wohnzimmermöbel eiche hell massiv

wohnzimmermöbel eiche hell massiv

book i: the robechapter i. the republican he was born with a gift of laughter and asense that the world was mad. and that was all his patrimony. his very paternity was obscure, althoughthe village of gavrillac had long since dispelled the cloud of mystery that hungabout it. those simple brittany folk were not sosimple as to be deceived by a pretended relationship which did not even possess thevirtue of originality. when a nobleman, for no apparent reason,announces himself the godfather of an


infant fetched no man knew whence, andthereafter cares for the lad's rearing and education, the most unsophisticated of country folk perfectly understand thesituation. and so the good people of gavrillacpermitted themselves no illusions on the score of the real relationship betweenandre-louis moreau--as the lad had been named--and quintin de kercadiou, lord of gavrillac, who dwelt in the big grey housethat dominated from its eminence the village clustering below. andre-louis had learnt his letters at thevillage school, lodged the while with old


rabouillet, the attorney, who in thecapacity of fiscal intendant, looked after the affairs of m. de kercadiou. thereafter, at the age of fifteen, he hadbeen packed off to paris, to the lycee of louis le grand, to study the law which hewas now returned to practise in conjunction with rabouillet. all this at the charges of his godfather,m. de kercadiou, who by placing him once more under the tutelage of rabouillet wouldseem thereby quite clearly to be making provision for his future. andre-louis, on his side, had made the mostof his opportunities.


you behold him at the age of four-and-twenty stuffed with learning enough to produce an intellectual indigestion in anordinary mind. out of his zestful study of man, fromthucydides to the encyclopaedists, from seneca to rousseau, he had confirmed intoan unassailable conviction his earliest conscious impressions of the generalinsanity of his own species. nor can i discover that anything in hiseventful life ever afterwards caused him to waver in that opinion. in body he was a slight wisp of a fellow,scarcely above middle height, with a lean, astute countenance, prominent of nose andcheek-bones, and with lank, black hair that


reached almost to his shoulders. his mouth was long, thin-lipped, andhumorous. he was only just redeemed from ugliness bythe splendour of a pair of ever-questing, luminous eyes, so dark as to be almostblack. of the whimsical quality of his mind andhis rare gift of graceful expression, his writings--unfortunately but too scanty--andparticularly his confessions, afford us very ample evidence. of his gift of oratory he was hardlyconscious yet, although he had already achieved a certain fame for it in theliterary chamber of rennes--one of those


clubs by now ubiquitous in the land, in which the intellectual youth of franceforegathered to study and discuss the new philosophies that were permeating sociallife. but the fame he had acquired there washardly enviable. he was too impish, too caustic, too muchdisposed--so thought his colleagues--to ridicule their sublime theories for theregeneration of mankind. himself he protested that he merely heldthem up to the mirror of truth, and that it was not his fault if when reflected therethey looked ridiculous. all that he achieved by this was toexasperate; and his expulsion from a


society grown mistrustful of him mustalready have followed but for his friend, philippe de vilmorin, a divinity student of rennes, who, himself, was one of the mostpopular members of the literary chamber. coming to gavrillac on a november morning,laden with news of the political storms which were then gathering over france,philippe found in that sleepy breton village matter to quicken his alreadylively indignation. a peasant of gavrillac, named mabey, hadbeen shot dead that morning in the woods of meupont, across the river, by a gamekeeperof the marquis de la tour d'azyr. the unfortunate fellow had been caught inthe act of taking a pheasant from a snare,


and the gamekeeper had acted under explicitorders from his master. infuriated by an act of tyranny so absoluteand merciless, m. de vilmorin proposed to lay the matter before m. de kercadiou. mabey was a vassal of gavrillac, andvilmorin hoped to move the lord of gavrillac to demand at least some measureof reparation for the widow and the three orphans which that brutal deed had made. but because andre-louis was philippe'sdearest friend--indeed, his almost brother- -the young seminarist sought him out in thefirst instance. he found him at breakfast alone in thelong, low-ceilinged, white-panelled dining-


room at rabouillet's--the only home thatandre-louis had ever known--and after embracing him, deafened him with hisdenunciation of m. de la tour d'azyr. "i have heard of it already," said andre-louis. "you speak as if the thing had notsurprised you," his friend reproached him. "nothing beastly can surprise me when doneby a beast. and la tour d'azyr is a beast, as all theworld knows. the more fool mabey for stealing hispheasants. he should have stolen somebody else's." "is that all you have to say about it?""what more is there to say?


i've a practical mind, i hope.""what more there is to say i propose to say to your godfather, m. de kercadiou. i shall appeal to him for justice.""against m. de la tour d'azyr?" andre-louis raised his eyebrows."why not?" "my dear ingenuous philippe, dog doesn'teat dog." "you are unjust to your godfather.he is a humane man." "oh, as humane as you please. but this isn't a question of humanity.it's a question of game-laws." m. de vilmorin tossed his long arms toheaven in disgust.


he was a tall, slender young gentleman, ayear or two younger than andre-louis. he was very soberly dressed in black, asbecame a seminarist, with white bands at wrists and throat and silver buckles to hisshoes. his neatly clubbed brown hair was innocentof powder. "you talk like a lawyer," he exploded."naturally. but don't waste anger on me on thataccount. tell me what you want me to do." "i want you to come to m. de kercadiou withme, and to use your influence to obtain justice.i suppose i am asking too much."


"my dear philippe, i exist to serve you. i warn you that it is a futile quest; butgive me leave to finish my breakfast, and i am at your orders." m. de vilmorin dropped into a wingedarmchair by the well-swept hearth, on which a piled-up fire of pine logs was burningcheerily. and whilst he waited now he gave his friendthe latest news of the events in rennes. young, ardent, enthusiastic, and inspiredby utopian ideals, he passionately denounced the rebellious attitude of theprivileged. andre-louis, already fully aware of thetrend of feeling in the ranks of an order


in whose deliberations he took part as therepresentative of a nobleman, was not at all surprised by what he heard. m. de vilmorin found it exasperating thathis friend should apparently decline to share his own indignation."don't you see what it means?" he cried. "the nobles, by disobeying the king, arestriking at the very foundations of the throne. don't they perceive that their veryexistence depends upon it; that if the throne falls over, it is they who standnearest to it who will be crushed? don't they see that?"


"evidently not.they are just governing classes, and i never heard of governing classes that hadeyes for anything but their own profit." "that is our grievance. that is what we are going to change.""you are going to abolish governing classes?an interesting experiment. i believe it was the original plan ofcreation, and it might have succeeded but for cain." "what we are going to do," said m. devilmorin, curbing his exasperation, "is to transfer the government to other hands.""and you think that will make a


difference?" "i know it will.""ah! i take it that being now in minor orders, you already possess the confidenceof the almighty. he will have confided to you his intentionof changing the pattern of mankind." m. de vilmorin's fine ascetic face grewovercast. "you are profane, andre," he reproved hisfriend. "i assure you that i am quite serious.to do what you imply would require nothing short of divine intervention. you must change man, not systems.


can you and our vapouring friends of theliterary chamber of rennes, or any other learned society of france, devise a systemof government that has never yet been tried? surely not.and can they say of any system tried that it proved other than a failure in the end?my dear philippe, the future is to be read with certainty only in the past. ab actu ad posse valet consecutio.man never changes. he is always greedy, always acquisitive,always vile. i am speaking of man in the bulk."


"do you pretend that it is impossible toameliorate the lot of the people?" m. de vilmorin challenged him."when you say the people you mean, of course, the populace. will you abolish it?that is the only way to ameliorate its lot, for as long as it remains populace its lotwill be damnation." "you argue, of course, for the side thatemploys you. that is natural, i suppose."m. de vilmorin spoke between sorrow and indignation. "on the contrary, i seek to argue withabsolute detachment.


let us test these ideas of yours.to what form of government do you aspire? a republic, it is to be inferred from whatyou have said. well, you have it already.france in reality is a republic to-day." philippe stared at him. "you are being paradoxical, i think.what of the king?" "the king?all the world knows there has been no king in france since louis xiv. there is an obese gentleman at versailleswho wears the crown, but the very news you bring shows for how little he reallycounts.


it is the nobles and clergy who sit in thehigh places, with the people of france harnessed under their feet, who are thereal rulers. that is why i say that france is arepublic; she is a republic built on the best pattern--the roman pattern. then, as now, there were great patricianfamilies in luxury, preserving for themselves power and wealth, and what elseis accounted worth possessing; and there was the populace crushed and groaning, sweating, bleeding, starving, and perishingin the roman kennels. that was a republic; the mightiest we haveseen."


philippe strove with his impatience. "at least you will admit--you have, infact, admitted it--that we could not be worse governed than we are?""that is not the point. the point is should we be better governedif we replaced the present ruling class by another? without some guarantee of that i should bethe last to lift a finger to effect a change.and what guarantees can you give? what is the class that aims at government? i will tell you.the bourgeoisie."


