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THE NOVELS, TALES AND LETTERS
EDITED BY PROF. GEORGE SAINTSBURY, M.A.
COMPLETE IN EIGHT VOLUMES
SOULS IN PURGATORY
THE VENUS OF ILLE
WILLIAM M. ARNOLD
OLIVE EDWARDS PALMER AKD
EMILY MARY WALLER
With Illustrations by
GUSTAVE FRAIPONT, A. BRAMTOT
AND J. J. ARANDA
NEW YORK PHILADELPHIA
FRANK S. HOLBY
BT FRANK S. HOLBY
A II rights reserved
845 M 54
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 1
SOULS IN PURGATORY 115
THE VENUS OF ILLE 223
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Senor Pedro de Ojeda," cried Don Juan, kill me
if you will, I shall not fight." (p. 208 ) Frontispiece
Etched by Le Rat from a painting by J. J. Aranda
She had recognized Darcy. She was expecting him . 7t>
An etching from a drawing by G. Fraipont
With some difficulty he took off his diamond ring, and
I went nearer to take it, but he forestalled me, ran
to the Venus, slipped the ring on its fourth finger 257
Etched by Toussiant from a painting by Bramtot
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
Zagala, mas que las flores blanca, rubia y qjos verdes,
Si piensas seguir amores pierdete bien, pues te pierdes ! *
JULIE DE CHAVERNY had been mar-
ried for about six years, and for nearly
five years and six months she had had her
eyes open not only to the impossibility of loving
her husband, but also to the difficulty of merely
giving him a place in her esteem.
This husband was not boorish. He was neither
stupid nor foolish. Still there may have been,
perhaps, a mingling of all those qualities in him.
If she had recalled the past she might have re-
membered that once upon a time she had found
him pleasant: but now he bored her. Every-
thing about him seemed to her repulsive. His
way of eating, of drinking coffee, of speaking,
gave her nervous shudders. They seldom met or
talked together except at table; but they dined
together several times a week and that was suffi-
cient to keep Julie's aversion alive.
* Little one, fairer than flowers, rosy with eyes of green, if you
think to follow love you are lost, alas ! you are wholly lost !
4 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
As for Chaverny, he was rather a fine-looking
man, a little too stout for his age, clean-skinned
and ruddy, not by nature given to those vague
uneasinesses which often torture the imaginative.
He piously believed that his wife felt for him a
calm affection (he was too much of a philosopher
to believe that he was loved as upon the first day
of his married life), and this belief caused him
neither pain nor pleasure; if the contrary had
been true, he would have made the best of it in
the same way. He had served for some years in a
cavalry regiment, but falling heir to considerable
fortune he took a dislike to a soldier's life, retired
from the army and married. It may seem a
somewhat difficult undertaking to try to explain
the marriage of two people who had not a single
idea in common. On the one hand, grandparents
and officious friends, who, like Phrosine, would
marry the Venetian Republic to the Grand Turk,
had busied themselves in arranging matters. On
the other hand Chaverny belonged to a good
family ; in those days he was not too stout ; he was
merry and he was, in the full acceptation of the
term, what is called " a good fellow." Julie was
always glad to see him come to her mother's house
because he made her laugh with his tales of the
army, tales in a vein of humorous wit which was
not always of the most unquestionable taste. She
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 5
thought him very pleasant because he danced
with her at all the balls, and there was never a
lack of good reasons to persuade Julie's mother
to stay late, to go to the theatre, or to the Bois
de Boulogne. Finally Julie thought him a hero
because he had fought two or three duels with
honour. But what completed the triumph of
Chaverny was his description of a certain car-
riage which he would have built after a plan of
his own, and in which he himself would take
Julie for a drive after she had consented to give
him her hand.
At the end of several months of married life
all Chaverny's good qualities had greatly de-
creased in merit. He no longer danced with his
wife needless to say. His amusing stories had
all been told three or four times. Now he com-
plained that balls were kept up far too long.
He yawned at the theatre and objected to the
custom of dressing for dinner as being a perfect
nuisance. His chief fault was laziness. If he
made an effort to make himself pleasing to his
wife he might perhaps have succeeded; but any
kind of restraint seemed to him perfect torture;
a view which he held in common with nearly all
stout people. Society bored him because in it we
are cordially received only in proportion as we
exert ourselves to be agreeable. Coarse pleasures
6 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
seemed to him decidedly preferable to all more
refined amusements; for to make himself promi-
nent among persons of his own taste the only
trouble he had to- take was to shout louder than
the others, which, for one with lungs as vigorous
as his, was not very difficult. Moreover he prided
himself on drinking more champagne than an
ordinary man, and took his horse easily over a
four-bar fence. As a consequence, he enjoyed
a legitimately acquired esteem among those be-
ings who are so hard to define, whom we call
" young people," and who throng our boulevards
about five in the afternoon. Hunting parties,
country expeditions, races, bachelor dinners,
bachelor suppers he sought out eagerly. Twenty
times a day he said that he was the happiest of
men, and every time that Julie heard him she cast
her eyes upward, and her little mouth took on an
indescribable expression of disdain.
Beautiful, young and married to a man who
was uncongenial, she would naturally be sur-
rounded by interested homage. But, in addition
to the protection of her mother a most prudent
woman her own pride (which was her great
failing) had up to that time defended her against
the seductions of the world. Moreover the dis-
appointment following her marriage, by giving
ber a certain. kind of experience, had made it
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 7
hard for her to grow enthusiastic over anything.
She was proud of seeing herself pitied in society,
and quoted as a model of resignation. After all,
she was nearly happy, for she was in love with no
one, and her husband kft her entirely free. Her
coquetry (and it must be confessed that she
rather liked to show that her husband did not
know what a treasure he possessed), her co-
quetry, instinctive, as that of a child, accorded
very well with a certain disdainful reserve which
was not prudery. She had the art of being pleas-
ant to every one, bat to every one without dis-
tinction. Scandal could not find the slightest
trifle with which to reproach her.
The husband and wife had been dining at the
house of Madame de Lussan. Julie's mother, who
was about to leave for Nice. Chaverny. who was
always bored to death at his mother-in-law's, had
been obliged to spend the evening there in spite
of his desire to join his friends on the boulevard.
After dinner he settled himself on a comfortable
sofa and passed two hours without uttering a
syllable. The reason was simple. He was sleep-
ing, decorously enough, seated, with his head
8 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
bent to one side, as if he were following the con-
versation with interest; he afterwards awoke and
made some remark.
Then he had been obliged to take a hand at
whist, a game which he detested because it re-
quires a certain amount of application. All of
which had kept him rather late. It had just
struck eleven. Chaverny had no engagement for
the evening he really did not know what to do.
While he was in this state of perplexity his car-
riage was announced. If he returned to the
house he would have to take his wife home. The
prospect of a twenty minutes' tete-a-tete with his
wife was enough to frighten him; but he had no
cigars in his pocket and he was dying to open a
box which he had received from Havre just
as he was starting out for dinner. So he re-
signed himself to his fate.
As he was wrapping his wife up in her shawl
he could not restrain a smile as he caught in a
mirror a reflection of himself showing the little
attentions of a husband who has been married
for a week. He also looked at his wife, whom he
had scarcely noticed. That evening she seemed
to him prettier than usual ; so he spent some little
time wrapping the shawl about her shoulders.
Julie was as much put out as he at the prospect
of the conjugal tete-a-tete that was in store for
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 9
them. Involuntarily her mouth drew itself down
into a little pout, and her arched brows drew to-
gether. All of which gave her an air of such
charming grace that even a husband could not
remain unmoved. Their eyes met in the mirror
during the operation of which I have just been
speaking. Both were greatly embarrassed. To
hide his confusion Chaverny, with a smile, kissed
the hand which his wife raised to arrange her
" How they love each other," said Madame de
Lussan to herself, noticing neither the cold dis-
dain of the wife nor the indifferent air of the
When they were both seated in their carriage,
so close that they almost touched each other, they
remained for some time without speaking.
Chaverny was well aware that it would be very
suitable to say something, but nothing occurred
to him. Julie, on the other hand, maintained a
silence that drove him to despair. He yawned
three or four times, until he was ashamed of it
himself, and the last time he felt called upon to
apologise to his wife.
" It was a long evening," he added, by way
Julie saw in this sentence merely a wish to
criticise the evenings at her mother's and to say
10 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
something disagreeable. For some time past she
had been in the habit of avoiding any discussion
with her husband; so she continued to maintain
Chaverny, who that evening felt like talking
in spite of himself, continued, after a couple of
"I had a good dinner to-day; but I really
must say that your mother's champagne is too
"I beg your pardon?" said Julie, turning
her head toward him with a very nonchalant air,
and pretending that she had heard nothing.
" I was saying that your mother's champagne
is too sweet. I forgot to tell her so. Really it
is most astonishing, but people imagine that it is
easy to select champagne. Well! Nothing could
be more difficult. To twenty kinds of bad cham-
pagne there is only one kind that is good."
" Ah! " and Julie, after having accorded this
interjection to courtesy, turned away her head
and began looking out of the carriage windows.
Chaverny leaned back and placed his feet on the
cushion in the front of the carriage, a little morti-
fied that his wife should show herself so insensi-
ble to all the trouble which he was taking to open
up a conversation.
However, after having yawned two or three
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 11
times more, he continued, drawing nearer to
" That dress you have on is wonderfully be-
coming, Julie. Where did you get it? "
" Doubtless he wishes to buy one like it for his
mistress," thought Julie. " At Burty's," she an-
swered, with a slight smile.
' Why are you laughing? " asked Chaverny,
taking his feet off the cushion, and drawing still
nearer. At the same time he took one of her
sleeves and began to touch it somewhat after the
manner of Tartufe.
" I am laughing," said Julie, " because you
noticed my gown. Be careful, you are rumpling
my sleeves," and she drew away her sleeve out
of Chaverny's hand.
" I assure you I pay particular attention to
your gowns, and I have the greatest admiration
for your taste. No, my word of honour, I was
speaking about it the other day to a woman
who is always badly dressed although she
spends a shocking amount on clothes. She would
ruin ... I was telling her ... I was
quoting you . . ."
Julie was enjoying his embarrassment, and
did not make any effort to relieve it by inter-
" Your horses are really wretched. They
12 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
don't go at all. I shall have to change them for
you," said Chaverny, completely disconcerted.
During the rest of the drive the conversation
was not any more animated; both stopped short
at simple replies.
At last they reached Rue . . . and
separated, after bidding each other good-night.
Julie began to undress, and her maid had just
left the room on some errand or other when the
door of her bedroom opened somewhat suddenly
and Chaverny entered. Julie hurriedly covered
" Excuse me," said he, " I should like to have
the latest volume of Scott to read myself asleep.
. . . It is ' Quentin Durward,' isn't it? "
" It must be in your room," answered Julie ;
" there are no books here."
Chaverny looked at his wife in her semi-
disorder which is so becoming to beauty. She
seemed to him " piquant," to use an expression
which I detest. " She is really a most beautiful
woman," he thought. He remained standing be-
fore her, without moving, his candlestick in his
hand. Julie standing in front of him crumpled
her cap and seemed to wait impatiently until he
would leave her alone.
'* The deuce take it, but you are charming
this evening!" cried Chaverny, taking a step
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 13
forward, and setting down his candle. " How
I like to see women with their hair in disorder ! "
And as he spoke he took in one hand the long
tresses which covered Julie's shoulders, and
slipped his arm almost tenderly around her waist.
" Good Heavens ! How horribly you smell
of tobacco!" cried Julie, turning away. "Let
go of my hair, you will get it simply saturated
with the odour, and I shall never be able to get
myself rid of it."
"Bah! You say that at random because you
know that I smoke sometimes. Don't be so
stand-offish, little wife."
And she could not free herself from his arms
quickly enough to avoid a kiss which he imprinted
on her shoulder.
Fortunately for Julie her maid returned; for
there is nothing that a woman finds more odious
than those caresses which it is almost as ridicu-
lous to refuse as to accept.
"Marie," said Madame de Chaverny, "the
bodice of my blue gown is far too long. I saw
Madame de Begy to-day, and her clothes are al-
ways in perfect taste; her bodice was certainly
two good fingers shorter than mine. Here, take
it in with pins, to try the effect."
Whereupon there arose between the mistress
and maid a most interesting dialogue upon the
14 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
exact dimensions befitting a bodice. Julie knew
that Chaverny hated nothing so much as to hear
fashions discussed, and that she was going to put
him to flight. As a matter of fact, after five
minutes of pacing up and down, Chaverny, see-
ing that Julie was completely taken up with her
bodice, yawned inordinately, took up his candle
again, and went out, this time not to return.
Commandant Perrin was seated by a little
table reading attentively. His carefully brushed
frock-coat, his police-force cap, and especially,
the inflexible stiffness of his shoulders bespoke
the old soldier. Everything in his room was very
neat but exceedingly simple. An inkwell and
two quills ready for use lay on his table beside a
quire of note-paper, of which he had not used a
single sheet in at least a year. If Commandant
Perrin did not write, he read a great deal. At
that moment he was perusing the " Lettres
Personnes "and smoking his pipe with the amber
mouthpiece, and these two occupations so com-
pletely absorbed his attention that he did not at
first notice the entrance of Commandant de
Chateaufort. The latter was a young officer
from his regiment, with a charming countenance,
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 15
exceedingly agreeable, somewhat vain, and under
the patronage of the minister of war in a word,
the opposite of Commandant Pen-in in almost
every respect. Still they were friends, I know
not why, and saw each other every day.
Chateauf ort clapped Commandant Perrin on
the shoulder. The latter turned his head without
removing his pipe. His first expression was one
of pleasure at seeing his friend; the second of
regret, worthy man! because he was going to be
obliged to leave his book ; the third indicated that
his mind was made up and that he was going to
do the honours of his apartment to the best of
his ability. He fumbled in his pocket to find the
key of the cupboard in which was shut up the
precious box of cigars, which the Commandant
did not smoke himself, but which he gave one at
a time to his friend; but Chateauf ort, who had
seen him make the same gesture a hundred times,
cried: " Stop, Papa Perrin, keep your cigars, I
have one about me! " Then drawing out of an
elegant case a cinnamon-coloured cigar beauti-
fully slender at both ends, he lighted it, stretched
himself out on a little sofa which Perrin never
used, with his head on a pillow and his feet on
the other arm. Chateaufort began by veiling
himself in a cloud of smoke, while with closed
eyes, he seemed to meditate profoundly on what
16 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
he had to say. His face was beaming with joy,
and he seemed to have great difficulty in keeping
locked in his breast the secret of a joy which he
was burning to have guessed. Commandant
Pen-in, having placed his chair in front of the
sofa, smoked for some time without saying any-
thing; then as Chateaufort was in no hurry to
speak, he said to him :
"How is Ourika?"
He referred to a black mare which Chateau-
fort had somewhat overdriven, and which was
threatened with becoming broken-winded.
' Very well," said Chateaufort, who had not
listened to the question. " Perrin," he cried,
stretching out toward him the leg which was
resting on the arm of the sofa, " do you know
that you are lucky to have me for a friend? "
The old Commandant tried to think of the
advantages he had gained from his acquaintance
with Chateaufort, but nothing occurred to him
except the gift of a few books of Kanaster, and
a few days enforced confinement to which he
had been obliged to submit for having been in-
volved in a duel in which Chateaufort had played
a leading part. His friend bestowed upon him,
it is true, numerous marks of confidence.
Chateaufort always applied to him when he
wished a substitute on duty, or a second.
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 17
Chateauf ort did not leave him much time for
reflection, and handed him a note written on
satin-finished English paper, in a pretty angular
hand. Commandant Perrin made a grimace
which with him was equivalent to a smile. He
had often seen these satin-finished letters covered
with dainty writing, addressed to his friend.
" Here," said the latter, " take it and read
it. You owe all this to me"
Perrin read as follows :
' We shall be very happy if you will dine
with us. M. de Chaverny would have gone to
ask you in person, but he was obliged to go to a
hunt. I do not know the address of M. le Com-
mandant Perrin, and so can not write to ask him
to accompany you. You have made me eager to
know him, and I shall be doubly indebted to you
if you can bring him with you.
" JULIE DE CHAVERNY."
" P. S. My warmest thanks for the music
you were so good as to copy for me. It is de-
lightful, and you always show such good taste.
You have given up coming to our Thursday re-
ceptions; and yet you know what pleasure it
gives us all to see you."
" A pretty writing, but very fine," said Per-
rin as he finished. " But the deuce ! What a nui-
sance her dinner is; for I shall have to get into
18 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
silk stockings, and there will be no smoking after
" A terrible misfortune surely, to be obliged
to prefer the prettiest woman in Paris to a pipe.
What I admire most of all, however, is your
gratitude. You don't thank me at all for this
mark of favour which you owe to me."
' Thank you ! But I don't owe you the pleas-
ure of being asked to this dinner if there is any
pleasure about it."
"To whom, then?"
;< To Chaverny, who was captain in our regi-
ment. He must have said to his wife, ' Ask Per-
rin, he is a good old chap ! ' How can you sup-
pose that a pretty woman whom I have seen only
once would think of inviting an old herring
Chateau fort smiled as he looked at himself
in the very narrow mirror which adorned the
' You show no insight at all to-day, Papa
Perrin. Just read this note over again and you
may find something that you had not noticed
The Commandant read and re-read the note,
but he could see nothing.
" What, you old dragon," cried Chateau-
fort, " you don't see that she is inviting you to
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 19
please me, just to show me that she makes much
of my friends, that she wishes to give me a proof
of ... ?"
" Of what? " interrupted Perrin.
" Of . . . you know very well what."
" That she loves you? " asked the Com-
mandant, with a doubtful air.
Chateaufort whistled without answering.
" She has told you so? "
" But . . . it is evident ... I should
"What? In this letter? "
" Of course."
Now came Perrin's turn to whistle. His
whistle was as significant as the famous Lilli-
bulero of my Uncle Toby.
' What ! " cried Chateaufort, snatching the
letter out of Perrin's hands, " you don't see how
much . . . tenderness . . . yes, tender-
ness there is in it? What have you to say to this:
' My Dear Sir? ' Notice that in the other note
which she wrote me she wrote simply, ' Sir,' noth-
ing more. ' I shall be doubly indebted,' that is
proof positive. And do you see, a word has been
eif aced just after it, it is a thousand; she wished
to write ' a thousand times my love,' but she did
not dare ; * a thousand good wishes ' was not
enough. . . . She did not finish the note ! Oh,
20 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
my good old chap, do you think that a woman of
good family, like Madame de Chaverny, would
throw herself at the head of your humble servant
as if she were a woman of the streets? I tell you
her letter is charming, and one would be blind
not to feel the passion which it breathes. And
the reproaches at the end because I missed a sin-
gle Thursday, what have you to say to that? "
"Poor little woman!" cried Pen-in, "don't
grow sentimental over this rascal, or you will
soon repent it."
Chateau fort paid no attention to his friend's
apostrophe; but assuming a lower, wheedling
" Do you know, old fellow," he said, " you
can do me a great service."
' You must help me in this matter. I know
that her husband is not at all good to her he is
a beast and makes her very unhappy. You used
to know him, Perrin; just tell his wife that he is
a brutal fellow, and that he has the worst possible
reputation. . . ."
" A libertine. . . . You know it. He had
mistresses when he was in the army; and what
kind of mistresses ! Tell all that to his wife."
"Oh! How could I say all that? It is dan-
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 21
gerous to put your hand between the tree and the
" Oh, good heavens! There is a way of say-
ing anything. But especially, be sure to speak
well of me."
' That, now, is something easier. Still . . ."
" Not so easy. Now listen to me, for if I let
you have your say, you would make a eulogy of
me, which would not in the least help on my
plans. Tell her that for some time past you have
noticed that I am sad, that I have become silent,
and have lost my appetite . . ."
'The very dickens!" cried Perrin, with a
great burst of laughter, which made his pipe
twist about absurdly; " I could never in the world
look Madame de Chaverny in the face and tell
her that. Only last evening I was almost obliged
to carry you away from the dinner the fellows
" Maybe. But there is no use in telling her
about that. It is well that she should know that
I am in love with her; and novelists have per-
suaded women that a man who eats and drinks
can not be in love."
" For my own part, I don't know of any-
thing that makes me stop eating or drinking."
" Well, my dear Perrin," said Chateaufort,
putting on his hat and arranging his curls,
22 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
" that's agreed, isn't it? Next Thursday I am
to call for you ; silk stockings and buckled shoes,
correct evening dress! And above all don't for-
get to say shocking things about the husband and
very nice things about me."
He went out twirling his cane gracefully and
leaving Commandant Perrin much taken up with
the invitation which he had just received, and
still more concerned as he thought of the silk
stockings, buckled shoes, and the strict evening
The fact that several of Madame de Cha-
verny's guests had begged off, put a certain dam-
per on the gaiety of the evening. Chateaufort,
who sat next to Julie, showed himself exceedingly
attentive in supplying her wants, and was gallant
and agreeable as usual. As for Chaverny, having
taken a long ride during the day, he had a most
prodigious appetite. So he ate and drank in a
way that would have whetted the appetite of the
most ill. Commandant Perrin kept him com-
pany, often filling his glass and laughing till the
glass jingled whenever his host's coarse gaiety
provoked him to laughter. Chaverny, finding
himself in the company of soldiers once more,
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 23
hail regained immediately the good humour and
manners of his soldiering days. Moreover, he had
never shown great delicacy of feeling in his selec-
tion of jokes. His wife assumed an air of cold
disdain at each fresh incongruous sally; then she
turned toward Chateaufort, and began an aside
with him, so that she would seem not to hear a
conversation which was unspeakably disagreea-
ble to her.
Here is a sample of the urbanity of this
model husband. Toward the end of the dinner,
conversation happened to turn upon the opera,
and the relative merits of several ballet dancers
was discussed, and, among others, Mademoiselle
was greatly praised. Whereupon Chateau-
fort even outdid the others, praising especially
her grace, her figure, and her modest air.
Perrin, whom Chateaufort had taken to the
opera a few days before, and who had gone only
the once, remembered mademoiselle very well.
" Is she," he asked, " the little one in pink,
who frisks about like a lamb? the one whose legs
you talked about so much, Chateaufort? "
"Ah! You were talking about her legs?"
cried Chaverny ; " but don't you know if you talk
too much about them you will get into trouble
with your general, the Due de ? Have a
care, my friend! "
24 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
" But I do not suppose that he is so jealous
that he would forbid looking at them through an
" Quite the contrary, for he is as proud of
them as if he himself had discovered them.
What have you to say about them, Command-
ant Perrin? "
" I don't know much about any but horses'
legs," answered the old soldier modestly.
' They are really stunning," continued Cha-
verny, " and there are none finer in Paris except
those . . ." He stopped and began to twirl
his moustache with a knowing air, and looked at
his wife, who blushed to the very roots of her
"Except those of Mademoiselle D ?"
interposed Chateau fort, naming another ballet
" No ! " answered Chaverny, with the tragic
voice of a Hamlet; " but look at my wife"
Julie became purple with indignation. She
flashed upon her husband a glance quick as light-
ning, in which were expressed scorn and fury.
Then, making an effort to control herself, she
turned sharply toward Chateaufort.
' We must," she said in a voice that trembled
slightly, " study the duet from Maometto. It
must exactly suit your voice."
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 25
Chaverny was not easily discountenanced.
" Chateaufort," he continued, " do you know
that I wished to have a cast taken of the legs I
am telling you about. But I was never allowed
to do it."
Chateaufort, who felt a keen joy at hearing
this impertinent revelation, pretended to hear
nothing and talked about Maometta with
Madame de Chaverny.
; ' The person of whom I speak," continued
the pitiless husband, " was usually horrified when
her superiority in this direction was acknowl-
edged, but in reality she was not at all vexed.
Do you know she used to have her measure taken
by the man from whom she buys her stockings
my dear, don't be vexed the woman from whom
she buys her stockings, I mean to say. And
when I was at Brussels I took with me three
pages of her writing with the most detailed direc-
tions for buying stockings."
But he talked on in vain, Julie was deter-
mined to hear nothing. She talked to Chateau-
fort with assumed gaiety, and her charming smile
tried to convince him that she was listening to
him alone. Chateaufort, for his part, seemed to
be quite absorbed by the discussion of Maometto ;
but he did not miss one of Chaverny's coarse
26 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
They had some music after dinner, and
Madame de Chaverny sang at the piano with
Chateau fort. Chaverny disappeared the mo-
ment the piano was opened. Several callers came
in, but did not prevent Chateaufort having fre-
quent little asides with Julie. As they were leav-
ing he assured Perrin that the evening had not
been lost, and this his affairs were moving on
To Perrin it seemed perfectly natural that a
husband should talk of his wife's legs; so when
he was alone in the street with Chateaufort he
said to him in moved tones:
" How can you have the heart to disturb that
nice home? He is so fond of his little wife! "
For a month Chaverny had been absorbed by
the idea of becoming a gentleman-in-waiting.
It may seem surprising that a stout, lazy man,
very fond of taking his ease, should be stirred by
an ambitious thought ; but he had no lack of good
reasons to justify himself. " First," he told his
friends, " I spend a great deal of money on the
theatre boxes which I give to women. When I
have a position at Court I shall have as many
boxes as I wish, without being put to a penny's
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 27
expense. And then, you know all that goes
along with boxes. Besides, I am very fond of
hunting and I shall be able to ride to the royal
hunts. Moreover, now that I have no longer a
uniform, I do not know how I should dress to go
to balls with my wife. I do not like the dress of
a marquis ; but the attire of a gentleman-in-wait-
ing would suit me very well." Consequently he
canvassed ; he would have liked his wife to do the
same, but she obstinately refused, although she
had several very influential friends. As he had
several times been of some slight service to the
Due de H , who had at that time a good deal
of influence at Court, he counted much upon his
protection. His friend Chateaufort, who also
had influential friends, worked for him with a
zeal and devotion such as you may perchance
meet with if you are the husband of a pretty
One incident did much to help forward
Chaverny's schemes, although it may have had
for him dire enough consequences. Madame
de Chaverny had procured, not without consid-
erable difficulty, a box at the opera for a certain
first night. This box had seats for six. Her
husband, strange to say, and only after violently
protesting, had consented to go with her. Now
Julie wished to invite Chateaufort, and feeling
28 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
that she could not go alone with him to the opera
she had compelled her husband to go too.
Directly after the first act Chaverny went
out, leaving his wife alone with his friend. At
first they maintained a somewhat constrained
silence ; Julie, because for some time past, she had
had a certain feeling of embarrassment when-
ever she found herself alone with Chateau fort;
Chateaufort, because he had his plans and he
had deemed it fitting to seem moved. Casting a
sidelong glance over the theatre he saw with
pleasure that the glasses of several of his friends
were directed toward the box. He felt a lively
satisfaction as he thought that some of his
friends were envying his good fortune, and that,
judging from appearances, they would think it
much greater than it really was.
Julie, after having several times sniffed at
her smelling salts and her bouquet, spoke of the
heat, the opera, and the gowns before them.
Chateaufort listened with an air of abstraction,
sighed, moved about on his chair, looked at Julie
and sighed again. Julie was beginning to grow
uneasy. Suddenly he cried:
" How I regret that the days of chivalry are
"The days of chivalry! Why, tell me?"
asked Julie. " Doubtless because the costume
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 29
of a knight of the Middle Ages would be very;
becoming to you? "
' You think me a perfect coxcomb," he said
in a tone of mingled bitterness and sadness.
" No, I regret that those days are past . . .
because a man who felt his heart beating with-
in him could . . . aspire ... to much.
As a matter of fact all you needed to do was to
cleave through a giant to win a lady's favour.
. . . Look, you see that great fellow in the
balcony? I wish that you would command me to
go and demand his moustache from him, in order
that I might then have permission to say three
little words to you without vexing you."
' What nonsense," cried Julie, blushing
crimson, for she at once guessed those three little
words. " But do look at Madame de Sainte
Hermine, decolletee at her age, and in a ball
" I see only one thing, and that is that you
are not willing to listen to me, and I have noticed
it for a long time. . . . You wish it, so I keep
silence; but . . ." he added in a low voice,
and heaving a sigh, " you understood what I
" Indeed I did not," answered Julie sharply.
" But where can my husband have gone? "
Very fortunately some one came into their
30 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
box and so relieved the embarrassment of the
situation. Chateaufort did not open his lips.
He was pale and seemed deeply moved. When
their caller departed he made some indifferent
remarks about the opera. There were long inter-
vals of silence between them.
The second act was just going to begin when
the door of their box opened, and Chaverny ap-
peared, bringing with him a pretty woman ele-
gantly gowned, wearing magnificent pink feath-
ers in her hair. He was followed by the Due
" My dear," he said to his wife, " I found my
friends in a wretched box over at one side, where
they couldn't see the stage decorations at all.
They have been so good as to accept a place in
Julie bowed coldly. She did not care for the
Due de H . The Duke and the lady with
the pink feathers were profuse in their apolo-
gies and their expressions of fear that they were
disturbing her. They all arose, and each urged
the others to take the best places. In the confu-
sion which followed Chateaufort leaned over
Julie and whispered to her, very softly, and very
" In Heaven's name, don't sit in the front
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 31
Julie was much astonished and kept her seat.
When all were seated again she turned toward
Chateau fort and asked him by a somewhat severe
glance what this enigma meant. He was sitting
with his head erect, and his lips compressed,
while his whole attitude showed that he was
deeply vexed. Julie put an unfavourable enough
construction upon Chateaufort's advice. She
thought that he wished to hold a whispered con-
versation with her during the evening, and to
continue his strange speeches; which would be
impossible if she remained in the front row.
When she looked over the house she noticed that
several women were directing their glasses
toward her box, but that is what always happens
when a new face appears. People were whisper-
ing and smiling, but what was there so extraordi-
nary in that? The opera is as gossipy as a little
The unknown lady leaned over Julie's bou-
quet and said with a radiant smile:
' That's a superb bouquet you have. I am
sure it must have been very dear at this time of
year. Ten francs at least; but I suppose it was
given to you. No doubt it was a present; ladies
never buy their own bouquets."
Julie opened her eyes in astonishment, not
knowing with what country guest she had to do.
32 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
" Duke," said the lady, with a languishing
air, " you didn't give me a bouquet."
Chaverny hastened toward the door. The
Duke tried to stop him and the lady too. She no
longer cared to have a bouquet. Julie exchanged
a glance with Chateaufort. It seemed to say, " I
thank you, but it is too late." But even then she
had not guessed the truth.
During the whole evening the lady with the
feathers drummed with her fingers, out of time,
and indulged in the most absurd conversation
about music. She asked Julie the cost of her
dress, of her jewels, of her horses. Never had
Julie had any experience of such manners. She
concluded that the unknown woman must be a
relative of the Duke's who had recently come
from Lower Brittany. When Chaverny at last
came back with an immense bouquet, much more
beautiful than that which he had given his wife,
there was an outburst of thanks, admiration and
" M. de Chaverny, I am not ungrateful; to
prove it, ' remind me to promise you something,'
as Potier said. Truly, I will embroider you a
purse, when I have finished the one I promised
to the Duke."
At last the opera finished, to the great satis-
faction of Julie, who felt ill at ease beside her
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 33
singular neighbour. The Duke gave her his
arm, Chaverny offered his to the other lady.
Chateaufort, sombre and ill-pleased looking,
walked behind Julie, bowing stiffly to the ac-
quaintances whom he met on the stairway.
Some women passed close by them. Julie
knew them by sight. A young man was talking
to them and grinning ; they immediately looked at
Chaverny and his wife with an air of keen curi-
osity and one of them cried: "Is it possible? "
The Duke's carriage drove up. He bowed
to Madame de Chaverny, and repeated with
great warmth his thanks for her kindness. In
the meantime Chaverny wished to conduct the
unknown lady to the door of the Duke's carriage,
and Julie and Chateaufort remained alone for a
" Who can that woman be? " Julie asked.
" I should not tell you, . . . for it is really
" What do you mean? "
" Besides, all the people who know you will
know very well what to think of it. But Cha-
verny! I should never have thought itl "
" What is it then? In Heaven's name, tell me
who is this woman."
Chaverny was coming back, Chateaufort an-
swered in a low voice :
34 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
" Madame Melanie R , the mistress of
" Good heavens," cried Julie, looking at
Chateau fort with a stupefied air, " it can't be
Chateaufort shrugged his shoulders, and as
he was taking her to her carriage he added:
' That is just what those ladies said whom
we met on the stairway. As for that other
woman, she is a proper enough sort of woman in
her way. She must be treated with care and con-
sideration. She has even a husband."
" My dear," said Chaverny joyously, " you
don't need me to take you home. Good night ; I
am going to the Duke's for supper."
Julie made no answer.
" Chateaufort," continued Chaverny, " do
you care to come with me to the Duke's? There
is an invitation for you. They have just told me
they were interested in you. You made an im-
pression, lucky dog."
Chateaufort declined coolly with thanks. He
bowed to Madame de Chaverny, who was gnaw-
ing her handkerchief with rage when her carriage
" Ah, by the way, old fellow," said Chaverny,
" at least you will take me in your carriage to the
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 35
" With pleasure," answered Chateaufort
gaily, " but, by the way, do you know that your
wife understood before the evening was over by
whom she was sitting? "
" Oh, you can be sure of it, and it really
wasn't right of you."
" Nonsense, she is very good form; and then
she isn't very generally known ; besides, the Duke
takes her everywhere."
Madame de Chaverny spent a very restless
and excited night. The conduct of her husband
at the opera added the last straw to the burden
of her wrongs, and required, so it seemed to her,
an immediate separation. She would have an
explanation with him the next day, and would
declare to him her intention of no longer living
under the same roof with a man who had so
cruelly compromised her. Still, the prospect of
this interview frightened her. Never had she
had a really serious conversation with her hus-
band. Up to that time she had expressed her
vexation merely by seasons of injured silence, to
which Chaverny had paid no attention ; for, leav-
ing his wife entirely free, it would never have
36 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
occurred to him that she could refuse him the
indulgence, which, if there were need of it, he
would have shown her. She was especially afraid
of weeping in the midst of this explanation, and
of Chaverny's attributing these tears to wounded
love. Then it was that she bitterly regretted the
absence of her mother, who would have been able
to give her good advice, or to take upon herself
the task of pronouncing sentence of separation.
All of these considerations threw her into a state
of the greatest uncertainty, and when at last she
fell asleep she had decided to go for advice to
one of her friends who had known her since she
was a tiny child and to rely upon this friend's
prudence as to the course of conduct which she
should pursue toward Chaverny.
While giving way to her indignation she had
not been able to prevent herself from comparing
her husband and Chateau fort. The unmitigated
coarseness of the former contrasted strongly with
the delicacy of feeling of the latter and, while
still reproaching herself for it, she felt a certain
pleasure in recognising the fact that her lover
was more solicitous for her reputation than her
husband. This comparison of character led her
on, in spite of herself, to consider the elegance of
Chateau fort's manners and the very slightly dis-
tinguished bearing of Chaverny. She pictured
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 37
to herself her husband with his thick girth mak-
ing unwieldy efforts to play the gallant with the
mistress of the Due de H , whilst Chateau-
fort, with even more deference than usual in his
manner, seemed to be trying to preserve for her
that respect which her husband might cause her
to lose. At last, as in spite of ourselves, our
imagination often carries us very far, she
thought more than once that she might become a
widow and that then, young, and rich, there
would be no obstacle in the way of her rewarding
the constant love of the young officer. One un-
fortunate experiment proved nothing conclu-
sively against marriage, and if Chateaufort's
attachment was really deep. . . . But she ban-
ished these thoughts at which she blushed, and
she promised herself that she would be more re-
served than ever in her relations with him.
