Five days after Derville's return, Lucien one morning had 
a call from Rastignac. 



274 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"I am in despair, my dear boy/' said his visitor, "at finding 
myself compelled to deliver a message which is intrusted to 
me because we are known to be intimate. Your marriage is 
broken off beyond all hope of reconciliation. Xever set foot 
again in the Hotel de Grandlieu. To marry Clotilde you 
must wait till her father dies, and he is too selfish to die yet 
awhile. Old whist-players sit at table — the card-table — very 
late. 

"Clotilde is setting out for Italy with Madeleine de Lenon- 
court-Chaulieu. The poor girl is so madly in love with you. 
my dear fellow, that they have to keep an eye on her ; she was 
bent on coming to see you, and had plotted an escape. That 
may comfort 30U in misfortune !"' 

Lucien made no reply ; he sat gazing at Kastignac. 

"And is it a misfortune, after all?" his friend went on. 
"You will easily find a girl as well born and better looking 
than Clotilde ! Madame de Serizy will find you a wife out of 
spite; she cannot endure the Grandlieus, who never would 
have anything to say to her. She has a niece, little Clemencc 
du Rouvre "' 

"My dear boy," said J^ucien at length, "•since that si 'ler 
I am not on terms with Madame de Serizy — she saw lue in 
Esther's box and made a scene — and I left her to herself." 

"A woman of forty does not long keep up a quarrel with so 
handsome a man as you are,"' said Kastignac. "I know some- 
thing of these sunsets. — It lasts ten minutes in the sky, and 
ten years in a woman's heart." 

"I have waited a week to hear from her." 

"Go and call." 

"Yes, I must now." 

"Are you coming at any rate to the Val-Xoble's? Her 
nabob is returning the supper given by i^ucingen." 

"I am asked, and I shall go," said Lucien gravely. 

The day after this confirmation of his disaster, which 
Carlos heard of at once from Asie, Lucien went to the Rue 
Taitbout with Rastignac and Nucingen. 

At midnight nearly all the personages of this drama were 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 275 

assembled in the dining-room that had formerly been Es- 
ther's — a drama of which the interest lay hidden under the 
very bed of these tumultuous lives, and was known only to 
Esther, to Lucien, to Peyrade, to Contenson, the mulatto, and 
to Paccard, who attended his mistress. Asie, without its 
being known to Contenson and Peyrade, had been asked by 
Madame du Val-Noble to come and help her cook. 

As they sat down to table, Peyrade, who had given Madame 
du Val-Noble five hundred francs that the thing might be 
well done, found under his napkin a scrap of paper on which 
these words were written in pencil, "The ten days are up at 
the moment when you sit down to supper.'' 

Peyrade handed the paper to Contenson, who was standing 
behind him, saying in English : 

"I>id you put my name here ?*' 

Contenson read by the light of the wax-candles this "Mene, 
Tehel, Upharsin" and slipped the scrap into his pocket; but 
he knew how difficult it is to verify a handwriting in pencil, 
and, above all, a sentence written in Eoman capitals, that is 
to say, with mathematical lines, since capital letters are 
^rij-i|y made up of straight lines and curves, in which it is 
uip .ssible to detect any trick of the hand, as in what is called 
unning-hand. 

The supper was absolutely devoid of spirit. Peyrade was 
\-,isibiy absent-minded. Of the men about town who give life 
to a supper, only Rastignac and Lucien were present. Lucien 
was gloomy and absorbed in thought; Rastignac, who had 
lost two thousand francs before supper, ate and drank with 
tlie hope of recovering them later. The thre^ women, stricken 
by this chill, looked at each other. Dulness deprived the 
dishes of all relish. Suppers, like plays and books, have their 
good and bad luck. 

At the end of the meal ices were served, of the kind called 
plombieres. As everybody knows, this kind of dessert has 
delicate preserved fruits laid on the top of the ice, which is 
served in a little glass, not heaped above the rim. These ices 
had been ordered by Madame du Val-Noble of Tortoni, whose 



276 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

famous shop is at the corner of the Eue Taitbout and the 
Boulevard. 

The cook called Contenson out of the room to pay the bill. 

Contenson, who thought this demand on the part of the 
shop-boy rather strange, went downstairs and startled him by 
saying: 

"Then you have not come from Tortoni's ?" and then went 
straight upstairs again. 

Paccard had meanwhile handed the ices to the comps^iy in 
his absence. The mulatto had hardly reached the door when 
one of the police constables who had kept watch in the Rue 
des Moineaux called up the stairs: 

"ISTumber twenty-seven." 

''What's up?" replied Contenson, flying down again. 

"Tell Papa that his daughter has come home; but, good 
God! in what a state. Tell him to come at once; she is 
dying." 

At the moment when Contenson re-entered the dining- 
room, old Peyrade, who had drunk a great deal, was swal- 
lowing the cherry off his ice. They were drinking to the 
health of Madame du Val-jSToble; the nabob filled his glass 
with Constantia and emptied it. 

In spite of his distress at the news he had to give Peyrade, 
Contenson was struck by the eager attention with which Pac-- 
card was looking at the nabob. His eyes sparkled like twt; 
fixed flames. Although it seemed important, still this could 
not delay the mulatto, who leaned over his master, just as 
Peyrade set his glass down. 

"Lydie is at home," said Contenson, "in a very sad state." 

Peyrade rattled out the most French of all French oaths 
with such a strong Southern accent that all the guests looked 
up in amazement. Peyrade, discovering his blunder, ac- 
knowledged his disguise by saying to Contenson in good 
French : 

"Find me a coach — I'm ofE/' 

Every one rose. 

"Why, who are you ?" said Lucien. « 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 277 

"Ja — who ?" said the Baron. 

"Bixiou told me you shammed Englishman better than he 
could, and I would not believe him/' said Rastignac. 

"Some bankrupt caught in disguise," said du Tillet loudly. 
"I suspected as much !" 

"A strange place is Paris !" said Madame du Val-Noble. 
"After being bankrupt in his own part of the town, a mer- 
chant turns up as a nabob or a dandy in the Champs-filysees 
with impunity ! — Oh ! I am unlucky ! bankrupts are my 
bane." 

"Every flower has its peculiar blight !" said Esther quietly. 
"Mine is like Cleopatra's — an asp." 

"Who am I?" echoed Peyrade from the door. "You will 
know ere long; for if I die, I will rise from my grave to 
clutch your feet every night !" 

He looked at Esther and Lucien as he spoke, then he took 
advantage of the general dismay to vanish with the utmost 
rapidity, meaning to run home without waiting for the coach. 
In the street the spy was gripped by the arm as he crossed the 
threshold of the outer gate. It was Asie, wrapped in a black 
hood such as ladies then wore on leaving a ball. 

"Send for the Sacraments, Papa Peyrade," said she, in the 
voice that had already prophesied ill. 

A coach was waiting. Asie jumped in, and the carriage 
vanished as though the wind had swept it away. There were 
five carriages waiting ; Peyrade's men could find out nothing. 

On reaching his house in the Rue des Vignes, one of the 
quietest and prettiest nooks of the little town of Passy, Coren- 
tin, who was known there as a retired merchant passionately 
devoted to gardening, found his friend Peyrade's note in 
cipher. Instead of resting, he got into the hackney coach 
that had brought him thither, and was driven to the Rue des 
Moineaux, where he found only Katt. From her he heard 
of Lydie's disappearance, and remained astounded at Pey- 
rade's and his own want of foresight. 

"But they do not know me yet," said he to himself. "This 



278 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

crew is capable of anything ; I must find out if they are kill- 
ing Peyrade ; for if so, I must not be seen any more " 

The viler a man's life is, the more he clings to it ; it becomes 
at every moment a protest and a revenge. 

Corentin went back to the cab, and drove to his rooms to 
assume the disguise of a feeble old man, in a scanty greenish 
overcoat and a tow wig. Then he returned on foot, prompted 
by his friendship for Peyrade. He intended to give instruc- 
tions to his most devoted and cleverest underlings. 

As he went along the Eue Saint-Honore to reach the Eue 
Saint-Eoch from the Place Yendome, he came up behind a 
girl in slippers, and dressed as a woman dresses for the night. 
She had on a white bed-jacket and a nightcap, and from time 
to time gave vent to a sob and an involuntar}' groan. Coren- 
tin out-paced her, and turning round, recognized Lydie. 

"I am a friend of your father's, of Monsieur Canquoelle's," 
said he in his natural voice. 

"Ah I then here is some one I can trust !" said she. 

"Do not seem to have recognized me," Corentin went on, 
"for we are pursued by relentless foes, and are obliged to dis- 
guise ourselves. But tell me what has befallen you?" 

"Oh, monsieur," said the poor child, "the facts but not the 
story can be told — I am ruined, lost, and I do not know 
how " 

'^"here have you come from ?" 

"I don't know, monsieur. I fled with such precipitancy, 
I have come through so many streets, round so many turnings, 
fancying I was being followed. And when I met any one 
that seeitied decent, I asked my way to get back to the Boule- 
vards, so as to find the Eue de la Paix. And at last, after 
walking WTaat o'clock is it, monsieur ?" 

"Half-past eleven," said Corentin. 

"I escaped at nightfall," said Lydie. "I have been walking 
for five hours." 

'^ell, come along; you can rest now; you will find your 
good Katt." 

"Oh, monsieur, there is no rest for me ! I only want to 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 279 

rest in the grave, and I will go and wait for death in a con- 
vent if I am worthy to be admitted '' 

"Poor little girl ! — But you struggled ?" 

"Oh yes ! Oh ! if you could only imagine the abject crea- 
tures they placed me with !" 

"They sent you to sleep, no doubt ?'" 

"Ah ! that is it" cried poor Lydie. "A little more strength 
and I should be at home. I feel I am dropping, and my brain 
is not quite clear. — Just now I fancied I was in a garden " 

Corentin took Lydie in his arms, and she lost consciousness ; 
he carried her upstairs. 

"Katt !'■ he called. 

Katt came out with exclamations of joy. 

"Don't be in too great a hurry to be glad I" said Corentin 
gravely; "the girl is very ill." 

When Lydie was laid on her bed and recognized her own 
room by the light of two candles that Katt lighted, she be- 
came delirious. She sang scraps of pretty airs, broken by 
vociferations of horrible sentences she had heard. Her pretty 
face was mottled with purple patches. She mixed up the 
reminiscences of her pure childhood with those of these ten 
days of infamy. Katt sat weeping ; Corentin paced the room, 
stopping now and again to gaze at Lydie. 
■-.^ "She is paying her father's debt," said he. "Is there a 
Providence above ? Oh, I was wise not to have a family. On 
my word of honor, a child is indeed a hostage given to mis- 
fortune, as some philosopher has said." 

"Oh !" cried the poor child, sitting up in bed and throwing 
back her fine long hair, "instead of lying here, Katt, I ought 
to be stretched in the sand at the bottom of the Seine !" 

"Katt, instead of crying and looking at yo^^r child, which 
will never cure her, you ought to go for a doctor ; the medical 
officer in the first instance, and then Monsieur Desplein and 
Monsieur Bianchon We must save this innocent crea- 
ture." 

And Corentin wrote down the addresses of these two famous 
physicians. 



2S0 "" A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

At tlii^ moment, up the stairs came some one to whom they 
were familiar, and the door was opened. Peyrade, in a violent 
sweat, his face purple, his eyes almost blood-stained, and 
gasping like a dolphin, rushed from the outer door to Lydie's 
room, exclaiming: 

"Where is my child ?" 

He saw a melancholy sign from Corentin, and his eyes fol- 
lowed his friend's hand. Lydie's condition can only be com- 
pared to that of a flower tenderly cherished by a gardener, 
now fallen from its stem, and crushed by the iron-clamped 
shoes of some peasant. Ascribe this simile to a father's heart, 
and you will understand the blow that fell on Peyrade; the 
tears started to his eyes. 

"You are crying ! — It is my father !" said the girl. 

She could still recognize her father ; she got out of bed and 
fell on her knees at the old man's side as he sank into a chair. 

"Forgive me, papa," said she in a tone that pierced Pey- 
rade's heart, and at the same moment he was conscious of 
what felt like a tremendous blow on his head. 

"I am dying ! — the villains !" were his last words. 

Corentin tried to help his friend, and received his latest 
breath. 

"Dead ! Poisoned !" said he to himself. "Ah ! here is the 
doctor!" he exclaimed, hearing the soimd of wheels. 

Contenson, who came with his mulatto disguise removed, 
[^tood like a bronze statue as he heard Lydie say: 

"Then you do not forgive me, father? — But it was not my 
fault !" 

She did not understand that her father was dead. 

"Oh, how he stares at me !" cried the poor crazy girl. 

"We must close his eyes," said Contenson, lifting Peyrade 
on to the bed. 

"We are doing a stupid thing," said Corentin. "Let us 
{ arry him into his own room. His daughter is half demented, 
and she will go quite mad when she sees that he is dead ; she 
will fancy that she has killed him." 

Tjydie, seeing them carry away her father, looked quite 
stupefied. 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 281 

"There lies my only friend !" said Corentin, seeming much 
moved when Peyrade was laid out on the bed in his own 
room. "In all his life he never had but one impulse of cu- 
pidity, and that was for his daughter ! — Let him be an ex- 
ample to you, Contenson. Every line of life has its code of 
honor. Peyrade did wrong when he mixed himself up with 
private concerns ; we have no business to meddle with any but 
public cases. 

"But come what may, I swear," said he with a voice, an 
emphasis, a look that struck horror into Contenson, "to 
avenge my poor Peyrade ! I will discover the men who are 
guilty of his death and of his daughter's ruin. And as sure 
as I am myself, as I have yet a few days to live, which I will 
risk to accomplish that vengeance, every man of them shall 
die at four o'clock, in good health, by a clean shave on the 
Place de Greve." 

"And I will help you," said Contenson with feeling. 

Nothing, in fact, is more heart-stirring than the spectacle 
of passion in a cold, self-contained, and methodical man, in 
whom, for twenty years, no one has ever detected the smallest 
impulse of sentiment. It is like a molten bar of iron which 
melts everything it touches. And Contenson was moved to 
his depths. 

"Poor old Canquoelle !" said he, looking at Corentin. "He 
has treated me many a time. — And, I tell you, only your bad 
sort know how to do such things — ^but often has he given me 
ten francs to go and gamble with . . ." 

After this funeral oration, Peyrade's two avengers went 
back to Lydie's room, hearing Katt and the medical officer 
from the Mairie on the stairs. 

"Go and fetch the Chief of the Police," said Corentin. "The 
public prosecutor will not find grounds for a prosecution in 
the case ; still, we will report it to the Prefecture ; it may, 
perhaps, be of some use. 

"Monsieur," he went on to the medical officer, "in this 
room you will see a dead man. I do not believe that he died 
from natural causes ; you will be good enough to make a post- 



282 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

mortem in the presence of the Chief of the Police, who will 
come at my request. Try to discover some traces of poison. 
You will, in a few minutes, have the opinion of Monsieur 
Desplein and Monsieur Bianchon, for whom I have sent to 
examine the daughter of my best friend ; she is in a worse 
plight than he, though he is dead." 

"1 have no need of those gentlemen's assistance in the exer- 
cise of my duty," said the medical officer. 

"Well, well," thought Corentin. "Let us have no clashing, 
monsieur," he said. "In two words I give you my opinion — 
Those who have just murdered the father have also ruined the 
daughter." 

By daylight Lydie had yielded to fatigue; when the great 
surgeon and the young physician arrived she was asleep. 

The doctor, whose duty it was to sign the death certificate, 
had now opened Peyrade's body, and was seeking the cause of 
death. 

"While waiting for your patient to awake," said Corentin 
to the two famous doctors, "would you join one of your pro- 
fessional brethren in an examination which cannot fail to in- 
terest you, and your opinion will be valuable in case of an 
inquiry." 

"Your relation died of apoplexy^" said the official. "There 
are all the symptoms of violent congestion of the brain." 

"Examine him, gentlemen, and see if there is no poison 
capable of producing similar symptoms." 

"The stomach is, in fact, full of food substances ; but short 
of chemical analysis, I find no evidence of poison. 

"If the characters of cerebral congestion are well ascer- 
tained, we have here, considering the patient's age, a sufficient 
cause of death," observed Desplein, looking at the enormous 
mass of material. 

"Did he sup here ?" asked Bianchon. ^ 

"No," said Corentin; "he came here in great haste from 
the Boulevard, and found his daughter ruined " 

"That was the poison if he loved his daughter," said 
Bianchon. 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 283 

''What known poison could produce a similar effect ?" asked 
Corentin, clinging to his idea. 

"There is but one/' said Desplein, after a careful examina- 
tion. "It is a poison found in the Malayan Archipelago, and 
derived from trees, as yet but little known, of the strychnos 
family ; it is used to poison that dangerous weapon, the Malay 
kris. — At least, so it is reported." 

The Police Commissioner presently arrived; Corentin told 
him his suspicions, and begged him to draw up a report, tell- 
ing him where and with whom Peyrade had supped, and the 
causes of the state in which he found Lydie. 

Corentin then went to Lydie's rooms ; Desplein and Bian- 
chon had been examining the poor child. He met them at the 
door. 

"Well, gentlemen?" asked Corentin. 

"Place the girl under medical care ; unless she recovers her 
wits when her child is born — if indeed she should have a child 
— she will end her days melancholy-mad. There is no hope 
of a cure but in the maternal instinct, if it can be aroused." 

Corentin paid each of the physicians forty francs in gold. 
and then turned to the Police Commissioner, who had pulled 
him by the sleeve. 

"The medical officer insists on it that death was natural," 
said this functionary, "and I can hardly report the case, es- 
pecially as the dead man was old Canquoelle; he had his 
finger in too many pies, and we should not be sure whom we 
might run foul of. Men like that die to order very often " 

"And my name is Corentin," said Corentin in the man's 
ear. 

The Commissioner started with surprise. ' 

"So just make a note of all this," Corentin went on ; "it will 
be very useful by and by ; send it up only as confidential infor- 
mation. The crime cannot be proved, and I know that any in- 
quiry would be checked at the very outset. — But I will catch 
the criminals some day yet. I will watch them and take them 
red-handed." 

The police official bowed to Corentin and left. 



284 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

""Nronsieur," said Katt. "!Ma demoiselle does nothing but 
dance and sing. What can I do?" 

"Has any charge occurred then?" 

"She has understood that her father is just dead." 

"Put her into a hackney coach, and simply take her to Cha- 
renton; I will write a note to the Commissioner-General of 
Police to secure her being suitably provided for. — The 
daughter in Charenton, the father in a pauper's grave !" 
said Corentin — "Contenson, go and fetch the parish hearse. 
And now, Don Carlos Herrera, you and I will fight it out !" 
_ "Carlos?" said Contenson, "he is in Spain." 

"He is in Paris," said Corentin positively. "There is a 
touch of Spanish genius of the Philip II. type in all this; but 
I have pitfalls for everybody, even for kings." 

Five days after the nabob's disappearance, Madame du Val- 
Noble was sitting by Esther's bedside weeping, for she felt her- 
self on one of the slopes down to poverty. 

"If I only had at least a hundred louis a year ! With that 
sum, my dear, a woman can retire to some little town and find 
a husband " 

"I can get you as much as that;' said Esther. 

"How ?" cried Madame du A^al-Xoble. 

"Oh, in a very simple way. Listen. You must want to 
kill yourself; play your part well. Send for Asie and offer 
her ten thousand francs for two black beads of very thin glass 
containing a poison which kills you in a second. Bring them 
to me, and I will give you fifty thousand francs for them." 

"^Yliy do you not ask her for them yourself?" said her 
friend. 

"Asie would not sell them to me." 

"They are not for yourself ?" said Madame du Val- ■SToble. 

"Perhaps." 

"You I who live in the midst of pleasure and luxury, in a 
house of your own? And on the eve of an entertainment 
which will be the talk of Paris for ten years — which is to cost 
Nucingen twenty thousand francs! There are to be straw- 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 285 

berries in mid-February, they say, asparagus, grapes, melons ! 
— and a thousand crowns' worth of flowers in the rooms." 

"What are you talking about? There are a thousand 
crowns' worth of roses on the stairs alone." 

"And your gown is said to have cost ten thousand francs ?" 

"Yes, it is of Brussels point, and Delphine, his wife, is 
furious. But I had a fancy to be disguised as a bride." 

"Where are the ten thousand francs?" asked Madame du 
Val-Noble. 

"It is all the ready money I have," said Esther, smiling. 
"Open my table drawer ; it is under the curl-papers." 

"People who talk of dying never kill themselves," said Ma- 
dame du Val-Noble. "If it were to commit " 

"A crime ? For shame !" said Esther, finishing her friend's 
thought, as she hesitated. "Be quite easy, I have no inten- 
tion of killing anybody. I had a friend — a very happy wo- 
man; she is dead, I must follow her — that is all." 

"How foolish !" 

"How can I help it? I promised her I would." 

"I should let that bill go dishonored," said her friend, 
smiling. 

"Do as I tell you, and go at once. I hear a carriage com- 
ing. It is Nucingen, a man who will go mad with joy ! Yes, 
he loves me ! — Why do we not love those who love us, for in- 
deed they do all they can to please us ?" 

"Ah, that is the question !" said Madame du Val-Noble. 
"It is the old story of the herring, which is the most puzzling 
fish that swims." 

"Why?" 

"Well, no one could ever find out." 

"Get along, my dear ! — I must ask for your fifty thousand 
francs." 

"Good-bye then." 

For three days past, Esther's ways with the Baron de Nu- 
cingen had completely changed. The monkey had become a 
cat, the cat had become a woman. Esther poured out treasures 
of affection on the old man; she was quite charming. Her 



286 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

way of addressing him, with a total absence of mischief or 
bitterness, and all sorts of tender insinuation, had carried 
conviction to the banker's slow wit ; she called him Fritz, and 
he believed that she loved him. 

"My pooi; Fritz, I have tried you sorely," said she. "I 
have teased you shamefully. Your patience has been sublime. 
You loved me, I see, and I will reward you. I like you now ; 
I do not know how it is, but I should prefer you to a young 
man. It is the result of experience perhaps. — In the long 
run we discover at last that pleasure is the coin of the soul; 
and it is not more flattering to be loved for the sake of 
pleasure than it is to be loved for the sake of money. 

"Besides, 3'oung men are too selfish; they think more of 
themselves than of us ; while you, now, think only of me. I 
am all your life to you. And I will take nothing more from 
you. I want to prove to you how disinterested I am." 

"Vy, I hafe gifen you notink," cried the Baron, enchanted. 
"I propose to gife you to-morrow tirty tousant francs a year 
in a Government bond. Dat is mein vedding gift." 

Esther kissed the Baron so sweetly that he turned pale 
without any pills. 

"Oh !" cried she, "do not suppose that I am sweet to you 
only for your thirty thousand francs ! It is because — now — 
I love you, my good, fat Frederic." 

"Ach, mein Gott ! Vy hafe you kept me vaiting ? I might 
hafe been so happy all dese tree monts." 

"In three or in five per cents, my pet ?" said Esther, pass- 
ing her fingers through Nucingen's hair, and arranging it in 
a fashion of her own. 

"In trees — I hat a quautit}'." 

So next morning the Baron brought the certificate of 
shares; he came to breakfast with his dear little girl, and to 
take her orders for the following evenijig, the famous Sat- 
urday, the great day ! 

"Here, my little vife, my only vife," said the banker glee- 
fully, his face radiant with ■ happiness. "Here is enough 
money to pay for your keep for de rest of your days." 



0" -v 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 287 



Esther took the paper without the slightest excitement, 
folded it up, and put it in her dressing-table drawer. 

"So now you are quite happy, you monster of iniquity !" 
said she, giving ISTucingen a little slap on the cheek, "now 
that I have at last accepted a present from you. I can no 
longer tell you home-truths, for I share the fruit of what you 
call your labors. This is not a gift, my poor old boy, it is 
restitution. — Come, do not put on your Bourse face. You 
know that I love you." 

"My lofely Esther, mein anchel of lofe," said the banker, 
"do not speak to me like dat. I tell you, I should not care 
ten all de vorld took me for a tief, if you should tink me 
ein honest man. — I lofe you every day more and more." 

"That is my intention," said Esther. "And I will never 
again say anything to distress you, my pet elephant, for yovi 
are grown as artless as a baby. Bless me, you old rascal, you 
have nev6r known any innocence ; the alloM^ance bestowed on 
YOU when you came into the world was bound to come to the 
top some day; but it was buried so deep that it is only now 
reappearing at the age of sixty-six. Fished up by love's 
barbed hook. — This phenomenon is seen in old men. 

"And this is why I have learned to love you, you are young 
— so young ! No one but I would ever have known this, 
Frederic — I alone. For you were a banker at fifteen; even 
at college you must have lent your school-fellows one marble 
on condition of their returning two." 

Seeing him laugh, she sprang on to his knee. 

"Well, you must do as you please ! Bless me ! plunder 
the men — go ahead, and I will help. Men are not worth lov- 
ing; Napoleon killed them off like flies. Whether they pay 
taxes to you or to the Government, what difference does it 
make to them? You don't make love over the budget, and 
on my honor ! — go ahead, I have thought it over, and you 
are right. Shear the sheep ! you will find it in the gospel ac- 
cording to Beranger. 

"Now, kiss your Esther. — I say, you will give that poor 
Val-Noble all the furniture in the Eue Taitbout? And to- 



r 



288 A COrRTESAN'S LIFE 

morrow I wish 3^ou would give her fifty thousand francs — it 
would look handsome, my duck. You see, you killed Falleix ; 
people are beginning to cry out upon you, and this liberality 
will look Babylonian — all the women will talk about it ! Oh ! 
there will be no one in Paris so grand, so noble as you; and 
as the world is constituted, Falleix will be forgotten. So, 
after all, it will be money deposited at interest." 

"You are right, mein anchel ; you know the vorld," he re- 
plied. "You shall be mein adfiser."' 

"Well, you see," said Esther, "how I study my man's in- 
terest, his position and honor. — Go at once and bring those 
fifty thousand francs." 

She wanted to get rid of Monsieur de Xucingen so as to 
get a stockbroker to sell the bond that very afternoon. 

"But vy dis minute?" asked he. 

"Bless me, my sweetheart, you must give it to her in a 
little satin box wrapped round a fan. You must say, 'Here, 
madame, is a fan which I hope may be to your taste.' — You 
are supposed to be a Turearet, and you will become a 
Beaujon." 

"Charming, charming!" cried the Baron. "I shall be so 
clever henceforth. — Yes, I shall repeat your vorts." 

Just as Esther had sat do\vn, tired with the eifort of playing 
her part, Europe came in. 

"Madame," said she, "here is a messenger sent from the 
Quai Malaquais by Celestin, M. Lucien's servant " 

"Bring him in — no, I will go into the ante-room." 

"He has a letter for you, madame, from Celestin." 

Esther rushed into the ante-room, looked at the messenger, 
and saw that he looked like the genuine thing. 

"Tell him to come down," said Esther, in a feeble voice, 
and dropping into a chair after reading the letter. "Lucien 
means to kill himself," she added in a whisper to Europe. 
"No, take the letter up to him." 

Carlos Herrera, still in bis disguise as a bagman, came 
dovmstairs at once, and keenly scrutinized the messenger on 
seeing a stranger in the ante-room. 



WHAT LOVE COSTS J> 28J> 

"You said there was no one here/" said he in a whisper to 
Europe. 

And with an excess of prudence, after looking at the mes- 
senger, he went straight into the drawing-room. Trompe-la- 
Mort did not know that for some time past the famous con- 
stable of the detective force who had arrested him at the 
Maison Vauquer had a rival, who, it was supposed, would re- 
place him. This rival was the messenger. 

"They are right," said the sham messenger to Contenson, 
who was waiting for him in the street. "The man you 
describe is in the house ; but he is not a Spaniard, and I will 
burn my hand off if there is not a bird for our net under that 
priest's gown." 

"He is no more a priest than he is a Spaniard," said Con- 
tenson. 

"I am sure of that," said the detective. 

"Oh, if only we were right !" said Contenson. 

Lucien had been away for two days, and advantage had 
been taken of his absence to lay this snare, but he returned 
this evening, and the courtesan's anxieties were allayed. Next 
morning, at the hour when Esther, having taken a bath, was 
getting into bed again, Madame du Val-Noble arrived. 

"I have the two pills !" said her friend. 

"Let me see," said Esther, raising herself with her pretty 
elbow buried in a pillow trimmed with lace. 

Madame du Val-Noble held out to her what looked like 
two black currants. 

The Baron had given Esther a pair of greyhounds of 
famous pedigree, which will be always known by the name 
of the great contemporary poet who made them fashionable; 
and Esther, proud of owning them, had called them by the 
names of their parents, Romeo and Juliet. No need here to 
describe the whiteness and grace of these beasts, trained for 
the drawing-room, with manners suggestive of English pro- 
priety. Esther called Eomeo ; Eomeo ran up on legs so 
supple and thin, so strong and sinewy, that they seemed like 



290 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

steel springs, and looked up at his mistress. Esther, to at- 
tract his attention, pretended to throw one of the pills. 

"He is doomed by his name to die thus," said she, as she 
threw the pill, which Komeo crushed between his teeth. 

The dog made no sound; he rolled over, and was stark 
dead. It was all over while Esther spoke these words of 
epitaph. 

"Good God !" shrieked Madame du Val-Noble. 

"You have a cab waiting. Carry away the departed 
Romeo," said Esther. "His death would make a commotion 
here. I have given him to you, and you have lost him — 
advertise for him. Make haste; you will have your fifty 
thousand francs this evening." 

She spoke so calmly, so entirely with the cold indifference 
of a courtesan, that Madame du Yal-Xoble exclaimed: 

"You are the Queen of us all !" 

"Come early, and look very well " 

At five o'clock Esther dressed herself as a bride. She put 
on her lace dress over white satin, she had a white sash, white 
satin shoes, and a scarf of English point lace over her beau- 
tiful shoulders. In her hair she placed white camellia flow- 
ers, the simple ornament of an innocent girl. On her bosom 
lay a pearl necklace worth thirty thousand francs, a gift from 
Nucingen. 

Though she was dressed by six, she refused to see anybody, 
even the banker. Europe knew that Lucien was to be ad- 
mitted to her room. Lucien came at about seven, and Europe 
managed to get him up to her mistress without anybody 
knowing of his arrival. 

Lucien, as he looked at her, said to himself, "Why not 
go and live with her at Rnbempre, far from the world, and 
never see Paris again ? I have an earnest of five years of her 
life, and the dear creature is one of those who never belie 
themselves ! Where can I find such another perfect master- 
piece ?" 

"My dear,, you whom I have made my God," said Esther, 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 291 

kneeling down on a cushion in front of Lucien, "give me 
your blessing." 

Lucien tried to raise her and kiss her, saying, "What is this 
jest, my dear love ?" And he would have put his arm round 
her, but she freed herself with a gesture as much of respect as 
of horror. 

"I am no longer worthy of you, Lucien," said she, letting 
the tears rise to her eyes. "I implore you, give me your bless- 
ing, and swear to me that you will found two beds at the 
Hotel -Dieu — for, as to prayers in church, God will never for- 
give me unless I pray myself. 

"I have loved you too well, my dear. Tell me that I made 
you happy, and that you will sometimes think of me. — Tell 
me that !" 

Lucien saw that Esther was solemnly in earnest, and he 
sat thinking. 

"You mean to kill yourself," said he at last, in a tone of 
voice that revealed deep reflection. 

"No," said she. "But to-day, my dear, the woman dies, 
the pure, chaste, and loving woman who once was yours. — 
And I am very much afraid that I shall die of grief." 

"Poor child," said Lucien, "wait ! I have worked hard 
these two days. I have succeeded in seeing Clotilde " 

"Always Clotilde !" cried Esther, in a tone of concen- 
trated rage. 

"Yes," said he, "we have written to each other. — On Tues- 
day morning she is to set out for Italy, but I shall meet her on 
the road for an interview at Fontainebleau." 

"Bless me ! what is it that you men want for wives ? 
Wooden laths ?" cried poor Esther. "If I had seven or eight 
millions, would you not marry me — come now?" 

"Child ! I was going to say that if all is over for me, I Avill 
have no wife but you." 

Esther bent her head to hide her sudden pallor and the 
tears she wiped away. 

"You love me?" said she. looking at Lucien with the deep- 
est melancholy. "Well, that is my sufficient blessing. — Do 



292 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

not compromise yourself. Go away by the side door, and 
come in to the drawing-room through the ante-room. Kiss 
me on the forehead." 

She threw her arms round Lucien, clasped him to her heart 
with frenzy, and said again: 

"Go, only go — or I must live." 

When the doomed woman appeared in the drawing-room, 
there was a cry of admiration. Esther's eyes expressed in- 
finitude in which the soul sank as it looked into them. Her 
blue-black and beautiful hair set off the camellias. In short, 
this exquisite creature achieved all the effects she had in- 
tended. She had no rival. She looked like the supreme 
expression of that unbridled luxury which surrounded her 
in every form. Then she was brilliantly witty. She ruled 
the orgy with the cold, calm power that Habeneck displays 
when conducting at the Conservatoire, at those concerts where 
the first musicians in Europe rise to the sublime in interpret- 
ing Mozart and Beethoven. 

But she observed with terror that Nucingen ate little, drank 
nothing, and was quite the master of the house. 

By midnight everybody was crazy. The glasses were 
broken that they might never be used again; two of the 
Chinese curtains were torn ; Bixiou was drunk, for the second 
time in his life. ISTo one could keep his feet, the women were 
asleep on the sofas, and the guests were incapable of carrying 
out the practical joke they had planned of escorting Esther 
and Nucingen to the bedroom, standing in two lines with 
candles in their hands, and singing Buona sera from the 
Barher of Seville. 

Nucingen simply gave Esther his hand. Bixiou, who saw 
them, though tipsy, was still able to say, like Eivarol, on the 
occasion of the Due de Richelieu's last marriage, "The police 
must be warned ; there is mischief brewing here." 

The jester thought he was jesting; he was a prophet. 

Monsieur de Xucingen did not go home till Monday at 
about noon. But at one o'clock his broker informed him 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 293 

that Mademoiselle Esther van Bogseck had sold the bond 
bearing thirty thousand francs interest on Friday last, and 
had just received the money. 

"But, Monsieur le Baron, Derville's head-clerk called on 
me just as I was settling this transfer ; and after seeing Made- 
moiselle Esther's real names, he told me she had come into a 
fortune of seven millions." 

"Pooh !" 

"Yes; she is the only heir to the old bill-discounter Gob- 
seek. — Derville will verify the facts. If your mistress' 
mother was the handsome Dutch woman, la Bellei^Hollandaise, 
as they called her, she comes in for " ~ " 

"I know dat she is," cried the banker. "She tolt me all 
her life. I shall write ein vort to Derville." 

The Baron sat down at his desk, wrote a line to Derville, 
and sent it by one of his servants. Then, after going to 
the Bourse, he went back to Esther's house at about three 
o'clock. 

"Madame forbade our waking her on any pretence what- 
ever. She is in bed — asleep " 

"Ach der Teufel !" said the Baron. "But, Europe, she 
shall not be angry to be tolt that she is fery, fery rich. She 
shall inherit seven millions. Old Gobseck is deat, and your 
mis'ess is his sole heir, for her moter vas Gobseck's own niece ; 
and besides, he shall hafe left a vill. I could never hafe 
tought that a millionaire like dat man should hafe left Esther 
in misery !" 

"Ah, ha ! Then your reign is over, old pantaloon !" said 
Europe, looking at the Baron with an effrontery worthy of 
one of Moliere's waiting-maids. "Shooh ! you old Alsatian 
crow ! She loves you as we love the plague ! Heavens above 
us ! Millions ! — Why, she may marry her lover ; won't she be 
glad !" 

And Prudence Servien left the Baron simply thunder- 
stricken, to be the first to announce to her mistress this great 
stroke of luck. The old man, intoxicated with superhuman 
enjoyment, and believing himself happy, had just received a 



294 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

cold shower-bath on his passion at the moment when it had 
risen to the intensest white heat. 

"She vas deceiving me !" cried he, with tears in his eyes. 
"Yes, she vas cheating me. Oh, Esther, my life ! Vas a 
fool hafe I been ! Can such flowers ever bloom for de old 
men ! I can buy all vat I vill except only yout ! — Ach Gott, 
ach Gott ! Vat shall I do ? Vat shall become of me ? — She 
is right, dat cruel Europe. Esther, if she is rich, shall not 
be for me. Shall I go hank myself? Vat is life midout de 
divine flame of joy dat I have known ? Mein Gott, mein 
Gott !" 

The old man snatched off the false hair he had combed 
in with his gray hairs these three months past. 

A piercing shriek from Europe made Nucingen quail to 
his very bowels. The poor banker rose and walked upstairs 
on legs that were drunk with the bowl of disenchantment he 
had just swallowed to the dregs, for nothing is more intoxi- 
cating than the wine of disaster. 

At the door of her room he could see Esther stiff on her 
bed, blue with poison — dead 1 

He went up to the bed and dropped on his knees. 

"You are right ! She tolt me so ! — She is dead — of 
me '' 

Paccard, Asie, every one hurried in. It was a spectacle, a 
shock, but not despair. Every one had their doubts. The 
Baron was a banker again. A suspicion crossed his mind, 
and he was so imprudent as to ask what had become of the 
seven hundred and fifty thousand francs, the price of the 
bond. Paccard, Asie, and Europe looked at each other so 
strangely that Monsieur de jSTucingen left the house at once, 
believing that robbery and murder had been committed. 
Europe, detecting a packet of a soft consistency, betraying 
the contents to be banknotes, under her mistress' pillow, pro- 
ceeded at once to "lay her out," as she said. 

"Go and tell monsieur, Asie ! — Oh, to die before she knew 
that she had seven millions ! Gobseck was poor madame's 
uncle !" said she. 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 295 

Europe's stratagem was understood by Paccard. As soon 
as Asie's back was turned, Europe opened the packet, on 
which the hapless courtesan had written : "To be delivered to 
Monsieur Lucien de Rubempre." 

Seven hundred and fifty thousand-franc notes shone in the 
eyes of Prudence Servien, who exclaimed: 

"Won't we be happy and honest for the rest of our 
lives !" 

Paccard made no objection. His instincts as a thief were 
stronger than his attachment to Trompe-la-Mort. 

"Durut is dead," he said at length; "my shoulder is still 
a proof before letters. Let us be off together; divide the 
money, so as not to have all our eggs in one basket, and then 
get married." 

"But where can we hide?" said Prudence. 

"In Paris," replied Paccard. 

Prudence and Paccard went off at once, with the prompti- 
tude of two honest folks transformed into robbers. 

"My child,'' said Carlos to Asie, as soon as she had said 
three words, "find some letter of Esther's while I write a 
formal will, and then take the copy and the letter to Girard ; 
but he must be quick. The will must be under Esther's 
pillow before the lawyers affix the seals here." 

And he wrote out the following will : — 

"Never having loved any one on earth but Monsieur Lucien 
Chardon de Riibempre, and being resolved to end my life 
rather than relapse into vice and the life of infamy from 
which he rescued me, I give and bequeath to the said Lucien 
Chardon de Rubempre all I may possess at the time of my 
decease, on condition of his founding a mass in perpetuity 
in the parish church of Saint-Roch for the repose of her who 
gave him her all, to her last thought. 

"Esther Gobseck." 

"That is quite in her style," thought Trompe-la-Mort. 



296 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

By seven in the evening this document, written and sealed, 
was placed by Asie under Esther's bolster. 

"■Jacques," said she, flying upstairs again, "just as I came 
out of the room justice marched in '' 

"The justice of the peace you mean?" 

"Xo, my son. The justice of the peace was there, but 
he had gendarmes with him. The public prosecutor and 
the examining judge are there too, and the doors are guarded." 

"This death has made a stir very quickly," remarked 
Jacques Collin. 

"Ay, and Paccard and Europe have vanished ; I am afraid 
they may have scared away the seven hundred and fifty thou- 
sand francs," said Asie. 

"The low villains !" said Collin. "They have done for 
us by their swindling game." 

Human justice, and Paris justice, that is to say, the most 
suspicious, keenest, cleverest, and omniscient type of justice 
— too clever, indeed, for it insists on interpreting the law at 
every turn — was at last on the point of laying its hand on the 
agents of this horrible intrigue. 

The Baron de Nucingen, on recognizing the evidence of 
poison, and failing to find his seven hundred and fifty thou- 
sand francs, imagined that one of two persons whom he 
greatly disliked — either Paccard or Europe — was guilty of 
the crime. In his first impulse of rage he flew to the prefec- 
ture of police. This was a stroke of a bell that called up all 
Corentin's men. The otficials of the prefecture, the legal 
profession, the chief of the police, the justice of the peace, the 
examining judge, — all were astir. By nine in the evening 
tlu'ee medical men were called in to perform an autopsy on 
poor Esther, and inquiries were set on foot. 

Trompe-la-Mort, warned by Asie, exclaimed: 

"No one knows that I am here ; I may take an airing." He 
pulled himself up by the skylight of his garret, and with 
marvelous agility was standing in an instant on the roof, 
whence he surveyed the surroundings with the coolness of a 
tiler. 






WHAT LOVE COSTS 297 

"Good !" said he, discerning a garden five houses off in 
the Eue de Provence, "that will just do for me." 

"You are paid out, Trompe-la-Mort," said Contenson, sud- 
denly emerging from behind a stack of chimneys. "You may 
explain to Monsieur Camusot what mass you were performing 
on the roof, Monsieur I'Abbe, and, above all, why you were 
escaping " 

"I have enemies in Spain," said Carlos Herrera. 

"We can go there by way of your attic," said Conten- 
son. 

The sham Spaniard pretended to yield; but, having set 
his back and feet across the opening of the skylight, he 
gripped Contenson and flung him off with such violence that 
the spy fell in the gutter of the Eue Saint-Georges. 

Contenson was dead on his field of honor; Jacques Collin 
quietly dropped into the room again and went to bed. 

"Give me something that will make me very sick without 
killing me," said he to Asie ; "for I must be at death's door, 
to avoid answering inquisitive persons. Do not be alarmed 
— I am a priest, and shall still be a priest. I have just got 
rid of a man in the most natural way, who might have un- 
masked me." 

At seven o'clock on the previous evening Lucien had set 
out in his own chaise to post to Fontainebleau with a pass- 
port he had procured in the morning; he slept in the nearest 
inn on the Xemours side. At six in the morning he went 
alone, and on foot, through the forest as far as Bouron. 

"This," said he to himself, as he sat down on one of the 
rocks that command the fine landscape of Bouron, "is the 
fatal spot where ISTapoleon dreamed of making a final tre- 
mendous effort on the eve of his abdication." 

At daybreak he heard the approach of post-horses and saw 
a britska drive past, in which sat the servants of the 
Duchesse de Lenoncourt-Chaulieu, and Clotilde de Grandlieu's 
maid. 

"Here they are !" thought Lucien. "Now, to play the farce 



298 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

well, and I shall be saved ! — The Due de G-randlieu's son-in- 
law in spite of him !" 

It was an hour later when he heard the peculiar sound made 
by a superior traveling carriage, as the berline came near in 
which the two ladies were sitting. They had given orders that 
the drag should be put on for the hill down to Bouron, and 
the man-servant behind the carriage had it stopped. 

At this instant Lucien came forward. 

"Clotilde !" said he, tapping on the window. 

"No," said the young Duchess to her friend, "he shall not 
get into the carriage, and we will not be alone with him, my 
dear. Speak to him for the last time — to that I consent ; but 
on the road, where we will walk on, and where Baptiste can 
escort us. — The morning is fine, we are well wrapped up, and 
have no fear of the cold. The carriage can follow." 

The two women got out. 

"Baptiste," said the Duchess, "the post-boy can follow 
slowly; we want to walk a little way. You must keep near 
us." 

Madeleine de Mortsauf took Clotilde by the arm and al- 
lowed Lucien to talk. The}^ thus walked on as far as the 
village of Grez. It was now eight o'clock, and there Clotilde 
dismissed Lucien. 

"Well, mj'' friend," said she, closing this long interview 
with much dignity, "I never shall mapry any one but you. 
I would rather believe in you than in other men, in my father 
and mother — no woman ever gave greater proof of attach- 
ment surely? — Now, try to counteract the fatal prejudices 
which militate against you." 

Just then the tramp of galloping horses was heard, and, 
to the great amazement of the ladies, a force of gendarmes 
surrounded the little party. 

"What do you want?" said Lucien, with the arrogance 
of a dandy. 

"Are you Monsieur Lucien de Eubempre ?" asked the public 
prosecutor of Fontainebleau. 

"Yes, monsieur." 



WHAT LOVE COSTS 299 / 

'TTou will spend to-night in La Force," said he. "I have 
a warrant for the detention of your person." 

"Who are these ladies?" asked the sergeant. 

"To be sure. — Excuse me, ladies — ^your passports? For 
Monsieur Lucien, as I am instructed, had acquaintances 
among the fair sex, who for him would " — -i 

"Do you take the Duchesse de Lenoncourt-Chaulieu for a / 
prostitute?" said Madeleine, with a magnificent flash at the / 
public prosecutor. ' 

"You are handsome enough to excuse the error," the magis- 
trate very cleverly retorted. 

"Baptiste, produce the passports," said the young Duchess 
with a smile. 

"And with what crime is ]\Ionsieur de Rubempre charged ?" 
asked Clotilde, whom the Duchess wished to see safe in the 
carriage. 

"Of being accessory to a robbery and murder," replied the 
sergeant of gendarmes. 

Baptiste lifted Mademoiselle de Grandlieu into the chaise 
in a dead faint. 

By midnight Lucien was entering La Force, a prison sit- 
uated between the Rue Payenne and the Rue des Ballets, 
w^here he was placed in solitary confinement. 

The Abbe Carlos Herrera was also there, having been ar- 
rested that evening. 



THE END OF EVIL WAYS 

At six o'clock next morning two vehicles with postilions, 
prison vans, called in the vigorous language of the populace 
pamers a saladc, came out of La Force to drive to the Con- 
ciergerie by the Palais de Justice. 

Few loafers in Paris can have failed to meet this prison 
cell on wheels; still, though most stories are written for 
Parisian readers, strangers will no doubt be satisfied to have 
a description of this formidable machine. Who knows? 
The police of Eussia, Germany, or Austria, the legal body of 
countries to whom the "Salad-basket" is an unknown machine, 
may profit by it; and in several foreign countries there can 
be no doubt that an imitation of this vehicle would be a boon 
to prisoners. 

This ignominious conveyance, yellow-bodied, on high 
wheels, and lined with sheet-iron, is divided into two com- 
partments. In front is a box-seat, with leather cushions 
and an apron. This is the free seat of the van, and accom- 
modates a sheriff's officer and a gendarme. A strong iron 
trellis, reaching to the top, separates this sort of cab-front 
from the back division, in which there are two wooden seats 
placed sideways, as in an omnibus, on which the prisoners sit. 
They get in by a step behind and a door, with no window. 
The nickname of Salad-basket arose from the fact that the 
vehicle was originally made entirely of lattice, and the 
prisoners were shaken in it just as a salad is shaken to 
dry it. 

For further security, in case of accident, a mounted gen- 
darme follows the machine, especially when it conveys 
criminals condemned to death to the place of execution. Thus 
escape is impossible. The vehicle, lined with sheet-iron, is 
impervious to any tool. The prisoners, carefully searched 

(301) 



302 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

when they are arrested or locked up, can have nothing but 
watch-springs, perhaps, to file through bars, and useless on a 
smooth surface. 

So the panier a salade, improved by the genius of the Paris 
police, became the model for the prison omnibus (known in 
London as "Black Maria") in which convicts are transported 
to the hulks, instead of the horrible tumbril which formerly 
disgraced civilization, though Man on Lescaut has made it 
famous. 

The accused are, in the first instance, despatched in the 
prison van from the various prisons in Paris to the Palais 
de Justice, to be questioned by the examining judge. This, 
in prison slang, is called "going up for examination." Then 
the accused are again conveyed from prison to the Court 
to be sentenced when their case is only a misdemeanor; or if, 
in legal parlance, the case is one for the Upper Court, they 
are transferred from the house of detention to the Concierge- 
rie, the "Newgate" of the Department of the Seine. 

Finally, the prison van carries the criminal condemned to 
death from Bicetre to the Barriere Saint-Jacques, where ex- 
ecutions are carried out, and have been ever since the Revolu- 
tion of July. Thanks to philanthropic interference, the poor 
wretches no longer have to face the horrors of the drive from 
the Conciergerie to the Place de G-reve in a cart exactly like 
that used by wood merchants. This cart is no longer used but 
to bring the body back from the scaffold. 

Without this explanation the words of a famous convict 
to his accomplice, "It is now the horse's business !" as he got 
into the van, would be unintelligible. It is impossible to 
be carried to execution more comfortably than in Paris now- 
adays. 

At this moment the two vans, setting out at such an early 
hour, were employed on the unwonted service o.* conveying 
two accused prisoners from the jail of La Force to the 
Conciergerie, and each man had a "Salad-basket" to him- 
self. 

Mne-tenths of my readers, ay, and nine-tenths of the re- 



END OF EVIL WAYS 303 

maining tenth, are certainly ignorant of the vast difference 
of meaning in the words incriminated, suspected, accused, 
and committed for trial — jail, house of detention, and pen- 
itentiary ; and they may be surprised to learn here that it in- 
volves all our criminal procedure, of which a clear and brief 
outline will presently be sketched, as much for their informa- 
tion as for the elucidation of this history. However, when 
it is said that the first van contained Jacques Collin and the 
second Lucien, who in a few hours had fallen from the sum- 
mit of social splendor to the depths of a prison cell, curiosity 
will for the moment be satisfied. 

The conduct of the two accomplices was characteristic; 
Lucien de Eubempre shrank back to avoid the gaze of the 
passers-by, who looked at the grated window of the gloomy 
and fateful vehicle on its road along the Rue Saint-Antoine 
and the Rue du Martroi to reach the quay and the Arch of 
Saint-Jean, the way, at that time, across the Place de I'Hotel 
de Ville. This archway now forms the entrance gate to the 
residence of the Prefet de la Seine in the huge municipal 
palace. The daring convict, on the contrary, stuck his face 
against the barred grating, between the officer and the gen- 
darme, who, sure of their van, were chatting together. 

The great days of' July 1830, and the tremendous storm 
that then burst, have so completely wiped out the memory 
of all previous events, and politics so entirely absorbed the 
French during the last six months of that year, that no one 
remembers — or a few scarcely remember — the various private, 
judicial, and financial catastrophes, strange as they were, 
which, forming the annual food of Parisian curiosity, were 
not lacking during the first six months of the year. It is,' 
therefore, needful to mention how Paris was, for the moment, 
excited by the news of the arrest of a Spanish priest, dis- 
covered in a courtesan's house, and that of the elegant Lucien 
de Rubempr6, who had been engaged to Mademoiselle Clotilde 
de Grandlieu, taken on the highroad to Italy, close to the 
little village of Grez. Both were charged as being concerned 
in a murder, of which the profits were stated at seven millions 



304 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

of francs; and for some days the scandal of this trial pre- 
ponderated over the absorbing importance of the last elections 
held under Charles X. 

In the first place, the charge had been based on an applica- 
tion by the Baron de Xucingen ; then, Lucien's apprehension, 
just as he was about to be appointed private secretary to the 
Prime Minister, made a stir in the very highest circles of 
society. In every drawing-room in Paris more than one 
young man could recollect having envied Lucien when he was 
honored by the notice of the beautiful Duchesse de Maufri- 
gneuse; and every woman knew that he was the favored 
attache of Madame de Serizy, the wife of one of the Govern- 
ment bigwigs. And finally, his handsome person gave him 
a singular notoriety in the various worlds that make up Paris 
— the world of fashion, the financial world, the world of 
courtesans, the young men's world, the literary world. So for 
two days past all Paris had been talking of these two arrests. 
The examining judge in whose hands the case was put re- 
garded it as a chance for promotion; and, to proceed with 
the utmost possible rapidity, he had given orders that both the 
accused should be transferred from La Force to the Con- 
ciergerie as soon as Lucien de Eubempre could be brought 
from Fontainebleau. 

As the Abbe Carlos had spent but twelve hours in La Force, 
and Lucien only half a night, it is useless to describe that 
prison, which has since been entirely remodeled ; and as to the 
details of their consignment, it would be only a repetition of 
the same story at the Conciergerie. 

