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He tried to retrace his steps, but Madame de
Noirmont and her daugliter had seated themselves
in front of him and closed the way by which he had
come ; so that lie was blockaded in a very confined
space, whicli he could not leave except by compelling
tlie ladies in front of him to rise.



Paul de Kock






Copyrighted, jQoj-tgof, by G. B.& Sons.


Shyness is a failing for which it is
dangerous to reprove those whom we
wish to correct of it.





It was the year 1818, I will not say of happy memory,
because I do not remember whether that year was hap-
pier than other years; probably it was so to certain
people, and just the opposite to others; and sometimes,
often, I may say almost always, the same cause pro-
duces contrary results; that is to say, the thing that
causes one person's happiness causes the unhappiness
of another person.

But this has been so in all times, and doubtless it will
continue to be so till the end of time, assuming that time
is to have an end. Nature loves contrasts; I cannot
guess why, but that does not prevent me from believing
that she is right, for Nature always does perfectly what-
ever she does.

It was, then, the year 1818.

In an old mansion in Faubourg Saint-Germain, sit-
uated on I do not know what street, and that is of
little importance, a large company was assembled ; they
were dancing, enjoying themselves or, at least, pre-
tending to do so, which is not always the same thing ; in
short, it was a wedding party, the wedding of Monsieur
le Marquis de Grandvilain and Mademoiselle Amenaide


There was a choice orchestra, in which, however, there
were no cornets, because that instrument had not then
acquired a commanding position in our ballrooms ; there
was a select company also; the dancing was marked by
that decency, that gravity, that good-breeding which
prevents French dancing from being amusing, and which
has given rise to the saying that the merriest people on
earth dance with the least indication of merriment.

It is true that since that time a certain much more
decollete dance has found its way from the dance hall
to the masked ball, and from the masked ball has insin-
uated itself into some salons; a dance which would be
fascinating, and which would have a genuine character
of its own, were it not that most of the people who
dance it substitute burlesque for grace and indecency for
abandon. But that dance was not in evidence at Mon-
sieur le Marquis de Grandvilain's wedding.

And then the bridegroom did not set the example for
the dancers; he did not run from one to the other, in-
viting them to dance and offering them his hand. After
opening the ball with his wife, he had thrown himself
into an immense easy-chair, contented to watch the others,
smiling at the ladies and beating time with his head.

You are surprised without doubt at the bridegroom's
behavior, and you would like to know the explanation;
your surprise will cease when I tell you that on his wed-
ding day Monsieur de Grandvilain was entering his
sixty-ninth year. At that age you will understand that
a man is no longer one of those inveterate dancers who
refuse to leave the floor, one of those dancers who engage
partners for six quadrilles ahead.

Perhaps now you will say that monsieur le marquis
was as old for marriage as for balls; that it is folly to
marry at sixty-nine years.


In the first place, what do you know about it? Has
it ever happened to you? And even if it be folly, what
harm is there in it, if it makes one happy ? The maddest
people are sometimes the wisest. Let us marry so long
as we are inclined, and let us dance as long as we can.
Cato learned to dance at sixty. Plato praises dancing;
and you must be well aware that King David gambolled
in front of the Ark of the Covenant. I agree that that
was a strange way to manifest his faith and devotion,
and I am glad to think that, at all events, David did not
know the dance which I have just mentioned.

Let us return to the groom. Monsieur de Grand-
vilain deserved a different name from the one which he
bore : he was of medium height and well proportioned ;
he had once had a fine figure, and he still possessed a
well-shaped leg and sufficient calf for a man about to
marry. His face, although it was a little like a sheep's,
lacked neither dignity nor charm; his features were
regular, his eyes had been very fine, and they had re-
tained an amiable expression; lastly, his smile was still
passably mischievous.

You see that that gentleman still retained many good
qualities, and that it was very excusable for him to have
thought of marrying in order to turn them all to some

Amenaide Dufoureau, who had given her hand to
Monsieur de Grandvilain, was entering her forty-fourth
year and had hitherto remained single.

Single! do you realize the full force of that word?
It indicates an inexperienced heart, an inexperienced
soul, an untried love, and charms like all the rest! A
single maiden of forty-four, and a flower that has never
been plucked ! But what a flower, great heaven ! and
what a long time it has had to go to seed !