She awoke the next morning with a severe
headache, and as little resolved, as the evening
before, to have a decisive interview with her hus-
band. She did not wish to go down to breakfast
for fear she would meet him, so she had tea
brought to her room and ordered her carriage, to
go to call on Madame Lambert, this friend whom
she had wished to consult. Madame Lambert
was then at her country house at P .
As she was breakfasting she opened a news-
38 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
paper. The first item which met her eyes read
as follows: " M. Darcy, first secretary of the
French Embassy, Constantinople, reached Paris
yesterday in charge of important despatches.
The young diplomatist, directly after his arrival,
had a long conference with His Excellency the
Minister of Foreign Affairs."
"Darcy in Paris," she cried; "how glad I
shall be to see him! I wonder if he has grown
very formal? The young diplomatist! Darcy
a young diplomatist! " And she could not help
laughing at the mere sound of the words. " A
young diplomatist! "
This Darcy used to come with marked regu-
larity to Madame de Lussan's evenings; he was
then an attache at the office of the Minister of
Foreign Affairs. He had left Paris some time
before Julie's marriage and she had not seen him
since. All that she knew was that he travelled a
great deal and that he had obtained rapid ad-
She was still holding the paper in her hand
when her husband entered. He seemed in the
best of good -humour. As he appeared, she arose
to go out, but as it would have been necessary to
pass near him to go into her dressing-room, she
remained standing in the same place, but so
overcome with emotion that her hand which
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 39
rested on the tea-table made the teacups dis-
" My dear," said Chaverny, " I have come to
say good-bye to you for a few days. I am going
to hunt with the Due de H , and I must tell
you that he was delighted by your hospitality
yesterday evening. My little affair is getting
on very well, and he has promised to recommend
me to the King with all the warmth possible."
Julie grew red and white in turn as she lis-
tened to him.
" The Due de H owes you that, at least,"
she said in a trembling voice. " He could not do
less for one who so scandalously compromises his
wife with the mistresses of his patron."
Then, making a last and desperate effort, she
crossed the room with a stately step and entered
her dressing-room, slamming the door behind
Chaverny stood for a moment in confusion
and hanging his head. " How the dickens does
she know that? " he thought. " But what mat-
ter, after all? What is done is done."
And as it was not his habit to dwell long upon
a disagreeable thought, he whirled about, took a
lump of sugar from the sugar-bowl, and with
his mouth full called to the maid who was com-
ing in: " Tell my wife that I will stay for four
40 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
or five days with the Due de H , and that I
will send her home some game."
And he left the room with not another
thought in his mind but of the pheasants and
deer which he was going to kill.
Julie set out for P with her anger for
her husband considerably deepened, but this time
it was on account of a rather slight cause. He
had taken the new carriage to go to the chateau
of the Due de H , and had left for his wife
another, which, according to the coachman, was
in need of repairs.
As she was driving along, Madame de Cha-
verny rehearsed the tale which she was to tell to
Madame Lambert. In spite of her chagrin she
was not insensible to the satisfaction which a
well-told story gives to every narrator, and she
prepared her tale, trying to think of a suitable
introduction, and beginning sometimes in one
way and sometimes in another. As a result she
saw the delinquencies of her husband from every
point of view and her resentment was propor-
As every one knows, it is four leagues from
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 41
Paris to P , and however long might be
Madame de Chaverny's list of charges you can
imagine that it is impossible, even with the most
envenomed hate, to dwell upon the same idea for
four successive leagues. To the violent anger,
with which her husband's wrongs had inspired
her, succeeded sweet and sad memories by that
strange faculty of the human mind which often
associates a smiling picture with a painful sensa-
The clear, sharp air, the bright sunshine, and
unconcerned faces of the passers-by all helped to
turn away her mind from these bitter thoughts.
She remembered scenes of her childhood, and the
days when she used to take trips into the country
with young people of her own age. She saw
again her convent friends ; she took part in their
games, their meals. She tried to understand the
mysterious confidences which she heard amongst
the older girls, and she could not suppress a smile
as she thought of a hundred little incidents which
so early betrayed the instinct of coquetry in
Then she pictured to herself her entrance into
society. Once more she danced at the most bril-
liant balls which she had seen the year after she
left the convent. The other balls she had for-
gotten. One grows blase so quickly; but those
42 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
balls brought back to her the memory of her hus-
band. " Fool that I was," she said to herself,
" why couldn't I see from the very first that I
should be unhappy with him? " All the ill-timed
remarks and all the platitudes with which poor
Chaverny used to regale her with such assurance,
one month before their marriage, she now found
noted and carefully registered in her memory.
At the same time she could not help thinking of
the many admirers whom her marriage had re-
duced to despair, but who had nevertheless mar-
ried or otherwise consoled themselves a few
months later. " Should I have been happy with
another? " she asked herself. " A - is decid-
edly stupid, but he is not offensive. Amelie
leads him around by the nose. One could
always manage to live with a husband who was
obedient. B - has mistresses, and his wife
is good enough to be deeply grieved by it.
Otherwise he is very attentive to her, and I
should ask for nothing more. The Comte de
C , who is always reading pamphlets, and
who takes so much trouble that he may some
day become a good depute, perhaps he would
be a good husband. Yes, but all those people
are tiresome, ugly, and stupid." As she was
thus passing in review all the young men whom
she had known before her marriage the name
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 43
of Darcy presented itself to her mind for the
Darcy used to count in the society of
Madame de Lussan as a person of no impor-
tance, that is to say, they knew . . . the moth-
ers knew . . . that his fortune would not
permit of his marrying their daughters. To
them there was nothing about him that could turn
their young heads. Moreover, he had a reputation
for gallantry. He was somewhat misanthropic
and caustic, and it amused him greatly when
he was the only man in a group of young
girls to make fun of the weaknesses and preten-
sions of other young men. When he held a
whispered conversation with young girls, their
mothers were in nowise alarmed, for their
daughters laughed aloud and the mothers of
those who had pretty teeth even said that M.
Darcy was an exceedingly delightful young man.
A similarity of tastes and the fear which each
had of the other's sharp tongue had drawn Julie
and Darcy together. After a few skirmishes
they had signed a treaty of peace, an offensive
and defensive alliance: they spared each other
and they were always united in attacking their
One evening Julie had been asked to sing
some song or other. She had a beautiful voice
44 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
and she knew it. As she went to the piano she
looked at the women with a proud air as if she
wished to challenge them. Now this evening
some slight indisposition, or unfortunate fatality,
had almost completely deprived her of her accus-
tomed power. The first note of her usually musi-
cal voice was decidedly a false one. She became
confused, blundered and completely lost her
bearings ; in short, it was a flat and dismal failure.
Confused and ready to burst into tears poor
Julie left the piano, and as she went back to her
seat she could not help seeing the malicious joy,
which her companions scarcely took the pains to
conceal, as they saw this humiliation of her pride.
Even the men seemed to have difficulty in sup-
pressing a mocking smile. She lowered her eyes
in shame and anger and for some moments did
not dare to raise them again. When she raised
her head the first friendly face that she saw was
that of Darcy. He was pale and his eyes were
filled with tears ; he seemed even more touched by
her mishap than she had been herself. " He
loves me," she thought. " He truly loves me."
That night she had scarcely slept and the sad
face of Darcy was always before her eyes.
For two days she thought only of him and
the secret passion which he must cherish for her.
The romance was already making progress, when
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 45
Madame de Lussan found one day the card of
M. Darcy with these three letters: "P. P. C."
' Where then is M. Darcy going? " Julie asked
a young man whom she knew.
' Where is he going? Don't you know? To
Constantinople. He is leaving to-night."
; ' Then he doesn't love me," she thought.
Eight days later Darcy was forgotten.
Darcy, for his part, being in those days rather
romantic, took eight months to forget Julie. In
order to excuse the latter and to explain the dif-
ference in their constancy it must be remembered
that Darcy was living in the midst of barbarians,
while Julie was in Paris, surrounded by atten-
tions and pleasures.
However that may be, six or seven years
after the separation Julie, in her carriage on the
way to P , remembered Darcy 's melancholy
expression on the day when she sung so badly;
and it must be confessed she thought of the love
which he probably had for her then, perhaps she
even thought of the sentiment which he still
might have for her. All of which kept her mind
actively employed for half a league. Then for
a third time M. Darcy was forgotten.
46 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
It was the cause of no small vexation to Julie,
upon entering P , to see horses being unhar-
nessed from a carriage in Madame Lambert's
court-yard, which announced a visit that was to
be of some duration. Consequently it would be
impossible to begin a discussion of her grievances
against M. de Chaverny.
Madame Lambert, when Julie entered the
salon, had with her a woman whom Julie had
often met in society, but whom she scarcely knew
by name. It was by an effort that she concealed
displeasure which she felt when she found that
she had made this trip to P - in vain.
' Welcome, my dear," cried Madame Lam-
bert, kissing her. " How glad I am to see that
you haven't forgotten me! You couldn't have
come at a more fortunate moment, for I am ex-
pecting to-day, I can't tell you how many people
who are your devoted friends."
Julie answered with a slightly constrained
air that she had expected to find Madame Lam-
bert quite alone.
' They will be delighted to see you," contin-
ued Madame Lambert. " My house has been so
dull since my daughter's marriage that I am
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 47
only too glad when my friends arrange to meet
here. But, my dear child, what have you done
with your rosy cheeks? It seems to me that you
are very pale to-day."
Julie invented some little excuse, the long
trip, the dust, the sun.
" It just happens that one of your admirers
is going to dine with me, and he will be agreeably
surprised. M. de Chateaufort and his faithful
Achates, Commandant Perrin."
" I had the pleasure of entertaining Com-
mandant Perrin a short time ago," said Julie
with a slight blush, for she w r as thinking of
" M. de Saint-Leger is coming, too. We
must really arrange for an evening of charades
next month and you must have a role, my dear-
est; you were our bright and particular star in
charades two years ago."
" Realty it is so long since I played charades
that I am sure I should never be able to regain
my former assurance. I know I should be
obliged to have recourse to ... But I think
I hear some one coming . . ."
" Ah, but Julie, my child, just guess whom
else we are expecting. But if you are to remem-
ber his name, my dear, you will have to search
your memory well."
48 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
The name of Darcy at once presented itself
to Julie's mind.
" His name is really becoming an obsession,"
she thought. " Search my memory, madame.
That I can easily do."
' But I mean you must go back six or seven
years. Do you remember one of your gallants
when you were a little girl and wore your hair
in braids? "
" Really, I can't guess at all."
" For shame, my dear. The idea of forget-
ting in that way a delightful fellow who, unless
I am greatly mistaken, found such favour with
you once upon a time, that your mother almost
took alarm. Come now, my dear, since you thus
forget your admirers, I shall be obliged to re-
mind you of their names: you are to see M.
' Yes, at last he has come back from Con-
stantinople, only a few days ago. The day be-
fore yesterday he came to see me and I invited
him for to-night. Do you know, ungrateful
little wretch that you are, he asked for news of
you with an interest that seemed to me quite
" M. Darcy?" said Julie hesitatingly, and
with an assumed air of abstraction. " M. Darcy?
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 49
Isn't he the tall, fair young man . . . who is
Secretary of the Embassy? "
* Yes, my dear, but you won't recognise him;
he is greatly changed. He is pale, or rather
olive colour, his eyes have sunken, and he has lost
a good deal of his hair on account of the heat,
so he says. In two or three years, if he keeps on,
he will be completely bald in front. And still
he isn't thirty yet."
At this point the lady who was listening to
the recital of the misfortune of Darcy strongly
advised using kalydor, from which she had de-
rived much benefit after an illness which had
caused her hair to fall out. As she spoke she
ran her fingers through the heavy curls of her
beautiful chestnut hair.
" Has M. Darcy been staying in Constanti-
nople all this time? " asked Madame de Cha-
" Not all the time, for he has travelled a
great deal. He was in Russia and then he trav-
elled all over Greece. You haven't heard of his
good luck? His uncle died and left him a fine
fortune. He has also been in Asia Minor in
oh, what do you call it Caramania. He is
charming, my dear; he has the most entertain-
ing stories, which will delight you, I know.
Yesterday he told me such good ones that I
52 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
end he put the woman into a place of safe-keep-
ing. It seems even," continued Madame Duma-
noir, suddenly changing her expression, and
assuming a nasal tone of piety, " it seems that
M. Darcy saw to it that she was converted, and
she was baptised."
" And did M. Darcy marry her? " asked
Julie with a smile.
" About that I can tell you nothing; but the
Turkish woman she had a singular name, she
was called Emineh conceived a violent passion
for M. Darcy. My sister told me that she
always called him Sotir , Sotir that means ' my
saviour ' in Turkish and in Greek. Eulalie told
me that she was the most beautiful creature
' We must declare war upon this fair Turk,"
cried Madame Lambert, " mustn't we, ladies?
We must tease him a little. But this incident of
Darcy's doesn't surprise me in the least. He is
one of the noblest men I know of, and there are
actions of his that bring the tears to my eyes
whenever I tell about them. His uncle died,
leaving a natural daughter whom he had never
recognised. As he had not left a will, she had
no claim upon the property. Darcy, who was
the sole heir, wished her to have her share, and
it is probable that this share is much larger
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 53
than his uncle himself would ever have made
" And is she pretty, this natural daughter? "
asked Madame de Chaverny, with a rather mali-
cious air, for she began to feel the need of saying
something against this M. Darcy whom she
could not drive out of her thoughts.
" Oh, my dear, how can you suppose? . . .
But, moreover, M. Darcy was still in Constanti-
nople when his uncle died and he had probably
never seen the girl."
The arrival of Chateaufort, of Command-
ant Perrin and some others put an end to this
conversation. Chateaufort sat down beside
Madame de Chaverny, and seizing upon a mo-
ment when all the others were talking loudly:
' You seem sad," he said to her; " I should
be very unhappy if what I said to you yesterday
is the cause of it."
Madame de Chaverny did not hear what he
said, or rather did not wish to hear, so Chateau-
fort had the mortification of being obliged to
repeat his sentence, a mortification which was in-
creased by Julie's rather dry answer. After
which she took part in the general conversation;
and changing her place, she left her unhappy
Not allowing himself to be discouraged,
52 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
end he put the woman into a place of safe-keep-
ing. It seems even," continued Madame Duma-
noir, suddenly changing her expression, and
assuming a nasal tone of piety, " it seems that
M. Darcy saw to it that she was converted, and
she was baptised."
"And did M. Darcy marry her?" asked
Julie with a smile.
" About that I can tell you nothing; but the
Turkish woman she had a singular name, she
was called Emineh conceived a violent passion
for M. Darcy. My sister told me that she
always called him Sotir, Sotir that means ' my
saviour ' in Turkish and in Greek. Eulalie told
me that she was the most beautiful creature
" We must declare war upon this fair Turk,"
cried Madame Lambert, " mustn't we, ladies?
We must tease him a little. But this incident of
Darcy's doesn't surprise me in the least. He is
one of the noblest men I know of, and there are
actions of his that bring the tears to my eyes
whenever I tell about them. His uncle died,
leaving a natural daughter whom he had never
recognised. As he had not left a will, she had
no claim upon the property. Darcy, who was
the sole heir, wished her to have her share, and
it is probable that this share is much larger
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 53
than his uncle himself would ever have made
" And is she pretty, this natural daughter? "
asked Madame de Chaverny, with a rather mali-
cious air, for she began to feel the need of saying
something against this M. Darcy whom she
could not drive out of her thoughts.
" Oh, my dear, how can you suppose? . . .
But, moreover, M. Darcy was still in Constanti-
nople when his uncle died and he had probably
never seen the girl."
The arrival of Chateaufort, of Command-
ant Perrin and some others put an end to this
conversation. Chateaufort sat down beside
Madame de Chaverny, and seizing upon a mo-
ment when all the others were talking loudly:
' You seem sad," he said to her; " I should
be very unhappy if what I said to you yesterday
is the cause of it."
Madame de Chaverny did not hear what he
said, or rather did not wish to hear, so Chateau-
fort had the mortification of being obliged to
repeat his sentence, a mortification which was in-
creased by Julie's rather dry answer. After
which she took part in the general conversation;
and changing her place, she left her unhappy
Xot allowing himself to be discouraged,
54 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
Chateau fort indulged in a considerable display
of wit, all in vain. Madame de Chaverny, to
whom alone he was trying to make himself
pleasing, listened with an air of abstraction.
She was thinking of the approaching arrival of
M. Darcy, and asking herself why her mind so
dwelt upon a man whom she should have for-
gotten and who in all probability had forgotten
her long since. At last the sound of an ap-
proaching carriage was heard; the drawing-
room door was thrown open.
" Ah, there he is," cried Madame Lambert.
Julie did not dare to turn her head, but grew
deathly pale. She felt a sudden and sharp sen-
sation of cold, and she felt the need of gathering
together all her strength to recover her poise and
to prevent Chateaufort's seeing her change of
Darcy kissed Madame Lambert's hand, and
stood talking to her for some moments. Then
a profound silence fell upon the room. Madame
Lambert seemed to be expecting and giving
time for a scrutiny of her guest. Chateaufort
and the men, with the exception of the worthy
Commandant Perrin, were watching Darcy with
a curiosity tinged with jealousy. Since he had
just come from Constantinople, he had a great
advantage over them, and this was sufficient
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 55
reason to cause them to wrap themselves in that
self-contained reserve which is usually assumed
with strangers. Darcy, who had paid attention
to no one, was the first to break silence. He
spoke of the weather and of the roads, it mat-
tered not what. His voice was soft and musical.
Madame de Chaverny risked a glance at him, she
saw him in profile. It seemed to her that he had
grown thinner and his expression had changed.
In short she approved of him.
" My dear Darcy," said Madame Lambert,
" look carefully about you and see if you can't
find here some ladies whom you used to know."
Darcy turned his head and saw Julie, whose
face till then had been hidden under the brim of
her hat. He rose hurriedly with an exclamation
of surprise, went to her, holding out his hand,
then suddenly checking himself, as if repenting
his excessive familiarity, he bowed low to Julie,
and expressed to her in very correct language the
great pleasure which he felt at seeing her again.
Julie stammered out a few conventional words
and blushed deeply as she saw that Darcy still
remained standing before her, looking fixedly
Her presence of mind soon returned, and
she in her turn looked at him with a gaze which
is at the same time absent-minded and observant,
56 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
and which people in society can assume at will.
He was a tall, pale young man upon whose fea-
tures was imprinted an expression of calm ; but a
calm which seemed to result less from some
habitual state of the soul, than from the control
which it had succeeded in gaining over his
countenance. Deep lines already furrowed his
brow. His eyes were sunken, the corners of his
mouth had dropped, and the hair on his temples
had already begun to grow thin. Yet he was
not more than thirty years old. Darcy was very
simply attired, but with that elegance which
indicates familiarity with good society and an
indifference to a subject which occupies the
thoughts of so many young men. Julie observed
all this with pleasure. She noticed, too, that he
had on his brow a long scar, which he only par-
tially covered with a lock of hair, and which
seemed to come from a sabre-cut.
Julie was sitting beside Madame Lambert,
there was a chair between her and Chateaufort;
but as soon as Darcy arose Chateaufort put his
hand upon the back of the chair, which he kept
balanced upon one of its feet. It was evident
that he intended to keep it, like a dog in the
manger. Madame Lambert was sorry for
Darcy, who still remained standing before
de Chaverny, made room upon the sofa
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 57
beside her, and asked Darcy to sit down there;
by which means he found himself near Julie.
He hastened to profit by this advantageous posi-
tion, and entered into conversation with her.
Still he had to submit to the usual list of
questions about his travels from Madame Lam-
bert and a few others, but he answered them
briefly, and seized upon every occasion to begin
again the almost private conversation which he
was carrying on with Madame de Chaverny.
;< Take Madame de Chaverny into dinner,"
said Madame Lambert, when the castle bell an-
Chateauf ort bit his lips with vexation, but he
arranged to be seated near enough to Julie at
table to follow all her movements.
After dinner, as it was a beautiful warm
evening, they gathered in the garden around a
rustic table for coffee.
Chateauf ort had noticed with increasing vex-
ation the attentions which Darcy lavished upon
Madame de Chaverny. As he observed the
interest which she seemed to be taking in the
conversation of the new-comer, he himself grew
less and less agreeable, and the jealousy which
58 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
he felt, had merely the effect of depriving him
of all power to make himself attractive to her.
He walked up and down on the terrace where
the others were seated, unable to remain in one
place, as is usual with people who are uneasy,
looking often at the great black clouds which
were gathering and which announced a storm,
and looking still oftener at his rival, who was
conversing in low tones with Julie. Sometimes he
saw her smile, sometimes she grew serious, some-
times she timidly lowered her eyes. In short, he
saw that Darcy could not utter a single word
without its producing a marked effect upon her;
and what especially chagrined him was, that the
varied expressions which passed over Julie's
face seemed to be but an image and reflection of
Darcy 's mobile countenance. At last, being no
longer able to endure this torture, he drew near
her, and leaning over the back of her chair just
as Darcy w r as giving some one information about
the beard of the Sultan Mahmoud, " Madame,"
he said in a bitter tone, " M. Darcy seems to be
a very delightful gentleman."
" Oh, yes," answered Madame de Chaverny,
with an expression of enthusiasm which she could
" So it seems," continued Chateaufort, " for
he makes you forget your old friends."
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 59
"My old friends!" said Julie in somewhat
severe tones, " I do not know what you mean."
Then she turned her back upon him. Then tak-
ing a corner of the handkerchief that Madame
Lambert held in her hand :
" How exquisite the embroidery is in this
handkerchief. It is a wonderful bit of work."
" Do you think so, my dear? It is a present
from M. Darcy, who has brought me back I can't
tell you how many handkerchiefs from Con-
stantinople. By the way, Darcy, was it your
fair Turk who embroidered them for you? "
"My fair Turk, what fair Turk?"
" Oh, the beautiful Sultana whose life you
saved and w r ho used to call you . . . oh, we
know all about it ... who used to call you
her saviour, in fact. You must know the word
for it in Turkish."
Darcy smote his brow, laughing:
" Is it possible," he cried, " that a report of
my misadventure has already reached Paris? "
" But there is no misadventure about it, there
may be perhaps for the Mamamouchi who lost
"Alas!" answered Darcy, "I see that you
knew only half of the story, for this adventure
was as unfortunate for me as was that of the
windmills for Don Quixote. And must I, after
having been such a subject of laughter in the
East, still be made sport of in Paris, for the one
deed of knight-errantry of which I have ever
been guilty? "
'What! we know nothing about this. Tell
us about it," cried all the ladies at once.
" I should leave you," said Darcy, " with the
tale which you already know and do away with
the continuation, the recollection of which has
nothing very agreeable for me; but one of my
friends I beg permission to present him to you
some day, Madame Lambert Sir John Tyrrel
and an actor too in this serio-comic scene,
is going to come to Paris soon, and it is quite
possible that he might take a malicious pleasure
in representing me in a role still more ridiculous
than that which I really played. Here are the
facts in the case: This unfortunate woman,
when she was once safely settled in the French
Consulate . . ."
" Oh, but begin at the beginning," cried
" But, you have heard that already."
" We know nothing at all, and we wish you
to tell us the whole story from beginning to
" Well, you must know that I was at Larnaca
in 18 . One day I went outside the city to
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 61
sketch. With me was a very pleasant young
Englishman, a jolly companion and a bon-
vivant, one of these men who are invaluable
when you are travelling, because they think of
the dinner and never forget provisions and are
always in good-humour. Moreover, he was trav-
elling without any particular aim in view, and
knew nothing of either geology or botany,
sciences which are exceedingly disagreeable in
" I was sitting in the shadow of a stone wall,
some two hundred paces from the sea, along
which at this point runs a line of precipitous
cliffs. I was very busy drawing all that remains
of an ancient sarcophagus, while Sir John,
stretched out on the grass, was making fun of
my unfortunate passion for the fine arts, and
smoking some delicious Turkish tobacco. Be-
side us a Turkish dragoman., whom we had taken
into our service, was making coffee for us. He
was the best coffee-maker and the worst coward
of all the Turks whom I have ever known.
" Suddenly Sir John cried joyfully:
' Here are some people coming down the
mountain with snow! we'll buy some from them
and then we can make orange sherbet.'
" I raised my eyes, and I saw coming toward
us a donkey, upon which a great bundle had been
62 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
laid crosswise; two slaves were steadying it on
each side. The driver was walking in front,
leading the donkey, and behind a venerable
Turk, with a white beard, closed the procession,
mounted upon a fairly good horse. All the pro-
cession advanced slowly and with much so-
" Our Turk, as he sat blowing upon the fire,
cast a sidelong glance at the donkey's burden,
and said to us with a singular smile, ' It is not
snow.' Then he busied himself with our coffee
with his usual stolidity. * What is it ? ' asked
Tyrrel. * Is it something to eat? '
4 Yes, for the fishes,' answered the Turk.
" At that moment the man on horseback
started away at a gallop, and turning in the
direction of the sea, he passed close to us, but not
without casting upon us one of those scornful
glances with which the Mussulmans so readily
favour Christians. He urged his horse on, to
the precipitous cliffs of which I have spoken, and
stopped short at a point where they fell sheer
away. He looked at the sea and seemed to be
looking for the best place from which he might
hurl himself down.
' We examined then more attentively the
bundle which the donkey was carrying and \ve
were struck "then by its strange shape. All the
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 63
stories we had ever heard of women drowned by
their jealous husbands came back to our minds,
and we told each other of what we were thinking.
' Ask those scamps,' said Sir John to our
Turk, ' if it isn't a woman they are carrying/
" The Turk opened wide his frightened eyes
but not his mouth. It was evident that he found
our question altogether too much out of the way.
" At that moment, as the sack was near us,
we distinctly saw it moving, and we even heard
a sort of moan, or grumbling, which came out
;< Tyrrel, although he is somewhat of an epi-
cure, is exceedingly chivalrous. He sprang to
his feet like a madman, ran to the donkey driver,
and asked him in English, so confused was he
by his rage, what it was that he had there, and
what he was intending to do with his sack. The
donkey driver was careful not to make any an-
swer. But the sack moved violently about, and
the cries of a woman's voice were heard, where-
upon the two slaves began to beat the sack with
heavy blows from the thongs which they used
to urge on the donkey. Tyrrel was incensed be-
yond all self-control. With a vigorous, well-
aimed blow he threw the donkey driver to the
ground and then seized one of the slaves by
the throat, whereupon the sack, being roughly
64 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
jostled in the struggle, fell heavily upon the
" I ran up. The other slave had taken upon
himself to gather up stones, and the donkey
driver was struggling to his feet. In spite of my
aversion to interfering in the affairs of others, it
was impossible for me not to come to the rescue of
my companion. Having seized the picket which
served to hold my umbrella in place when I was
sketching, I brandished it about my head, threat-
ening the slaves and the donkey driver with the
most martial air which I could assume. All was
going well when that infernal Turk on horse-
back, having finished his contemplation of the
sea, turned around at the noise which we made
and started off quick as an arrow and was upon
us before we thought of it. In his hand he held
a sort of ugly cutlass."
" An ataghan," said Chateaufort, who loved
" An ataghan," continued Darcy, with an ap-
proving smile. " He passed close to me and gave
me a blow on the head with that same ataghan
which made me ' see thirty-six candles,' as my
friend, the Marquis de Roseville, has so ele-
gantly put it. I answered by planting a good
picket blow in his side. Then I played windmill
to the best of my ability, striking donkey driver,
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE , 65
slaves, horse and Turk, having become myself
ten times more furious than my friend Sir John
Tyrrel. The affair would doubtless have
ended very badly for us. Our dragoman ob-
served a strict neutrality, and we could not de-
fend ourselves very long with a stick against
three infantrymen, a cavalryman, and an ata-
ghan. Fortunately Sir John remembered a pair
of pistols we had brought with us ; he seized them,
threw one to me and aimed the other immediately
at the horseman who was giving us so much
trouble. The sight of these arms and the click-
ing of the trigger of the pistol produced a magi-
cal effect upon our enemies. They shamefully
took to their heels, leaving us masters of the field
of battle, of the sack and even of the donkey.
In spite of our anger we had not fired, which was
a fortunate thing, for you can not kill a good
Mussulman with impunity, and it cost dear
enough to give him a beating.
' When we had wiped off some of the dust,
our first care was, as you can easily imagine, to
go to the sack and open it. We found in it a
rather pretty woman, a little too fat perhaps,
with beautiful black hair, and wearing a single
garment of blue wool, somewhat less transparent
than Madame de Chaverny's scarf.
" She drew herself nimbly out of the sack,
66 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
and without seeming very embarrassed she ad-
dressed to us a long speech which no doubt was
very pathetic, but of which we did not under-
stand a single word. At the end of it she kissed
my hand. It is the only time, ladies, that a lady
has done me such honour.
' We had in the meantime regained our com-
posure, and saw our dragoman tearing out his
beard like a man distraught. I was busy wrap-
ping up my head as best I could with a handker-
chief. Tyrrel was saying : ' What the deuce can
we do with this woman? If we stay here the
husband will come back with a force and at-
tack us. If we return to Larnaca with her in
this fine equipage, the mob will certainly stone
' Tyrrel, embarrassed by all these considera-
tions, and having recovered his British stolidity,
cried : ' Why the deuce did you take it into your
head to come sketching here to-day ? '
" His exclamation made me laugh, and the
woman, who had understood nothing of what
was said, began to laugh too.
" However, we had to decide upon some
course of action. I thought the best thing we
could do was to place ourselves under the pro-
tection of the French Consul; the difficulty was
to get back into Larnaca. Night was falling,
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 67
which was a fortunate thing for us. Our Turk
took us by some long by-path, and thanks to the
cover of night and this precaution, we reached
without any mishap the house of the Consul,
which is outside of the town. I forgot to tell you
that we composed for the woman a costume,
which was almost seemly, out of the sack and the
turban of our interpreter.
* The Consul, who was far from pleased at
seeing us, told us that we were mad, and that one
should respect the usages and customs of the
country in which one is travelling, and that one
should not try to ' put the finger between the bark
and the tree.' In short, he accused us of self-
importance, and he was quite right, for we had
done enough to give rise to a violent riot and to
cause a massacre of all the Europeans in the
Island of Cyprus. His wife showed more
humanity. She had read many novels and
thought that ours was a most noble course of
action. As a matter of fact, we had acted like
heroes in a novel. This excellent woman was
very pious. She thought that she would have no
difficulty in converting the infidel whom we had
brought to her, and that this conversion would
be mentioned in the Moniteur and that her hus-
band would be appointed Consul-General. This
whole plan outlined itself in a moment in her
68 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
mind. She kissed the Turkish woman, gave her
a dress, put the Consul to shame for his cruelty,
and sent him to the Pasha to patch up the matter.
' The Pasha was very angry. The jealous
husband was a person of importance, and was
breathing out threatenings and slaughter. It was
a scandal, he said, that dogs of Christians should
hinder a man like him from casting his slave into
the sea. The Consul was in sore straits ; he talked
much of the King, his master, and still more of a
frigate of sixty tons, which had just appeared
in the waters of Larnaca, but the argument
which produced the most effect was the proposal
which he made in our name of paying a fair
price for the slave.
" Alas! If you only knew what the fair price
of a Turk is! We had to pay the husband, pay
the Pasha, pay the donkey driver for whom
Tyrrel had broken two teeth, pay for the scandal,
pay for everything. How often did Tyrrel
sadly cry : * Why the dickens did you have to
go sketching by the sea-side ? '
' What an adventure, my poor Darcy," cried
Madame Lambert. ' That is how you received
that terrible wound then. Do please raise your
hair for a moment. What a wonder that it
didn't lay your head open."
Julie, during this whole recital, had not once
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 69
taken her eyes off the brow of the narrator. At
last she asked in a timid voice :
' What became of the woman? "
' That is just the part of the story that I
don't care very much to tell; the end was so un-
fortunate for me, that at the present moment
people still make fun of our chivalrous adven-
' Was this woman pretty? " asked Madame
de Chaverny, blushing a little.
'* What was her name? " asked Madame
" Her name was Emineh."
" Pretty? "
1 Yes, she was pretty enough, but too plump,
and all smeared over with paint, according to the
custom of her country. It takes a long time to
grow to appreciate the charms of a Turkish
beauty. So Emineh was installed in the Consul's
house. She was a Mingrelian and told Madame
C , the Consul's wife, that she was the
daughter of a prince. In that country every
rascal who commands ten other rascals is a
prince. So she was treated like a princess. She
dined at table with the Consul's family, and ate
enough for four. Then when they talked to her
about religion she regularly fell asleep. So
things went on for some time. At last the day
70 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
was fixed for her baptism. Madame C- - ap-
pointed herself godmother, and wished me to
stand as godfather, so there were sweets and
gifts and all the rest of it. It had been decreed
that this wretched Emineh should ruin me.
Madame C- - said that Emineh liked me better
than Tyrrel, because when she served me with
coffee she always let some spill upon my clothes.
I was preparing for this christianing with a com-
punction that was truly evangelical, when the
night before the ceremony the fair Emineh dis-
appeared. Must I tell you the whole truth ? The
Consul had for a cook a Mingrelian, a great ras-
cal certainly, but an adept in preparing pilaf.
This Mingrelian had found favour in Emineh's
eyes, and she was without doubt a patriot in her
own way. He carried her off, and with her a
considerable sum of money belonging to M.
C- , w r ho could never find him again. So the
Consul was out his money, his wife the outfit
which she had given to Emineh, and I the gloves
and sweets, not to mention the blows which I had
received. The worst of it is that I was made
responsible for the whole adventure. They
maintained that it was I who freed this wretched
woman, whom I would have been glad to know
was at the bottom of the sea, and who had brought
down so many misfortunes upon the heads of my
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 71
friends. Tyrrel managed to squirm out of it.
He posed as the victim, while in reality he was
the cause of the whole fiasco, and I was left with
a reputation of a Don Quixote, and the scar
which you see, which greatly stands in the way
of my popularity."
When the story was finished they all went
back into the salon. Darcy continued to chat
for some time with Madame de Chaverny. Then
he was obliged to leave her to have presented to
him a young man who was a learned political
economist, who was preparing himself to be
depute and who wished to have some statistics on
the Ottoman Empire.
Julie, after Darcy left her, looked often at
the clock. She listened abstractedly to Chateau-
fort and her eyes turned involuntarily to Darcy,
who was talking at the other end of the salon.
Sometimes he looked at her as he continued to
talk to his statistician and she could not meet
his penetrating but calm glance. She felt that
he had already taken an extraordinary hold upon
her, and she no longer thought of making any
effort to free herself.
