"Well, the rascal turned Olympe's head, and he, Ma-
dame, did not keep good company when I tell you he was
very near being nabbed by the police in a tavern where
thieves meet. 'Wever, Monsieur Braulard, the leader of
the claque, got him out of that.
He wears gold earrings,
and he lives by doing nothing, hanging on to women, who
are fools about these good-looking scamps. He spent all
the money Monsieur Thoul used to give the child.
"Then the business was going to grief; what embroidery
brought in went out across the billiard table. 'Wever, the
COUSIN BETTY 451
young fellow had a pretty sister, Madame, who, like her
brother, lived by hook and by crook, and no better than
she should be neither, over in the students' quarter."
"One of the sluts at the Chaumiere," said Jose'pha.
"So, Madame," said the old woman. "So Idamore his
name is Idamore, leastwise that is what he calls himself, for
his real name is Chardin Idamore fancied that your uncle
had a deal more money than he owned to, and he managed
to send his sister Elodie and that was a stage name he gave
her to send her to be a workwoman at our place, without
my daughter's knowing who she was; and, gracious good-
ness ! but that girl turned the whole place topsy-turvy ; she
got all those poor girls into mischief impossible to white-
wash them, saving your presence
"And she was so sharp, she won over poor old Thoul,
and took him away, and we don't know where, and left us
in a pretty fix, with a lot of bills coming in. To this day
as ever is we have not been able to settle up ; but my daugh-
ter, who knows all about such things, keeps an eye on them
as they fall due. Then, when Idamore saw he had got hold
of the old man, through his sister, you understand, he threw
over my daughter, and now he has got hold of a little actress
at the Funambules. And that was how my daughter came
to get married, as you will see "
"But you know where the mattress-picker lives?" said
"What! old Chardin? As if he lived anywhere at all!
He is drunk by six in the morning; he makes a mattress
once a month; he hangs about the wineshops all day; he
plays at pools
' ' He plays at pools ? ' ' said Josepha.
"You do not understand, Madame; pools of billiards,
452 BALZAC'S WORKS
I mean, and he wins three or four a day, and then he
"Water out of the pools, I suppose?" said Jose'pha.
"But if Idamore haunts the Boulevard, by inquiring
through my friend Braulard, we could find him."
"I don't know, Madame; all this was six months ago.
Idamore was one of the sort who are bound to find their
way into the police court, and from that to Mehin and
then who knows ?"
"To the prison yard I" said Jose'pha.
"Well, Madame, you know everything," said the old
woman, smiling. "Well, if my girl had never known that
scamp, she would now be Still, she was in luck, all the
same, you will say, for Monsieur Grenouville fell so much
in love with her that he married her "
"And what brought that about?"
"Olympe was desperate, Madame. When she found
herself left in the lurch for that little actress and she
took a rod out of pickle for her, I can tell you; my word,
but she gave her a dressing! and when she had lost poor
old Thoul, who worshipped her, she would have nothing
more to say to the men. 'Wever, Monsieur Grenouville,
who had been dealing largely with us to the tune of two
hundred embroidered China-crape shawls every quarter
he wanted to console her; but whether or no, she would
not listen to anything without the mayor and the priest.
'I mean to be respectable,' says she, 'or perish I' and
she stuck to it. Monsieur Grenouville consented to
marry her, on condition of her giving us all up, and we
"For a handsome consideration ?" said Jose'pha, with
her usual perspicacity.
COUSIN BETTY 453
"Yes, Madame, ten thousand francs, and an allowance
to my father, who is past work."
"I begged your daughter to make old Thoul happy, and
she has thrown me over. That is not fair. I will take no
interest in any one for the future! That is what comes of
trying to do good ! Benevolence certainly does not answer
as a speculation! Olympe ought, at least, to have given me
notice of this jobbing. Now, if you find the old man Thoul
within a fortnight, I will give you a thousand francs."
"It will be a hard task, my good lady; still, there are a
good many five-franc pieces in a thousand francs, and I will
try to earn your money."
"Good-morning, then, Madame Bijou."
On going into the boudoir, the singer found that Ma-
dame Hulot had fainted; but in spite of having lost con-
sciousness, her nervous trembling kept her still perpetually
shaking, as the pieces of a snake that has been cut up still
wriggle and move. Strong salts, cold water, and all the
ordinary remedies were applied to recall the Baroness to
her senses, or rather, to the apprehension of her sorrows.