For my part, I confess with all humility that I should
prefer ten married women at that age to one flower
which has been left so long on its stalk.

Probably Monsieur de Grandvilain did not agree with
me. Opinions are free, and if we all had the same opin-
ions, it would be very tiresome, because we should no
longer have the pleasure of arguing and disputing.

Monsieur de Grandvilain had known Mademoiselle
Amenaide Dufoureau in 1798. At that time she was
only twenty-four years old; it is to be presumed that
her heart was at least as fresh as at forty-four ; and it is
certain that her face was more so.

At that time Amenaide was a very pretty young
woman, slender, graceful and ethereal; her black eyes,
level with her face, gleamed with health and animation;
her mouth, which was a little large, laughed frequently
to display a double row of faultless teeth; and although
her nose was a little coarse, her forehead a little low, and
her complexion a little dark, Mademoiselle Dufoureau
might have passed for a very attractive person.

Monsieur de Grandvilain, who was forty-nine at that
time, and considered himself still a young man, because
he had retained the tastes and the temperament of a
young man, had met Amenaide in society and had paid
court to her ; but with the frivolity of a man accustomed
to making conquests, with the self-assurance of a rake
who had never found women cruel, and with the fatuity
of a marquis, who thought that he bestowed much honor
upon a young woman of the middle class by allowing his
eyes to rest upon her.

Mademoiselle Dufoureau was, in fact, only a simple
bourgeoise; her parents, worthy tradespeople, had died,
leaving her fifteen hundred francs a year and excellent


The fifteen hundred francs a year was but a slender
fortune; but combined with the young lady's virtue and
innocence, it formed a marriage portion which some very
wealthy young women would be sorely at a loss to offer
their husbands.

Monsieur de Grandvilain, still proud and magnificent,
fluttered about that flower of twenty-four years.

Mademoiselle Amenaide found monsieur le marquis
very agreeable; she was flattered to be noticed by him;
and she even allowed him to see that her heart was not
indifferent to his homage. But when she discovered
that Monsieur de Grandvilain had no idea of making her
a marchioness, she proudly repulsed him, saying:

" For what do you take me, monsieur ? "

The marquis, offended by her resistance, turned on his
heel, humming a tune from Blaise et Babet, an opera-
comique, then in great vogue; the operas of those days
abounded in tunes which were easily remembered, and
were sung and whistled on the streets. Other times,
other music!

Monsieur de Grandvilain carried elsewhere his glan-
ces, his passions, his homage and his heart. Mademoi-
selle Amenaide Dufoureau concealed in the depths of
her heart her regrets, her sighs, and her ardor.

Think how fortunate men are ! A woman resists them,
they simply apply elsewhere, and they always end by
finding a place for their love, which they offer to every
pretty face they see. They are like those people who
have their pockets full of money and say to themselves:
" I will buy whatever I please, I will have the best and
finest things I can find, for I pay cash ! " On the other
hand, virtuous women are obliged to ask for credit; for
they are willing to promise their love, but they do not
propose to give it at once.


Six years passed, during which monsieur le marquis,
passing constantly from conquest to conquest, spend-
ing his time in a life of pleasure, did not again see poor
Amenaide Dufoureau, who led a very tranquil, very
modest life, and did not frequent the society in which
Monsieur de Grandvilain moved.

At the end of that time, an outdoor fete in the sub-
urbs of Paris brought about a meeting between those
two people who had ceased to seek each other. The mar-
quis still found Amenaide attractive, and Amenaide could
not restrain a sigh or two, which indicated that the past
had not been entirely forgotten.

Once more the marquis played the amiable seducer;
he thought that the flower of thirty years would be
plucked more easily than that of twenty-four; but he
was mistaken ; he encountered the same virtue, the same
resistance, as before, and yet she did not conceal from
him that she loved him. She desired to be a marchioness,
however, and she did not propose to give herself to any-
body but her husband.

Once more our seducer turned on his heel. He trav-
elled ; he was away from France six years. When he re-
turned, he was much less active, much less volatile; his
bearing was still distinguished, but his step was slow and
heavy. However, although he was then sixty-one years
old, the marquis believed himself still to be very fas-
cinating ; there are people who refuse to grow old ;
they are perfectly right, but in that case it is time which
is in the wrong.

