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Title: The weight of the name

Author: Paul Bourget

Translator: George Burnham Ives

Release date: August 29, 2022 [eBook #68859]

Language: English

Original publication: United Kingdom: Little, Brown, and Company, 1908

Credits: Dagny and Laura Natal Rodrigues (Images generously made available by Hathi Trust Digital Library.)





Author of "A Divorce," "Pastels of Men," etc.

Translated from the French by



Little, Brown, and Company




I. Landri
II. A Grand Seigneur
III. The Tragic Underside of a Grand

IV. The Tragic Underside of a Grand
Existence (Concluded)

V. In Uniform
VI. The Will
VII. All Save Honor
VIII. On a Scent
IX. Separation
X. Epilogue




The automobile turned sharply about the chevet of Saint-François-Xavier. With an instinctive movement, Landri de Claviers-Grandchamp seized the megaphone. He called to the chauffeur to stop before one of the side entrances. The powerful limousin was still in motion when he jumped out upon the sidewalk and disappeared within the church, to reappear a few seconds later, by way of the main portal, on Boulevard des Invalides. With the elegant and self-assured bearing characteristic of Landri, with his charming face, at once soldierly and thoughtful, which a proud, almost haughty mouth, beneath the slightly tawny veil of the mustache, would have made too stern had not the eyes, of a caressing brown, softened its expression, that childlike stratagem could mean, but one thing,—the desire, to guard from curiosity and comments a clandestine rendezvous.

It was true, but—a circumstance which would have made the officers of the dragoon regiment in which the young count was serving as a lieutenant burst with laughter—he had this rendezvous with a woman with whom he was madly in love without having ever obtained anything from her. What do I say? He had not even ventured, except on one occasion, to speak to her of his sentiments.

How many elements in his life had conspired to make him a fop and blasé: that face and that profession, his fortune and his name—one of the best in France, which had lacked nothing but the éclat of great offices at court! But Landri was born romantic. He was still romantic at twenty-nine. In him, as in the hearts of all genuinely tender-hearted men, emotion neutralized vanity.

He had met Madame Olier in 1903. That was the name of the woman in question, a widow to-day, then the wife of one of his comrades. It was now 1906, so that he had loved her for three years. It had never entered his head that such perseverance in a dumb and unselfish devotion was a delusion. He thought so less than ever on this warm and, so to speak, languid morning of late November, as he went his way, drawn on, uplifted by a proximate hope.

Although he had reasons for very serious reflection, the air seemed light to him, his step was buoyant on the sidewalks of that ancient quarter, of which he recognized the most trivial features. Behind him the dome of the Invalides stamped the gold of its cupola on a pallid, pearl-gray mist. At his right the slender towers of Saint-François soared aloft in a transparent vapor. At his left the trees of a large private garden waved their almost leafless branches over the enclosing wall, and, as far as one could see, the populous Boulevard de Montparnasse stretched away, swarming with tramways and omnibuses, with cabs and drays.

In due time the young man turned into Rue Oudinot, then into Rue Monsieur. There he paused before a porte-cochère, the door of which, although it was ajar, he hesitated for some seconds to open. This door gave access to a courtyard, at whose farther end was hidden one of those dainty, oldish hôtels, pleasing to the eye, albeit out of style, of which that street with its ancien-régime name contained some half-score or more a quarter of a century since. Alas! they are vanishing one by one. As soon as the owner of one of them dies, the crowbars of the demolishers set to work. An aristocratic plaything of stone is razed to the ground. In its place rises one of those vulgar income-producing houses, on whose threshold one finds it difficult to imagine the lingering of such a lover as this. To be sure, it is simply prejudice. In the eyes of a man in love, the profile of his mistress, espied in the cage of an elevator, would bedeck with poesy and fascination the staircase of one of those monstrosities in brick and steel which the Americans brutally call "sky-scrapers." All the same, there is a more intimate, a more penetrating sweetness in a perfect accord between the setting in which a woman lives and the passion that she inspires. This sweetness Landri de Claviers had ecstatically intoxicated himself with in all his visits to that hermitage on Rue Monsieur. Never had he savored it more deeply than at this moment, when he was about to risk a step most important for the future of his love.

He had come to Valentine Olier's house with the firm determination to bring about a decisive interview between them, and to ask her for her hand. If he had insisted that she should receive him at a most unseasonable hour, he had had for that insistence imperative reasons which excused him beforehand for his indiscretion. His timidity before that day, and the rapid throbbing of his pulse as he finally crossed the courtyard, did not come from an embarrassment of the sort that can be explained. It was the sinking of the heart from excess of emotion, which accompanies over-powerful desire in untried sensibilities. Naturally refined, Landri had not aged himself prematurely by the abuse of precocious experiments. To this young man, who was really entitled to be so called, what awaited him behind the curtains of that ground floor was the happiness or the misery of his whole life. But, we repeat, he hoped.

His eyes feasted themselves, as their custom was, on the lines of that façade, so closely associated with the image of his Valentine. Ah! would she ever be his? A reflection of her person illuminated in his eyes that two-story building, charming in very truth, whose light pilasters, modest decorations, pediment with balustrades, and niches adorned with classic busts, presented a perfect specimen of the architecture of the time of Louis XVI,—a composite style, antique and pastoral, like that extraordinary epoch itself, in which a moribund society played at idyls—awaiting the tragedy—amid Pompeian architecture.

This hôtel had been the "folly" of one of the luxurious farmers-general of that day. To-day the petite maison, divided bourgeois-fashion into small apartments, numbered among its tenants, besides the officer's widow, a retired magistrate on the first floor, and on the second the head of a department in the ministry. Thus an elegant caprice, originally designed for the suppers of a rival of Grimod de la Reynière, found itself giving shelter to existences of quasi-cloistral regularity. How gratifying to Landri was Madame Olier's choice of a habitation so retired!

Left free and alone, at twenty-seven years, with an infant son, with no near relatives, having few kindred in the world and a modest fortune, Valentine had valued in that apartment the very thing that would have disgusted so many women,—the charm of oblivion, of silence and of meditation. On the other side the ground floor looked upon a very small garden, adjoining others much larger; and as the dividing wall was concealed beneath a cloak of ivy, that enclosure of a few square yards seemed like the corner of a park.

As he pressed the electric bell, Landri was sure that the only servant, answering the ring, would conduct him through the narrow reception-room and the salon with its covered furniture, to a tiny room, looking on the garden at the rear, which Madame Olier used as a second salon. She would be there, writing, at the little movable table which she placed by the fire or by the door-window according to the season. Or else she would be reading, seated on the bergère covered with an old striped stuff, dead pink and faded green, always the same. Or else her slender fingers would be busy with her embroidery needle. Correspondence, reading, work or music,—a piano which she rarely opened except when alone, told of that taste of hers,—her occupation would be constantly interrupted by a glance at the path in the garden, where her son Ludovic was playing. Landri found therein an image of what the whole life of that widow and mother had been during the year since she had lost her husband! Great God! how dearly he loved the young woman for having thus proved to him how justly he had placed her so far apart from all other women from the moment of their first meeting!

Valentine was there, in fact, in the small salon softly lighted by the morning sun which was just making its way through a last film of mist. She was apparently engrossed by an endless piece of embroidery. But the music portfolio, still open on the piano, and the stool pushed back a little way, might have betrayed to the young man how she had passed the time while awaiting his coming. Still another sign betokened her agitation. She had not her child with her. Contrary to her custom she had sent him out to walk at ten o'clock. Why, if not that she might be alone with her thoughts? Her self-control, however, enabled her to welcome her visitor with the same inclination of the head as usual, friendly yet reserved, the same smile of distant affability. At most the quivering of the eyelids betrayed a nervousness which was contradicted by the even tones of her voice and by the impenetrable glance of her limpid blue eyes.

Such women as she, with hair of a pale gold, almost wavy, with slender hands and feet, with a tapering figure, and dainty gestures, seem destined to allow their faintest impressions to appear on the surface, one judges them to be so vibrant and quivering. On the contrary, it is generally the case that no one can be more secretive than such creatures, all delicacy and all emotion as they are. Their very excess of nervousness becomes in them a source of strength. From their first experience of the world they comprehend to what degree the acuteness of their sensations renders them exceptional, solitary beings. By one of those instincts of self-defence which the moral nature possesses no less than the physical nature, they manœuvre so as to conceal their hearts, in order that life may not brutalize them. They become, as it were, ashamed of their emotions. They hold their peace, at first concerning the most profound of them, then concerning the most superficial. And thus they end by developing a power of external impassiveness which adds to their charm the attractive force of an enigma, especially as this intentional dualism, this constant watch upon themselves, this prolonged contrast between what they show and what they feel, between their real personality and avowed personality, does not fail to exert some influence even on their manner of feeling and thinking. They are capable of the nicest shades of discrimination, even to subtlety, when they are pure; and, if they are not pure, even to stratagem, for the fascination or the despair of the man who falls in love with them, according as he, in his turn, is very complex or very simple.

Landri de Claviers-Grandchamp was both, for reasons which were connected with the peculiar features of his destiny. Thus he had already suffered much through that woman, and still had owed to her the most delicious hours that his youth, darkened by an inborn and acquired melancholy, had ever known. The first words exchanged between him and Madame Olier will enable us to understand why, and at the same time what dangerous, almost unhuman, chimeras can suggest themselves to a scrupulous sentimental woman like Valentine, who loves love and fears it, who cannot determine either to deprive herself of an affection that is dear to her, or to sacrifice her self-esteem by abandoning herself to it, who becomes agitated without losing her head, and whose pulses throb without causing her to abdicate her reason.

But the hour had come to have done with all equivocation. The young man's mind was made up. The young woman had read it between the enigmatical lines of his letter. She read it in those eyes, whose glances she had so often dominated in the past three years, simply by her attitude. No earthly power would prevent Landri from speaking to-day. She knew it. She knew what words he would utter, and she was preparing to listen to them, and then to reply, perturbed to the inmost depths of her being, and outwardly so calm in her mourning garb. She was dressed as if to go out, in order to have a pretext for breaking off the visit at her pleasure. The black cloth and crêpe gave to her delicately hollowed cheeks an ivory-like pallor which made her even lovelier.

After the first words of commonplace courtesy, amid which she found a way to slip in an allusion to an errand to be done before luncheon, there ensued one of those intervals of dumbness that occur between two persons at the moment of uttering words which cannot be retracted, and which they crave and fear in equal measure. The crackling of the fire on the hearth, and the ticking of the clock, suddenly made themselves heard in that silence, which the officer broke at last, in a tone in which his emotion betrayed itself.

"Doubtless you understood, madame," he began, "that it was a very serious matter which made me presume to ask you to receive me at this hour. I had no other at my disposal. I must start for Saint-Mihiel to-morrow evening. I was able to obtain only a very short leave of absence. My father awaits me at Grandchamp, where he is hunting to-day, and you know how much importance he attaches to his hunt. I must be there before the end, or run the risk of disappointing him. I succeeded in catching the train at Commercy last night. I was at the Gare de l'Est at nine o'clock. In an hour and a half by automobile I shall be at Grandchamp. I tell you all this because—"

"Because you do not think me your friend," she interrupted, shaking her head. "But I am, and most cordially. You have nothing to apologize for. You have accustomed me to a too loyal devotion, which I know to be too loyal," she repeated, "for me not to divine that a very important motive dictated your letter. Tell me what it is very simply, as a friend, I say again, a true friend, who will answer in the same way."

She had assumed, as she said these few words, a very gentle but very firm expression. Her voice had dwelt with especial force on the word "friend," which she repeated thrice. It was a reminder of a very hazardous and very fragile engagement. Thousands of such engagements have been entered into, since passionate men, like Landri, are able to respect those whom they love, and since women secretly enamored, like Valentine, dream of reconciling the emotions of a forbidden affection with the strict requirements of virtue. The rare thing is not that one suggests and the other accepts the romantic compact of friendship without other development, but that the compact is adhered to. Absolute, almost naïve sincerity on the part of both contracting parties is essential, a sincerity which excludes all trickery on his part, all coquetry on hers. There must also be a voluntary separation of their lives, which does not permit too frequent meetings. He who says sincerity does not always say truth. One may maintain sincerely a radically false situation, may obstinately abide by it through mute rebellions, through secret and long-protracted suffering, through hidden anguish, like that the memory of which quivered in the young man's reply:—

"A friend!" What bitterness those soft syllables assumed in passing through those suddenly contracted lips! "I knew that, at the outset of our conversation, you would shelter yourself behind my promise. I knew that you would anticipate the sentences that I wish to say to you, and that you would not allow me to say them. God is my witness, and you, too, madame, are my witness, that I have done everything to maintain the absolute reserve which you imposed as a condition upon the relations between us.—Let me speak, I deserve that you should let me speak!" he implored, at a gesture from Valentine, who had half risen. He put such mournful ardor into that entreaty, that she resumed her seat, without further attempt to arrest an avowal which her woman's tact had foreseen only too plainly during these last days. Accustomed as she was to control herself, her constantly increasing pallor, her more and more rapid breathing, disclosed the agitation aroused in her by the voice of him whom she had pretended to look upon only as a friend, and who continued: "Yes, I deserve it. I have been so honest, so loyal in my determination to obey you! Anything, even that silence, was less painful to me than to lose you altogether. And then, I had given you such good reason! I have reproached myself so bitterly for that madness of a few minutes, three years ago! That I had confessed to you what I ought always to have hidden from you, since you were not free, crushed me with such profound remorse! Every day at Saint-Mihiel I pass the wall of the garden where that scene took place. Never without seeing you again, in my thoughts, as I saw you after that mad declaration, abruptly leaving me and going back to the house, without looking back. And what weeks those were that followed, when we met almost every day, and I did not exist for your glance! 'She will never, never forgive me,' I said to myself, and the thought tore my heart. I was sincere when I determined to exchange into another regiment, to leave Saint-Mihiel; sincere when I tried, before my departure, which I believed to be final, to speak with you once more. I felt that I must explain my action to you, must make you understand that no degrading thought of seduction had entered my mind, that I must have been demented, that I had never for one second ceased to have such unbounded esteem and respect for you! Ah! I shall be very old, very cold-blooded, when I am able to recall without tears—see, they are coming to my eyes now!—your face on that day, your eyes, the tone in which you said to me: 'I have forgotten everything. Give me your word that that moment of aberration shall never return, and I will see you as before. I do not wish your life to be turned topsy-turvy because of me.'—While you were speaking, I was saying to myself—that hour is so vivid to me!—I was saying to myself: 'To breathe the air that she breathes, to see her go to and fro, to continue to hear her voice, there is no price I will not pay.' And you marked out the programme of our relations in the future. You said that the world did not place much credit in a disinterested friendship between a man and a woman, but that you did believe in such a thing provided that both were really loyal. I could repeat, syllable for syllable, every word that you said that afternoon. I listened while you said them, with an utterly indescribable sensation, of assuagement and exaltation as well, through my whole being. It was as if I had seen your very soul think and feel. Yes, I solemnly promised you then that, if you would admit me once more to your intimacy, I would be that friend that you gave me leave to be, and nothing more. That promise I have the right to say again that I have kept. I declare that I would continue to keep it if the circumstances had remained the same. But they have changed. Ah! madame, if one could read another's heart, I would beseech you to look into mine. You would see there that at the news of the misfortune which befell you, I had no selfish reflection concerning that change. I thought only of your grief, your solitude, your orphan child. So long as the catastrophe was recent, I was ashamed even to glimpse a new horizon before me—before us. But I cannot prevent life from being life. At twenty-seven a woman is entitled to reconstruct her life without offending in any wise the memory of him who is no more. On my part, I am not breaking my plighted word when I say: 'Madame, the worship, the adoration that I had for you three years ago, and that you justly forbade me to express to you then, I still entertain. My silence regarding my sentiments since that time is a guarantee of their depth. I break it to-day, when you can listen to me without having the protestation of the most fervent, the most respectful, the most submissive of passions cause you remorse. What I said to you in the garden I say again to-day, adding to it an entreaty which you will not deny. I love you. Let me devote to you what I have left of youth, my whole life. Allow me to be a support in your solitude, a consolation in your melancholy, a second father to your son. Be my wife and I will bless this long trial, which justifies me in repeating to you what I felt on the first day that I met you,—but how could you have failed to suspect it?—I love you, and I never have loved, I never shall love, anybody but you.'"

This impassioned harangue, so insistent and so direct, bore little resemblance to the one that Landri had prepared during the long waking hours of the night and in the cold light of dawn, while the express train of the Chemin de Fer de l'Est bore him away from the little garrison town where his destiny had caused him to meet Captain Olier and his charming wife. What diplomatic stages he had marked out for himself beforehand! And he had hurried through them all to go straight to that offer of marriage, put forth, abruptly, with the spontaneity that is more adroit than all the prudence in the world with a woman who loves,—and Valentine loved Landri. She loved him despite complexities upon which we must insist once again in order to avoid the illogical aspects of that woman's nature, loyal even in its subtleties, even to the slightest appearance of coquetry. She loved him, but in a strange ignorance of the elements of love, despite her marriage and maternity. Her union with a man older than herself, arranged by her family, had not caused her to know that total revolution of her existence, after which a woman is truly woman. With her, affection had never been anything more than imaginary. In the chaste and artless delights of this intimacy, without caresses or definite words, with a young man by whom nevertheless she knew that she was loved, and whom she loved, she had found the only pleasure which her sensibility, still altogether mental, could conceive. To tell the whole fact, she loved—and that friendship had sufficed for her! It was inevitable, therefore, that at the first attempt of her alleged "friend" to draw her into the ardent world of complete passion,—and this offer of marriage, under such conditions, was such an attempt,—she should throw herself almost violently back. She ought, however, to have foreseen it, that step which would put an end to the paradoxical and unreliable compromise of conscience devised by her between her conjugal duties and her secret love. Yes, she had foreseen it, and on the day after her husband's death. Her habit of reflection, intensified by the monotony of her semi-recluse existence, had led her to take an almost painful pleasure in a minute scrutiny of the reasons for and against a decision, and she had ended, in the false perspective of solitary meditation, by thinking solely in opposition to her heart. She had ceased to see anything but the force of the objections, the insurmountable difficulties, and she had taken her stand with the party most strongly opposed to her passionate desire. With that she had soothed herself with the chimerical hope of postponing from week to week the explanation which had suddenly forced itself upon her so imperatively. She came to it deeply moved and at the same time prepared, overwhelmed with surprise and, as it were, armored rather than armed with arguments long since thought out. She ran the risk thus of seeming very cold when she was deeply moved, very self-controlled and conventional, when she was all a-quiver. How near to weakness was her borrowed energy from the moment that she began her reply!

"You have made me very unhappy, my friend,—for I shall continue to give you in my heart that name which you no longer care for. I do not reproach you. It was I who deceived myself, in thinking that your feeling for me might change, that it had changed. Perhaps such a transformation is not possible. I too have acted in good faith in wishing for it, in longing for it, in hoping for it. You know it, do you not?—Now that dream is at an end." She repeated, as if speaking to herself: "At an end, at an end." And, turning toward Landri: "How do you expect me to permit you to come here now, to indulge myself in those long conversations and that correspondence which were so dear to me, after you have talked to me in this way? One does not try such an experiment twice. Three years ago I was able to believe in an unconscious outbreak of your youth, in an exaltation which would soon subside. To-day, I am no longer able to flatter myself with that illusion. But on one point you are right. The circumstances are no longer the same. If at that time it was my right and my duty to judge severely a declaration which I should have been as culpable to listen to as you were to make it, how can I blame you now for a step in which there is no other feeling for me than respect and esteem? I have not lived much in the world,—enough, however, to realize that the fidelity of a heart like yours, prolonged thus and under such conditions, is no ordinary thing. It touches me far more than I can tell you."—Despite herself, her voice trembled as she let fall those words which signified too clearly: "And I, too, love you."—"But," she continued, firmly, "this interview must be the last, since I cannot answer you with the words that you ask, since in that hand which you offer me I cannot place mine."

"Then," he faltered, "if I understand you, you refuse—"

"To be your wife. Yes," she said; and this time her blue eyes beneath their half-closed lids gazed steadfastly at Landri. Her delicate mouth closed in a fold of decision. Her whole fragile person was as if stiffened in a tension which proved to the lover the force of the emotion that she held in check. She repeated: "Yes, I refuse. I could find many pretexts to give you which, to others, would be good reasons, and which should be so to me. I have a child. I might say to you: 'I do not want him to have a stepfather.' That would not be true. You would be to him, I am sure, as you said, a second father. I might dwell upon my loss, which is so recent, in order to postpone my reply until later. Later, the reason which makes me decline the offer of your name would be the same, for it is just that name, it is what it represents, which forbids me to abandon myself to a liking of which you have had too many proofs. I shall soon be twenty-eight, my friend. I am no longer exactly a young woman. I have reflected much on marriage. I know that if people marry to love each other, they marry also to live and remain together, to have a home, to be a family. For that it is essential that there should not be, between the husband and wife, one of those unalterable differences of birth and environment, which make it impossible that her people should ever be really related to his.—Your name? It is not only very old, it is illustrious. It is blended with the whole history of France. There was a Maréchal de Claviers-Grandchamp who was a comrade of Bayard, a Cardinal de Claviers-Grandchamp who was a friend of Bossuet. Claviers-Grandchamps have been ambassadors, governors of provinces, commanders of the Saint-Esprit, peers of France. Your house has contracted alliances with ten other houses of the French or European aristocracy. You are cousins of English dukes, of German and Italian princes. You are a grand seigneur, and I a bourgeoise, a very petty bourgeoise.—Do not you interrupt me, either," she said, placing her slender hand on the young man's arm and arresting thus his protest; "it is better that I should say it all at once. In all this I am moved neither by humility nor by pride. I have never understood either of those sentiments, when there is question of facts so impossible to deny or to modify as our situation. I am a bourgeoise, I say again. That means that my people lived in straitened circumstances at first, then modestly. I consider myself rich with the thirty thousand francs a year that they saved for me, in how many years! It is a fortune in our world, in yours it would be ruin. When I walk in that quarter, before those ancient hôtels which are still to be found there, on the afternoon of a grand reception, I see their courtyards, the coupés and automobiles waiting, the footmen in livery, all that luxury of existence which you no longer notice, it is so natural to you,—and do you know what my feeling always is? That if it were necessary for me to live there, and in such fashion, I should be too much out of my element, too overpowered! These are trifles. I mention them to you because they represent a whole type of customs, an entire social code. Do not say that you will not impose those customs on your wife, that you will liberate her from that code. You could not do it. To-day, as a bachelor, and because you are an officer, you have been able to simplify your life a great deal. But your wife would not be merely the companion of Monsieur de Claviers-Grandchamp, a simple lieutenant of dragoons, stationed at Saint-Mihiel, she would be also the daughter-in-law of the Marquis de Claviers-Grandchamp, who lives in a veritable palace in Paris, and who has a historic château in the Oise. He is a widower. He would require, and he would have a right to require, his daughter-in-law, with him and for him, to do the honors of those princely residences. And besides, he would begin by not accepting me. You have talked so much to me about him! I know him so well, without having seen him. Not for nothing do you call him the 'Émigré.' So many times you have exerted yourself to prove to me that he is not a man of our time; that he has the pride, the religious veneration of his race and of old France. And such a man would consent that his heir, the only survivor of his four sons, should take for his wife the widow of an officer who was the son of a physician, herself the daughter of a provincial notary, who, before she became Madame Olier, bore the name of Mademoiselle Barral? Never! To marry me, my friend, would be first of all to quarrel with your father, and, more or less, with all your relations and your whole social circle. What do you care? you will say. When two people love, they suffice for each other. That is true and it is not true. You would suffer death and torture that I should be humiliated, even in trifles, that I should not have the rank due to your wife, being your wife. I should suffer to see you suffer, and perhaps—I do not make myself out any better than I am—on my own account. People are so ingenious in all societies in wounding those whom they look upon as intruders. If we should have children, would they feel that they were really the brothers and sisters of my boy, of a poor little Olier, they who would be Claviers-Grandchamps? And if—But what's the use of enumerating the miseries comprised in that cruel, wise, profoundly significant word—mésalliance. No. I will not be your wife, my friend, and the day will come when you will thank me for having defended you against yourself, for having defended us—dare I say it?—But not effectively, for I could not prevent your saying words which are destined to break off forever, for a long time at all events, relations so pleasant as ours.—So pleasant!" she repeated. And then, with something very like a sob: "Oh! why, why did you speak so to me again?"

"Because I love you," he replied, almost fiercely. "And you! But if you loved me, you would bless them, these differences between our environments, instead of fearing them! You would see in the hostility of my circle—I admit that I had not thought of it!—a means of having me entirely to yourself. I should have heard you simply discuss the matter and hesitate. But the coldness of your reply, this keen analysis of our respective social positions, this balance-sheet of our families spread out before me, calmly, coldly, mathematically, when I had come here, mad with emotion, and thinking only of the life of the heart!—I am more deeply hurt by that than by your refusal. I might have discussed it and argued against your reasons. One does not discuss, one does not combat indifference. One submits to it, and it is horrible!"

"How unjust you are, Landri!" she exclaimed. It very rarely happened that she addressed him so, by his first name. That caress of language, the only kind that she had ever bestowed on him, and that so seldom, came to her lips in face of the young man's evident despair. A woman who loves can endure everything, conceal everything, except the compassion aroused by a sorrow which she has inflicted upon the man she loves; and, destroying, by that involuntary outburst of her passion, the whole effect of her previous refusal, she added: "I! indifferent to you! Why, of whom was I thinking when I spoke, if not of you, solely and only of you, of your future and your happiness?"

"How happy I should be," he interrupted, "if, on the other hand, you would think only of yourself, if you would have the selfishness of love, its exigences, its unreasonableness! And yet," he continued with the asperity of a passion which feels that it is reciprocated, despite all manner of resistance, and which is exasperated by that assurance, "it is true. You have some feeling for me in your heart. You are not a coquette. You would not make sport of a man who has shown you so plainly that he loves you, and how dearly! I said just now that you didn't love me. At certain times I believe it, and it tortures me. At other times I feel that you are so moved, so trembling—see, now!—Oh! by everything on earth that you hold sacred, Valentine,"—he had never before allowed himself that familiarity, which made her start like a kiss,—"if you really regard me with the feeling that I have for you, if my long fidelity has touched you, answer me. Is it true, really true, that between me and my happiness,—for you are my happiness, only you, I tell you,—between your heart and my heart there is nothing but that single, wretched obstacle, my name?"

"There is nothing else," she replied, "I swear."

"And you expect me to bow before that, to give you up because I am called Comte de Claviers-Grandchamp and you Madame Olier, and because my social circle will frown upon the marriage!"

"It is not I who expect it," she replied, "it is life!"

"Life?" he repeated in a voice that had suddenly become dull and harsh; "what do you mean by that? But what need have I to ask you? As if, ever since my youth, I had not seen that same barrier always standing in the path of all my impulses: my name, always my name, again my name! I shall end by cursing it! I am a grand seigneur, you say. Say rather a pariah, before whom so many avenues were closed, when he was twenty years old, because he is called by that great name; and the woman he loves won't have him because of it! Ah! how truly I shall have known and lived the tragedy of the noble,—since my evil fate decrees that I am a noble,—that paralysis of the youthful being, quivering with life, hungry for action, because of a past which was not his own, suffocation by prejudices which he does not even share.—Valentine, say that you do not love me. I shall be terribly unhappy, but I shall not feel what I felt just now, and with such violence,—a fresh outbreak of that old revolt through which I have suffered so keenly, which I have always fought within myself, and which goes so far, at times, as downright hatred of my caste. Yes, I have been, I am now sometimes, very near hating it, and that is so painful to me, for I belong to that caste, in spite of everything. It holds me a prisoner. I know its good qualities. I have its pride at certain moments, and at others, this one for instance, it is a perfect horror to me!"

"Do not speak so, do not feel so," pleaded Madame Olier. "You frighten me when I see you so unjust, not only to me,—I have forgiven you,—but to your own destiny. It is tempting God. You speak of barriers, of prison, of suffocation. For my part, I think of all the privileges you received at your birth, and first of all, and greatest of all, that of being so easily an example to others. If you could have heard the remarks that were made about you when you came to Saint-Mihiel, you would appreciate more justly the value of that name which you all but blasphemed just now—and for what reason? I heard those remarks, and I am still proud for you. 'He's the Comte de Claviers-Grandchamp, and he works! He'll have three hundred thousand francs a year and he passed his examinations brilliantly! He's a good fellow. He treats people well. He has all the qualities of a leader of men.'—You call nobles pariahs, because they arouse much envy. But when they are worthy of their rank, what influence they can exert! And all this is no longer of any account, because you can't bend to your will the will of a poor woman, who, in ten years, will be passée! And you will say of her then, if you recognize her: 'Where were my wits when I thought that I loved her so dearly?'"

"And if, ten years hence,—I still love her," said the young man, "and if I have employed those ten years in regretting her! Suppose it should happen that that woman's refusal were coincident with one of those crises as a result of which one's whole life is transformed? Suppose I had reached one of those times when a man has to make a decision of tragical importance to himself, and when he needs to know upon what support he can count?"

He seemed to hesitate, and then continued in the altered tone of one who, having just abandoned himself to the tumult of his emotions, puts constraint upon himself and resolves to confine himself to a formal statement of facts: "You will understand me in a moment. I came here with the idea of beginning with this. Your presence moved me too deeply! I have told you that I was able to obtain only a very short leave of absence, forty-eight hours, and that with difficulty. Our new colonel does not agree with you about nobles. He is strict and harsh with them. He made this remark about me the other day, because of my title and my 'de': 'I don't like names with currents of air.' Under the circumstances he was not wrong in requiring me to return to-morrow night. Within a few days, we know from official sources, there will be two church inventories made in the district. And they anticipate resistance."

"Is it possible?" cried Valentine, clasping her hands. "Since the law of separation was passed, I have never read about a scene like those at Paramé and Saint-Servan without trembling lest you should be caught in one of those cases of conscience of which so many gallant officers have been the victims! I thought that at Saint-Mihiel everything had passed off quietly and that the troops had not had to interfere. Besides, they so rarely use in that business the arm of the service to which you belong."

"They will use it this time," Landri replied; "we have been warned. It is logical. Either the chasseurs or we will have to serve. Those two regiments contain a considerable number of people who bear names 'with currents of air,' one of whom is that same Comte de Claviers-Grandchamp, who 'works,' who 'treats people well,' who 'has all the qualities of a leader of men.' It is an excellent opportunity to break his ribs and those of some others of his sort! The pretext is all ready: the two churches to be inventoried are those of Hugueville-en-Plaine, and the Sanctuary of Notre-Dame de Montmartin. In the former there is an old priest, revered for fifty leagues around, who has declared from the pulpit that he will not yield except to force. You know the devotion of the department to the Madonna of Montmartin. It is essential to act quickly, very quickly, so that the peasants may not have time to collect. Hugueville and Montmartin are a long way from Saint-Mihiel. The cavalry is already selected. If the dragoons march, as my term of duty comes at the end of the week, I have an excellent chance of being in the affair."

"My poor, poor friend!" said the young woman, enveloping the officer in a glance eloquent with the affection which she had sworn so often to conceal from him; "so you, too, are going to be forced to leave the army, of which you are so fond, and in which so fine a place is in store for you—"

"I shall not leave it," he interrupted; and his face was, as it were, frozen in an expression so stern that Valentine was amazed by it.

"What do you mean?" she asked.

"That I have questioned myself closely, and have not found in my conscience what my comrades of whom you speak have found in theirs. They were believers, and I—you know too well that I have doubts which I do not parade. I shall have to execute certain orders with repugnance. But repugnance is not scruple. I shall go ahead. I shall not leave the army."

"Even if it is necessary to order your men to break down the door of a church?"

"I shall give them that order."

"You!" she cried. "You—"

"Finish your sentence," he rejoined with a still more gloomy expression. "'You, a Claviers-Grandchamp!' You dare not say the word. You think it, you have it on the end of your lips. In another than myself, you would consider it perfectly natural—you above all, who know our profession—that he should execute, in my frame of mind, a military order, and that he should see, in the taking possession of the church of Hugueville or Montmartin, simply a matter of duty to be done. In me you do not admit it. Why? Again, because of my name! And you are surprised that I break out in explosions like that of a moment ago against a servitude of which I alone know the weight!—Oh, well!" he continued, with increasing wrath, "it is precisely because I am a Claviers-Grandchamp that I don't propose to leave the army. I propose to do my duty. You hear, to do my duty, not to be a useless idler, a rich man with a most authentic coat-of-arms on his carriages. I do not propose, for the purpose of handing down an example for which I am not responsible, to undo the work of my whole youth, to become an 'Émigré' within the country, like so many of my kinsmen, so many of my friends,—like my father!"

"You are not going to deny him, him too!" she implored. "You loved him, you admired him so much!"

"I love him and admire him still," replied the young man in a tone of the utmost earnestness; "yes, I admire him. No one knows better than I his great qualities and what he might have been. What a soldier! He proved it during the war. What a diplomatist! What an administrator! What a Councillor of State! And he is nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing! Why, it is the whole tragedy of my thoughts, the evidence of my father's magnificent gifts, paralyzed by his name, solely by his name! Since I have become observant, I have seen that he, intelligent, generous, straightforward as he is, makes no use of his energies, takes part in none of the activities of his time. And yet there is a contemporaneous France. He is in it, but not of it. It will have none of him, who will have none of it. He will have passed his youth, his maturity, his old age, in what? In taking part in a pompous parade of the ancien régime, what with his receptions at Paris and Grandchamp, his stag-hunting, and the playing the patron to an enormous and utterly unprofitable clientage, of low and high estate, who live on his luxury or his income. I felt the worthlessness of all that too soon; he will never feel it. He is deceived by a mirage. He is close to a time when the nobility was still an aristocracy. My grandfather was twenty-six years old in 1827, when he succeeded to my great-grandfather's peerage, and my great-grandfather was colonel of the dragoons of Claviers before '89. For there were dragoons of Claviers-Grandchamp as there were of Custine and Jarnac, Belzunce and Lanan. They are far away. But in my father's eyes all those things so entirely uprooted and done away with are still realities. He is in touch with them. He has known those who saw them. As a little boy he played on the knees of old ladies who had been at court at Versailles. One would say that that past fascinates him more and more as it recedes. To me it is death, and I desired to live. That was the motive that led me to enter the army. Indeed, I had no choice. All other careers were closed to the future Marquis de Claviers-Grandchamp.—These are the privileges you spoke of just now. I let you have your say.—Yes, closed. Foreign affairs? Closed. My father would have been welcomed by the Empire at least. To-day they no longer want us. The Council of State? Closed. The government? Closed. Can you imagine a nobleman as a prefect? They were under Napoleon and the Restoration. The liberal professions? Closed. Though a noble had the genius of a Trosseau, a Berryer, or a Séguin, no one would have him to treat a cold in the head, to try a case about a division fence, or to build a foot-bridge. Commerce? Closed. Manufacturing? Closed, or practically so. To succeed in it we nobles must have a superior talent of which I, for my part, have never been conscious. Politics? That is like all the rest. People blame nobles for not taking up a profession! They forget that they are excluded from almost all, and the others are made ten times more difficult by their birth. And you would have me not call them pariahs! I say again, I resolved not to be one. The army was left. I prepared at Saint-Cyr, not without a struggle. There at least I knew the pleasure of not being a creature apart, of feeling that I was a Frenchman like the others, of not being exiled from my time, from my generation, from my fatherland; the delight of the uniform, of touching elbows with comrades, of obeying my superiors and of commanding my inferiors. That uniform no one shall tear from me except with my life. In losing it I should lose all my reasons for living.—All, no, since I love you. I wanted to speak to you to-day to learn whether I shall keep you in the trial that is in store for me. It will have its painful sides!—Now that you know what the crisis is that I am on the point of passing through," he added, "will you still answer no as you did a moment ago? I have no pride and I ask you again, will you be my wife? Not the wife of the Comte de Claviers-Grandchamp, whose father and whose environment you dread, but of a soldier with whom that environment will have no more to do, whom his father will have spurned? If I should ever have superintended the taking of a church inventory, it will arouse in the mothers another sort of indignation than for a mésalliance, as you call it, and as I do not call it. If I have you, the wound will bleed, doubtless, but I shall have you. You and my profession, my profession and you, those are enough to make me very strong."

"You have disturbed me too profoundly," said Valentine. "I no longer know anything. I do not see clear within myself. I have felt your suffering too keenly. Mon Dieu! when I received your letter, I did guess what you wanted to speak to me about. I did not guess everything. I had taken a resolution. I believed that I was sure of keeping to it. In the face of your trouble I can not.—Listen. Be generous Do not urge me any further. Give me credit for the answer that you ask. I told you just now that I could not receive you any more after this. I have no pride, either. I withdraw that also. As you will pass through Paris again to-morrow, returning to Saint-Mihiel, come again to see me. I shall have reflected meanwhile. I shall be in a condition to answer otherwise than under the impulse of an emotion which discomposes me. Oh! why, in all the talks we have had together in these last three years, have you never told me so much about all these intimate details of your life? I would have helped you—I would have tried, at all events."

"That is another of the misfortunes of the noble," Landri replied. "There is one subject that he can never broach first, the precise subject of his nobility. But calm yourself, I implore you, as I do myself. See. It is enough that you do not repeat the 'never' of a few moments ago, for me to recover my self-control. I will be here to-morrow, and if you still cannot answer me, I will wait. I have seen that you pity me, understand me. That is one piece of good fortune which wipes out many disappointments! Am I as you would have me? Do I speak to you as you wish?"

"Yes," she replied, more touched than she chose now to betray, by this sudden softening, this return of submissive affection after his bursts of passion. "But," she insinuated, "if you were really as I would have you, you would let me give you some advice."

"What is it?" he inquired anxiously.

"To confide in your father. Yes, to talk with him of your plans,—of me if you think best,—but first of all, and at any cost, of your apprehension on the subject of these impending inventories. You owe it to him," she insisted at a gesture from the young man. "I say nothing of the bond that binds together the members of the same family, in order not to return to that question of the name, although bourgeois and nobles are equal when the common honor is involved. You owe it to him from respect for his noble heart. He loves you. A determination so opposed to his wishes is likely to cause him very deep sorrow. He must not learn it first from another than you, so that he may not misconstrue your motives. You must tell him what they are, and even if he blames them, at all events he will know that you deserve his esteem. I know it well, I who am a believer, and to whom that proceeding will be so grievous if you carry it out. Ah! how earnestly I will pray God to spare us, your father and me, that trial! But you must speak to Monsieur de Claviers. You realize yourself that you must, don't you?"'

"I will try," replied the young man, whose eyes once more expressed genuine distress. "You do not know him, and what an imposing effect he has, even on me. I ought to say, especially on me, since I can read his heart so well. But you are right, and I will obey you."

"Thanks," she said, rising. "And now think that you must not prepare him to receive in bad part what you have to say, by displeasing him. Since he was urgent that you should come to Grandchamp for this hunt, you must go. You must do it for my sake, too, for I need a little rest and solitude. Besides you still have to lunch, and it is quarter to twelve."—The clock of a near-by convent struck three strokes, whose tinkling cadence reached the little parlor over the trees of the garden. The clock on the mantel-piece also emitted three shrill notes.—"You have just time."

"With the automobile I shall be at Grandchamp in an hour and a half," he replied. "But I mean to continue to be obedient, as obedient as I have been rebellious." He had taken the young woman's hand and he pressed it to his lips as he added: "I forgot. I have to stop on Rue de Solferino to inquire for a friend of my father who is very ill. It won't take very long."

Valentine Olier withdrew her fingers with such a nervous movement that Landri could not help exclaiming:—

"Why, what's the matter?"

"Nothing," said she. "Rue de Solferino? Then it's Monsieur Jaubourg, this sick friend? it is to Monsieur Jaubourg's that you are going?"

"Yes. How do you know his name?" And then, answering his own question, "To be sure, I have been to his house several times on leaving you. I have talked about him to you, and rather unkindly. I am sorry now. He has never shown much liking for me, and when I wanted to enter Saint-Cyr, he did much to excite my father against me. I bore him a grudge for it. But that was long ago, and he is mixed up in so many memories of my childhood! The news of his illness touched me. According to my father's despatch which I found at the house, asking me to go to see him, he is dying."

"He is dying!" she echoed. "Mon Dieu! I hope you will not be admitted. In your present state of wounded sensibility, that visit will be too trying, and it's of no use. Promise me that you won't try to see him!"

"Dear, dear friend!" exclaimed Landri, bestowing a second kiss on Valentine's clenched hand, "I tell you again that you do not know how completely you have restored my tranquillity, nor how brave I should be at this moment before the worst trials. And this visit would not be a trial to me. But I will manage to do what you wish, even in so unimportant a matter. I shall deserve no credit for it. I prefer not to place any too painful image between what I feel here"—he pointed to his heart—"and my return—to-morrow. How far away it is, and yet so near!"

"Until to-morrow, then," she rejoined with a half smile, as to which he could not divine that it was forced. "Come at two o'clock as usual,—and now, adieu."

"Adieu!" he said. Instinctively he drew near to her. In his eyes blazed a gleam of passion instantly subdued by her eyes. He repeated "Adieu!" in a voice stifled by the effort he made to control himself and not to give way to his ardent longing to cover with kisses that fair hair, that pure brow, that quivering mouth.

He rushed from the salon. She listened to the young man's step as he passed through the adjoining room, then through the reception-room and the street door, which opened and closed. When he had gone from the house, and doubtless from the street, a long while, she was still on the same spot and in the same attitude, steadfastly contemplating her thoughts. What she saw was not the refined and soldierly profile of the young man whom she loved, who loved her, and whose wife she knew now that she would be. No, she saw herself at Saint-Mihiel, a very long time before. She fancied that she was living through that hour again. Landri had just joined the regiment. Valentine had a friend, one Madame Privat, the wife of one of the officers of the garrison. On several occasions she had fancied that that friend was extraordinarily cold to the newcomer. Inconsiderately enough she had asked her—she could hear herself putting the question: "Monsieur de Claviers-Grandchamp seems so antipathetic to you. Why is it?" And she could hear Marguerite Privat reply:—

"I admit it, but it's an old, a very old story. We have a distant cousin, a Monsieur Jaubourg, of whom we used to see a great deal. I say we; I should say my parents. They had a little plan for having him marry one of my aunts. Suddenly the relations between us lost their warmth. The marriage didn't take place. This coldness dates from the day that he became intimate with the Claviers. He had, at all events my parents thought so, a passion for Madame de Claviers. They even believed that there was a liaison. In families many things are known that the public doesn't understand. He seemed to avoid us. My parents did not seek a reconciliation which would have seemed to be based on self-interest. Monsieur Jaubourg is the son of a broker and very rich. I witnessed my father's grief from this rupture, which was the cause of a very unhappy union contracted by my aunt out of spite. I have always blamed Madame de Claviers for it, perhaps unjustly. The sight of her son stirs those memories and is painful to me."

Yes, that was long, long ago, and lo! Madame Olier found anew in her heart the melancholy sensation with which Madame Privat's words had suddenly oppressed her. Must it be that she loved Landri even then, unconsciously? The truth of that confidence was guaranteed both by the character of her who made it and by the chance that led to it. But perhaps it was all a matter of chance. So that Madame Olier did not believe in it altogether. However, she had retained an ineradicable doubt. How often she had wondered whether the young man's mother had really made a misstep, and whether he was in danger of ever hearing of it! She had had a little shiver every time that he had mentioned the name of Jaubourg, by chance, in their conversations; and deeply stirred as she was, all those complex and confused sensations had suddenly reawakened when he had spoken of his proposed visit to Rue de Solferino. She had fancied him at the bedside of a sick man who, in his last moments, would perhaps let a terrible secret escape his lips! Her apprehension had been so great that an impulsive entreaty had followed, most imprudent if the relations between Jaubourg and the late Marquise de Claviers-Grandchamp had really been culpable!

"I am mad," she said, rousing herself from the sort of waking dream, which had reproduced with the detail of an hallucination that brief scene, her apartment at Saint-Mihiel, Madame Privat's face, her voice, her very words. "If Monsieur Jaubourg had been Madame de Claviers' lover, he would not have continued to be Monsieur de Claviers' friend after her death. If only my movement and my exclamation did not arouse suspicion in Landri's mind! I should never forgive myself. No. He is so honest, so straightforward. He has too noble a heart to imagine in others the evil that it would be a horror to him to commit. If he will only speak to his father about that possibility of an expedition against a church! He promised. He will speak to him. His father will prevent him from following out that shocking purpose. For my part, I cannot. I love him too well. Mon Dieu! how I love him! how I love him! I defended myself too long. Ah! I feel that I am all his, now!"

And as, at that moment, she heard laughter through the partition, announcing little Ludovic's return, she opened the door to call her child, and, pressing him to her heart, she embraced him frantically, to prove to herself that this love to which she was on the point of abandoning herself, by promising to become the wife of a second husband, would take nothing from the son of the first; and she said to him:—

"You know that your mother loves you, you know it, tell me that you know it."



Madame Olier's prevision was just: that little unthinking gesture, as of a hand extended to prevent a fall, was destined to be one of the signs which should arouse in Landri the most painful of ideas, but not until later. That youthful heart—Valentine had read it accurately in this respect, as well—was too noble not to entertain an instinctive repugnance for suspicion, that calumny of the mind. How could he have made an exception in his mother's case? He had never ascribed a criminal motive, even for a second, nor imagined that any one could ascribe such a motive to the assiduities of one of the intimate friends of their family. The tears that he had shed on Madame de Claviers-Grandchamp's death had been the loving, sincere tears of a son, with no alloy in his veneration. And so, while he returned from Rue Monsieur to Place Saint-François, to get his automobile, no suspicion entered his mind. The imprudent entreaty that his friend had addressed to him not to see the invalid on Rue de Solferino was only a proof of an affection a little too easily disturbed, and he was the more touched by it.

"How I love her!" he exclaimed, echoing, and conscious of it, the passionate sigh which she, on her side, was breathing toward him. "And she loves me, too. She fights against it still, but I understood it, I saw it, I know it. I know that she will be my wife.—My wife!" he repeated, with an intimate quiver of his whole being which made him close his eyes. Suddenly Valentine's image brought before his eyes that of his father, and the memory of the undertaking he had entered into abruptly crushed that outburst of joy. "She is right," he said to himself, without transition, mentally repeating the very words that she had used. "I owe it to him to speak both of her and of all the rest. I owe it to him from respect for his noble heart. I will do it."

The bare thought of that explanation oppressed the young man with an agony of timidity. He had always suffered from it in the presence of that man whose name he bore, whose heir he was, whom he loved, and by whom he was loved, and he had never been able to open his heart to him fully, to explain himself concerning his inmost thoughts. His character, which was very manly in respect to important decisions, but extremely sensitive, and consequently easily disconcerted in its outward manifestations, had always been taken by surprise as it were by that of the marquis, so unhesitating, so dominating, so impervious to argument. His resistance to this moral despotism was not altogether conscious. It was that which incited him in his constant effort not to be an "émigré," as he said, to make himself useful, to belong to his own time, "to do his duty"—another of his phrases. We must repeat it. There are none more just. Many another young man of his class has felt, as he did, that magnanimous and praiseworthy appetite for efficient and beneficent action. Many have, like him, tried to rebel against the ostracism which France, the offspring of the Revolution, practises, by her customs as well as by her laws, against the old families. They have, like him, stumbled over obstacles. They have rarely felt them, as he did, as tragedies. This excessive and morbid view of his destiny betrayed in Landri a lack of equilibrium, of certainty. In truth, if, in certain directions, his ideas were absolutely opposed to those of his father, in others he underwent a veritable hypnotism at the hands of that powerful personality, and he was very near the point of doubting himself before an irreconcilability which he had not dared really to face but once, when it was a question of entering Saint-Cyr. His mind had been developed by reading, observation, reflection, all solitary, constantly held in check by the loud speech, the imperious intelligence, the steadfast and logical convictions, in a word, the decision, of the marquis. Landri, too, had decision, but by fits and starts, and when he had provided himself with very well-considered reasons therefor. His father had it always, gaily, buoyantly, as he walked, as he breathed, by an unfolding of his inward energy, if one may say so, which was as natural in him as the muscular development is in a lion. The prestige of that opulent and powerful nature maintained so complete a domination over the temperament, more refined perhaps, but less masterful, of his son, that he had been on the point of equivocating when Valentine asked him for that promise. He had given it, however. His lover's pride would have been too deeply humiliated to confess a weakness of which he was now sensible once more.

"Yes," he repeated, "I must speak to him—but how? Of her? That will be very difficult, but let him once see her and my cause will be won. She is so refined, so pretty, such a lady!—Of the inventories? It is impossible. She understood me at once, devout as she is. Their religion is not the same. To her the Church is the faith. Those who haven't it are simply to be pitied. To him the Church is like the monarchy, like the nobility, the essential condition of public order. It is the hierarchy that guarantees all the others. What answer can I make? I should think as he does if our time were not our time."

Soliloquizing thus he reached the side of the Church of Saint-François-Xavier, at the spot where he had left his automobile. His chauffeur, when he did not return, had left his car in the care of one of the numerous idlers who transform that isolated square into a club of bicyclists and tennis-players, and had gone to refresh himself at one of the wine-shops in the neighborhood.

"Deuce take it!" said the young man ill-humoredly, "Auguste isn't here! I shall never get to Grandchamp. I sha'n't have any lunch, that's all," he concluded. "But how is the machine?" and while the small boy who had been left in charge of the vehicle ran off to fetch the conscienceless chauffeur, he began to examine the different parts of the machine with a connoisseur's eye. That too was one of the small points upon which he had based his self-esteem as a "modernist." He understood how to repair and handle his automobile as well as a professional. "Everything is in order," he said. "I will drive myself. We shall go faster, and I shall not irritate my nerves by thinking." He began therefore to put on the cloak and cap and goggles and gloves of the profession, and Auguste had no sooner joined him, than he started his heavy machine with as much precision as if he had not borne the name of Landri, which denoted in the family of Claviers-Grandchamp pretensions more or less justified—but they date back to the twelfth century—of descending from the kings of the first race. And this car of the latest model bore on its panels the curious arms which, with the device, E tenebris inclarescent, symbolize that legendary origin: three frogs or on a field sable. These were, according to some authorities in heraldry, the arms of our first kings. Géliot waxed wroth over it long ago, in his "Vraye et parfaite science des armoiries."[1] He saw therein only three roughly executed fleurs-de-lys. He would have enjoyed maintaining that opinion before the choleric marquis. "And to think," reflected the heir of the pseudo-Merovingian, "that it took years to make my father admit the mere idea of the telephone, of electricity and the automobile! But at last we have one, and of an excellent make. I shall be there before the hunt is over."

He had, in obedience to a childish whim in which all young men will recognize themselves, instead of driving straight along the boulevard, the Esplanade and the quay, taken Rue de Babylone, in order to pass Rue Monsieur. He longed to see once more the outside of the little hôtel of the time of Louis XVI. Valentine became once more so present to his mind that he was absorbed anew in that inward vision when he reached the house in which Jaubourg lived. Lovers, even the most affectionate,—especially the most affectionate,—are almost savagely insensible to what does not concern, either nearly or distantly, the object of their passion. He had no need to remember his promise, in order to avoid trying to see the invalid.

"There should be a bulletin in the concierge's lodge," he said to Auguste; "get down, copy it, leave my name and come back quickly. We haven't five minutes to waste."

The chauffeur jumped down from his seat, with the reckless haste of a servant who seeks to earn forgiveness for a fault. He disappeared like a gust of wind behind the door of the enormous porte-cochère which imparted a seignorial aspect to the abode of the unique personality, untitled, but of the most unexceptional elegance, that Charles Jaubourg had been. In order that his name should have been so much as mentioned in connection with Madame de Claviers-Grandchamp, it must have been that he, who came of such a widely different social caste, had been able to win for himself an exceptional position in society. Of that supremely refined man, of the great bourgeois, who had become, by dint of adaptability of manners, and, in due time, of wit, a notable member of Society, there remained only a poor tattered remnant, an old man at the point of death with pneumonia, behind those high windows. The straw spread upon the pavement to deaden the noise of passing vehicles attested the gravity of a condition of which Landri had a more decisive proof. His messenger reappeared, holding in his hand a paper on which was written this laconic and ill-boding bulletin: "A very bad night. Condition stationary.—Professor Louvet, Dr. Pierre Chaffin."

The officer read these words in an undertone; and with an indifference which, under the circumstances, was of an irony no less unintentional than cruel, he folded the paper and slipped it into his pocket, saying: "All right. Let's be off!"

"The concierge told me to tell Monsieur le Comte," interposed the chauffeur, "that Monsieur Jaubourg had given special orders to send Monsieur le Comte up to him when he came."

