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was made a necessity by the swiftly moving events
amid which their lot was cast. In the baron's
appearance there was nothing, we must confess,
that savored of the old man; his sight was still so
good that he read without glasses; his handsome
oval face, framed by black whiskers too black,
(73)



74 THE POOR RELATIONS

alas! presented its natural color, enlivened by the
delicate veining which denotes a sanguine tempera-
ment ; and his paunch, confined by a belt, was
nothing less than majestic, as Brillat-Savarin says.
A most aristocratic air and extreme affability were
the outer envelope of the libertine with whom Cre-
vel had taken part in so many parties under the
rose. He was one of those men whose eyes glisten
at the sight of a pretty woman, and who smile at
all the lovely creatures, even at those who pass
them on the street, and whom they are not likely
to see again.

" Did you speak, my dear?" said Adeline, seeing
that his face wore a thoughtful expression.

"No," Hector replied; "but I am tired to death
listening to others speak for two hours without
reaching a vote. They fight battles with words, in
which the speeches are like cavalry charges that
don't scatter the enemy! They have substituted
talk for action, to the disgust of people who are used
to marching, as I said to the marshal when I left
him. But it's quite enough to be bored to death
on the ministerial benches; let's enjoy ourselves
here. Good afternoon, Nanny-goat ! good after-
noon, my little kid!"

He put his arm about his daughter's neck, kissed
her, fondled her, took her upon his knee, and placed
her head upon his shoulder so that he might feel the
soft golden locks against his face.

"He is bored and tired out," thought Madame
Hulot, "and I shall weary him still more, I will



COUSIN BETTE 75

wait. Do you remain at home this evening?" she
asked aloud.

" No, my children. After dinner I must leave
you; and had it not been the nanny-goat's day,
and my children's and my brother's, you would
not have seen me."

The baroness took up the newspaper, glanced
over the theatrical announcements, and laid the
sheet down, fpr she had seen Robert le Diable
announced at the Opera; Josepha, whom the Italian
Opera had ceded to the Opera Franc.ais six months
before, was to sing the r61e of Alice. This panto-
mime did not escape the baron, who gazed fixedly
at his wife. Adeline lowered her eyes, and went
into the garden, whither he followed her.

"What is it; tell me, Adeline?" he said, putting
his arm about her waist and drawing her to his
heart. "Don't you know that I love you more
than"

"More than Jenny Cadine and Josepha!" she
replied desperately, interrupting him.

"Who told you that?" demanded the baron,
releasing his wife and drawing back a few steps.

" Some one wrote me an anonymous letter, which
I burned, and which said, my dear, that Hortense's
marriage fell through on account of our poverty.
Your wife, my dear Hector, would never have men-
tioned it; she has known of your liaison with Jenny
Cadine, and has she ever complained? But Hor-
tense's mother must tell you the truth."

Hulot, after a moment's silence most painful to



76 THE POOR RELATIONS

his wife, the beating of whose heart could be heard,
unfolded his arms, seized her, strained her to his
heart, kissed her on the forehead, and said with the
exaltation born of enthusiasm:

"Adeline, you are an angel, and I am a miserable
wretch."

"No! no!" replied the baroness, quickly placing
her hand upon his lips to prevent his speaking ill of
himself.

"Yes; I haven't a sou at this moment to give
Hortense, and I am very wretched; but since you
have opened your heart to me thus, I can pour into
it the sorrow which is stifling me. If your uncle
Fischer is in embarrassed circumstances, I am the
cause of it, for he indorsed my notes to the amount
of twenty -five thousand francs! And all for a woman
who deceives me, who laughs at me when I am not
there, who calls me an old dyed cat! Oh! it's a
frightful thing that it should cost more to gratify
a vice than to support a family! and yet she's irre-
sistible. I might promise you at this moment never
to go back to the abominable Israelite, and if she
should write me two lines I should go, as we used
to go into action under the emperor."

"Don't worry, Hector," said the poor woman in
despair, forgetting all about her daughter at sight of
the tears welling up in her husband's eyes. "I
have my diamonds, you know; before everything,
save my uncle!"

"Your diamonds are worth barely twenty thou-
sand francs to-day. That wouldn't suffice for Pere



COUSIN BETTE 77

Fischer, so keep them for Hortense. I will see the
marshal to-morrow."