72 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
At last she called for her carriage, and either
by design or accident she looked at Darcy as she
called for it, with a glance which seemed to say,
' You have wasted a half-hour which we might
have spent together.' The carriage was ready,
Darcy was still talking, but he seemed tired and
bored by the questioner, who would not let him
go. Julie rose slowly, pressed Madame Lam-
bert's hand, then went toward the door of the
salon, surprised and almost piqued at seeing
Darcy still remaining in the same place. Cha-
teaufort was near her and offered her his arm,
which she took mechanically, without listening to
him and almost without noticing his presence.
She crossed the hall, accompanied by Madame
Lambert and two others, who went with her to
her carriage. Darcy had stayed in the salon.
When she was seated in her carriage Chateauf ort
asked her with a smile if she would not be afraid
all alone on the road in the night, adding that he
was going to follow close behind her in his gig,
as soon as Commandant Perrin had finished his
game of billiards. Julie, who seemed to be in a
dream, was recalled to herself by the sound of
his voice, but she had not understood what he
said. She did what any other woman would
have done under similar circumstances she
smiled. Then with a nod she said good-night to
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 73
those who were gathered in the doorway, and her
horses set off at a rapid trot.
But just at the moment when her carriage was
starting away she had seen Darcy come out of
the salon, pale and sad, with his eyes fixed upon
her, as if he were begging her for a special adieu.
She started away, carrying with her the regret
that she had not been able to give him a bow for
himself alone, and she even thought that he would
be piqued by it. She had already forgotten that
he had left it to another to accompany her to her
carriage. Now the wrongs were all on her side,
and she reproached herself with them as if she
had been guilty of a great crime. The feeling
which she had had for Darcy a few years before,
when she had left him after the evening she had
sung so badly, was much less deep than that
which she carried away with her this time. As a
matter of fact not only had the years deepened
her impressions, but all the accumulated anger
which she felt at her husband had helped to in-
crease them. Perhaps even the inclination which
she had had for Chateaufort, and which at this
moment was completely forgotten, had prepared
her to give place without too much remorse to the
much deeper feeling which she felt for Darcy.
As for him, his thoughts were those of a
much calmer nature. He had felt pleasure in
meeting a pretty woman who recalled happy
days and whose acquaintance would probably be
very agreeable during the winter, which he was
going to spend in Paris. But as soon as she was
no longer before his eyes, all that remained with
him was the memory of a few hours gaily spent
together, a memory whose pleasantness was
somewhat impaired by the prospect of getting to
bed late and driving four leagues before reach-
ing home. Let us leave him with his prosaic
thoughts, carefully wrapping himself in his coat,
and settling himself comfortably in his hired
conveyance, roaming in his thoughts from
Madame Lambert's salon to Constantinople,
from Constantinople to Corfu, and from Corfu
to a slight doze.
Dear reader, we will now follow, if it may
please you, Madame de Chaverny.
When Madame de Chaverny left Madame
Lambert's chateau the night was horribly black
and the atmosphere heavy and oppressive. From
time to time vivid flashes of lightning illumi-
nated the country, and the black silhouettes of
the trees stood out against a background of vivid
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 75
orange. After each flash the darkness seemed
blacker than before, and the coachman could not
see the horses before him. A violent storm burst
upon her. At first, a few occasional large drops
of rain fell, but in a short time there was a heavy
downpour. The heavens all around seemed to
be aflame, and the roar of the celestial artillery
soon became deafening. The terrified horses
snorted and reared instead of going forward ; but
the coachman had eaten a good dinner and his
thick coat and the copious draughts of wine
which he had drunk took away from him all fear
of rain or bad roads. He energetically bela-
boured the poor beasts, no less fearless than
Caesar in the storm when he said to his pilot:
' Thou art bearing Caesar and his fortune."
As Madame de Chaverny had no fear of
thunder she paid little attention to the storm.
She said over to herself all that Darcy had told
her, and she regretted that she had not said a
hundred things that she might have said to him,
when she was suddenly interrupted in her medita-
tion by a sudden violent jolt. At the same time
the windows of her carriage were shivered to
pieces, an ominous crackling was heard and her
carriage rolled over into the ditch. Julie was
quite unharmed, but the rain continued to fall,
one wheel was broken and the lamps were put
76 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
out, and there was not a single house to be seen
whither she might go for shelter. The coachman
was swearing, the footman was fuming at the
coachman, and cursing his awkwardness. Julie
remained in her carriage, asking how they could
get back to P , or what they would have to
do. But each one of her questions received the
discouraging answer: " It isn't possible." In
the meantime the dull rumble of an approaching
carriage was to be heard in the distance. Soon
Madame de Chaverny's coachman recognised, to
his great satisfaction, one of his colleagues with
whom he had laid the foundations of a tender
friendship in Madame Lambert's pantry. He
called to him to stop.
The carriage stopped, and scarcely had the
name of Madame de Chaverny been mentioned
than a young man who was in the coupe opened
the door himself, crying: " Is she hurt? " And
with a single bound he reached Julie's carriage.
She had recognised Darcy. She was expect-
Their hands met in the darkness and it
seemed to Darcy that Madame de Chaverny
gave his a slight pressure, but that may have
been a result of her fear. After the first ques-
tions, Darcy naturally offered her his carriage.
At first Julie did not answer, for she was quite
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 77
undecided as to what course she would pursue.
On the one hand she thought of the three or four
leagues that she would have to travel all alone
with a young man, if she wished to go to Paris ;
on the other hand, if she went back to the chateau
to ask hospitality from Madame Lambert, she
shuddered at the thought of being obliged to re-
count the romantic accident of the overturned
carriage and the help that she would have re-
ceived from Darcy. To reappear in the salon
in the midst of a game of whist saved by Darcy,
like the Turkish woman, she really couldn't think
of it! But then, too, the three long leagues to
Paris ! As she was thus hesitating and stammer-
ing awkwardly enough a few commonplaces on
the inconvenience to which she had put him,
Darcy, who seemed to read all that was going on
in her mind, said to her coldly: " I beg you to
take my carriage; I will stay in yours until some
one passes on the way to Paris."
Julie, who was afraid of showing too much
prudery, hastened to accept the first offer, but
not the second, and as her decision was very sud-
denly made, she had not time to decide the im-
portant question as to whether she should go to
P or to Paris. She was already seated in
Darcy's carriage, wrapped up in the greatcoat,
which he had hastened to offer her, and the
78 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
horses were trotting briskly toward Paris, before
it occurred to her to tell him where she wished to
go. Her servant had chosen for her when he
gave the coachman his mistress's street and
The conversation began with a good deal of
awkwardness on both sides. Darcy spoke briefly,
and in a tone which seemed to indicate a slight
displeasure. Julie thought that her lack of reso-
lution had offended him and that he considered
her a ridiculous prude. Already she was so
completely under the influence of this man that
she was violently reproaching herself, and her
one thought \vas to drive away this displeasure
for which she blamed herself. Darcy's coat was
damp, she noticed, and at once taking off the
coat which he had lent her, she insisted upon his
wrapping himself up in it. Thereupon ensued
a discussion, the result of which was that they
split the difference and each one had his share
of the coat, a great imprudence which she would
not have committed but for this one moment of
hesitation which she wished to make him forget.
They were seated so close to each other that Julie
could feel Darcy's breath upon her cheek, and
sometimes a violent jolt from the carriage threw
them even closer together.
'* This cloak which wraps us both up reminds
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 79
me of our charades in the old days. You remem-
ber being my Virginia when we both wrapped
up in your grandmother's mantle? "
* Yes, and do you remember the reproof she
gave me upon that occasion? "
" Ah," cried Darcy, " what happy times
those were! How often have I thought with
mingled sadness and pleasure of those glorious
evenings in the Rue Bellechasse. Do you remem-
ber those splendid vulture's wings that were
fastened to your shoulders with pink ribbons,
and the beak of gold paper that I manufactured
for you with such skill."
" Yes," answered Julie ; " you were Prome-
theus and I was the vulture. But what a mem-
ory you have ! How can you remember all those
trifles? And, what a long time it is since we last
saw each other."
" Are you asking for a compliment? " said
Darcy, smiling, and leaning forward so as to
look into her face. Then in a more serious tone,
" Really," he continued, " it is not so remarkable
that I should remember the happiest days of
" What a talent you had for charades," said
Julie, who was afraid the conversation might
take too sentimental a turn.
"Do you wish me to give you another proof
80 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
of my memory," interrupted Darcy. " Do you
remember the compact that we made at Madame
Lambert's? We agreed to say ill of the whole
universe, but we were to defend each other
against all comers. But our treaty shared the
fate of most treaties it was not carried out."
" How do you know? "
" I fancy that you have not often had a
chance to defend me, for once away from Paris,
what idle fellow would give me even a thought? "
' To defend you, no, but to speak of you to
" Oh, my friends," cried Darcy, with a smile
tinged with sadness, " I had few enough in those
days with whom you were acquainted at least.
The young men who frequented your father's
house hated me, I don't know why, and the
women gave small thought to the attache of the
Minister of Foreign Affairs."
' The trouble was that you didn't pay any
attention to them."
" That is quite true. I never could play the
gallant to people for whom I didn't care."
If it had been possible in the darkness to see
Julie's face, Darcy might have observed that a
deep blush overspread her countenance as she
heard this last sentence, into which she had read
a meaning that Darcy had never intended.
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 81
However that may be, laying aside these
memories, which had been only too well kept by
both of them, Julie wished to lead him back to
the subject of his travels, hoping that by this
means she herself might avoid talking. This
plan of action almost always succeeds with trav-
ellers, especially with those who have visited some
!< What a delightful journey you had," she
said, " and how sorry I am that I have never been
able to take one like it."
But Darcy was no longer in a mood to tell
of his travels.
'* Who is the young man with a moustache
who was talking with you a little while ago? "
This time Julie blushed more deeply than
ever. " He is a friend of my husband," she an-
swered, " one of the officers of his regiment.
They say," she continued, not wishing to
abandon her Oriental theme, " that those who
have once seen the blue sky of the Orient find
it impossible to live elsewhere."
" Singularly unpleasing, I don't know just
why, ... I mean your husband's friend, not
the blue sky. As for this blue sky, Heaven save
you from it ! One comes to take so violent a dis-
like to it from always seeing it the same, un-
changing, that a dirty Paris fog would seem the
82 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
most beautiful sight in the world. Believe me,
nothing gets on the nerves as does this blue sky,
which was blue yesterday, and which will be blue
to-morrow. If you only knew with what im-
patience, with what ever-renewed disappoint-
ment, we wait for and hope for a cloud."
" And yet you stayed a long time under this
" All, you see, I should have found it rather
difficult to do anything else. If I had been able
to merely follow my own inclination, I should
have come back quickly enough to the region of
Rue Bellechasse, after having satisfied the curi-
osity which the strange sights of the Orient
" I believe that many travellers would say
the same if they were as frank as you are. How
do people spend their time in Constantinople
and the other cities of the East? "
' There, as elsewhere, there are different
ways of killing time; the English drink, the
French play cards, the Germans smoke, and
some clever people, in order to vary their pleas-
ures, get themselves shot when they climb upon
the house-tops to turn their opera-glasses on the
" Doubtless this last occupation was the one
which you preferred."
" Not at all. I studied Turkish and Greek,
which made me seem very ridiculous. When I
had finished my despatches at the Embassy I
used to draw, I used to gallop out to the Eaux-
Douces, and then I used to go to the sea-shore to
see if some human face would not appear from
France or elsewhere."
" It must be a great pleasure for you to
see a Frenchman at so great a distance from
' Yes, but for an intelligent man, it seemed
that there appeared so often merchants selling
hardware, and cashmeres, or what is much worse,
young poets, as soon as they saw somebody from
the Embassy, crying: ' Take me to see the ruins,
take me to Saint Sophia, take me to the moun-
tains, to the azure sea, I wish to see the spot
where Hero sighed.' Then when they had got
a sunstroke they would shut themselves up in
their rooms and not wish to see anything except
the latest numbers of the Constitutionnel."
" Oh, you are looking on the dark side of
everything, an old habit of yours you haven't
corrected it, you know; you are just as cynical as
' Tell me now, isn't a condemned soul who
is frying in the pan permitted to cheer himself
a little at the expense of his frying companions?
84 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
On my word, you don't know how wretched life
is over there; we secretaries of embassies are like
the swallows that never alight. For us there are
none of those intimate relations that make the
happiness of life." (He uttered these last words
in a singularly strange tone, drawing closer to
Julie.) "For six years I have found no one
with whom I could exchange my thoughts."
' Then you had no friends over there."
" I have just been telling you that it is impos-
sible to have any in a foreign country. I left
two in France, one is dead, the other is in
America, whence he will not return for some
years, if the yellow fever does not keep him
there for ever."
" So you are alone? "
" And ladies' society, what is it like in the
East? Was there no satisfaction in it? "
" Oh, that was the worst of all. Turkish
women were not to be thought of. As for the
Greeks and Armenians, the best that one can say
of them is that they are very pretty. When it
comes to the wives of consuls and ambassadors,
you must excuse me from discussing them. That
is a diplomatic question, and if I said what I
really think, I might harm my prospects in for-
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 85
" You don't seem to care very much for your
calling. In the old days you were so anxious to
enter upon diplomatic life."
" In those days I knew nothing about the
profession. Now I'd rather be inspector of
street cleaning in Paris."
" Heavens, how can you say that? Paris, the
most wretched hole in the world."
" Don't blaspheme. I should like to hear your
palinode of Naples after two years' sojourn in
" To see Naples ! There is nothing in the
world I should like better," she answered with
a sigh, " provided my friends were with me."
" Oh, under those conditions, I would take a
trip around the world; travelling with one's
friends is like sitting comfortably in a salon
while the world files by before your windows,
like a panorama that is unfolding itself."
' Well, if that is asking too much, I should
like to travel with one with two friends
" For my part I am not so ambitious. I
should ask for only one man, or one woman," he
added with a smile, " but this is a good fortune
which has never befallen me, and which will never
befall me." Then, more gaily, he continued,
" As a matter of fact, luck has never come my
86 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
way, I have really wished for only two tilings,
and I have never been able to get them."
"What were they?"
" Oh, nothing so very out of the way. For
instance, I was wildly anxious to waltz with some
one. I made a most careful study of the waltz,
I practised for whole months alone with a chair
to overcome the giddiness which never failed to
seize upon me, and when at last I succeeded in
freeing myself of these dizzy turns . . ."
' With whom did you wish to waltz? "
;< What would you say if I should tell you
that it was you? When, as a result of much toil,
I had become a finished waltzer your grand-
mother, who had just taken a Jansenist confes-
sor, forbade waltzing by an order which has still
left a scar on my heart."
" And the second wish ? " asked Julie, in deep
" My second wish I will confess to you. I
should have liked ... it was far too ambi-
tious on my part ... I should have liked to
have been loved, really loved. It was before the
waltz that I had formulated this wish I am not
following chronological order. I should have
liked, I say, to have been loved by a woman who
would have preferred me to a ball (the most dan-
gerous of all rivals) , by a woman whom I might
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 87
have gone to see in muddy boots, just as she was
preparing to enter a carriage on the way to a
ball she would have been in ball dress and she
would have said to me : * Let us stay at home.'
But that was madness. We should ask only
for what is possible."
" Oh, how malicious you are; still your same
old ironical remarks! You spare nothing, you
are pitiless toward women."
" I ? Heaven forbid ! It is rather myself that
I am slandering. Am I saying ill of women
when I say that they prefer a pleasant evening
party to a tete-a-tete with me? "
" A ball, evening dress, ah, good heavens,
who cares for balls now? " She little thought of
justifying all her sex who were thus arraigned.
She thought that she understood Darcy's
thought, and the poor woman understood noth-
ing but her own heart.
" Oh, speaking about ball dress, what a pity
that the carnival is over. I have brought back
the costume of a Turkish woman, and it is really
very pretty and it would be wonderfully becom-
ing to you."
' You must make a drawing of it for me."
" Gladly, and you will see what progress I
have made since the days when I used to scribble
men's heads on your mother's tea-table. By the
88 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
way, too, I must congratulate you. I was told
this morning at the Minister's office that M. de
Chaverny was to be appointed gentleman-in-
waiting. I was delighted to hear it."
Julie involuntarily started. Darcy continued
without noticing this movement: "Let me be-
speak your patronage at once. But really I am
not altogether too pleased about your new dig-
nity. I am afraid that you may be obliged to go
to Saint Cloud for the summers. Then I shall
not have the pleasure of seeing you so often."
" I shall never go to Saint Cloud," said Julie,
in a voice choked with emotion.
" Ah, so much the better, for Paris, don't you
see, is a paradise which you should never leave,
except occasionally to go to dine in the country
at Madame Lambert's, provided one comes home
in the evening. How fortunate you are to live in
Paris. You can't imagine how happy I who am
here for perhaps a short time only am in the
little apartment that my aunt has given to me.
And you, so I have been told, live in the Fau-
burg Saint-Honore. Your house was pointed
out to me. You must have a delightful garden
if the mania for building has not already
changed your arbours into shops."
" No, my garden is still untouched, thank
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 89
" What day are you at home? "
" I am at home nearly every evening, and I
shall be delighted if you will come to see me some-
' You see, I am acting as if our old contract
still continued. I am inviting myself without
ceremony and without being officially presented.
You will forgive me, won't you? You and Ma-
dame Lambert are the only two whom I know in
Paris now ; every one has forgotten me, but your
two houses are the only ones I thought of with
regret during my exile. Your salon especially
must be delightful. You used to choose your
friends so well. Do you remember the plans you
used to make for the time when you would be
mistress of a house? a salon that was inaccessi-
ble to bores, music sometimes, and always conver-
sation, and all till very late hours. No pretentious
people, and a small number of persons who were
perfectly well acquainted, and who consequently
never tried to tell what was not true, nor to seek
effect, two or three witty women (and it is im-
possible that your friends should be otherwise),
and your house is the most delightful in Paris.
Yes, you are the happiest of women, and you
make happy all those who come near you."
Whilst Darcy was talking, Julie was thinking
that this happiness which he so vividly described
90 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
might have been attainable if she had been mar-
ried to a different husband to Darcy, for in-
stance. Instead of this imaginary salon, so ele-
gant and so delightful, she thought of the bores
whom Chaverny had gathered about him ; instead
of these merry conversations, she recalled conju-
gal scenes such as that which had sent her to
P . She saw herself, moreover, for ever un-
happy, and bound for life to the destiny of a man
whom she hated and scorned; whilst he, whom
she found the most pleasant in the world, he to
whom she would have been glad to trust her hap-
piness, must for ever remain a stranger to her.
It was her duty to avoid him, to separate herself
from him, and he was so near her that his coat
brushed against the sleeve of her gown.
Darcy continued for some time to depict the
pleasures of a Parisian life with all the eloquence
which long privation had given him. Julie in the
meantime felt the tears streaming down her
cheeks. She trembled lest Darcy should notice
it, and the restraint under which she held herself
gave added force to her emotion. She choked,
she did not dare make the slightest movement.
At last a sob escaped her and all was lost. She
buried her face in her hands, half suffocated with
tears and with shame.
Darcy, who was wholly unprepared for it,
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 91
was greatly astonished; for a moment he was si-
lent with surprise, but as her sobs increased he
felt obliged to speak and to ask the cause of her
' What is wrong? In Heaven's name, do tell
me what has happened."
And, as poor Julie, in answer to all these ques-
tions, merely covered her eyes more tightly with
her handkerchief, he took her hands, and gently
pushing aside the handkerchief:
" I beg you," he said in a changed voice,
which went to Julie's heart, " I beg you to tell
me what the trouble is. Have I unwittingly of-
fended you? Your silence drives me to despair."
"Ah," cried Julie, unable to contain herself
any longer, " I am very unhappy," and she sobbed
more violently than ever.
" Unhappy, why? What do you mean?
Who could make you unhappy? "
And so speaking he pressed her hands, and his
head almost touched that of Julie, who wept in-
stead of answering. Darcy did not know what
to think, but he was touched by her tears. He felt
six years younger, and he began to have a vision
of the future which had not yet presented itself
to his imagination that of the role of confidant,
which he might possibly change to a more inti-
92 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
As she persisted in giving no reply, Darcy,
fearing that she felt faint, lowered one of the
windows in the carriage, untied the ribbons of
Julie's hat, and loosened her cloak and her shawl.
Men are awkward in doing these little services.
He wished to have the carriage stopped near a
village, and he was already calling to the coach-
man, when Julie, seizing him by the arm, begged
him not to stop, and assured him that she felt
much better. The coachman had heard nothing
and continued to drive toward Paris.
" But I beg you, dear Madame de Chaverny,"
said Darcy, again taking her hand, which he had
for a moment given up, " I beg you to tell me
what the trouble is. I am afraid ... I don't
understand in what way I was so unfortunate as
to hurt you."
" Ah, you did not do it," cried Julie, and she
gave his hand a slight pressure.
' Well, tell me who it is who can make you
weep. Speak to me with confidence; are we not
old friends? " he added, smiling and in his turn
pressing Julie's hand.
' You were speaking of the happiness with
which you believed I was surrounded, and this
happiness is so far from me."
' What, have you not every aid to happi-
ness? You are young, rich, and beautiful; your
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 93
husband occupies a prominent place in so-
" I hate him," cried Julie, beside herself; " I
scorn him," and she hid her face in her handker-
chief, sobbing more bitterly than ever.
" Oh," thought Darcy, " this is becoming
And skilfully taking advantage of one of the
jolts of the carriage, he drew still closer to the un-
' Why," he said to her in the softest and most
tender voice in the world, " why do you give way
to grief? Is it possible that a being whom you
scorn has so much influence on your life? Why
do you allow him, him alone to embitter your life?
Is it from him that you must seek happiness? "
and he kissed her hand. She at once withdrew her
hand in terror; he feared that he had gone too far,
but, determined to carry out his adventure to the
end, he said with a hypocritical sigh :
" How mistaken I was ! When I heard of
your marriage, I thought that you really loved
M. de Chaverny."
" Ah, M. Darcy, you never knew me."
And her tone said distinctly, " I have always
loved you, and you never would see it." At that
moment the poor woman believed in all good
faith that she had loved Darcy the whole time,
94 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
during the six years that had just passed, as
deeply as she loved him at that moment.
" And you," said Darcy, with increasing ani-
mation, " have you ever really understood me?
Did you ever know what my real feeling was?
Ah! if you had only known me better, doubtless
we should both have been happy now."
"Ah, how unhappy I am!" repeated Julie,
with a fresh outburst of tears, and holding his
" But even if you had understood me," con-
tinued Darcy with that expression of ironical mel-
ancholy which was habitual with him, " what
would the result have been? I was penniless and
you had a considerable fortune. Your mother
would have rejected my offer with scorn. I was
condemned beforehand. You, yourself, yes, you,
Julie, before a fatal experience had shown you
where true happiness lies, you would doubtless
have laughed at my presumption. A well-ap-
pointed carriage, with a count's coronet on the
door, would doubtless have been the best and sur-
est means of being acceptable in your sight at
" Good heavens, you too ! Will no one then
have pity upon me? "
" Forgive me, then, dear Julie," he cried,
deeply touched himself; " forgive me, I beg you;
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 95
forget these reproaches ; I have no right to make
them. I am guiltier than you, but I did not know
your real worth. I thought that you were weak,
like the women of the world amongst whom you
lived; I doubted your courage, dear Julie, and I
have been cruelly punished."
He ardently kissed her hands, and she did not
withdraw them. He was going to press her to
his breast, but Julie thrust him back with a terri-
fied expression and drew away from him as far as
the width of the carriage would allow.
Whereupon Darcy in a voice whose very gen-
tleness made it still more thrilling said :
" Forgive me, I was forgetting Paris. I re-
member now that people marry there, but they
do not love.'*
" Oh, yes, I love you," she murmured between
her sobs, and she let her head fall upon Darcy's
Darcy enfolded her in his arms in an ecstasy,
trying to stop her tears with his kisses. Once
more she tried to free herself from his embrace,
but this was her last effort.
96 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
Darcy had been mistaken as to the nature of
his emotion; it must be said at once that he was
not in love. He had taken advantage of a bit of
good fortune which had seemed to throw itself at
his head, and which was too good to be allowed to
let pass. Moreover, like all men, he was much
more eloquent when pleading than when thank-
ing. However, he was polite, and politeness often
takes the place of more worthy sentiments. When
the first moment of intoxication was passed he
breathed into Julie's ears tender sentiments, which
he composed without any great difficulty, and
which he accompanied with many kisses upon her
hands, so saving himself from speech. He no-
ticed without any great regret that the carriage
had already reached the fortifications, and that
in a few minutes he would be obliged to separate
himself from his conquest. The silence of Ma-
dame de Chaverny in the midst of his protesta-
tions, the dejection in which he seemed plunged,
rendered difficult, even tiresome, if I may dare to
say it, the position of her new lover. She sat mo-
tionless in the corner of her carriage, mechani-
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 97
cally drawing her shawl tight around her shoul-
ders. She was no longer weeping, her eyes were
fixed, and when Darcy took her hand to kiss it,
this hand, as soon as he released his hold, fell back
upon her knees inertly. She did not speak and
she scarcely heard; but torturing thoughts
crowded in upon her brain, and if she essayed to
express one of them, another instantly succeeded
to seal her lips. How can I describe the chaos
of her thoughts, or rather of those images which
succeeded one another as rapidly as the pulsations
of her heart ? She thought that she heard a ring-
ing in her ears without rhyme or reason, but all
with a terrible meaning. That morning she had
accused her husband ; he was vile in her eyes, now
she was a hundred times more despicable. It
seemed to her that her shame was public ; the mis-
tress of the Due de H would scorn her in her
turn. Madame Lambert and all her friends
would refuse to see her, and Darcy, did he love
her? He scarcely knew her; he had forgotten
her, he had not at once recognised her. Perhaps
he had found her terribly changed. He was cold
toward her; that was the coup de grace. Her
infatuation for a man who scarcely knew her, who
had not shown for her any love, . . . but
merely politeness. It was impossible that he
should love her. She, herself, did she love him?
98 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
No, since she had married almost as soon as he had
When the carriage entered Paris the clocks
were striking one o'clock. At four o'clock she
had seen Darcy for the first time. Notwithstand-
ing their early acquaintance she had forgotten his
features, his voice, he had been a stranger to her ;
nine hours later she had become his mistress, nine
hours had sufficed for the singular fascination,
had sufficed to dishonour her in her own eyes, in
the eyes of Darcy himself. For what could he
think of so weak a woman? How could he help
Sometimes the gentleness of Darcy's voice,
the tender words which he uttered revived her a
little. Then she tried to make herself believe that
he really felt the love of which he spoke. She had
not so lightly surrendered herself. Their love
had lasted since the time when Darcy had left her.
Darcy must know that she had married only be-
cause of the vexation which his departure had
caused her. It was Darcy who had been to blame.
Nevertheless he had always loved her during his
long absence, and upon his return he had been
happy to find her as faithful as he had been. Her
frank avowal, her very weakness must be pleas-
ing to Darcy, who hated dissimulation. But the
absurdity of these arguments soon became ap-
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 99
parent to her. These consoling thoughts van-
ished and she was left a prey to shame and
At one moment she wished to give utterance
to what she felt. She had just thought of her-
self as being outlawed by the world and aban-
doned by her family. After having so grievously
given offence to her husband, her pride would not
allow her to see him again. " Darcy loves me,"
she told herself, " and I can love no one but him;
without him I can never be happy. I shall be
happy everywhere with him. Let us go together
then, to some spot where I can never see a face
that will bring a blush to my face. Let him take
me to Constantinople with him."
Darcy never for an instant dreamed what was
going on in Julie's heart. He had just noticed
that they had turned into the street where Ma-
dame de Chaverny lived, and he was drawing on
his kid gloves with great calm.
" By the way," he said, " I must be officially
presented to M. de Chaverny. I have no doubt
that we shall soon be good friends, as I am pre-
sented by Madame Lambert. I shall be on a
pleasant footing in your house. In the meantime,
as he is in the country, I may come to see you? "
Speech entirely failed Julie. Every word
that Darcy uttered cut her to the quick. How
100 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
could she talk of flight, of elopement with this
man who was so calm, so cool, and whose one
thought was to arrange his liaison in the most con-
venient manner possible? In her rage she broke
the necklace she wore, and twisted the chain be-
tween her fingers. The carriage stopped at the
door of her house; Darcy was very attentive in
wrapping her shawl around her and helping her
to readjust her hat. When the carriage-door was
opened, he very respectfully offered her his arm,
but Julie stepped out without help from him.
" I shall beg permission," he said with a deep
bow, " to call to inquire for you."
" Good-bye," said Julie in a choked voice.
Darcy once more got into his carriage and
drove home, w r histling with the air of a man who
is well pleased with his day's work.
As soon as he found himself once more in his
bachelor apartments Darcy got into a Turkish
dressing-gown, put on slippers, and having filled
with Turkish tobacco his long pipe with the brier-
wood stem and amber mouthpiece, he settled him-
self down to enjoy it, leaning back in a great
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 101
leather-covered arm-chair which was comfortably
padded. To those persons who may be astonished
at seeing him engaged in this vulgar occupation
at a moment when he might perhaps be given up
to more poetical dreams, I will answer that a good
pipe is a useful, not to say necessary, adjunct to
reverie, and that the truest way of really enjoying
a pleasure is to connect it with some other pleas-
ure. One of my friends, a very luxurious man,
never used to open a letter from his mistress with-
out having first taken off his necktie, stirred up
the fire, if it were winter-time, and comfortably
stretched himself out on the sofa.
" Really," said Darcy to himself, " I should
have been a great idiot if I had followed Tyrrel's
advice and bought a Greek slave to bring her
back to Paris. On my word, that would have
been, as my friend Haleb-Effendi used to say,
bringing figs to Damascus. Thank fortune, civ-
ilisation has made great progress during my ab-
sence, and strictness does not seem to have been
carried to excess. Poor Chaverny! ah! ah! if,
however, I had been rich enough a few years ago,
I should have married Julie, and perhaps it would
have been Chaverny who would have brought her
home to-night. If ever I marry, I shall have my
wife's carriage frequently overhauled, so that she
will have no need of wandering knights to rescue
102 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
her from ditches. Let us consider the matter.
Taking it all in all, she is a very pretty woman;
she is witty, and if I were not as old as I am, I
should be inclined to think that it is owing to my
own great merit. . . . Ah! my own great
merit. . . . Alas! in a month perhaps my
merit will be on a level with that of the gentle-
man with the moustache. How I wish that that
little Nastasia whom I liked so much had been
able to read and write, and been able to talk about
things with intelligent people; for I think she
is the only woman who really loved me. Poor
child ! " His pipe went out and he soon fell
When Madame de Chaverny entered her own
apartments, she made a powerful effort to con-
trol herself to tell her maid in a natural voice that
she did not need her, and wished to be left alone.
As soon as this servant had gone out she threw
herself upon her bed and there she began to weep
all the more bitterly, now that she was alone, since
Darcy's presence had obliged her to keep herself
Night certainly has a great influence on moral
as well as physical suffering. It gives a gloomy
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 103
tinge to everything, and ideas, which in the day-
time would seem harmless or even pleasant, trou-
ble and torture us at night just like the spectres
which have no power except in the darkness. It
seems that in the night-time our thoughts in-
crease in activity and that reason loses its sway,
a sort of inner phantasmagoria disturbs and
frightens us without our being able to cast aside
the cause of our fear or to calmly examine its
Picture then poor Julie stretched out upon
her bed, half dressed, ceaselessly tossing about,
sometimes a prey to burning heat, sometimes
shivering with cold, starting at the slightest
cracking of the woodwork, and hearing distinctly
every heart-beat. All that she was aware of was
an indescribable anguish, the cause of which she
sought in vain. Then suddenly the memory of
the fatal evening flashed into her mind as quick
as lightning, and with it there came a sharp, fierce
pain like that which a red-hot iron would produce
if applied to a freshly healed wound.
Sometimes she looked at her lamp, noticing
with dull attention all the flickerings of the flame
until the tears which gathered in her eyes, she
knew not why, dimmed the light before her.
" Why these tears? " she said to herself.
" Ah! I have lost my honour I "
104 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
Sometimes she counted the balls of the fringe
of her bed-curtains, but she could never remember
the number. ' What can this madness be? " she
thought to herself. " Madness? yes! for an hour
ago I abandoned myself like a miserable courte-
san to a man whom I do not know." Then with
dull eye she followed the hands of her watch with
the anxiety of a condemned man who sees the
hour of his execution approaching. ' Three
hours ago," she said to herself with a sudden start,
" I was with him, and I have lost my honour."
She spent the whole night in this feverish agi-
tation. When day dawned she opened her win-
dow and the fresh, sharp morning air brought her
a little relief. Leaning out of her window, which
opened into her garden, she breathed in the cold
air with a certain enjoyment. Little by little her
ideas became less confused. To the vague tor-
ture and delirium which had agitated her there
succeeded a concentrated despair which by com-
parison seemed a repose of spirit.
She must come to some decision, so she tried
to think of what she must do, but not once did she
think of seeing Darcy again. That seemed to
her perfectly impossible. She would have died of
shame upon seeing him. She must leave Paris, or
in two days all the world would be pointing the
finger of scorn at her. Her mother was at Nice ;
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 105
she would go to her, would confess all to her ; then
after having poured out her confession upon her
breast, she would have only one thing to do, and
that was to seek out some lonely spot in Italy, un-
known to travellers, where she would go to live
alone and ere long die. When once she had taken
this resolution she felt quieter. She sat down be-
fore a little table in front of the window, and with
her head in his hands she wept. This time with-
out bitterness. But at last fatigue and exhaustion
overcame her and she fell asleep, or rather for
nearly an hour she ceased all thought. She wak-
ened with a feverish shudder. The weather had
changed. The sky was gray, and a fine, cold rain
foretold a cold, wet day. Julie rang for her maid.
" My mother is ill," she said. " I must leave at
once for Xice. Pack my trunk; I must leave in
" Oh, my lady, what is wrong? Are you not
ill? My lady did not go to bed! " cried the maid,
surprised and alarmed at the change which she
saw in her mistress.
" I wish to leave," said Julie impatiently,
" It is absolutely necessary that I leave. Pack a
trunk for me."
In our modern civilisation it is not sufficient
simply to will it to go from one place to another ;
one has to pack, carry boxes, and busy oneself
106 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
with a hundred tiresome preparations, which are
enough to take away all desire to travel. But
Julie's impatience greatly shortened all these
necessary delays. She went and came from room
to room, helped herself in packing the trunks,
crushing in hats and dresses that were usually so
carefully handled. Nevertheless, all her activity
served rather to delay her servants than to help
" My lady has doubtless told M. de Cha-
verny? " the maid timidly asked.
Julie without answering took a sheet of pa-
per. She wrote: " My mother is ill at Nice; I am
going to her." She folded the paper, but she
could not make up her mind to write the address
Whilst she was in the midst of preparing to
depart a servant entered.