But before setting forth the terrible drama of a criminal 
inquiry, it is indispensable, as I have said, that an account 
should be given of the ordinary proceedings in a case of this 
kind. To begin with, its various phases will be better under- 
stood at home and abroad, and, besides, those who are igno- 
rant of the action of the criminal law, as conceived of by the 
lawgivers under Napoleon, will appreciate it better. This is 
all the more important as, at this moment, this great and 



END OF EVIL WAYS 305 

noble institution is in danger of destruction by the system 
known as penitentiary. 

A crime is committed; if it is flagrant, the persons in- 
criminated (inculpes) are taken to the nearest lock-up and 
placed in the cell known to the vulgar as the Violon — perhaps 
because they make a noise there, shrieking or crying. From 
thence the suspected persons {inculpes) are taken before the 
police commissioner or magistrate, who holds a preliminary 
inquiry, and can dismiss the case if there is any mistake ; 
finally, they are conveyed to the Depot of the Prefecture, 
where the police detains them pending the convenience 'of the 
public prosecutor and the examining judge. They, being 
served with due notice, more or less quickly, accordiag to the 
gravity of the case, come and examine the prisoners who are 
still provisionally detained. Having due regard to the pre- 
sumptive evidence, the examining judge then issues a warrant 
for their imprisonment, and sends the suspected persons to 
be confined in a jail. There are three such jails (Maisons 
d' Arret) in Paris — Sainte-Pelagie, La Force, and les Made- 
lonnettes. 

Observe the word inculpS, incriminated, or suspected of 
crime. The French Code has created three essential degrees 
of criminality — inculpe, first degree of suspicion; prevenu, 
under examination; accuse, fully committed for trial. So 
long as the warrant for committal remains unsigned, the sup- 
posed criminal is regarded as merely under suspicion, inculpe 
of the crime or felony ; when the warrant has been issued, he 
becomes "the accused" (prevenu), and is regarded as such 
so long as the inquiry is proceeding; when the inquiry is 
closed, and as soon as the Court has decided that the accused 
is to be committed for trial, he becomes "the prisoner at the 
bar" (accuse) as soon as the superior Court, at the instance 
of the public prosecutor, has pronounced that the charge is so 
far proved as to be carried to the Assizes. 

Thus, persons suspected of crime go through three differ- 
ent stages, three sif tings, before the coming up for trial be- 
fore the judges of the upper Court — the High Justice of the 
realm. 



306 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

At the first stage, innocent persons have abundant means 
of exculpating themselves — the public, the town watch, the 
police. At the" second stage they appear before a magistrate 
face to face with the witnesses, and are judged by a tribunal 
in Paris, or by the Collective Court of the departments. At the 
third stage they are brought before a bench of twelve council- 
lors, and in case of any error or informality the prisoner com- 
mitted for trial at the Assizes may appeal for protection to the 
Supreme Court. The jury do not know what a slap in the face 
they give to popular authority, to administrative and judicial 
functionaries, when they acquit a prisoner. And so, in my 
opinion, it is hardly possible that an innocent man should 
ever find himself at the bar of an Assize Court in Paris — I 
say nothing of other seats of justice. 

The detenu is the convict. French criminal law recognizes 
imprisonment of three degrees, corresponding in legal distinc- 
tion to these three degrees of suspicion, inquiry, and con- 
viction. Mere imprisonment is a light penalty for misde- 
meanor, but detention is imprisonment with hard labor, a 
severe and sometimes degrading punishment. Hence, those 
persons who nowadays are in favor of the penitentiary system 
would upset an admirable scheme of criminal law in which the 
lieimlties are judiciously graduated, and they will end by 
punishing the lightest peccadilloes as severely as the greatest 
crimes. 

The reader may compare in the Scenes of Political Life 
(for instance, in Une Tmehreiise affaire) the curious differ- 
ences subsisting between the criminal law of Brumaire in the 
year lY., and that of the Code Napoleon which has taken its 
place. 

In most great trials, as in this one, the suspected persons 
are at once examined (and from inculpes become prevenus) ; 
justice immediately issues a warrant for their arrest and im- 
prisonment. In point of fact, in most of such cases the 
criminals have either fled, or have been instantly apprehended. 
Indeed, as we have seen, the police, which is but an instru- 
ment, and the officers of justice had descended on Esther's 



END OF EVIL WAYS 307 

house with the swiftness of a thuuderbolt. Even if there 
had not been the reasons for revenge suggested to the superior 
police by Corentin, there was a robbery to be investigated 
of seven hundred and fifty thousand francs from the Baron 
de Nucingen. 

Just as the first prison van, conveying Jacques Collin, 
reached the archway of Saint-Jean — a narrow, dark passage, 
some block ahead compelled the postilion to stop under the 
vault. The prisoner's eyes shone like carbuncles through 
the grating, in spite of his aspect as of a dying man, which, the 
day before, had led the governor of La Force to believe that 
the doctor must be called in. These flaming eyes, free to rove 
at this moment, for neither the officer nor the gendarme 
looked round at their "customer," spoke so plain a language 
that a clever' examining judge, M. Popinot, for instance, 
would have identified the man convicted for sacrilege. 

In fact, ever since the "salad-basket" had turned out of 
the gate of La Force, Jacques Collin had studied everything 
on his way. Notwithstanding the pace they had made, he 
took in the houses with an eager and comprehensive glance, 
from the ground floor to the attics. He saw and noted every 
passer-by. God Himself is not more clear-seeing as to the 
means and ends of His creatures than this man in observing 
the slightest differences in the medley of things and people. 
Armed with hope, as the last of the Horatii was armed with 
his sword, he expected help. To anybody but this Machiavelli 
of the hulks, this hope would have seemed so absolutely im- 
possible to realize that he would have gone on mechanically, 
as all guilty men do. Not one of them ever dreams of re- 
sistance when he finds himself in the position to which justice 
and the Paris police bring suspected persons, especially those 
who, like Collin and Lucien, are in solitaty confinement. 

It is impossible to conceive of the sudden isolation in which 
a suspected criminal is placed. The gendarmes who appre- 
hend him, the commissioner who questions him, those who 
take him to prison, the warders who lead him to his cell — 



308 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

which is actually called a cachot, a dungeon or hiding-place, 
those again who take him by the arms to put him into a 
prison-van — every being that comes near him from the mo- 
ment of his arrest is either speechless, or takes note of all 
he says, to be repeated to the police or to the judge. This 
total severance, so simply effected between the prisoner and 
the world, gives rise to a complete overthrow of his faculties 
and a terrible prostration of mind, especially when the man 
has not been familiarized by his antecedents with the pro- 
cesses of justice. The duel between the judge and the 
criminal is all the more appalling because justice has on 
its side the dumbness of blank walls and the incorruptible 
coldness of its agents. 

But Jacques Collin, or Carlos Herrera — it will be necessarv 
to speak of him by one or the other of these names according 
to the circumstances of the case — had long been familiar with 
the methods of the police, of the jail, and of justice. This 
colossus of cunning and corruption had employed all his 
powers of mind, and all the resources of mimicry, to affect 
the surprise and anility of an innocent man, while giving the 
lawyers the spectacle of his sufferings. As has been told, Asia, 
that skilled Loeusta, had given him a dose of poison so quali- 
fied as to produce the effects of a dreadful illness. 

Thus Monsieur Camusot, the police commissioner, and 
the public prosecutor had been baffled in their proceedings 
and inquiries by the effects apparently of an apoplectic 
attack. 

"He has taken poison !" cried Monsieur Camusot, horrified 
by the sufferings of the self-styled priest when he had been 
carried do'wn from the attic writhing in convulsions. 

Four constables had with great difficulty brought the Abbe 
Carlos downstairs to Esther's room, where the lawyers and 
the gendarmes were assembled. 

"That was the best thing he could do if he should be 
guilty," replied the public prosecutor. 

"Do you believe that he is ill?" the police commissioner 
asked. 



END OF EVIL WAYS 309 

The police is always incredulous. 

The three lawyers had spoken, as may be imagined, in a 
whisper ; but Jacques Collin had guessed from their faces the 
subject under discussion, and had taken advantage of it to 
make the first brief examination which is gone through on 
arrest absolutely impossible and useless; he had stammered 
out sentences in which Spanish and French were so mingled 
as to make nonsense. 

At La Force this farce had been all the more successful in 
the first instance because the head of the "safety" force — an 
abbreviation of the title "Head of the brigade of the guardians 
of public safety" — Bibi-Lupin, who had long since taken 
Jacques Collin into custody at Madame Vauquer's boarding- 
house, had been sent on special business into the country, and 
his deputy was a man who hoped to succeed him, but to whom 
the convict was unknown. 

Bibi-Lupin, himself formerly a convict, and a comrade of 
Jacques Collin's on the hulks, was his personal enemy. This 
hostility had its rise in quarrels in which Jacques Collin had 
always got the upper hand, and in the supremacy over his 
fellow-prisoners which Trompe-la-Mort had always assumed. 
And then, for ten years now, Jacques Collin had been the 
ruling providence of released convicts in Paris, their head, 
their adviser, and their banker, and consequently Bibi-Lupin's 
antagonist. 

Thus, though placed in solitary confinement, he trusted to 
the intelligent and unreserved devotion of Asie, his right 
hand, and perhaps, too, to Paccard, his left hand, who, as he 
flattered himself, might return to his allegiance when once 
that thrifty subaltern had safely bestowed the seven hundred 
and fifty thousand francs that he had stolen. This was the 
reason why his attention had been so superhumanly alert all 
along the road. And, strange to say ! his hopes were about 
to be amply fulfilled. 

The two solid side-walls of the archway were covered, to 
a height of six feet, with a permanent dado of mud formed 
of the splashes from the gutter ; for, in those days, the foot 



310 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

passenger had no protection from the constant tratiic of 
vehicles and from what was called the kicking of the carts, but 
curbstones placed upright at intervals, and much ground 
away by the naves of the wheels. More than once a heavy 
truck had crushed a heedless foot-passenger under that arch- 
way. Such indeed Paris remained in many districts and till 
long after. This circumstance may give some idea of the 
narrowness of the Saint-Jean gate and the ease with which it 
could be blocked. If a cab should be coming through from 
the Place de Greve while a costermonger-woman was pushing 
her little truck of apples in from the Eue du Martroi, a third 
vehicle of any kind produced difficulties. The foot-passen- 
gers fled in alarm, seeking a corner-stone to protect them from 
the old-fashioned axles, which had attained such prominence 
that a law was passed at last to reduce their length. 

When the prison van came in, this passage was blocked by 
a market woman with a costermonger's vegetable cart — one of 
a type which is all the more strange because specimens still 
exist in Paris in spite of the increasing number of green- 
grocers' shops. She was so thoroughly a street hawker that 
a Sergeant de Ville, if that particular class of police had been 
then in existence, would have allowed her to ply her trade 
without inspecting her permit, in spite of a sinister counte- 
nance that reeked of crime. Her head, wrapped in a cheap 
and ragged checked cotton kerchief, was horrid with rebellious 
locks of hair, like the bristles of a wild boar. Her red and 
wrinkled neck was disgusting, and her little shawl failed en- 
tirely to conceal a chest tanned brown by the sun, dust, and 
mud. Her gown was patchwork; her shoes gaped as though 
they were grinning at a face as full of holes as the gov\Ti. And 
what an apron ! a plaster would have been less filthy. This 
moving and fetid rag must have stunk in the nostrils of 
dainty folks ten yards away. Those hands had gleaned a 
hundred harvest fields. Either the woman had returned from 
a German witches' Sabbath, or she had come out of a men- 
dicity asylum. But what eyes ! what audacious intelligence, 
what repressed vitality when the magnetic flash of her look 
and of Jacques Collin's met to exchange a thought ! 



END OF FiVIT. WAYR 311 

"Get out of the wa}-, you old vermin-trap !" cried the pos- 
tilion in harsh tones. 

"Mind you don't crush me, you hangman's apprentice!'' 
she retorted. "Your cartful is not worth as much as mine." 

And by trying to squeeze in between two corner-stones to 
make way, the hawker managed to block the passage long 
enough to achieve her purpose. 

"Oh ! Asie !" said Jacques Collin to himself, at once recog- 
nizing his accomplice. "Then all is well." 

The post-boy was still exchanging amenities with Asie, 
and vehicles were collecting in the Rue du Martroi. 

"Look out, there — Pecaire fermati. Souni la — Vedrem" 
shrieked old Asie, with the Eed-Indian intonations peculiar 
to these female costermongers, who disfigure their words in 
such a way that they are transformed in a sort onomatopoeia 
incomprehensible to any but Parisians. 

In the confusion in the alle}'', and among the outcries of all 
the waiting drivers, no one paid any heed to this wild yell, 
which might have been the woman's usual cry. But this gib- 
berish, intelligible to Jacques Collin, sent to his ear in a mon- 
grel language of their own — a mixture of bad Italian and 
Provencal — this important news: 

"Your poor boy is nabbed. I am here to keep an eye on 
you. We shall meet again."' 

In the midst of his joy at having thus triumphed over the 
police, for he hoped to be able to keep up communications, 
Jacques Collin had a blow which might have killed any other 
man. 

"Lucien in custody !" said he to himself. 

He almost fainted. This news was to him more terrible 
than the rejection of his appeal could have been if he had 
been condemned to death. 

jSTow that both the prison vans are rolling along the Quai, 
the interest of this story requires that I should add a few 
words about the Conciergerie, while they are making their 
way thither. The Conciergerie, a historical name — a terrible 
name — a still more terrible thing, is inseparable ffom the 



312 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

Eevolutions of France, and especially those of Paris. It has 
known most of our great criminals. But if it is the most in- 
teresting of the buildings of Paris, it is also the least known — 
least known to persons of the upper classes; still, in spite of 
the interest of this historical digression, it should be as short 
as the journey of the prison vans. 

What Parisian, what foreigner, or what provincial can 
have failed to observe the gloomy and mysterious features of 
the Quai des Lunettes — a structure of black walls flanked by 
three round towers with conical roofs, two of them almost 
touching each other? This quay, beginning at the Pont du 
Change, ends at the Pont Xeuf . A square tower — the Clock 
Tower, or Tour de I'Horloge, whence the signal was given 
for the massacre of Saint-Bartholomew — a tower almost as 
tall as that of Saint-Jacques de la Boucherie, shows where the 
Palais de Justice stands, and forms the corner of the quay. 

These four towers and these walls are shrouded in the black 
winding sheet which, in Paris, falls on every facade to the 
north. About half-way along the quay at a gloomy archway 
we see the beginning of the private houses which were built 
in consequence of the construction of the Pont Neuf in the 
reign of Henri lY. The Place Ro3'ale was a replica of the 
Place Dauphine. The style of architecture is the same, of 
brick with binding courses of hewn stone. This archway and 
the Eue de Harlay are the limit line of the Palais de Justice 
on the west. Formerly the Prefecture de Police, once the 
residence of the Presidents of the Parlement, was a depend- 
ency of the Palace. The Court of Exchequer and Court of 
Subsidies completed the Supreme Court of Justice, the Sov- 
ereign's Court. It will be seen that before the Eevolution the 
Palace enjoyed that isolation which now again is aimed at. 

This block, this island of residences and official buildings, 
in their midst the Sainte-Chapelle — that priceless jewel of 
Saint-Louis' chaplet — is the sanctuary of Paris, its holy place, 
its sacred ark. 

For one thing, this island was at first the whole of the city, 
for the plot now forming the Place Dauphine was a meadow 



END OF EVIL WAYS 313 

attached to the Eoyal demesne, where stood a stamping mill 
for coining money. Hence the name of Eue de la Monnaie — 
the street leading to the Pont Neuf . Hence, too, the name of 
one of the round towers — the middle one — called the Toiir 
d' Argent, which would seem to show that money was origi- 
nally coined there. The famous mill, to be seen marked in old 
maps of Paris, may very likely be more recent than the time 
when money was coined in the Palace itself, and was erected, 
no doubt, for the practice of improved methods in the art of 
coining. 

The first tower, hardly detached from the Tour d' Argent, 
is the Tour de Montgomery ; the third, and smallest, but the 
best preserved of the three, for it still has its battlements, is 
the Tour Bonbec. 

The Sainte-Chapelle and its four towers — counting the 
clock tower as one — clearly define the precincts ; or, as a sur- 
veyor would say, the perimeter of the Palace, as it was from 
the time of the Merovingians till the accession of the first 
race of Valois; but to us, as a result of certain alterations, 
this Palace is more especially representative of the period of 
Saint-Louis. 

Charles V. was the first to give the Palace up to the Parle- 
ment, then a new institution, and went to reside in the famous 
Hotel Saint-Pol, under the protection of the Bastille. The 
Palais des Tournelles was subsequently erected backing on 
to the Hotel Saint-Pol. Thus, under the later Valois, the 
kings came back from the Bastille to the Louvre, which had 
been their first stronghold. 

The original residence of the French kings, the Palace of 
Saint-Louis, which has preserved the designation of Le Palais, 
to indicate the Palace of palaces, is entirely buried under the 
Palais de Justice; it forms the cellars, for it was built, like 
the Cathedral, in the Seine, and with such care that the high- 
est floods in the river scarcely cover the lowest steps. The 
Quai de I'Horloge covers, twenty feet below the surface, its 
foundations of a thousand years old. Carriages run on the 
level of the capitals of the solid columns under these towers, 



314 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

and formerly their appearance must have harmonized with 
the elegajice of the Palace, and have had a picturesque effect 
over the water, since to this day those towers vie in height 
with the loftiest buildings in Paris. 

As we look down on this vast capital from the lantern of 
the Pantheon, the Palace with the Sainte-Chapelle is still the 
most monumental of many monumental buildings. The home 
of our kings, over which you tread as you pace the immense 
hall known as the Salle des Pas-Perdus, was a miracle of 
architecture ; and it is so still to the intelligent eye of the poet 
who happens to study it when inspecting the Conciergerie. 
Alas ! for the Conciergerie has invaded the home of kings. 
One's heart bleeds to see the way in which cells, cupboards, 
corridors, warders' rooms, and halls devoid of light or air, 
have been hewn out of that beautiful structure in which By- 
zantine, Gothic, and Romanesque — the three phases of ancient 
art — were harmonized in one building by the architecture of 
the twelfth century. 

This palace is a monumental history of France in the 
earliest times, just as Blois is that of a later period. As at 
Blois you may admire in a single courtyard the chateau of 
the Counts of Blois, that of Louis XII., that of Francis L, 
that of Gaston ; so at the Conciergerie you will find within the 
same precincts the stamp of the early races, and, in the Sainte- 
Chapelle, the architecture of Saint-Louis. 

Municipal Council (to you I speak), if you bestow millions, 
get a poet or two to assist your architects if you wish to save 
the cradle of Paris, the cradle of kings, while endeavoring 
to endow Paris and the Supreme Court with a palace worthy 
of France. It is a matter for study for some years before 
beginning the work. Another new prison or two like that of 
La Roquette, and the palace of Saint-Louis will be safe. 

In these days many grievances afflict this vast mass of 
buildings, buried under the Palais de Justice and the quay, 
like some antediluvian creature in the soil of Montmartre; 
but the worst affliction is that it is the Conciergerie. This 
epigram is intelligible. In the early days of the monarchy, 



END OP EVIL WAYS 315 

noble criminals — for the villeins (a word signifying the peas- 
antry in French and English alike) and the citizens came un- 
der the jurisdiction of the municipality or of their liege lord 
— the lords of the greater or the lesser fiefs, were brought 
before the king and guarded in the Conciergerie. And as 
these noble criminals were few, the Conciergerie was large 
enough for the king's prisoners. 

It is difficult now to be quite certain of the exact site of the 
original Conciergerie. However, the kitchens built by Saint- 
Louis still exist, forming what is now called the mousetrap; 
and it is probable that the original Conciergerie was situated 
in the place where, till 1825, the Conciergerie prisons of the 
Parlement were still in use, under the archway to the right 
of the wide outside steps leading to the supreme Court. From 
thence, until 1825, condeumed criminals were taken to execu- 
tion. From that gate came forth all the great criminals, all 
the victims of political feeling — the Marechale d'Ancre and 
the Queen of France, Semblanc^ay and Malesherbes, Damien 
and Danton, Desrues and Castaing. Fouquier-Tinville's 
private room, like that of the public prosecutor now, was so 
placed that he could see the procession of carts containing 
the persons whom the Revolutionary tril)unal had sentenced 
to death. Thus this man, who had become a sword, could give 
a last glance at each batch. 

After 1825, when Monsieur de Peyronnet was Minister, a 
great change was made in the Palais. The old entrance to 
the Conciergerie, where the ceremonies of registering the 
criminal and of the last toilet were performed, was closed and 
removed to where it now is, between the Tour de I'Horloge 
and the Tour de Montgomery, in an inner court entered 
through an arched passage. To the left is the "mousetrap," 
to the right the prison gates. The "salad-baskets" can drive 
into this irregularly shaped courtyard, can stand there and 
turn with ease, and in case of a riot find some protection 
behind the strong grating of the gate under the arch; 
whereas they formerly had no room to move in the narrow 
space dividing the outside steps from the right wing of the 
palace. 



316 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

In our day the Conciergerie, hardly large enough for the 
prisoners committed for trial — room being needed for about 
three hundred, men and women — no longer receives either 
suspected or remanded criminals excepting in rare cases, as, 
for instance, in these of Jacques Collin and Lucien. All who 
are imprisoned there are committed for trial before the Bench. 
As an exception criminals of the higher ranks are allowed to 
sojourn there, since, being already disgraced by a sentence 
in open court, their punishment would be too severe if they 
served their term of imprisonment at Melun or at Poissy. 
Ouvrard preferred to be imprisoned at the Conciergerie 
rather than at Sainte-Pelagie. At this moment of writing 
Lehon the notary and the Prince de Bergues are serving their 
time there by an exercise of leniency which, though arbitrary, 
is humane. 

As a rule, suspected criminals, whether they are to be sub- 
jected to a preliminary examination — to "go up," in the 
slang of the Courts — or to appear before the magistrate of 
the lower Court, are transferred in prison vans direct to the 
"mousetraps." 

The "mousetraps," opposite the gate, consist of a certain 
number of old cells constructed in the old kitchens of Saint- 
Louis' building, whither prisoners not yet fully committed 
are brought to await the hour when the Court sits, or the 
arrival of the examining judge. The "mousetraps" end on 
the north at the quay, on the east at the headquarters of the 
Municipal Guard, on the west at the courtyard of the Con- 
ciergerie, and on the south they adjoin a large vaulted hall, 
formerly, no doubt, the banqueting-room, but at present dis- 
used. 

Above the "mousetraps" is an inner guardroom with a win- 
dow commanding the court of the Conciergerie; this is used 
by the gendarmerie of the department, and the stairs lead up 
to it. When the hour of trial strikes the sheriffs call the roll 
of the prisoners, the gendarmes go down, one for each pris- 
oner, and each gendarme takes a criminal by the arm; and 
thus, in couples, they mount the stairs, cross the guardroom. 



END OF EVIL WAYS 317 

and are led along the passages to a room contiguous to the 
hall where sits the famous sixth chamber of the law (whose 
functions are those of an English county court). The same 
road is trodden by the prisoners committed for trial on their 
way to and from the Conciergerie and the Assize Court. 

In the Salle des Pas-Perdus, between the door into the first 
court of the inferior class and the steps leading to the sixth, 
the visitor must observe the first time he goes there a door- 
way without a door or any architectural adornment, a square 
hole of the meanest type. Through this the judges and bar- 
risters find their way into the passages, into the guardhouse, 
down into the prison cells, and to the entrance to the Con- 
ciergerie. 

The private chambers of all the examining judges are on 
different floors in this part of the building. They are reached 
by squalid staircases, a maze in which those to whom the place 
is unfamiliar inevitably lose themselves. The windows of 
some look out on the quay, others on the yard of the Con- 
ciergerie. In 1830 a few of these rooms commanded the Eue 
de la Barillerie. 

Thus, when a prison van turns to the left in this yard, it 
has brought prisoners to be examined to the "mousetrap" ; 
when it turns to the right, it conveys prisoners committed for 
trial, to the Conciergerie. Now it was to the right that the 
vehicle turned which conveyed Jacques Collin to set him down 
at the prison gate. Nothing can be more sinister. Prisoners 
and visitors see two barred gates of wrought iron, with a 
space between them of about six feet. These are never both 
opened at once, and through them everything is so cautiously 
scrutinized that persons who have a visiting ticket pass the 
permit through the bars before the key grinds in the lock. 
The examining judges, or even the supreme judges, are not 
admitted without being identified. Imagine, then, the chances 
of communications or escape ! — The governor of the Con- 
ciergerie would smile with an expression on his lips that 
would freeze the mere suggestion in the most daring of 
romancers who defy probability. 



318 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

111 all the auualij oi' the Coueiergerie no escape has been 
known but that of Lavalette; but the certain fact of august 
connivance, now amply proven, if it does not detract from 
the wife's devotion, certainly diminished the risk of failure. 

The most ardent lover of the marvelous, judging on the 
spot of the nature of the difficulties, must admit that at all 
times the obstacles must have been, as they still are, insur- 
mountable. No words can do justice to the strength of the 
walls and vaulting; they must be seen. 

Though the pavement of the yard is on a lower level than 
that of the quay, in crossing this Barbican you go down sev- 
eral steps to enter an immense vaulted hall, with solid walls 
graced with magnificent columns. This hall abuts on the 
Tour de Montgomery — which is now part of the governor's 
residence — and on the Tour d' Argent, serving as a dormitory 
for the warders, or porters, or turnkeys, as you may prefer 
to call them. The number of the officials is less than might be 
supposed ; there are but twenty ; their sleeping quarters, like 
their beds, are in no respect different from those of the 
pistoles or private cells. The name pistole originated, no 
doubt, in the fact that prisoners formerly paid a pistole 
(about ten francs) a week for this accommodation, its bare- 
ness resembling that of the empty garrets in which great men 
in poverty begin their career in Paris. 

To the left, in the vast entrance hall, sits the Governor of 
the Conciergerie, in a sort of office constructed of glass panes, 
where he and his clerk keep the prison-registers. Here the 
prisoners for examination, or committed for trial, have their 
names entered with a full description, and are then searched. 
The question of their lodging is also settled, this depending 
on the prisoner's means. 

Opposite the entrance to this hall there is a glass door. 
This opens into a parlor where the prisoner's relations and his 
counsel may speak with him across a double grating of wood. 
The parlor window opens on to the prison yard, the inner 
court where prisoners committed for trial take air and exer- 
cise at certain fixed hours. 



END OF EVIL WAYS 31P 

This large hall, only lighted hy the doubtful daylight that 
comes in through the gates — for the single window to the 
front court is screened by the glass office built out in front of 
it — has an atmosphere and a gloom that strike the eye in 
perfect harmony with the pictures that force themselves on 
the imagination. Its aspect is all the more sinister because, 
parallel with the Tours d' Argent and de Montgomery, you 
discover those mysterious vaulted and overwhelming crypts 
which lead to the cells occupied by the Queen and Madame 
Elizabeth, and to those known as the secret cells. This maze 
of masonry, after being of old the scene of royal festivities, 
is now the basement of the Palais de Justice. 

Between 1825 and 1833 the operation of the last toilet was 
performed in this enormous hall, between a large stove which 
heats it and the inner gate. It is impossible even now to 
tread without a shudder on the paved floor that has received 
the shock and the confidences of so many last glances. 

The apparently dying victim on this occasion could not 
get out of the horrible vehicle without the assistance of two 
gendarmes, who took him under the arms to support hin\ 
and led him half unconscious into the office. Thus dragged 
along, the dying man raised his eyes to heaven in such a way 
as to suggest a resemblance to the Saviour taken down from 
the Cross. And certainly in no picture does Jesus present a 
more cadaverous or tortured countenance than this of the 
sham Spaniard ; he looked ready to breathe his last sigh. As 
soon as he was seated in the office, he repeated in a weak voice 
the speech he had made to everybody since he was arrested : 

"I appeal to His Excellency the Spanish Ambassador." 

"You can say that to the examining judge," replied the 
Governor. 

"Oh Lord !" said Jacques Collin, with a sigh. "But cannot 
I have a breviary ? Shall I never be allowed to see a doctor ? 
I have not two hours to live.'' 

As Carlos Herrera was to be placed in close confinement 
in the secret cells, it was needless to ask him whether he 



320 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

claimed the benefits of the pistole (as above described), that 
is to say, the right of having one of the rooms where the pris- 
oner enjoj^s such comfort as the law permits. These rooms 
are on the other side of the prison-yard, of which mention will 
presently be made. The sheriff and the clerk calmly carried 
out the formalities of the consignment to prison. 

"Monsieur," said Jacques Collin to the Governor in broken 
French, "I am, as you see, a dying man. Pray, if you can, 
tell that examining judge as soon as possible that I crave as a 
favor what a criminal must most dread, namely, to be brought 
before him as soon as he arrives ; for my sufferings are really 
unbearable, and as soon as I see him the mistake will be 
cleared up " 

As an universal rule every criminal talks of a mistake. 
Go to the hulks and question the convicts ; they are almost all 
victims of a miscarriage of justice. So this speech raises a 
faint smile in all who come into contact with the suspected, 
accused, or condemned criminal. 

"I will mention your request to the examining judge," re- 
plied the Governor. 

"And I shall bless you, monsieur !" replied the false Abbe, 
raising his eyes to heaven. 

As soon as his name was entered on the calendar, Carlos 
Herrera, supported under each arm by a man of the municipal 
guard, and followed by a turnkey instructed by the Governor 
as to the number of the cell in which the prisoner was to be 
placed, was led through the subterranean maze of the Con- 
ciergerie into a perfectly wholesome room, whatever certain 
philanthropists may say to the contrary, but cut off from all 
possible communication with the outer world. 

As soon as he was removed, the warders, the Governor, and 
his clerk looked at each other as though asking each other's 
opinion, and suspicion was legible on every face; but at the 
appearance of the second man in custody the spectators re- 
lapsed into their usual doubting frame of mind, concealed 
under an air of indifference. Only in very extraordinary cases 
do the functionaries of the Conciergerie feel any curiosity; 



END OF EVIL WAYS 321 

the prisoners are no more to them than a barber's customers 
are to him. Hence all the formalities which appall the imagi- 
nation are carried out with less fuss than a money transaction 
at a banker's, and often with greater civility. 

Lucien's expression was that of a dejected criminal. He 
submitted to everything, and obeyed like a machine. All the 
way from Fontainebleau the poet had been facing his ruin, 
and telling himself that the hour of expiation had tolled. 
Pale and exhausted, knowing nothing of what had happened 
at Esther's house during his absence, he only knew that he was 
the intimate ally of an escaped convict, a situation which en- 
abled him to guess at disaster worse than death. When his 
mind could command a thought, it was that of suicide. He 
must, at any cost, escape the ignominy that loomed before him 
like the phantasm of a dreadful dream. 

Jacques Collin, as the more dangerous of the two culprits, 
was placed in a cell of solid masonry, deriving its light from 
one of the narrow yards, of which there are several in the 
interior of the Palace, in the wing where the public prose- 
cutor's chambers are. This little yard is the airing-ground 
for the female prisoners. Lucien was taken to the same part 
of the building, to a cell adjoining the rooms let to misde- 
meanants ; for, by orders from the examining judge, the Gov- 
ernor treated him with some consideration. 

Persons who have never had anything to do with the action 
of the law usually have the darkest notions as to the meaning 
of solitary or secret confinement. Ideas as to the treatment of 
criminals have not yet become disentangled from the old 
pictures of torture chambers, of the unhealthiness of a prison, 
the chill of stone walls sweating tears, the coarseness of the 
jailers and of the food — inevitable accessories of the drama; 
but it is not unnecessary to explain here that these exaggera- 
tions exist only on the stage, and only make lawyers and 
judges smile, as well as those who visit prisons out of curi- 
osity, or who come to study them. 

For a long time, no doubt, they were terrible. In the days 
of the old Parlement, of Louis XIII. and Louis XIV., the 



S22 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

accused were, no doubt, flung peil-niell into a low room under- 
neath the old gateway. The prisons were among the crimes 
of 1789, and it is enough only to see the cells where the Queen 
and Madame Elizabeth were incarcerated to conceive a horror 
of old judicial proceedings. 

In our day, though philanthropy has brought incalculable 
mischief on society, it has produced some good for the indi- 
vidual. It is to Napoleon that we owe our Criminal Code ; 
and this, even more than the Civil Code — which still urgently 
needs reform on some points — will remain one of the greatest 
monuments of his short reign. This new view of criminal 
law put an end to a perfect abyss of misery. Indeed, it may 
be said that, apart from the terrible moral torture which men 
of the better classes must suffer when they find themselves in 
the power of the law, the action of that power is simple and 
mild to a degree that would hardly be expected. Suspected or 
accused criminals are certainly not lodged as if they were at 
home ; but every necessary is supplied to them in the prisons 
of Paris. Besides, the burden of feelings that weighs on them 
deprives the details of daily life of their customary value. 
It is never the body that suffers. The mind is in such a phase 
of violence that every form of discomfort or of brutal treat- 
ment, if such there were. Mould be easily endured in such a 
frame of mind. And it must be admitted that an innocent 
man is quickly released, especially in Paris. 

So Lucien, on entering his cell, saw an exact reproduction 
of the first room he had occupied in Paris at the Hotel Cluny. 
A bed to compare with those in the worst furnished apart- 
ments of the Quartier Latin, straw chairs with the bottoms 
out, a table and a fcAV utensils, compose the furniture of such 
a room, in which two accused prisoners are not unfrequently 
placed together when they are quiet in their ways, and their 
misdeeds are not crimes of violence, but such as forgery or 
bankruptcy. 

This resemblance between his starting-point, in the days of 
his innocency, and his goal, the lowest depths ot degradation 
and shame, was so direct an appeal to his last chord of poetic 



END OF EVIL WAYS 323 

feeling, that the unhappy fellow melted into tears. For four 
hours he wept, as rigid in appearance as a figure of stone, 
but enduring the subversion of all his hopes, the crushing of 
all his social vanity, and the utter overthrow of his pride, 
smarting in each separate / that exists in an ambitious man 
— a lover, a success, a dandy, a Parisian, a poet, a libertine, 
and a favorite. Everything in him was broken by this fall 
as of Icarus. 

Carlos Herrera, on the other hand, as soon as he was locked 
into his cell and found himself alone, began pacing it to and 
fro like the polar bear in his cage. He carefully examined 
the door and assured himself that, with the exception of the 
peephole, there was not a crack in it. He sounded all the 
walls, he looked up the funnel down which a dim light came, 
and he said to himself, "I am safe enough !" 

He sat down in a corner where the eye of a prying warder 
at the grating of the peephole could not see him. Then he 
took off his wig, and hastily ungumm.ed a piece of paper that 
did duty as lining. The side of the paper next his head was 
so greasy that it looked like the very texture of the wig. If 
it had occurred to Bibi-Lupin to snatch off the wig to es- 
tablish the identity of the Spaniard with Jacques Collin, ho 
would never have though twice about that paper, it looked 
so exactly like part of the wigmaker's work. The other side 
was still fairly white, and clean enough to have a few lines 
written on it. The delicate and tiresome task of unsticking 
it had been begun in La Force ; two hours would not have been 
long enough; it had taken him half of the day before. The 
prisoner began by tearing this precious scrap of paper so as 
to have a strip four or five lines wide, which he divided into 
several bits; he then replaced his store of paper in the same 
strange hiding-place, after damping the gummed side so as 
to make it stick again. He felt in a lock of his hair for one 
of those pencil leads as thin as a stout pin, then recently in- 
vented by Susse, and which he had put in with some gum ; 
he broke off a scrap long enough to write with and small 
enough to hide in his ear. Having made these preparations 



324 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

with the rapidity and certainty of hand peculiar to old con- 
victs, who are as light-fingered as monkeys, Jacques Collin 
sat down on the edge of his bed to meditate on his instruc- 
tions to Asie, in perfect confidence that he should come across 
her, so entirely did he rely on the woman's genius. 

"During the preliminary examination," he reflected, "I 
pretended to be a Spaniard and spoke broken French, ap- 
pealed to my Ambassador, and alleged diplomatic privilege, 
not understanding anything I was asked, the whole per- 
formance varied by fainting, pauses, sighs — in short, all the 
vagaries of a dying nran. I must stick to that. My papers 
are all regular. Asie and I can eat up Monsieur Camusot; 
he is no great shakes ! 

"Xow I must think of Lucien; he must be made to pull 
himself together. I must get at the boy at whatever cost, 
and show him some plan of conduct, otherwise he will give 
himself up, give me up, lose all ! He must be taught his 
lesson before he is examined. And besides, I must find some 
witnesses to swear to my being a priest !" 

Such was the position, moral and physical, of these two 
prisoners, whose fate at the moment depended on Monsieur 
Camusot, examining judge to the Inferior Court of the Seine, 
and sovereign master, during the time granted to him by the 
Code, of the smallest details of their existence, since he alone 
could grant leave for them to be visited by the chaplains, the 
doctor, or any one else in the world. 

ISTo human authority — neither the King, nor the Keeper 
of the Seals, nor the Prime Minister, can encroach on the 
power of an examining judge ; nothing can stop him, no one 
can control him. He is a monarch, subject only to his 
conscience and the Law. At the present time, when philoso- 
phers, philanthropists, and politicians are constantly endeavor- 
ing to reduce every social power, the rights conferred on the 
examining judges have become the object of attacks that are 
all the more serious because they are almost justified by those 
rights, which, it must be owned, are enormous. And yet, as 
every man of sense will own, that power ought to remain un- 



END OF EVIL WAYS 325 

impaired ; in certain cases, its exercise can be mitigated by a 
strong infusion of caution; but society is already threatened 
by the ineptitude and weakness of the jury — which is, in fact, 
the really supreme bench, and which ought to be composed 
only of choice and elected men — and it would be in danger 
of ruin if this pillar were broken which now upholds our 
criminal procedure. 

Arrest on suspicion is one of the terrible but necessary 
powers of which the risk to society is counterbalanced by its 
immense importance. And besides, distrust of the magistracy 
in general is a beginning of social dissolution. Destroy that 
institution, and reconstruct it on another basis; insist — as 
was the case before the Ee volution — that judges should show 
a large guarantee of fortune ; but, at any cost, believe in it ! 
Do not make it an image of society to be insulted ! 

In these days a judge, paid as a functionary, and generally 
a poor man, has in the place of his dignity of old a haughti- 
ness of demeanor that seems odious to the men raised to be 
his equals; for haughtiness is dignity without a solid basis. 
That is the vicious element in the present system. If France 
were divided into ten circuits, the magistracy might be re- 
instated by conferring its dignities on men of fortune; but 
with six-and-twenty circuits this is impossible. 

The only real improvement to be insisted on in the exercise 
of the power intrusted to the examining judge, is an alteration 
in the conditions of preliminary imprisonment. The mere 
fact of suspicion ought to make no difference in the habits of 
life of the suspected parties. Houses of detention for them 
ought to be constructed in Paris, furnished and arranged in 
such a way as greatly to modify the feeling of the public 
with regard to suspected persons. The law is good, and is 
necessary; its application is ^ in fault, and public feeling 
judges the laws from the way in which they are carried out. 
And public opinion in France condemns persons under sus- 
picion, while, by an inexplicable reaction, it justifies those 
committed for trial. This, perhaps, is a result of the es- 
sentially refractory nature of the French. 



326 A COURTESAxX'S LIFE 

This illogical temper of the Parisian people was one of the 
factors which contributed to the climax of this drama; nay, 
as may be seen, it was one of the most important. 

To enter into the secret of the terrible scenes which are 
acted out in the examining judge"s chambers; to understand 
the respective positions of the two belligerent powers, the Law 
and the examinee, the object of whose contest is a certain 
secret kept by the prisoner from the inquisition of the magis- 
trate — well named in prison slang, "the curious man" — it 
must always be remembered that persons imprisoned under 
suspicion know" nothing of what is being said by the seven or 
eight publics that compose tlie Public, nothing of how much 
the police know, or the authorities, or the little that news- 
papers can publish as to the circumstances of the crime. 

Thus, to give a man in custody such information as Jacques 
Collin had just received from Asie as to Lucien's arrest, 
is throwing a rope to a drowning man. As will be seen, in 
consequence of this ignorance, a stratagem which, without this 
warning, must certainly have been equally fatal to the convict, 
was doomed to failure. 

Monsieur Camusot, the son-in-law of' one of the clerks of 
the cabinet, too well known for any account of his position 
and connection to be necessary here, was at this moment al- 
most as much perplexed as Carlos Herrera in view of the ex- 
amination he was to conduct. He had formerly been Presi- 
dent of a Court of the Paris circuit ; he had been raised from 
that position and called to be a judge in Paris — one of the 
most coveted posts in the magistracy — by the influence of the 
celebrated Duchesse de Maufrigneuse, whose husband, at- 
tached to the Dauphin's person, and Colonel of a cavalry 
regiment of the Guards, was as much in favor with the King 
as she was wMth Madame. In return for a very small service 
which he had done the Duchess — an important matter to her 
— on the occasion of a charge of forgery brought against the 
young Comte d'Esgrignon by a banker of Alengon (see Le 
Cabinet des Antiques; Scenes de la vie de Province), he was 



END OF EVIL WAYS 327 

promoted from being a provincial judge to be president of bis 
Court, and from being president to be an examining judge in 
Paris. 

For eighteen months now he had sat on the most im- 
portant Bench in the kingdom; and had once, at the desire 
of the Duchesse de Maufrigneuse, had an opportunity of for- 
warding the ends of a lady not less influential than the Duch- 
ess, namely, the Marquise d'Espard, but he had failed. (See 
the Commission in Lunacy.) 

Lucien, as was told at the beginning of this Scene, to be 
revenged on Madame d'Espard, who aimed at depriving her 
husband of his liberty of action, was able to put the true facts 
before the Public Prosecutor and the Comte de Serizy. These 
two important authorities being thus won over to the Marquis 
d'Espard's party, his wife had barely escaped the censure of 
the Bench by her husband's generous intervention. 

On hearing,- yesterday, of Lucien's arrest, the Marquise 
d'Espard had sent her brother-in-law, the Chevalier d'Espard, 
to see Madame Camusot. Madame Camusot had set off forth- 
with to call on the notorious Marquise. Just before dinner, 
on her return home, she had called her husband aside in the 
bedroom. 

"If you can commit that little fop Lucien de Eubempre 
for trial, and secure his condemnation," said she in his ear, 
"you will be Councillor to the Supreme Court " 

"How ?" 

"Madame d'Espard longs to see that poor young man 
guillotined. I shivered as I heard what a pretty woman's 
hatred can be !" 

"Do not meddle in questions of law," said Camusot. 

"I ! meddle I'' said she. "If a third person could have 
heard us, he could not have guessed what we were talking 
about. The Marquise and I were as exquisitely hypo- 
critical to each other as you are to me at this moment. She 
began by thanking me for your good offices in her suit, say- 
ing that she was grateful in spite of its having failed. She 
spoke of the terrible functions devolved on you by the law, 



328 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

'It is fearful to have to send a man to the scaffold — but as 
to that man, it would be no more than justice/ and so forth. 
Then she lamented that such a handsome young fellow, 
brought to Paris by her cousin, Madame du Chatelet, should 
have turned out so badly. 'That,' said she, 'is what bad 
women like Coralie and Esther bring young men to whe:^ they 
are corrupt enough to share their disgraceful profits !' Next 
came some fine speeches about charity and religion ! Madame 
du Chatelet had said that Lucien deserved a thousand deaths 
for having half killed his mother and his sister. 

"Then she spoke of a vacancy in the Supreme Court — she 
knows the Keeper of the Seals. 'Your husband, madame, has 
a fine opportunity of distinguishing himself,' she said in 
conclusion — and that is all." 

"We distinguish ourselves every day when we do our duty," 
said Camusot. 

"You will go far if you are always the lawyer even to your 
wife," cried Madame Camusot. "Well, I used to think you a 
goose. Now I admire you." 

The lawyer's lips wore one of those smiles which are as 
peculiar to them as dancers' smiles are to dancers. 

"Madame, can I come in ?" said the maid. 

"What is it?" said her mistress. 

"Madame, the head lady's-maid came from the Duchesse 
de Maufrigneuse while you were oi]t, and she will be obliged 
if you would go at once to the Hotel de Cadignan." 

"Keep dinner back," said the lawyer's wife, remembering 
that the driver of the hackney coach that had brought her 
home was waiting to be paid. 

She put her bonnet on again, got into the coach, and in 
twenty minutes was at the Hotel de Cadignan. Madame 
Camusot was led up the private stairs, and sat alone for ten 
minutes in a boudoir adjoining the Duchess' bedroom. The 
Duchess presently appeared, splendidly dressed, for she 
was starting for Saint-Cloud in obedience to a Eoyal invita- 
tion. 

"Between you and me, my dear, two words are enough." 



END OP EVIL WAYS 329 

"Yes, Madame la Duchesse." 

"Lucien de Eubempre is in custody, your husband is con- 
aucting the inquiry; I will answer for the poor boy's inno- 
cence ; see that he is released within twenty-four hours. — This 
is not all. Some one will ask to-morrow to see Lucien in 
private in his cell ; your husband may be present if he chooses, 
so long as he is not discovered. I am, as you know, true to 
those who do me a service. The King looks for high courage 
in his magistrates in the difficult position in which he will 
presently find himself; I will bring your husband forward, 
and recommend him as a man devoted to the King even at 
the risk of his head. Our friend Camusot will be made first 
a councillor, and then the President of Court somewhere or 
other. — Good-bye. — I am under orders, you will excuse me, 
I know? 

"You will not only oblige the public prosecutor, who can- 
not give an opinion in this affair; you will save the life of 
a dying woman, Madame de Serizy. So you will not lack 
support. 

" In short, you see, I put my trust in you, I need not say 
— you know " 

She laid a finger to her lips and disappeared. 

"And I had not a chance of telling her that Madame 
d'Espard wants to see Lucien on the scaffold !" thought the 
judge's wife as she returned to her hackney cab. 

She got home in such a state of anxiety that her husband, 
on seeing her, asked : 

"What is the matter, Amelie?" 

"We stand between two fires." 

She told her husband of her interview with the Duchess, 
speaking in his ear for fear the maid should be listening at 
the door. 

"Now, which of them has most power?" she said in conclu- 
sion. "The Marquise was very near getting you into trouble 
in the silly business of the commission on her husband, and 
we owe everything to the Duchess. 

"One made vague promises, while the other one tells you 



330 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

you shall first be Councillor and then President. — Heaven 
forbid I should advise you ; I -will never meddle in matters of 
business; still, I am bound to repeat exactly what is said at 
Court and what goes on '* 

"But, Amelie, you do not know what the Prefet of police 
sent me this morning, and by whom ? By one of the most im- 
portant agents of the superior police, the Bibi-Lupin of 
politics, who told me that the Government had a secret inter- 
est in this trial. — Now let us dine and go to the Varietes. 
We will talk all this over to-night in my private room, for 
I shall need your intelligence ; that of a judge may not per- 
haps be enough " 

Nine magistrates out of ten would deny the influence of 
the wife over her husband in such cases ; but though this may 
be a remarkable exception in society, it may be insisted on as 
true, even if improbable. The magistrate is like the priest, 
especially in Paris, where the best of the profession are to 
be found; he rarely speaks of his business in the Courts, ex- 
cepting of settled cases. Not only do magistrates' wives 
affect to know nothing ; they have enough sense of propriety 
to understand that it would damage their husbands if, when 
they are told some secret, they allowed their knowledge to be 
suspected. 

Nevertheless, on some great occasions, when promotion de- 
pends on the decision taken, many a wife, like Amelie. has 
helped the lawyer in his study of a case. And, after all. these 
exceptions, which, of course, are easily denied, since they re- 
main unknown, depend entirely on the way in which the 
struggle between two natures has worked out in home-life. 
Now, Madame Camusot controlled her husband completely. 

When all in the house were asleep, the lawyer and his wife 
sat down to the desk, where the magistrate had already laid 
out the documents in the case. 

"Here are the notes, forwarded to me, at my request, by 
the Prefet of police," said Camusot. 



END OF EVIL WAYS 331 

"The Ahhe Carlos Herrera. 

"This individual is undoubtedly the man named Jacques 
Collin, known as Trompe-la-Mort, who was last arrested in 
1819, in the dwelling-house of a certain Madame Vauquer, 
who kept a common boardiog-house in the Eue Neuve-Sainte- 
Genevieve, where he lived in concealment under the alias of 
Yautrin." 

A marginal note in the Prefet's handwriting ran thus: 
"Orders have been sent by telegraph to Bibi-Lupin, chief of 
the Safety department, to return forthwith, to be confronted 
with the prisoner, as he is personally acquainted with Jacques 
Collin, whom he, in fact, arrested in 1819 with the connivance 
of a Mademoiselle Michonneau. 

"The boarders who then lived in the Maison Vauquer 
are still living, and may be called to establish his identity. 

"The self-styled Carlos Herrera is Monsieur Lucien de 
Eubempre's intimate friend and adviser, and for three years 
past has furnished him with considerable sums, evidently ob- 
tained by dishonest means. 

"This partnership, if the identity of the Spaniard with 
Jacques Collin can be proved, must involve the condemnation 
of Lucien de Eubempre. 

"The sudden death of Peyrade, the police agent, is at- 
tributable to poison administered at the instigation of Jacques 
Collin, Eubempre, or their accomplices. The reason for 
this murder is the fact that justice had for a long time been 
on the traces of these clever criminals." 

And again, on the margin, the magistrate pointed to this 
note written by the Pref et himself : 

"This is the fact to my personal knowledge ; and I also 
know that the Sieur Lucien de Eubempre has disgracefully 
tricked the Comte de Serizy and the Public Prosecutor," 

"What do you say to this, Amelie?" 

"It is frightful !" replied his wife. "Go on." 



I 



332 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"The transformation of the convict Jacques Collin into 
a Spanish priest is the result of some crime more clever than 
that by which Coignard made himself Comte de Sainte- 
Helene/' » 

"Lucien de Ruhempre. 

"Lucien Chardon, son of an apothecary at Angouleme — 
his mother a Demoiselle de Rubempre — bears the name of 
Eubempre in virtue of a royal patent. This was granted by 
the request of Madame la Duchesse de Maufrigneuse and 
Monsieur le Comte de Serizy. 

"This young man came to Paris in 182 . . . without any 
means of subsistence, following Madame la Comtesse Sixte 
du Chatelet, then Madame de Bargeton, a cousin of Madame 
d'Espard's. 

"He was ungrateful to Madame de Bargeton, and cohabited 
with a girl named Coralie, an actress at the Gymnase, now 
dead, who left Monsieur Camusot, a silk mercer in the Rue 
des Bourdonnais, to live with Rubempre. 

"Ere long, having sunk into poverty through the in- 
sufficienc}' of the money allowed him by this actress, he seri- 
ously compromised his brother-in-law, a highly-respected 
printer of Angouleme, by giving forged bills, for which David 
Sechard was arrested, during a short visit paid to Angouleme 
by Lucien. In consequence of this affair Rubempre fled, but 
suddenly reappeared in Paris with the Abbe Carlos Herrera. 

"Though having no visible means of subsistence, the said 
Lucien de Rubempre spent on an average three hundred thou- 
sand francs during the three years of his second residence 
in Paris, and can only have obtained the money from the 
self-styled Abbe Carlos Herrera — but how did he come by it ? 

"He has recently laid out above a million francs in re- 
purchasing the Rubempre estates to fulfil the conditions on 
which he was to be allowed to marrj^ Mademoiselle Clotilde 
de Grandlieu. This marriage has been broken off in con- 
sequence of inquiries made by the Craudlieu family, the said 
Lucien having told them that he had obtained the money from 



END OF EVIL WAYS 333 

his brother-in-law and his sister; but the information ob- 
tained, more especially by Monsieur Derville, attorney-at-law, 
proves that not only were that worthy couple ignorant of his 
having made this purchase, but that they believed the said 
Lucien to be deeply in debt. 

"Moreover, the property inherited by the Sechards consists 
of houses; and the ready money, by their affidavit, amounted 
to about two hundred thousand francs. 

"Lucien was secretly cohabiting with Esther Gobseck ; hence 
there can be no doubt that all the lavish gifts of the Baron 
de Nucingen, the girl's protector, were handed over to the said 
Lucien. 

"Lucien and his companion, the convict, have succeeded in 
keeping their footing in the face of the world longer than 
Coignard did, deriving their income from the prostitution of 
the said Esther, formerly on the register of the town." 

