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Samuel Brohl and Company By Victor Cherbuliez Characters: 34074

Updated: 2017-11-28 00:07


Although he had said nothing about it to Mlle. Moriaz in narrating to her his voyages and Odysseys, Count Abel was already acquainted with Paris, having made several long sojourns there. This may seem improbable. Gone in his early youth to America, he had not recrossed the ocean until he returned to fight in Poland; since then he had lived in Roumania and Vienna. Where, then, had he found time to visit France? Certain it is, however, that he was at home on the boulevard, and that he knew well the streets that led to the places where Paris amuses itself; but he had no thoughts now for amusements. Notwithstanding the fact that his purse was full, he proposed to live a retired and austere life. He found suitable apartments in one of the lodging-houses of Rue Mont-Thabor. These apartments, on the fifth floor, were pleasant but modest; they consisted of two rooms having a view of the chestnut-trees in the garden of the Tuileries. The portress was a nice woman, whose good-will Count Abel gained on the very first day. He considered it useful, in the affairs of this world, to be at peace with both conscience and portress.

After getting installed in his garret his first care was to write to M. Moses Guldenthal. He informed him that he was ready to refund interest and capital, and he commissioned him to pay off some trifling debts that he had left in Vienna; he also desired him to send him the bracelet, which he hoped to make use of. He felt a genuine relief in the thought that he owed no man anything, that his condition was clear and transparent. When a man is proud he likes to be out of debt, and when he is clever he foresees all possible contingencies. His second care was to go to the Passage de l'Opera and buy a bouquet for sixty francs, which he carried to No. 27 Rue Mouffetard. He had one of those memories that retain everything and let nothing escape them. This bouquet-the most beautiful Mlle. Galet ever had received-caused her great astonishment. She did not know to whom to attribute it, the modest donor having escaped from the effusions of her gratitude by not making himself known. She supposed that Mlle. Moriaz had sent it to her, and, as she had taste for composition, she wrote to her a four page letter of thanks.

Count Abel had not forgotten that he was the bearer of a commission from Mlle Moriaz. A few days after his arrival, he decided to go to Maisons, but to take the longest route there; he wanted to see Cormeilles in passing, and a certain villa in which he was particularly interested. He went in the Argenteuil cars, got out at Sannois, climbed that pretty hill that commands the loveliest of views, and stopped at the inn of Trouillet mills in order to breakfast there. The morning was charming-it was in the middle of August-and the approach of autumn was already felt, which enhances the beauty of all things. The sky was flecked with small gray clouds; a light, silvery mist hung on the brow of the hills; in two places the Seine appeared glittering in the sunshine. Abel breakfasted in the open air; while eating he gazed on the sky and on the great garden-plain extending at his feet, covered with vegetables, grape-vines, and asparagus, interspersed with fruit-trees. The wooded hills bordering it formed an admirable frame. In his present mood Count Larinski was charmed with the landscape, which was at once grand and smiling. Then he questioned himself as to how much a bed of asparagus would yield at the gates of Paris, and, having finished his calculation, he surveyed with the eye of a poet the heather and broom that surrounded him. He decided that the Sannois Hill is more beautiful than Koseg; and indeed it is not necessary to be in love with Mlle. Moriaz to hold that opinion.

After having had a good breakfast, he again set out, following the crest of the hill and going through the woods. As he approached Cormeilles, he saw in the distance, beyond a grove of oaks, the white walls of a pretty villa. His heart beat faster, and by a sort of divination he said within himself, "That must be it." He inquired; he had made no mistake. Five minutes later he stood before a railing, through which he saw a green lawn. At the entrance of the porter's lodge a woman sat knitting.

"Can you tell me where M. Moriaz lives?" asked Count Larinski.

"Here, monsieur," she replied; "but M. Moriaz is absent; he will not return for a month. If you come from a distance, monsieur," she added, graciously, "perhaps you would like to rest awhile on the terrace. The view is beautiful."