" Poor dear!" cried the baroness seizing her Hec-
tor's hands and kissing them.

That was the whole of the lecture. Adeline
proffered her diamonds, the father turned them over
to Hortense, she looked upon that as a sublime
effort, and she was helpless.

" He is the master, he can take everything here,
he leaves me my diamonds; he is a god!"

So ran the thoughts of the poor woman, who had
certainly gained more by her gentleness than another
would have done by an outbreak of jealous wrath.

The moralist would in vain deny that, generally
speaking, persons well brought up and very vicious
are much more amiable than virtuous persons; hav-
ing crimes to purchase pardon for, they solicit indul-
gence provisionally by dealing very leniently with
the faults of their judges, and they acquire the
name of being very kind. Although there are de-
lightful people among the virtuous, virtue deems
itself sufficiently estimable in itself to dispense with
any outlay; then, too, the truly virtuous, for we
must leave out the hypocrites, almost always have
some slight suspicion of their situation; they fancy
that they are cheated in the great market of life,
and they indulge in sharp speech after the fashion
of people who think themselves misunderstood.
Thus the baron, who blamed himself for the ruin of
his family, exerted all the resources of his wit and
of his power to charm, upon his wife, her children



78 THE POOR RELATIONS

and her cousin Bette. When his son arrived and
Celestine Crevel, who was nursing a little Hulot,
his manner to his daughter-in-law was charming,
and he overwhelmed her with compliments, a species
of nourishment to which Celestine's vanity was not
accustomed, for never was the child of mere wealth so
vulgar or so utterly insignificant. The grandfather
took the little monkey in his arms, kissed him, declared
that he was delightful and enchanting; he talked
baby-talk to him, prophesied that the youngster
would be taller than himself, aimed a flattering
speech or two in the direction of his son Hulot, and
handed the child back to the stout Norman girl
whose duty it was to hold him. Whereupon Celes-
tine exchanged with the baroness a glance which
said: "What an adorable man!" Naturally she
would defend her father-in-law against the assaults
of her own father.

Having exhibited himself in the guise of affable
father-in-law and indulgent grandpa, the baron took
his son into the garden to offer some observations
full of common sense as to the attitude he should
assume in the Chamber in reference to a delicate
question which had arisen that morning. He filled
the young man with admiration by the depth of his
views, he touched his heart by his friendly tone,
and especially by the deferential way in which he
manifested his purpose to consider him thenceforth
as upon his level.

M. Hulot, the younger, was a perfect type of the
young men produced by the Revolution of 1830; his



COUSIN BETTE 79

mind saturated with politics, respectfully silent in
regard to his aspirations, concealing them beneath
an assumed gravity, very envious of established
reputations, uttering vague phrases instead of inci-
sive words, the diamonds of French conversation,
but well supplied with manner, and mistaking
stately bearing for dignity! Such people are walk-
ing coffins, which contain Frenchmen of other days;
the Frenchman stirs uneasily from time to time,
and beats against his English envelope; but ambition
holds him back, and he resigns himself to suffocate
therein. This coffin was always draped in black
cloth.

"Ah! here's my brother!" said Baron Hulot,
going to the door of the salon to welcome the count.

Having embraced the probable successor of the
late Marshal Montcornet, he took his arm and led
him into the room with every mark of affection and
respect.

This peer of France, who was excused from at-
tending the sessions of the legislature because of
his deafness, possessed a noble head frosted by
time, with gray hair still abundant enough to be
smoothed down by the pressure of his hat. Short,
thick-set, but of late years somewhat spare, he
wore his green old age with a sprightly air; and as he
was still extremely active, though condemned to a
life of repose, he divided his time between reading
and walking. His gentle manners were visible upon
his white face, in his bearing, in his straightforward
speech, overflowing with sensible ideas. He never



80 THE POOR RELATIONS

talked of war or campaigns; he was too great to
have need of assuming airs of greatness. In a
salon he confined his r&le to untiring attention to
the desires of the ladies.

"You are all in high spirits," he said, as he
observed the animation which the baron instilled
into the little family reunion. " Hortense isn't
married yet, however," he added, as he detected
traces of sadness on his sister-in-law's face.

"That will come soon enough," cried Cousin
Bette in his ear in a deafening tone.

"Ah! there you are, bad seed that refused to
sprout!" he retorted with a laugh.