Though these notes are to a great extent a repetition of the 
story already told, it was necessary to reproduce them to show 
the part played by the police in Paris. As has already been 
seen from the note on Peyrade, the police has summaries, 
almost invariably correct, concerning every family or in- 
dividual whose life is under suspicion, or whose actions are of 
a doubtful character. It knows every circumstance of their 
delinquencies. This universal register and account of 
consciences is as accurately kept as the register of the Bank 
of France and its account of fortunes. Just as the Bank notes 
the slightest delaj^ in payment, gauges every credit, takes 
stock of every capitalist, and watches their proceedings, so 
does the police weigh and measure the honesty of each citizen. 
With it, as in a Court of Law, innocence has nothing to fear ; 
it has no hold on anything but crime. 

However high the rank of a family, it cannot evade this 
social providence. 

And its discretion is equal to the extent of its power. This 
vast mass of written evidence compiled by the police — reports, 
notes, and summaries — an ocean of information, sleeps un- 



334 A COURTESAN'S 1,1 FB 

disturbed, as deep and calm as the sea. Some accident oc- 
curs, some crime or misdemeanor becomes aggressive, — then 
the law refers to the police, and immediately, if any docu- 
ments bear on the suspected criminal, the Judge is informed. 
These records, an analysis of his antecedents, are merely 
side-lights, and unknown beyond the walls of the Palais de 
Justice. Xo legal use can be made of them ; Justice is in- 
formed by them, and takes advantage of them; but that is 
all. These documents form, as it were, the inner lining 
of the tissue of crimes, their first cause, which is hardly ever 
made public. Xo jury would accept it; and the whole 
country would rise up in wrath if excerpts from those docu- 
ments came out in the trial at the Assizes. In fact, it is the 
truth which is doomed to remain in the well, as it is every- 
where and at all times. There is not a magistrate who, after 
twelve years' experience in Paris, is not fully aware that the 
Assize Court and the police authorities keep the secret of half 
these squalid atrocities, or who does not admit that half 
the crimes that are committed are never punished by the 
law. 

If the public could know how reserved the employes of the 
police are — who do not forget — they would reverence these 
honest men as much as they do Cheverus. The police is 
supposed to be astute. Machiavellian; it is, in fact, most 
benign. But it hears every passion in its paroxysms, it 
listens to every kind of treachery, and keeps notes of all. 
The police is terrible on one side only. What it does for 
justice it does no less for political interests ; but in these it is 
as ruthless and as one-sided as the fires of the Inquisition. 

"Put this aside," said the lawyer, replacing the notes in 
their cover; "this is a secret between the police and the law. 
The judge will estimate its value, but Monsieur and Madame 
Camusot must know nothing of it." 

"As if I needed telling that I" said his wife. 

"Lucien is guilty," he went on ; "but of what ?" 

"A man who is the favorite of the Duchesse de Mau- 
fi'igneuse, of the Comtesse de Serizy, and loved by Clotilde 



END OF EVIL WAYS 335 

de Grandlieu, is not guilty," said Amelie. "The other must 
be answerable for everything." 

"But Lucien is his accomplice," cried Camusot. 

"Take my advice," said Amelie. "Kestore this priest to the 
diplomatic career he so greatly adorns, exculpate this little 
wretch, and find some other criminal " 

"How you run on !" said the magistrate with a smile. "Wo- 
men go to the point, plunging through the law as birds fly 
through the air, and find nothing to stop them."' 

"But," said Amelie, "whether he is a diplomate or a con- 
vict, the Abbe Carlos will find some one to get him out of 
the scrape." 

"I am only a considering cap ; you are the brain," said 
Camusot. 

"Well, the sitting is closed; give your Melie a kiss; it is 
one o'clock." 

And Madame Camusot went to bed, leaving her husband 
to arrange his papers and his ideas in preparation for the task 
of examining the two prisoners next morning. 

And thus, while the prison vans were conveying Jacques 
Collin and Lucien to the Conciergerie, the examining judge, 
having breakfasted, was making his way across Paris on foot, 
after the unpretentious fashion of Parisian magistrates, to go 
to his chambers, where all the documents in the case were laid 
ready for him. 

This was the way of it: Every examining judge has a 
head-clerk, a sort of sworn legal secretary — a race that per- 
petuates itself without any premiums or encouragement, pro- 
ducing a number of excellent souls in whom secrecy is natural 
and incorruptible. From the origin of the Parlement to the 
present day, no case has ever been known at the Palais de 
Justice of any gossip or indiscretion on the part of a clerk 
bound to the Courts of Inquiry. Gentil sold the release given 
by Louise de Savoie to Semblangay; a War Office clerk sold 
the plan of the Eussian campaign to Czernitchef ; and these 
traitors were more or less rich. The prospect of a post in the 



336 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

Palais and professional conscientiousness are enough to make 
a judge's clerk a successful rival of the tomb — for the tomb 
has betrayed many secrets since chemistry has made such 
progress. 

This official is, in fact, the magistrate's pen. It will be 
understood by many readers that a man may gladly be the 
shaft of a machine, while they wonder why he is content to 
remain a bolt ; still the bolt is content — perhaps the machin- 
ery terrifies him. 

Camusot's clerk, a young man of two-and-twenty, named 
Coquart, had come in the morning to fetch all the documents 
and the judge's notes, and laid everything ready in his 
chambers, while the lawyer himself was wandering along the 
quays, looking at the curiosities in the shops, and wondering 
within himself : — 

"How on earth am I to set to work with such a clever 
rascal as this Jacques Collin, supposing it is he? The head 
of the Safety will know him. I must look as if I knew what 
I was about, if only for the sake of the police ! I see so many 
insuperable difficulties, that the best plan would be to en- 
lighten the Marquise and the Duchess by showing them the 
notes of the police, and I should avenge my father, from 
whom Lucien stole Coralie. — If I can unveil these scoundrels, 
my skill will be loudly proclaimed, and Lucien will soon be 
thrown over by his friends. — Well, well, the examination will 
settle all that." 

He turned into a curiosity shop, tempted by a Boule 
clock. 

"Not to be false to my conscience, and yet to oblige two 
great ladies — that will be a triumph of skill," thought he. 
"What, do you collect coins too, monsieur?" said Camusot to 
the Public Prosecutor, whom he found in the shop. 

"It is a taste dear to all dispensers of justice," said the 
Comte de Granville, laughing. "They look at the reverse 
said of every medal." 

And after looking about the shop for some minutes, as if 
continuing his search, he accompanied Camusot on his way 



END OF EVIL WAYS 337 

down the quay without its ever occurring to Camusot that 
anything but chance had brought them together. 

"You are examining Monsieur de Rubempre this morning," 
said the Public Prosecutor. "Poor fellow — I liked him." 

"There are several charges against him," said Camusot. 

"Yes, I saw the police papers; but some of the informa- 
tion came from an agent who is independent of the Prefet, 
the notorious Corentin, who has caused the death of more 
innocent men than you will ever send guilty men to the 

scaffold, and But that rascal is out of your reach. — 

Without trying to influence the conscience of such a magis- 
trate as you are, I may point out to you that if you could be 
perfectly sure that Lucien was ignorant of the contents of 
that woman's will, it would be self-evident that he had no in- 
terest in her death, for she gave him enormous sums of 
money." 

"We can prove his absence at the time when this Esther 
was poisoned," said Camusot. "He was at Fontainebleau, on 
the watch for Mademoiselle de Grandlieu and the Duchesse 
de Lenoncourt." 

"And he still cherished such hopes of marrying Made- 
moiselle de Grandlieu," said the Public Prosecutor — "I have 
it from the Duchesse de Grandlieu herself — that it is in- 
conceivable that such a clever young fellow should com- 
promise his chances by a perfectly aimless crime." 

"Yes," said Camusot, "especially if Esther gave him all 
she got." 

"Derville and Nucingen both say that she died in ignorance 
of the inheritance she had long since come into," added Gran- 
ville. 

"But then what do you suppose is the meaning of it 
all ?" asked Camusot. "For there is something at the bottom 
of it." 

"A crime committed by some servant," said the Public 
Prosecutor. 

"Unfortunately," remarked Camusot, "it would be quite 
like Jacques Collin — for the Spanish priest is certainly none 



o.-^S A COURTESAN'?! LIFE 

other than that escaped convict — to iiave taken possession of 
the seven hundred and fifty thousand francs derived from 
the sale of the certificate of shares given to Esther by Nu- 
cingen.'' 

"Weigh everything with care, my dear Canuisot. Be 
prudent. The Abbe Carlos Herrera has diplomatic connec- 
tions; still, an envoy who had committea a crime would not 
be sheltered by his position. Is he or is he not the Abbe 
Carlos Herrera? That is the important question." 

And Monsieur de Granville bowed, and turned away, as re- 
quiring no answer. 

"So he too wants to save Lucien !"' thought Camusot, going 
on by the Quai des Lunettes, while the Public Prosecutor 
entered the Palais through the Cour de Harlay. 

On reaching the courtyard of the Conciergerie, Camusot 
went to the Governor's room and led him into the middle of 
the pavement, where no one could overhear them. 

"My dear sir, do me the favor of going to La Force, and 
inquiring of your colleague there whether he happens at this 
moment to have there any convicts who were on the hulks at 
Toulon between 1810 and 1815; or have 3'ou any imprisoned 
here? We will transfer those of La Force here for a few 
days, and you will let me know whether this so-called Spanish 
priest is known to them as Jacques Collin, other^'ise Trompe- 
la-Mort." 

'^ery good, Monsieur Camusot. — But Bibi-Lupin is 
come . . ." 

"What, already?" said the judge. 

"He was at Melun. He was told that Trompe-la-Mort 
had to be identified, and he smiled with joy. He awaits your 
orders." 

"Send him to me." 

The Governor was then able to lay before Monsieur Camusot 
Jacques Collin's request, and he described the man's de- 
plorable condition. 

"I intended to examine him first," replied the magistrate, 
"but not on account of his health. I received a note this 



END OF EVIL WAYS 339 

morning from the Governor of La Force. Well, this rascal, 
who described himself to you as having been dying for twenty- 
four hours past, slept so soundly that they went into his 
cell there, with the doctor for whom the Governor had sent, 
without his hearing them; the doctor did not even feel his 
pulse, he left him to sleep — which proves that his conscience 
is as tough as his health. I shall accept this feigned illness 
only so far as it may enable me to study my man," added Mon- 
sieur Camusot, smiling. 

"We live to learn every day with these various grades of 
prisoners," said the Governor of the prison. 

The Prefecture of police adjoins the Conciergerie, and 
the magistrates, like the Governor, knowing all the sub- 
terranean passages, can get to and fro with the greatest 
rapidity. This explains the miraculous ease with which in- 
formation can be conveyed, during the sitting of the Courts, 
to the officials and the presidents of the Assize Courts. And by 
the time Monsieur Camusot had reached the top of the stairs 
leading to his chambers, Bibi-Lupin was there too, having 
come by the Salle des Pas-Perdus. 

"What zeal !" said Camusot, with a smile. 

"Ah, well, you see if it is he,'' replied the man, "you will 
see great fun in the prison-yard if by chance there are any 
old stagers here." 

"Why?" 

"Trompe-la-Mort sneaked their chips, and I know that 
they have vowed to be the death of him." 

They were the convicts whose money, intrusted to Trompe- 
la-Mort, had all been made away with by him for Lucien, as 
has been told. 

"Could you lay your hand on the witnesses of his former 
arrest ?" 

"Give me two summonses of witnesses and I will find you 
some to-day." 

"Coquart," said the lawyer, as he took off his gloves, and 
placed his hat and stick in a corner, "fill up two summonses 
by monsieur's directions." 



340 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

He looked at himself in the glass over the chimney shelf, 
where stood, in the place of a clock, a basin and jug. On 
one side was a bottle of water and a glass, on the other a 
lamp. He rang the bell; his usher came in a few minutes 
after. 

"Is anybody here for me yet?" he asked the man, whose 
business it was to receive the witnesses, to verify their sum- 
mons, and to set them in the order of their arrival. 

"Yes, sir." 

"Take their names, and bring me the list." 

The examining judges, to save time, are often obliged to 
carry on several inquiries at once. Hence the long waiting 
inflicted on the witnesses, who have seats in the ushers' hall, 
where the judges' bells are constantly ringing. 

"And then," Camusot went on, 'T)ring up the Abbe Carlos 
Herrera." 

"Ah, ha ! I was told that he was a priest in Spanish. Pooh ! 
It is a new edition of Collet, Monsieur Camusot," said the 
head of the Safety department. 

"There is nothing new !" replied Camusot. 

And he signed the two formidable documents which alarm 
everybody, even the most innocent witnesses, whom the law 
thus requires to appear, under severe penalties in case of 
failure. 

By this time Jacques Collin had, about half an hour since, 
finished his deep meditations, and was armed for the fray. 
Nothing is more perfectly characteristic of this type of the 
mob in rebellion against the law than the few words he had 
written on the greasy scraps of paper. 

The sense of the first — for it was written in the language, 
the very slang of slang, agreed upon by Asie and himself, a 
cipher of words — was as follows : — 

"Go to theDuchesse de Maufrigneuse or Madame de Serizy : 
one of them must see Lucien before he is examined, and give 
him the enclosed paper to read. Then find Europe and 
Paccard ; those two thieves must be at my orders, and ready 
to play any part I may set them. 



END OF EVIL WAYS 341 

"Go to Rastignac; tell him, from the man he met at the 
opera-ball, to come and swear that the Abbe Carlos Herrera" 
has no resemblance to Jacques Collin who was apprehended 
at Vauquer's. Do the same with Dr. Bianchon, and get 
Lucien's two women to work to the same end." 

On the enclosed fragment were these words in good ^'^ 
French : 

"Lucien, confess nothing about me. I am the Abbe Carlos 
Herrera. Not only will this be your exculpation; but, if 
you do not lose your head, you will have seven millions and 
your honor cleared." 

These two bits of paper, gummed on the side of the writing 
so as to look like one piece, were then rolled tightly, with a 
dexterity peculiar to men who have dreamed of getting free 
from the hulks. The whole thing assumed the shape and con- 
sistency of a ball of dirty rubbish, about as big as the sealing- 
wax heads which thrifty women stick on the head of a large 
needle when the eye is broken. 

"If I am examined first, we are saved ; if it is the boy, all 
is lost," said he to himself, while he waited. 

His plight was so sore that the strong man's face was wet 
with white sM^eat. Indeed, this wonderful man saw as clearly 
in his sphere of crime as Moliere did in his sphere of 
dramatic poetry, or Cuvier in that of extinct organisms. 
Genius of whatever kind is intuition. Below this highest 
manifestation other remarkable achievements may be due to 
talent. This is what divides men of the first rank from those 
of the second. 

Crime has its men of genius. Jacques Collin, driven to 
bay, had hit on the same notion as Madame Camusot's am- 
bition and Madame de Serizy's passion, suddenly revived by 
the shock of the dreadful disaster which was overwhelming 
Lucien. This was the supreme effort of human intellect 
directed against the steel armor of Justice. 

On hearing the rasping of the heavy locks and bolts of his 
door, Jacques Collin resumed his mask of a dying man; he 
was helped in this by the intoxicating joy that he felt at the 



342 A COURTESAN'S LTFE 

sound of the warder's shoes in the passage. He had no idea 
how Asie would get near him ; but he relied on meeting her 
on the way, especially after her promise given in the Saint- 
Jean gateway. 

After that fortunate achievement she had gone on to the 
Place de Greve. 

Till 1830 the name of La Greve (the Strand) had a mean- 
ing that is now lost. Every part of the river-shore from the 
Pont d'Arcole to the Pont Louis-Philippe was then as nature 
had made it, excepting the paved way which was at the top 
of the bank. When the river was in flood a boat could pass 
close under the houses and at the end of the streets running 
down to the river. On the quay the footpath was for the 
most part raised with a few steps ; and when the river was up 
to the houses, vehicles had to pass along the horrible Eue de 
la Mortellerie, which has now been completely removed to 
make room for enlarging the Hotel de Ville. 

So the sham costermonger could easily and quickly run 
her truck down to the bottom of the quay, and hide it there 
till the real owner — who was, in fact, drinking the price of 
her wares, sold bodily to Asie, in one of the abominable 
taverns in the Rue de la Mortellerie — should return to claim 
it. At that time the Quai Pelletier was being extended, the 
entrance to the works was guarded by a crippled soldier, and 
the barrow would be quite safe in his keeping. 

Asie then jumped into a hackney cab on the Place de 
I'Hotel de Ville, and said to the driver, "To the Temple, 
and look sharp, I'll tip you well." 

A woman dressed like Asie could disappear, without any 
questions being asked, in the huge market-place, where all the 
rags in Paris are gathered together, where a thousand coster- 
mongers wander round, and two hundred old-clothes sellers 
are chaffering. 

The two prisoners had hardly been locked up when she 
was dressing herself in a low, damp entresol over one of those 
foul shops where remnants are sold, pieces stolen by tailors 
and dressmakers — an establishment kept by an old maid 



END OF EVIL WAYS 343 

known as La Romette, from her Christian name Jeromette. 
La Romette was to the "purchasers of wardrobes" what these 
women are to the better class of so-called ladies in difficulties 
— Madame la Ressource, that is to say, money-lenders at a 
hundred per cent. 

"Now, child," said Asie, "I have got to be figged out. I 
must be a Baroness of the Faubourg Saint-Germain at the 
very least. And sharp's the word, for my feet are in 
hot oil. You know what gowns suit me. Hand up the 
rouge-pot, find me some first-class bits of lace, and the 
swaggerest jewelry you can pick out. — Send the girl to call a 
coach, and have it brought to the back door." 

"Yes, madame," the woman replied very humbly, and with 
the eagerness of a maid waiting on her mistress. 

If there had been any one to witness the scene, he would 
have understood that the woman known as Asie was at home 
here. 

"I have had some diamonds offered me," said la Romette, 
as she dressed Asie's head. 

"Stolen?" 

"I should think so." 

"Well, then, however cheap they may be, we must do with- 
out 'em. We must fight shy of the beak for a long time to 
come." 

It will now be understood how Asie contrived to be in the 
Salle des Pas-Perdus of the Palais de Justice with a summons 
in her hand, asking her way along the passages and stairs 
leading to the examining judge's chambers, and inquiring for 
Monsieur Camusot, about a quarter of an hour before that 
gentleman's arrival. 

Asie was not recognizable. After washing off her "make- 
up" as an old woman, like an actress, she applied rouge and 
pearl powder, and covered her head with a well-made fair 
wig. Dressed exactly as a lady of the Faubourg Saint- 
Germain might be if in search of a dog she had lost, she looked 
about forty, for she shrouded her features under a splendid 
black lace veil. A pair of stays, severely laced, disguised her 



344 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

cook's figure. With very good gloves and a rather large 
bustle, she exhaled the perfumes of powder a la Marecliale, 
Playing with a bag mounted in gold, she divided her attention 
between the walls of the building, where she found herself 
evidently for the first time, and the string by which she led 
a dainty little spaniel. Such a dowager could not fail to 
attract the notice of the black-robed natives of the Salle des 
Pas-Perdus. 

Besides the briefless law;\"ers who sweep this hall with their 
gowns, and speak of the leading advocates by their Christian 
names, as fine gentlemen address each other, to produce the 
impression that they are of the aristocracy of the law, patient 
youths are often to be seen, hangers-on of the attorneys, wait- 
ing, waiting, in hope of a case put down for the end of the 
da}^ which they may be so luck}^ as to be called to plead if the 
advocates retained for the earlier cases should not come out 
in time. 

A very curious study would be that of the differences be- 
tween these various black gowns, pacing the immense hall 
in threes, or sometimes in fours, their persistent talk filling 
the place with a loud, echoing hum — a hall well named in- 
deed, for this slow walk exhausts the lawj'ers as much as 
the waste of words. But such a study has its place in the 
volumes destined to reveal the life of Paris pleaders. 

Asie had counted on the presence of these youths; she 
laughed in her sleeve at some of the pleasantries she over- 
heard, and finally succeeded in attracting the attention of 
Massol, a 3'oung lawyer whose time was more taken up by 
the Police Gazette than b}^ clients, and who came up with a 
laugh to place himself at the service of a woman so elegantly 
scented and so handsomely dressed. 

Asie put on a little, thin voice to explain to this obliging 
gentleman that she appeared in answer to a summons from 
a judge named Camusot. 

"Oh ! in the Eubempre case ?" 

So the affair had its name already. 

"Oh, it is not my affair. It is my maid's, a girl named 



END OP EVIL WAYS 345 

Europe, who was with me twenty-four hours, and who 
fled when she saw my servant bring in a piece of stamped 
paper." 

Then, like any old woman who spends her life gossiping 
in the chimney-corner, prompted by Massol, she poured out 
the story of her woes with her first husband, one of the three 
Directors of the land revenue. She consulted the j^oung 
lawyer as to whether she would do well to enter on a lawsuit 
with her son-in-law, the Comte de Gross-ISTarp, who made her 
daughter very miserable, and whether the law allowed her to 
dispose of her fortune. 

In spite of all his efforts, Massol could not be sure whether 
the summons were addressed to the mistress or the maid. At 
the first moment he had only glanced at this legal document 
of most familiar aspect ; for, to save time, it is printed, and 
the magistrates' clerks have only to fill in the blanks left for 
the names and addresses of the witnesses, the hour for which 
they are called, and so forth. 

Asie made him tell her all about the Palais, which she 
knew more intimately that the lawyer did. Finally, she in- 
quired at what hour Monsieur Camusot would arrive. 

"Well, the examining judges generally are here by about 
ten o'clock." 

"It is now a quarter to ten," said she, looking at a pretty 
little watch, a perfect gem of goldsmith's work, which made 
Massol say to himself : 

"Where the devil will Fortune make herself at home next !" 

At this moment Asie had come to the dark hall looking 
out on the yard of the Conciergerie, where the ushers wait. 
On seeing the gate through the window, she exclaimed: 

"What are those high walls?" 

"That is the Conciergerie." 

"Oh ! so that is the Conciergerie where our poor queen 

Oh ! I should so like to see her cell !" 

"Impossible, Madame la Baronne," replied the young law- 
yer, on whose arm the dowager was now leaning. "A permit 
is indispensable, and very difficult to procure." 



346 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"I have been told," she went on, "that Louis XVIII. him- 
self composed the inscription that is to be seen in Marie- 
Antoinette's cell." 

"Yes, Madame la Baronne." 

"How much I should like to know Latin that I might study 
the words of that inscription !'' said she. "Do you think 
that Monsieur Camusot could give me a permit ?" 

"That is not in his power ; but he could take you there." 

"But his business " objected she. 

"Oh !" said Massol, "prisoners under suspicion can wait." 

"To be sure," said she artlessly, "they are under suspicion. 
— But I know Monsieur de Granville, your public prose- 
cutor " 

This hint had a magical effect on the ushers and the young 
lawyer. 

"Ah, you know Monsieur de Granville?" said Massol, who 
was inclined to ask the client thus sent him by chance her 
name and address. 

"I often see him at my friend Monsieur de Serizy's house. 
Madame de Serizy is a connection of mine through the 
Eonquerolles." 

"Well, if Madame wishes to go down to the Conciergerie," 
said an usher, "she " 

"Yes," said Massol. 

So the Baroness and the lawyer were allowed to pass, and 
they presently found themselves in the little guard-room at 
the top of the stairs leading to the "mousetrap." a spot well 
known to Asie, forming, as has been said, a post of observa- 
tion between those cells and the Court of the Sixth Chamber, 
through which everybody is obliged to pass. 

"Will you ask if Monsieur Camusot is come yet ?" said she, 
seeing some gendarmes playing cards. 

"Yes, madame, he has just come up from the 'mouse- 
trap.' " 

"The mousetrap !" said she. "What is that ? — Oh ! how 
stupid of me not to have gone straight to the Comte de Gran- 
ville. — But I have not time now. Pray take me to speak to 
Monsieur Camusot before he is otherwise engaged." 



END OF EVIL WAYS 847 

"Oh, you have plenty of time for seeing Monsieur Camu- 
sot/' said Massol. ''If you send him in your card, he will 
spare you the discomfort of waiting in the ante-room with 
the witnesses. — We can be civil here to ladies like you. — 
You have a card about you?" 

At this instant Asie and her lawyer were exactly in front 
of the window of the guardroom whence the gendarmes could 
observe the gate of the Conciergerie. The gendarmes, brought 
up to respect the defenders of the widow and the orphan, 
were aware too of the prerogative of the gown, and for a few 
minutes allowed the Baroness to remain there escorted by 
a pleader. Asie listened to the terrible tales which a young 
lawyer is ready to tell about that prison-gate. She would 
not believe that those who were condemned to death were 
prepared for the scaffold behind those bars; but the sergeant- 
at-arms assured her it was so. 

"How much I should like to see it done !" cried she. 

And there she remained, prattling to the lawyer and the 
sergeant, till she saw Jacques Collin come out supported 
by two gendarmes, and preceded by Monsieur Camusot's 
clerk. 

"Ah, there is a chaplain no doubt going to prepare a poor 
wretch " 

"Not at all, Madame la Baronne," said the gendarme. 
"He is a prisoner coming to be examined." 

"What is he accused of ?" 

"He is concerned in this poisoning case." 

"Oh ! 1 should like to see him." 

"You cannot stay here," said the sergeant, "for he is under 
close arrest, and he must pass through here. You see, ma- 
dame, that door leads to the stairs " 

"Oh ! thank you !" cried the Baroness, making for the door, 
to rush down the stairs, where she at once shrieked out, "Oh ! 
where am I ?" 

This cry reached the ear of Jacques Collin, who was thus 
prepared to see her. The sergeant flew after Madame la 
Baronne, seized her by the middle, and lifted her back like 



348 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

a feather into the midst of a group of five gendarmes, who 
started up as one man; for in that guardroom everything is 
regarded as suspicious. The proceeding was arbitrary, but 
the arbitrariness was necessary. The young lawyer himself 
had cried out twice, "Madame ! madame !" in his horror, so 
much did he fear finding himself in the wrong. 

The Abbe Carlos Herrera, half fainting, sank on a chair 
in the guardroom. 

"Poor man !" said the Baroness. "Can he be a criminal?" 

The words, though spoken low to the young advocate, could 
be heard by all, for the silence of death reigned in that ter- 
rible guardroom. Certain privileged persons are sometimes 
allowed to see famous criminals on their way through this 
room or through the passages, so that the clerk and the gen- 
darmes who had charge of the Abbe Carlos made no remark. 
Also, in consequence of the devoted zeal of the sergeant who 
had snatched up the Baroness to hinder any communication 
between the prisoner and the visitors, there was a considerable 
space between them. 

"Let us go on," said Jacques Collin, making an effort to 
rise. 

At the same moment the little ball rolled out of his sleeve, 
and the spot where it fell was noted by the Baroness, who 
could look about her freely from under her veil. The little 
pellet, being damp and sticky, did not roll ; for such trivial 
details, apparently unimportant, had all been duly considered 
by Jacques Collin to insure success. 

When the prisoner had been led up the higher part of the 
steps, Asie very unaffectedly dropped her bag and picked it 
up again; but in stooping she seized the pellet which had 
escaped notice, its color being exactly like that of the dust 
and mud on the floor. 

"Oh dear!" cried she, "it goes to my heart. — He is 
dying " 

"Or seems to be," replied the sergeant. 

"Monsieur," said Asie to the lawyer, "take me at once to 
Monsieur Camusot; I have come about this case; and 



END OP EVIL WAYS 349 

he might be very glad to see me before examining that poor 
priest." 

The lawyer and the Baroness left the guardroom, with its 
greasy, fuliginous walls; but as soon as they reached the top 
of the stairs, Asie exclaimed: 

"Oh, and my dog ! My poor little dog !" and she rushed 
off like a mad creature down the Salle des Pas-Perdus, asking 
every one where her dog was. She got to the corridor beyond 
(la Galerie Marchande, or Merchant's Hall, as it is called), 
and flew to the staircase, saying, "There he is !" 

These stairs lead to the Cour de Harlay, through which 
Asie, having played out the farce, passed out and took a 
hackney cab on the Quai des Orf evres, where there is a stand ; 
thus she vanished with the summons requiring "Europe" to 
appear, her real name being unknown to the police and the 
lawyers. 

"Eue Neuve-Saint-Marc," cried she to the driver. 

Asie could depend on the absolute secrecy of an old-clothes 
purchaser, known as Madame Nourrisson, who also called her- 
self Madame de Saint-Esteve ; and who would lend Asie not 
merely her personality, but her shop at need, for it was there 
that Nucingen had bargained for the surrender of Esther. 
Asie was quite at home there, for she had a bedroom in Ma- 
dame Nourrisson's establishment. 

She paid the driver, and went up to her room, nodding to 
Madame Nourrisson in a way to make her understand that 
she had not time to say two words to her. 

As soon as she was safe from observation, Asie unwrapped 
the papers with the care of a savant unrolling a palimpsest. 
After reading the instructions, she thought it wise to copy 
the lines intended for Lucien on a sheet of letter-paper ; then 
she went down to Madame Nourrisson, to whom she talked 
while a little shop-girl went to fetch a cab from the Boulevard 
des Italiens. She thus extracted the addresses of the 
Duchesse de Maufrigneuse and of Madame de Serizy, which 
were known to Madame Nourrisson by her dealings with their 
maids. 



350 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

All this running about and elaborate business took up more 
than two hours. Madame la Duchesse de Maufrigneuse, 
who lived at the top of the Faubourg Saint-Honore, kept Ma- 
dame de Saint-Esteve waiting an hour, although the lady's- 
maid, after knocking at the boudoir door, had handed in to 
her mistress a card with Madame de Saint-Esteve's name, on 
which Asie had written, "Called about pressing business con- 
cerning Lucien." 

Her first glance at the Duchess' face showed her how ill- 
timed her visit must be; she apologized for disturbing Ma- 
dame la Duchesse when she was resting, on the plea of the 
danger in which Lucien stood. 

"Who are you ?" asked the Duchess, without any pretence 
at politeness, as she looked at Asie from head to foot ; for 
Asie, though she might be taken for a Baroness by Maitre 
Massol in the Salle des Pas-Perdus, when she stood on the 
carpet in the boudoir of the Hotel de Cadignan, looked like 
a splash of mud on a white satin gown. 

"I am a dealer in cast-oif clothes, Madame la Duchesse; 
for in such matters every lady applies to women whose 
business rests on a basis of perfect secrecy. I have never be- 
trayed anybody, though God knows how many great ladies 
have intrusted their diamonds to me by the month while 
wearing false jewels made to imitate them exactly." 

"You have some other name?" said the Duchess, smiling 
at a reminiscence recalled to her by this reply. 

"Yes, Madame la Duchesse, I am j\Iadarae de Saint- 
Esteve on great occasions, but in the trade I am Madame 
Nourrisson." 

"Well, well," said the Duchess in an altered tone. 

"I am able to be of great service," Asie went on, "for we 
hear the husbands' secrets as well as the wives'. I have done 
many little jobs for Monsieur de Marsay, whom Madame la 
Duchesse " 

"That will do, that will do !" cried the Duchess. "What 
about Lucien ?" 

"If you wish to save him, madame, you must have courage 



END OF EVIL WAYS 351 

enough to lose no time in dressing. But, indeed, Madame 
la Duchesse, you could not look more charming than you do 
at this moment. You are sweet enough to charm anybody, 
take an old woman's word for it ! In short, niadame, do not 
wait for your carriage, but get into my hackney coach. Come 
to Madame de Serizy's if you hope to avert worse misfortunes 
than the death of that cherub " 

"Go on, I will follow you," said the Duchess after a 
moment's hesitation. "Between us we may give Leontine 
some courage . . 

JSTotwithstanding the really demoniacal activity of this 
Dorine of the hulks, the clock was striking two when she 
and the Duchesse de Maufrigneuse went into the Comtesse 
de Serizy's house in the Eue de la Chaussee-d'Antin. Once 
there, thanks to the Duchess, not an instant was lost. The 
two women were at once shown up to the Countess, whom 
they found reclining on a couch in a miniature chalet, sur- 
rounded by a garden fragrant with the rarest flowers. 

"That is well," said Asie, looking about her. "No one 
can overhear us.'" 

"Oh ! my dear, I am half dead ! Tell me, Diane, what 
have you done ?" cried the Countess, starting up like a fawn, 
and, seizing the Duchess by the shoulders, she melted into 
tears. 

"Come, come, Leontine; there are occasions when women 
like us must not cry, but act," said the Duchess, forcing the 
Countess to sit down on the sofa by her side. 

Asie studied the Countess' face with the scrutiny peculiar 
to those old hands, which pierces to the soul of a woman as 
certainly as a surgeon's instrument probes a wound ! Jacques 
Collin's ally at once discerned the stamp of one of the rarest 
feelings in a woman of the world : real sorrow ! — the sorrow 
that graves ineradicable lines on the heart and on the fea- 
tures. She was dressed without the least touch of vanity. 
She was now forty-five, and her printed muslin wrapper, 
tumbled and untidy, showed her bosom without any art or 
even stays ! Her eyes were set in dark circles, and her mottled 



352 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

cheeks showed the traces of bitter tears. She wore no sash 
round her waist ; the embroidery on her petticoat and shift 
was all crumpled. Her hair, knotted up under a lace cap, 
had not been combed for four-and-twenty hours, and showed 
as a thin, short plait and ragged little curls. Leontine had 
forgotten to put on her false hair. 

"You are in love for the first time in your life ?" said Asie 
sententiously. 

Leontine then saw the woman, and started with horror. 

"Who is that, my dear Diane?" she asked of the Duchesse 
de Maufrigneuse. 

"Whom should I bring with me but a woman who is devoted 
to Lucien and willing to help us ?" 

Asie had hit the truth. Madame de Serizy, who was re- 
garded as one of the most fickle of fashionable women, had 
had an attachment of ten years' standing for the Marquis 
d'Aiglemont. Since the Marquis' departure for the colonies, 
she had gone wild about Lucien, and had won him from the 
Duchesse de Maufrigneuse, kno^ving nothing — like the Paris 
world generally — of Lucien's passion for Esther. In the 
world of fashion a recognized attachment does more to ruin 
a woman's reputation than ten unconfessed liaisons; how 
much more then two such attachments? However, as no 
one thought of Madame de Serizy as a responsible person, 
the historian cannot undertake to speak for her virtue thus 
doubly dog's-eared. 

She was fair, of medium height, and well preserved, as a 
fair woman can be who is well preserved at all ; that is to say, 
she did not look more than thirty, being slender, but not lean, 
with a white skin and flaxen hair ; she had hands, feet, and a 
shape of aristocratic elegance, and was as witty as all the 
Konquerolles, spiteful, therefore, to women, and good-natured 
to men. Her large fortune, her husband's fine position, and 
that of her brother, the Marquis de Konquerolles, had pro- 
tected her from the mortifications with which any other wo- 
man would have been overwhelmed. She had this great 
merit — that she was honest in her depravity, and confessed 
her worship of the manners and customs of the Eegency. 



END OF' EVIL WAYS 353 

Now, at forty-two this woman — who had hitherto regarded 
men as no more than pleasing playthings, to whom, indeed, 
she had, strange to say, granted much, regarding love as 
merely a matter of sacrifice to gain the upper hand, — this 
woman, on first seeing Lucien, had been seized with such a 
passion as the Baron de Nucingen's for Esther. She had 
loved, as Asie had just told her, for the first time in her life. 

This postponement of youth is more common with Parisian 
women than might be supposed, and causes the ruin of some 
virtuous souls just as they are reaching the haven of forty. 
The Duchesse de Maufrigneuse was the only person in the 
secret of the vehement and absorbing passion, of which the 
joys, from the girlish suspicion of first love to the preposter- 
ous follies of fulfilment, had made Leontine half crazy and 
insatiable. 

True love, as we know, is merciless. The discovery of 
Esther's existence had been followed by one of those outbursts 
of rage which in a woman rise even to the pitch of murder; 
then came the phase of meanness, to which a sincere affection 
humbles itself so gladly. Indeed, for the last month the 
Countess would have given ten years of her life to have Lucien 
again for one week. At last she had even resigned herself to 
accept Esther as her rival, just when the news of her lover's 
arrest had come like the last trump on this paroxysm of devo- 
tion. 

The Countess had nearly died of it. Her husband had 
him.self nursed her in bed, fearing the betrayal of delirium, 
and for twenty-four hours she had been living with a knife in 
her heart. She said to her husband in her fever: 

"Save Lucien, and I will live henceforth for you alone." 

"Indeed, as Madame la Duchesse tells you, it is of no use 
to make your eyes like boiled gooseberries," cried the 
dreadful Asie, shaking the Countess by the arm. "If you 
want to save him, there is not a minute to lose. He is inno- 
cent — I swear it by my mother's bones !" 

"Yes, yes, of course he is !" cried the Countess, looking 
quite kindly at the dreadful old woman. 



;^54 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"But," Asie went on, "if Monsieur Camusot questions him 
the wrong way, he can make a guilty man of him with two 
sentences; so, if it is in your power to get the Conciergerie 
opened to you, and to say a few words to him, go at once, 
and give him this paper. — He will be released to-morrow; I 
will answer for it. Now, get him out of the scrape, for you 
got him into it." 

"I ?" 

"Yes, you I — You fine ladies never have a sou even when 
you own millions. When I allowed myself the luxury of 
keeping boys, they always had their pockets full of gold ! 
Their amusements amused me. It is delightful to be mother 
and mistress in one. Now, you — you let the men you love 
die of hunger without asking any questions. Esther, now. 
made no speeches; she gave, at the cost of perdition, soul 
and body, the million your Lucien was required to show, and 
that is what has brought him to this pass " 

"Poor girl I Did she do that ? I love her !" said Leontine. 

"Yes — now I"' said Asie, with freezing irony. 

"She was a real beauty ; but now, my angel, you are better 
looking than she is. — And Lucien's marriage is so effectually 
broken off, that nothing can mend it," said the Duchess in a 
whisper to Leontine. 

The effect of this revelation and forecast was so great on 
the Countess that she was well again. She passed her hand 
over her brow ; she was young once more. 

"Now, my lady, hot foot, and make haste I'' said Asie, see- 
ing the change, and guessing what had caused it. 

"But," said Madame de Maufrigneuse, "if the first thing 
is to prevent Lucien's being examined by Monsieur Camusot, 
we can do that by writing two words to the judge and sending 
your man with it to the Palais, Leontine." 

"Then come into my room," said Madame de Serizy. 

This is what was taking place at the Palais while Lucien's 
protectresses were obeying the orders issued by Jacques Collin. 
The gendarmes placed the moribund prisoner on c chair fac- 



END OF EVIL WAYS 355 

ing the window in Monsieur Camusot's room; lie was sitting 
in his place in front of his table. Coquart, pen in hand, had 
a little table to himself a few yards ofE. 

The aspect of a magistrate's chambers is not a matter of in- 
difference ; and if this room had not been chosen intentionally, 
it must be owned that chance had favored justice. An ex- 
amining judge, like a painter, requires the clear equable light 
of a north window, for the criminal" s face is a picture which 
he must constantly study. Hence most magistrates place 
their table, as this of Camusot's was arranged, so as to sit 
with their back to the window and leave the face of the ex- 
aminee in broad daylight. Xot one of them all but, by the 
end of six months, has assumed an absent-minded and in- 
different expression, if he does not wear spectacles, and main- 
tains it throughout the examination. 

It was a sudden change of expression in the prisoner's face, 
detected by these means, and caused by a sudden point-blank 
question, that led to the discovery of the crime committed 
by Castaing at the very moment when, after a long consulta- 
tion with the public prosecutor, the magistrate was about to 
let the criminal loose on society for lack of evidence. This 
detail will show the least intelligent person how living, in- 
teresting, curious, and dramatically terrible is the conflict 
of an examination — a conflict without witnesses, but always 
recorded. God knows what remains on the paper of the 
scenes at white heat in which a look, a tone, a quiver of the 
features, the faintest touch of color lent by some emotion, 
has been fraught with danger, as though the adversaries were 
savages watching each other to plant a fatal stroke. A report 
is no more than the ashes of the fire. 

"What is your real name ?" Camusot asked Jacques Collin. 

"Don Carlos Herrera, canon of the Royal Chapter of 
Toledo, and secret envoy of His Majesty Ferdinand VII." 

It must here be observed that Jacques Collin spoke French 
like a Spanish trollop, blundering over it in such a way as 
to make his answers almost unintelligible, and to require 
them to be repeated. But Monsieur de Nucingen's German 



356 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

barbarisms have already weighted this Scene too much to 
allow of the introduction of other sentences no less difficult 
to read, and hindering the rapid progress of the tale. 

"Then you have papers to prove your right to the dignities 
of which you speak?'' asked Camusot. 

"Yes, monsieur — my passport, a letter from his Catholic 
Majesty authorizing my mission. — In short, if you will but 
send at once to the Spanish Embassy two lines, which I will 
write in your presence, I shall be identified. Then, if you wish 
for further evidence, I will write to His Eminence the High 
Almoner of France, and he will immediately send his private 
secretary." 

"And do you still pretend that you are dying?" asked the 
magistrate. "If you have really gone through all the suffer- 
ings you have complained of since your arrest, you ought to 
be dead by this time," said Camusot ironically. 

"You are simply trying the courage of an innocent man 
and the strength of his constitution," said the prisoner 
mildly. 

"Coquart,ring. Send for the prison doctor and an infirmary 
attendant. — We shall be obliged to remove your coat and pro- 
ceed to verify the marks on your shoulder," Camusot went on. 

"I am in your hands, monsieur." 

The prisoner then inquired whether the magistrate would 
be kind enough to explain to him what he meant by "the 
marks," and why they should be sought on his shoulder. The 
judge was prepared for this question. 

"You are suspected of being Jacques Collin, an escaped con- 
vict, whose daring shrinks at nothing, not even at sacrilege !" 
said Camusot promptly, his eyes fixed on those of the prisoner. 

Jacques Collin gave no sign, and did not color; he re- 
mained quite calm, and assumed an air of guileless curiosity 
as he gazed at Camusot. 

"I, monsieur? A convict? May the Order I belong to 
and God above forgive you for such an error. Tell me what 
I can do to prevent your continuing to offer such an insult 
to the rights of free men, to the Church, and to the King 
my master." 



END OF EVIL WAYS 357 

The judge made no reply to this, but explained to the Abbe 
that if he had been branded, a penalty at that time inflicted 
by law on all convicts sent to the hulks, the letters could be 
made to show by giving him a slap on the shoulder. 

"Oh, monsieur," said Jacques Collin, "it would indeed be 
unfortunate if my devotion to the Eoyal cause should prove 
fatal to me." 

"Explain yourself," said the judge, "that is what you are 
here for." 

"Well, monsieur, I must have a great many scars on my 
back, for I was shot in the back as a traitor to my country 
while I was faithful to my King, by constitutionalists who 
left me for dead." 

"You were shot, and you are alive !" said Camusot. 

"I had made friends with some of the soldiers, to whom 
certain pious persons had sent money, so they placed me so far 
off that only spent balls reached me, and the men aimed at 
my back. This is a fact that His Excellency the Ambassador 
can bear witness to " 

"This devil of a man has an answer for everything ! How- 
ever, so much the better," thought Camusot, who assumed so 
much severity only to satisfy the demands of justice and of 
the police. "How is it that a man of your character," he 
went on, addressing the convict, "should have been found in 
the house of the Baron de Nucingen's mistress — and such a 
mistress, a girl who had been a common prostitute !" 

"This is why I was found in a. courtesan's house, monsieur," 
replied Jacques Collin. "But before telling you the reasons 
for my being there, I ought to mention that at the moment 
when I was just going upstairs I was seized with the first at- 
tack of my illness, and I had no time to speak to the girl. I 
knew of Mademoiselle Esther's intention of killing herself ; 
and as young Lucien de Eubempre's interests were involved, 
and I have a particular affection for him for sacredly secret 
reasons, I was going to try to persuade the poor creature to 
give up the idea, suggested to her by despair. I meant to tell 
her that Lucien must certainly fail in his last attempt to win 



358 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

Mademoiselle Clotilde de Grandlieu; and 1 hoped that by 
telling her she had inherited seven millions of francs, I raight 
give her courage to live. 

"1 am convinced. Monsieur le Juge, that I am a martyr 
to the secrets confided to me. By the suddenness of my ill- 
ness I believe that I had been poisoned that very morning, 
but my strong constitution has saved me. I know that a cer- 
tain agent of the political police is dogging me, and trying to 
entangle me in some discreditable business. 

"If, at my request, you had sent for a doctor on my arrival 
here, you would have had ample proof of what I am telling 
you as to the state of my health. Believe me, monsieur, some 
persons far above our heads have some strong interest in get- 
ting me mistaken for some villain, so as to have a right to get 
rid of me. It is not all profit to serve a king ; they have their 
meannesses. The Church alone is faultless." 

It is impossible to do justice to the play of Jacques Collin's 
countenance as he carefully spun out his speech, sentence by 
sentence, for ten minutes; and it was all so plausible, espe- 
cially the mention of Corentin, that the lawyer was shaken. 

"Will you confide to me the reasons of your affection for 
Monsieur Lucien de Eubempre?" 

"Can you not guess them ? I am sixty years of age, mon- 
sieur — I implore you do not write it. — It is because — must I 
say it ?" 

"It will be to your own advantage, and more particularly 
to Monsieur Lucien de Eubempre's, if you tell everything,'' 
replied the judge. 

"Because he is — Oh, God ! he is my son," he gasped out 
with an effort. 

And he fainted away. 

"Do not write that down, Coquart,"' said Camusot in an 
undertone. 

Coquart rose to fetch a little phial of "Four thieves' Vine- 
gar." 

"If he is Jacques Collin, he is a splendid actor !" thought 
Camusot. 



END OF EVIL WAYS 359 

Coqiiart held the phial under the convict's nose, while the 
judge examined him with the keen eye of a lynx — and a mag- 
istrate. 

"Take his wig off," said Camusot, after waiting till the 
man recovered consciousness. 

Jacques Collin heard, and quaked with terror, for he knew 
how vile an expression his face would assume. 

"If you have not strength enough to take your wig off your- 
self Yes, Coquart, remove it," said Camusot to his 

clerk. 

Jacques Collin bent his head to the clerk with admirable 
resignation ; but then his head, bereft of that adornment, was 
hideous to behold in its natural aspect. 

The sight of it left Camusot in the greatest uncertainty. 
While waiting for the doctor and the man from the infirmary, 
he set to work to classify and examine the various papers and 
the objects seized in Lucien's rooms. After carrying out their 
functions in the Eue Saint-Georges at Mademoiselle Esther's 
house, the police had searched the rooms at the Quai Mala- 
quais. 

"You have your hand on some letters from the Comtesse de 
Serizy," said Carlos Herrera. "But I cannot imagine why you 
should have almost all Lucien's papers," he added, with a 
smile of overwhelming irony at the judge. 

Camusot, as he saw the smile, understood the bearing of the 
word "almost." 

"Ijucien de Rubempre is in custody under suspicion of being 
your accomplice," said he, watching to see the effect of this 
news on his examinee. 

"You have brought about a great misfortune, for he is as 
innocent as I am," replied the sham Spaniard, without be- 
traying the smallest agitation. 

"We shall see. We have not as yet established your 
identity," Camusot observed, surprised at the prisoner's in- 
difference. "If you are really Don Carlos Herrera, the posi- 
tion of Lucien Chardou will at once be completely altered." 

"To be sure, she became Madame Chardon — Mademoiselle 



360 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

de Eubempre I" murmured Carlos. "Ah I that was one of the 
greatest sins of my life." 

He raised his eyes to heaven, and by the movement of his 
lips seemed to be uttering a fervent prayer. 

"But if you are Jacques Collin, and if he was, and knew 
that he was, the companion of an escaped convict, a sacri- 
legious wretch, all the crimes of which he is suspected by the 
law are more than probably true." 

Carlos Herrera sat like bronze as he heard this speech, very 
cleverly delivered by the judge, and his only reply to the 
words "knew that he was" and "escaped convict" was to lift 
his hands to heaven with a gesture of noble and dignified 
sorrow. 

"Monsieur TAbbe," Camusot went on, with the greatest 
politeness, "if you are Don Carlos Herrera, you will forgive 
us for what we are obliged to do in the interests of justice and 
truth." 

Jacques Collin detected a snare in the lawyer's very voice 
as he spoke the words "Monsieur I'Abbe." The man's face 
never changed ; Camusot had looked for a gleam of joy, which 
might have been the first indication of his being a convict, 
betraying the exquisite satisfaction of a criminal deceiving 
his judge ; but this hero of the hulks was strong in Machiavel- 
lian dissimulation. 

"I am accustomed to diplomacy, and I belong to an Order 
of very austere discipline," replied Jacques Collin, with apos- 
tolic mildness. "I understand everything, and am inured to 
suffering. I should be free by this time if you had discovered 
in my room the hiding-place where I keep my papers — for I 
see you have none but unimportant documents." 

This was a finishing stroke to Camusot : Jacques Collin by 
his air of ease and simplicity had counteracted all the sus- 
picions to which his appearance, unwigged, had given rise. 

"Where are those papers?" 

"I will tell you exactly if you will get a secretary from the 
Spanish Embassy to accompany your messenger. He will take 
them and be answerable to you for the documents, for it is to 



END OF EYIL WAYS 361 

mc a matter of confidential duty — diplomatic secrets which 
would compromise his late Majesty Louis XVIII. — Indeed, 
monsieur, it would be better However, you are a magis- 
trate — and, after all, the Ambassador, to whom I refer the 
whole question, must decide." 

At this juncture the usher announced the arrival of the 
doctor and the infirmary attendant, who came in. 

"Good-morning, Monsieur Lebrun," said Camusot to the 
doctor. "I have sent for you to examine the state of health 
of this prisoner under suspicion. He says he has been 
poisoned and at the point of death since the day before yester- 
day ; see if there is any risk in undressing him to look for the 
brand." 

Doctor Lebrun took Jacques Collin's hand, felt his pulse, 
asked to look at his tongue, and scrutinized him steadily. 
This inspection lasted about ten minutes. 

"The prisoner has been suffering severely," said the medical 
officer, "but at this moment he is amazingly strong " 

"That spurious energy, monsieur, is due to nervous excite- 
ment caused by my strange position," said Jacques Collin, 
with the dignity of a bishop. 

"That is possible," said Monsieur Lebrun. 

At a sign from Camusot the prisoner was stripped of every- 
thing but his trousers, even of his shirt, and the spectators 
might admire the hairy torso of a Cyclops. It was that of 
the Famese Hercules at Naples in its colossal exaggeration. 

"For what does nature intend a man of this build?" said 
Lebrun to the judge. 

The usher brought in the ebony staff, which from time 
immemorial has been the insignia of his office, and is called 
his rod; he struck it several times over the place where the 
executioner had branded the fatal letters. Seventeen spots 
appeared, irregularly distributed, but the most careful 
scrutiny could not recognize the shape of any letters. The 
usher indeed pointed out that the top bar of the letter T was 
shown by two spots, with an interval between of the length 
of that bar between the two points at each end of it, and there 
was another spot where the bottom of the T should be. 



362 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"Still, that is quite uncertain," said Camusot, seeing doubt 
in the expression of the prison doctor's countenance. 

Carlos begged them to make the same experiment on the 
other shoulder and the middle of his back. About fifteen more 
such scars appeared, which, at the Spaniard's request, the 
doctor made a note of ; and he pronounced that the man's back 
had been so extensively seamed by wounds that the brand 
would not show even if it had been made by the executioner. 

An office-clerk now came in from the Prefecture, and 
handed a note to Monsieur Camusot, requesting an answer. 
After reading it the lawj'er went to speak to Coquart, but in 
such a low voice that no one could catch a word. Only, by a 
glance from Camusot, Jacques Collin could guess that some 
information concerning him had been sent by the Prefet of 
Police. 

"That friend of Peyrade's is still at my heels," thought 
Jacques Collin. "If only I knew him, I would get rid of him 
as I did of Contenson. If only I could see Asie once more !" 

After signing a paper written by Coquart, the judge put it 
into an envelope and handed it to the clerk of the Delegate's 
office. 

This is an indispensable auxiliary to Justice. It is under 
the direction of a police commissioner, and consists of peace- 
officers who, with the assistance of the police commissioners 
of each district, carry into effect orders for searching the 
houses or apprehending the persons of those who are suspected 
of complicity in crimes and felonies. These functionaries 
in authority save the examining magistrates a great deal of 
very precious time. 

At a sign from the judge the prisoner was dressed by Mon- 
sieur Lebrun and the attendant, who then \\-ithdrew with the 
usher. Camusot sat down at his table and played with his 
pen. 

"You have an aunt," he suddenly said to Jacques Collin. 

"An aunt?" echoed Don Carlos Herrera with amazement. 
"Vrhy, monsieur, I have no relations. I am the unacknowl- 
edged son of the late Duke of Ossuua." 