"Me?" exclaimed the young man, with unfeigned surprise and vexation. There was a gleam of hesitation in his eyes, and he started to get down. "But no, I really haven't time!" And with this exclamation, the irony of which was even more cruel, he started the automobile once more. It had already crossed the Seine, turned into Rue des Tuileries, passed the Opéra, the Gare du Nord, the barrier, and Saint-Denis, and entered upon the road through the forest of Hez, beyond which is the château of Grandchamp, before the mind of Madame de Claviers' son had even begun to detect behind that second little sign the mystery which was destined, a few hours later, to revolutionize his career forever.

"Jaubourg dying and wanting to see me? Why, when he has never in his whole life shown anything but antipathy to me? It's easily explained. My father had told him I would call. Really, I ought to have gone up. But what more should I have had to take to Grandchamp than this bulletin? And then, Chaffin is there. He must have been sent by my father, and he'll keep him posted."

Pierre Chaffin was the son of Landri's former tutor, become, under the more distinguished title of secretary, the marquis's steward and man of business. The younger man, formerly intern at a hospital, and very eminent in his profession, was now the head of the clinical staff of Louvet, who had been the Claviers-Grandchamps' physician from time immemorial.

"Besides," continued the lover, "I promised"; and his mouth, which was open to inhale the cool breeze caused by their speed, closed as if to place, despite the distance, a last kiss on his friend's burning hands. That recollection sent the blood coursing more hotly through his veins, and the automobile flew the faster through the wild flight of the houses, already beplumed with smoke, of the autumn crops, of the misty fields, of that whole landscape, which ordinarily was to Landri the source of reflections rather than of sensations. How many times, on his way to Grandchamp, had he noticed that multiplicity of small estates, which checker the land, isolate the châteaux, surround them, as if determined to conquer them! A symbol of the upward progress of the lower classes. To-day he saw nothing save space to be devoured, at the end of which he would stand face to face with his father and his promise. He had chosen to drive, in order not to think; and, despite himself, he formed and unformed in his mind the plan of that interview, while he drove on, leaving behind him, one after another, Saint-Denis and its basilica, Groslay and its moss-covered roofs, the forest of l'Isle-Adam and its white quarries, Beaumont and the long blue ribbon of the Oise, the charming nosegay of Cahet, the wood of Saint-Vaast, Cires-lès-Mello and its mills, Balagny, and peaceful Thérain, Mouny and its graceful gables.

"Thirty-three minutes past one," said the chauffeur, looking at his watch, when the first houses of Thury appeared at the end of the road, and the oaks of the forest of Hez. "That is travelling! And Monsieur le Comte never drove better."

"Now all we have to do is find the hunt," Landri replied. "It hasn't been a bad run, that's a fact. Take the wheel now, Auguste, please. I am going to search the avenues with my glass. Let's go toward La Neuville, and drive slowly, so as not to lose any sound."

The forest, over whose gravel roads they were now driving, told no less clearly than the fields the story of the parcelling out of old France. It formerly joined the forests of Compiègne and of Carnelle, and the whole formed, between the Seine and the Oise, a vast region teeming with game, of which only fragments remain. This of Hez occupies a plateau, of a slightly irregular surface, which the automobile traversed at a very slow pace. There were constant halts, to ask information of some passer-by, to investigate with the glass the interstices in the hedges, and above all to listen for the baying of the hounds. Several times Landri had thought that he detected a "Vue!" or a "Bien allé." Suddenly he put his hand on the chauffeur's arm. He heard distinctly a blast of the horn.

"Why, that's a hallali!" he exclaimed. "So soon?—Yes.—And it's not far away. To the left, and a little speed. There we are. I see the hunt. Stop a moment while I look! Oh! what a beautiful sight!"

A sharp turn of the road had disclosed a depression in the ground. At the end of the avenue appeared one of the infrequent clearings of that dense forest. In a frame formed to perfection by the horn-beams and beeches, which blended their rusty foliage with the pale gold of the birches and the dark verdure of the firs, was being enacted the final scene of that too short day. Victorias and automobiles were arriving at the cross-roads. They drew up in line along one of the roads. In the centre a considerable crowd had already gathered in a circle, composed of country people come to assist at the finish, guests who had followed the hunt in carriages, and hunters, whose costumes in the colors of the hunt—Spanish snuff-color with blue lapels—heightened with a dash of brilliancy that truly charming and picturesque little tableau. Here grooms were covering with blankets the horses heated by the ardor of the chase. Farther on servants were bringing baskets filled with provisions for the lunch. The mellow autumn light bathed with its invigorating rays those groups, over whose heads rang out blasts of the horn, blended with the baying of the restless hounds; and each blast, by its few notes, explained to Landri the movements which were taking place in the crowd, and which he amused himself by following with his glass.—The horns blew the mort. The dogs were led away from the game. The first huntsman cut off the right fore-foot and handed it to the master of the hunt. The horns blew the honors of the foot. The master presented the foot to one of the ladies whose three-cornered hats could be seen beside the velvet caps of the men. The horns blew the mort anew. The baying of the pack redoubled. From his post of observation Landri could distinguish quite plainly all the details of the curée: the whipper-in, standing astride the stag, waved the head, by the antlers, before the slavering jaws, held in respect by the raised whip of the huntsman. Another blast. The whips had fallen. The dogs had hurled themselves on the bleeding mass of which already nothing remained.

In the front rank of the spectators of this ancient and savage ceremony, the young man had had no difficulty in making out his father's imposing profile. In his costume of master of the hunt, completed according to the old fashion by a three-cornered hat turned back with a copper button, the Marquis de Claviers-Grandchamp instantly justified, by his aspect alone, the sobriquet of "Émigré" which his son often bestowed upon him. He inevitably recalled the image of one of those sportsmen represented in the charming paintings of the staircase at Fontainebleau, or that exquisite picture at Versailles which depicts one of the hunting-parties of the Prince de Conti in the neighborhood of l'Isle-Adam.

The marquis was a man of sixty-five, whose sturdy old age put to shame the worn-out middle-aged men of to-day. He was very tall, very straight, and was still slender, although powerfully built, with a handsome face, high-colored, of which his snow-white hair intensified the ruddy hue. His long, delicate, tapering nose, a little too near the epicurean and clever mouth, gave to his profile a vague resemblance to that of François I. He was conscious of it, and he emphasized the likeness by the cut of his beard, which was snow-white, like his hair. His face did not need that adventitious aid to make even the most ignorant say of him when they first saw him: "He's a walking portrait." Everything in him was eloquent of race, the prolonged existence of a family in the constant enjoyment of energy, wealth, and domination. His whole person was instinct with kindliness of nature, and yet there emanated from it an indescribable atmosphere of dignity, and the self-assurance of one who has always maintained his rank, not only through himself, but through all his kindred.

At this moment his eyes, deep-blue and piercing none the less, expressed, as did his whole haughty countenance, the most complete and heartfelt satisfaction. His lips laughed gaily and disclosed his large white teeth, of which not one was missing. He had beside him two men of his circle whom Landri knew very well, a M. de Bressieux and a M. de Charlus. The latter, who was very small, almost puny, seemed a dwarf beside the superb master of the hunt. His refined features also savored of race, but of a meagre and worn-out type. He was only fifty-five, but he was the older man. Bressieux, who was younger, was more comely of aspect, and yet there was in his face a something which vitiated it, and his cold arrogance contrasted no less strangely with the simple grand manners of the marquis.

At that short distance Landri was able to study the group in detail with almost photographic accuracy, and he felt once more the sentiment of which he had told Madame Olier, a heartfelt admiration for his father. Monsieur de Claviers-Grandchamp realized in every respect the physically and mentally superior type of aristocrat, of the best. He was built of a more ample, richer human material. What a difference between his generous, his magnificent way of carrying off his rank, and the bickerings of Charlus about questions of precedence! That was the sole, contemptible occupation of that most refined and upright man, who was nevertheless hypnotized by trivial details concerning his nobility, though it was of the most authentic! What a difference, too, between the spontaneous geniality of Monsieur de Claviers and the obsequiousness of a semi-sharper which Bressieux displayed beneath his assumption of importance, in order to maintain the course of an ultra fashionable life by doubtful expedients. Very well born and well connected, endowed moreover with taste, education, shrewdness and much dexterity, he acted as intermediary between people of his own station, who were straitened in their circumstances, and the dealers in curios or wealthy collectors. Upon what terms? No one had ever dreamed of asking the question of that individual with the face of a gambler and duellist, ruined by cards and women, but who had retained the most impeccable manners and the most virile courage of his race.

In Charlus and in Bressieux their caste was drawing near its end. In the marquis, however, caste might be unemployed, but it was intact. To his son he seemed so perfectly the grand seigneur in his bearing even at that moment, when the picturesque amusement of the day came to an end in the most bourgeois of occupations: a cold luncheon eaten in the open air! He went from one to another of his guests, from carriage to carriage, assisted in that hospitable duty by a young woman in a riding habit, who had followed the hunt on horseback, without taking part in it. Landri recognized one of his partners at the infrequent balls which he had attended during the last two winters.

"Poor Marie de Charlus!" he muttered; "she hasn't grown beautiful!" And he added, aloud, to his chauffeur: "I am going inside, and we will go on. I have certainly earned my luncheon."

The limousin began to descend the slope, while the young man removed the mask, the cap, the gloves and the cloak in which he had arrayed himself. If the marquis had arrived at that stage of concession at which he recognized the existence of the automobile, he was still savagely hostile to the hideous accessories which that style of locomotion multiplies from day to day. This childlike precaution against the possible ill humor of his father would have made Landri himself smile under other circumstances. But the sight of Mademoiselle de Charlus had suddenly rearoused his preoccupation, which had been somewhat allayed, in spite of everything, by the fatigue and distractions of the journey. He foresaw an additional reason for sparing the marquis's least prejudices. The monomaniacal gentleman's daughter in no wise deserved the contemptuous apostrophe with which he had saluted her. To be sure, Marie de Charlus had not regular features. Her mouth was too large, her nose too short, her forehead too protuberant, but her eyes saved all the rest by their brilliancy, and, if she was not beautiful, she possessed that charm of the "ugly-pretty girl" which so many men prefer to beauty. Rather small, like her father, but of a very good figure, dancing and riding with a grace at once bold and maidenly, she too had, in her original physiognomy, that "portrait" aspect which is so frequent in stationary classes. Those who are most impervious to the theory of heredity must needs resort, in spite of themselves, in the face of this fact, to the vulgarized, indefinite and indefinable, yet accurate term, "atavism."

Landri was more capable than most men of grasping the interesting character of that young girl's face, closely resembling one of those eighteenth-century faces of which La Tour has noted the intelligent expression,—but he was in love with another woman, he had come to Grandchamp with the purpose of disarming his father's hostility to a marriage which he passionately desired, and already well-meaning persons had spoken to him of Marie de Charlus more than once in a very significant tone. Did not her presence at this hunt, after the marquis had insisted so earnestly that he should attend it, accord with these hints? Certain it is that she was the first to espy the young man, even before the motor had stopped. A faint blush rose to her cheeks. She said a word to the marquis. He turned. He saw his son descending from the heavy vehicle, and at the wave of his hand over the surrounding heads, Landri felt, as usual, the warm blood rush to his heart. This was perhaps the strangest detail of their strange relations—never had the son approached the father without an impulse of enthusiasm and affection; and the next instant he recoiled, withdrew within himself. He literally bore in his breast two hearts: one which felt a thrill of emotion upon contact with that powerful vitality, another which was, as it were, terrified and thrown into confusion by it. This time, however, the second impulse did not follow at once. The young man, in his anxiety, felt a too grateful surprise when he realized that there was no trace of reproach in that greeting, although he arrived when the hunt was over, after a downright objurgation to be prompt. He passed through the line of carriages, exchanging hand-shakes, and salutations with the hat. M. de Claviers' first words to him were accompanied by one of those hearty laughs which always rang true—the old nobleman would not have been the admirable and knightly person that he was, if his frankness had not been absolute, in the most trivial no less than in the most important circumstances.

"Well, Landri, you won't boast again of the convenience of the automobile! Your train arrived at Paris at nine o'clock, and now it's two. Ah! the horse! the horse! The four good post-horses that made the trip without a stop! However, here you are. It's a pity. You have missed a fine run. It was hotter than the result would indicate. The attack was sharp. But Tonnerre has an admirable scent for doublings. He did not allow the dogs to make a mistake, and the stag was in sight almost all the time. He was in the water only a few moments. The beast was winded by the pace. We finished with a run of a kilometre. That's what your trouble-machine has made you miss."

"I'll make him change his mind about the automobile, Monsieur de Claviers," said Mademoiselle de Charlus gaily, addressing Landri, "I pledge myself to do it. On the next circuit I am going to take him with me, and we shall go a bit fast. He'll find that it's as amusing as a fine run to hounds. I have sworn to make him up-to-date."

She looked at the new arrival with a glance most desirous to please, as she uttered that untranslatable Americanism, which, indeed, might well have been her motto. Marie had that characteristic common to certain women of her class, which is traceable to a reaction against the monotonies of their environment: an unwillingness to go slow. While Landri was a modernist, she prided herself on being ultra modern. "Not in the train, in the express," she would say; "in all the expresses"; which did not prevent her thinking about the substance of things exactly as her father and the marquis did. By an unexpected contrariety the young man disliked her and the "Émigré" liked her. Behind her poses the marquis divined the immutable "one does not mix with the canaille when one has a name like ours," of the pure-blooded aristocrat; and then, too, she loved his son, and he knew it. Landri, for his part, blamed the young woman for that defiant air, that radicalism which was like a caricature of his own ideas. And above all, he guessed that she loved him, and he loved Valentine! He replied neither to her glance nor to her words, but said to the marquis:—

"I had no trouble, father. I was simply detained in Paris a little longer than I expected."

"Did you go to Jaubourg's?" asked M. de Claviers. "Did you see him?"

"I didn't see him," Landri answered. He too was incapable of lying well. It was his turn to blush as he added, evasively: "He is so ill! But I have brought you the bulletin."

"Give it to me," said M. de Claviers eagerly. He read the ominous lines aloud. "Pierre Chaffin!" he repeated. "I am glad Chaffin's son is there. His father must have sent him, on my account, because he knows how fond I am of Jaubourg. He didn't tell me anything in order not to disturb me. Good Chaffin! And good Jaubourg! I dined with him at the club last Wednesday—not a week ago. He complained of lassitude and headache. I said to him: 'You've taken a little cold. Don't worry about it. It's nothing.' It was the first symptoms of pneumonia and perhaps he will die of it!"

"He'll have a fine sale," said Bressieux. He had the affectation of speaking with the ends of his teeth, as if he nibbled at his words. "I know of two Fragonards that he has, of the very choicest. Those that were in the poor Duc de Fleury's collection, don't you remember, Geoffroy?" This other Merovingian name was borne by the marquis, but few persons were privileged to call him by it; Bressieux never lost an opportunity. "He was a good buyer," he continued; "he had a deal of taste."

"And for a man who was not born," interposed Charlus, "he was wonderfully well brought up. I knew of but one fault that he had: he was not religious."

"A man so comme il faut!" said Marie sarcastically; "it's surprising. Never fear, papa, he won't have a civil burial. He won't inflict that on you." As she was really kind-hearted, she was a little ashamed of having scratched a dying man on the petty absurdities of his life, and she added: "No matter, even if he was a bit of a 'snob', he was an excellent man."

"Excellent!" echoed the marquis; and with the simple benignity which had always touched his son so deeply, he continued, with tears in his eyes: "I have known him more than thirty years. He has been a perfect friend to me. A friend, that is something not to be replaced at my age, nor at any age! We are happy, breathing freely, going our ways; I see him suffering, and—" He paused, then continued in a deep voice: "If he must go, I wish I had bade him adieu." He paused again, and as the wonderful vitality of his blood naturally inspired his brain with optimistic thoughts, he said: "But we are in a great hurry to bury him, and the bulletin does not suggest an aggravated case. Let us hope. I couldn't go to Paris to-day, on account of the hunt. To-morrow we shall shoot a few partridges. I will go day after to-morrow."

Plainly he had felt a twinge of remorse because he was not at the bedside of the friend he loved. He had yielded, he yielded again to the hereditary passion which decreed that Louis XVI should hunt the stag while the Jacobins were taking away his throne. And, shaking off his sad thoughts definitively, he said to his son:—

"You must be tired, my boy. You must have something to eat."—And, to a servant: "A plate.—Some foie gras? Here." He began to serve Landri himself.—"The liver of my own birds, mademoiselle, and I am proud of it!—A glass of champagne? I am hungry too."—He ate again.—"But it's a healthy hunger, of the sort that your circuit in an automobile won't give me, mademoiselle, no. A four hours' gallop in my forest, and I breathe in life through every pore. These woods have been ours for three hundred years. That's a long lease!—Ah! so you propose to make me up-to-date! On the contrary I will make you 'old France.' You recited some decadent verses to me just now. I am going to recite you some of the sixteenth century. They're by Jacques Grévin, the physician of Marguerite de France. It's a description of this very forest of ours:—

"'Dedans ces bois et forests ombrageuses
Sont les sangliers et les biches peureuses,
Les marcassins, fans de biches et daims,
Les cerfs cornus, familiers aux silvains,
Bref, le plaisir et soulas et bonheur
Que peut avoir ès forests le veneur.'"[2]

He repeated these verses in a sympathetic tone which proved that he felt their archaic charm, and that the sportsman had a nice taste for letters. He needed not to borrow a pen to write the famous work on the "History and Genealogy of the Family of Claviers-Grandchamp," a chef-d'œuvre in its way, one of those "livres de raison" to be placed on the same shelf with the eloquent "History of a Vivarois Family," published that year by another heir of a very great name. Marie de Charlus was too refined, even in her affected bad form, not to feel the picturesqueness and pathos of that figure of an old nobleman, whose originality, so vigorous to begin with, had emphasized its salience by its reaction against a too hostile age. The force of the type he represented measured the degree of his solitude. She replied, half mischievously:—

"I used to call myself the emancipated gratin; if all of us were like you, I think I should very soon call myself the repentant gratin."

"What a memory!" said Charlus admiringly. "But my grandfather was always talking to me about your grandfather's memory."

"You'll give me those verses, won't you, Geoffroy?" besought Bressieux. "I am sometimes asked for mottoes to be painted on panels in hunting lodges."

"I am the repentant gratin," rejoined the marquis. "Yes, for having presumed to lecture the cleverest of Maries. My grandfather's memory? Yes, I have always been told that I resembled him. There's nothing left of the army of Condé, but for that!—You shall have the verses, Louis. Although as to the mottoes on panels—Humph! when one has a motto one keeps it. When one has none, one has none. But I must excuse myself, mademoiselle, and you, my friends. I am obliged to leave you. The carriages will take you home. I do not propose to inflict on you a long détour that I have to make before I go home. Landri will come with me. We will take the automobile, mademoiselle, and I will practise at the circuit. À tout l'heure, at the château." He had taken his son's arm and was leading him toward the motor, saluting on all sides, and addressing this one and that. "You won't forget, Travers? I rely on you for dinner this evening.—You dine at Grandchamp, Hautchemin. I will send you home.—Férussac, you dine at Grandchamp with Madame de Férussac, that's understood, isn't it? Eight o'clock. If you're late, we'll wait for you."

When they were seated in the motor, after telling the chauffeur the direction to take, he said to Landri: "We shall be more than thirty at table. I don't know just how many; fancy that! I ordered for forty, at a venture. I like that sort of thing! It's almost the open house of old times. What a generous and proud expression: open house! The men of to-day talk about the social question. But our fathers had solved it. What was a grand seigneur? A living syndicate, nothing else. Consider how many people lived on him, how many live on us! To spend freely a handsome fortune, from father to son, on the same estate, is to support a whole district for many generations. When people prate of the luxury of the nobles of the olden time, they always think of them as like Cleopatra, drinking pearls, selfishly. But that luxury was a public service! It was the fountain which monopolizes the water in order to distribute it. The fountain was overturned, and the water is dribbling away, turning to mud, and disappearing—that's the whole story!—Ah! Auguste is going wrong!" And, seizing the megaphone, he shouted: "To the left, to the left, and then the second avenue on the right. There are three oaks in a clump and a Calvary."—And turning once more to his son: "I know the forest, tree by tree, leaf by leaf, I have ridden through it so often and on such good horses. Do you remember Toby, my gray Irish horse, and how he jumped? We are going to Père Mauchaussée's."

"Our old gardener?" inquired Landri. "What has become of him?"

"He is what he always was.

"'Qu'ils sont doux, bouteille, ma mie,
Qu'ils sont doux, tes petits glouglous!'

But it's his son that I want to see. I made him second gardener when his father retired, do you remember? He crushed his foot last week, not on our land, but at his father's, cutting down a tree. The doctor thinks he won't be able to work any more. He is in despair. Fancy, a wife and five children! Chaffin wanted me to help him a little, and nothing more. 'We don't come within the law relating to accidents to workmen,' he said. 'I don't need their laws to tell me what my duty is,' I replied. 'He shall be paid his wages in full, as long as he lives, like his father.'—I am a socialist, you know, in the old way. It was different from the new way in this, that the poor received the money of the rich directly, whereas to-day the politicians keep it all. It's very up-to-date, as our young friend Marie de Charlus says. What do you think of her? She is charming, isn't she?"

"Charming," Landri replied; "but I am surprised that she pleases you, with such ideas as she has."

"As she thinks she has," the marquis corrected him. "That will pass off. It's the impulse of youth. What will not pass off, is the old stock. She has it to the tips of her fingers and toes. Did you look at her? Ah! she's a genuine Charlus, and signed! Do you know what I said to myself when I saw her on horseback to-day?—And how beautifully she rides!—That she would make the sweetest little Comtesse de Claviers-Grandchamp.—And do you know this too? That it depends on you alone? But it does. Tell me if it doesn't begin like a chapter in a novel? A year ago she was twenty years old. She was sought in marriage—by the little Duc de Lautrec, if you please. She refused. Parents astounded. She was so young, they left her in peace. Six months ago, another offer, from Prince de la Tour Enguerrand, the widower. Another refusal. A month ago, Lautrec comes forward again. She refuses again. Then follows an explanation with the mother. Who would have thought that the 'emancipated gratin,' as she calls herself, that girl who puts on so many twentieth-century airs, is still governed by sentiment after the old style—the only style, on my word, that is always good and always young! 'I will marry Monsieur de Claviers,' she said, 'or I will die an old maid.'"

"That is impossible," interposed the young man; "we just speak to each other at a ball two or three times in a winter."

"You are too modest, monsieur my son," rejoined the marquis. "It seems that two or three times have sufficed.—In a word, stupefaction of the mother; stupefaction of the father. They tell the story to Madame de Bec-Crespin, their cousin, who tells it to her mother, Madame de Contay, who tells it to Jaubourg, who tells it to me; and as such a daughter-in-law would suit me marvellously, and as I have a horror of beating about the bush, I invited them all three, mother, father and daughter, and I sent for you. The mother sent her excuses. She's a little put out; she won't see you. She knows you, plant and root, I venture to say.—Ah! everything is there: wit, spirit, charm,—I don't say great beauty, but what a figure, and what eyes! A hundred thousand francs a year at this moment, of her own, if you please, left her by her uncle Prosny. Later, three hundred thousand more. And such relations! No more mésalliances in that family than in ours. One of those superb trees that resemble a noble action continued for seven hundred years: all the younger sons officers, bishops or knights of Malta; all the unmarried daughters nuns, abbesses or prioresses; twenty of the name killed in foreign wars. I have not often annoyed you with suggestions of marriage, my boy. Your dear mother would have known so well how to choose a wife for you! I waited a while for you to open your heart to me. But you are approaching thirty. I am sixty-five. Your three brothers are dead. I have no one but you to keep up the family. I should like not to go away before I have put in the saddle a Geoffroy IX of Claviers-Grandchamp. You are Landri X. We must look to it that the Geoffroys overtake the Landris. Well! what do you say?"

"I say, father," Landri replied, "that I came to Grandchamp to-day, myself, with the purpose of speaking to you about a project of marriage—a different one," he added.

"With some one whom I know?" inquired the marquis.

"No, father, a young woman of twenty-seven, the widow of one of my fellow officers in the regiment, who has a child, and no fortune, or very little. It's a far cry from the marriage-portion of Mademoiselle de Charlus. But I love her passionately, and have for more than three years."

"Another chapter of a novel," said M. de Claviers, still without losing his good-humour. "This does not displease me. I will not deny that I have been just a little disgusted with you. I was afraid that you had some wretched liaison in your life. You have a real love. That's a different matter. I love to have people love, you see—love long and dearly and faithfully. No fortune?" He repeated, "No fortune? My dear boy, how I would like to be able to say to you: 'Don't let that disturb you!'" A cloud had passed over his face, which was as transparent as the blue sky of that waning afternoon, stretching above his beloved forest, all turned to gold by the autumn.—"This is not the time to discuss that question, which I have wanted to talk to you about for a long while. We have many charges on the estate. If it still produced what it did once, we could extricate ourselves more easily—and, perhaps, if I had known better how to handle our interests. Consider that there have been two generations over which this outrageous Civil Code has passed, with its compulsory partitions, which are grinding France to powder. Of the income of a million which your great-grandmother saved during the Revolution by not emigrating, and demanding her pretended divorce, how much have I had? Three hundred thousand francs a year, and, in addition, all the burdens of the old days! I say again, this is not the time to talk about it.—For three years?" he added, after a pause. "Who is it? What is her name?"

"Madame Olier," replied the young man.

"Ah!" exclaimed the father, "and she was born—?"

"Mademoiselle Barral."

"Olier?—Barral?—Why, in that case, she is not a person of your own rank? Answer me frankly, my boy. I am your father, the head of your family. You owe it to me. You are her lover? You have a misstep to repair? The child is yours?"

"No, father, I give you my word of honor. Twice in my life I have told her that I loved her. Once when her husband was alive. She refused to see me again except on my promise that I would never speak to her again of my sentiments. The second time was to-day. That was the reason of my being late."

M. de Claviers had listened to this confession with contracted brow and lips tightly closed. His blue eyes took on that sombre hue which his son knew too well. It indicated the clash of profound emotions in that violent temperament. There was between the two men a further pause coincident with the stopping of the motor before the Mauchaussées' house, a dainty structure which the châtelain of Grandchamp placed at the disposal of his former retainer, without rent. The curtains at the windows and the thread of smoke issuing from the chimney bore witness to the physical well-being of these vassals of his charity. He had, however, the countenance of a magistrate rather than an alms-giver as he alighted from the automobile, without speaking to his son, who did not follow him.

The ten minutes which his father passed in the little house seemed immeasurably long to Landri. To be sure he felt as if a weight had been lifted from his heart: the first part of his confession was made, the part that had seemed to him the most formidable to put in words. It touched such a sensitive spot in his heart! Would he have the courage to make the second part, and to inflict another blow upon that man, whom he felt once more to be so impassioned, so loving and so impetuous? By what sort of an explosion would the wrath vent itself, with which he had seen that powerful brow suddenly overcast? Other questions arose in his mind: why had the marquis, whose repugnance for financial affairs was so intense, spoken with such detail of the wealth of the Charluses, and of his own with that reserve laden with hidden meaning? Landri was too unselfish to think of his own future and of the possible diminution of his inheritance. He knew that his father was very wealthy, and he had never wondered at a lavish expenditure which the marquis had seemed always able to support. He had never even asked for his own property after the guardianship accounts were once settled. The marquis gave him an allowance which represented the fifteen hundred thousand francs he had inherited from his mother. Did this enigmatic plaint mean that the grand seigneur would be compelled eventually to reduce an establishment which was as necessary to him as breathing and moving? At the same time that he revolved this question in his mind without putting it to himself so plainly, the young man was thinking of the negotiator of the Charlus marriage.

"What an idea of Jaubourg's to meddle again in my affairs! It's just as it was before about Saint-Cyr. He has never shown anything but antipathy to me, and he is always putting himself between my father and me. That is why he wanted them to send me up to him.—But the door is opening—I must prepare to sustain the assault!—Courage! it's for Valentine."

The charming image passed before his mind. It was exorcised instantly by a chorus of voices saying in the accent of the countryside: "Bonjour, Monsieur le Comte. Is everything right with you. Monsieur le Comte?"—It was the five Mauchaussée children, their mother, grandmother and grandfather, whom the marquis was driving before him toward his son. The wondering, laughing eyes of the little boys and girls, the timid and humble bearing of the two women, the jovial bloated face of the drunkard, supplied a comic illustration of the speech with which M. de Claviers presented them to their future patron.

"Do you recognize them?" he said. "The little monkeys are growing. They are pushing us aside, Mauchaussée, and you too, Madame Martine. Soon they'll be pushing you too, Landri, but you have the time. Come, children, shout, 'Vive Monsieur le Comte!'"

"Vive Monsieur le Comte!" chirped the five children.

"And vive Monsieur le Marquis!" exclaimed Mauchaussée. It was amid acclamations as paradoxical, in the year 1906, as the existence of M. de Claviers himself, that the automobile resumed its journey.

"To the château," he said to Auguste. Then, taking his son's hand and pressing it: "That is why you cannot make the marriage of which you spoke to me just now. It is because of the Mauchaussées and their like,—and they are legion,—who live on us, on the house of Claviers-Grandchamp; for there is a house of Claviers-Grandchamp. Surely you cannot wish to assist in destroying it. When one demolishes a roof, one destroys all the nests in that roof. When one cuts the trunk of one of these trees, all the branches die. Our family, as I told you just now, is like that of the Charluses. Not a mésalliance since 1260. One can count them on one's fingers, such lineages as that. You will not demean yourself."

"Is it demeaning myself," demanded Landri impatiently, "to bring you as your daughter-in-law a woman of irreproachable character, whom I love profoundly and who loves me,—pretty, refined and intelligent? One demeans one's self by lacking a sense of honor. Does it show such a lack to marry according to one's heart, without regard to money, without any secret prompting of ambition? In what way would Madame Olier, having become Comtesse de Claviers-Grandchamp, embarrass the Mauchaussées and all this generous task of supporting traditionary dependents, which forms one of the moral appanages of great families and a raison d'être of the nobility, I fully agree with you;—in what way?"

"In this,—that she is Madame Olier, born Barral, simply; that her child has Olier uncles and aunts and Olier cousins, and she has Barral cousins, perhaps brother and sisters,—a whole social circle. That circle, by marrying her, you make akin to us. That family you ally with ours. You ally it! Dig into that word, so profound in its significance, like all those in which the language simply translates instinctively the experience of ages. That means that between the Oliers, the Barrals, and the Claviers-Grandchamps, you establish a bond of fellowship, that all those existences are bound together.—I will suggest but one question to you: tell the Mauchaussées that Madame de Claviers' cousin keeps a shop, for instance, that he is like one of their own relations. Do you think that Madame de Claviers will retain the same prestige in their eyes? And let us assume that there are no Oliers, no Barrals in this case,—do you think that our kinsfolk, the Candales, the Vardes, the Nançays, the Tillières, in France, and all the others, and the Ardrahans in Scotland, the Gorkas in Poland, and the Stenos in Italy, will be altogether the same to your wife as if she were a Charlus? So that our family unity will be impaired. You will have diminished the importance of the house of Claviers, without failing in honor—that goes without saying. But, do you see, a name like ours is honor with something more."

"Or less," retorted Landri. "Why, yes," he insisted, as his father recoiled in amazement, "less life, life, to which all men have a right, but not I. No right to individual happiness,—you just told me so. No right to individual action. How much it cost you to allow me even to enter the army! What else is there for us to do? Defend tombs? You have the strength for that, but I haven't."

He had never said so much concerning his secret thoughts. It had been too painful to him to hear from the marquis's lips the same objections, in almost the same words, as from Valentine's. He had felt too strongly their implacable and brutal truth. The pain had been all the keener. He had no sooner uttered that cry of rebellion, than he had a passionate reflux of emotion toward his father. He took his hand, saying: "Forgive me!" while M. de Claviers returned the pressure, and answered in an affectionate voice, but so firm, so virile,—the voice of a man who, having reached the evening of his days, girds up his loins and declares that he has not gone astray in his faith.

"Forgive you, and for what, my poor boy? For loving, and for feeling an impulse of rebellion of your whole heart before an obstacle in which all boys of your age, and even of your class, would see to-day, as you do, only a prejudice? For being young, and for having this longing to employ your energy to some purpose, which you cheat by playing at soldiering,—for it is only a game and you know it perfectly well? Suppose that to-morrow the people who rule us order you to execute one of their infamous jobs, the burglarizing of a church, what shall you do?"

As he uttered these words, which by their unconscious divination proved how much he thought about his son, the marquis was looking at his idea. He did not notice the young man's sudden start. On the latter's lips was an exclamation which he did not utter. He listened to the words in which his father continued, with an interest all the more intense, because M. de Claviers was not in the habit of discussing his convictions. He asserted them by his mere presence. Doubtless his affection for Landri warned him that that was a fateful moment, such as most frequently occurs unexpectedly, in the relations of a father and son, when a word misunderstood may lead to tragic dissensions; and as if he were determined to justify in advance the sternness of his veto by arguments impossible of refutation even by him who was destined to be their victim, he explained himself, he confessed himself, or, better still, he thought aloud:—

"Do you think that I have not gone through such rebellions? Do you think that I, too, when my father spoke to me as I am speaking to you, did not ask myself if he were not a man of another century, who did not understand his epoch and who wished to involve me in his error? Do you think that I was not attracted by action, by actions of all sorts, by war, diplomacy, the tribune? that I never heard the voice of the tempter whispering: 'One does not serve the government, one serves France?' How many of my friends listened to that voice! I do not judge them. I could not do it, and I do not repent. This is why. Listen. What I am going to say will seem to you a long way from the starting-point of our conversation. But I do not lose sight of it.—No, I could not do it, because by dint of studying her, I realized that this France, offspring of the Revolution, had other workmen than me to employ, in its barracks, its public offices, its assemblies, and that we were very little able to serve her elsewhere. You have told me sometimes that I had the heart of an 'émigré.' It is true. But who saved France from dismemberment in 1815, if not the 'émigrés,' and Louis XVIII, first of all. Had there been no 'émigrés,' had not the King, supported by that handful of loyal subjects, made himself felt during twenty years in the councils of the coalition, the country would have been partitioned. What did they preserve for it, for that country which was so cruelly hostile to them?—A principle. Who will measure the strength of principles, of social truths, maintained by a group of men, by a single man sometimes, if he is called the King? Ah, well! the disease of France, offspring of the Revolution, does not lie in facts, nor in men, but in lack of principles, or in false principles, which is worse. I am not unjust to her, to this France I speak of. She has worked hard during these hundred years. She is working hard. And what endurance, what a sturdy will, what impetuosity! With all these is she bankrupt in all her aspirations—yes or no? Yes or no, does this country hold in Europe an inferior place to that she held in the worst days of the old monarchy? She is no older than England, however, her great rival in the Middle Ages! Has she progressed in social tranquillity? Has she found stability, that test of all political doctrines, as the regular beating of the pulse is the test of health? The fact is that the Revolution tried to base society on the individual, and that nature insists that it be based on the family. When I understood that great law, I understood the nobility. I understood then that our prejudices were profound social truths, elaborated by that result of experience during long ages which is called custom, and transformed into instinct. It is a profound social truth that there is no increase in the strength of a country unless the efforts of successive generations are combined, unless the living consider themselves as enjoying the usufruct only, between their dead and their descendants. But that is the law of primogeniture and entails! Another profound social truth: families must be deeply rooted in order to endure; they must have territorial interests, they must be amalgamated with the soil. But that means patrimonial domains, which are left undivided that they may not be sold!—Another profound social truth: there must be diverse environments, in order that there may be morals, and there are no environments unless there are classes, and distinct classes. But that means the three estates! Another profound social truth: every individual is simply the sum of those who have preceded him, a single moment in a long lineage. By marrying him to another individual at the same stage of development of her family, there is the chance of obtaining a superior creature, of solidifying acquired characteristics. But that means race!—All these truths the old France put in practice, and they were incarnate in the great Houses! The great Houses! On the instant that I realized their importance and that they were a working-out of the very laws of the family, the rôle of the noble in the presence of the Revolution was made clear to me: to maintain his House first of all. If we had all acted on that theory, what a reserve force France would have had for the hour of the inevitable crisis! However, there are still enough of us who fulfilled that duty, each as he could, especially in the provinces, and in that sturdy rural aristocracy which you will find in existence to-day, as in '71. But, even if I were alone of my kind, I should be no less assured of my duty. If we are fated never to be wanted again, let us at least make a noble end. Decenter mori. An aristocrat should either remain an aristocrat or die. I have remained one. The misfortunes of the time have not allowed me to add a page to the history of the Claviers-Grandchamps, but I have written that history, and I have maintained our house in its place. I have sounded the splendor of the name, as our ancestors said. What more can I say, Landri? Your father has continued his father, who had continued his. They all ask you by my mouth: 'Will you continue us?'"

"I revere you and love you," replied the young man; and it was true that that profession of faith, pronounced by the old nobleman among the trees of the hereditary domain, assumed an almost painful grandeur. After an interval of a hundred years the Claviers-Grandchamp of Condé's army expressed his thoughts by the mouth of his grandson with that self-consciousness which is one of the characteristics of the thoroughbred. He realized that, before they disappear, the social species like the animal species spend their last vigor in producing most perfect types in which all the excellences of all that have gone before are consummated. Once more Landri had a realizing sense of the superiority of that man who, for lack of a suitable environment, had spent his long life in attitudinizing, and for motives so profound, so blended with the most generous idealism! He was too intelligent not to understand the bearing of the lofty philosophy amassed by M. de Claviers in his solemn harangue. In spite of himself, as was so often the case, his mind acquiesced in ideas which, none the less, he did not choose to accept. In what utter solitude they had confined his father! His heart, too, rebelled against it. "The profound social truths," as the marquis had said, are but cold friends of mature years. A lover of less than thirty will always sacrifice them to a glance from two bright blue eyes, to a reflection of the light upon golden hair. Images of that sort were still floating before Landri's eyes; they gave him strength to argue with his father.

"But in that old France, which you claim to continue, the classes intermingled, and by marriages, too. Colbert's daughter was a duchess, Monsieur de Mesmes' daughter a duchess, Gilles Ruellan's daughter a duchess, and Colbert's father was a draper, Monsieur de Mesmes' father a peasant of Mont-de-Marsan, and Gilles Ruellan had been a carter."

"That is true," rejoined M. de Claviers. "But in those days France was sound. She was like those strong constitutions which can safely indulge in deviations from a regular diet. The great houses were not attacked. The great social truths which their existence alone represents to-day did not need to be defended in every detail. There is not enough 'irreconcilability' in our time, even among us, for me to renounce mine. I admired nothing so much in my youth as the attitude of the Comte de Chambord, when he carried his white banner,—and how many understood it, even among our friends? No, Landri, one does not compromise in the defence of a vanquished principle. One can never defend it too vigorously."

"Then, if I should come some day to ask your consent—" the young man queried, with a tremor.

"To marry Madame Olier? I shall refuse to give it."

"And if I should do without it?" he ventured to say.

"You will not do without it. She is the one, do you hear, she is the one who will not allow it. I know you, my Landri," continued the father, in an affectionate tone in striking contrast to the evident inflexibility of his decision. "For you to love this woman so dearly, she must be very pure and of a very delicate sense of honor. It was she who insisted that you should speak to me before she gave you her answer, was it not? Such a woman will never consent to marry you against your father's declared wish. If she were not magnanimous and high-minded to that degree, you would not love her."

"And if it were so, you would not be touched?"

"There is no question here of my emotions, my son, nor of yours. It is a question of our name. Military heroism is not the only sort. There is a family heroism. As a soldier, you would consider it a perfectly natural thing to sacrifice your life. A man of a certain name should consider it natural to sacrifice his happiness. But is there really so much at stake? It is a crisis, and it will pass away. In any event," he added, in a tone of affectionate banter, "you haven't asked for my consent. So that I have not refused it. We have talked about plans, probabilities, supposititious cases—nothing more. All the same, be agreeable to Marie de Charlus this evening. Don't be too angry with her for having distinguished you, as our grandmothers used so prettily to say. And now let us enjoy what my grandmother left us. Here we are out of the forest and in the park. If the fearless woman had not stayed here, during the Terror, everything would have been cut down, devastated, burned, pillaged. I never return to Grandchamp without giving her a thought."

He ceased to speak, and his blue eyes were filled with pious veneration as he looked at the château, a sedate and grandiose structure in Mansart's very earliest manner. In the eighteenth century a Claviers-Grandchamp, to whom a friend, in gratitude for a service rendered him, had bequeathed a fortune made in the Compagnie des Indes, had reconstructed it inside without touching the façade. In front lay an immense garden à la française. Twelve gardeners were required to keep up this marvel, laid out in flower-beds, ponds and tree-lined paths, with many bronze groups about the ponds, and stone statues in the paths. In that closing hour of a lovely day, in that atmosphere now so delicately tinged with gray, the garden was a beautiful sight. Like those of Versailles, and of the whole seventeenth century, it bore the physiognomy of nature respected in its strength and at the same time guided, regulated and harmonized in its expansions. It was in truth visible "order," the order of the society of olden time whence the Claviers-Grandchamps had sprung. The trees, which were still vigorous, but pruned and trimmed, did not put forth their leaves until they had been disciplined.

At the close of this conversation, Landri's wounded sensibility found a symbol of his destiny in the aspect of that garden. He, too, like those trees, bore witness to the effects of discipline. No more than they could he develop freely. He should never marry Valentine,—M. de Claviers reasoned too justly. She would never enter a noble family without the consent of its head. The allusion made by the far-sighted and implacable marquis to the possibilities of his military career, finished freezing his heart. What should he do, in either case? The tree in the hedge which pushes its branches beyond the line fixed by the gardener destroys the fine ensemble, and it will never bloom. It retains the marks of the hatchet that pruned it. In the hedge they added to its beauty. They are a mutilation when it stands by itself. Such is the fate of the member of a caste who cuts loose from it and essays to live for himself. But nobility, great houses, caste, mésalliances,—were not all these ideas a mere phantasmagoria, a superstition, the imaginary residuum of an abolished reality, an absurd anachronism in the France of to-day?—Away from his father the son would have answered yes. He could not do it at that moment, in that carriage where he could hear the slightest movement and the very breathing of that man, so intensely alive, who imparted to his beliefs that ardent flame of his individual life which gave them their inspiration. The prestige of his father's presence acted anew upon Landri, with such force that he could not even blame the paternal determination, against which he would rebel to-morrow, but at a distance,—and he fell into a fit of melancholy which M. de Claviers finally observed. With his temperament the "Émigré" was most worthy to utter the words of Don Diego, savage and sublime in his dauntless manliness:—

Il n'est qu'un seul honneur, il est tant de maîtresses.[3]

He had almost quoted it in characterizing his son's passion as a mere passing crisis, and once more there was a world of compassion, a world of affection in the tone in which he renewed the conversation, in order to divert his mind from his thoughts:—

"Can you imagine the existence of that woman here, under the Terror? You know that a denunciation against her was the cause of the proposal of that villain Roland, in a committee of the Legislative Assembly, in November, '92, that the decree of the 20th of September should be suspended so far as the wives of 'émigrés' were concerned. If it had not been for the procureur-syndic de Thury, a former gardener of ours, her being legally divorced would have availed her nothing, they would have taken everything from her, and her life with the rest. She never ceased to correspond with her husband. She went twice to see him, and she received him here three times. One shudders to think of those interviews! But what courage! What heroism, to repeat my former word! It was of us that she was thinking, she was determined to defend the inheritance, the House. With her jewels she might have passed all those years happily in Germany or in England, and she died, worn out with grief, in 1804. From veneration for her memory, my grandfather would never allow anything to be changed inside the château, nor my father, nor I. Nothing, nothing, nothing. When I am no longer here, I authorize you to have the telephone put in, as you are more up-to-date than your old father," he concluded, laughingly, "but that's all!—Ah! there's the worthy Bressieux conspiring with Chaffin again. They are far greater changes that he has in his head than the installation of a telephone. It seems that certain details are not in style, and thereupon Monsieur Chaffin comes and bores me with dissertations on door-knobs and tiles at the back of the fireplace, and shutter-fastenings, which Bressieux has taught him. Nothing, nothing, nothing! I will change nothing. I don't know where I have read that line of an English poet, 'The Siren loves the sea, and I the past.'—Come, come, Bressieux!" he cried in his strong, resonant voice through the window of the automobile, "don't spoil Chaffin for me altogether. He will end by refusing to live at Grandchamp any longer, because it's not pure enough."

Louis de Bressieux was in fact standing at an angle of the château, intently considering—so it seemed, at all events—the detail of the decoration of a window on the ground floor. He had not yet changed his hunting costume, and the visor of his velvet cap concealed his eyes. Beside him stood a man of small stature, thick-set, with hair once red, now turning gray,—one of those men whose crabbed countenance leads one at a glance to judge them to be very frank and downright. His gleaming eyes, shifting and impenetrable, indicated that he concealed many complexities behind the rough bonhomie of his manners. He was Landri's former tutor, promoted twelve years before to the rank of general factotum, which was not likely to be a sinecure with the very large income of the Marquis de Claviers, and his expenditures, which, alas! were much larger. He called him, it will be remembered, "my good Chaffin," as he said "my good Jaubourg," and "the worthy Bressieux." A learned connoisseur of human nature has said: "He who does not make up his mind to be a dupe will never be magnanimous"; and the admirable Marquis de Claviers-Grandchamp was truly magnanimous. How surprised he would have been if, at the moment when he called to Bressieux, one of those modern machines—the objects of his half-sincere, half-simulated aversion—had been at hand to record and transmit to him the conversation which his sudden arrival had interrupted!

"The affair must be settled within ten days, at the latest," Bressieux was saying. "The two American dealers are to sail December eighth. I know them. They won't postpone their sailing. They want to carry the tapestries with them. If the thing drags, they'll back out. The other dealers haven't the means to make up the whole amount. In that case it's a public sale, with all its risks. Everybody will know that the marquis is embarrassed. You won't find the four millions. It's in his interest that I speak to you."

"And it's his interest that I have in mind, no less," replied Chaffin. "Four millions? The debts would be paid,—the largest ones,—and perhaps he would consent to cut down his establishment. But he won't allow me to mention the subject. I didn't dare even to show him the summonses last week. He refuses to acknowledge, what he is well aware of, however, that he is ruined. The idea that I, who know how attached he is to this whole château,—he wouldn't let so much as a cup be sold,—should suggest to him to sell everything at one stroke, tapestries, furniture, portraits!"

"But is he absolutely driven to such a sale, or is he not?"

"He is."

"Has he any way whatever of escaping it?"

"He has not, unless millions should fall from the sky."

"Or a friend, Jaubourg, for example, should leave him his fortune?" insinuated Bressieux.

"He would leave it to Monsieur le Comte Landri," said Chaffin hastily, "who would not accept it." He continued, after a pause during which the two men avoided looking at each other, like people who know a thing, know that they know it, and do not choose to admit it: "Oh, well! it's through Monsieur le Comte Landri that I will act. I owe it to him, to him as well, that his fortune shall not be swallowed up in the pit. I will tell him the truth, and that this offer to purchase all the treasures of the château in a lump is an unhoped-for piece of luck, the only way of gaining time. It will be enough for him to revoke the general power of attorney that he gave his father, and to demand his principal. Monsieur le Marquis cannot give it to him. To avoid undergoing that humiliation before his son, he will give way.—But I hear his voice. This very evening I will speak to Landri. You shall have his answer at once."

And they went forward together to meet the motor from which M. de Claviers and Landri were alighting. The two confederates had not uttered a word which placed them at each other's mercy, and yet the real basis of this interview was one of those villainous piratical "deals" of which the international traffic in antiquities has made more than one of late years in France and elsewhere, involving the relics of historic fortunes. The "good Chaffin" was simply an unfaithful steward who had wallowed at his ease for ten or twelve years in the careless prodigality of his lord, and he was preparing to retire, pocketing a handsome percentage of a sum offered by a syndicate of dealers in curios for the treasures preserved intact at Grandchamp by the heroism of the grandmother. Louis de Bressieux, for his part, had got wind of the dealings of the wicked servitor with the second-hand trade, and had succeeded in assuring himself a broker's commission by interesting in the affair the two most famous American dealers in antiquities. It was quite true that such a sale, effected at that moment, might save the rest of the property, and that pretext was the ostensible cloak of a transaction which the two managers of the unclean intrigue were craftily carrying forward, unknown to the alleged beneficiary thereof. This silence convicted them. Such is the commanding prestige of a certain quality in man, that the felonious manager and the profit-sharing friend felt a vague remorse that embarrassed them with respect to each other when the marquis said to them with a cordial, loyal laugh:—

"It's of no use for you to try to debauch me, Chaffin and Bressieux. While I live, nothing in the château shall be touched; when I am dead, I hope that it will be the same," he added, laying his hand on his son's shoulder.

[1]"Being bound simply to observe here that it is folly to think that any of our kings ever bore frogs. On the contrary, what has been written to that effect came from the enemies of French honor, and in derision of the fact that they are descended from the Paluds meotides."

[2]Within these shady woods and forests Are wild boars and shy, timid hinds, And shoats, and young of hinds and does, And antlered stags, to woodsmen known; In brief, all pleasure, solace and delight That huntsman may in woodland fair enjoy.

[3]There is but one honor, there are many mistresses.



"Nothing in the château shall be touched!" repeated Chaffin half an hour later. He was climbing the grand staircase on his way to the apartment that Landri occupied when he came to Grandchamp,—the apartment of the eldest son. It was twelve years already since the last-born, become the only son, had been installed therein.—"Everything shall be touched, monsieur le marquis!" And the disloyal steward's face expressed the hatred that wicked servants feel for their betrayed masters while he looked at the Beauvais panels on the walls, one of the glories of the château, the complete set of tapestries representing Chinese scenes after Fontenay, Vernensaal and Dumont. Princes, in rich Asiatic costumes, were seated on Persian carpets. Princesses, arrayed in white stuffs embellished with precious stones, rode in palanquins. Servants carried parasols. Negro boys offered fruits under canopies enwreathed with foliage.

It was long, long ago that Chaffin had first climbed those stairs and marvelled, with the stupefaction of a petty bourgeois suddenly transported into a scene of fashionable life, at all that magnificence befitting the "Thousand and One Nights!" He was then a poor professor, unattached, married, with a family of children. He had just been introduced into the château by the chaplain, as tutor to the youngest son. The priest, who had educated the older sons, was too old to undertake another task of the sort. He dreaded the presence of another ecclesiastic. Being instructed by the marquis to find some one, he remembered an instructor whom he had met in a religious boarding-school in Paris. He, on being appealed to, suggested his colleague Chaffin.

In consenting, as he had done, to entrust Landri's education to a chance tutor, M. de Claviers had conformed once more to the classic type of the Grand Seigneur. One is amazed at the extraordinary facility with which, in all times, people who bear the greatest names abandon their children to uncertain influences. Even princes are no more painstaking in this respect. A youth upon whom the future of an empire depends will sometimes have been educated by a withered fruit of the University, comparable for refinement to the Regent's Dubois! Luckily for Landri, Chaffin still had, at that time, the habits of a father of a family, if not genuine virtues. Married and having children of his own, his guaranties of honorable conduct were real. But, as he had passed his fortieth year without succeeding in anything, he was already embittered and very near looking upon humble toilers of his own sort as social dupes. The atmosphere of great luxury, which he had entered thus without preparation, spoiled him. It was agreed that he should live with his pupil. This arrangement, separating him from his home and his former life, had made him helpless against his new environment. Thereupon Chaffin had undergone the secret, gradual process of corruption inevitably forced upon the poor plebeian, when he is essentially vulgar, by the discovery of the hidden immoralities of the nobly born and the wealthy. It is a genuine apprenticeship in depravity, is this official pessimism, compounded of secret envy and mean espionage.

When the marquis—his son's education being completed—had offered him the post of secretary-manager, Chaffin was ripe for the rôle of intendant "after the old manner." M. de Claviers' expression is only too appropriate here. This appointment was for the châtelain of Grandchamp an heroic resolution: tired of the constant waste, he had determined to administer his fortune himself. That is generally the moment at which, with persons of his rank, the final ruin begins. After three months the so-called secretary settled the accounts alone, and before the end of the first year the peculations had begun. They had multiplied from settling-day to settling-day, to reach their climax in the detestable conspiracy already mentioned, which a group of usurious dealers in curios was about to execute upon the treasures of Grandchamp, with his assistance.

By what steps had the conscience of the former professor descended to that degree of dishonesty? The change in his features during the last years told the story. The arrogant unrest of the thief, always on the brink of detection, distorted his face, sharpened his eyes, imparted uncertainty to his movements. But we cease to look at the persons whom we see every day. The marquis had not observed those tell-tale indications, nor had Landri. Moreover, the moment that the knave was in their presence, he kept watch upon himself with a circumspection that became more rigid as his villainies multiplied. So it was, that, when he had reached the top of the staircase and stood before the door behind which he knew that he should find the young man, he did not knock until he had paused a moment, long enough to compose his features; and when he entered, upon the response from within to his knock, the harsh and sneering cynic had disappeared. There was only the humble and faithful retainer of the family, deeply moved but self-restrained, upon whom his devotion enjoins the most painful of measures. He hesitates no longer. His secret chokes him. He must cry out. This rôle was all the easier to maintain under the circumstances because Chaffin was hardly going to lie. His plan, formidable in its very simplicity, by which he expected to ensure himself for all time against any suspicion of complicity, consisted in setting before the marquis's heir the true situation of the house of Claviers-Grandchamp in the year of grace 1906. He proposed to be silent only concerning his own peculations and his understanding with the leaders of the final assault.