"Ah! Mademoiselle, how far has he fallen!" cried
she, recognizing Josdpha, and finding that she was alone
"Take heart, Madame," replied the actress, who had
seated herself on a cushion at Adeline's feet, and was kiss-
ing her hands. "We shall find him; and if he is in the
mire, well, he must wash himself. Believe me, with people
of good breeding it is all a matter of clothes. Allow me to
make up for the harm I have done you, for I see how much
you are attached to your husband, in spite of his misconduct
or you would not have come here. Well, you see, the
poor man is so fond of the women. If you had had a little
454 BALZAC'S WORKS
of our dash, you would have kept him from running about
the world ; for you would have been what we can never be
all the women man wants.
"The State ought to subsidize a school of manners for
honest women! But governments are so prudish! Still,
they are guided by the men, whom we privately guide.
My word, I pity nations!
"But the matter in question is how you can be helped,
and not to laugh at the world. Well, Madame, be easy, go
home again, and do not worry. I will bring your Hector
back to you as he was as a man of thirty."
"Ah, Mademoiselle, let us go to see that Madame
Grenouville," said the Baroness. "She surely knows
something! Perhaps I may see the Baron this very day,
and be able to snatch him at once from poverty and
disgrace. ' '
"Madame, I will show you the deep gratitude I feel
toward you by not displaying the stage-singer Jose'pha, the
Due d'Herouville's mistress, in the company of the noblest,
saintliest image of virtue. I respect you too much to be
seen by your side. This is not acted humility; it is sincere
homage. You make me sorry, Madame, that I cannot tread
in your footsteps, in spite of the thorns that tear your feet
and hands. But it cannot be helped! I am one with art,
as you are one with virtue."
"Poor child!" said the Baroness, moved amid her own
sorrows by a strange sense of compassionate sympathy; "I
will pray to God for you; for you are the victim of society,
which must have theatres. When you are old, repent you
will be heard if God vouchsafes to hear the prayers of a ' '
"Of a martyr, Madame," Jose'pha put in, and she re-
spectfully kissed the Baroness's skirt.
COUSIX BETTY 455
But Adeline took the actress's hand, and drawing her
toward her, kissed her on the forehead. Coloring with
pleasure, Josepha saw the Baroness into the hackney coach
with the humblest politeness.
"It must be some visiting Lady of Charity," said the
manservant to the maid, "for she does not do so much
for any one, not even for her dear friend Madame Jenny
"Wait a few days,'' said she, "and you will see him,
Madame, or I renounce the God of my fathers and that
from a Jewess, you know, is a promise of success."
At the very time when Madame Hulot was calling on
Josepha, Victorin, in his study, was receiving an old woman
of about seventy -five, who, to gain admission to the lawyer,
had used the terrible name of the head of the detective
force. The man in waiting announced
"Madame de Saint-Est&ve."
1 ' I have assumed one of my business names, ' ' said she,
taking a seat.
Victorin felt a sort of internal chill at the sight of this
dreadful old woman. Though handsomely dressed, she was
terrible to look upon, for her flat, colorless, strongly-marked
face, furrowed with wrinkles, expressed a sort of cold malig-
nity. Marat, as a woman of that age, might have been like
this creature, a living embodiment of the Reign of Terror.
This sinister old woman's small, pale eyes twinkled with
a tiger's bloodthirsty greed. Her broad, flat nose, with nos-
trils expanded into oval cavities, breathed the fires of hell,
and resembled the beak of some evil bird of prey. The
spirit of intrigue lurked behind her low, cruel brow. Long
hairs had grown from her wrinkled chin, betraying the mas-
466 BALZAC'S WORKS
online character of her schemes. Any one seeing that wo-
man's face would have said that artists had failed in their
conceptions of Mephistopheles.
"My dear sir," she began, with a patronizing air, "I
have long since given up active business of any kind.
What I have come to you to do, I have undertaken
for the sake of my dear nephew, whom I love more than
I could love a son of my own. Now, the Head of the
Police to whom the President of the Council said two
words in his ear as regards yourself, in talking to Monsieur
Chapuzot thinks as the police ought not to appear in a
matter of this description, you understand. They gave my
nephew a free hand, but my nephew will have nothing to
say to it, except as before the Council ; he will not be seen
"Then your nephew is "
"You have hit it, and I am rather proud of him," said
she, interrupting the lawyer, "for he is my pupil, and he
soon could teach his teacher. We have considered this
case, and have come to our own conclusions. Will you
hand over thirty thousand francs to have the whole thing
taken off your hands ? I will make a clean sweep of it all,
and you need not pay till the job is done."