But to himself he said, "They are burning" — an allusion 



END OF EVIL WAYS 363 

to the game of hot cockles, which is indeed a childlike symhol 
of the dreadful struggle between justice and the criminal. 

"Pooh !" said Camusot. "You still have an aunt living, 
Mademoiselle Jacqueline Collin, whom you placed in Esthers 
service under the eccentric name of Asie." 

Jacques Collin shrugged his shoulders with an indifference 
that was in perfect harmony with the cool curiosity he gave 
throughout to the judge's words, while Camusot studied him 
with cunning attention. 

"Take care," said Camusot ; "listen to me." 

"I am listening, sir." 

"Your aunt is a wardrobe dealer at the Temple ; her busi- 
ness is managed by a demoiselle Paccard, the sister of a con- 
vict — herself a very good girl, known as la Eomette. Justice 
is on the traces of your aunt, and in a few hours we shall have 
decisive evidence. The woman is wholly devoted to you " 

"Pray go on. Monsieur le Juge," said Collin coolly, in an- 
swer to a pause ; "I am listening to you." 

"Your aunt, who is about five years older than you are, was 
formerly Marat's mistress — of odious memory. From that 
blood-stained source she derived the little fortune she pos- 
sesses. 

"From information I have received she must be a very 
clever receiver of stolen goods, for no proofs have yet been 
found to commit her on. After Marat's death she seems, from 
the notes I have here, to have lived with a chemist who was 
condemned to death in the year XII. for issuing false coin. 
She was called as witness in the case. It was from this inti- 
macy that she derived her knowledge of poisons. 

"In 1812 and in 1816 she spent two years in prison for plac- 
ing girls under age upon the streets. 

"Y^ou were already convicted of forgery; you had left the 
banking house where your aunt had been able to place you as 
clerk, thanks to the education you had had, and the favor en- 
joyed by your aunt with certain persons for whose debauch- 
eries she supplied victims. 

"All this, prisoner, is not much like the dignity of the 
Dukes d'Ossuna. 



364 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"Do you persist in your denial?" 

Jacques Collin sat listening to Monsieur Camusot, and 
thinking of his happy childhood at the College of the Ora- 
torians, where he had been brought up, a meditation which 
lent him a truly amazed look. And in spite of his skill as a 
practised examiner, Camusot could bring no sort of expression 
to those placid features. 

"If you have accurately recorded the account of myself 
I gave you at first," said Jacques Collin, "you can read it 
through again. I cannot alter the facts. I never went to the 
woman's house; how should I know who her cook was? The 
persons of whom you speak are utterly unknown to me." 

"Notwithstanding your denial, we shall proceed to confront 
you with persons who may succeed in diminishing your assur- 
ance." 

"A man who has been three times shot is used to anything," 
replied Jacques Collin meekly. 

Camusot proceeded to examine the seized papers while 
awaiting the return of the famous Bibi-Lupin, whose expedi- 
tion was amazing; for at half -past eleven, the inquiry having 
begun at ten o'clock, the usher came in to inform the judge 
in an undertone of Bibi-Lupin's arrival. 

"Show him in," replied M. Camusot. 

Bibi-Lupin, who had been expected to exclaim, "It is he," 
as he came in, stood puzzled. He did not recognize his man 
in a face pitted with smallpox. This hesitancy startled the 
magistrate. 

"It is his build, his height," said the agent. "Oh ! yes, it 
is you, Jacques Collin !" he went on, as he examined his eyes, 
forehead, and ears. "There are some things which no dis- 
guise can alter. . . . Certainly it is he, Monsieur Camu- 
sot. Jacques has the scar of a cut on his left arm. Take off 
his coat, and you will see . . ." 

Jacques Collin was again obliged to take off his coat; Bibi- 
Lupin turned up his sleeve and showed the scar he had 
spoken of. 

"It is the scar of a bullet," replied Don Carlos Herrera. 
"Here are several more." 



END OP EVIL WAYS 3G5 

"Ah ! It is certainly his voice," cried Bibi-Lupin. 

"Your certainty/' said Camusot, "is merely an opinion; it 
is not proof." 

"I know that," said Bibi-Lupin with deference. "But I 
will bring witnesses. One of the boarders from the Maison 
Vauquer is here already," said he, with an eye on Collin. 

But the prisoner's set, calm face did not move a muscle. 

"Show the person in," said Camusot roughly, his dissatis- 
faction betraying itself in spite of his seeming indifference. 

This irritation was not lost on Jacques Collin, who had not 
counted on the judge's sympathy, and sat lost in apathy, pro- 
duced by his deep meditations in the effort to guess what the 
cause could be. 

The usher now showed in Madame Poiret. At this unex- 
pected appearance the prisoner had a slight shiver, but his 
trepidation was not remarked by Camusot, who seemed to 
have made up his mind. 

"What is your name ?" asked he, proceeding to carry out the 
formalities introductory to all depositions and examinations. 

Madame Poiret, a little old woman as white and wrinkled 
as a sweetbread, dressed in a dark-blue silk gown, gave her 
name as Christine Michelle Michonneau, wife of one Poiret. 
and her age as fifty-one years, said that she was born in Paris, 
lived in the Eue des Poules at the corner of the Rue des 
Postes, and that her business was that of lodging-house 
keeper. 

"In 1818 and 1819," said the judge, "you lived, madame, 
in a boarding-house kept by a Madame Vauquer ?" 

"Yes, monsieur; it was there that I met Monsieur Poiret» 
a retired official, who became my husband, and whom I have 
nursed in his bed this twelvemonth past. Poor man ! he is 
very bad; and I cannot be long away from him." 

"There was a certain Vautrin in the house at the time?" 
asked Camusot. 

"Oh, monsieur, that is quite a long story; he was a horrible 
man, from the galleys " 



366 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"You helped to get him arrested?" 

"That is not true, sir." 

"You are in the presence of the Law; be careful," said 
Monsieur Camusot severely. 

Madame Poiret was silent. 

"Try to remember/' Camusot went on. "Do you recol- 
lect the man? Would you know him again?" 

"1 think so." 

"Is this the man ?" 

Madame Poiret put on her "eye-preservers/' and looked 
at the x\bbe Carlos Herrera. 

"It is his build, his height ; and yet — no — if — Monsieur le 
Juge," she said, "if I could see his chest I should recognize 
him at once." 

The magistrate and his clerk could not help laughing, not- 
withstanding the gravity of their office; Jacques Collin joined 
in their hilarity, but discreetly. The prisoner had not put 
on his coat after Bibi-Lupin had removed it, and at a sign 
from the judge he obligingly opened his shirt. 

"Yes, that is his fur trimming, sure enough I — But it has 
worn gray, Monsieur Vautrin," cried Madame Poiret. 

"What have you to say to that?" asked the judge of the 
prisoner. 

"That she is mad," replied Jacques Collin. 

"Bless me ! If I had a doubt — for his face is altered — 
that voice would be enough. He is the man who threatened 
me. Ah ! and those are his eyes !" 

"The police agent and this woman," said Camusot, speak- 
ing to Jacques Collin, "cannot possibly have conspired to say 
the same thing, for neither of them had seen you till now. 
How do you account for that?" 

"Justice has blundered more conspicuously even than it 
does now in accepting the evidence of a woman who recognizes 
a man by the hair on his chest and the suspicions of a police 
agent," replied Jacques Collin. "I am said to resemble a 
great criminal in voice, eyes, and build; that seems a little 
vague. As to the memory which would prove certain relations 



END OF EVIL WAYS 367 

between Madame and my Sosie — which she does not blush to 
own — you yourself laughed at. Allow me, monsieur, in the 
interests of truth, which I am far more anxious to establish 
for my own sake than you can be for the sake of justice, to 
ask this lady — Madame Foiret " 

"Poiret." 

"Poret — excuse me, I am a Spaniard — whether she remem- 
bers the other persons who lived in this — what did you call 
the house?" 

"A boarding-house," said Madame Poiret. 

"I do not know what that is." 

"A house where you can dine and breakfast by subscrip- 
tion." 

"You are right," said Camusot, with a favorable nod to 
Jacques Collin, whose apparent good faith in suggesting 
means to arrive at some conclusion struck him greatly. "Try 
to remember the boarders who were in the house when Jacques 
Collin was apprehended." 

"There were Monsieur de Rastignac, Doctor Bianchon, Pere 
Goriot, Mademoiselle Taillefer " 

"That will do," said Camusot, steadily watching Jacques 
Collin, whose expression did not change. "Well, about this 
Pere Goriot ?" 

"He is dead," said Madame Poiret. 

"Monsieur," said Jacques Collin, "I have several times met 
Monsieur de Rastignac, a friend, I believe, of Madame de 
Nucingen's ; and if it is the same, he certainly never supposed 
me to be the convict with whom these persons trv to identify 
me." 

"Monsieur de Rastignac and Doctor Bianchon," said the 
magistrate, "both hold such a social position that their evi- 
dence, if it is in your favor, will be enough to procure your 
release. — Coquart, fill up a summons for each of them." 

The formalities attending Madame Poiret's examination 
were over in a few minutes ; Coquart read aloud to her the 
notes he had made of the little scene, and she signed the 
paper ; but the prisoner refused to sign, alleging his ignorance 
of the forms of French law. 



368 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"That is enough for to-day," said Monsieur Camusot. 
"You must be wanting food. I will have you taken back to 
the Conciergerie." 

"Alas ! I am suffering too much to be able to eat," said 
Jacques Collin. 

Camusot was anxious to time Jacques Collin's return to 
coincide with the prisoners' hour of exercise in the prison 
yard; but he needed a reply from the Governor of the Con- 
ciergerie to the order he had given him in the morning, and 
he rang for the usher. The usher appeared, and told him that 
the porter's wife, from the house on the Quai Malaquais, had 
an important document to communicate with reference to 
Monsieur Lucien de Rubempre. This was so serious a matter 
that it put Camusot's intentions out of his head. 

"Show her in," said he. 

-"Beg your pardon; pray excuse me, gentlemen all," said 
the woman, courtesying to the judge and the Abbe Carlos by 
turns. "We were so worried by the Law — my husband and 
me — the twice when it has marched into our house, that we 
had forgotten a letter that was lying, for Monsieur Lucien, 
in our chest of draAvers, which we paid ten sous for it, though 
it was posted in Paris, for it is very heavy, sir. Would you 
please to pay me back the postage ? For God knows when we 
shall see our lodgers again !" 

"Was this letter handed to you by the postman?" asked 
Camusot, after carefully examining the envelope. 

"Yes, monsieur." 

"Coquart, write full notes of this deposition. — Go on, my 
good woman ; tell us your name and your business." Camusot 
made the woman take the oath, and then he dictated the docu- 
ment. 

While these formalities were being carried out, he was 
scrutinizing the postmark, which showed the hours of posting 
and delivery, as well as the date of the day. And this letter, 
left for Lucien the day after Esther's death, had beyond a 
doubt been written and posted on the day of the catastrophe. 
Monsieur Camusot's amazement may therefore be imagined 



END OF EYIL WATS 369 

when he read^this letter written and signed by her whom the 
law believed to have been the victim of a crime : — 

"Esther to Lucien. 

"Monday, May ISth, 1830. 
"My last day; ten in the morning. 

"My Lucien, — I have not an hour to live. At eleven 
o'clock I shall be dead, and I shall die without a pang. I have 
paid fifty thousand francs for a neat little black currant, con- 
taining a poison that will kill me with the swiftness of light- 
ning. And so, my darling, you may tell yourself, 'My little 
Esther had no suffering.' — And yet I shall suffer in writing 
these pages. 

"The monster who has paid so dear for me, knowing that 
the day when I should know myself to be his would have no 
morrow — N"ucingen has just left me, as drunk as a bear with 
his skin full of wine. For the first and last time in my life 
I have had the opportunity of comparing my old trade as a 
street hussy with the life of true love, of placing the tender- 
ness which unfolds in the infinite above the horrors of a duty 
which longs to destroy itself and leave no room even for a 
kiss. Only such loathing could make death delightful. 

"I have taken a bath; I should have liked to send for the 
father confessor of the convent where I was baptized, to have 
confessed and washed my soul. But I have had enough of 
prostitution ; it would be profaning a sacrament ; and besides, 
1 feel myself cleansed in the waters of sincere repentance. 
God must do what He will with me. 

"But enough of all this maudlin ; for you I want to be your 
Esther to the last moment, not to bore you with my death, or 
the future, or God, who is good, and who would not be good 
if He were to torture me in the next world when I have en- 
dured so much misery in this. 

"I have before me your beautiful portrait, painted by Ma- 
dame de Mirbel. That sheet of ivory used to comfort me in 
your absence, I look at it with rapture as I write you my last 



370 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

thoughts, and tell you of the last throbbing of my heart. I 
shall enclose the miniature in this letter, for I cannot bear 
that it should be stolen or sold. The mere thought that what 
has been my great joy may lie behind a shop window, mixed 
up with the ladies and officers of the Empire, or a parcel of 
Chinese absurdities, is a small death to me. Destroy that 
picture, my sweetheart, wipe it out, never give it to any one — 
unless, indeed, the gift might win back the heart of that walk- 
ing, well-dressed maypole, that Clotilde de Grandiieu, who 
will make you black and blue in her sleep, her bones are so 
sharp. — Yes, to that I consent, and then I shall still be of 
some use to you, as when I was alive. Oh! to give you 
pleasure, or only to make you laugh, I would have stood over 
a brazier with an apple in my mouth to cook it for you. — So 
my death even will be of service to you. — I should have marred 
your home. 

"Oh I that Clotilde I I cannot understand her. — She might 
have been your wife, have borne your name, have never left 
you day or night, have belonged to you — and she could make 
difficulties ! Only the Faubourg Saint-Germain can do that ! 
and yet she has not ten pounds of flesh on her bones ! 

"Poor Lucien ! Dear ambitious failure ! I am thinking of 
your future life. Well, well ! you will more than once regret 
your poor faithful dog, the good girl who Avould fly to serve 
you, who would have been dragged into a police court to 
secure your happiness, whose only occupation was to think of 
your pleasures and invent new ones, who was so full of love 
for you — in her hair, her feet, her ears — ^your hallerina, in 
short, whose every look was a benediction; who for six years 
has thought of nothing but you, who was so entirely your 
chattel that I have never been anything but an effluence of 
your soul, as light is that of the sun. However, for lack of 
money and of honor, I can never be your wife. I have at any 
rate provided for your future by giving you all I have. 

"Come as soon as you get this letter and take what you 
find under my pillow, for I do not trust the people about me. 
Understand that I mean to look beautiful when I am dead. 



END OF EVIL WAYS 371 

I shall go to bed, and lay myself flat in an attitude — why not ? 
Then 1 shall break the little pill against the roof of my 
mouth, and shall not be disfigured by any convulsion or by a 
ridiculous position. 

"Madame de Serizy has quarreled with you, I know, because 
of me ; but when she hears that I am dead, you see, dear pet, 
she will forgive. Make it up with her, and she will find you 
a suitable wife if the Grandlieus persist in their refusal. 

"My dear, I do not want you to grieve too much when you 
hear of ray death. To begin with, I must tell you that the 
hour of eleven on Monday morning, the thirteenth of May, is 
only the end of a long illness, which began on the day when, 
on the Terrace of Saint-Germain, you threw me back on my 
former line of life. The soul may be sick, as the body is. 
But the soul cannot submit stupidly to suffering like the 
body; the body does not uphold the soul as the soul upholds 
the body, and the soul sees a means of cure in the reflection 
which leads to the needlewoman's resource — the bushel of 
charcoal. You gave me a whole life the day before yesterday, 
when you said that if Clotilde still refused you, you would 
marry me. It would have been a great misfortune for us 
both; I should have been still more dead, so to speak — for 
there are more and less bitter deaths. The world would never 
have recognized us. 

"For two months past I have been thinking of many things, 
I can tell you. A poor girl is in the mire, as I was before I 
went into the convent ; men think her handsome, they make her 
serve their pleasure Avithout thinking any consideration neces- 
sary; they pack her ofi' on foot after fetching her in a car- 
riage; if they do not spit in her face, it is only because her 
beauty preserves her from such indignity ; but, morally speak- 
ing, they do worse. Well, and if this despised creature were 
to inherit five or six millions of francs, she would be courted by 
princes, bowed to with respect as she went past in her car- 
riage, and might choose among the oldest names in France 
and Navarre. That world which would have cried Raca to 
us, on seeing two handsome creatures united and happy, 



372 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

always did honor to Madame de Stael, in spite of her 'ro- 
mances in real life/ because she had two hundred thousand 
francs a year. The world, which grovels before money or 
glory, will not bow down before happiness or virtue — for I 
could have done good. Oh ! how many tears I would have 
dried — as many as I have shed, I believe ! Yes, I would have 
lived only for you and for charity. 

"These are the thoughts that make death beautiful. So do 
not lament, my dear. Say often to yourself, 'There were two 
good creatures, two beautiful creatures, who both died for 
me ungrudgingly, and who adored me.' Keep a memory 
in your heart of Coralie and Esther, and go your way and 
prosper. Do you recollect the day when you pointed 
out to me a shriveled old woman, in a melon-green bonnet 
and a puce wrapper, all over black grease-spots, the 
mistress of a poet before the Revolution, hardly thawed 
by the sun though she was sitting against the wall of the 
Tuileries and fussing over a pug — the vilest of pugs? 
She had had footmen and carriages, you know, and a 
fine house ! And I said to you then, 'How much better to be 
dead at thirty !' — Well, you thought I was melancholy, and 
you played all sorts of pranks to amuse me, and between two 
kisses I said, 'Every day some pretty woman leaves the play 
before it is over !' — And I do not want to see the last piece ; 
that is all. 

"You must think me a great chatterbox ; but this is my last 
effusion. I write as if I were talking to you, and I like to 
talk cheerfully. I have always had a horror of a dressmaker 
pitying herself. You know I knew how to die decently once 
before, on my return from that fatal opera-ball where the 
men said I had been a prostitute. 

"No, no, my dear love, never give this portrait to any one ! 
If you could know with what a gush of love I have sat losing 
myself in your eyes, looking at them with rapture during a 
pause I allowed myself, you would feel as you gathered up the 
affection with which I have tried to overlay the ivory, that the 
soul of your little pet is indeed there. 



END OP EVIL WAYS 373 

"A dead woman craving alms ! That is a funny idea. — 
Come, I must learn to lie quiet in my grave. 

"You have no idea how heroic my death would seem to some 
fools if they could know Nucingen last night offered me two 
millions of francs if I would love him as I love you. He will 
be handsomely robbed when he hears that I have kept my 
word and died of him. I tried all I could still to breathe the 
air you breathe. I said to the fat scoundrel, 'Do you want me 
to love you as you wish ? To promise even that I will never 
see Lucien again?' — 'What must I do?' he asked. — 'Give me 
the two millions for him.' — You should have seen his face ! 
I could have laughed, if it had not been so tragical for me. 

" 'Spare yourself the trouble of refusing,' said I ; 'I see you 
care more for your two millions than for me. A woman is 
always glad to know at what she is valued !' and I turned my 
back on him. 

"In a few hours the old rascal will know that I was not in 
jest. 

"Who will part your hair as nicely as I do ? Pooh ! — I will 
think no more of anything in life; I have but five minutes, 
I give them to God. Do not be jealous of Him, dear heart; 
1 shall speak to Him of you, beseeching Him for your happi- 
ness as the price of my death, and my punishment in the next 
world. I am vexed enough at having to go to hell. I should 
have liked to see the angels, to know if they are like you. 

"Good-bye, my darling, good-bye ! I give you all the 
blessing of my woes. Even in the grave I am your Esther. 

"It is striking eleven. I have said my last prayers. I am 
going to bed to die. Once more, farewell ! I wish that the 
warmth of my hand could leave my soul there where I press 
a last kiss — and once more I must call you my dearest love, 
though you are the cause of the death of your Esther." 

A vague feeling of jealousy tightened on the magistrate's 
heart as he read this letter, the only letter from a suicide he 
had ever found written with such lightness, though it was a 
feverish lightness, and the last effort of a blind affection. 
24 



374 A rOTTRTESAN'S LIP'E 

"What is there in the man that he should be loved so well ?" 
thought he, saying what every man says who has not the gift 
of attracting women. 

"If you can prove not merely that you are not Jacques 
Collin and an escaped convict, but that you are in fact Don 
Carlos Herrera, canon of Toledo, and secret envoy of his 
Majesty Ferdinand VII.," said he, addressing the prisoner, 
"you will be released; for the impartiality demanded by my 
office requires me to tell you that I have this moment received 
a letter, written by Mademoiselle Esther Gobseck, in which 
she declares her intention of killing herself, and expresses 
suspicions as to her servants, which would seem to point to 
them as the thieves who have made off with the seven hundred 
and fifty thousand francs." 

As he spoke Monsieur Camusot was comparing the writing 
of the letter with that of the will ; and it seemed to him self- 
evident that the same person had written both. 

"Monsieur, you were in too great a hurry to believe in a 
murder; do not be too hasty in believing in a theft." 

"Heh !" said Camusot, scrutinizing the prisoner with a 
piercing eye. 

"Do not suppose that I am compromising myself by telling 
you that the sum may possibly be recovered," said Jacques 
Collin, making the judge understand that he saw his sus- 
picions. "That poor girl was much loved by those about her ; 
and if I were free, I would undertake to search for this 
mone}^, which no doubt belongs to the being I love best in the 
world — to Lucien ! — Will you allow me to read that letter ; it 
will not take long? It is evidence of my dear boy's innocence 
— you cannot fear that I shall destroy it — nor that I shall 
talk about it; I am in solitary confinement." 

"In confinement ! You will be so no longer," cried the 
magistrate. "It is I who must beg 3'ou to get well as soon as 
possible. Refer to your ambassador if you choose " 

And he handed the letter to Jacques Collin. Camusot was 
glad to be out of a difficulty, to be able to satisfy the public 
prosecutor, Mesdames de Maufrigneuse and de Serizy. Nev- 



END OP EVIL WAYS 375 

ertheless, he studied his prisoner's face with cold curiosity 
while Collin read Esther's letter; in spite of the apparent 
genuineness of the feelings it expressed, he said to himself : 

"But it is a face worthy of the hulks, all the same !" 

"That is the way to love !" said Jacques Collin, returning 
the letter. And he showed Camusot a face bathed in tears. 

"If only you knew him," he went on, "so youthful, so inno- 
cent a soul, so splendidly handsome, a child, a poet ! — The 
impulse to sacrifice oneself to him is irresistible, to satisfy his 
lightest wish. That dear boy is so fascinating when he 
chooses " 

"And so," said the magistrate, making a final effort to dis- 
cover the truth, "you cannot possibly be Jacques Collin " 

"JSTo, monsieur," replied the convict. 

And Jacques Collin was more entirely Don Carlos Herrera 
than ever. In his anxiety to complete his work he went up to 
the judge, led him to the window, and gave himself the airs 
of a prince of the Church, assuming a confidential tone : 

"I am so fond of that boy, monsieur, that if it were needful, 
to spare that idol of my heart a mere discomfort even, that I 
should be the criminal you take me for, I would surrender," 
said he in an undertone. "I would follow the example of the 
poor girl who has killed herself for his benefit. And I beg 
you, monsieur, to grant me a favor — namely, to set Lucien at 
liberty forthwith." 

"My duty forbids it," said Camusot very good-naturedly; 
"but if a sinner may make a compromise with heaven, justice 
too has its softer side, and if you can give me sufficient reasons 
— speak ; your words will not be taken down." 

"Well, then," Jacques Collin went on, taken in by Camu- 
sot's apparent goodwill, "I know what that poor boy is suffer- 
ing at this moment ; he is capable of trying to kill himself 
when he finds himself a prisoner " 

"Oh ! as to that !" said Camusot with a shrug. 

"You do not know whom you will oblige by obliging me," 
added Jacques Collin, trying to harp on another string. "You 
will be doing a service to others more powerful than any 



376 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

Comtesse de Serizy or Duchesse de Maufrigneuse, who will 
never forgive you for having had their letters in your cham- 
bers " and he pointed to two packets of perfumed papers. 

"My Order has a good memory." 

''Monsieur/' said Camusot, "that is enough. You must 
find better reasons to give me. I am as much interested in the 
prisoner as in public vengeance." 

"Believe me, then, I know Lucien; he has the soul of a 
woman, of a poet, and a southerner, without persistency or 
will," said Jacques Collin, who fancied that he saw that he 
had won the judge over. "You are convinced of the young 
man's innocence, do not torture him, do not question him. 
Give him that letter, tell him that he is Esther's heir, and re- 
store him to freedom. If you act otherwise, you will bring 
despair on yourself; whereas, if you simply release him, I 
will explain to you — keep me still in solitary confinement — 
to-morrow or this evening, everything that may strike you as 
mysterious in the case, and the reasons for the persecution 
of which I am the object. But it will be at the risk of my 
life; a price has been set on my head these six years past. 
. . . Lucien free, rich, and married to Clotilde de Grand- 
lieu, and my task on earth will be done ; I shall no longer try 
to save my skin. — My persecutor was a spy under your late 
King." 

"What, Corentin?" 

"Ah ! Is his name Corentin ? Thank you, monsieur. Well, 
will you promise to do as I ask you ?" 

"A magistrate can make no promises. — Coquart, tell the 
usher and the gendarmes to take the prisoner back to the 
Conciergerie. — I will give orders that you are to have a private 
room," he added pleasantly, with a slight nod to the convict. 

Struck by Jacques Collin's request, and remembering how 
he had insisted that he wished to be examined first as a priv- 
ilege to his state of health, Camusot's suspicions were aroused 
once more. Allowing his vague doubts to make themselves 
hearfl, he noticed that the self-styled dying man was walking 
off with the strength of a Hercules, having abandoned all 



END OP EVIL WAYS 377 

the tricks he had aped so well on appearing before the magis- 
trate. 

"Monsieur V 

Jacques Collin turned round. 

"Notwithstanding your refusal to sign the document, my 
clerk will read you the minutes of your examination." 

The prisoner was evidently in excellent health; the read- 
iness with which he came back, and sat down by the clerk, 
was a fresh light to the magistrate's mind. 

"You have got well very suddenly !" said Camusot. 

"Caught !" thought Jacques Collin ; and he replied : 

"Joy, monsieur, is the only panacea. — That letter, the proof 
of innocence of which I had no doubt — these are the grand 
remedy." 

The judge kept a meditative eye on the prisoner when 
the usher and the gendarmes again took him in charge. 
Then, with a start like a waking man, he tossed Esther's letter 
across to the table where his clerk sat, saying : 

"Coquart, copy that letter." 

If it is natural to man to be suspicious as to some favor 
required of him when it is antagonistic to his interests or 
his duty, and sometimes even when it is a matter of in- 
difference, this feeling is law to an examining magistrate. 
The more this prisoner — whose identity was not yet ascer- 
tained — pointed to clouds on the horizon in the event of 
Lucien's being examined, the more necessary did the inter- 
rogatory seem to Camusot. Even if this formality had not 
been required by the Code and by common practice, it was in- 
dispensable as bearing on the identification of the Abbe 
Carlos. There is in every walk of life the business conscience. 
In default of curiosity Camusot would have examined Lucien 
as he had examined Jacques Collin, with all the cunning 
which the most honest magistrate allows himself to use in 
such cases. The services he might render and his own pro- 
motion were secondary in Camusot's mind to his anxiety to 
know or guess the truth, even if he should never tell it. 

He stood drumming on the window-pane while following 



378 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

the river-like current of his conjectures, for in these moods 
thought is like a stream flowing through many countries. 
Magistrates, in love with truth, are like jealous women ; they 
give way to a thousand hypotheses, and probe them with 
the dagger-point of suspicion, as the sacrificing priest of 
old eviscerated his victims; thus they arrive, not perhaps at 
truth, but at probability, and at last see the truth beyond. 
A woman cross-questions the man she loves as the judge cross- 
questions a criminal. In such a frame of mind, a glance, a 
word, a tone of voice, the slightest hesitation is enough to 
certify the hidden fact — treason or crime. 

"The style in which he depicted his devotion to his son — 
if he is his son — is enough to make me think that he was in 
the girl's house to keep an eye on the plunder; and never 
suspecting that the dead woman's pillow covered a will, he no 
doubt annexed, for his son, the seven hundred and fifty thou- 
sand francs as a precaution. That is why he can promise to 
recover the mone}'. 

"M. de Eubempre owes it to himself and to justice to ac- 
count for his father's position in the world 

"And he offers me the protection of his Order — His Order ! 
— if I do not examine Lucien " 

This thought gave him pause. 

As has been seen, a magistrate conducts an examination 
exactly as he thinks proper. He is at liberty to display his 
acumen or be absolutely blunt. An examination may be 
everything or nothing. Therein lies the favor. 

Camusot rang. The usher had returned. He was sent to 
fetch Monsieur Lucien de Eubempre with an injunction to 
prohibit his speaking to anybody on his way up. It was by 
this time two in the afternoon. 

"There is some secret," said the judge to himself, "and that 
secret must be very important. My amphibious friend — 
since he is neither priest, nor secular, nor convict, nor 
Spaniard, though he wants to hinder his protege from letting 
out something dreadful — argues thus: 'The poet is weak and 
effeminate; he is not like me, a Hercules in diplomacy, and 



END OF EVIL WAYS 379 

you will easily wring our secret from him.' — Well, we will 
get everything out of this innocent." 

And he sat tapping the edge of his table with the ivory 
paper-knife, while Coquart copied Esther's letter. 

How whimsical is the action of our faculties ! Camusot 
conceived of every crime as possible, and overlooked the only 
one that the prisoner had now committed — ^the forgery of the 
will for Lucien's advantage. Let those whose envy vents 
itself on magistrates think for a moment of their life spent 
in perpetual suspicion, of the torments these men must inflict 
on their minds, for civil cases are not less tortuous than 
criminal examinations, and it will occur to them perhaps that 
the priest and the lawyer wear an equally heavy coat of mail, 
equally furnished with spikes in the lining. However, every 
profession has its hair shirt and its Chinese puzzles. 

It was about two o'clock when Monsieur Camusot saw 
jjucien de Rubempre come in, pale, worn, his eyes red and 
swollen, in short, in a state of dejection which enabled the 
magistrate to compare nature with art, the really dying man 
with the stage performance. His walk from the Conciergerie 
to the Judge's chambers, between two gendarmes, and pre- 
ceded by the usher, had put the crowning touch to Lucien's 
despair. It is the poet's nature to prefer execution to con-^^ 
demnation. 

As he saw this being, so completely bereft of the moral 
courage which is the essence of a judge, and which the last 
prisoner had so strongly manifested, Monsieur Camusot dis- 
dained the easy victory ; and this scorn enabled him to strike 
a decisive blow, since it left him, on the ground, that horrible 
clearness of mind which the marksman feels when he is firing 
at a puppet. 

"Collect yourself, Monsieur de Eubempre; you are in the 
presence of a magistrate who is eager to repair the mischief 
done involuntarily by the law when a man is taken into 
custody on suspicion that has no foundation. I believe you 
to be innocent, and you will soon be at liberty. — Here is the 



380 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

evidence of your innocence ; it is a letter kept for 5^011 during 
your absence by your porter's wife; she has just brought it 
here. In the commotion caused by the visitation of justice 
and the news of your arrest at Fontainebleau, the woman for- 
got the letter which was written by Mademoiselle Esther Gob- 
seek. — Eead it !" 

Lucien took the letter, read it, and melted into tears. He 
sobbed, and could not say a single word. At the end of a 
quarter of an hour, during which Lucien with great difficulty 
recovered his self-command, the clerk laid before him the copy 
of the letter, and begged him to sign a footnote certifying 
that the copy was faithful to the orginal, and might be used 
in its stead "on all occasions in the course of this preliminary 
inquiry," giving him the option of comparing the two; but 
Lucien, of course, took Coquart's word for its accuracy. 

"Monsieur," said the lawyer, with friendly good nature, "it 
is nevertheless impossible that I should release you without 
carrying out the legal formalities, and asking you some ques- 
tions. — It is almost as a witness that I require you to answer. 
To such a man as you I think it is almost unnecessary to 
point out that the oath to tell the whole truth is not in this 
case a mere appeal to your conscience, but a necessity for 
your own sake, your position having been for a time some- 
what ambiguous. The truth can do you no harm, be it what 
it may; falsehood will send you to trial, and compel me to 
send you back to the Conciergerie ; whereas if you answer fully 
to my questions, you will sleep to-night in your own house, 
and be rehabilitated by this paragraph in the papers: 'Mon- 
sieur de Rubempre, who was arrested yesterday at Fontaine- 
bleau, was set at liberty after a very brief examination.' " 

This speech made a deep impression on Lucien; and the 
judge, seeing the temper of his prisoner, added : 

"I may repeat to you that you were suspected of being 
accessory to the murder by poison of this Demoiselle Esther. 
Her suicide is clearly proved, and there is an end of that ; but 
a sum of seven hundred and fifty thousand francs has been 
stolen, which she had disposed of by will, and you are the 



END OF EVIL WAYS 381 

legatee. This is a felony. The crime was perpetrated before 
the discovery of the will. 

"Now there is reason to suppose that a person who loves 
you as much as you loved Mademoiselle Esther committed 
the theft for your benefit. — Do not interrupt me/' Camusot 
went on, seeing that Lucien was about to speak, and com- 
manding silence by a gesture; "I am asking you nothing so 
far. I am anxious to make you understand how deeply your 
honor is concerned in this question. Give up the false and 
contemptible notion of the honor binding two accomplices, 
and tell the whole truth." 

The reader must already have observed the extreme dis- 
proportion of the weapons in this conflict between the prisoner 
under suspicion and the examining judge. Absolute denial 
when skilfully used has in its favor its positive simplicity, 
and sufficiently defends the criminal; but it is, in a way, a 
coat of mail which becomes crushing as soon as the stiletto 
of cross-examination finds a joint to it. As soon as mere 
denial is ineffectual in face of certain proven facts, the ex- 
aminee is entirely at the judge's mercy. 

Now, supposing that a sort of half-criminal, like Lucien, 
might, if he were saved from the first shipwreck of his hon- 
esty, amend his ways, and become a useful member of society, 
he will be lost in the pitfalls of his examination. 

The judge has the driest possible record drawn up of the 
proceedings, a faithful analysis of the questions and answers ; 
but no trace remains of his insidiously paternal addresses or 
his captious remonstrances, such as this speech. The judges 
of the superior courts see the results, but see nothing of the 
means. Hence, as some experienced persons have thought, 
it would be a good plan that, as in England, a jury should 
hear the examination. For a short while France enjoyed the 
benefit of this system. Under the Code of Brumaire of the 
year IV., this body was known as the examining jury, as 
distinguished from the trying jury. As to the final trial, if 
we should restore the examining jury, it would have to 
be the function of the superior courts without the aid of a 
jury. 



382 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"And now," said Camusot, after a pause, "what is your 
name ? — Attention, Monsieur Coquart !" said he to the clerk. 

"Lucien Chardon de Rubempre." 

"And you were born ?'■ 

"At Angouleme.-' And Lucien named the day, month, 
and year. 

"You inherited no fortune?" 

"None whatever." 

"And yet, during your first residence in Paris, you spent 
a great deal, as compared with your small income ?" 

"Yes, monsieur; but at that time I had a most devoted 
friend in Mademoiselle Coralie, and I was so unhappy as 
to lose her. It was my grief at her death that made me 
return to my country home." 

"That is right, monsieur," said Camusot ; "I commend 
your frankness ; it will be thoroughly appreciated." 

Lacien, it will be seen, v.'as prepared to make a clean breast 
of it. 

"On your return to Paris you lived even more expensively 
than before," Camusot went on. "You lived like a man who 
might have about sixty thousand francs a year." 

"Yes, monsieur." 

"Who supplied you with the money ?" 

"My protector, the Abbe Carlos Herrera." 

"Where did you meet him ?"' 

"We met when traveling, just as I was about to be quit of 
life by committing suicide." 

"You never heard him spoken of by your family — by your 
mother ?" 

"Never." 

"Can you remember the year and the month when you 
first became connected with Mademoiselle Esther?" 

"Towards the end of 1823, at a small theatre on the 
Boulevard." 

"At first she was an expense to yoii ?" 

"Yes, monsieur." 

"Lately, in the hope of marrying Mademoiselle de Grand- 



END OF EVIL WAYS 383 

lieu, you purchased the ruins of the Chateau de Kubempre, 
you added land to the value of a million francs, and you told 
the family of Grandlieu that your sister and your brother-in- 
law had just come into a considerable fortune, and that their 
liberality had supplied you with the money. — Did you tell the 
Grandlieus this, monsieur?" 

"Yes, monsieur." 

"You do not know the reason whv the marriage was broken 
off?" 

"Not in the least, monsieur." 

"Well, the Grandlieus sent one of the most respectable 
attorneys in Paris to see your brother-in-law and inquire 
into the facts. At Angouleme this lawyer, from the state- 
ments of your sister and brother-in-law, learned that they not 
only had hardly lent you any money, but also that their in- 
heritance consisted of land, of some extent no doubt, but that 
the whole amount of invested capital was not more than about 
two hundred thousand francs. — Xow you cannot wonder that 
such people as the Grandlieus should reject a fortune of 
M'hich the source is more than doubtful. This, monsieur, iS; 
what a lie has led to " 

Lucien was petrified by this revelation, and the little pres- 
ence of mind he had preserved deserted him. 

"Eemember," said Camusot, "that the police and the law 
know all they want to know. — And now," he went on, recol- 
lecting Jacques Collin's assumed paternity, "do you know who 
this pretended Carlos Herrera is?" 

"Yes, monsieur; but I knew it too late." 

"Too late! How? Explain yourself." 

"He is not a priest, not a Spaniard, he is " 

"An escaped convict?" said the judge eagerly. 

"Yes," replied Lucien, "when he told me the fatal secret, 
I was already under obligations to him ; I had fancied I was 
befriended by a respectable priest." 

"Jacques Collin " said Monsieur Camusot, beginning 

a sentence. 

"Yes," said Lucien, "his name is Jacques Collin." 



384 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"Very good. Jacques Collin has just now been identified 
by another person, and though he denies it, he does so, I 
believe, in your interest. But I asked whether you knew 
who the man is in order to prove another of Jacques Collin's 
impostures." 

Lucien felt as though he had hot iron in his inside as he 
heard this alarming statement. 

"Do you not know," Camusot went on, "that in order to give 
color to the extraordinary affection he has for you, he de- 
clares that he is your father?"' 

"He ! My father ?— Oh, monsieur, did he tell you that ?" 

"Have you any suspicion of where the money came from 
that he used to give you ? For, if I am to believe the evidence 
of the letter you have in your hand, that poor girl, ]\Iade- 
moiselle Esther, must have done you lately the same services 
as Coralie formerly rendered you. Still, for some years, as 
you have just admitted, 5"ou lived very handsomely without 
receiving anything from her." 

"It is I who should ask you, monsieur, v.'hence convicts 
get their money ! Jacques Collin my father ! — Oh, my poor 
mother !" and Lucien burst into tears. 

"Coquart, read out to the prisoner that part of Carlos 
Herrera's examination in which he said that Lucien de 
Rubempre was his son." 

The poet listened in silence, and with a look that was ter- 
rible to behold. 

"I am done for !" he cried. 

"A man is not done for who is faithful to the path of 
honor and truth," said the judge. 

"But you will commit Jacques Collin for trial?" said 
Lucien. 

"Undoubtedly," said Camusot, who aimed at making 
Lucien talk "Speak out." 

But in spite of all his persuasion and remonstrances, 
Lucien would say no more. Reflection had come too late, 
as it does to all men who are the slaves of impulse. There 
lies the difference between the poet and the man of action; 



END OF EVIL WAYS 385 

one gives way to feeling to reproduce it in living images, his 
judgment comes in after; the other feels and judges both at 
once. 

Lucien remained pale and gloomy; he saw himself at the 
bottom of the precipice, down which the examining judge had 
rolled him by the apparent candor which had entrapped his 
poet's soul. He had betrayed, not his benefactor, but an ac- 
complice who had defended their position with the courage of 
a lion, and a skill that showed no flaw. Where Jacques Collin 
had saved everything by his daring, Lucien, the man of brains, 
had lost all by his lack of intelligence and reflection. This 
infamous lie against which he revolted had screened a yet 
more infamous truth. 

Utterly confounded by the judge's skill, overpowered by 
his cruel dexterity, by the swiftness of the blows he had dealt 
him while making use of the errors of a life laid bare as 
probes to search his conscience, Lucien sat like an animal 
which the butcher's pole-axe had failed to kill. Free and 
innocent when he came before the judge, in a moment his 
own avowal had made him feel criminal. 

To crown all, as a final grave irony, Camusot, cold and 
calm, pointed out to Lucien that his self-betrayal was the re- 
sult of a misapprehension. Camusot was thinking of Jacques 
Collin's announcing himself as Lucien's father ; while Lucien, 
wholly absorbed by his fear of seeing his confederacy with an 
escaped convict made public, had imitated the famous in- 
advertency of the murderers of Ibycus. 

One of Eoyer-Collard's most famous achievements was 
proclaiming the constant triumph of natural feeling over 
engrafted sentiments, and defending the cause of anterior 
oaths by asserting that the law of hospitality, for instance, 
ought to be regarded as binding to the point of negativing 
the obligation of a judicial oath. He promulgated this 
theory, in the face of the world, from the French tribune ; he 
boldly upheld conspirators, showing that it was human to 
be true to friendship rather than to the tyrannical laws 
brought out of the social arsenal to be adjusted to circum- 



386 A COURTESANS LIFE 

stances. And, indeed, natural rights have laws which have 
never been codified, but which are more effectual and better 
known than those laid down by society. Lucien had mis- 
apprehended, to his cost, the law of cohesion, which required 
him to be silent and leave Jacques Collin to protect himself ; 
nay, more, he had accused him. In his own interests the man 
ought always to be, to him, Carlos Herrera. 

Monsieur Camusot was rejoicing in his triumph ; he had 
secured two criminals. He had crushed with the hand of 
justice one of the favorites of fashion, and he had found the 
undiscoverable Jacques Collin. He would be regarded as one 
of the cleverest of examining judges. So he left his prisoner 
in peace; but he was studying this speechless consternation, 
and he saw drops of sweat collect on the miserable face, swell 
and fall, mingled with two streams of tears. 

"Why should you weep. Monsieur de Eubempre? You 
are, as I have told j-ou. Mademoiselle Esther's legatee, she hav- 
ing no heirs nor near relations, and her property amounts to 
nearly eight millions of francs if the lost seven hundred and 
fifty thousand francs are recovered." 

This was the last blow to the poor wretch. "If you do 
not lose your head for ten minutes," Jacques Collin had said 
in his note, and Lucien by keeping cool would have gained all 
his desire. He might have paid his debt to Jacques Collin 
and have cut him adrift, have been rich, and have married 
Mademoiselle de Grandlieu. Xothing could more eloquently 
demonstrate the powder with which the examining judge is 
armed, as a consequence of the isolation or separation of 
persons under suspicion, or the value of such a communica- 
tion as Asie had conveyed to Jacques Collin. 

"Ah, monsieur !" replied Lucien, with the satirical bitter- 
ness of a man who makes a pedestal of his utter overthrow, 
"how appropriate is the phrase in legal slang 'to undergo ex- 
amination.' For my part, if I had to choose between the 
physical torture of past ages and the moral torture of our 
day, I would not hesitate to prefer the sufferings inflicted of 
old by the executioner. — What more do you want of me?" 
he added haughtily. 



END OF EVIL WAYS 387 

"In this place, monsieur," said the magistrate, answering 
the poet's pride with mocking arrogance, "I alone have a right 
to ask questions." 

"I had the right to refuse to answer them," muttered the 
hapless Lucien, whose wits had come back to him with perfect 
lucidity. 

"Coquart, read the minutes to the prisoner." 

"I am the prisoner once more," said Lucien to himself. 

While the clerk was reading, Lucien came to a determina- 
tion which compelled him to smooth down Monsieur Camu- 
sot. When Coquart's drone ceased, the poet started like a 
man who has slept through a noise to Avhich he ears are ac- 
customed, and who is roused by its cessation. 

"You have to sign the report of your examination," said 
the judg*^ 

"And am I at liberty ?" asked Lucien, ironical in his turn. 

"Not yet," said Camusot ; "but to-morrow, after being con- 
fronted with Jacques Collin, you will no doubt be free. Jus- 
tice must now ascertain whether or no you are accessory to 
the crimes this man may have committed since his escape so 
long ago as 1820. However, you are no longer in the secret 
cells. I will write to the Governor to give you a better room." 

"Shall I find writing materials?" 

"You can have anything supplied to you that you ask for ; 
I will give orders -to that effect by the usher who will take 
you back." 

Lucien mechanically signed the minutes and initialed the 
notes in obedience to Coquart's indications with the meekness 
of a resigned victim. A single fact will show what a state 
he was in better than the minutest description. The an- 
nouncement that he would be confronted with Jacques Collin 
had at once dried the drops of sweat from his brow, and his 
dry eyes glittered with a terrible light. In short, he became, 
in an instant as brief as a lightning flash, what Jacques 
Collin was — a man of iron. 

In men whose nature is like Lucien's, a nature which 
Jacques Collin had so thoroughly fathomed, these sudden 



388 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

transitions from a state of absolute demoralization to one that 
is, so to speak, metallic, — so extreme is the tension of every 
vital force, — are the most startling phenomena of mental 
vitality. The will surges up like the lost waters of a spring ; 
it diffuses itself throughout the machinery that lies ready 
for the action of the unknown matter that constitutes it ; and 
then the corpse is a man again, and the man rushes on full 
of energy for a supreme struggle. 

Lucien laid Esther's letter next his heart, with the minia- 
ture she had returned to him. Then he haughtily bowed to 
Monsieur Camusot, and went off with a firm step down the 
corridors, between two gendarmes. 

"That is a deep scoundrel !" said the judge to his clerk, to 
avenge himself for the crushing scorn the poet had dis- 
played. "He thought he might save himself by betraying 
his accomplice." 

"Of the two," said Coquart timidly, "the convict is the 
most thorough-paced." 

"You are free for the rest of the day, Coquart," said the 
lawyer. "We have done enough. Send away any case that 
is waiting, to be called to-morrow. — Ah ! and you must go at 
once to the public prosecutor's chambers and ask if he is still 
there ; if so, ask him if he can give me a few minutes. Yes ; 
he will not be gone," he added, looking at a common clock 
in a wooden case painted green with gilt lines. "It is but a 
quarter-past three." 

These examinations, which are so quickly read, being 
written do^\Ti at full length, questions and answers alike, take 
up an enormous amount of time. This is one of the reasons 
of the slowness of these preliminaries to a trial and of these 
imprisonments "on suspicion." To the poor this is ruin, to 
the rich it is disgrace; to them only immediate release can 
in any degree repair, so far as possible, the disaster of an 
arrest. 

This is why the two scenes here related had taken up the 
whole of the time spent by Asie in deciphering her master's 



END OF EVIL WAYS 389 

orders, in getting a Duchess out of her boudoir, and putting 
some energy into Madame de Serizy. 

At this moment Camusot, who was anxious to get the full 
benefit of his cleverness, took the two documents, read them 
through, and promised himself that he would show them to 
the public prosecutor and take his opinion on them. During 
this meditation, his usher came back to tell him that Madame 
la Comtesse de Serizy's man-servant insisted on speaking with 
him. At a nod from Camusot, a servant out of livery came 
in, looked first at the usher, and then at the magistrate, and 
said, "I have the honor of speaking to Monsieur Camu- 
sot ?" 

"Yes," replied the lawyer and his clerk. 

Camusot took a note which the servant offered him, and 
read as follows: — 

"For the sake of many interests which will be obvious to 
you, my dear Camusot, do not examine Monsieur de 
Eubempre. We have brought ample proofs of his innocence 
that he may be released forthwith. 

"D. DE Maufrigneuse. 
"L. DE S:d!RiZY. 
"P. ^.— Burn this note." 

Camusot understood at once that he had blundered pre- 
posterously in laying snares for Lucien, and he began by obey- 
ing the two fine ladies — he lighted a taper, and burned the 
letter written by the Duchess. The man bowed respectfully. 

"Then Madame de Serizy is coming here?" asked Camu- 
sot. 

"The carriage was being brought round." 

At this moment Coquart came in to tell Monsieur Camusot 
that the public prosecutor expected him. 

Oppressed by the blunder he had committed, in view of 

his ambition, though to the better ends of justice, the lawyer, 

in whom seven years' experience had perfected the sharpness 

that comes to a man who in his practice has had to measure 

25 



390 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

his wits against the grisettes of Paris, was anxious to have 
some shield against the resentment of two women of fashion. 
The taper in which he had burned the note was still alight, 
and he used it to seal up the Duchesse de Maufrigneuse's 
notes to Lucien — about thirt}^ in all — and Madame de Serizy's 
somewhat voluminous correspondence. 

Then he waited on the public prosecutor. 

The Palais de Justice is a perplexing maze of buildings 
piled one above another, some fine and dignified, others very 
mean, the whole disfigured by its lack of unity. The Salle 
des Pas-Perdus is the largest known hall, but its nakedness 
is hideous, and distresses the eye. This vast Cathedral of the 
Law crushes the Supreme Court. The Galerie Marchande 
ends in two drain-like passages. From this corrider there 
is a double staircase, a little larger than that of the Criminal 
Courts, and under it a large double door. The stairs lead 
down to one of the Assize Courts, and the doors open into 
another. In some years the number of crimes committed in 
the circuit of the Seine is great enough to necessitate the 
sitting of two Benches. 

Close by are the public prosecutors offices, the attorney's 
room and library, the chambers of the attorney-general, and 
those of the public prosecutor's deputies. All these purlieus, 
to use a generic term, communicate by narrow spiral stairs 
and the dark passages, which are a disgrace to the architecture 
not of Paris only, but of all France. The interior arrange- 
ment of the sovereign court of Justice outdoes our prisons 
in all that is most hideous. The writer describing our man- 
ners and customs would shrink from the necessity of depict- 
ing the squalid corridor of about a metre in width, in which 
the witnesses wait in the Superior Criminal Court. As to the 
stove which warms the court itself, it would disgrace a cafe 
on the Boulevard Mont-Parnasse. 

The public prosecutor's private room forms part of an 
octagon wing flanking the Galerie Marchande, built out re- 
cently in regard to the age of the structure, over the prison 
yard, outside the women's quarters. All this part of the 



END OF EVIL WAYS 391 

Palais is overshadowed by the lofty and noble edifice of the 
Sainte-Chapelle. And all is solemn and silent. 

Monsieur de Granville, a worthy successor of the great 
magistrates of the ancient Parlement, would not leave Paris 
without coming to some conclusion in the matter of Lucien. 
He expected to hear from Camusot, and the judge's message 
had plunged him into the involuntary suspense which wait- 
ing produces on even the strongest minds. He had been 
sitting in the window-bay of his private room; he rose, and 
walked up and down, for having lingered in the morning to 
intercept Camusot, he had found him dull of apprehension; 
he was vaguely uneasy and worried. 

And this was why. 

The dignity of his high functions forbade his attempting 
to fetter the perfect independence of the inferior judge, and 
yet this trial nearly touched the honor and good name of his 
best friend and warmest supporter, the Comte de Serizy, 
Minister of State, member of the Privy Council, Vice-Presi- 
dent of the State Council, and prospective Chancellor of the 
Realm, in the event of the death of the noble old man who 
held that august office. It was Monsieur de Seriz/s mis- 
fortune to adore his wife "through fire and water," and he 
always shielded her with his protection. ISTow the public 
prosecutor fully understood the terrible fuss that would be 
made in the world and at court if a crime should be proved 
against a man whose name had been so often and so malig- 
nantly linked with that of the Countess. 

"i\.h !" he sighed, folding his arms, "formerly the supreme 
authority could take refuge in an appeal. Nowadays our 
mania for equality" — he dared not say for Legality, as a 
poetic orator in the Chamber courageously admitted a short 
while since — "is the death of us." 

This noble magistrate knew all the fascination and the mis- 
eries of an illicit attachment. Esther and Lucien, as we 
have seen, had taken the rooms where the Comte de Gran- 
ville had lived secretly on connubial terms with Mademoiselle 
de Bellefeuille, and whence she had fled one day, lured away 
by a villain. (See A Double Marriage.) 



392 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

At tKe very moment when the public prosecutor was saying 
to himself, "Camusot is sure to have done something silly," 
the examining magistrate knocked twice at the door of his 
room. 

''Well, my dear Camusot, how is that case going on that 
I spoke of this morning?" 

"Badly, Monsieur le Comte; read and judge for your- 
self." 

