nance the world of fashion, amazed to see the sisters together!
"Tell me," she said.
The reply was written on Marie-Eugenie's face, the radi-
ance of which many people ascribed to gratified vanity.
"Yes, he will be saved, darling, but for three months only,
during which time we will put our heads together and find
some more substantial help. Mme. de Nucingen will take
four bills, each for ten thousand francs, signed by any one
A DAUGHTER OF EVE 889
you like, so as not to compromise you. She has explained
to me how they are to be made out; I don't understand in
the least, but M. Nathan will get them ready for you. Only
it occurred to me that perhaps our old master, Schmucke,
might be useful to us now; he would sign them. If, in ad-
dition to these four securities, you write a letter guaranteeing
their payment to Mine, de Nucingen, she will hand you the
money to-morrow. Do the whole thing yourself; don't trust
to anybody. Schmucke, you see, would, I think, make no
difficulty if you asked him. To disarm suspicion, I said that
you wanted to do a kindness to our old music-master, a Ger-
man, who was in trouble. In this way I was able to beg for
the strictest secrecy. ' '
"You angel of cleverness! If only the Baronne de Nu-
cingen does not talk till after she has given the money!"
said the Countess, raising her eyes as though in prayer, re-
gardless of her surroundings.
"Schmucke lives in the little Rue de Nevers, on the
Quai Conti; don't forget, and go yourself."
"Thanks," said the Countess, pressing her sister's hand.
Ah! I would give ten years of my life "
"From your old age "
"To put an end to all these horrors," said the Countess,
with a smile at the interruption.
The crowd at this moment, spying the two sisters through
their opera-glasses, might suppose them to be talking of trivi-
alities, as they heard the ring of their frank laughter. But
any one of those idlers, who frequent the Opera rather to
study dress and faces than to enjoy themselves, would be
able to detect the secret of the Countess in the wave of feel-
ing which suddenly blotted all cheerfulness out of their fair
faces. Raoul, who did not fear the bailiffs at night, ap-
peared, pale and ashy, with anxious eye and gloomy brow,
on the step of the staircase where he regularly took his
stand. He looked for the Countess in her box and, finding
it empty, buried his face in his hands, leaning his elbows
on the balustrade. "Can she be here!" he thought.
390 BALZAC *s WORKS
"Look up, unhappy hero," whispered Mme. du Tillet.
As for Marie, at all risks she fixed on him that steady
magnetic gaze, in which the will flashes from the eye, as
rays of light from the sun. Such a look, mesmerizers say,
penetrates to the person on whom it is directed, and certainly
Kaoul seemed as though struck by a magic wand. Eaising
his head, his eyes met those of the sisters. With that charm-
ing feminine readiness which is never at fault, Mme. de
Yandenesse seized a cross, sparkling on her neck, and di-
rected his attention to it by a swift smile, full of meaning.
The brilliance of the gem radiated even upon Raoul 's fore-
head, and he replied with a look of joy ; he had understood.
"Is it nothing, then, Eugenie," said the Countess, "thus
to restore life to the dead ?"
' ' You have a chance yet with the Royal Humane Society, ' '
replied Eugenie, with a smile.
"How wretched and depressed he looked when he came,
and how happy he will go away!"
At this moment du Tillet, coming up to Raoul with every
mark of friendliness, pressed his hand, and said: "Well, old
fellow, how are you?"
"As well as a man is likely to be who has just got the
best possible news of the election. I shall be successful,"
replied Raoul, radiant.
"Delighted," said du Tillet. "We shall want money for
the paper. ' '
"The money will be found," said Raoul.
"The devil is with these women!" exclaimed du Tillet,
still unconvinced by the words of Raoul, whom he had nick-
"What are you talking about?" said Raoul.
"My sister-in-law is there with my wife, and they are
hatching something together. You seem in high favor with
the Countess ; she is bowing to you right across the house. ' '
"Look," said Mme. du Tillet to her sister, "they told us
wrong. See how my husband fawns on M. Nathan, and it
is he who they declared was trying to get him put in prison!"
A DAUGHTER OF EVE 391
"And men call us slanderers!" cried the Countess. "I
will give him a warning."
She rose, took the arm of Vandenesse, who was waiting
in the passage, and returned jubilant to her box; by and by
she left the Opera, ordered her carriage for the next morning
before eight o'clock, and found herself at half-past eight on
the Quai Conti, having called at the Rue du Mail on her way.
The carriage could not enter the narrow Rue de Nevers;
but, as Schmucke's house stood at the corner of the Quai,
the Countess was not obliged to walk to it through the mud.
