תמונות בעמוד

also been remarked that when the crew of the dame Corneuil reigned, while really it was Maship which annually brings the necessary provi- dame Véretz who governed, and it must be said sions for their subsistence to the poor inhabitants she never had any other end in view but the of the Shetland Isles land on their shores, they good fortune of her dear idol. We all have conare seized with a spasmodic cough, and do not fused ideas of our own which we can hardly uncease coughing until the ship has again set sail. ravel, and hidden desires which we dare not conIt is also said that at the approach of a strange fess to ourselves. Madame Véretz had the gift vessel the natives of the Faroe Isles are attacked of comprehending her daughter, and reading the by a catarrhal fever, which it is very difficult to inmost recesses of her heart. She undertook to get rid of. Finally, it is stated that sometimes unravel her confused ideas, and to reveal to her the arrival of a single missionary at one of the her unacknowledged wishes, and took charge of South-Sea islands is enough to bring on a dan- them. That was the secret of her influence, which gerous epidemic, to decimate the wretched sav- was considerable. When Madame Corneuil's ages.

imagination wandered, her incomparable mother This may perhaps explain why, during the started out as her courier. On reaching the stanight of August 13, 1878, the beautiful Madame tion, the fair traveler found her relays of horses all Corneuil was greatly disturbed in her sleep, and ready, and she was under great obligations to why on waking the next morning she felt as if her mother for arranging many an agreeable surher whole body had been bruised. It was not prise for her. She would have taken great care the plague, it was no cholera, no catarrhal fever, not to embark in any scheme without her courier, no spasmodic cough, but she felt a certain tight- to whom she was obliged for never allowing her ness about the head, a disturbance, and a very to rest by the way. peculiar nervous irritation; and she had a pre- After having sent off her mother, and spent sentiment that there was danger near, or that an half an hour with her maid, Madame Corneuil enemy had just landed. Yet she did not know took a cup of tea, then seated herself at her secabout the Marquis de Miraval, had never even retary. She spent her mornings in writing a heard of him; she little knew that he was more book, which was to form a sequel to her treatise dangerous than any missionary who ever landed upon the “ Apostleship," to be called “The Poon the islands of the Pacific.

sition of Woman in Modern Society.” To speak As her mother, who was always the first to plainly, she was merely making the same ideas enter her chamber to lavish upon her those at- serve her a second time. Her aim was to show tentions which she alone knew how to make that in democratic society, committed to the woragreeable, drew near the bed on tiptoe and ship of the greatest number, the only corrective wished her good morning, Madame Corneuil, to coarseness of manners, thought, and interest, out of humor, gave her a rather cool greeting would be the sovereignty of woman. “Kings Madame Véretz readily perceived that her adored are dying out,” she wrote the night before, in a angel was out of sorts. This indulgent mother moment of inspiration—"let them go; but we was somewhat accustomed to her whim. She must not let them bear away with them that was made for it, and did not mind. Her daugh- true kingliness whose benefits are necessary ter was her queen, her divinity, her all; she de- even to republics. Let women sit on the thrones voted herself entirely to her happiness and her which they leave empty. With them will reign glory; she actually worshiped her with real ado- virtue, genius, sublime aspirations, delicacy of ration. She belonged to that race of mothers heart, disinterested sentiments, noble devotion, who are servants and martyrs; but her servitude and noble scorn." I may have spoiled her pleased her, her martyrdom was sweet to her, phrases, but I think I have given the gist of them and the thin little woman, with her quick eye, her all. I think, also, that in the portrait she drew, serpentine gait, who, like Cato the Censor, whom the superior woman whom she proposed for the she resembled in nothing else, had greenish eyes worship of human kind resembled astonishingly and red hair, always looked pleasantly upon the Madame Corneuil, and she could not think of hardships she had to bear.