Monsieur de Grandvilain once more met Amenaide
Dufoureau; she was still unmarried, although she had
seen thirty-six springs. We must never reckon except
by springs, for that gives an air of youth. Had she re-
mained unmarried for lack of opportunity to marry, or


because she had preferred to keep her heart for the
marquis? We are too gallant not to believe that it was
for the last reason, and the marquis probably thought
the same, because that flattered his self-esteem.

Amenaide was no longer so slender, so graceful or so
willowy as she was at twenty-four, but she was still
fresh enough, and her eyes, while losing their vivacity,
had become more tender. Monsieur de Grandvilain, al-
ways pleased to meet the only woman over whom he had
not triumphed, began again to pay court to the flower of
thirty-six years. But he was no more fortunate, and
that was certain to be the case. After having had the
strength to resist him when he was young and good-
looking, it was not probable that she would falter when
he was old and faded. Monsieur de Grandvilain, still
haughty and pretentious, turned on his heel once more,
swearing that he would never return again, and that
he would carry his homage elsewhere.

Poor old fellow, who had passed his sixtieth year, and
who believed himself still capable of inconstancy ! The
opportunities to forget Amenaide no longer offered them-
selves; time passed and brought no distraction; all the
ladies became as cruel to the marquis as Mademoiselle
Dufoureau, and our old rake said to himself:

" It is amazing how the fair sex changes ! women no
longer have such susceptible hearts as they used to

At last the marquis decided to return to Amenaide;
she was approaching her forty-fourth spring, and Mon-
sieur de Grandvilain said to himself :

" If I wait until her springs become more numerous,
she will strongly resemble a winter. I am beginning to
be old enough to settle down. Mademoiselle Dufoureau
is not of noble birth, but she is virtuous; for twenty


years she has loved me, and that deserves a reward; I
will marry her."

And our lover of sixty-nine years at last offered his
hand to the maiden whom he might have married twenty
years earlier.

When Mademoiselle Dufoureau heard him offer her
his heart and his sixty-nine years, she was tempted to
reply :

" It is hardly worth while to marry now ! "

But she accepted him ; and that is why the wedding
of those old lovers was celebrated in the hotel de Grand-
vilain, in the year 1818.



When a man marries at sixty-nine, can he look for-
ward to having heirs, to living again in his children ? It
seems to me not; however, it is probable that such men
always look forward to it.

When such a thing happens, when an old man's wife
becomes a mother, jests rain down upon the husband ;
but the puns and jocose remarks go astray sometimes ;
in such a case, even if you do not choose to believe, it is
very difficult to prove that you are wrong.

" An ass can deny more than a philosopher can prove."

About five months after Amenaide Dufoureau had be-
come Madame de Grandvilain, she went to her husband
one morning, blushing, with downcast eyes and an em-
barrassed air, and informed him that she hoped to present
him with a pledge of her love.


Monsieur de Granvilain uttered a cry of joy; he rose,
ran about the room, tried to perform a pirouette, and
fell to the floor ; but madame assisted him to rise, and he
began again to indulge in innumerable follies, for the
pleasure he felt made him forget his age. He was proud
to have a child, and with good reason, especially as his
wife's virtue was like that of Caesar's wife: it was ab-
solutely above suspicion.

From that moment, they devoted all their attention to
the child that was not yet born.

Monsieur le marquis was persuaded that it would be a
boy. And in order to believe that, he said to himself:
" Good fortune never comes singly."

Madame la marquise was overjoyed to have a child.
Boy or girl, she was certain of loving it equally; but in
order to please her husband she too pretended to count
on a boy.

" I will nurse him myself ! " cried Amenaiide, smiling at
her husband.

" Yes, yes, we will nurse him ! " repeated the marquis ;
" we will raise him better than any nurse could do. What
the devil ! people like us ought to understand such things
better than peasants ; we will make a hearty blade of
him ! for I want my son to resemble his father in every-

As he spoke, the old marquis stuck out his leg and
tried to play the exquisite. Since he had known that his
wife was enceinte, he fancied that he was twenty years
old once more.