"what?""that startles you, eh? truth is so often disconcerting. you hadn't thought of it?well, think of it now. look well into this nantes manifesto.who are the authors of it?" "i can tell you who it was constrained themunicipality of nantes to send it to the king. some ten thousand workmen--shipwrights,weavers, labourers, and artisans of every kind." "stimulated to it, driven to it, by theiremployers, the wealthy traders and


shipowners of that city," andre-louisreplied. "i have a habit of observing things atclose quarters, which is why our colleagues of the literary chamber dislike me socordially in debate. where i delve they but skim. behind those labourers and artisans ofnantes, counselling them, urging on these poor, stupid, ignorant toilers to shedtheir blood in pursuit of the will o' the wisp of freedom, are the sail-makers, the spinners, the ship-owners and the slave-traders. the slave-traders!


the men who live and grow rich by a trafficin human flesh and blood in the colonies, are conducting at home a campaign in thesacred name of liberty! don't you see that the whole movement is amovement of hucksters and traders and peddling vassals swollen by wealth intoenvy of the power that lies in birth alone? the money-changers in paris who hold thebonds in the national debt, seeing the parlous financial condition of the state,tremble at the thought that it may lie in the power of a single man to cancel thedebt by bankruptcy. to secure themselves they are burrowingunderground to overthrow a state and build upon its ruins a new one in which theyshall be the masters.


and to accomplish this they inflame thepeople. already in dauphiny we have seen blood runlike water--the blood of the populace, always the blood of the populace. now in brittany we may see the like.and if in the end the new ideas prevail? if the seigneurial rule is overthrown, whatthen? you will have exchanged an aristocracy fora plutocracy. is that worth while? do you 'think that under money-changers andslave-traders and men who have waxed rich in other ways by the ignoble arts of buyingand selling, the lot of the people will be


any better than under their priests andnobles? has it ever occurred to you, philippe, whatit is that makes the rule of the nobles so intolerable? acquisitiveness.acquisitiveness is the curse of mankind. and shall you expect less acquisitivenessin men who have built themselves up by acquisitiveness? oh, i am ready to admit that the presentgovernment is execrable, unjust, tyrannical--what you will; but i beg you tolook ahead, and to see that the government for which it is aimed at exchanging it maybe infinitely worse."


philippe sat thoughtful a moment.then he returned to the attack. "you do not speak of the abuses, thehorrible, intolerable abuses of power under which we labour at present.""where there is power there will always be the abuse of it." "not if the tenure of power is dependentupon its equitable administration." "the tenure of power is power.we cannot dictate to those who hold it." "the people can--the people in its might." "again i ask you, when you say the peopledo you mean the populace? you do.what power can the populace wield?


it can run wild. it can burn and slay for a time.but enduring power it cannot wield, because power demands qualities which the populacedoes not possess, or it would not be populace. the inevitable, tragic corollary ofcivilization is populace. for the rest, abuses can be corrected byequity; and equity, if it is not found in the enlightened, is not to be found at all. m. necker is to set about correctingabuses, and limiting privileges. that is decided.to that end the states general are to


assemble." "and a promising beginning we have made inbrittany, as heaven hears me!" cried philippe."pooh! that is nothing. naturally the nobles will not yield withouta struggle. it is a futile and ridiculous struggle--butthen... it is human nature, i suppose, to be futile and ridiculous." m. de vilmorin became witheringlysarcastic. "probably you will also qualify theshooting of mabey as futile and ridiculous.


i should even be prepared to hear you arguein defence of the marquis de la tour d'azyr that his gamekeeper was merciful inshooting mabey, since the alternative would have been a life-sentence to the galleys." andre-louis drank the remainder of hischocolate; set down his cup, and pushed back his chair, his breakfast done."i confess that i have not your big charity, my dear philippe. i am touched by mabey's fate.but, having conquered the shock of this news to my emotions, i do not forget that,after all, mabey was thieving when he met his death."


m. de vilmorin heaved himself up in hisindignation. "that is the point of view to be expectedin one who is the assistant fiscal intendant of a nobleman, and the delegateof a nobleman to the states of brittany." "philippe, is that just? you are angry with me!" he cried, in realsolicitude. "i am hurt," vilmorin admitted."i am deeply hurt by your attitude. and i am not alone in resenting yourreactionary tendencies. do you know that the literary chamber isseriously considering your expulsion?" andre-louis shrugged.


"that neither surprises nor troubles me."m. de vilmorin swept on, passionately: "sometimes i think that you have no heart.with you it is always the law, never equity. it occurs to me, andre, that i was mistakenin coming to you. you are not likely to be of assistance tome in my interview with m. de kercadiou." he took up his hat, clearly with theintention of departing. andre-louis sprang up and caught him by thearm. "i vow," said he, "that this is the lasttime ever i shall consent to talk law or politics with you, philippe.i love you too well to quarrel with you


over other men's affairs." "but i make them my own," philippe insistedvehemently. "of course you do, and i love you for it.it is right that you should. you are to be a priest; and everybody'sbusiness is a priest's business. whereas i am a lawyer--the fiscal intendantof a nobleman, as you say--and a lawyer's business is the business of his client. that is the difference between us.nevertheless, you are not going to shake me off." "but i tell you frankly, now that i come tothink of it, that i should prefer you did


not see m. de kercadiou with me.your duty to your client cannot be a help to me." his wrath had passed; but his determinationremained firm, based upon the reason he gave."very well," said andre-louis. "it shall be as you please. but nothing shall prevent me at least fromwalking with you as far as the chateau, and waiting for you while you make your appealto m. de kercadiou." and so they left the house good friends,for the sweetness of m. de vilmorin's nature did not admit of rancour, andtogether they took their way up the steep


main street of gavrillac. > book i: the robechapter ii. the aristocrat the sleepy village of gavrillac, a half-league removed from the main road to rennes, and therefore undisturbed by theworld's traffic, lay in a curve of the river meu, at the foot, and straggling halfway up the slope, of the shallow hillthat was crowned by the squat manor. by the time gavrillac had paid tribute toits seigneur--partly in money and partly in


service--tithes to the church, and impoststo the king, it was hard put to it to keep body and soul together with what remained. yet, hard as conditions were in gavrillac,they were not so hard as in many other parts of france, not half so hard, forinstance, as with the wretched feudatories of the great lord of la tour d'azyr, whose vast possessions were at one pointseparated from this little village by the waters of the meu. the chateau de gavrillac owed suchseigneurial airs as might be claimed for it to its dominant position above the villagerather than to any feature of its own.


built of granite, like all the rest ofgavrillac, though mellowed by some three centuries of existence, it was a squat,flat-fronted edifice of two stories, each lighted by four windows with external wooden shutters, and flanked at either endby two square towers or pavilions under extinguisher roofs. standing well back in a garden, denudednow, but very pleasant in summer, and immediately fronted by a fine sweep ofbalustraded terrace, it looked, what indeed it was, and always had been, the residence of unpretentious folk who found moreinterest in husbandry than in adventure.


quintin de kercadiou, lord of gavrillac--seigneur de gavrillac was all the vague title that he bore, as his forefathers hadborne before him, derived no man knew whence or how--confirmed the impressionthat his house conveyed. rude as the granite itself, he had neversought the experience of courts, had not even taken service in the armies of hisking. he left it to his younger brother, etienne,to represent the family in those exalted spheres.his own interests from earliest years had been centred in his woods and pastures. he hunted, and he cultivated his acres, andsuperficially he appeared to be little


better than any of his rustic metayers. he kept no state, or at least no statecommensurate with his position or with the tastes of his niece aline de kercadiou. aline, having spent some two years in thecourt atmosphere of versailles under the aegis of her uncle etienne, had ideas verydifferent from those of her uncle quintin of what was befitting seigneurial dignity. but though this only child of a thirdkercadiou had exercised, ever since she was left an orphan at the early age of four, atyrannical rule over the lord of gavrillac, who had been father and mother to her, she


had never yet succeeded in beating down hisstubbornness on that score. she did not yet despair--persistence beinga dominant note in her character--although she had been assiduously and fruitlessly atwork since her return from the great world of versailles some three months ago. she was walking on the terrace when andre-louis and m. de vilmorin arrived. her slight body was wrapped against thechill air in a white pelisse; her head was encased in a close-fitting bonnet, edgedwith white fur. it was caught tight in a knot of pale-blueribbon on the right of her chin; on the left a long ringlet of corn-coloured hairhad been permitted to escape.


the keen air had whipped so much of hercheeks as was presented to it, and seemed to have added sparkle to eyes that were ofdarkest blue. andre-louis and m. de vilmorin had beenknown to her from childhood. the three had been playmates once, andandre-louis--in view of his spiritual relationship with her uncle--she called hercousin. the cousinly relations had persistedbetween these two long after philippe de vilmorin had outgrown the earlier intimacy,and had become to her monsieur de vilmorin. she waved her hand to them in greeting asthey advanced, and stood--an entrancing picture, and fully conscious of it--toawait them at the end of the terrace


nearest the short avenue by which theyapproached. "if you come to see monsieur my uncle, youcome inopportunely, messieurs," she told them, a certain feverishness in her air. "he is closely--oh, so very closely--engaged." "we will wait, mademoiselle," said m. devilmorin, bowing gallantly over the hand she extended to him. "indeed, who would haste to the uncle thatmay tarry a moment with the niece?" "m. l'abbe," she teased him, "when you arein orders i shall take you for my confessor.


you have so ready and sympathetic anunderstanding." "but no curiosity," said andre-louis."you haven't thought of that." "i wonder what you mean, cousin andre." "well you may," laughed philippe."for no one ever knows." and then, his glance straying across theterrace settled upon a carriage that was drawn up before the door of the chateau. it was a vehicle such as was often to beseen in the streets of a great city, but rarely in the country. it was a beautifully sprung two-horsecabriolet of walnut, with a varnish upon it


like a sheet of glass and little pastoralscenes exquisitely painted on the panels of the door. it was built to carry two persons, with abox in front for the coachman, and a stand behind for the footman. this stand was empty, but the footman pacedbefore the door, and as he emerged now from behind the vehicle into the range of m. devilmorin's vision, he displayed the resplendent blue-and-gold livery of themarquis de la tour d'azyr. "why!" he exclaimed."is it m. de la tour d'azyr who is with your uncle?"