" M. de Chateaufort asks if my lady is receiv-
ing. There is also another gentleman who came
at the same time, whom I do not know. Here is
She read: " E. Darcy, Secretary of the Em-
bassy." She could scarcely suppress a cry.
" I am not at home to any one," she cried.
" Say that I am ill; do not say that I am going
She could not understand how Chateaufort
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 107
and Darcy were coming at the same time to see
her, and in her confusion she did not for a moment
doubt that Darcy had already chosen Chateau-
fort as his confidant. Nothing was more simple,
however, than their simultaneous appearance.
Led there by the same reason, they had met at the
door, and after having exchanged exceedingly
cool salutations, they had inwardly cursed each
other with all their hearts.
Having received the servant's message, they
went down the stairway together, bowed once
more, even more coldly than before, and sepa-
rated, each going in an opposite direction.
Chateaufort had noticed the particular atten-
tion which Madame de Chaverny had shown
Darcy, and from that moment he had been filled
with hate for him. For his part, Darcy, who
prided himself upon reading faces, had not no-
ticed Chateaufort's air of constraint and vexation
without concluding that he was in love with Julie,
and since as a diplomat he was inclined to put the
worst construction upon things a priori, he had
very lightly supposed that Julie was not cruel
" That strange flirt," he said to himself, " did
not wish to receive us together for fear of having
an interview like that in the ' Misanthrope,' but I
should have been very dull indeed if I could not
have found some excuse for out-staying this
young fop. Certainly if I had just waited until
he had had his back turned I should have been ad-
mitted to her presence, for I hold over him the un-
questionable advantage of novelty."
So thinking, he stopped, then he turned back,
then he went again to Madame de Chaverny's
door. Chateaufort, who had also turned round
several times to observe him, retraced his steps
and stationed himself like a sentinel a short dis-
tance away to watch him.
Darcy said to the servant, who looked sur-
prised at seeing him again, that he had forgotten
to give him a line for his mistress, that it was an
urgent matter, and had to do with a message
which a lady had given to him for Madame de
Chaverny. Remembering that Julie understood
English, he wrote in pencil upon his card: " Begs
leave to ask when he can show to Madame de
Chaverny his Turkish album." He handed his
card to the servant and said he would wait for an
This answer was a long time in coming. At
last the servant came back and seemed much
troubled. " My mistress," he said, " fainted a
few moments ago and is not well enough now to
give you an answer."
All this had lasted just about half an hour.
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 109
Darcy had small belief in the account of Madame
de Chaverny's fainting, but it was perfectly evi-
dent that she did not wish to see him. He ac-
cepted his fate philosophically, and remembering
that he had some visits to make in the neighbour-
hood, he left without being otherwise put about
by this contretemps.
Chateaufort awaited him in furious anxiety,
and seeing him pass he did not for a moment
doubt that he was a successful rival, and he vowed
that upon the first occasion he would avenge him-
self upon the faithless woman and her companion
in guilt. Commandant Perrin, whom he very
opportunely met, listened to his tale and con-
soled him as best he could, not without arguing
with him the probable groundlessness of his sus-
Julie had really fainted when she received
Darcy's second card. Her swoon had been fol-
lowed by a hemorrhage which had greatly weak-
ened her. Her maid had sent for the doctor, but
Julie obstinately refused to see him. About four
o'clock the post-chaise came, her trunks had
been strapped on, everything was ready for her
departure. Julie stepped into her coach, cough-
110 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
ing terribly, and in a pitiable state. During the
whole evening and the whole night she spoke
only to the servant who was on the box, and then
merely to tell him to have the postilions urge
on the horses. She continued to cough and
seemed to suffer great distress in her chest; she
was so weak that she fainted when the door was
opened. They took her into a wretched inn,
where they put her to bed. The village doctor
was called in. He found her in a raging fever
and forbade her to continue her journey. Nev-
ertheless, she was still anxious to go on. In the
evening she became delirious and all her symp-
toms were more unfavourable. She talked inces-
santly and with great rapidity, so that it was
difficult to understand her. The names of
Darcy, Chateaufort and of Madame Lambert
frequently recurred in her incoherent sentences.
The maid wrote to M. de Chaverny to tell him
of his wife's illness, but she was nearly thirty
leagues from Paris. Chaverny was hunting with
the Due de H , and her illness was making
such progress that it was doubtful if he could
arrive in time.
The man-servant in the meantime had gone
on horseback to a neighbouring town and had
brought back a doctor. The latter found fault
with his confrere's treatment, said that he had
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 111
been called in very late and that her condition
was very serious.
Her delirium disappeared toward daybreak,
and she then fell into a deep sleep. When she
awoke two or three days later, she seemed to have
great difficulty in remembering by what series
of events she found herself in bed in the
wretched sleeping-room of the inn. Neverthe-
less, her memory soon returned. She said that
she felt better and she even spoke of setting out
again the next day. Then after having seemed
to meditate for a long time, with her hand
pressed to her forehad, she called for ink and
paper and tried to write. Her maid saw her be-
gin letters which she always tore up after she had
written the first few words. At the same time
she charged them to burn the scraps of paper.
The maid noticed on several of the scraps this
word: " Sir," which seemed to her very extraor-
dinary, she said, for she thought that her mistress
was writing to her mother or to her husband.
On another bit of paper she read : ' You must
indeed scorn me." For nearly half an hour she
made vain efforts to write this letter which
seemed to be weighing upon her mind. At last,
prevented by her extreme exhaustion from con-
tinuing, she pushed away the desk that they had
placed upon her bed, and said with a bewildered
112 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
air to her maid: ;< Write yourself to M.
" What must I write, my lady? " asked the
maid, convinced that her delirium was return-
ing. " Write to him that he does not know me
and that I do not know him."
And she fell back exhausted upon her pillow.
These were the last connected words that she
spoke. Her delirium returned and did not leave
her. She died the next day without any great
Chaverny arrived three days after the burial.
His grief seemed deep and real and all the vil-
lagers wept as they saw him standing in the
graveyard looking down upon the freshly turned
earth which covered his wife's coffin. At first he
wished to have her body taken up and carried to
Paris, but as the Mayor had objected and the
notary had warned him that there would be end-
less formalities, he contented himself with order-
ing a costly gravestone and making arrange-
ments for the erection of a handsome but chaste
Chateaufort was much touched by this sud-
THE DOUBLE MISTAKE 113
den death. He declined several ball invitations
and for some time he wore nothing but black.
Society gave several accounts of Madame de
Chaverny's death. According to some she had
a vision, or, if you prefer it, a presentiment that
her mother was ill. She had been so impressed
by it that she had at once set out for Nice, in
spite of a heavy cold which she had caught on the
way home from Madame Lambert's, and this
cold had run on into pneumonia. Others who
showed more penetration said, with a mysterious
air, that Madame de Chaverny, not being able
to conceal the love which she really felt for M.
de Chateaufort, had wished to go to her mother
to seek courage to resist her temptation, and that
the cold and pneumonia were a result of her
hurried departure. Upon this point all were
Darcy never spoke of her. Three or four
months after her death he married well. When
his marriage was announced to Madame Lam-
bert, she said as she was congratulating him:
" Really, your wife is charming, and no one
but my poor dear Julie could have been so well
114 THE DOUBLE MISTAKE
suited to you. What a pity that you were too
poor for her when she married."
Darcy smiled with his habitual ironical smile,
but he made no answer.
These two hearts who had failed to under-
stand each other were, perhaps, made one for the
SOULS IN PURGATORY
Les 'Ames du Purgatoire
SOULS IN PURGATORY
CICERO has said somewhere, I think it
is in his treatise, " On the Nature of the
Gods," that there were many Jupiters
a Jupiter in Crete, another at Olympus, another
somewhere else; so that in all Greece there was
not a city of any importance whatever that did
not possess a Jupiter of her own. From all these
a single Jupiter has arisen, and to him have been
attributed all the adventures of his namesakes.
It is this fact which accounts for the prodigious
number of exploits imputed to this god.
The same confusion has obtained concerning
Don Juan, a personage whose celebrity ap-
proaches closely to that of Jupiter. Seville alone
claimed several Don Juans, and many another
city had hers. In the beginning, each had his
distinct legend, but in the course of time all be-
came merged into one.
Upon close examination, however, it is not
difficult to assign to each his own share in the
mythical story, or, at least, to distinguish two of
these heroes, to wit : Don Juan Tenorio, who, as
118 SOULS IN PURGATORY
every one knows, was carried away by a marble
statue ; and Don Juan de Marana, whose end was
The stories told of the lives of both men are
very nearly the same; it is the conclusion alone
that distinguishes them. There is an ending to
suit every taste, like the productions of Ducis,
which conclude happily or otherwise, according
to the sensitiveness of the reader.
As to the truth of this story, or rather of
these two stories, there is no question, and the local
patriotism of the Sevillians would be deeply of-
fended were we to doubt the existence of these
scapegraces, who have cast suspicion upon the
genealogy of their most aristocratic families.
The home of Don Juan Tenorio is still pointed
out to strangers, and no friend of art has ever
been to Seville without visiting the Church de la
Caridad. There he will have seen the tomb of the
Caballero de Marana, with this inscription, in-
spired by his humility, or if one prefers, by his
pride: Aqui yace el peor hombre que fue en el
mundo. After seeing this, how could it be possi-
ble to doubt?
It is true that your guide, after conducting
you to these two monuments, will go on to tell
you how Don Juan (which one, is not known)
made extraordinary overtures to Giralda, the
SOULS IN PURGATORY 119
bronze statue which surmounts the Moorish tower
of the Cathedral; and how Giralda accepted
them ; and how, mellow with wine, Don Juan was
strolling along the left bank of the Guadalquivir
and asked a light of a man who was walking on
the right bank smoking a cigar; and how the
smoker's arm ( for it was no other than the devil
himself) became longer and longer until it
reached across the river, and presented his cigar
to Don Juan, who lighted his own without so
much as moving a muscle, and so hardened was
he, that he failed to profit by the warning,
and . . .
I have endeavoured to give to each of these
Don Juans the share which belongs to him in
their common career of wickedness and crime.
For want of a better way, I have made a studious
effort to relate of my hero, Don Juan de Marana,
only such adventures as do not, by right of pre-
scription, belong to Don Juan Tenorio, so famil-
iar to us in the works of Moliere and Mozart.
Count Don Carlos de Marana was one of the
richest and most highly respected noblemen of
Seville. He was of illustrious birth, and in the
war against the Moors he gave proof that he had
lost none of the courage of his ancestors. After
the Alpuxarres had been reduced to submission,
120 SOULS IN PURGATORY
he returned to Seville with a scar upon his brow
and a multitude of children captured from the
infidels. These he took care to have baptised,
after which he sold them at a profit into Chris-
His wounds proved no obstacle to his winning
the love of a young girl of good family, who gave
him the preference over many other suitors. Of
this marriage several daughters were born, some
of whom married in the course of time, and the
others took the vocation of religion. Don Carlos
de Marana was beginning to despair of ever hav-
ing an heir, when the birth of a son overwhelmed
him with joy and revived his hope that the old
estate would not revert to a collateral branch of
Don Juan, this son so fondly desired, and the
hero of this true story, was indulged by his par-
ents as the only son and heir to a famous name
and an immense fortune should be. While still a
child he was almost absolute master of his own
actions and in his father's palace no one would
have had the hardihood to contradict him. To
be sure, his mother wished him to be pious, as she
herself was, and his father desired his son to be
brave like himself. The former, by means of pet-
ting and sweetmeats, succeeded in having the
child learn the litany, the rosary, in fact, all the
SOULS IN PURGATORY 121
prayers of the Church, both required and volun-
tary. She lulled him to sleep at night by reading
religious legends. His father, on the other hand,
taught his son the romances of the Cid and of
Bernard del Carpio; he told him of the revolt of
the Moors, and encouraged him to practise daily
throwing the javelin, shooting the cross-bow or
even the arquebus, at a figure dressed as a Moor
which he had had made and placed at the end of
In the oratory of the Countess de Marana
was a picture painted in the heavy, severe style of
Morales, which portrayed the torments of pur-
gatory. Every sort of punishment which the
painter had been able to imagine was depicted
with such realism that the torturer of the Inqui-
sition would have found in it nothing to criticise.
The souls in purgatory were represented as con-
fined in a monstrous cavern, at the top of which
was an opening. Beside this opening stood an
angel, grasping the hand of a soul who was leav-
ing this abode of sorrows, while kneeling at one
side of the angel was an aged man with a chaplet
in his hands, which were clasped together in an
attitude of fervent prayer. This man was the
donor of the picture, which he had had painted for
a church in Huesca. During the revolution, the
Moors had set fire to the town; the church was
122 SOULS IN PURGATORY
burned, but the picture was miraculously pre-
served. The Count de Marana had brought it
home with him and had used it to embellish his
wife's oratory. When little Juan entered his
mother's apartment he usually stood a long time
in silent contemplation before this picture, which
terrified and at the same time fascinated him.
There was one man especially from whom he
could not turn away, a man at whose entrails a
serpent seemed to gnaw, as he hung suspended by
hooks caught in his side over a glowing brasier.
With beseeching eyes lifted to the opening of the
cave, the victim seemed to beg the donor for pray-
ers to rescue him from such an agony of suffer-
ing. The Countess never failed to explain to her
son that the unfortunate man was enduring this
punishment because he had not learned his cate-
chism, or because he had mocked at a priest, or had
been inattentive in church. The soul, flying away
toward Paradise, had belonged to a relative of the
Marana family. He had, no doubt, a few petty
offences to expiate, but Count de Marana had
prayed for him, he had paid a great deal of
money to the priests to ransom him from fire and
torment, so that he had had the satisfaction of
sending his relative's soul to Paradise before he
had been in purgatory long enough to become
tired of it.
SOULS IN PURGATORY 123
" Nevertheless, Juanito," added the Countess,
" perhaps I shall suffer like that some day, and I
shall have to remain in purgatory millions of
years unless you remember to have masses said
to get me out! How dreadful it would be to
leave in torment the mother who has cherished
you ! " At this the child would weep, and
if he had a few coins in his pocket he would
hasten to give them to the collector who took
care of the money-box for the souls in pur-
When he visited his father's room he saw ar-
mour scarred with the indentations of arquebus-
balls, a helmet which the Count de Marana had
worn at the siege of Almeria, and which bore the
impress of a Mussulman's axe. Moorish lances
and sabres and standards, captured from the infi-
dels, decorated the apartment.
" This cimeter," said the Count, " I took
from the Cadi de Vejer, who struck me with it
three times before I took his life. This banner
was carried by the rebels from the mountain of
Elvire. They had just sacked a Christian village ;
I hurried thither with twenty knights to meet
them. Four times I tried to penetrate their bat-
talion in order to capture that standard; four
times was I driven back. The fifth time I made
the sign of the cross. I cried: ' Saint James! '
124 SOULS IN PURGATORY
and plunged into the ranks of the pagans. And
do you see this golden cup which I have here with
my armour? A Moorish alfaqui had stolen it
from a church in which he had been guilty of a
thousand sacrileges. His horses had eaten their
barley on the altar, and his soldiers had scattered
the bones of the saints. The alfaqui was drinking
sherbet from this cup, and I surprised him in his
tent just as he was carrying the sacred vessel to
his lips. Before he could swallow the drink or
had time to say, ' Allah ! ' with this good sword
I cut off the shaven head of the dog, and the blade
sank through to the teeth. In recognition of this
act of righteous vengeance the King permitted
me to bear a golden cup with my armour. I tell
you these things, Juanito, that you may relate it
to your children, so that they may know why your
coat of arms is not exactly like your grandfa-
ther's, which you see there painted beneath his
Divided between war and religion, the child
passed his time in making little crosses carved
from laths, or else, armed with a wooden sword,
he waged war in the garden against the pump-
kins, the form of which, in his opinion, bore a
strong resemblance to the heads of Moors draped
in their turbans.
By the time he was eighteen, Don Juan could
SOULS IN PURGATORY 125
translate Latin only tolerably well, he could assist
the priest at mass very intelligently, and he han-
dled the rapier and the sword better than the Cid
himself had done. His father, thinking that a
gentleman of the house of Marana should acquire
other accomplishments than these, decided to send
him to Salamanca. The preparations for the
journey were soon made. His mother gave him
numerous rosaries, scapulars, and medals which
had been blessed by the Pope. She also taught
him many prayers, which would be of special effi-
cacy in a multitude of life's vicissitudes. His
father presented him with a sword, whose hilt of
damascened silver was ornamented with the fam-
ily coat of arms. He said to him :
" Hitherto you have associated only with chil-
dren ; you are now going to live among men. Re-
member that the most precious possession of a
gentleman is his honour; and your honour is the
honour of the house of Marana. Perish the last
scion of our family rather than let a blemish stain
our honour! Take this sword ; if you are at-
tacked, it will defend you. Never be the first to
draw it, but remember that no ancestor of yours
ever returned his sword to the scabbard until he
had conquered and was avenged."
Thus fortified with arms both spiritual and
temporal, the descendant of the house of Marana
126 SOULS IN PURGATORY
mounted his horse and left the home of his
The University of Salamanca was at that time
at the zenith of its glory. Never had its students
been more numerous, never its professors more
erudite ; but never also had the citizens been made
to suffer so much from the insolence of the unruly
youths who lived, or rather who reigned in their
city. Serenades, charivaris, every sort of noctur-
nal revelry these were everyday occurrences,
the monotony of which was relieved from time to
time by an abduction of women or young girls,
by a robbery or an assault and battery.
When he first arrived in Salamanca, Don
Juan spent a few days presenting letters of intro-
duction to his father's friends, calling to see his
professors, visiting the churches, and examining
the sacred relics which they contained. In obe-
dience to his father's wish, he deposited with one
of the professors a considerable sum of money to
be distributed among the needy students. This
act of liberality had a tremendous success and won
him immediately a host of friends.
Don Juan was ambitious to acquire learning.
He determined to hear every word that fell from
the lips of his professors, as he would listen to the
inspired Gospel ; and he desired to sit as near the
desk as possible so that not a syllable might escape
SOULS IN PURGATORY 127
him. Entering the class-room for the first time he
observed, as close to the professor as he could
wish, a vacant seat, which he took. A dirty, un-
kempt student, clad in rags, like so many in the
universities, raised his eyes from his book for a
moment and stared at Don Juan with an expres-
sion of stupefied amazement.
" Are you going to take that seat? " said he,
and his voice expressed something akin to terror.
" Are you aware that Don Garcia Navarro usu-
ally sits there? "
Don Juan replied that he had always heard
that the seats were free to the first occupant, and
finding this one vacant he supposed he might take
it unless Senor Don Garcia had asked his neigh-
bour to reserve it for him.
' You are a stranger here, I can see that,"
said the student, " and you must have arrived very
recently, since you do not know Don Garcia. I
will tell you, then, that he is one of the most "
Here the student lowered his voice as if he
were afraid of being heard by the other stu-
" Don Garcia is a terrible man. Woe to any
one who offends him! His patience is short, but
his sword is long, and you may be sure if any one
sits in a place that Don Garcia has twice occu-
pied, that is sufficient ground for a quarrel, for
128 SOULS IN PURGATORY
he is extremely touchy and irritable. When he
quarrels he strikes, and when he strikes he kills.
Now then, I have warned you and you can do as
you please about it."
Don Juan thought it most extraordinary that
this Don Garcia should pretend to reserve the best
seats for himself without taking the trouble to
merit them by being punctual. At the same time
he noticed that several students were staring at
him, and he realised that it would be embarrassing
to vacate the seat now that he had occupied it. On
the other hand, he by no means wished to have a
quarrel on his hands so soon after his arrival, and
especially with a man so dangerous as this Don
Garcia appeared to be. He was in this perplex-
ing attitude, uncertain what to do, and still re-
maining instinctively where he was, when a stu-
dent entered the room and came straight toward
" Here comes Don Garcia," said his neigh-
This Garcia was a strapping, broad-shoul-
dered young fellow, with swarthy complexion, a
spirited eye, and a scornful expression of the
mouth. He wore a shabby doublet, which once
must have been black, and a ragged cloak. Out-
side of these garments hung a long gold chain.
It is well known that from time out of mind the
SOULS IN PURGATORY 129
students of Salamanca, and indeed, of all the
Spanish universities, have considered it a point of
honour to appear in rags and tatters, intending
thus to demonstrate probably that genuine worth
is able to dispense with the adornments which
wealth can give.
Don Garcia approached the place where Don
Juan was seated and greeted him with the utmost
" Fellow-student," said he, " you have recent-
ly come among us, and yet your name is perfectly
familiar to me. Our fathers have been good
friends, and, if it is agreeable to you, their sons
will be good friends also."
While speaking in this way, he extended his
hand with the greatest cordiality. Don Juan,
who was expecting an altogether different recep-
tion, met Don Garcia's politeness with a cordial-
ity equal to his own, and replied that he should
feel highly honoured by the friendship of such a
gentleman as himself.
' You are not yet familiar with Salamanca,"
continued Don Garcia, " and if you will accept
me as your guide, I shall be delighted to show you
everything there is to see in this place, from the
cedar even unto the hyssop." Then, turning to
the student who was seated beside Don Juan:
" Come, Perico, get you gone. Do you think a
130 SOULS IN PURGATORY
booby like you ought to sit so near the Senor Don
Juan de Marana? "
And with this he pushed him roughly away,
and took the seat which the student abandoned
At the close of the lecture Don Garcia gave
his address to his new acquaintance and made him
promise to come to see him. Then with a cordial
and familiar parting salutation, he left the room,
drawing about him gracefully, as he went, his
cloak, which was as full of holes as a pock-marked
Don Juan, carrying his books under his arm,
had lingered in one of the corridors of the build-
ing to examine the old inscriptions that covered
the walls, when he noticed that the student who
had just spoken to him was approaching, as if he
also wished to look at the inscriptions. After
bowing slightly, to show that he recognised him,
Don Juan was about to leave, but the student
touched him on his sleeve as if to stop him.
" Senor Don Juan," said he, " if you are not
in a hurry, would you be good enough to grant
me a moment's interview? "
' Willingly," replied Don Juan, and leaning
back against a pillar, said: " I am listening."
Perico looked anxiously on all sides, as if
afraid of being seen, and came very close to Don
SOULS IN PURGATORY 131
Juan so that he might whisper, a useless precau-
tion, it seemed, for no one but themselves was in
the vast Gothic corridor. After a moment's
" Could you tell me, Senor Don Juan," asked
the student in a low and almost trembling voice,
" could you tell me if your father really knew
Don Garcia Navarro's father? "
Don Juan gave a start of surprise. " You
heard Don Garcia say so but a moment ago."
' Yes," replied the student, speaking in a still
lower tone, " but have you ever heard your father
say that he was acquainted with Senor Navarro? "
1 Yes, of course I have, and he was with him
in the war against the Moors."
' Very well ; but have you ever heard that that
gentleman had a son? "
" Indeed, I have never paid much attention
to what my father may have said about him.
But what is the object of these questions? Is
not Don Garcia Senor Navarre's son? Is he a
" I swear before Heaven that I said nothing
of the kind," cried the terrified student, peering
behind the column against which Don Juan was
leaning. " I only meant to ask whether you had
heard an extraordinary story that many people
tell about this Don Garcia? "
132 SOULS IN PURGATORY
" I have never heard a word of it," said Don
"It is said mark that I only repeat what I
have heard it is said that Don Diego Xavarro
had a son who, when he was six or seven years old,
fell ill of so strange and serious a malady that the
physicians did not know what remedies to admin-
ister. Then the father, who had no other child,
sent rich gifts to many churches, and carried the
sick boy to touch the sacred relics, but all in vain.
At last one day, in despair, I have been assured-
one day while he was looking at a picture of Saint
Michel he exclaimed: * Since you are unable to
cure my son, I'll see whether the person under
your feet has not more power than you.' '
'What abominable blasphemy!" cried Don
Juan, scandalised to the last degree.
" After a little while the child recovered and
that child was is Don Garcia!"
" So ever since then Don Garcia has been the
devil incarnate," said Don Garcia himself, shout-
ing with laughter, appearing at this moment from
behind a pillar, where he must have overheard the
' Indeed, Perico," said he coldly and scorn-
fully to the terror-stricken student, " if you were
not such a sneaking coward, I should make you
repent your audacity in speaking of me. Seiior
SOULS IN PURGATORY 133
Don Juan," he continued, speaking to Marana,
" when you are better acquainted with us, you will
not waste your time listening to this gossip. And,
see here, to prove that I am not such a devil of a
fellow, do me the honour to accompany me at
once to Saint Peter's Church ; after we have con-
cluded our devotions there I shall invite you to
join me and several of my comrades at a poor
At these words he took Don Juan's arm. The
latter, mortified that he had been surprised listen-
ing to Perico's strange story, accepted with alac-
rity the invitation of his new friend to prove that
the scandal he had just heard had made no im-
pression upon him.
After entering the church of Saint Peter, Don
Juan and Don Garcia knelt before an altar,
around which were gathered an immense crowd
of the faithful. Don Juan repeated his prayers
in a low tone ; and, although he remained a suita-
ble length of time in this pious occupation, he
found when he raised his head that his comrade
seemed to be still lost in religious ecstasy ; his lips
were moving softly; he was evidently not half
through with his devotions. Somewhat ashamed
of having finished so soon, Don Juan began to
recite in a whisper all the litanies that he could
recall. The litanies despatched, Don Garcia had
134 SOULS IN PURGATORY
not budged. Don Juan went mechanically
through several minor prayers; then, seeing that
his companion had not yet stirred, he thought it
would be permissible for him to look round about
him a little to pass the time while waiting for the
termination of this unending orison. Three
women who were kneeling upon Turkish rugs im-
mediately attracted his attention. One, judging
from her age, her spectacles, and the venerable
amplitude of her head-dress, could be no other
than the duenna. The other two were young and
pretty, and did not bow their eyes so low over
their beads that they might not be seen to be large
and brilliant. Don Juan found it delightful to
look at one especially; more delightful, indeed,
than it ought to have been in such a holy place.
Forgetting his comrade's prayers, he nudged him
on the arm, and asked in a whisper who was the
young lady who carried a chaplet of amber beads.
Don Garcia did not seem at all shocked at the
interruption, and replied :
" She is Dona Teresa de Ojeda; and the other
one is Dona Fausta, her elder sister, daughters of
an Auditor of the Court of Castile. I am in love
with the elder ; see if you can't fall in love with the
younger sister. See," he added, " they are just
rising and are going to leave the church; let us
hurry and see them get into their carriage; per-
SOULS IN PURGATORY 135
haps the wind will blow their skirts so that we may
catch a glimpse of one or two pretty ankles."
Don Juan was so intoxicated by the beauty of
Dona Teresa that he did not notice the coarseness
of this language, and following Don Garcia to
the church door he watched the two young noble-
women enter their coach and drive away from the
church square, whence they turned into one of the
most fashionable streets. After disappearing
around the corner Don Garcia, jamming his hat
on his head sidewise, cried gaily:
' There go two charming girls! Damn me,
if the elder isn't mine before the end of the week !
And how about you, have you made any progress
with the younger? "
'What! Progress?" answered Don Juan,
innocently. ' Why, this is the first time I ever
saw her! "
" A good reason, to be sure! " exclaimed Don
Garcia. " How much longer do you suppose I
have known Dona Fausta? To-day, however, I
sent her a note which she took very kindly."
" A note? But I did not see you write one! "
" I always carry them with me ready writ-
ten ; so long as no name is attached they will serve
for any one. Only be careful not to use compro-
mising allusions to the colour of one's hair or
eyes. So long as you keep to sighs and tears and
136 SOULS IN PURGATORY
fears, all of them, brunettes or blondes, young
girls or married women, will take them in good
With chatter of this kind Don Garcia and
Don Juan reached the house where dinner await-
ed them. It was a popular resort of the students
and the food was more plentiful than elegant and
varied. There was no end of highly seasoned
stews and salt meats; all kinds of food to excite
thirst. There was, besides, an abundance of wines
from La Manche and Andalusia. Several stu-
dents, friends of Don Garcia, were waiting for
him to come. They sat down at the table imme-
diately, and for some time no other sounds were
heard but the crunching of food and the jingle of
the glasses striking against the decanters. After
a while the wine having put the diners in a good
humour, conversation began and became loud and
boisterous. The talk was of nothing but duels,
love affairs, and student escapades. One told
how he had gotten the better of his landlady by
moving out the night before the day when his
rent was due. Another had ordered from a wine
merchant several bottles of valdepenas in the
name of one of the most austere professors in the
School of Theology; he had been cunning enough
to confiscate the bottles, leaving the professor to
settle the account if he wished. One had as-
SOULS IN PURGATORY 137
saulted the watchman; another, by means of a
ladder, had made a visit to his mistress, notwith-
standing the watchfulness of a jealous lover.
Don Juan at first listened in dismay to the recital
of all this licentiousness, but by degrees the effect
of the wine which he was drinking and the hilar-
ity of the diners disarmed his prudery. He
laughed at the stories that were told, and he came
to the point even of envying the reputation en-
joyed by several for their feats of trickery and
swindling. He began to lose sight of the wise
principles which he had brought to the univer-
sity, and to approve of the rule of conduct fol-
lowed by the students ; a simple rule and one easy
to obey. It consisted of assuming the right of
committing any act of depredation against the
pTiilistines ; that is to say, all that part of the
human species which has not matriculated in the
university. The student in the midst of the phil-
istines is in hostile territory, and he considers him-
self justified in treating them exactly as the He-
brews treated the Canaanites. The only difficulty
is that the corregidor has, unfortunately, very lit-
tle respect for the sacred customs of the univer-
sity, and asks nothing better than an opportunity
to maltreat its votaries. It follows, therefore,
that they must stand together as brothers; that
they must aid one another, and above all that they
138 SOULS IN PURGATORY
must keep inviolate the secrets of their fellow-
This edifying conversation continued as long
as the bottles held out. At last, when they were
empty, there was a lamentable confusion of
judgment on the part of all the guests and a
strong desire to sleep.
The sun still shining high in the heavens,
every one went home to enjoy a siesta, but Don
Juan accepted the invitation of Don Garcia to
rest at his house. No sooner had he thrown him-
self on a leather couch than fatigue and the fumes
of the wine overcame him and he fell into a deep
sleep. For some time his dreams were so fantas-
tic and so hazy that his only sensation was one of
vague discomfort, with no idea of any object or
fancy that might cause it. Gradually, however,
he began to see more clearly in his dream, if it
may be expressed thus, and his ideas became co-
herent. He thought he was in a boat on a great
river, broader and wider than he had ever seen the
Guadalquivir in winter. This boat was without
either sails, oars, or rudder, and the shore on each
side was deserted. The boat was tossed here and
there by the waves, so that he was ill, and thought
himself at the mouth of the Guadalquivir, just at
the time when the good-for-nothings of Seville,
who are taking a trip to Cadiz, feel the first inti-
SOULS IN PURGATORY 139
mation of sea-sickness. Soon he found himself
where the river was much calmer, so that he could
easily see the two banks and his voice could even
be heard at that distance. Then there appeared
at the same instant on each shore, two radiant fig-
ures, each moving toward him as if to bring him
succour. He turned at first to the right bank and
saw an old man of solemn and austere counte-
nance, barefooted and without clothes other than
a mantle of thorns. He seemed to stretch out his
hand to Don Juan. On the left, where he then
looked, he saw a woman, tall and of most noble
and engaging appearance, holding in her hand
a crown of flowers, which she offered to him. At
the same time he observed that his boat, though
oarless, was guided at his pleasure by the force of
his will. He was moving toward the bank where
the woman stood, intending to land there, when a
cry from the left bank caused him to turn around
and sail his boat in that direction. The expres-
sion of the old man was even sterner than it was
at first. Wherever his body was visible it was
seen to be covered with wounds and bruises, livid
and angry. In one hand he held a crown of
thorns, in the other a whip filled with iron spikes.
Don Juan was overcome with terror at this spec-
tacle, and quickly he turned his boat once more
toward the right bank of the river. The vision
140 SOULS IN PURGATORY
which had charmed him before was still there.
Her hair was wafted in the breeze, a supernatural
lustre animated her eyes, and instead of the crown
she now held in her hand a sword. Don Juan hesi-
tated for a moment before landing his boat, and
then, looking more attentively, he saw that the
blade of the sword was crimson with blood and
that the nymph's hand also was red. Terrified,
he awoke with a start. He opened his eyes and
could not repress a cry when he saw two feet from
his bed a glittering sword. But no lovely nymph
was it that held the sword. Don Garcia was on
the point of arousing his friend, and noticing
near the bed a sword of curious workmanship,
was examining it with the air of a connoisseur.
On the blade was this inscription: "Maintain
loyalty." And the hilt, as we have already said,
bore the arms, the name, and the device of the
house of Marana.
" This is a handsome sword of yours, com-
rade," said Don Garcia. ' You must be rested by
this time. It is now night, let us walk for a little
while, and after the good people of the town have
gone to their homes, we will go, if it pleases you,
and serenade our divinities."
Don Juan and Don Garcia strolled for some
time along the Tormes, staring at the women who
came out to get the air or to ogle their lovers.
SOULS IN PURGATORY 141
Little by little the promenaders became rarer,
then they disappeared altogether.
" Now is the time," said Don Garcia, " now is
the time when the entire city belongs to the stu-
dents. The philistines would not dare to inter-
rupt us in our innocent recreations. As for the
watchman, if, by some accident, we were to have
a skirmish with him, I need not tell you that he
is a rascal who need not be spared. But if the
scoundrels are too many for us and we should
have to take to our heels, you need have no
anxiety. I know all the by-ways. You need
only give yourself the trouble to follow me, and
you may be sure that all will go well."
As he spoke he threw his cloak over his left
shoulder in such a way as to conceal the greater
part of his face but to leave his right arm free.
Don Juan did the same, and both proceeded to-
ward the street in which Dona Fausta and her
sister lived. In passing the steps of a church Don
Garcia whistled. A page appeared with a guitar,
which Don Garcia took and then dismissed the
" I see," said Don Juan, as they turned into
the Calle de Valladolid, " I see that you intend to
have me act as a protector to your serenade. You
may be certain that I shall conduct myself so as
to deserve your approval. I should be disowned
142 SOULS IN PURGATORY
by Seville, my own country, if I did not know
how to guard a street against intruders."
" I have no intention of giving you sentinel's
duty to perform," replied Don Garcia. " I have
my own love affair to attend to here, and you have
yours also. Let each pursue his own game.
Hush ! this is the house. You at that window and
I at this one, and take care ! "
Don Garcia, after tuning his guitar, began in
a rather pleasing voice to sing a ballad, which, as
usual, was full of tears and sighs and all the rest.
I do not know whether or not he was the composer
of the song. At the third or fourth stanza the
blinds of two windows were softly raised and a
low cough was heard. This signified that some
one was listening. Musicians, they say, never
play when they are begged or when people listen
to them. Don Garcia rested his guitar against
a pillar, and in a low voice he entered into con-
versation with one of the women who had heard
Don Juan, glancing upward, saw at the win-
dow immediately above him a woman who seemed
to be observing him intently. He had no doubt
that it was Dona Fausta's sister, whom his own
inclination and his friend's choice had granted
him as the lady of his thoughts. But he was still
timid and inexperienced and he did not know how
SOULS IN PURGATORY 143
to begin. Suddenly a handkerchief fluttered out
of the window and a low, soft voice cried :
" Ah ! Jesus ! my handkerchief has fallen
Don Juan hastened to pick it up, placed it on
the point of his sword and lifted it to the height
of the window. This was an opening. The voice
began by thanking him, and then asked if the
Senor who had been so very courteous had not
been that morning to Saint Peter's Church.