This hospitable reception seemed a good omen, for, sensible as he was, he believed in presentiments and prognostics. He entered without waiting to be urged. When he had crossed the lawn he stood facing two detached buildings, separated by a mass of verdure: to the right, an old summer-house, used from time immemorial for M. Moriaz's collections, laboratory, and library; to the left, a new two-story house, part stone, part brick, built in an elegant but unobtrusive style, without ornament or pretension, and flanked by a turret covered with ivy and clematis, which served for a dove-cote. The house was not a palace, but there was an air about it of well-being, comfort, and happiness. In looking at it you felt like saying, "The inmates here ought to be happy!" This was about what Count Abel said to himself; in fact, he could hardly refrain from exclaiming, "Dieu! how happy I shall be here!" The situation, the terrace, the garden, everything pleased him infinitely. It seemed to him that the air here was fresher, more delightful than elsewhere, that it was exhilarating in the extreme; it seemed to him that the grass on the lawn was greener than any grass he ever had seen before, that the flowers in the carefully tended borders exhaled an unusually delicious perfume. He espied an open window on the ground-floor. He drew near it; the room into which he gazed, full of bric-a-brac of exquisite choice, was Mlle. Moriaz's study. There was in the appearance of this little sanctuary, hung with white silken drapery, and as elegant as the divinity whose favourite tarrying-place it was, something of purity, chastity, and maidenliness. It opened its windows to the fresh breezes and to the perfume of the flowers; but it seemed as if nothing could penetrate there that was coarse or suspicious; that the entrance was forbidden to all doubtful or malignant beings who might have a secret crime to hide, to all pilgrims through life who had travelled its highways and had brought hence dust and mud on the soles of their shoes. Strange to say, Count Abel experienced an attack of timidity and embarrassment. He felt that he was indiscreet; he averted his eyes and went away.

This impression was soon dispelled. He regained his assurance, and walked around the terrace twice, treading the gravel with the step of a conqueror, making it feel the full weight of his foot. He finally seated himself on a bench; he had the nonchalant attitude of a man who is at home. Five or six doves were billing and cooing on the ledge of the roof; he could readily understand that they were talking of him, and that they were saying, "Here he is-we have been waiting for him." A beautiful Angora cat, white as snow, with delicate nose and silky hair, came, arching her back and waving her bushy tail, from out a grove, and advanced towards him. She examined him curiously an instant, rubbed herself against the bench, and then sat coquettishly at the feet of the intruder. He caressed her, saying: "You are as white and graceful as your mistress; you are an intelligent animal; you understand, my dear, that I come from her. Shall I tell you a secret? She loves Count Abel Larinski."

With these words he rose and left, after thanking the portress, who would have been extremely astonished had she been aware of the reflections that had just been occupying his mind. He went a short distance on the highway, then finding, to the right, a road that led to Cormeilles, he took it, but soon struck into a path that wound through the woods. He was sorry to leave a spot that spoke vividly to his heart, and even more so to his imagination. He seated himself on the turf, in the midst of a grove of oaks; around him stretched a blooming heath. Through an opening in the grove, he could see Saint-Germain, its forests, and the Seine glittering in the sunshine, with the two bridges of Maisons Lafitte spanning it with their arches. Through another opening he caught a glimpse, to his left, of the proud bastions of Mont-Valerien, and, in the distance, Paris, the Arc de l'Etoile, the gilt dome of the Invalides, and the smoke of the factories rising slowly in the air, then by turns remaining stiff and motionless, or being swept away by the wind.

The place was retired, solitary, very still. No sound was to be heard save the singing of a lark, and at intervals the melancholy cry of a peacock. Abel Larinski was overcome by a mysterious emotion; he felt a voluptuous languor steal through his veins. He watched the smoke over Paris, and he saw floating in it an ethereal form whose face was partly concealed by a red hood. It smiled on him, and he read in this smile a promise of all the joys of the land of Canaan.