"it is, monsieur," said she, a world ofmystery in voice and eyes, of which m. de vilmorin observed nothing."ah, pardon!" he bowed low, hat in hand. "serviteur, mademoiselle," and he turned todepart towards the house. "shall i come with you, philippe?"andre-louis called after him. "it would be ungallant to assume that youwould prefer it," said m. de vilmorin, with a glance at mademoiselle."nor do i think it would serve. if you will wait..." m. de vilmorin strode off.mademoiselle, after a moment's blank pause, laughed ripplingly."now where is he going in such a hurry?"


"to see m. de la tour d'azyr as well asyour uncle, i should say." "but he cannot.they cannot see him. did i not say that they are very closelyengaged? you don't ask me why, andre." there was an arch mysteriousness about her,a latent something that may have been elation or amusement, or perhaps both.andre-louis could not determine it. "since obviously you are all eagerness totell, why should i ask?" quoth he. "if you are caustic i shall not tell youeven if you ask. oh, yes, i will.


it will teach you to treat me with therespect that is my due." "i hope i shall never fail in that." "less than ever when you learn that i amvery closely concerned in the visit of m. de la tour d'azyr.i am the object of this visit." and she looked at him with sparkling eyesand lips parted in laughter. "the rest, you would seem to imply, isobvious. but i am a dolt, if you please; for it isnot obvious to me." "why, stupid, he comes to ask my hand inmarriage." "good god!" said andre-louis, and stared ather, chapfallen.


she drew back from him a little with afrown and an upward tilt of her chin. "it surprises you?" "it disgusts me," said he, bluntly."in fact, i don't believe it. you are amusing yourself with me."for a moment she put aside her visible annoyance to remove his doubts. "i am quite serious, monsieur.there came a formal letter to my uncle this morning from m. de la tour d'azyr,announcing the visit and its object. i will not say that it did not surprise usa little..." "oh, i see," cried andre-louis, in relief."i understand.


for a moment i had almost feared..." he broke off, looked at her, and shrugged."why do you stop? you had almost feared that versailles hadbeen wasted upon me. that i should permit the court-ship of meto be conducted like that of any village wench.it was stupid of you. i am being sought in proper form, at myuncle's hands." "is his consent, then, all that matters,according to versailles?" "what else?" "there is your own."she laughed.


"i am a dutiful niece... when it suits me.""and will it suit you to be dutiful if your uncle accepts this monstrous proposal?" "monstrous!"she bridled. "and why monstrous, if you please?""for a score of reasons," he answered irritably. "give me one," she challenged him."he is twice your age." "hardly so much," said she."he is forty-five, at least." "but he looks no more than thirty. he is very handsome--so much you willadmit; nor will you deny that he is very


wealthy and very powerful; the greatestnobleman in brittany. he will make me a great lady." "god made you that, aline.""come, that's better. sometimes you can almost be polite."and she moved along the terrace, andre- louis pacing beside her. "i can be more than that to show reason whyyou should not let this beast befoul the beautiful thing that god has made."she frowned, and her lips tightened. "you are speaking of my future husband,"she reproved him. his lips tightened too; his pale face grewpaler.


"and is it so? it is settled, then?your uncle is to agree? you are to be sold thus, lovelessly, intobondage to a man you do not know. i had dreamed of better things for you,aline." "better than to be marquise de la tourd'azyr?" he made a gesture of exasperation. "are men and women nothing more than names?do the souls of them count for nothing? is there no joy in life, no happiness, thatwealth and pleasure and empty, high- sounding titles are to be its only aims?


i had set you high--so high, aline--a thingscarce earthly. there is joy in your heart, intelligence inyour mind; and, as i thought, the vision that pierces husks and shams to claim thecore of reality for its own. yet you will surrender all for a parcel ofmake-believe. you will sell your soul and your body to bemarquise de la tour d'azyr." "you are indelicate," said she, and thoughshe frowned her eyes laughed. "and you go headlong to conclusions.my uncle will not consent to more than to allow my consent to be sought. we understand each other, my uncle and i.i am not to be bartered like a turnip."


he stood still to face her, his eyesglowing, a flush creeping into his pale cheeks. "you have been torturing me to amuseyourself!" he cried. "ah, well, i forgive you out of my relief." "again you go too fast, cousin andre i havepermitted my uncle to consent that m. le marquis shall make his court to me.i like the look of the gentleman. i am flattered by his preference when iconsider his eminence. it is an eminence that i may find itdesirable to share. m. le marquis does not look as if he were adullard.


it should be interesting to be wooed byhim. it may be more interesting still to marryhim, and i think, when all is considered, that i shall probably--very probably--decide to do so." he looked at her, looked at the sweet,challenging loveliness of that childlike face so tightly framed in the oval of whitefur, and all the life seemed to go out of his own countenance. "god help you, aline!" he groaned.she stamped her foot. he was really very exasperating, andsomething presumptuous too, she thought. "you are insolent, monsieur."


"it is never insolent to pray, aline.and i did no more than pray, as i shall continue to do.you'll need my prayers, i think." "you are insufferable!" she was growing angry, as he saw by thedeepening frown, the heightened colour. "that is because i suffer. oh, aline, little cousin, think well ofwhat you do; think well of the realities you will be bartering for these shams--therealities that you will never know, because these cursed shams will block your way tothem. when m. de la tour d'azyr comes to make hiscourt, study him well; consult your fine


instincts; leave your own noble nature freeto judge this animal by its intuitions. consider that..." "i consider, monsieur, that you presumeupon the kindness i have always shown you. you abuse the position of toleration inwhich you stand. who are you? what are you, that you should have theinsolence to take this tone with me?" he bowed, instantly his cold, detached selfagain, and resumed the mockery that was his natural habit. "my congratulations, mademoiselle, upon thereadiness with which you begin to adapt


yourself to the great role you are toplay." "do you adapt yourself also, monsieur," sheretorted angrily, and turned her shoulder to him."to be as the dust beneath the haughty feet of madame la marquise. i hope i shall know my place in future."the phrase arrested her. she turned to him again, and he perceivedthat her eyes were shining now suspiciously. in an instant the mockery in him wasquenched in contrition. "lord, what a beast i am, aline!" he cried,as he advanced.


"forgive me if you can." almost had she turned to sue forgivenessfrom him. but his contrition removed the need."i'll try," said she, "provided that you undertake not to offend again." "but i shall," said he."i am like that. i will fight to save you, from yourself ifneed be, whether you forgive me or not." they were standing so, confronting eachother a little breathlessly, a little defiantly, when the others issued from theporch. first came the marquis of la tour d'azyr,count of solz, knight of the orders of the


holy ghost and saint louis, and brigadierin the armies of the king. he was a tall, graceful man, upright andsoldierly of carriage, with his head disdainfully set upon his shoulders. he was magnificently dressed in a full-skirted coat of mulberry velvet that was laced with gold. his waistcoat, of velvet too, was of agolden apricot colour; his breeches and stockings were of black silk, and hislacquered, red-heeled shoes were buckled in diamonds. his powdered hair was tied behind in abroad ribbon of watered silk; he carried a


little three-cornered hat under his arm,and a gold-hilted slender dress-sword hung at his side. considering him now in complete detachment,observing the magnificence of him, the elegance of his movements, the great air,blending in so extraordinary a manner disdain and graciousness, andre-louistrembled for aline. here was a practised, irresistible wooer,whose bonnes fortunes were become a by- word, a man who had hitherto been thedespair of dowagers with marriageable daughters, and the desolation of husbandswith attractive wives. he was immediately followed by m. dekercadiou, in completest contrast.


on legs of the shortest, the lord ofgavrillac carried a body that at forty-five was beginning to incline to corpulence andan enormous head containing an indifferent allotment of intelligence. his countenance was pink and blotchy,liberally branded by the smallpox which had almost extinguished him in youth. in dress he was careless to the point ofuntidiness, and to this and to the fact that he had never married--disregarding thefirst duty of a gentleman to provide himself with an heir--he owed the character of misogynist attributed to him by thecountryside.


after m. de kercadiou came m. de vilmorin,very pale and self-contained, with tight lips and an overcast brow. to meet them, there stepped from thecarriage a very elegant young gentleman, the chevalier de chabrillane, m. de la tourd'azyr's cousin, who whilst awaiting his return had watched with considerable interest--his own presence unsuspected--theperambulations of andre-louis and mademoiselle. perceiving aline, m. de la tour d'azyrdetached himself from the others, and lengthening his stride came straight acrossthe terrace to her.