Don Juan replied that he had been there and that
he had in consequence lost his peace of mind.
"How is that?"
" Because I saw you there."
The ice was broken. Don Juan was from Se-
ville and knew by heart all the Moorish romances
in which the passionate tongue is so rich. He
could not fail to be eloquent. The conversation
continued for nearly an hour. Finally Teresa ex-
claimed that she heard her father coming and
must leave the window. The two gallants lin-
gered in the street until they saw appear from be-
hind the curtain two white hands, which threw
from the window a spray of jessamine to each of
them. When Don Juan fell asleep that night his
head was clouded with delicious images. Don
Garcia spent the greater part of the night in a
144 SOULS IN PURGATORY
The next night the sighs and the serenades
were repeated, and continued for several succes-
sive nights. After refusing a becoming length of
time, both ladies consented to give and to accept a
lock of hair, an operation which was conducted
by means of a cord dropped from the window,
which brought back the token given in exchange.
Don Garcia, who was not a man to stop at trifles,
suggested a ladder or even skeleton keys, but
they considered him bold, and his proposition,
if not rejected, was at least indefinitely post-
For almost a month Don Juan and Don Gar-
cia had billed and cooed to no purpose under their
lady-loves' windows. One very dark night they
were on duty as usual, and the conversation had
continued for some time to the satisfaction of all
concerned, when at the far end of the street ap-
peared, in long cloaks, seven or eight men, half
of whom carried musical instruments.
"Merciful Heaven!" exclaimed Teresa,
" here is Don Cristoval coming to serenade us.
Withdraw at once, for the love of God, or some
misfortune will happen."
' We do not yield so good a place to any
man," cried Don Garcia; and raising his voice:
" Sefior," he said to the foremost man, " this place
is taken, and besides, these ladies do not care to
SOULS IN PURGATORY 145
hear your music; so, if it pleases you, go else-
where to seek your fate."
' This is one of those student jackanapes pre-
tending to hinder us from passing ! " cried Don
Cristoval. "I'll teach him what it costs to make
love to my sweethearts ! "
At these words he unsheathed his sword. In-
stantly the swords of two of his companions
flashed from their scabbards. Don Garcia, with
admirable celerity, flinging his mantle around his
arm, drew his sword and cried : " Follow me, stu-
dents!" But there was not a student in the
neighbourhood. The musicians, fearing, doubt-
less, that their instruments would be broken in the
scuffle, took to their heels, calling for the guards
as they ran, while the two women at the window
invoked the aid of all the saints of Paradise.
Don Juan, who happened to be under the
window nearest Don Cristoval, at first had to de-
fend himself against him. His adversary was
skilful, and moreover, in his left hand he had an
iron shield which he could use as a parry, while
Don Juan had nothing but his sword and his man-
tle. Hard pressed by Don Cristoval, he recalled
opportunely a thrust taught him by Senor Uberti,
his fencing-master. He let himself drop to the
ground, supporting himself by his left hand while
with his right hand he slipped his sword under
146 SOULS IN PURGATORY
Don Cristoval's shield and thrust it into his body
outside the ribs with such force that the blade was
broken after penetrating a hand's-length. Don
Cristoval uttered one cry and fell, bathed in his
own blood. During this encounter, which con-
sumed less time than it takes to tell it, Don Garcia
was defending himself successfully against his
two adversaries, who no sooner saw their chief
lying on the pavement, than they fled as fast as
their legs would carry them.
' We must get out of the way at once," said
Don Garcia. ' This is no time to dally. Good-
bye, my beauties! "
He lost no time in escaping, dragging after
him Don Juan, who was completely bewildered
by the deed he had committed. When they had
gone about twenty steps Don Garcia stopped to
ask his companion what he had done with his
" My sword? " said Don Juan, noticing only
at that instant that it was no longer in his hand.
" I don't know I must have dropped it."
"Malediction!" cried Don Garcia. "And
your name is engraved on the scabbard ! "
At this moment men with torches were seen to
come from some of the houses in the neighbour-
hood, and to crowd around the dying man. A
company of armed men were walking rapidly
SOULS IN PURGATORY 147
from the other direction, evidently a patrol at-
tracted by the outcries of the musicians and by the
tumult of the fight.
Pulling his hat over his eyes and throwing his
cloak over the lower part of his face to avoid rec-
ognition and regardless of the danger, Don Gar-
cia rushed in among the men, hoping to find the
sword, which would have undoubtedly identified
the murderer. Don Juan saw him strike right
and left, putting out the lights and overturning
all who happened to be in his path. He reap-
peared soon, running as fast as he could, and
holding a sword in each hand, the entire patrol
"Ah! Don Garcia," exclaimed Don Juan,
taking the sword held out to him, " how can I
ever thank you! "
" Let us fly, fly! " cried Don Garcia. " Fol-
low me, and if one of those rascals presses you too
closely stick him as you did the other one just
Both then started to run with all the speed
imparted by their physical vigour, augmented by
fear of the corregidor, an officer who was much
more formidable to the students than to thieves.
Don Garcia, who knew Salamanca as well as
he knew his Deus diet, was remarkably skilful in
rushing around the street corners and in dashing
148 SOULS IN PURGATORY
through the narrow alleys, while his companion,
inexperienced in such exercise, followed him only
with the greatest difficulty. Breath was begin-
ning to fail them when, at the end of a street, they
met a number of students out for a walk, singing
and playing on the guitar as they strolled along.
No sooner did the latter realise that two of their
fellow-students were pursued than they seized
rocks, cudgels, and every sort of available
weapon. The constables, breathless from their
chase, did not consider themselves in proper con-
dition to force a skirmish. Prudently they went
their own way, while the two culprits entered a
church near by for a few moments' rest and pro-
At the threshold Don Juan stopped to return
his sword to the scabbard, considering it neither
seemly nor Christian to enter the house of God
with a weapon in his hand. But the sheath re-
sisted, the blade could scarcely be pushed into it,
and he then discovered that the sword which he
held in his hand was not his. Don Garcia, in his
haste, had snatched the first sword which he had
found on the ground, and it had belonged to the
dead man, or to one of his associates. The situa-
tion was serious. Don Juan told his companion,
whom he had come to regard as his counsellor.
Don Garcia frowned, bit his lips, and twisted the
SOULS IN PURGATORY 149
edge of his hat as he walked up and down, while
Don Juan, wholly stunned by the vexatious dis-
covery he had just made, was overcome with anx-
iety no less than remorse. After spending a quar-
ter of an hour in reflection, during which Don
Garcia had the good grace not to say once:
" Why did you let your sword fall? " he took
Don Juan by the arm and said :
" Come along. I have it."
Just at this instant a priest was leaving the
vestry-room on his way toward the street. Don
Garcia stopped him.
" Have I not the honour of speaking to the
learned Doctor Gomez? " he said with a profound
" I am not yet a doctor," replied the priest,
evidently flattered at the mistake. " I am Man-
uel Tordoya, at your service."
" Father," Don Garcia continued, " you are
precisely the person to whom I wished to speak;
it is about a case of conscience, and if rumour has
not deceived me, you are the author of the famous
treatise, De casibus conscientice^ which has made
such a stir in Madrid? "
The priest, yielding to the sin of vanity, stam-
mered that he was not the author of the book men-
tioned (which, truth to tell, had never been writ-
ten), but that he was deeply interested in such
matters. Don Garcia, who had his own reasons
for not caring to listen to the priest, went on thus :
' This, Father, in a word, is the matter about
which I desired to consult you. This very day,
less than an hour ago, a friend of mine was ac-
costed on the street by a man, who said to him:
' Caballero, I am about to fight a duel a few steps
from here, and my opponent's sword is longer
than my own. Will you have the kindness to lend
me yours, so that the weapons may be equally
matched ? ' My friend exchanged swords with
him. He waited for a while at the street corner
until the duel should be over ; then no longer hear-
ing the clashing of swords, he drew near, and
what did he see? A man lying dead, run through
by the very sword he had just lent. Since then
he has not known a moment's peace ; he reproaches
himself for his act of kindness, and fears he has
been guilty of a mortal sin. I have endeavoured
to reassure him. I believe the sin is pardonable,
for the reason that if he had refused to lend his
sword he would have been responsible for a duel
between two men with unmatched weapons.
What do you think about it, Father? Are you
not of my opinion? "
The priest, who was a student of casuistry,
pricked up his ears at this story, and for some
jtime he rubbed his forehead like a man who tries
SOULS IN PURGATORY 151
to recall a quotation. Don Juan had no idea what
Don Garcia was driving at, but he kept silent for
fear of committing an awkward blunder.
" Father," continued Don Garcia, " the ques-
tion must be very difficult to decide since so
learned a man as you hesitates to settle it. With
your permission we will return to-morrow to learn
your opinion. In the meantime may I beg that
you will have the goodness to say a few masses
for the soul of the dead man? "
With these words, he placed two or three
ducats in the priest's hand, which put the finish-
ing touch on his favourable inclination toward
these young men, who were so devout, so con-
scientious, and, above all, so generous. He as-
sured them that the following day, in the same
place, he would deliver his opinion in writing.
Don Garcia was lavish in thanking him; then he
added unconcernedly, as if it were a matter of
small importance :
" Provided the law does not hold us responsi-
ble for the man's death ! We shall rely on you to
reconcile us with God."
" As to the law," said the priest, " you have
nothing to fear from that source. Having
merely lent his sword, your friend can not be
held legally as an accomplice."
" Yes, Father, but the murderer has escaped.
152 SOULS IN PURGATORY
They will examine the wound, perhaps they will
find the blood-stained sword. How can I tell?
Lawyers are dreadful people, they say."
" But," said the priest, " you were an eye-
witness, w r ere you not, that the sword was bor-
" Certainly," replied Don Garcia, " I would
swear to it before every court in the kingdom.
Moreover," he continued, in his most insinuating
tone, " You, Father, would be there to testify
to the truth. Long before the affair became
known, we applied to you to seek spiritual coun-
sel. You could even bear witness to the ex-
change. Here is the proof of it." He then took
the sword from Don Juan.
" Just look at this sword," said he, " see how
it looks in this scabbard! "
The priest nodded his head as if convinced of
the truth of the story he had just heard. In
silence, he weighed the ducats which he held in
his hand, and he found them an unanswerable
argument in favour of the two young men.
"Yet, after all, Father," said Don Garcia
piously, " what matters the law to us? It is
rather with heaven that we wish to be recon-
" Good-bye, my children, until to-morrow,"
said the priest, withdrawing.
SOULS IN PURGATORY 153
" Until to-morrow," replied Don Garcia ;
" we kiss your hands and rely upon you."
After the priest had gone Don Garcia
jumped for joy.
" Hurrah for simony! " he cried. ' We are
all right now, I hope. If the law becomes un-
easy about you, this good Father, in considera-
tion of the ducats he has already received, and
those he hopes still to extract from us, is ready
to certify that we are as ignorant of the death of
the caballero, whom you have just despatched, as
a new-born babe. Go home now, be on the look-
out constantly, and open your door only for
good reasons. I am going about town to hear
what I can."
When Don Juan reached his room he threw
himself on the bed, dressed just as he was. He
passed a sleepless night, thinking of nothing but
the murder he had just committed, and especially
of its consequences. Every time he heard foot-
steps in the street he thought it was the officers
coming to arrest him. However, overcome with
fatigue, and with brain still dull from the effects
of the students' dinner, he fell asleep just as the
sun was rising.
He had slept several hours, when he was
awakened by his servant, who told him that a
lady, closely veiled, wished to see him. Even
154 SOULS IN PURGATORY
while he was speaking a woman entered the
room. She was enveloped from head to foot in
a long black cloak which left visible only one eye.
This eye she turned toward the servant, then
toward Don Juan, in mute petition that she
might speak to him alone. The servant at once
left the room. The lady sat down, with her
whole attention fixed on Don Juan. After a
moment's hesitation, she began as follows:
" Senor Caballero, my conduct is, no doubt,
surprising, and you must have a very poor opin-
ion of me, but if my object in coming here
were known, I am sure I would not be blamed.
Last night you fought with a senor of this
" I, Madam ! " cried Don Juan, turning
pale; " I did not leave this room
" It is useless to attempt to deceive me, and I
shall have to set you an example in candour."
With this she threw off her cloak, and Don Juan
recognised Dona Teresa.
" Senor Don Juan," she continued, with a
blush, " I must acknowledge that your courage
has excited my deepest interest in you. Not-
withstanding my own agitation, I noticed that
you had broken your sword, and that you had
dropped it very near our door. While they were
busily occupied with the wounded man, I hurried
SOULS IN PURGATORY 155
out and picked up the hilt of the sword. When
I examined it and read your name I realised the
danger to which you would be exposed if it were
to fall into the hands of your enemies. Here it
is. I am very happy to be able to return it to
Instinctively Don Juan threw himself at her
feet, saying that he owed her his life, but that
it was a useless gift, since she would make him
die of love. Dona Teresa was in great haste and
must depart at once. Nevertheless, she listened
with such pleasure to the appeals of Don Juan,
that she could not make up her mind to leave.
Nearly an hour passed thus, with vows of eternal
love, kisses showered upon her hand, entreaties
on the one side and refusal on the other. Don
Garcia, entering the room suddenly, interrupted
the tete-a-tete. He was not the sort of man to
be easily shocked. His first care was to reassure
Teresa. He praised her courage and her pres-
ence of mind, and ended by begging her to inter-
cede with her sister in order to obtain for him a
more favourable reception. Dona Teresa prom-
ised to do what she could. She wrapped herself
hermetically in her cloak and departed with the
assurance that she and her sister would be found
that evening on a certain part of the promenade.
" All is well," said Don Garcia, as soon as the
156 SOULS IN PURGATORY
two young men were alone. " No one suspects
you. The magistrate at first honoured me with
his suspicions. He was confident, he said, that
I was the man who killed Don Cristoval. What
do you suppose made him change his mind? He
was informed that I had been with you the whole
night; and you, my dear, have such a reputation
for sanctity, that you have enough to spare for
others too. However that may be, we are not
suspected. The stratagem of that brave little
Teresa assures our safety for the future, so let
us think no more of the affair, and consider only
the question of amusing ourselves."
"Ah! Garcia," exclaimed Don Juan sadly,
" it is a dreadful thing to kill a fellow-man! "
' There is something still more dreadful,"
responded Don Garcia, " and that is that one of
our fellow-men should kill us, and a third thing,
which is even more dreadful than the other two,
is to spend a day without any dinner. This is
the reason I invite you to dine to-day with several
jolly fellows, who will be delighted to see you."
With these words he left the room.
Love was already making powerful attacks
upon our hero's remorse, and vanity completed
its extinction. The students with whom he dined
at Garcia's rooms had learned through that
worthy the actual murderer of Don Cristoval.
SOULS IN PURGATORY 157
This Cristoval was a cavalier, famous for his
courage and his duplicity, and feared by the
students ; hence his death only excited their good-
humour, and his successful opponent was over-
whelmed with compliments. In their toasts he
was the honour, the choicest flower, the right arm
of the university. His health was drunk with
enthusiasm, and a student of Murcie composed
a sonnet in his praise, in which he was compared
to the Cid, and to Bernard del Carpio. When he
rose from the table, Don Juan's heart was still
a little heavy in his bosom, but if he had had the
power to bring Don Cristoval to life again, it is
extremely doubtful whether he would have done
it, for fear of losing the importance and the re-
nown which the death of this man had won for
him throughout all the university.
When evening came both parties were
prompt at the rendezvous, which took place on
the bank of the Tormes. Dona Teresa held Don
Juan's hand (it was not yet customary for a
woman to take a man's arm) , and Dona Fausta
Don Garcia's. After several turns up and down
the promenade, the two couples separated, well
satisfied, and with mutual promises to meet as
often as possible.
After parting from the two sisters they
came upon several gipsy girls dancing and
158 SOULS IN PURGATORY
playing the tambourine, the centre of a group
of students. They joined the crowd. Don
Garcia was taken with the dancers, and he de-
cided to invite them to supper. The proposition
was immediately made and accepted without hesi-
tation. In his character of fidus Achates, Don
Juan made one of the party. Piqued because
a girl said that he acted like a monk, he set about
doing all that he could to prove this title a mis-
nomer; he swore, he danced, he gambled and
drank as much as any two second-year students
could have done.
His companions had considerable difficulty
in taking him home after midnight, for he was
in such a state of tipsiness and madness that he
wanted to set fire to Salamanca, and then to
drink all the water of the Tormes, to prevent
the fire from being extinguished.
Thus, one after another, Don Juan lost all
the admirable qualities with which he was en-
dowed by nature and by training. After living
in -Salamanca three months, under the tutelage
of Don Garcia, he had succeeded in seducing
poor Teresa, and his comrade had been equally
successful with her sister, eight or ten days
earlier. Don Juan at first loved his mistress with
all the ardour that a boy of his age is capable of
f eeling toward the first woman who accepts his
SOULS IN PURGATORY 159
advances; but Don Garcia had little difficulty in
demonstrating that constancy was a chimerical
virtue; moreover, that if he conducted himself
differently from his comrades in their university
orgies, Teresa's reputation would suffer. For,
said he, only a violent passion and one that is re-
quited is contented with one woman. Not only
this, but the evil associations into which Don
Juan had fallen, left him not a moment of quiet.
He seldom appeared in the class-room, or, when
he was present, exhausted as he was by midnight
revels and by debauchery, he dozed through the
lectures of the most brilliant professors. On
the other hand, he was always the first to reach
and the last to leave the promenade; and the
nights that Teresa was unable to devote to him
were spent regularly at the tavern, or at worse
One morning he had received a note from his
lady expressing her regret not to be able to keep
an appointment for that night. An aged rela-
tive had just arrived, and Teresa's bed-chamber
had been given her. She herself, meanwhile,
would share her mother's room. Don Juan felt
little disappointment, for he had other ways to
spend his evening. Just as he was starting out,
absorbed in his plans, a veiled woman brought
him a note; it was from Teresa. She had sue-
160 SOULS IN PURGATORY
ceeded in having another room for herself, and
everything was arranged with her sister for a
rendezvous. Don Juan showed the note to Don
Garcia; for some time they hesitated; finally,
from force of habit, mechanically they climbed
up to their mistresses' balcony, and visited them.
Dona Teresa had on her neck a mole, which
was somewhat conspicuous. Don Juan had con-
sidered it a great privilege the first time he had
received permission to look at it. For some time
he continued to regard it as the most fascinating
thing in the world. He compared it sometimes
to a violet. Sometimes to an anemone, and
again to an alfalfa blossom. But before long,
this mole, which was really very pretty, ceased, by
satiety, to appear so to him. " It is a big, black
spot, that is all," he said to himself, with a sigh.
" What a pity that it should be there. By Jove,
but it looks like the birthmark of a pig! " One
day he even asked Teresa if she had never con-
sulted a physician as to some means of removing
it. Blushing to the roots of her hair, the poor
girl replied that no man except himself had ever
seen the mole, and besides, her nurse had always
told her that it was a sign of good luck.
On the evening in question Don Juan, who
had come to Teresa in a bad humour, again saw
the mole, which looked larger than ever before.
SOULS IN PURGATORY 1G1
" The devil," he said to himself, looking at it,
" it is the image of a big rat. Indeed, it is a de-
formity. It is a sign of condemnation as was
the mark of Cain. The devil must have influ-
enced me to make such a woman my mistress."
He was as disagreeable as possible. He quar-
relled without cause with poor Teresa, made her
weep, and just before dawn left her without
a kiss. Don Garcia, who accompanied him,
walked some distance in silence; then, stopping
" Now, own up, Don Juan," said he, " that
this night has been a great bore. So far as I am
concerned, I have had enough of it, and I have
a great mind to send the dear creature to the
devil, once for all! "
"You are wholly wrong," said Don Juan;
" Fausta is charming, fair as a swan, and she is
always in good-humour, and then, how she loves
you! I tell you, you are a lucky fellow."
" Fair, to be sure. I grant you that she is
fair. Why, she has no colour at all, and beside
her sister, she looks like an owl near a dove. It
is you who are lucky."
"Ah, so, so," responded Don Juan; "the
little thing is nice enough, but she is such a child.
It is impossible to talk sensibly with her. Her
head is crammed with chivalric romances, and
162 SOULS IN PURGATORY
she has the most extraordinary ideas about love.
You can not imagine how unreasonable she is."
' The trouble, Don Juan, is that you are too
young and do not know how to treat your mis-
tresses. A woman, you see, is like a horse ; if you
allow her to form bad habits, or if you do not
let her understand that you will not put up with
her whims, you will never make anything of her."
' Tell me, Don Garcia, do you treat your
mistresses as you do your horses? Do you often
use the whip to cure them of their caprices? "
"Not often; but I am too kind-hearted.
Look here, Don Juan, if you'll let me have your
Teresa, I'll promise that at the end of two weeks
she will be as yielding as a glove. I offer you
Fausta in exchange. Do you want anything to
' The trade would suit me admirably," said
Don Juan, smiling, " if the ladies themselves
would agree to it. But Dona Fausta would
never consent to give you up. She would lose
too much by the exchange."
' You are too modest. But take courage. I
made her so angry last night that the first comer
now would seem like an angel of light to a soul
that is damned. Do you know, Don Juan," con-
tinued Don Garcia, " that I am speaking seri-
SOULS IN PURGATORY 163
Don Juan laughed more than ever at the
earnest manner in which his friend gave out these
This edifying conversation was interrupted
by the arrival of several students, who turned
their thoughts in another channel. But in the
evening, when the two friends were seated before
a bottle of Montilla and a little basket of Valen-
cian acorns, Don Garcia began again to find
fault with his mistress. He had just received a
letter from Fausta, full of expressions of affec-
tion and gentle reproaches, through all of which
penetrated her merry wit, and her habit of seeing
the ridiculous side of things.
" See here," said Don Garcia, giving the let-
ter to Don Juan, with a deep yawn. " Read this
sweet morsel. She wants to see me again to-
night! But I'll be damned if I go."
Don Juan read the letter, which seemed to
" Indeed," said he, " if I had a mistress like
yours, it would be my whole aim to make her
" Take her then, my dear," cried Don Garcia,
" take her and cure yourself of the fancy. I
resign in your favour. Better still," he added, as
if illumined by a sudden inspiration, " let us
play for our mistresses. Here are the cards, we
164 SOULS IN PURGATORY
will play ombre. Dona Fausta is my stake ; and
now you put Dona Teresa on the table."
Don Juan, laughing to the point of tears at
his comrade's folly, took the cards and shuffled
them, and although he gave almost no attention
to the game, he won. Don Garcia felt, appa-
rently, no regret at the loss of the game. He
asked for writing materials and made out a bill
of exchange, drawn on Dona Fausta, whom he
ordered to place herself at the disposition of the
bearer, exactly as he would have written to his
steward to pay ten ducats to one of his credi-
Don Juan, laughing still, offered to play an-
other game with Don Garcia, but the latter de-
" If you have any pluck," said he, " take my
cloak and go to the little door that you know.
You will find only Fausta there, since Teresa
does not expect you. Follow her in, without
speaking. Once in her room, she may be sur-
prised for a moment, she may even shed one or
two tears ; but you need not mind that. You may
be sure that she will not dare to make an outcry.
Then show her my letter, tell her that I am a
horrible villain, a monster of iniquity, anything
you will. Say to her that she has at hand an
easy means of retaliation, and you may be cer-
SOULS IN PURGATORY 165
tain that this retaliation she will accept with
At every word of Garcia, the devil took fuller
possession of Don Juan's heart, persuading him
that what he had until that moment regarded
as an aimless joke might be realised in accord-
ance with his own wish. He ceased laughing,
and the flush of sensuality mounted on his brow.
" If I were perfectly sure," said he, " that
Fausta would consent to the exchange . . . "
"If she will consent!" cried the libertine.
' What a greenhorn you are, to suppose that a
woman would hesitate between a six months'
lover and a new one! Depend upon it, you will
both thank me to-morrow. I'll wager you, and
all I ask in return is to have your permission to
make up to Teresita."
Then, seeing Don Juan still half undecided,
he went on : " Make up your mind, for I do
not intend to see Fausta to-night ; and if you do
not care to go, I shall give this note to big Fad-
rique, and the prize will be his."
* Very well ! Come what may ! " exclaimed
Don Juan, seizing the note ; and to strengthen his
courage he swallowed at one draught a full glass
The appointed time approached. Don Juan,
who had still a few remaining scruples, drank
166 SOULS IN PURGATORY
one glass after another of wine to stifle them. At
last the clock struck. Don Garcia threw his
mantle over Don Juan's shoulders, and went with
him to his mistress's door ; then giving the signal,
he wished Don Juan good-night, and left him
without the slightest pang of remorse for the
wicked act he had committed.
The door opened immediately. Dona Fausta
had been waiting some time.
" Is it you, Don Garcia? " she asked in a
' Yes," responded Don Juan, still lower, his
face hidden in the folds of the large cloak. He
entered and the door closed. He began to ascend
a dark stairway with his guide.
' Take the corner of my mantilla," she said,
" and follow me as quickly as you can."
A few moments later he found himself in
Fausta's room. It was dimly lighted by a single
lamp. Without removing his hat and not yet
daring to make himself known, Don Juan re-
mained standing near the door. For some time
Dona Fausta looked at him silently, then sud-
denly came toward him with outstretched arms.
Don Juan threw off his cloak, and advanced to
"What! You! Senor Don Juan?" she
cried. " Is Don Garcia ill? "
SOULS IN PURGATORY 167
" 111? No," said Don Juan. " But he can
not come. He sent me to tell you."
" Oh! how sorry I am! But, tell me, it is
not another woman, is it, that keeps him from
" You know what a rake he is then ? "
" How glad my sister will be to see you !
Poor child, she thought you would not come.
Allow me to pass, and I will go and tell her."
"It is useless."
' There is something peculiar in your man-
ner, Don Juan. You have some bad news to
tell me . . . Has any misfortune happened
to Don Garcia? "
To be spared the embarrassment of a reply,
he handed the poor girl Don Garcia's infamous
letter. She read it hastily without taking in its
meaning. Then she read it again, and could not
believe her eyes. Don Juan was observing her
closely: she wiped away the sweat from her
brow; she rubbed her eyes; her lips trembled; a
deadly pallor overspread her face, and she was
obliged to hold the paper with both hands, else it
would have dropped to the floor. At last, with a
desperate effort, rising, she cried out:
" Every word is false ! It is a horrible for-
gery! Don Garcia never wrote that! "
Don Juan replied:
168 SOULS IN PURGATORY
' You know his handwriting. He did not
appreciate the value of the treasure that was his
and I have accepted it because I adore you."
The glance she gave him expressed the utmost
scorn; then she fixed her attention on the letter
like a lawyer who suspects some falsification in
a deed. She gazed with eyes staring fixedly at
the paper. Now and again a tear escaped from
the motionless eyelids and fell upon her cheek.
Suddenly smiling in a senseless way, she
" It is a joke, is it not? It is a joke! Don
Garcia is out there and he is coming now ! "
" It is not a joke, Dona Fausta. No fact is
truer than that I love you. I shall be most
miserable if you do not believe me."
" Wretch! " exclaimed Dona Fausta. " But,
if what you say is true, you are even a greater
scoundrel than Don Garcia."
" All is fair in love, beautiful Faustita. Don
Garcia has abandoned you; let me console you.
I see painted here on this panel Bacchus and
Ariadne; let me be your Bacchus."
Without a word in reply, she seized a knife
that lay on the table and lifting it high above
her head, advanced toward Don Juan. But he
had understood her action, and grasping her
wrist, easily disarmed her; then believing him-
SOULS IN PURGATORY 169
self warranted in punishing her for the way she
had opened hostilities, he kissed her several times
and tried to force her toward a low couch. Dona
Fausta was a slight, delicate woman, but anger
gave her strength to resist Don Juan, now by
clinging to the furniture, now by defending
herself with hands, feet, and teeth. Don Juan
at first received her blows with some amusement,
but before long anger was as strong within his
soul as love, and he held her forcibly in his
grasp, untroubled by any fear of bruising the
tender skin. He was now enraged and deter-
mined, at any cost, to triumph over his opponent,
ready to choke her, if need be, to bring her to
submission. Fausta then had recourse to her
last expedient. Until then, a feeling of modesty
had restrained her from calling for help, but
realising that she was about to be overpowered,
she made the house ring with her shrieks.
Don Juan then understood that it was no
longer a question of mastering his victim, but
rather must he think of safety in escape. He
made an effort to repulse Fausta, and reach the
door, but she clung to his clothes and he could
not throw her off. At the same time was heard
the ominous sound of opening doors, steps, and
men's voices coming nearer; there was not a
minute to lose. He made a final effort to free
170 SOULS IN PURGATORY
himself from Dona Fausta's grasp, but she
seized his doublet with such violence that he was
whirled around and nothing was gained except
that their positions were reversed. Fausta was
now next to the door, which opened within. She
continued her shrieks. Just then the door
opened. A man holding an arquebus appeared
on the threshold. He uttered an exclamation of
surprise, and immediately a shot was heard. The
lamp was extinguished and Don Juan felt Dona
Fausta's hands loosen their hold, and something
warm and liquid running over his own hands.
She fell, or rather, she glided to the floor; the
ball had shattered her spine; instead of killing
her betrayer, it had killed her. Discovering that
he was free, Don Juan dashed through the smoke
of the arquebus to the stairway. He received a
blow from the butt of the weapon, and one of
the servants inflicted a sword-thrust, but neither
injured him seriously. Drawing his sword, he
sought to cut a way for himself and to put out
the torch which the lackey held, but the latter,
intimidated by Don Juan's boldness, promptly
retired to the rear. Don Alfonso de Ojeda,
however, was a brave impulsive man, and with-
out a moment's hesitation threw himself upon
Don Juan. The latter parried several thrusts.
Doubtless, his first intention was merely to de-
SOULS IN PURGATORY 171
fend himself, but to one accustomed to fencing,
a thrust following a parry becomes a mechanical,
and almost an involuntary, movement. In a few
moments Dona Fausta's father gave a deep
sigh and fell, mortally wounded. Finding a
free passage, Don Juan darted like an arrow
over the stairs, out to the door, and in the twin-
kling of an eye was in the street, safe from pur-
suit of the servants, who crowded around their
dying master. At the report of the arquebus
Dona Teresa, who had hurriedly appeared and
had been a witness of this terrible tragedy, fell
in a swoon beside her father. As yet, she knew
but half of her affliction.
Don Garcia was finishing his last bottle of
Montilla, when Don Juan, pale, bespattered with
blood, haggard, with doublet torn, and neckband
awry, rushed frantically into the room, and
gasping for breath, fell into a chair, unable to
speak. The other perceived instantly that some-
thing serious had taken place.
Waiting until Don Juan had, with an effort,
recovered his breath, he asked for details; it took
but a few words to put him in possession of the
facts. Don Garcia did not easily lose his self-
control, and heard, without a tremor, the broken
recital of his friend. When he had finished, Don
Garcia rilled a glass and offering it to him:
172 SOULS IN PURGATORY
" Drink it," said he, " you need it. This is
bad business," he added, after drinking himself.
* To kill a father is a serious matter. .
There are, however, many precedents, beginning
with the Cid. The worst of it is you have no five
hundred cousins, clothed in white, to protect you
from the constables of Salamanca, and from the
relatives of the deceased. But we must concern
ourselves, first of all, with something more
urgent. . . ."
He strode several times around the room as
if to collect his thoughts.
' To remain in Salamanca," he continued,
" after such a scandal would be madness. Don
Alfonso de Ojeda was no obscure squire, and be-
sides, the servants must have recognised you.
Supposing for a moment that you were not rec-
ognised, you have acquired such an enviable repu-
tation at the University that any anonymous
crime would certainly be credited to you. So take
my word for it, you must go, and the sooner the
better. You have already learned three times
as much as is needful for a gentleman of good
position. So, forsake Minerva and cultivate
Mars. You will be more successful in that vo-
cation, for you have a strong propensity for
fighting. There is war in Flanders. Let us go
there and kill heretics ; that's the most convenient
SOULS IN PURGATORY 173
way to purchase absolution for our sins in this
world. Amen! I will end this like a sermon.'*
The suggestion of Flanders acted like a
charm on Don Juan. To leave Spain, he
thought, would mean to escape from himself.
In the midst of the hardships and dangers of
war, he would have no time for remorse!
" To Flanders, to Flanders ! " he cried.
" Let us go and get killed in Flanders! "
" It is a long way from Salamanca to Brus-
sels," gravely replied Don Garcia, " and in your
dangerous position you can not start too soon.
If the corregidor should catch you, you may be
certain that you would find it difficult to go on
any campaign except on one of His Majesty's
After a little time spent in consultation with
his friend, Don Juan promptly removed his stu-
dent's costume. He put on an embroidered
leather vest, such as the soldiers wore at that
time, and a wide-brimmed slouch hat ; nor did he
forget to fill his belt with as many doubloons as
Don Garcia could crowd into it. All these
preparations consumed but a few minutes. He
began his journey on foot, escaping from the
city without recognition, and walking all night
and the following morning, until the sun's heat
compelled him to rest. In the first city at which
174 SOULS IN PURGATORY
he stopped he purchased a horse, and joining
a company of travellers, arrived at Saragossa
without interference. There he lingered for a
few days under the name of Don Juan Carrasco.
Don Garcia, who left Salamanca the day fol-
lowing his friend's departure, joined him in Sara-
gossa. They did not remain longer than neces-
sary to perform hurried devotions at Notre
Dame, but they took time enough to ogle the
Aragonian beauties. Providing themselves with
two trusty servants, they went on to Barcelona,
where they embarked for Civita Vecchia. Wear-
iness of body, sea-sickness, the novelty of the
situation, and the buoyancy of spirits natural to
Don Juan, all contributed to make him speedily
forget the terrible experiences through which
he had recently passed. For several months the
pleasures which the two friends enjoyed in Italy,
made them lose sight of the principal object of
their journey; but beginning to run short of
funds, they joined a number of fellow-country-
men, who like themselves were brave and out of
cash, and set out for Germany.
On arrival in Brussels every one joined the
company whose captain he liked best. The two
comrades decided to make their first campaign
under Captain Don Manuel Gomare, first be-
cause he was an Andalusian, and then, because
SOULS IN PURGATORY 175
he was said to require of his soldiers only that
they be courageous, and keep their arms in good
order- He was also a lenient disciplinarian.
Attracted by their fine appearance, Gomare
treated them well and just as they would have
wished; that is, he sent them out whenever a
dangerous enterprise arose. Fortune smiled on
them, and on the field where many of their com-
rades met death, they were not even wounded.