He held out the minutes of the two examinations to Mon- 
sieur de Granville, who took up his eyeglass and went to the 
window to read them. He had soon run through them. 

"You have done your dutv," said the Count in an agitated 
voice. "It is all over. The law must take its course. You 
have shown so much skill, that you need never fear being de- 
prived of your appointment as examining judge " 

If Monsieur de Granville had said to Camusot, "You will 
remain an examining judge to your dying day," he could not 
have been more explicit than in making this polite speech. 
Camusot was cold in the very marrow. 

"^Madame la Duchesse de Maufrigneuse, to whom I owe 
much, had desired me . . ." 

"Oh yes, the Duchesse de Maufrigneuse is Madame de 
Serizy's friend," said Granville, interrupting him. "To be 
sure. — You have allowed nothing to influence you, I perceive. 
And you did well, sir; you will be a great magistrate." 

At this instant the Comte Octave de Bauvan opened the 
door without knocking, and said to the Comte de Granville : 

"I have brought you a fair lady, my dear fellow, who did 
not know which way to turn ; she was on the point of losing 
herself in our labyrinth " 

And Comte Octave led in by the hand the Comtesse de 
Serizy, who had been wandering about the place for the last 
quarter of an hour. 

"What, you here, madame !" exclaimed the public prose- 
cutor, pushing forward his own armchair, "and at this 
moment ! This, madame, is Monsieur Camusot," he added, 
introducing the judge. — "Bauvan," said he to the dis- 



END OF EVIL WAYS 393 

tinguished ministerial orator of the Eestoration, 'Vait for 
me in the president's chambers; he is still there, and I will 
join you." 

Comte Octave de Bauvan understood that not merely was 
he in the way, hut that Monsieur de Granville wanted an 
excuse for leaving his room. 

Madame de Serizy had not made the mistake of coming to 
the Palais de Justice in her handsome carriage with a blue 
hammer-cloth and coats-of-arms, her coachman in gold lace, 
and two footmen in breeches and silk stockings. Just as 
they were starting Asie impressed on the two great ladies the 
need for taking the hackney coach in which she and the Duch- 
ess had arrived, and she had likewise insisted on Lucien's 
mistress adopting the costume which is to women what a gray 
cloak was of yore to men. The Countess wore a plain brown 
dress, an old black shawl, and a velvet bonnet from which 
the flowers had been removed, and the whole covered up under 
a thick lace veil. 

"You received our note?" said she to Camusot, whose dis- 
may she mistook for respectful admiration. 

"Alas ! but too late, Madame la Comtesse," replied the law- 
yer, whose tact and wit failed him excepting in his chambers 
and in presence of a prisoner, 

"Too late! How?" 

She looked at Monsieur de Granville, and saw consterna- 
tion written in his face. "It cannot be, it must not be too 
late !" she added, in the tone of a despot. 

Women, pretty women, in the position of Madame de" 
Serizy, are the spoiled children of French civilization. If the 
women of other countries knew what a woman of fashion is in 
Paris, a woman of wealth and rank, they would all want to 
come and enjoy that splendid royalty. The women who 
recognize no bonds but those of propriety, no law but the petty 
charter which has been more than one alluded to in this 
Comedie Humaine as the ladies' Code, laugh at the statutes 
framed by men. They say everything, they do not shrink 
from any blunder or hesitate at any folly, for they all accept 



394 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

the fact that they are irresponsible beiugs, answerable for 
nothing on earth but their good repute and their children. 
They say the most preposterous things with a laugh, and are 
ready on every occasion to repeat the speech made in the early 
days of her married life by pretty Madame de Bauvan to her 
husband, whom she came to fetch away from the Palais: 
"Make haste and pass sentence, and come away." 

"Madame," said the public prosecutor, "Monsieur Lucien 
de Eubempre is not guilty either of robbery or of pqisoning; 
but Monsieur Camusot has led him to confess a still greater 
crime."' 

"What is that ?" she asked. 

"He acknowledged," said Monsieur Camusot in her ear, 
"that he is the friend and pupil of an escaped convict. The 
Abbe Carlos Herrera, the- Spaniard with whom he has been 
living for the last seven vears, is the notorious Jacques 
Collin." 

Madame de Serizy felt as if it were a blow from an iron 
rod at each word spoken by the judge, but this name was the 
finishing stroke. 

"And the upshot of all this ?" she said, in a voice that was 
no more than a breath. 

"Is," Monsieur de Granville went on, finishing the Count- 
ess' sentence in an undertone, "that the convict will be com- 
mitted for trial, and that if Lucien is not committed with him 
as having profited as an accessory to the man's crimes, he 
must appear as a witness very seriously compromised." 

"Oh ! never, never I" she cried aloiid, with amazing firm- 
ness. "For my part, I should not hesitate between death and 
the disaster of seeing a man whom the world has knowni to be 
my dearest friend declared by the bench to be the accomplice 
of a convict. — The King has a great regard for my hus- 
band " 

"Madame," said the public prosecutor, also aloud, and with 
a smile, "the King has not the smallest power over the 
humblest examining Judge in his kingdom, nor over the pro- 
ceedings in any court of justice. That is the grand feature 



END OF EVIL WAYS 395 

of our new code of laws. I myself have just congratulated 
M. Camusot on his skill " 

"On his clumsiness," said the Countess sharply, though 
Lucien's intimacy with a scoundrel really disturbed her far 
less than his attachment to Esther. 

"If you will read the minutes of the examination of the 
two prisoners by Monsieur Camusot, you will see that every- 
thing is in his hands " 

After this speech, the only thing the public prosecutor 
could venture to say, and a flash of feminine — or, if you will, 
lawyer-like — cunning, he went to the door; then, turning 
round on the threshold, he added: 

"Excuse me, madame; I have two words to say to Bauvan." 
Which, translated by the worldly wise, conveyed to the 
Countess: "I do not want to witness the scene between you 
and Camusot." 

"What is this examination business?" said Le'ontine very 
blandly to Camusot, who stood downcast in the presence of 
the wife of one of the most important personages in the 
realm. 

"Madame," said Camusot, "a clerk writes down all the 
magistrate's questions and the prisoner's replies. This docu- 
ment is signed by the clerk, by the judge, and by the prisoner. 
This evidence is the raw material of the subsequent proceed- 
ings ; on it the accused are committed for trial, and remanded 
to appear before the Criminal Court." 

"Well, then," said she, "if the evidence were sup- 
pressed ?" 

"Oh, madame, that is a crime which no magistrate could 
possibly commit — a crime against society." 

"It is a far worse crime against me to have ever allowed 
it to be recorded ; still, at this moment it is the only evidence 
against Lucien. Come, read me the minutes of his examina- 
tion that I may see if there is still any way of salvation for us 
all, monsieur. I do not speak for myself alone — I should 
quite calmly kill myself — but Monsieur de Serizy's happiness 
is also at stake." 



396 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

*'Pray, madame, do not suppose that I have forgotten the 
respect due you," said Camusot. "If Monsieur Popinot, for 
instance, had undertaken this case, you would have had worse 
luck than you have found with me; for he would not have 
come to consult Monsieur de Granville; no one would have 
heard anything about it. I tell you, madame, everything 
has been seized in Monsieur Lucien's lodging, even your 
letters " 

"What ! my letters !" 

"Here they are, madame, in a sealed packet." 

The Countess in her agitation rang as if she had been at 
home, and the office-boy came in. 

"A light," said she. 

The boy lighted a taper and placed it on the chimney-piece, 
while the Countess looked through the letters, counted them, 
crushed them in her hand, and flung them on the hearth. In 
a few minutes she set the whole mass in a blaze, twisting up 
the last note to serve as a torch. 

Camusot stood, looking rather foolish as he watched the 
papers burn, holding the legal documents in his hand. 
The Countess, who seemed absorbed in the work of destroy- 
ing the proofs of her passion, studied him out of the corner 
of her eye. She took her time, she calculated her distance ; 
with the spring of a cat she seized the two documents and 
threw them on the flames. But Camusot saved them; the 
Countess rushed on him and snatched back the burning 
papers. A struggle ensued, Camusot calling out: "Madame, 
but madame ! This is contempt — madame !" 

A man hurried into the room, and the Countess could 
not repress a scream as she beheld the Comte de Serizy, fol- 
lowed by Monsieur de Granville and the Comte de Bauvan. 
Leontine, however, determined to save Lucien at any cost, 
would not let go of the terrible stamped documents, which 
she clutched with the tenacity of a vise, though the flame had 
already burnt her delicate skin like a moxa. 

At last Camusot, whose fingers also were smarting from 
the fire, seemed to be ashamed of the position; he let the 



END OF EVIL WAYS 397 

papers go; there was nothing left of them but the portions 
so tightly held by the antagonists that the flame could not 
touch them. The whole scene had taken less time than is 
needed to read this account of it. 

"What discussion can have arisen between you and Madame 
dc Serizy ?" the husband asked of Camusot. 

Before the lawyer could reply, the Countess held the 
fragments in the candle and threw them on the remains of 
lier letters, which were not entirely consumed. 

"I shall be compelled," said Camusot, "to lay a complaint 
against Madame la Comtesse " 

"Ileh ! What has she done ?" asked the public prosecutor, 
looking alternately at the lady and the magistrate. 

"I have burned the record of the examinations," said the 
lady of fashion with a laugh, so pleased at her high-handed 
conduct that she did not yet feel the pain of the burns. "If 
that is a crime — well, monsieur must get his odious scrawl 
written out again." 

"Very true," said Camusot, trying to recover his dignity. 

"Well, well, 'All's well that ends well,' " said Monsieur de 
Granville. "But, my dear Countess, you must not often take 
such liberties with the Law ; it might fail to discern who and 
what you are." 

"Monsieur Camusot valiantly resisted a woman whom none 
can resist ; the Honor of the Eobe is safe !" said the Comte 
de Bauvan, laughing. 

"Indeed ! Monsieur Camusot was resisting ?" said the 
public prosecutor, laughing too. "He is a brave man in- 
deed ; I should not dare resist the Countess." 

And thus for the moment this serious affair was no more 
than a pretty woman's jest, at which Camusot himself must 
laugh. 

But Monsieur de Granville saw one man who was not 
amused. N"ot a little alarmed by the Comte de Serizy's at- 
titude and expression, his friend led him aside. 

"My dear fellow," said he in a whisper, "your distress per- 



398 A COURTESAN'S tIFB 

suades me for the first and only time in my life to compromise 
with my duty." 

The public prosecutor rang, and the office boy appeared. 

"Desire Monsieur de Chargeboeuf to come here." 

Monsieur de Chargebceuf, a sucking barrister, was his 
private secretary. 

"My good friend," said the Comte de Granville to Camu- 
sot, whom he took to the window, "go back to your chambers, 
get your clerk to reconstruct the report of the Abbe Carlos 
Herrera's depositions; as he had not signed the first copy, 
there will be no difficulty about that. To-morrow you must 
confront your Spanish diplomate with Rastignae and 
Blanche n, who will not recognize him as Jacques Collin. 
Then, being sure of his release, the man will sign the docu- 
ment. 

"As to Lucien de Eubempre, set him free this evening; 
he is not likely to talk about an examination of which the 
evidence is destroyed, especially after such a lecture as I shall 
give him. 

"Xow you will see how little justice suffers by these pro- 
ceedings. If the Spaniard really is the convict, we have fifty 
ways of recapturing him and committing him for trial — for 
we will have his conduct in Spain thoroughly investigated. 
Corentin, the police agent, will take care of him for us, and 
we ourselves will keep an eye on him. So treat him decently ; 
do not send him down to the cells again. 

"Can we be the death of the Comte and Comtesse de Serizy, 
as well as of Lucien, for the theft of seven hundred and fifty 
thousand francs as yet unproven, and to Luciens personal 
loss? Will it not be better for him to lose the money than 
to lose his character ? Above all, if he is to drag with him in 
his fall a Minister of State, and his wife, and the Duchesse 
de Maufrigneuse. 

"This young man is a speckled orange; do not leave it 
to rot. 

"All this will take you about half an hour; go and get 
it done ; we will wait for you. It is half-past three ; you will 



END OF EVIL WAYS 399 

still find some judges about. Let me know if you can get a 
rule of insufficient evidence — or Lucien must wait till to- 
morrow morning." 

Camusot bowed to the company and went; but Madame 
de Serizy, who was suffering a good deal from her burns, did 
not return his bow. 

Monsieur de Serizy, who had suddenly rushed away while 
the public prosecutor and the magistrate were talking to- 
gether, presently returned, having fetched a small jar of 
virgin wax. With this he dressed his wife's fingers, saying 
in an undertone: 

"Leontine, why did you come here without letting me 
know ?" 

"My dear," replied she in a whisper, "forgive me. I seem 
mad, but indeed your interests were as much involved as 
mine." 

"Love this young fellow if fatality requires it, but do 
not display your passion to all the world," said the luckless 
husband. 

"Well, my dear Countess," said Monsieur de Granville, who 
had been engaged in conversation with Comte Octave, "I 
hope you may take Monsieur de Eubempre home to dine with 
you this evening." 

This half promise produced a reaction ; Madame de Serizy 
melted into tears. 

"I thought I had no tears left," said she with a smile. 
"But could vou not bring Monsieur de Eubempre to wait 
here?" 

"I will try if I can find ushers to fetch him, so that he may 
not be seen under the escort of the gendarmes," said Mon- 
sieur de Granville. 

"You are as good as God !" cried she, with a gush of feel- 
ing that made her voice sound like heavenly music. 

"These are the women," said Comte Octave, "who are 
fascinating, irresistible !" 

And he became melancholy as he thought of his own wife. 
(See Honorine.) 



400 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

As he left the room, Monsieur de Granville was stopped 
by young Chargeboeuf, to whom he spoke to give him instruc- 
tions as to what he was to say to Massol, one of the editors 
of the Gazette des Tribunaux. 

While beauties, ministers, and magistrates were conspiring 
to save Lucien, this was what he was doing at the Concierge- 
rie. As he passed the gate the poet told the keeper that 
Monsieur Camusot had granted him leave to write, and he 
begged to have pens, ink, and paper. At a whispered word to 
the Governor from Camusot's usher a warder was instructed 
to take them to him at once. During the short time that it 
took for the warder to fetch these things and carry them up 
to Lucien, the hapless young man, to whom the idea of facing 
Jacques Collin had become intolerable, sank into one of those 
fatal moods in which the idea of suicide — to which he had 
yielded before now, but without succeeding in carrying it 
out — rises to the pitch of mania. According to certain mad- 
doctors, suicide is in some temperaments the closing phase 
of mental aberration; and since his arrest Lucien had been 
possessed by that single idea. Esther's letter, read and re- 
read many times, increased the vehemence of his desire to die 
by reminding him of the catastrophe of Eomeo dying to be 
with Juliet. 

This is what he wrote: — 

"This is my Last Will and Testament. 

"At the Conciergerie, May 15th, 1830. 

"I, the undersigned, give and bequeath to the children of 
my sister, Madame Eve Chardon, wife of David Sechard, 
formerly a printer at Angouleme, and of Monsieur David 
Sechard, all the property, real and personal, of which I may be 
possessed at the time of my decease, due deduction being 
made for the pa^nnents and legacies, which I desire my ex- 
ecutor to provide for. 

"And I earnestly beg Monsieur de Serizy to undertake the 
charge of being the executor of this my will. 



END OF EVIL WAYS 401 

"First, to Monsieur I'Abbe Carlos Herrera I direct the 
payment of the sum of three hundred thousand francs. Sec- 
ondly, to Monsieur le Baron de Nucingen the sum of fourteen 
hundred thousand francs, less seven hundred and fifty thou- 
sand francs if the sum stolen from Mademoiselle Esther 
should be recovered. 

"As universal legatee to Mademoiselle Esther Gobseck, I 
give and bequeath the sum of seven hundred and sixty thou- 
sand francs to the Board of Asylums of Paris for the founda- 
tion of a refuge especially dedicated to the use of public pros- 
titutes who may wish to forsake their life of vice and ruin. 

"I also bequeath to the Asylums of Paris the sum of money 
necessary for the purchase of a certificate for dividends to the 
amount of thirty thousand francs per annum in five per cents, 
the annual income to be devoted every six months to the re- 
lease of prisoners for debts not exceeding two thousand francs. 
The Board of Asylums to select the most respectable of such 
persons imprisoned for debt. 

"I beg Monsieur de Serizy to devote the sum of forty 
thousand francs to erecting a monument to Mademoiselle 
Esther in the Eastern cemetery, and I desire to be buried by 
her side. The tomb is to be like an antique tomb — square, 
our two effigies lying thereon, in white marble, the heads on 
pillows, the hands folded and raised to heaven. There is to 
be no inscription whatever. 

"I beg Monsieur de Serizy to give to Monsieur de Eastignac 
a gold toilet-set that is in my room as a remembrance. 

"And as a remembrance, I beg my executor to accept my 
library of books as a gift from me. 

"LuciEN Chardon de Rubempr:^." 

This Will was inclosed in a letter addressed to Monsieur 
le Comte de Granville, Public Prosecutor in the Supreme 
Court at Paris, as follows: — 

"Monsieur le Comte, — 

"I place my Will in your hands. When you open this 
letter I shall be no more. In my desire to be free, I made 



402 A COl RTESANS JJFE 

such cow aidly replies to Monsieur Camusots insidious ques- 
tions, that, in spite of my innocence, I may find myself en- 
tangled in a disgraceful trial. Even if I were acquitted, a 
blameless life would henceforth be impossible to me in view 
of the opinions of the world. 

"I beg you to transmit the enclosed letter to the Abbe 
Carlos Herrera without opening it, and deliver to Monsieur 
Camusot the formal retraction I also enclose. 

"I suppose no one will dare to break the seal of a packet 
addressed to you. In this belief I bid you adieu, offering you 
my best respects for the last time, and begging you to believe 
that in writing to you I am giving you a token of my gratitude 
for all the kindness you have shown to your deceased humble 
servant, 

"LUCIEN DE R." 

"To the Abbe Carlos Herrera. 

"My dear Abbe, — I have had only benefits from you, and 
I have betrayed you. This involuntary ingratitude is killing 
me, and when you read these lines I shall have ceased to exist. 
You are not here now to save me. 

'"You had given me full liberty, if I should find it ad- 
vantageous, to destroy you by flinging you on the ground like 
a cigar-end ; but I have ruined you by a blunder. To escape 
from a difficulty, deluded by a clever question from the examin- 
ing judge, your son by adoption and grace went over to the 
side of those who aim at killing 3^ou at any cost, and insist or 
proving an identity, which I know to be impossible, betv.'een 
you and a French villain. All is said. 

"Between a man of your calibre and me — me of whom you 
tried to make a greater man that I am capable of being — no 
foolish sentiment can come at the moment of final parting. 
You hoped to make me powerful and famous, and 3^ou have 
thrown me into the gulf of suicide, that is all. I have 
long heard the broad pinions of that vertigo beating over 
mv head. 



END OF EVIL WAYS 403 

"As you have sometimes said, there is the posterity of Cain 
and the posterity of Abel. In the great human drama Cain 
is in opposition. You are descended from Adam through 
that line, in which the devil still fans the fire of which the 
first spark was flung on Eve. Among the demons of that 
pedigree, from time to time we see one of stupendous power, 
summing up every form of human energy, and resembling 
the fevered beasts of the desert, whose vitality demands the 
vast spaces they find there. Such men are as dangerous as 
lions would be in the heart of Normandy; they must have 
their prey, and they devour common men and crop the money 
of fools. Their sport is so dangerous that at last they kill 
the humble dog whom they have taken for a companion and 
made an idol of. 

"When it is God's will, these mysterious beings may be a 
Moses, an Attila, Charlemagne, Mahomet, or Napoleon; but 
v,'hen He leaves a generation of these stupendous tools to rust 
at the bottom of the ocean, they are no more than a 
Pugatschef, a Fouche, a Louvel, or the Abbe Carlos Herrera. 
Gifted with immense power over tenderer souls, they entrap 
them and mangle them. It is grand, it is fine — in its way. 
It is the poisonous plant with gorgeous coloring that 
fascinates children in the woods. It is the poetry of evil. 
Men like you ought to dwell in caves and never come out of 
them. You have made me live that vast life, and I have had 
all my share of existence; so I may very well take my head 
out of the Gordian knot of your policy and slip it into the 
running knot of my cravat. 

"To repair the mischief I have done, I am forwarding to 
the public prosecutor a retraction of my deposition. You 
will know how to take advantage of this document. 

"In virtue of a will formally drawn up, restitution will 
be made, Monsieur I'Abbe, of the moneys belonging to your 
Order which you so imprudently devoted to my use, as a 
result of your paternal affection for me. 

"And so, farewell. Farewell, colossal image of Evil and 
Corruption; farewell — to you who, if started on the right 



404 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

road, might have been greater than Ximenes, greater than 
Eichelieu ! You have kept your promises. I find myself 
once more just as I was on the banks of the Charente, after 
enjoying, by your help, the enchantments of a dream. But, 
unfortunately, it is not now in the waters of my native place 
that I shall drown the errors of a boy ; but in the Seine, and 
my hole is a cell in the Conciergerie. 

"Do not regret me: my contempt for you is as great as 
my admiration. 

"LuciEN.'^ 
"Recantation. 

"I, the undersigned, hereby declare that I retract, without 
reservation, all that I deposed at my examination to-day be- 
fore Monsieur Camusot. 

"The Abbe Carlos Herrera always called himself my spirit- 
ual father, and I was misled by the word father used in 
another sense by the judge, no doubt under a misapprehen- 
sion. 

"I am aware that, for political ends, and to quash certain 
secrets concerning the Cabinets of Spain and of the Tuileries, 
some obscure diplomatic agents tried to show that the Abbe 
Carlos Herrera was a forger named Jacques Collin ; but the Abbe 
Carlos Herrera never told me anything about the matter ex- 
cepting that he was doing his best to obtain evidence of the 
death or of the continued existence of Jacques Collin. 

"LUCIEN DE RUBEMPRE. 

"At the Conciergerie, May Ibth, 1830." 

The fever for suicide had given Lucien immense clearness 
of mind, and the swiftness of hand familiar to authors in the 
fever of composition. The impetus was so strong within him 
that these four documents were all written within half an 
hour ; he folded them in a vrrapper, fastened with wafers, on 
which he impressed with the strength of delirium the coat- 
of-arms engraved on a seal-ring he wore, and he then laid the 
packet very conspicuously in the middle of the floor. 



END OP EVIL WAYS 405 

Certainly it would have been impossible to conduct himself 
with greater dignity, in the false position to which all this 
infamy had led him; he was rescuing his memory from op- 
probrium, and repairing the injury done to his accomplice, so 
far as the wit of a man of the world could nullify the result of 
the poet's trustfulness. 

If Lucien had been taken back to one of the lower cells, 
he would have been wrecked on the impossibility of carrying 
out his intentions, for those boxes of masonry have no furni- 
ture but a sort of camp-bed and a pail for necessary uses. 
There is not a nail, not a chair, not even a stool. The camp- 
bed is so firmly fixed that it is impossible to move it without 
an amount of labor that the warder would not fail to detect, 
for the iron-barred peephole is always open. Indeed, if a 
prisoner under suspicion give reason for uneasiness, he is 
watched by a gendarme or a constable. 

In the private rooms for which prisoners pay, and in that 
whither Lucien had been conveyed by the judge's courtesy to 
a young man belonging to the upper ranks of society, the 
movable bed, table, and chair might serve to carry out his pur- 
pose of suicide, though they hardly made it easy. Lucien wore 
a long blue silk necktie, and on his way back from examina- 
tion he was already meditating on the means by which 
Pichegru, more or less voluntarily, ended his days. Still, to 
hang himself, a man must find a purchase, and have a 
sufficient space between it and the ground for his feet to find 
no support. Now the window of his room, looking out on the 
prison-yard, had no handle to the fastening; and the bars, 
being fixed outside, were divided from his reach by the thick- 
ness of the wall, and could not be used for a support. 

This, then, was the plan hit upon by Lucien to put him- 
self out of the world. The boarding of the lower part of the 
opening, which prevented his seeing out into the yard, also 
hindered the warders outside from seeing what was done in 
the room ; but while the lower portion of the window was re- 
placed by two thick planks, the upper part of both halves still 
was filled with small panes, held in place by the cross pieces 
26 



406 A COURTESANS LIFE 

iu which they were set. By standing on his table Lucien 
could reach the glazed part of the window, and take or break 
out two panes, so as to have a firm point of attachment in 
the angle of the lower bar. Eound this he would tie his 
cravat, turn round once to tighten it round his neck 
after securing it firmly, and kick the table from under his 
feet. 

He drew the table up under the window without making 
any noise, took off his coat and waistcoat, and got on the table 
unhesitatingly to break, a pane above and one below the iron 
cross-bar. Standing on the table, he could look out across 
the yard on a magical view, which he then beheld for the 
first time. The Governor of the prison, in deference to Mon- 
sieur Camusot's request that he should deal as leniently as pos- 
sible with Lucien, had led him, as we have seen, through the 
dark passages of the Conciergerie, entered from the dark 
vault opposite the Tour d' Argent, thus avoiding the ex- 
hibition of a young man of fashion to the crowd of prisoners 
airing themselves in the yard. It will be for the reader to 
judge whether the aspect of this promenade was not such as 
to appeal deeply to a poet's soul. 

The yard of the Conciergerie ends at the quai between the 
Tour d' Argent and the Tour Bonbec; thus the distance be- 
tween them exactly shows from the outside the width of the 
plot of ground. The corridor called the Galerie de Saint- 
Louis, which extends from the Galerie Marchande to the 
Court of Appeals and the Tour Bonbec — in which, it is said, 
Saint-Louis' room still exists — may enable the curious to 
estimate the depth of the yard, as it is of the same length. 
Thus the dark cells and the private rooms are under the 
Galerie Marchande. And Queen Marie Antoinette, whose 
dungeon was under the present cells, was conducted to the 
presence of the Eevolutionary Tribunal, which held its sit- 
tings in the place where the Court of Appeals now performs 
its solemn functions, up a horrible flight of steps, now never 
used, in the very thickness of the wall on which the Galerie 
Marchande is built. 



END OF EVIL WAYS 407 

One side of the prison-yard — that on which the Hall of 
Saint-Louis forms the first floor — displays a long row of 
Gothic columns, between which the architects of I know not 
what period have built up two floors of cells to accommodate 
as many prisoners as possible, by choking the capitals, the 
arches, and the vaults of this magnificent cloister with plaster, 
barred loopholes, and partitions. Under the room known as 
the Cabinet de Saint-Louis, in the Tour Bonbec, there is a 
spiral stair leading to these dens. This degradation of one 
of the immemorial buildings of France is hideous to behold. 

From the height at v/hich Lucien was standing he saw 
this cloister, and the details of the building that joins the 
two towers, in sharp perspective ; before him were the pointed 
caps of the towers. He stood amazed; his suicide was post- 
poned to his admiration. The phenomena of hallucination 
are in these days so fully recognized by the medical faculty 
that this mirage of the senses, this strange illusion of the 
mind is beyond dispute. A man under the stress of a feeling 
which by its intensity has become a monomania, often finds 
himself in the frame of mind to which opium, hasheesh, or 
the protoxyde of '^ote might have brought him. Spectres 
appear, phantoms and dreams take shape, things of the past 
live again as once they were. What was but an image of 
the brain becomes a moving or a living object. Science is 
now beginning to believe that under the action of a paroxysm 
of passion the blood rushes to the brain, and that such con- 
gestion has the terrible effects of a dream in a waking state, 
so averse are we to regard thought as a physical and genera- 
tive force. (See Louis Lambert.) 

Lucien saw the building in all its pristine beauty; the 
columns were new, slender and bright; Saint-Louis' Palace 
rose before him as it had once appeared; he admired its 
Babjdonian proportions and Oriental fancy. He took this 
exquisite vision as a poetic farewell from civilized creation. 
While making his arrangements to die, he wondered how this 
marvel of architecture could exist in Paris so utterly un- 
known. He was two Luciens — one Lucien the poet, wander- 



408 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

ing through the Middle Ages under the vaults and the turrets 
of Saint-Louis, the other Lucien ready for suicide. 

Just as Monsieur de Granville had ended giving his in- 
structions to the young secretary, the Governor of the Con- 
ciergerie came in, and the expression of his face was such as 
to give the public prosecutor a presentiment of disaster. 

"'Have you met Monsieur Camusot ?" he asked. 

"Xo, monsieur," said the Governor; "his clerk Coquart in- 
structed me to give the Abbe Carlos a private room and to 
liberate Monsieur de Eubempre — but it is too late." 

"Good God ! what has happened ?" 

"Here, monsieur, is a letter for you which will explain the 
catastrophe. The warder on duty in the prison-yard heard a 
noise of breaking glass in the upper room, and Monsieur 
Lucien's next neighbor shrieking wildly, for he heard the 
young man's dying struggles. The warder came to me pale 
from the sight that met his eyes. He found the prisoner 
hanged from the window bar by his necktie." 

Though the Governor spoke in a low voice, a fearful scream 
from Madame de Serizy showed that under stress of feeling 
our faculties are incalculably keen. The Countess heard, 
or guessed. Before Monsieur de Granville could turn round, 
or Monsieur de Bauvan or her husband could stop her, she 
fled like a flash out of the door, and reached the Galerie 
Marchande, where she ran on to the stairs leading out to the 
Eue de la Barillerie. 

A pleader was taking off his gown at the door of one of the 
shops which from time immemorial have choked up this 
arcade, where shoes are sold, and gowns and caps kept for 
hire. 

The Countess asked the way to the Conciergerie. 

"Go down the steps and turn to the left. The entrance 
is from the Quai de I'Horloge, the first archway." 

"That woman is crazy," said the shop-woman ; "some one 
ought to follow her." 

But no one could have kept up with Leontine; she flew. 



END OF EVIL WAYS 409 

A physician may explain how it is that these ladies of 
fashion, whose strength never finds employment, reveal such 
powers in the critical moments of life. 

The Countess rushed so swiftly through the archway to 
the wicket-gate that the gendarme on sentry did not see her 
pass. She flew at the barred gate like a feather driven by 
the wind, and shook the iron bars with such fury that she 
broke the one she grasped. The bent ends were thrust into 
her breast, making the blood flow, and she dropped on the 
ground, shrieking, "Open it, open it !" in a tone that struck 
terror into the warders. 

The gatekeepers hurried out. 

"Open the gate — the public prosecutor sent me — to save 
the dead man ! " 

While the Countess was going round by the Eue de la 
Barillerie and the Quai de I'Horloge, Monsieur de Granville 
and Monsieur de Serizy went down to the Conciergerie 
through the inner passages, suspecting Leontine's purpose; 
but notwithstanding their haste, they only arrived in time to 
see her fall fainting at the outer gate, where she was picked 
up 6y two gendarmes who had come down from the guard- 
room. 

On seeing the Governor of the prison, the gate was opened, 
and the Countess was carried into the office, but she stood up 
and fell on her knees, clasping her hands. 

"Only to see him — to see him ! Oh ! I will do no wrong ! 
But if you do not want to see me die on the spot, let me look 
at Lucien dead or living. — Ah, my dear, are you here? 
Choose between my death and " 

She sank in a heap. 

"You are kind," she said ; "I will always love you " 

"Carry her away," said Monsieur de Bauvan. 

"No, we will go to Lucien's cell," said Monsieur de Gran- 
ville, reading a purpose in Monsieur de Serizy's wild looks. 

And he lifted up the Countess, and took her under one 
arm, while Monsieur de Bauvan supported her on the other 
side. 



410 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"Monsieur," said the Comte de Serizy to the Governor, 
"silence as of the grave about all this.'" 

"Be easy," replied the Governor; "j^ou have done the 
wisest thing. — If this lady " 

"She is my viite/' 

"Oh! I beg your pardon. Well, she will certainly faint 
away when she sees the poor man, and while she is un- 
conscious she can be taken home in a carriage." 

"That is what I thought," replied the Count. "Pray send 
one of your men to tell my servants in the Cour de Harlay 
to come round to the gate. Mine is the only carriage 
there." 

"We can save him yet," said the Countess, walking on with 
a degree of strength and spirit that surprised her friends. 
"There are ways of restoring life " 

And she dragged the gentlemen along, crying to the 
warder : 

"Come on, come faster — one second may cost three 
lives !" 

When the cell door was opened, and the Countess saw 
Lucien hanging as though his clothes had been hung on a peg, 
she made a spring towards him as if to embrace him and cling 
to him; but she fell on her face on the floor with smothered 
shrieks and a sort of rattle in her throat. 

Five minutes later she was being taken home stretched on 
the seat in the Count's carriage, her husband kneeling by her 
side. Monsieur de Bauvan went ofl' to fetch a doctor to give 
her the care she needed. 

The Governor of the Conciergerie meanwhile was examin- 
ing the outer gate, and saying to his clerk: 

"!No expense was spared; the bars are of wrought iron, 
the}^ were properly tested, and cost a large sum ; and yet there 
was a flaw in that bar." 

Monsieur de Granville on returning to his room had other 
instructions to give to his private secretary. Massol, happily, 
had not yet arrived. 

Soon after Monsieur de Granville ha,d left, anxious to go 



END OF EVIL WAYS 411 

to see Monsieur de Serizy, Massol came and found his ally 
Chargeboeuf in the public prosecutor's Court. 

"My dear fellow," said the young secretary, "if you will do 
me a great favor, you will put what I dictate to you in your 
Gazette to-morrow under the heading of Law Eeports; you 
can compose the heading. Write now.'' 

And he dictated as follows : — 

"It has been ascertained that the Demoiselle Esther Gob- 
seek killed herself of her own free will. 

"Monsieur Lucien de Rubempre satisfactorily proved an 
alibi, and his innocence leaves his arrest to be regretted, all 
the more because just as the examining Judge had given the 
order for his release the young gentleman died suddenly." 

"I need not point out to you," said the young lawyer to 
Massol, "how necessary it is to preserve absolute silence as 
to the little service requested of you." 

"Since it is you who do me the honor of so much con- 
fidence,"' replied Massol, "allow me to make one observation. 
This paragraph will give rise to odious comments on the 
course of justice " 

"Justice is strong enough to bear them," said the young 
attache to the Courts, with the pride of a coming magistrate 
trained by Monsieur de Granville. 

"Allow me, my dear sir ; with two sentences this difficulty 
may be avoided." 

And the journalist-lawyer wrote as follows: — 

"The forms of the law have nothing to do with this sad 
event. The post-mortem examination, which was at once 
made, proved that sudden death was due to the rupture of an 
aneurism in its last stage. If Monsieur Lucien de Rubempre 
had been upset by his arrest, death must have ensued sooner. 
But we are in a position to state that, far from being dis- 
tressed at being taken into custody, the young man, whom all 
must lament, only laughed at it, and told those who escorted 
him from Fontainebleau to Paris that as soon as he was 
brought before a magistrate his innocence would be acknowl- 
edged." 



412 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"That saves it, I think?" said Massol. 

"You are perfectly right." 

"The public prosecutor will thank you for it to-morrow," 
said Massol slyly. 

Now to the great majority, as to the more choice reader, 
it will perhaps seem that this Study is not completed by the 
death of Esther and of Lucien; Jacques Collin and Asie, 
Europe and Paccard, in spite of their villainous lives, may 
have been interesting enough to make their fate a matter of 
curiosity. 

The last act of the drama will also complete the picture 
of life which this Study is intended to present, and give the 
issue of various interests which Lucien's career had strangely 
tangled by bringing some ignoble personages from the hulks 
into contact with those of the highest rank. 

Thus, as may be seen, the greatest events of life find their 
expression in the more or less veracious gossip of the Paris 
papers. And this is the case with many things of greater 
importance than are here recorded. 



END OF PART I. 



SCENES FROM A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

(CONCLUDED) 
AND 

THE GOVERNMENT CLERKS 



INTRODUCTION 

As has been noted in the Introduction to the first volume 
of the Splendeurs et Miseres des Courtisanes, La deniiere 
Incarnation de Vautrin, though forming, according to the 
author's conception, an integral part of that work, stands in 
more ways than one aloof from it. It was much later written 
than the earlier parts, except Ou menent les mauvais Chemins, 
and it was later written even than that. Moreover, it marks 
in two different ways a much maturer stage of the author's 
ideas as to heroic convicts — a stage in which, I think, it is 
not fanciful to detect a considerable reduction of the 
gigantesque element and a substitution of something else 
for it. 

We may note this in two ways. In the earlier conception 
of the matter, as exemplified chiefly in Ferragus and Le Pere 
Goriot, the heroic element considerably dominates the prac- 
tical. In the one Balzac had shown an ex-convict defying 
society and executing a sort of private justice or injustice, 
just as he pleased. In the other he had adopted (and had 
maintained still later in an apologetic epistle to a newspaper 
editor, which will be found in his works) a notion of the 
criminal as of a sort of puissance du mal pervading and 
dominating society itself. In the present book, or section of 
a book, which, it must never be forgotten, was one of his 
very latest, things are adjusted to a much more actual level. 
The thieves'-latin which it contains is only an indirect symp- 
tom of this. Ainsworth in England and others in France had 

(ix) 



X INTRODUCTION 

anticipated him notably in this. But indirectly it shows us 
that he had come down many stages from his earlier heights. 
Bourignard and the early Vautrin worked in clouds, afar 
and apart; they had little to do with actual life: in La 
derniere Incarnation de Vautrin we find ourselves face to 
face with the actual, or only slightly "disrealized" realities 
of convict life. Some of these details may be disgusting, 
but most of them, as we know from unromantic authorities, 
are tolerably true; and where truth is, there, with an artist 
like Balzac, art never fails. It is the drawback of the youth- 
ful poet or novelist that he is insufficiently provided with 
veracity, of the aging novelist or poet that inspiration and 
the faculty of turning fact into great fiction fail him. But 
there was no danger of this latter with the author, at nearly 
twenty years' interval, of Le dernier Chouan and La Cousine 
Bette. He could only gain by the dispelling of illusion, and 
he could not lose by the practice of his craft. 

Another and still more interesting mark of resipiscence is 
conveyed in the practical defeat of Vautrin and in his deser- 
tion to the side of society itself, which, we are given to un- 
derstand, he never afterwards left, nor less perhaps in the 
virtual rebuff which Corentin (another hcros du mal of the 
older time) receives at the end. The old betrayer of Mile, 
de Verneuil is told in so many words that he can be dispensed 
Avith ; the old enemy of society has to take its wages ; the funds 
of la haute pegre are squandered on Lucien de Eubempre, 
just as any foolish heir might squander them, and the whole 
scheme of a conspiracy against order breaks down. True, 
Madame de Maufrigneuse and Madame de Serizy get their 
letters; but that is neither here nor there. 

The most interesting scene in the book, I suppose, is that 



INTRODUCTION xi 

in which the scheme of the prison authorities for trapping 
Vautrin fails by dint of his adroitness, and the command 
of a strong mind over a weak one, as between him and the 
other convicts, to whom he had been a fraudulent trustee. 
It is not free from unsavory details, but the mastery of it 
quite exceeds its repulsiveness. It is worth noting, too, that 
Balzac shows how thoroughly he has mastered the principles 
of his art by intermixing this very success with evidences of 
Vautrin's humanity after all. And of minor details there is 
not, I think, one more interesting in the book, while there 
are few more interesting in all Balzac, than the fact that in 
the opening interview between Camusot and his wife the 
author borrows from Guy Mannering the incident of Pleydell's 
discovering the importance of Dirk Hatteraick's pocketbook 
by the play of his countenance as his examiner passes from 
that to other things, and vice versa. The fact is that Balzac 
was to the very last an ardent devotee of Sir Walter, and that 
— like all great novelists, I think, without exception, but not 
like M. Zola and some other persons both abroad and at home 
— he was perfectly alive to the fact that Scott's workmanship, 
his analysis, his knowledge of human nature, and his use 
of it, are about as far from superficiality as the equator is 
from the pole. In construction and in style Scott was careless, 
and as it happens, Balzac was in neither respect impeccable. 
But in other ways the pupil had, and knew that he had, little 
advantage over the master except in a certain parade of 
motives and details, as well as (though not to a very great 
extent) in a greater comprehension of passion, and, of course, 
to a much greater extent in liberty of exhibiting that com- 
prehension. Let us read Balzac and admire Balzac as much 
as possible ; but when any one talks of Scott as shallow in 



xil INTRODUCTION 

comparison with Balzac, let us leave the answer to Balzac 
himself. 

(For bibliography, see Introduction to Splendeurs et 
Miseres des Courtisanes.) 



The long piece entitled Les Employes, which fills nearly 
two-thirds of the volume, has rather dubious claims to be 
called a novel or a story at all. Balzac, either from the fact 
of his father having been employed in the civil department of 
the array, or because he had been destined himself by kind 
family friends to the rond-de-cuir (the office-stool), or be- 
cause he was a typical Frenchman — for while half the French 
nation sits on these stools, the other half divides its time be- 
tween laughing at them and envying them — was always ex- 
ceedingly intent on the ways and manners of government 
offices. One of the least immature scenes of his CEuvres de 
Jeimesse, the opening passage of Argow le Pirate, concerns 
the subject. The collection of his CEuvres Diverses, only of 
late years opened to the explorer who has less than libraries 
at his command, contains repeated returns to it, of which the 
Physiologie de UEmploye was the l)est known and most 
popular; and the novels proper are full of dealings with it. 
Tn this particular piece, indeed, Balzac has actually in- 
corporated something from his earlier Physiologie, and has 
thus made it even less of a story than it was when it first ap- 
peared under the title of La Femme Superieure. In that 
condition it Avas divided into three parts — Entre deux 
Femmes, Les Bureaux, and A qui la place. The later shape, 
with the additions just referred to, tended to overweight the 
middle part still more at the expense of the two ends; and 



INTRODUCTION xlll 

as it stands, it is little more than a criticism, partly in argu- 
ment, partly in dialogue, of administration and adminis- 
trative methods, with a certain slight personal interest at 
both ends. 

Les Employes was originally dated July 1836. It ap- 
peared in the Presse just a year after its composition, but 
was then called La Femme Superieure, which name it kept 
on its publication by Werdet as a book in 1838. It was here 
enlarged, and had La Torpille (the first title of Esther or 
Comment aiment les Filles) and La Maison Nucingen for 
companions. There were, as usual, chapter divisions and 
titles. At its first appearance in the Comedie, the actual 
title and La Femme Superieure were given as alternatives, 
but later Les Employes displaced the other. 

G. S. 



SCENES FROM A COURTESAN'S LIFE 



VAUTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 

"What is it, Madeleine?" asked Madame Camusot, seeing 
her maid come into the room with the particular air that ser- 
vants assume in critical moments. 

"Madame," said Madeleine, "monsieur has just come in 
from Court ; but he looks so upset, and is in such a state, that 
I think perhaps it would be well for you to go to his room." 

"Did he say anything?" asked Madame Camusot. 

"No, madame; but we never have seen monsieur look like 
that ; he looks as if he were going to be ill, his face is yellow — 
he seems all to pieces " 

Madame Camusot waited for no more; she rushed out of 
her room and flew to her husband's study. She found the 
lawyer sitting in an armchair, pale and dazed, his legs 
stretched out, his head against the back of it, his hands hang- 
ing limp, exactly as if he were sinking into idiotcy. 

"What is the matter, my dear?" said the young woman in 
alarm. 

"Oh ! my poor Amelie, the most dreadful thing has hap- 
pened — I am still trembling. Imagine, the public prosecutor 
— no, Madame de Serizy — that is — I do not know where to 
begin." 

"Begin at the end," said Madame Camusot. 

"Well, just as Monsieur Popinot, in the council room of 
the first Court, had put the last signature to the ruling of 
'insufficient cause' for the apprehension of Lucien de Ru- 
bempre on the ground of my report, setting him at liberty — 
in fact, the whole thing was done, the clerk was going off with 
the minute book, and I was quit of the whole business — the 

(1) 



2 A COURTESAN'S LIFE » 

President of the Court came in and took up the papers. 'You 
are releasing a dead man,' said he, with chilly irony; 'the 
young man is gone, as Monsieur de Bonald says, to appear 
before his natural Judge. He died of apoplexy ' 

"I breathed again, thinking it was sudden illness. 

" 'As I understand you, Monsieur le President,' said Mon- 
sieur Popinot, 'it is a case of apoplexy like Pichegru's.' 

" 'Gentlemen,' said the President then*, very gravely, 'you 
must please to understand that for the outside world Lucien 
de Rubempre died of an aneurism.' 

"We all looked at each other. 'Very great people arc con- 
cerned in this deplorable business,' said the President. 'God 
grant for your sake. Monsieur Camusot, though you did no 
less than your duty, that ]\radame de Serizy may not go mad 
from the shock she has had. She was carried away almost 
dead. I have just met our public prosecutor in a painful state 
of despair.' — 'You have made a mess of it, my dear Camusot,' 
he added in my ear. — I assure you, my dear, as I came away 
I could hardly stand. My legs shook so that I dared not 
venture into the street. I went back to my room to rest. 
Then Coquart, who was putting away the papers of this 
wretched case, told me that a very handsome woman had taken 
the Conciergerie by storm, wanting to save Lucien, whom she 
was quite crazy about, and that she fainted away on seeing 
him hanging by his necktie to the window-bar of his room. 
The idea that the way in which I questioned that unhappy 
young fellow — who, between ourselves, was guilty in many 
ways — can have led to his committing suicide has haunted 
me ever since I left the Palais, and I feel constantly on the 
point of fainting " 

"What next ? Are you going to think yourself a murderer 
because a suspected criminal hangs himself in prison just as 
you were about to release him?" cried Madame Camusot. 
"Why, an examining judge in such a case is like a general 
whose horse is killed under him ! — That is all." 

"Such a comparison, my dear, is at best but a jest, and 
jesting is out of place now. In this case the dead man 



VAin^RIN'S r.AST AVATAR 3 

chitchpp the living. All our hopes are buried in Lucien's 
cotfiu." 

"Indeed?" said Madame Camusot, with deep irony. 

"Yes, my career is closed. I shall be no more than an 
examining judge all my life. Before this fatal termination 
Monsieur de Granville was annoyed at the turn the prelimi- 
naries had taken; his speech to our President makes me quite 
certain that so long as Monsieur de Granville is public prose- 
cutor I shall get no promotion." 

Promotion ! The terrible thought, which in these days 
makes a judge a mere functionary. 

Formerly a magistrate was made at once what he was to 
remain. The three or four presidents' caps satisfied the am- 
bitions of lawyers in each Parlement. An appointment as 
councillor was enough for a de Brosses or a Mole, at Dijon 
as much as in Paris. This office, in itself a fortune, required 
a fortune brought to it to keep it up. 

In Paris, outside the Parlement, men of the long robe could 
hope only for three supreme appointments: those of Con- 
troller-General, Keeper of the Seals, or Chancellor. Below 
the Parlement, in the lower grades, the president of a lower 
Court thought himself quite of sufficient importance to be 
content to fill his chair to the end of his days. 

Compare the position of a councillor in the High Court of 
Justice in Paris, in 1829, who has nothing but his salary, 
with that of a councillor to the Parlement in 1729. How 
great is the difference ! In these days, when money is the 
universal social guarantee, magistrates are not required to 
have — as they used to have — fine private fortunes: hence we 
see deputies and peers of France heaping office on office, at 
once magistrates and legislators, borrowing dignity from 
other positions than those which ought to give them all their 
importance. 

In short, a magistrate tries to distinguish himself for pro- 
motion as men do in the army, or in a Government office. 

This prevailing thought, even if it does not affect his inde- 
pendence, is so well known and so natural, and its effects are 



4 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

SO evident, that the law inevitably loses some of its majesty 
in the eyes of the public. And, in fact, the salaries paid by 
the State makes priests and magistrates mere employes. Steps 
to be gained foster ambition, ambition engenders subservience 
to power, and modern equality places the judge and the per- 
son to be judged in the same category at the bar of society. 
And so the two pillars of social order. Religion and Justice, 
are lowered in this nineteenth century, which asserts itself 
as progressive in all things. 

"And why should you never be promoted?" said Amelie 
Camusot. 

She looked half-jestingly at her husband, feeling the ne- 
cessity of reviving the energies of the man who embodied her 
ambitions, and on whom she could play as on an instrument. 

"Why despair?" she went on, with a shrug that suffi- 
ciently expressed her indifference as to the prisoner's end. 
"This suicide will delight Lucien's two enemies, Madame 
d'Espard and her cousin, the Comtesse du Chatelet. Madame 
d'Espard is on the best terms with the Keeper of the Seals ; 
through her you can get an audience of His Excellency and 
tell him all the secrets of this business. Then, if the head of 
the law is on your side, what have you to fear from the presi- 
dent of your Court or the public prosecutor?" 

"But, Monsieur and Madame de Serizy?" cried the poor 
man. "Madame de Serizy is gone mad, I tell you, and her 
madness is my doing, they say." 

"Well, if she is out of her mind, judge devoid of judg- 
ment," said Madame Camusot, laughing, "she can do you no 
harm. — Come, tell me all the incidents of the day." 

"Bless me !" said Camusot, "just as I had cross-questioned 
the unhappy youth, and he had deposed that the self-styled 
Spanish priest is really Jacques Collin, the Duchesse de 
Maufrigneuse and Madame de Serizy sent me a note by a ser- 
vant begging me not to examine him. It was all over ! " 

"But you must have lost your head !" said Amelie. "What 
was to prevent you, being so sure as you are of your clerk's 
fidelity, from calling Lueien back, reassuring him cleverly, 
and revisinff the examination?" 



VAUTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 5 

"Why, you are as bad as Madame de Serizy; you laugh 
justice to scorn," said Camusot, who was incapable of flouting 
his profession. "Madame de Serizy seized the minutes and 
threw them into the fire." 

"That is the right sort of woman ! Bravo !" cried Madame 
Camusot. 

"Madame de Serizy declared she would sooner see the 
Palais blown up than leave a young man who had enjoyed the 
favors of the Duchesse de Maufrigneuse and her own to stand 
at the bar of a Criminal Court by the side of a convict !" 

"But, Camusot," said Amelie, unable to suppress a superior 
smile, "your position is splendid " 

"Ah ! yes, splendid !" 

"You did your duty." 

"But all wrong ; and in spite of the Jesuitical advice of 
Monsieur de Granville, who met me on the Quai Malaquais." 

"This morning !" 

"This morning." 

"At what hour ?" 

"At nine o'clock." 

"Oh, Camusot !" cried Amelie, clasping and wringing her 
hands, "and I am always imploring you to be constantly on 
the alert. — Good heavens ! it is not a man, but a barrow-load 
of stones that I have to drag on ! — Why, Camusot, your public 
prosecutor was waiting for you. — He must have given you 
some warning." 

"Yes indeed " 

"And you failed to understand him ! If you are so deaf, ^ 
you will indeed be an examining judge all your life without ^ 
any knowledge whatever of the question. — At any rate, have 
sense enough to listen to me," she went on, silencing her hus- 
band, who was about to speak. "You think the matter is done 
for?" she asked. 

Camusot looked at his wife as a country bumpkin looks at 
a conjurer. 

"If the Duchesse de Maufrigneuse and Madame de Serizy 
are compromised, you will find them both ready to patronize 



6 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

you," said Amelie. "'Madame de Serizy will get you admis- 
sion to the Keeper of the Seals, and you will tell him the 
secret history of the affair ; then he will amuse the King with 
the story, for sovereigns always wish to see the wrong side of 
the tapestry and to know the real meaning of the events the 
public stare at open-mouthed. Henceforth there will be no 
cause to fear either the public prosecutor or Monsieur de 
Serizy." 

"What a treasure such a wife is !" cried the lawyer, pluck- 
ing up courage. "After all, I have unearthed Jacques Collin ; 
I shall send him to his account at the Assize Court and un- 
mask his crimes. Such a trial is a triumph in the career of an 
examining judge !" 

"Camusot," Amelie began, pleased to see her husband rally 
from the moral and physical prostration into which he had 
been thrown by Lucien's suicide, "the President told you that 
you had blundered to the wrong side. Xow you are blunder- 
ing as much to the other — you are losing your way again, my 
dear." 

The magistrate stood up, looking at his wife with a stupid 
stare. 

"The King and the Keeper of the Seals will be glad, no 
doubt, to know the truth of this business, and at the same 
time much annoyed at seeing the lawyers on the Liberal side 
dragging important persons to the bar of opinion and of the 
Assize Court by their special pleading — such people as the 
Maufrigneuses, the Serizys, and the Grandlieus, in short, all 
who are directly or indirectly mixed up with this case." 

"They are all in it ; I have them all !" cried Camusot. 

And Camusot walked up and down the room like Sganarelle 
on the stage when he is trying to get out of a scrape. 