to andre-louis the marquis inclined hishead with that mixture of courtliness and condescension which he used.socially, the young lawyer stood in a curious position. by virtue of the theory of his birth, heranked neither as noble nor as simple, but stood somewhere between the two classes,and whilst claimed by neither he was used familiarly by both. coldly now he returned m. de la tourd'azyr's greeting, and discreetly removed himself to go and join his friend. the marquis took the hand that mademoiselleextended to him, and bowing over it, bore


it to his lips. "mademoiselle," he said, looking into theblue depths of her eyes, that met his gaze smiling and untroubled, "monsieur youruncle does me the honour to permit that i pay my homage to you. will you, mademoiselle, do me the honour toreceive me when i come to-morrow? i shall have something of great importancefor your ear." "of importance, m. le marquis? you almost frighten me."but there was no fear on the serene little face in its furred hood.


it was not for nothing that she hadgraduated in the versailles school of artificialities."that," said he, "is very far from my design." "but of importance to yourself, monsieur,or to me?" "to us both, i hope," he answered her, aworld of meaning in his fine, ardent eyes. "you whet my curiosity, monsieur; and, ofcourse, i am a dutiful niece. it follows that i shall be honoured toreceive you." "not honoured, mademoiselle; you willconfer the honour. to-morrow at this hour, then, i shall havethe felicity to wait upon you."


he bowed again; and again he bore herfingers to his lips, what time she curtsied.thereupon, with no more than this formal breaking of the ice, they parted. she was a little breathless now, a littledazzled by the beauty of the man, his princely air, and the confidence of powerhe seemed to radiate. involuntarily almost, she contrasted himwith his critic--the lean and impudent andre-louis in his plain brown coat andsteel-buckled shoes--and she felt guilty of an unpardonable offence in having permitted even one word of that presumptuouscriticism.


to-morrow m. le marquis would come to offerher a great position, a great rank. and already she had derogated from theincrease of dignity accruing to her from his very intention to translate her to sogreat an eminence. not again would she suffer it; not againwould she be so weak and childish as to permit andre-louis to utter his ribaldcomments upon a man by comparison with whom he was no better than a lackey. thus argued vanity and ambition with herbetter self and to her vast annoyance her better self would not admit entireconviction. meanwhile, m. de la tour d'azyr wasclimbing into his carriage.


he had spoken a word of farewell to m. dekercadiou, and he had also had a word for m. de vilmorin in reply to which m. devilmorin had bowed in assenting silence. the carriage rolled away, the powderedfootman in blue-and-gold very stiff behind it, m. de la tour d'azyr bowing tomademoiselle, who waved to him in answer. then m. de vilmorin put his arm throughthat of andre louis, and said to him, "come, andre.""but you'll stay to dine, both of you!" cried the hospitable lord of gavrillac. "we'll drink a certain toast," he added,winking an eye that strayed towards mademoiselle, who was approaching.he had no subtleties, good soul that he


was. m. de vilmorin deplored an appointment thatprevented him doing himself the honour. he was very stiff and formal."and you, andre?" "i? oh, i share the appointment, godfather," helied, "and i have a superstition against toasts."he had no wish to remain. he was angry with aline for her smilingreception of m. de la tour d'azyr and the sordid bargain he saw her set on making.he was suffering from the loss of an illusion.


book i: the robechapter iii. the eloquence of m. de vilmorin as they walked down the hill together, itwas now m. de vilmorin who was silent and preoccupied, andre-louis who was talkative.he had chosen woman as a subject for his present discourse. he claimed--quite unjustifiably--to havediscovered woman that morning; and the things he had to say of the sex wereunflattering, and occasionally almost gross. m. de vilmorin, having ascertained thesubject, did not listen.


singular though it may seem in a youngfrench abbe of his day, m. de vilmorin was not interested in woman. poor philippe was in several waysexceptional. opposite the breton arme--the inn andposting-house at the entrance of the village of gavrillac--m. de vilmorininterrupted his companion just as he was soaring to the dizziest heights of caustic invective, and andre-louis, restoredthereby to actualities, observed the carriage of m. de la tour d'azyr standingbefore the door of the hostelry. "i don't believe you've been listening tome," said he.


"had you been less interested in what youwere saying, you might have observed it sooner and spared your breath. the fact is, you disappoint me, andre.you seem to have forgotten what we went for.i have an appointment here with m. le marquis. he desires to hear me further in thematter. up there at gavrillac i could accomplishnothing. the time was ill-chosen as it happened. but i have hopes of m. le marquis.""hopes of what?"


"that he will make what reparation lies inhis power. provide for the widow and the orphans. why else should he desire to hear mefurther?" "unusual condescension," said andre-louis,and quoted "timeo danaos et dona ferentes." "why?" asked philippe. "let us go and discover--unless youconsider that i shall be in the way." into a room on the right, rendered privateto m. le marquis for so long as he should elect to honour it, the young men wereushered by the host. a fire of logs was burning brightly at theroom's far end, and by this sat now m. de


la tour d'azyr and his cousin, thechevalier de chabrillane. both rose as m. de vilmorin came in. andre-louis following, paused to close thedoor. "you oblige me by your prompt courtesy, m.de vilmorin," said the marquis, but in a tone so cold as to belie the politeness ofhis words. "a chair, i beg. ah, moreau?"the note was frigidly interrogative. "he accompanies you, monsieur?" he asked."if you please, m. le marquis." "why not?


find yourself a seat, moreau."he spoke over his shoulder as to a lackey. "it is good of you, monsieur," saidphilippe, "to have offered me this opportunity of continuing the subject thattook me so fruitlessly, as it happens, to gavrillac." the marquis crossed his legs, and held oneof his fine hands to the blaze. he replied, without troubling to turn tothe young man, who was slightly behind him. "the goodness of my request we will leaveout of question for the moment," said he, darkly, and m. de chabrillane laughed.andre-louis thought him easily moved to mirth, and almost envied him the faculty.


"but i am grateful," philippe insisted,"that you should condescend to hear me plead their cause."the marquis stared at him over his shoulder. "whose cause?" quoth he."why, the cause of the widow and orphans of this unfortunate mabey." the marquis looked from vilmorin to thechevalier, and again the chevalier laughed, slapping his leg this time."i think," said m. de la tour d'azyr, slowly, "that we are at cross-purposes. i asked you to come here because thechateau de gavrillac was hardly a suitable


place in which to carry our discussionfurther, and because i hesitated to incommode you by suggesting that you shouldcome all the way to azyr. but my object is connected with certainexpressions that you let fall up there. it is on the subject of those expressions,monsieur, that i would hear you further--if you will honour me."andre-louis began to apprehend that there was something sinister in the air. he was a man of quick intuitions, quickerfar than those of m. de vilmorin, who evinced no more than a mild surprise."i am at a loss, monsieur," said he. "to what expressions does monsieur allude?"


"it seems, monsieur, that i must refreshyour memory." the marquis crossed his legs, and swungsideways on his chair, so that at last he directly faced m. de vilmorin. "you spoke, monsieur--and however mistakenyou may have been, you spoke very eloquently, too eloquently almost, itseemed to me--of the infamy of such a deed as the act of summary justice upon this thieving fellow mabey, or whatever his namemay be. infamy was the precise word you used. you did not retract that word when i hadthe honour to inform you that it was by my


orders that my gamekeeper benet proceededas he did." "if," said m. de vilmorin, "the deed wasinfamous, its infamy is not modified by the rank, however exalted, of the personresponsible. rather is it aggravated." "ah!" said m. le marquis, and drew a goldsnuffbox from his pocket. "you say, 'if the deed was infamous,'monsieur. am i to understand that you are no longeras convinced as you appeared to be of its infamy?"m. de vilmorin's fine face wore a look of perplexity.


he did not understand the drift of this."it occurs to me, m. le marquis, in view of your readiness to assume responsibility,that you must believe justification for the deed which is not apparent to myself." "that is better.that is distinctly better." the marquis took snuff delicately, dustingthe fragments from the fine lace at his throat. "you realize that with an imperfectunderstanding of these matters, not being yourself a landowner, you may have rushedto unjustifiable conclusions. that is indeed the case.


may it be a warning to you, monsieur. when i tell you that for months past i havebeen annoyed by similar depredations, you will perhaps understand that it had becomenecessary to employ a deterrent sufficiently strong to put an end to them. now that the risk is known, i do not thinkthere will be any more prowling in my coverts.and there is more in it than that, m. de vilmorin. it is not the poaching that annoys me somuch as the contempt for my absolute and inviolable rights.


there is, monsieur, as you cannot fail tohave observed, an evil spirit of insubordination in the air, and there isone only way in which to meet it. to tolerate it, in however slight a degree,to show leniency, however leniently disposed, would entail having recourse tostill harsher measures to-morrow. you understand me, i am sure, and you willalso, i am sure, appreciate the condescension of what amounts to anexplanation from me where i cannot admit that any explanations were due. if anything in what i have said is stillobscure to you, i refer you to the game laws, which your lawyer friend there willexpound for you at need."


with that the gentleman swung round againto face the fire. it appeared to convey the intimation thatthe interview was at an end. and yet this was not by any means theintimation that it conveyed to the watchful, puzzled, vaguely uneasy andre-louis. it was, thought he, a very curious, a verysuspicious oration. it affected to explain, with a politenessof terms and a calculated insolence of tone; whilst in fact it could only serve tostimulate and goad a man of m. de vilmorin's opinions. and that is precisely what it did.he rose.