Not only that, but they attracted the attention
of their superior officers. Each obtained his en-
sign the same day. From this time, sure of the
esteem and friendship of their commanders,
they acknowledged their real names and resumed
their former course of life, that is to say, they
spent their days at the gaming-table or in drink-
ing, and the nights were devoted to serenading
the prettiest girls of the town where they hap-
pened to be in winter quarters. They had re-
ceived their parents' forgiveness, a matter of
trifling consequence, and letters of credit on the
Antwerp banks. Of these they made good use.
Young, rich, brave, and daring, their conquests
were numerous and rapid. I shall not stop to
recount them; let it suffice the reader to know
that they considered it lawful to use any means
whatever to win the favour of a pretty woman.
Promises and protestations were only part of
176 SOULS IN PURGATORY
the game in the opinion of these base sensualists,
and if brothers or husbands remonstrated, for
answer they had their good swords and hearts
that were pitiless.
The war was resumed in the spring.
In a skirmish which resulted disastrously for
the Spanish, Captain Gomare was fatally
wounded. Don Juan, seeing him fall, hastened
to him and called several soldiers to carry him
from the field; but the brave captain, summon-
ing his remnant of strength, said:
" Let me die here ; for I feel that this is the
end. As well die on this spot as a half-mile
farther on. Look to your soldiers; they will
have all they can do, for I see the Dutch ad-
vancing in force. My sons," he added, address-
ing the soldiers crowding around him, " gather
around your standards and do not be uneasy on
At this instant, Don Garcia reached his side
and asked if he had not some last request which
might be fulfilled after his death.
' What the devil do you suppose I should
want at such a time? "
He seemed to reflect for a few moments.
" I have never thought much about death,"
he went on, " and I had no idea it was so near.
. . . I should not be sorry to see a priest.
SOULS IN PURGATORY 177
. . . But all the monks are with the baggage-
trains. . . . Yet, it is hard to die unshriven."
" Here is my prayer-book," said Don
Garcia, offering him a flask of wine. " Take
courage ! "
The eyes of the old soldier grew dimmer and
dimmer. He did not hear Don Garcia's jest, but
the veterans standing over him were shocked.
" Don Juan," said the dying man, " come
close to me, my boy. See here. I am going to
make you my heir. Take this purse, it contains
everything I possess ; it had better be yours than
in the hand of one of those heretics. My only
request is that you will have some masses said
for the repose of my soul."
Don Juan, pressing the hand of the dying
man, gave him his promise. At the same time
Don Garcia in a low voice observed that there
was a great difference between the opinions of
a man at death's door and those he professes
when seated at a table laden with wine-bottles.
Several balls whizzed by their ears. With a hur-
ried farewell to Captain Gomare the soldiers
abandoned him to take their places in the ranks,
and thenceforth their only thought was to make
an orderly retreat. This was accomplished un-
der great disadvantages, with an enemy of su-
perior force at their heels, the road furrowed
178 SOULS IN PURGATORY
by the rains, and with soldiers exhausted from a
long and tedious march. The Dutch, however,
were unable to overtake them and at night
abandoned the pursuit without capturing a flag,
or taking a single prisoner who had not dropped,
wounded, out of the ranks.
When the two friends, with a number of
officers, were resting that night in a tent they
discussed the engagement in which they had just
taken part. The orders of the commanding
officer were criticised by some ; others thought the
result had shown him to be in the right. Then
they came to speak of the dead and the wounded.
" I shall grieve for Captain Gomare for many
a day," said Don Juan. " He was a brave offi-
cer, a good companion, and a veritable father
to his men."
" Yes," said Don Garcia, " but I confess that
I was never so surprised as when I saw him in
such distress because there was no black gown
beside him. That's a proof of one thing, and
that is, it is a great deal easier to be brave in
words than in deeds. Such a man as that scoffs
at danger afar off, but grows pale when it comes
near. By the way, Don Juan, since you are his
heir, suppose you tell us how much there is in
the purse he left you? "
Don Juan then opened the purse for the first
SOULS IN PURGATORY 179
time and found that it contained about sixty
pieces of gold.
" Since we are in funds," continued Don
Garcia, accustomed to regard his friend's purse
as his own, " why should we not have a game of
faro instead of sitting here whining about our
dead friends? "
The proposition met with general approval.
Several drums were brought and covered with
a cloak. These served as a gaming-table. Don
Juan played first, by the advice of Don Garcia;
but before dealing the cards he took from his
purse ten gold pieces, which he wrapped in his
handkerchief, and put in his pocket.
' What the deuce are you doing? " cried Don
Garcia. ; ' The idea of a soldier hoarding up
money, and on the eve of a battle, too! "
' You know very well, Don Garcia, that all
this money does not belong to me. Don Manuel
left me a legacy, sub pcente nomine, as we used
to say in Salamanca."
' The devil take the prig," cried Don Garcia.
" Damn me, I believe he means to give those ten
crowns to the first priest we meet."
" And why not? I have promised."
" Shut up; by the beard of Mahomet, I am
ashamed of you; I no longer know you."
The game opened. At first the chances were
180 SOULS IN PURGATORY
equal, but before long they turned decidedly
against Don Juan. In vain Don Garcia took
the cards to turn the run of luck. After play-
ing an hour all their own money and Captain
Gomare's fifty crowns besides had passed into
the banker's hands. Don Juan wanted to stop,
and go to sleep, but Don Garcia was in a rage;
he intended to play another game, and win back
all he had lost.
" Come, Senor Prudence," said he, " let us
see the colour of that money that you have hid-
den away so securely. I know it will bring us
" But think, Don Garcia, I promised! "
" Come, come, child that you are ! This is no
time to think of masses. If the Captain him-
self were here, he would sooner loot a church
than let a card pass without winning a stake."
" Here are five crowns," said Don Juan.
" Do not stake them all at once."
" No flinching! " exclaimed Don Garcia, and
he placed the five crowns on a king. He won,
and took the stakes, but the next time he lost.
" Let me have the last five! " he cried, pale
with anger. Don Juan made a few weak re-
monstrances, which were easily overcome; he
yielded, and gave up four crowns, which immedi-
ately followed the others. Rising from the table
SOULS IN PURGATORY 181
in a rage, Don Garcia flung the cards in the
He turned to Don Juan : " You are always
lucky," he said, " and I have been told that the
last crown has power to conjure fate."
Don Juan was, to say the least, quite as
furious as himself. No longer had he any scru-
ples about masses, or his promise. He put the
last remaining crown on an ace, and it promptly
went the way of all the others.
" To the devil with Captain Gomare's soul! "
he cried. " I believe his money was bewitched ! "
The banker inquired whether they wished to
continue the game; but they had lost all their
money, and besides, it is not easy to find credit
when one is in constant danger of losing his
head. So they were obliged to leave the game
and to seek consolation among the topers. The
soul of the poor Captain was quite forgotten.
Several days later the Spanish, having re-
ceived reinforcements, resumed the offensive and
retraced their line of march, passing over the
battle-fields where they had fought. The dead
were still unburied. Don Garcia and Don Juan
spurred forward their horses to escape the pres-
ence of these dead bodies, which shocked alike the
eye and the nostrils. Suddenly a soldier who
preceded them uttered a loud exclamation at the
182 SOULS IN PURGATORY
sight of a corpse lying in a ditch. They drew
near and saw that it was Captain Gomare. He
was, however, almost unrecognisable. His feat-
ures, distorted and stiffened in the agony of
convulsions, gave evidence that his last moments
were accompanied by terrible suffering. Al-
though familiar with such spectacles, Don Juan
could not repress a shudder. Those dim and
bloodshot eyes seemed turned upon him in mute
reproach. He recalled the dying request of the
poor Captain, and how he had neglected to fulfil
it. However, the artificial hardness of heart that
he had succeeded in acquiring soon delivered him
from these feelings of remorse; he immediately
ordered a grave to be prepared for the burial of
the Captain. By chance a Capuchin monk hap-
pened to be near and recited hastily a few
prayers. The body was then sprinkled with holy
water and covered with rocks and earth. The
soldiers continued their march more silent than
usual; but Don Juan observed an aged arque-
busier searching his pockets for a long time be-
fore he finally dug out a coin, which he gave to
the Capuchin, saying:
" This is to pay for some masses for Cap-
On the same day Don Juan gave signal proof
of remarkable bravery, exposing himself with so
SOULS IN PURGATORY 183
little consideration to the enemy's fire that one
would have supposed that he sought death.
' We are very brave when our money's all
gone," was the comment of his comrades.
Not long after the death of Captain Gomare,
a young recruit was admitted into the regiment
in which Don Juan and Don Garcia served. He
seemed to be resolute and fearless, but of a cun-
ning and mysterious disposition. He was never
known to join his fellow-soldiers either in drink-
ing or playing cards ; he spent hours at a time on
a bench in the guard-room engaged in watching
the flight of the flies or even in playing with the
trigger of his arquebus. The soldiers, who ban-
tered him on account of his reserve, had nick-
named him Modesto. It was by this name that
he was known in the regiment, even the officers
calling him by no other.
The campaign ended with the siege of Berg-
op-Zoom, which was, as every one knows, one of
the most bloody of the war, the besieged defend-
ing themselves with the utmost desperation. One
night the two friends were together on duty in
the trenches, which, by this time, were so near the
walls of the town that the position was one of
great danger. The besieged made frequent
sorties, and their firing was brisk and well aimed.
The early part of the night passed in un-
184 SOULS IN PURGATORY
abated vigilance; then besieged and besiegers
seemed to yield to fatigue. Firing ceased on both
sides, and over all the field profound silence
reigned ; or, if broken at all, it was an occasional
shot, fired only to prove that while fighting had
ceased, strict watch was being kept. It was about
four o'clock in the morning, just the time when a
man who has been on duty all night feels thor-
oughly chilled, and at the same time is overcome
by a sensation of mental dejection, occasioned by
physical weariness and the need of sleep. There
is no soldier who will deny, if he be honest, that
in such bodily and mental condition he hasn't
been guilty of weakness which has made him blush
"Zounds!" exclaimed Don Garcia, as he
stamped his feet to put some warmth into them,
and folded his cloak tightly over his body; " I
feel as if the very marrow in my bones were
frozen. I believe a Dutch child could knock me
down with a beer- jug. I tell you I am no longer
myself. Awhile ago I trembled at the sound of
an arquebus. If I were piously inclined I should
be compelled to accept these unusual feelings as
a warning from above."
All present, and Don Juan especially, were
amazed to hear him speak of heaven, for it was
a subject to which he gave scant heed; or if he
SOULS IN PURGATORY 185
ever mentioned it, it was in derision. Seeing that
several of the men smiled at his words, he was
stirred by a sentiment of vanity, and exclaimed:
" Let no one, at any rate, take it into his
head to suppose that I am afraid either of the
Dutch, of God, or the devil, for, if he does so,
we will settle our accounts at the next watch! "
" Never mind the Dutch, but as for God, and
the other, we may be permitted to fear them,"
said an old gray-bearded captain, who wore a
chaplet suspended beside his sword.
' What harm can they do me? " demanded the
other. " Lightning does not carry as straight as
a Protestant bullet."
" And what about your soul? " asked the
old captain, crossing himself at this infamous
" Oh! my soul I must be sure, in the first
place, that I have one. Who has ever told me that
I had a soul? The priests. Now, the invention
of the soul yields them such rich revenues that
it is not to be doubted that they are its authors,
just as the pastry-cooks have invented tarts so
as to sell them."
" Don Garcia, you will come to a bad end,"
said the old captain. " Such idle talk is out of
place in the trenches."
" In the trenches, as elsewhere, I say what I
186 SOULS IN PURGATORY
think. But I will be silent, for here is my friend,
Don Juan, with his hat about to fall off, from his
hair standing on end. He believes not only in the
soul; he believes also in souls in purgatory."
" I am not a very clever fellow," replied Don
Juan, laughing, " and sometimes I envy your
sublime indifference to the things of the other
world, for I confess, even if you sneer at me,
there are moments when the things that are told
of the damned give me disquieting thoughts."
' The best proof of the impotency of the
devil is that you are now standing in this trench.
Upon my word, gentlemen," added Don Garcia,
slapping Don Juan on the shoulder, " if there
were a devil he would have carried off this fel-
low long ago. Young as he is, I tell you, he
ought to be excommunicated. He has sent more
women to the bad and more men to their graves
than two Franciscan friars and two ruffians of
Valencia together could have done."
He was still speaking when a shot burst from
the direction of the Spanish camp. Don Garcia
placed his hand on his breast, and cried:
" I am wounded! "
He staggered and fell almost instantly. At
the same time a man was seen running away,
but in the darkness he was soon lost from his
pursuers. Don Garcia's wound proved to be
SOULS IN PURGATORY 187
mortal. The shot had been fired at close range,
and the weapon had been charged with several
balls. But the stoicism of the hardened sinner
did not for an instant desert him. He dismissed
peremptorily those who suggested that he should
see a priest. To Don Juan he said:
" One thing only torments me, and that is the
Capuchins will persuade you that my death is a
judgment from God. You must admit that
nothing is more natural than that an arquebus-
shot should kill a soldier. Suppose they do say
that the shot was fired from our side. Doubtless
some spiteful, jealous person has had me assas-
sinated. If you catch him, hang him high and
with despatch. Listen, Don Juan, I have two
mistresses in Antwerp, three in Brussels, and
others elsewhere that I can not recall my
memory begins to fail I bequeath them to you,
for lack of anything better. Take my sword,
too and be sure not to forget the thrust I
taught you. Good-bye. Instead of having
masses said after my burial, see that my com-
rades join in a glorious orgy."
These were almost his last words. To God,
to eternity, he gave no more thought than when
he was throbbing with life and vigour. He died
with a smile upon his lips, vanity helping him to
sustain to the end the shocking role he had
188 SOULS IN PURGATORY
played so long. Modesto was seen no more in
camp. The entire regiment felt sure that he
was Don Garcia's assassin, but they were lost in
vain conjectures as to the motive which had led
him to the murder.
Don Juan grieved for Don Garcia more
than if he had been his brother. He said to him-
self foolish fellow he owed to Don Garcia all
that he was. He it was who had initiated him
into the mysteries of life, who had torn from his
eyes the dense scales which had blinded them.
' What was I before I met him? " he asked him-
self, his self-conceit answering that he was now
a being far superior to other men. In fact, all
the evil which that atheist had really taught him
he accounted as good, and for this he was as
grateful to his teacher as a virtuous pupil should
be who merits his master's approval.
The melancholy impressions left with him by
this sudden death were sufficiently lasting to
cause him for several months to change his mode
of life. But he returned gradually to his for-
mer habits, which had now too firm a hold on him
to be uprooted by an incident. He began once
more to gamble, to drink, to make love to
women, and to fight their husbands. Each day
brought new adventures. To-day, climbing a
breach; to-morrow, scaling a balcony; in the
SOULS IN PURGATORY 189
morning, a duel with a jealous husband; at
night, drinking with harlots.
While steeped in such excesses he learned of
his father's death; his mother survived her hus-
band only a few days, so that he received the
same day news of the death of both parents.
Following the advice of his lawyers and the
promptings of his own inclination, he determined
to return to Spain, to enter upon the possession
of the vast estate and enormous wealth which he
had inherited. He had already obtained par-
don for the death of Don Alfonso de Ojeda,
Dona Fausta's father, and he regarded that in-
cident as entirely closed. He desired, moreover,
a wider field of action for the exercise of his
talents. He thought of the attractions of Se-
ville, and of all the beautiful women there, who
doubtless waited for his arrival only, to surren-
der to his fascinations.
Removing his armour then, he departed for
Spain. Stopping a few days at Madrid, he at-
tracted notice in a bull-fight by the richness of
his apparel, and by his skill in goading the
animal. While there he made a number of con-
quests, but he could not linger long. On his
return to Seville, all, both great and small, were
dazzled by his magnificence.
Every day he contrived some novel entertain-
190 SOULS IN PURGATORY
ment, to which were invited the most beautiful
women of Andalusia ; every day his superb palace
was the scene of new forms of pleasure, of new
and unrestrained revelries. He became king
among a group of profligates, who, while unruly
and turbulent toward one another, obeyed him
with the docility which is often seen among peo-
ple of dissolute life. In a word there was no form
of debauchery into which he had not fallen; and
as a rich libertine has unlimited influence, so his
pernicious example was followed by all the An-
dalusian youth, who lauded him to the skies, and
took him as their model. If Providence had al-
lowed his evil career to continue much longer, it
would have required a rain of fire to wipe out the
licentiousness and crimes of Seville. A serious
illness attacked Don Juan. The days that he lay
in bed were not the occasion for meditation or
retrospection, but on the contrary he begged his
physician to restore him to health only that he
might rush into new excesses.
During his convalescence he amused himself
by compiling a list of all the women he had se-
duced and all the husbands he had deceived. The
list was systematically arranged in two columns.
In one column were the names of the women, with
a summary of their characteristics ; in the opposite
line the names and professions of their husbands.
SOULS IN PURGATORY 191
He had great difficulty in recalling the names of
all these unfortunates, and we may well believe
that the catalogue was far from complete.
He showed the list one day to a friend who
had called to see him. While in Italy he had re-
ceived the favour of a woman who boasted of hav-
ing been the mistress of a Pope, so that it was em-
inently proper that the list should begin with her
name, that of the Pope figuring in the column of
husbands. Then came a reigning prince, then
several dukes, barons, and so on down to the ar-
" Look at it," said he to his friend, " look at
it ; not one has escaped me, from the Pope to the
cobbler ; there is no profession that has not made
Don Torribio that was his friend's name
looked over the list and returned it, saying with a
chuckle: " It is incomplete! "
' What! Incomplete? Who is then missing
from my list of husbands? "
" God," replied Don Torribio.
" God? That is a fact; there is no nun here.
By Jove, I thank you for mentioning it. Very
well! I swear on my word as a gentleman that
before the end of the month He shall be on my
list, preceding his reverence the Pope, and that I
shall invite you to supper here with a nun. In
192 SOULS IN PURGATORY
which of the convents of Seville are there any
good-looking nuns? "
A few days later Don Juan had entered on his
campaign. He began to frequent the churches
to which convents were attached. He knelt very
near the railings that separate the spouses of the
Lord from the rest of the faithful. From this
point he stared boldly at those timid virgins, just
as a wolf which has made his way into a sheep-
fold searches out the plumpest lamb to devour
first. It was not long before he had marked in
the Church of Our Lady del Rosario a young
nun of ravishing beauty, which was enhanced by
an expression of sadness overshadowing her coun-
tenance. She was never seen to raise her eyes or
to look to the right or the left ; she seemed to be
utterly lost in the celebration of the Divine Mys-
tery upon the altar. Her lips moved softly, and
it was evident that her prayers were more fervent
than were the prayers of her companions. The
sight of this nun stirred old memories. It seemed
to Don Juan that he had seen this woman else-
where, but it was impossible for him to recall the
circumstances. Where so many pictures stood
out more or less distinctly in his memory, it was
inevitable that some should be merely confused
outlines. For two successive days he returned
to the church, always taking a position near the
SOULS IN PURGATORY 193
railing, but never once could he induce Sister
Agatha to raise her eyes. He had learned that
this was her name.
The hindrances in the way of triumphing
over one so well protected both by her position
and her modesty served but to whet Don Juan's
evil passions. The most important, and also
the most difficult, point was to influence her to
notice him. His vanity persuaded him that if
he could but attract Sister Agatha's attention the
victory was more than half won. He planned
the following expedient, therefore, to compel
that lovely young person to raise her eyes. Tak-
ing his position as near her as possible, and
profiting by the moment of the elevation of the
Host, when the entire congregation knelt with
bowed heads, he thrust his hand between the bars
of the railing and poured at Sister Agatha's
feet the contents of a vial of attar of roses. The
penetrating odour which suddenly arose caused
the young nun to look up ; and as Don Juan was
kneeling directly in front of her, she could not
fail to see him. Intense astonishment was ex-
pressed on her countenance ; then, giving a faint
cry, she fell in a swoon upon the floor. Her
companions pressed around her and she was car-
ried away to her cell. Don Juan left the church
well satisfied with himself, saying as he went :
194 SOULS IN PURGATORY
' That nun is simply charming, but the
oftener I see her the more I think that she must
already belong in my catalogue! "
The next day, when mass began, he was to
be found at his post near the railing. Sister
Agatha, however, was not in her accustomed
place in the front row; she was almost con-
cealed from view behind her companions. Don
Juan observed, however, that several times she
looked up stealthily. He drew from this an
omen favourable to himself. ' The little one
fears me," he thought. " I shall soon have her
At the conclusion of the mass, he noticed
that she entered the confessional; but on the
way she passed by the railing and, as if by acci-
dent, dropped her beads. Don Juan had too
much experience to be taken in by this supposed
inadvertence. His first thought was that he
must, at all hazards, obtain the beads, but they
were on the other side of the grill, and he knew
that he must wait until every one had left the
church. While waiting for that moment he
leaned against a pillar in an attitude of medita-
tion with one hand over his eyes, but the fingers
were slightly apart, so that he could follow all
the movements of Sister Agatha. Whoever had
seen him in that attitude would have taken him
SOULS IN PURGATORY 195
for a devout Christian absorbed in pious
The nun left the confessional and started
toward the door that led into the convent; but
she soon perceived or pretended to perceive that
her beads were missing. After searching for
them on all sides she spied them beside the rail-
ing. As she leaned down to pick them up Don
Juan observed something white slip under the
bars. It was a tiny folded paper. The nun
Surprised that his stratagem had succeeded
sooner than he had expected, the libertine ex-
perienced a feeling of regret that he had
not encountered more obstacles. Such is similar
to the disappointment of the hunter when he
pursues a stag, expecting a long, hard chase ;
suddenly, before he has gotten a fair start, the
animal falls, and the hunter is deprived of the
pleasure and the credit which he had promised
himself. Don Juan, nevertheless, picked up the
note without delay and left the church that he
might read it without interruption. It ran as
" Is it really you, Don Juan? And you have
not forgotten me after all? I have been very un-
happy, but I was beginning to become reconciled-
to my fate. Now, I shall be a hundred times
196 SOULS IN PURGATORY
more unhappy than I was before. I ought to
hate you you have shed my father's blood
but I can neither hate you nor forget you. Take
pity on me and do not come again to this church ;
you make it too hard for me. Good-bye, good-
bye, I am dead to the world.
" Ah! And so it is little Teresa! " said Don
Juan. " I was sure I had seen her somewhere."
Then he read the letter again. ' I ought to
hate you/ That is to say, I adore you. ' You
have shed my father's blood.' Chimene said the
same thing to Rodrigue. ' Do not come again
to this church,' which means, I shall look for you
to-morrow. Very good! She is mine I"
Thereupon he went to dinner.
The next day found him punctual at church
with a letter in his pocket ready to deliver, but
to his great surprise, Sister Agatha did not ap-
pear. Never before had mass seemed so long.
He was furious. After cursing Teresa's scru-
ples a hundred times he went for a stroll on
the banks of the Guadalquivir to think of some
plan by which he might send her a letter. He
determined on this scheme.
The Convent of Our Lady del Rosario was
famous in Seville for the delicious confections
made by the sisters. Don Juan went to the con-
SOULS IN PURGATORY 197
vent parlour, asked for the attendant and re-
quested to see the list of confections which she
had for sale.
" Have you no Marana citrons? " he asked
as naturally as possible.
" Marana citrons, senor? This is the first
time I have ever heard of them."
' They are in great demand, however, and I
am surprised that a house with a reputation like
yours does not make quantities of them."
" Marana citrons? "
" Marana," repeated Don Juan, emphasis-
ing each syllable. " I can not believe that among
your nuns some one does not know the recipe.
I beg you to ask if they do not know these pre-
serves. I will come back to-morrow."
A few minutes later the whole convent was
talking about Marana citrons. Their most skil-
ful confection-makers had never heard of them.
Sister Agatha alone knew how to make them.
' You must add to the citrons extract of roses,
extract of violets, and so on, and then " She
was ordered to make the preserves herself.
When he returned next day, Don Juan found
ready for him a jar of Marana citrons; in fact,
it was an execrable mixture; but hidden under-
neath the lid of the jar, he found a note from
Teresa. Again, she besought him to renounce
198 SOULS IN PURGATORY
and forget her. To be just, the poor girl tried
to deceive herself. Religion, filial duty, and
love were all contending for her heart; but it
was easy to see that love held the first place.
The next day, Don Juan sent a page to the con-
vent with a case of citrons which he wished to
have preserved, and which he intrusted specially
to the nun who had made the confections pur-
chased the day before. Cleverly concealed in
the bottom of the case was an answer to Teresa's
letter. He wrote:
" I have been miserably unhappy. It was
some fatality that guided my arm. Since that
fatal night you have never been absent from my
thoughts. I dared not hope that you would not
hate me. And now, I have found you again.
Speak to me no more of the vows you have made.
Before you ever took those vows you belonged
to me. You have no right to dispose of the heart
that you gave me ... I have come to
reclaim the one whom I love better than life
. I must have you again, or I shall die.
To-morrow I shall ask to see you in the parlour.
I have not attempted to call to see you before,
fearing that your agitation might betray us.
Summon all your courage. Tell me if the at-
tendant can be bribed."
Two drops of water, placed skilfully on the
SOULS IN PURGATORY 199
paper, were supposed to be tears, wrung from
him as he wrote.
A few hours later the gardener at the con-
vent brought him a reply, and offered his ser-
vices. The attendant was not to be bribed. Sis-
ter Agatha consented to come down to the
parlour, but only on condition that it would be
to say and to receive an eternal farewell.
The unhappy Teresa appeared in the parlour
more dead than alive and was obliged to sup-
port herself at the grille by both hands, to keep
from falling. Calm and impassive himself,
Teresa's exquisite suffering, of which he was
the author, was a savoury morsel to Don Juan.
In order to mislead the attendant, he spoke
casually of friends whom Teresa had known in
Salamanca and who had charged him with mes-
sages and greetings. Then, taking advantage
of a moment when the attendant moved to the
other side of the room, he whispered quickly to
" I am resolved, at any risk, to take you away
from this place. If necessary, I shall burn down
the convent. I shall listen to no refusal. You
belong to me. In a few days you will be mine.
I may perish in the attempt, but others will
perish along with me."
The attendant returned. Dona Teresa was
200 SOULS IN PURGATORY
strangling, and unable to utter a word. Don
Juan, however, was talking unconcernedly of
preserves, of needlework things that occupied
the sisters' time; he promised to send the at-
tendant several rosaries which had been blessed
by the Pope, and to present the convent with a
brocade robe to adorn its patron saint on her
fete-day. After a half -hour of talk like this,
he departed, his formal and dignified adieu leav-
ing Teresa in a condition of agitation and despair
impossible to describe. She flew to her cell,
where she shut herself in, and her pen, more
obedient than her tongue, wrote him a long let-
ter, in which she poured out her soul in reproach,
entreaty, and lamentation. She could not with-
hold the confession of her love, but this sin she
excused, thinking that it was expiated in her
refusal to yield to the prayers of her lover. The
gardener, who took charge of this criminal cor-
respondence, soon brought a reply. Don Juan
still threatened to resort to extreme measures.
He had at his command a hundred trusty fol-
lowers. The sacrilege of his act did not terrify
him. He would count it happiness to die if he
could but hold his dear love once more in his
embrace. What could she do, a helpless child,
who had always yielded to the man she adored?
She passed the nights in tears, and in the day
SOULS IN PURGATORY 201
she could not pray, for Don Juan's image was
constantly before her. Even when she joined the
nuns in their exercises of worship, it was but a
mechanical act, for her thoughts were wholly en-
grossed in her fatal passion.
After a little while she no longer had the
strength to resist, and intimated to Don Juan
that she would agree to anything. She argued
to herself, that, since she was already lost, her
fate could be no worse for having tasted a brief
moment of happiness. Don Juan, overjoyed,
made his preparations to take her from the con-
vent. He selected a night when there was no
moon. The gardener provided Teresa with a
rope-ladder for use in climbing the convent
walls. A bundle of conventional garments was
to be concealed in the garden, for it would never
do to be seen in the street in a nun's habit. Don
Juan would be waiting for her on the outer side
of the convent wall. Not far away, a litter, har-
nessed to a pair of strong mules, would be in
readiness to drive them quickly to a house in the
country. There, safe from all pursuit, her life
would be peaceful and happy under the protec-
tion of her lover. Such was the plan that Don
Juan had outlined. He had appropriate cloth-
ing made for Teresa; he tested the ladder, and
sent her instructions how to attach it ; indeed, he
202 SOULS IX PURGATORY
overlooked nothing that would insure the success
of his enterprise. The gardener could be de-
pended on, for he had too much to gain to be
suspected of disloyalty. Not only so, but it was
arranged that he was to be assassinated the night
after the abduction. In short, it seemed impos-
sible for anything to defeat a plot so skilfully
In order to avert suspicion, Don Juan left
for the Chateau de Marana two days before that
planned for the elopement. Although he had
spent the greater part of his childhood and
youth in this castle, he had never entered it since
his return to Seville. He arrived just at night-
fall and at once ordered a bountiful supper, after
which he retired for the night. In his room two
tall wax candles were burning and upon the
table lay a book of licentious tales. After read-
ing several pages, and becoming drowsy, he ex-
tinguished one of the candles. Before putting
out the second one, he happened to glance inad-
vertently about the room, when suddenly, in the
alcove, he spied the picture upon which he had so
often gazed in his childhood: the picture repre-
senting the torments of purgatory. Instinctively
his eyes rested on the man whose vitals a ser-
pent was devouring, and, although this repre-
sentation inspired in him far more terror than it
SOULS IN PURGATORY 203
had formerly done, he could not turn away. At
the same time, he recalled the face of Captain
Gomare, with the frightful convulsions wrought
upon it by death. The recollection made him
shudder, and he felt his hair stand on end.
Summoning all his courage, however, he blew
out the candle, hoping that the darkness would
obliterate the hideous images which persisted in
tormenting him. Although veiled from his sight
by the night, his eyes still sought the picture,
and so well did he know every detail that it
stood out in his memory as clearly as if it were
broad day. In his imagination, the figures
sometimes shone so brightly in the fire of pur-
gatory, which the artist had painted, that the
fire itself appeared real. At last, in his excite-
ment he summoned his servants, intending to
order them to remove the picture that had oc-
casioned such frightful fancies. When they
appeared, however, he was ashamed of his weak-
ness, for he knew he would be an object of
ridicule were it known to his menials that he
was panic-stricken by a picture, and so he merely
told them that he wished the candles lighted
again, and to be left alone. He began again to
read; but while his eyes rested on the pages of
the book, his thoughts were with the picture on
the wall. In this way he passed a sleepless
204 SOULS IN PURGATORY
night, a prey to indescribable restlessness. At
break of dawn he left the room for a morning's
hunt. The exercise and the bracing air of early
morning had a pacifying effect upon his mood,
so that by the time he returned to the castle the
sensations aroused by the picture had altogether
vanished. At supper that night he drank deeply
of wine, and his mind was slightly confused when
he went to bed. At his command a different
room had been prepared for him, but we may
be sure that he had not ordered the picture to
be removed thither. The remembrance of it
remained with him, however, and was strong
enough to keep him awake the greater part of
Yet these terrors caused him no regret for
his impious life. His mind rather was entirely
absorbed in the abduction about to be accom-
plished; and after leaving all the necessary
directions to his servants, he set out alone at
mid-day for Seville so that he would arrive there
after dark. In fact, night had fully settled
down when he passed the Tower del Lloro, where
one of his menials was waiting. He gave the
servant his horse to return and was informed that
the litter and mules were in readiness. By his
directions they were to be waiting in a street near
enough the convent to reach conveniently with
SOULS IN PURGATORY 205
Teresa, yet not too near to excite the suspicions
of the watchman, if they should chance to meet
him. Every preparation had been made; his in-
structions had been executed to the letter. He
found he had still an hour to wait before giving
Teresa the signal. His man threw over his
shoulders a voluminous brown cloak, and he en-
tered Seville alone, by the porte de Triana, con-
cealing his face to avoid recognition. He was
weary from the journey and the heat of the
day, and sat down to rest upon a bench in a de-
serted street. He passed the time whistling and
humming all the tunes that came into his mind.
He consulted his watch from time to time, dis-
covering to his vexation that the hands did not
advance to the measure of his impatience.
Suddenly his ear caught the strains of solemn
and mournful music. He recognised at once
the chants consecrated to the burial service. Soon
a procession turned the corner and advanced
toward the place where he was sitting. A double
line of mourners, all carrying lighted tapers, pre-
ceded a bier, which was draped in black velvet,
and borne by several persons dressed in anti-
quated fashion, with white beards and with
swords hanging by their sides. The procession
closed with two lines of mourners, in black robes,
and like the others, all carrying lighted tapers.
206 SOULS IN PURGATORY
They approached slowly and silently. No sound
of footsteps was heard and it seemed as if the
figures glided rather than walked on the pave-
ment. The gowns and the cloaks fell in long,
stiff folds, as motionless as the drapery of
At this spectacle, Don Juan at once experi-
enced that feeling of disgust which the thought
of death always inspires in an epicurean. He
rose, intending to leave the scene, but the im-
mense number of mourners and the stateliness
and pomp of the cortege excited his curiosity.
The procession was directed toward a neighbour-
ing church, whose doors had just opened osten-
tatiously, as if about to receive an important per-
Don Juan, touching the sleeve of one of the
mourners, politely inquired w r ho was the person
about to be buried. The mourner lifted his eyes ;
his face was pale and emaciated like that of a
man just recovering from a long and painful
illness. In a sepulchral voice he replied:
" It is Count Don Juan de Marana."
At this strange response Don Juan's hair
rose on his head; but the next instant he had re-
covered his composure and broke into a smile:
" Of course I misunderstood," said he, " or
else the old man was merely mistaken."
SOULS IN PURGATORY 207
He entered the church with the procession.
The funeral dirges began, to the noble tones of
the organ accompaniment, and priests in mourn-
ing vestments intoned the De Profundis. De-
spite his efforts to retain his composure, Don
Juan felt that his very blood was curdling in his
veins. Again approaching a mourner, he asked :
' Whose funeral is this? "
" It is Count Don Juan de Marana's," re-
plied the mourner in a hollow and terrifying
Don Juan leaned against a pillar to keep
from falling. He felt his strength failing him,
and all his courage forsook him. The service
continued, however; and the solemn peals of the
organ and the chanting of the terrible Dies Irce
echoed through the vaults of the church. It
seemed as if he were listening to the chorus of
angels at the last judgment. Finally, with an
effort, he seized the hand of a passing priest.
The hand was cold as marble.
" Father, in the name of Heaven," he cried,
" for whose soul are you now praying? And
who are you? "
' We pray for Count Don Juan de Marana,"
answered the priest, steadily regarding him and
with an expression of grief upon his counte-
nance. ' We are praying for his soul, which is
208 SOULS IN PURGATORY
in mortal sin. We are the souls who have been
saved from purgatory by the prayers and masses
of his mother. We are paying to the son the
debt we owe the mother; but this is the last mass
we shall be permitted to say for the soul of Count
Don Juan de Marafia."
At this moment the church clock struck; it
was the hour fixed for the abduction of Teresa.