"Listen, Amelie," said he, standing in front of his wife. 
"An incident recurs to my mind, a trifle in itself, but, in my 
position, of vital importance. 

"Realize, my dear, that this Jacques Collin is a giant of 
cunning, of dissimulation, of deceit. — He is — what shall I 
sav ? — the Cromwell of the hulks I — I never met such a scoun- 



VAUTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 7 

drel ; he almost took me in. — But in examining a criminal, 
a little end of thread leads you to find a ball, is a clue to the 
investigation of the darkest consciences and obscurest facts. — 
When Jacques Collin saw me turning over the letters seized in 
Lucien de Eubempre's lodgings, the villain glanced at them 
with the evident intention of seeing whether some particular 
packet were among them, and he allowed himself to give a 
visible expression of satisfaction. This look, as of a thief 
valuing his booty, this movement, as of a man in danger 
saying to himself, 'My weapons are safe,' betrayed a world of 
things. 

"Only you women, besides us and our examinees, can in a 
single flash epitomize a whole scene, revealing trickery as 
complicated as safety-locks. Volumes of suspicion may thus 
be communicated in a second. It is terrifying — life or death 
lies in a wink. 

"Said I to myself, 'The rascal has more letters in his hands 
than these !' — Then the other details of the case filled my 
mind ; I overlooked the incident, for I thought I should have 
my men face to face, and clear up this point afterwards. 
But it may be considered as quite certain that Jacques Collin, 
after the fashion of such wretches, has hidden in some safe 
place the most compromising of the young fellow's letters, 
adored as he was by " 

"And yet you are afraid, Camusot? Wh}^ you will be 
President of the Supreme Court much sooner than I ex- 
pected !" cried Madame Camusot, her face beaming. "Now, 
then, you must proceed so as to give satisfaction to everybod}', 
for the matter is looking so serious that it might quite possi- 
bly be snatched from us. — Did they not take the proceedings 
out of Popinot's hands to place them in ^^ours when Madame 
d'Espard tried to get a Commission in Lunacy to incapacitate 
her husband ?" she added, in reply to her husband's gesture of 
astonishment. "Well, then, might not the public prosecutor, 
who takes such keen interest in the honor of Monsieur and 
Madame de Serizy, carry the case to the Upper Court and get 
a councillor in his interest to open a fresh inquiry?" 



8 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"Bless me, my dear, where did j'ou study criminal law?" 
cried Camusot. "You know everything; you can give me 
points." 

"Why, do yoii believe that, by to-morrow morning, Mon- 
sieur de Granville will not have taken fright at the possible 
line of defence that might be adopted by some liberal advo- 
cate whom Jacques Collin would manage to secure; for law- 
yers will be ready to pay him to place the case in their hands ! 
— And those ladies know their danger quite as well as you do 
— not to say better; they will put themselves under the pro- 
tection of the public prosecutor, who already sees their fam- 
ilies unpleasantly close to the prisoner's bench, as a conse- 
quence of the coalition between this convict and Lucien de 
Rubempre, betrothed to Mademoiselle de Grandlieu — Lucien, 
Esther's lover, Madame de Maufrigneuse's former lover, Ma- 
dame de Serizy's darling. So you must conduct the affair in 
such a way as to conciliate the favor of your public prosecutor, 
the gratitude of Monsieur de Serizy, and that of the Marquise 
d'Espard and the Comtesse du Chatelet, to reinforce j\Iadame 
de Maufrigneuse's influence by that of the Grandlieus, and to 
gain the complimentary approval of your President. 

"I will undertake to deal with the ladies — d'Espard, de 
Maufrigneuse, and de Grandlieu. 

"You must go to-morrow morning to see the public prose- 
cutor. Monsieur de Granville is a man who does not live with 
his wife ; for ten years he had for his mistress a Mademoiselle 
de Bellefeuille, who bore him illegitimate children — didn't 
she ? Well, such a magistrate is no saint ; he is a man like any 
other ; he can be won over ; he must give a hold somewhere ; 
you must discover the weak spot and flatter him ; ask his ad- 
vice, point out the dangers attending the case; in short, try 
to get him into the same boat, and you will be " 

"I ought to kiss your footprints !" exclaimed Camusot, in- 
terrupting his wife, putting his arm round her, and pressing 
her to his heart. "Amelie, you have saved me !" 

"I brought you in tow from Aleneon to Mantes, and from 
Mantes to the Metropolitan Court," replied Amelie. "Well, 



t^ VAUTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 9 

well, be quite easy ! — I intend to be called Madame la Presi- 
dente within five years' time. But, my dear, pray always 
think over everything a long time before you come to any 
determination. A judge's business is not that of a fireman; 
your papers are never in a blaze, you have plenty of time to 
think ; so in your place blunders are inexcusable." 

"The whole strength of my position lies in identifying the 
sham Spanish priest with Jacques Collin," the judge said, 
after a long pause. "When once that identity is established, 
even if the Bench should take .the credit of the whole affair, 
that will still be an ascertained fact which no magistrate, 
judge, or councillor can get rid of. I shall do like the boys 
who tie a tin kettle to a cat's tail; the inquiry, whoever car- 
ries it on, will make Jacques Collin's tin kettle clank." 

"Bravo !" said Amelie. 

"And the public prosecutor would rather come to an under- 
standing with me than with any one else, since I am the only 
man who can remove the Damocles' sword that hangs over the 
heart of the Faubourg Saint-Germain. 

"Only you have no idea how hard it will be to achieve that 
magnificent result. Just now, when I was with Monsieur de 
Granville in his private office, we agreed, he and I, to take 
Jacques Collin at his own valuation — a canon of the Chapter 
of Toledo, Carlos Herrera. We consented to recognize his 
position as a diplomatic envoy, and allow him to be claimed 
by the Spanish Embassy. It was in consequence of this plan 
that I made out the papers by which Lucien de Eubempre 
was released, and revised the minutes of the examinations, 
washing the prisoners as white as snow. 

"To-morrow, Eastignac, Bianchon, and some others are 
to be confronted with the self-styled Canon of Toledo; they 
will not recognize him as Jacques Collin who was arrested in 
their presence ten years since in a cheap boarding-house, 
where they knew him under the name of Vautrin." 

There was a short silence, while Madame Camusot sat 
thinking. 

"Are you sure your man is Jacques Collin ?" she asked. 



10 A COURTESAN'S I>IFE 

"Positive," said the lawyer, "and so is the public prose- 
cutor/' 

*^Vell, then, try to make some exposure at the Palais de 
Justice without showing your claws too much under your 
furred cat's paws. If your man is still in the secret cells, 
go straight to the Governor of the Conciergerie and contrive 
to have the convict publicly identified. Instead of behaving 
like a child, act like the ministers of police under despotic 
governments, who invent conspiracies against the monarch to 
have the credit of discovering them and making themselves 
indispensable. Put three families in danger to have the glory 
of rescuing them." 

"That luckiW reminds me I" cried Camusot. "My brain is 
so bewildered that I had quite forgotten an important point. 
The instructions to place Jacques Collin in a private room 
were taken by Coquart to Monsieur Gault, the Governor of 
the prison. Now, Bibi-Lupin, Jacques Collin's great enemy, 
has taken steps to have three criminals, who know the man, 
transferred from La Force to the Conciergerie ; if he appears 
in the prison-yard to-morrow, a terrific scene is expected " 

"Why?" 

"Jacques Collin, my dear, was treasurer of the money 
owned by the prisoners in the hulks, amounting to consider- 
able sums ; now, he is supposed to have spent it all to maintain 
the deceased Lucien in luxury, and he will be called to account. 
There will be such a battle, Bibi-Lupin tells me, as will re- 
quire the intervention of the warders, and the secret will be 
-out. Jacques Collin's life is in danger. 

"Now, if I get to the Palais early enough I may record the 
evidence of identity." 

"Oh, if only his creditors should take him off your hands ! 
You would be thought such a clever fellow ! — Do not go to 
Monsieur de Granville's room ; wait for him in his Court with 
that formidable great gun. It is a loaded cannon turned on 
the three most important families of the Court and Peerage. 
Be bold: propose to Monsieur de Granville that he should 
relieve you of Jacques Collin by transferring him to La Force, 



VAUTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 11 

where the convicts know how to deal with those who betray 
them. 

"I will go to the Duchesse de Maufrigneuse, who will take 
me to the Grandlieus. Possibly I may see Monsieur de 
Serizy. Trust me to sound the alarm everywhere. Above all, 
send me a word we will agree upon to let me know if the 
Spanish priest is officially recognized as Jacques Collin. Get 
your business at the Palais over by two o'clock, and I will have 
arranged for you to have an interview with the Keeper of the 
Seals ; perhaps I may find him with the Marquise d'Espard." 

Camusot stood squarely with a look of admiration that 
made his knowing wife smile. 

"Now, come to dinner and be cheerful," said she in conclu- 
sion. "Why, you see ! We have been only two years in Paris, 
and here you are on the highroad to be made Councillor be- 
fore the end of the year. From that to the Presidency of a 
Court, my dear, there is no gulf but what some political ser- 
vice may bridge." 

This conjugal sitting shows how greatly the deeds and 
the lightest words of Jacques Collin, the lowest personage in 
this drama, involved the honor of the families among whom 
he had planted his now dead protege. 

At the Conciergerie Lucien's death and Madame de Serizy's 
incursion had produced such a block in the wheels of the 
machinery that the Governor had forgotten to remove the 
sham priest from his dungeon-cell. 

Though more than one instance is on record of the death 
of a prisoner during his preliminary examination, it was a 
sufficiently rare event to disturb the warders, the clerk, and 
the Governor, and hinder their working with their usual 
serenity. At the same time, to them the important fact was 
not the handsome young fellow so suddenly become a corpse, 
but the breakage of the wrought-iron bar of the outer prison 
gate by the frail hands of a fine lady. And indeed, as soon as 
the public prosecutor and Comte Octave de Bauvan had gone 
off with Monsieur de Serizy and his unconscious wife, the 



12 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

Governor, clerk, and turnkeys gathered round the gate, after 
letting out Monsieur Lebrun, the prison doctor, who had been 
called in to certify to Lucien's death, in concert with the 
"death doctor" of the district in which the unfortunate youth 
had been lodging. 

In Paris, the "death doctor"' is the medical officer whose 
duty it is in each district to register deaths and certify to their 
causes. 

With the rapid insight for which he was known, Monsieur 
de Granville had judged it necessary, for the honor of the 
families concerned, to have the certificate of Lucien's death 
deposited at the Mairie of the district in which the Quai Mala- 
quais lies, as the deceased had resided there, and to have the 
body carried from his lodgings to the Church of Saint-Ger- 
main des Pres, where the service was to be held. Monsieur de 
Chargebcfiuf, Monsieur de Granville's private secretary, had 
orders to this effect. The body was to be transferred from 
the prison during the night. The secretary was desired to go 
at once and settle matters at the Mairie with the parish au- 
thorities and with the official undertakers. Thus, to the 
world in general, Lucien would have died at liberty in his 
own lodgings, the funeral would start from thence, and his 
friends would be invited there for the ceremony. 

So, when Camusot, his mind at ease, was sitting down to 
dinner with his ambitious better-half, the Governor of the 
Conciergerie and Monsieur Lebrun, the prison doctor, were 
standing outside the gate bewailing the fragility of iron bars 
and the strength of ladies in love. 

"aSTo one knows," said the doctor to Monsieur Gault, "what 
an amount of nervous force there is in a man wound up to 
the highest pitch of passion. Dynamics and mathematics 
have no formulas or symbols to express that power. Why, 
only yesterday, I witnessed an experiment which gave me a 
shudder, and which accounts for the terrible physical strength 
put forth just now by that little woman." 

"Tell me about it," said Monsieur Gault, "for I am so fool- 
ish as to take an interest in magnetism ; I do not believe in it, 
but it mystifies me." 



VAUTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 13 

"A physician who magnetizes — for there are men among 
ns who believe in magnetism," Lebrun went on, "offered to 
experiment on me in proof of a phenomenon that he described 
and I doubted. Curious to see with my own eyes one of the 
strange states of nervous tension by which the existence of 
magnetism is demonstrated, I consented. 

"These are the facts. — I should very much like to know 
what our College of Medicine would say if each of its mem- 
bers in turn were subjected to this influence, which leaves no 
loophole for incredulity. 

"My old friend — this doctor," said Doctor Lebrun paren- 
thetically, "is an old man persecuted for his opinions since 
Mesmers time by all the faculty ; he is seventy or seventy-two 
years of age, and his name is^ouyard.-^^ At the present day 
he is the patriarchal representative of the theory of animal 
magnetism. This good man regards me as a son; I owe my 
training to him. — Well, this worthy old Bouvard it was who 
proposed to prove to me that nerve-force put in motion by the 
magnetizer was, not indeed infinite, for man is under immuta- 
ble laws, but a power acting like other powers of nature whose 
elemental essence escapes our observation. 

" 'For instance,' said he, 'if you place your hand in that of 
a somnambulist who, when awake, can press it only up to a 
certain average of tightness, you will see that in the somnam- 
bulistic state — as it is stupidly termed — his fingers can clutch 
like a vise screwed up by a blacksmith.' — Well, monsieur, I 
placed my hand in that of a woman, not asleep, for Bouvard 
rejects the word, but isolated, and when the old man bid her 
squeeze my wrist as long and as tightly as she could, I begged 
him to stop when the blood was almost bursting from my 
finger tips. Look, you can see the mark of her clutch, which 
I shall not lose for these three months." 

"The deuce !" exclaimed Monsieur Gault, as he saw a band 
of bruised flesh, looking like the sear of a burn. 

"My dear Gault," the doctor went on, "if my wrist had 
been gripped in an iron manacle screwed tight by a locksmith, 
I should not have felt the bracelet of metal so hard as that 



14 A COURTESANS LIFE 

woman's fingers ; her hand was of unyielding steel, and I am 
convinced that she could have crushed my bones and broken 
my hand from the wrist. The pressure, beginning almost in- 
sensibly, increased without relaxing, fresh force being con- 
stantly added to the former grip ; a tourniquet could not have 
been more effectual than that hand used as an instrument of 
torture. — To me, therefore, it seems proven that under the 
influence of passion, which is the will concentrated on one 
point and raised to an incalculable power of animal force, 
as the different varieties of electric force are also, man may 
direct his whole vitalit}^, whether for attack or resistance, to 
one of his organs. — N^ow, this little lady, under the stress of 
her despair, had concentrated her vital force in her hands."' 

"She must have a good deal too, to break a wrought-iron 
bar," said the chief warder, with a shake of the head. 

"There was a flaw in it,*' Monsieur Gault observed. 

"For my part," said the doctor, "I dare assign no limits 
to nervous force. And indeed it is by this that mothers, to 
save their children, can magnetize lions, climb, in a fire, along 
a parapet where a cat would not venture, and endure the tor- 
ments that sometimes attend childbirth. In this lies the 
secret of the attempts made by convicts and prisoners to re- 
gain their liberty. The extent of our vital energies is as yet 
unknown; they are part of the energy of nature itself, and 
we draw them from unknown reservoirs." 

"Monsieur," said the warder in an undertone to the Gov- 
ernor, coming close to him as he was escorting Doctor Ijcbrun 
as far as the outer gates of the Conciergerie, "jSTiynber 2 in 
the secret cells says he is ill, and needs the doctor ; he declares 
he is dying," added the turnkey. 

"Indeed," said the Governor. 

"His breath rattles in his throat," replied the man. 

"It is five o'clock," said the doctor ; "I have l)ad no dinner. 
But, after all, here I am at hand. Come, let us see." 

"Number 2, as it happens, is the Spanish priest suspected 
of being Jacques Collin," said Monsieur Gault to the doctor, 
"and one of the persons suspected of the crime in which that 
poor young man was implicated." 



VAUTRIN'S TvAST AVATAR 15 

"I saw him. this morning," replied the doctor. "Monsieur 
Camusot sent for me to give evidence as to the state of the 
rascal's health, and I may assure you that he is perfectly well, 
and could make a fortune by playing the part of Hercules in 
a troupe of athletes." 

"Perhaps he wants to kill himself too," said Monsieur 
Gault. "Let us both go down to the cells together, for I 
ought to go there if only to transfer him to an upper room. 
Monsieur Camusot has given orders to mitigate this anony- 
mous gentleman's confinement." 

Jacques Collin, known as Trompe-la-Mort in the world of 
the hulks, who must henceforth be called only by his real 
name, had gone through terrible distress of mind since, after 
hearing Camusot's order, he had been taken back to the under- 
ground cell — an anguish such as he had never before known 
in the course of a life diversified by many crimes, by three 
escapes, and two sentences at the Assizes. And is there not 
something monstrously fine in the dog-like attachment shown 
to the man he had made his friend by this wretch in whom 
were concentrated all the life, the powers, the spirit, and the 
passions of the hulks, who Was, so to speak, their highest ex- 
pression ? 

Wicked, infamous, and in so many ways horrible, this abso- 
lute worship of his idol makes him so truly interesting that 
this Study, long as it is already, would seem incomplete and 
cut short if the close of this criminal career did not come as a 
sequel to Lucien de Rubempre's end. The little spaniel being 
dead, we want to know whether his terrible playfellow the 
lion will live on. 

In real life, in society, every event is so inevitably linked 
to other events, that one cannot occur without the rest. The 
water of the great river forms a sort of fluid floor; not a 
wave, however rebellious, however high it may toss itself, but 
its powerful crest must sink to the level of the mass of waters, 
stronger by the momentum of its course than the revolt of the 
surges it bears with it. 

And just as you watch the current flow, seeing in it a con- 



16 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

fused sheet of images, so perhaps you would like to measure 
the pressure exerted by social energy on the vortex called 
Vautrin ; to see how far away the rebellious eddy will be car- 
ried ere it is lost, and what the end will be of this really dia- 
bolical man, human still by the power of loving — so hardly 
can that heavenly grace perish, even in the most cankered 
heart. 

This wretched convict, embodying the poem that has smiled 
on many a poet's fancy — on Moore, on Lord Byron, on Ma- 
thurin, on Canalis — the demon who has drawn an angel down 
to hell to refresh him with dews stolen from heaven, — this 
Jacques Collin will be seen, by the reader who has understood 
that iron soul, to have sacrificed his own life for seven years 
past. His vast powers, absorbed in Lucien, acted solely for 
Lucien ; he lived in his progress, his loves, his ambitions. To 
him Lucien was his own soul made visible. 

It was Trompe-la-Mort who dined with the Grandlieus, 
stole into ladies" boudoirs, and loved Esther by proxy. In 
fact, in Lucien he saw Jacques Collin, young, handsome, 
noble, and rising to the dignity of an ambassador. 

Trompe-la-]\Iort had realized the German superstition of a 
doppelganger -hj means of a spiritual paternity, a phenome- 
non which will be quite intelligible to those women who have 
ever truly loved, who have felt their soul merge in that of the 
man they adore, who have lived his life, whether noble or 
infamous, happy or unhappy, obscure or brilliant ; who, in 
defiance of distance, have felt a pain in their leg if he were 
wounded in his ; who if he fought a duel have been aware of 
it ; and who, to put the matter in a nutshell, did not need to 
be told he was unfaithful to know it. 

As he went back to his cell, Jacques Collin said to himself, 
"The boy is being examined." 

And he shivered — he who thought no more of killing a 
man than a laborer does of drinking. 

"Has he been able to see his mistresses?" he wondered. 
"Has my aunt succeeded in catching those damned females? 
Have these Duchesses and Countesses bestirred themselves 



VATTTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 17 

and prevented his being examined ? Has Lncien had my in- 
structions? And if ill-luck will have it that he is cross- 
questioned, how will he carry it ofE? Poor boy, and I have 
brought him to this ! It is that rascal Paccard and that 
sneak Europe who have caused all this rumpus by collaring 
the seven hundred and fifty thousand francs for the certificate 
Nucingen gave Esther. That precious pair tripped us up at 
the last step ; but I will make them pay dear for their pranks. q- 

"One day more and Lucien would have been a rich man; ^ . 
he might have married his Clotilde de Grandlieu. — Then tlie (^ ' 
boy would have been all my own ! — And to think that our iate--^ o 
depends on a look, on a blush of Lucien's under Camusot's 
eye, who sees everything, and has all a judge's wits about him ! 
For when he showed me the letters we tipped each other a 
wink in which we took each other's measure, and he guessed 
that I can make Lucien's lady-loves fork out." 

This soliloquy lasted for three hours. His torments were 
so great that they were too much for that frame of iron and 
vitriol ; Jacques Collin, whose brain felt on fire with insanity, 
suffered such fearful thirst that he unconsciously drank up 
all the water contained in one of the pails with which the 
cell was supplied, forming, with the bed, all its furniture. 

"If he loses his head, what will become of him? — for the 
poor child has not Theodore's tenacity," said he to himself, as 
he lay down on the camp-bed — like a bed in a guard-room. 

A word must here be said about this Theodore, remembered 
by Jacques Collin at such a critical moment. Theodore Calvi, 
a young Corsican, imprisoned for life at the age of eighteen 
for eleven murders, thanks to influential interference paid for 
with vast sums, had been made the fellow convict of Jacques 
Collin, to whom he was chained, in 1819 and 1820. Jacques 
Collin's last escape, one of his finest inventions — for he had 
got out disguised as a gendarme leading Theodore Calvi as he 
was, a convict called before the commissary of police — had 
been effected in the seaport of Rochefort, where the convicts 
die by dozens, and where, it was hoped, these two danger- 



IS A COFRTESAX'S lAFK 



>' 



>^' 



ous rascals would have ended their days. Though they es- 
caped together, the difficulties of their flight had forced them 
to separate. Theodore was caught and restored to the hulks. 

After getting to Spain and metamorphosing himself into 
Don Carlos Herrera, Jacques Collin was on his way to look 
for his Corsican at Eochefort, when he met Lucien on the 
banks of the Charente. The hero of the banditti of the Cor- 
sican scrub, to whom Trompe-la-Mort owed his knowledge of 
Italian, was of course sacrificed to the new idol. 

Indeed, a life with Lucien, a youth innocent of all crime, 
who had only minor sins on his conscience, dawned on him 
as bright and glorious as a summer sun ; while with Theodore, 
Jacques Collin could look forward to no end but the scaffold 
after a career of indispensable crimes. 

The thought of disaster as a result of Lucien's weakness — 
for his experience of an underground cell would certainly 
have turned his brain — took vast proportions in Jacques Col- 
lin's mind; and, contemplating the probabilities of such a 
misfortune, the unhappy man felt his eyes fill with tears, a 
phenomenon that had been utterly unknown to him since his 
earliest childhood. 

"I must be in a furious fever,'' said he to himself; "and 
perhaps if I send for the doctor and offer him a handsome 
sum, he will put me in communication with Lucien." 

At this moment the turnkey brought in his dinner. 

"It is quite useless, my boy; I cannot eat. Tell the gov- 
ernor of this prison to send the doctor to see me. I am very 
bad, and I believe my last hour has come." 

Hearing the guttural rattle that accompanied these words, 
the warder bowed and went. Jacques Collin clung wildly to 
this hope ; but when he saw the doctor and the governor come 
in together, he perceived that the attempt was abortive, and 
coolly awaited, the upshot of the visit, holding out his wrist 
for the doctor to feel his pulse. 

"The Abbe is feverish," said the doctor to Monsieur Gault, 
"but it is the type of fever we always find in inculpated pris- 



VAUTRINS LAST AYATAR 19 

oners — and to me," he added, in the governor's ear, "it is 
always a sign of some degree of guilt." 

Just then the governor, to whom the public prosecutor had 
intrusted Lucien's letter to be given to Jacques Collin, left 
the doctor and the prisoner together under the guard of the 
warder, and went to fetch the letter. 

"Monsieur," said Jacques Collin, seeing the warder outside 
the door, and not understanding why the governor had left 
them, "I should think nothing of thirty thousand francs if I 
might send five lines to Lucien de Rubempre." 

"I will not rob you of your money," said Doctor Lebrun ; 
"no one in this world can ever communicate with him 
again- 



'No one?" said the prisoner in amazement. "Why?" 

"He has hanged himself " 

No tigress robbed of her whelps ever startled an Indian 
jungle with a yell so fearful as that of Jacques Collin, who 
rose to his feet as a tiger rears to spring, and fired a glance at 
the doctor as scorching as the flash of a falling thunderbolt. 
Then he fell back on the bed, exclaiming : > 

"Oh, my son J" ^;^ 

"Poor maiiT' said the doctor, moved by this terrific convul- 
sion of nature. 

In fact, the first explosion gave way to such utter collapse, 
that the words, "Oh, my son," were but a murmur. 

"Is this one going to die in our hands too ?" said the turn- 
key. 

"No ; it is impossible !" Jacques Collin went on, raising 
himself and looking at the two witnesses of the scene with a 
dead, cold eye. "You are mistaken ; it is not Lucien ; you did 
not see. A man cannot hang himself in one of these cells. 
Look — ^how could I hang myself here ? All Paris shall answer 
to me for that boy's life ! God owes it to me." 

The warder and the doctor were amazed in their turn — 
they, whom nothing had astonished for many a long day. 

On seeing the governor, Jacques Collin, crushed by the very 
violence of this outburst of grief, seemed somewhat calmer. 



20 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"Here is a letter which the public prosecutor placed in my 
hands for you, with permission to give it you sealed," said 
Monsieur Gault. 

"From Lucien?" said Jacques Collin. 

"Yes, monsieur." 

"Is not that young man " 

"He is dead," said the governor. "Even if the doctor had 
been on the spot, he would, unfortunately, have been too late. 
iThe young man died — there — in one of the rooms " 

"May I see him with my own eyes ?" asked Jacques Collin 
timidly. "Will you allow a father to weep over the body of 
his son?" 

"You can, if you like, take his room, for I have orders to 
remove you from these cells ; you are no longer in such close 
confinement, monsieur." 

The prisoner's eyes, from which all light and warmth had 
fled, turned slowly from the governor to the doctor; Jacques 
Collin was examining them, fearing some trap, and he was 
afraid to go out of the cell. 

"If you wish to see the body," said Lebrun, "you have no 
time to lose ; it is to be carried away to-night." 

"If you have children, gentlemen," said Jacques Collin, 
"you will understand my state of mind; I hardly know what 
I am doing. This blow is worse to me than death ; but you 
cannot know what I am saying. Even if you are fathers, it 
is only after a fashion — I am a mother too — I — I am going 
mad— I feel it !" 

By going through certain passages which open only to the 
governor, it is possible to get very quickly from the cells to the 
private rooms. The two sets of rooms are divided by an un- 
derground corridor formed of two massive walls supporting 
the vault over which the Galerie Marchande, as it is called, is 
built. So Jacques Collin, escorted by the warder, who took 
his arm, preceded by the governor, and followed by the doctor, 
in a few minutes reached the cell where Lucien was lying 
stretched on the bed. 

On seeing the body, he threw himself upon it, seizing it in 



VAUTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 21 

a desperate embrace with a passion and impulse that made 
these spectators shudder. 

"There," said the doctor to Monsieur Gault, "that is an in- 
stance of what I was telling you. You see that man clutching 
the body, and you do not know what a corpse is; it is 
stone " 

"Leave me alone !" said Jacques Collin in a smothered- 
voice; "I have not long to look at him. They will take him 
away to " 

He paused at the word "bury him." 

"You will allow me to have some relic of my dear boy ! 
Will you be so kind as to cut off a lock of his hair for me, 
monsieur," he said to the doctor, "for I cannot " 

"He was certainly his son," said Lebrun. 

"Do you think so?" replied the governor in a meaning 
tone, which made the doctor thoughtful for a few minutes. 

The governor gave orders that the prisoner was to be left 
in this cell, and that some locks of hair should be cut for the 
self-styled father before the body should be removed. 

At half-past five in the month of May it is easy to read a 
letter in the Conciergerie in spite of the iron bars and the 
close wire trellis that guard the windows. So Jacques Col- 
lin read the dreadful letter while he still held Lueien's hand. 

The man is not known who can hold a lump of ice for ten 
minutes tightly clutched in the hollow of his hand. The cold 
penetrates to the very life-springs with mortal rapidity. But 
the effect of that cruel chill, acting like a poison, is as nothing 
to that which strikes to the soul from the cold, rigid hand of 
the dead thus held. Thus Death speaks to Life ; it tells many 
dark secrets which kill many feelings ; for in matters of feel- 
ing is not change death ? 

As we read through once more, with Jacques Collin, 
Lueien's last letter, it will strike us as being what it was to 
this man — a cup of poison: — 



22 ... A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"To the Ahhe Carlos H err era. 

"My dear Abbe, — I have had only benefits from you, and 
I have betrayed you. This involuntary ingratitude is killing 
me, and when you read these lines I shall have ceased to exist. 
You are not here now to save me. 

"You had given me full liberty, if I should find it advan- 
tageous, to destroy you by flinging you on the ground like a 
cigar-end; but I have ruined you by a blunder. To escape 
from a difficulty, deluded by a clever question from the ex- 
amining judge, your son by adoption and grace went over to 
the side of those who aim at killing you at any cost, and in- 
sist on proving an identity which I know to be impossible, 
between you and a French villain. All is said. 

"Between a man of your calibre and me — me of whom you 
tried to make a greater man than I am capable of being — no 
foolish sentiment can come at the moment of final parting. 
You hoped to make me powerful and famous, and you have 
thrown me into the gulf of suicide — that is all. I have long 
heard the broad pinions of that vertigo beating over my head. 

"As you have sometimes said, there is the posterity of Cain 
and the posterity of Abel. In the great human drama Cain 
is in opposition. You are descended from Adam through that 
line, in which the devil still fans the fire of which the first 
spark was flung on Eve. Among the demons of that pedigree, 
from time to time we see one of stupendous power, summing 
up every form of human energy, and resembling the fevered 
beasts of the desert, whose vitality demands the vast spaces 
they find there. Such men are as dangerous as lions would 
be in the heart of Normandy ; they must have their prey, and 
they devour common men and crop the money of fools. Their 
sport is so dangerous, that at last they kill the humble dog 
whom they have taken for a companion and made an idol of. 

"When it is God's will, these mysterious beings may be a 
Moses, an Attila, Charlemagne, Mahomet, or Napoleon; but 
when He leaves a generation of these stupendous tools to rust 
at the bottom of the ocean, they are no more than a Pugat- 



VAUTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 23 

scheff, a Fouche, a Louvel, or the Abbe Carlos Herrera. 
Gifted with immense power over tenderer souls, they entrap 
them and mangle them. It is grand, it is fine — in its way. 
It is the poisonous plant with gorgeous coloring that fasci- 
nates children in the woods. It is the poetry of evil. Men 
like you ought to dwell in caves and never come out of them. 
You have made me live that vast life, and I have had all my 
share of existence ; so I may very well take my head out of the 
Gordian knot of your policy, and slip it into the running knot 
of my cravat. 

"To repair the mischief I have done you, I am forwarding 
to the public prosecutor a retraction of my deposition. You 
will know how to take advantage of this document. 

"In virtue of a Will formally drawn up, restitution will be 
made, Monsieur I'Abbe, of the moneys belonging to your 
Order which you so imprudently devoted to my use as a re- 
sult of your paternal affection for me. 

"And so farewell. Farewell, colossal image of Evil and 
Corruption ; farewell to you, who, if started on the right road, 
might have been greater than Ximenes, greater than Eiche- 
lieu ! You have kept your promises. I find myself once more 
just as I was on the banks of the Charente, after enjoying, by 
your help, the enchantments of a dream. But, unfortunately, 
it is not now in the waters of my native place that I shall 
drown the errors of a boy, but in the Seine, and my hole is a 
cell in the Conciergerie. 

"Do not regret me : my contempt for you is as great as my J 
admiration. 

"LuciEN." 

A little before one in the morning, when the men came to 
fetch away the body, they found Jacques Collin kneeling by 
the bed, the letter on the floor, dropped, no doubt, as a suicide 
drops the pistol that has shot him ; but the unhappy man still 
held Lucien's hand between his own, and was praying to God. 

On seeing this man^ the porters paused for a moment, for 
he looked like one of those stone images, kneeling to all eter- 



24 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

nity on a mediaeval tomb, the work of some stone-carver's 
genius. The sham priest, with eyes as bright as a tiger's, but 
stiffened into supernatural rigidit)^, so impressed the men 
that they gently bid him rise. 

"Why?" he asked mildly. The audacious Trompe-la-Mort 
was as meek as a child. 

The governor pointed him out to Monsieur de Chargebceuf ; 
and he, respecting such grief, and believing that Jacques Col- 
lin was indeed the priest he called himself, explained the 
orders given by Monsieur de Grranville with regard to the 
funeral service and arrangements, showing that it was abso- 
lutely necessary that the body should be transferred to 
Lucien's lodgings, Quai Malaquais, where the priests were 
waiting to watch by it for the rest of the night. 

"It is worthy of that gentleman's well-known magnan- 
imity," said Jacques Collin sadly. "Tell him, monsieur, 
that he may rely on my gratitude. Yes, I am in a position 
to do him great service. Do not forget these words ; they are 
of the utmost importance to him. 

"Oh, monsieur! strange changes come over a man's spirit 

when for seven hours he has wept over such a son as he 

And I shall see him no more !" 

After gazing once more at Lucien with an expression of a 
mother bereft of her child's remains, Jacques Collin sank in 
a heap. As he saw Lucien's body carried away, he uttered a 
groan that made the men hurry off. The public prosecutor's 
private secretary and the governor of the prison had already 
made their escape from the scene. 

What had become of that iron spirit ; of the decision which 
was a match in swiftness for the eye ; of the nature in which 
thought and action flashed forth together like one flame ; of 
the sinews hardened by three spells of labor on the hulks, and 
bv three escapes, the muscles which had acquired the metallic 
temper of a savage's limbs? Iron will yield to a certain 
amount of hammering or persistent pressure ; its impenetrable 
molecules, purified and made homogeneous by man. may be- 
come disintegrated, and without being in a state of fusion the 



VAUTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 25 

metal has lost its power of resistance. Blacksmiths, lock- 
smiths, tool-makers sometimes express this state by saying the 
iron is retting, appropriating a word applied exclusively to 
hemp, which is reduced to pulp and fibre by maceration. 
Well, the human soul, or, if you will, the threefold powers of 
body, heart, and intellect, under certain repeated shocks, get 
into such a condition as fibrous iron. They too are disinte- 
grated. Science and law and the public seek a thousand 
causes for the terrible catastrophes on railways caused by the 
rupture of an iron rail, that of Bellevue being a famous in- 
stance; but no one has asked the evidence of the real experts 
in such matters, the blacksmiths, who all say the same thing, 
"The iron was stringy !" The danger cannot be foreseen. 
Metal that has gone soft, and metal that has preserved its, 
tenacity, both look exactly alike. 

Priests and examining judges often find great criminals in 
this state. The awful experiences of the Assize Court and the 
"last toilet" commonly produce this dissolution of the nervous 
system, even in the strongest natures. Then confessions are 
blurted by the most firmly set lips; then the toughest hearts 
break; and, strange to say, always at the moment when these 
confessions are useless, when this weakness as of death 
snatches from the man the mask of innocence which made 
Justice uneasy — for it always is uneasy when the criminal 
dies without confessing his crime. 

Napoleon went through this collapse of every human power, 
on the field of Waterloo. 

At eight in the morning, when the warder of the better 
cells entered the room where Jacques Collin was confined, 
he found him pale and calm, like a man who has collected 
all his strength by sheer determination. 

"It is the hour for airing in the prison-yard," said the turn- 
key; "you have not been out for three days; if you choose to 
take air and exercise, you may." 

Jacques Collin, lost in his absorbing thoughts, and taking 
no interest in himself, regarding himself as a garment with 
no body in it, a perfect rag, never suspected the trap laid for 



2(> A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

him by Bibi-Lupin, nor the importance attaching to his walk 
in the prison-yard. 

The unhappy man went out mechanically, along the cor- 
ridor, by the cells built into the magnificent cloisters of the 
Palace of the Kings, over which is the corridor Saint-Louis, 
as it is called, leading to the various purlieus of the Court of 
Appeals. This passage joins that of the better cells; and it 
is worth noting that the cell in which Louvel was im- 
prisoned, one of the most famous of the regicides, is the room 
at the right angle formed by the junction of the two corridors. 
Under the pretty room in the Tour Bonbec there is a spiral 
staircase leading from the dark passage, and serving the 
prisoners who are lodged in these cells to go up and down 
on their way from or to the yard. 

Every prisoner, whether committed for trial or already 
sentenced, and the prisoners under suspicion who have been 
reprieved from the closest cells — in short, every one in con- 
finement in the Conciergerie takes exercise in this narrow 
paved courtyard for some hours every day, especially the early 
hours of summer mornings. This recreation ground, the 
ante-room to the scaffold or the hulks on one side, on the other 
still clings to the world through the gendarme, the examining 
judge, and the Assize Court. It strikes a greater chill per- 
haps than even the scaffold. The scaffold may be a pedestal 
to soar to heaven from ; but the prison-yard is every infamy 
on earth concentrated and unavoidable. 

Whether at La Force or at Poissy, at Melun or at Sainte- 
Pelagie, a prison-yard is a prison-yard. The same details 
are exactly repeated, all but the color of the walls, their 
height, and the space enclosed. So this Study of Manners 
would be false to its name if it did not include an exact 
description of this Pandemonium of Paris. 

Under the mighty vaulting which supports the lower courts 
arud the Court of Appeals there is, close to the fourth arch, 
a stone slab, used by Saint-Louis, it is said, for the distribu- 
tion of alms, and doing duty in our day as a counter for the 
sale of eatables to the prisoners. So as soon as the prison- 



VAUTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 27 

yard is open to the prisoners, they gather round this stone 
table, which displays such dainties as jail-birds desire — 
brandy, rum, and the like. 

The first two archways on that side of the yard, facing the 
fine Byzantine corridor — the only vestige now of Saint-Louis' 
elegant palace — form a parlor, where the prisoners and 
their counsel may meet, to which the prisoners have access 
through a formidable gateway — a double passage, railed off 
by enormous bars, within the width of the third archway. 
This double way is like the temporary passages arranged at 
the door of a theatre to keep the line on occasions when a 
great success brings a crowd. This parlor, at the very end 
of the vast entrance-hall of the Conciergerie, and lighted by 
loop-holes on the yard side, has lately been opened out towards 
the back, and the opening filled with glass, so that the inter- 
views of the lawyers with their clients are under supervision. 
This innovation was made necessary by the too great fascina- 
tions brought to bear by pretty women on their counsel. 
Where will morality stop short? Such precautions are like 
the ready-made sets of questions for self-examination, where 
pure imaginations are defiled by meditating on unknown and 
monstrous depravity. In this parlor, too, parents and friends 
may be allowed by the authorities to meet the prisoners, 
whether on remand or awaiting their sentence. 

The reader may now understand what the prison-yard is 
to the two hundred prisoners in the Conciergerie : their gar- 
den — a garden without trees, beds, or flowers — in short, a 
prison-yard. The parlor, and the stone of Saint-Louis, where 
such food and liquor as are allowed are dispensed, are the only 
possible means of communication with the outer world. 

The hour spent in the yard is the only time when the 
prisoner is in the open air or the society of his kind ; in other 
prisons those who are sentenced for a term are brought to- 
gether in workshops; but in the Conciergerie no occupation 
is allowed, excepting in the privileged cells. There the 
absorbing idea in every mind is the drama of the Assize 



28 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

Court, since the culprit comes only to be examined or to be 
sentenced. 

This yard is indeed terrible to behold; it cannot be 
imagined, it must be seen. 

In the first place, the assemblage, in a space forty metres 
long by thirty wide, of a hundred condemned or suspected 
criminals, does not constitute the cream of society. These 
creatures, belonging for the most part to the lowest ranks, 
are poorly clad; their countenances are base or horrible, for 
a criminal from the upper sphere of society is, happily, a rare 
exception. Peculation, forgery, or fradulent bankruptcy, the 
only crimes that can bring decent folks so low, enjoy the 
privilege of the better cells, and then the prisoner scarcely 
ever quits it. 

This promenade, bounded by fine but formidable blackened 
walls, by a cloister divided up into cells, by fortifications on 
the side towards the quay, by the barred cells of the better 
class on the north, watched by vigilant warders, and filled 
with a herd of criminals, all meanly suspicious of each other, 
is depressing enough in itself ; and it becomes terrifying when 
you find yourself the centre of all those eyes full of hatred, 
curiosity, and despair, face to face with that degraded crew. 
Not a gleam of gladness ! all is gloom — the place and the men. 
All is speechless — the walls and men's consciences. To these 
hapless creatures danger lies everywhere; excepting in the 
case of an alliance as ominous as the prison where it was 
formed, they dare not trust each other. 

The police, all-pervading, poisons the atmosphere and 
taints everything, even the hand-grasp of two criminals who 
have been intimate. A convict who meets his most familiar 
comrade does not know that he may not have repented and 
have made a confession to save his life. This absence of con- 
fidence, this dread of the narlc, mars the liberty, already so 
illusory, of the prison-yard. The "nark" (in French, U 
Mouton or le coqueur) is a spy who affects to be sentenced 
for some serious offence, and whose skill consists in pretend- 
ing to be a chum. The "chum," in thieves' slang, is a skilled 



VATJTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 29 

thief, a professional who has cut himself adrift from society, 
and means to remain a thief all his days, and continues faith- 
ful through thick and thin to the laws of the swell-mob. 

Crime and madness have a certain resemblance. To see 
the prisoners of the Conciergerie in the yard, or the madmen 
in the garden of an asylum, is much the same thing. Pris- 
oners and lunatics walk to and fro, avoiding each other, look- 
ing up with more or less strange or vicious glances, accord- 
ing to the mood of the moment, but never cheerful, never 
grave; they know each other, or they dread each other. The 
anticipation of their sentence, remorse, and apprehension 
give all these men exercising, the anxious, furtive look of the 
insane. Only the most consummate criminals have the au- 
dacity that apes the quietude of respectability, the sincerity 
of a clear conscience. 

As men of the better class are few, and shame keeps the 
few whose crimes have brought them within doors, the fre- 
quenters of the prison-yard are for the most part dressed as 
workmen. Blouses, long and short, and velveteen jackets pre- 
ponderate. These coarse or dirty garments, harmonizing 
with the coarse and sinister faces and brutal manner — some- 
what subdued, indeed, by the gloomy reflections that weigh 
on men in prison — everything, to the silence that reigns, con- 
tributes to strike terror or disgust into the rare visitor who, by 
high influence, has obtained the privilege, seldom granted, 
of going over the Conciergerie. 

Just as the sight of an anatomical museum, where foul 
diseases are represented by wax models, makes the youth who 
may be taken there more chaste and apt for nobler and purer 
love, so the sight of the Conciergerie and of the prison-yard, 
filled with men marked for the hulks or the scaffold or some 
disgraceful punishment, inspires many, who might not fear 
that Divine Justice whose voice speaks so loudly to the 
conscience, with a fear of human justice ; and they come out 
honest men for a long time after. 

As the men M^ho were exercising in the prison-yard, when 



30 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

Trompe-la-Mort appeared there, were to be the actors in a 
scene of crowning importance in the life of Jacques Collin, 
it will be well to depict a few of the principal personages of 
this sinister crowd. 

Here, as everywhere when men are thrown together, here, 
as at school even, force, physical and moral, wins the day. 
Here, then, as on the hulks, crime stamps the man's rank. 
Those whose head is doomed are the aristocracy. The prison- 
yard, as may be supposed, is a school of criminal law, which 
is far better learned there than at the Hall on the Place du 
Pantheon. 

A never-failing pleasantry is to rehearse the drama of the 
Assize Court; to elect a president, a jury, a public prosecutor, 
a counsel, and to go through the whole trial. This hideous 
farce is played before almost every great trial. At this time 
a famous case was proceeding in the Criminal Court, that of 
the dreadful murder committed on the persons of Monsieur 
and Madame Crottat, the notary's father and mother, retired 
farmers who, as this horrible business showed, kept eight hun- 
dred thousand francs in gold in their house. 

One of the men concerned in this double murder was the 
notorious Dannepont, known as la Pouraille, a released con- 
vict, who for five years had eluded the most active search on 
the part of the police, under the protection of seven or eight 
different names. This villain's disguises were so perfect, that 
he had served two years of imprisonment under the name of 
Delsouq, who was one of his own disciples, and a famous thief, 
though he never, in any of his achievements, went beyond 
the jurisdiction of the lower Courts. La Pouraille had com- 
mitted no less than three murders since his dismissal from 
the hulks. The certainty that he would be executed, not less 
than the large fortune he was supposed to have, made this 
man an object of terror and admiration to his fellow-pris- 
oners; for not a farthing of the stolen money had ever been 
recovered. Even after the events of July 1830, some persons 
may remember the terror caused in Paris by this daring crime, 
worthy to compare in importance with the robbery of medals 



VAUTRIN'S IvAST AVATAR 31 

from the Public Library; for the unhappy tendency of our 
age is to make a murder the more interesting in proportion ^ 
to the greater sum of money secured by it. 

La Pouraille, a small, lean, dry man, with a face like a 
ferret, forty-five years old, and one of the celebrities of the 
prisons he had successively lived in since the age of nineteen, 
knew Jacques Collin well ; how and why will be seen. 

Two other convicts, brought with la Pouraille from La 
Force within these twenty-four hours, had at once acknowl- 
edged and made the whole prison-yard acknowledge the 
supremacy of this past-master sealed to the scaffold. One of 
these convicts, a ticket-of-leave man, named Selerier, alias 
I'Auvergnat, Pere Ralleau, and le Rouleur, who in the sphere 
known to the hulks as the swell-mob was called Fil-de-Soie 
(or silken thread) — a nickname he owed to the skill with 
which he slipped through the various perils of the business 
— was an old ally of Jacques Collin's. 

Trompe-la-Mort so keenly suspected Fil-de-Soie of playing 
a double part, of being at once in the^ecfets of the swell- 
mob and a spy paid by the police, that he had supposed him 
to be the prime mover of his arrest in the Maison Vauquer in 
1819 {Le Pere Goriot). Selerier, whom we must call Fil-de- 
Soie, as we shall also call Dannepont la Pouraille, already; 
guilty of evading surveillance, was concerned in certain well- 
known robberies without bloodshed, which would certainly 
take him back to the hulks for at least twenty years. 

The other convict, named Riganson, and his kept woman, 
known as la Biffe, were a most formidable couple, members 
of the swell-mob. Riganson, on very distant terms with the 
police from his earliest years, was nicknamed le Biffon. 
Biffon was the male of la Biffe — for nothing is sacred to the 
swell-mob. These fiends respect nothing, neither the law nor 
religion, not even natural history, whose solemn nomencla- 
ture, it is seen, is parodied by them. 

Here a digression is necessary; for Jacques Collin's ap- 
pearance in the prison-yard in the midst of his foes, as had 
been so cleverly contrived by Bibi-Lupin and the examining 



32 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

judge, and the strange scenes to ensue, would be incompre- 
hensible and impossible without some explanation as to the 
world of thieves and of the hulks, its laws, its manners, and, 
above all, its language, its hideous figures of speech being in- 
dispensable in this portion of my tale. 

So, first of all, a few words must be said as to the vocabulary 
of sharpers, pickpockets, thieves, and murderers, known as 
Argot, or thieves' cant, which has of late been introduced into 
literature with so much success that more than one word of 
that strange lingo is familiar on the rosy lips of ladies, has 
been heard in gilded boudoirs, and become the delight of 
princes, who have often proclaimed themselves "done brown" 
(floue) ! And it must be owned, to the surprise no doubt 
of many persons, that no language is more vigorous or more 
vivid than that of this underground world which, from the 
beginnings of countries with capitals, has dwelt in cellars and 
slums, in the third limbo of society everywhere {le troisieme 
dessous, as the expressive and vivid slang of the theatres has 
it). For is not the world a stage? Le troisieme dessous is 
the lowest cellar under the stage at the Opera where the 
machinery is kept and the men stay who work it, whence the 
footlights are raised, the ghosts, the blue-devils shot up from 
hell, and so forth. 

Every word of this language is a bold ''metaphorjj ingenious 
or horrible. A man's breeches are his kicks or trucks 
{montante, a word that need not be explained). In this 
language you do not sleep, you snooze, or doss {pioneer — and 
note how vigorously expressive the word is of the sleep of the 
hunted, weary, distrustful animal called a thief, which as 
soon as it is in safety drops — rolls — into the gulf of deep 
slumber so necessary under the mighty wings of suspicion 
always hovering over it; a fearful sleep, like that of a wild 
beast that can sleep, nay, and snore, and yet its ears are alert 
with caution). 

In this idiom everything is savage. The syllables which 
begin or end the words are harsh and curiously startling. A 
woman is a trip or a moll {une largue). And it is poetical 



VAUTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 33 

too: straw is la plume de Beauce, a farmyard feather bed. 
The word midnight is paraphrased by twelve leads striking — 
it makes one shiver ! Rincer une camhriole is to "screw the 
shop," to rifle a room. What a feeble expression is to go to 
bed in comparison with "to doss" {piausser, make a new 
skin). What picturesque imagery! Work your dominoes 
(jouer des dominos) is to eat ; how can men eat with the police 
at their heels? 

And this language is always growing; it keeps pace with 
civilization, and is enriched with some new expression by 
every fresh invention. The potato, discovered and introduced 
by Louis XVI. and Parmentier, was at once dubbed in French 
slang as the pig's orange {Orange a Cochons) [the Irish have 
called them bog oranges]. Banknotes are invented; the 
"mob" at once call them Flimsies (fafiots garoUs, from 
"Garot," the name of the cashier whose signature they bear) . 
Flimsy! (fafiot.) Cannot you hear the rustle of the thin 
paper? The thousand franc-note is male flimsy (in 
French), the five hundred franc-note is the female; and con- 
victs will, you may be sure, find some whimsical name for the 
hundred and two hundred franc-notes. 

In 1790 Guillotin i'nvented, with humane intent, the ex- 
peditious machine which solved all the difficulties involved 
in the problem of capital punishment. Convicts and pris- 
oners from the hulks forthwith investigated this contrivance, 
standing as it did on the monarchical borderland of the old 
system and the frontier of modern legislation ; they instantly 0- ^ 
gave it the name of VAbbaye de Monte-d-R egret. They 
looked at the angle formed by the steel blade, and described 
its action as reaping (faucher) ; and when it is remembered 
that the hulks are called the meadow (le pre), philologists 
must admire the inventiveness of these horrible vocables, as 
Charles Nodier would have said. 

The high antiquity of this kind of slang is also note- 
worthy. A tenth of the words are of old Romanesque 
origin, another tenth are the old Gaulish French of Rabelais. 
Effondrer, to thrash a man, to give him what for ; otolondrer. 



34 A COURTESANS I.IFB 

to annoy or to ''spur" him; camhrioler, doing anything in a 
room; auhert, money; Gironde, a beauty (the name of a river 
of Languedoc) ; fouillousse, a pocket — a "cly" — are all French 
of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The word affe, 
meaning life, is of the highest antiquity. From affe any- 
thing that disturbs life is called affres (a rowing or scolding), 
hence affreux, anything that troubles life. 

About a hundred words are derived from the language of 
Panurge, a name symbolizing the people, for it is derived 
from two Greek words signifying All-working. 

Science is changing the face of the world by constructing 
railroads. In Argot the train is le roulant Yif, the Eattler. 

The name given to the head while still on the shoulders 
— la Sorhonnc — shows the antiquity of this dialect which is 
mentioned by very early romance-writers, as Cervantes, the 
Italian story-tellers, and Aretino. In all ages the moll, the 
prostitute, the heroine of so many old-world romances, has 
been the protectress, companion, and comfort of the sharper, 
the thief, the pickpocket, the area-sneak, and the burglar. 

Prostitution and robbery are the male and female forms 
of protest made by the natural state against the social state. 
Even philosophers, the innovators of to-day, the human- 
itarians "u^ith the communists and Fourierists in their train, 
come at last, without knowing it, to the same conclusion — 
prostitution and theft. The thief does not argue out ques- 
tions of property, of inheritance, and social responsibility, in 
sophistical books ; he absolutely ignores them. To him theft 
is appropriating his own. He does not discuss marriage ; he 
does not complain of it ; he does not insist, in printed Utopian 
dreams, on the mutual consent and bond of souls which can 
never become general ; he pairs with a vehemence of which the 
bonds are constantly riveted by the hammer of necessity. 
Modem innovators write unctuous theories, long drawn, and 
nebulous or philanthropical romances ; but the thief acts. He 
is as clear as a fact, as logical as a blow ; and then his style ! 

