between the poverty of the people on the one hand, and
the greatness of the aristocracy on the other ; for these
can combine homely burgher virtues with the heroic
ideals of the noble, enlightening both by a solid education.
Victurnien was not well looked upon at Court ; there
was no more chance of a great match for him, nor
a place. His Majesty steadily refused to raise the
d'Esgrignons to the peerage, the one royal favour which
could rescue Victurnien from his wretched position. It
was impossible that he should marry a bourgeoise heiress
in his father's lifetime, so he was bound to live on
shabbily under the paternal roof with memories of his
The Jealousies of a Country Town 329
two years of splendour in Paris, and the lost love of a
great lady to bear him company. He grew moody and
depressed, vegetating at home with a careworn aunt
and a half broken-hearted father, who attributed his
son's condition to a wasting malady. Chesnel was no
The Marquis died in 1830. The great d'Esgrignon,
with a following of all the less infirm noblesse from the
Collection of Antiquities, went to wait upon Charles x.
at Nonancourt ; he paid his respects to his sovereign,
and swelled the meagre train of the fallen king. It was
an act of courage which seems simple enough to-day,
but, in that time of enthusiastic revolt, it was heroism.
1 The Gaul has conquered ! ' These were the
Marquis's last words.
By that time du Croisier's victory was complete.
The new Marquis d'Esgrignon accepted Mile. Duval as
his wife a week after his old father's death. His bride
brought him three millions of francs, for du Croisier and
his wife settled the reversion of their fortunes upon her
in the marriage contract. Du Croisier took occasion to
say during the ceremony that the d'Esgrignon family
was the most honourable of all the ancient houses in
Some day the present Marquis d'Esgrignon will have
an income of more than a hundred thousand crowns.
You may see him in Paris, for he comes to town every
winter and leads a jolly bachelor life, while he treats his
wife with something more than the indifference of the
grand seigneur of olden times; he takes no thought
whatever for her.
'As for Mile. d'Esgrignon,' said Emile Blondet, to
whom all the detail of the story is due, c if she is no
longer like the divinely fair woman whom I saw by
glimpses in my childhood, she is decidedly, at the age
of sixty-seven, the most pathetic and interesting figure
in the Collection of Antiquities. She queens it among
330 The Jealousies of a Country Town
them still. I saw her when I made my last journey to
my native place in search of the necessary papers for
my marriage. When my father knew who it was that I
had married, he was struck dumb with amazement ; he
had not a word to say until I told him that I was a
*" You were born to it," he said, with a smile.
'As I took a walk round the town, I met Mile.
Armande. She looked taller than ever. I looked at her,
and thought of Marius among the ruins of Carthage.
Had she not outlived her creed, and the beliefs that had
been destroyed ? She is a sad and silent woman, with
nothing of her old beauty left except the eyes, that shine
with an unearthly light. I watched her on her way to
mass, with her book in her hand, and could not help
thinking that she prayed to God to take her out of the
Les Jardies, July 1837.
Printed by T. and A. Constable, Printers to Her Majesty
at the Edinburgh University Press
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