"are there in the world no laws but gamelaws?" he demanded, angrily. "have you never by any chance heard of thelaws of humanity?" the marquis sighed wearily."what have i to do with the laws of humanity?" he wondered. m. de vilmorin looked at him a moment inspeechless amazement. "nothing, m. le marquis.that is--alas!--too obvious. i hope you will remember it in the hourwhen you may wish to appeal to those laws which you now deride."m. de la tour d'azyr threw back his head sharply, his high-bred face imperious.


"now what precisely shall that mean?it is not the first time to-day that you have made use of dark sayings that i couldalmost believe to veil the presumption of a threat." "not a threat, m. le marquis--a warning.a warning that such deeds as these against god's creatures... oh, you may sneer, monsieur, but they aregod's creatures, even as you or i--neither more nor less, deeply though the reflectionmay wound your pride, in his eyes..." "of your charity, spare me a sermon, m.l'abbe!" "you mock, monsieur.you laugh.


will you laugh, i wonder, when god presentshis reckoning to you for the blood and plunder with which your hands are full?""monsieur!" the word, sharp as the crack of a whip, wasfrom m. de chabrillane, who bounded to his feet.but instantly the marquis repressed him. "sit down, chevalier. you are interrupting m. l'abbe, and ishould like to hear him further. he interests me profoundly." in the background andre-louis, too, hadrisen, brought to his feet by alarm, by the evil that he saw written on the handsomeface of m. de la tour d'azyr.


he approached, and touched his friend uponthe arm. "better be going, philippe," said he. but m. de vilmorin, caught in therelentless grip of passions long repressed, was being hurried by them recklessly along."oh, monsieur," said he, "consider what you are and what you will be. consider how you and your kind live byabuses, and consider the harvest that abuses must ultimately bring.""revolutionist!" said m. le marquis, contemptuously. "you have the effrontery to stand before myface and offer me this stinking cant of


your modern so-called intellectuals!""is it cant, monsieur? do you think--do you believe in your soul--that it is cant? is it cant that the feudal grip is on allthings that live, crushing them like grapes in the press, to its own profit? does it not exercise its rights upon thewaters of the river, the fire that bakes the poor man's bread of grass and barley,on the wind that turns the mill? the peasant cannot take a step upon theroad, cross a crazy bridge over a river, buy an ell of cloth in the village market,without meeting feudal rapacity, without being taxed in feudal dues.


is not that enough, m. le marquis?must you also demand his wretched life in payment for the least infringement of yoursacred privileges, careless of what widows or orphans you dedicate to woe? will naught content you but that yourshadow must lie like a curse upon the land? and do you think in your pride that france,this job among the nations, will suffer it forever?" he paused as if for a reply.but none came. the marquis considered him, strangelysilent, a half smile of disdain at the corners of his lips, an ominous hardness inhis eyes.


again andre-louis tugged at his friend'ssleeve. "philippe."philippe shook him off, and plunged on, fanatically. "do you see nothing of the gathering cloudsthat herald the coming of the storm? you imagine, perhaps, that these statesgeneral summoned by m. necker, and promised for next year, are to do nothing but devisefresh means of extortion to liquidate the bankruptcy of the state? you delude yourselves, as you shall find. the third estate, which you despise, willprove itself the preponderating force, and


it will find a way to make an end of thiscanker of privilege that is devouring the vitals of this unfortunate country." m. le marquis shifted in his chair, andspoke at last. "you have, monsieur," said he, "a verydangerous gift of eloquence. and it is of yourself rather than of yoursubject. for after all, what do you offer me? a rechauffe of the dishes served to out-at-elbow enthusiasts in the provincial literary chambers, compounded of theeffusions of your voltaires and jean- jacques and such dirty-fingered scribblers.


you have not among all your philosophersone with the wit to understand that we are an order consecrated by antiquity, that forour rights and privileges we have behind us the authority of centuries." "humanity, monsieur," philippe replied, "ismore ancient than nobility. human rights are contemporary with man."the marquis laughed and shrugged. "that is the answer i might have expected. it has the right note of cant thatdistinguishes the philosophers." and then m. de chabrillane spoke."you go a long way round," he criticized his cousin, on a note of impatience.


"but i am getting there," he was answered."i desired to make quite certain first." "faith, you should have no doubt by now.""i have none." the marquis rose, and turned again to m. devilmorin, who had understood nothing of that brief exchange."m. l'abbe," said he once more, "you have a very dangerous gift of eloquence. i can conceive of men being swayed by it.had you been born a gentleman, you would not so easily have acquired these falseviews that you express." m. de vilmorin stared blankly,uncomprehending. "had i been born a gentleman, do you say?"quoth he, in a slow, bewildered voice.


"but i was born a gentleman. my race is as old, my blood as good asyours, monsieur." from m. le marquis there was a slight playof eyebrows, a vague, indulgent smile. his dark, liquid eyes looked squarely intothe face of m. de vilmorin. "you have been deceived in that, i fear.""deceived?" "your sentiments betray the indiscretion ofwhich madame your mother must have been guilty." the brutally affronting words were spedbeyond recall, and the lips that had uttered them, coldly, as if they had beenthe merest commonplace, remained calm and


faintly sneering. a dead silence followed.andre-louis' wits were numbed. he stood aghast, all thought suspended inhim, what time m. de vilmorin's eyes continued fixed upon m. de la tourd'azyr's, as if searching there for a meaning that eluded him. quite suddenly he understood the vileaffront. the blood leapt to his face, fire blazed inhis gentle eyes. a convulsive quiver shook him. then, with an inarticulate cry, he leanedforward, and with his open hand struck m.


le marquis full and hard upon his sneeringface. in a flash m. de chabrillane was on hisfeet, between the two men. too late andre-louis had seen the trap. la tour d'azyr's words were but as a movein a game of chess, calculated to exasperate his opponent into some suchcounter-move as this--a counter-move that left him entirely at the other's mercy. m. le marquis looked on, very white savewhere m. de vilmorin's finger-prints began slowly to colour his face; but he saidnothing more. instead, it was m. de chabrillane who nowdid the talking, taking up his preconcerted


part in this vile game."you realize, monsieur, what you have done," said he, coldly, to philippe. "and you realize, of course, what mustinevitably follow." m. de vilmorin had realized nothing. the poor young man had acted upon impulse,upon the instinct of decency and honour, never counting the consequences. but he realized them now at the sinisterinvitation of m. de chabrillane, and if he desired to avoid these consequences, it wasout of respect for his priestly vocation, which strictly forbade such adjustments of


disputes as m. de chabrillane was clearlythrusting upon him. he drew back."let one affront wipe out the other," said he, in a dull voice. "the balance is still in m. le marquis'sfavour. let that content him.""impossible." the chevalier's lips came together tightly. thereafter he was suavity itself, but veryfirm. "a blow has been struck, monsieur. i think i am correct in saying that such athing has never happened before to m. le


marquis in all his life. if you felt yourself affronted, you had butto ask the satisfaction due from one gentleman to another.your action would seem to confirm the assumption that you found so offensive. but it does not on that account render youimmune from the consequences." it was, you see, m. de chabrillane's partto heap coals upon this fire, to make quite sure that their victim should not escapethem. "i desire no immunity," flashed back theyoung seminarist, stung by this fresh goad. after all, he was nobly born, and thetraditions of his class were strong upon


him--stronger far than the seminaristschooling in humility. he owed it to himself, to his honour, to bekilled rather than avoid the consequences of the thing he had done."but he does not wear a sword, messieurs!" cried andre louis, aghast. "that is easily amended.he may have the loan of mine." "i mean, messieurs," andre-louis insisted,between fear for his friend and indignation, "that it is not his habit towear a sword, that he has never worn one, that he is untutored in its uses. he is a seminarist--a postulant for holyorders, already half a priest, and so


forbidden from such an engagement as youpropose." "all that he should have remembered beforehe struck a blow," said m. de chabrillane, politely."the blow was deliberately provoked," raged andre-louis. then he recovered himself, though theother's haughty stare had no part in that recovery."o my god, i talk in vain! how is one to argue against a purposeformed! come away, philippe.don't you see the trap..." m. de vilmorin cut him short, and flung himoff.