"What is it, my good Chaffin?" inquired the young man. To receive his visitor, he had risen from the lounging chair in which he had passed some terrible moments, since he had left his father, in going over again and again the details, so cruel to him, of their conversation. "What has happened? You frighten me."

At sight of his former tutor's discomposed countenance the thought of an accident suddenly flashed through his mind—that the marquis had had a stroke.

"No, nothing has happened," replied Chaffin, "nothing as yet! But I cannot bear to be silent any longer. If you had not come to Grandchamp to-day, I should have gone to Saint-Mihiel. Things cannot go on so. I should go mad. I should kill myself.—Landri, Monsieur de Claviers won't let me speak to him. I have the title of secretary, which means that I am the manager of the property. Well! if things go on as they are going, Landri, I shall be manager of nothing. There will be no property, do you hear, no property, nothing, nothing—"

"You say that my father won't let you speak to him," Landri interrupted. "You surprise me beyond measure. He is giving much thought himself to the situation of affairs. He complained to me to-day of the heaviness of his burdens. Come, calm yourself, my dear master;" and he added these words, so absolute was his confidence in that man who represented to him his early youth: "Your affection for us makes very trivial difficulties seem tragic, I am sure. Tell me what they are."

"I will give you the figures," rejoined Chaffin simply, "and you can judge whether I exaggerate. Do you know how much Monsieur le Marquis owes on his real estate—Grandchamp, the house on Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré, your houses in Plaine Monceau, and the villas at Cabourg—all told? Two million five hundred and fifty thousand francs, divided as follows: seventeen hundred and fifty thousand francs to the Credit Foncier, and eight hundred thousand to another creditor. We have on this account more than a hundred and fifty thousand francs of interest a year to pay, before any other outlay."

"If it were anybody else but you I should think that I was dreaming," said Landri, after a pause. He repeated: "Two million five hundred and fifty thousand francs? And my father has an income of more than four hundred thousand! Is it possible? He doesn't gamble. His life is beyond reproach. He has no racing stable. Where has all that money gone?"

"You shall know in a moment," replied the implacable Chaffin. "First let us finish with the debts. There are others. Besides the mortgages there are the unsecured notes. Under this head he owes more than two millions more,—I mean for sums borrowed on his signature. I say nothing of overdue accounts with tradespeople, wages in arrears, and all the rest. That's another million perhaps, but it's a floating debt with which I deal as best I can. It's a daily battle. I fight it and win it! With these negotiable notes, I can do nothing. Look you, Landri. When I have told you everything you will share my desperation. The two millions, as you can imagine, are not a single debt. There are ten, fifteen, twenty different debts. There were, I should say. For to-day—But let me go into details. You are going to learn how these debts have reached such fantastic figures by the brutal piling-up of interest, very simply, and why I used the past tense. There was, for instance, a Gruet debt. I select it for it is typical, and because in connection with it the bomb has burst. In 1903 we were absolutely in need of three hundred thousand francs. Maître Métivier, our notary, obtained them for us through one Monsieur Gruet, an honest broker,—for there are such; there is this one, for instance, as you can judge,—with an office on Rue Lafayette. The loan fell due July 15, 1905. We were not ready. Gruet himself tells me of a money-lender, not overgrasping, one Madame Müller, who keeps a second-hand shop on Rue de la Chaussée-d'Antin. I go there on the chance. To my great surprise she consents. She reimburses Gruet and the notes are assigned to her before a notary. Nothing more correct, as you see. But on July 15 last the three hundred thousand Gruet francs had become three hundred and forty-six thousand five hundred Müller francs: two years' interest to the date of maturity in 1905, thirty thousand, plus sixteen thousand five hundred for 1905-1906. Let us follow it out. On this 15th of July the like inability to pay. Appeals to Madame Müller, entreaties,—it was I who made them. I would submit to much worse things for Monsieur le Marquis! A little time was given me, and one fine day this Gruet debt, which had become a Müller debt, has become an Altona debt. The first notice is served on us. I conceal the fact from Monsieur le Marquis, understand, and I go at once to this Altona. I find a man installed in a magnificent mansion on Place Vendôme, with the air of a grand seigneur I should say, if I did not know Monsieur le Marquis and you, Landri—and beautiful antiques all about him. It was a stock in trade arranged as a collection—a museum for sale at retail. This Altona receives me with the manners of a prince, and composedly, calmly, he informs me that the Müller claim is not the only one he has bought. A quantity of our other notes are in his hands or in those of his men of straw. Not all of them, but almost all. He has them to the amount of more than fourteen hundred thousand francs. He has accumulated all that he could. With no less composure he declares that he is acting for a syndicate of his brethren. There is a large number of them who have had their eyes for years on the treasures preserved at Grandchamp. How did they obtain their information concerning Monsieur le Marquis's embarrassment? How did they succeed in learning the names of the money-lenders to whom we had to apply? How did they negotiate with them? I can not tell you. I know nothing about it. This much is certain, that that first bailiff's notice was the shot that opened the engagement. In short, they are in a position to proceed against us and to have us sold up by process of law. Altona did not conceal from me his purpose to proceed mercilessly unless—"

"Unless what?" demanded Landri, as the other paused. "Finish your sentence."

"Unless we accept the offer he made me on behalf of his partners—that is evidently the coup they have prepared. 'We have calculated,' he said, still with his perfect courtesy, 'the risks of a public sale. We may gain by it, we may lose. Certain pieces which we can place advantageously at once may escape us. We prefer to make you a proposition to buy the whole in one lump. We will give you four millions cash for the lot, that is, for all the articles enumerated in the pièce justificative No. 44, in the appendix of the book on the "History of the House of Grandchamp." Both you and we will do a good stroke of business. You too avoid the possible loss of an auction. You have your debts paid and more than two millions in cash to put you on your feet again. As for us, our profit is assured. We have with us two Americans who will give fifteen hundred thousand francs for the tapestries alone. You have a fortnight to decide.'—I repeat what he said, word for word.—A fortnight! It was six days ago that I had the interview with this Altona, and I haven't yet found the courage to inform Monsieur le Marquis! And you expect me not to feel as if my brain was going."

"I am the one to tell him," cried the young man, "and instantly. You have lost six days, Chaffin, six days out of fourteen! You have failed seriously in your duty. Let us go to him."

"And tell him what?" queried the secretary, placing himself before the door toward which Landri had already taken a step.

"Why, the facts, just as they are."

"And with what result? With the result that he'll refuse to believe you, against all the evidence, and say: 'Touch Grandchamp!—they'll not dare!'—Or else he'll use the week in looking for money, enough to pay the Altona gang. It may be that he'll find it, for, after all, the tapestries and furniture and pictures and bronzes are here, and we know they're worth at least four millions, as the other man offers that. Well, then, Monsieur le Marquis finds the money. At what price? He borrows at twenty, thirty, perhaps fifty per cent. And in a year we're just where we are now, with this difference, that our two millions due on those notes will have become two millions three hundred thousand, to say nothing of getting four or five hundred thousand francs more to continue during that year a sort of life that must at any price be changed. You hear, Landri—it must! You have reproached me for neglecting my duty. It is true that I haven't been able to say to your father those horrible words: you must. Consider that all this wreck of his vast fortune is due to the fact that he would never consent to say to himself those two little words: I must. You ask me where that fortune has gone. Why, in living at the rate of five hundred thousand francs a year, when he and Madame la Marquise had four hundred thousand—as you said just now—when they married. With a pencil and paper and two columns, one of income, one of outgo, I will show you the whole thing in a nutshell. The marquis was determined to keep up the same establishment at Grandchamp that his father did with almost twice his income, and his grandfather with three times as much. Madame your aunt and madame your great-aunt carried the rest with them to the Nançays and the Vardes. Monsieur le Marquis is always cursing the Civil Code, and he is quite right. But it is the Civil Code, and it's stronger than we are and than he is. He has kept up the château as if he were your grandfather and great-grandfather. Do you know what that means? In the first place, a hundred thousand francs for the park, gardens and conservatories, plus sixty thousand for the hounds, forty thousand for the shooting, thirty-five thousand for the stables. We have got to two hundred and thirty-five thousand at once. And so with the rest. The table? We have forty people at dinner to-night, and the marquis would consider himself disgraced if his chef were not cited as one of the best in Paris! The servants? You know how many there are, and you know too that Monsieur le Marquis never dreams of parting with an old retainer without giving him a pension. We had a discussion only yesterday about young Mauchaussée. Twelve hundred francs to the father, and a house; twelve hundred francs to the son. There are more than thirty others taken care of in the same way. That makes forty thousand francs. And there are demands all day to which Monsieur le Marquis makes but one reply: 'Give.' And we give—for brotherhoods and sisterhoods, for hospitals and churches, for schools, and for the elections. Without counting the private alms, which don't pass through my hands. A hundred thousand francs put in Monsieur de Lautrec's hand, without a receipt, just when we are so straightened, to settle a gambling debt! I have the proof of it. I spoke to Monsieur le Marquis about it. I had the courage.—'If we don't help one another,' was his reply, 'who will help us?'—That he should do such things the first or second year, in '66 and '67, even down to the war, was natural. But when he saw the income of the property decreasing, the mortgages growing bigger, the unpaid bills piling up, that he did not try to stop is extraordinary. But it's the fact. I understand it so well. Every economy was a degradation of the house of Grandchamp, and degradation of a concrete sort, which he could have seen with his eyes and touched with his hands. Economies, do I say? There were the hedges trimmed every three years,—but in the interval? the avenues not so well kept,—but after the rains?—Fewer flowers in the beds, fewer horses in the stable, stag-hunting with fewer dogs and fewer whippers-in! His heart was nearly broken. He went back the next year. The debt increased. It whirled him off in its eddies. And then, he has always hoped; yesterday, it was a fortunate investment,—Monsieur Jaubourg had put him on the track of a good thing. He gained a hundred and twenty thousand francs. A drop of water in the desert! Day, before yesterday, one of your cousins. Monsieur de Nançay, died and left him a hundred thousand francs. Another drop of water. These unexpected windfalls misled him with a mirage which harmonized only too well with his hereditary instinct. It would be easier for him to break off his habits altogether, than to change—that is the conclusion at which I have arrived. On that account, Landri, I look upon this offer of Altona's as providential, you understand. Monsieur le Marquis must accept it. Grandchamp once emptied of its furnishings, which are sacred reliques to him, he will never want to come here again. No more gardens à la française. At all events we will reduce the cost of keeping them. No more stag-hunting, no more open house. With what is left he will still have enough to live very handsomely. We will let the shooting, the château perhaps. Then we will begin to redeem the mortgages. The house of Claviers-Grandchamp will be shorn of its splendor for a few years. But it will live up to its motto: E tenebris inclarescent. It will not go down forever."

Engrossed by the heat of his demonstration, Chaffin had made a false step. He had changed his tone as he dwelt upon the figures,—a terrible commentary on the harangue delivered by the marquis to his son in the forest two hours earlier, on the splendor of the name! To be sure, the heartless jubilation of the ascent of the staircase no longer gleamed threateningly in his yellow eyes; but his despicable sentiments toward his imprudent and magnanimous employer made themselves manifest in the pitiless clearness with which he thought and spoke of the disaster. He thought that he knew Landri well, knowing him to be eminently impressionable, and having formerly contributed, by dint of surreptitious criticism, to detach him from his milieu. He had seen how he stood out against the marquis on the subject of Saint-Cyr. Moreover, was it not now a question of the swallowing-up of his future inheritance? He was aware neither of the extent of the young man's unselfishness nor how deeply the genuine poesy of M. de Claviers' character stirred the chords of that tender heart. That poesy the brutal draftsman of the balance-sheet of ruin did not even suspect. His picture of the marquis's life, so foolishly ill-ordered but so generous, his indictment rather, wherein he had emphasized the grand seigneur's craze for appearances, without sufficiently setting forth his idealism and his charity, was strangely at variance with the attitude of a faithful and growling watch-dog which he ordinarily affected. Landri felt the difference, by instinct only. The revelation of the impending catastrophe impressed him much too painfully. It was enough, however, for him to feel an unconquerable longing to identify himself with his father, and he replied:—

"What? You entertain that idea, you, Chaffin? The furniture of Grandchamp sold? The treasures that our grandmother rescued so heroically in '93, dispersed? My father driven from his house by that vile crew? Never! I would rather sacrifice my own fortune!"

"Well!" insinuated Chaffin, "ask him for it."

"Don't tell me that it is swallowed up, like—" exclaimed the young man. He did not finish the sentence, but said emphatically: "I know that's not true!"

"It isn't true, in fact," rejoined the secretary. "Monsieur le Marquis still has a capital much larger than the fifteen hundred thousand francs that you inherited from Madame de Claviers. After he rendered his accounts as guardian, you gave him a general power of attorney which included the right to sell and to mortgage. You did it because he inherited a fourth of your mother's property, say five hundred thousand francs. That property consisted in part of houses. You insisted that it should remain undivided. It is sufficient, therefore, for him to be all straight with you, that he should turn over to you the fifteen hundred thousand francs, the income of which he has always paid you in full; he can do it, but on one condition, and that is a sine qua non: he must sell the personal property at Grandchamp,—the only thing that he can realize on. The lands and buildings are so loaded down with mortgages and so hard to turn into cash,—we need not talk of that. How long should you have to wait, do you suppose? And you would not be a privileged creditor. You have come of yourself to the point to which I was trying to bring you. That is the whole motive of my action, Landri. You can get Monsieur de Claviers out of this cul-de-sac, you and nobody else, and you can do it by demanding your fortune."

"I? of him?"

"Yes, you, and by withdrawing your power of attorney. He will not choose, that you should for a second suspect him of having misused it. He won't have any peace until he has restored it all to you, on the spot. If Altona's four million is offered him at that moment, he'll accept it. Grandchamp stripped of its treasures is horrible to think of, I agree. But one can refurnish a dismantled château. One can not reconstruct a squandered fortune, and with five years more of this life yours is gone, forever. I owed you the truth. I have told it to you. Make up your mind."

While Chaffin was formulating these suggestions Landri looked at him in such a way that the other had to avert his eyes. For the first time the former pupil of the dishonest steward asked himself this question: "Is this really the same man?" In the flare of a sudden intuition he caught a glimpse of the dangerous plot woven about the ancient estate, one of the artisans of which was this man who advised him—to do what? To commit moral parricide, in view of M. de Claviers' character. But it was only a gleam. This cruel advice might, after all, have been suggested to the steward, at his wits' end, by the desperation born of one of those crises in affairs in which humanity vanishes before the implacability of figures. However that might be, Landri had been wounded too deeply in his instinctive delicacy, and a restrained indignation trembled in his reply.

"I will not do that," he said. "I prefer anything to losing his heart. My first impulse was the true one. I must tell him everything, and instantly. The future of the family is at stake, and he is its head. It is for him to decide, not me. Let us go."

"I have done all that I can," said Chaffin. "You refuse. Let us go."

He opened the door, and instantly the two men found themselves face to face with Landri's valet. The man was waiting in the corridor, ready to go in as soon as his master should be free.

"Was he listening?" said Chaffin to himself. "Bah! they've known it all for a long while."

He slandered the man, who was the son of one of the old lamp-men of the château. Grandchamp was lighted throughout by oil, and it required three men specially assigned for that service!—This valet had a message to deliver, the mysterious nature of which disturbed him. Such was the exceedingly simple explanation of his standing sentry.

"A person wishes to speak with Monsieur le Comte at once. It is very urgent and very important, but it's only for a word. The person is waiting in Monsieur le Comte's bedroom."

"If it's only for a word," said Landri, himself astonished, even in his trouble, by that message and the messenger's insistence, "I will go. I will return in a moment, Chaffin, wait for me. Do you, Jean, go and find where Monsieur le Marquis is just now."

"Landri will tell Monsieur de Claviers nothing," repeated the former tutor when he was left alone. That meeting of their glances, a few moments before, had revealed to him an unsuspected energy and perspicacity in his pupil. He had accepted without further remonstrance the proposition to tell the marquis the truth, for fear of arousing suspicion. He answered it in anticipation, mentally: "But then, let him tell him all. What does it matter to me? My accounts are all straight. I have never acted without written authority.—No. He won't tell him anything. No one can speak to that man. Landri will think better of it. He's going to Paris to-morrow. He'll take advice. Advice? From whom? Jaubourg perhaps. No, he doesn't like him, and he loves, yes, adores, the marquis! The voice of the blood is like their wonderful Race; what an excellent joke!" Chaffin sneered. In thought he insulted his master twice over, in his person and in his ideas. "Landri will go and see Métivier, the notary, it's more likely. Yes, that's the better way. Métivier will send for me. When he knows the situation of affairs, he'll agree with me. This Altona offer means, at one per cent, forty thousand francs for me. By the same token, for them it means salvation."

The cunning calculator hardly suspected that if, resorting to the degrading practice of which he had instantly accused the valet, he had placed his ear against the door of the next room, he would have heard arrangements made for one of the very interviews that he had imagined. The "person"—as Jean discreetly said—who was awaiting Landri was the maître d'hôtel of the invalid on Rue de Solferino, who had come all the way from Paris to say to the young man:—

"When Monsieur Jaubourg learned that Monsieur le Comte had called to inquire for him without going upstairs, he was very much put out—more than put out, distressed. I must needs take the first train for Clermont. He is absolutely determined to see Monsieur le Comte. I am to insist that Monsieur le Comte come to-morrow if he passes through Paris again.—Monsieur Jaubourg is so ill, Monsieur le Comte! If he lasts two or three days, the skies will fall! He was very particular to tell me not to show myself, so that Monsieur le Marquis should not know of my coming. He was afraid of disturbing him too much. However, here I am."

"Tell Monsieur Jaubourg I will come to-morrow at eleven o'clock," replied Landri. The care taken by a dying man to spare his old friend a pang touched him. He felt the delicacy of it all the more keenly because his heart was frozen, as it were, by the deferential brutality of formal respect, so cruel in reality, of his former tutor. At any other time, the peculiarity of the proceeding, sending this servant a two hours' journey by railway, would have puzzled him; but a too genuine and too present anxiety suspended in him all morbid labor of the imagination, and while he was going down the stairs with Chaffin, it mattered little to him what Jaubourg's reasons were for desiring so earnestly to see him, or whether it was or was not for the purpose of insisting on his marriage to Marie de Charlus.

Jean had returned to say that M. de Claviers-Grandchamp was in the dining-room. And it was there that the son and the secretary found the improvident owner of the treasures coveted by the Altona band. The grand seigneur still wore his hunting costume. He had not had a quarter of an hour to himself since his return. He was engaged now with his major-domo—another example of his grand manner—in arranging the seats around the enormous table, which was all laid and ready. Innumerable lighted candles already shone upon the silver plate engraved by Roëttiers. The flat dishes displayed their edges of interlaced ribbons on the brilliant whiteness of the cloth, around the central épergne, a masterpiece signed by Germain. It represented the abduction of Europa, on a large rocaille pedestal. Wainscoting rebuilt in the eighteenth century, in the style of Gabriel, covered the walls of the octagonal room. Eight pillars at the eight angles, fluted, and topped by Corinthian capitals, imparted a majestic aspect, which was enlivened by four high Gobelin tapestries, of Oudry's hunting series, alternating with mirrors. On occasions like this these panels prolonged on the walls the day's amusement, as did the hunting-horns surrounded by laurel-branches, chefs-d'œuvre of Gonthière, which could be distinguished in the decorations. The cream-white tone of the woodwork harmonized with that of the cane-seated dining-chairs, and with the reflection of the central chandelier, of Venetian glass,—a caprice of one of the châtelaines of former days, the wife of the restorer of Grandchamp, whose portrait by Parrocel was set into the wall over the white marble chimneypiece. He was on horseback and wore the uniform of a lieutenant-general,—which he had earned by being wounded at Fontenoy,—the cuirass under the light blue coat, the white scarf, the red ribbon, and held in his hand the baton of a general.

This ensemble, with the soft and vivid hues of the flowers, blended with the glistening of the glasses, imparted a touch of grace amid all the magnificence, which suddenly assumed a tragic aspect in the young man's eyes. The figures set forth by Chaffin appeared on the walls as distinctly as the Mene-Tekel-Upharsin of the Biblical feast; and as suddenly he was conscious of that impossibility which the other had foreseen—the impossibility of inflicting the pain of a similar vision upon the impoverished and superb "Émigré," whose last joy this sumptuous entertainment might prove to be—a childish joy, but heartfelt and earnest in its bountiful outflow.

"Forty!" he cried as soon as he saw his son: "there will surely be forty of us. An Academy!—I made up the number by inviting our neighbors the Sicards, and some friends they have with them, the Saint-Larys. Two charming couples! I will indulge my old eyes with their youthful happiness.—Well, Chaffin, was I right in ordering dinner for forty? You won't accuse me of wastefulness again." And he laughed his frank, hearty laugh. "Look at our Parrocel, Landri. Hasn't he a look of the place? To think that I shall never see you dressed like that, even if you're a general some day and I am still in this world! Ah! the fine bright uniforms of the old days! And the spruce young officers who went into battle as to a fête, in those colors! Everything is sad with us, even heroism. But you must help me. I was seating my company. First of all I had placed Madame de Férussac opposite me, and you over here, beside—" He showed his son a card on which was written the name of Mademoiselle de Charlus. "I am putting them all awry. You are the one to sit opposite me."

"Why, no, father," said Landri hastily, "I beg you to leave me where you had put me. I assure you that I prefer that."

"Really? do you mean it?" said M. de Claviers. There was so much artless gratitude in his expression, that preoccupation about a change of seats at the table disclosed such a loving regard for the susceptibilities of the young man's heart, that the tears came to his eyelids, and when his father asked him,—

"Well, what is it? Why were you looking for me?"

"To ask you if I shall see you to-morrow before I go," he replied. Already he was preparing to postpone the revelation which he had insisted should be made instantly.

"I think not," replied the marquis. "You take the train at Clermont, don't you? At ten o'clock? In that case, surely not."—And Landri did not protest!—"You passed the night on the railway, and you are travelling again to-morrow. You must have a good rest. And I have to go and see one of my farmers, a long way off, who is asking for some repairs. You know, Chaffin, Père Chabory. He won't get them, I promise you. I will be immovable. There's no claim in his case. I shall take advantage of the errand to try my new roan a bit. A splendid beast that Régie Ardrahan sent me from Dublin—another Toby. But the English have never learned to teach a horse to trot. I shall start at half after seven, so as to have returned when my guests wake.—No, we shall not see each other again. And this evening doesn't count! We will make up for it at your next visit. I was going up to your room to urge you to call at Jaubourg's when you go through Paris, and to see him yourself, if you can. You can telegraph me how you found him."

"Landri will do as he pleases," Chaffin interjected, "but I have a despatch already—from my son—received just now, and which I came to tell you of. Monsieur Jaubourg is better, much better."

"Ah! that's good news!" exclaimed M. de Claviers. "You take a weight off my heart, Chaffin. The fête will be perfect then. This morning a ten-branched stag"; and he hummed the refrain:—

"Un dix cors jeunement.
Qui débûche à l'instant.

"And to-night a dinner of the sort that Lardin knows how to serve."—Lardin was his cook.—He hummed another hunting-song, La Bourbon:—

"La chasse, la vin, et les belles
C'était le refrain de Bourbon.

"But we must go and dress, my dear Landri, so that we may be on hand when they arrive, these 'belles'!"

"You see," said Chaffin to Landri in an undertone, as they left the dining-room behind the marquis, "you didn't speak to him, you couldn't. To-morrow you won't be able to any better. You felt it. I was sure you would. Look the situation in the face. You will do what I have advised. It's the only way. I shall wait forty-eight hours more before I tell him."

He walked away in the direction of his office before Landri had found a word to reply. He felt humiliated by the consciousness that he had justified, by his own attitude, the silence for which he had warmly rebuked his former tutor. He realized fully, however, that the motive of passionate affection to which he yielded in postponing the awakening from that blissful dream on the brink of an abyss had nothing in common with the obscure schemes of a decidedly double-faced personage. Landri had received this impression anew when the other spoke of the despatch alleged to have been sent during the day by his son. The message that he had himself received a half hour before contradicted this improvement, which was clearly fabricated by Chaffin. For what purpose? As a chance shot, and to diminish the probabilities of a consultation with the shrewd Jaubourg concerning the course to be pursued. The young man was unable to divine this reason. But it was equally true that he could no longer tell himself in good faith that it was "to spare my father anxiety." The first shock of surprise was past. His new-born reflections revealed too many riddles in the performance, and first of all this persistent abandonment of the contest, this acceptance of an event which should have been the outcome of nothing less than a desperate resistance. But in that case Chaffin was not loyal? This supposition opened horizons so dark that Landri rejected it. His memories of childhood and youth cried out against it. "He has warned me," he said to himself. "What forced him to do it? My God! how I wish I knew the truth, and above all things what my duty is!"

What was his duty? He had no sooner propounded that question than it occupied the whole field of his thought. How gladly he would have asked advice of some one! But of whom? As he passed through his library again, after he had dressed, on his way down to the salons on the ground floor, his glance fell upon a portrait of his mother, and he stopped to gaze at it, as if the face of the dead might take on life to sustain him, to give him a hint. Alas! to no purpose would his filial piety have questioned for days and days the delicate and deceitful features which had been those of the beautiful Madame de Claviers. He would have derived nothing but doubts concerning her, had the denunciator carried to the end his confidences concerning the secret sorrows of the family. That portrait was of 1878. Landri was just born, and Madame de Claviers was thirty years old. She was painted sitting down, in a red velvet evening gown, which left bare her lovely arms, her supple shoulders, her neck, a trifle long, about which gleamed a row of enormous pearls. She had a very small head, with an abundance of chestnut hair, a mouth of sinuous shape, upon which flickered a smile, but impersonal and seemingly forced. The eyes, whose expression was at once dreamy and observing, passionate and guarded, contradicted the artificial banality of that smile. It was the image of a woman, very sweet and very simple at first glance, very complex at the second, and quite unintelligible,—a happy woman, but whose happiness was of that deep-seated and perturbed sort that never comes to fruition, being condemned, by sin, to remain concealed.

Landri, without quite understanding why, had never cared overmuch for that canvas, which he preserved as a relique. His mother had bequeathed it to him expressly, in a will made during the last days of the terrible illness of which she died. Obsessed by the anxiety which consumed him, he suddenly detested that picture, and hurriedly walked away from it. That grande dame, in her festival costume, who had reigned over that life of extravagance while bearing her part in it, had no moral aid to offer him! Nor had the grandfathers and grandmothers, whose old-time faces covered all the walls of the salons once inhabited by them according to the same principle of unbridled expenditure. The marquis's guests were beginning to crowd the rooms, and the young man contemplated those family portraits over their heads: young women and old women of bygone centuries, lords and prelates, ambassadors and field-marshals, commanders of the Saint-Esprit and Grand Crosses of Saint-Louis. Those faces, by their presence alone, seemed to entreat the inheritor of their name to labor to spare them that last great outrage—to be carried away from the ancestral dwelling, to become simply a Rigaud or a Largillière, a Nattier or a Tocqué, a Drouet or a Vigée-Lebrun, in some random collection. To spare them that outrage—but how? And Landri felt that his uncertainty increased.—Yes, what was his duty? But what if Chaffin were sincere, if his outlook were just, if, in order to save his father from a final crash, it were necessary, man-fashion, to sacrifice those portraits and everything else,—the Gobelins and that series by Boucher, the Noble Pastorale, and Natoire's Mark Antony, and the Beauvais tapestries, and the gilded wainscotings of Foliot and Cagny, and the carpets from La Savonnerie, and the bronzes, and the hangings, and all that array of beautiful objects, whose frivolous magnificence inevitably demanded such assemblages as that of this evening?

Passing from inanimate things to people, Landri studied one after another, first in the salons, afterward in the dining-hall, the familiar faces of M. de Claviers' guests and of M. de Claviers himself. On the day when those Férussacs and Hautchemins and Traverses and Sicards and Saint-Larys and all the rest, and Louis de Bressieux and Florimund de Charlus, should learn of their host's downfall, would they pity him much more than his secretary did? Their egoisms, their fickleness, their indifference seemed to become visible to the son's grief-stricken imagination.

Meanwhile the dinner had begun. The servants in the Claviers-Grandchamp livery were passing to and fro behind the guests. The light fabrics of the décolleté gowns alternated with the black coats, eyes shone, lips laughed, the dishes succeeded one another, wine filled the glasses, and the marquis, at the centre of his table, contemplated the fête with eyes sparkling with life. It was as if all the Claviers-Grandchamps were entertaining in his person, superbly. Hardly more than a suspicion of dissatisfaction veiled his eyes, when, turning in his son's direction, he observed his evident preoccupation. "Poor Landri is thinking of his Madame Olier!" he said to himself; and his magnanimous old heart felt a vague remorse which he banished by raising his head and gazing at the portrait of the lieutenant-general, wounded at Fontenoy.

The voices rose higher and higher. The laughter became more and more uproarious. Complexions tingling with the country air assumed a ruddier hue in the atmosphere of the dining-hall. Landri's suffering became more and more acute. Was it possible that this fête was really the last? But what was he to do? What was he to do? He could scarcely force himself to talk of indifferent subjects with his two neighbors in turn, one of whom, at his left, was the pretty, fair-haired and insignificant Madame de Férussac. The other, clever Marie de Charlus, carried her jovial humor to ever greater lengths as the dinner proceeded. She realized that she did not exist, so far as Landri was concerned, and she yielded to the instinct that has ruined the happiness of so many love-lorn women: to make an impression at any cost on the man they love, and to disgust him rather than not be noticed at all by him. Ascribing her conduct to the atmosphere, she began to run through a long list of satirical sobriquets, such as it was the fashion in Paris, last winter, to distribute at random.

"And Bressieux," she said at one moment, "do you know what they call Bressieux? Monsieur le Vicomte de la Rochebrocante. And poor Jaubourg, on account of his swell associates among us? Jaubourg-Saint-Germain. For my part, I call it very amusing!"

"Jaubourg-Saint-Germain?" said Sicard, the spiteful damsel's right-hand neighbor. "I don't know him. True, it is amusing!"

The most amusing part of it was that the Sicard couple had their own nick-name—unknown to the parties concerned, of course:—"The three halves." This wretched pun signified that the very diminutive Madame de Sicard, married to the very diminutive M. de Sicard, was supposed to have a tender penchant for the very diminutive M. de Travers. The historian of contemporary manners would apologize for noting, even cursorily, such trifles, were it not that they have a slight documentary value. This innocent fooling of a society so threatened measured the degree of its heedlessness.

Ordinarily these idiocies of the prevailing mode annoyed Landri de Claviers. That refined and intelligent youth lacked, it must be confessed, the precious gift of smiling, which the marquis had, and which the English call by an untranslatable phrase, "the sense of humor." He took everything alike too much au sérieux. However, he did not think at that moment of taking offence at Marie's wretched taste. The epigram concerning Bressieux had suddenly reminded him that his father and himself had surprised the gentleman-broker in conversation with Chaffin. He looked at him across the table and saw that the other was looking at him. Was Bressieux mixed up in the schemes of the Altona gang? Was that possible, too?—Oh! what to do? what to do? And, above all, how to learn the truth?

The second of the sobriquets mentioned by Mademoiselle de Charlus started Landri's mind upon another scent.—Jaubourg? But he was to see Jaubourg to-morrow. Suppose Jaubourg, who knew everybody in their circle, as that absurd name indicated, suppose that Jaubourg, too, knew that imminent peril menaced their house? Suppose that was what he wanted to speak about to his friend's son, being unable to induce that friend himself to listen? And in the event that he knew nothing, why should not Landri tell him the truth, in order to obtain the advice for which his longing became more and more intense? Jaubourg was really fond of M. de Claviers-Grandchamp. The young man's mind fastened upon this idea, which he did nothing but turn over and over all the evening.

How long it seemed to him before the last carriage, rumbling over the pavement of the courtyard, had borne away the last guest! And no less long the beginning of the night, when, having gone up to his room, and being left to himself, he tried to formulate an appeal to the experience and affection of a man with whom he had never felt at his ease! He had too often encountered M. Jaubourg's interference, always concealed, in matters that concerned only M. de Claviers and himself. He had never learned anything of it except by chance. So it was to-day with this Charlus project. And with it all, Jaubourg had never manifested to Landri that good-humored affection which is the privilege of old family friends who have seen us grow up. He had kept the child, and, later, the young man, at a distance, by an attitude of constant criticism, courteous and scornful at the same time. There had always been an atmosphere of constraint between them. Chaffin's prevision was accurate on this first point. Nor had he gone astray upon the second. The more Landri dwelt on the idea of relying upon Jaubourg, the more the wonted antipathy revived. "Besides," he concluded, "sick as he is, incapable of taking any active step, ignorant of the Code, of what assistance can he be to me, if there's a conspiracy to be foiled and legal precautions to be taken?"

Then it was, as the thought of possible litigation came to his mind, that he remembered Métivier, the notary. "Where were my wits?" he thought. "Métivier's the man I must see. One can appeal from a judgment. One can resist. A notary knows how to do it. He knows the ways to borrow money. My fortune is still intact. Chaffin admitted as much. Métivier will tell me if I can use it to save Grandchamp, and how to go about it."

He reflected that, as he was to pass only half a day in Paris, he had not time to make an appointment with Maître Métivier, a very busy man, who, perhaps, would not be at his office. He did not go to bed until he had written a long and very succinct letter, which he proposed to leave at the notary's in case of his absence. He set forth in detail the whole story that Chaffin had told him, giving the names of Madame Müller and Altona, the figures given to him, the advice insinuated by his former tutor, his determination to sacrifice his personal interests absolutely in order that the château might be kept intact. He added that, being obliged to return to Saint-Mihiel, he would arrange to be at Paris as soon as his presence was necessary.

As he read the letter over he was amazed to notice how easy it seemed to him, now, to apply to his colonel for another leave, which had seemed to him impossible that morning, in view of the prospective inventories. Chaffin's revelation had changed the whole course of his thought. Other revelations, more tragical, were about to supervene, and to lead him in still another direction. He had no more suspicion of them than he had had of these the night before, when he deemed himself so unfortunate, and when the whole drama of his life seemed to him to be comprised in those two desires: not to quit his profession as a soldier, and not to lose the woman he loved. He had not, however, forgotten her, that friend who was so dear to him. As he fell asleep, at the close of that day so full of events, which preceded another day of even more cruel trial, he reverted mentally to his conversation of the morning in the little salon on Rue Monsieur. He marvelled at the unexpected détours of life, which keeps such surprises in store for us, and he reproached himself, like a true lover, for having given Valentine no place in his thoughts during the last few hours.

"But it is for her, too, that I shall go to see Métivier to-morrow," he said to himself. "This disaster to my father, which should part me from her, will draw me nearer to her, if I prove to him how devoted I am to him. Let me save Grandchamp, and he will no longer oppose my marriage. If we are ruined, Mademoiselle de Charlus's great fortune will become an argument.—And even if he should persist in saying no, my conscience would be at rest, having sacrificed myself to him, as I wish, as I am determined to do."



This sweet and tender image of the adorable woman upon whom Landri had formed the pious habit of letting his thoughts rest every night, for years past, before closing his eyes, was there again when he woke. Such is the sorcery of a passionate love in youth. To be sure, he was much engrossed by the step he was arranging to take with respect to Maître Métivier; the confusion in their financial affairs disclosed by Chaffin was most serious, and brought with it threatening consequences in the future. Moreover, none of the obstacles against which he had bruised himself the night before had disappeared. He was still likely to receive, before the end of the week, an order to proceed to take one of the two church inventories announced as about to be taken in the neighborhood of Saint-Mihiel. He knew too well, despite the sophistical reasoning of his desire, that his father's opposition to a mésalliance would not readily give way. But he was to see Valentine Olier at two o'clock, and in spite of everything, an intimate joy had possession of him. While he was dressing and breakfasting, he constantly interrupted himself to gaze admiringly at the depths of the blue sky, at the forest bronzed by the autumn, at the garden à la française spreading beneath his windows, and at the statues, whose white lines stood out against the dense dark foliage of the yews, trimmed in the shape of balls and pyramids.

That same blue sky enveloped the château as with an aureole when he turned to look at it once more, in the carriage that was taking him to the Clermont station. He had had the good fortune not to fall in with Chaffin as he was leaving,—he had dreaded such a meeting a little,—and he had the additional good fortune to meet his father in person at a turn in the road, mounted, as he had said, on his new horse.

"I was determined to introduce him to you," cried the old nobleman as soon as his son was within earshot, "and also to bid you good-morning. Did you rest well? Good!—My farmer has hoodwinked me—he was sure to. He'll have his repairs. Chaffin will scold me.—As for this old fellow," and he patted the arched neck of the powerful Irish horse which was dancing nervously, "he tried hard to unseat his new rider.—Whoa! whoa! I am not in favor of divorce, my boy.—I have taken him down a little all the same, by giving him a chance to gallop. As for the trot, we shall not say anything about that for some time. But I'll show you what he can do."

Riding at a ditch near-by, he raised the beast, which leaped readily to the other side. There was a low stone wall a short distance away, at which M. de Claviers drove the roan straight, with no less daring and grace than if he had been five-and-twenty instead of five-and-sixty. The horse leaped the obstacle. The marquis waved his hat triumphantly.

"A second Toby!" he cried exultantly to his son. "And he's shrewd too, the beast! Oh, he is!—Adieu, my son, and don't forget Jaubourg. A despatch at once!"

He disappeared. How often Landri was destined to see again in memory that horseman, so proud of mien, riding away across the fields! "Adieu, father!" he cried in response; and it was indeed an adieu that they exchanged,—although they were to meet again,—adieu of the father to the son, of the son to the father. And neither knew it!

"He is too anxious about his friend," said Landri to himself as he left the train, an hour later, on the platform of the Gare du Nord. "I will go there first. Then to Métivier's. Place de la Madeleine—that's on my way to luncheon at the club. My father will have his telegram all the earlier. Mon Dieu! if only I have no terrible news to send him!"

As so often happens, the unhappy youth dreaded the very thing that he ought most earnestly to have desired. He had a slight sense of relief when he noticed, on reaching Rue de Solferino, that the straw was still spread in front of the house. M. de Claviers' friend was still alive. But the bulletin, posted in the concierge's lodge, contained one line, more ominous than that of the preceding day: "A very restless night. Increasing weakness." Beside it was a register on which were inscribed long columns of signatures "with currents of air," as the free-mason-colonel was wont to say in his coarse and picturesque "fichards'" slang. Our death-beds and our burials sum up, in a synopsis, as it were, our whole social individuality.

"Jaubourg-Saint-Germain" was taking his departure as if he really deserved that biting epigram. Who, pray, in Paris is sufficiently interested in the real motives of our actions to seek them beyond our gestures? The son of a stock-broker, Jaubourg had frequented a circle very different from that of his birth, for reasons which were not vanity. All his shrewdness had exerted itself to dissemble them. Moreover, if he had been a great lover he had been this also,—the social status makes itself felt even in the tender passion,—a wealthy bourgeois training among patricians. All sorts of little indications adjusted themselves to that rôle in his case. He had chosen for his abode the first floor of an old parliamentary house, spared when Boulevard Saint-Germain was laid out. The immeasurably high-studded rooms presented a seignorial aspect, in harmony with the very beautiful furniture and the tapestries that Charles Jaubourg had collected therein,—as at Grandchamp. But the furniture and tapestries did not constitute a true ensemble. The aristocratic stage-setting, which was so alive in the château de Claviers, took on here the factitious aspect of a museum. It was the work of a man who had employed the leisure acquired by the toil of his parents in not resembling them. He proceeded thus from the small to the great.

The servant who opened the door to Landri was the old maître-d'hôtel who had carried the dying man's message the night before. Jaubourg's relations with him were very analogous to those of M. de Claviers with the Mauchaussées and their like. But the châtelain knew his men "plant and root," to use again one of his favorite expressions. They were of the soil, of the neighborhood of Grandchamp; their fathers and mothers doffed their caps on the road to the defunct marquis, as they called Landri's grandfather; whereas Joseph, Jaubourg's servant, had entered his service by chance, on the recommendation of the secretary of a club. He had become attached to his master, however, with the affection that shrewd servants conceive for bachelors. He had made himself a home there. His devotion was genuine, but to a master whom he could not replace. This sentiment, composed largely of selfishness, bore no resemblance whatever to the familiar and hereditarily feudal deference with which the marquis's retainers enveloped him. There was something of the confederate in Joseph, of the safe witness, who has entered into a tacit contract of discreet silence with a rich and independent Parisian.

Jaubourg had never said a word or made a motion which authorized any person whomsoever, especially his servant, even to suspect the nature of the interest that Landri aroused in him; and yet it was with a semi-reproachful air that the wily and zealous Joseph greeted the young man. He had anticipated the ringing of the bell, a sign that he was watching for his arrival.

"Ah! how much Monsieur would have liked to see Monsieur le Comte yesterday! To-day—" He compressed his lips and touched his forehead. "Will Monsieur le Comte allow me to ask him not to contradict Monsieur in anything? Monsieur was so sick last night! The head! the head! I was afraid he'd go mad! He's better since morning. But if Monsieur le Comte would like to speak with Monsieur le Docteur Chaffin, while I go to prepare Monsieur for his visit—"

The son of the ex-tutor, who had been since the conversation of the preceding evening an object of such suspicion to Landri, occupied the room that Jaubourg, a gentleman of leisure, used for a study. A library of some size justified that title. It exhibited on its shelves the backs of rare volumes, which the collector had bought for the editions and for the bindings, and seldom opened. Pierre Chaffin had seated himself in front of a magnificent Riesener desk. The morocco top of that regal piece had certainly never before been used for such tasks as those in which he was engaged. He was correcting the proofs of a medical pamphlet, in order not to waste his time in the interval between his sittings by the bedside of the invalid, who, for his part, had written nothing at that desk, for many years, except notes accepting or declining invitations to dinner!

Between the doctor and Landri de Claviers-Grandchamp the relations had always been rather peculiar. As children they played together. Then the difference in their ranks had separated them. Old Chaffin's surly temperament—which he turned to account as knaves do their failings, by exaggerating it—reappeared in Pierre, without artifice or hidden motive. Very intelligent and energetic, taking life by its only good side, work, the head of the clinical staff affected the rough manner of the pure professional who is incessantly irritated by incompetence and pretentiousness. In his eyes all the people in society—and Landri was included in that category—were useless and incapable. Strange as such an anomaly may seem, many physicians, albeit very shrewd observers in respect to physiological symptoms, form such judgments of matters relating to the life of the mind, with the simplicity of primary-school children. Literally, they do not see it. Never had Pierre Chaffin suspected the inward drama through which the young noble was passing, torn asunder between his caste and his epoch. As his proud uncourtliness kept him away from the luxury and the festivities of Grandchamp, he was wholly ignorant of the reverse side of a society of which his father never spoke except in phrases of the most conventional and the most hypocritical respect. He was equally ignorant that he inspired in Landri a deep interest blended with generous envy. Yes, ever since their youth, the heir of the Claviers-Grandchamps had envied the student his independence in the struggle of life, and the reality of his activity. Unknown to his playmate, he had followed him through the successes of his service as intern, recommending him again and again to the illustrious Professor Louvet, his family physician. To these advances, to that regard which goes forth to meet friendship half-way, Pierre Chaffin never responded save by a stubborn coldness, in which there was some embarrassment, a defence, at once brutal and alarmed, against a sympathy of which he could not fathom the cause. There entered into it also a little of another, less generous, sort of envy,—that of the son of a salaried employee for the son of the employer, of the plebeian for the aristocrat.

He displayed no more amenity than usual on this occasion, in acknowledging Landri's greeting and his questions concerning Jaubourg's illness.

"It's acute pneumonia in its classic form," he said, raising from his proofs his broad face, surrounded by a reddish beard, to which a pair of gold-bowed spectacles imparted the expression of a German scholar. "A cold contracted by imprudence, fatigue for several days, lame back, headache. Then the peculiar chill, so characteristic of the disease, that cry of agony of the whole organism attacked, and, immediately after, thirty-nine degrees of fever. That's the first day. The second, a hundred and ten pulsations a minute, and forty respirations, instead of fourteen or eighteen. Last night, delirium. This evening or to-morrow, judgment will be pronounced on the pneumonia, and I fear it will be very harsh, considering the patient's age."

"Do you think that he will still know me?" asked Landri. "Joseph used the word madness."

"Joseph doesn't know what that word means," interposed the physician abruptly, with a shrug of the shoulders which was not far from signifying, "Nor you, either."—"I myself," he continued, "used almost the same word, which one should never do. It was not delirium that Monsieur Jaubourg had last night, it was subdelirium. The upper parts of the brain were under the influence of toxins, and the others, the unconscious parts, were free and wandering. It's a sort of poisoning peculiar to pneumonia, and which sometimes indicates its coming. It is very analogous to alcoholic poisoning. It manifests itself by a dream which expresses itself in speech and is incoherent to us. Probably, if we knew the past life of a person intoxicated in this way, we should discover that his incoherence is logical and true. Most frequently, he lives over past events. It's a phenomenon that has been carefully observed. We have given it one of those names of which society folk make sport, I know, I know. Since Molière's time we are used to such sarcasms. We call it an ecmnésique state, when the depths of the memory come to the surface, as we call this delirious dream onirique. Why does a certain microbe produce this effect when it attacks the meninges? This problem would lead us on to define what the mind is, and it is probable that you and I would not agree!—But let us drop this, which is scarcely interesting to you. I wanted simply to explain to you that Monsieur Jaubourg has never been mad, and that he has all his wits this morning. You can see him. Not for very long, and don't tire him."

Once more, in the persistently technical tone of this dry and unfeeling speech, Landri detected that instinctive hostility, unintelligible to him, which he had always encountered in Pierre. The physician had lectured in order to avoid having to talk. And not a word of inquiry as to his own father, when they had not met for more than a year! Not a word about M. de Claviers-Grandchamp, who had always been so kind to him! Pierre Chaffin had an excuse—the ill-humor in which his master, Professor Louvet, had put him by asking him not to leave Rue de Solferino. The head of the clinic obeyed his "grand pontiff,"—the students irreverently give that title to the masters on whom their futures depend,—and he relieved himself by being ungracious to one who, more than all others, represented that fashionable society to the prestige of which his chief sacrificed him. There was not the slightest failure of professional duty. A physician must not cavil at his science,—with the friends of a patient. That was nothing—that theory concerning the dreams of delirium—except a slightly pedantic excursus. It was sufficient to cause the words extorted from Jaubourg by the intoxication of his disease, if the crisis should come on in Landri's presence, to assume an entirely different meaning in the young man's mind. Alas! he had no need of that scientific "key." Unaided he would have deciphered only too easily the dying man's words! They carried their terrifying clearness with them. Nevertheless, the hypothesis of a death-bed insanity would have left room for a doubt which the scientist's lucid diagnosis had made untenable.

When Madame de Claviers' son entered his chamber, the dying man seemed to be exhausted by the high fever of the night, and to be more calm. He lay on a bed in the middle of the room, himself a curiosity for exhibition, like all the articles of furniture of that room, brought together during many years, with the painstaking zeal of a collector. This elegance of stage-setting rendered more painful the last hours of the old man, whose appearance shocked Landri, warned though he had been. The cheeks were burning, the whole face hyperæmic; the eyes shone with the unnatural brilliancy of suffering, and the hurried, almost spasmodic, dilatation of the nostrils told of the struggle against suffocation.

In his lifetime—it was already permissible to speak thus of him—Jaubourg had been the typical society man, who does not surrender; the worldling whose courageous courtesy spares others the contact and the spectacle of his degeneration. That degeneration was complete to-day, ominously undeniable and irreparable. But as a matter of habit the Parisian had mustered energy to make a last toilet. His face was washed and shaved, his sparse gray locks brushed, his hands cared for. He had put on a dressing-jacket of soft silk. Puerile yet pathetic details, which indicated his desire not to leave a too perverted image of himself in the memory of his visitor, the only one whom he had admitted during the last half-week. He had expressly forbidden Joseph to notify the few relations—very distant they were—that he still possessed. He had trembled lest they should suspect a condition of affairs which he had made it a point of honor to conceal for twenty-nine years. Yes, every effort of his life had had but one aim: to leave his fortune to the son he had had by another man's wife, without causing the world or that other man to wonder. The world—he had succeeded in hoodwinking it almost absolutely by such prodigies of diplomacy! The stories told by two or three members of his family, such as Madame Privat, had not gone outside a very small circle, and intimates with the perspicacity of a Bressieux are rare. The friendship which Jaubourg had manifested for M. de Claviers since his widowhood, and which, by a strange but very human anomaly, was sincere, would have put that noble-minded man's suspicions to sleep, if he had conceived any. But that great heart did not know what it was to distrust! It was he whom Jaubourg by his will had made his sole legatee, without informing him or anyone else. His reflections had led him to this roundabout method of assuring to Landri his three millions at least. He had, as we have seen, carried his scrupulosity to the point of being persistently cold in his treatment of the young man, who, like everybody else, must never know the truth.

The adulterine father had anticipated everything, everything except the death-agony among the hallucinations of memory! On his death-bed he was to destroy this masterpiece of his prudence, and, we must add, of a chivalry instigated perhaps by a tacit rivalry with the magnanimous friend whom his passion had caused him to betray. He had failed therein, for the first time, in yielding to the unspeakable craving to see once more, before taking his departure forever, that son who bore another's name and who was so dear to him.

Few men have the strength to die absolutely alone. Jaubourg had alleged to himself the pretext of talking to the young man of the project of marriage with Mademoiselle de Charlus, to which he attached very great importance. He had not foreseen the loss of energy under the attacks of his malady, or the animal cry of nature in rebellion.

"You have come, my friend," he said in a short, jerky voice, in which there was already a hint of the death-rattle. "You have come," he repeated; "thanks." And he pressed the hand that the other held out, in a passionate grasp. What a contrast to the guarded and quickly withdrawn clasp that he had always given him, as if unwillingly and with the ends of his fingers! This had been one of the most painful to the sensitive Landri of all the indications of his antipathy. "I wanted to speak to you—before I die—For I am going to die." And, as the other protested: "What's the use of lying? I feel death coming. I haven't much strength. Every word tears me apart." He pointed to both sides of his chest. "I must speak quickly—I wanted to talk to you," he insisted,—"about your marriage—"

"To Mademoiselle de Charlus?" rejoined the young man. He had noticed that Jaubourg, like Chaffin a moment earlier, did not mention M. de Claviers. "He doesn't really care for him, either," he thought, recalling the last words that the marquis had shouted after him as they parted. "It's the disease," he reflected further. "And I had thought of consulting him about the tricks of our creditors—and I find him in this state!"—He added, aloud: "My father told me how deeply you had interested yourself for me in that matter, and I thank you heartily, you understand,—heartily."

"Claviers mentioned it to you?" rejoined the dying man; and added, with feverish anxiety, "and you replied?"

"That I shall never marry a woman I do not love, and that I do not love Mademoiselle de Charlus."

"I was sure of it!" groaned Jaubourg, leaning forward sorrowfully. A hoarse cough shook him, which he tried to check with his handkerchief, upon which spots like rust appeared. "Don't call," he summoned strength to say to Landri, who was putting out his hand to touch the button of the electric bell. In face of the manifest terror of that appeal, he remembered the doctor's recommendations. He obeyed. The invalid, exhausted by the paroxysm of coughing, smoothed his hand to signify his gratitude. He had thrown himself back, with his eyes closed. He reopened them, to resume: "But she loves you! And she is charming! And then, there's the future—I don't know what you will find when Claviers is no longer there. I have never been able to make him talk about his money matters. He doesn't know where he stands himself. Ah! I tremble for you. I have done what I could. But this Charlus marriage—everything would be straightened out, everything. This Chaffin, in whom he has such blind confidence, what is he? I have never been able to find out that, either. Oh! my poor, poor Landri!"

His excitement increased. The young man did not yet interpret in their true meaning words which, however, clothed with a new aspect that strange nature; did they not betray a preoccupation wholly intent upon him, in a man whom he regarded as a friend of his father exclusively? On the other hand these words of distrust in connection with Chaffin corresponded too nearly with the feeling aroused in his own mind for him not to follow them up.

"Do you, too, look upon Chaffin with suspicion?"