' The hour has come!" exclaimed a voice
from an obscure corner of the church. * The
hour has come! Is he to belong to us? "
Turning his head, Don Juan saw a terrible
apparition. Don Garcia, ghastly, and dripping
with blood, moved up the aisle with Captain
Gomare, whose features were still distorted from
his horrible convulsions. Both went directly to
the bier: Don Garcia, tearing off the lid of the
coffin, and throwing it violently to the ground,
" Is he ours? "
Just then a huge serpent rose from behind
Don Garcia, and seemed on the point of darting
into the coffin. With a shriek: " Jesus!" Don
Juan fell unconscious to the pavement.
The night was far advanced when the watch-
man in passing observed a man lying motionless
at the church door. The constables came up,
supposing it was the body of some one who had
SOULS IN PURGATORY 209
been murdered. They recognised at once the
Count de Marafta, and tried to revive him by
dashing cold water in his face, but seeing that
he did not regain consciousness, they carried him
to his home. Some said he was drunk, others
that he had received a cudgelling from some in-
jured husband. Not a man, or at least not an
honest man, in Seville liked him, and every one
expressed his mind without hesitation. One
blessed the club that had knocked him out so
effectively; another wondered how many bottles
of wine that unconscious carcass could hold.
The constables handed Don Juan over to his ser-
vants, who ran at once in search of a surgeon.
They bled him freely and he soon began to show
signs of consciousness, at first uttering only
meaningless words, inarticulate cries, sobs, and
moans. Little by little, he seemed to observe
attentively all the objects about him. He asked
where he was ; then, what had become of Captain
Gomare, Don Garcia, and the funeral proces-
sion. His attendants thought him mad. After
swallowing a cordial, he asked for a crucifix,
which he kissed again and again, shedding a flood
of tears. He then commanded that a confessor
There was general surprise, so widely known
was his impiety. Several priests refused to come,
210 SOULS IN PURGATORY
confident that this was only one of his malicious
jokes. Finally, a Dominican monk consented
to go to him. They were left alone, and Don
Juan, throwing himself at the feet of the monk,
told him of the vision he had seen. Then he con-
fessed. As he went over the category of his
crimes he broke off to ask if it were possible for
so great a sinner as himself to obtain Divine
forgiveness. The priest replied that the mercy
of God was infinite. After exhorting him to
persevere in his repentance, he gave him the con-
solation which the Church never refuses even the
worst of criminals. The monk then left him with
the promise to return that night. Don Juan
spent the entire day in prayer. When the
Dominican returned in the evening the penitent
told him that he had fully resolved to retire from
the world, upon which he had brought such dis-
honour, and to endeavour to expiate in peniten-
tial works the heinous crimes in which he was
steeped. The monk, touched by his tears, gave
him such comfort as he could, and, to see whether
he would have the courage to carry out his de-
termination, painted in terrifying language the
austerities of the cloister. But at every penance
that he described, Don Juan only cried that it
was nothing, and that he deserved treatment far
SOULS IN PURGATORY 211
The next day he gave half of his fortune to
his relatives who were poor; another part he con-
secrated to the endowment of a hospital and a
chapel. He distributed large sums among the
poor, and to the priests, that many masses might
be said for the souls in purgatory, especially for
the souls of Captain Gomare and those unfor-
tunate men whom he had killed in duel.
Finally, he invited all his friends, and in
their presence called himself to account for the
evil example he had been to them: with deep
pathos he depicted the remorse that he now suf-
fered for the sins of his past life, and the hopes
that he dared to entertain for the future. Sev-
eral of those libertines were affected by what
he said, and repented; others, more callous, left
him with heartless jests.
Before entering the monastery which he had
chosen for retreat, Don Juan wrote to Dona
Teresa. He confessed his dishonourable inten-
tions; he told her the story of his past life, and
his conversion; he begged her to forgive him,
and promised to profit by her example, and in
repentance to seek his soul's salvation. This let-
ter he intrusted to the care of the Dominican,
after reading him the contents.
Poor Teresa! She had waited for hours in
the convent garden, watching for the signal;
212 SOULS IX PURGATORY
hours of indescribable suspense. Then, seeing
that dawn was about to break, she returned to
her cell, a prey to the keenest anguish. Don
Juan's failure to come she attributed to a thou-
sand causes, all equally far from the truth.
Several days passed thus, with no word, no mes-
sage that might soften her despair. At last,
the monk, after conferring with the Superior,
obtained permission to see her and give her the
letter of her repentant lover. As she read, her
brow was covered with great beads of sweat,
now her face became crimson, now pale as death.
She had the courage, how r ever, to read to the
end. The Dominican then endeavoured to de-
scribe Don Juan's repentance, and rejoiced that
she had escaped the terrible fate which, but for
the evident intervention of Providence, was in
store for them both. But to these words of
counsel Teresa only moaned : " He never loved
me ! " The unhappy girl was attacked by a vio-
lent fever; every remedy known to science and
religion was applied to conquer her malady, but
in vain. Some of them she refused altogether;
to others she seemed indifferent. And so, after
a few days she died, still repeating: " He never
loved me ! "
While still wearing the habit of a novice Don
Juan proved the sincerity of his conversion. Xo
SOULS IX PURGATORY 213
fast, no penance, was imposed upon him, but he
considered it too mild; and the abbot of the
monastery was obliged often to restrain him in
his self-imposed macerations. He pointed out
to him that such a course would only shorten his
life ; and that in reality it required more courage
to suffer during a long period the penances ju-
diciously imposed by his superiors, than to hasten
his end by self-inflicted punishments.
At the expiration of his novitiate, Don
Juan, assuming the name of Brother Ambroise,
took his final vows, and because of his piety
and asceticism he edified the whole community.
Under his fustian gown he wore a coarse hair-
cloth shirt; a narrow box, shorter than his body,
was his bed. He restricted his diet to stewed
vegetables; only on fete-days, and then by the
express order of the abbot, did he consent to eat
bread. Outstretched upon a cross, he spent the
greater part of the night in meditation and
In fact, he was the example for this com-
munity of religious men, as formerly he had been
the model for all the libertines of his social
sphere. An epidemic, which broke out in Se-
ville, gave him an opportunity to put into prac-
tice those new virtues which were the fruit of
his conversion. The victims of the plague were
214 SOULS IN PURGATORY
received into the hospital which he had endowed ;
he nursed the poor, spending all his time by their
bedside, in exhortation, consolation, and encour-
agement. So great was the danger of contagion
that it was impossible to find, for love or money,
men willing to bury the dead. Don Juan ful-
filled this ministry also; entering the abandoned
houses, he gave decent burial to the bodies which
he found there, and many had been left for days
unburied. Everywhere blessings were showered
on him. Never once during the terrible scourge
did he contract the disease, many credulous per-
sons asserting that God had performed a new
miracle in his favour.
Don Juan, or rather Brother Ambroise, had
now dwelt in the cloister for a number of years,
his life being one uninterrupted succession of
pious practices and penances. The memory of
his past life was still present in his thoughts, but
his remorse was beginning to be less acute, owing
to the consciousness of Divine forgiveness im-
parted by his changed life.
One day, after dinner, the hour when the sun
shone with fiercest heat, all the brothers were
enjoying a short rest, as was their custom.
Brother Ambroise alone worked in the garden,
bareheaded, under the burning sun; it was one
of his self-imposed penances. Bending over his
SOULS IN PURGATORY 215
spade he saw the shadow of a man, who paused
beside him. Supposing it was one of the monks,
who had walked out into the garden, he con-
tinued his task, saluting him with an Ave Maria.
There was no response. Surprised that the
shadow did not move, he looked up from his
work, and saw standing before him a tall young
man. He wore a cloak which reached to the
ground, and a hat, shaded by a black and white
plume, almost concealed his face. This man
looked at him in silence, with an expression of
malicious pleasure and scorn. They stood thus
for several moments, gazing steadily at each
other. Finally, the stranger, stepping forward,
and removing his hat so as to disclose his feat-
" Do you recognise me? "
Don Juan regarded him still more closely, but
" Do you remember the siege of Berg-op-
Zoom? " asked the stranger. " Have you for-
gotten a soldier named Modesto ? "
Don Juan trembled. The stranger continued
" A soldier named Modesto, who shot and
killed your worthy friend, Don Garcia, instead
of yourself, at whom he aimed? Modesto! I
am he. I have still another name, Don Juan:
216 SOULS IX PURGATORY
my name is Don Pedro de Ojeda. I am the son
of Don Alfonso de Ojeda, whom you killed
. I am the brother of Dona Fausta
de Ojeda, whom you killed ... I am the
brother of Dona Teresa de Ojeda, whom you
" My brother," said Don Juan, falling on
his knees, " I am a miserable mass of crimes. It
is to expiate them that I am wearing this garb,
and that I have renounced the world. If there
is any means by which I may win your forgive-
ness, tell me what it is. The severest penance
will have no terrors for me if thereby you will
cease to curse me."
Don Pedro smiled bitterly.
" Let us abandon hypocrisy, Senor Marafia.
I do not forgive. As for my curses, you have
brought them on yourself. But I am too im-
patient to wait for their realisation. I have with
me something far more effective than curses."
Thereupon he threw aside his cloak and
showed two long swords which he carried at his
side. He drew them from the scabbards and
stuck them both in the ground.
' Take your choice, Don Juan," he said. " I
have been told that you are a great fighter and I
pride myself on being no mean fencer. Let us
see what you can do."
SOULS IN PURGATORY 217
Don Juan made the sign of the cross,
" Brother, you forget the vows that I have
taken. I am no longer the Don Juan whom you
once knew, I am Brother Ambroise."
' Very well! Brother Ambroise, you are my
enemy, and no matter what name you call your-
self, I hate you, and I intend to be avenged."
Don Juan again fell upon his knees.
" If you wish to take my life, brother, it is
yours. Chastise me in any way you see fit."
" Cowardly hypocrite ! Do you think to dupe
me? If I had wanted to kill you like a mad
dog, would I have taken the trouble to bring
these weapons ? Come, make your choice quickly,
and defend your life."
" I tell you again, brother, I can not fight,
but I can die."
"Miserable caitiff!" cried Don Pedro, in a
rage. " I was told that you had courage, and I
find you only a vile coward! "
" Courage, my brother? God grant me
courage not to give way to utter hopelessness;
for without His support the remembrance of my
crimes would lead me to desperation. Good-bye,
I will leave you, for I see that my presence mad-
dens you. May the day come when you will be-
lieve in the sincerity of my repentance ! "
218 SOULS IN PURGATORY
He started to leave the garden, when Don
Pedro grasped his arm.
; ' Either you or I," he cried, " shall never
leave this spot alive. Take one of these swords,
for I'll be damned if I believe a single word of
your jeremiads! "
Don Juan looked at him beseechingly, and
again tried to leave the place, but Don Pedro
seized him roughly by the collar:
' You believe, then, infamous murderer that
you are, that you can escape me! No! I shall
tear into shreds your hypocritical robe that con-
ceals the cloven foot, and then, it may be, you
will find courage enough to fight with me."
With this, he pushed him violently against
" Senor Pedro de Ojeda," cried Don Juan,
" kill me if you will, I shall not fight! "
And folding his arms, with eyes calm but
determined, he looked steadily at Don Pedro.
' Yes, I shall kill you, miserable dastard !
But first I shall treat you as the coward that
you are! "
And he slapped him in the face, the first in-
sulting blow that Don Juan had ever received.
His face became livid. The pride and fury of
his youth once more took possession of his soul.
Without a word, he leaped toward one of the
SOULS IN PURGATORY 219
swords, and seized it. Don Pedro took the other,
and stood on guard. They attacked each other
furiously, making a lunge simultaneously. Don
Pedro's sword buried itself in Don Juan's gown
and glanced along his body without inflicting a
wound ; Don Juan's sword, on the contrary, sank
to the hilt into his adversary's breast. Don
Pedro died instantly.
Seeing his enemy stretched at his feet, Don
Juan stood for some time as if dazed, looking
down upon him. Gradually he came to his
senses, and to a realisation of the enormity of
his crime. Throwing himself upon the body, he
tried to restore it to life, but he was too familiar
with the sight of wounds to doubt for a moment
that this one was fatal. There at his feet lay
the blood-stained sword, offering him a means
of self -punishment ; but quickly casting behind
him this last temptation of the devil, terror-
stricken, he rushed into the abbot's cell and threw
himself at his feet. There, with tears streaming
in floods down his cheeks, Don Juan told his
terrible story. The abbot would not, at first,
believe him, thinking that Don Juan's reason
had become impaired on account of his severe
penances, but his gown and hands, stained with
blood, no longer permitted him to doubt the
220 SOULS IN PURGATORY
A man of rare presence of mind, he realised
instantly that if this affair should come to be
known, the scandal would reflect upon the mon-
astery. No one had seen the duel, and he took
care to conceal it from the brothers. He ordered
Don Juan to follow him, and with his assistance,
he carried the body into a cellar-room, and lock-
ing the door he took the key. Then, shutting
Don Juan within his cell, the abbot went out to
notify the corregidor.
One may, perhaps, be surprised that Don
Pedro, who had already made one attempt to
murder Don Juan, should have rejected the idea
of a second assassination, preferring to over-
throw his enemy in a duel; but this was only his
diabolical plan of vengeance. He had heard of
Don Juan's asceticism and his deep piety, and
he had no doubt if he killed him in cold blood
that he would send Don Juan's soul direct to
heaven. He hoped, therefore, that by provok-
ing him and compelling him to fight, he would
kill him in the act of a mortal sin and would thus
destroy both his body and his soul. We have
seen how this wicked design turned against its
It was not difficult to hush up the affair. The
magistrate acted in concert with the abbot to
avert suspicion. The other monks believed that
SOULS IN PURGATORY 221
the man had fallen in a duel with an unknown
caballero, and when wounded, he had been car-
ried into the monastery, where he had died almost
immediately. As for Don Juan, I shall attempt
to describe neither his remorse nor his repentance.
Every kind of penance imposed by the abbot he
suffered joyfully. During the remainder of his
life, he kept, hanging at the foot of his bed, the
sword with which he had killed Don Pedro, and
never did he look at it without praying for his
soul, and for the souls of his family. In order
to subdue the last remnant of worldly pride
lingering in his heart the abbot had commanded
him to present himself every day before the
convent cook, so that he might receive a slap.
After receiving this humiliation Brother Am-
broise never failed to turn the other cheek also,
and to thank the cook for humbling him in this
way. He lived ten years longer in the cloister
and never once was his repentance interrupted
by a return to the passions of his youth. He
died, revered as a saint, even by those who had
known him as an evil youth. On his death-bed,
he begged as a favour, to be buried at the
threshold of the church, so that all who entered
should trample him underfoot. He wished also
that his tomb should bear this inscription:
Here lies the worst man that ever lived. It was
222 SOULS IN PURGATORY
not thought fitting, however, to cany out all the
requests dictated by his excessive humility. He
was buried near the high altar of the church he
had built. It is true that the inscription which
he had composed was carved on the stone that
covers his remains; but there was added to this
the story of his conversion, and a eulogy to his
virtues. His hospital, and especially the church
where he is buried, are visited by every stranger
who comes to Seville. Several of the master-
pieces of Murillo adorn the chapel. The Prodi-
gal's Return, and The Pool of Bethesda which
are now admired in the art gallery of Senor
Soult, formerly decorated the walls of the Hos-
pital de la Caridad.
THE VENUS OF ILLE
La Venus D'llle
THE VENUS OF ILLE
'IXe&j Ijv &ly&, '<rr 6 larSplca
Kal fjlTlOS, &VTWS foSpttOS &V.
I DESCENDED the last hillside at Cani-
gou, and, although the sun had already
set, I could distinguish the houses of the
little town of Ille, in the plain, toward which
my steps were turned.
* You know," I said to the Catalanian who
had been my guide since the previous day
" no doubt you know where M. de Peyrehorade
" Do I know it ! " he exclaimed. " I know his
house as well as I know my own ; and if it wasn't
so dark I would point it out to you. It is the
prettiest in Ille. M. de Peyrehorade is a rich
man; and he is marrying his son to a lady even
richer than himself."
" Is the marriage to take place soon? " I
" Very soon ; probably the violinists are al-
* " If I am gracious, let the statue be also kind, seeing it is so nobly
human. " Lucians * 4 Philopseudes. "
226 THE VENUS OF ILLE
ready ordered for the wedding. Perhaps it will
be to-night, or to-morrow, or the day after, for
all I know. It will be at Puygarrig ; for the son
is to marry Mademoiselle de Puygarrig. It will
be a very grand affair! "
I had been introduced to M. de Peyrehorade
by my friend M. de P., who told me he was a
very learned antiquarian and of extreme good
nature. It would give him pleasure to show me
all the ruins for ten leagues round. So I was
looking forward to visit with him the district sur-
rounding Ille, which I knew to be rich in monu-
ments belonging to ancient times and the Middle
Ages. This marriage, of which I now heard
for the first time, would upset all my plans. I
said to myself, I should be a kill- joy; but I was
expected, and as M. de P. had written to say I
was coming, I should have to present myself.
" I will bet you, monsieur," said my guide
to me, when we were in the plain " I will bet
you a cigar that I can guess why you are going
to M. de Peyrehorade's."
" But that is not a difficult thing to guess,"
I replied, holding out a cigar to him. " At this
hour, after traversing six leagues amongst the
Canigou hills, the grand question is supper."
" Yes, but to-morrow? . . . Wait, I will
bet that you have come to Ille to see the statue.
THE VENUS OF ILLE 227
I guessed that when I saw you draw pictures of
the Saints at Serrabona."
"The statue! What statue?" The word
had excited my curiosity.
'What! did no one tell you at Perpignan
that M. de Peyrehorade had found a statue in
" Did you mean a statue in terra-cotta, or
" Nothing of the kind. It is actually in cop-
per, and there is enough of it to make heaps of
coins. It weighs as much as a church-bell. It
is deep in the ground, at the foot of an olive tree
that we dug up."
' You were present, then, at the find? "
' Yes, sir. M. de Peyrehorade told Jean Coll
and me, a fortnight ago, to uproot an old olive
tree which had been killed by the frost last year,
for there was a very severe frost, you will re-
member. Well, then, whilst working at it with
all his might, Jean Coll gave a blow with his
pickaxe, and I heard bimm ! ... as though
he had struck on a bell. ' What is that? ' I said.
He picked and picked again, and a black hand
appeared, which looked like the hand of a dead
man coming out of the ground. I felt fright-
ened; I went to the master and said to him:
' There are dead folk, master, under the olive
228 THE VENUS OF ILLE
tree; I wish you would send for the priest.'
* What dead folk ? ' he asked. He came, and had
no sooner seen the hand than he cried out, ' An
antique statue ! an antique statue ! ' You might
have thought he had discovered a treasure. And
then he set to with pickaxe and hands, and
worked hard ; he did almost as much work as the
two of us together."
" And what did you find in the end? "
" A huge black woman, more than half
naked, saving your presence, sir, all in copper,
and M. de Peyrehorade told us that it was an
idol of pagan times . . . perhaps as old
as Charlemagne ! "
" I see what it is . . . some worthy Vir-
gin in bronze which belonged to a convent that
has been destroyed."
"The Blessed Virgin! Well, I never!
. . . I should very soon have known if it had
been the Blessed Virgin. I tell you it is an idol ;
you can see that plainly from its appearance. It
stares at you with its great white eyes.
You might have said it was trying to put you
out of countenance. It was enough to make one
ashamed to look at her."
' White eyes were they? No doubt they are
inlaid in the bronze; it might perhaps be a Ro-
THE VENUS OF ILLE 229
" Roman ! that's it. M. de Peyrehorade said
that it was Roman. Ah! I can see you are as
learned as he is."
" Is it whole and in good preservation? "
" Oh, it is all there, sir. It is much more
beautiful and better finished than the painted
plaster bust of Louis Philippe, which is at the
town hall. But for all that the idol's face is not
very nice to look at. She looks wicked .
and she is so, too."
"Wicked! What mischief has she done
" No mischief to me exactly; but I will tell
you. We were down on all fours to raise her up
on end, and M. de Peyrehorade was also tugging
at the rope, although he had no more strength
than a chicken, good man! With much trouble
he got her straight. I picked up a tile to prop
her up, when, good Lord! she fell upside down
all in a heap. ' Look out there below ! ' I said,
but I was not quick enough, for Jean Coll had
not time to draw his leg out . . . "
" And was it hurt? "
" His poor leg was broken as clean as a pole.
Goodness! when I saw it I was furious. I
wanted to break up the idol with my pickaxe,
but M. de Peyrehorade would not let me. He
gave some money to Jean Coll, who, all the same,
230 THE VENUS OF ILLE
has been in bed the whole fortnight since it hap-
pened, and the doctor says that he will never
walk with that leg again so well as with the
other. It is a sad pity; he was our best runner,
and, after M. de Peyrehorade's son, he was the
cleverest tennis player. M. Alphonse de Peyre-
horade was dreadfully sorry, for it was Coll
against whom he played. It was fine to see them
send the balls flying. Whizz! whizz 1 they never
touched the ground."
And so we chatted till we reached Ille, and
I very soon found myself in the presence of M.
de Peyrehorade. He was a little old man, still
hale and active ; he was powdered, had a red nose,
and his manner was jovial and bantering. When
he had opened M. de P.'s letter he installed me
in front of a well-appointed table and presented
me to his wife and son as an illustrious archaeolo-
gist, whose desire it was to raise the province of
Roussillon from obscurity, in which it had been
left by the neglect of the learned.
Whilst I was eating with a good appetite
for nothing makes one so hungry as mountain
air I examined my hosts. I have said a word
or two about M. de Peyrehorade; I should add
that he was vivacity itself. He talked and ate,
got up, ran to his library to bring me books,
showed me engravings, and poured out drinks
THE VENUS OF ILLE 231
for me ; he was never still for two minutes. His
wife was rather too stout, like most Catalanian
women over forty, and she seemed to me a regu-
lar provincial, solely taken up with the cares of
her household. Although the supper was ample
for six people at least, she ran to the kitchen, had
pigeons killed and dozens of them fried, besides
opening I don't know how many pots of pre-
serves. In a trice the table was loaded with dishes
and bottles, and I should assuredly have died of
indigestion if I had even tasted all that was
offered me. However, at each dish that I re-
fused there were fresh excuses. They were afraid
I did not get what I liked at Ille there are
so few means of getting things in the provinces,
and Parisians are so hard to please!
M. Alphonse de Peyrehorade stirred no more
than a statue in the midst of his parents' comings
and goings. He was a tall young man of twen-
ty-six, with beautiful and regular features, but
they were wanting in expression. His figure and
athletic build quite justified the reputation he
had gained in the country as an indefatigable
tennis player. He was that evening exquisitely
dressed, exactly like the latest fashion plate.
But he seemed to me to be uneasy in his gar-
ments; he was as stiff as a post in his velvet col-
lar, and could not turn round unless with his
232 THE VENUS OF ILLE
whole body. His fat and sunburnt hands, with
their short nails, contrasted strangely with his
costume. They were the hands of a labouring
man appearing below the sleeves of a dandy.
For the rest, he only addressed me once through-
out the whole evening, and that was to ask me
where I had bought my watch-chain, although
he studied me from head to foot very inquisitively
in my capacity as a Parisian.
" Ah, now, my honoured guest," said M. de
Peyrehorade to me when supper drew to its con-
clusion, " you belong to me. You are in my
house, and I shall not give you any rest until you
have seen all the curiosities among our moun-
tains. You must learn to know our Roussillon
and to do it justice. You have no idea what we
can show you Phoenician, Celtic, Roman, Ara-
besque and Byzantine monuments. You shall see
them all lock, stock and barrel. I will take you
everywhere, and will not let you off a single
A fit of coughing compelled him to stop. I
took advantage of it to tell him I should be
greatly distressed if I disturbed him during the
interesting event about to take place in his
family. If he would kindly give me the benefit
of his valuable advice about the excursion I
ought to take, I should be able to go without
THE VENUS OF ILLE 233
putting him to the inconvenience of accompany-
ing me. .
" Ah, you are referring to this boy's mar-
riage ! " he exclaimed, interrupting me. ' That
is all nonsense. It takes place the day after to-
morrow. You shall celebrate the wedding with
us; it will take place quietly, for the bride is in
mourning for an aunt, whose heiress she is.
Therefore there is to be neither fete nor ball.
. It is a pity. . . . You would have
seen our Catalanian women dance.
They are pretty, and you might perhaps have
been tempted to follow Alphonse's example.
One marriage, they say, leads to others. . . .
On Saturday, after the young people are mar-
ried, I shall be at liberty, and we will set out. I
ask your forgiveness for the irksomeness of a
provincial wedding. To a Parisian blase with
fetes . . . and a wedding without a ball
too! However, you will see a bride . . . such
a bride . . . you must tell me what you think
of her. . . . But you are not a frivolous
man, and you take no notice of women. I have
better things than women to show you. I am
going to show you something! I have a fine
surprise for you to-morrow."
" Ah," I replied, " it is not easy to have a
treasure in your house without the public know-
234 THE VENUS OF ILLE
ing all about it. I think I can guess the surprise
you have in store for me. You are thinking of
your statue. I am quite prepared to admire it,
for my guide's description of it has roused my
" Ah ! he told you about the idol, for that is
what they call my beautiful Venus Tur but I
will not talk of it. To-morrow, as soon as it is
daylight, you shall see her, and you shall tell
me if I am not right in considering her a chef-
d'oeuvre. Upon my word, you could not have
arrived at a better time! There are inscriptions
which, poor ignorant, I explain after my own
fashion . . . but a savant from Paris!
. You will probably laugh at my inter-
pretation, for I have written a treatise on it.
I an old provincial antiquarian I
am going to venture. ... I mean to make
the press groan. If you would be so good as to
read and correct it, I should be hopeful. . . .
For example, I am curious to know how you
would translate this inscription on the pedes-
tal: 'CAFE' . . .but I do not want to
ask you anything yet! To-morrow, to-morrow!
Not a single word about the Venus to-day."
' You are quite right, Peyrehorade," said
his wife, " to stop talking about your idol ; you
ought to see that you are preventing the gentle-
THE VENUS OF ILLE 235
man from eating. Why, he has seen far more
beautiful statues in Paris than yours. There
are dozens of them in the Tuileries, and in
" Just look at her ignorance the blessed ig-
norance of the provinces ! " interrupted M. de
Peyrehorade. " Fancy, comparing a splendid
antique statue to the flat figures of Coustou!
" t How irreverently of my affairs
The gods are pleased to talk ! '
" Do you know my wife wanted to have my
statue melted down to make a bell for our
church? She would have been its godmother
one of Myro's chef-d'oeuvres."
" Chef-d'oeuvre! chef-d'oeuvre! a fine chef-
d'ceuvre it is to break a man's leg ! "
" Look here, wife," said M. de Peyrehorade
in a determined voice, as he extended his right
leg toward her, clad in a fine silk stocking, " if
my Venus had broken this leg I should not have
" Good gracious! Peyrehorade, how can you
talk like that? Fortunately, the man is going on
well. . . . And yet I can not bring myself
to look at the statue which did such an evil thing
as that. Poor Jean Coll! "
" Wounded by Venus, sir," said M. de Peyre-
236 THE VENUS OF ILLE
horade, laughing loudly. " The rascal complains
of being wounded by Venus !
" * Veneris nee prsemia n6ris.'
Who has not suffered from the wounds of
M. Alphonse, who understood French better
than Latin, winked with an understanding air,
and looked at me as though to say, " Do you
understand that, you Parisian? "
Supper ended at last. For an hour I had not
been able to eat any more. I was tired, and could
not hide my frequent yawns. Madame de Peyre-
horade saw it first, and said that it was time to
retire. Then began fresh apologies for the poor
entertainment I should find. I should not be
comfortable as in Paris; in the country things
are so different! I must make allowances for
the people of Roussillon. It was in vain I pro-
tested that after a journey among the moun-
tains a bundle of straw would seem a delicious
bed. They still begged me to pardon their poor
rustic servants if they did not behave as well as
they should. At last, accompanied by M. de
Peyrehorade, I reached the room put apart for
my use. The staircase, the top steps of which
were of wood, led to the centre of a corridor, out
of which opened several rooms.
THE VENUS OF ILLE 237
" To the right," said my host, " is the set of
rooms that I intend for the future Madame Al-
phonse. Your room is at the end of the passage
opposite. You will understand," he added, with
a look which he meant to be sly " you will
readily understand that newly married people
wish to be by themselves. You are at one end
of the house and they at the other."
We entered a very handsomely furnished
room, where the first object that caught my eye
was a bed seven feet long, six broad, and such a
height that one needed a stool to get into it. My
host pointed out the position of the bell, and sat-
isfied himself that the sugar-bowl was full, and
the smelling-bottles of eau de Cologne in their
proper places on the toilette table ; then he asked
me repeatedly if I had all I wanted, wished me
good-night and left me alone.
The windows were shut. Before undressing,
I opened one to breathe the cool night air, which
was delicious after such a lengthy supper. In
front was Canigou Mountain, which is at all
times beautiful, but to-night it seemed the fairest
in the world, lighted up as it was by a splendid
moon. I stood a few minutes to contemplate its
marvellous outline, and was just going to close
my window when, lowering my gaze, I saw the
statue on a pedestal about forty yards from the
238 THE VENUS OF ILLE
house. It was placed in a corner of the quick-set
hedge which separated a little garden from a
large, perfectly level court, which, I learnt
later, was the tennis ground for the town. This
ground had been M. de Peyrehorade's property,
but he had given it to the public at his son's ur-
From my distance away it was difficult to
make out the form of the statue; I could only
judge of its height, which I guessed was about
six feet. At that moment two town larrikins
passed along the tennis court, close to the hedge,
whistling the pretty Roussillon air, " Montagnes
regalades." They stopped to look at the statue,
and one of them even apostrophised her in a loud
voice. He spoke the Catalanian dialect, but I
had been long enough in the province of Rous-
sillon to be able to understand almost all he said.
"Chi-ike, hussy! " (the Catalanian expression
was more forcible than that) . " Look here," he
said, " you broke Jean Coil's leg for him! If you
belonged to me I would have broken your neck.'*
" Bah! what with? " asked the other. " She
is made of copper, and so hard that Stephen
broke his file over it, trying to cut into it. It is
copper from before the Flood, and harder than
anything I can think."
"If I had my cold chisel" (apparently he
THE VENUS OF ILLE 239
was a locksmith's apprentice) " I would jolly
soon scoop out her big white eyes; it would be
like cracking a couple of nutshells for the ker-
nels. I would do it for a maravedi"
They moved a few paces further off.
" I must just wish the idol good-night," said
the tallest of the apprentices, stopping suddenly.
He stooped, and probably picked up a stone.
I saw him stretch out his arm and throw some-
thing, and immediately after I heard a resound-
ing blow from the bronze. At the same moment
the apprentice raised his hand to his head and
yelled out in pain.
" She has thrown it back at me! " he cried.
And then the two scamps took to flight as
fast as they could. The stone had evidently re-
bounded from the metal, and had punished the
rascal for the outrage done to the goddess.
I shut the window and laughed heartily.
Yet another vandal punished by Venus!
Would that all destroyers of our ancient monu-
ments could have their heads broken like that !
And with this charitable wish I fell asleep.
It was broad day when I awoke. Near my
bed on one side stood M. de Peyrehorade in a
dressing-gown ; on the other a servant sent by his
wife with a cup of chocolate in his hand.
" Come now, Parisian, get up ! How lazy
240 THE VENUS OF ILLE
you people from the capital are ! " said my host,
while I hastily dressed myself. " It is eight
o'clock, and you still in bed. I got up at six
o'clock. I have been up-stairs three times; I
listened at your door on tiptoe, but there was no
sign of life at all. It is bad for you to sleep too
much at your age. And my Venus waiting to
be seen ! Come, take this cup of Barcelona choco-
late as fast as you can . . . it is quite con-
traband. You can't get such chocolate in Paris.
Take in all the nourishment you can, for when
you are before my Venus no one will be able to
tear you away."
I was ready in five minutes; that is to say, I
was only half shaved, wrongly buttoned and
scalded by the chocolate which I had swallowed
boiling hot. I went down-stairs into the garden
and was soon in front of a wonderfully fine
statue. It was indeed a Venus of extraordinary
beauty. The top part of her body was bare, just
as the ancients usually depicted their great
deities; her right hand, raised up to her breast,
was bent, with the palm inward, the thumb and
two first fingers extended, whilst the other two
were slightly curved. The other hand was near
the hips, and held up the drapery which covered
the lower part of the body. The attitude of this
statue reminded me of that of the Morra player,
THE VENUS OF ILLE 241
which, for some reason or other, goes by tHe
name of Germanicus. Perhaps they wished to
depict the goddess playing at the game of Morra.
However that might be, it is impossible to
conceive anything more perfect than the body of
this Venus; nothing could be more harmonious
or more voluptuous than its outlines, nothing
more graceful or dignified than its drapery. I
expected some work of the Lower Empire, and
I beheld a masterpiece of the most perfect period
of sculpture. I was specially struck with the
exquisite truth of form, which gave the impres-
sion that it had been moulded by nature itself, if
nature ever produces such perfect specimens.
The hair, which was raised off the forehead,
looked as though it might have been gilded at
some time. The head was small, like those of
nearly all Greek statues, and bent slightly for-
ward. As to the face, I should never be able to
express its strange character; it was of quite a
different type from that of any other antique
statue I could recall to mind. It was not only
the calm and austere beauty of the Greek sculp-
tors, whose rule was to give a majestic immo-
bility to every feature. Here, on the contrary,
I noticed with astonishment that the artist had
purposely expressed ill-nature to the point even
of wickedness. Every feature was slightly con-
242 THE VENUS OF ILLE
traded : the eyes were rather slanting, the mouth
turned up at the corners, and the nostrils some-
what inflated. Disdain, irony, cruelty, could be
traced on a face which was, notwithstanding, of
incredible beauty. Indeed, the longer one looked
at this wonderful statue, the more did the dis-
tressing thought obtrude itself that such mar-
vellous beauty could be united with an utter ab-
sence of goodness.
"If the model ever existed," I said to M. de
Peyrehorade, " and I doubt if Heaven ever pro-
duced such a woman, how I pity her lovers ! She
would delight to make them die of despair.
There is something ferocious in her expression,
and yet I never saw anything so beautiful."
" ' It is Venus herself gloating over her prey,' "
cried M. de Peyrehorade, pleased with my en-
That expression of fiendish scorn was perhaps
enhanced by the contrast shown by her eyes,
which were encrusted with silver, and shone bril-
liantly with the greenish-black colour that time
had given to the whole statue. Those brilliant
eyes produced a kind of illusion which recalled
lifelike reality. I remembered what my guide
had said, that she made those who looked at her
lower their eyes. It was quite true, and I could
THE VENUS OF ILLE 243
hardly restrain an impulse of anger against
myself for feeling rather ill at ease before that
" Now that you have admired it minutely, my
dear colleague in antiquarian research," said my
host, " let us, by your leave, open a scientific
conference. What say you to that inscription,
which you have not yet noticed? "
He showed me the pedestal of the statue, and
I read on it these words:
CAFE AM ANTE M
ff Quid dicis, doctissime? " he asked me, rub-
bing his hands together. " Let us see if we can
hit on the meaning of this CAFE AM AN-
" But," I answered, " it has two meanings.