"be quiet, andre.m. le marquis is entirely in the right." "m. le marquis is in the right?" andre-louis let his arms fall helplessly.this man he loved above all other living men was caught in the snare of the world'sinsanity. he was baring his breast to the knife forthe sake of a vague, distorted sense of the honour due to himself.it was not that he did not see the trap. it was that his honour compelled him todisdain consideration of it. to andre-louis in that moment he seemed asingularly tragic figure. noble, perhaps, but very pitiful.


book i: the robechapter iv. the heritage it was m. de vilmorin's desire that thematter should be settled out of hand. in this he was at once objective andsubjective. a prey to emotions sadly at conflict withhis priestly vocation, he was above all in haste to have done, so that he might resumea frame of mind more proper to it. also he feared himself a little; by which imean that his honour feared his nature. the circumstances of his education, and thegoal that for some years now he had kept in view, had robbed him of much of thatspirited brutality that is the birthright


of the male. he had grown timid and gentle as a woman.aware of it, he feared that once the heat of his passion was spent he might betray adishonouring weakness, in the ordeal. m. le marquis, on his side, was no lesseager for an immediate settlement; and since they had m. de chabrillane to act forhis cousin, and andre-louis to serve as witness for m. de vilmorin, there wasnothing to delay them. and so, within a few minutes, allarrangements were concluded, and you behold that sinisterly intentioned little group offour assembled in the afternoon sunshine on the bowling-green behind the inn.


they were entirely private, screened moreor less from the windows of the house by a ramage of trees, which, if leafless now,was at least dense enough to provide an effective lattice. there were no formalities over measurementsof blades or selection of ground. m. le marquis removed his sword-belt andscabbard, but declined--not considering it worth while for the sake of so negligiblean opponent--to divest himself either of his shoes or his coat. tall, lithe, and athletic, he stood to facethe no less tall, but very delicate and frail, m. de vilmorin.the latter also disdained to make any of


the usual preparations. since he recognized that it could avail himnothing to strip, he came on guard fully dressed, two hectic spots above the cheek-bones burning on his otherwise grey face. m. de chabrillane, leaning upon a cane--forhe had relinquished his sword to m. de vilmorin--looked on with quiet interest. facing him on the other side of thecombatants stood andre-louis, the palest of the four, staring from fevered eyes,twisting and untwisting clammy hands. his every instinct was to fling himselfbetween the antagonists, to protest against and frustrate this meeting.that sane impulse was curbed, however, by


the consciousness of its futility. to calm him, he clung to the convictionthat the issue could not really be very serious. if the obligations of philippe's honourcompelled him to cross swords with the man he had struck, m. de la tour d'azyr's birthcompelled him no less to do no serious hurt to the unfledged lad he had so grievouslyprovoked. m. le marquis, after all, was a man ofhonour. he could intend no more than to administera lesson; sharp, perhaps, but one by which his opponent must live to profit.andre-louis clung obstinately to that for


comfort. steel beat on steel, and the men engaged. the marquis presented to his opponent thenarrow edge of his upright body, his knees slightly flexed and converted into livingsprings, whilst m. de vilmorin stood squarely, a full target, his knees wooden. honour and the spirit of fair play alikecried out against such a match. the encounter was very short, of course. in youth, philippe had received thetutoring in sword-play that was given to every boy born into his station of life.and so he knew at least the rudiments of


what was now expected of him. but what could rudiments avail him here? three disengages completed the exchanges,and then without any haste the marquis slid his right foot along the moist turf, hislong, graceful body extending itself in a lunge that went under m. de vilmorin's clumsy guard, and with the utmostdeliberation he drove his blade through the young man's vitals. andre-louis sprang forward just in time tocatch his friend's body under the armpits as it sank.


then, his own legs bending beneath theweight of it, he went down with his burden until he was kneeling on the damp turf. philippe's limp head lay against andre-louis' left shoulder; philippe's relaxed arms trailed at his sides; the blood welledand bubbled from the ghastly wound to saturate the poor lad's garments. with white face and twitching lips, andre-louis looked up at m. de la tour d'azyr, who stood surveying his work with acountenance of grave but remorseless interest. "you have killed him!" cried andre-louis."of course."


the marquis ran a lace handkerchief alonghis blade to wipe it. as he let the dainty fabric fall, heexplained himself. "he had, as i told him, a too dangerousgift of eloquence." and he turned away, leaving completestunderstanding with andre-louis. still supporting the limp, draining body,the young man called to him. "come back, you cowardly murderer, and makeyourself quite safe by killing me too!" the marquis half turned, his face dark withanger. then m. de chabrillane set a restraininghand upon his arm. although a party throughout to the deed,the chevalier was a little appalled now


that it was done. he had not the high stomach of m. de latour d'azyr, and he was a good deal younger."come away," he said. "the lad is raving. they were friends.""you heard what he said?" quoth the marquis."nor can he, or you, or any man deny it," flung back andre-louis. "yourself, monsieur, you made confessionwhen you gave me now the reason why you killed him.you did it because you feared him."


"if that were true--what, then?" asked thegreat gentleman. "do you ask? do you understand of life and humanitynothing but how to wear a coat and dress your hair--oh, yes, and to handle weaponsagainst boys and priests? have you no mind to think, no soul intowhich you can turn its vision? must you be told that it is a coward's partto kill the thing he fears, and doubly a coward's part to kill in this way? had you stabbed him in the back with aknife, you would have shown the courage of your vileness.it would have been a vileness undisguised.


but you feared the consequences of that,powerful as you are; and so you shelter your cowardice under the pretext of aduel." the marquis shook off his cousin's hand,and took a step forward, holding now his sword like a whip.but again the chevalier caught and held him. "no, no, gervais!let be, in god's name!" "let him come, monsieur," raved andre-louis, his voice thick and concentrated. "let him complete his coward's work on me,and thus make himself safe from a coward's wages."m. de chabrillane let his cousin go.


he came white to the lips, his eyes glaringat the lad who so recklessly insulted him. and then he checked. it may be that he remembered suddenly therelationship in which this young man was popularly believed to stand to the seigneurde gavrillac, and the well-known affection in which the seigneur held him. and so he may have realized that if hepushed this matter further, he might find himself upon the horns of a dilemma. he would be confronted with thealternatives of shedding more blood, and so embroiling himself with the lord ofgavrillac at a time when that gentleman's


friendship was of the first importance to him, or else of withdrawing with such hurtto his dignity as must impair his authority in the countryside hereafter. be it so or otherwise, the fact remainsthat he stopped short; then, with an incoherent ejaculation, between anger andcontempt, he tossed his arms, turned on his heel and strode off quickly with hiscousin. when the landlord and his people came, theyfound andre-louis, his arms about the body of his dead friend, murmuring passionatelyinto the deaf ear that rested almost against his lips:


"philippe!speak to me, philippe! philippe...don't you hear me? o god of heaven! philippe!"at a glance they saw that here neither priest nor doctor could avail. the cheek that lay against andre-louis'swas leaden-hued, the half-open eyes were glazed, and there was a little froth ofblood upon the vacuously parted lips. half blinded by tears andre-louis stumbledafter them when they bore the body into the inn.


upstairs in the little room to which theyconveyed it, he knelt by the bed, and holding the dead man's hand in both hisown, he swore to him out of his impotent rage that m. de la tour d'azyr should pay abitter price for this. "it was your eloquence he feared,philippe," he said. "then if i can get no justice for thisdeed, at least it shall be fruitless to him.the thing he feared in you, he shall fear in me. he feared that men might be swayed by youreloquence to the undoing of such things as himself.men shall be swayed by it still.


for your eloquence and your arguments shallbe my heritage from you. i will make them my own.it matters nothing that i do not believe in your gospel of freedom. i know it--every word of it; that is allthat matters to our purpose, yours and mine.if all else fails, your thoughts shall find expression in my living tongue. thus at least we shall have frustrated hisvile aim to still the voice he feared. it shall profit him nothing to have yourblood upon his soul. that voice in you would never half sorelentlessly have hounded him and his as it


shall in me--if all else fails."it was an exulting thought. it calmed him; it soothed his grief, and hebegan very softly to pray. and then his heart trembled as heconsidered that philippe, a man of peace, almost a priest, an apostle ofchristianity, had gone to his maker with the sin of anger on his soul. it was horrible.yet god would see the righteousness of that anger. and in no case--be man's interpretation ofdivinity what it might--could that one sin outweigh the loving good that philippe hadever practised, the noble purity of his


great heart. god after all, reflected andre-louis, wasnot a grand-seigneur. book i: the robechapter v. the lord of gavrillac for the second time that day andre-louisset out for the chateau, walking briskly, and heeding not at all the curious eyesthat followed him through the village, and the whisperings that marked his passage through the people, all agog by now withthat day's event in which he had been an actor.


he was ushered by benoit, the elderly body-servant, rather grandiloquently called the seneschal, into the ground-floor room knowntraditionally as the library. it still contained several shelves ofneglected volumes, from which it derived its title, but implements of the chase--fowling-pieces, powder-horns, hunting-bags, sheath-knives--obtruded far moreprominently than those of study. the furniture was massive, of oak richlycarved, and belonging to another age. great massive oak beams crossed the ratherlofty whitewashed ceiling. here the squat seigneur de gavrillac wasrestlessly pacing when andre-louis was introduced.


he was already informed, as he announced atonce, of what had taken place at the breton arme. m. de chabrillane had just left him, and heconfessed himself deeply grieved and deeply perplexed."the pity of it!" he said. "the pity of it!" he bowed his enormous head."so estimable a young man, and so full of promise.ah, this la tour d'azyr is a hard man, and he feels very strongly in these matters. he may be right.i don't know.


i have never killed a man for holdingdifferent views from mine. in fact, i have never killed a man at all. it isn't in my nature.i shouldn't sleep of nights if i did. but men are differently made.""the question, monsieur my godfather," said andre-louis, "is what is to be done." he was quite calm and self-possessed, butvery white. m. de kercadiou stared at him blankly outof his pale eyes. "why, what the devil is there to do? from what i am told, vilmorin went so faras to strike m. le marquis."