She almost leaped from the step of the carriage on to the dirty
and dilapidated entrance of the grimy old house, which was
held together by iron clamps, like a poor man's crockery,
and overhung the street in quite an alarming fashion.
The old organist lived on the fourth floor, and rejoiced
in a beautiful view of the Seine, from the Pont Neuf to the
rising ground of Chaillot. The simple fellow was so* taken
aback when the footman announced his former pupil that,
before he could recover himself, she was in the room. Never
could the Countess have imagined or guessed at an existence
such as that suddenly laid bare to her, though she had long
known Schmucke's scorn for appearances and his indifference
to worldly things. Who could have believed in so neglected
a life, in carelessness carried to such a pitch? Schmucke
was a musical Diogenes; he felt no shame for the hugger-
mugger in which he lived; indeed, custom had made him
insensible to it.
The constant use of a fat, friendly, German pipe had
spread over the ceiling and the flimsy wall-paper well
rubbed by the cat a faint yellow tint, which gave a per-
vading impression of the golden harvests of Ceres. The
cat, whose long ruffled silky coat made a garment such as
a portress might have envied, did the honors of the house,
sedately whiskered, and entirely at her ease. From the top
of a first-rate Vienna piano, where she lay couched in state,
she cast on the Countess as she entered the gracious yet
chilly glance with which any woman, astonished at her
392 BALZAC'S WORKS
beauty, might have greeted her. She did not stir, except
to wave the two silvery threads of her upright mustache and
to fix upon Schmucke two golden eyes. The piano, which
had known better days, and was -cased in a good wood,
painted black and gold, was dirty, discolored, chipped, and
its keys were worn like the teeth of an old horse and mel-
lowed by the deeper tints which fell from the pipe. Little
piles of ashes on the ledge proclaimed that the night before
Schmucke had bestridden the old instrument to some witches'
rendezvous. The brick floor, strewn with dried mud, torn
paper, pipe ashes, and odds and ends that defy description,
suggested the boards of a lodging-house floor, when they
have not been swept for a week, and heaps of litter, a cross
between the contents of the ash-pit and the rag-bag, await
the servants' brooms. A more practiced eye than that of
the Countess might have read indications of Schmucke's
way of living in the chestnut parings, scraps of apple peel,
and shells of Easter eggs, which covered broken fragments
of plates, all messed with sauerkraut. This German detritus
formed a carpet of dusty filth which grated under the feet
and lost itself in a mass of cinders, dropping with slow dig-
nity from a painted stone fireplace, where a lump of coal
lorded it over two half -burned logs that seemed to waste
away before it. On the mantel- piece was a pier-glass with
figures dancing a saraband round it ; on one side the glorious
pipe hung on a nail, on the other stood a china pot in which
the Professor kept his tobacco. Two armchairs, casually
picked up, together with a thin, flattened couch, a worm-
eaten chest of drawers with the marble top gone, and a
maimed table, on which lay the remains of a frugal break-
fast, made up the furniture, unpretending as that of a Mo-
hican wigwam. A shaving-glass hanging from the catch of
a curtainless window, and surmounted by a rag, striped by
razor scrapings, were evidence of the sole sacrifices paid by
Schmucke to the graces and to society.
The cat, petted as a feeble and dependent being, was the
best off. It rejoiced in an old armchair cushion, beside
A DAUGHTER OF EVE 393
which stood a white china cup and dish. But what no pen
can describe is the state to which Schmucke, the cat, and the
pipe trinity of living beings had reduced the furniture.