He turned away his eyes, partially closing them, and there appeared another form to him-in truth, very different from the first. It was that of a man whom he had known intimately, of a man whom he had deeply loved. In vain the lark sang aloud, in vain the peacock wailed-Abel Larinski no longer heard them. He was thinking of a certain Samuel Brohl; he was reviewing in his mind all the history of this Samuel, a man who never had had a secret from him. This history was quite as sad a one as that of Abel Larinski, but much less brilliant, much less heroic. Samuel Brohl prided himself neither on being a patriot nor a paladin; his mother had not been a noble woman with the smile of an angel, and the thought never had occurred to him of fighting for any cause or any person. He was not a Pole, although born in a Polish province of the Austrian Empire. His father was a Jew, of German extraction, as indicated by his name, which signifies a place where one sinks in the mire, a bog, swamp, or something of that nature; and he kept a tavern in a wretched little market-town near the eastern frontier of Galicia-a forlorn tavern, a forlorn tavern-keeper. Although always on the alert to sell adulterated brandy to his neighbour, and to seize the opportunity to lend him money on usury, he did not thrive: he was a coward of whose timidity every one took advantage to make him disgorge his ill-gotten gains. His creed consisted in three doctrines: he firmly believed that the arts of lying well, of stealing well, and of receiving a blow in the face without apparently noticing it, were the most useful arts to human life; but, of the three, the last was the only one that he practised successfully. His intentions were good, but his intellect deficient. This arrant rogue was only a petty knave that any one could dupe.

Abel Larinski transported himself, in thought, to the tavern in which Samuel Brohl had spent his first youth, and which was as familiar to him as though he had lived there himself. The smoky hovel rose before him: he could smell the odour of garlic and tallow; he could see the drunken guests-some seated round the long table, others lying under it-the damp and dripping walls, and the rough, dirty ceiling. He remembered a panel in the wainscoting against which a bottle had been broken, in the heat of some dispute; it had left a great stain of wine that resembled a human face. He remembered, too, the tavern-keeper, a little man with a dirty, red beard, whose demeanour was at once timid and impudent. He saw him as he went and came, then saw him suddenly turn, lift the end of his caftan and wipe his cheek on it. What had happened? An insolvent debtor had spit in his face; he bore it smilingly. This smile was more repulsive to Count Abel than the great stain that resembled a human face.

"Children should be permitted to choose their fathers," he thought. And yet this poor Samuel Brohl came very near living as happy and contented in the paternal mire as a fish in water. Habit and practice reconcile one even to dirt; and there are people who eat and digest it. What made Samuel Brohl think of reading Shakespeare? Poets are corrupters.

The way it happened was this. Samuel had picked up, somewhere, a volume which had dropped from a traveller's pocket. It was a German translation of The Merchant of Venice. He read it, and did not understand it; he reread it, and ended by understanding it. It produced a wild confusion of ideas in his mind; he thought that he was becoming insane. Little by little, the chaos became less tumultuous; order began to reign, light to dawn. Samuel Brohl felt that he had had a film over his eyes, and that it was now removed. He saw things that he never had seen before, and he felt joy mingled with terror. He learned The Merchant of Venice by heart. He shut himself up in the barn, so that he might cry out with Shylock: "Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?" He repeated, too, with Lorenzo:

"Sit, Jessica. Look how the floor of heaven

Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold.

There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st

But in his motion like an angel sings,

Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubins:

Such harmony is in immortal souls;

But whilst this muddy vesture of decay

Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it."

Samuel sometimes rose at night to watch the heavens, and he fancied he heard the voices of the "young-eyed cherubins." He dreamed of a world where Jessicas and Portias were to be met, of a world where Jews were as proud as Shylock, as vindictive as Shylock, and, as Shylock, ate the hearts of their enemies for revenge. He also dreamed, poor fool, that there was in Samuel Brohl's mind or bosom an immortal soul, and that in this soul there was music, but that he could not hear it because the muddy vesture of decay too grossly closed it in. Then he experienced a feeling of disgust for Galicia, for the tavern, for the tavern-keeper, and for Samuel Brohl himself. An old schoolmaster, who owned a harpsichord, taught him to play on it, and, believing he was doing good, lent him books. One day, Samuel modestly expressed to his father a desire to go to the gymnasium at Lemberg to learn various things that seemed good to him to know. It was then that he received from the paternal hand a great blow, which made him see all the stars of heaven in broad daylight. Old Jeremiah Brohl had taken a dislike to his son Samuel Brohl, because he thought he saw something in his eyes that seemed to say that Samuel despised his father.