The hero of Forzheim was very fond of Cousin
Bette, for he detected certain points of resemblance
between her and himself. Without education,
sprung from the common people, his courage had
been the sole artisan of his military fortune, and his
common sense took the place of intellect. Full of
honors, and with unsullied hands, his noble life was
drawing happily to its close in the midst of the
family upon which all his affections were centred,
without a suspicion of the vagaries, still secret, of
his brother. No one enjoyed more than he the
lovely spectacle of these reunions, where no subject
of discord ever arose, where brothers and sisters
were equally devoted to one another, for Celestine
had been instantly adopted as one of the family.
From time to time the gallant little Count Hulot
would inquire why Pere Crevel did not come.

" My father's in the country!" Celestine would



COUSIN BETTE 8l

shout in reply. On this occasion they told him that
the quondam dealer in perfumes was traveling.

This true union of hearts in her family caused
Madame Hulot to reflect:

"This is the most stable of all forms of happiness,
and who can deprive us of it?"

When he saw the baron devoting himself to Ade-
line, the general joked him about it to such an extent
that the baron, , dreading ridicule, transferred his
devotion to his daughter-in-law, who, at these
family dinner-parties, was always the object of his
flattery and attentions, for he hoped through her to
bring Pere Crevel around and induce him to abjure
his resentment. Anyone looking in upon this family
party would have found it difficult to believe that
the father was on the verge of ruin, the mother in
despair, the son in the last stage of anxiety con-
cerning his father's future, and the daughter engaged
in stealing a lover from her cousin.

At seven o'clock the baron, seeing that his brother
and son, with the baroness and Hortense, were
absorbed in a game of whist, took his leave, to go
and applaud his mistress at the Opera, taking with
him Cousin Bette, who lived on Rue du Doyenne,
and who made the lonesomeness of that deserted
neighborhood a pretext for always going home
immediately after dinner. All Parisians will agree
that the old maid's prudence was quite rational.



The existence of the cluster of houses which skirt
the old Louvre is one of those demonstrations against
common sense which the French people love to
indulge in, so that Europe may take comfort as to
the modicum of /wit with which they are to be
credited, and may cease to stand in awe of them.
It may be that we have unknowingly given voice to
a profound political reflection. It certainly will not
be out of place to describe this corner of the Paris
of to-day, for hereafter it will be impossible to
imagine it; and our nephews, who will doubtless see
the Louvre completed, will refuse to believe that
such a bit of barbarism endured for thirty-six years
in the very heart of Paris, in front of the palace
wherein three dynasties have received during those
thirty-six years, the 61ite of France and of Europe.

Every man who comes to Paris, though it be for
a few days only, notices between the wicket leading
to the Pont du Carrousel and Rue du Musee, some
half-score houses with dilapidated facades, which
the disheartened proprietors make no attempt to
repair, the remnant of an old quarter which has
been falling into decay from the time that Napoleon
determined to complete the Louvre. The Rue du
Doyenne and the cul-de-sac of the same name are
the only thoroughfares of this gloomy and deserted
neighborhood, where the inhabitants are probably
(83)



84 THE POOR RELATIONS

ghosts, for no living person is ever seen there. The
pavement, which is much lower than the roadway
of Rue du Musee, is on the same level with Rue
Froidmanteau. Partly buried already by the grad-
ing up of the square, these houses are enveloped in
the perpetual shadow cast by the lofty galleries of
the Louvre, blackened on that side by the north
wind. The darkness, the silence, the chilly atmos-
phere, the cavern-like excavation of the ground, all
concur to make of these houses something very like
crypts, living tombs. When one drives in a cab
along the outskirts of this dead quarter and casts a
glance down the Ruelle du Doyenne, a cold chill
strikes one's heart, and one wonders who can live
in such a place, what probably takes place there at
night, at the hour when that lane becomes a fitting
resort of cut-throats, and when the vices of Paris,
wrapped in the mantle of darkness, throw off all
restraint. This problem, terrifying in itself, becomes
appalling when one sees that these so-called houses
are enclosed by a swamp on the side toward Rue de
Richelieu, by an ocean of billowy heaps of paving-
stones on the side toward the Tuileries, by small
gardens and hovels of forbidding appearance on the
side toward the galleries, and by plateaus of hewn
stone and rubbish on the side toward the old Louvre.
Henri III. and his minions looking for their stock-
ings, Marguerite's lovers in search of their heads,
might be expected to dance sarabands by moonlight
on that deserted spot, overlooked by the walls of a
chapel which is still standing, as if to prove that the