The pipe had scorched the table in places. The cat and
Schmucke 's head had greased the green Utrecht velvet of
the two armchairs till it was worn quite smooth. But for the
cat's magnificent tail, which did a part of the cleaning, the
dust would have lain forever undisturbed on the uncovered
parts of the chest of drawers and piano. In a corner lay the
army of slippers, to which only a Homeric catalogue could
do justice. The tops of the chest of drawers and of the piano
were blocked with broken-backed, loose-paged music-books,
the boards showing all the pages peeping through, with cor-
ners white and dog's-eared. Along the walls the addresses
of pupils were glued with little wafers. The wafers without
papers showed the number of obsolete addresses. On the
wall-paper chalk additions might be read. The chest of
drawers was adorned with last night's tankards, which stood
out quite fresh and bright in the midst of all this stuffiness
and decay. Hygiene was represented by a water-jug crowned
with a towel and a bit of common soap, white marbled with
blue, which left its damp-mark here and there on the red
wood. Two hats, equally ancient, hung on pegs, from which
also was suspended the familiar blue ulster with its three
capes, without which the Countess would hardly have known
Schmucke. Beneath the window stood three pots of flowers,
German flowers presumably, and close by a holly walking-
Though the Countess was disagreeably affected both in
sight and smell, yet Schmucke's eyes and smile transformed
the sordid scene with heavenly rays, that gave a glory to the
dingy tones and animation to the chaos. The soul of this
man, who seemed to belong to another world and revealed
so many of its mysteries, radiated light like a sun. His frank
and hearty laugh at the sight of one of his Saint Cecilias
diffused the brightness of youth, mirth, and innocence. He
poured out treasures of that which mankind holds dearest,
394 BALZAC 1 8 WORKS
and made a cloak of them to veil his poverty. The most
purse-proud upstart would perhaps have blushed to think
twice of the surroundings within which moved this noble
apostle of the religion of music.
"Eh, py vot tchance came you here, tear Montame la
Grondesse?" he said. "Must I den zing de zong ov Zimeon
at mein asche?"
This idea started him on another peal of ringing laughter.
"Is it dat 1 haf a conqvest made?" he went on, with a
look of cunning.
Then, laughing like a child again:
"You com for de musike, not for a boor man, I know,"
he said sadly; "but come for vat you vill, you know dat
all is here for you, pody, zoul, ant coots!"
He took the hand of the Countess, kissed it, and dropped
a tear, for with this good man every day was the morrow
of a kindness received. His joy had for a moment deprived
him of memory, only to bring it back in greater force. He
seized on the chalk, leaped on the armchair in front of the
piano, and then, with the alacrity of a young man, wrote on
the wall in large letters, "February 17, 1835." This move-
ment, so pretty and artless, came with such an outburst of
gratitude that the Countess was quite moved.
"My sister is coming too," she said.
"De oder alzo! Ven? Ven? May it pe bevor I tie!"
"She will come to thank you for- a great favor which I am
here now to ask from you on her behalf."
"Qvick! qvick! qvick! qvick!" cried Schmucke, "vot
is dis dat I mosd do ? Mosd I to de teufel go ?"
"I only want you to write, I promise to pay the sum often
thousand francs on each of these papers," she said, drawing
from her muff the four bills, which Nathan had prepared in
accordance with the formula prescribed.
"Ach! dat vill pe soon tone," replied the German with
a lamblike docility. "Only, I know not vere are mein bens
and baber. Get you away, Meinherr Mirr, ' ' he cried to the
A DAUGHTER OF EVE 395
cat, who stared at him frigidly. "Dis is mein gat," he said,
pointing it out to the Countess. "Dis is de boor peast vich
lifs mit de boor Schmucke. He is peautivul, not zo?"
The Countess agreed.
"You vould vish him?"
"What an idea! Take away your friend!"
The cat, who was hiding the ink-bottle, divined what
Schmucke wanted and jumped on to the bed.
"He is naughty ass ein monkey!" he went on, pointing
to it on the bed. "I name him Mirr, for do glorivy our creat
Hoffmann at Berlin, dat I haf mosh known."
The good man signed with the innocence of a child doing
its mother's bidding, utterly ignorant what it is about, but
sure that all will be right. He was far more taken up with
presenting the cat to the Countess than with the papers,
which, by the laws relating to foreigners, might have de-
prived him forever of liberty.
"You make me zure dat dese lettl stambed babers "
"Don't have the least uneasiness," said the Countess.
"I haf not oneasiness," he replied hastily. "I ask if dese
lettl stambed babers vil please de Montame ti Dilet?"
"Oh, yes," she said; "you will be helping her as a father
might. ' '
"I am fer habby do pe coot do her for zomting. Com,
do mein music!" he said, leaving the papers on the table
and springing to the piano.
In a moment the hands of this unworldly being were fly-
ing over the well-worn keys, in a moment his glance pierced
the roof to heaven, in a moment the sweetest of songs blos-
somed in the air and penetrated the soul. But only while
the ink was drying could this simple-minded interpreter of
heavenly things be allowed to draw forth eloquence from
wood and string, like Rafael's St. Cecilia playing to the
listening hosts of Heaven. The Countess then slipped the
bills into her muff again, and recalled the radiant master
from the ethereal spheres in which he soared by a touch on
396 BALZAC'S WORKS
"My good Schmucke," she cried.
"Zo zoon," he exclaimed, with a submissiveness painful
to see. "Yy den are you kom ?"