"Do you know the persons concerned?"
"No, my dear sir; I look for information from you.
What we are told is, that a certain old idiot has fallen into
the clutches of a widow. This widow, of nine-and-twenty,
has played her cards so well, that she has forty thousand
francs a year, of which she has robbed two fathers of fami-
lies. She is now about to swallow down eighty thousand
francs a year by marrying an old boy of sixty-one. She
will thus ruin a respectable family, and hand over this vast
COUSIN BETTY 467
fortune to the child of some lover by getting rid at once of
the old husband. That is the case as stated."
"Quite correct," said Victorin. "My father-in-law,
Monsieur Crevel "
"Formerly a perfumer; a mayor yes, I live in his dis-
trict under the name of Ma'ame Nourrisson," said the
"The other person is Madame Marneffe."
"I do not know her," said Madame de Saint-Esteve.
"But within three days I will be in a position to count
"Can you hinder the marriage?" asked Victorin.
"How far have they got?"
"To the second time of asking."
"We mast carry off the woman. To-day is Sunday-
there are bat three days, for they will be married on
Wednesday, no doubt; it is impossible. But she may be
"Victorin Hulot started with an honest man's horror at
hearing these five words uttered in cold blood.
"Murder?" said he. "And how could you do it? v
"For forty years, now, Monsieur, we have played the
part of fate," replied she, with terrible pride, "and do just
what we will in Paris. More than one family even in the
Faubourg Saint-Germain has told me all its secrets, I can
tell you! I have made and spoiled many a match, I have
destroyed many a will, and saved many a man's honor. I
have in there," and she tapped her forehead, "a store
of secrets which are worth thirty-six thousand francs a
year to me; and you you will be one of my lambs, hoh!
Could such a woman as I am be what I am if she revealed
her ways and means? I act.
?ol. 10 (T)
458 BALZAC'S WORKS
"Whatever I may do, sir, will be the result of an acci-
dent; you need feel no remorse. You will be like a man
cured by a clairvoyant; by the end of a month, it seems
all the work of Nature."
Victorin broke out in a cold sweat. The sight of an
executioner would have shocked him less than this prolix
and pretentious Sister of the Hulks. As he looked at her
purple-red gown, she seemed to him dyed in blood.
"Madame, I do not accept the help of your experience
and skill if success is to cost anybody's life, or the least
criminal act is to come of it."
"You are a great baby, Monsieur," replied the woman;
"you wish to remain blameless in your own eyes, while
you want your enemy to be overthrown. ' '
Victorin shook his head in denial.
"Yes," she went on, "you want this Madame Marneffe
to drop the prey she has between her teeth. But how do
you expect to make a tiger drop his piece of beef? Can
you do it by patting his back and saying, 'Poor Puss' ?
You are illogical. You want a battle fought, but you
object to blows. Well, I grant you the innocence you are
so careful over. I have always found that there was ma-
terial for hypocrisy in honesty! One day, three months
hence, a poor priest will come to beg of you forty thousand
francs for a pious work a convent to be rebuilt in the
Levant in the desert. If you are satisfied with your lot,
give the good man the money. You will pay more than
that into the treasury. It will be a mere trifle in com-
parison with what you will get, I can tell you."
She rose, standing on the broad feet that seemed to over-
flow her satin shoes; she smiled, bowed, and vanished.
"The Devil has a sister," said Victorin, rising.
'* COUSIN BETTY 469
He saw the hideous stranger to the door, a creature
called lip from the dens of the police, as on the stage a
monster conies up from the third cellar at the touch of
a fairy's wand in a ballet-extravaganza.
After finishing what he had to do at the Courts, Victorm
went to call on Monsieur Chapuzot, the head of one of the
most important branches of the Central Police, to make
some inquiries about the stranger. Finding Monsieur Cha-
puzot alone in his office, Victorin thanked him for his help.
"You sent me an old woman who might stand for the
incarnation of the criminal side of Paris."
Monsieur Chapuzot laid his spectacles on his papers and
looked at the lawyer with astonishment.
"I should not have taken the liberty of sending any-
body to see you without giving you notice beforehand,
or a line of introduction," said he.
"Then it was Monsieur le Preset ?"