COUSIN BETTE 85

Catholic religion, so firmly rooted in France, out-
lives everything. It will soon be forty years that
the Louvre has been crying through all the mouths
cut in its walls, through all its yawning windows:
" Pluck out these warts from my face!" Doubtless
the authorities have realized the utility of this cut-
throat place, and the necessity of symbolizing, in
the heart of Paris, the close alliance between misery
and splendor which characterizes the queen of capi-
tals. So it may be that these repellant ruins, in
whose bosom the journal of the legitimists contracted
the disease of which it is dying, the impure hovels
of the Rue du Musee, and the boarded booths of the
hucksters who frequent that thoroughfare, will
enjoy a longer and more prosperous life than the
three dynasties!

As early as 1823 the modest rent of lodgings in
these houses, doomed to destruction, led Cousin
Bette to install herself there, despite the necessity
of going home before nightfall imposed upon her by
the dangerous condition of the quarter. This neces-
sity was in accord, however, with the provincial
custom to which she adhered of retiring and rising
with the sun, a custom which enables country peo-
ple to effect a noteworthy saving in the way of fuel
and light. She lived, then, in one of the houses
which gained a view of the square by the demolition
of the celebrated mansion formerly occupied by
Cambaceres.

Just as Baron Hulot set his wife's cousin down at
the door of her abode, saying to her: "Adieu,



86 THE POOR RELATIONS

cousin!" a young woman of small stature, graceful
and pretty, dressed in the height of fashion, and
exhaling the choicest of perfumes, passed between
the carriage and the wall on her way into the house.
This lady, without the slightest premeditation,
exchanged a glance with the baron, solely to have
a look at the lodger's cousin; but the old rake felt
that sudden thrill which all Parisians feel when they
fall in with a pretty woman who realizes, as the
entomologists say, their desiderata, and, with cun-
ning moderation, he drew on one of his gloves before
returning to the carriage, in order that he might be
able, without embarrassment, to look after the
young woman, whose dress was most attractively
adjusted over something very different from the
abhorrent and deceptive hoopskirt.

" There's an attractive little woman," he said to
himself, "whom I would be very glad to make
happy, for she would do the same by me."

When the stranger had reached the landing of the
staircase which led to the portion of the house fronting
on the street, she glanced back at the porte-cochere
out of the corner of her eye, without actually turn-
ing around, and saw the baron rooted to the spot
by admiration, consumed with desire and curiosity.
Such episodes are like flowers which all Parisian
women delight to smell when they find them in their
path. Some women, devoted to their duties, virtu-
ous and attractive, return home in ill-humor when
they have failed to gather such a little nosegay dur-
ing their walk.



COUSIN BETTE 87

The young woman swiftly ascended the stairs.
Soon a window of the apartment on the second
floor was thrown open, and she appeared thereat,
but accompanied by a gentleman, whose bald head
and by no means wrathful eye betrayed the hus-
band.

" How sly and clever these creatures are! "
said the baron to himself; " that's her way of show-
ing me where she lives. She's a little too eager,
especially for this neighborhood. I must look out."

He raised his head when he had entered the
milord, whereupon the lady and her husband swiftly
drew back, as if the baron's face had produced upon
them the effect of the fabled head of Medusa.

"One would say that they know who I am,"
thought the baron. " In that case everything is
explained."

In fact, when the carriage had driven up into the
Rue du Musee, he leaned out to catch another glimpse
of the stranger, and found that she had returned to
the window. Ashamed at being caught gazing at
the capote which sheltered her admirer, the young
woman hastily drew back.

" I will find out who she is from the Nanny-goat,"
said the baron to himself.

The features of the councilor of state had pro-
duced, as we shall see, a profound impression upon
the couple.

" Why it's baron Hulot, in whose department my
office is!" cried the husband as he left the balcony.

" True, Marneffe, the old maid of the third floor at



88 THE POOR RELATIONS

the end of the courtyard, who lives with that young
man, is his cousin, isn't she? How strange that
we should not find it out until to-day, and then by
chance!"

" Mademoiselle Fischer live with a young man! "
repeated the clerk. " That's mere concierge's
gossip; we mustn't speak so lightly of the cousin of
a councilor of state, who has great influence with
the ministry. Come, let's have dinner, 1 have been
waiting for you since four o'clock!"