"For a very long time," Jaubourg replied. "You will ask me: 'In that case, why do you place yourself in his son's care?' Louvet forced him on me. I did not refuse. I didn't think that I was so seriously ill! And then, the son isn't the same sort as the father. But you don't know what it is, to feel at times that you are going off, that you are speaking, that you have spoken. And then you don't remember what you have said—not a word. Everything is black before the mind. How I suffered from that impression last night! Joseph swore that I didn't say anything. You can believe him. He is reliable, perfectly reliable.—My God! that feeling is coming back!—My head!—it aches. Oh! how it aches! It's as if I had a pain in my mind!"—He took his head in his hands and pressed it. Another paroxysm of coughing bent him double; he came out of it repeating: "No! no! no! no!" Then, as if that almost convulsive denial had renewed his strength, he added, speaking more jerkily than ever: "I know why you won't marry this girl, who is so rich, who would rescue you if Claviers has squandered everything! I know why. You still love the other."

"What other?" queried Landri. The overmastering compassion that he felt for the invalid's evident agony did not prevent him from starting at that direct allusion. One fact stood out in his memory: Valentine imploring him not to go up to Jaubourg's room, not to see him. Were they acquainted, then? His surprise was so great that he insisted almost harshly: "What other, I say? Whom are you referring to?"

"To that Madame Olier," said Jaubourg. "Oh! Landri, not those eyes, not that voice! I can't stand that!—Look you,—I say nothing against her. I know that no one ever spoke ill of her. But at Saint-Mihiel you saw her constantly—I know that. She is a widow. I know that too, and where she lives. I should have found a way to know her, if it had been necessary. I know everything that concerns you, you see. I have always found a way to know it, day by day, ever since you were born. You mustn't think of marrying her. If she loves you for yourself, she ought not to think of it, either. In the first place, Claviers will never consent. And secondly you must be rich. I want you to be rich—I want it.—You don't understand. You must not understand.—Ah! I have always loved you so dearly, you know, Landri, and I have never been able to show it. It was my duty not to. It's my duty now.—My head is getting confused again, like yesterday.—But I don't want—I don't want—No. No. No. I won't say anything.—Go away, Joseph. Go away, Chaffin. They're looking at me. They shall not know. They shall not know.—My Landri! my own Landri!"

"Neither Joseph nor Chaffin is here," said the young man. "Calm yourself, Jaubourg. Calm yourself."

He made him lie down again, very gently. Those few sentences from the dying man's lips had moved him to the inmost depths of his being. With what a passionate interest the man must have followed him in order to have obtained such detailed information concerning incidents of so private a nature! M. de Claviers did not even suspect Madame Olier's existence before their conversation in the forest, and Jaubourg knew everything about her! He knew everything about him, he had said, "day by day, ever since he was born." What did those enigmatic words mean, and uttered, too, in such a tone? And those other words: "I have always loved you so dearly! I have never been able to show it. It was my duty not to!"

And, already disturbed even to anguish, Landri repeated: "They are not here. I am alone with you, all alone;" and, almost in a tone of entreaty: "Before me you can say anything; speak, if that will calm you. For you must calm yourself. You must."

"I have nothing to say," Jaubourg replied, "to anyone. To anyone." He had recovered his self-control once more. "I am quite calm. But my head gets so confused! Kiss me, Landri. Bid me adieu. I wanted to see you for that.—Oh! Just once, let me kiss you once as I love you. Oh! my child! my child!"

Tears gushed from his eyes, and rolled down amid the sweat with which his face was bathed. He rested his moist face on the young man's hands. He pressed him to his heart. He touched his hair and his shoulders; and Landri, aghast at the horrible thing that was being disclosed to him, listened as he continued:—

"You have gone back to your kind voice.—Your voice! That was my only joy in you. When you were a little child, at Grandchamp, I used to go into the library to listen to you as you played in the garden under the windows."—He had raised himself to a sitting posture. The dream described by the doctor was beginning.—"You don't see me, nor anyone else. I am looking at you.—You run about, your curly hair floats in the wind—your mother's hair.—She comes to you, along the path, against the yews. The air has colored her cheeks. How lovely she is!—She knows I am there. She smiles at me over our child's head.—Where has she gone?" His eyes had changed their expression. They were fixed on other scenes.—"How tiny she looks in that great bed! She insisted on dressing up. Her pearls sink into the folds in the skin of her neck!—Ah! how she suffers at the thought of death! So young, and that frightful disease!—I am going. You know that if I could stay I would not leave you, Geneviève—tell me that you know it.—I love you! I love you!—They are taking her away.—Look! I do not weep. You can look at me, I shall not betray her.—Geoffroy,—he is weeping. I do not weep. I still have our child. He shall have everything, everything. I have found a way—You sha'n't prevent that! You sha'n't prevent it!"

A terrifying vision had suddenly succeeded the pictures among which Landri had recognized—with ever-increasing horror!—the amusements of his childhood, his sick mother, and the minute detail of the pearl necklace about her fleshless neck; that mother's burial—and the rest! The invalid had raised himself in his bed. He was gazing at the young man, with a stupefied expression in his eyes, evidently mingling the altogether confused impression aroused by his presence with the nightmare that had possession of him.

"You say that he's my son! You have no right to think that," he groaned, "you don't know—Don't say it—I forbid you to say it!"

Then, as the illusion assumed a more definite and more alarming form, he uttered a loud shriek and jumped out of his bed.

This outcry was heard through the partition. It reached the ears of the servant and the doctor, both of whom rushed into the chamber at the same moment, just in time to stop the invalid, who had darted toward the window to escape from the voices that he heard.

"Leave us alone," said the doctor to Landri, who was so horrorstruck by the scene, that he had not even gone to the assistance of the victim of hallucination. "Joseph and I can take care of him."

He pushed the young man into the study, where he remained quarter of an hour, half an hour, completely crushed, as if he himself were in the clutches of a nightmare which paralyzed him with terror. At last the doctor reappeared. His face bore the marks of extraordinary preoccupation.

"I have just given him an injection of morphine, to subdue him," he said. "He will doze now, till the end. But such a paroxysm! That of last night was a mere outline.—Above all things pay no attention to what he may have said to you. It was absolute mental confusion,—madness." He repeated: "madness."

He looked his companion squarely in the face—too squarely—as he emitted that phrase which contradicted so utterly his earlier formulas: "He lives over past events.—The depths of his memory come to the surface." He himself realized, no doubt, the terrible bearing of the antithesis between this second assertion and the former one, for he could not help blushing. What words had Jaubourg uttered, then, in his delirium, that were even more explicit? Had he pronounced, before those witnesses, the horrifying sentence: "I was Madame de Claviers' lover, and Landri is my son?" At all events, that was the ghastly fact that Chaffin had grasped amid the sick man's divagations, as Landri himself had done; and, at this additional evidence, he felt an icy chill run through his whole body.

When a man is suddenly brought face to face with a fact of supremely tragic importance to him, which he cannot honestly doubt, and of which he had no previous suspicion, an interval of semi-stupefaction succeeds, of brief duration, during which he could not himself say what his sensations are. It is not grief, for the man does not comprehend what he has just learned. He does not realize it. Nor is it hesitation. Later he will be able to argue, he will attempt, rather, to argue, against the evidence. For the moment the fact has entered into him, with its irresistible force, as a steel point enters the flesh that it passes through, and there ensues, in the most secret depths of his being, that total upheaval of nature to which the hymn in the liturgy refers: Stupebit et natura. However, life goes on about this man who has been stricken to death and knows it not. It even goes on within him, and he seconds it, and he obeys its behests with an automatism resembling that of an evil suggestion. In this state Landri descended the stairs from Jaubourg's apartment, re-entered the cab he had left at the door, and gave the cabman Maître Métivier's address, almost without being conscious of it. The clock, wound before the terrible shock, performed its functions mechanically.

The notary was not at his office. Of what consequence now to the young man were those financial difficulties which had seemed so formidable to him? What were they in presence of this other horrible thing? He left his letter, and went on, on foot, toward the club on Rue Scribe where he had determined to lunch. A telegraph office that he passed reminded him of his promise to send M. de Claviers a despatch. He went in; and there, as he rested his elbow on the desk of blackened wood, before the printed form, and dipped his pen into the ink, this species of somnambulism suddenly ceased. His consciousness returned, acute and heart-rending. That ghastly hour that he had just lived through was a reality. Jaubourg was really dying. He had really said to him those words which still filled his ears and which had rooted in his mind the most cruel, the most ineradicable of ideas. A sudden evocation showed him M. de Claviers entering that same room, and the dying man, in the throes of the same delirium, uttering the same words.

"That shall not be!" he said, and he crumpled the paper, on which he had not even begun to write the address, with a convulsive gesture of dismay. Feverishly he wrote on another sheet: "Marquis de Claviers-Grandchamp. Château de Grandchamp, Oise.—Don't be alarmed. A decided improvement;" and signed it. Then he handed the untruthful despatch through the wicket.

He was within two steps of the club. The sight of one of the members going in at the door, who, fortunately, did not see him, made him stop short and walk away, almost run, in the opposite direction. That member of the club knew Charles Jaubourg, as all the others did. He would ask him for news of him. The friendship between the sick man and M. de Claviers was legendary.—Friendship!—Suddenly Landri said to himself: "They all know. Such scandals as this the world always knows; it hawks them about and laughs at them. The whole club knows. All Paris knows. There were only two people who didn't know."

He walked on and on,—how long he could not have told,—flying from those witnesses of the family disgrace, flying from himself. He mechanically entered a restaurant for luncheon, but had hardly begun to eat when he rose. Another image sprang up in his mind,—that of Valentine Olier. She too knew. That was the meaning of the exclamation that rushed from her lips: "Monsieur Jaubourg dying? I hope he won't see you"; of her entreaty not to see the sick man. She knew! With a bound as brutally instinctive as the contraction of his fingers on the white telegraphic form just before, Landri left the restaurant. He hailed another cab, to fly to her.

In his unreasoning excitement he had walked heedlessly, from street to street, as far as the network that encompasses the Department of the Interior. He was quite near Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré, where the town mansion of the Claviers-Grandchamps is situated. There his mother had died. There he had lived ever since with—By what name should he call henceforth the man whom he loved and should always love as a son loves his father, and who was nothing at all to him, nothing more than a great-souled honorable man, outraged by the most terrible of affronts, by those of the flesh of which his flesh was the offspring? The thought of seeing that house again was abhorrent to the wretched youth. He had given the cabman Madame Olier's address. As he was preparing to turn into Rue des Saussaies, Landri knocked on the glass as if he would break it. He ordered the man to go by way of Rue de Suresnes, Boulevard Malesherbes, and Rue Royale. The mere aspect of the quarter in which he had passed his childhood was, physically, intolerable to him. He closed his eyes that he might recognize nothing. But in that crisis of his life what impression could he receive that would not make him cry out in pain?

And now he was going to Valentine. To tell her what? To ask her what?—The cab had crossed Place de la Concorde, passed through Rue de Bourgogne and Rue Barbet-de-Jouy, and was rumbling over the pavement of Rue Monsieur; and he was still asking himself that question, without finding any reply thereto. To have conceived that ghastly suspicion, that certainty, alas! concerning Madame de Claviers and his own birth, was such a disgrace to begin with! To put that idea in words, even to Valentine, especially to Valentine, would be a crime! The affection of a son for his mother bears so sacred a character, all the loving energies of our being combine so powerfully to make her a creature apart from all others, purer, more irreproachable, more venerable! Was Landri to overstep the bounds of that respect which he alone could never cease to feel for Madame de Claviers, whatever she might have done? Should he repeat, voluntarily, knowingly, those terrible words torn from a dying man by the approach of the death-agony,—words by which he himself, as soon as he had heard them, was, as it were, stunned, ay, struck dead?

And yet it was absolutely necessary that he should find out whether Valentine knew and what she knew. The nervous shock had been too violent. All power of inhibition was momentarily suspended in him. His thought was certain to become an act the instant that it bore any relation to the overwhelming revelation that he had had to undergo. So that it was impossible for him not to cross the courtyard, not to ring at Madame Olier's door, not to ask if she would receive him. It had not even occurred to him that it was barely half-past twelve, that their appointment was for two o'clock, and that the simple fact of his arriving unexpectedly indicated some extraordinary occurrence. Did he so much as remember the reason that he and the young woman had made the appointment, and the passionate and painful interview of yesterday concerning their marriage? There is a peculiar characteristic of such uncontrollably excited mental states into which we are cast by a too abrupt and too violent shock: our mental equilibrium is temporarily upset. Our most cherished sentiments are arrested as it were, and our power of prevision as well. We seem to be looking on at the throwing out of gear of certain all-powerful sensations which lead us where they choose.

The bell had no sooner rung than Landri would have been glad to flee again as he had been fleeing. He remained.

"Either later, or now," he said to himself, "I must see her. I prefer now, and to know at once the whole extent of this dishonor."

When the servant announced that Monsieur le Comte de Claviers-Grandchamp desired to speak with her, and at once, Valentine was at table, had just finished taking luncheon with her little boy. During the twenty-four hours since the young man had left her upon her promise of a final answer to his offer of marriage, she had been constantly in the throes of the last convulsions of the struggle that had been waged for three years between her love and her duty first, her good sense next. That exclamation with which their interview had ended, that "now I am all his," had been followed by a supreme effort to resist. The serious objections that she had urged had presented themselves anew with a force which Landri's disclosures concerning the secret difficulties of his relations with his father had not lessened—quite the contrary. One thing had grown less: her authority over her friend. By consenting to reconsider her first refusal, she had proved too plainly her weakness before the young man's passion. She realized that, and she was alarmed to observe how sweet the sensation of yielding to that force was to her. Irresistible inward intoxication of the woman who begins to give herself! To give herself! A phrase so simple, yet of such deep meaning, which sums up in itself the whole miracle of love, because it is love! To cease to be one's self, to transform one's self into the ideas, the wishes of another, to become whatsoever he wills, contrary to self-interest, to prudence, sometimes to honor—so that he may be happy! And the man whom Valentine loved wanted nothing from her which she had not the right to give him without remorse.

"What answer shall I give him?" she had asked herself a score of times, without ever arriving at a decision of which she was really, radically sure in her own mind. "How can I persuade him to wait longer? Wait, and for what? Assuming that I impose this further postponement upon him, and he agrees to it, what will our relations be then? If I don't say yes, and instantly, I shall be obliged, after the explanation we had yesterday, to close my door to him. To receive him under such conditions would be mere coquetry, in the worst of all forms. A woman who has let a man tell her that he loves her should never see him again, or should belong to him. Not see him again? Not know what he thinks, what he feels? I should suffer too much. To say yes to him, if ill luck wills that he shall be mixed up in one of these horrible church-burglaries, is to dig still deeper the gulf between him and his father. If I could only make my consent depend on the condition that he should resign rather than obey an order of that sort! No; that would be wrong. He has a conscience of his own which I have no right to exert pressure upon in the name of his love! Ah! how I wish I could be sure that I am deciding only for his real good, and not because I love him and for my own happiness!"

A little incident had added to her uncertainty: a long letter from Saint-Mihiel, written by one of the friends she had retained there, the wife of one of the late Captain Olier's fellow officers. It was all about the uneasiness that prevailed among all the officers on account of the imminence of the two inventories—at Hugueville and Montmartin. The young widow's correspondent related at great length a conversation she had had with her husband, and how she had insisted that he should resign rather than comply with certain orders.

"She is his wife," Valentine had said to herself. "A wife has the right to take part in the most important resolutions of her husband's life. Would she have the right to leave him if he should decide against her advice? That is the sort of pressure I should try to exert if I should demand a promise from Landri as the price of my hand. I will not do it!"

Such were the thoughts that she was turning over in her mind when the bell rang. "Monsieur le Comte de Claviers-Grandchamp?" she could not help asking the servant who transmitted the young man's request; and she made her repeat the name, her surprise was so great. What was the meaning of this call at half after twelve instead of two? Evidently, that Landri had spoken to his father. To make him anticipate their appointment thus, he must have good news to tell her! Would M. de Claviers consent to their marriage? It was mad to hope for such a thing, and yet Valentine's heart was beating fast with that hope when she went into the small salon where the young man was awaiting her.

He had not uttered a word, and already she knew that she was mistaken. And the door had hardly opened, and already he realized that he had come to ask that woman a question which it was impossible for him even to frame in his mind. Just as, a little while before, the trivial, altogether material, necessity of writing a telegram, had roused him from his stupor, so now the necessity of stating in explicit words the ghastly thought roused him from his fit of frenzy. He saw it as clearly as he saw Valentine coming toward him, that to seek to learn the extent of the dishonor, as he had said, was to make himself an accomplice in it, to aggravate it. Whatever Madame Olier might have learned, she had learned it by hearsay only, and with doubts as to its truth. To speak to her would change those doubts into certainty.

Landri suddenly recovered all the energy he had had before the revelation. The mere presence of some one to talk to had caused the tortured youth to realize with crushing force the sacredness of the obligation to hold his peace, to conceal his martyrdom. Such a mighty struggle with himself, and so instantaneous in its conclusion, did not take place without a contraction of the whole being, betrayed by the tension of the motionless features, by the wavering of the glance, by the "white voice"—an admirably expressive popular phrase! What a contrast to the exalted glance, the impassioned lips of yesterday—those glowing eyes, that ardent voice! What had happened? Still engrossed by the anxiety revived by her friend's letter, Valentine thought at once of the ominous tale of inventories to be made.

"You have come at noon instead of two o'clock, Landri," she said, speaking her thought aloud. "I understand. You have to return to Saint-Mihiel by the next train. Have you had a telegram from the colonel?"

"No," he answered in amazement. He was so far away from these professional anxieties that he did not even understand the allusion.

"Then, if it isn't the inventories—" She did not finish the sentence. The question that she had on the end of her lips did not pass them. The perspicacity of a woman who loves made her divine that she must not even ask it. To give herself countenance and to avoid the appearance of interrupting herself, she continued: "The fact is that I have been worried again this morning on your account. I have had a letter on the subject from Julie Despois, the major's wife. In fact, I put it aside to show it to you. Here it is."

She had espied the letter on her writing-table,—it was placed there, in fact, with that purpose. She handed it to Landri, who began to read it, or to pretend to do so. Valentine saw that his eyes followed the lines but that their sense did not reach him. He did not really see the words. When he had finished the fourth page, he refolded the letter and handed it to Madame Olier, who refused it.

"Keep it. I want you to keep it. Read it again when you're back at Saint-Mihiel. She says so well what I said to you so badly."

The meaning of these words did not reach the young man, either. He obeyed, however, and with a mechanical movement slipped the envelope into his coat pocket. They sat for several seconds without speaking. This sort of absence in presence terrified Valentine now. Something had happened, something tragical it must have been to affect him so profoundly. With that occurrence she had nothing to do,—she felt it, she saw it. It was not a question of their marriage, nor of the answer that M. de Claviers might have made. He looked at her no more than he had looked at the letter just now. Something had happened! And had happened since the day before. Since the moment that Landri left that little salon.—Where did he go? To Grandchamp. But he had taken Rue de Solferino on his way. Madame Olier shuddered at the remembrance of the dread that had suddenly seized her when Landri had told her of his purpose. Suppose that, despite the promise she had exacted from him, he had been compelled to go upstairs? Suppose—And overwhelmed by the possibilities of which she caught a glimpse, she asked:—

"Did you get to Grandchamp in good season yesterday?"

"Why, very good," he replied; "in less than two hours."

"And your father wasn't angry? That little détour that you had to take didn't make you too late?"

"No," he said, "I was there at the finish."

As he pronounced the word "no" his voice hardened a little. His eyelids drooped over his eyes, in which she read distress. He waited, stiffening himself, in order not to shriek, for an allusion which she did not make. A great surgeon probing a wound displays no more skill in holding back the steel instrument at the moment when it would make the patient cry out, than a loving woman has in suspending a painful interrogatory before she has touched the sore spot. But was there need for Valentine to question him now in order to assure herself that the wound was there? Madame Privat was right. Jaubourg had loved Madame de Claviers. And so what she, Valentine, dreaded had really happened. Words had escaped the dying man which had aroused in the son's mind doubts concerning his mother's honor! And she waited, suffocated with emotion, for Landri to go on.

He tried to speak, he did not wish to remain silent, to go away until he had explained his unexpected call. But he could not. He could find only phrases whose very insignificance emphasized their falsity.

"They gave me a great many commissions at the château," he said, "and they'll take the whole afternoon. They disposed of my time without consulting me, and as I wanted to see you again, I came a little earlier."

"If you hadn't come," she replied, "and had sent me no word, I should have been quite sure that it was not your fault. You well know that I have entire faith in your affection, and that I shall never, never, take offence at anything." Then, impelled by immeasurable pity for that too cruelly stricken heart, if in truth a friend of his father, in the delirium of the death-agony, had dishonored his mother's image forever, she added: "I blame myself, Landri, for not having told you plainly enough yesterday how dear you are to me. I didn't show it enough. For you are dear to me, very dear," she repeated. It was as if she were trying to tame with words that pain which she divined to be so savage, so concentrated in itself, to caress it and soothe it. "Say that to yourself sometimes, when I am not present, whatever may happen." And as she saw that face, but now so gloomy, relax, and those veiled eyes look at her once more and see her, the overflow of her affection extorted from her the confession that she had always refused to make: "For you see, Landri, I, too—I love you."

"You love me!" ejaculated the young man. Obeying the instinct of true love, whose double vision borders on the marvellous, she had pronounced the only words capable of pouring balm upon his wound, but causing him to realize its full extent. That confession that he had so ardently craved and begged for, he was suffering too intensely to enjoy. That love which she at last manifested openly, and which, two hours earlier, would have intoxicated him with a very ecstasy of joy, he could no longer rush upon, absorb himself in, engulf himself in—himself and the horrible thing! That thing was there, in his thought, torturing him even at that moment, not to be forgotten even in the radiance of that noble heart, which was his at last! A wave of emotion swept over him, so despairing and so passionate at once, that he was alarmed by it. He trembled lest the hideous disclosure should burst from his too deeply moved heart. But did he need to make it now? Had she not divined everything? And that also touched him, as a more convincing proof of love than the most impassioned words, and overwhelmed him utterly.

"Thanks," he stammered. "But at this moment—surprise—emotion—Leave me."

And motioning to her that his voice failed him, he hid his face in his hands. He passed ten minutes thus, not sobbing, not weeping, not sighing, nor did Valentine attempt to question him or to comfort him. The only assuagement that his sick heart could receive without bleeding from it was the feeling that she existed, that she was by his side, all his. She gazed at him, even holding her breath, to spare him any sensation. There was, in the silent convulsive immobility of that man who was undergoing the most violent inward tempest and who gave no sign of it except that gesture of mute agony, a wild upspringing of energy for which she esteemed and admired him. Never during those three years had they been so near each other in heart as in that silence, which he broke at last. He raised his head. He was deathly pale; but the paroxysm was conquered. He rose, took Madame Olier's hand, and said to her, in a deep voice:—

"Yes. You love me. You have just proved it more clearly than you will ever do again. I believe it. I feel it, and I feel also that I love you, ah! much more dearly than I knew. I am going to leave you. I must. But not until I have asked you again what I asked you yesterday. Valentine, will you be my wife?"

"Yes," she replied, in the same tone.

An inexpressible emotion flashed in Landri's eyes as he drew her to him. Chaste and ardent kiss of betrothal, in which his lips were wet with the tears that she was shedding, now, for his misery, who did not weep! And as those tears disturbed him anew to his inmost depths, he tore himself from her embrace, saying:—

"Don't take away my courage. I need it sorely."

With these words they parted. She did not make a movement, she did not say a word to detain him. She felt that he was hers, as she was his, wholeheartedly, absolutely, and that she could do nothing else for him than let him go, until he should have worn out, alone, that grief for which she pitied him so profoundly. How much greater would her pity have been if she had known the whole truth! She believed that at Jaubourg's death-bed the young man had surprised some denunciatory words, had perhaps found letters which had made him suspect his mother. The proofs that he would soon have to face were far more cruel, and amid them all he must needs find out the path of honor.



"I still have her," said Landri to himself, as he left Rue Monsieur. As before, he walked straight ahead, with the automatic, hurried step which indicates, in certain diseases, the beginning of a disturbance of the nerve-centres. But does not a moral shock, of such violence as the one that he had just received, act upon the organism after the fashion of a genuine stroke? Do not people often die of such shocks? Do they not come out from them paralyzed and mentally unhinged? The young man's reason had been very near giving way during the terrible, nervous paroxysm with which he had been attacked in Valentine's presence, and which resulted in the renewed entreaty that she would bind herself to him forever.

"I still have her," he repeated, "and only her!"

That was the ghastly sensation that he had struggled against during those ten minutes of dumb agony—the sudden, the indescribable crash of everything about him.—His mother? The pious memory of her that he had always retained, tarnished forever!—His father? He had no father from the moment that he could no longer give that name to the only man whom he loved with filial affection, to the noble-hearted, the magnanimous Marquis de Claviers. For the other he had had, from childhood, only antipathetic sentiments which his sinister disclosure had suddenly transformed into abhorrence, mingled with remorse and pity.—His name? He no longer had a name. The name that he bore was not his. It was a living lie.—His home? He no longer had a home. In the mansion on Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré, as at Grandchamp, he was an intruder, a usurper. He had no right to be there. A few words uttered by a dying man had sufficed to make his previous existence nothing save a heap of ruins. Of the truth of those words he had no doubt. They had come to him with the tragic sanction of death, against which nothing can prevail. But suppose that it was only the sudden outburst of a madness caused by the fever of the disease? No. Was Jaubourg mad when he sent that message to him at Grandchamp the day before, so that he might embrace him before he died? Was he mad when he followed Landri as a child, and afterward as a young man, with such passionately vigilant watchfulness, carefully concealing his interest? No. Nor was he mad when he pressed him to his heart in that embrace all a-quiver with the grief-stricken fervor of his paternal love. He was not mad in those visions of the past, in that "spoken dream," as the doctor had said, which fitted into their whole life with terrifying exactitude.

All these ideas had rushed at once into the young man's over-excited mind during those very brief moments, as clear and distinct as memories of the past in the mind of a drowning man. He had lost everything, everything, except the sweet, pure woman yonder, who loved him, understood him, pitied him, and did not tell him so—in order to spare him! The unreasoned impulse, by virtue of which, in the throes of that rayless distress, he had asked his only friend to unite their destinies, was also, to follow out a too exact comparison, like the instinctive movement with which the drowning man, whirled away by the current, seizes in a desperate clutch the helping hand extended over the gunwale. How happy Landri would have been to pass that long afternoon with her, at her feet, his head on her knees; to feel descend upon him the only charity that despairing souls welcome—sympathy without words! He had been mortally afraid that he should himself speak if he stayed; and so he had gone away to wrestle anew with the painful going and coming of his thoughts, which tossed him to and fro once more in their resistless surge. One by one the dying man's words repeated themselves in his mind, from the sadly affectionate "You have come" of his first greeting, to the outcries at the end, the imperative "You say that he's my son!"—a supreme confession of the death-agony, followed by a supreme protest which corroborated its truth. It proved the intense determination with which the man had guarded his secret so long as his strength permitted him to do so.

"Jaubourg's son!" Landri exclaimed. "I am Jaubourg's son!" The pitiless revelation regarding his birth was beginning to appear to him in its concrete reality. The social atmosphere in which he had lived nearly thirty years gave to that vision a unique character. He had heard the people of his circle, from the best—a Marquis de Claviers—to the mediocre and the worst,—a Charlus, a Bressieux,—talk so much of "race"; and it was in his race that he found himself suddenly stricken. The blood that flowed in his veins—and he looked tremulously at his hands—was the blood of Jaubourg. The vital force that enabled him to move, to breathe, as he was doing at that moment, came to him from Jaubourg. His very flesh came from that man. In imagination he saw him once more, no longer a pitiable, wasted creature, as he lay stricken with pneumonia on his bed, but young and handsome, as his childish recollections recalled him,—on horseback, following the hunt; in morning costume, walking in the avenues of their park at Grandchamp; in evening dress, seated at their table. These images brought the man before him, physically. The relationship of their faces became, so to speak, visible, palpable, to him, and it gave him a sensation of disgust, of revolt at himself—a detestation of his own body, as it were.

The secret and hidden resemblances which he suddenly discovered between himself and his mother's lover—he was dismayed to find that he dared utter the words—confounded him. How had he failed to detect them? How happened it that all those about him, and the marquis first of all, had not remarked that similarity of temperament and the striking contrast between the offspring of the Parisian bourgeois, distinguished it is true, but in a mediocre way, and the feudal line of the Claviers? Landri was slender, like Jaubourg, refined like him, but with a superficial, almost stunted refinement, compared with the magnificence of those splendidly robust noblemen. They all had light blue eyes. He had Jaubourg's eyes, brown and dark. After so many years he could hear his mother say: "Landri has my eyes." Why? So that no one might recognize the eyes of the other. But he had those eyes, just as he had the chestnut hair, and the lighter, almost tawny, mustache.

From his mother he inherited other features: the straight nose, the haughty mouth, the dimpled chin. These points of resemblance had justified Madame de Claviers in asserting that he was her living portrait—to those who were not aware! Landri was aware now, and he shuddered at the thought that the intimate guests at Grandchamp had certainly detected in him the unmistakable tokens of his descent. He was humiliated in the most secret depths of his being. He had prided himself, throughout his young manhood, upon not being the prisoner of his caste. He had treated as delusions at least, if not as prejudices, the uncompromising convictions of the head of the house of Grandchamp concerning the nobility; and he had a strange sensation of degradation in facing the alloyage of his origin, the blending of other inherited characteristics with the purely aristocratic maternal inheritance. This feeling was most illogical. Had he not proposed, did he not propose, to marry a woman even less aristocratic than a Charles Jaubourg? But does logic ever govern the spontaneous reactions of our pride?

This indescribable impression of essential degradation was intensified by another, more profound and more generous: the affection and admiration that he had always entertained for M. de Claviers made it almost unendurable to think that the sacred bond of parentage between him and that loving, loyal, superior man was broken. Even while struggling against his father's despotism, he had always been so proud that he was his father! And he was not his father! What a heart-breaking thing! It was as if, the very root of his being having suddenly been laid bare, he were bleeding in every fibre that attaches the soul to the body.

And he walked on and on, aimlessly, forgetting the time, regardless of his surroundings, until, at the end of the afternoon, he found himself a long way from his starting-point, at the far end of the Ménilmontant quarter, beyond the cemetery of Père La Chaise. The approaching twilight warned him at last that the day was passing. He looked at a street sign and saw that he was at the corner of Boulevard Mortier and Rue Saint-Fargeau. He consulted his watch. It was almost five o'clock. The train he was to take started at a quarter past five. His servant was waiting for him at the Gare de l'Est. He had just enough time to make it, in a cab.

What mysterious and discomposing impulse of his perturbed heart did he obey in leaving the station at his right and directing his steps towards the Seine, and, from the river, to Rue de Solferino again? The explanation is that, amid the tumult of his chaotic emotions, one image had incessantly besieged his mind—that of the dying man, whose hands, wet with sweat, he seemed still to feel wandering over his face, whose short breath, tearing cough and spasmodic voice he could hear through space. That man had done him a great wrong, but how large a place he filled all of a sudden among his obsessions! That sinful paternity, so brutally disclosed, agitated him without touching him. And yet it was paternity none the less. His flesh quivered at the memory of those farewell caresses. He felt a pang of remorse to think of leaving the city where the unhappy man was breathing his last, without having inquired for him, without having tried to see him once more.

He crossed Pont Royal, walked the length of Quai d'Orsay, and turned into that ill-omened street. This time, men were engaged in taking away the straw from before the house; it was useless now and would deaden no more the loud rumbling of the carriages. Landri's heart contracted, then beat fast again, when, having entered the lodge to ask for details, he was informed by the concierge, with the stilted manner of a man of the people who announces bad news, feeling that he has a share in its importance:—

"Monsieur Jaubourg died about one o'clock, almost immediately after Monsieur le Comte went away. It seems that he did not suffer. He knew nothing at all afterward. His head had gone. To think of that being possible—such an intelligent gentleman! If Monsieur le Comte cares to go up, he will find Monsieur le Marquis de Claviers there."

"My father?" exclaimed the young man. One does not unlearn in a few moments a habit contracted at the awakening of one's earliest affections. He heard himself utter that exclamation, and shuddered, while the other continued:—

"Monsieur le Marquis arrived half an hour ago. He knew nothing. It was I who informed him of the unfortunate event. He was like one thunderstruck. He could not believe it. 'If I had come this morning,' he said, 'I should have seen him. I could have bade him adieu.'—Oh! he was terribly grieved. It will do him good to see Monsieur le Comte."

This perfunctory mourner's chatter might have gone on for a long while. Landri was not listening. He was looking at the foot of the monumental staircase, and at the broad stone stairs which he could no more avoid ascending than a condemned man those of the scaffold. This man who informed him of M. Jaubourg's death knew M. de Claviers and himself too well. The half-familiarity of his speech proved it. To fail to join the marquis at once, under such circumstances and under the watchful eyes of that liveried witness, would be cowardly. It would have been less cowardly to pour his distress into Valentine's ear! On the other hand, would he have the courage to meet M. de Claviers at that moment and in that place, especially if any suspicion had shaken his long-abused confidence? It was a most improbable supposition, but had not Landri himself had his eyes opened by an overwhelming and absolutely unexpected revelation? What was the meaning of this sudden appearance of the châtelain of Grandchamp, after the telegram announcing an improvement in the invalid's condition?

The young man asked himself that question, another source of anxiety added to all the rest, as he climbed the stairs. How he wished that there were more of them!—He was on the landing. He rang. He passed through the reception room and the library. He entered that bedroom where, a few hours earlier, the terrible scene was enacted. On the bed where he had left Jaubourg writhing in pain and uttering unforgettable words, lay a motionless form, prepared for the coffin. The dead man, in evening dress, with white cravat, silk socks, and low shoes, had resumed the conventional mask which the paroxysms of the death-agony had torn from his face in his last moments—and before whom! Mademoiselle de Charlus's epigram was justified by the presence of the crucifix between those hands, joined even then by no prayer, no repentance. The delicate, sad face, with its closed eyes and lips, its yellow forehead, and its cheeks of a waxy pallor, as if smoothed of their wrinkles, no longer told aught of the mystery so many years hidden.

Nor did the impassive countenance of Joseph, the maître-d'hôtel, who was walking about the room on tip-toe, betray any of the secrets that he might have surprised. He was engaged in overlooking the final arrangement of the sick-room, which was to be transformed into a salon for the last visits to be paid to Jaubourg-Saint-Germain, by his "fine friends," before he was laid in the ground.

Pierre Chaffin, whose glance would have been so painful to Landri, was no longer there. The son might have believed that he had dreamed it all, that an hallucination had deceived his eyes and his ears, that he had never seen what he had seen, never heard what he had heard, had it not been for his trembling when he saw another human figure, kneeling at the bedside, and alive. It was the Marquis de Claviers, a truly touching figure in his sincere grief and his childlike faith. He was praying, with all the strength of his old Christian heart, for his friend—for him whom he deemed his friend! His absorption was so complete that he knelt there several minutes without observing the presence of his son—of him whom he deemed his son. And he, one of the two beneficiaries of that magnanimous delusion, stood as if paralyzed by an embarrassment bordering closely on remorse, as if, by keeping silent, he made himself an accomplice in the insult inflicted on that proud man.

At last the marquis raised his head. He showed his imposing face, whereon the tears had left their trace. He rose to his feet, to his full great height, and enveloped in a last glance the dead man, over whom his hand drew the sign of the Cross.—What a gesture from him to that other! When his loyal fingers touched that brow, Landri could have cried out. M. de Claviers espied the young man, and, with another movement no less pathetic, put his arm about his neck, as if to lean upon him in that bitter hour. They passed thus into the study, where the betrayed friend began to speak in an undertone, with the respect which even the most indifferent assume in the presence of death. In his case it was not a pose. He reproached himself for having, on the previous day and again that morning, postponed a last visit to the dying man in favor of his passionate fondness for hunting.

"It was your despatch that made me come," he said. "I divined that you didn't telegraph the truth—from what? From one little detail. It began: 'Don't be alarmed.' I thought: 'My poor Landri is disturbed. He thinks of his old father's grief first of all. Jaubourg is worse.'—And then I wasn't content with myself. I was angry with myself for having enjoyed myself too much yesterday, and again this morning, riding that fine horse and shooting partridges. It is almost criminal, at my age, to love life so dearly!—However, Charlus and Bressieux took the train at Clermont at three o'clock. I had taken them to the station. I jumped into the carriage with them. It was too late.—I should have been so happy to speak to him again!—But you saw him. Did he know you? What did he say?"

"He had already lost his reason," Landri replied, averting his eyes. He had believed that afternoon that he had touched the bottom of the deepest depths of suffering. He had not foreseen this tête-à-tête, nor these confidences, fraught with such heart-rending significance to him now. Each of them was destined to add a new chapter to the shocking tale of deceit. The lover's son recognized therein everything—the heedless, but lofty-minded security of the nobleman; the loyalty which, having placed his honor in the hands of his wife and his friend, had distrusted neither; the wiles of the wife, and the seductive charm of the friend; and, too, the explanation, if not the excuse of their sin. That life of parade and magnificence, in which the "Émigré" had swallowed up his fortune that the glory of the name of Claviers-Grandchamp might not fade, he had not been able to lead without an accompaniment of idle associates. Love is the engrossing occupation of such coteries of luxury and pomp and pleasure. Madame de Claviers was very pretty. She was romantic, too. The stern and manly poesy of the marquis's nature did not satisfy a sentimentalism to which a nature more complex, more subtle, more corrupt perhaps, had appealed more strongly. And Landri was born of that sin, inevitable and deplorable. But what a crying shame that a man of so noble and rare a soul should have been made a mock of at his own fireside!

"So it is true," he continued, "that he did not know that he was dying? Ah! Landri, may the good Lord preserve us from ending so, without being able to make our last sacrifice! I dread but one form of death—that is, sudden death. Jaubourg did not deserve it. But Charlus was quite right—he was not religious. Still, if I had been here, I would have sent for a priest; but Joseph did not dare to go beyond his orders. I should have paid no heed to that, and who can say if God would not have granted him the privilege of recovering consciousness for a moment! But God is the nobleman of heaven, as somebody said, I don't know who. I imagine that the amplitude of his indulgence surpasses our poor feeble judgments. He pardons much to one who has always been sincere and kind; and Jaubourg was so kind! How many times your mother has told me of secret charitable deeds of his, and of his considerate words! And she was rather prejudiced against him.—My dear Landri, it does me good to have you here! I understand, you came back on my account. You wanted to be posted, so that you could prepare me for the worst at need. I know that you and Charles didn't always understand each other. However, I assure you that he was very fond of you. But he was of another generation, and he didn't enjoy himself much with the newcomers. 'It makes me feel too old,' he used to say to me.—'It makes me younger,' I always said.—He was never reconciled to being more than thirty years old. You see, he had been such a pretty fellow, such a dandy, and so fashionable! And it didn't spoil him. I can see him now, in '73, when I made his acquaintance. It was at the Élysée, in the poor Marshal's day. That was yesterday, and it was the time of promise. We hoped for so many things that have never come to pass, and we hoped for them joyously, too joyously perhaps.—Too joyously," he repeated, and added: "And now look."

He pointed to the bedroom door, then put his hand over his eyes. But in a moment, manfully shaking his head as if determined not to abandon himself to these melancholy recollections, he continued:—

"I return to Grandchamp by the ten o'clock train. You take the nine o'clock. Our stations are not far apart, and I'll see you on board. We will dine on the way.—Let us walk a little, to recover our equilibrium,—what do you say? How many times I have called for Charles at this time in the afternoon, when chance brought me to this quarter! Why, only last Wednesday he spoke to me about this project of marriage with the Charlus girl. It was in this room that he said to me: 'I am entrusted with a message to you. It's about Landri.'—But let us go. Joseph will let me know the precise hour of the funeral ceremony. It will depend on the distant cousins he has left. You must ask for leave of absence. I must have you with me."

"I don't know whether I can get it," Landri replied. The prospect of that fresh trial, of following that funeral procession under the eyes of so many people who would surely know the truth, made his flesh creep. At all events he had a pretext for avoiding it. "Our new colonel isn't very obliging in that respect. And then, you know, he's of the Left, very strong, and not very well disposed to us."

"When shall you make up your mind to shut the door in the face of those rascals?" asked M. de Claviers. They were going downstairs, he first, so that he could not see the intensity of distress depicted on his companion's face while he persisted: "I am not disturbed; they'll drive you to it, and, it may be, before very long. On the train Bressieux showed me a newspaper in which something was said about resuming the taking of inventories in the Saint-Mihiel region.—'What will Landri do, if he gets into that?' he asked me.—'What you would do,' I replied.—I confess that I should be happy to see you take your leave with a fine gesture. Besides it's high time that a gentleman should say something that hasn't yet been said. Among the officers who have resigned as a protest against shameful orders there have been several of noble birth. They have all talked about their consciences, their religious principles.—Conscience? I don't care much for that word. It has served too often as a solemn label for anarchy.—Religious principles? That's better. That's an appeal to a discipline that does not adapt itself to people's whims. But for the noble there's still another duty, that of not disregarding the call of honor. And one does disregard it when one acts in opposition to the will of the ancestors from whom he is descended, of those deceased ancestors who in their lifetime served a Catholic France. We, their progeny, owe it to them to serve the same France. France without the Church is not the France of which our houses are a part. For a noble to serve this France is to renounce his nobility. Such renunciations are the suicide of honor, of that honor which a great bishop called the safeguard of justice, the glorious supplement of the laws. That is what I would like to hear proclaimed to the faces of those curs, by a Claviers-Grandchamp."

They were in the street now. The marquis gazed at his supposititious son with those piercing blue eyes which were no longer dimmed by a tear. It was the very climax of tragedy,—of the internal tragedy which life evolves simply by the interplay of its secret contrasts,—this quasi-feudal profession of faith, enounced upon that threshold, before the child born of treachery, by the bitterly outraged nobleman who knew nothing of the outrage.

The arrival of one of their club friends, who came to inscribe his name at Jaubourg's, and who stopped a moment on the sidewalk to exchange a few words of condolence with them, enabled Landri to avoid replying. When, three hours later, he at last found himself alone in his compartment of the Saint-Mihiel train, he was sorely exhausted, terribly broken by that murderous day, the hardest of his whole life. Before, during and after the dinner, which they ate tête-à-tête, M. de Claviers had said many other things the unconscious cruelty of which had kept the young man on the rack. But as he lay back in the carriage, lulled by the monotonous clamor of the train, which translated itself into distinct syllables, it was those declarations on the stairway, those words concerning the inventories, which recurred to his mind, endlessly. In them were combined his melancholy premonitions of the hours preceding the terrible crisis and the drama which was already resulting from that crisis itself.

"But wherein has anything changed in my situation, so far as that possibility is concerned?" he asked himself. "Didn't I know how he felt on that point, and that he would be immovable? But yes, there is a difference. Before I learned what I have learned, his theory of the duty of the noble had some meaning to me. It has none now. I am not a Claviers-Grandchamp, I am not a noble. The things that are valuable to them have no value to the son of a Jaubourg! He talked to me about honor! Honor! To me! But what I ought most of all to long for, is to be mixed up in one of these affairs, to have to execute an order contrary to all his ideas, and to act as I had made up my mind to act—before. He will curse me? So much the better! So much the better! We shall never meet again? So much the better! I could not stand such conversations as that of this evening. I should betray myself. Indeed, this one went beyond my strength. I love him too dearly! And who wouldn't love him? He is so worthy of being loved!"

The physical and moral personality of the marquis was reproduced before his mind with the accuracy and distinctness which long-continued familiar intercourse produces. Handsome, intellectual, generous, affectionate, entertaining, so kindly-natured and so perfect a type of the grand seigneur, the "Émigré" had prestige, he had charm, and he had been subjected to the atrocious outrage! That infamous deed provoked an outburst of revolt from the son of the culprit.

"How could any one betray such a man? And prefer to him—whom? O mother! mother!"

Landri was alone now. He could give free vent to the emotion that was suffocating him. Lying prone on the cushions of the carriage, he wept at last, and for a long, long while. All the tears that he had not shed during the day he shed now,—those that he had forced back in Valentine's presence, by an heroic effort of his will; those that he had forbade himself to display to the indifferent curiosity of the passers-by during his mad rush across Paris, and those that he had not let fall when he was talking with M. de Claviers, within two yards of the death-bed and later at the restaurant. And at the same time that his heart found relief in tears a reaction took place in his mind. For the first time since the dying man had begun to speak to him, he tried to doubt.

"But she is my mother!" he sobbed. "And I believed that of her instantly! Instantly, without inquiry, without proof!"

Inquiry! Alas! is there need of inquiry to make one believe what is visible, what is before one's eyes?—Proof?—But a fact is itself a proof, and the dying man was that evidence, that proof, that fact. His face, his movements, his voice returned to Landri's memory. As plainly as he saw the cushions of that commonplace compartment in their gray coverings, the lamp in the ceiling, and the nocturnal landscape flitting past the windows, he had seen a father die, bidding his son a despairing farewell. He had seen a woman's lover haunted, possessed, deluded by the memory of that woman. The dying man's outcries were not evidence: they were reality, unquestionable, undeniable,—the fact, the indestructible fact.—Doubt? No, Landri could not doubt. One by one he reviewed the details of that scene, which had been so short—as short as the time required to swallow a glass of poison, which, once it has passed into the veins, freezes the very well-spring of life.

Among these details there was one, the threatening nature of which had not made itself manifest to him until that moment, adding a new terror to his agony. "The child shall have everything, everything," the sick man had groaned; and, addressing his imaginary enemies: "You sha'n't prevent that. I have found a way." Did these words mean that Jaubourg had left Landri his whole fortune by his will? It was not possible that that man, prudent as he was, and so intent upon concealing his paternity that he had forbidden himself ever to embrace his son, should have contradicted the whole tenor of his life, in cold blood, by such a step! Was the way that he had found, a gift through a third person?

"Whatever it may be," said the young man to himself, "I shall refuse it, that's all. I, too, shall know how to find a way to avoid touching that money. It's quite enough that I am obliged to share in their falsehood, in spite of myself, quite enough to inflict on a man I love and admire and revere this daily affront. I take his name, his affection, when I am not entitled to either. It is this sort of rebound that makes certain forms of treachery so culpable. They fall too heavily on the innocent. For, after all, I am innocent of this sin, and now it strikes at me after thirty years. And I must deceive as they did, renew and prolong their perfidy, conceal the truth from their victim, even at the price of my blood!"

And as the names of the stations succeeded one another in the darkness, interrupting with their unfeeling summons this inward lamentation—Châlons—Vitry—Bar-le-Duc:—"How unfortunate I deemed myself when I travelled over this road day before yesterday!" he reflected. "And I should be so happy to go back to that night! One would say that I had a presentiment of the catastrophe toward which I was going, when I tried so hard to concentrate all my thoughts, all my reasons for living, upon those two ideas: Valentine and the Army, the Army and Valentine. I did not foresee, however, that I should so very soon have nothing else, really, to live for. Now is the time when I could honestly say to her: 'You and my profession, my profession and you.'—To her, at least, I am bound, from this day, forever. We have exchanged promises. We should be no more firmly bound to each other if we were married.—The Army is my refuge. If I should leave it now, where should I go?"

His refuge! That word, which represented the only succor that he could expect from life at that moment, returned to the poor fellow's lips, when, at the end of that sorrowful night, he saw through the carriage windows about five o'clock the dark and mist-enfolded mass of the houses of Saint-Mihiel against a sky in which the stars shone feebly. They were crowded about the ancient abbey church, where, in the baptismal chapel, may be seen the two children playing with skulls, the chef-d'œuvre wherein Ligier Richier has represented, by that simple symbolism, the whole destiny of man. The flame of the lamps barely lighted the waters of the Meuse, winding rapidly through the damp shadows. The platform of the station, when the young man alighted, was deserted and gloomy. So of the streets through which passed the rickety, jolting vehicle found at the station. But for him there issued from those shuttered houses the sensation which is produced in us by the return to a round of daily habits after a violent moral shock.

As his cab turned into Rue du Rempart he recognized the wall of the garden where, on one of the paths, he had told Madame Olier of his love three years before. His heart, exhausted by excess of grief, was amazed to feel a sort of painful relaxation of its tension at sight of those streets where he had so often fed upon his lover's dreams, had performed for so many months his military duties. So he had guessed aright. He could live—a hard and bitter life, it is true—by fastening himself upon, by clinging desperately to those two last resources, hope and activity, which fate had left to him; and it was with an impatience, not happy surely but very manful, that, having donned his uniform, he awaited the hour to go to headquarters and resume his daily occupations.

Although he had hardly slept during the night, his step was brisk as he walked toward the barracks. If he was no longer conscious of what he had called in his conversation with Valentine the joy of the uniform,—that word joy would have no meaning to him for a long, long time!—he felt its manly courage. He gazed at the high gateway with a strange excitement in his eyes, ringed by tears and sleeplessness.

"I still have this, too," he said, using precisely the same form of words as on the day before, when he left his dear friend on Rue Monsieur; and as if in haste to resume the actual contact with that stern but healthy and manly life, he quickened his pace, to enter the courtyard the sooner.

It was barely eight o'clock. Gusts of a cold wind, the bitter northeast wind that constantly sweeps the high plateaus between the Meuse and the Moselle, lashed the white caps of the men engaged in grooming horses before the stable doors. Subaltern officers, wrapped in their cloaks, were overlooking them. In a corner, at the door of the kitchen, other men, sheltered under an awning, were peeling potatoes. Others were marching off in a squad to perform some task. Everything spoke of the energetic and organized activity which makes a well-ordered barracks a very noble human thing.

There, Landri was no longer, as at Grandchamp, the sole heir of a nobleman on parade, himself a nobleman. He was Lieutenant de Claviers, who was obeyed, but who obeyed. It will be remembered that he had called that sensation too a joy. In what fashion he exerted his authority, the glances of the men who saluted him according to rule, touching the vizor with the open hand, told clearly enough. And he looked at them with the watchful and kindly eye of the leader to whom every detail has its importance. He noticed one whose slightly unhealthy pallor indicated recent illness.

"So you have come back to duty, Teilhard? Since when?"

"Since yesterday, lieutenant."

"You are quite sure it was not too soon? Are you entirely cured of your bronchitis?"

"Entirely cured, lieutenant."

"And your father? Did you spend your furlough with him?"

"Yes, lieutenant. In fact, I meant to come to see you, to tell you that his business has picked up. He expects to pay a little of his debt next month."

"Write him that there's no hurry, my good Teilhard," replied Landri affectionately, motioning to the dragoon to move on. He saw a captain in undress uniform approaching—no other than Despois, the husband of Madame Olier's friend.

"So you were talking with your miraculous work?" said Despois laughingly to his subordinate. "Why, yes—why, yes—it's a genuine miracle. To have made a good soldier out of a blockhead like that animal. Don't blame any one but yourself if I entrust the desperate cases to you. I have taken advantage of your absence to turn over Baudoin to you. He still rides badly. I commend him to your very particular attention."

"I will attend to him at once," said Landri. "I'll take him alone before my drill." And when the captain had passed on, he said to the quartermaster, who was waiting at the door of the riding-school with several men and horses: "Saddle Panther for me, and call Baudoin."

Ten minutes later the mare he had asked for arrived, all saddled, with a simple snaffle in her mouth which she was already champing nervously, and led by the head by a youth of unkempt aspect with very black eyes glowing like coals in a grayish face. Simply from the way in which he wore his képi on one side, one divined in him the insolent vagabond; and from the brusque movement with which he put his hand to it to salute the officer, the smouldering revolt, the mere brute all ready to sing or think the obscene quatrain which we must never weary of citing to the smug optimists who refuse to recognize the ferocities hidden beneath the humanitarian mirage of socialism—those forerunners of a Terror which will be worse than the other, being better organized, and more degraded, being the work of a more degenerate race:—

S'ils s'obstinent, ces cannibales,
À faire de nous des héros,
Ils saurent bientôt que nos balles
Sont pour nos propres généraux.[4]

The beautiful beast led by that creature with the face of an Apache of the faubourgs presented a striking contrast to him by virtue of the dainty grace of her whole frame. She had the elevated tail, the short and supple loins, the long shoulder, legs like a stag's, and a small head. She had been in the regiment five days. The dealer, to improve her appearance for purposes of sale, had clipped her. The hair on her legs and that which showed under the flaps of the saddle was of a brown-bay color; the rest of her body, recently clipped, seemed to be iron-gray. As soon as she entered the riding-school she began to paw the ground impatiently.

"Well, mount her, Baudoin," said the officer; "let's see if she'll behave any better than she did the first day. I kept her for a good rider; and I know that you're one."

Baudoin, apparently insensible to this compliment, mounted Panther, who started off at the restrained trot of a beast who does not abdicate her free will. It was evident that she obeyed neither the pressure of the heel nor that of the rein. In this way she made the circuit of the ring four times, turning her head from side to side, making little attempts to escape when she came near the closed door—a ravishingly beautiful object in that vast empty space where she seemed to wander almost at will.