Another thing worth noting: the world of prostitutes, 
thieves, and murderers of the galleys and the prisons forms 



VAUTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 35 

•i 

a population of about sixty to eighty thousand souls, men and 
women. Such a world is not to be disdained in a picture 
of modern manners and a literary reproduction of the social 
body. The law, the gendarmerie, and the police constitute 
a body almost equal in number; is not that strange? This 
antagonism of persons perpetually seeking and avoiding each 
other, and fighting a vast and highly dramatic duel, are what 
are sketched in this Study. It has been the same thing withy^"^ 
thieving and public harlotry as with the stage, the police, 
the priesthood, and the gendarmerie^ In these six walks 
of life the individual contracts an indelible character. He 
can no longer be himself. The stigmata of ordination are as 
immutable as those of the soldier are. And it is the same 
in other callings which are strongly in opposition, strong con- 
trasts with civilization. These violent, eccentric, singular 
signs — sui generis — are what make the harlot, the robber, 
the murderer, the ticket-of -leave man, so easily recognizable 
by their foes, the spy and the police, to whom they are as 
game to the sportsman: they have a gait, a manner, a com- 
plexion, a look, a color, a smell — in short, infallible marks \ 
about them. Hence the highly-developed art of disguise^ .^ 
which the heroes of the hulks acquire. 

One word yet as to the constitution of this world apart, 
which the abolition of branding, the mitigation of penalties, 
and the silly leniency of juries are making a threatening evil. 
In about twenty years Paris will be beleaguered by an army 
of forty thousand reprieved criminals ; the department of the 
Seine and its fifteen hundred thousand inhabitants being the 
only place in France where these poor wretches can be hid- yo^ 
den. To them Paris is what the virgin forest is to beasts of 
prey. 

The swell-mob, or more exactly, thi^ upper class of thieves, 
which is the Faubourg Saint-Germain, tlie aristocracy , of the 
tribe, had, in 1816, after the peace which made life hard for 
so many men, formed an association called les^ c/rands—^ 
fanandels — the Great Pals — consisting of the most noted 
master-thieves and certain bold spirits at that time bereft of 



\y 



36 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

any means of living. This word pal means brother, friend, 
and comrade all in one. And these "Great Pals," the cream 
of the thieving fraternity, for more than twenty years were 
the Court of Appeal, the Institute of Learning, and the 
Chamber of Peers of this community. These men all had 
their private means, with funds in common, and a code of 
their own. They knew each other, and were pledged to help 
and succor each other in difficulties. And they were all su- 
perior to the tricks or snares of the police, had a charter of 
their own, passwords and signs of recognition. 

From 1815 to 1819 these dukes and peers of the prison 
world had formed the famous association of the Ten-thousand 
(see le Pere Goriot), so styled by reason of an agreement in 
virtue of which no job was to be undertaken by which less 
than ten thousand francs could be got. 

At that very time, in 1829-30, some memoirs were brought 
out in which the collective force of this association and the 
names of the leaders were published by a famous member of 
the police-force. It was terrifying to find there an army 
of skilled rogues, male and female; so numerous, so clever, 
so constantly lucky, that such thieves as Pastourel, Collonge, 
or Chimaux, men of fifty and sixty, were described as outlaws 
from society from their earliest years ! What a confession 
of the ineptitude of justice that rogues so old should be at 
large! 

Jacques Collin had been the cashier, not only of the "Ten- 
thousand," but also of the "Great Pals," the heroes of the 
hulks. Competent authorities admit that the hulks have al- 
ways owned large sums. This curious fact is quite conceivable. 
Stolen goods are never recovered but in very singular cases. 
The condemned criminal, who can take nothing with him, is 
obliged to trust somebody's honesty and capacity, and to de- 
posit his money as, in the world of honest folks, money is 
placed in a bank. 

Long ago Bibi-Lupin, now for ten years a chief of the 
department of PubHc Safety, had been a member of the 
aristocracy of "Pals." His treason had resulted from of- 



VAUTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 37 

fended pride; he had been constantly set aside in favor 
of Trompe-la-Mort's superior intelligence and prodigious 
strength. Hence his persistent vindictiveness against Jacques 
Collin. Hence, also, certain compromises between Bibi- 
Lupin and his old companions, which the magistrates were 
beginning to take seriously. 

So in his desire for vengeance, to which the examining 
judge had given play under the necessity of idenj;ifying 
Jacques Collin, the chief of the "Safety" had very skilfully 
chosen his allies by setting la Pouraille, Fil-de-Soie, and le 
Biffon on the sham Spaniard — for la Pouraille and Fil-de- 
Soie both belonged to the "Ten-thousand," and le Biffon was 
a "Great Pal." 

La Biffe, le Biffon's formidable trip, who to this day evades 
all the pursuit of the police by her skill in disguising herself 
as a lady, was at liberty. This woman, who successfully apes 
a marquise, a countess, a baroness, keeps a carriage and men- 
servants. This Jacques Collin in petticoats is the only woman 
who can compare with Asie, Jacques Collin's right hand. 
And, in fact, every hero of the hulks is backed up by a devoted 
woman. Prison records and the secret papers of the law 
courts will tell you this; no honest woman's love, not even 
that of a bigot for her spiritual director, has ever been greater 
than the attachment of a mistress who shares the dangers of 
a great criminal. 

With these men a passion is almost always the first cause 
of their daring enterprises and murders. The excessive love 
which — constitutionally, as the doctors say — makes woman 
irresistible to them, calls every moral and physical force of 
these powerful natures into action. Hence the idleness 
which consumes their days, for excesses of passion necessitate 
sleep and restorative food. Hence their loathing of all work, 
driving these creatures to have recourse to rapid ways of 
getting money. And yet, the need of a living, and of high 
living, violent as it is, is but a trifle in comparison with the 
extravagance to which these generous Medors are prompted 
by the mistress to whom they want to give jewels and dress, 
3 



38 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

and who — always greedy — love rich food. The baggage 
wants a shawl, the lover steals it, and the woman sees in this 
a proof of love. 

This is how robbery begins; and robbery, if we examine 
the human soul through a lens, will be seen to be an almost 
natural instinct in man. 

Eobbery leads to murder, and murder leads the lover step 
by step to the scaffold. 

Ill-regulated physical desire is therefore, in these men, if 
we may believe the medical faculty, at the root of seven-tenths 
of the crimes committed. And, indeed, the proof is always 
found, evident, palpable at the post-mortem examination of 
the criminal after his execution. And these monstrous 
lovers, the scarecrows of society, are adored by their mis- 
tresses. It is this female devotion, squatting faithfully at 
the prison gate, always eagerly balking the cunning of the 
examiner, and incorruptibly keeping the darkest secrets 
which make so many trials impenetrable mysteries. 

In this, again, lies the strength as well as the weakness 
of the accused. In the vocabulary of a prostitute, to h>' 
honest means to break none of the laws of this attachment, 
to give all her money to the man who is nabhed, to look after 
his comforts, to be faithftil to him in every way, to undertake 
anything for his sake. The bitterest insult one of these wo- 
men can fling in the teeth of another wretched creature is 
to accuse her of infidelity to a lover in quod (in prison). In 
that case such a woman is considered to have no heart. 

La Pouraille was passionately in love with a woman, as 
will be seen. 

Fil-de-Soie, an egotistical philosopher, who thieved to pro- 
vide for the future, was a good deal like Paccard, Jacques 
Collin's satellite, who had fled with Prudence Servien and the 
seven hundred and fifty thousand francs between them. He 
had no attachment, he contemned women, and loved no one 
but Fil-de-Soie. 

As to le Biffon, he derived his nickname from his connec- 
tion with la Biffe. (La Biffe is scavenging, rag-picking.) 



VAUTRIN'S DAST AVATAR 39 

And these three distinguished members of la haute pegre, the 
aristocracy of roguery, had a reckoning to demand of 
Jacques Collin, accounts that were somewhat hard to bring 
to book. 

No one but the cashier could know how many of his clients 
were still alive, and what each man's share would be. The 
mortality to which the depositors were peculiarly liable had 
formed a basis for Trompe-la-Mort's calculations when he 
resolved to embezzle the funds for Lucien's benefit. By keep- 
ing himself out of the way of the police and of his pals for 
nine years, Jacques Collin was almost certain to have fallen 
heir, by the terms of agreement among the associates, 
to two-thirds of the depositors. Besides, could he not 
plead that he had repaid the pals who had been scragged? 
In fact, no one had any hold over these Great Pals. His 
comrades trusted him by compulsion, for the hunted life led 
by convicts necessitates the most delicate confidence between 
the gentry of this crew of savages. So Jacques Collin, a de- 
faulter for a hundred thousand crowns, might now possibly 
be quit for a hundred thousand francs. At this moment, as 
we see, la Pouraille, one of Jacques Collin's creditors, had 
but ninety days to live. And la Pouraille, the possessor of 
a sum vastly greater, no doubt, than that placed in his pal's 
keeping, would probably prove easy to deal with. 

One of the infallible signs by which prison governors and 
their agents, the police and warders, recognize old stagers 
\chevaux de retour), that is to say, men who have already 
eaten 'beans (les gourganes, a kind of haricots provided for 
prison fare), is their familiarity with prison ways; those who 
have been in before, of course, know the manners and cus- 
toms ; they are at home, and nothing surprises them. 

And Jacques Collin, thoroughly on his guard, had, until 
now, played his part to admiration as an innocent man and 
stranger, both at La Force and at the Conciergerie. But 
now, broken by grief, and by two deaths — for he had died 
twice over during that dreadful night — he was Jacques Collin 



40 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

once more. The warder was astounded to find that the 
Spanish priest needed no telling as to the way to the prison- 
yard. The perfect actor forgot his part; he went down the 
corkscrew stairs in the Tour Bonbec as one who knew the 
Conciergerie. 

"Bibi-Lupin is right/' said the turnkey to himself; "he is 
an old stager ; he is Jacques Collin." 

At the moment when Trompe-la-Mort appeared in the 
sort of frame to his figure made by the door into the tower, 
the prisoners, having made their purchases at the stone table 
called after Saint-Louis, were scattered about the yard, al- 
ways too small for their number. So the newcomer was seen 
by all of them at once, and all the more promptly, because 
nothing can compare for keenness with the eye of a prisoner, 
who in a prison-yard feels like a spider watching in its web. 
And this comparison is mathematically exact; for the range 
of vision being limited on all sides by high dark walls, the 
prisoners can always see, even without looking at them, the 
doors through which the warders come and go, the windows 
of the parlor, and the stairs of the Tour Bonbec — the only 
exits from the yard. In this utter isolation every trivial 
incident is an event, everything is interesting; the tedium — 
a tedium like that of a tiger in a cage — increases their alert- 
ness tenfold. 

It is necessary to note that Jacques Collin, dressed like a 
priest who is not strict as to costume, wore black knee 
breeches, black stockings, shoes with silver buckles, a black 
waistcoat, and a long coat of dark-brown cloth of a certain 
cut that betrays the priest whatever he may do, especially when 
these details are completed by a characteristic style of hair- 
cutting. Jacques Collin's wig was eminently ecclesiastical, 
and wonderfully natural. 

"Hallo !" said la Pouraille to le Biffon, "that's a bad sign ! 
A rook! {sanglier, a priest). How did he come here?" 

"He is one of their ^narks' " {trues, spies) "of a new 
make," replied Fil-de-Soie, "some runner with the bracelets" 
(march and de lacets — equivalent to a Bow Street runner) 
"looking out for his man." 



VAUTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 41 

The gendarme boasts of many names in French slang; 
when he is after a thief, he is "the man with the bracelets" 
(marchand de lacets) ; when he has him in charge, he is a 
bird of ill-omen (hirondelle de la Greve) ; when he escorts 
him to the scaffold, he is "groom to the guillotine" {hussard de 
la guillotine) . 

To complete onr study of the prison-yard, two more of , "^X" 
the prisoners must be hastily sketched in. -Selerier, alias .(> // 
TAuvergnat, alias le Pere Ealleau, called le Rouleur, alias 
Fil-de-Soie — he had thirty names, and as many passports — 
will henceforth be spoken of by this name only, as he was 
called by no other among the swell-mob. This profound 
philosopher, who saw a spy in the sham priest, was a brawny 
fellow of about five feet eight, whose muscles were all marked 
by strange bosses. He had an enormous head in which a pair 
of half-closed eyes sparkled like fire — the eyes of a bird of 
prey, with gray, dull, skinny eyelids. At a first glance his 
face resembled that of a wolf, his jaws were so broad, power- 
ful, and prominent; but the cruelty and even ferocity sug- 
gested by this likeness were counterbalanced by the cunning 
and eagerness of his face, though it was scarred by the small- 
pox. The margin of each scar being sharply cut, gave a sort 
of wit to his expression; it was seamed with ironies. The 
life of a criminal — a life of hunger and thirst, of nights spent 
bivouacking on the quays and river banks, on bridges and 
streets, and the orgies of strong drink by which successes are 
celebrated — had laid, as it were, a varnish over these features. 
Fil-de-Soie, if seen in his undisguised person, would have been 
marked by any constable or gendarme as his prey ; but he was 
a match for Jacques Collin in the arts of make-up and dress. 
Just now Fil-de-Soie, in undress, like a great actor who is 
well got up only on the stage, wore a sort of shooting jacket 
bereft of buttons, and whose ripped button-holes showed 
the white lining, squalid green slippers, nankin trousers now 
a dingy gray, and on his head a cap without a peak, under 
which an old bandana was tied, streaky with rents, and 
washed out. 



42 A COURTESANS I.IFE 

Le Biffon was a complete contrast to Fil-de-Soie. This 
famous robber, short, burly, and fat, but active, with a livid 
complexion, and deep-set black eyes, dressed like a cook, 
standing squarely on very bandy legs, was alarming to behold, 
for in his countenance all the features predominated that are 
most typical of the carnivorous beast. 

Fil-de-Soie and le Biffon were always wheedling la 
Pouraille, who had lost all hope. The murderer knew that 
he would be tried, sentenced, and executed within four 
months. Indeed, Fil-de-Soie and le Biffon, la Pouraille's 
chums, never called him anything but le Chanoine de I'Ahhaye 
de Monte-a-Regret (a grim paraphrase for a man condemned 
to the guillotine). It is easy to understand why Fil-de-Soie 
and le Biffon should fawn on la Pouraille. The man had 
somewhere hidden two hundred and fifty thousand francs in 
gold, his share of the spoil fund in the house of the Crottats, 
the "victims," in newspaper phrase. What a splendid fortune 
to leave to two pals, though the two old stagers would be sent 
back to the galleys within a few days! Le Biffon and Fil- 
de-Soie would be sentenced for a term of fifteen years for 
robbery with violence, without prejudice to the ten years' 
penal servitude on a former sentence, which they had taken 
the liberty of cutting short. So, though one had twenty-two 
and the other twenty-six years of imprisonment to look for- 
ward to, they both hoped to escape, and come back to find la 
Pouraille's mine of gold. 

But the "Ten-thousand man" kept his secret; he did not 
see the use of telling it before he was sentenced. He be- 
longed to the "upper ten" of the hulks, and had never be- 
trayed his accomplices. His temper was well known; Mon- 
sieur ^ Popinot, who had examined him, had not been able to 
get anything out of him. 

This terrible trio were at the further end of the prison- 
yard, that is to say, near the better class of cells. Fil-de-Soie 
was giving a lecture to a young man who was in for his first 
offence, and who, being certain of ten years' penal servitude, 
was gaining information as to the various convict establish- 
ments. 



VAUTRIN'S LA.ST AVATAR 43 

"Well, my boy," Fil-de-Soie was saying sententiously as 
Jacques Collin appeared on the scene, "the difference between 
Brest, Toulon, and Rochefort is ' ' 

"Well, old cock?" said the lad, with the curiosity of a 
novice. 

This prisoner, a man of good family, accused of forgery, 
had come down from the cell next to that where Lucien had 
been. 

"My son," Fil-de-Soie went on, "at Brest you are sure to 
get some beans at the third turn if you dip your spoon in the 
bowl; at Toulon you never get any till the fifth; and at 
Eoehefort you get none at all, unless you are an old hand." 

Having spoken, the philosopher joined le Biff on and la 
Pouraille, and all three, greatly puzzled by the priest, walked 
down the yard, while Jacques Collin, lost in grief, came up 
it. Trompe-la-Mort, absorbed in terrible meditations, the 
meditations of a fallen emperor, did not think of himself as 
the centre of observation, the object of general attention, and 
he walked slowly, gazing at the fatal window where Lucien 
had hanged himself. None of the prisoners knew of this 
catastrophe, since, for reasons to be presently explained, the 
young forger had not mentioned the subject. The three pals 
agreed to cross the priest's path. 

"He is no priest," said Fil-de-Soie; "he is an old stager. 
Look how he drags his right foot." 

It is needful to explain here — for not every reader has 
had a fancy to visit the galleys — that each convict is chained 
to another, an old one and a young one always as a couple; 
the weight of this chain riveted to a ring above the ankle is 
so great as to induce a limp, which the convict never loses. 
Being obliged to exert one leg much more than the other to 
drag this fetter (manicle is the slang name for such irons), 
the prisoner inevitably gets into the habit of making the 
effort. Afterwards, though he no longer wears the chain, it 
acts upon him still; as a man still feels an amputated leg, 
the convict is always conscious of the anklet, and can never 
get over that trick of walking. In police slang, he "drags his 



44 A COURTESAN'S JAVE 

right." And this sign, as well known to convicts among 
themselves as it is to the police, even if it does not help to 
identify a comrade, at any rate confirms recognition. 

In Trompe-la-Mort, who had escaped eight years since, this 
trick had to a great extent worn off; but just now, lost in re- 
flections, he walked at such a slow and solemn pace that, 
slight as the limp was, it was strikingly evident to so prac- 
tised an eye as la Pouraille's. And it is quite intelligible 
that convicts, always thrown together, as they must be, and 
never having any one else to study, will so thoroughly have 
watched each other s faces and appearance, that certain tricks 
will have impressed them which may escape their systematic 
foes — spies, gendarmes, and police-inspectors. 

Thus it was a peculiar twitch of the maxillary muscles 
of the left cheek, recognized by a convict who was sent to 
a review of the Legion of the Seine, which led to the arrest 
of the lieutenant-colonel of that corps, the famous Coignard ; 
for, in spite of Bibi-Lupin's confidence, the police could not 
dare believe that the Comte Pontis de Sainte-Helene and 
Coignard were one and the same man. 

"He is our boss!" {dab or master,) said Fil-de-Soie, see- 
ing in Jacques Collin's eye the vague glance a man sunk in 
despair casts on all his surroundings. 

"By Jingo ! Yes, it is Trompe-la-Mort," said le Biffon, 
rubbing his hands. "Yes, it is his cut, his build; but what 
has he done to himself? He looks quite different." 

"I know what he is up to !" cried Fil-de-Soie ; "he has some 
plan in his head. He wants to see the boy" (sa tante) 
"who is to be executed before long." 

The persons known in prison slang as tantes or aunts may 
be best described in the ingenious words of the governor of 
one of the great prisons to the late Lord Durham, who, dur- 
ing his stay in Paris, visited every prison. So curious was 
he to see every detail of French justice, that he even per- 
suaded Sanson, at that time the executioner, to erect the 
scaffold and decapitate a living calf, that he might thoroughly 
understand the working of the machine made famous by the 



VAUTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 45 

Revolution. The governor having shown him everything — 
the yards, the workshops, and the underground cells — pointed 
to a part of the building, and said, "I need not take your 
Lordship there; it is the quartier des tantes." — "Oh," said 
Lord Durham, "what are they !" — "The third sex, my Lord." 

"And they are going to scrag Theodore !" said la Pouraille, 
"such a pretty boy ! And such a light hand ! such cheek ! 
What a loss to society !" 

"Yes, Theodore Calvi is yamming his last meal," said le 
Biffon. "His trips will pipe their eyes, for the little beggar 
was a great pet." 

"So you're here, old chap?" said la Pouraille to Jacques 
Collin. And, arm-in-arm with his two acolytes, he barred 
the way to the new arrival. "Why, Boss, have you got your- 
self japanned?" he went on. 

"I hear you have nobbled our pile" (stolen our money), 
ie Biffon added, in a threatening tone. 

"You have just got to stump up the tin!" said Fil-de- 
Soie. 

The three questions were fired at him like three pistol- 
shots. 

"Do not make game of an unhappy priest sent here by 
mistake," Jacques Collin replied mechanically, recognizing 
his three comrades. 

"That is the sound of his pipe, if it is not quite the cut 
of his mug," said la Pouraille, laying his hand on Jacques 
Collin's shoulder. 

This action, and the sight of his three chums, startled the 
"Boss" out of his dejection, and brought him back to a 
consciousness of reality; for during that dreadful night he 
had lost himself in the infinite spiritual world of feeling, 
seeking some new road. 

"Do not blow the gaff on your Boss!" said Jacques Collin 
in a hollow threatening tone, not unlike the low growl of a 
lion. "The reelers are here; let them make fools of them- 
selves. I am faking to help a pal who is awfully down on 
his luck." 



46 A rOTTRTBSANS LIFE 

He spoke with the unction of a priest trxdng to convert 
the wretched, and a look which flashed round the yard, took 
in the warders under the archways, and pointed them out 
with a wink to his three companions. 

"Are there not narks about? Keep your peepers open 
and a sharp outlook. Don't know me, Xanty parnarly, and 
soap me down for a priest, or I will do for you all, you and 
your molls and your blunt." 

"What, do you funk our blabbing?" said Fil-de-Soie. 
"Have you come to help your boy to guy ?" 

"Madeleine is getting ready to be turned off in the Square" 
(the Place de Greve), said la Pouraille. 

"Theodore !"' said Jacques Collin, repressing a start and 
aery. 

"They will have his nut off," la Pouraille went on; "he 
was booked for the scaffold two months ago." 

Jacques Collin felt sick, his knees almost failed him; but 
his three comrades held him up, and he had the presence of 
mind to clasp his hands with an expression of contrition. La 
Pouraille and le Biffon respectfully supported the sacrilegious 
Trompe-la-Mort, while Fil-de-Soie ran to a warder on guard 
at the gate leading to the parlor. 

"That venerable priest wants to sit down ; send out a chair 
for him," said he. 

And so Bibi-Lupin's plot had failed. 

Trompe-la-Mort, like a Xapoleon recognized by his 
soldiers, had won the submission and respect of the three 
felons. Two words had done it. Your molls and your blunt 
— ^your women and your money — epitomizing every true af- 
fection of man. This threat was to the three convicts an 
indication of supreme power. The Boss still had their for- 
tune in his hands. Still omnipotent outside the prison, 
their Boss had not betrayed them, as the false pals said. 

Their chief's immense reputation for skill and inventive- 
ness stimulated their curiosity ; for, in prison, curiosity is the 
only goad of these blighted spirits. And Jacques Collin's 
daring disguise, kept up even under the bolts and locks of 
the Conciergerie, dazzled the three felons. 



VAUTKIXS LAST AVATAR 47 

"I have been in close confinement for four days and did 
not know that Theodore was so near the Abhaye," said Jacques 
Collin. "I came in to save a poor little chap who scragged 
himself here yesterday at four o'clock, and now here is an- 
other misfortune. I have not an ace in my hand " 

"Poor old boy !" said Fil-de-Soie. 

"Old Scratch has cut me!" cried Jacques Collin, tearing 
himself free from his supporters, and drawing himself up 
with a fierce look. "There comes a time when the world is 
too many for us ! The beaks gobble us up at last." 

The governor of the Conciergerie, informed of the Spanish 
priest's weak state, came himself to the prison-yard to observe 
him; he made him sit down on a chair in the sun, studying 
him with the keen acumen which increases day by day in the 
practise of such functions, though hidden under an appear- 
ance of indift'erence. 

"Oh ! Heaven !" cried Jacques Collin. "To be mixed up 
with such creatures, the dregs of society — felons and murder- 
ers ! — But God will not desert His servant ! My dear sir, 
my stay here shall be marked by deeds of charity which shall 
live in men's memories. I will convert these unhappy crea- 
tures, they shall learn they have souls, that life eternal awaits 
them, and that though they have lost all on earth, they 
still may win heaven — Heaven which they may purchase by 
true and genuine repentance." 

Twenty or thirty prisoners had gathered in a group behind 
the three terrible convicts, whose ferocious looks had kept a 
space of three feet between them and their inquisitive com- 
panions, and they heard this address, spoken with evangelical 
unction. 

"Ay, Monsieur Gault," said the formidable la Pouraille, 
"we will listen to what this one may say " 

"I have been told," Jacques Coflin went on, "that there 
is in this prison a man condemned to death." 

"The rejection of his appeal is at this moment being read 
to him," said Monsieur Gault. 

"I do not know what that means," said Jacques Collin, art- 
lessly looking about him. 



48 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"Golly, what a flat !" said the young fellow, who, a few 
minutes since, had asked Fil-de-Soie about the beans on the 
hulks. 

''Why, it means that he is to be scragged to-day or to- 
morrow." 

"Scragged ?" asked Jacques Collin, whose air of innocence 
and ignorance filled his three pals with admiration. 

"In their slang," said the governor, "that means that he 
will suffer the penalty of death. If the clerk is reading the 
appeal, the executioner will no doubt have orders for the ex- 
cution. The unhappy man has persistently refused the offices 
of the chaplain." 

"Ah ! Monsieur le Directeur, this is a soul to save !" cried 
Jacques Collin, and the sacrilegious wretch clasped his hands 
with the expression of a despairing lover, which to the watch- 
ful governor seemed nothing less than divine fervor. "Ah, 
monsieur," Trompe-la-Mort went on, "let me prove to you 
what I am, and how much I can do, by allowing me to incite 
that hardened heart to repentance. God has given me a 
power of speech which produces great changes. I crush men's 
hearts; I open them. — What are you afraid of? Send me 
with an escort of gendarmes, of turnkeys — whom you will." 

"I will inquire whether the prison chaplain will allow you 
to take his place," said Monsieur Gault. 

And the governor withdrew, struck by the expression, per- 
fectly indifferent, though inquisitive, with which the convicts 
and the prisoners on remand stared at this priest, whose 
unctuous tones lent a charm to his half-French, half-Spanish 
lingo. 

"How did you come in here. Monsieur I'Abbe?" asked the 
youth who had questioned Fil-de-Soie. 

"Oh, by a mistake !" replied Jacques Collin, eyeing the 
young gentleman from head to foot. "I was found in the 
house of a courtesan who had died, and was immediately 
robbed. It was proved that she had killed herself, and the 
thieves — probably the servants — have not yet been caught." 

"And it was for that theft that your young man hanged 
himself?" 



VAUTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 49 

"The poor boy, no doubt, could not endure the thought 
of being blighted by his unjust imprisonment," said Trompe- 
la-Mort, raising his eyes to heaven. 

"Ay,'" said the young man; "they were coming to set him 
free just when he had killed himself. What bad luck !" 

"Only innocent souls can be thus worked on by their im- 
agination," said Jacques Collin. "For, observe, he was the 
loser by the theft." 

"How much money was it?" asked Fil-de-Soie, the deep 
and cunning. 

"Seven hundred and fifty thousand francs," said Jacques 
Collin blandly. 

The three convicts looked at each other and withdrew from 
the group that had gathered round the sham priest. 

"He screwed the molFs place himself !" said Fil-de-Soie 
in a whisper to le Biffon, "and they want to put us in a 
blue funk for our cartwheels" (thunes de holies, five-franc 
pieces). 

"He will always be the boss of the swells," replied la Pou- 
raille. "Our pieces are safe enough." 

La Pouraille, wishing to find some man he could trust, 
had an interest in considering Jacques Collin an honest man. 
And in prison, of all places, a man believes what he hopes. 

"I lay you anything, he will come round the big Boss 
and save his chum !" said Fil-de-Soie. 

"It he does that," said le Biffon, "though I don't believe 
he is really God, he must certainly have smoked a pipe with/ > 
old Scratch, as they say." \r 

"Didn't you hear him say, 'Old Scratch has cut me'?" 
said Fil-de-Soie. 

"Oh !" cried la Pouraille, "if only he would save my nut, 
what a time I would have with my whack of the shiners and 
the yellow boys I have stowed." 

"Do what he bids you !" said Fil-de-Soie. 

"You don't say so?" retorted la Pouraille, looking at his 
pal. 

"What a flat you are! You will be booked for the 



50 A COUKTESA.N'S Lih'H 

Abbaye V said le Biffon. "You have no other door to budge, 

if you want to keep on your pins, to yam, wet your whistle, 
and fake to the end ; you must take his orders." 

"That's all right," said la Pouraille. "There is not one 
of us that will blow the gaff, or if he does, I will take him 
where I am going " 

"And he'll do it too," cried Fil-de-Soie. 

The least sympathetic reader, who has no pity for this 
strange race, may conceive of the state of mind of Jacques 
Collin, finding himself between the dead body of the idol 
whom he had been bewailing during five hours that night, 
and the imminent end of his former comrade — the dead 
body of Theodore, the young Corsican. Only to see the boy 
would demand extraordinary cleverness; to save him would 
need a miracle ; but he was thinking of it. 

For the better comprehension of what Jacques Collin pro- 
posed to attempt, it must here be remarked that murderers 
and thieves, all the men who people the galleys, are not so 
formidable as is generally supposed. With a few rare ex- 
ceptions these creatures are all cowards, in consequence, no 
doubt, of the constant alarms which weigh on their spirit. 
The faculties being perpetually on the stretch in thieving, 
and the success of a stroke of business depending on the ex- 
ertion of every vital force, with a readiness of wit to match 
their dexterity of hand, and an alertness which exhausts the 
nervous system ; these violent exertions of will once over, they 
become stupid, just as a singer or a dancer drops quite ex- 
hausted after a fatiguing pas seul, or one of those tremendous 
duets which modern composers inflict on the public. 

Malefactors are, in fact, so entirely bereft of common sense, 
or so much oppressed by fear, that they become absolutely 
childish. Credulous to the last degree, they are caught by 
the bird-lime of the simplest snare. When they have done a 
successful joh^ they are in such a state of prostration that 
they immediately rush into the debaucheries they crave for; 
they get drunk on wine and spirits, and throw themselves 



VATTTRIN'S I/AST AVATAR 51 

madly into the arms of their women to recover composure by 
dint of exhausting their strength, and to forget their crime 
by forgetting their reason. 

Then they are at the mercy of the police. When once 
they are in custody they lose their head, and long for hope 
so blindly that they believe anything; indeed, there is noth- 
ing too absurd for them to accept it. An instance will suffice 
to show how far the simplicity of a criminal who has been 
nabhed will carry him. Bibi-Lupin, not long before, had 
extracted a confession from a murderer of nineteen by mak- 
ing him believe that no one under age was ever executed. 
When this lad was transferred to the Conciergerie to be sen- 
tenced after the rejection of his appeal, this terrible man 
came to see him. 

"Are you sure you are not yet twenty?" said he. 

"Yes, I am only nineteen and a half." 

"Well, then," replied Bibi-Lupin, "you may be quite sure 
of one thing — you will never see twenty." 

"Why ?" 

"Because you will be scragged within three days," replied 
the police agent. 

The murderer, who had believed, even after sentence was 
passed, that a minor would never be executed, collapsed like 
an omelette soufftee. 

Such men, cruel only from the necessity for suppressive 
evidence, for they murder only to get rid of witnesses (and 
this is one of the arguments adduced by those who desire 
the abrogation of capital punishment), — these giants of dex- 
terity and skill, whose sleight of hand, whose rapid sight, 
whose every sense is as alert as that of a savage, are heroes of 
evil only on the stage of their exploits. Not only do their 
difficulties begin as soon as the crime is committed, for they 
are as much bewildered by the need for concealing the stolen 
goods as they were depressed by necessity — but they are as 
weak as a woman in childbed. The vehemence of their 
schemes is terrific ; in success they become like children. In 
a word, their nature is that of the wild beast — easy to kill 



552 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

Avhen it is full fed. In prison these strange beings are men 
in dissimulation and in secretiveness, which never yields till 
the last moment, when they are crushed and broken by the 
tedium of imprisonment. 

It may hence be understood how it was that the three con- 
victs, instead of betraying their chief, were eager to serve 
him; and as they suspected he was now the owner of the 
stolen seven himdred and fifty thousand francs, tjiey admired 
him for his calm resignation, under bolt and bar of the Con- 
ciergerie, believing him capable of protecting them all. 

When Monsieur Gault left the sham priest, he returned 
through the parlor to his office, and went in search of Bibi- 
Lupin, who for twenty minutes, since Jacques Collin had 
gone downstairs, had been on the watch with his eye at a peep- 
hole in a window looking out on the prison-yard. 

"Xot one of them recognized him," said Monsieur Gault, 
"and Xapolitas, who is on duty, did not hear a word. The 
jioor priest all through the night, in his deep distress, did 
not say a word which could imply that his gown covers 
Jacques Collin." 

"That shows that he is used to prison life," said the police 
. agent. 

\ Xapolitas, Bibi-Lupin"s secretary, being unknown to the 
i^ criminals then in the Conciergerie, was playing the part of 
the young gentleman imprisoned for forgery. 

"Well, but he wishes to be allowed to hear the confession 
of the young fellow who is sentenced to death," said the 
governor. 

"To be sure ! That is our last chance," cried Bibi-Lupin. 
"I had forgotten that. Theodore Calvi, the young Corsican, 
was the man chained to Jacques Collin; they say that on the 
hulks <Tacques Collin made him famous pads " 

The convicts on the galleys contrive a kind of pad to slip 
between their skin and the fetters to deaden the pressure of 
the iron ring on their ankles and instep ; these pads, made of 
tow and rags, are known as patarasses^ 

%\ 



VAUTRIN'S LAST AVATAR ^] 53 

"Who is warder over the man?" asked Bibi-Lupin. 

"Coeur la Virole." 

"Very well; I will go and make up as a gendarme, and 
be on the watch ; I shall hear what they say. I will be even 
with them." 

"But if it should be Jacques Collin are you not afraid, of 
his recognizing you and throttling you?" said the governor 
to Bibi-Lupin. 

"As a gendarme I shall have my sword," replied the other ; 
"and, besides, if he is Jacques Collin, he will never do any- 
thing that will risk his neck; and if he is a priest, I shall 
be safe." 

"Then you have no time to lose," said Monsieur Gault; 
"it is half-past eight. Father Sauteloup has just read the 
reply to his appeal, and Monsieur Sanson is waiting in the 
order room." 

"Yes, it is to-day's job, the Vidow's huzzars' " (les hussards 
de la veuve, another horrible name for the functionaries of 
the guillotine) "are ordered out," replied Bibi-Lupin. "Still, 
I cannot wonder that the prosecutor-general should hesitate; 
the boy has always declared that he is innocent, and there is, 
in my opinion, no conclusive evidence against him." 

"He is a thorough Coriscan," said Monsieur Gault; "he 
has not said a word, and has held firm all through." 

The last words of the governor of the prison summed up 
the dismal tale of a man condemned to die. A man cut off 
from among the living by law belongs to the Bench. The 
Bench is paramount; it is answerable to nobody, it obeys its 
own conscience. The prison belongs to the Bench, which con- 
trols it absolutely. Poetry has taken possession of this social 
theme, "the man condemned to death" — a subject truly apt 
to strike the imagination ! And poetry has been sublime on 
it. Prose has no resource but fact ; still, the fact is appalling 
enough to hold its own against verse. The existence of a 
condemned man who has not confessed his crime, or betrayed 
his accomplices, is one of fearful torment. This is no case 
of iron boots, of water poured into the stomach, or of limbs 
4 



54 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

racked by hideous machinery; it is hidden and, so to speak, 
negative torture. The condemned wretch is given over to 
himself with a companion whom he cannot but distrust. 

The amiabilit}' of modern philanthropy fancies it has un- 
derstood the dreadful torment of isolation, but this is a mis- 
take. Since the abolition of torture, the Bench, in a natural 
anxiety to reassure the too sensitive consciences of the jury, 
had guessed what a terrible auxiliary isolation would prove 
to justice in seconding remorse. 

Solitude is void; and nature has as great a horror of a 
moral void as she has of a physical vacuum. Solitude is 
habitable only to a man of genius who can peoj)le it with 
ideas, the children of the spiritual world ; or to one who con- 
templates the works of the Creator, to whom it is bright with 
the light of heaven, alive with the breath and voice of God. 
Excepting for these two beings — so near to Paradise — solitude 
is to the mind what torture is to the body. Between solitude 
and the torture-chamber there is all the difference that there 
is between a nervous malady and a surgical disease. It is 
suffering multiplied by infinitude. The body borders on 
the infinite through its nerves, as the spirit does through 
thought. And, in fact, in tlie annals of the Paris law 
courts the criminals who do not confess can be easily counted. 

This terrible situation, which in some cases assumes ap- 
palling importance — in politics, for instance, when a dynasty 
or a state is involved — will find a place in the Human 
Comedy. But here a description of the stone box in which, 
after the Eestoration, the law shut up a man condemned to 
death in Paris, may serve to give an idea of the terrors of a 
felon's last day on earth. 

Before the Kevolution of Jul}^ there was in the Con- 
ciergerie, and indeed there still is, a condemned cell. This 
room, backing on the governor's otfice, is divided from it by 
a thick wall in strong masonry, and the other side of it is 
formed by a wall seven or eight feet thick, which supports one 
end of the immense Salle des Pas-Perdus. It is entered 
through the first door in the long dark passage in which the 



VATTTTRTN'S LAST AVATAR 55 

eye loses itself when looking from the middle of the vaulted 
gateway. This ill-omened room is lighted by a funnel, barred 
by a formidable grating, and hardly perceptible on going into 
the Conciergerie yard, for it has been pierced in the narrow 
space between the office window close to the railing of the 
gateway, and the place where the office clerk sits — a den like 
a cupboard contrived by the architect at the end of the en- 
trance court. 

This position accounts for the fact that the room thus en- 
closed between four immensely thick walls should have been 
devoted, when the Conciergerie was reconstituted, to this 
terrible and funereal service. Escape is impossible. The pas- 
sage, leading to the cells for solitary confinement and to the 
women's quarters, faces the stove where gendarmes and 
warders are always collected together. The air-hole, the only 
outlet to the open air, is nine feet above the floor, and looks 
out on the first court, which is guarded by sentries at the 
outer gate. No human power can make any impression on 
the walls. Besides, a man sentenced to death is at once 
secured in a straitwaistcoat, a garment which precludes all 
use of the hands; he is chained by one foot to his camp bed, 
and he has a fellow prisoner to watch and attend on him. 
The room is paved with thick flags, and the light is so dim 
that it is hard to see anything. 

It is impossible not to feel chilled to the marrow on going 
in, even now, though for sixteen years the cell has never been 
used, in consequence of the changes effected in Paris in the 
treatment of criminals under sentence. Imagine the guilty 
man there with his remorse for company, in silence and dark- 
ness, two elements of horror, and you will wonder how he ever 
failed to go mad. What a nature must that be whose temper 
can resist such treatment, with the added misery of enforced 
idleness and inaction. 

And yet Theodore Calvi, a Corsican, now twenty-seven 
years of age, mufiled, as it were, in a shroud of absolute re- 
serve, had for two months held out against the effects of this 
dungeon and the insidious chatter of the prisoner placed to 
entrap him. 



56 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

These were the strange circumstances under which the 
Corsican had been condemned to death. Though the case is 
a very curious one, our account of it must be brief. It is 
impossible to introduce a long digression at the climax of a 
narrative already so much prolonged, since its only interest 
is in so far as it concerns Jacques Collin, the vertebral col- 
imm, so to speak, which, by its sinister persistency, connects 
Le Pcre Goriot with lUiisions perdues, and Illusions per- 
dues with this Study. And, indeed, the reader's imagina- 
tion will be able to work out the obscure case which at 
this moment was causing great uneasiness to the jury of 
the sessions, before whom Theodore Calvi had been tried. 
For a whole week, since the criminaFs appeal had been 
rejected by the Supreme Court, Monsieur de Granville 
had been worrying himself over the case, and postponing 
from day to day the order for carrying out the sentence, so 
anxious was he to reassure the jury by ^announcing that on 
the threshold of death the accused hadvconfessed the crime. 

A poor widow of Xanterre, whose dwelling stood apart 
from the township, which is situated in the midst of the 
infertile plain lying between Mount- Valerien, Saint-Germain, 
the hills of Sartrouville, and Argenteuil, had been murdered 
and robbed a few days after coming into her share of an un- 
expected inheritance. This windfall amounted to three thou- 
sand francs, a dozen silver spoons and forks, a gold watch and 
chain, and some linen. Instead of depositing the three thou- 
sand francs in Paris, as she was advised by the notary of the 
wine-merchant who had left it her, the old woman insisted 
on keeping it by her. In the first place, she had never seen 
so much money of her own, and then she distrusted everybody 
in every kind of affairs, as most common and country folk do. 
After long discussion with a wine-merchant of Nanterre, a, 
relation of her own and of the wine-merchant who had left her 
the money, the widow decided on buying an annuity, on 
selling her house at Nanterre, and living in the town of 
Saint-Germain. 

The house she was living in, with a good-sized garden en- 



VAUTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 57 

closed by a slight wooden fence, was the poor sort of dwelling 
usually built by small landowners in the neighborhood of 
Paris. It had been hastily constructed, with no architectural 
design, of cement and rubble, the materials commonly used 
near Paris, where, as at Nanterre, they are extremely abun- 
dant, the ground being everywhere broken by quarries open 
to the sky. This is the ordinary hut of the civilized savage. 
The house consisted of a ground floor and one floor above, 
with garrets in the roof. 

The quarryman, her deceased husband, and the builder of 
this dwelling, had put strong iron bars to all the windows; 
the front door was remarkably thick. The man knew that 
he was alone there in the open country — and what a country ! 
His customers were the principal master-masons in Paris, so 
the more important materials for his house, which stood 
within five hundred yards of his quarry, had been brought out 
in his own carts returning empty. He could choose such as 
suited him where houses were pulled down, and got them very 
cheap. Thus the window-frames, the iron-work, the doors, 
shutters, and wooden fittings were all derived from sanctioned 
pilfering, presents from his customers, and good ones, care- 
fully chosen. Of two window-frames, he could take the better. 

The house, entered from a large stable-yard, was screened 
from the road by a wall ; the gate was of strong iron-railing. 
Watch-dogs were kept in the stables, and a little dog indoors 
at night. There was a garden of more than two acres behind. 

His widow, without children, lived here with only a woman 
servant. The sale of the quarry had paid off the owner's 
debts ; he had been dead about two years. This isolated house 
was the widow's sole possession, and she kept fowls and cows, 
selling the eggs and milk at Nanterre. Having no stable- 
boy or carter or quarryman — her husband had made them do 
every kind of work — she no longer kept up the garden ; she 
only gathered the few greens and roots that the stony ground 
allowed to grow self-sown. 

The price of the house, with the money she had inherited, 
would amount to seven or eight thousand francs, and she 



58 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

could fancy herself living very happily at Saint-Germain 
on seven or eight hundred francs a year, which she thought 
she could buy with her eight thousand francs. She had had 
many discussions over this with the notary at Saint-Germain, 
for she refused to hand her money over for an annuity to the 
wine-merchant at Xanterre, who was anxious to have it. 

Under these circumstances, then, after a certain day the 
widow Pigeau and her servant were seen no more. The front 
gate, the house door, the shutters, all were closed. At the 
end of three days, the police, being informed, made inquisi- 
tion. Monsieur Popinot, the examining judge, and the public 
prosecutor arrived from Paris, and this was what they re- 
ported : — 

Neither the outer gate nor the front door showed any marks 
of violence. The key was in the lock of the door, inside. Xot 
a single bar had been wrenched ; the locks, shutters, and bolts 
were all untampered with. The walls showed no traces that 
could betray the passage of the criminals. The chimney- 
pots, of red clay, afforded no opportunity for ingress or 
escape, and the roofing was sound and unbroken, showing no 
damage by violence. 

On entering the first-floor rooms, the magistrates, the 
gendarmes, and Bibi-Lupin found the widow Pigeau strangled 
in her bed and the woman strangled in hers, each by means 
of the bandana she wore as a nightcap. The three thousand 
francs were gone, with the silver-plate and the trinkets. The 
two bodies were decomposing, as were those of the little dog 
and of a large yard-dog. 

The wooden palings of the garden were examined ; none were 
broken. The garden paths showed no trace of footsteps. The 
magistrate thought it probable that the robber had walked on 
the grass to leave no foot-prints if he had come that way; bur 
how could he have got into the house ? The back door to th^' 
garden had an outer guard of three iron bars, uninjured ; and 
there, too, the key was in the lock inside, as in the front door. 

All these impossibilities having been duly noted by Mon- 
sieur Popinot, by Bibi-Lupin, who stayed there a day to ex- 



/ 



VAUTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 59 

amine every detail, by the public prosecutor himself, and by 
the sergeant of the gendarmerie at Nanterre, this murder be- 
came an agitating mystery, in which the Law and the Police 
were nonplussed. 

This drama, published in the Gazette des Tribunaux, took 
place in the winter of 1828-29. God alone knows what excite- 
ment this puzzling crime occasioned in Paris ! But Paris has 
a new drama to watch very morning, and forgets everything. 
The police, on the contrary, forgets nothing. 

Three months after this fruitless inquiry, a girl of the 
town, whose extravagance had invited the attention of Bibi- 
liUpin's agents, who watched her as being the ally of several 
thieves, tried to persuade a woman she knew to pledge twelve 
silver spoons and forks and a gold watch and chain. The 
friend refused. This came to Bibi-Lupin's ears, and he re- 
membered the plate and the watch and chain stolen at Nan- 
terre. The commissioners of the Mont-de-Piete, and all the 
receivers of stolen goods, were warned, while Manon la Blonde 
was subjected to unremitting scrutiny. 

It was very soon discovered that Manon la Blonde was 
madly in love with a young man who was never to be seen, 
and was supposed to be deaf to all the fair Manon's proofs 
of devotion. Mystery on mystery. However, this youth, un- 
der the diligent attentions of police spies, was soon seen and 
identified as an escaped convict, the famous hero of the 
Corsican vendetta, the handsome Theodore Calvi, known as 
Madeleine. 

A man was turned on to entrap Calvi, one of those double- 
dealing buyers of stolen goods who serve the thieves and the 
police both at once; he promised to purchase the silver and 
the watch and chain. At the moment when the dealer of the 
Cour Saint-Guillaume was counting out the cash to Theodore, 
dressed as a woman, at half-past six in the evening, the police 
came in and seized Theodore and the property. 

The inquiry was at once begun. On such thin evidence it 
was impossible to pass a sentence of death. Calvi never 
swerved, he never contradicted himself. He said that a 



60 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

country woman had sold him these objects at Argenteuil ; that 
after buying them, the excitement over the murder com- 
mitted at Nanterre had shown him thp danger of keeping 
this plate and watch and chain in his possession, since, in fact, 
they were proved by the inventory made after the death of the 
wine merchant, the widow Pigeau's uncle, to be those that 
were stolen from her. Compelled at last by poverty to sell 
them, he said he wished to dispose of them by the intervention 
of a person to whom no suspicion could attach. 

And nothing else could be extracted from the convict, who, 
by his taciturnity and firmness, contrived to insinuate that 
the wine-merchant at jSTanterre had committed the crime, and 
that the woman of whom he, Theodore, had bought them was 
the wine-merchant's wife. The unhappy man and his wife 
were both taken into custody; but, after a week's imprison- 
ment, it was amply proved that neither the husband nor the 
wife had been out of their house at the time. Also, Calvi 
failed to recognize in the wife the woman who, as he declared, 
had sold him the things. 

As it was shown that Calvi's mistress, implicated in the case, 
had spent about a thousand francs since the date of the 
crime and the day when Calvi tried to pledge the plate and 
trinkets, the evidence seemed strong enough to commit Calvi 
and the girl for trial. This murder being the eighteenth 
which Theodore had committed, he was condemned to death, 
for he seemed certainly to be guilty of this skilfully contrived 
crime. Though he did not recognize the wine-merchant's wife, 
both she and her husband recognized him. The inquiry had 
proved, by the evidence of several witnesses, that Theodore 
had been living at Nanterre for about a month ; he had worked 
at a mason's, his face whitened with plaster, and his clothes 
very shabby. At ISTanterre the lad was supposed to be about 
eighteen years old, and for the whole month he must have 
been nursing that brat (nourri ce poupon, i. e. hatching the 
crime). 

The lawyers thought he must have had accomplices. The 
chimney-pots were measured and compared with the size of 



VATTTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 61 

Manon la Blonde's body to see if she could have got in that 
way; but a child of six could not have passed up or down 
those red-clay pipes, which, in modern buildings, take the 
place of the vast chimneys of old-fashioned houses. But for 
this singular and annoying difficulty, Theodore would have 
been executed within a week. The prison chaplain, it has 
been seen, could make nothing of him. 

All this business, and the name of Calvi, must have escaped 
the notice of Jacques Collin, who, at the time, was absorbed 
in his single-handed struggle with Contenson, Corentin, and 
Peyrade. It had indeed been a point with Trompe-la-Mort 
to forget as far as possible his chums and all that had to do 
with the law courts ; he dreaded a meeting which should bring 
him face to face with a pal who might demand an account of 
his boss which Collin could not possibly render. 

The governor of the prison went forthwith to the public 
prosecutor's court, where he found the Attorney-General in 
conversation with Monsieur de Granville, an order for the 
execution in his hand. Monsieur de Granville, who had spent 
the whole night at the Hotel de Serizy, was, in consequence 
of this important case, obliged to give a few hours to his 
duties, though overwhelmed with fatigue and grief; for the 
physicians could not yet promise that the Countess would 
recover her sanity. 

After speaking a few words to the governor. Monsieur de 
Granville took the warrant from the attorney and placed it 
in Gault's hands. 

"Let the matter proceed," said he, "unless some extraordi- 
nary circumstances should arise. Of this you must judge. 
I trust to your judgment. The scaffold need not be erected 
till half-past ten, so you still have an hour. On such an occa- 
sion hours are centuries, and many things may happen in a 
century. Do not allow him to think he is reprieved ; prepare 
the man for execution if necessary; and if nothing comes of 
that, give Sanson the warrant at half -past nine. Let him 
wait !" 



t>2 A COURTESANS LIFE 

As the governor of the prison left the public prosecutor's 
room, under the archway of the passage into the hall he met 
Monsieur Camusot, who was going there. He exchanged a 
few hurried words with the examining judge; and after tell- 
ing him what had been done at the Conciergerie with regard 
to Jacques Collin, he went on to witness the meeting of 
Trompe-la-Mort and Madeleine; and he did not allow the 
so-called priest to see the condemned criminal till Bibi-Lupin, 
admirably disguised as a gendarme, had taken the place of 
the prisoner left in charge of the young Corsican. 

Xo words can describe the amazement of the three convicts 
when a warder came to fetch Jacques Collin and led him to 
the condemned cell ! With one consent they rushed up to 
the chair on which Jacques Collin was sitting. 

"To-day, isn't it, monsieur?*' asked Fil-de-Soie of the 
warder. 

"Yes, Jack Ketch is waiting," said the man with perfect 
indilfereace. 

Chariot is the name by which the executioner is known to 
the populace and the prison world in Paris. The nickname 
dates from the Kevolution of 1789. 

The words produced a great sensation. The prisoners 
looked at each other. 

"It is all over with him," the warder went on ; "the warrant 
lias been delivered to Monsieur Gault, and the sentence has 
just been read to him.'' 

"And so the fair Madeleine has received the last sacra- 
ments ?" said la Pouraille, and he swallowed a deep mouthful 
of air. 

"Poor little Theodore !" cried le Biffon ; "he is a pretty 
chap too. What a pity to drop your nut" (eternuer dans le 
son) "so young." 

The warder went towards the gate, thinking that Jacques 
Collin was at his heels. But the Spaniard walked very slowly, 
and when he was getting near to Julien he tottered and signed 
to la Pouraille to give him his arm. 

"He is a murderer," said Xapolitas to the priest, pointing 
to la Pouraille, and offering his own arm. 



VAUTRIN'S t>AST AVATAR (^^ 

"No, to me he is an unhappy wretch!" replied. Jaeqaes 
Collin, with the presence of mind and the unction of the 
Archbishop of Cambrai. And he drew away from ISTapolitas, 
of whom he had been very suspicious from the first. Then 
he said to his pals in an undertone : 

"He is on the bottom step of the Abbaye de Monte-a-Regret, 
but I am the Prior ! I will show you how well I know how 
to come round the beaks. I mean to snatch this boy's nut 
from their jaws." 

"For the sake of his breeches!" said Fil-de-Soie with a 
smile. 