"Poor devil!" murmured Count Abel, picking up a pebble and tossing it into the air. "Fate owes him compensation, it has dealt so roughly with him thus far. He fell from the frying-pan into the fire; he exchanged his servitude for a still worse slavery. When he left the land of Egypt, he fancied he saw the palms of the promised land. Alas! it was not long before he regretted Egypt and Pharaoh! Why was not this woman Portia? why was she neither young nor beautiful?" And he added: "Ah! old fairy, you made him suffer!"

It seemed to Count Larinski that this woman, this ugly fairy who had made Samuel Brohl suffer so much, stood there, before him, and that she scanned him from head to foot, as a fairy, whether old or young, might scan a worm. She had an imperious, contemptuous smile on her lips, the smile of a czarina; so Catharine II smiled, when she was dissatisfied with Potemkin, and said to herself, "I made him what he is, and to-morrow I can ruin him." "Yes, it was she, it was surely she," thought Count Larinski. "I cannot mistake. I saw her five weeks ago, in the Vallee du Diable; she made me tremble!"

This woman who had taken Samuel Brohl from out of the land of Egypt, and had showered attentions upon him, was a Russian princess. She owned an estate of Podolia, and chance would have it that one day, in passing, she stopped at the tavern where young Samuel was growing up in the shadow of the tabernacle. He was then sixteen. In spite of his squalid rags, she was struck by his figure. She was a woman of intelligence, and had no prejudices. "When he is well washed and cared for," she thought, "when he is divested of his native impurities, when he has seen the world and had communication with honest people, he certainly will be a noble fellow." She made him talk, and found him intelligent; she liked intelligent men. She made him sing, assured herself that he had a voice; she adored music. She questioned him; he told her all his misery, and while he talked she sa

id to herself: "No, I do not mistake; he has a future before him; in two or three years he will be superb. Three years is not long: the gardener who grafts a young tree is often condemned to wait longer than that." When he had ended his narrative, she told him that she was in want of a secretary, that she had had several, but that she had soon tired of them, on account of their not having the desired qualifications; she asked him if he would like to accept the position. He replied only by pointing his finger to his father, who was smoking his pipe on the door-step. A moment later she was closeted with Jeremiah Brohl.

She at once proposed to him to buy his son; he dropped his arms in astonishment, then felt delighted and charmed. He declared, at first, that his son was not for sale; and then he insinuated that if ever he did sell him he would sell him dear; he was, according to his opinion, merchandise of the best quality, a rich and rare article. He raised his demands ridiculously; she exclaimed; he affirmed he could not put them lower, that he had his terms, and that he always sold at a fixed price. They disputed a long time; she was about to give up; he yielded, and they ended by making the transaction. She sent for Samuel and said to him: "My boy, you belong to me-I have bought you for cash. You are satisfied with the bargain, are you not?"

He was stupefied to learn that he had a commercial value; he never had suspected it. He wanted very much to know what he was worth; but the princess was discreet upon the subject, and desired that he should believe that he had cost her a fabulous sum. After reflection, he made his conditions; he stipulated that he should belong to himself for three years, which time he would employ in study and in satisfying a multitude of curious longings.

She readily consented, as that had been her own intention: it would take fully three years before the fruit was ripe and ready to be served at the princely table. She gave him instructions and advice, all bearing the stamp of a superior mind; she understood the world, the state of public affairs, and physiology, all that can be learned, and all that cannot be learned. Thus Samuel Brohl set out, his pocket well filled, for the University of Prague, which he soon left to settle at Heidelberg, whence he went to Bonn, then to Berlin, then to Paris. He was restless, he did not know what he wanted, but wherever he went he studied semiquavers, naturals, and flats; it was part of the conditions.