It can be translated : ' Beware of him who loves
thee ; mistrust thy lovers.' But in that sense I do
not know whether CAFE AMANTEM would
be good Latin. Looking at the lady's diabolic
expression, I would rather believe that the artist
intended to put the spectator on his guard against
her terrible beauty; I would therefore translate
it : * Beware if she loves thee.' '
"Humph!" said M. de Peyrehorade; "yes,
that is an admissible interpretation; but, without
wishing to displease you, I prefer the first trans-
244 THE VENUS OF ILLE
lation, and I will tell you why. You know who
Venus's lover was? "
' There were several."
' Yes, but the chief one was Vulcan. Should
one not rather say, ' In spite of all thy beauty
and thy scornful manner, thou shalt have for thy
lover a blacksmith, a hideous cripple ' ? What
a profound moral, monsieur, for flirts ! "
I could hardly help smiling at this far-fetched
" Latin is a difficult tongue, because of its
concise expression," I remarked, to avoid con-
tradicting my antiquarian friend outright ; and I
stepped further away to see the statue better.
" One moment, colleague," said M. de Peyre-
horade, seizing me by the aim, " you have not
seen everything. There is still another inscrip-
tion. Climb up on the pedestal and look at the
right arm." And saying this, he helped me up.
I held on to the neck of the Venus uncere-
moniously, and began to make myself better
acquainted with her. I only looked at her for
a moment, right in the face, and I found her still
more wicked, and still more beautiful. Then I
discovered that there were some written charac-
ters in an ancient, running hand, it seemed to
me, engraved on the arm. With the help of spec-
tacles I spelt out the following, whilst M. de
THE VENUS OF ILLE 245
Peyrehorade repeated every word as soon as pro-
nounced, with approving gesture and voice. It
FENERI TVEEVL . . .
After the word TFRBFL in the first line,
I thought some letters had been effaced; but
TVEEVL. was perfectly legible.
;< What do you say to that? " asked my host,
radiantly smiling with malice, for he knew very
well that I could not easily extricate myself from
" I can not explain that word yet," I said to
him; " all the rest is easy. By his order Eutyches
Myro made this great offering to Venus."
" Good. But what do you make of TFR-
BFL? What is TFRBFL? "
" TFRBFL puzzles me greatly; I can not
think of any epithet applied to Venus which
might assist me. Stay, what do you say to
TFRBFLENTA? Venus, who troubles and
disturbs. . . . You notice I am all the time
thinking of her malignant expression. TFR-
BFLENTA would not be at all a bad epithet
for Venus," I added modestly, for I was not my-
self quite satisfied with my explanation.
246 THE VENUS OF ILLE
"Venus the turbulent! Venus the broiler I
Ah! you think, then, that my Venus is a Venus
of the pot-house? Nothing of the kind, mon-
sieur. She is a Venus belonging to the great
world. And now I will expound to you this
TVRBVL. . . . You will at least promise
not to divulge my discovery before my treatise
is published. I shall become famous, you see, by
this find. . . . You must leave us poor pro-
vincial devils a few ears to glean. You Parisian
savants are rich enough."
From the top of the pedestal, where I still
perched, I solemnly promised that I would
never be so dishonourable as to steal his dis-
" TVRBVL . . . monsieur," he said,
coming nearer and lowering his voice for fear
any one else but myself should hear, " read
" I do not understand any better."
" Listen carefully. A league from here, at
the base of the mountain, is a village called Boul-
ternere. It is a corruption of the Latin word
TVRBVLNERA. Nothing is commoner than
such an inversion. Boulternere, monsieur, was
a Roman town. I have always been doubtful
about this, for I have never had any proof of
it. The proof lies here. This Venus was the
THE VENUS OF ILLE 247
local goddess of the city of Boulternere ; and this
word Boulternere, which I have just shown to be
of ancient origin, proves a still more curious
thing, namely, that Boulternere, after being a
Roman town, became a Phoenician one! "
He stopped a minute to take breath, and to
enjoy my surprise. I had to repress a strong in-
clination to laugh.
" Indeed," he went on, " TFRBFLNERA
is pure Phoenician. TFR pronounce TOUR.
. . . TOUR and SOUR, are they not the
same word? SOUR is the Phoenician name for
Tyre. I need not remind you of its meaning.
BVL, is Baal, Bal, Bel, Bui, slight differences
in pronunciation. As to NERA, that gives
me some trouble. I am tempted to think, for
want of a Phoenician word, that it comes from
the Greek viipds damp, marshy. That would
make it a hybrid word. To justify vrjpds I will
show you at Boulternere how the mountain
streams there form poisonous swamps. On the
other hand, the ending NERA might have been
added much later, in honour of Nera Pivesuvia,
the wife of Tetricus, who may have done some
benevolent act to the city of Turbul. But, on
account of the marshes, I prefer the derivation
He took a pinch of snuff with a satisfied air.
248 THE VENUS OF ILLE
* : But let us leave the Phoenicians and return
to the inscription. I translate, then : ' To the
Venus of Boulternere Myro dedicates by his
command this statue, the work of his hand.' '
I took good care not to criticise his etymology,
but I wanted, on my own account, to put his pen-
etrative faculties to the proof, so I said to him:
' Wait a bit, monsieur, Myro dedicated some-
thing, but I do not in the least see that it was this
'What!" he exclaimed, "was not Myro a
famous Greek sculptor? The talent would de-
scend to his family; and one of his descendants
made this statue. Nothing can be clearer."
" But," I replied, " I see a little hole in the
arm. I fancy it has been used to hold something,
perhaps a bracelet, which this Myro gave to
Venus as an expiatory offering, for Myro was
an unlucky lover. Venus was incensed against
him, and he appeased her by consecrating a gold-
en bracelet. You must remember that fecit is
often used for consecravit. The terms are syn-
onymous. I could show you more than one
instance if I had access to Gruter or, better still,
Orellius. It is natural that a lover should behold
Venus in his dreams, and that he should imagine
that she commanded him to give her statue a
golden bracelet. Myro consecrated a bracelet
THE VENUS OF ILLE 249
to her. . . . Then the barbarians, or perhaps
some sacrilegious thief "
" Ah ! it is easily seen that you are given to
romancing," cried my host, lending his hand to
help me down. " No, monsieur, it is a work after
the School of Myro. Only look at the work, and
you will agree."
Having made it a rule never to contra-
dict pig-headed antiquarians outright, I bowed
my head as though convinced, and said :
" It is a splendid piece of work."
"Ah! my God!" exclaimed M. de Peyre-
horade, " here is yet another mark of vandalism!
Some one has thrown a stone at my statue ! "
He had just seen a white mark a little below
the breast of the Venus. I noticed a similar mark
on the fingers of the right hand, which at first
I supposed had been scraped by the stone in pass-
ing, or perhaps a fragment of it might have
broken off by the shock and rebounded upon the
hand. I told my host the insult that I had wit-
nessed and the prompt punishment which had
followed. He laughed heartily, and compared
the apprentice to Diomede, wishing he might see
all his comrades changed into white birds, as the
Greek hero did.
The breakfast bell interrupted this famous
interview ; and, as on the previous evening, I was
250 THE VENUS OF ILLE
forced to eat as much as four people. Then
M. de Peyrehorade's tenants came to see him, and
whilst he gave them audience, his son took me to
see a carriage which he had bought for his fiancee
at Toulouse, and, of course, I admired it prop-
erly. After that I went with him to the stables,
where he kept me half an hour praising his
horses and telling me their pedigrees and the
prizes he had won at the country races. At last
he spoke of his future bride, by a sudden tran-
sition from the grey mare that he intended
" We shall see her to-day. I wonder if you
will think her pretty. You are so difficult to
please in Paris; but everybody here and at Per-
pignan thinks her lovely. The best of it is she
is very wealthy. Her aunt, who lived at Prades,
left her all her money. Oh, I am going to be
ever so happy ! "
I was deeply shocked to see a young man
much more affected by the dowry than by the
beautiful looks of his bride-to-be.
" Are you learned in jewellery? " continued
M. Alphonse. ' What do you think of this ring
which I am going to give her to-morrow? "
So saying, he drew from the first joint of his
little finger a large ring blazing with diamonds,
formed by the clasping of two hands: a most
THE VENUS OF ILLE 251
poetic idea, I thought. It was of ancient work-
manship, but I guessed that it had been retouched
when the diamonds were set. Inside the ring
was engraved in gothic letters : " Sempr* ab ti "
" It is a lovely ring," I said; but added, " the
diamonds have taken from its original character
" Oh, it is much prettier as it is now," he re-
plied, smiling. " There are one thousand two
hundred francs' worth of diamonds in it. My
mother gave it me. It was an old family ring
. . . from the days of chivalry. It was worn
by my grandmother, who had it from her grand-
mother. Goodness knows when it was made!"
" The custom in Paris," I said, " is to give a
very plain ring, usually made of two different
metals, say, gold and platinum. For instance,
the other ring which you have on that finger
would be most suitable. This one is so large,
with its diamonds and hands in relief, that no
glove would go over it."
" Oh, Madame Alphonse can arrange that as
she likes. I think she will be pleased enough to
have it. Twelve hundred francs on one's finger
is very pleasing. That little ring," he added,
looking with a satisfied expression at the plain
ring which he held in his hand, " was given me
252 THE VENUS OF ILLE
one Shrove Tuesday by a woman in Paris, when
I was staying there two years ago. Ah! that is
the place to enjoy oneself in! . . ." And he
We were to dine at Puygarrig that day, at
the house of the bride's parents; we drove in
carriages, and were soon at the Castle, which was
about a league and a half from Ille. I was in-
troduced and received like one of the family.
I will not talk of the dinner, nor of the conver-
sation which took place, and in which I had but
little part. M. Alphonse, who sat by the side
of his future bride, whispered in her ear every
quarter of an hour. She hardly raised her eyes,
and blushed modestly every time her intended
spoke to her, though she replied without embar-
Mademoiselle de Puygarrig was eighteen
years of age, and her lithe, delicate figure was a
great contrast to the bony limbs of her sturdy
lover. She was more than beautiful : she was en-
chanting. I admired the perfect naturalness of
all her replies. Her expression was kindly, but
nevertheless was not devoid of a light touch of
maliciousness which reminded me, do what I
would, of my host's Venus. While making this
comparison to myself I wondered if the superior
beauty which undoubtedly belonged to the statue
THE VENUS OF ILLE 253
was not largely owing to her tigerish expres-
sion, for strength, even when accompanied by
evil passions, always induces wonder and a sort
of involuntary admiration.
What a pity, I reflected, as we left Puygar-
rig, that such a charming person should be so
rich, and that her dowry should be the cause
of her being sought by a man so unworthy
of her !
Whilst on the return to Ille I found it dif-
ficult to know what to talk of to Madame de
Peyrehorade, with whom I thought I ought to
" You are very strong-minded people here
in Roussillon," I exclaimed, " to have a wedding
on a Friday. In Paris we are more superstitious ;
no man dare take a wife on that day."
" Oh, please don't talk of it," she said; " if it
had depended only on me, I would certainly have
chosen another day. But Peyrehorade wanted
it, and would not give way. It troubles me,
however. Suppose some misfortune should
happen? There must be something in it, else
why should everybody be afraid of a Friday? "
" Friday," her husband cried, " is the day
dedicated to^ Venus. An excellent day for a
wedding. You will notice, my dear colleague,
that I only think of my Venus.J What an
254 THE VENUS OF ILLE
honour! It was on that account I chose Friday.
To-morrow, if you are willing, we will offer her
a small sacrifice before the ceremony two ring-
doves and incense, if I can find any."
" For shame, Peyrehorade ! " interrupted his
wife, who was scandalised in the highest degree.
" Offer incense to an idol ! It would be an abom-
ination ! What would be said about you through
" At all events," said M. de Peyrehorade,
" you will let me put a wreath of roses and lilies
on her head?
"'Manibus date lilia plenis.'
You see, monsieur, the charter is but a vain
thing. We have no religious freedom."
The arrangements for the morrow were regu-
lated in the following manner: Every one had
to be ready and dressed for the wedding at ten
o'clock prompt. After taking chocolate we
were to be driven to Puygarrig. The civil mar-
riage was to take place at the village registry,
and the religious ceremony in the Castle chapel.
After that there would be luncheon. Then we
were to spend the time as we liked until seven
o'clock, when we were all to return to M. de
Peyrehorade's house, where the two families
would sup together. The remainder of the time
THE VENUS OF ILLE 255
would naturally be spent in eating as much as
possible, as there would be no dancing.
Ever since eight o'clock I had sat before the
Venus, pencil in hand, beginning over again for
the twentieth time the head of the statue, without
being able to seize the expression. M. de Peyre-
horade came and went, giving me advice and
repeating his Phoenician derivations. Then he
placed some Bengal roses on the pedestal of the
statue, and addressed to it, in a tragi-comical
air, vows for the couple about to live under his
roof. He went in to see about his toilette toward
nine o'clock, and at the same time M. Alphonse
appeared, well groomed, in a new suit, white
gloves, patent-leather shoes, chased buttons and
a rose in his button-hole.
" You must take my wife's portrait," he said,
leaning over my drawing; " she, too, is pretty."
Then began on the tennis ground, to which I
have already referred, a game which at once at-
tracted M. Alphonse's attention. I was tired,
and in despair at being unable to reproduce that
diabolical face, so I soon left my drawing to
watch the players. There were among them sev-
eral Spanish muleteers who had come the night
before. They were men from Aragon and from
Navarre, almost all clever players. Although
the local players were encouraged by the pres-
256 THE VENUS OF ILLE
ence and advice of M. Alphonse, they were very
soon beaten by these new champions. The
patriotic onlookers were filled with concern, and
M. Alphonse looked at his watch. It was still
only half -past nine. His mother was not ready
yet. He hesitated no longer, threw off his coat,
asked for a vest, and challenged the Spaniards.
I looked at him with amusement and in some
' The honour of our country must be up-
held," he said.
Then I saw how very handsome he was. He
was roused to passion. The toilette, which had
just now filled his thoughts to the exclusion of
everything else, was completely forgotten. A
few minutes before he hardly dared turn his
head, for fear of spoiling his cravat. Now he
thought nothing of his curled hair or of his
beautifully got up frilled shirt. And his
fiancee! I really believe that, if necessary, he
would have adjourned the wedding. I saw him
hastily put on a pair of sandals, turn up his
sleeves, and with a self-satisfied manner range
himself at the head of the vanquished party, like
Caesar when he rallied his soldiers at Dyrrachium.
I leapt the hedge and took up a position com-
fortably under the shade of a nettle tree in such
a way as to be able to see both camps.
THE VENUS OF ILLE 257
Contrary to general expectation, M. Al-
phonse missed the first ball; true, it grazed the
ground, and bound with surprising force near
one of the players from Aragon, who seemed the
head of the Spaniards.
He was a man of about forty, strong, yet
spare in appearance; he stood six feet high, and
his olive skin was of almost as deep a tint as the
bronze of the Venus.
M. Alphonse threw his racquet on the ground
in a furious rage.
"It is this cursed ring!" he cried, "which
pressed into my finger and made me miss a sure
With some difficulty he took off his diamond
ring, and I went nearer to take it, but he fore-
stalled me, ran to the Venus, slipped the ring on
its fourth ringer, and retook his position at the
head of his townsmen.
He was pale, but cool and determined. From
that time he made no more fouls, and the Span-
iards were completely beaten. The enthusiasm
of the spectators was a fine sight: some uttered
shrieks of delight and threw their caps in the
air: others shook hands with him and called him
the pride of their countryside. If he had re-
pulsed an invasion, I doubt if he would have
received heartier or more sincere congratula-
258 THE VENUS OF ILLE
tions. The disappointment of the vanquished
added still more to the brilliance of his victory.
' We must have another match, my fine fel-
low," he said to the muleteer from Aragon in a
condescending tone; " but I must give you odds."
I would have preferred M. Alphonse to be
more modest, and I was almost sorry for his
The Spanish giant felt the insult keenly; I,
saw him go pale under his tanned skin. He
looked miserably at his racquet and ground his
teeth; then, in a choking voice he said: "Me lo
The voice of M. de Peyrehorade interrupted
his son's triumph; my host was extremely aston-
ished not to find him superintending the prepar-
ation of the new carriage, and was even more
surprised to see him with racquet in hand, flushed
from the game.
M. Alphonse ran to the house, bathed his face
and hands, put on his new coat again and his
patent-leather shoes, and five minutes after we
were in full trot on the road to Puygarrig. All
the tennis players of the town and a large crowd
of spectators followed us with shouts of joy.
The stout horses which drew us could hardly keep
ahead of these dauntless Catalanians.
* " But you will pay for it"
THE VENUS OF ILLE 259
We were at Puygarrig, and the procession
was forming into order to walk to the registry
when M. Alphonse suddenly put his hand up to
his head and whispered to me:
'What a blunder! I have forgotten the
ring ! It is on Venus's finger, devil take her ! Do
not tell my mother, whatever happens. Perhaps
she will not notice the omission."
" You could send some one for it," I said.
" No ! my servant has stayed behind at Ille.
I dare hardly trust these fellows here with twelve
hundred francs worth of diamonds. What a
temptation that will be to some one! Besides,
what would the people here think of my absent-
mindedness? They would make fun of me. They
would call me the husband of the statue. . . .
If only no one steals it! Fortunately, the idol
frightens the young rascals. They dare not go
within arm's length of her. Well, it doesn't mat-
ter, I have another ring."
The two ceremonies, civil and religious, were
accomplished with suitable state. Mademoiselle
de Puygarrig received the ring which had be-
longed to a Paris milliner, little thinking that
her fiance had sacrificed another's love-token to
her. Then we sat down and drank, ate and sang
for long enough. I was sorry the bride had to
bear the coarse jollity which went on all around
260 THE VENUS OF ILLE
her; however, she took it with a better face than
I should have thought possible, and her embar-
rassment was neither awkward nor affected.
Possibly courage springs up under occasions
that need it.
The banquet broke up Lord knows when
somewhere about four o'clock. The men went
for a walk in the park, which was a magnificent
one, or watched the peasants of Puygarrig
dance on the Castle lawn, decked in their gala
In this way we passed several hours. In the
meantime the women thronged round the bride,
who showed them her wedding presents. Then
she changed her toilette, and I noticed that she
covered up her beautiful hair with a cap and a
hat with feathers in it, for wives are most par-
ticular to don as quickly as possible those adorn-
ments which custom has forbidden them to wear
when they are still unmarried.
It was nearly eight o'clock when we were
ready to go back to Ille. But there was a
pathetic scene first between Mademoiselle de
Puygarrig and her aunt, who had been a mother
to her, and was of advanced age and very re-
ligious: she had not been able to go to the town
with us. At her departure she gave her niece a
touching sermon on her wifely duties, which re-
THE VENUS OF ILLE 261
suited in a flood of tears and endless embracings.
M. de Peyrehorade compared this parting to the
Rape of the Sabines. However, we got off at
last, and during the journey every one exerted
himself to cheer up the bride and make her laugh,
but in vain.
At Ille supper awaited us; and what a sup-
per! If the morning's coarse revel had shocked
me, I was still more disgusted by the quips and
jokes which circled round the bride and bride-
groom. The bridegroom, who had disappeared
for an instant before sitting down to supper, was
pale and as chilly as an iceberg. He drank the
old wine of Collioure constantly, which is almost
as strong as brandy. I was on one side of him,
and felt I must warn him:
" Do take care. They say this wine "
I don't know what silly thing I said to him
to show myself in harmony with the merry-
;< When they get up from the table I have
something to say to you," he whispered, pushing
His solemn tone surprised me. I looked at
him more attentively, and noticed a strange al-
teration in his features.
"Do you feel ill? "I asked.
262 THE VENUS OF ILLE
And he began to drink again.
In the meantime, in the midst of cries and
clapping hands, a child of eleven, who had
slipped under the table, showed to the company
a pretty white and rose-coloured ribbon which
she had just taken from the bride's ankle. They
called it her garter. It was soon cut into bits
and distributed among the young people, who
decorated their button-holes with it, according
to a very old custom which is still preserved in a
few patriarchal families. This made the bride
blush to the whites of her eyes. But her confusion
reached its height when M. de Peyrehorade, after
calling for silence, sang some Catalanian verses
to her, which he said were impromptus. I give
the sense so far as I understood it.
4 What is the matter with me, my friends?
Has the wine I have taken made me see double?
There are two Venuses here. . . ."
The bridegroom turned round suddenly and
looked scared, which set everybody laughing.
' Yes," continued M. de Peyrehorade, " there
are two Venuses under my roof. One I found in
the earth, like a truffle; the other came down to
us from the heavens to share her girdle with us."
He meant, of course, her garter.
" My son, choose between the Roman and
the Catalanian Venus which you prefer. The
THE VENUS OF ILLE 263
rascal took the Catalanian, the better part, for
the Roman is black and the Catalanian is white.
The Roman is cold, and the Catalanian sets on
fire all who come near her."
This conclusion excited such an uproar of
noisy applause and loud laughter that I thought
the roof would fall on our heads. There were
but three grave faces at the table those of the
wedded pair and mine. I had a splitting head-
ache; for besides, I know not why, a marriage
always makes me feel melancholy. This one
disgusted me rather, too.
The last couplets were sung by the deputy-
mayor, and, I may say, they were very broad;
then we went into the salon to witness the de-
parture of the bride, who would soon be con-
ducted to her chamber, as it was nearly midnight.
M. Alphonse drew me aside into the recess
of a window, and said, as he turned his eyes away;
from me :
' You will laugh at me . . . but I do
not know what is the matter with me. ... I
am bewitched, devil take it ! "
My first thought was that he fancied he was
threatened with some misfortune of the nature
of those referred to by Montaigne and Madame
de Sevigne : " The whole realm of love is filled
with tragic stories."
264 THE VENUS OF ILLE
I thought to myself that this kind of mishap
only happens to men of genius.
' You have drunk too much Collioure wine,
my dear M. Alphonse," I said. " I warned
' That may be. But this is something much
His voice was broken, and I thought he was
* You know my ring? " he continued, after a
" Yes. Has it been taken? "
" Therefore you have it? "
" No I I could not get it off the finger of
that devil of a Venus."
"Nonsense! you did not pull hard enough."
"Yes, I did. . . . But the Venus . . .,
has clenched her finger."
He looked at me fixedly with a haggard
expression, and leant against the framework to
keep himself from falling.
"What a ridiculous tale!" I said. "You
pushed the ring on too far. To-morrow you
must use pincers, only take care not to injure
" No, I tell you. The finger of Venus has
contracted and bent up ; she closed her hand, do
THE VENUS OF ILLE 265
you hear? . ! She is my wife apparently,
because I gave her my ring. . . . She will
not give it back.J
I shivered suddenly, and for a moment my
blood ran cold. Then the deep sigh he gave sent
a breath of wine into my face and all my emotion
" The wretched man is completely drunk,"
* You are an antiquarian, monsieur," the
bridegroom added in dismal tones; "you know
all about such statues. . . . There is perhaps
some spring, some devilish catch, I do not know
of. If you would go and see."
" Willingly," I said. " Come with me."
" No, I would rather you went by your-
So I left the salon.
The weather had changed during supper,
and rain began to fall heavily. I was going to
ask for an umbrella, when I stopped short and
reflected. " I should be a great fool," I said to
myself, "to go and verify the tale of a tipsy
man ! Perhaps, besides, he intended to play some
stupid joke on me to amuse the country people;
and at the least I should be wet through to the
skin and catch a bad cold."
I cast a glance on the dripping statue from
THE VEXUS OF ILLE
md ~;~~ -7 ~.r ~'.~ rxrr. '"
ttiniing to tfce salon. I went to bed. bat
was long in commg. All the scenes that Lad oc-
curred daring tfce day returned to my mind. I
thought of that beautiful, innocent young: gid
given op to a (imnkert bnnte. " \Vkit a detest-
able thing."* I sail to myself. ~ is a marriage of
convenience! A may-ir pots OQ
sa^h. xnd i p^riest a stole, nd bet'>M. tfc.e
of girLs may be dedScated t;> the
What can two beings wbo do mot t3^e each, ofthsr
say it seen a moment, a moment tfcat lovers
buy it the price :f life itself: CAQ a wire
love ma.n whi^m sfae has c3oce disc-T^eaned is
e-ziinded * First impreaaoans can never be
and I am certain M. Alplaoose de-
serves to be hated.""
Daring' my monalogae, whieh I abridg^r COD-
sderibly. I had heard mocfc e^mfng and g-:-zi^r
about the hocse, di^ors open an*l ihinrt. anxi cir-
riages go iw^y: then I thoosht I comLi hear the
L-^"i~ steps of several wjtzen nrpioo the stiircajC:
proceeifng to 1 the end of the passa^-r ^pp:ste
my room. It was probably the prjcessi'Oii lead-
ing the bride to bed. Thon they went
staiz^ i^r'jjzi. ami ^Iniame de Penrefoosnisie's
shut. ~ How unhappy and strangely fE at
that pi^r ^iri must feel! ' I sail to mvaelf.
THE VEXUS OF TT T F 2 '
turned over on my lied in a bod lempei. A
bachelor eats bat a poor figure at a house where
there is a wedding going on.
SOence had reigned for a long while, when it
was interrupted br heary steps fnmmg up the
stairs. The wooden stairs creaked loudly.
"What a dumsy loot!" I cried. "I bet he
wiQ f aH down-stairs."
Then all became quiet again. I took up a
book to change the euiimt of my thoughts. It
was a treatise on the Statistics of the Depart-
ment, embellished with a preface by M. de Peyre-
. ~:-. '.- . '--.- " Driiiiiil Mi-'-in-:":.? ::' -Ji-r
Arrondissement of Prades." I fefl into a doae
at the third page.
I slept badly and -w^ked several times. It
must have been fire in the morning, and I had
been awake more than Iweulv minutes when Ac
cock began to crow. Day had dawned. Tben I
distinctly heard the same heavy steps and the
same creaking of the stairs that I had heard
before I went to sleep. It struck me as Tery
strange. I tried nr"to my yawning to guess
why M. Alphonse should rise so early; I could
not think of any reason at all likely. I was
going to dose my eyes again wfeen my attention
was afresh excited by strange trampmgs. nukfe
soon intermmgkd with the ringing of beDs
268 THE VENUS OF ILLE
and the banging of doors, and then I could dis-
tinguish confused cries.
The drunken bridegroom must have set fire
to the house! And at this reflection I leapt out
I dressed rapidly and went into the corridor.
From the opposite end proceeded cries and wail-
ings, and one piercing cry sounded above all the
others " My son! my son!" Evidently some
accident had happened to M. Alphonse. I ran
to the bridal chamber ; it was full of people. The
first sight which met my eyes was the young man,
half-dressed, stretched across the bed, the wood
of which was broken. He was livid and mo-
tionless, and his mother wept and cried by his
side. M. de Peyrehorade was busy rubbing his
son's temples with eau de Cologne and holding
smelling salts under his nose. Alas! his son had
been dead a long time. Upon a couch at the
other end of the room was the bride in the grip
of terrible convulsions. She uttered inarticulate
cries, and two strapping servants had the great-
est difficulty in holding her down.
" My God ! " I exclaimed, " what has hap-
I went to the bedside and raised the body of
the unfortunate young man ; he was already cold
and stiff. His clenched teeth and black face de-
THE VENUS OF ILLE 269
noted tlie most frightful agony. It could be
easily seen that his death had been violent and his
agony terrible. There was, however, no trace of
blood on his clothes. I opened his shirt and
found a livid mark on his breast, which extended
down his sides and back. One would have
thought he had been strangled by a band of iron.
My foot stumbled on something hard which was
under the rug; I stooped and saw the diamond
I led M. de Peyrehorade and his wife away
into their room; then I had the bride carried
' You have a daughter left," I said to them;
" you must give all your care to her." I then left
them to themselves.
There seemed to me no doubt that M. Al-
phonse had been the victim of an assassination,
and the perpetrators must have found some
means to get into the bride's room during the
night. Those bruises, however, on the chest and
the circular direction of them puzzled me much,
for neither a stick nor a bar of iron could have
produced them. Suddenly I recollected to have
heard that in Valence the bravoes use long leather
bags full of fine sand to smother people whom
they want to kill. Soon, too, I remembered the
muleteer from Aragon and his threat, though I
270 THE VENUS OF ILLE
could hardly think that he would take such a ter-
rible vengeance on a light jest.
I went into the house and hunted all over for
any traces of their having broken into the house,
but I found none whatever. I went to the gar-
den to see if the assassins had got in from there,
but I could not find any sure indication. Last
night's rain had, moreover, so soaked the ground
that it would not have retained the clearest im-
print. But I noticed, notwithstanding, several
deep footmarks in the earth; they were in two
contrary directions, but in the same line, begin-
ning at the corner of the hedge next to the tennis
ground and ending at the front door to the house.
These might have been the footmarks made by
M. Alphonse when he went to look for his ring
on the statue's finger. On the other side the
hedge at that spot was not so thick, and it must
have been here that the murderers made their
escape. Passing and repassing in front of the
statue, I stopped short a second to look at it. I
confess that this time I could not look at its
expression of ironical wickedness without fear,
and my head was so full of the ghastly scenes
I had just witnessed that I seemed to be look-
ing at an infernal divinity which gloated over
the misfortunes that had fallen on the house.
I regained my room and remained there until
THE VENUS OF ILLE 271
noon. Then I went down and asked for news of
my host and hostess. They were a little calmer.
Mademoiselle de Puygarrig or rather the
widow of M. Alphonse had regained conscious-
ness; she had even spoken to the magistrate of
Perpignan, then on a tour of inspection in Ille,
and this magistrate had taken down her state-
ment. He asked me for mine. I told him what
I knew, and did not conceal my suspicions re-
garding the muleteer from Aragon. He gave
orders for his instant arrest.
" Have you learnt anything from Madame
Alphonse? " I asked the magistrate, when my
deposition had been taken down and signed.
" That unhappy young lady has gone mad,"
he said, with a sad smile; " mad, completely mad.
See what she told me:
" * She had been in bed/ she said, * for some
moments with the curtains drawn, when the bed-
room door opened and some one came in.' Now
Madame Alphonse lay on the side of the bed, with
her face turned to the wall. She did not stir,
supposing it to be her husband. In a second the
bed creaked as though it were burdened with an
enormous weight. She was terribly frightened,
but dared not turn round. Five minutes, or
perhaps ten she could not tell how long
passed. Then she made an involuntary move-
272 THE VENUS OF ILLE
ment, or else the other person who was in the bed
made one, and she felt the touch of something as
cold as ice these are her very words. She sat
up in the bed, trembling in every limb. Shortly
after the door opened again, and some one en-
tered, who said : ' Good-night, my little wife,'
and soon after the curtains were drawn. She
heard a stifled cry. The person who was in bed
by her side sat up, and seemed to stretch out its
arms in front. Then she turned her head round
. and saw, so she says, her husband on
his knees by the bed, with his head as high as the
pillow, in the arms of a green-looking giant who
was strangling him with all its might. She said
and she repeated it to me over and over twenty
times, poor lady! she said that she recognised
. can you guess? The bronze statue of
Venus belonging to M. de Peyrehorade. . . .
Since it came into the country everybody dreams
of it, but I will proceed with the story of the un-
happy mad girl. She lost consciousness at this
sight, and probably for some time her reason.
She can not in any way tell how long she re-
mained in a faint. When she came to she saw
the phantom again or the statue, as she persists
in calling it motionless, its legs and the lower
half of the body in the bed, the bust and arms
stretched out before it, and between its arms her
THE VENUS OF ILLE 273
lifeless husband. A cock crew, and then the
statue got out of the bed, dropped the dead body,
and went out. Madame Alphonse hung on to the
bell, and you know the rest."
They brought in the Spaniard; he was calm,
and defended himself with much coolness and
presence of mind. He did not attempt to deny
the remark I heard; he explained it by pretend-
ing that he meant nothing by it, but that on
the following day, when he was more rested, he
would have won a tennis match against his vic-
tor. I remember that he had added :
" A native of Aragon does not wait for his
revenge till to-morrow when he is insulted. Had
I thought M. Alphonse meant to insult me, I
should have immediately stabbed him with my
knife to the heart."
His shoes were compared with the footmarks
in the garden; but his shoes were much larger
than the marks.
Finally, the innkeeper with whom the man
had lodged averred that he had spent the whole
of that night in rubbing and doctoring one of his
Moreover, this man from Aragon was quite
noted and well known in the countryside, to
which he came annually to trade. He was there-
fore released with many apologies.
274 THE VENUS OF ILLE
I had forgotten the deposition of a servant
who had been the last to see M. Alphonse alive.
He saw him go up-stairs to his wife, and he had
called the man and asked him in an anxious man-
ner if he knew where I was. Then M. Alphonse
heaved a sigh, and stood for a moment in silence,
' Well, the devil must have carried him off
I asked this man if M. Alphonse had his dia-
mond ring on when he spoke to him. The ser-
vant hesitated before he replied ; then he said that
he thought not, that at all events it had not at-
tracted his attention. " If he had worn that
ring," he added, correcting himself, " I should
certainly have noticed it, because I believed that
he had given it to Madame Alphonse."
Whilst I interrogated this man I felt a lit-
tle of the superstitious horror that Madame Al-
phonse's deposition had spread throughout the
house. The magistrate looked at me and smiled,
and I refrained from pressing my questions any
A few hours after the funeral of M. Al-
phonse I prepared to leave Ille. M. de Peyre-
horade's carriage was to take me to Perpignan.
In spite of his state of feebleness the poor old
man would accompany me to the gate of his
THE VENUS OF ILLE 275
grounds. He walked to it in silence, hardly able
to drag himself along even with the help of my
arm. Just as we were parting I cast a last glance
at the Venus. I could see plainly that my host,
although he did not share the terrors and hatred
that his family felt for it, would like to get rid
of the object that would ever afterward remind
him of a frightful disaster. I resolved to try
and persuade him to put it in a museum. I
was hesitating to begin the subject when M. de
Peyrehorade mechanically turned his head in the
direction in which he saw me looking so atten-
tively. He saw the statue, and immediately burst
into tears. I embraced him, and, without ventur-
ing to say a single word, I stepped into the
Since my departure I have never learnt that
anything was discovered to throw light on this
M. de Peyrehorade died some months after
his son. He bequeathed me his manuscripts in
his will, which some day I may publish. But I
have not been able to find the treatise relating to
the inscriptions on the Venus.
P. S. My friend M. de P. has just written
to me from Perpignan to tell me that the statue
no longer exists. After her husband's death, the
276 THE VENUS OF ILLE
first thing Madame de Peyrehorade did was to
have it melted down and made into a bell, and
in this fresh form it is used in the church at Ille.
But, adds M. de P., it would seem that an evil
fate pursues those who possess that piece of
bronze. Since that bell began to ring in Ille the
vines have twice been frost-bitten.