"under the very grossest provocation.""which he himself provoked by his revolutionary language. the poor lad's head was full of thisencyclopaedist trash. it comes of too much reading. i have never set much store by books,andre; and i have never known anything but trouble to come out of learning.it unsettles a man. it complicates his views of life, destroysthe simplicity which makes for peace of mind and happiness.let this miserable affair be a warning to you, andre.


you are, yourself, too prone to these new-fashioned speculations upon a different constitution of the social order.you see what comes of it. a fine, estimable young man, the only propof his widowed mother too, forgets himself, his position, his duty to that mother--everything; and goes and gets himself killed like this. it is infernally sad.on my soul it is sad." he produced a handkerchief, and blew hisnose with vehemence. andre-louis felt a tightening of his heart,a lessening of the hopes, never too sanguine, which he had founded upon hisgodfather.


"your criticisms," he said, "are all forthe conduct of the dead, and none for that of the murderer.it does not seem possible that you should be in sympathy with such a crime." "crime?" shrilled m. de kercadiou."my god, boy, you are speaking of m. de la tour d'azyr.""i am, and of the abominable murder he has committed..." "stop!"m. de kercadiou was very emphatic. "i cannot permit that you apply such termsto him. i cannot permit it.


m. le marquis is my friend, and is likelyvery soon to stand in a still closer relationship.""notwithstanding this?" asked andre-louis. m. de kercadiou was frankly impatient. "why, what has this to do with it?i may deplore it. but i have no right to condemn it.it is a common way of adjusting differences between gentlemen." "you really believe that?""what the devil do you imply, andre? should i say a thing that i don't believe?you begin to make me angry." "'thou shalt not kill,' is the king's lawas well as god's."


"you are determined to quarrel with me, ithink. it was a duel..." andre-louis interrupted him."it is no more a duel than if it had been fought with pistols of which only m. lemarquis's was loaded. he invited philippe to discuss the matterfurther, with the deliberate intent of forcing a quarrel upon him and killing him.be patient with me, monsieur my god-father. i am not telling you of what i imagine butwhat m. le marquis himself admitted to me." dominated a little by the young man'searnestness, m. de kercadiou's pale eyes fell away.


he turned with a shrug, and sauntered overto the window. "it would need a court of honour to decidesuch an issue. and we have no courts of honour," he said. "but we have courts of justice."with returning testiness the seigneur swung round to face him again. "and what court of justice, do you think,would listen to such a plea as you appear to have in mind?""there is the court of the king's lieutenant at rennes." "and do you think the king's lieutenantwould listen to you?"


"not to me, perhaps, monsieur.but if you were to bring the plaint..." "i bring the plaint?" m. de kercadiou's pale eyes were wide withhorror of the suggestion. "the thing happened here on your domain.""i bring a plaint against m. de la tour d'azyr! you are out of your senses, i think.oh, you are mad; as mad as that poor friend of yours who has come to this end throughmeddling in what did not concern him. the language he used here to m. le marquison the score of mabey was of the most offensive.perhaps you didn't know that.


it does not at all surprise me that themarquis should have desired satisfaction." "i see," said andre-louis, on a note ofhopelessness. "you see? what the devil do you see?""that i shall have to depend upon myself alone.""and what the devil do you propose to do, if you please?" "i shall go to rennes, and lay the factsbefore the king's lieutenant." "he'll be too busy to see you."and m. de kercadiou's mind swung a trifle inconsequently, as weak minds will.


"there is trouble enough in rennes alreadyon the score of these crazy states general, with which the wonderful m. necker is torepair the finances of the kingdom. as if a peddling swiss bank-clerk, who isalso a damned protestant, could succeed where such men as calonne and brienne havefailed." "good-afternoon, monsieur my godfather,"said andre-louis. "where are you going?" was the querulousdemand. "home at present. to rennes in the morning.""wait, boy, wait!" the squat little man rolled forward,affectionate concern on his great ugly


face, and he set one of his podgy hands onhis godson's shoulder. "now listen to me, andre," he reasoned. "this is sheer knight-errantry--moonshine,lunacy. you'll come to no good by it if youpersist. you've read 'don quixote,' and whathappened to him when he went tilting against windmills.it's what will happen to you, neither more nor less. leave things as they are, my boy.i wouldn't have a mischief happen to you." andre-louis looked at him, smiling wanly."i swore an oath to-day which it would damn


my soul to break." "you mean that you'll go in spite ofanything that i may say?" impetuous as he was inconsequent, m. dekercadiou was bristling again. "very well, then, go... go to the devil!""i will begin with the king's lieutenant." "and if you get into the trouble you areseeking, don't come whimpering to me for assistance," the seigneur stormed. he was very angry now."since you choose to disobey me, you can break your empty head against the windmill,and be damned to you."


andre-louis bowed with a touch of irony,and reached the door. "if the windmill should prove tooformidable," said he, from the threshold, "i may see what can be done with the wind. good-bye, monsieur my godfather." he was gone, and m. de kercadiou was alone,purple in the face, puzzling out that last cryptic utterance, and not at all happy inhis mind, either on the score of his godson or of m. de la tour d'azyr. he was disposed to be angry with them both.he found these headstrong, wilful men who relentlessly followed their own impulsesvery disturbing and irritating.


himself he loved his ease, and to be atpeace with his neighbours; and that seemed to him so obviously the supreme good oflife that he was disposed to brand them as fools who troubled to seek other things. book i: the robechapter vi. the windmill there was between nantes and rennes anestablished service of three stage-coaches weekly in each direction, which for a sumof twenty-four livres--roughly, the equivalent of an english guinea--would carry you the seventy and odd miles of thejourney in some fourteen hours.


once a week one of the diligences going ineach direction would swerve aside from the highroad to call at gavrillac, to bring andtake letters, newspapers, and sometimes passengers. it was usually by this coach that andre-louis came and went when the occasion offered. at present, however, he was too much inhaste to lose a day awaiting the passing of that diligence. so it was on a horse hired from the bretonarme that he set out next morning; and an hour's brisk ride under a grey wintry sky,by a half-ruined road through ten miles of


flat, uninteresting country, brought him tothe city of rennes. he rode across the main bridge over thevilaine, and so into the upper and principal part of that important city ofsome thirty thousand souls, most of whom, he opined from the seething, clamant crowds that everywhere blocked his way, must onthis day have taken to the streets. clearly philippe had not overstated theexcitement prevailing there. he pushed on as best he could, and so cameat last to the place royale, where he found the crowd to be most dense. from the plinth of the equestrian statue oflouis xv, a white-faced young man was


excitedly addressing the multitude. his youth and dress proclaimed the student,and a group of his fellows, acting as a guard of honour to him, kept the immediateprecincts of the statue. over the heads of the crowd andre-louiscaught a few of the phrases flung forth by that eager voice."it was the promise of the king... it is the king's authority they flout... they arrogate to themselves the wholesovereignty in brittany. the king has dissolved them...these insolent nobles defying their sovereign and the people..."


had he not known already, from whatphilippe had told him, of the events which had brought the third estate to the pointof active revolt, those few phrases would fully have informed him. this popular display of temper was mostopportune to his need, he thought. and in the hope that it might serve histurn by disposing to reasonableness the mind of the king's lieutenant, he pushed onup the wide and well-paved rue royale, where the concourse of people began todiminish. he put up his hired horse at the come decerf, and set out again, on foot, to the palais de justice.


there was a brawling mob by the frameworkof poles and scaffoldings about the building cathedral, upon which work hadbeen commenced a year ago. but he did not pause to ascertain theparticular cause of that gathering. he strode on, and thus came presently tothe handsome italianate palace that was one of the few public edifices that hadsurvived the devastating fire of sixty years ago. he won through with difficulty to the greathall, known as the salle des pas perdus, where he was left to cool his heels for afull half-hour after he had found an usher so condescending as to inform the god who


presided over that shrine of justice that alawyer from gavrillac humbly begged an audience on an affair of gravity. that the god condescended to see him at allwas probably due to the grave complexion of the hour. at long length he was escorted up the broadstone staircase, and ushered into a spacious, meagrely furnished anteroom, tomake one of a waiting crowd of clients, mostly men. there he spent another half-hour, andemployed the time in considering exactly what he should say.