The princess was herself a great traveller; two or three times a year Samuel Brohl received a visit from her. She questioned him, examined him, felt him, as we feel a peach to be certain it is ripe. Samuel was very happy; he was free, he enjoyed his life, he did as he pleased. One single thing spoiled his happiness; when he looked in the glass, he would sometimes say within himself: "These are the features of a man who is sold, and the woman who bought him is neither young nor beautiful." Several times he determined to learn a trade, so that he might be in a position to refund the debt and break the bargain. But he never did. He was both ambitious and idle. He wanted to fly at once; he had a horror of beginnings of apprenticeships. His early education had been so neglected that in order to recover lost time he would have been compelled to study hard-all the more so because, although he was quick-witted, and had a marvellous facility for entering into the thoughts of others, his own stock was poor; he had no ideas of his own, nor individuality of mind. He possessed a collection of half-talents; even in music, he was incapable of originating; when he attempted to compose, his inspirations proved mere reminiscences. He did himself justice; he felt that, strive as he might, his half-talents never would aid him to secure the first position, and he disdained the second. In fact, what he most needed was will, which, after all, makes the man. He tried to fling himself from his horse, which carried him where he did not desire to go; but he felt that his feet held firm in the stirrup; he had not strength to disengage them, and he remained in the saddle. Not being able to be a great man, he abandoned himself to his fate, which condemned him to be only a knave. At the expiration of his term of freedom, he declared himself solvent, and the princess took possession of her merchandise.

"Yes, poets are corrupters," thought Count Abel Larinski. "If Samuel Brohl never had read The Merchant of Venice, or Egmont, a tragedy in five acts, or Schiller's ballads, he would have been resigned to his new position; he would have seen its good sides, and would have eaten and drunk his shame in peace, without experiencing any uncomfortable sensations; but he had read the poets, and he grew disgusted, nauseated. He was dying with desire to get away, and the princess suspected it. She kept him always in sight, she held him close, she paid him quarterly, shilling by shilling, his meagre allowance. She said to herself: 'So long as he has nothing, he cannot escape.' She mistook; he did escape, and he was so afraid of being retaken that for some time he hid like a criminal, pursued by the police. He fancied that this woman was always on his track. It was then, for the first time, that he felt hunger, for they eat in the land of Egypt. He lived by all sorts of expedients, and cursed the poets. One day he learned that his father was dead; he hastened to the old tavern in order to succeed to the inheritance. He was not aware that for two years old Jeremiah Brohl had been in his dotage, and that his debtors mocked him while devouring his substance. A fine inheritance! it was diminished to two or three rickety chairs, four cracked walls that scarcely could stand upright, and some jewellery concealed in a hiding-place that Samuel knew of. Old Jeremiah never had been able to dispose of it for the price he required, and he preferred to keep it rather than lower his charge. He had principles, which was well for Samuel, as the jewellery was useful to him. He sold a necklace, and set out for Bucharest, some one having told him that he certainly would make his fortune there. He gave music-lessons; this wearisome profession did not suit him, he could not endure the constraint and the regular hours. The boys plagued him-he would willingly have wrung their necks; the girls treated him like a dog-they never thought of his being handsome, because they suspected him of being a Jew. Why had he gone to Bucharest-a city where all Germans are Jews, and where Jews are not considered men? Although he had earned a little money, he grew melancholy, and he began to think seriously of killing himself."

Count Abel Larinski leaned forward, plucked a spray of heather, tickled his lips with it, and began to laugh; then, striking his breast, he said, in an undertone, "Thank God, Samuel Brohl is not dead, for he is here!"