He did not complain, he stood like a faithful dog, wait-
ing for a word from the Countess.
"My good Schmucke," she again began, "this is a ques-
tion of life and death, minutes now may be the price of blood
and tears. ' '
"Efer de zame!" he said. "Go den! try de tears ov
oders! Know dat de poor Schmucke counts your fisit for
more dan your pounty.
"We shall meet again," she said. "You must come and
play to me and dine with me every Sunday, or else we shall
quarrel. I shall expect you next Sunday."
"Indeed, I hope you will come; and my sister, I am
sure, will fix a day for you also. ' '
"Mein habbiness vill be den gomplete," he said, "vor
I tid not zee you put at de Champes-Hailysees, ven you
passed in de carrisch, fery rarely."
The thought of this dried the tears which had gathered
in the old man's eyes and he offered his arm to his fair pupil,
who could feel the wild beats of his heart.
"You thought of us then sometimes," she said.
"Efery time ven I mein pret eat!" he replied. "Yirst
ass mein pountivul laties, ant den ass de two virst young
girls vurty of luf dat I haf zeen."
The Countess dared say no more! There was a marvel-
lous and respectful solemnity in these words, as though they
formed part of some religious service, breathing fidelity.
That smoky room, that den of refuse, became a temple for
two goddesses. Devotion there waxed stronger, all unknown
to its objects.
"Here, then, we are loved, truly loved," she thought.
The Countess shared the emotion with which old Schmucke
saw her get into her carriage, as she blew from the ends of
her fingers one of those airy kisses which are a woman's
A DAUGHTER OF EVE 397
distant greeting. At this sight, Schmucke stood transfixed
long after the carriage had disappeared.
A few minutes later the Countess entered the courtyard
of Mme. de Nucingen's house. The Baroness was not yet
up ; but, in order not to keep a lady of position waiting, she
flung round her a shawl and dressing-gown.
"I come on the business of others, and promptitude is
then a virtue, ' ' said the Countess. "This must be my excuse
for disturbing you so early."
"Not at all ! I am only too happy, " said the banker's wife,
taking the four papers and the guarantee of the Countess.
She rang for her maid.
"Theresa, tell the cashier to bring me up himself at once
forty thousand francs. ' '
Then she sealed the letter of Mme. de Yandenesse, and
locked it into a secret drawer of her table.
"What a pretty room you have!" said the Countess.
"M. de Nucingen is going to deprive me of it; he is get-
ting a new house built."
"You will no doubt give this one to your daughter. I
hear that she is engaged to M. de Rastignac."
The cashier appeared as Mme. de Nucingen was on the
point of replying She took the notes and handed him the
four bills of exchange.
"That balances," said the Baroness to the cashier.
"Bgzebd for de disgound," said the cashier. "Dis
Schmucke iss ein musician vrom Ansbach," he added, with
a glance at the signature, which sent a shiver through the
"Do you suppose I am transacting business?" said Mme.
do Nucingen, with a haughty glance of rebuke at the cashier.
"This is my affair."
In vain did the cashier cast sly glances, now at the Coun-
tess, now at the Baroness; not a line of their faces moved.
"You can leave us now. Be so good as remain a minute
or two, so that you may not seem to have anything to do
with this matter," said the Baroness to Mme. de Yandenesse.
398 BALZAC'S ~>SORKS
"I must beg of you to add to your other kind services
that of keeping my secret, ' ' said the Countess.
"In a matter of charity that is of course, 1 replied the
Baroness, with a smile. "I shall have your carriage sent
to the end of the garden ; it will start without you ; then we
shall cross the garden together, no one will see you leave
this. The whole thing will remain a mystery."
"You must have known suffering to have learned so
much thought for others," said the Countess.
11 1 don't know about thoughtfulness, but I have suffered
a great deal," said the Baroness; "you, I trust, have paid
less dearly for yours. ' '
The orders given, the Baroness took her fur shoes and
cloak and led the Countess to the side door of the garden.
When a man is plotting against any one, as du Tillet did
against Nathan, he makes no confidant. Nucingen had some
notion of what was going on, but his wife remained entirely
outside this Machiavelian scheming. She knew, however,
that Baoul was in difficulties, and was not deceived therefore
by the sisters; she suspected shrewdly into whose hands the
money would pass, and it gave her real pleasure to help
the Countess. Entanglements of the kind always roused
her deepest sympathy.
Eastignac, who was playing the detective on the intrigues
of the two bankers, came to lunch with Mme. de Nucingen.