"She doesn't try any tricks," said Landri. "Let's try her at a gallop.—She won't, eh?—A touch of the whip."

Despite Baudoin's efforts Panther did not even condescend to quicken her trot. The quartermaster, who had the whip in his hand, begun to run, shaking it at the mare. Instead of breaking into a gallop she, taking fright, executed a series of violent sheep-like bounds, in rapid succession, which unhorsed her rider. He tried to remount. The mare, sure of her means of defence, started off again at a trot, then repeated her leaps at a second threat of the lash. Again the man fell. He remounted. A third fall. This time he was thrown against the wall rather hard. Anger turned his face green. A brutal exclamation escaped him, and he said savagely:—

"I don't mount again. I won't ride her any more. I've had enough of breaking my bones so that the officers can have well-trained horses."

He cast an evil glance at the lieutenant, with his hands in his pockets, his clothes all covered with sawdust; and he did not brush himself, or pick up his képi, or follow the mare, who had gone on at a walk, then stopped. She was nibbling, with the ends of her teeth, a tall post, with holes bored in it, intended to hold the jumping-bar.

"Well," said Landri pleasantly, as if he had not heard that outburst of insubordination, "I'll ride her now. You can take her again afterward."

Time to adjust the stirrups to his height, and he was astride the beast, whom he launched at a trot first, then at a gallop. She tried hard to unseat him by leaps and bounds even more out of rule than those which had succeeded so well just before. But Landri had been put in the saddle at the age of six by M. de Claviers, and he too was of the school of those who do not recognize divorce, as the marquis would say jocosely. He held his seat. Panther, the well-named, tried another device. She set off at a gallop, then turned abruptly, end for end. Landri still held his seat. More leaps. Another abrupt turn. The rider did not fall. Weary of the struggle, the mare trots; she gallops; she begins to obey the leg; she obeys the hand.

"Take her again, Baudoin," said the officer, jumping to the ground. "She hasn't broken my bones and she won't break yours."

The dragoon flushed. He looked at the lieutenant, who looked him squarely in the eye, calmly and coolly. Self-esteem aiding, this hint was efficacious with the rebel. He remounted and the session ended without further incident. The conquered beast behaved as well with her new rider as with the other.

"Now," said Landri to the quartermaster, "bring in the others."

"You were in luck," said the quartermaster to Baudoin a few moments later. "With another man, you'd have had a curry-combing, and a good one."

"And the other man, too, perhaps," retorted Baudoin with a leer. "But this one didn't put a gag in my mouth, that's true enough."

"I have not wasted my morning," Landri reflected, as he left the riding-school. Awaiting the hour for the foot-drill, he entered the small room used by the officers as a library and gathering-place. It was very simply furnished, with a divan, a few easy-chairs, and a large table, all covered with coarse blue stuff with a red border. On two sides were book-shelves. On the other walls were engravings, some of which represented the early days of the 32nd Dragoons. First, there was a Cavalier de Lévis, with the date 1703, in three-cornered hat and white tunic, with red lapels and trimmings. Another Cavalier de Lévis, in a very similar uniform, bore this inscription: 1724. Then came two troopers of the Royal-Normandie, dated 1768 and 1784. They wore blue tunics with amaranth-colored lapels, and white cockades in their hats. A trooper of the 19th Cavalry, in a blue coat à la française, with a tri-colored plume in his shako, marked the beginning of modern times.

It needed no more than a glance at those engravings for Landri's comparative tranquillity of the last hour to come to an abrupt end. The sight of those uniforms of the old régime recalled the scene of two days before, M. de Claviers pointing to the portrait of the lieutenant-general, and his exclamation about the uniforms and the dandyfied heroism of bygone days. The thought of the marquis recalled the old gentleman's other outbreak, only the night before, concerning the inventories, just as the memory of the Parrocel portrait revived the sensations born of the hideous falsehood of his birth. The associations of these various ideas resulted in a new idea which, when it had once entered his mind, could no more be expelled from it than could the hateful fact with which it was connected. It was only the continuation, the smoothing-off as it were in the lucid portions of the love-child's consciousness, of a course of reasoning that he had been working out, unknowingly, for twelve hours past.

"But have I the right, from this time on, bearing a name that is not my own, and knowing it, to act with that name as if it were my own?"

On the table lay a newspaper rolled about its stick. The young man took it up mechanically, and, from more habit, looked for the rubric, "Military Affairs." Another wave of ideas swept over him. If the inventories at Hugueville-en-Plaine and Montmartin should be taken, and if he should have to direct one of them to the point of breaking into the church, the account would certainly appear under that heading, printed in that same type. His name would be there, at the top of a paragraph describing his act. His name? A name is an inheritance, it is a piece of property, personal and collective at once. It belongs to him who bears it and to those who have borne and will bear it. All of their interests are united in him. Against this mutual responsibility Landri had contended throughout his youth, and no longer ago than the day before yesterday, when he proclaimed before Madame Olier, and again to the marquis's face, the right of the heirs of a great name to lead their individual lives.

It seemed—he himself had thought so at first—that the grievous discovery of the secret of his birth had finally snapped the chain, already so worn, of a hateful solidarity between the Claviers-Grandchamps and himself. True, if he had laid aside their name, if, realizing that he was not of their family, he had ceased to call himself by their name. But such an open rupture was impossible. Even if Landri had not loved the marquis too dearly ever to deal him such a blow, there was his mother's memory, which forbade him to dishonor her. But in that case, if he kept the name of Claviers, he was in their debt. He was no longer a free agent. When people should read, in that newspaper and in many others, that a Claviers-Grandchamp had dared to do something so absolutely opposed to all the traditions of the family, what would his conscience say to him? That he had done his duty? Nay, since it was not from any thought of duty that he had resolved, if occasion should require, to execute a task which he himself had called revolting. His companions had discussed too often in his presence that question of the limits of discipline, which functionaries no less insane than criminal have gratuitously raised of late years. He had reflected upon it too seriously himself not to understand that passive obedience is a phrase devised by enemies of that great school of praiseworthy energy that the army really is. He had meditated upon the wise and judicious terms of the officer's oath, which excludes every degrading order: "You will obey him in everything that he shall command you to do, for the good of the service and to carry out the military regulations." He knew that this problem of obedience to requisitions from the civil authorities, as it had presented itself in the recent religious disputes, is of the sort that become tragic in the most upright consciences. Excellent soldiers have solved it in one way. Excellent soldiers have solved it in another way. It is a crime, we repeat, on the part of a government, to place men of spirit in such dilemmas,—a crime against those who did not enter the army to perform certain tasks,—a crime against the fatherland, which is by this means robbed of some of its best leaders.

Landri, as we have seen, had solved the problem in a manner entirely personal to himself. He had said: "To obey is to remain in the service. To refuse to obey is to resign. I want to remain in the service. I shall obey." But now a new element had intervened: the evidence of a felony committed against the lineage of the Claviers, in which his mere existence made him an accomplice. His mother's sin had given him a place in that lineage. What became of his personal convenience when put in the scale with such usurpation? Did it not bind him on his honor—for he still had such a thing whatever he may have said in the first shock of the revelation—never to do any act for which that lineage, now incarnate in the marquis, could reproach him from its standpoint? The conclusion was inescapable. At an incident of his military life so public, so certain to make a noise in the world, as obedience to an order to proceed against a church, it was not his own opinion that he should follow, but that of the head of that house in which he himself occupied a stolen place. This indisputable obligation suddenly imposed itself on Landri with irresistible force, and for the first time he recoiled in spirit from the prospect of an occurrence which would place before him the alternative of making up his mind against the will, so clearly expressed, of the Marquis de Claviers, or of sacrificing the profession to which he was at that moment more attached than ever. His whole thought was bent upon rejecting the probability of that test. He could not bear to face it now.

"I am crazy. If they employ the dragoons for one of these inventories, they'll send more than one platoon. A lieutenant won't be in command, but a captain. I shall be second in command. If there's a door to be broken in, and the civil authorities don't furnish any men to do it, the captain will have to give the order, not I."

He harangued himself thus, pacing to and fro in the main courtyard while the instructors drilled the new recruits, under his superintendence. But upon whom would that responsibility fall, if Landri's supposition should be realized? In the absence of the captain commanding the squadron, to the captain next in seniority, who happened to be that very Despois with whom he had exchanged so hearty a greeting that morning. Landri at once remembered the letter written by that officer's wife, which Madame Olier had given to him. He had read the letter at the time—without reading it. He remembered nothing about it except Valentine's remark: "She says so well what I should say so badly." But then Captain Despois, if such an order should be given to him, would refuse to comply with it? As had happened before, the command would then devolve upon the officer next below him, in this case upon Landri! Such was now the young man's apprehension in respect to an emergency which was still only possible, and which he had hitherto faced with such firm determination.

He cut the drill short in order to return to his quarters the sooner and really read Madame Despois' letter. His hands trembled a little as they unfolded the sheet, which was badly crumpled from its sojourn in his pocket while he was rolling about in despair on the cushions of the railway carriage. He found there, near the end, after the narrative of a really touching interview between the captain and his wife, these lines, which, although they lessened one element of his anxiety, only intensified another, alas!

"So my husband has made up his mind," wrote Julie Despois. "He ended the conversation by repeating poor Captain Magniez' noble declaration: 'I prefer to be shot rather than commit sacrilege.'—If this thing happens to us, we shall be very poor, my dear friend. The education of our three sons will be seriously endangered. But I could do nothing but say to him: 'You are right. We are Christian folk. We have founded a Christian family. God help us!'—And you will recognize my dear Despois in this. His only anxiety is for his officers. He doesn't want to see the hecatomb at Saint-Servan repeated.—'If they call on me for sappers to break in the church doors, I shall refuse. I sha'n't give the civil authorities time to telegraph for further orders. I shall order all my men to remount, and return to Saint-Mihiel. In this way I shall be sure of being the only one to be disciplined.'—You see, Valentine, what a sad time we are passing through, so that we can't turn our minds to any other subject! In all the officers' families, nothing else is thought of. We shouldn't talk about anything else if we didn't know that to-day an orderly may be an informer listened to at headquarters. We are all wondering when these two inventories will be taken, and to whom they will be entrusted. Will anything happen or not? God grant that we are imagining chimæras, and that everything will go off peacefully, as it has in so many places! Whatever happens, I am writing down these conversations with my husband so that my sons may have them some day, when he and I are no more. They will see what sort of man their father was, and that their mother understood him."

Landri read the last sentence again and again. The captain's magnanimous determination made it possible for him to have no fear of consequences if Despois were in command.—But what followed? How could he fail to make a comparison between that simple-hearted helpmate of a gallant officer, devoted to her husband, so proud to esteem and admire him,—and another woman? Between those children who found at their humble fireside no reason for aught save respect,—and another child? Why had not his own mother understood the man whose name she bore? Why had she betrayed him? Why was a son born of that treachery? And why was not that son, who knew nothing of that horror for so many years, left in ignorance forever? Upon what trivial chances our destinies depend! Suppose that the train from Clermont had reached Paris an hour late yesterday? Doubtless Landri would have found the invalid of Rue de Solferino unconscious. The physician would not have let him in. He would have known nothing. He would not have had to undergo this inward agony which everything renewed—and when would it end? Oh, never! never!

"I am amusing myself with absurd scruples," he said to himself twenty-four hours later. It was afternoon. He was riding along the Meuse. He had received a despatch from the marquis to the effect that Jaubourg's funeral would take place on the following Friday at nine o'clock, and he had answered, by telegraph, that he could not be there. He had understood what the selection of that early hour in the morning meant, as well as a note in the newspapers stating that the deceased had desired a very simple ceremony, without invitations, and without flowers or wreaths. This insistence upon effacement after death avoided comments upon M. de Claviers-Grandchamp's presence behind the bier of his wife's lover. Therein Landri saw a new proof of the ominous secret. He would have been no less irritated by a showy funeral. His irritation manifested itself in a recurrence of the blind and almost savage revolt of the first moments. This feeling imparted its sombre hue to his renewed reflections on the possibility of his responsible participation in one of the inventories—the sole object, as Madame Despois had said, of the silent meditations of all the officers of the garrison. Three of his comrades, who were as sure of him as he was of them, had spoken to him about it in confidence that morning. He had evaded a reply, and he reproached himself bitterly for it.

"Yes, absurd! With respect to him"—he was still unable to name M. de Claviers in his heart, as he was to name the other elsewhere,—"with respect to him, I cannot have any duty. The mere fact that I am breathing is an insult so dishonoring to him that I can never add anything to it. All that I can do is to avoid contact between us. He will follow the body to-morrow. I shall not be there. Nobody shall see us walking side by side. Hereafter it must be so in life. My impulse yesterday was the best, the wisest one. Yes, if I am ordered to take part in the expedition to Hugueville or Montmartin, so much the better! If I have to break into one of those two churches, so much the better! That will be irreparable. The name of Claviers-Grandchamp will be dishonored because a soldier has made every other sentiment yield to discipline. That theory can be supported, too. A proof of it is that Despois hesitated, and he's a professed Christian. Even Valentine, who is very religious, but who knows what our profession is, accepts the idea!—He will condemn me. But he won't be able to despise me, in his heart. And it will be all over, all over, all over! He will suffer, suffer terribly. And shall I not suffer when I no longer have him to call 'father,' when I can no longer live with him in that heart-to-heart intimacy which was complete,—I realize it now!—despite the differences in our ideas! I understand them now, those differences which used to surprise me—they were Race. He is right. There is such a thing as Race. I hadn't the instincts of a true noble. Nor have I those of a true bourgeois, either. What a terrible word that is, to which I never gave a thought—adultery! And how just it is! It is the stranger at the hearth. It is a forged Race. It is the creation of a hybrid personality like mine. That is the secret of the vacillations of my nature, of the contradictions that I never could explain: why I have never loved in my inmost heart any of the women of my caste, and why, even to-day, I cannot bring myself to a simple and definite decision. I shall come to it. My relations with him are impossible. That is the one fact to which I must cling, firmly, irrevocably. Let the occasion come to dig the abyss, and I will dig it!"

This second line of reasoning corresponded too nearly with the actual situation not to prevail in the young man's mind. He retained, none the less, deep down in his heart, a hope, almost a certainty, that he would not be required to adapt his conduct to it. One need not have in his veins blood imbued with contradictory inherited characteristics, to be subject to such incoherences. It is enough to be passionately attached to some one from whom one deems it necessary to part forever. So that he felt a shock that was most painful to him, as he was returning from his ride, upon meeting, in one of the streets of the town, the colonel of his regiment, on foot,—the one who did not like "names with currents of air." He was the son of a petty government official who had reached his present rank by a combination of energy and shrewdness,—a good officer with fundamentally false ideas, in whose heart were fermenting those extraordinary anticlerical and anti-noble passions of which sincere Jacobinism is made.

The expression of his superior, by whom he knew that he was detested, froze Landri's blood, it betrayed such ironical and fiendish delight. He did not mistake its meaning. The supposition hitherto treated as imaginary was coming true. It began to take shape. The hostile colonel's face expressed the satisfied hatred of one who knows with certainty that misfortune is about to befall his enemy. The affair of the inventories was about to be solved, and he, Landri, was involved in it in some way or other.

Five minutes later this presentiment became an established fact. As he dismounted, his orderly handed him a note from Captain Despois, begging him to come to his quarters about an important matter connected with the service.

"That's what it is," said Landri to himself. "We are to go."

He found the devout officer, whose most secret thoughts he knew, so intimate was their confidence, busily writing, in the exceedingly modest salon that he used as an office. Despois was a man of forty-five, very tall, with a bony, tanned face, his temples worn smooth by the rubbing of the helmet, hair already almost white, reddish mustache, and light greenish-gray eyes. The eyes were clouded with so sad an expression that Landri was deceived.

"It is he who is ordered to command us," he thought. He remembered the letter he had read the day before. His heart swelled with pity for that father who was evidently making ready to sacrifice his military future to his faith. But from his first words Landri understood that he himself aroused a like pity on the part of that excellent man, who said as he handed him two sheets of paper the official size of which betrayed their source:—

"Will you run your eye over this, my dear Claviers?"

The first of the two documents had at its head:—"General orders relating to the assistance to be furnished by the troops in making inventories of church property"; and the second: "Supplementary instructions for the lieutenant commanding the 1st and 2nd platoons of the third squadron of the 32nd Cavalry, who is to sustain the action of the police and gendarmerie during the operation of taking the inventory of the church property at Hugueville-en-Plaine." The "general orders" stated that both inventories would be taken on Friday, November 16, at nine o'clock in the morning. The "supplementary instructions" added that the duty of the officer despatched to Hugueville would consist in these three points: "to form barriers across the different streets leading to the church, according to the general scheme of the annexed sketch"; "to support the action of the police and gendarmerie, in maintaining order, dispersing the crowds, and looking to the evacuation of the church if necessary"; and thirdly, "to enable the official recorder to perform his duties."

Prepared as Landri should have been, by his reflections of the past week and of that very afternoon, for the possibility of this event, he turned pale as he read the words. He did not hesitate a second, however, but replied:—

"Very good, captain; I will obey orders."

"Did you read it carefully?" said Despois, pointing to one sentence in the first paper: "Six sappers supplied with the necessary tools to perform, in the absence of civilian workmen, such work of demolition as there may be occasion to do."—"In the absence of civilian workmen," he repeated. "You will take the greatest pains, therefore, to assure yourself that civilian workmen cannot be found; cannot be found," he insisted.

Evidently he was anticipating the case of the lieutenant refusing to execute the commissioner's orders, and was preparing to shield him, if necessary, before the court-martial.

"I will make sure of it, captain." And, in a firm voice, "I hope that we shall not come to that point, but if we do my sappers will do the work."

Not a muscle moved in the Catholic Despois' impassive face. If Landri had not been acquainted with his real thought, he might have believed that the peculiarly painful character of this expedition was a matter of indifference to the old trooper, who began at once to give him detailed orders concerning the equipment of the men. It was not until they rose, after half an hour of professional conversation, that he let certain words escape him which proved how his heart was beating under his undecorated tunic. It was unhoped-for good fortune, that he was not given the command of the detachment on this occasion. But as he was incapable of selfish exultation, so he gave no thought to his own interests. His expression had grown even more gloomy since the other had made that declaration which left no room for doubt. As he accompanied his visitor to the door, he detained him in front of a mediocre engraving, the Last Cartridge. He was neither a collector with the taste of an Altona, nor a connoisseur of art like a Bressieux, was poor Captain Despois. He was something higher in the scale of human culture,—a good soldier. All the martyrdom of the army, of the army forced by shameless politicians into such tragedies of the conscience, quivered in the tone in which, calling his lieutenant's attention to that wretched lithograph of a scene of disaster, but of an heroic disaster and face to face with the enemy, he repeated simply the famous line:—

"Heureux ceux-là qui mouraient dans ces fêtes!"


If they persist, these cannibals,
In making heroes of us,
They'll soon learn that our bullets
Are for our own generals.



It was not quite eight o'clock the next morning when Landri and his dragoons came in sight of Hugueville-en-Plaine, so named to distinguish it from Hugueville-en-Montagne. It is a large village, three leagues from Saint-Mihiel on the map and as the crow flies. The network of roads in those ramparts of the Forest of Argonne stretches the twelve kilometres to seventeen. An extensive wood bounds the village on the east, so that the sixty men of the little detachment were able to approach unseen.

It was another typical day of early autumn, with a pale blue sky, veiled by transparent clouds, like the preceding Monday, when Valentine Olier's lover stopped his automobile at the door of Saint-François-Xavier, to pay a surreptitious visit to his friend. In his black overcoat, with his helmet on his head, the officer, who had led his two platoons for the last two hours through clumps of elms and aspens at first, and then, as the ground rose higher and higher, through thickets of oak and beech, recalled with poignant sadness that other day, so near—only four times twenty-four hours—which seemed to him so far away! He had lived more in those four days than in his twenty-nine years of childhood, adolescence and youth.

The march was accomplished in a silence which demonstrated the troopers' lack of enthusiasm for the expedition in which they were taking part. Even the anarchistic Baudoin, still sheepish over the lesson of the day before, had not tried to proselytize his comrades. They rode in fours, closely wrapped, because of the nipping air of that rugged country, in their ample blue cloaks, against which gleamed the barrels of their carbines. The sappers were distinguishable by the axes hanging from the saddle-bows. Another lieutenant brought up the rear. There was no sound save that of the horses' shoes on the frozen ground and the clinking of the sabres against the stirrups.

Those sounds would not have sufficed to announce their approach. The people of Hugueville-en-Plaine and the neighboring villages had been warned, no doubt, by the swift and inexplicable circulation of news in the country districts, the most amazing example of which was the contagious terror of the summer of 1789, which spread in a few days from one end of France to the other. In the patois of the Centre it is still spoken of as "the great pourasse."

"Aha!" said Landri, between his teeth, "we are expected."

In truth, some three hundred people were on the lookout at the entrance to the main street, and they ran off at once toward the centre of the village, shouting: "The dragoons! The dragoons!" They were only the rearguard of a crowd assembled around the church on the square, a sketch of which was annexed to the "supplementary instructions." There were more than twelve hundred peasants there, men and women, who opposed a living barrier to the horses. It took the troopers nearly fifteen minutes to reach the square, forcing back the enthusiasts with the cautious consideration which was expressly enjoined upon them. Their greatest difficulty was to control their horses, excited as they were by that great crowd singing with its thousand voices the well-known chant: "Nous voulons Dieu!" Another quarter of an hour was required to execute the same operation in front of the church and to establish the lines as ordered.

About half-past eight the little square had the aspect of a veritable halt in war-time. The horses were collected in the centre, held by the troopers, each of whom had charge of two. The rest of the men formed barriers at the ends of the streets. Behind them one could see the heads of the peasants, close together and constantly moving. The steps leading to the church, which stood on a sort of platform of earth, were still filled with kneeling women, who had begun to recite, at the tops of their voices, the litanies of the Blessed Virgin. There was something at once heart-rending and grotesque, brutally ugly and no less idiotic, in that display of military force to subdue the possible resistance of those humble creatures who cast upon the peaceful air of the lovely morning such pious appeals as "Refuge of sinners! Consoler of the afflicted! Salvation of the infirm!" And the crowd replied, from the lanes barred by dragoons: "Pray for us!"

"Upon my word they've given us a dirty job to do," said Vigouroux, the other lieutenant, in an undertone to Landri, having joined him on the square. After stationing their men, they were walking back and forth in the space left clear. "It's a hard mouthful to swallow."

"All the same, it must be done," rejoined Landri.

"Is it you who say that, Claviers?" exclaimed Vigouroux in evident amazement.

"A soldier knows only his orders," replied the other sharply.

"Oh, well! I'm not the one to blame you!" said Vigouroux. "It suits me, as you know, to have you think that way."

They continued to walk side by side without further speech. In declaring to his comrade, as he had done to his captain the evening before, his determination to go on to the end, Landri was perfectly sincere. He was keeping himself up to the mark by declarations which did not, however, make it any the less true that he had had but a single thought that day and that not of his orders! By virtue of a contradiction only too natural in a heart so deeply wounded, the nearer he approached to the moment when he might be called upon to take the decisive step after which he would have broken either with the army or with M. de Claviers, the image haunted him, ever more distinct and more touching, of that man who had not ceased to love him as his son, and whom he loved so dearly! That image was there, between Vigouroux and himself, gazing at him, and saying with those limpid blue eyes the words of the victim to his murderer: "And thou, too, my child!"

Landri did not yield to that entreaty, he was determined not to yield. It was to banish it from his mind that he had spoken so to Vigouroux. Moreover, it seemed that affairs were not likely to assume a very tragic aspect, judging from the disposition of the crowd, evidently due to orders from the curé. Those peasants were protestants, they were not rebels.

But the affair assumed a very different aspect on the arrival of a landau, preceded by gendarmes, from which three persons alighted: one in a uniform embroidered with silver, another with a scarf across his breast, the third in a frock coat. They were the sub-prefect, the special commissioner, and the recording clerk.

No sooner had they set foot to the ground, than the responses of the litany were succeeded by threatening cries of "Down with the robbers!" which attracted from the house adjoining the church a fourth personage, the curé of Hugueville himself. He was a handsome old man, bare-headed despite the cold. Two other priests accompanied him. He came forward as far as the porch of his church, the keys of which he could not, upon his soul and his conscience, surrender. He was very pale. He, too, was assuming a terrible responsibility. Blood might be shed. He raised his aged arms which had so many times exhibited the monstrance to his flock, and which at that moment implored rather than commanded respect for his wishes. The gesture was instantly understood, so unbounded was his authority, readily explained by the aspect alone of that ascetic apostle. The insulting outcries were not repeated, and a vast silence overspread the multitude, while the newcomers ascended the steps, among the women who made way for them with visible terror.

Abbé Valentin—that was the curé's name—stepped forward, and there ensued between the priest, whose face had lost its pallor, and the officials, a conversation the words of which did not reach any of the others. They noted its expressive pantomime: the curé shaking his venerable head so that his white hair fluttered in the wind, as one who meets urgent insistence with a categorical refusal, the sub-prefect almost imploring, the commissioner threatening, the recording clerk exhibiting papers. At last Abbé Valentin withdrew and the three civil functionaries, having taken counsel together, descended the steps, while the crowd, interpreting this retreat as a victory for the priest, shouted his name and began the chant:—

"Je suis chrétien, voilà ma gloire!"

"I fancy that's settled," said Vigouroux, "and that we have no further business here."

"On the contrary, it's just beginning," said Landri. "They have gone to fetch the workmen."

A half-hour passed, during which the crowd ceased its singing to engage in excited conversation. The constant repetition of the words, "a locksmith," proved that the officer had guessed aright. At last the three functionaries reappeared, followed by a man visibly livid with fright; he was the public drummer of Hugueville, with his drum hanging from his neck. A prolonged howl greeted him, then abruptly ceased, to be succeeded by breathless curiosity. The commissioner, instead of ascending the steps as before, passed through the cordon of soldiers and went up to Landri.

"I have not found any workmen in Hugueville, lieutenant," he said, "to break in the door. They have all left their workshops, to avoid doing it. Their curé has made fanatics of them. I am going to ask you to give me your assistance. Here is my requisition."

And he handed the lieutenant a paper which he ran through with his eyes. The spectators of this tragic episode—one more incident in the lamentable tale of the most criminal of religious wars—saw only the helmet bending over the document, which the constantly increasing wind seemed to try to tear from the hand that held it.

"I have brought the drummer to make the announcement," added the commissioner.

"Very good," said Landri, in a voice choked with emotion, "let him do so."

In the same hollow voice he ordered the six sappers to take their axes and follow him. He began to mount the steps, while the three rolls of the drum announced the imminence of the catastrophe. They were followed by several minutes of painful anticipation. Landri, standing now on the platform, had halted, and he said no word. As he ascended the steps, he had looked up at the great clock over the portal of the church. It marked almost nine o'clock. At that moment the Marquis de Claviers was on Rue de Solferino. They were about to remove the bier of the man for whom he wept as a friend, as a brother. Tears were streaming down his noble face. His great heart was torn with grief.

That vision had arisen before the lieutenant with a distinctness which brought him abruptly to a standstill. He, the son of the Judas, was on the point of making that heart bleed from another wound!

"Well, lieutenant!" said the commissioner. "I believe the time has come."

"No," replied Landri, rousing himself forcibly from his abstraction and speaking now in a firm voice, "no, I refuse."

"You refuse?" said the sub-prefect, coming forward. "But have you duly considered the consequences, monsieur—Article 234 of the Penal Code?"

"I refuse," reiterated the young man; and with a military salute to the three officials, who were motionless with amazement, he ran rapidly down the steps which he had climbed so slowly, followed by the sappers.

"To horse!" he cried, when he reached the foot; and in the next breath, "By fours, march!" Five minutes later there was not a single dragoon on the square, but an enthusiastic crowd followed on the heels of the officials as they returned to their landau, with shouts of "Vive l'armée! Vive le lieutenant!"

"I can't understand it at all," said the commissioner, as the carriage moved away; "I'd have sworn that that officer would obey. As you saw, he didn't argue, as they usually do, about the text of the requisition."

"I thought as you did," replied the recording clerk; "I said to myself: 'We sha'n't have to come to this port again,' and I was mighty glad. If it hadn't been for the curé those beasts would have done us a bad turn."

"Do you know what his name is?" queried the sub-prefect.

"Wait," said the commissioner, looking through his papers. "Lieutenant de Claviers-Grandchamp."

"A noble!" cried the sub-prefect; "that explains everything. He was evidently very desirous to obey orders, and then, at the last moment, he balked. Why? I'll tell you; but first listen to a little story."—He was an old boulevardier and fond of telling stories.—

"Under the Empire there was a journalist of the opposition who wrote very violent articles in a 'red' newspaper. One fine day some one discovers that he writes, under a false name, others just as violent but on the other side, in a government sheet. 'There's nothing left for me but to disappear,' he groaned, and he talked about blowing out his brains.—'Bah!' said one of his friends, 'you'll get clear of it by changing your café.'—He was not wrong. Everything can be arranged in life, so long as one can change his café. But the nobles, they can't do it. There's the whole story of your lieutenant. He thought he wouldn't be well received at the Jockey Club. That's what comes of having too swell a café."

While the jovial-minded servants of a régime in which people have, in truth, changed their cafés a good deal, were laughing carelessly at the philosophic sub-prefect's outbreak, that short-lived tragedy, which lacked not even the requisite irony, came to an end with the dispersion of the actors. The protesting peasants rushed into the church, which was opened at last, and the hoof-beats of the horses, mingled with the jangling of the scabbards, died away in the yellowing woods that lie between Hugueville and Saint-Mihiel.

The detachment rode more rapidly. The sun, shining clear at last, warmed the air. It shone on the metal of the helmets and the gleaming flanks of the horses, which tossed their heads impatiently, scenting the road to the stables. Having given his orders, Landri had taken his place at the head of the column, with so savage an expression that his men, indifferent as they were to the moral crisis through which their leader had passed, were impressed by it. Vigouroux in fact had more definite reason than the commissioner for surprise at a volte-face which absolutely gave the lie to the words they had exchanged a few moments earlier. But upon him, too, his comrade's face made too deep an impression for him to try to speak to him. He rode along in the rear, secretly well pleased, in spite of himself, at the thought that paragraph 9 of Article 2 of the fifth part of the Military Annual was about to undergo a slight modification. He would advance one step on the seniority list of lieutenants of cavalry. But the artless wish to have a third galon on one's cap a little sooner does not debar excellence of heart, and he was quite sincere when he pressed Landri's hand in the courtyard of the barracks, at the end of the march.

"I thank you, Claviers," he said. "If you hadn't remounted us, the sub-prefect would have telegraphed. The command would have been turned over to me, and I don't know whether I should have had your courage, on which I congratulate you."

"One doesn't congratulate an officer on having broken his sword," retorted the other with a brusqueness which disconcerted Vigouroux.

"If that's how he feels," he thought, as he watched Landri walk away from the barracks at the rapid pace of one who would be alone, "why did he do what he did? He rarely goes to mass. He adores the profession. He has no political opinions.—It's inconceivable! There must be a petticoat underneath it all.—Aha! I have it. He seemed to be very much in love down here with poor Olier's little wife, who's a finished bigot. She wants to get married, parbleu! She's in Paris. She must have heard of the thing from her friend Julie Despois, and have made a bargain with my poor Claviers.—Decidedly, Lieutenant Vigouroux, the best thing for us is not to care too much for pretty women."

With this aphorism of practical sagacity, this other, more inoffensive, philosopher, bent his steps, no less hurriedly, toward the mess. He had eight hours of horseback in his limbs, and he was of those fortunate folk whom excitement makes hollow.

This judgment of an exceedingly honest but exceedingly commonplace youth supplemented that of the jovial prefect. Thus it is that the painful dramas of our lives are enacted before the unintelligent eyes of half-informed witnesses. There are cases in which the sufferer prefers that sort. They assure him of secrecy at least, and it was secrecy that Landri craved, it was lack of comprehension. But who could have divined the real explanation of a sudden change of purpose at which he was himself confounded—that irresistible and passionate movement of the heart toward the most generous of men.

And now, seated, crouching rather, on one of the easy chairs in his apartment, he waited. As if he had already resigned, instead of making the report to his captain, called for by the regulations, he had written a note to the colonel in person to inform him of the manner in which his mission had ended. In what shape would he be dealt with? Withdrawn from active service, dismissed on half-pay, cashiered—so many synonyms to his mind of a single phrase, with which he had replied so bitterly to Vigouroux's warm and inopportune grasp of the hand: he had broken his sword. He no longer belonged to the army except for the purpose of undergoing the last rigors of a discipline which he had knowingly violated.

They were announced to him in a letter which arrived almost immediately, in reply to his, and which ordered him to consider himself strictly under arrest, "until a decision should be reached on the subject of the provisions of law concerning his case." Below this threatening line the colonel had written his name, "Charbonnier." The ferocious curl of the C, and the vigor of the concluding flourish proved that the plebeian officer, entrusted by the hierarchy with the right to punish the aristocratic officer, was hardly putting in practice the sage recommendation of the regulation concerning internal government: "Calmness on the part of the superior officer shows that in inflicting punishment he is animated only by the good of the service and by a realization of his duty."

What did Landri care for such a trifle? Having read this laconic and imperious message, he looked at the clock on the mantel-piece, as he had looked at the clock on the front of the church at Hugueville. The hands pointed to one o'clock. His mind reverted to the melancholy ceremony, the vision of which, suddenly evoked, had effected that abrupt change in his resolution. It was all over long ago. Doubtless M. de Claviers had returned to Grandchamp. The dead man was laid to rest in the grave which the workmen would have filled by evening.

"This is my 'Here lies,' this paper," thought the young man, pushing away the colonel's letter, "the 'Here lies' of the soldier." This coincidence between the burial of his real father and the event that put an end to his career as an officer, tore his heart. "At all events," he added, "before I go before the court-martial, I shall have a little solitude."

He looked about him, to allay his soreness of heart in the security of his prison. How many hours he had passed in that salon-library in the last three years, reading and writing—and dreaming of Valentine! He took from his table drawer a case containing a portrait, the only one that he had of her. It was a head only, which he had cut from a group taken by an amateur in the country. To separate it from the others he had had to cut off the wings of the broad garden hat she wore. But the pure, intelligent glance, the half-smile, the pose, slightly inclined, of the lovely head,—ah! it was all Valentine! He gazed long at those features which he had seen alight with love, upon which his lips had drunk burning kisses, and he said aloud:—

"I have sacrificed the other thing; I will not sacrifice her!"

As if to renew the solemn pledge that united them thenceforth, he pressed his lips to the poor card whereon there shone a reflection of that charm, unique in his eyes, and, seating himself at his desk, he began a letter to Madame Olier which should describe the decisive episode of the morning, or, rather, which should try to describe it. He was constantly obliged to pause in order to choose among his thoughts. How painful that careful surveillance of his words was to him! Complete confidence is so natural, so necessary, with the person one loves! It is the very breath of the heart.

That letter finished, he took another sheet to write another. It must not be that the marquis should learn from the newspapers of the episode of the Hugueville inventory. Landri owed it to himself as well as to him to conduct himself in his relations with him exactly as if the terrible revelation had never been made. But by what name should he call him? Thrice the young man dipped his pen in the ink and thrice he laid it down. His hand refused to trace the two affectionate syllables. At last, with a sort of devout horror, he wrote, "Dear father."—Rapidly, without choosing his words,—he was simply narrating facts now,—he filled four pages with his long, nervous handwriting, and signed, as usual, "Your respectful and affectionate son."

"I am entitled to it," he said, as he closed the envelope, which he sealed with the Claviers arms; "I have paid dearly enough for it."

These letters written and mailed, Landri was surprised to feel a sort of peace, depressed and gloomy to be sure, but peace none the less. How he had dreaded that turning-point of his destiny, that hour when he must cease to serve, when he would become once more, to use his own words, "an idler and useless,—a rich man with the most authentic coat-of-arms on his carriage,—an émigré within the country!" That hour had struck, and he was almost calm. The misfortune that has happened has this merit at least: the tumult of ideas aroused by uncertainty subsides before the accomplished fact, and there ensues within us a sudden silence, as it were, which gives to the heart a simulacrum of repose. Assuredly Landri was very sad at the thought that he had taken part for the last time in the life of the regiment. But at all events he knew that it was for the last time. The discomfort of indecision was at an end. During those long days of enforced retirement he would be able to apply the powers of his mind to his plans of a new future, without wondering whether or no that future was possible. It was possible—less simple, less in conformity with the aspirations of his youth than if he had remained a soldier while marrying Valentine; but as he still had Valentine, nothing was lost.

On that first afternoon of his compulsory seclusion, in order not to abandon himself to discouragement, he tried to concentrate his thoughts upon the plan of that existence à deux, wherein he would find, if not happiness, at least a balm for the smarting wound open forever in his heart. He looked on his shelves for books relating to the different French provinces, in order to study the conditions of an establishment in the country. That was what he looked forward to—a life of retirement on a large estate, at a distance from Paris, with all that an extensive rural undertaking represents in the way of profitable activity.

But ere nightfall the inward silence was broken and the tempest of ideas swept down upon him anew. He had been for years too zealous an officer not to feel a certain remorse, which was sure to increase upon reflection, for having been governed, throughout the incident of that morning, by motives so entirely unconnected with the military service. He had transformed an act in the line of his duty into an episode of his personal, sentimental life. That was a much more serious offence, from the professional point of view, than the breach of discipline. He would not have felt remorse if he had had, for refusing to act, the motives of a Despois, the subordination of military law to religious law, which latter such men regard as primordial and imprescriptible. He, Landri, had acted upon impulse. He had not even been governed by the argument he had used upon himself from the first day—that of a debt that he owed the Claviers-Grandchamps. Had he, in truth, acted at all? He had been acted upon, in the literal meaning of the words. The marquis's powerful personality had, as it were, prevailed with him from afar.

To this remorse for having consulted, under such circumstances, not his conscience, but only his affection and compassion for that man, was added the fear that the same influence would find him weak once more in the second assault that he would have to repel. He did not suspect that, with his inheritance as a love-child, he would display far greater energy in defending his passion. In him the source of strength was not in the reasoning power, it was in the heart. He was not to learn that until he was put to the test. What he did know was that, with the most imperative motives for making an irreparable breach between M. de Claviers and himself, the opportunity had been offered him and he had not grasped it. He could not do it. Those motives were still as strong as ever. The affection by which he had allowed himself to be mastered when he was on the point of doing what would set him free, was a wounded and poisoned affection. It had made him incapable of inflicting great suffering on that man. It would make him incapable of living with him, as he would be called upon to do, every day, now that he was free. How could he fail to say to himself again and again that, even outside the binding engagement that he had entered into with Madame Olier, to throw away this second opportunity to break with the marquis was to condemn himself in the future to an endless succession of painful scenes in one of which his secret would be discovered. M. de Claviers could not fail to see that he had changed. He would be anxious about it. He would investigate.

All this Landri told himself. His conclusion was that at any cost, and at the earliest possible moment, the marquis must be informed of his betrothal. And then he doubted his courage to make that declaration, reminding himself how he had weakened, how he had suddenly lost heart on the platform of the church at Hugueville, to which he had gone up with such firm determination! Thereupon he wondered if it would not be the safer way to take advantage of his arrest to write. Colonel Charbonnier certainly would not depart from his customary severity so far as to authorize him to receive a single visit, even from his father. Consequently, if M. de Claviers were informed by letter of the marriage engagement between Landri and Valentine, he would be unable to express his dissatisfaction otherwise than by letter.

The lieutenant was too manly, despite the reflex action of a sensitiveness that was very near being morbid, and he had too much respect for his affection for Valentine, not to shrink from so cowardly a proceeding. The explanation must be, should be, by word of mouth, from man to man. It should take place the first time that he was alone with the marquis; and to cut short a state of vacillation that humiliated him, he said to himself aloud:—

"Yes, the very first time. I pledge my word of honor."

It was on Friday evening that he made this pledge, which was so definite that it procured him another interval of comparative tranquillity. Saturday passed with his mind still in a state of feverish confusion, but with his resolution unshaken.

Sunday brought three new facts in the shape of three letters, one from the marquis, one from Valentine, one from Métivier the notary. The old nobleman was not a letter-writer. He congratulated Landri, "in the name of all the Claviers-Grandchamps, past, present and future;" and then concluded: "You will exalt your old father's joy and pride to their highest point by talking to the judges as he suggested."

How like blows from a dagger were such words from him! And again, how like such blows were the words in which the gentle recluse of Rue Monsieur poured forth all her sympathy! She spoke to him whom she regarded as her fiancé of the happiness that the Hugueville incident must have afforded his father! Had she not then guessed the whole truth? The young man foresaw a new source of torture in the efforts that the dear woman would make, when they were united, to reconcile him to the marquis, and his own efforts to resist that pressure without betraying himself. Ah! he had not come to the end of his suffering!

The notary's letter was, also, very short, but it contained one line so enigmatical that Landri, under existing circumstances, could not help being disturbed by it. Maître Métivier apologized for answering somewhat tardily on the ground that he had desired first to institute a little investigation. He added that Landri's presence in Paris was not at all necessary, and that, thanks to "the unexpected incident of which he was aware," the deplorable affair was on the road to speedy and final adjustment. What incident? Was Chaffin really dishonest, as his former pupil had intuitively suspected, and as Jaubourg had declared on his death-bed? Had they detected him and discovered a way to put an end to his manœuvres? Had he confessed? Or—Already, it will be remembered, Landri had trembled at the thought that Jaubourg might have made his will in his favor.—But no; he would have been officially advised ere this. In such perplexity, the best way was to request from Métivier, at once, an explanation of that obscure passage in his letter. That was the simplest and wisest solution. But so great is the emotional strain, the anxious anticipation of misfortune, caused by a too violent shock, that Landri had not the courage to adopt it. If it did not refer to a legacy from Jaubourg, the "unexpected incident" was really a matter of indifference to him. If the contrary were true, he should know it soon enough.

In fact the Monday was not to pass before he was fully informed and found himself face to face with another problem of conscience, more painful perhaps than those of the preceding days. Tragedy engenders tragedy, by virtue of a law in which consists the hidden moral of this too truthful narrative of private life. It rarely happens that this is not the consequence of one of those deep-rooted sins whose expiation survives the person who committed it. It is one of the forms of that transmission of sin, whereof it has been said with much truth that nothing is more distasteful to us, and that "notwithstanding, but for this, the most incomprehensible of all mysteries, we should be incomprehensible to ourselves."

During the afternoon of Monday, then, Landri was alone in his salon, apparently occupied in reading, but in reality absorbed in one of those fits of melancholy meditation of which he had undergone so many during the past week, and would, he felt, undergo so many more in the months and years to come! The sound of the bell announcing a visitor roused him from his abstraction.

"They're coming to notify me of the inquiry," he thought; "so much the better!"

He heard his servant go to open the door, and in a moment a loud voice reached his ears and made him jump to his feet. That imperious accent, that tone of command—it was M. de Claviers fighting against the order of seclusion.

"But I am his father!" he said. "I tell you, I'm his father! A father has a right to see his son, it seems to me, and I will see him.—However, here he is."

Landri had, in fact, come out of the salon, completely upset by his father's arrival. He was too familiar with the marquis's indomitable will not to know that he would throw the orderly aside, with his still powerful hands, rather than go away.

"Ah! I see you at last, my dear, my son!" He took the young man in his arms and pressed him to his heart, repeating passionately: "My son! my son! At last I can say to you what I wrote so badly and briefly! The pen and I are not on the best of terms since my eyes began to fail. I feel my age. But not in my heart; and that old heart leaped with joy and pride when I read your letter. Yes, I am happy. Yes, I am proud. I should have come Saturday, but I had to see Métivier about some tiresome business matters,—I'll tell you about it,—and again yesterday, although it was Sunday. This morning I read in a newspaper that there is talk of putting you under arrest in a fortress. 'Not before I have embraced him,' I said to myself, and I did as I did the other day, when I went to see poor Charles,—I jumped into the train. I shall return to-night, and I shall be in Paris in good time for my appointment with Métivier. For that business isn't finished yet. Just fancy—But later, later. Let's talk about you. Are you well? Let me look at you. A little thin and pale."

"That's because I don't go out," the young man replied. "I am in strict confinement."

"I shall not be the cause of your being punished more severely, shall I? If necessary I will go and ask the colonel for a permit. Although, according to what you have told me—"

"It's not at all necessary," replied Landri hastily; and he added: "There's nothing more they can do to me."

In his mouth these words were only too true. The shock that the marquis's sudden appearance had given him had changed instantly into inexpressible grief—the same grief that he had felt with such intensity on their meeting in Jaubourg's death-chamber. M. de Claviers' gestures, his glance, his voice, his breath, moved him to the lowest depths of his being; and the other, seeing his perturbation, but attributing it to disappointment because of his shattered career, said to him:—

"You are sad when I hoped to find you happy to take your leave of the army with that fine gesture, which I partly suggested to you! Do you remember? And you must remember, too, how often I have told you, and again only the other day, in the forest, that you could not stay with these people. One by one they'll drive all men of heart out of the service. What they want, these wretched successors of the Dantons and Carnots, who at least had some patriotism, is a national guard surrounded by spies!—Stand straight, Landri. Have the pride of the blow you have dealt them. We will prepare your defence together. It shall be a manifesto. We'll show these Blues, who think they have exterminated us, that there are still Whites in the land. We will argue once more a cause that has been pending more than a hundred years, from the decision of which we must appeal untiringly,—the cause of Condé's army. We will proclaim that the country is not one more than half of living Frenchmen, as their idiotic theory of majorities would have it; that the law is not one more than half of the representatives of that one more than half. In the word country [patrie] there is the word father [père]—patria, pater—The country is France as our fathers made it, or it is nothing. The law is tradition, as they handed it down to us to maintain, or it is nothing. We will say that, even in 1906, we nobles do not recognize 1789, that we have never recognized the night of the 4th of August, that we are gentlemen, and that a gentleman does not perform tasks of a certain sort. You must let me select your advocate and instruct him. A manifesto, Landri,—I propose to have a manifesto, which will stir up others!—Come, tell me the whole story. The newspapers are full of lies. They claim that you hesitated, that you went up the church steps with the sappers.—How did it happen?"

"Why, just as they say," replied the young man.

"You hesitated?" rejoined the marquis; and, gazing at Landri, with infinite affection in his clear blue eyes, he continued: "I understand your pallor now. The sacrifice was very painful. For it is a sacrifice that you have made to us, that you have made to me," he added, not realizing how true his words were.

The "Émigré" had been speaking with all the passion of a partisan, who, being unable to fight the government except in thought, indulges in that pastime with all his heart. Now he made way for the father.

"Thanks," he said, and pressed his son's hand. "But, do not deceive yourself," he continued; "it is for France as well that you have made this sacrifice. You remember that I told you also the other day that I understood you only too well, that I too had heard, in my youth, the voice of the tempter: 'One does not serve the government, one serves France.' One of our princes said it at the trial of the traitor Bazaine: 'France was involved!'—That is why I allowed you to enter Saint-Cyr. Besides, to wear the sword is no degradation. Only follow the logic of your own idea, and you will meet mine, for the truth is one.—Once more, what was your object in putting on the uniform? To serve your country.—What service could you render her that would be more complete, more serviceable than this—to maintain intact, before the eyes of all men, the type of the soldier-chevalier? The chevalier, you see, is the ideal code of regulations, always permanent under new forms, and summed up in the words: the flag, military honor, the good of the service. It is the Chevalier whom the Revolution pursues with its hatred to-day, under the cape or the cloak, as of yore under the coat of the bodyguard or the light-horse. It was against him that it invented the abominable phrase, 'a national army,' which means, 'no army at all, but the common people armed with muskets, pikes and cannon!'—Well! by refusing to march against a church you have asserted once more the permanence of the Chevalier type. In the old days, on their reception they were presented with a sword in the shape of a cross. Admirable symbol of our ancestors—force ruled by faith, that is to say, by justice and mercy! That is what the Cross is, justice tempered by mercy. You have proclaimed aloud that the Soldier and the Chevalier are but one. You have made yourself the example. Therein is the whole of military duty. You and those men who have previously done as you have done have postponed the hour when France will cease to have an army, by steadfast adherence to principle. You know the value that I attach to such adherence. You understand now that one must sometimes lay down life in order to keep intact the germ of the future—principle, always principle! That is what the ancients did when they left their cities but took their gods with them. I have always loved that symbolism. It is Christian even in its paganism! I have an idea that in the future you will agree better with your old father. And then, too, you will help him grow old. You are my witness that I have never complained. I have never attempted to impose upon you the exactions of my selfishness. But why should I not confess it? Grandchamp has sometimes seemed very empty to me, and the house on Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré—very empty. My friends are going, one after another, witness my poor Charles. At my age one is weary of burying, weary of surviving. You will help me to drive away these black devils. We will not part any more.—But what's the matter?"

"The matter is," the young man replied, "that I cannot bear to hear you talk like this."

He had made a gesture to stop the marquis, and he let a cry of pain escape him, of which he had at least an explanation to give, although it was not the true one. Whatever the cost, he felt that he must interrupt an effusion which caused him too much suffering, and a declaration of principles which were so unwittingly but so fiendishly ironical when addressed to him, the child of sin, the nobleman by imposture. It was necessary to have done with it.

"No," he insisted, "I cannot. This life together that you speak of, you will not care to live with me when I have told you what I am bound to tell you. The other day, during our conversation in the forest, to which you just referred, I spoke to you about a marriage. It is going to take place. Since last Tuesday I have been engaged—"

"Engaged?" cried the marquis. "Don't tell me, Landri, that it's to that Madame Olier."

"It is to Madame Olier. I have asked her for her hand. She has promised it to me. We have exchanged our troths. She will be my wife."

"You asked her for her hand?" M. de Claviers exclaimed. "Then you knew—"

"That you would refuse your consent? Yes," said the young man.

"And does Madame Olier know that I refused it?"

"I did not tell her that I had spoken to you of her."

"And she agreed to become engaged to you, without troubling herself about what I would do, your father?"

"She had faith in me," replied Landri.

Could he explain under what conditions of supreme grief, almost of agony, he and Valentine had united their destinies? And yet that M. de Claviers should judge her wrongfully, should take her for an adventuress, was terribly painful to him! He knew his way of thinking. He had still in his ears the words: "She must be very pure, very sensitive. She will never consent to marry you against your father's wish. If her ideas were not exalted to that point, you would not love her."—And he implored:—

"I ask you not to speak of her. As she is mine now, I cannot permit anybody to utter in my presence a word derogatory to her—not even you."

"Begin yourself by not telling me of actions on her part which are not those of the woman that I took her for after your confidences. I say nothing of her. I don't know her. I speak of your conduct toward our family. Will she or will she not be of our family if you marry her? Am I or am I not the head of that family? Have I the right to defend the name of Claviers-Grandchamp?"—He had risen and he bore down upon his son, with folded arms and a rush of blood to his aged face, of that blood whose claims he was asserting—and to whom! "And it is just when I have lost my dearest friend that you have done this to me, when you knew that I should be so stricken with grief!—In Heaven's name, who is this woman, who has so perverted your heart?—But what can she be if not a seeker of titles and wealth, having planned what she has planned in order to force herself upon us, upon me first of all, whether I will or no, by virtue of the accomplished fact?—But no! the fact shall not be accomplished. This marriage shall not take place. I, your father, do not wish it to take place—do you hear, Landri,—I do not wish it."

The young man submitted to this formidable attack without replying. He shuddered when he heard that judgment of Valentine. But M. de Claviers was the only being on earth against whom he could not defend the woman he loved. Whence did he derive the right to raise his voice against him, even if he had the strength? And yet in the attempt to arrest that torrent of indignation, as to which he could not foresee how far it would carry the marquis, in view of his natural violence, he said simply, or, rather, groaned:—

"I shall not defend her against you. Not a word shall come from my mouth that lacks the respect that I owe you. Because of that, remember that she is a woman and that I love her."

"She has forgotten that I am your father," retorted the irascible marquis. But he had not lied when, a few moments earlier, he had uttered with a sympathetic accent the word "chevalier." The legendary meaning of that venerable word, profaned by the most unwarranted usage, was still to him a living truth. That the young man should make that appeal to him was sufficient to induce him to interrupt his indictment of one who was absent. He reseated himself, and with his elbows on the table, and his head in his hands, he continued after a pause, in a tone in which wrath had given place to sadness:—

"Then you will send me a respectful summons,[5] I suppose?"

"I shall have to," replied Landri, "if you do not give your consent."

He realized that he was lost if he yielded to the emotion with which that plaint, so affectionate in its manly simplicity, had filled his heart anew. This constant laying bare to the quick of his sensitive nature by that man's mere presence proved to him once more how necessary it was that he should muster energy to complete the rupture. He loved him, he revered him too deeply to be able to live in falsehood with him.