"I think not," said Chapuzot. "The last time that the
Prince de Wissembourg dined with the Minister of the In-
terior, he spoke to the Preset of the position in which you
find yourself a deplorable position and asked him if you
could be helped in any friendly way. The Preset, who was
interested by the regrets his Excellency expressed as to this
family affair, did me the honor to consult me about it.
"Ever since the present Prefet has held the reins of this
department so useful and so vilified he has made it a rule
that family matters are never to be interfered in. He is
right in principle and in morality; but in practice he is
wrong. In the forty-five years that I have served in the
police, it did, from 1799 till 1815, great service in family
concerns. Since 1820 a constitutional government and the
press have completely altered the conditions of existence.
460 BALZAC'S WORKS
So my advice, indeed, was not to intervene in such a case,
and the Preset did me the honor to agree with my remarks.
The Head of the detective branch had orders, in my pres-
ence, to take no steps; so if you have had any one sent
to you by him, he will be reprimanded. It might cost him
his place. 'The Police will do this or that,' is easily said;
the Police, the Police! But, my dear sir, the Marshal and
the Ministerial Council do not know what the Police is.
The Police alone knows the Police. The Kings, Napoleon
and Louis XVIII., knew their Police; but as for ours, only
Fouche*, Monsieur Lenoir, and Monsieur de Sartines have
had any notion of it. Everything is changed now; we are
reduced and disarmed! I have seen many private disasters
develop, which I could have checked with five grains of
despotic power. We shall be regretted by the very men
who have crippled us when they, like you, stand face to
face with some moral monstrosities, which ought to be swept
away as we sweep away mud ! In public affairs the Police
is expected to foresee everything, or when the safety of the
public is involved but the family ? It is sacred ! I would
do my utmost to discover and hinder a plot against the
King's life, I would see through the walls of a house; but
as to laying a finger on a household, or peeping into private
interests never, so long as I sit in this office. I should
"Of the Press, Monsieur le Depute", of the left centre."
"What, then, can I do?" said Hulot, after a pause,
"Well, you are the Family," said the official. "That
settles it; you can do what you please. But as to helping
you, as to using the Police as an instrument of private feel-
ings and interests, how is it possible ? There lies, you see,
- COUSIN BETTY 461
the secret of the persecution, necessary, but pronounced
illegal by the Bench, which was brought to bear against
the predecessor of our present chief detective. Bibi-Lupin
undertook investigations for the benefit of private persons.
This might have led to great social dangers. With the
means at his command, the man would have been formid-
able, an underlying fate "
"But in my place?" said Hulot.
"What, you ask my advice? You who sell it!" replied
Monsieur Chapuzot. "Come, come, my dear sir, you are
making fun of me."
Hulot bowed to the functionary, and went away without
seeing that gentleman's almost imperceptible shrug as he
rose to open the door.
"And he wants to be a statesman!" said Chapuzot to
himself as he returned to his reports.
Victorin went home, still full of perplexities which he
could confide to no one.
At dinner the Baroness joyfully announced to her chil-
dren that within a month their father might be sharing their
comforts, and end his days in peace among his family.
"Oh, I would gladly give my three thousand six hun-
dred francs a year to see the Baron here!" cried Lisbeth.
"But, my dear Adeline, do not dream beforehand of such
happiness, I entreat you!"
"Lisbeth is right," said Ce'lestine. "My dear mother,
wait till the end."
The Baroness, all feeling and all hope, related her visit
to Jose*pha, expressed her sense of the misery of such women
in the midst of good fortune, and mentioned Chardin the
mattress-picker, the father of the Oran storekeeper, thus
showing that her hopes were not groundless.
462 BALZAC'S WORKS
By seven next morning Lisbeth had driven in a hackney
coach to the Quai de la Tournelle, and stopped the vehicle
at the corner of the Rue de Poissy.
"(TO to the Rue des Bernardins," said she to the driver,
"No. 7, a house with an entry and no porter. Go up to the
fourth floor, ring at the door to the left, on which you will
see 'Mademoiselle Chardin Lace and shawls mended.' She
will answer the door. Ask for the Chevalier. She will sav
he is out. Say in reply, 'Yes, I know, but find him, for his
bonne is out on the quay in a coach, and wants to see him."
Twenty minutes later, an old man, who looked about
eighty, with perfectly white hair, and a nose reddened by
the cold, and a pale, wrinkled face like an old woman's,
came shuffling slowly along in list slippers, a shiny alpaca
overcoat hanging on his stooping shoulders, no ribbon at
his buttonhole, the sleeves of an under- vest showing below
his coat-cuffs, and his shirt-front unpleasantly dingy. He
approached timidly, looked at the coach, recognized Lis-
beth, and came to the window.