herself without her splendid hair of golden blonde She had her own consolations. She might be twisted around her brow like a diadem. snubbed, scolded, and sent off, but it always end. After a bad night one does not feel like writed by her being listened to, especially if it was ing. That day Madame Corneuil was not in to be of any benefit. It was at her advice that the mood. The pen felt heavy to the pretty at the propitious moment they quarreled with hand, with its polished nails; both ideas and exMonsieur Corneuil, and afterward were recon- pression failed her. In vain she twisted a loose ciled to him. Thanks to her valuable sugges- curl over her forefinger, in vain did she look at tions, they had been able to hold a salon in Paris, her rosy finger-tips-nothing came of it; she and to become of some importance there. Ma- began to fancy that a shadow of coming misfortune fell between her and the paper. Heaven S he did not add that she liked to go to mar. knows that in like cases every pains was taken to ket, which was the truth. Among people who save her nerves, to cause her no interruption, rise from small beginnings, some resent their past, such were the orders. During those hours when and strive to forget it, while it pleases others to she was known to be within her sanctum, the recall it. most profound silence reigned everywhere. Ma- "What have you there?" exclaimed Madame dame Véretz saw to that. Every one spoke in a Corneuil, seeing just then that her mother held whisper and stepped softly; and when Jacquot, a bit of writing in her hand. who did the errands, crossed the paved courtyard, “This, my dear, is a note in which Monsieur he took great care to take off his sabots, lest he de Penneville begs me to inform you that his might be heard. This precaution on his , part great-uncle, the Marquis de Miraval, arrived yeswas the result of sad experience. Jacquot played terday from Paris, and has expressed a desire to the horn in his leisure moments. One morning be introduced, and that he will bring him here when he took the liberty of playing, Madame at two o'clock exactly. You know he is a vicVéretz, coming upon him unawares, gave him a tim to the stroke of the clock.” vigorous box on the ear, saying to him: “Keep “What prevented him from coming to tell us still, you little idiot! don't you know that she himself ? " is meditating?" Jacquot rubbed his cheek, and “Apparently he feared disturbing you, and took it as it was said. Everybody did the same. perhaps he did not care to disarrange his own So from eight till noon Jacquot whispered to the plans. In all well-ordered lives the first rule is cook, and the cook told the coachman, and the to work until noon." coachman told the hens in the yard, who repeated Madame Corneuil grew impatient. it to the sparrows, who repeated it to the swal- “Who may this great-uncle be ? Horace lows, and to all the winds of heaven, “ Brothers, never told me about him." let us keep silence—she is meditating !”

“I can easily believe that. He never speaks When it struck noon, the door of the holy of anything but you-or himself-or Egypt." place opened softly, and, as before, Madame “But if I choose that he should talk to me Véretz advanced on the tips of her toes, ask about him!” answered Madame Corneuil haughing, “ My dear beauty, may I be allowed to en- tily. “Is that another epigram?" ter?"

“Do you think I could make epigrams against Madame Corneuil scowled with her beautiful that dear, handsome fellow ?” hastily answered eyebrows, and poutingly placed her papers in the Madame Véretz. “I already love him like a most elegant portfolio, and her portfolio in the son." depths of her rose-wood secretary, taking care Madame Corneuil seemed to have grown to take out the key, for fear of robbers.

thoughtful. “ Orders must have been given," said she, “I had bad dreams last night,” said she. “not to leave me a moment in peace."

“You laugh at my dreams, because you like to “I was obliged to go out this morning," an- laugh at my expense. Now see: In coming from swered Madame Véretz; “ did Jacquot happen Paris, Monsieur de Miraval must have passed to take advantage of my absence ?"

through Vichy. This Marquis is dangerous." “ Jacquot, or some one else, I do not know “Dangerous !” exclaimed Madame Véretz; whom; but they made a great deal of noise, and “what danger have you to fear?" moved about the furniture. Was it absolutely “You see Madame de Penneville has sent necessary for you to go out ?"

him here.” "Absolutely. You complained yesterday that “Can you believe that Horace-ah! my poor the fish was not fresh, and that Julia did not un- goose, are you not sure of his heart?” derstand buying; so henceforth I shall do my “Is any one ever sure of a man's heart?" own marketing.”

answered she, feigning an anxiety which she was And during that time, then, there must be a far from feeling. fearful racket.”

“Perhaps not of any man's,” said Madame “What can you do? Between two evils—" Véretz, smiling ; " but the heart of an Egyptolo

"No," interrupted Madame Corneuil, “I do gist is quite another thing, and never changes. not wish you to go yourself and bargain for fish; As far as sentiment goes, Egyptology is the one why do you not teach Julia how to select it? unchangeable thing." You do not know how to order others, and so it “I told you I had bad dreams, and that the ends in your doing everything yourself.” Marquis is dangerous to us."

“I will learn, I will try to improve, my dar- “Here is my reply," was her mother's anling," answered Madame Véretz, kissing her fore- swer, as she passed her a mirror in such a way head tenderly.

as to oblige her to see herself in it.