"My consent?" echoed the marquis, and his anger flared up once more. "Never! No, never! This is no mere caprice, as you must know. It concerns the thing that has been the mainspring of my whole existence. As for the authority in the name of which I forbid—you understand, I forbid—this marriage, you can defy it and violate it. The shocking laws of the present day allow you to do so; but if you dare, you will do a worse thing than if you had broken in the door of Hugueville church the other day. You will insult your father.—I prefer to believe," he continued, after another silence, during which he had visibly striven to control himself, "I prefer to believe that you will reflect. You hesitated at Hugueville, and then the Claviers blood won the day over the poison of modern ideas with which I cannot see how you have become infected. This marriage out of your class is another case of revolt against prejudices. If our ancestors had not had them, these prejudices, for well-nigh eight hundred years, you and I would not be Claviers-Grandchamps. If you choose, from weakness, from aberration of mind, to cease to behave like one of them, an infamous code forbids me to prevent you, but know this, that I shall die of despair!—Nothing! he cares nothing for that!" he continued, rising and pacing the floor. "He does not answer!—When I see you thus, speechless, obstinate, insensible to my suffering, I do not believe my eyes. But answer me, pray! Speak to me! Ask me for further time, at least, so that I may not go away upon those horrible words, that threat against your father. For you did threaten me. You said: 'I shall have to! I shall have to!'—Come, Landri, say that you will regret those words, say that I have moved you."

"You tear my heart," the young man replied. "But I have given my word. I shall keep it. I shall marry Madame Olier."

"And I," exclaimed M. de Claviers, exasperated to the highest pitch by this renewed resistance, "I give you my word that if you do, I will never see you again.—Enough of this!" he continued in an imperious tone. "For an hour past I have shown you all the affection, all the love that I have in my heart for you, and all my grief as well, and you defy me. God knows that I did not come here with the idea of speaking to you as I am going to do. But you shall not defy the paternal majesty with impunity!" And it was true that at that moment majesty did emanate from him,—the majesty of the fathers of an earlier time who, as private dispensers of justice, condemned their sons to imprisonment, and sometimes to the galleys.[6] "You will ask my pardon, you understand, for what you have presumed to say to me, or I will never see you again. And to prove that this sentence of separation between us, if you do not obey, is final on my part, I shall begin as soon as I reach Paris, to-morrow morning, to segregate our property. We have been engaged of late, Métivier and I, in adjusting my affairs which Chaffin's improvidence had allowed to fall into an unfortunate condition. I shall take advantage of the opportunity to surrender to you your power of attorney and all your property. I will spare you the necessity of demanding them."

"I?" cried Landri. "You cannot believe—"

The names of Chaffin and Métivier had suddenly reminded him of the financial catastrophe the imminence of which had so alarmed him. He had asked the notary to say nothing, and he was quite sure that his correspondence with him was unknown to the marquis. So that he could not have interpreted it as a step suggested by Valentine to obtain possession of his fortune. But what if Métivier had been lacking in professional discretion? What if that last little sentence signified such a suspicion?

"I believe nothing," rejoined M. de Claviers, "except that on certain roads one does not stop."—Then, to prove that he proposed to be just, even in the execution of his sentence upon his rebellious son: "But as you haven't yet reached that point, and as you may still have some scruples, considering that I spoke to you about my burdens,—let me tell you that my difficulties are all at an end, thanks to the devotion of a friend. Charles Jaubourg had none but distant relations, of whom he had reason to complain. He has left me his whole fortune by his will. I came to tell you this news also," he added with a sigh, "and to read you the provisions of the will. Nothing could be more lofty in sentiment, more delicately expressed. I have accepted the legacy, in the first place, because it's absolutely honest money: Charles's father was probity itself; secondly, because I do not injure any one—his cousins are all rich and he never saw them; and finally because I loved him as much as he loved me. One can count the attachments in life that do not deceive one.—However I need not tell you that, without this legacy, your fortune was intact. I will order Métivier to communicate with you about the settlement. As for me, when the day comes that you desire to recover a father, you know the conditions.—Adieu."

Landri had listened with, an indescribable mixture of fear and disgust—fear of betraying his excessive emotion, disgust at the infamy of which he was the helpless witness. This then was the ghastly means devised by Jaubourg to leave his whole fortune to his son! And should he, the son, permit that money to be accepted thus, with such touching and confiding gratitude, by that nobleman, so proud and of such magnificent moral integrity? If, by his silence concerning what he knew, he should make himself an accomplice in that final act of treachery, would he not cap the climax of the outrage by his false generosity? The cry of protest was on his lips, and he did not utter it. There was something more atrocious than the failure to warn that honorable and terribly abused man, and that was for his wife's child to tell him what that wife had been.

M. de Claviers had walked to the door. He seemed to await a word, a gesture, a glance; and Landri stood silent, with downcast eyes. The marquis himself started to turn back. Then, in face of the young man's obstinate immobility, his dense eyebrows contracted, his eyes became stern. He repeated:—

"Adieu. Do you understand that I am bidding you adieu?"

"Adieu," said Landri, without raising his eyes, while the dispenser of justice, with a shrug of his powerful shoulders, left the room to avoid giving way to the fresh wave of indignation that swept over his great heart.

[5]In French law, a sommation respectueuse is an extrajudicial document, which a young man of twenty-five or a young woman of twenty-one, proposing to marry without parental consent, is required to serve upon his or her parents, requesting advice concerning the marriage.

[6]Merlin, Répertoire de Jurisprudence, "Puissance Paternelle," Sect. III, § 1:—"Basset mentions a sentence pronounced by a father in person, by the advice of his family, against his son. He declared him to be unworthy to succeed, and sentenced him to the galleys for twenty years. The procureur-général of the Parliament of Grenoble appealed from this sentence as too light, and by decree of September 19, 1663, the son was sentenced to the galleys for life."



Four weeks had passed since the young man had listened to the Marquis de Claviers-Grandchamp's wrathful stride through the reception-room of his apartment, without calling him back to cry out the truth, to prevent that deplorable injustice: the debts incurred by his imprudent but generous and chivalrous prodigality paid with the money of his wife's lover! After those twenty-nine days Landri found himself once more, in the same place and at the same hour, surrounded by the same familiar objects amid which his period of arrest had passed.

He was free now. On the preceding day he had been sentenced by the court-martial at Châlons, by five votes against two, to a fortnight's imprisonment, to date back to his original arrest. On his return from Châlons to Saint-Mihiel, he had found in his room an official communication, stating that "by presidential order, under date of this day, Lieutenant de Claviers-Grandchamp is retired from active service on half-pay." That sheet of paper was the veritable "Here lies" of the soldier, rather than the letter that he had received from the colonel on his return from the Hugueville expedition. Landri had crumpled it up and thrown it aside, paying no further heed to it. All his attention was given to a telegram which he read again and again, an indefinite number of times, seated, with his head in his hands, at the same table and in the same attitude as the marquis the other day, while his valet and the orderly went in and out, packing his trunks.

Landri was to return to Paris by the night train. The telegram in which he was so absorbed was from M. de Claviers' maître d'hôtel. It was a reply to the only letter that he had written the marquis since their interview. He had sent it on the adjournment of the court-martial, to inform him of the verdict. It contained a careful but very distinct allusion to his proposed marriage, and stated that he proposed to go to Paris unless his "father"—he continued to call him by that name—should see any objection to his doing so. He read and reread the despatch acknowledging the receipt of that letter.

"Monsieur le Marquis, being obliged to leave for Grandchamp, instructs me to say to Monsieur le Comte, in reply to his letter, that he will expect him at Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré to-morrow.


That M. de Claviers had not put aside his severity, this missive, so deliberately impersonal and at such a time, was a sufficient proof.

"However, he is willing to see me!" said Landri to himself. "This interview will be another very painful one, but I must not shirk it."

Upon receipt of the despatch he had devoted all the energy of his mind to looking at the impending meeting from the point of view that he had constantly maintained during that month of almost absolute solitude. He had passed the whole of it in trying to define his duty, and he had always come at last to the twofold necessity: silence and separation, separation and silence. During those interminable hours of reflection he had not had one moment's doubt. Not for a moment, either, had he ceased to suffer at the thought of Jaubourg's will, of the shocking abuse of confidence committed for his benefit by his real father, and in which he could not avoid being an accomplice, rather than commit a still more shocking crime by breaking the heart of the most loyal of men, by dishonoring his own mother. His grief finally took the shape of remorse for his compulsory participation in this vilest of falsehoods. Every time that he had remembered, during those four weeks, the petrifying revelation, he had thought instantly of the method resorted to by the dead man to leave him his fortune, and had shuddered with impotent abhorrence.

Nothing that had happened had diverted his mind from that obsession: neither the questions asked during the official inquiry, nor the consultations with his counsel, nor his appearance before the judges, nor the manifestations called forth by his act. Expressions of sympathy had come to him by hundreds from every part of France, from superior officers and comrades, even from privates. He had received also a great number of letters and postal cards filled with low-lived insults. This was a proof that the Marquis de Claviers was right, and that the fine gesture of refusal before the door of the church to be burglarized, since it exasperated the enemies of the army, evidently answered a deep-rooted craving of the military conscience. But alas! it was only a gesture, only a pretence. The officer had obeyed a sentiment which none of his admirers or his insulters could even suspect. Praise and criticism affected him no more than other impressions of the external world. Madame Olier's letters alone had discovered the secret of communicating to him a little of their tenderness. He had received one each day. Evidently the dear woman realized that she had hurt him the first day by speaking of M. de Claviers. Never after that, in the course of those chats with pen in hand, did she so much as hint at the marquis's existence. "Somebody has told her about the legacy," was Landri's conclusion, "and she understands."

He had guessed aright. Madame Privat, who had come to Paris for Jaubourg's funeral, had paid Valentine a visit. She had told her, with the acerbity of a disinherited relation, about her cousin's will.

"You remember what I told you about his passion for Madame de Claviers-Grandchamp? Now he leaves Monsieur de Claviers all his property! Privat insists that he can't see anything wrong. He claims that it's the surest proof that nothing ever happened.—You must confess, my dear friend, that it has an evil look."

Madame Olier had made no reply. But her heart had overflowed with pity. She had seen Landri as he was at their last meeting, in turn paralyzed and convulsed by grief, and she had divined the terrible truth. Her affection had assumed a gentler, more caressing phase, across the distance, and on that afternoon preceding his return to Paris, as he bent over that enigmatical despatch, the certain precursor of fresh struggles, the convicted officer, to exorcise his troubles, evoked the image of his only friend, his betrothed and his comforter.

"I shall see her to-morrow," he said to himself. "I shall be able to keep the secret that honor commands me to keep, and she will read my heart and pity me. She loves me! He is going to ask me to give her up. I had the strength to resist the first attack. I am sure of having still more against the second.—But is that really what he wants to talk to me about?—What else can it be?"

In this question which Landri asked himself, or rather, which asked itself in his mind, in his own despite, another supposition was comprised. If it were true that Madame Olier had heard of Jaubourg's attentions to Madame de Claviers,—and of that he had no doubt,—others must have heard of them, too, others would be talking of them. In the first shock of the revelation that had been the son's first thought. The reader will remember that, after he had started for his club on Rue Scribe, after the scene on Rue de Solferino, he had fled wildly, like a madman, with the terror of a culprit flying from a witness of his shame, simply because he saw a member of the club cross the threshold. Charles Jaubourg's will must have revived all the gossip, aroused anew the slumbering malevolence. Who could say that the marquis had not received anonymous letters, that his suspicions had not been awakened?

One fact had surprised Landri more than all the other incidents of those four weeks. As he dwelt upon the hidden meaning of the despatch, his mind reverted to that fact which suddenly assumed very great importance. How was it that M. de Claviers had done nothing in respect to one of the matters discussed in their interview—the choice of an advocate? The motives that made him irreconcilable on the subject of the marriage to Valentine were respect, worship, idolatry of his name. Would not those same motives naturally have led him to persevere in his original purpose? The heir to that name was summoned before a court-martial. That was a public fact which had no connection with their private disagreement. How was it that the "Émigré" had not insisted that the accused should be defended—that was his own word—on the ground of the principle to which he devoted his life: the honor of the noble? It was not necessary to communicate with his son for that. It would have been enough to send the young man a defender duly "instructed," according to another expression of his. He had not done so. Why? Landri had had to apply to Métivier the notary, who had sent down a kinsman of his, a distinguished practitioner, but purely professional. The marquis and the counsel had never met. Why? Did it mean that some new event had intervened? What was it? The awakening of suspicion? Or was the wrath of outraged paternal authority sufficient to explain his abstention?

Landri was so desirous to believe the latter that he went to the trunk in which his books were already packed, and took out the work wherein the marquis's ideas were collected and marshalled: "The History and Genealogy of the House of Claviers-Grandchamp." The mere title made Landri tremble, but he remembered having read a note, which he must find at any price. When he had found it, he spelled out all the syllables, word by word, in a low voice. He longed to read therein an explanation of the attitude of the Feudalist, thwarted in one of his most firmly rooted convictions. It was a fragment of a discourse delivered by the eloquent Duveyrier before the Parliament of Paris, in 1783. M. de Claviers had cited the passage apropos of the severity of one of his ancestors toward a younger son, with enthusiastic approval and emphasizing the last lines as if to make them his own.

In this argument Duveyrier was supporting a father's denunciation of his own daughter to the authorities.

"Can we," he said, "can we, without distress, reflect upon the immense interval that separates us from those who handed our laws down to us? By what steps of progressive enfeeblement we have substituted for that mental energy, for the power of genuine virtue, a factitious sensibility which takes fright at the slightest effort; not the healthy sensibility, inseparable from kindness of heart, which has compassion for the criminal while punishing the crime, but that flexibility of character, that flabbiness of heart which leads us to purchase the indulgence of others by our own indulgence, and which we call sensibility in order to legitimize our weakness, to ennoble it, indeed, if that were possible! In the last days of the Republic, when discord was ushering in depravity, Aulus Fulvius deserted Rome to follow Catiline. His father called him back. That citizen, a rebel against his country, was still a dutiful son. He obeyed. He submitted to the sentence of death pronounced by his father. Our ancestors admired this example of sublime virtue. We deem it harsh. Our grandsons will call it barbarous. We are beginning to be surprised that a father should exercise the right that the law gives him, to avenge his betrayed honor, his contemned authority. We shall end by depriving him of that right. From the impossibility of punishing the children will result contempt for the father, insubordination rebellion, and universal anarchy."

"That's his way of thinking, and he's profoundly in earnest about it," thought Landri, as he closed the bulky volume. "That's enough to make my opposition exasperate him, so that he won't have anything more to do with me until I have given way.—Where were my wits? He wants to see me to-morrow about those same matters that he had Métivier write me about. Must I imagine, too, that he has mysterious reasons for dividing our property? He told me in this very room of his purpose to do that. That alone proves how much weight he attaches to my offence against him. In his eyes it's a crime. I ought to congratulate myself that he is so rigid in his convictions."

This explanation was very plausible. But it did not allay the vague anxiety that the telegram had caused Landri. For this reason: Maître Métivier had sent him numerous papers to sign, about a fortnight before, accompanying them with a long letter, of a more personal sort. He said in it that he strongly approved of this segregation of the property of the father and son, and that he saw therein good augury for the future. He added that M. de Claviers had, upon his advice, entrusted the liquidation of his indebtedness to a former clerk of his, Métivier's, one M. Cauvet, an advocate who made a specialty of notarial practice. This Cauvet had discovered a serious irregularity almost immediately. Chaffin had been dismissed. "Perhaps Monsieur le Marquis was a little severe," observed the cautious Métivier. "Although the fraud was highly probable, it was not absolutely certain."

"So I was right," was Landri's instant thought, "Chaffin too was a traitor." And he had gone no farther. In his present reflections matters assumed a different aspect. Such violence under excitement was certainly a pronounced feature of M. de Claviers' temperament. No other reason was necessary to explain it than the discovery of a breach of trust. But the consequences? Landri remembered that the son of the steward thus summarily dismissed was Pierre Chaffin, the physician who had watched at the bedside of the dying Jaubourg. Suppose that that fellow had repeated to his father what he had unquestionably overheard? And suppose that the father, to revenge himself, had in his turn repeated that secret? Suppose that he had written to the person most interested?

"No," Landri answered his own questions, "Chaffin may have been tempted by the money that passed through his hands, and have become a thief. But he is not a monster. And Pierre is a physician. There are still some of them, yes, a great many, who keep professional secrets. No; nothing can have happened in that direction, nor in any other. Our conversation of the other day is quite enough."

Despite these arguments, the return to Paris, under such conditions and in obedience to that telegram, inspired the young man with an apprehension that he could not overcome.

"It's being shut up in this apartment, where I have too many sorrowful thoughts to disturb me," he said to himself; and he went out, to try to conquer his weakness by walking.

He employed the last hours of the afternoon in paying farewell visits. But they did not give him, after such a succession of violent shocks, the peace of mind which he was very near requiring physically. He might have measured the extent of the change wrought in him during those few weeks, by this trivial fact: during that last walk from one end to the other of the town where he had done his last garrison duty, he did not feel a moment's nostalgia for the profession to which he had been so attached. One anxiety overtopped everything else, of the same nature as that which he had undergone before the telegram came, and had tried to shake off: to ascertain whether the news of the infamous will had reached the ears of his comrades, and what they thought of it.

Landri had heard vaguely long ago that Major Privat was a distant cousin of Jaubourg. He had no sooner set foot on the sidewalk than he remembered it. That officer had retired the previous winter. He had certainly continued to correspond with some of his comrades in arms. Had he written them the news, and if so, with what comments? In that case what interpretation would those straightforward, simple hearts, whose uncompromising loyalty he knew, place upon M. de Claviers' acceptance?

Such an idea was not of the sort that permits the intrusion of others. In vain did the pictures of military activity on the streets of Saint-Mihiel multiply themselves about the cashiered lieutenant, as if to remind him of his youthful dreams and their destruction. He paid no heed to them. Thus he was able to pass, without being suffocated with despair, the headquarters gate, which he had entered only the other day with the firm determination to retain his uniform. He met, without a tearing at his heart-strings, several troopers of his former command, led by his successor, who was mounted on Panther herself, become in those few weeks a docile and spirited cavalry mare. He recognized Baudoin's insolent and sneering profile, and Teilhard's face, already less frank and open, evidently recaptured by anarchistic influences. That is one of the bitterest pangs that a real leader of men can feel,—to see the living tool that he has hoped, and has begun, to shape, go astray in other hands. Landri was hardly moved by it. On the other hand, he was intensely relieved to find that neither Despois nor Vigouroux, the first two officers whom he called upon, had the slightest suspicion of the legacy left to the Claviers by Privat's cousin. He had the courage to mention the former major's name to both of them. Plainly, they had not thought of him for months. They had many other cares in their heads, which they both poured into his ears, each after his manner.

"So you are lost to the army," said Despois. "Such an excellent officer—what a pity! I blame most the wretches who are governing us, for not understanding that, especially among us, a man cannot be replaced. A man! When they have one who wants to serve, they ought to do everything to keep him. In a campaign, one man is worth ten, twenty, thirty, a hundred, yes, a thousand others! One would think that our tyrants were afflicted with a vertigo that impels them to eliminate from the army the men of heart, that is to say, the loyalists, the men from whom their Republic has least to fear. The officer who refuses, as you did, to break down a chapel door, is the officer who doesn't conspire, because he has scruples, and those fools don't comprehend it!—I, too," he added, "I shall leave, and very soon. I don't think that I can stand it. Yesterday they made us march against the churches, to-morrow we shall be called upon for a campaign against the strikers. That is no more a soldier's work than the other. The army may be employed, in exceptional cases, to see that the laws are executed. But it must be one of the exceptional cases. The reason for the existence of the army is war, not police duty. Our politicians have a horror of war, of that manly and sanctified school of heroism. They have the degraded taste for armed demonstrations in the streets. Look you, they are talking of sending us next week to adjust matters at the forges of Apremont.—For heaven's sake, gentlemen, give us a policy of internal peace and of proud dignity externally!—Adieu, Claviers. I wish that we may meet again, you can guess where; foot to foot, charging the enemy. But will there still be any cavalry to follow us?—I am wrong. We have no right to despair, so near Vaucouleurs. What can you expect? It breaks your old captain's heart to see you go away."

"Well! so they've slit your ears, my dear Claviers!" Such was Vigouroux's first exclamation. "Ah! the—" And the lieutenant of dragoons, who adhered to the great traditions of the Klébers and Cambronnes, hurled a mess-room epithet at his comrade's persecutors. "Do you know that the same thing came near happening to me? And why? Because I exchanged two or three words with you when we dismounted on our return from Hugueville. Gad! they didn't waste any time. That same afternoon the colonel sent for me.—'Is it true that you congratulated Monsieur de Claviers in public?' he asked me.—'I did talk with Claviers,' I replied, 'but privately, when we were off duty; and if anybody claims to have been present at our interview, he lies.'—Charbonnier hesitated a moment. For all that he has the ideas that you know of, he's a good fellow. And then, Vigouroux, Charbonnier—those names have a similar sound, whereas Claviers-Grandchamp—However, 'I'll let it pass this time,' he said. 'But be less talkative, young man. You may fall in with another colonel than me.'—That's all there was to it. You see, two minutes' conversation, and we were spied upon. It poisons life. Claviers, to be surrounded by blackguards. It spoils the cooking at the mess, which really hasn't been so bad this year. I can't eat without talking, and no one dares to speak at the table now. If all the good men like you, the staunch ones, should disappear, what would become of us? But no matter, Charbonnier and his curs may say what they please, I congratulate you again, and I authorize you to say everywhere that Vigouroux cried 'bravo' twice over."

So Privat had not written! That was the whole significance, to their former comrade, of the words of the two officers, one so distinguished by nature, the other so simple-hearted, both equally attached to the service and wounded to the quick in their military honor by abominable orders. Later Landri was destined to see very often in his thoughts the sad and honest glance of Despois in its deeply lined mask, and the jovially disgusted lip—if one may say so—of the ruddy-visaged Vigouroux. At the moment there was no place in his heart for sensations of that sort.

His other visits passed off with the same alternations of painful curiosity and comparative—but only momentary—relief.

The anticipation of the interview with M. de Claviers—the third since he had known what he knew—consumed him with too fierce a fever. It increased constantly as the minutes passed that brought him nearer to the time when he would find himself face to face with him. Again, as in the ride at the head of his dragoons to Hugueville-en-Plaine, he seemed to see him and only him—only him on the railway platform, where very few of his friends had the courage to come to bid him adieu; only him in the carriage, where, lulled by the monotonous rumbling of the train, he tried to imagine the words he was about to hear and those that he would say in reply, endlessly and anxiously; only him, finally, in Paris, where, as he stood in Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré, before the door of their house, his suffering acquired fresh intensity. He had not crossed the threshold since the day when, coming from Saint-Mihiel by train, he had gone there to dress, before going to Valentine's to ask for her hand. That was the day before Charles Jaubourg's death!

Everything indicated that the manner of life in that seignorial mansion was still as he had always known it. The old concierge saluted him from his doorway with the same deferential and familiar expression. The same stablemen, with the same gestures, were splashing pails of water on the wheels of the same carriages. Garnier, the maître-d'hôtel, whose white hair gave him a powdered aspect, received him with the same ceremony at the top of the steps, when his arrival had been announced by the same bell.

"Is Monsieur le Marquis well?" Landri inquired; and his heart gave a great throb of relief, as on the day before with Despois and Vigouroux, when the servant replied:—

"Why, yes, Monsieur le Comte, very well. Monsieur le Marquis went to Grandchamp yesterday to hunt, with several friends."

"He hunts!" thought the young man. "Then nothing extraordinary is happening! Evidently I was right. He wishes to talk with me about money matters only." And he said, aloud: "Ask him if he can see me about ten o'clock."

This touch of ceremoniousness was no novelty in the relations between the father and son. Although the conventional courtesy which is traditionary in old-fashioned families creates something like embarrassment at certain times, at other times it reveals itself as singularly beneficent in its operation. It ensures anonymity, if necessary, when one is suffering. No one of the household suspected that there was impending between the marquis and Landri one of those scenes which mark a solemn epoch in two lives.

But did Landri himself suspect to what sort of an interview he was proceeding when, at the appointed hour, he went down from his apartment to the library, where M. de Claviers had sent word that he was awaiting him? That large, high-studded room was on the same level with the garden, which was fresh and bright-colored in summer, but so severely bare and leafless on that dark December morning. The gloomy setting was only too appropriate to the words that were to be exchanged there.

The marquis was standing in front of the vast fireplace, with his back to the fire, whose bright flame twined about a veritable tree-trunk. It was another of the old nobleman's manias, that huge fire of the olden time. Standing before that monumental chimneypiece, he was himself at that moment, despite his modern costume, more of an "ancient portrait" than ever. But it was the portrait of one who was living through hours of frightful martyrdom. The master of the hunt of the forest of Hez, whose tall erect figure Landri had so admired in the group of sportsmen watching the kill, was scarcely fifty years of age, despite the sixty-five years that the genealogical tree of the Claviers-Grandchamps gave him. The head of the family, who was at that moment awaiting the heir to his name in the immense room lined with wainscotings and books, was an old man. His ruddy complexion mottled with white spots, his heavy eyelids, the wrinkles on his brow, told the story of the long sleepless nights of those four weeks. The jovial gleam of his deep blue eyes was replaced by an expression of feverish ardor, wherein one could divine his secret agony—at that moment! For the undiminished pride of the whole physiognomy said plainly enough that the nobleman had not surrendered, and that before any other witness he would have found a way to conceal his wound.

What was the wound? To know, Landri had no need to question him. What he had foreseen had happened. M. de Claviers suspected the truth. To what extent? How had he been warned? The young man instinctively collected all his strength, in order to undergo without faltering an interview in which his own secret might escape him. He was about to realize once more the superiority of Race, and what a powerful and resolute character it bestows upon its authentic representatives.

M. de Claviers was infinitely affectionate and sensitive, but he was above all else a man. In him, character was in very truth nourished upon and permeated by those principles upon which he declaimed with a fervor which was sometimes so discordant, even—especially, perhaps—in his own circle. At supremely critical moments he was certain to manifest the energy born of an unchangeable resolution, which scorns equivocation, and which has the unswerving decision of the surgeon's knife. He, too, was unaware exactly how much his son—in name—knew of a situation of which he had never dreamed before he had had overwhelming and indisputable proof of it. He was justified in thinking that the young man was altogether ignorant. That was enough to justify, in a weaker nature, the temptation to hold his peace, which Landri assuredly would not have escaped. In the marquis's eyes one duty overshadowed everything else,—the duty of saving, in this shipwreck of all his confidence and all his affections, so much as he could save of the honor of the Claviers-Grandchamps. He was the depositary of the name, and he proposed to impose his will on the intruder,—justifiably, indeed,—without concern for aught save that honor. And so when the young man, immediately on entering the room, began to speak, alluding to their last interview, he cut him short with a word.

"I did not send for you," he said; and the failure to address him by the familiar tu seemed strangely harsh in his mouth, for never before, since his childhood, had Landri known him to address him thus, even in his sternest moments;—"I did not send for you to resume a discussion which, henceforth, has no interest or even any pretext. Something has happened during the month since we last met. It is destined to change our relations forever, and in every respect. It has seemed to me that I owed it to myself and to you to make it known to you. Prepare to receive a very painful blow, as I received it, bravely."

"I am prepared, father, to receive anything from you," Landri replied, "for I am sure that you will never do anything except for what you believe to be my good."

This ambiguous sentence was a final effort to conceal—to what avail now?—what he on his side had learned. At the word "father" the marquis, firm as he was, could not help closing his eyes for a second. But his voice, full and deep, did not falter as he continued:—

"Look over those two letters first; then we will talk."

With outstretched finger he pointed to an envelope lying on the desk, unsealed. On opening it the young man saw that it did in fact contain two letters. One, type-written, was thus conceived:—

"Monsieur le Marquis de Claviers-Grandchamp doubtless is unaware of the reasons that led one of his friends (?) very recently deceased, to make him his residuary legatee. The accompanying document will enlighten him. If Monsieur le Marquis is not satisfied, we have other documents to furnish him." And this denunciation was signed: "An admirer of the house of Claviers-Grandchamp"!

The other letter—Ah! his recognition of the handwriting stopped the beating of Landri's heart. The paper, slightly yellowed by time, still gave forth a vague, musty sweetness, the faint, evaporated odor of Geneviève de Claviers' favorite perfume,—the perfume that hovered about the kisses of which the child was born who unfolded the sheet with hands that trembled so that he tore it across the middle. It was a love letter, written without precaution, in the perilous sense of security which a long-continued liaison finally imparts even to those who are most closely watched. The first three words,—"My beloved Charles,"—the "tu" that came next—news of "our dear little Landri,"—and other phrases, no less explicit, would have made it impossible for the most obstinate to doubt.

From whom had the letter been stolen? From the lover after he received it? Or had villainous hands intercepted it, hands which the careless mistress deemed faithful? Why had they waited for years before using this formidable weapon, and why was it produced to-day, when the two culprits were protected forever by the tomb against the vengeance of the outraged husband? That the will which made M. de Claviers sole legatee had induced this revolting denunciation, the other letter needed not to assert with such insulting cynicism. It was sufficient evidence in itself. The motive was of little importance. The effect had been produced, as complete as the most implacable animosity could wish.

Landri stood as one stricken dumb before the man whose name he bore, by virtue of the sin of the dead woman who had insanely written those lines with her impassioned fingers. When he ventured at last to raise his eyes, he saw that the marquis pointed to the fire on the hearth. He threw the two papers, laden with deadly meaning, into the flames. A minute later a few charred fragments, whirling about in the smoke, alone testified that those letters had ever existed. Doubtless the young man's face had exhibited an extraordinary poignancy of suffering during that silent scene, for, even at that moment, M. de Claviers could not help pitying him.

"I could not perform the task incumbent upon me," he said, "except with your aid and with you aware of the facts."

"Do not reproach yourself, monsieur," said Landri. "Those letters have told me nothing. I knew it all before."

The blood rushed suddenly to the old man's face, attesting the burst of passion that this unexpected reply aroused in him. His blue eyes flashed fire, and as his former habit of speech returned to his lips in that explosion, he cried:—

"You (tu) knew it all! And you did not speak to me! You knew all, and your conscience didn't say to you: 'That man who brought me up, who has always loved me like the most affectionate of fathers, was betrayed in his conjugal honor! He is betrayed to-day in his probity! He accepts that abominable legacy in good faith! He is grateful for it! He is going to use it to pay his debts, to release his patrimony! His patrimony,'" he repeated. "'At any price I must prevent that!'—You knew all, and you allowed me to go away the other day without uttering the cry that you owed me! Yes, you owed it to me, for what I have given you with all my heart for so many years, for what I was still giving you a few moments ago.—I was just about to apologize to you for not being able to conceal the shameful truth from you! And you betrayed me, you, too! You made yourself an accomplice in the supreme outrage!—Ah! villain, you are indeed of their blood, the child of—"

He checked himself. Even in that outburst of his rage his great heart recoiled from the barbarity of insulting a mother, however unworthy, in the presence of a son. But the paroxysm was too violent to pass off thus. His clenched fists opened and closed. He seized the first thing that offered itself, a silver paper-knife lying on the table beside an uncut review. He broke in two the blade, which snapped like glass. Then, brought to himself by the very frenzy of the act, he addressed Landri again in a tone in which the tempest still rumbled:—

"But explain yourself, unhappy boy! Explain your silence! Why did you keep silent?"

"Because I loved you," said Landri, "and because my mother was concerned."

A heart-rending cry, so simple and poignant in its humanness, of the sort that the heart emits when it is touched to its lowest depths! M. de Claviers had loved the young man too long and too deeply, that affection was still too largely mingled in the horror which his existence inspired in him, for him not to be moved to the very entrails. He made a gesture which he instantly checked; and, as if he were angry with himself for that weakness, his face clouded anew as he inquired:—

"And from whom did you learn of this thing?"

"On Rue de Solferino—on that Tuesday. Oh! don't compel me to live through that frightful scene again!"

"He spoke to you!" roared M. de Claviers. "To you! to you! He dared!"

"He is dead," replied, nay, rather, implored the young man.

Again his innate generosity carried the day in the nobleman's heart; he placed his hand over his eyes, the same hand with which he had traced over the remains of his false friend the great sign of pardon. These sudden outbursts of his speech and his passion frightened him, no doubt. This interview which he had sought affected him too profoundly. He collected himself thus for a few seconds, and when he began again to speak his tone had changed. He uttered his words now with a sort of haughty coldness, hurried and harsh, which made his interlocutor feel even more keenly perhaps the utter hopelessness of their situation.

"It is useless to prolong an interview that must be as painful to you as to me. Listen to me, I beg, without interrupting me. In my capacity of head of the Claviers family, so long as you bear its name, I consider myself as having with respect to you both duties and rights. My duty is to treat you ostensibly as if you were my son!" His eyelids drooped once more over his eyes, as he said this. "I shall not fail in that duty.—My right is to demand that you abide by my decision in everything that concerns the defence of my family's honor. That honor is threatened. Such villainies as this are a sign." He pointed to the place on the desk where the envelope had been. He still saw it there! "They prove that people have talked about it, and that they are talking. We know enough of the world, you and I, to know that its fickleness exceeds its ferocity. We know, too, that it has, in spite of everything, a sort of justice of its own. There is nobody, I say nobody, who can honestly believe that Geoffroy de Claviers-Grandchamp accepted a legacy knowing it to be infamous. If, therefore, he retains it, it must be because he does not believe that it is infamous; because he is convinced that his wife has been slandered. I propose,—understand me,—I propose that people shall say, I propose that people shall think, that Madame de Claviers has been slandered. Consequently I shall not renounce this legacy after I have publicly agreed to accept it. Need I tell you that that money fills me with horror, and that I shall keep none of it? It is your money. I propose that you shall have it all. But this restitution must be made between you and me. Unfortunately I have already given orders that I cannot cancel without causing comment, to Métivier's man, Cauvet, that miserable Chaffin's successor. So that restitution cannot be made for some little time. In fact, I must have time to carry out my plans.—There's one point settled between us, is it not?"

"It is for you to command," said Landri, "and for me to obey."

"I come to the second point. We can no longer, I do not say live together, but see each other. We must part, and forever, while adhering faithfully to the programme I have outlined. The avowed reason must be one of those that our set will accept without looking beyond it. That reason is all ready—it is the mésalliance which you proposed to make and which you must make. A month ago the mere thought of it was intolerable to me. I showed you that plainly enough. To-day—" he shook his head with a bitter smile. "It is a horrible thing to me that the family you will found will bear the name of mine. But then I can do nothing. The Code would not allow me even to compel recognition of the circumstances. Besides, I have no right to demand that you should not make the most of your life. I cannot prevent that. I cannot prevent you from existing. No. You will marry therefore, ostensibly against my will. You will give me your word not to live in the same city with me, not to present your wife in our circle. I do not wish to meet you or to meet her.—Wait," he exclaimed imperiously, as Landri was about to reply. "If I were not certain, I say again, that people are talking, things would take care of themselves. You would leave this house this morning, never to return. But people are talking, and as neither you nor I have taken anybody into our confidence concerning our two discussions,—at Hez and at Saint-Mihiel,—the abrupt announcement of your marriage at this moment might be taken for a pretext. No matter how well everybody knows that I am not a man of these times, this theory of mésalliances is so weakened of late years, that people might say and would say: 'He has seized this opportunity; there's something else.'—Now, I propose that the reply shall be, as with one voice: 'No, there was nothing else.'—You have left the army under circumstances that have aroused the sympathy of everybody about you—about us, I should say, since no human power can prevent our interests being mutual. It is natural that I should take this time to receive, to bring people about you. I will receive—we will receive, together. I shall find the strength to maintain this attitude, and so will you. It will last as long as we make it, but we must arrange it so that, on the day when the news of your marriage and our rupture becomes known, everybody who is intimate with us shall say: 'Poor Claviers! he was so fond of his son!'—I doubt not that there will be those who will add: 'What a fool!'—One's vanity is not to be wounded when one thinks of honor, and the only way for me to defend Madame de Claviers' honor is to seem to believe in it. In that our interests are really mutual, with a mutuality which is not a falsehood. She was, she still is my wife, and she is your mother."

"I repeat that I will obey you in everything," said the young man.

"It remains for me to touch upon two other points," continued the marquis. "I have reflected much, during these last days, upon the character of the person you are going to marry. You love her. Yes, you must love her dearly to have spoken to me as you did when we were together at Saint-Mihiel. You see, I do not underrate your affection for me. You will be tempted to open your heart to her. If she doesn't deserve to be loved as you love her, do not do it; and if she does deserve it, do not do it. I ask you to give me your word that she shall never learn this ghastly secret from you."

"I give it to you, instantly," Landri replied. He added, in a low voice, so much in dread was he of another outburst of that rage which, he felt, was still smouldering: "But if I should allow myself to tell her the whole truth, I think—that I should tell her nothing new."

"You have spoken to her already!" ejaculated M. de Claviers in a threatening tone. "Confess it. Ah! if you have done that—"

"I have not done it," Landri protested; and with tears in his eyes, he added: "I entreat you, never believe that I could have acted otherwise than you have taught me to act all your life and are still teaching me at this moment. I will tell you everything. Then you can pass judgment on me."

And he began by describing the first indication—her sudden entreaty to him not to go up to the invalid's apartment on Rue de Solferino, on his way from Paris to Grandchamp; and how, after the visit to Jaubourg and the revelation, he had said to himself: "Madame Olier knows all,"—and in what a state of feverish excitement he had arrived at her house, and the horror he had had of speaking, and his silence in the face of her grief, and that grief itself, and their betrothal in that moment of supreme emotion. Then he told of the letter he had received from her immediately after the Hugueville affair, and of the others, in which she had not made a single allusion to M. de Claviers.

That gentleman listened to the confession with an impassive face, which did, however, betray something like wonder. Never had Landri opened his heart to him in this wise when he believed himself to be his son. Never had he ventured to show to his father that charming, quivering sensibility, so passionate and so delicate, so easily wounded and so loving. He disclosed himself in all the loyalty of his refined and affectionate nature, at the moment that the marquis and he were exchanging the words of their final conversation. What more could they say to each other? M. de Claviers felt that impossibility more than all the rest. His old love for his son stirred him anew, and the more it assailed him the more obstinately he stiffened himself against it. Furthermore, throughout that narrative he caught glimpses of Valentine's charming character, and it was intolerably bitter to him to recall another betrothal—his own—forty years before, so superb and splendid, to end in—what? In this heart-rending inquisition about a deadly shame!

"You are right," he said at last, "it is only too evident. She knows all. But how?" His features assumed an expression of deeper chagrin as he added: "For a month I have been constantly confronted by this question, without reaching even a suggestion of a reply: Who can have stolen those letters?—'We have other documents to furnish!'" He repeated the informer's words, in such a grief-stricken tone. "'Other documents!'—Is it the heirs? But I saw them at the funeral. There was an ex-major there, one Monsieur Privat, who spoke to me about you. I can never believe in such hypocrisy! They knew about the will, and they behaved admirably. No, the blow does not come from them. From a servant? With what object? Blackmail. Oh! let him unmask then! I will pay him whatever he wants for those other letters!—But no. A servant would never have devised the devilish irony of the signature: 'an admirer of the house of Claviers-Grandchamp'! That smells of the club, does that dastardly insult, of low-lived envy of those who do not palter with the cowardly customs of these days."—He uttered another roar. "Ah! If I could only find out who it was! If I could!" And, shaking his head: "This is not a question of myself at all. Once more I say, the honor of Madame de Claviers is at stake, and this is the last promise I propose to demand from you, that you would seek what I cannot seek—the hand that dealt the blow. You may find it and you may not. But you must try, so that they may not repeat it."

"Have you no suspicion of anybody?" inquired Landri, "Chaffin, whom you dismissed—"

"Chaffin? Why, I had had the letter ten days when I settled with him. No. Chaffin's a thief. He has never wanted anything but money. He'd have tried to sell the papers. Let us not go astray in suppositions as useless as my lamentations. Perhaps by questioning Madame Olier you may learn something. Too much, perhaps."—A pause.—"No. That is not possible, either."

What was the shocking idea to which that "No" was an answer, and the "But if it were?" that he added?

"You are aware of my desires now," he concluded.

"I will comply with them," said the young man. He had understood the wicked and atrocious suspicion that had suddenly suggested itself to the cruelly betrayed husband, and he pitied him the more for it. "I promise you."

"That is well," rejoined M. de Claviers. "I accept your promise. Each day I will write you my instructions concerning what I wish you to do. It is unnecessary for us to be alone together again unless you have some information to give me as to the inquiry you are to undertake. I do not hope very much from it.—I forgot. I asked the Charluses and Bressieux to luncheon. Be here at quarter past twelve. Now, go."

"Shall I have the strength to keep that promise of mine?" Landri asked himself as he went down at the appointed hour to the small salon where the marquis received his guests when he gave a luncheon. To reach it he had to pass through a succession of magnificent apartments, and at a distance he could hear the ringing tones of the loud voice that was associated with all the memories of his childhood and youth. Was the man who, but a short time before, by turns stoical and desperate, cold as ice and aflame with passion, accused, commanded, groaned, suspected, in such a frenzy of grief and indignation, really the same as he who greeted him with these words, in a jovial tone, as he waved his hand toward the friends whose coming he had announced:—

"Well, well! So you keep us waiting, master hero! You have no right to, being new at the game! But you have credit for some time to come, after what you have done. Hasn't he, Mademoiselle Marie?"

"Oh! a big bunch of it," said Marie de Charlus, laughing with her beautiful white teeth. "Ah! you tease me. Monsieur de Claviers, and I'll revenge myself by talking slang. But that won't prevent my going back to the French of your old France to say to your son that we are all, men and women alike, very, very proud of him."

"Very proud," echoed Charlus. "To see a fine thing finely done always gives pleasure. But when the one who does it belongs to the comme il faut, class, the pleasure is doubled."

"It is indeed," said Bressieux, shaking Landri's hand in his turn. "We are not spoiled in that way."

"It's because comme il faut folk think too much of their cakes and ale," retorted Marie, glancing at the Seigneur de la Rochebrocante with the laughing insolence that was peculiar to her.

"It is principally because the comme il faut folk are not what they should be [comme il faudrait]," said the marquis. "It's so easy to be of one's own party, nothing more, whereas nowadays no one is of his own opinion even; and I see none but people who, on the pretext of broad and liberal ideas, admit that their enemies are in the right. Landri was of his own party, that's the whole story, without talk and without parade. You must tell them about it, my boy, and how those excellent peasants applauded you and your dragoons when you turned on your heel in the teeth of the disgusted prefect.—But luncheon is served. Will you allow me to offer you my arm, mademoiselle? Lardin has promised to surpass himself, and we shall have, to drink this tall fellow's health, a certain Musigny of a royal year. For we still drink, and drink Burgundy too, we old fellows, just as we still eat, and with a good appetite, in that old France that you make sport of. A sweet thing your new France is! All mineral waters and diet!"

Liveried servants held the chairs for the guests around the table, the dark wood of which had no cloth, according to the old ceremonial of déjeuners à la française. The great garden imparted an almost rural atmosphere of peace to that room, which the host enlivened with his cordiality. To one who observed him closely the contagious warmth of his joviality was in too striking contrast with the feverish gleam of his eyes, and the traces of suffering on his face. But the pride of defending his name sustained him; and, forestalling himself any possible observation of that sort, he, who had never lied, said:—

"I was very anxious for Landri to return. 'That's the true remedy for me.' I told Louvet, when he talked about diet, apropos of those two or three attacks of vertigo I told you of, Charlus. But it seems to me that this young man doesn't seem glad enough to see us. You'll see that he'll regret the army."

And, not to fall behind the tragic heroism of that comedy, Landri, who was being served at that moment with eggs à la Grandchamp, one of the accomplished Lardin's thousand and one creations, remarked, laughing in his turn:—

"I certainly sha'n't regret the cuisine of the mess. It is true that your chef has outdone himself to celebrate my fall from grace."

He put his fork to his lips with the respectful manner of a gourmand to whom eating is a solemn affair, which drew from Bressieux the exclamation:—

"You are coming to it! The table is the least deceitful of all things, and when one of Lardin's chefs-d'œuvre is put before one, in Chantilly of such delicacy as this," he added, pointing to his plate,—and one could not tell from the twinkling of his eye whether he was giving vent to his enthusiasm for antiques or was indulging in secret sarcasm,—"one may well say, despite the famous mot, that one knows the joy of living!"



Landri had not been mistaken—those phrases that had escaped M. de Claviers, to be instantly interrupted:—the "too much, perhaps," and the "but if it were!"—signified that for an instant at least that man, formerly so entirely a stranger to all the meannesses of suspicion, had harbored the unfortunate suspicion that Madame Olier was the denouncer of Madame de Claviers. An utterly insane idea even from a physical standpoint! How could Valentine ever have obtained the letter?—And even more insane morally. It attributed to a young woman, gratuitously, without the slightest evidence, the most shameless of schemes: to separate Landri forever from the man who had hitherto believed him to be his son! And with what object? To marry him with less difficulty?—That theory would not stand a single instant. The wound must in truth have been very deep, that the great-souled grand seigneur should have come so quickly to such a transformation of character.

On leaving the house on Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré, at the end of that luncheon which had left him with the impression of a nightmare, Landri recalled those words among all the rest, and that insinuation so insulting to his Valentine. He found therein an additional reason for desiring to know who had committed that two-fold private crime, unpunishable by law, yet truly ferocious: that theft of a correspondence, aggravated by an anonymous denunciation. In that interview, the strain of which was almost beyond human endurance, he had seen distinctly that only that knowledge could relieve in any degree the agony with which the marquis was suffocating. He himself realized the necessity of the destruction of those "other documents," as the anonymous writer had said, in heartless official phraseology. Such letters, if retained, constituted a too formidable menace against the dead wife's honor, which the betrayed husband was generously determined to save. How could the son have failed to feel that his self-esteem required him to take part in that work of salvation? And how could Valentine's lover not have it at heart that not even the shadow of the shade of that most unreasonable suspicion should be let hover above the woman whom he was to marry and whom M. de Claviers would never know?

That he could have thought so of her, even in a moment of suffering and frenzy, was enough to intensify the young man's longing to see the light in that abhorrent darkness. But what scent was he to follow, and upon what indications? He asked himself this question, set free at last from that constraint against his natural instincts to which he whom he had so long called the "Émigré" had condemned him—while condemning himself thereto through a sense of honor worthy of another age.

He bent his steps to Valentine's house, to seek in her soft eyes, in her dear smile, in her loved presence, strength to endure this test, the end of which it was not for him to fix. Would he question her, as M. de Claviers had not hesitated to advise him to do? To learn what? That the disinherited relations had told her of Jaubourg's will, and that she had drawn therefrom a conclusion only too evident to one already informed? That she was informed, Landri knew only too well. In the long solitary meditations of his weeks of arrest at Saint-Mihiel, he had succeeded in piecing together the whole story, and in understanding why the Privats had always treated him with a coolness which he had noticed only at a distance.—Yes, what was the use of trying to learn anything more? If it were the Privats from whom the anonymous letter came, Valentine did not know it, and what purpose would it serve to introduce her to such villainy? True lovers have a passionate and rapturous respect for that fine flower of delicacy and of illusion which constitutes the spotless charm of the feminine heart, when it has not been prematurely brutalized by the blighting realities of life. This sentiment alone would have deterred Landri from questioning his sweetheart, even if he had not felt a sort of spasm of horror at the thought of accusing his mother to her. Silence is the pious charity of the son to whom reverence is forbidden. And then, too, even if he had essayed to speak, the young woman would have arrested the blasphemous words on his lips.

He had no sooner crossed the threshold of the little salon on Rue Monsieur, where she awaited him, than from the glance with which she greeted him he became aware that she too dreaded a painful explanation. And how could he mar the delight of their meeting by such a hideous disclosure, finding her as he found her, so youthful and lovely, still in black—although the approaching end of her mourning could already be detected!

Valentine wore a gown of crêpe de Chine and lace, the soft fabrics admirably in harmony with the slender grace of her whole person. On her neck a string of pearls glistened softly, a bunch of violets bloomed at her waist, and on the light curls of her ash-colored hair was a torsade of black tulle. It was, as it were, the rebirth of the woman,—those jewels and flowers, and that evident yet artless desire to please which imparted a flush as of a rose-petal to her thin cheeks, a gleam to her blue eyes, a quiver to her smile.

She had her son with her, and was feverishly smoothing his hair, of a golden shade like the pale gold of her own. She pushed him gently toward Landri as he entered the room, as if he were a symbol of the union of which she dreamed—a union in which nothing of the child's happiness should be sacrificed, in which he should always remain with her and his second father.

"Give Monsieur de Claviers a kiss, Ludovic," she said, "and tell him that you and your mother prayed for him while he was in prison, so unjustly."

"It's true," said the child, "and I am glad you've come out! They won't put you in again, will they, monsieur?" he added apprehensively.

"No," replied Landri; and he, too, caressed the golden curls, while the mother said:—

"I kept you here only because you wanted to see Monsieur de Claviers. You have seen him, so go to your lessons.—He is fond of you," she continued, when the door had closed behind the little fellow, "and that is so sweet to me!" And, taking the young man's hand in her own, she added: "Yes, I prayed so earnestly for you,—but before your arrest,—that you would do what you did do, and I am so proud, so proud! When I read in the newspapers what happened at Hugueville, I felt so proud of you!"

"And I," he said, "it is so sweet to be with you once more!"

And it was true that the affectionate welcome of that passionately loved woman, after the heart-rending scenes of the morning, which had themselves followed upon a succession of racking and corroding emotions, was like the divine coolness of the oasis between two wearisome journeys over the scorching sand of the desert—a feast of the heart almost too intoxicating, so that it seemed as if the contrast could not be true, that that rapture was a lie and on the point of vanishing.

"Yes," he continued, "so sweet. For, you see, I have no one but you in all the world."

"Have you spoken to Monsieur de Claviers of your plans?" she asked. "You have never written me about it."

She interpreted Landri's words only in part in their real meaning, not wishing to seem to have divined the other part. Keen as was her intuition, she had not discerned the whole of the drama in which her dearly loved friend was involved. She had guessed that he was Jaubourg's son and that he knew it. She had no idea that the marquis also knew it.

"I have spoken to him."

"And he has refused his consent?"

"He has refused it."

"Landri," she resumed after a pause, "you know now that I love you, and how dearly! When I answered yes to your question five weeks ago, I did so without any illusions. I was certain that Monsieur de Claviers would never agree to our marriage. I disregarded that, because I saw, I thought I saw, that you really could not live without me, and because I loved you. Do not seek in what I say something that is not there. I love you still. I am, I shall always be, ready to give you my life. But if you must face difficulties that are too great, engage in a contest that is too painful, I want you to know that you are free. I will wait for you one year, two years, ten years, twenty years, if necessary—forever." She repeated: "Forever."

"After what Monsieur de Claviers and I have said to each other," Landri replied, "everything is at an end between us, whether I marry you or not."

She looked at him while he uttered these words in so melancholy a tone that she shuddered at it. He turned a little pale, realizing that she understood; and in an outrush of pity like that of the other day she drew him to her, pressing his hand against her heart.

"I will try to wipe that out, too," she said, quivering with emotion.

It was his part to seem not to comprehend all that that protestation signified, and he rejoined:—

"He was not content with refusing. He insists that, when I am married, I shall not live in Paris."

"I will answer you like Ruth," she said. "'Whither thou goest, I will go, and where thou lodgest I will lodge.'"

"Even if I do not simply leave Paris—even away from France?"

"Even away from France."

A little sign disclosed the intensity of the emotion with which she was overflowing. The pupils of her eyes dilated so that her blue eyes seemed to be black; and enveloping, caressing, embracing Landri in that sombre glance, she said:—

"You have no idea of the affection that I have been heaping up for you in my heart during these three years when I have hidden from you so much of what I felt, in order not to ruin you. That love has burrowed into me to such a depth that it would make me tremble if you were not you, if I were not sure that you will never expect of me anything except my duty, that you will never ask me to live under such conditions that my son would not be brought up, as he must be, so as to remain, even away from his country, a child of France!" She repeated: "Even away from his country;" then asked, timidly: "Does Monsieur de Claviers really demand it?"

"He demands nothing," Landri replied.

"But you think that that's the only way to reconcile him in some degree to the idea of our marriage, eh?" she asked; and, as he bowed: "Then we must not hesitate," she added. "You do not know either how much you have taught me to love him, even without knowing him; how grateful I am to him for the influence he has had on you, for the traces of his wonderful sense of delicacy which I find in yours. When I said yes to you the other day, I had a feeling of remorse for taking you from your duty and from his affection. You tell me that there is no occasion for it, that all is at an end between you. That takes away my remorse but makes me so sorry for you. Remember at all events that to part is not to forget each other. You may retain an image of each other against which you have no reproach to make. I hope that it may be so between Monsieur de Claviers and you, and that when he thinks of you he will realize that you loved him, that you still love him, as he deserves, and that there is only this life between you."