They bought a magnificent layette for the little
one which was expected ; they made great preparations
to receive that scion of Monsieur de Grandvilain be-
comingly ; and the intoxication which they felt was per-
fectly natural: if a young couple celebrate the birth of


their child, surely they have much more reason to do so
who have no hope of a repetition of such an occurrence.

As the time approached when madame la marquise was
to become a mother, the more her old husband over-
whelmed her with attentions and care; it went so far
sometimes that Madame de Grandvilain lost her appe-
tite with her freedom of action. Monsieur le marquis
would not allow her to go out on foot, he was appre-
hensive of the least fatigue, he watched to see that she
ate nothing that might injure her; and his espionage
became sheer cruelty to her who was the object of it, for
the marquis detected peril in the simplest thing, and it
was at once irrevocably forbidden; so that, toward the
end of her pregnancy, Madame de Grandvilain was given
nothing but bread soup, the only sort of food which,
according to Monsieur de Grandvilain, was not danger-
ous for his wife. There was a physician in attendance
on the marchioness who prescribed an entirely different
diet; but the marquis depended more on himself than
on the physician, and as he grew older, he became very

The great day arrived at last; and it was high time,
for the poor marchioness was not at all reconciled to eat-
ing nothing but bread soup. Amenaide brought a son
into the world.

Monsieur de Grandvilain did not feel strong enough
to remain with his wife while she was in the pains of
childbirth; but a servant, who had first been a jockey,
then a groom, then his master's valet, and who had now
reached the age of fifty years, hastened to carry him
the great news.

When he caught sight of his old Jasmin, whose red
and blotched face wore a more stupid expression than
usual, the marquis cried:


" Well, is it all over, Jasmin ? "

" Yes, monsieur le marquis, it's done ! Ah ! we had a
very hard time, but it's all right at last."

Everyone knows that the old servants in great families
are in the habit of saying we, when speaking of their
master's affairs, and Monsieur de Grandvilain forgave
his former jockey for employing that form of expression.

"What! it is all over, Jasmin? Ah! the poor mar-
chioness! But go on, you villain! what is it?"

" It is something magnificent, monsieur, you will be
well pleased ! "

" But the sex, you rascal, the sex ; hasn't the child
any sex ? "

" Oh ! yes, indeed ! a superb sex ! we have been de-
livered of a boy, my dear master."

" A boy, Jasmin ? a boy ! Oh ! what happiness ! but I
said so ; I was sure of it ; I would have bet on it ; don't
I always know what I am doing ? "

" You are very clever, monsieur le marquis."

" A boy I have a son I have an heir to my name !
Jasmin, I will give you a present of ten crowns for
bringing me this good news."

" Thanks, my dear master. Vive les Grandvilains ! "

" I have a boy such pleasure such Ah ! I can't
stand it any longer. Jasmin, pass me my phial of salts
no, give me a small glass of madeira; I feel as if my
heart were stopping."

" Come, come, monsieur le marquis, pull yourself to-
gether," said Jasmin, as he handed a glass of madeira
to his master. " This is not the time to be ill."

" You are right ; but what can you expect ? the
shock, the joy This is the first time I have ever been
a father, to my knowledge, at least and it produces
such an impression! Pray tell me some details while


I recover myself; for I haven't the strength to go to my
wife as yet."

" Well, monsieur le marquis, understand that I had
stationed myself outside madame's door, so that I might
come and tell you as soon as the child was born; for I
thought that you would be impatient to know about it."

" Very good, Jasmin ; go on, go on."

" After some time I heard cries. I was tempted to
run away, but I held my ground, and to give myself
courage, I took a good pinch of snuff. Suddenly the
door opened; it was the doctor. He was looking for
someone; he saw me and motioned for me to go in. I

" What ! you went into madame la marquise's room,
you rascal, while "

" No, monsieur, I stayed in the little reception room.
Everybody was excited; the nurse, the lady's maid,
that great idiot of a Turlurette had chosen to be ill in-
stead of making herself useful "

" That proves her attachment to my wife ; go on."