" It seems to me as if I looked like a fright this theology of Egypt not to know that in the humorning," said Madame Corneuil, who thought man world, as in the divine, the struggle between nothing of the sort.

the two principles ends generally in the triumph “You are beautiful as the day, my dear of the good, that Typhon finally submits to be countess, and I defy all the marquises in the disarmed, and Horus, the beneficent deity, takes

in hand the government of the universe. The “No, I will not receive this great-uncle," be- Count de Penneville's face expressed profound gan Hortense again, as she pushed aside the faith in the final triumph of Horus, the benefimirror; "you may receive him in my place. Do cent deity. you think I am obliged to endure impertinences ?” The ice was entirely broken when Madame

“There you are !you are putting things at Corneuil made her appearance. We may easily their worst; you are getting excited, forgetting believe that she had taken great pains for this yourself, and rushing at conclusions.”

occasion with her toilet and the arrangement of “I tell you once more, I am ill."

her hair ; her half-mourning was most charming. “My dear idol, one must never be ill except It must be granted that there are queens who at the suitable moment; and in this case take strongly resemble ordinary people, so there are care, or he will fancy you are afraid of him." ordinary people who resem

ordinary people who resemble queens, barring Madame Corneuil, on reflection, evidently was the crown and the king. That day Madame convinced that her mother was right, for she Corneuil was not merely a queen, she was a godsaid to her:

dess from head to foot. She might have been “Since you wish me to submit to be so bored, described as Juno appearing from a cloud. Neiso be it! Order my breakfast to be brought up, ther did she fail in her manner of entrance. On and send my maid to me."

seeing her approach, the Marquis could not re“Nothing could be better," answered Ma- press a thrill of emotion, and when he drew neardame Véretz. “Ah, my dear! I am not inflict- er to her to greet her with bowed head, he lost ing a bore upon you—it is a victory which I am his self-command, which seldom happened to preparing for you."

him, he stood confused, began several sentences At these words she withdrew, not without without being able to finish them : it is said that kissing her for the second time.