The trees in the little garden beyond the door-window were as desolate as those which spread their leafless branches outside the high windows of the dining-room on Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré. The leaden sky of that winter's day was as depressing. The young woman's words, albeit not especially significant, and so considerately vague, affirmed none the less, by their very reticences, the same ghastly and incontrovertible fact which had weighed so heavily upon Landri's heart during the agonizing formal luncheon an hour earlier. But once more Valentine had the miraculous double sight of love. She had appealed to the only sentiment in that suffering heart which could assist him to live through the far too trying period that was to precede the ostensible rupture with the marquis. He could find the requisite strength only in his passionate craving to prove to him the depth of an affection which had never been more intensely alive.

At those words of his compassionate friend and loving monitress, Landri's heart, always so susceptible to affection, was once more inspired with a genuine purpose, and when he left Rue Monsieur, he was conscious, even in his distress, of that species of inward satisfaction which one derives from a determined plan of action, when it is based upon a courageous acceptance of circumstances, even the most hostile, and upon the most deep-rooted attachments of our being. Yes, although the rôle of dissimulation imposed upon him by M. de Claviers was most painful, he would summon strength to go on with it as long as it should be necessary. Difficult as was the task of discovering the anonymous informer, he would devote himself to it. He was able to offer that reparation to the great and noble-hearted victim of the falsehood of which he himself was born. He would offer it to him before leaving Paris—and, perhaps, other reparation too. When he had spoken to Valentine of the project of making their home far away from France, he had given voice to one of the ideas that had been most constantly in his mind during those last weeks. In a voluntary exile to the western part of the United States,—or perhaps of Canada; there he would still be at home!—he saw a possibility of laying aside, without exciting comment, that name of Claviers-Grandchamp, which was not his own. With what emotion he had heard the dear woman's reply: "Even away from France!"—And that assurance added to his courage.

He needed that reinforcement of courage to endure the dinner which he was obliged to eat that evening at the club on Rue Scribe, sitting opposite M. de Claviers. The latter had transmitted to him his commands to that effect, as had been agreed, in a note which contained this line only: "Dinner at the club, at eight o'clock."—He needed it again, and more, the next day, to consent to take his seat beside the marquis, at ten o'clock, in the box at the Opéra which had been Madame de Claviers'. Charles Jaubourg had passed so many evenings there gazing at his mistress enthroned in all the splendor of her social royalty. Something of that liaison floated still about the hangings of the box, which the châtelain of Grandchamp had retained in pious regard for her memory.

And what courage again, on the days that followed, to appear at banquet after banquet, at reception after reception, always beside that companion, who, in the presence of witnesses, continued to treat him with the old-time warmth and cordiality! And as soon as they were alone, in the automobile which took them from or to the house, not a word, not a glance; and upon that face, more haggard and more aged from day to day, was the stamp of the haughty grief that will never complain or forgive.

How many times, as they drove home thus, Landri was tempted to ask: "Are you satisfied with me?"

Satisfied! What a word to be uttered between them! Would the time ever come when he could utter a different word? when he could say to him: "I know the name of the anonymous villain who wrote that infamous letter. Here are the other documents that he threatened you with?"

Between the moments that he passed in this way, in this heart-rending attitude of dissimulation before the world, and the hours which he had at once adopted the delicious habit of devoting, every afternoon, to the comforter of Rue Monsieur, his only preoccupation was this: to find a scent and follow it. But what scent? But how?

"I must proceed upon the definite facts," he said to himself the first day. Now, what were these "definite facts?" That the sending of Madame de Claviers' letter to her husband was coincident with the publication of Jaubourg's will. What could the sender have hoped? That M. de Claviers would refuse to accept the property. Who would have profited by his refusal? The heirs-at-law. It was advisable therefore to investigate in that direction, leaving Privat out of the question. Landri knew that officer too well to suppose for an instant that he, who was rich in his own right and through his wife, would have been guilty of so base an action. For whose benefit, indeed? The Privats had no children.

Certain inquiries, cautiously instituted, convinced him that the other three heirs were no more open to suspicion. One was a wholesale tradesman on Rue du Sentier, Paris; another, the owner of extensive vineyards near Lectoure, where the Jaubourgs originally came from; the third, a magistrate of distinction, held the office of procureur-général in one of the courts of appeal in the Nord.

There was a whole course of social philosophy in this list of Charles Jaubourg's cousinships. He himself had been the fashionable bourgeois who becomes an aristocrat. He had, unconsciously, in a liaison with a great lady, gratified the craving for being ennobled which is the natural instinct, and if well directed, perfectly legitimate and praiseworthy, of the best representatives of the middle classes. To Landri's mind the stations occupied by the dead man's relations were simply a guaranty that no one of them was the denouncer he sought. These first "definite facts" suggested no tenable hypothesis.

Another "definite fact" was the theft of Madame de Claviers' letter. A letter may be stolen only from the person who sends it or the person to whom it is sent. The Marquise de Claviers-Grandchamp had been dead fifteen years. It was possible that the letter had been stolen fifteen years before, and that the thief had let all that time pass without using it, but it was most improbable. Now, when one is pursuing an investigation of this sort, the rule is not to turn to the improbable until one has followed all the probable clues. The wisest course therefore was to assume that it had been stolen at Jaubourg's apartment. What a contradiction it was that a man so prudent, so on his guard, who had worked so hard to conceal his fatherhood should preserve such terribly condemnatory pages! It might be explained by the ardor of a passion that must have been very great. Did he not sacrifice his whole life to it? Precisely because he knew the danger of not destroying such a correspondence, Madame de Claviers' lover must have multiplied his precautions. That letter and the others referred to by the anonymous writer could have been stolen therefore only by a person familiar with all his habits, and at a time when he was incapable of keeping watch on them. The theft must have been committed either during his sickness or immediately after his death. What was the meaning of those words, "other documents?" Evidently, the rest of the correspondence. But why was that single letter sent, unaccompanied by any demand for money, and followed by several weeks of silence? That was an enigma. But it did not explain away the "definite fact."

That fact seemed to require that a wisely conducted inquiry should begin with an interview with Joseph, the confidential servant of whom Jaubourg had said on his death-bed: "You can believe him. He is reliable, perfectly reliable." Landri had not seen him since the time in the chamber of death when the marquis was kneeling at the bedside, praying. In imagination he saw that figure, in black coat and white cravat, making the final arrangements—that impassive face of a close-mouthed witness or confederate. Joseph had been in his master's service thirty years. He must inevitably have discovered Jaubourg's liaison with Madame de Claviers. He knew the secret of Landri's birth. The young man recalled his singular expression when he brought him a message, at Grandchamp, on the day before his master's death. Moreover, was not Joseph there, assisting Dr. Pierre Chaffin, when the invalid, in his delirium, said so many terribly incriminating things? That thought made the prospect of a conversation with the man so painful that Landri recoiled at first.

"This is cowardly," he said to himself the next moment. "If I can't face suffering of that sort for him, of what am I capable?"

Having determined upon this interview, the most elementary shrewdness bade him bring it about without warning. The young man was not aware of one fact which was likely to facilitate his task: M. de Claviers, as may be imagined, had shrunk in horror from the thought of putting his foot in Jaubourg's apartment again. Having resolved to return the detestable legacy, and not choosing to order a sale, which would have attracted notice, he had placed the apartment, until further orders, in charge of the old maître d'hôtel. When Landri went to Rue de Solferino to ask his address, the concierge replied with evident surprise, "Why, he's upstairs, Monsieur le Comte!" which proved to the investigator what a delicate affair he had undertaken. The slightest imprudence was likely to arouse a very dangerous curiosity. And so all the efforts of his will were combined to make his face impenetrable while he awaited the maître d'hôtel in the library, into which an old woman who answered his ring had ushered him. She was the "spouse" of "Monsieur Joseph," who acted as laundress to the establishment during Jaubourg's lifetime. The couple had a daughter. Mademoiselle Amélie, whom their indulgent employer had allowed them to keep with them. How was it possible to associate the idea of a criminal conspiracy with the head of a bourgeois family, hungry for respectability?

Madame Joseph had a certain matronly dignity, which she displayed as she opened the windows and explained the music of a piano, which was Mademoiselle Amélie's.

"We had it brought into the apartment," she said, "because we never leave it now, on account of the bric-à-brac."

The pianiste's father appeared, sad and deferential, respectful and curious. The change in the Marquis de Claviers since his master's death had not escaped that sagacious observer. He had guessed its secret cause, but had not been able to divine how his long-abused credulity had been so suddenly enlightened. When he found himself in Landri's presence, his desire to find out gave to his ordinarily expressionless eyes, in spite of himself, a sharpness which was hateful to Landri—less so, however, than another circumstance both ghastly and comical. Joseph was in deep mourning. He was dressed in garments which had belonged to the dead man. The folds of the coat and trousers, which were of English cut, as befitted a man of Jaubourg's pretensions to style, had retained the outlines of their former owner's body, the features, so to speak, of his movements. This evocation of the dead was made to assume a caricaturish aspect by the servant's involuntary mimicry of his master, who had evidently had a hypnotic influence upon him. He regretted him sincerely, and there was genuine grief in his voice when he said to Landri:—

"Ah! Monsieur le Comte, I told Monsieur le Comte at Grandchamp that monsieur would not last two days longer. Such a kind master! Monsieur le Comte knows that he left my wife and me an annuity of thirty-six hundred francs and ten thousand francs for Amélie's marriage portion. I am going to be able to retire to a little place in my province that I had bought already with my savings. People tell me: 'You're going to be happy, Monsieur Joseph.' But that isn't true, Monsieur le Comte. To have watched him go, as I did, spoils everything for me."

"Since you were so devoted to him," rejoined Landri, studying the effect of his words on that face, which was gradually overspread by amazement, "you will certainly assist me in an investigation, which indeed interests you yourself. Some papers have disappeared—letters, to which Monsieur Jaubourg attached the greatest importance. Observe, Joseph, that I do not accuse you. I came here to ask you simply, is it possible that anybody entered the apartment while Monsieur Jaubourg was ill, and took these papers?"

"No, Monsieur le Comte," replied the servant eagerly, "it isn't possible."

The gleam that flashed from his eyes betrayed an alarm that was not feigned. It was not for himself that he was afraid. He had nothing to do with the horrible deed. But, in that case, who was it? as M. de Claviers had said with a groan—who?

"Monsieur kept no papers, on principle," Joseph continued. "I have heard him say many a time: 'When I am gone, there'll be no need to schedule anything. I destroy everything.'—But he had preserved one package of letters. This is how I know. The morning of the day he sent me to Grandchamp—that was Monday—he felt very sick. He insisted on my helping him to get up, in spite of the doctor's orders. He opened a strong-box that he kept in his room. He took out two bundles of papers with his own hands and put them in the fire. He wouldn't go back to bed till he saw that there was nothing left of them but ashes. And as the key of the strong-box never left him—"

"But during the days just before that Monday, he was in bed. Where was the key then?"

"Hanging on his watch-chain, in the drawer of his night-table."

"Couldn't some one have come in, while he was asleep, for instance, and you were not there?"

"One of the other servants, perhaps. I'll answer for them as for myself. I was the one who selected them."

"But the doctor?" queried Landri.

"Monsieur le Docteur Chaffin?" said the maître-d'hôtel. "Of course. But I can't believe it of him," he added, after a few seconds' reflection. "Now, if it was his father—"

"His father?" Landri repeated. "Come, tell me your whole thought."

"I haven't any thought," replied Joseph, "except that I know that monsieur was very suspicious of him."

"And he didn't come here during his illness?"

"Yes, I remember now—on Saturday. But he didn't see monsieur, for I was with him. He sent for me to get late news to carry to Monsieur le Marquis."

Thus Chaffin's image was associated once more in Landri's mind with the mysterious scenes that must have been enacted about that bed of death. Chaffin had wandered around that death-chamber during the last hours. Chaffin had been in the apartment. Once, the servant said. What did he know about it? Notwithstanding that he had lavished the most assiduous attentions on the sick man, he must have been absent at times. It might be that Chaffin, advised of his absence, had seized the opportunity, had entered the sick-room with the doctor's connivance. If at that moment the invalid was asleep, morphine assisting, the theft of the letters was explained.

The young man had not left Joseph ten minutes before this explanation had taken shape in his mind. It rested upon a series of almost fantastic hypotheses: that Chaffin knew of the existence of Madame de Claviers' letters; that he knew where Jaubourg kept them locked up; that Pierre Chaffin was in connivance with his father; that the strong-box had not a combination lock. But nothing appeared fantastic to Landri since the terrible scene during which he had learned the secret of his birth. When everything of which we were certain, which was, as it were, a part of us,—loving regard for a mother's memory, respectful affection for a father, family pride, assurance of social rank,—has crumbled at one stroke, nothing surprises us. The most extraordinary events seem simple to us.

Not one of these difficulties deterred Landri. The one thing that he did not understand was Chaffin's interest in the theft and in the denunciation that followed it. From the moment that he knew that his former tutor was capable of malversation in managing the property of such a man as the marquis, he adjudged him a scoundrel and capable of the worst crimes. He remembered the step he had undertaken at the time of his last visit to Grandchamp, and he interpreted it as being in pursuance of one of his detestable schemes: to precipitate a disaster under cover of which his peculations would pass unnoticed. All this was true, but it came in collision with the further "definite fact," that the denunciatory letter, according to M. de Claviers' own testimony, was sent some time before the dishonest manager was dismissed. So that Chaffin could not have been guided, in sending it, by a desire for revenge. But a man does not act without a motive, especially when the inevitable consequence of his action is the ruin of two lives. At that time Chaffin had no motive for committing that useless and barbarous villainy. No. He must seek elsewhere.

"No motive?" the young man asked himself a few days later. He had exhausted himself in hypotheses and efforts, each more unavailing than the last, even to the point of taking the trouble to interview personally all the people who had been in Jaubourg's service under Joseph, and he returned to the hypothesis to which, in spite of all the objections to it, an unconquerable instinct guided him. "But I know absolutely nothing about that man, whom I thought I knew so well, and in whom I was so deceived. I don't even know why he was dismissed. From whom can I find out? Why, from Métivier, of course. Besides, I shall need him in connection with my marriage."

They had been discussing the date, Valentine and he, during the day. True to their compact of silence, neither of them had mentioned M. de Claviers. Landri continued to avoid explaining why he delayed in making the sommation, which would hasten the longed-for moment of their union, and she continued to avoid questioning him. He foresaw, however, from various indications,—glances, tones of voice, gestures,—that the heroic marquis himself would not endure much longer their too painful relations, and he was beginning to discuss with the dear companion of his life to come the details of their plans. In these discussions she showed herself as he had always known her, delicately judicious, and strong of heart.

The project of living on a large estate in the country gave place more and more definitely to the dream of carrying on a "ranch" in Western Canada—Ontario or Manitoba. A large amount of ready money would be necessary. So that a pretext was at hand for the visit to Métivier.

The apprehension of an overstrained perspicacity is so distressing at critical moments that Landri went several times as far as Place de la Madeleine before he could make up his mind to go up to the notary's office. He succeeded at last, as generally happens with over-sensitive imaginations, in overcoming that apprehension, and realized that it had been entirely subjective.

Métivier greeted him with the simple courtesy of a notary employed to do a certain thing, with whom to think of his client is to think of documents and figures. Of the family tragedy in which the Claviers-Grandchamps were nearing shipwreck he had no suspicion. On the other hand, he had shrewdly unravelled all the threads of the conspiracy entered into by Chaffin and his confederates, and when Landri, after speaking of certain formalities that were indispensable for the final settlement of his mother's estate, in order to account for his visit, touched upon the subject of his former tutor, Métivier exclaimed:—

"What did he do? Why, it's the simplest thing in the world. He came to an understanding with certain people from whom your father had borrowed money, in such wise as to secure a percentage of their profits. I am expecting Altona this very morning. If he should happen to come while you are here, you would see a superb specimen of the usurer of to-day. He is the dealer in curiosities, who sells you a portrait by Velasquez, a Boule cabinet, a bust by Houdon, for a hundred thousand or two hundred thousand francs, and buys them back for fifty or sixty thousand. The amusing feature of it is that the Velasquez and the Boule and the Houdon are genuine, and that the customer wouldn't do a bad bit of business by keeping them. This enables Master Altona to pass himself off as a collector, a dilettante, a connoisseur of art!—This fellow and his gang learned of Monsieur le Marquis de Claviers' financial embarrassment. I am somewhat to blame. I recommended your father to apply to a certain Gruet, whom I thought trustworthy, and he was of the same stripe as they! They knew also what the treasures of Grandchamp were worth. You see the scheme; it's familiar enough: to force the marquis to a sale by getting all his debts in one hand. Chaffin was to have his commission—thirty or forty thousand francs, perhaps more. He undertook to offer Monsieur de Claviers four millions, in Altona's name, for a list catalogued in the notes to your family history! He had the audacity to do that! And Monsieur le Marquis is so kind-hearted that he explained it to me: 'He thought he was doing me a service,' he said.—Luckily we were able to enlighten him by discovering the traces of a most commonplace rascality: bills settled twice, if you please—once to the tradesman, and once, to whom?—to Master Chaffin.—Monsieur de Claviers cut off his head. When I wrote you that he was severe, Cauvet, the advocate I got for you, had found only one of these bills. I said to myself that there was a chance for a mistake. For all a man's a notary, he has difficulty in believing in certain comedies, and this Chaffin played one for me when I questioned him, with your letter in my hand. To dismiss him so summarily was to run the risk of never getting to the bottom of many things. However, we're beginning to see daylight. As I always say to my cousin Jacques Molan, the dramatic author, the true modern comedy is played in our own homes."

"Then," queried Landri, as Métivier complacently mentioned his cousinship to an illustrious writer, of whom he was proud after having been very much ashamed of him, "then you think that Chaffin was interested in the Altona deal?"

"There's no doubt of it!" replied the notary. "By the way,"—one of his clerks had just knocked at the door and handed him a card,—"if you'll allow me to have him shown in here, you will see Altona himself. He is here. You can measure up the man; you will be able to judge whether it is possible that, having chosen the end, he resorted to the means, every means," and going through the motion of counting money, "this included."

Landri did not need this meeting with the usurer-antiquary to know what to think concerning the nature of the conspiracy against the pictures, the tapestries and the furniture of the château of Grandchamp. The recollection of the advice insinuated by Chaffin: "Ask for your property," would have sufficed of itself, without this visit to Métivier, to convince him that the sending of the anonymous letter might be explained simply by a desire for money. At the moment that Jaubourg's legacy fell in, M. de Claviers was in the clutches of the Altona claim. He could free himself only by selling the treasures of the château. Chaffin's disappointment was proportioned, no doubt, to the commission that he lost. His knew his master's temperament. To betray to him his wife's liaison with his false friend was to make that money impossible of acceptance by him. If the rascal had letters of Madame de Claviers in hand, all was explained. This theory was less chimerical than the other, but upon how many hypotheses did even it rest! For a moment it seemed certainty to Landri, ready to collapse, as the first had done, upon examination.

Meanwhile he exchanged a salutation with Master Altona, as the notary had slightingly dubbed the dealer in antiques. One had but to see the two men side by side, to understand that ten years earlier he would have called him "my boy," and ten years later he would call him "monsieur le baron."

Altona had one of those bloodless faces, faded for good and all, which have no age. He was very black-haired, with moustaches and an imperial cut in a fashion to give him the aspect of one of the portraits he dealt in. His brown, velvety eyes, which were like two spots on his pale face, betrayed his Oriental origin, as did the strange mixture of servility and arrogance displayed by his whole person. A little too well-dressed, with too much jewelry, too faultlessly correct, one realized nevertheless that one last touch of "side"—we use the language of the sharpers in his employ—would make of him a passably successful make-believe grand seigneur. Métivier, on the contrary, that highly esteemed notary, well-to-do and well established, but dull and heavy, and made apoplectic at fifty-five by his sedentary profession and by over-indulgence in eating and smoking, would never be anything more than a vulgar French bourgeois. Through the chance that brought them together, in the presence of the heir of a very great name on the eve of disappearing forever, the four walls of that green-box-lined office contained a striking abstract of contemporary history.

Maxwell Altona—although born in Germany he bore that English baptismal name—seemed in no wise embarrassed to find himself in the presence of a son of the debtor he had plotted to rob, and when Métivier had named them to each other, he said calmly, with his shrewdest glance and his most engaging smile:—

"I am the more pleased to have the honor of being presented to you, Monsieur le Comte, because I followed your trial with the deepest interest and greatly admired your action at Hugueville. You have taken your leave."—Here the foreigner betrayed himself, by that little Germanism; no one is perfect.—"You are proposing, no doubt, to devote yourself to your fine château. I am well acquainted with its marvels."—At this point, one of the indescribably ironical expressions that play over the mysterious features of these international tradesmen.—"Allow me to suggest to you an opportunity that is perhaps unique. You have but one of the two Gobelins of the Turkish Embassy. It is the entry of Mehemet Effendi into Paris, in 1721, with the mission of congratulating the King on his accession," he added, addressing Métivier. Then, turning again to the possible purchaser, "I know where the other is."

"Isn't he amazing?" the notary asked Landri as he showed him out. "One affair has failed. He goes about another at once. He was going to strip you. He sells to you. Faith, I advise you to look at the tapestry. I am sure it's genuine. That's his probity, the pirate! He doesn't cheat about his wares. And Cauvet won't have a commission, I promise you."

A commission? Was it possible that Chaffin had in very truth not hesitated to commit the most shocking of private crimes, the betrayal of a dead wife to her husband, of an illegitimate son to the head of a family, after all the benefactions he had received, and all for fear of losing his percentage, as Métivier had said, of the four millions? Was it possible? At all events the objection urged at first by M. de Claviers was removed: the fact that the anonymous letter was sent before Chaffin's dismissal did not prove that he was not guilty. And yet how many things still made it improbable that he was! And in the first place, that he had had Madame de Claviers' letters in his possession! Improbability? Yes. Impossibility? No. Here the son's complicity once more appeared as the essential and sufficient condition.

All these ideas were whirling about in Landri's mind as he returned from Place de la Madeleine toward Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré. They suddenly crystallized in a resolution which caused him to turn his back on his home and walk toward Place de la Concorde, then through the Tuileries toward the Seine, Notre-Dame, and Ile Saint-Louis. How many times he had followed that route, a mere child, on his way from the paternal abode to Quai de Béthune, where Chaffin's family then lived. Having agreed, it will be remembered, to live with his pupil, he often took him on Sunday to pass a few hours with Madame Chaffin, their daughter Louise, and their son Pierre, in the fourth floor apartment, from the balcony of which one commanded such a beautiful view of the Seine, with the chevet of Notre-Dame at the right, the dome of the Panthéon and of the Val-de-Grâce in front, and at the left the thickets of the Jardin des Plantes and the Salpêtrière. In course of time the Chaffins had gone down to the third floor, then to the first, without leaving the house, which was convenient to the young medical student because of the proximity of the Hôtel-Dieu and the Latin Quarter. Louise had never married, and Madame Chaffin was still living.

These recollections of an existence apparently so upright protested in the former pupil's heart against the insulting step he was preparing to take. He was going to question Pierre Chaffin. But great heaven! That virtuous occupant of an old house on a patriarchal quay had actually put his fingers in his master's fortune. Were there but one chance in a thousand, in ten thousand, that he had likewise stolen Madame de Claviers' letters, with the connivance of his son Pierre, that one chance was enough to cause Landri to try, at whatever cost, to find out.

"What do I risk?" he said to himself on the way. "I ask him whether, to his knowledge, any one except himself and the servants entered the sick man's bedroom. If no one went in, he will say no, simply. If some one did go in, and that some one was his father, he will be confused. If it is only for a second, I shall see it. That will be a certain indication, and then I shall act."

How? By what steps? He did not know. But on the other hand he did know that he was on his way to another trying scene in which all the suffering of the last weeks would be revived, on seeing the physician for the first time since that fatal Tuesday. He recalled Pierre's preoccupied expression as he came from his delirious patient's bedside, and the persistence with which he repeated: "It's downright madness." But what then? They were likely to meet at any time, and if Landri really proposed to keep to the compact he had made with M. de Claviers and to defend his mother's memory, guilty though she was, against this witness of Jaubourg's death-agony, it was much better to see him at once and to bear himself in their interview as if the dying man had in truth talked mere nonsense, which was of no consequence.

There was, to be sure, a difficulty of another sort. Pierre was the son of a man dismissed by the marquis for dishonesty. True. But Landri was not making a personal call upon him. He was going to seek information at the hands of a doctor who had been paid by M. de Claviers; for Jaubourg's residuary legatee must have paid all the debts of the deceased, including the expenses of the last sickness. Moreover, if Pierre was not Chaffin's confederate, he certainly did not know the true reason of his father's discharge. His father would never have told him. In that case there was nothing in Landri's procedure to surprise the doctor. In the contrary case, why spare a couple of brigands?

All varieties of grief have their egoism. There was another hypothesis which Madame de Claviers' son did not consider: perhaps, since his father's dismissal, Pierre Chaffin had been passing through a crisis similar to that of which his playmate in childhood was undergoing the terrors. Between ignorance and actual complicity, there is room for suspicion. Let us say at once that such was the plight of the physician, worried to the point of dismay by the visible change that he had observed in his father during the past month.

One afternoon in November Chaffin had appeared, in a state of great agitation. He had told his son that the marquis had made him the scapegoat of his follies. He had inveighed against the ingratitude of the grand seigneur, in whose service his life had been passed, had declared that he would accept nothing, not even the smallest pension, from that man, and had forbidden his name to be mentioned in his presence. Since then he had been wasting away in a melancholic state, the true causes of which were, on the one hand, terror lest his son should learn the real reason of his disgrace, and on the other hand the most violent and invincible remorse.

Landri's instinct had led him to the right conclusion. Chaffin was the anonymous informer. Enraged by the sudden collapse of his hopes, the loss of a commission which would have rounded out his fortune, and really convinced in his own mind that M. de Claviers would renounce the Jaubourg legacy, Chaffin had gone to Altona to strike another bargain with him, and to demand not one but two per cent of the four millions offered for the list of treasures preserved at Grandchamp. He agreed, in consideration of that sum, to induce the marquis to reopen the negotiations that had been instantly broken off by the legacy. Altona had accepted his offer.

Chaffin had in his possession a letter from Madame de Claviers to Jaubourg. He had opened it when he was only a tutor, nearly eighteen years before. Finding it on a table, in a package prepared for the post, he had yielded to an intense curiosity to learn the real relations between the friend of the family and the marchioness. That was the period at which the process of corruption already described began. Perhaps this discovery of the sin of his pupil's mother was the most virulent element in his moral degeneration. He had not used the paper, as he might have done, as the foundation of a lucrative system of blackmail. He was not ripe for such villainy. But he had not destroyed it, by reason of that sort of vague expectation which, in certain natures, outwardly sound but rotten at the core, is, as it were, the gestation of crime. He had, in fact, supplemented it by adding to it—these were the "other documents"—three notes from Jaubourg, pilfered from Landri's mother's desk. At the time the lovers had discovered, with dismay, the disappearance of Madame de Claviers' letter. They had both made cautious inquiry, and failing to learn anything, had attributed the loss to some irregularity on the part of the mail. The marchioness had not detected the second theft, which would have put her on the scent. Jaubourg had always suspected Chaffin. That was the meaning of the question, "What is he?" uttered in such distress on his death-bed.

That is the sort of man that the former tutor was: a scoundrel who lacked only a tempting opportunity. The bait of eighty thousand francs was the opportunity. He had written the anonymous letter himself, on his typewriter. He had placed it in an envelope with the other, the incriminating one, and despatched them both to the marquis. But although a greedy longing for gain, added to base and pitiless envy of the grand seigneur, had impelled him to do this disgraceful deed in an hour of madness, when the blow was dealt, his conscience of the earlier days, of the humble giver of lessons to worthy bourgeois, had begun to make itself heard. He could not banish from his thoughts the haunting image of M. de Claviers' face as he had seen it during the fortnight between his crime and his dismissal, so haggard, so ravaged by suffering! His handiwork terrified him, especially as the end sought—at such a price!—was not attained. Contrary to his expectation, the marquis went on paying his debts. Pictures, furniture, hangings, remained at Grandchamp. The eighty thousand francs Altona had promised him would never come to his hands.

There are not many criminals who, in the face of a useless crime, practise the calm philosophy of the assassin in the old story, who found only a single sou in his victim's pocket, and observed: "A hundred like this will make five francs!" The absolute inutility of his murderous villainy did not even afford Chaffin the semi-insensibility which might have come from the possession of that little fortune which, added to the store already accumulated, would have given him a round twenty thousand francs a year.

Tormented by this fixed idea, he was beginning to exhibit symptoms of the acute mental alienation which incessant, poignant regret for an irreparable sin is likely to cause in a man of some education. He could no longer eat or sleep, read or write, attend to any business or remain quiet. This agitation had not escaped the son's notice. The doctor had begun, almost automatically, to watch his father. He soon assured himself that these symptoms, so readily interpreted by an alienist, were caused by no physical disturbance. The cause was entirely mental—the physician said, cerebral. Almost automatically again, he had sought that cause.

One fact aroused his suspicion: he fancied that he observed a certain constraint in Professor Louvet's manner toward himself. As the head of the clinical staff he was in constant communication with the illustrious master of the Hôtel-Dieu. It had seemed to him, during the last weeks, that his chief's handshake was, not less cordial, but less unreserved, less familiar—in a word, that there was "a thorn" in it, as they would have said to each other in neurologists' parlance, in speaking of a common abrasion of the skin on a patient. Under any other circumstances Pierre would not have hesitated to question the professor. He did not do it. He had put together the two symptoms: the change in his master's manner to him, and the change in his father. He had drawn therefrom the conclusion, still automatically,—a profession like his ends by imparting a mechanical method, an instinctive gait, to the mind,—that the same fact was at the root of both. What fact? The quarrel between Chaffin and M. de Claviers, that old and very important patient of Louvet.

Pierre knew the marquis well, and although he had for him the antipathy of one social class for another, his innate sense of justice compelled him to esteem the great nobleman's greatness of soul. No, the châtelain of Grandchamp, who bestowed pensions on scores of old servants,—only two months since, his factotum was bewailing the fact at the family table!—had not parted, without weighty reasons, from one whom he had had in his service so many years.

What were those reasons? This question had been haunting the physician for several days, with such persistent and increasing distress, that it had occurred to him to seek an answer to it from Landri. He had been deterred by very diverse considerations. It will be recalled that their relations had never been perfectly simple. It was hard for the plebeian to ask the titled man if his, the plebeian's, father had been guilty of any offence contrary to honor. It was painful, too, for the physician, who had learned, in the delirium of a death-agony, the secret of an illegitimate birth, to seek a meeting with the son of the patient,—a meeting over which that consciousness would hover like a pall, especially as Pierre knew the terms of Jaubourg's will, and he did the child of that adulterous connection the justice to believe that M. de Claviers' acceptance of the legacy was torture to him.

One can imagine now the shock that it caused him, as he sat at work one afternoon in his little study, littered with books and pamphlets, when the maid handed him a card on which he read: "Comte de Claviers-Grandchamp." Fate, which is wont to teach such lessons, brought those two men face to face, who were born and reared under such widely different conditions, and who were undergoing, unknown to each other, the same universal ordeal of heredity, whereof one of the ancients said: "We shall be punished, either in our own persons or in those of our descendants, for the sins we have committed in this world." This is the principle, at once mysterious and natural, moral and physiological, which, by uniting persons of the same blood, creates the Family and Society.

Pierre's first impulse—so intolerable to him was the thought of his father's possible shame—was to reply: "I am not at home;" the second, to say: "Show him in." For the very reason that he was ignorant of the real reason for the dismissal of the steward of the Claviers-Grandchamps, he was unwilling to appear to dread a conversation with the future head of that house, and he thought:—

"What does he want of me? Doubtless he has come on account of the will. He is going to ask me not to mention what I may have heard and guessed. Those people have no appreciation of the honor of the medical profession. Bah! the honor of a bourgeois in the eyes of a noble!—A noble?" He laughed sneeringly,—"and of an officer with such ideas as this incompetent has, and as he exhibited in that stupid business of the inventory!"

As will be seen, his customary surly humor had already returned to this strange creature, who had always taken life against the grain, if we may so express it, because of his false position on the edge of a society in which he had no well-defined place. The result was that on entering that little room, the aspect of which disclosed the professional and intellectual ardor of its tenant, Landri de Claviers encountered the same armed glance that he had always known, behind the young scientist's gold-bowed spectacles. With his red beard and his irregular features, as if carved by a bill-hook, which gave him the aspect of a Tartar, the younger Chaffin really had, at that moment, the look of a very evil-minded man. This sensation was calculated to impart and did in fact impart a dryness, almost a bitterness of accent to Landri's first words, which were destined instantly to transform that conversation into a brief and fierce duel.

"I shall not detain you long," he began, after they had exchanged a few words of ordinary courtesy. Because of their former companionship and their difference in rank, they never knew how to address each other. They never called each other "monsieur," or by their names simply. "I have come upon a delicate, a very delicate errand. But the question I have come to ask is not put to the man, but to the physician who attended Monsieur Jaubourg."

He had the strength to pronounce those two syllables without removing his eyes from the other, who could not restrain a contraction of his bushy eyebrows and a curl of his lip as he replied:—

"I am at your service so far as this question does not run counter to my duty as a physician. We have a duty of absolute silence, which you do not suspect," he continued with a peculiar bitterness: "nec visa, nec audita, nec intellecta[7] is the old form of the Hippocratic oath. It is still true."

"It is a very simple matter," rejoined Landri. "You are aware that Monsieur de Claviers is Monsieur Jaubourg's legatee. We have obtained proof that some papers of great importance were taken from his apartment during the last days of his illness. Well! I would be glad to have your word—"

"That I didn't take them?" the doctor hastily interrupted. "Don't tell me that you came here to ask me that," he continued with an outburst of anger; "I will not allow it."

"You might have let me finish my sentence," retorted Landri, more calmly, but very little more. Being absolutely ignorant of the inward tragedy—so like his own, alas!—of which Pierre Chaffin was the victim, this outbreak at the bare idea of a suspicion of dishonesty was inexplicable to him. He had said nothing to justify it, and being rendered so sensitive by his own suffering, he could not brook a reply uttered in such a tone. "I finish that sentence. I would be glad to have your word, not that you did not take the papers, but simply that no person, to your knowledge, entered Monsieur Jaubourg's bedroom during his illness,—besides the servants, Professor Louvet, and yourself, of course. It seems to me that there is nothing in that to cause any sensitiveness on your part. It is simply a matter of preventing suspicion from going astray. You should be the first to desire it."

"I have no answer to make to a question of that sort," said Pierre. He did not clearly discern his questioner's object. It was true that he would have no right to take offence at the question, if it had not been couched in terms too imperious and inquisitorial. The conclusion especially had irritated him. But as Landri had affected to speak in a very self-contained tone, almost ceremonious in its stiffness, he determined to meet his coldness with equal coldness. He would have been humiliated to appear less able to control his nerves, or less polished, than the young noble, and he added: "I do not admit that it is the duty of a physician to keep watch over his patient otherwise than professionally. I venture to assert that I treated Monsieur Jaubourg to the best of my ability, and that is all that his heirs have a right to concern themselves about with respect to me."

"It is not a question of keeping watch," Landri replied. "You compel me, in spite of myself, to make my questions more precise. Did you admit no stranger to the invalid's bedroom? For you did receive visitors, I know from Joseph."

"Visitors?" exclaimed the physician. "No one, except my father." He had no sooner pronounced the word, than he ejaculated the "Ah!" of one who suddenly grasps the situation. He was silent for a moment. Then, controlling himself with an effort, he continued, throwing out his breast and walking up to the other, with distorted face and breathing quickly: "I will satisfy you. I give you my word of honor that I admitted no one to Monsieur Jaubourg's bedroom,—no one, you understand; my word of honor, and it's the word of an honest man, again you understand! And that gives me the right to put a question to you, in my turn. For all you call yourself Monsieur le Comte de Claviers-Grandchamp, and I am simple Pierre Chaffin, we are no longer living under the old régime, and I don't know that you are entitled to come here, on your private authority, to question me like an examining magistrate. You told me that some one had stolen papers from Monsieur Jaubourg's, and you asked me if the person from whom I received a visit did not go into the room where the stolen papers were. That was equivalent to saying that you suspected that person of stealing them, and that person was my father. My question is this: Do you suspect my father, or do you not?"

"I will say, as you said just now, that I have no answer to make, having named no one," Landri retorted.

His irritation faded away in the face of evidence: he had before him in very truth an absolutely honest man. He had felt it in the vigor with which Pierre had asserted his honor, in the upheaval of his whole being, above all in his outcry of indignant surprise. And lo! a strange and melancholy sympathy stirred in his heart. The tone in which the son had spoken of his father echoed in the depths of his soul. It was like a sudden repetition of his own inward lament. He observed with dismay that, having come thither to obtain confirmation of one suspicion, his visit had aroused another, not in his own mind, but in that of the very person upon whom he had relied to discover the truth; and already it had ceased to be in his power to allay that suspicion.

"To decline to answer is to answer," said Pierre Chaffin. "So papers are missing from Monsieur Jaubourg's, valuable papers, no doubt, and you, and Monsieur de Claviers, I suppose, with you, accuse my father of the theft!"

"No valuable paper is missing from Monsieur Jaubourg's," replied Landri, "and, once more, we accuse no one."

"If it is not valuable papers that have disappeared," continued the physician, "it must be letters. And why do people steal letters? To sell them, threatening to make them public, for blackmail."

His habit of inductive reasoning began to work anew, and in that moment of supreme agony, he made use of what he knew to guess the rest. Letters had been stolen. What letters? Those which referred to the birth of the child of Jaubourg and Madame de Claviers. They were afraid of blackmail. What sort of blackmail? That which the will suggested. And he said aloud, changing from questioned to questioner, to suppliant rather, he trembled so with anxiety as he made this appeal to his playmate in childhood:—

"I gave you my word just now; give me your word that you did not believe that my father was capable of that.—You don't answer? Then it must be that you did believe it. And yet you and Monsieur de Claviers are not cruel. You believed that? Why? I must know. I must know everything, everything, everything, and first of all the real reason why my father and Monsieur de Claviers parted. I am a man, Landri, and I am addressing another man. What was the reason? Tell me."

"You are well aware that I was not here," Landri replied. "I know nothing positive."

"Yes or no, did you hear any talk of dishonesty?"

"I heard something said of confusion in Monsieur de Claviers' affairs," said Landri. "But I give you my word on this—that this matter of Jaubourg's papers, as to which I wanted to obtain your testimony, had no connection whatever with the reasons that may have led Monsieur de Claviers to dispense with Monsieur Chaffin's services."

He was only too well aware, when he made this indefinite reply, that the craving for knowledge with which the other was consumed demanded a reply of a very different tenor. But he could not answer yes or no. He had suffered too keenly when he learned of his mother's sin to allow his lips to form words which should inform a son of his father's crime. Nor would his sense of honor permit him to be lavish of denials. Indeed, what was the use? When he decided upon this step, he had had no means of divining that Pierre's mind was already disturbed, so that he had immediately read into his question a meaning that was only too dear.

This altogether unforeseen result of their interview created in Landri's mind the impression of an inevitable destiny, which he had felt many times since his visit to his real father's death-bed, and he was, as it were, paralyzed by it. Was that impression shared by the physician, or was the poor fellow afraid of learning more? The evasive reply returned by his interlocutor to so pitilessly precise a question seemed to have overwhelmed him. He questioned him no further.

After a few moments of exceedingly painful silence, Landri rose. The other did not try to detain him, and the young men parted, just touching each other's fingers, and almost afraid to look at each other.

The same impression of Necessity, of a network of events woven by a will stronger than his own, haunted Landri throughout that evening, which he was able to pass alone, by good luck, M. de Claviers having gone to Grandchamp. He found it on his pillow when he awoke, still pursued by the image of that young man with whom he had played as a child, and whom he saw as he had left him, pale and motionless in the grasp of that horrible thought: "My father is a thief." As he said to himself at Saint-Mihiel, "If the Clermont train had only been late!" so he said now, "If only Louvet had not sent him to Rue de Solferino in order to help him along! If only his father had not gone to see him—merely by chance, perhaps!"

But is there such a thing as chance in the world? The triviality of the incidents which had led up, in Pierre's case as well as in his own, to so terrible an ordeal, confounded Landri, especially as that ordeal was merited—by whom? By those of whom they were born.

The vision of the common catastrophe which enveloped the son of the felonious steward and the son of the unfaithful wife, reached the point of absolutely terrifying him when, about half-past nine, his servant handed him a letter of which the handwriting alone made him tremble with excitement. He was preparing to pay Joseph another visit. He had changed his hypothesis since his visit to Quai de Béthune. He desired to talk with Joseph concerning the people who were most intimate with Jaubourg, remembering M. de Claviers' expression: "That smells of the club." As will be seen, he had entirely abandoned the idea of incriminating Chaffin. Now, this letter was from Chaffin!

The young man's heart beat fast, as he tore the envelope open, and yet faster as he read these lines:—

"Landri, your old master implores you, in the name of the past, to receive him instantly. He has a favor to ask of you which will save more than his life, and he can perhaps do you a service which will wipe out many things."

"Admit Monsieur Chaffin," he said to the valet; and almost in the same breath: "Do you know whether Monsieur le Marquis has returned from Grandchamp?"

"Last night, Monsieur le Comte," the servant replied; and while he left the room to summon the discharged steward, Landri said to himself:—

"Do me a service? What if he were really the culprit? What if he has brought the other letters? What if I am able to get them and give them to him, in a few minutes?"

And the mere thought of M. de Claviers' expression as he thanked him warmed his whole heart!

[7]"A physician should disclose neither what he has seen, nor what he has heard, nor what he has divined."



Chaffin was profoundly preoccupied, and very anxious as he followed the footman who was instructed to usher him into Landri's presence. He would have been even more so if he had glanced through the windows of the long glass gallery that surrounded the courtyard of the hôtel. His legs, trembling already, would have refused further service. He certainly would not have crossed the threshold of the room where his former pupil awaited him.

At the very moment when he was proceeding thus toward an interview of decisive importance to him, the small door on Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré, through which visitors on foot were admitted, opened in response to an impatient ring, and Pierre appeared. His arrival thus on his father's heels, in view of the circumstances under which the two men had parted, was a threat well calculated to check the flow of blood in the unfaithful steward's veins. He had hastened thither to implore a compassion which his son's presence would render unavailing. That implacable Fate, of which Landri had been the craftsman, unwitting at first, then terrified by its working out, continued its work. But what is this Fate if not the internal logic of life, so well summed up, in the words of the poet: "We are the masters of our first step. We are the slaves of the second." This force which thus compels all the consequences of crime is not distinguishable from it. We could not help committing a crime. Once committed it holds us fast. Our very precautions serve only to hasten our punishment. It overtakes us alike through our prudences and our imprudences, through those who love us and those who hate us and those even to whom we are indifferent, so inevitably do our sins unfold their results according to a mathematical ratio.

Landri's visit to Pierre Chaffin was a perfectly natural result of the peculations committed by the steward of the Claviers estate, and that visit had produced this other no less natural result: the doctor had questioned his father. When Chaffin returned to the house on Quai de Béthune on the preceding day, his son opened the door, anticipating his ring, a sign that he had been at the window watching for his return.

"I was waiting for you," he said. "Let us go into my study. I have something to say to you, at once."

"What's going on?" queried Chaffin. As he asked the question his glance expressed more terror than surprise. This singular fact did not escape Pierre. He was conscious of the false ring in the newcomer's laughter as he added, with an impertinent allusion to the very advanced opinions professed by the physician: "There's no question of an anarchist plot, is there? For I am as much of a radical as you please, but still, you know, a landed proprietor."

"Landri de Claviers has just gone from here," Pierre replied, paying no heed to the pleasantry. He had closed the door by way of precaution, and spoke in a low voice. He did not wish his mother and sister, who were looking over the week's laundry in an adjoining room, to suspect that his father and he were closeted together. "Yes," he repeated, "Landri de Claviers." And he gazed steadfastly at the discharged steward. He tried to detect upon that enigmatic face a confusion which did not appear. The thief recovered his self-control, and ventured to reply:—

"He is probably ashamed of the way his father behaved to his old tutor. I don't class them together, Monsieur de Claviers and him. Landri is weak. He doesn't dare to break a lance against the prejudices of a society which he estimates none the less at its real worth. You saw how absurdly he acted in that matter of the inventory. He is not a believer, he adores the army, and still he gets his job taken away from him! He has a poor head, but he's a very good fellow."

"Landri did not come to apologize either for himself or his father," said the doctor. "He came to accuse us."

"Us?" cried Chaffin. "Of what, I should like to know?"

Despite his self-control, that explicit statement made him jump. Among the many suppositions with which his terror-haunted fancy had tormented him, one had been especially persistent of late: he had written the anonymous note, it will be remembered, on his typewriter. Several people in the Claviers household knew that he had the machine. At the moment he had said to himself: "Pshaw! there are thousands of others in Paris!" and had gone ahead. Since then he had lived in deadly fear lest some suggestion should lead the marquis to see whether the characters in the letter did not correspond with those of his machine. It was an extravagant fear. By virtue of what authority could M. de Claviers have claimed such a power? But it is the peculiarity of the fixed idea, that it does not distinguish the possible from the impossible. And then, there was Pierre. To be assailed by an insinuation of that nature in the esteem and affection of his son was to the father a worse punishment than to be sent before the Assizes. Did Landri's accusation relate to that? Did he claim the right to demand a test? But, if so, what was the meaning of that "us?"

"I will tell you about it," rejoined the physician. He began to repeat word for word the conversation he had had with his father's former pupil, ending with the terrible question asked by himself: "Yes or no, did you hear any talk of dishonesty?" and with Landri's evasive reply: "I heard something said of confusion in Monsieur de Claviers' affairs."

As he told the story, which it was exceedingly painful to him to repeat thus, his eyes continued to examine the face of the agent so directly incriminated. Lively emotion was certain to be depicted thereon, even if he were innocent,—especially if he were innocent. The news of Landri's visit, under the existing conditions, could not be indifferent to a man of heart. There was matter therein at which to take offence, to be distressed, to be alarmed, to be indignant. Perhaps, if Chaffin had foreseen this explanation with his son, he would have been shrewd enough to feign agitation. But being attacked unexpectedly, he instinctively feigned absolute impassibility. It is the least hazardous of defences for a culprit taken by surprise. It offers no hold for an investigation, but for that very reason it suggests mastery of self, a premeditated reserve, the possibility of a secret.

Pierre felt this so strongly that, at the end of this painful narration,—this cross-examination, rather, scarcely disguised,—he uttered a cry, a downright appeal to the sense of honor of that father of his, who listened to him with an impassive face which made it impossible to discover a single one of his thoughts:—

"And it doesn't make you jump from your chair that I, your son, have reached the point where I could put such a question to that man, and that he refused to answer? You seem to have no suspicion that I am passing through one of the most ghastly hours of my whole life! Don't tell me that you had nothing to do with the disappearance of Monsieur Jaubourg's papers. I know it. Don't tell me that this act of Landri's proves that he and his father are crazy. I know it. But I know something else, by an experience of many, many years! Monsieur de Claviers and Landri, with all their failings and their prejudices and their follies and their absurdities, are perfectly honorable men, incapable of wronging any one knowingly. If they suspected you of this, it was because they believed that they had the right to. It must be that you and the marquis broke off your relations for some reason of which I know nothing. I insist on knowing it. Yes, why did Monsieur de Claviers, who finds it so hard to discharge his employés,—you used to complain of it so often!—why did he part with you so abruptly, so brutally? Ah!" he concluded in a heart-rending tone, "if the reason was what you told us, Landri would never have come here, he would never have left me with that evasive reply, after he had seen how I was suffering, and what I thought—never!"

"I told your mother and sister and you the exact truth," said Chaffin, pretending to be angry at last.

He could not assume any other attitude, but the contrast was too great between this sudden outburst and the carefully guarded attention of a few moments before. They who simulate emotions always miss their imitation of reality in some detail. They exaggerate the symptoms or distort them. For instance, the impostors who feign an attack of vertigo, and who fall with their hands extended to protect themselves. The genuine epileptic, being hurled to the ground as it were, has no time to take that precaution. The error, in this case, was the sudden change from premeditated indifference to extreme rage, without transition. The protest, too emphatic in his too abrupt somersault, was not sincere.

"Yes," the dishonest steward persisted none the less, "I told you the truth, and it is incredible to me that you, my son, should be the one to take sides against me with these great nobles whom you know only by hearsay! I know them, I do, from having undergone innumerable humiliations at their hands which I have always concealed from you. In their eyes a man is of no account when he doesn't belong to their caste. They wouldn't do you a material injury. They are very careful in that respect, from pride. But as to other injuries, no. I expected better things from Landri. Evidently he's no better than his father. Papers are missing from Jaubourg's apartments, certificates of stock, I suppose? They think at once of us, of us, mind you, of you as well as myself! Do I conclude from that that they mean to accuse you of dishonesty? Not at all. But you conclude that they do mean to accuse me! It is incredible! But the dishonesty was in coming here to insult you and your father! And you listened to my gentleman? And when he proved to you, by the mere fact of coming here, his absolute lack of perspicacity, you questioned him about me?—How many times must I tell you that Monsieur de Claviers did not part with me, but I parted with him, and for the reason that Landri admitted: he talked about confusion in my accounts, when there was no confusion in anything but his expenditure, which was insane! What Landri did not tell you is that I warned him personally of the marquis's impending ruin, in order to save his fortune. Just ask him about that. We will see whether he will dare to deny that conversation at Grandchamp when I gave him the exact figures. I swear it, on your mother's head and your sister's. If he had listened to me he wouldn't have lost a sou. And this is how he rewards me! But he isn't my son, and you, Pierre, have been too unjust to me, too ungrateful. I have only lived and worked for you all, for you especially. I have tried to spare you all the miseries of the breadwinner which crushed me at your age. You were intelligent and hard-working. I kept you at home, so that you could give your time to science as you chose, and prepare for your examinations, while your comrades were wearing themselves out with patients; and you have forgotten all my sacrifices!—Ah! it's too horrible!"

"For the very reason that I am living on your benefactions," replied the physician with savage asperity, "I cannot endure certain ideas. And those ideas," he continued still more harshly, "let us admit that it is, as you say, horrible to entertain them. It is a fact that I do entertain them. Would you like me to tell you why? Landri de Claviers' conduct has nothing to do with it. The change in you that I have noticed these last weeks has given them to me, nothing else. Since you left Grandchamp you are not the same man. I see it with my eyes. I see that you are suffering. You are growing thin. You don't eat. You don't sleep. You have some persistent trouble that you cannot hide, and I too am beginning to have one, I feel it growing and taking possession of me—it is suspicion. I do not want it. We must not both play at madness. Let us have more pride. A father and son should not exchange such words as these twice. There is one way of putting an end to them. It is too late to-day," he added, looking at the clock; "but to-morrow, at eleven, after the Hôtel-Dieu, I'll call for you, and we will go together to Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré. We will ask to speak with the marquis. You will tell him, or, if you prefer, I will, that there are rumors abroad. And it is true. Louvet has changed his manner to me since you left the Claviers. These rumors have reached our ears. We have come to ask him to cut them short by declaring publicly, and first of all before me, that he has nothing to reproach you with in your stewardship that affects your honor. I will demand that he put that declaration in writing for me, if necessary."

"I will not do it!" cried Chaffin, his eyes bulging out with terror as, in imagination, they saw M. de Claviers. "I will not do it! You talk about pride, and yet you don't see that you are proposing to me a nameless humiliation, worse than all the rest!"

"What, pray?" his son quickly retorted. "What humiliation is there in going to a man as to whom you have nothing to reproach yourself with, and claiming from him reparation for involuntary injustice? Tell me, when Louvet and I—and how many others that I don't know!—may have received an unfavorable impression of your quarrel with Monsieur de Claviers, is not that an injustice, if the quarrel was a mere caprice on his part? And is he not responsible for it by the exaggerated indignation which you claim that he has shown?"

"People may think what they choose," interposed Chaffin. "I won't go up that man's stairs. I won't go to his house. I won't go."

"Very good," said Pierre, "then I shall go alone."

"You won't put that affront on me?" the father implored. "You shall not go! I forbid you. To humiliate yourself is to humiliate me. We are one as to that. You must obey me."

"Because of that very identity of interest, I shall not obey you," rejoined the son. "Your honor is my honor. I propose to know whether the money I am living on is pure. At eleven o'clock to-morrow I shall be there. I hope you will be there too. But if you are not, I shall go in alone. Nothing on earth, you understand, nothing shall prevent my having an explanation with Monsieur de Claviers, unless—"

"Unless what?" queried Chaffin breathlessly. "Go on."