He spoke the truth: Samuel Brohl was not dead, and life was of value to him, since he had met Mlle. Antoinette Moriaz in the cathedral in Chur. It was Samuel Brohl who had come to Cormeilles, and who was seated, at this moment, in the midst of a grove of oaks. Perhaps the lark that he had heard singing a quarter of an hour before had recognised him, for it had ceased singing. The peacock continued its screaming, and its doleful cries sounded like a warning. Yes, the man seated among the heather, employed in narrating his own history to himself, was indeed Samuel Brohl, and the proof of this was that he had laughed, while Count Abel Larinski never laughed; moreover, for four years the latter had been out of the world. The second reason is, perhaps, the better.

He whom, with or without his consent, we shall call henceforth Samuel Brohl, reproached himself for this access of levity, as he would have reproached himself for a false note that had escaped him in executing a Mozart sonata. He resumed his grave, dignified air, in order to salute with a wave of his hand the phantom that had just appeared before him. It was the same that he had summoned one evening at the Hotel Steinbock, and treated there as an addle-brain, as a visionary, and even as an imbecile; but this time he gave him a more indulgent and gracious reception. He bore him no ill-will, he wished him well, he was under essential obligations to him, and Samuel Brohl was no ingrate.

"Ah! well, my poor friend, I am here," he said, in that mute language that phantoms understand. "I have taken your place, and almost your form; I play your part in the great fair of this world, and, although your noble body has rested for four years, six feet underground, thanks to me you still live. I always have had a most sincere admiration for you. I considered you a phenomenon, a prodigy. You were courageous, devoted, generosity itself; you esteemed honour above all the gold deposits in California; you detested all coarse thoughts and doubtful actions; your mother had nourished you in all sublime follies. You were a true chevalier, a true Pole, the last Don Quixote in this age of sceptics, plunderers, and interlopers. Blessed be the chance that made us acquainted! You lived retired, solitary, unknown, in a miserable hovel just outside of Bucharest. So goes the world! You were in hiding-you who had nothing to hide from either God or man-you who deserved a crown. Alas! the Russian Government had the poor taste not to appreciate your exploits, and you feared that it would claim and obtain your extradition. At our first meeting I pleased you, and you took me into your friendship; I spoke Polish, and you loved music. I became your intimate friend, your sole companion, your confidant. You must grant that you owe to me the last happy moments of your short existence. I soon knew your origin, the history of your youth, of your enterprises, and of your misfortunes. You initiated me into the secret of the great invention that you had just made; you explained to me in detail the mechanism of your famous gun. I was intelligent; I understood, or thought I understood. This gun, you said, would one day make my fortune, for, on your own account, you had renounced all hope; you had heart-disease, and you knew that you were condemned to a speedy end. My imagination was kindled. Through my entreaty you decided to leave with me for Vienna. This expedition was fatal to you, but I swear to you I did not foresee it."

Samuel crossed his hands on his knee; then he continued: "May my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, may my blood cease to flow in my veins, may the marrow dry up in my bones, if ever I forget to be grateful for what I owe to you, Abel Larinski, or cease to remember the forlorn hovel in which we passed the first night of our journey! You were attacked by suffocation. You had only time to call and wake me. I hastened to you. You gave me, in a dying voice, your last instructions. You delivered into my hands your last fifty florins, which were as acceptable as an orange would have been to the shipwrecked passengers of the Medusa. Then you pointed with your finger to a box, in which were inclosed family relics, letters, your journal, and papers. You said: 'Destroy all that; Poland is dead, let no one remember that I have lived!' After that you breathed your last. Well! I confess that I did not fulfil your orders. I kept your mother's portrait, the papers, all; and, in announcing your decease to the police, I made them believe that the man who was dead was named Samuel Brohl, and that Count Larinski still lived. What would you have me do? The temptation was too great. Samuel Brohl had disgraceful antecedents, he was base-born, he had been sold; there was a stain on his past that never could be wiped away, and, as he had had the misfortune to read the poets, it had come about that he often despised himself. It was, indeed, time that he should be thrown into the shade, and my joy was extreme to know that he was dead, and to feel that I was alive. As soon as I succeeded in persuading myself that I was indeed Count Abel Larinski, I was as happy as a child whose parents have dressed him in new clothes, and who struts about to show them. With your name I acquired a noble past; in thought, I roamed through it with delight; I visited its every nook and corner, as a poor devil would make the circuit of a park that he has just come to inherit. You bequeathed me your relations, your adventures, your exploits. When you fought for your country, I was there; when you received a gun-shot-wound near Dubrod, it was into my flesh that the bullet penetrated. Of what do you complain? Between friends is not everything in common? I left my own skin, I entered yours; I was satisfied there, and desired to remain. To-day I resemble you in everything; I assure you that if we were seen together it would be difficult to tell us apart. I have assumed your habits, your manners, your language, the poise of your head, your playful melancholy, your pride, your opinions, all, even to the colour of your hair and your handwriting. Abel Larinski, I have become you: I mistake, I am more Pole, more Larinski, than you were yourself."