it was the first time in his life that such a mishap At two o'clock precisely, Madame Véretz, had happened to him. His disturbance was so seated in an ajoupa opposite the veranda of great that Horace, who usually never noticed anythe chalet, awaits the Count de Penneville and thing, could not help remarking it. Monsieur de Miraval ; at two o'clock precisely Monsieur de Miraval made a great effort, and the Marquis and the Count appeared on the hori- was not long in recovering his confidence and all zon. The presentation was made with proper his ease of manner. After a few trifling remarks, formality, and soon conversation began. Ma- he began to relate pleasantly several anecdotes dame Véretz was a woman of great tact in all of his diplomatic career, which he seasoned with difficult circumstances ; the unexpected never graceful wit and a grain of salt. disconcerted her; she knew how to receive an As he told his little stories, he went on talking uncomfortable visitor as well as a disagreeable with himself. “There is no denying it, she is event. Monsieur de Miraval, however, gave her very beautiful; she is a superior woman, fit for a no occasion to practice that virtue. He was king. What eyes ! what hair! what shoulders ! thoroughly courteous and gracious; he brought Can she be the daughter of such a mother, and all the amiability and brilliancy of his past gran- that from that red hair comes all those beautiful, deur to bear on this occasion; he took as much fair locks? There is no denying, her beauty irripains as he formerly did for the sovereigns of the tates and exasperates me. If I were forty years world who gave him audience. Where was the younger, I would be one of her suitors. Really, use of having been a diplomate if not to possess she is superb. Can I find any fault with her ? the art of talking a great deal without saying Yes, there is a restlessness in her eyes which I anything? He had words at his command, and, do not like. Her lips are rather thin-bah! that when it was necessary, a fluent eloquence, the is only a foible. Heaven be thanked ! there is no art of “pouring honey over oil," as the Russian ink-spot on her finger-ends, but they are too taproverb has it. Everything went on well. Horace, pering, too nervous, and look like hands ready to who had greatly dreaded the interview, and who clutch. Her eyelids are too long—they can conat first appeared constrained and disturbed, was ceal a great deal. Her voice is well modulated, soon over his anxiety, and felt his embarrassment but metallic ; still, if I were forty years younger" at an end. It was part of his character to be The Marquis went on telling stories. Maquickly reassured. He was not only a born dame Véretz was all ears, and smiled in the best optimist, but he had gone too deeply into the possible grace. As for Madame Corneuil, she did not desist from a somewhat disdainful gravity neuil. “I have quite overawed him; I have made of bearing. She had come upon the scene with him afraid of me." a certain part to play; she had got it into her And so, applauding herself for having silenced head that she was to appear before an ill-disposed the batteries of the besieger and put out his fires, judge, who had come expressly to take her mea- a smile of satisfied pride hovered around her lips. sure and to weigh her in the balance. So she A moment after she rose to walk around the gararmed herself with Olympian majesty and that den, and Horace hastened to follow her. insolence of beauty which tramples impertinence The Marquis remained alone with Madame under foot, crushes the haughty, and transforms Véretz. He followed the pair of lovers with his Actæons into deer. Although the Marquis's eyes for a little while, as they slowly withdrew politeness was faultless and emphatic, and al- and finally disappeared behind the shrubbery. though he besought her to look favorably upon The spell seemed then to be unloosed. Monsieur him, she remained firm and would not be dis- de Miraval regained his voice, and, turning toarmed. Horace listened to all with great satis- ward Madame Véretz, he exclaimed dramaticalfaction ; he thought his uncle charming, and ly: “ No, nothing has ever been created yet more could hardly keep from embracing him. He also beautiful than youth, more divine than love. My thought that Madame Corneuil never had been nephew is a fortunate fellow. I congratulate more beautiful, that the sunlight was brighter him aloud, but I keep my envy to myself." than ever, that it streamed down upon his happi- Madame Véretz rewarded this ejaculation ness, that the air was full of perfume, and that with a gracious smile which signified : “Good old everything in the world went on wonderfully. fellow! we judged you wrongly. How can you Now and then a slight shadow fell like a cloud serve us best?" before his eyes. In reading over that morning “The more I see them together, Monsieur le the fragments of Manetho, he stumbled upon Marquis,” said she, “ the more I am convinced a passage which seemed contradictory to his that they were made for one another. Never favorite argument, which was dear to him as life were two characters better matched : they have itself. At intervals he began to doubt whether the same likes and the same dislikes, the same it really was during the reign of Apepi that Jo- elevated tone of mind, the same scorn of mediocre seph, son of Jacob, came into Egypt; then he ideas and petty calculation, the same disregard reproached himself for his doubt, which came of vulgar interests. They both live in paradise. back to him the next moment. This contradic- Ah! Monsieur le Marquis, only a providential distion grieved him greatly, for he had a great pensation could have brought them together." regard for Manetho. But when he looked at “Very providential," said the Marquis, but he Madame Corneuil his soul was at rest again, added, in petto, A manoeuvring mother is the and he fancied he could read in her beautiful surest of all providences.” Then he resumed eyes a proof that the Pharaoh who knew not Jo- aloud : “ After all, what is the aim of it? Hapseph must have been Sethos I., in which case piness. My nephew is right to consider his affecthe Pharaoh who did know him must have been tion only. He can have his paradise, as you call the King Apepi. To be tenderly loved by a it, madame, and all the rest into the bargain; for beautiful woman makes it easy to believe any- Madame Corneuil-We will not speak of her thing, and all things become possible — Mane- beauty, which is incomparable, but it is impossible tho, Joseph, the King Apepi, and all the rest to see her or to hear her speak without recogniz

What was passing in the heart of the Mar- ing her to be a most superior woman, the most quis ? To what conquering charm was he the suitable in the world to give a man good counsel, prey? The fact was, he no longer resembled and to lead him onward, to push him forhimself. He had made an excellent beginning, ward." and Madame Véretz was delighted with his tales. “You certainly judge her correctly," answered Little by little his animation grew languid. This Madame Véretz. “My daughter is a strange man, who was so great a master over his own being; she is full of noble enthusiasm which she thoughts, could no longer control them ; this carries at times to exaltation, and yet she is thorman, so great a master in conversation, really oughly reasonable, very intelligent as regards the was seeking in vain for the proper words. He things of this world, and, at the same time, ice struggled for some time against this strange fas- to her own interests and on fire for, others.” cination which deprived him of his faculties, but “Only one thing distresses me,” said the it was all in vain. He no longer took part in Marquis to her. “The story-teller advises all the conversation, except in a few loose phrases, happy lovers to roam only to neighboring shores, which were absolutely irrelevant, and soon fell and ours are going to bury their happiness in into a deep reverie and the dullest silence. Memphis or in Thebes. It would be a crime to

“My mother was right," said Madame Cor- take Madame Corneuil away from Paris."