this consideration made him realize theweakness of the case he proposed to set before a man whose views of law andmorality were coloured by his social rank. at last he was ushered through a narrow butvery massive and richly decorated door into a fine, well-lighted room furnished withenough gilt and satin to have supplied the boudoir of a lady of fashion. it was a trivial setting for a king'slieutenant, but about the king's lieutenant there was--at least to ordinary eyes--nothing trivial. at the far end of the chamber, to the rightof one of the tall windows that looked out over the inner court, before a goat-leggedwriting-table with watteau panels, heavily


encrusted with ormolu, sat that exaltedbeing. above a scarlet coat with an order flamingon its breast, and a billow of lace in which diamonds sparkled like drops ofwater, sprouted the massive powdered head of m. de lesdiguieres. it was thrown back to scowl upon thisvisitor with an expectant arrogance that made andre-louis wonder almost was agenuflexion awaited from him. perceiving a lean, lantern-jawed young man,with straight, lank black hair, in a caped riding-coat of brown cloth, and yellowbuckskin breeches, his knee-boots splashed with mud, the scowl upon that august visage


deepened until it brought together thethick black eyebrows above the great hooked nose. "you announce yourself as a lawyer ofgavrillac with an important communication," he growled. it was a peremptory command to make thiscommunication without wasting the valuable time of a king's lieutenant, of whoseimmense importance it conveyed something more than a hint. m. de lesdiguieres accounted himself animposing personality, and he had every reason to do so, for in his time he hadseen many a poor devil scared out of all


his senses by the thunder of his voice. he waited now to see the same thing happento this youthful lawyer from gavrillac. but he waited in vain.andre-louis found him ridiculous. he knew pretentiousness for the mask ofworthlessness and weakness. and here he beheld pretentiousnessincarnate. it was to be read in that arrogant poise ofthe head, that scowling brow, the inflexion of that reverberating voice. even more difficult than it is for a man tobe a hero to his valet--who has witnessed the dispersal of the parts that make up theimposing whole--is it for a man to be a


hero to the student of man who haswitnessed the same in a different sense. andre-louis stood forward boldly--impudently, thought m. de lesdiguieres. "you are his majesty's lieutenant here inbrittany," he said--and it almost seemed to the august lord of life and death that thisfellow had the incredible effrontery to address him as one man speaking to another. "you are the dispenser of the king's highjustice in this province." surprise spread on that handsome, sallowface under the heavily powdered wig. "is your business concerned with thisinfernal insubordination of the canaille?" he asked."it is not, monsieur."


the black eyebrows rose. "then what the devil do you mean byintruding upon me at a time when all my attention is being claimed by the obviousurgency of this disgraceful affair?" "the affair that brings me is no lessdisgraceful and no less urgent." "it will have to wait!" thundered the greatman in a passion, and tossing back a cloud of lace from his hand, he reached for thelittle silver bell upon his table. "a moment, monsieur!" andre-louis' tone was peremptory.m. de lesdiguieres checked in sheer amazement at its impudence."i can state it very briefly..."


"haven't i said already..." "and when you have heard it," andre-louiswent on, relentlessly, interrupting the interruption, "you will agree with me as toits character." m. de lesdiguieres considered him verysternly. "what is your name?" he asked."andre-louis moreau." "well, andre-louis moreau, if you can stateyour plea briefly, i will hear you. but i warn you that i shall be very angryif you fail to justify the impertinence of this insistence at so inopportune amoment." "you shall be the judge of that, monsieur,"said andre-louis, and he proceeded at once


to state his case, beginning with theshooting of mabey, and passing thence to the killing of m. de vilmorin. but he withheld until the end the name ofthe great gentleman against whom he demanded justice, persuaded that did heintroduce it earlier he would not be allowed to proceed. he had a gift of oratory of whose fullpowers he was himself hardly conscious yet, though destined very soon to become so. he told his story well, withoutexaggeration, yet with a force of simple appeal that was irresistible.gradually the great man's face relaxed from


its forbidding severity. interest, warming almost to sympathy, cameto be reflected on it. "and who, sir, is the man you charge withthis?" "the marquis de la tour d'azyr." the effect of that formidable name wasimmediate. dismayed anger, and an arrogance more utterthan before, took the place of the sympathy he had been betrayed into displaying. "who?" he shouted, and without waiting foran answer, "why, here's impudence," he stormed on, "to come before me with such acharge against a gentleman of m. de la tour


d'azyr's eminence! how dare you speak of him as a coward....""i speak of him as a murderer," the young man corrected."and i demand justice against him." "you demand it, do you? my god, what next?""that is for you to say, monsieur." it surprised the great gentleman into amore or less successful effort of self- control. "let me warn you," said he, acidly, "thatit is not wise to make wild accusations against a nobleman.that, in itself, is a punishable offence,


as you may learn. now listen to me.in this matter of mabey--assuming your statement of it to be exact--the gamekeepermay have exceeded his duty; but by so little that it is hardly worth comment. consider, however, that in any case it isnot a matter for the king's lieutenant, or for any court but the seigneurial court ofm. de la tour d'azyr himself. it is before the magistrates of his ownappointing that such a matter must be laid, since it is matter strictly concerning hisown seigneurial jurisdiction. as a lawyer you should not need to be toldso much."


"as a lawyer, i am prepared to argue thepoint. but, as a lawyer i also realize that ifthat case were prosecuted, it could only end in the unjust punishment of a wretchedgamekeeper, who did no more than carry out his orders, but who none the less would now be made a scapegoat, if scapegoat werenecessary. i am not concerned to hang benet on thegallows earned by m. de la tour d'azyr." m. de lesdiguieres smote the tableviolently. "my god!" he cried out, to add morequietly, on a note of menace, "you are singularly insolent, my man."


"that is not my intention, sir, i assureyou. i am a lawyer, pleading a case--the case ofm. de vilmorin. it is for his assassination that i havecome to beg the king's justice." "but you yourself have said that it was aduel!" cried the lieutenant, between anger and bewilderment. "i have said that it was made to appear aduel. there is a distinction, as i shall show, ifyou will condescend to hear me out." "take your own time, sir!" said theironical m. de lesdiguieres, whose tenure of office had never yet held anything thatremotely resembled this experience.


andre-louis took him literally. "i thank you, sir," he answered, solemnly,and submitted his argument. "it can be shown that m. de vilmorin neverpractised fencing in all his life, and it is notorious that m. de la tour d'azyr isan exceptional swordsman. is it a duel, monsieur, where one of thecombatants alone is armed? for it amounts to that on a comparison oftheir measures of respective skill." "there has scarcely been a duel fought onwhich the same trumpery argument might not be advanced.""but not always with equal justice. and in one case, at least, it was advancedsuccessfully."


"successfully?when was that?" "ten years ago, in dauphiny. i refer to the case of m. de gesvres, agentleman of that province, who forced a duel upon m. de la roche jeannine, andkilled him. m. de jeannine was a member of a powerfulfamily, which exerted itself to obtain justice.it put forward just such arguments as now obtain against m. de la tour d'azyr. as you will remember, the judges held thatthe provocation had proceeded of intent from m. de gesvres; they found him guiltyof premeditated murder, and he was hanged."


m. de lesdiguieres exploded yet again. "death of my life!" he cried."have you the effrontery to suggest that m. de la tour d'azyr should be hanged?have you?" "but why not, monsieur, if it is the law,and there is precedent for it, as i have shown you, and if it can be establishedthat what i state is the truth--as established it can be without difficulty?" "do you ask me, why not?have you temerity to ask me that?" "i have, monsieur.can you answer me? if you cannot, monsieur, i shall understandthat whilst it is possible for a powerful


family like that of la roche jeannine toset the law in motion, the law must remain inert for the obscure and uninfluential, however brutally wronged by a greatnobleman." m. de lesdiguieres perceived that inargument he would accomplish nothing against this impassive, resolute young man. the menace of him grew more fierce."i should advise you to take yourself off at once, and to be thankful for theopportunity to depart unscathed." "i am, then, to understand, monsieur, thatthere will be no inquiry into this case? that nothing that i can say will move you?"


"you are to understand that if you arestill there in two minutes it will be very much the worse for you."and m. de lesdiguieres tinkled the silver hand-bell upon his table. "i have informed you, monsieur, that aduel--so-called--has been fought, and a man killed. it seems that i must remind you, theadministrator of the king's justice, that duels are against the law, and that it isyour duty to hold an inquiry. i come as the legal representative of thebereaved mother of m. de vilmorin to demand of you the inquiry that is due."the door behind andre-louis opened softly.


m. de lesdiguieres, pale with anger,contained himself with difficulty. "you seek to compel us, do you, youimpudent rascal?" he growled. "you think the king's justice is to bedriven headlong by the voice of any impudent roturier?i marvel at my own patience with you. but i give you a last warning, masterlawyer; keep a closer guard over that insolent tongue of yours, or you will havecause very bitterly to regret its glibness." he waved a jewelled, contemptuous hand, andspoke to the usher standing behind andre. "to the door!" he said, shortly.andre-louis hesitated a second.


then with a shrug he turned. this was the windmill, indeed, and he apoor knight of rueful countenance. to attack it at closer quarters would meanbeing dashed to pieces. yet on the threshold he turned again. "m. de lesdiguieres," said he, "may irecite to you an interesting fact in natural history? the tiger is a great lord in the jungle,and was for centuries the terror of lesser beasts, including the wolf.the wolf, himself a hunter, wearied of being hunted.


he took to associating with other wolves,and then the wolves, driven to form packs for self-protection, discovered the powerof the pack, and took to hunting the tiger, with disastrous results to him. you should study buffon, m. delesdiguieres." "i have studied a buffoon this morning, ithink," was the punning sneer with which m. de lesdiguieres replied. but that he conceived himself witty, it isprobable he would not have condescended to reply at all."i don't understand you," he added. "but you will, m. de lesdiguieres.


you will," said andre-louis, and sodeparted.


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