"I mean to win his soul to heaven !'' replied Jacques Collin 
fervently, seeing some other prisoners about him. And he 
joined the warder at the gate. 

"He got in to save Madeleine," said Fil-de-Soie. "We 
guessed rightly. What a boss he is !" 

"But how can he ? Jack Ketch's men are waiting. He will 
not even see the kid," objected le BifiPon. 

"The devil is on his side !" cried la Pouraille. "He claim 
our blunt ! Never ! He is too fond of his old chums ! We 
are too useful to him ! They wanted to make us blow the gaff, 
but we are not such flats ! If he saves his Madeleine,^'! will ^^ 
tell him all my secrets." "' \P^ ^ 

The effect of this speech was to increase the devotion of the 
three convicts to their boss; for at this moment he was all 
their hope. 

Jacques Collin, in spite of Madeleine's peril, did not forget 
to play his part. Though he knew the Conciergerie as well 
as he knew the hulks in the three ports, he blundered so 
naturally that the warder had to tell him, "This way, that 
way," till they reached the office. There, at a glance, Jacques 
Collin recognized a tall, stout man leaning on the stove, with 
a long, red face not without distinction : it was Sanson. 

"Monsieur is the chaplain?'' said he, going towards him 
with simple cordiality. 

The mistake was so shocking that it froze the bystanders. 

"No, monsieur," said Sanson; "I have other functions." 



64 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

Sanson, the father of the last executioner of that name — 
for he has recently been dismissed — was the son of the man 
who beheaded Louis XVI. After four centuries of hereditary 
office, this descendant of so many executioners had tried to 
repudiate the traditional burden. The Sansons were for two 
hundred years executioners at Rouen before being promoted 
to the first rank in the kingdom, and had carried out the 
decrees of justice from father to son since the thirteenth cen- 
tury. Few families can boast of an office or of nobility handed 
down in a direct line during six centuries. 

This young man had been captain in a cavalry regiment, 
and was looking forward to a brilliant military career, when 
his father insisted on his help in decapitating the king. Then 
he made his son his deputy when, in 1793, two guillotines 
were in constant work — one at the Barriere du Trone, and the 
other in the Place de Greve. This terrible functionary, now 
a man of about sixty, was remarkable for his dignified air, his 
gentle and deliberate manners, and his entire contempt for 
Bibi-Lupin and his acolytes who fed the machine. The only 
detail which betrayed the blood of the medijpval executioner 
was the formidable breadth and thickness of his hands. Well 
informed too, earing greatly for his position as a citizen and 
an elector, and an enthusiastic florist, this tall, brawTiy man 
with his low voice, his calm reserve, his few words, and a high 
bald forehead, was like an English nobleman rather than an 
executioner. And a Spanish priest would certainly have fallen 
into the mistake which Jacques Collin had intentionally 
made. 

"He is no convict !"' said the head warder to the governor. 

"I begin to think so too," replied Monsieur Gault, with a 
nod to that official. 

Jacques Collin was led to the cellar-like room where Theo- 
dore Calvi, in a straitwaistcoat, was sitting on the edge of 
the wretched camp bed. Trompe-la-Mort, under a transient 
gleam of light from the passage, at once recognized Bibi- 
Lupin in the gendarme who stood leaning on his sword. 

"lo sono Gaba-Morto. Pari a nostro Italiano," said Jacques 
Collin very rapidly. "Vengo ti salvar." 



^W' 



VAUTRINS LAST AVATAR 65 

"I am Trompe-la-Mort. Talk our Italian. I have come to 
save you." 

All the two chums wanted to say had, of course, to be in- 
comprehensible to the pretended gendarme; and as Bibi- 
Lupin was left in charge of the prisoner, he could not leave 
his post. The man's fury was quite indescribable. 

Theodore Calvi, a young man with a pale olive complexion, 
light hair, and hollow, dull, blue eyes, well built, hiding 
prodigious strength under the lymphatic appearance that is 
not uncommon in Southerners, would have had a charming 
face but for the strongly-arched eyebrows and low forehead 
that gave him a sinister expression, scarlet lips of savage 
cruelty, and a twitching of the muscles peculiar to Corsicans, 
denoting that excessive irritability which makes them so 
prompt to kill in any sudden squabble. 

Theodore, startled at the sound of that voice, raised his 
head, and at first thought himself the victim of a delusion; 
but as the experience of two months had accustomed him to 
the darkness of this stone box, he looked at the sham priest, 
and sighed deeply. He .did not recognize Jacques Collin, 
whose face, scarred by the application of sulphuric acid, was 
not that of his old boss. 

"It is really your Jacques; I am your confessor, and have 
come to get you off. Do not be such a ninny as to know me ; 
and speak as if you were making a confession." He spoke 
with the utmost rapidity. "This young fellow is very much 
depressed; he is afraid to die, he will confess everything," 
said Jacques Collin, addressing the gendarme. 

Bibi-Lupin dared not say a word for fear of being recog- 
nized. 

"Say something to show me that you are he ; you have noth- 
ing but his voice," said Theodore. 

"You see, poor boy, he assures me that he is innocent," said 
Jacques Collin to Bibi-Lupin, who dared not speak for fear 
of being recognized. 

"S em pre mi" said Jacques, returning close to Theodore, 
and speaking the word in his ear. 



66 A COURTESANS LIFE 

"Sempre ti," replied Theodore, giving the countersign. 
*'Yes, you are the boss " 

"Did vou do the trick ?" 

"Yes.'" 

"Tell me the whole story, that I may see what can be done 
to save you; make haste, Jack Ketch is waiting." 

The Corsican at once knelt down and pretended to be about 
to confess. 

Bibi-Lupin did not know what to do, for the conversation 
was so rapid that it hardly took as much time as it does to 
read it. Theodore hastily told all the details of the crime, 
of which Jacques Collin knew nothing. 

"The jury gave their verdict without proof," he said 
finally. 

"Child \ you want to argue when they are waiting to cut oflE 
your hair " 

"But I might have been sent to spout the wedge. — And 
that is the way they judge you ! — and in Paris too I" 

"But how did you do the job?" asked Trompe-la-Mort. 

"Ah ! there you are. — Since I saw you I made acquaintance 
with a girl, a Corsican, I met when I came to Paris." 

"Men who are such fools as to love a woman," cried Jacques 
Collin, "always come to grief that way. They are tigers 
on the loose, tigers who blab and look at themselves in the 
glass. — You were a gaby." 

"But " 

"Well, what good did she do you — that curse of a moll ?" 

"That duck of a girl — no taller than a bundle of firewood, 
as slippery as an eel, and as nimble as a monkey — got in at 
the top of the oven, and opened the front door. The dogs 
were well crammed with balls, and as dead as herrings. I 
settled the two women. Then when I got the swag, Ginetta 
locked the door and got out again by the oven." 

"Such a clever dodge deserves life,"' said Jacques Collin, 
admiring the execution of the crime as a sculptor admires the 
modeling of a figure. 

"And I was fool enough to waste all that cleverness for a 
thousand crowns !" 




TheCorsicau at omu kiieltdowiiaiid preteuded to be about to confess 



VAITTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 6? 

"No, for a woman," replied Jacques Collin. "I tell you, 
they deprive us of all our wits," and Jacques Collin eyed 
Theodore with a flashing glance of contempt. 

"But you were not there !" said the Corsican ; "I was all 
alone " 

"And do you love the slut?" asked Jacques Collin, feeling 
that the reproach was a just one. 

"Oh! I want to live, but it is for you now rather than for 
her." 

"Be quite easy, I am not called Trompe-la-Mort for noth- 
ing. I undertake the case." 

"What ! life ?" cried the lad, lifting his swaddled hands 
towards the damp vault of the cell. 

"My little Madeleine, prepare to be lagged for life (penal 
servitude)," replied Jacques Collin. "You can expect no 
less ; they won't crown you with roses like a fatted ox. When 
they first set us down for Eochefort, it was because they 
wanted to be rid of us ! But if I can get you ticketed for 
Toulon, you can get out and come back to Pantin (Paris), 
where I will find you a tidy way of living." 

A sigh such as had rarely been heard under that inexorable 
roof struck the stones, which sent back the sound that has no 
fellow in music, to the ear of the astounded Bibi-Lupin. 

"It is the effect of the absolution I promised him in return 
for his revelations," said Jacques Collin to the gendarme. 
"These Corsicans, monsieur, are full of faith ! But he is as 
innocent as the Immaculate Babe, and I mean to try to save 
him." 

"God bless you, Monsieur I'Abbe !" said Theodore in 
French. 

Trompe-la-Mort, more Carlos Herrera, more the canon 
than ever, left the condemned cell, rushed back to the hall, 
and appeared before Monsieur Gault in affected horror. 

"Indeed, sir, the young man is innocent; he has told me 
who the guilty person is ! He was ready to die for a false 
point of honor — he is a Corsican! Go and beg the public 



(58 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

prosecutor to grant me five minutes' interview. Monsieur 
de Granville cannot refuse to listen at once to a Spanish 
priest who is suffering so cruelly from the blunders of the 
French police." 

"I will go," said Monsieur Gault, to the extreme astonish- 
ment of all the witnesses of this extraordinary scene. 

"And meanwhile," said Jacques, "send me back to the 
prison-yard where I may finish the conversion of a criminal 
whose heart I have touched already — they have hearts, these 
people !" 

This speech produced a sensation in all who heard it. The 
gendarmes, the registry clerk, Sanson, the warders, the execu- 
tioner's assistant — all awaiting orders to go and get the 
scaffold ready — to rig up the machine, in prison slang — all 
these people, usually so indifferent, were agitated by very 
natural curiosity. 

Just then the rattle of a carriage with high-stepping horses 
was heard; it stopped very suggestively at the gate of the 
Conciergerie on the quay. The door was opened, and the step 
let down in such haste, that every one supposed that some 
great personage had arrived. Presently a lady waving a 
sheet of blue paper came forward to the outer gate of the 
prison, followed by a footman and a chasseur. Dressed very 
handsomely, and all in black, with a veil over her bonnet, she 
was wiping her eyes with a floridly embroidered handkerchief. 

Jacques Collin at once recognized Asie, or, to give the 
woman her true name, Jacqueline Collin, his aunt. This 
horrible old woman — worthy of her nephew — whose thoughts 
were all centered in the prisoner, and who was defending him 
with intelligence and mother-wit that were a match for the 
powers of the law, had a permit made out the evening before 
in the name of the Duchesse de Maufrigneuse's waiting-maid 
by the request of Monsieur de Serizy, allowing her to see 
Lucien de Rubempre, and the Abbe Carlos Herrera so soon as 
he should be brought out of the secret cells. On this the 
Colonel, who was the Governor-in-Chief of all the prisons, 
had written a few words, and the mere color of the paper re- 



VAUTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 69 

vealed powerful influences; for these permits, like theatre- 
tickets, difl'er in shape and appearance. 

So the turnkey hastened to open the gate, especially when 
he saw the chasseur with his plumes and an uniform of green 
and gold as dazzling as a Eussian General's, proclaiming a 
lady of aristocratic rank and almost royal birth. 

"Oh, my dear Abbe !" exclaimed this fine lad}^ shedding 
a torrent of tears at the sight of the priest, "how could any 
one ever think of putting such a saintly man in here, even by 
mistake ?" 

The Governor took the permit and read, "Introduced by 
His Excellency the Comte de Serizy." 

"Ah ! Madame de San-Esteban, Madame la Marquise,"' 
cried' Carlos Herrera, "what admirable devotion !" 

"But, madame, such interviews are against the rules," said 
the good old Governor. And he intercepted the advance of 
this bale of black watered-silk and lace. 

"But at such a distance !" said Jacques Collin, "and in your 
presence— " and he looked round at the group. 

His aunt, whose dress might well dazzle the clerk, the 
Governor, the warders, and the gendarmes, stank of musk. 
She had on, besides a thousand crowns worth of lace, a black 
India cashmere shawl, worth six thousand francs. And her 
chasseur was marching up and down outside with the inso- 
lence of a lackey who knows that he is essential to an exacting 
princess. He spoke never a word to the footman, who stood 
by the gate on the quay, which is always open by day. 

"What do you wish? What can I do?" said Madame de 
San-Esteban in the lingo agreed upon by this aunt and 
nephew. 

This dialect consisted in adding terminations in ar or in 
or, or in al or in i to every word, whether French or slang, so 
as to disguise it by lengthening it. It was a diplomatic cipher 
adapted to speech. 

"Put all the letters in some safe place; take out those that 

are most likely to compromise the ladies ; come back, dressed 

very poorly, to the Salle des Pas-Perdus, and wait for my 

orders." 
5 



70 A COURTESAN" S TJFE 

Asie, otherwise Jacqueline, knelt as if to receive his bless- 
ing, and the sham priest blessed his aunt with evangelical 
unction. 

"Addio, Marchesa" said he aloud, "And," he added in 
their private language, "find Europe and Paccard with the 
seven hundred and fifty thousand francs they bagged. We 
must have them."' 

"Paccard is out there,"' said the pious Marquise, pointing 
to the chasseur, her eyes full of tears. 

This intuitive comprehension brought not merely a smile 
to the man's lips, but a gesture of surprise; no one could 
astonish him but his aunt. The sham Marquise turned to the 
bystanders with the air of a woman accustomed to give her- 
self airs. 

"He is in despair at being unable to attend his son's 
funeral," said she in broken French, "for this monstrous 
miscarriage of justice has betrayed the saintly man's secret. — 
I am going to the funeral mass. — Here, monsieur," she added 
to the Governor, handing him a purse of gold, "this is to give 
your poor prisoners some comforts." 

"What slap-up style !" her nephew whispered in approval. 

Jacques Collin then followed the warder, who led him back 
to the yard. 

Bibi-Lupin, quite desperate, had at last caught the eye of 
a real gendarme, to whom, since Jacques Collin had gone, he 
had been addressing significant "Aliems" and who took 
his place on guard in the condemned cell. But Trompe-la- 
Mort"s sworn foe was released too late to see the great lady, 
who drove off in her dashing turn-out, and ' whose voice, 
though disguised, fell on his ear with a vicious twang. 

"Three hundred shiners for the boarders," said the head 
warder, showing Bibi-Lupin the purse, which Monsieur Gault 
had handed over to his clerk. 

"Let's see. Monsieur Jacomety,"' said Bibi-Lupin. 

The police agent took the purse, poured out the money 
into his hand, and examined it curiously. 

"Yes, it is gold, sure enough I"" said he, "and a coat-of- 



VAUTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 71 

arms on the purse ! The scoundrel ! How clever he is ! What 

an ail-round villain ! He does us all brown and all the 

time ! He ought to be shot down like a dog !" 

"Why, what's the matter ?" asked the clerk, taking back the 
money. ^;. ^ 

"The matter ! Why, the hussy stole it !" cried Bibi-Lupin, H^ 
stamping with rage on the flags of the gateway. 

The words produced a great sensation among the spectators, 
who were standing at a little distance from Monsieur Sanson. 
He, too, was still standing, his back against the large stove in 
the middle of the vaulted hall, awaiting the order to crop 
the felon's hair and erect the scaffold on the Place de Greve. 

On re-entering the yard, Jacques Collin went towards his 
chums at a pace suited to a frequenter of the galleys. 

"What have you on your mind ?" said he to la Pouraille. 

"My game is up," said the man, whom Jacques Collin led 
into a corner. "What I want now is a pal I can trust." 

"What for?" 

La Pouraille, after telling the tale of all his crimes, but in 
thieves' slang, gave an account of the murder and robbery of 
the two Crottats. 

"You have my respect," said Jacques Collin. "The job 
was well done; but you seem to me to have blundered after- 
wards." 

"In what way?" 

"Well, having done the trick, you ought to have had a 
Eussian passport, have made up as a Russian prince, bought 
a fine coach with a coat-of-arms on it, have boldly deposited 
your money in a bank, have got a letter of credit on Hamburg, 
and then have set out posting to Hamburg with a valet, a 
ladies' maid, and your mistress disguised as a Eussian prin- 
cess. At Hamburg you should have sailed for Mexico. A 
chap of spirit, with two hundred and eighty thousand francs 
in gold, ought to be able to do what he pleases and go where 
he pleases, flathead!" 

"Oh yes, you have such notions because you are the boss 
Your nut is always square on your shoulders — but I " 



72 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"In short, a word of good advice in your position is like 
broth to a dead man," said Jacques Collin, with a serpent- 
like gaze at his old pal. 

"True enough !" said la Pouraille, looking dubious. "But 
give me the broth, all the same. If it does not suit my stom- 
ach, I can warm my feet in it " 

"Here you are nabbed by the Justice, with five robberies 
and three murders, the latest of them those of two rich and 
respectable folks. . . . Xow, juries do not like to see 
respectable folks killed. You will be put through the ma- 
chine, and there is not a chance for you." 

"I have heard all that," said la Pouraille lamentably. 

"My aunt Jacqueline, with whom I have just exchanged 
a few words in the office, and who is, as you know, a mother 
10 the pals, told me that the authorities mean to be quit of 
you; they are so much afraid of you.'' 

"But I am rich now," said la Pouraille, with a simplicity 
which showed how convinced a thief is of his natural right 
to steal. "What are they afraid of?" 

"We have no time for philosophizing,"' said Jacques Col- 
lin. "To come back to you " 

"What do you want with me?" said la Pouraille, inter- 
rupting his boss. 

"You shall see. A dead dog is still worth something." 

"To other people," said la Pouraille. 

"I take you into my game !" said Jacques Collin. 

"Well, that is something," said the murderer. "What 
next ?" 

"I do not ask you where your money is, but what you mean 
to do with it ?" 

La Pouraille looked into the convict's impenetrable e3''e, 
and Jacques coldly went on : "Have you a trip you are sweet 
upon, or a child, or a pal to be helped? I shall be outside 
within an hour, and I can do much for any one you want to 
be good-natured to." 

La Pouraille still hesitated : he was delaying wnth indeci- 
sion. Jacques Collin produced a clinching argument. 



',= V? ^■ 



".^-. 



VAUTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 73 



"Your whack of our money would be thirty thousand 
francs. Do you leave it to the pals ? Do you bequeath it to 
anybody? Your share is safe; I can give it this evening to 
any one you leave it to." 

The murderer gave a little start of satisfaction. 

"I have him !*" said Jacques Collin to himself. "But we 
have no time to play. Consider," he went on in la Pouraille's 
car, "we have not ten minutes to spare, old chap; the public 
prosecutor is to send for me, and I am to have a talk with 
him. I have him safe, and can ring the old boss' neck. I am 
certain I shall save Madeleine." 

"If you save Madeleine, my good boss, you can just as 
easily " 

"Don't waste your spittle," said Jacques Collin shortly. 
"Make your will." 

"Well, then — I want to leave the money to la Gonore," re- 
plied la Pouraille piteously. 

"What ! Are you living with j\Ioses' widow — the Jew who 
led the swindling gang in the South?" asked Jacques Collin. 

For Trompe-la-Mort, like a great general, knew the person 
of every one in his army. 

"That's the woman," said la Pouraille, much flattered. 

"A pretty woman," said Jacques Collin, who knew exactly 
how to manage his dreadful tools. "The moll is a beauty; 
she is well informed, and stands by her mates, and a first-rate 
hand. Yes, la Gonore has made a new man of you ! What 
a flat you must be to risk your nut when you have a trip like 
her at home ! You noodle ; you should have set up some re- 
spectable little shop and lived quietly. — And what does 
she do?" 

"She is settled in the Eue Sainte-Barbe, managing a 
house " 

"And she is to be your legatee? Ah, my dear boy, this is 
what such sluts bring us to when we are such fools as to love 
them." 

"Yes, but don't you give her anything till T am done for." 

"It is a sacred trust," said Jacques Collin very seriously. 



74 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"And nothing to the pals ?"' 

"i^othing ! They blowed the gaff for me," answered la 
Pouraille vindictively. 

"Who did? Shall I serve *em out?" asked Jacques Collin 
eagerly, trying to rouse the last sentiment that survives in 
these souls till the last hour. "Who knows, old pal, but 1 
might at the same time do them a bad turn and serve you with 
the public prosecutor?"' 

The murderer looked at his boss with amazed satisfaction. 

"At this moment,"' the boss replied to this expressive look, 
"I am playing the game only for Theodore. When this farce 
is played out, old boy, I might do wonders for a chum — for 
you are a chum of mine."" 

"If I see that you really can put off the engagement for 
that poor little Theodore, I will do anything vou choose — 
there !" 

"But the trick is done. I am sure to save his head. If you 
want to get out of the scrape, you see, la Pouraille, you must 
be ready to do a good turn — we can do nothing single- 
handed '' 

"That"s true,"" said the felon. 

His confidence was so strong, and his faith in the boss so 
fanatical, that he no longer hesitated. La Pouraille re- 
vealed the names of his accomplices, a secret hitherto well 
kept. This was all Jacques needed to know. 

"That is the whole story. Euffard was the third in the job 
with me and Godet "' 

"Arrache-Laine ?" cried Jacques Collin, giving Euffard his 
nickname among the gang. 

"That"s the man. — x\nd the blackguards peached because 
I knew where they had hidden their whack, and they did not 
know where mine was." 

"You are making it all easy, my cherub !" said Jacques 
Collin. 

"What?" 

"Well," replied the master, "you see how wise it is to trust 
me entirely. Your revenge is now part of the hand I am 



VAUTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 75 

playing. — I do not ask you to tell me where the dibs are, you 
can tell me at the last moment ; but tell me all about Eufl'ard 
and Godet." 

''You are, and you always will be, our boss; I have no 
secrets from you," replied la Pouraille. *'My money is in the 
cellar at la Gonore's." 

"And you are not afraid of her telling?" 

"Why, get along ! She knows nothing about my little 
game !" replied la Pouraille. "I make her drunk, though she 
is of the sort that would never blab even with her head under 
the knife. — But such a lot of gold !" 

"Yes, that turns the milk of the purest conscience," replied 
Jacques Collin. 

■ "So I could do the job with no peepers to spy me. All the 
chickens were gone to roost. The shiners are three feet un- 
derground behind some wine-bottles. And I spread some 
stones and mortar over them." 

"Good," said Jacques Collin. "And the others?" 

"Ruffard's pieces are with la Gonore in the poor woman's 
bedroom, and he has her tight by that, for she might be 
nabbed as accessory after the fact, and end her days in Saint- 
Lazare." 

"The villain ! The reelers teach a thief what's what," said 
Jacques. 

"Godet left his pieces at his sister's, a washerwoman; 
honest girl, she may be caught for five years in La Force with- 
out dreaming of it. The pal raised the tiles of the floor, put 
them back again, and guyed." 

"Now do you know what I want you to do ?" said Jacques 
Collin, with a magnetizing gaze at la Pouraille. 

"What?" 

"I want you to take Madeleine's job on your shoulders." 

La Pouraille started queerly; but he at once recovered 
himself and stood at attention under the boss' eye. 

"So you shy at that ? You dare to spoil my game ? Come, 
now ! Four murders or three. Does it not come to the same 
thing?" 



76 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

"Perhaps." 

•^^y the God of good-fellowship, there is no blood in your 
veins ! And I was thinking of saving you !"' 

"How?" 

"Idiot, if we promise to give the money back to the family, 
you will only be lagged for life. I would not give a piece for 
your nut if we keep the blunt, but at this moment you are 
worth seven hundred thousand francs, you flat."' 

"Good for you, boss I" cried la Pouraille in great glee. 

"And then,'"' said Jacques Collin, "Taesides casting all the 
murders on EufPard — Bibi-Lupin will be finely sold. I have 
him this time." 

La Pouraille was speechless at this suggestion; his eyes 
grew round, and he stood like an image. 

He had been three months in custody, and was committed 
for trial, and his chums at La Force, to whom he had never 
mentioned his accomplices, had given him such small comfort, 
that he was entirely hopeless after his examination, and this 
simple expedient had been quite overlooked by these prison- 
ridden minds. This semblance of a hope almost stupefied 
his brain. 

"Have Euffard and Godet had their spree yet ? Have they 
forked out any of the yellow boys?" asked Jacques Collin. 

"They dare not," replied la Pouraille. "The wretches are 
waiting till I am turned off. That is what my moll sent me 
word by la Biffe when she came to see le Biffon." 

''Very well ; we will have their whack of money in twenty- 
four hours," said Jacques Collin. "Then the blackguards 
cannot pay up, as you will ; you will come out as white as 
snow, and they will be red with all that blood ! By my kind 
offices you will seem a good sort of fellow led away by them. 
I shall have money enough of yours to prove alibis on the 
other counts, and when you are back on the hulks — for you 
are bound to go there — you must see about escaping. It is a 
dog's life, still it is life!" 

La Pouraille's eyes glittered with suppressed delirium. 

"With seven hundred thousand francs you can get a good 



VAUTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 77 

many drinks," said Jacques Collin, making his pal quite 
drunk with hope. 

"Ay, ay, boss!" 

"I can bamboozle the Minister of Justice. — Ah, ha! Kuf- 
fard will shell out to do for a reeler. Bibi-Lupin is fairly 
gulled !" 

"Very good, it is a bargain," said la Pouraille with savage 
glee. "You order, and 1 obey." 

And he hugged Jacques Collin in his arms, while tears of 
joy stood in his eyes, so hopeful did he feel of saving his head. 

"That is not all," said Jacques Collin; "the public prose- 
cutor does not swallow everything, you know, especially when 
a new count is entered against you. The next thing is to 
bring a moll into the case by blowing the gaff." 

"But how, and what for ?" 

"Do as I bid you; you will see." And Trompe-la-Mort 
briefly told the secret of the Nanterre murders, showing him 
how necessary it was to find a woman who would pretend to 
be Ginetta. Then he and la. Pouraille, now in good spirits, 
went across to le Biffon. 

"I know how sweet you are on la Biffe," said Jacques Col- 
lin to this man. 

The expression in le Biffon's eyes was a horrible poem. 

"What will she do while you are on the hulks?" 

A tear sparkled in le Biffon's fierce eyes. 

"Well, suppose I were to get her lodgings in the Lorcefe des 
Largnes" (the women's La Force, i. e. les Madelonnettes or 
Saint-Lazare) "for a stretch, allowing that time for you to 
be sentenced and sent there, to arrive and to escape?" 

"Even you cannot work such a miracle. She took no part 
in the job," replied la Biffe's partner. 

"Oh, my good Biffon," said la Pouraille, "our boss is more 
powerful than God Almighty." 

"What is your password for her?" asked Jacques Collin, 
with the assurance of a master to whom nothing can be re 
fused. 

"Sorgue a Pantin" (night in Paris). "If you say that she 



78 A rOURTBSAN'S T.TFE 

knows you have come from me, and if you want her to do as 
you bid her, show her a five-franc piece and say Tondif." 

"She will be involved in the sentence on la Pouraille, and 
let off with a year in quod for snitching,'' said Jacques Collin, 
looking at la Pouraille. 

La Pouraille understood his boss' scheme, and by a single 
look promised to persuade le Biffon to promote it by induc- 
ing la Biffe to take upon herself this complicity in the crime 
la Pouraille was prepared to confess. 

"Farewell, my children. You will presently hear that I 
have saved my boy from Jack Ketch," said Trompe-la-Mort. 
"Yes, Jack Ketch and his hairdresser were waiting in the 
office to get Madeleine ready. — There," he added, "they have 
come to fetch me to go to the public prosecutor." 

And, in fact, a warder came out of the gate and beckoned 
to this extraordinary man, who, in face of the young Corsi- 
can's danger, had recovered the savage power which enabled 
him to hold his own against his own society. 

[t is worthy of note that at the moment when Lucien's 
body was taken away from him, Jacques Collin had, with a 
ta'owniug effort, made up his mind to attempt a last incarna- 
tion, not as a human being, but as a thing. He had at last 
1 aken the fateful step that Napoleon took on* board the boat 
which conveyed him to the Bellerophon. And a strange con- 
currence of events aided this genius of evil and corruption in 
liis undertaking. 

But though the unlooked-for conclusion of this life of 
crime may perhaps be deprived of some of the marvelous 
effect which, in our day, can be given to a narrative only by 
incredible improbabilities, it is necessary, before we accom- 
pany Jacques Collin to the public prosecutor's room, that 
we should follow Madame Camusot in her visits during the 
time we have spent in the Conciergerie. 

One of the obligations which the historian of manners 
must unfailingly observe is that of never marring the truth 
for the sake of dramatic arrangement^ especially when the 



VAUTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 79 

truth is so kind as to be in itself romantic. Social nature, 
particularly in Paris, allows of such freaks of chance, such 
complications of whimsical entanglements, that it constantly 
outdoes the most inventive imagination. The audacity of 
facts, by sheer improbability or indecorum, rises to heights 
of "situation" forbidden to art, unless they are softened, 
cleansed, and purified by the writer. 

Madame Camusot did her utmost to dress herself for the 
morning almost in good taste — a difficult task for the wife 
of a judge who for six years has lived in a provincial town. 
Her object was to give no hold for criticism to the Marquise 
d'Espard or the Duchesse de Maufrigneuse, in a call so 
early as between eight and nine in the morning. Amelie 
Cecile Camusot, nee Thirion, it must be said, only half suc- 
ceeded ; and in a matter of dress is this not a twofold blunder ? 

Few people can imagine how useful the women of Paris are 
to ambitious men of every class ; they are equally necessary in 
the world of fashion and the world of thieves, where, as we 
have seen, they fill a most important part. For instance, sup- 
pose that a man, not to find himself left in the lurch, must 
absolutely get speech within a given time with the high 
functionary who was of such immense importance under the 
Eestoration, and who is to this day called the Keeper of the 
Seals — a man, let us say, in the most favorable position, a 
judge, that is to say, a man familiar with the way of things. 
He is compelled to seek out the presiding judge of a circuit, 
or some private or official secretary, and prove to him his need 
of an immediate interview. But is a Keeper of the Seals 
ever visible "that very minute" ? In the middle of the day, 
if he is not at the Chamber, he is at the Privy Council, or 
signing papers, or hearing a case. In the early morning he 
is out, no one knows where. In the evening he has public 
and private engagements. If every magistrate could claim a 
moment's interview under any pretext that might occur to 
him, the Supreme Judge would be besieged. 

The purpose of a private and immediate interview is there- 
fore submitted to the judgment of one of those mediatory 



80 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

potentates who are but an obstacle to be removed, a door that 
can be unlocked, so long as it is not held by a rival. A wo- 
man at once goes to another woman ; she can get straight into 
her bedroom if she can arouse the curiosity of mistress or 
maid, especially if the mistress is under the stress of a 
strong interest or pressing necessity. 

Call this female potentate Madame la Marquise d'Espard, 
Math whom a Minister has to come to terms; this woman 
writes a little scented note, which her man-servant carries 
to the Minister's man-servant. The note greets the Minister 
on his waking, and he reads it at once. Though the Minister 
has business to attend to, the man is enchanted to have a 
reason for calling on one of the Queens of Paris, one of the 
Powers of the Faubourg Saint-Germain, one of the favorites 
01 the Dauphiness, of Madame^ or of the King. Casimir 
Perier, the only real statesman of the Eevolution of July, 
would leave anything to call on a retired Gentleman of the 
Bed-chamber to King Charles X. 

This theory accounts for the magical effect of the words : 

"Madame, — Madame Camusot, on very important business, 
which she says you know of," spoken in Madame d'Espard's 
ear by her maid, who thought she Avas awake. 

And the Marquise desired that Amelie should be shown in 
at once. 

The magistrate's wife was attentively heard when she be- 
gan with these words : 

"Madame la Marquise, we have ruined ourselves by trying 
to avenge you " 

"How is that, my dear?" replied the Marquise, looking at 
Madame Camusot in the dim light that fell through the 
half-open door. "You are vastly sweet this morning in that 
little bonnet. Where do you get that shape?" 

"You are very kind, madame. — Well, you know that Camu- 
sot's way of examining Lucien de Rubempre drove the young 
man to despair, and he hanged himself in prison." 

"Oh, what will become of ]\[adame de Serizy?" cried the 
Marquise, affecting ignorance, that she might hear the whole 
story once more. 



VAUTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 81 

"Alas ! they say she is quite mad," said Amelie. 'T!f you 
could persuade the Lord Keeper to send for my husband this 
minute, by special messenger, to meet him at the Palais, the 
Minister M^ould hear some strange mysteries, and report them, 
no doubt, to the King. . . . Then Camusot's enemies 
would be reduced to silence." 

"But who are Camusot's enemies?" asked Madame d'Es- 
pard. "^^^ " 

"The public prosecutor, and now Monsieur de Serizy." 

"Very good, my dear," replied Madame d'Espard, who owed 
to Monsieur de Granville and the Comte de Serizy her defeat 
in the disgraceful proceedings by which she had tried to have 
her husband treated as a lunatic, "I will protect you ; I never 
forget either my foes or my friends." 

She rang; the maid drew open the curtains, and daylight 
flooded the room; she asked for her desk, and the maid 
brought it in. The Marquise hastily scrawled a few lines. 

"Tell Godard to go on horseback, and carry this note to 
the Chancellor's office. — There is no reply," said she to the 
maid. 

The woman went out of the room quickh^, but, in spite of 
the order, remained at the door for some minutes. 

"There are great mysteries going forward then?" asked 
Madame d'Espard. "Tell me all about it, dear child. Has 
Clotilde de Grandlieu put a finger in the pie?" 

"You will know everything from the Lord Keeper, for my 
husband has told me nothing. He only told me he was in 
danger. It would be better for us that Madame de Serizy 
should die than that she should remain mad." 

"Poor woman !" said the Marquise. "But was she not mad 
already ?" 

Women of the world, by a hundred ways of pronouncing 
the same phrase, illustrate to attentive hearers the infinite 
variety of musical modes. The soul goes out into the voice as 
it does into the eyes ; it vibrates in light and in air — the ele- 
ments acted on by the eyes and voice. By the tone she gave 
to the two words, "Poor woman !" the Marquise betrayed the 



82 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

joy of satisfied hatred, the pleasure of triumph. Oh ! what 
woes did she not wish to befall Lucien's protectress. Eevenge, 
which nothing can assuage, which can survive the person 
hated, fills us with dark tenors. And Madame Camusot, 
though harsh herself, vindictive, and quarrelsome, was over- 
whelmed. She could find nothing to say, and was silent. 

"Diane told me that Leontine went to the prison," Madame 
d'Espard went on. "The dear Duchess is in despair at such a 
scandal, for she is so foolish as to be very fond of Madame 
de Serizy; however, it is comprehensible: they both adored 
that little fool Lucien at about the same time, and nothing 
so effectually binds or severs two women as worshiping at the 
same altar. And our dear friend spent two hours yesterday 
in Leontine's room. The poor Countess, it seems, says dread- 
ful things! I heard that it was disgusting! A woman of 
rank ought not to give way to such attacks. — Bah ! A purely 
physical passion. — The Duchess came to see me as pale as 
death ; she really was very brave. There are monstrous things 
connected with this business." 

"My husband will tell the Keeper of the Seals all he knows 
for his own justification, for they wanted to save Lucien, and 
he, Madame la Marquise, did his duty. An examining judge 
always has to question people in private at the time fixed by 
law ! He had to ask the poor little wretch something, if only 
for form's sake, and the young fellow did not understand, 
and confessed things " 

"He was an impertinent fool !" said Madame d'Espard in a 
hard tone. 

The judge's wife kept silence on hearing this sentence. 

"Though we failed in the matter of the Commission in 
Lunacy, it was not Camusot's fault, I shall never forget 
that," said the Marquise after a pause. "It was Lucien, 
Monsieur de Serizy, Monsieur de Bauvan, and Monsieur de 
Granville who overthrew us. With time God will be on my 
side; all those people will come to grief. — Be quite easy, I 
will send the Chevalier d'Espard to the Keeper of the Seals 
that he may desire your husband's presence immediately, if 
that is of any use." 



VAUTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 83 



"Oh ! madame- 



"Listen," said the Marquise. "I promise you the ribbon 
of the Legion of Honor at once — to-morrow. It will be a 
conspicuous testimonial of satisfaction with your conduct in 
this affair. Yes, it implies further blame on Lucien; it will 
prove him guilty. Men do not commonly hang them- 
selves for the pleasure of it. — Now, good-bye, my pretty 
dear " 

Ten minutes later IMadame Camusot was in the bedroom 
of the beautiful Diane de Maufrigneuse, who had not gone to 
bed till one, and at nine o'clock had not yet slept. 

However insensible duchesses may be, even these women, 
whose hearts are of stone, cannot see a friend a victim to 
madness without being painfully impressed by it. 

And besides, the connection between Diane and Lucien, 
though at an end now eighteen months since, had left such 
memories with the Duchess that the poor boy's disastrous 
end had been to her also a fearful blow. All night Diane 
had seen visions of the beautiful youth, so charming, so 
poetical, who had been so delightful a lover — painted as 
Leontine depicted him, with the vividness of wild delirium. 
She had letters from Lucien that she had kept, intoxicating let- 
ters worthy to compare with Mirabeau's to Sophie, but more 
literary, more elaborate, for Lucien's letters had been dictated 
by the most powerful of passions — Vanity. Having the most 
bewitching of duchesses for his mistress, and seeing her com- 
mit any folly for him — secret follies, of course — had turned 
Lucien's head with happiness. The lovers pride had in- 
spired the poet. And the Duchess had treasured these touch- 
ing letters, as some old men keep indecent prints, for the sake 
of their extravagant praise of all that was least duchess-like 
in her nature. 

"And he died in i squalid prison !" cried she to herself, 
putting the letters away in a panic when she heard her maid 
knocking gently at her door. 

"Madame Camusot," said the woman, "on business of the 
greatest importance to you, Madame la Duchesse." 



84 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

Diane sprang to her feet in terror. 

"Oh!"' cried she, looking at Amelie, who had assumed a 
duly condoling air, "I guess it all — my letters ! It is about 
my letters. Oh ! my letters, my letters !" 

She sank on to a couch. She remembered now how, in 
the extravagance of her passion, she had answered Lucien in 
the same vein, had lauded the man's poetry as he had sung 
the charms of the woman, and in what a strain ! 

"Alas, yes, madame, I have come to save what is dearer to 
you than life — your honor. Compose yourself and get 
dressed, we must go to the Duchesse de Grandlieu ; happily 
for you, you are not the only person compromised." 

"But at the Palais, yesterday, Leontine burned, I am told, 
all the letters found at poor Lucien' s." 

"But, madame, behind Lucien there was Jacques Collin!" 
cried the magistrate's wife. "You always forget that hor- 
rible companionship which beyond question led to that charm- 
ing and lamented young man's end. That Machiavelli of 
the galleys never loses his head ! Monsieur Camusot is con- 
vinced that the wretch has in some safe hiding-place all the 
most compromising letters written by you ladies to his " 

"His friend," the Duchess hastily put in. "You are right, 
my child. We must hold council at the Grandlieus'. We 
are all concerned in this matter, and Serizy happily will lend 
us his aid." 

Extreme peril — as we have observed in the scenes in the 
Conciergerie — has a hold over the soul not less terrible than 
that of powerful reagents over the body. It is a mental 
Voltaic battery. The day, perhaps, is not far off when the 
process shall be discovered by which feeling is chemically con- 
verted into a fluid not unlike the electric fluid. 

The phenomena were the same in the convict and the Duch- 
ess. This crushed, half-dying woman, who had not slept, 
who was so particular over her dressing, had recovered the 
strength of a lioness at bay, and the presence of mind of a 
general under fire. Diane chose her gown and got through her 
dressing with the alacrity of a grisette who is her own wait- 



VAUTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 85 

ing-woman. It was so astounding, that the lady's-maid 
stood for a moment stock-still, so greatly was she surprised 
to see her mistress in her shift, not ill pleased perhaps to let 
the judge's wife discern through the thin cloud of lawn a 
form as white and as perfect as that of Canova's Venus. It 
was like a gem in a fold of tissue paper. Diane suddenly re- 
membered where a pair of stays had been put that fastened 
in front, sparing a woman in a hurry the ill-spent time and 
fatigue of being laced. She had arranged the lace trimming 
of her shift and the fulness of the bosom by the time the maid 
had fetched her petticoat, and crowned the work by putting 
on her gown. While Amelie, at a sign from the maid, hooked 
the bodice behind, the woman brought out a pair of thread 
stockings, velvet boots, a shawl, and a bonnet. Amelie and 
the maid each drew on a stocking. 

"You are the loveliest creature I ever saw!" said Amelie, 
insidiously kissing Diane's elegant and polished knee with an 
eager impulse. 

"Madame has not her match !" cried the maid. 

"There, there, Josette, hold your tongue," replied the 
Duchess. — "Have you a carriage?" she went on, to Madame 
Camusot. "Then come along, my dear, we can talk on the 
road." 

And the Duchess ran down the great stairs of the Hotel de 
Cadignan, putting on her gloves as she went — a thing she 
had never been known to do. 

"To the Hotel de Grandlieu, and drive fast," said she to 
one of her men, signing to him to get up behind. 

The footman hesitated — it was a" hackney coach. 

"Ah ! Madame la Duchesse, you never told me that the 
young man had letters of yours. Otherwise Camusot would 
have proceeded differently . . ." 

"Leontine's state so occupied my thoughts that I forgot 
myself entirely. The poor woman was almost crazy the day 
before yesterday ; imagine the effect on her of this tragical 
termination. If you could only know, child, what a morning 
we went through yesterday ! It is enough to make one f or- 
6 



86 A COURTESAN" S LIFE 

swear love ! — Yesterday Leontine and I were dragged across 
Paris by a horrible old woman, an old-clothes buyer, a dom- 
ineering creature, to that stinking and blood-stained sty they 
call the Palace of Justice, and I said to her as I took her 
there: 'Is not this enough to make us fall on our knees and 
cry out like Madame de Xucingen, when she went through 
one of those awful Mediterranean storms on her way to 
Naples, "Dear God, save me this time, and never again !" * 

"These two days will certainly have shortened my life. — 
What fools we are ever to write ! — But love prompts us ; we 
receive pages that fire the heart through the eyes, and every- 
thing is in a blaze ! Prudence deserts us — we reply " 

"But why reply when you can act?" said Madame Camu- 
sot. 

"It is grand to lose oneself utterly !'' cried the Duchess with 
pride. "It is the luxury of the soul." 

"Beautiful women are excusable," said Madame Camu- 
sot modestly. "They have more opportunities of falling than 
we have." 

The Duchess smiled. 

"We are always too generous," said Diane de Maufrigneuse. 
"I shall do just like that odious Madame d'Espard." 

"And what does she do?" asked the judge's wife, very 
curious. 

"She has written a thousand love-notes " 

"So many !" exclaimed Amelie, interrupting the Duchess. 

"Well, my dear, and not a word that could compromise 
her is to be found in any one of them." 

"You would be incapable of maintaining such coldness, 
such caution," said Madame Camusot. "You are a woman ; 
vou are one of those angels who cannot stand out against the 
devil " 

"I have made a vow to write no more letters. I never in 
my life wrote to anybody but that unhappy Lucien. — I will 
keep his letters to my dying day ! My dear child, they are 
fire, and sometimes we want " 

"But if they were found !" said Amelie, with a little shocked 
expression. 



VAUTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 87 

"Oh ! I should say they were part of a romance I was writ- 
ing; for I have copied them all;, my dear, and burned the 
originals." 

"Oh, madame, as a reward allow me to read them." 

"Perhaps, child," said the Duchess. "And then you 
will see that he did not write such letters as those to 
Leontine." 

This speech was woman all the world over, of every age 
and every land. 

Madame Camusot, like the frog in la Fontaine's fable, was 
ready to burst her skin with the joy of going to the Grand- 
lieus' in the society of the beautiful Diane de Mauf rigneuse. 
This morning she would forge one of the links that are so 
needful to ambition. She could already hear herself ad- 
dressed as Madame la Presidente. She felt the ineffable glad- 
ness of triumphing over stupendous obstacles, of which the 
greatest was her husband's ineptitude, as yet unrevealed, but 
to her well kno-woi. To win success for a second-rate man !- 
This is to a woman — as to a king — the delight which tempts 
great actors when they act a bad play a hundred times over. 
It is the very drunkenness of egoism. It is in a way the 
Saturnalia of power. 

Power can prove itself to itself only by the strange mis- 
application which leads it to crown some absurd person with 
the laurels of success while insulting genius — the only strong- 
hold which power cannot touch. The knighting of Caligula's 
horse, an imperial farce, has been, and always will be, a 
favorite performance. 

In a few minutes Diane and Amelie had exchanged the 
elegant disorder of the fair Diane's bedroom for the severe 
but dignified and splendid austerity of the Duchesse de Grand- 
lieu's rooms. 

She, a Portuguese, and very pious, always rose at eight to 
attend mass at the little church of Sainte-Valere, a chapelry 
to Saint-Thomas d'Aquin, standing at that time on the es- 
planade of the Invalides. This chapel, now destroyed, was 



88 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

rebuilt in the Rue de Bourgogne, pending the building of a 
Gothic church to be dedicated to Sainte-Clotilde. 

On hearing the first words spoken in her ear by Diane 
de IMaufrigneuse, this saintly lady went to find Monsieur de 
Grandlieu, and brought him back at once. The Duke threw 
a flashing look at Madame Camusot, one of those rapid 
glances with which a man of the world can guess at a whole 
existence, or often read a soul. Amelie's dress greatly helped 
the Duke to decipher the story of a middle-class life, from 
Alencon to ]\Iantes, and from Mantes to Paris. 

Oh ! if only the lawyer's wife could have understood this 
gift in dukes, she could never have endured that politely 
ironical look; she saw the politeness only. Ignorance shares 
the privileges of fine breeding. 

■^'This is Madame Camusot, a daughter of Thirion's — one 
of the Cabinet ushers," said the Duchess to her husband. 

The Duke bowed with extreme politeness to the wife of a 
legal official, and his face became a little less grave. 

The Duke had rung for his valet, who now came in. 

"Go to the Eue Saint-Honore : take a coach. Ring at a 
side door, 'No. 10. Tell the man who opens the door that I 
beg his master will come here, and if the gentleman is at 
home, bring him back with you. — Mention my name, that will 
remove all difficulties. 

"And do not be gone more than a quarter of an hour in 
all." 

Another footman, the Duchess' servant, came in as soon 
as the other was gone. 

"Go from me to the Due de Chaulieu, and send up this 
card." 

The Duke gave him a card folded down in a particular way. 
"When the two friends wanted to meet at once, on any urgent 
or confidential business which would not allow of note-writ- 
ing, they used this means of communication. 

Thus we see that similar customs prevail in every rank of 
society, and differ only in manner, civility, and small details. 
The world of fashion, too, has its argot, its slang; but that 
slang is called style. 



VAUTRIN'S LAST AVATAR 89 

"Are you quite sure, madame, of the existence of the letters 
you say were .written by Mademoiselle Clotilde de Grandlieu 
to this young man ?" said the Due de Grandlieu. 

And he cast a look at Madame Camusot as a sailor casts 
a sounding line. 

"I have not seen them, but there is reason to fear it," 
replied Madame Camusot, quaking. 

"My daughter can have written nothing we would not own 
to !" said the Duchess. 

"Poor Duchess !" thought Diane, with a glance at the Duke 
that terrified him. 

"What do you think, my dear little Diane ?" said the Duke 
in a whisper, as he led her away into a recess. 

"Clotilde is so crazy about Lucien, my dear friend, that she 
had made an assignation with him before leaving. If it had 
not been for little Lenoncourt, she would perhaps have gone 
off with him into the forest of Fontainebleau. I know that 
Lucien used to write letters to her which were enough to turn 
the brain of a saint. — We are three daughters of Eve in the 
coils of the serpent of letter-writing." 

The Duke and Diane came back to the Duchess and Ma- 
dame Camusot, who were talking in undertones. Amelie, 
following the advice of the Duchesse de Maufrigneuse, af- 
fected piety to win the proud lady's favor. 

"We are at the mercy of a dreadful escaped convict !" said 
the Duke, with a peculiar shrug. "This is what comes of 
opening one's house to people one is not absolutely sure of. 
Before admitting an acquaintance, one ought to know all 
about his fortune, his relations, all his previous history " 

This speech is the moral of my story — from the aristocratic 
point of view. 

"That is past and over," said the Duchesse de Mau- 
frigneuse. "Now we must think of saving that poor Madame 
de Serizy, Clotilde, and me " 

"We can but wait for Henri; I have sent to him. But 
everything really depends on the man Gentil is gone to fetch. 
God grant that man may be in Paris ! — Madame," he added 



90 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

to Madame Camusot, "thank you so much for having thought 
of us " 

This was Madame Camusot's dismissal. The daughter of 
the Court usher had wit enougli to understand the Duke ; she 
rose. But the Duchesse de Maufrigneuse, with the enchant- 
ing grace which won her so much friendship and discretion, 
took Amelie by the hand as if to show her, in a way, to the 
Duke and Duchess. 

"On my own account," said she, "to say nothing of her 
having been up before daybreak to save us all, I may ask 
for more than a remembrance for my little Madame Camusot. 
In the first place, she has already done me such service as 1 
cannot forget ; and then she is wholly devoted to our side, 
she and her husband. I have promised that her Camusot 
shall have advancement, and I beg you above everything to 
help him on, for my sake." 

"You need no such recommendation," said the Duke to .Ma- 
dame Camusot. "The Grandlieus always remember a ser- 
vice done them. The King's adherents will ere long have a 
chance of distinguishing themselves; they will be called upon 
to prove their devotion; your husband will be placed in the 
front " 

Madame Camusot withdrew, proud, happy, puffed up to 
suffocation. She reached home triumphant ; she admired 
herself, she made light of the public prosecutor's hostility. 
She said to herself : 

"Supposing we were to send Monsieur de Granville fly- 
ing " 

It was high time for ]\Iadame Camusot to vanish. The 
Due de Chaulieu, one of the King's prime favorites, met the 
hourgeoise on the outer steps. 

"Henri," said the Due de Grandlieu when he heard his 
friend announced, "make haste, I beg of you, to get to the 
Chateau, try to see the King — the business is this;" and he 
led the Duke into the window-recess, where he had been talk- 
ing to the airy and charming Diane. 

Now and then the Due de Chaulieu glanced in the direction 



VAUTRINS LAST AVATAR 91 

of the flighty Duchess, who, while talking to the pious Duch- 
ess and submitting to be lectured, answered the Due de Chau- 
lieu's expressive looks. 

"My dear child," said the Due de Grandlieu to her at last, 
the aside being ended, "do be good ! Come, now,"' and he 
took Diane's hands, "observe the proprieties of life, do not 
compromise yourself any more, write no letters. Letters, my 
dear, have caused as much private woe as public mischief. 
What might be excusable in a girl like Clotilde, in love for the 
first time, had no excuse in " 

"An old soldier who has been under fire," said Diane with 
a pout. 

This grimace and the Duchess' jest brought a smile to tlio 
face of the two much-troubled Dukes, and of the pious Duch- 
ess herself. 

"But for four years I have never written a hillet-doux. — 
Are we saved ?" asked Diane, who hid her curiosity under this 
childishness. 

"Not yet," said the Due de Chaulieu. "You have no 
notion how difficult it is to do an arbitrary thing. In a 
constitutional king it is what infidelity is in a wife: it is 
adultery." 

"The fascinating sin," said the Due de Grandlieu. 

"Forbidden fruit !" said Diane, smiling. "Oh ! how I 
wish I were the Government, for I have none of that fruit 
left — I have eaten it all." 

"Oh ! • my dear, my dear !" said the elder Duchess, "you 
really go too far." 

The two Dukes, hearing a coach stop at the door with the 
clatter of horses checked in full gallop, bowed to the ladies 
and left them, going into the Due de Grandlieu's study, 
whither came the gentleman from the Eue Honore-Chevalier 
— no less a man than the chief of the King's private police, 
the obscure but puissant Corentin. 

"Go on," said the Due de Grandlieu; "go first. Monsieur 
de Saint-Denis." 

Corentin, surprised that the Duke should have remem- 



92 A COURTESAN'S LIFE 

bered him, went forward after bowing low to the two noble- 
men. 

"Always about the same individual, or about his concerns, 
my dear sir," said the Due de Grandlieu. 

"But he is dead," said Corentin. 

"He has left a partner," said the Due de Chaulieu, "a very 
tough customer." 

"The convict Jacques Collin," replied Corentin. 

"Will you speak, Ferdinand ?" said the Due de Chaulieu to 
his friend. 

"That wretch is an object of fear," said the Due de Grand- 
lieu, "for he has possessed himself, so as to be able to levy 
blackmail, of the letters written by Madame de Serizy and 
Madame de Maufrigneuse to Lucien Chardon, that man's tool. 
It would seem that it was a matter of syst