"Unless you tell me that your leaving his service was for a different reason, and what it was."

"I can't invent one," the father replied.

"Then I can't understand your objections to a step which, I tell you once more, I must take in order to put an end to an intolerable state of mind."

"Well!" said Chaffin, after a pause, "do it, since you no longer believe in your father; but remember this, that I will never forgive you."

An awkward and ill-timed attempt at paternal dignity, which lacked the accent, the expression, the gesture, in a word the inimitable and irresistible reality, which Pierre craved as he craved bread and water, air and light! Chaffin resorted to it, however, as a desperate effort to prevent that visit, the threat of which had sent a stream of fire running through his veins. What an evening and night he passed under the apprehension of that hour, which every minute brought nearer, when his shamefully wronged employer and his idolized son should be face to face!

The young man did not dine at home, in order to avoid meeting his father. The latter heard him come in about midnight. A mad temptation assailed him, as he heard that well-known step, to rise and go to him and confess everything. But no. Pierre's terrible words were still ringing in his ears: "I propose to know whether the money I am living on is pure." How could he bear to tell that boy, whose probity was so absolute, that that money was not pure, that the little fortune, by virtue of which he was pursuing his studies, almost without practising, was, in part, stolen! For that was really one of the motives that had led Chaffin into rascality: his passionate desire to assure his son Pierre immunity from his own laborious life was his revenge for his semi-menial position. He had imagined him physician to the hospitals, professor in the Faculty, member of the Académie de Medicine, perhaps of the Institute.

This excitation of his paternal love was due to the same malevolence, born of his abortive destiny, that filled him with implacable hatred of his noble and magnificent employer. That most excellent sentiments can exist in the same heart with evil sentiments, and criminal resolutions inspired by the latter justify themselves by the former, is a fact of every-day observation, as disconcerting as it is indisputable. It explains why the great legislators, who were also great psychologists, always strove to punish acts in themselves, without seeking the intent with which they were committed. The decadence of civic justice began with this search for the intent, which, in healthy societies, is left to religion to deal with. The Church can still find reasons for pardoning a Chaffin for his crimes, when human tribunals, taking cognizance of his case, owe him naught save the galleys.

"If he ever finds that out," said the guilty father to himself, in that vigil of anguish, "he will leave me. He will go away from the house. His mother and sister will insist on knowing, too. They will guess the truth. At any price, Pierre must remain in ignorance. But how?"

Then it was that in that mind, already exhausted by the stings of conscience, an idea began to take root. It occurred to him to go himself, about nine o'clock, while his son was at the Hôtel-Dieu, and throw himself at the marquis's feet. He would implore him not to dishonor him in Pierre's eyes. M. de Claviers was generous. He would take pity on him. He would promise not to speak. He would not speak. But to appear before Madame de Claviers' husband after he had, like a dastard, dealt him that despicable blow of the anonymous letter, was beyond the Judas's courage. He could not even endure the thought. There had been, in the attitude maintained by that proud man since he had received the letter of his wife, testifying to her liaison with Jaubourg and the illegitimacy of the child, a mystery which terrified Chaffin. He divined therein a bottomless abyss of suffering over which it would be too horrible for him to lean.

Landri's visit to Pierre had intensified that puzzled sensation. His inquiries concerning papers said to have been stolen from Jaubourg implied that the young count was informed of the anonymous letter. Had M. de Claviers shown it to him? If so, why? Why, so that Landri might institute this inquiry, of course! And with what object, if not to unearth the holder of the "other documents"? Chaffin recalled those words in his letter, which was written in the paroxysm of nervous excitement caused by the gratification of long-cherished hate. He had added to it, in pure wantonness, a threat of blackmail which he had never intended to put in execution.

That recollection suggested a second plan: since his threat had produced such an effect on the two men, he had a certain means of obtaining from them a promise of silence with respect to his son. It was to Landri that the marquis had entrusted the mission of seeking those documents. It was to Landri that he must appeal. The anticipation of that interview was painful to the dishonored tutor. But it was not unendurable, like the other. But would Landri give way under that pressure? Would he not, on the other hand, reply: "You threaten us with a scandal? Very good. We propose to apply for a warrant against you."

No, he must not take that risk. Chaffin devised a safer method of procedure. He thought that he was well acquainted with his pupil of so many years. He believed him to be very weak, but he knew his absolute loyalty and the noble elements of his character. The better way was to go to him and say: "It was I who wrote that outrageous denunciation in a moment of insanity. I am sorry for it. I have the other papers. Here they are. I place them in your hands. I ask you, in return, to induce Monsieur de Claviers not to tell Pierre the real reason for my leaving him." The acceptance of that restitution would create the most sacred of obligations in the eyes of the noble-hearted young man.

Such are the disconcerting contradictions of human nature, that, upon representing to himself that scene of confession, although dictated entirely by self-interest, Chaffin had a sense of relief, almost as of rehabilitation. At all events he should have spoken, should have confessed his crime, which was suffocating him.

Once determined upon this course, he was in such feverish haste to carry it out that he left the house before nine o'clock, as soon as his son had started for the Hôtel-Dieu. He had not reckoned upon the working of Pierre's mind in a direction parallel to his own. The physician had said to himself, on leaving his father:—

"To-morrow he will have reflected. He will decide to go to Monsieur de Claviers with me if there's nothing wrong; and if there is anything, he will confess."

When he found, in the morning, that Chaffin did not mention the subject again, he reasoned thus:—

"My father has devised some expedient. What can it be? If he is guilty, there is only one: to go there first, in order to implore the marquis to spare him with regard to me. But is it possible?"

The physician had resolved to go to all lengths now, to put an end to the torture of suspicion, which, to his horror, was already changing from a recurrent to a fixed idea. He dreaded too keenly the form of monomania so well defined by one of his confrères of ancient times: Animi angor in una cogitatione defixus et inhœrens. He had acted at once therefore. Instead of going to the hospital, he had stationed himself at the corner of Rue des Deux-Ponts and Quai de Béthune. He had seen his father leave the house, look about him like one who fears that he is watched, and then bend his steps, with an air of feigned indifference, toward Pont Sully, where he took a cab. Pierre himself hailed the first cab that passed. He gave the driver a five-franc piece, telling him to drive as fast as possible to the corner of Rue d'Aguesseau and Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré, where he arrived in time to see Chaffin's cab stop in front of the hôtel de Claviers. He waited a few moments, then rang and asked the concierge:—

"Is my father with Monsieur le Marquis?"

"No, Monsieur le Docteur," the man replied, "Monsieur Chaffin came to see Monsieur le Comte."

"Very well! I beg you to send and ask Monsieur le Marquis if he can receive me," said Pierre, after a moment's hesitation.

He had fancied that he could read in the concierge's eyes the same constraint that he had noticed of late in Professor Louvet's. He was only partly mistaken. Naturally, the magnanimous M. de Claviers had confided to no one in his entourage his grievances against his secretary. But his servants were well aware of his unalloyed kindness of heart. They had imagined the reason of Chaffin's abrupt dismissal, the more readily because they were not ignorant of his daily peculation. But they were not officially informed. Pierre had sufficient proof of that, for Landri's door was not closed to his father, and he himself was admitted to the presence of M. de Claviers. The concierge called up the speaking-tube that connected his lodge with the house. An affirmative answer was returned. The bell rang, announcing the visitor, and the doctor was ushered into the presence of the marquis five minutes after Chaffin's humble and suppliant figure had passed through Landri's door.

"There may be nothing wrong after all," thought the doctor, "as they receive us both. If it were only true! What a weight would be taken from my heart! However, I shall soon know."

The grand seigneur, with whom the son of the unfaithful steward, of the villainous informer, ventured to adopt this tragic step, was in the vast, severe library, which had been the scene, a fortnight before, of a no less tragic explanation, that with Landri. He was seated at his table this time, engaged in a task which would have seemed most strange to one who was not aware of the secret resolutions of his mind. He was transcribing himself, upon detached sheets, the number of which was already very great, a schedule of all the artistic treasures preserved in the château of Grandchamp. He had proceeded methodically, room by room, and he was at that moment, as was indicated by the line written at the top of the sheet, in the apartment of the deceased marchioness. He had kept it till the last. The reason will be only too readily understood.

The work, begun several weeks before, was nearing its end. The old gentleman's handwriting had always resembled himself. It was bold, free and distinct, with an air of the great century. But a slight tremulousness in some letters testified how painful a task it had been to him to write the lines of that page. A box stood open on his desk, containing documents relating to the treasures. The "Genealogy of the House of Claviers-Grandchamp" was also there with a mark at the famous Appendix number 44, upon which Altona had formerly based his offer. The last, in blood, of the magnificent Claviers was drawing up the death-certificate of his family, in a form determined upon by himself. He had, that very morning, been assailed by distressing emotions, the reflection of which made his noble countenance more imposing than ever.

His old-fashioned courtesy brought him to his feet to receive the son of the corrupt steward. He waved him to a chair—without offering him his hand; a slight circumstance which Pierre interpreted as confirming his suspicions: the marquis was punishing his father's sins in him.

Pierre's visit was, in fact, a surprise to M. de Claviers, and a most painful surprise, but for a reason very different from that which the young man imagined. He had been Jaubourg's physician. He had been present during his last moments, when the patient had undoubtedly spoken. Although M. de Claviers knew nothing of the learned theories of modern specialists concerning "ecmnesia" and "onirism," he had seen people die. He knew what confessions the excitation of fever sometimes extorts from lips previously dumb. He explained in that way the declaration of paternity made by Jaubourg. Perhaps Pierre Chaffin had been present at that horrible scene of which the young man had told him. That was the reason that the heroic marquis had consented to receive him. He had not chosen to seem to fear the meeting.

Another detail impressed the doctor—the truly extraordinary change in that imposing countenance. M. de Claviers had aged, within the last few weeks, as much as his ex-secretary. But it was the aging of a man consumed by grief without remorse,—the despair, with undimmed eyes, of him who has naught to blame himself for in the suffering that is killing him; whereas Chaffin had exhibited to his son the mask of the unhappy wretch with sombre, veiled glance, the conscious architect of his own misery. This comparison shaped itself involuntarily in the physician's mind, as he was saying:—

"You will excuse me for disturbing you. Monsieur le Marquis, and at such an early hour. It will not be for very long."

"It is your time that is valuable, doctor, not mine," replied M. de Claviers, now wholly master of himself. He was trying to divine the motive of this unexpected visit. "Probably he isn't satisfied with his fees, as Métivier fixed them," he thought, and the other continued:—

"I shall not try to play at diplomacy with you, Monsieur le Marquis. That is not my style, and I know that it isn't yours, either. I will go straight to the goal. This then, in few words, and very simply, is the object of my visit. You parted with my father after you had had him in your service more than fifteen years. The separation was very sudden. It has caused talk. I myself have had the impression that I do not know the whole truth. My father has refused to explain himself clearly to me thereon. Or, rather, he has explained himself, but in terms which do not satisfy me, and I have come to say to you, knowing your ideas and how high you rank the family spirit, I cannot endure the idea that my father is suspected, still less to suspect him myself. If you parted for reasons which do not involve his honor, as I believe, as I wish to believe, I ask you to say so publicly two or three times, under circumstances which will cut short all rumors, especially before Monsieur le Professeur Louvet, my chief. I ask you to say so to me, too. If, on the other hand—" And in a heart-rending tone: "I must know it."

M. de Claviers had listened to the young man with a more and more distressed expression in his clouded eyes. The resemblance was too striking between the grief of this son who suspected his father and the anguish with which he had seen Landri overwhelmed, in that same place, because of his mother's sin,—the same Landri whom he continued to love so dearly even while hardening his heart against him! He was too entirely, too genuinely religious not to recognize the justice of a higher power in this punishment visited, as the Book promises, on the second generation. This view of the moral side of life harmonized perfectly with his view of its social side. He was too humane not to pity the young man whose toilsome and honorable career he had followed from childhood. On the other hand, his indignation against Chaffin was too fresh, too well-deserved.—And he was still ignorant of the wretched creature's crowning infamy!—He could not give him the certificate of honorable conduct which the son demanded. Moreover, he abhorred falsehood. These diverse feelings were reflected in his reply, which he did not make until he had taken what seemed to his visitor a very long time for reflection.

"Pierre," he said at last, addressing him in the familiar tone that he had formerly used with him, "give me your hand." And he suited the action to the word. "You are a very noble fellow. I have always known it. I felt it more profoundly than ever while you were speaking to me. But for the very reason that you are a very noble fellow, how could you fail to realize the enormity of this appeal you are making to me? And you say that you know my ideas! Remember, my boy, a son doesn't judge his father. He does not institute an investigation concerning his father. I shall not, by answering you, associate myself with what I consider a deplorable mistake on your part, an aberration of the mind. If I had spoken to any person whomsoever of my reasons for depriving myself of your father's services, I might, by straining a point, permit you to come and ask me to explain my words. But I have said nothing. Your father left me because he mismanaged my affairs. That is all. It is all that I have said or shall ever say about him, to you or to any one else."

"Mismanage has two meanings, Monsieur le Marquis," rejoined the physician nervously; and, anticipating M. de Claviers' protest, "if I insist it is because you have acknowledged my right to do so. Yes. You say that you would permit my question if you had spoken to any one. You meant by that, any stranger. You forgot your son. Monsieur le Comte de Claviers came to my house yesterday afternoon to question me, in his own name and yours, concerning certain papers which have been stolen, it seems, from Monsieur Charles Jaubourg's apartment. He accused my father of the theft, with my assistance. He probably knows now that he was mistaken. But it is none the less true that such a suspicion justified me in finding out upon what ground he could have conceived it. It must have been upon what you had told him. He was under arrest when the thing happened. He confronted me with that alibi when I questioned him. There was nothing left for me to do but to apply to you. Tell me what you have told him about my father. Is it unfair to ask you?"

"My son is another myself," M. de Claviers replied. To learn, even in this vague way, of the scene of the day before between the two young men wounded him where his susceptibility was tenderest. What indications had led Landri to invite an explanation which might well have been so dangerous? It might arouse suspicions concerning the nature and importance of the papers stolen at Jaubourg's. To maintain to the end the rôle of a father on perfectly cordial terms with his child, the marquis must neither ask a question upon that subject, nor seem to disavow the young man's act. But the news affected him profoundly, and his voice trembled as he continued: "You surely do not claim that I must detail to you my interviews with Landri alone? Nor that I should take you to my new man of affairs and inform you as to the details of my receipts and expenditure? And observe that that is exactly what you presume to demand of me! I excuse you because of the motive that impels you. But let us stop here."

He had risen, with contracted eyebrows and haughty bearing, thus constraining his interlocutor to do likewise, and he pressed the electric button on his desk.

"I have told you that Monsieur Chaffin had mismanaged my affairs. Wherein? How? That concerns him and myself, and us alone. I shall not add a word. So that it is useless for us to prolong a discussion which henceforth would have no meaning. You have your patients, and I"—he pointed to the table—"have to finish this urgent task.—Garnier," he added, as the maître d'hôtel for whom he had rung entered the room, "show Monsieur le Docteur Chaffin to the door.—Monsieur, I have the honor to salute you."

"No, we will not stop here," said Pierre to himself, while yielding, in spite of himself, to the extraordinary authority that emanated from the old noble when he was in a certain state of concentrated irritation.—"I am to go to Monsieur le Comte's apartments and get my father," he said to the servant; "will you take me there?"

As he followed the maître d'hôtel through the glass gallery which his father had passed through a quarter of an hour before, another person was on his way, by an interior passage, to that same room in which Landri was talking with Chaffin. It was the Marquis de Claviers. He wished to learn, and without loss of time, Landri's reasons for going to Quai de Béthune, and whether he had at last discovered a way to solve the mystery of the anonymous denunciation which had been a constant source of anxiety to him for so many days. Thus it was that he knocked at one door of the young man's smoking-room, at almost the same instant that Pierre entered at the other door.

This simultaneous double appearance, which had the air of being concerted, almost extorted a shriek from the two occupants of the room, between whom a scene had just taken place almost more distressing than that between the marquis and Pierre. Their arrival brought about a terrible dénouement.

At the moment that they entered, Chaffin was seated at a table. He had just laid aside a pen with which he had written upon an envelope before him the following address: "Monsieur le Marquis de Claviers-Grandchamp." He was about to rise. The sight of his son caused him to fall back upon his chair, and that of the marquis, the next instant, to spring up again. He retreated backward, so demoralized by terror that his legs gave way and he had to lean against the wall.

M. de Claviers, thunderstruck himself by the presence of his former secretary, and of his son, whom he had just left, gazed at them both and at Landri. Then, addressing the latter,—

"I have to talk with you," he said, "when you have finished with these gentlemen."

At that moment his eye fell on the envelope lying on the desk. He recognized his own name. He took it up and opened it. Chaffin had not had time to seal it, a circumstance which made more striking the exact parallel between that moment and another, when the betrayed husband had compelled the adulterine son to read the proof of their common shame. The envelope contained the three letters from Jaubourg to Madame de Claviers stolen by the tutor, and, on a separate sheet, these lines in his hand, written at Landri's dictation:—

"The wretch who, in a moment of insanity, sent an anonymous letter to M. le Marquis de Claviers-Grandchamp, restores to him the other papers mentioned in that letter, and, while asking his forgiveness, appeals to his generosity not to dishonor him in the eyes of his son."

The marquis read the note. He recognized on the other sheets the detested handwriting of his wife's lover, his villainous friend. He looked at Chaffin and said: "So it was you!"—Then he took two steps towards him with an expression so threatening that the unhappy wretch—ah! he well deserved that title at that cruel moment!—fell on his knees, crying, "Pardon!"

The doctor rushed between his father and M. de Claviers. The marquis stopped, plainly struggling against himself, to refrain from revenging himself with his own hands. At last, pointing to the door, he commanded: "Go! go, I say!" in so imperative a tone that his former secretary, still on his knees, crawled towards the door. His nerveless fingers had difficulty in opening it. He escaped at last, while Landri said to the horrified Pierre, who no longer needed to have any one tell him the truth about his father:—

"Follow him. Do not leave him alone."

"You're afraid that he'll kill himself," said M. de Claviers, when the door had closed on the two men. "I suppose that he played that comedy for you," he continued with a bitter smile. "It is not he, but his son, who should not be left alone. Cowards live. It's the men of courage who think of suicide in the presence of disgrace. And when one does not believe in God! On that boy's account, I tried to control myself. I could not do it.—But no," he continued, with a fierce energy wherein the stern inheritance of a warlike race reappeared. "We are too much afraid of suffering and of causing others to suffer. The grief of the sons is the redemption of the fathers in this world and the next. We must learn to atone for the sins that we did not commit, as we profit by virtues that we never had."

He had spoken as if to himself, and he seemed to have forgotten the existence of Landri, who watched him pace the floor, silent now. Chaffin's note and Jaubourg's three letters still lay on the table, where he had left them when he rushed upon the traitor. The young man trembled lest, when he emerged from that fit of excited meditation, the sight of those sheets should increase the smart of the wound from which his noble heart was bleeding. So that he was amazed by the calm tone in which M. de Claviers, upon returning to himself and spying the papers, said to him, pointing to them as he spoke: "Do as you did before!" He resumed his walk while the proofs of the terrible secret were being consumed. At last, halting in front of Landri, he said to him:—

"You have done what you promised. It is well. It is very well. I am relieved of a horrible weight. We are entitled to think that all the letters are destroyed. The Chaffins will not talk. They cannot talk. Our honor is safe, thanks to you. Once more, it is well, and I thank you."

"You thank me? O monsieur!" exclaimed Landri; and he continued, choking with emotion: "If you really think that I have at least tried to satisfy you, allow me to implore one favor—that you will hasten the time when this pretence of intimacy that you have imposed upon me, that you have rightly imposed upon me, shall come to an end. This life in society, among all those indifferent people, is too hard. I haven't the strength for it any longer. You must have seen that I have not shirked it. I venture to say that no one can have guessed what I have suffered these last weeks. But I am at the end. I can do no more."

"And I?" said the marquis; "do you think that I am not weary of it, too?—But it is true: the test has been a severe one. The world will never dream now of supposing that we parted on a pretence. Your marriage will suffice to explain everything. The author of that infamous anonymous letter is unmasked and disarmed. We have nothing more to fear now. We can put an end to it.—These are my wishes," he continued after another pause: "You will write me a letter that I can show. You will inform me of your purpose to marry Madame Olier, despite my prohibition, and to employ such legal measures as the Code places at your disposal. I don't know what they are, so you will specify them. You will leave the house this very day, and let me know your address, so that I can communicate with you at once in case of urgent need. I do not anticipate such a contingency. Métivier, in conformity with my orders, should have turned into cash by this time the property that you inherit from your mother. It is fully understood that the share that she left me by her will is to be added to it. I ask you to deposit the money at the Bank of France, until further orders. In that way it will be easier for me to turn over to your account, without intermediary, another fortune, which you know about and which you accept. You have pledged yourself to do it. Last of all, I ask you not to settle in Paris, so long as I last. It won't be very long."

"I will repeat what I said the first day," Landri replied: "I have no wish but to obey you. As to the last point, I propose, not only not to live in Paris, but to leave France, to undertake the farming business in Canada. On my return from Saint-Mihiel, you said to me—I remember your exact words: 'It is a horrible thing to me that the family you will found will bear the name of mine.' It would be no less horrible to me, knowing that that name is not my own. I cannot change it in France, without causing people to seek the cause of such a resolution. By expatriating myself, to engage in a new business in an absolutely new country, I shall escape all comments. I intend to adopt one of the names which belonged to my mother's family, and which no one has borne for more than a hundred years. You spoke of legal measures. If there is any possible means by which the title of Marquis de Claviers-Grandchamp can pass, after you, to some one of your young kinsmen, I will assent to it, in whatever form you prefer."

"You would do that?" cried M. de Claviers. The trembling born of an emotion stronger than all his resolutions strangled his voice in his throat. "You would change your name? But she—that woman—"

"Madame Olier?" Landri interrupted. "I have told her of my plan. She assented to it in advance, without asking for any explanation."

"Yes," continued the marquis. "It is the truth. That is the true remedy." He was no longer able to control himself, and his words echoed his thoughts. "I saw it, from the first moment. But the suggestion could not come from me.—Adopt another son,—who is not you? Never!—Ah!" he continued, with increasing excitement, "I can truly say, like that widow of the Middle Ages: 'You were stolen from me.'—No, I will have no other son. The Claviers-Grandchamps will die with me. I shall be the last of the name, as I am the last of the race. It is what they would have wished, if they could have looked ahead. Our house will end, as it has lived, nobly. By assisting therein, you have wiped out the insult. For your sake, I can forgive.—We must do our duty to the end," he added, at the conclusion of another pause, during which Landri waited, hoping for a different word, a gesture, an embrace, a kiss. But the old nobleman considered, doubtless, that he had said too much already, and, too, he was doubtless afraid of himself, of that wave of affection which was rushing from his heart, drowning every other sentiment; for he concluded abruptly: "Go you to your goal. I go to mine. Adieu!"

"Adieu," Landri replied.

The marquis hesitated another second. He had his hand on the door-knob. He opened the door and disappeared, without even turning his head. He walked with the inert step that had characterized him since the ghastly discovery had stricken him in his magnificent vitality—his head bent forward, his back slightly bowed. When he was in his library once more, and alone, his prostration was so complete that he let himself drop into the first arm-chair within his reach and sat there an indefinite time, gazing at—what? a portrait of Landri as a child that he had had in that room for years. All that past of paternal love throbbed in his heart, and he reflected that at that very moment the young man, who was the object of his passionate affection, was preparing to go away, and forever.

But when he roused himself from that savage immobility, it was not to return to the apartment where Landri undoubtedly still was. No. He took from the table once more the bulky volume in which he had written the history of his family, and opened it at the genealogical tree. He had to unfold the enormous sheet on which were inscribed more than four hundred names. The first two, Geoffroy and Aude, had above them the date 1060. The blue eyes of Geoffroy IX, of 1906, embraced with a burning glance that table which was, as it were, the imaginary cemetery of all his dead. When he closed the book, he was calm. His hand traced, this time without a tremor, the lines of a note which evidently represented a decisive episode in a fully matured resolution. For he read it twice before sealing it and writing the address on the envelope.

"Is the automobile in the courtyard?" he asked Garnier, who appeared in answer to another ring. "Let Auguste take this line to Monsieur le Comte de Bressieux at once. If Monsieur de Bressieux is at home, let him bring him back. If not, let him leave the note."—And, alone once more, "If any one can resume the negotiations for the sale of the furniture of Grandchamp with that Altona, he is the man," he said to himself. "Altona will give four millions merely for the articles enumerated in Appendix number 44. If I add all the rest, he will give five."—And he put in order the papers on his desk, which were nothing less than a schedule prepared by him of "the rest": plate, Dresden ware, weapons, books, linen—in a word, all the furniture of the château.—"That wretched money is to be returned. Suppose that, while I am waiting for Bressieux, I write to Charlus to announce the marriage? Poor Marie! She loved Landri. It's fortunate, however, that he did not love her as well. I should have had to prevent their union. Should I have had the strength? One has strength for anything when the honor of the name is at stake. And all the great names stand together. The Claviers would not have inflicted upon the Charluses, by my hand, the outrage of vitiating their blood."

As the suddenly evoked vision of the treachery restored his energy, he began the letter to Marie's father which should justify his quarrel with his supposititious son, in the eyes of the world; and this new upheaval of resentment neutralized for a moment his misery at that parting.



In the early days of March of this year, 1907, several of the guests who had taken part, some months' before, in the last hunting dinner that the châtelain of Grandchamp was destined ever to give, were assembled after luncheon in one of the small salons of the hôtel Charlus. There were Florimond de Charlus himself, and his daughter Marie, who had done the honors of the repast, in the absence of her mother, who was perennially ill, to the Sicards and Louis de Bressieux. With the coffee had appeared little de Travers, the too intimate friend of little Madame de Sicard, and the alter ego of her diminutive husband. You will remember the wretched pun on the size and names of the members of this family of three: "The Three Halves."

Elzéar de Travers, with his pink pug-nose, his pointed mustache, and his great blue eyes on a level with his face, was a finished exemplar of the peddler of scandal, who runs from club to club, from salon to salon, with a "Have you heard the news?" ordinarily followed by the most insignificant of tales. On the afternoon in question, he did not abandon that habit.

"Guess whom I met last night, on his way to England, at the Gare du Nord, where I went to escort Lady Semley, who told me to give you her compliments?"—He turned to Simone de Sicard, who smiled at him.—"Geoffroy de Claviers, who is going there to buy horses!"

"Doesn't he think himself sufficiently ruined, for Heaven's sake?" said Sicard. "It seems that with the Jaubourg inheritance and the sale of the pictures and furniture at Grandchamp, he still owes ten millions."

"You ought to know all about it, Monsieur de Bressieux," observed Marie de Charlus insolently, addressing the fashionable broker, whom she hated twice over. As a young woman of noble birth and very proud of her rank, she was, despite her "modernism," in a constant state of irritation against those of her own caste who fell away either socially or morally; and then too everybody who was involved, closely or distantly, in Landri's marriage to Madame Olier, was insufferable to her. Now there was a rumor, partly justified indeed, that, but for the subtle mediation of the Seigneur de la Rochebrocante, the Marquis de Claviers would have been unable to turn over to his son his mother's fortune. With the slanderous imagination of a rival, Marie believed that, if that payment had been delayed, the scheming Madame Olier would certainly have preferred to delay the ceremony until the final settlement of the accounts. She said to herself that Landri's eyes would have been opened by such base conduct, that the marriage would not have taken place—in short, all the follies of frantic jealousy. Bressieux had to pay the bill.

"I?" he replied, without irritation. He was not sensitive except when he chose to be, and he was too dependent on the Charluses not to lower his flag before the witty Marie. "It is true that I had the good fortune to prevent poor Geoffroy from being robbed too outrageously in the sale of the wonders of Grandchamp. Thanks to my advice, he got six millions in all. Altona offered four, and he wanted to ask five. The tapestries alone were worth eighteen hundred thousand francs.—This talk about ten millions of debts is all fable. If you want my opinion, he is absolutely free from debt, and has a good hundred thousand francs a year. Evidently the blow was a hard one."

"It seems that Landri, by that woman's advice, demanded interest on interest," said Madame de Sicard.

"I will never believe that of him," said Marie de Charlus hastily. "As to her, it's true enough that she doesn't take very well. It's well deserved. She'll have to work hard to get into society."

"And so she won't try," rejoined Bressieux. "Geoffroy told me that the couple were going to settle in America."

"Aha! so Landri plays the coup du 'ranch' on us!" said little Sicard. "We know all about that. You'll see them coming back within a year, to Paris-les-Bains, where life is so happy, even under the Republic. And he'll present his wife, and we shall receive her, and we shall be jolly well in the right. Between ourselves, the excellent Claviers has shown no common sense in this whole business. One can't live in opposition to his time to that extent."

"Would you prefer that he should live in opposition to his name?" interposed Charlus. To him, too, Landri's marriage had been an over-bitter disappointment. "Upon my word!" he continued, "it's most astonishing to me that Claviers' conduct, judicious and wise and legitimate as it has been, should be criticized. And among ourselves! But everything is going the same way, from great to small. Dine out, no matter where: people to-day don't even know how to place their guests at table. Claviers set a superb example."

"I agree with you," said Bressieux. "If we do not defend our names, what shall we defend?"—Then, with his characteristic dissembled irony: "Evidently Geoffroy is ruining the market. But don't be alarmed, Sicard. The title-exchange isn't in danger of being closed yet—even under the Republic, to adopt your expression."

"All the same," said Elzéar de Travers, coming to the rescue of Simone's husband, "there's one pack of hounds less! And such a pack! How it was kept up!"

"And what a table!" said Sicard.

"For my part," said Simone, "I am for the lovers. If I had been in Monsieur de Claviers' place, I'd have scolded a little, on principle, and then I'd have given one of those parties that he knew how to give."

"Look you, my dear," interposed Charlus angrily, "when I hear you and Jean talk like this, I wonder whether we oughtn't to long for another '93, to bring you all to a realizing sense of what you are and what you should be."

"Oh!" laughed Madame de Sicard, "now you're just like my grandmother de Prosny, who used to prophesy the guillotine every night."

"I know," Marie de Charlus broke in, "and you replied: 'You hope for the staircase of the nobles, but you'll get the wall.'—Wall or staircase, it's always blood that flows, and I agree with old Claviers, let us try to see to it that it's pure blood; and his grandchildren's won't be that. He did all he could to prevent it, and he did well. That's what I call chic and not chiqué."

And upon this conclusion of the "emancipated gratin," the conversation took another turn, Bressieux having asked Simone, with an air of indifference, whether she had seen the new play at the Français, in order not to prolong the discussion of such dangerous topics. They talked in undertones of a proposed marriage between Sicard's brother and a Demoiselle Mosé, and the satirical personage almost regretted having yielded to the temptation to bury his poisonous fang in the self-esteem of the happiest of the "Three Halves." The commission he had received in the second Altona deal—two hundred thousand francs, for the Chaffins who are in society are more expensive than the others—had put him on his feet for some time. But who could say? The future Sicard-Mosé ménage might need advice about furnishing their abode. And so he tried to repair with the young wife the bad turn he had done himself with her husband by his epigram. He tried without energy, however. Contradictory as it may appear, Geoffroy de Claviers' misfortune saddened him, despite the two hundred thousand francs so quickly earned. He had pocketed the money, but had actually made Sieur Altona pay another million. Moreover, as there was in him a man of race, compared with the dealer, he had admired the demeanor of the châtelain of Grandchamp during a trial of which he alone understood the hidden side. In fact it was Jean de Sicard's little attack on the chivalrous marquis that had drawn his mot from him; and while the salon discussed the actors on Rue Richelieu, he was elsewhere in thought.

"Claviers in England?" he said to himself. "To buy horses? Nonsense! He probably wanted to see Landri once more. How he loved him! No one will ever make me believe that he was not told the truth by that Chaffin,—to whom the infamous performance didn't bring luck, however, for Altona tells me he has had a paralytic shock. It's another piece of luck for me, that shock. The rascal would have claimed a percentage, on the ground that he baited the hook!"

Observers of the type of Bressieux, those disguised tradesmen, who earn their bread—or their luxuries—by studying the characters of their dupes or their rivals, really do possess a second sight. At the very moment when these comments, neither very intelligent nor very foolish, very kindly or very unkindly, were being exchanged in the Charlus salon, another scene was taking place many miles away; and that scene was the veritable conclusion of this tale.

This dénouement had for its stage one of those spots where it seems least likely that words of a certain sort can be spoken: a room in a hotel at Liverpool, that city on the bank of the Mersey, the immense mart of England's commerce, one of the extremities of a vast moving street of steamships and sailing vessels, of which the other ends are Boston and New York! City of docks and railway-stations, of smoke and speed, panting with the travail of a world, with its irregular and chaotic structures of brick and stone, built in haste, above which the finest days spread only a mistily blue sky, dimmed by clouds of vapor.

It was such a veiled, uncertain sky that Landri and Valentine saw through the bow-window of a small parlor in that hotel, at which they had alighted the day before. They were awaiting the time to go on board the boat that was to take them in six days to New York, whence they were to journey, via Montreal, to Ottawa, to prepare for their permanent establishment. Little Ludovic had insisted upon going with his tutor on board the steamer, which the husband and wife—they had been married ten days—could see at the dock, within a few rods of the hotel. The huge vessel was called the Cambria, the Latin name of the principality of Wales. She was of thirty-two thousand five hundred tons, with engines of seventy thousand horse-power; seven hundred and eighty feet long and eighty-eight feet beam. Her vast black hull towered above the gray water of the river, swollen by the rising of the tide. A floating palace, pierced by innumerable port-holes, and dominated by four huge smoke-stacks, reared its white walls above the waterline. Locomotives whistled. Tram-cars ran along their electric wires, with a snapping noise. Between the hotel and the landing-stage were travellers going to and fro, giving orders, looking after their trunks, or hailing porters.

Valentine had sent her maid on before, so that not even a package was left in that empty parlor whose dark mahogany furniture emphasized its depressing commonness. How far away they were, she from her homelike little sanctuary on Rue Monsieur, he from the magnificence of Grandchamp and Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré! That contrast was the anticipatory reflection of the exile that Landri had desired and she had agreed to. The melancholy aspect of their surroundings intensified the distress with which the young man was weighed down. He was thinking of M. de Claviers, and he said to his wife:—

"You see, he has not even given me a sign of life. If he had intended to write he would have written to London. He knew my whole route, day by day, hour by hour, but not a word, not a sign that he retains even a little of the old affection!"

"He retains it all," Valentine replied. She had taken her husband's hand, and pressed it gently, as if to make the compassion with which she was overflowing pass into his heart to whom she had given her whole life. She saw him bleeding from a deep, deep wound, even in his happiness, and she loved him with a love that was the more profound and passionate therefor. "There is still an hour and a half before we sail," she added. "Let us wait."

"Wait?" rejoined Landri. "I have done nothing but that since that horrible moment when he went out of the door without glancing at me, without turning his head. I ought to have gone to his house and asked for him, tried to see him."

"Mon Dieu!" she exclaimed. "If only I didn't give you bad advice when I advised you simply to write! I had such a strong belief that we should let him return of his own motion! But I shall hope till the last second. You'll get a letter, a message,—something."

They said no more, listening intently to the faintest sounds on the staircase, echoing with the hurried footsteps of the guests of the hotel, where people live after the fashion of a railway station—between the swift ocean steamers like the Cambria, and the boat-trains—"specials" as they are called in England—that run constantly from Liverpool to London and from London to Liverpool. At every such sound Landri had a convulsive shudder which Valentine soothed with a warmer pressure. The steps did not stop at the door, and all the visions of the past two months rushed back into Landri's mind, to increase twofold the craving for another farewell from him whom, in his thoughts, he still called his father.

He saw himself once more, leaving the mansion on Rue de Faubourg-Saint-Honoré, after their last, distressing interview, and his quest of a furnished apartment in which to take up his abode for a few weeks. He lived through the days which had followed, when he was arranging the preliminaries of his marriage and his departure, avoiding familiar streets and faces. Several episodes stood out more clearly than the rest: visits to Métivier, one especially, when the notary, gazing at him with such inquisitive eyes, despite professional discretion, had spoken of the sale at Grandchamp—of a chance meeting with Pierre Chaffin, who had turned his face away, an innocent victim of his father's shame;—another with Altona, when the future baron had saluted him with a familiar, almost patronizing, coup de chapeau, as from one gentleman to another!

He saw himself receiving an envelope directed in the marquis's well-known hand, which contained a receipt for nearly three million francs deposited to his account in the Bank of France. It was Jaubourg's fortune. And he felt again the beating of the heart that he had had when, after much reflection, he went to a priest at the church of Saint-François Xavier, who was Madame Olier's confessor. What a contrast to the morning when, jumping from his automobile, he ascended the steps of the same church, to throw the chauffeur off the scent! He entered the church on this second occasion, beset by more serious anxieties than that of assuring the secrecy of his visits to Rue Monsieur! He had gone thither to request the priest to be his intermediary in an anonymous gift of that money to the "Society for the Relief of Soldiers Wounded in the Armies of Sea and Shore." How proud he had been and how hopeful, when, a week later, that difficult project once realized, he had been able to send with his own hand to M. de Claviers, in a letter, the documents which attested that investment! This "French Red Cross" was still the army. How sad he had been when the marquis did not reply!

Nor had he replied to a second letter, in which Landri informed him of his wedding and the date of his sailing. And the young man saw himself, too, in one of the chapels of the same church of Saint-François, kneeling before the altar with Madame Olier, in the presence of no others than his wife's two witnesses, relations from the provinces, and his own two, Captain Despois and Lieutenant Vigouroux. Last of all, he saw himself writing to the Marquis de Claviers a last letter, in which he set down the details of his journey: the date of his arrival at London, the length of his stay and the address of his hotel; the date of his arrival at Liverpool and the address of his hotel there, and the day and hour of sailing; and he told him also the name he had chosen among the ancient patronymics of the Candales—Saint-Marc.

When he signed "M. and Mme. de Saint-Marc" on the hotel register at London, for the first time, what a strange emotion had assailed him, made up of relief and of sorrow together! And he had said to himself, possessed still by the persistent image of the man whose son he had for so many years believed himself to be: "The word of farewell that he denied to Landri de Claviers, who was not a Claviers, he will not deny to Landri de Saint-Marc, who, through his mother, is a genuine Saint-Marc."

Vain reasoning! That supreme sacrifice had not triumphed over inexpiable resentment. And in the excess of suffering caused by that silence, now evidently final, Landri looked at Valentine, who was looking at him. In her travelling costume she was very slender and youthful. Her fathomless eyes expressed such boundless devotion! Her fragile grace seemed to appeal so for protection! And, drawing her to him, he held her long in a close embrace, with the sensation that he could still live, for her and through her.

Strange mystery of memory! While his lips were pressed upon his dear wife's, he remembered M. de Clavier's remarks concerning those exiles who leave their city, "carrying their gods with them." In his imagination he heard the "Émigré's" loud, clear voice saying those words in his room at Saint-Mihiel.—Suddenly—was it an illusion?—he thought that he heard that voice, in very truth, speaking in the corridor.

"Listen!" he said, grasping Valentine's arm. "Some one is coming. Why, it's he!"

"It is he!" she repeated, turning pale; and, as some one knocked at the door, "I will leave you alone. It's better so." And, on the threshold of the adjoining room, she turned, with her hand on her heart, to repress its throbbing: "I told you to hope."

She had hardly left the room when the door opened and, behind the bell-boy, appeared the form of the Marquis de Claviers. Aged even more in the last two months, his face more haggard and more hollow, he was more than ever the Seigneur, the man of lofty lineage, who, wherever he goes, is a Master. He was profoundly moved at that moment, when he was taking a step so directly contrary, it seemed, to his recent attitude; but he found a way to maintain, in his whole person, that species of haughty bonhomie which was characteristic of him. He saw Landri, and simply, without a word, held out his arms. The young man responded to that gesture, which betrayed such deep affection, and they embraced, as if they were still in those days when, as they rode together through the forest of Hez, they believed themselves of the same blood, offshoots of the same trunk, a father and son who might differ in ideas, but who were bound together by a chain as indissoluble as their own persons. A father and son! They had not ceased to be so in heart, and in that moment of passionate impulse, after they had forbidden themselves to show their affection during so many days, they listened to naught save that heart.

"Ah!" said M. de Claviers, "you have not gone! I have come in time!—No. I could not let you go away so. I could not. I wrote you. I prepared a despatch. I sent neither. It was the sight of you that I craved—to hear your voice, to speak to you once more. I resisted up to the last moment. I knew that it would cost me so dear to lose you again! And then, when I saw the hour for the last train for England draw near, after which it would be too late, I held out no longer. I went to your hotel in London, thinking that you might have postponed your departure.—However, here I am and here you are. You have behaved so admirably! That very last act, too—your refusal to keep that money! I shall at least have told you again that I thank you. I shall have told you that I have never ceased to love you."

"I am the one who has to thank you," replied Landri, "for understanding the appeal of my letters. It is true: to go so far away without seeing you again was very hard. I would have endured that grief, like the others, without rebelling. But I think that I did not deserve it. I, too, have always loved you so dearly, revered you so—"

"You deserved no grief at all," the marquis hastily interrupted. Then, dropping into a chair, and in an attitude of utter dejection, "none at all," he repeated, "and you were justified in thinking me terribly cruel."

"Cruel?" cried the young man. "Don't say that. Don't think it."

"I do think it," M. de Claviers replied. "I felt that you were wretchedly unhappy when we parted. You stood there, I saw, loving me with all your heart, awaiting a word from me. I did not say it, because I too loved you too well. If I had spoken to you then, I should not have had the strength to go on to the end of what I had to do. That money must be repaid. I must sell the treasures of Grandchamp. I must place an indestructible barrier between you and myself, in the eyes of the world, so that it might suspect nothing. I was obliged to stifle that paternal feeling which I could not succeed in destroying. But it was I who formed your character! If I had not been the heir of the Claviers-Grandchamps, the depositary of the name, the representative of the race, I should have held my peace for love of you when I received that anonymous letter. If I alone had been involved, I would have swallowed the insult. You would never have known what I knew. Because of them, in the interest of their house, I had to act as I did. But I was able to measure your grief by my own. And I had my dead to encourage me, while you—"

"I had you," interrupted Landri. "I had your example. You say that you formed my character. That is much truer than you have any idea; and I myself did not know myself, did not understand to what degree I thought as you think concerning matters of moment, until I was taught by this sorrow. You remember that, in that conversation after the hunt, the last afternoon of intimacy that we ever had, you spoke of the indestructible connections, the unbreakable tie between ourselves and those from whom we descend. And I argued with you. I maintained the right of the individual to live his own life, to seek his own happiness. The instant that I learned the secret of my birth, I realized how entirely in the right you were in that discussion. Your right to demand satisfaction from me, although I was not personally culpable, appeared to me so clearly established! And so of my duty to give you that satisfaction, entire, complete. I felt that the very quintessence of man is in this solidarity between the present and a past which was his before he himself existed. I realized all that nobility meant. All your ideas, against which I had fought so long, revealed themselves to me in their living truth. I made them my guide in the conduct which you are kind enough to approve. When you said to me, 'For your sake I can forgive,' what a healing balm you poured into my heart, and upon what an aching wound! Even in my misery, I felt a peace of mind which has not abandoned me. That is what has upheld me."

"Ah, my child!" returned the marquis. "Yes, I can call you my child! You talk of balm poured upon wounds, but who, pray, allayed the pain of my wound a little, if not you? Your thoughts, your resolutions, your actions—I have loved everything that came from you, and everything has helped to prove to me that this at least had not been wasted—my efforts during so many years, to inculcate my opinions in you, to make you a man. Ah! I too have learned many things through this suffering. You say that you fought a long while against my ideas. That was because, in prosperity, they were mixed up with too many other things. Yes, I yielded to too many temptations. I was too proud of my name, and too fond of life. You might well have thought that there was more pride than reflection, more emotion than reason in the principles whose real force you discovered when the test came. I did not derive from them, when I was fortunate, all that I should have done. In the rank in which Providence had placed me, I did not see clearly enough the good that one might do. Because of that I deserved to be punished, and, no doubt, my dear ones through me. In a race which has endured for centuries, many secret sins must have been committed, which demand expiation. I interpreted this terrible misfortune in that sense. I accepted it and offered it to God; and, as I told you, I forgave. And now," in a tone of infinite melancholy, "I must offer Him my solitary old age.—How solitary it will be without you! Without you!" he repeated; and, with more and more emotion, "and yet, if we chose!—You spoke the other day of my adopting a son. There have been families on the point of becoming extinct that have prolonged their existence in that way!—I am dreaming.—Suppose I should adopt you? Then you would not leave me. The world, having known nothing of what has happened, would not know of the secret compact between us. People would say: 'Claviers is crazy. It wasn't worth while to make such an outcry, only to give way finally.'—What do I care? I should have you. You would close my eyes."

"No," the young man replied with extraordinary decision, "it is impossible. One adopts a stranger, a kinsman, but not one like me." Lowering his eyes, the child of sin repeated: "Not one like me! At this moment it is your affection that is stirring and that speaks, not your mind. These are not your—I make bold to say, our—convictions. To-day I represent to you some one who is dear to you, and whom you are about to lose. To-morrow, day after to-morrow, if we should be so weak, the thing that I should soon come to represent to you again, would horrify you, and me as well. I cannot consent. That name to which I have no right, and which I bore so long, that stolen name, I will not take again, not even from your hands." And, sorrowfully, he added: "Besides, even if I had a right to it, I could not bear to live in France, now that I have left the service. You say that you did not see clearly enough the good that one in your station might do. The real truth is that, because of that very station, you are condemned to inaction. But when you were of my age, could a Claviers hope to see a government established in France in which he could find employment? Such an expectation to-day would be insane. And I need to be doing something. I long to work, to exert my faculties. Where I am going, in that new country, I shall begin my life anew, I shall found a family, without having to undergo the social ostracism which seemed so cruel to me when I believed myself to be what I was not. That again would prevent me from accepting, even if there were not that falsehood, which you would never be able to endure. I appeal to you yourself, to the head of the family, whom I have always known as so unyielding, so irreconcilable, so hostile to any compromise."

"You are right," said M. de Claviers in a broken voice. "The Spirit is strong and the Heart is weak! Let us say adieu then, Landri. If I miss you too much, and if I live, nothing will prevent my joining you, wherever you may be. And if I do not live!" He shook his aged head with an air of supreme weariness. Then, as firmly as the other had spoken a moment earlier: "Yes, I must learn to consider myself the last of the line, to close the list worthily. You are right," he repeated, "too wofully right! I shall have worn out my life in one long expectation, always unfulfilled: the King come again, the Revolution driven out, our houses restored, the Church triumphant, France regenerated, and resuming her place in Europe, with her traditions and her natural frontiers—what empty dreams! And nothing has happened, nothing, nothing, nothing! I shall have been one of the vanquished. I shall have defended naught but tombs. You told me so, justly enough; and, to end it all, this tragedy in which my last hope is wrecked!—No, I cannot adopt you—that is true. The Claviers-Grandchamps will die with me, and it is better so. They will die as all the great families of France are dying, one after another. We are passing away, like the old monarchy that made us and that we made. But there will be no stain on the shield. I shall know how to make a fitting end.—And now," he added after a pause, in the tone of one who has made up his mind, manfully, and will lament no more, "let us part. At what time does your boat sail?"

"At half-past four," said Landri.

"It is nearly four," exclaimed the marquis. "You must go aboard. Adieu!"

He took the young man in his arms again and pressed him to his heart with extraordinary force, but without a tear. Then, he seemed to hesitate a second. An indescribable light of affection shone in his eyes, and he said, almost in a whisper:—

"I should not like to go away without seeing your wife."

"I will go and call her," said Valentine's husband, likewise almost in a whisper, so profoundly moved was he by that last proof of an affection which he thought that he had lost forever. To measure its depth, was to measure the depth of the abyss of bitter sorrow into which that man had descended, and where he was preparing to make a fitting end, as he had said with sublime simplicity.

When Landri reappeared, holding his young wife's hand, he was actually unable to utter a word of introduction. She was very pale, very tremulous, and with her noble, straightforward glance, as if to say, "Read my heart," she looked at the grand seigneur, who was unknown to her even in his physical aspect, but whose whole soul she knew. He gazed at her for some moments, likewise without speaking. How could he not feel the charm of that delicate, proud creature, whose every feature, every movement, every breath revealed a nature ardent and refined, loving and pure? And how could he not feel, in her presence, a reopening of the secret, incurable wound? How could he not compare her with another? But no. Those eyes could not lie. The graceful, trembling woman, whose blue eyes were raised to his with such fervor and purity, would be to him who had chosen her the faithful companion, the friend of every hour, she who divines and soothes all cares, who supports every noble effort. He could let Landri go away with her, without any apprehension. She would know how to assist him in the heroic rebuilding of a home, amid such a mass of ruins, which he was about to attempt! Such was the thought that the old man expressed aloud, incapable at that solemn moment of uttering conventional phrases, and obliged to refrain from uttering others which would have been too true.

"I was most anxious to salute you, madame, before you sailed. The past is past. I see in you now only the wife of the man whom I love best on earth. I desired to know to what sort of hands he had entrusted his happiness. I know now, and it is a great joy to me, the last of my life. I owe it to you."

"And I, monsieur," said Valentine, "shall never forget this moment. We should have missed your blessing too sadly! You bring it to us. That too is a very great joy, and one which I needed, as Landri did."

She had taken the marquis's hand in hers, and, with filial respect, was about to put it to her lips. He drew her to him and kissed her on the forehead—a kiss of respect, of affection, of blessing, as she had said. He gave a last glance at Landri, a friendly wave of the hand, and left the room, where the young people remained, side by side, stirred to the lowest depths of their being by all that there was of human suffering and loftiness of soul in that despairing but uncomplaining adieu.

"What a great thing is a great heart!" said Valentine at last.

"You understand now how hard it was for me to contend against his influence in the old days, don't you?" said Landri. "And to think that I shall never see him again on earth, perhaps!"

"He'll be there to see you off," she replied.

Three quarters of an hour later, in fact, when the Cambria began to move, and as Valentine and Landri, leaning on the rail near the stern, were watching the crowd on the pier, already some distance away, of those who had come to take leave of the passengers, they espied at the end of the pier a man standing apart from the rest, with his face turned towards them, and in that haughty countenance they recognized the marquis. He had stationed himself there to obtain a last glimpse of Landri, and to be seen by him. At that distance, and in the misty twilight, it was impossible to distinguish his features. The sea breeze blew his dark cloak about him as he stood there motionless, in an almost superhuman immobility; and although Valentine was by his side, breathing, living, loving, Landri felt the chill of death creep into his heart at the sight. The last of the Claviers-Grandchamps, standing there on English soil, alone, on that foggy evening, watching all that he had loved and had sacrificed to the honor of his name sail away into the darkness, was in very truth the "Émigré," he who is not of his country or of his epoch. The private drama, of which this station of the old French gentleman on the planks of the Liverpool pier, was the crowning episode, expanded into a broader and more pathetic symbolism. Behind that living phantom arose the phantoms of all his ancestors. That heir of a long line of nobles, whose race would die out with him, became for a moment, in Landri's eyes, the incarnation of all the melancholy of a vanquished caste. And what was he himself but another "Émigré"? Was not he about to try to reconstruct, beyond the sea, an existence which, with his fortune and with the name which the law recognized as his, he should have passed upon his native soil peacefully and happily? He had sacrificed that destiny, so enviable in the eyes of many people,—to what? To a principle. It was to uphold that principle that he was leaving his fatherland, ceasing to bear a name which was not his, and at the same time to safeguard his mother's memory. Another remark made by M. de Claviers in their discussion at Saint-Mihiel, after his refusal to assist in taking the inventory, came to his mind: "One must sometimes lay down one's life in order to keep intact the germ of the future!" Landri realized all its force, and what a store-house of honor is represented by a genuine aristocrat like him whose form was becoming more and more indistinct in the distance.

Bringing his mind back to his country, he reflected with much sadness that France no longer employs those exemplars of an unchanging and superior type. She paralyzes them by persecution. She degrades them by idleness. She ruins them by her laws concerning inheritance. All her efforts are directed toward destroying the conditions in which others might grow great.

The Cambria was about to leave the Mersey. The great swell of the Channel rose and fell about the steamship's mighty hull. The Channel lights pierced the thickening mist with a duller gleam. Around the exile voices arose in a strange tongue, that of the rivals of centuries, who have been wise enough to retain all of the past, the better to control the present; and the ex-lieutenant mingled pity for that France which he should never again make his home, perhaps, with pity for the old nobleman for whom he should never cease to feel the affection of a son; and he strained his eyes in a vain effort to see once more, across the space that lay between them, the haughty and motionless figure that had disappeared in the darkness—doubtless forever!