Lovely Madame Marneffe, a natural daughter of
Count Montcornet, one of Napoleon's most cele-
brated lieutenants, had been married, through the
instrumentality of a dowry of twenty thousand
francs, to an under clerk at the War Department.
By the influence of the illustrious lieutenant-general,
marshal of France, during the last six months of
his life, this knight of the pen had attained the
unhoped-for dignity of chief clerk in his bureau;
but just as he was on the point of being appointed
deputy chief of the bureau, the marshal's death
nipped the hopes of Marneffe and his wife in the
bud. The slender proportions of Monsieur Mar-
neffe's income Mademoiselle Valerie Fortin's mar-
riage-portion having already disappeared, partly in
payment of the clerk's debts, partly in the neces-
sary outlay of a young man beginning housekeeping,
but principally in satisfying the requirements of a
pretty woman, accustomed under her mother's roof
to luxuries which she did not choose to forego, had
compelled the young couple to economize in the



COUSIN BETTE 89

matter of rent. The location of the Rue du Doyenne,
near at hand to the Ministry of War and the centre
of Paris, suited Monsieur and Madame Marneffe,
who had occupied an apartment in Mademoiselle
Fischer's house for some four years.

Sieur Jean-Paul-Stanislas Marneffe belonged to that
class of clerks who steer clear of downright brutish-
ness by the species of force which depravity bestows.
A lean little man^ with thin hair and beard, an un-
healthy pallor on his cheeks, more faded than wrin-
kled, eyes with slightly-reddened lids and adorned
with glasses, a shambling gait and a still more sham-
bling carriage, he realized the type which every one
sketches in his own mind of a man arraigned at the
assizes for a crime against public morals.

The apartment occupied by this family, a type of
many Parisian families, presented the misleading
aspect of pseudo luxury which characterizes so
many interiors. In the salon, the furniture covered
with worn cotton-velvet, the statuettes of plaster
counterfeiting Florentine bronze, the wretchedly-
carved chandelier, merely painted over, with sconces
of imitation crystal, the carpet of which the low
price was explained too late by the quantity of cot-
ton woven in by the manufacturer, and now visible
to the naked eye; everything, even to the curtains
which would have demonstrated to your satisfaction
that the splendor of woolen damask does not endure
three years; everything sang of poverty as loudly
as a ragged beggar at a church door.

The dining-room, ill-cared for by a single servant,



90 THE POOR RELATIONS

presented the disgusting appearance of the dining-
room in a country hotel; everything was greasy and
untidy.

Monsieur's chamber, not unlike the chamber of a
student, was furnished with the bed and belongings
( of a bachelor, decayed and worn-out like himself,
and made up once a week. This horrible chamber,
where everything was in confusion, where old stock-
ings hung upon the backs of horsehair chairs, on which
the flowers were outlined in the dust, proclaimed
the man who cares little for his home, who lives
abroad, at the gaming-house, in the caf6s or else-
where.

Madame's chamber was an exception to the dis-
graceful slovenliness which dishonored the principal
apartments, where the curtains were everywhere
yellow with smoke and dust, and where the child,
evidently left to shift for itself, left its toys lying
around on all sides. Situated in the wing which
connected, on one side only, the building on the
street with the main building constructed at the rear
of the courtyard close against the adjoining prop-
erty, Valerie's bedroom and dressing-room, with
dainty chintz hangings, violet-wood furniture and a
moquette carpet, had a savor of the pretty woman,
'and, let us say it, almost of the kept mistress.
Upon the velvet-covered mantelpiece stood a clock
of the prevailing fashion. There was a little cabi-
net well supplied, and jardinieres in Chinese porce-
lain upon handsome stands. The bed, the toilet-
table, the wardrobe with a long mirror, the te'te-zl-te'te,



, COUSIN BETTE; 91

the indispensable knick-knacks, were in accord with
the taste or the caprice of the day.

Although it was third-rate in point of rich-
ness and elegance, and although everything was
three years old, a dandy would have found nothing
to carp at, except that the splendor smacked of the
bourgeoisie. Art, and the air of distinction resulting'
from the little things which good taste makes its
own, were wholly lacking. A professor of social
science would have recognized the lover in certain
of those useless trifles in the way of rich bijouterie,


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