At this moment Samuel Brohl had a singular expression of countenance; his gaze was fixed. He was no longer of this world-he conversed with a spirit; but he was neither terrified nor awed, as was Hamlet in talking to the shade of his father. He treated familiarly the shade of the true Abel Larinski; it was precisely as we treat a partner that has transacted business with us in the same firm.

"It is very true, my dear Abel," he continued, "that the principle of partnership accomplishes wonders; one man alone is a small affair. But, of all partnerships, the most useful and convenient is the one that we have made together. The living and the dead can render each other important services, and they never quarrel. You should be satisfied; you play a fine role; you are the signature of the house. We will not speak of your gun; that was a poor speculation, for which I scarcely can pardon you. It was the fault of your disordered brain that we wandered off on that bypath, but, thanks be to Heaven! we have at last gained the highway. Five weeks ago we met a woman, and what a woman! She has velvety-brown eyes, whence glances well forth like fresh and living waters. To praise her grace properly, I must borrow the language of the 'Song of Solomon': 'Thy lips, O my spouse! drop as the honey-comb; honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon. This thy stature is like to a palm-tree. Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee. A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse: a spring shut up-a fountain sealed.' Some day she will cry out, with the Shulamite, 'Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.' She belongs to us, my dear Larinski-my dear partner; she had yielded, and you and I share the honour of the victory. I presented myself before her, and my presence did not displease her. I related to her your history, as you would have related it yourself, with delicacy and simplicity, neither adding nor omitting. Her heart was touched; her heart was taken captive. You will wed her-she will bear your name; but you will marry her by proxy, and I shall be your proctor. I promise to consider myself your mandatory, or, to express it better, you will own the property and I will have the usufruct. Never fear that I shall forget what I owe to you, or the modesty proper to my estate."

At these words, he made a grand gesture, as if to banish the phantom that he had conjured up, and that fled away trembling with sorrow, shame, and indignation. The peacock cried anew a mournful shriek. "Stupid bird!" thought Samuel Brohl, quaking with sudden dread.

He looked at his watch, and reflected that the hour was advancing-that he was losing time with the spirits. He rose hastily, and wended his way toward Cormeilles; thence he wished to come upon a sunny path that led to the banks of the Seine, and Sartrouville, the belfry of which was plainly visible. When he reached the foot of the declivity, he turned his head and saw, on the summit of the hill, through the space left by the crooked branches of two plantains, a white wall, that seemed to laugh amid the verdure, and a little higher the pointed roof of the dove-cote, where Mlle. Moriaz's doves had their nests. He did not need to look long at this roof to recognise it. He threw a burning kiss in the air-a kiss that was sent to the doves as well as to the dove-cote-to the house as well as to the woman-to the woman as well as the house. For the first time in his life, Samuel Brohl was in love; but Samuel Brohl's love differed from Abel Larinski's. When they adore a woman, be she as beautiful as a picture, the frame, if it is a rich one, pleases them as much as the painting; and they propose to possess their mistress with all her appendages and appurtenances.

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