" I beg pardon, monsieur, I must blow my nose first.
Well, I was called to help Turlurette ; and as I was much
more anxious about madame, I asked :

" ' First tell me if we are delivered/

" ' Yes,' the doctor replied.

" ' Well then, what have we? '

" ' Look, you idiot.'

" As he spoke, the doctor put a little bundle in my arms.
Just imagine, monsieur, that at first I thought it was a
cheese. It was round and it had a funny smell; but on
looking at it closely, I found it was a little boy, just out
of his shell."

" What does this mean, Jasmin ? What ! it was my
son that you mistook for a cheese ? "


" Bless my soul ! when one has never seen a new-born
child before, monsieur, and it was the first one that
I ever saw."

" Take my son for a cheese ! You are a stupid lout,
and you shall have no present ! "

" O monsieur le marquis ! it isn't that I regret the
money, but I didn't think that I had deserved your anger ;
especially, as on looking at the little boy that I had in
my arms, I saw with delight that he has all our features
he is the living image of us ! "

"What! the living image of us! Have you been
drinking, Jasmin ? "

" Pardon me, monsieur le marquis, but it is my affec-
tion that carries me away ! When I say we, my dear
master knows very well that I mean him! In fact, it
is your noble face, monsieur, your fine aquiline nose,
your pretty little chin; and he will have your fine teeth,
which you no longer have. I would bet that he will
have them."

The old marquis could not help smiling, and he re-
plied in a milder tone:

" The dear child ! Well, I promised you a present, and
you shall have it. I know that you are a faithful servant,
my poor Jasmin, but you should be careful what you
say when you are speaking of your master's son."

" The little fellow is a real Love, monsieur. Ah ! if
I could have suckled him, how happy I would have

" I feel strong enough to go to see my wife and my
son now. Come, Jasmin, escort me."

" Yes, monsieur, let us go to see our child."

The old marquis, overjoyed to be born again at seventy,
rose, took his valet's arm, and tried to run to his wife's
apartment; but as both master and servant were heavy


of foot, their progress was confined to a rather swift
walk, which did not, however, prevent them from being
out of breath when they reached the marchioness's room.

Monsieur hastened forward to embrace madame, shed-
ding tears of joy; and in his emotion, he fell upon her
bed, from which they had all the difficulty in the world
to raise him, because happiness changed his legs and
arms to cotton. When they had succeeded in placing
Monsieur de Grandvilain in a chair, he asked for a glass
of madeira in order to restore his strength and put him
in a condition to embrace his son. Jasmin went again
to fetch the madeira ; he filled a glass for his master, and
one for himself also, to drink which he retired behind a
long window curtain, finding that he too needed to re-
plenish his strength.

" And now, where is my son ? " said the marquis in a
trembling voice, glancing about the room.

" He will be brought to you in a moment, monsieur,"
said the buxom Turlurette ; " the nurse is fixing him to
show you."

" I don't want him to be dressed," said the marquis ;
" on the contrary, I want to see him naked ; then I shall
be better able to judge of his strength, of his constitu-

" Yes, yes," said Jasmin, " we shall be very glad to see
what we have made ! "

" You hear, Turlurette, tell the nurse to bring me my
son as naked as a worm."

" Yes, let her bring him to us at once, like a savage,
without any fig-leaf."

" Jasmin, will you be good enough to keep your
tongue quiet for a moment ? "

" I beg pardon, monsieur le marquis ; it is my im-
patience to admire our dear love."


Turlurette made haste to perform her errand, and the
nurse soon appeared, carrying before her a large basin,
wherein the new-born child, entirely naked, moved about
and stretched out at pleasure its little pink and white

The nurse handed the child to the marquis, as the keys
of a city used in the old days to be presented to a con-

At sight of his son, Monsieur de Grandvilain uttered
a joyful cry, and put out his arms to take him; but his
emotion caused another attack of faintness; he had not
the strength to take the child, but fell back in his chair.
Meanwhile, the nurse, thinking that the father was going
to take what she held out to him, had relaxed her hold
of the child and the basin alike, and both would have
fallen to the floor if stout Turlurette had not luckily
caught the child by the part which presented itself first
to her grasp.

The bowl fell to the floor and broke into a thousand
pieces. When she heard the crash, madame la marquise

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