Delphine and Rastignac had no secrets from each other, and
she told him of her interview with the Countess. Eastignac,
unable to imagine how the Baroness had become mixed up
in this affair, which in his eyes was merely incidental, one
weapon among many, explained to her that she had this morn-
ing in all probability demolished the electoral hopes of du
Tillet and rendered abortive the foul play and sacrifices of a
whole year. He then went on to enlighten her as to the whole
position, urging her to keep silence about her own mistake.
"If only," she said, "the cashier does not speak of it to
A DAUGHTER OF EVE 399
Du Tillet was at lunch when, a few minutes after twelve,
M. Grigonnet was announced.
"Show him in," said the banker, regardless of his wife's
presence. "Well, old Shylock, is our man under lock and
"No! Didn't I tell you Eue du Mail, at the hotel?"
"He has paid," said Gigonnet, drawing from his pocket-
book forty banknotes.
A look of despair passed over du Tillet's face.
"You should never look askance at good money," said
the impassive crony of du Tillet; "it's unlucky."
"Where did' you get this money, madame?" said the
banker, with a scowl at his wife, which made her scarlet to
the roots of her hair.
"I have no idea what you mean," she said.
"I shall get to the bottom of this," he replied, starting
up in a fury. "You have upset my most cherished plans."
"You will upset your lunch," said Grigonnet, laying hold
of the tablecloth, which had caught in the skirts of du Til-
Mme. du Tillet rose with frigid dignity, for his words
had terrified her. She rang, and a footman came.
"My horses," she said. "And send Virginie; I wish to
dress. ' '
"Where are you going?" said du Tillet.
"Men who have any manners do not question their wives.
You profess to be a gentleman."
"You have not been yourself for the last two days, since
your flippant sister has twice been to see you. ' '
"You ordered me to be flippant," she said. "I am prac-
ticing on you. ' '
Grigonnet, who took no interest in family broils, saluted
Mme. du Tillet and went out.
Du Tillet looked fixedly at his wife, whose eyes met his
"What is the meaning of this?" he said.
400 BALZAC'S WORKS
"It means that I am no longer a child to be cowed by
you," she replied. "I am, and shall remain all my life, a
faithful, attentive wife to you; you may be master if you
like, but tyrant, no."
Du Tillet left her, and Marie-Eugenie retired to her
room, quite unnerved by such an effort.
"But for my sister's danger," she said to herself, "I
should never have ventured to beard him thus; as the
proverb says, 'It's an ill wind that blows no good.' '
During the night Mme. du Tillet again passed in review
her sister's confidences. Eaoul's safety being assured, her
reason was no longer overpowered by the thought of this
imminent danger. She recalled the alarming energy with
which the Countess had spoken of flying with Nathan, in
order to console him in his calamity if she could not avert
it. She foresaw how this man, in the violence of his grati-
tude and love, might persuade her sister to do what to the
well-balanced Euge'nie seemed an act of madness. There
had been instances lately in the best society of such elope-
ments, which pay the price of a doubtful pleasure in re-
morse and the social discredit arising out of a false position,
and Eugenie recalled to mind their disastrous results. Du
Tillet's words had put the last touch to her panic; she
dreaded discovery; she saw the signature of the Comtesse
de Yandenesse in the archives of the Nucingen firm, and
she resolved to implore her sister to confess everything to
Mme. du Tillet did not find the Countess next morning ;
but Felix was at home. A voice within called on Eugenie
to save her sister. To-morrow even might be too late. It
was a heavy responsibility, but she decided to tell every-
thing to the Count. Surely he would be lenient, since his
honor was still safe and the Countess was not so much de-
praved as misguided. Eugenie hesitated to commit what
seemed like an act of cowardice and treachery by divulg-
ing secrets which society, at one in this, universally re-
spects. But then came the thought of her sister's future,
A DAUGHTER OF EVE 401
the dread of seeing her some day deserted, ruined by Na-
than, poor, ill, unhappy, despairing; she hesitated no
longer, and asked to see the Count. Felix, greatly sur-
prised by this visit, had a long conversation with his
sister-in-law, in the course of which he showed such calm
and self-mastery that Euge'nie trembled at the desperate
steps he might be revolving.
"Don't be troubled," said Yandenesse; "I shall act so
that the day will come when your sister will bless you.
However great your repugnance to keeping from her the
fact that you have spoken to me, I must ask you to give
me a few days' grace. I require this in order to see my
way through certain mysteries, of which you know noth-