“Reassure yourself,” said she; “ Paris will itive woman a full description of his château, have them back again.”

which was doubtless well worth the trouble, only “ You do not know my nephew: he has a he seldom visited it. The minute information horror of that perverse and frivolous city. He which he gave respecting his estates and their confided to me yesterday that he means to end revenues was not of such a nature as to chill the his days in Egypt, and assured me that Madame interest which she was beginning to take in him. Corneuil was as much in love as he was with the During all this time, Madame Corneuil strolled solitude and silence of the region of Thebaid. He through a path in the garden with Horace, who appears very gentle, but there never was a per- did not notice that her nerves were greatly exson of more determined will."

cited and that she was somewhat ruffled. There “Heaven help him!” said Madame Véretz, were a great many things which the Count de looking at the Marquis as if she would say, “ My Penneville never noticed. fine friend, there is no will which can hold against “Heavens ! what beautiful weather," said he ours, and Paris can no more do without us than to her; “what a beautiful sky, what a beautiful we without Paris."

sun! Still it is not the sun of Egypt! when shall “They have chosen the good part," continued we see it again? Oh, thither, thither, let us go,' Monsieur de Miraval with a deep sigh. “I have as says the song of Mignon. You must sing that often laughed at my nephew, blaming him because song to me to-night ; no one sings it like you. he did not know how to enjoy life; now it is his This park never seemed so green to me as now. turn to laugh at me, for I am reduced to envying There is no denying the beauty of green grass, his happiness. There comes an age when one although I can get along wonderfully well withregrets bitterly not having been able to make out it. I once knew a traveler who thought a home for one's self. But you must be aston- Greece horrible because there were so few trees. ished, madame, at my confidences."

There are people who are wild on the subject of “I am rather flattered by them, than aston- trees. Do you remember our first excursion to ished," answered she.

Gizeh-the vast bare plain, the wavy hills, the "I am devoured by ennui, I must acknowl- ochre-colored sand? You said, 'I could eat edge. I had determined to pass the remainder it!' of my days in retirement and in quiet, but ennui “We met a long line of camels ; I'can see will yet force me out of my den. I shall plunge them now. The pyramids pierced the horizon, and into active political life again. I have been urged they seemed white and sparkling. How they to stand for the arrondissement where my châ- stood out against the sky! They seemed quivteau is situated, and have also been proposed for ering. The air here never quivers. What a the senate. I might go still higher if I were good breakfast we had in that chapel! You married to a woman of sense, intelligent in the wore a tarbouch on your head, and it became things of this world, in spite of her enthusiasms. you like a charm. When shall I see you in a Women are a great means of success in politics. tarbouch again? The turkey was somewhat Would that I had a wife! as the poet says: ‘Have lean, I remember, and I made a great blunder I passed the season of love? Ah! if my heart,' -I let fall the jar which held our Nile-water. etc., etc. I can not remember the rest of it, We laughed at it well, and had to drink our but never mind. Lucky Horace! thrice happy! wine unmixed. After which we descended into What a vast difference there is between living in the grotto, and I interpreted hieroglyphics to you Egypt with the beloved, and bustling about Paris for the first time. I shall never forget your dein the whirl of politics without the beloved !" light at my telling you that a lute meant hap

Madame Véretz in truth thought the differ- piness, because the sign of happiness was the ence vast, but greatly to the advantage of the harmony of the soul. In the Chinese writings, bustle and the whirl. She could not help think- happiness is represented by a handful of rice. ing, “ It would be perfect if my future son-in-law After that, who could contest the immense supeonly had the tastes and inclinations of his uncle; riority of soul in the genius of the Egyptians there would be nothing more to wish for." over the inhabitants of the Celestial Empire?”.

From that moment, the Marquis de Miraval At last he discovered that Madame Corneuil became a most interesting being to her. She tried made no reply to him; he sought for an explanato reconcile him to his fate, and, as she had a tion, and soon found it. genius for detail and for business, she asked him “How did the Marquis de Miraval impress a great many questions about his electoral arron- you ?" asked he of her with an anxious voice. dissement and his chances of election. The Mar- This time she answered. quis, somewhat embarrassed, replied as best he “He is very distingué. He begins stories could. He could not get out of it except by remarkably well, but finishes them poorly. Must changing the subject, and so he gave the inquis- I be sincere ?”


« הקודםהמשך »