"Why, my dear cousin, what a state you are inl"
"Elodie keeps everything for herself," said Baron
Hulot. "Those Chardins are a blackguard crew."
"Will you come home to us?"
"Oh, no, no!" cried the old man. "I would rather go
"Adeline is on the scent."
"Oh, if only some one would pay my debts!" said the
Baron, with a suspicious look, "for Samanon is after me."
"We have not paid up the arrears yet: your son still
owes a hundred thousand francs."
"And your pension will not be free before seven or eight
COUSIN BETTY 463
months. If yon will wait a minute, I have two thousand
The Baron held out his hand with fearful avidity.
"Give it me, Lisbeth, and may (rod reward you! Give
it me; I know where to go."
"But you will tell me, old wretch?"
"Yes, yes. Then I can wait eight months, for I have
discovered a little angel, a good child, an innocent thing
not old enough to be depraved."
"Do not forget the police-court," said Lisbeth, who flat-
tered herself that she would some day see Hulot there.
"No. It is in the Rue de Charonne, " said the Baron,
"a part of the town where no fuss is made about anything.
No one will ever find me there. I am called P&re Thorec,
Lisbeth, and I shall be taken for a retired cabinetmaker ; the
girl is fond of me, and I will not allow my back to be shorn
"No, that has been done," said Lisbeth, looking at his
coat. "Supposing I take you there."
Baron Hulot got into the coach, deserting Mademoiselle
Elodie without taking leave of her, as he might have tossed
aside a novel he had finished.
In half an hour, during which Baron Hulot talked to
Lisbeth of nothing but little Atala Judici for he had
fallen by degrees to those base passions that ruin old men
she set him down with two thousand francs in his pocket,
in the Rue de Charonne, Faubourg Saint- Antoine, at the
door of a doubtful and sinister-looking house.
"Good -day, Cousin; so now you are to be called Thorec,
I suppose? Send none but commissionaires if you need
me, and always take them from different parts."
"Trust me! Oh, I am really very lucky!" said the
464 BALZAC'S WORKS
Baron, his face beaming with the prospect of new and fu-
"No one can find him there," said Lisbeth; and she paid
the coach at the Boulevard Beaumarchais, and returned to
the Kue Louis-le-Grand in the omnibus.
On the following day Crevel was announced at the hour
when all the family were together in the drawing-room, just
after breakfast. Celestine flew to throw her arms round her
father's neck, and behaved as if she had seen him only the
day before, though in fact he had not called there for more
than two years.
"Good-morning, father," said Victorin, offering his
"Good-morning, children," said the pompous Crevel.
"Madame la Baronne, I throw myself at your feet! Good
Heavens, how the children grow ! they are pushing us off
the perch 'Grandpa,' they say, 'we want our turn in the
sunshine.' Madame la Comtesse, you are as lovely as
ever," he went on, addressing Hortense. "Ah, ha! and
here is the best of good money: Cousin Betty, the Wise
"Why, you are really very comfortable here," said he,
after scattering these greetings with a cackle of loud laugh-
ter that hardly moved the rubicund muscles of his broad
He looked at his daughter with some contempt.
"My dear Ce'lestine, I will make you a, present of all my
furniture out of the Rue des Saussayes; it will just do here.
Your drawing-room wants furbishing up. Ha! there is
that little rogue Wenceslas. Well, and are we very good
children, I wonder? You must have pretty manners, you
COUSIN BETTY 465
"To make up for those who have none," said Lisbeth.
"That sarcasm, my dear Lisbeth, has lost its sting. I
am going, my dear children, to put an end to the false po-
sition in which I have so long been placed ; I have come,
like a good father, to announce my approaching marriage
without any circumlocution."
"You have a perfect right to marry," said Victorin.
"And for my part, I give you back the promise you made
me when you gave me the hand of my dear Ce'lestine - "
"What promise?" said Crevel.
"Not to marry," replied the lawyer. "You will do me
the justice to allow that I did not ask you to pledge your-
self, that you gave your word quite voluntarily and in spite
of my desire, for I pointed out to you at the time that you
were unwise to bind yourself."
"Yes, I do remember, my dear fellow," said Crevel,
ashamed of himself. "But, on my honor, if you will but
live with Madame Crevel, my children, you will find no
reason to repent. Your good feeling touches me, Victorin,