Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases - Wikisource, the free online library
Pay me a visit, so that we can meet face to face, and talk about the hopes that are in my mind." "The truth is," he continued, "that I want to see these stars again. . She would summon a car and it would fly with her down the tunnel until it .. By a vestibule, by a lift, by a tubular railway, by a platform, by a sliding door - by. Play the shopkeeper as you practice giving change for items costing from 20p to £ Three options give varying levels of support on the till screen. Price +. Three activities to develop the concept of time. Time passing supports the discussion of the passage of time during a day. Change the clock to see events such.
Night and day, wind and storm, tide and earthquake, impeded man no longer. He had harnessed Leviathan. All the old literature, with its praise of Nature, and its fear of Nature, rang false as the prattle of a child. Yet as Vashti saw the vast flank of the ship, stained with exposure to the outer air, her horror of direct experience returned.
It was not quite like the air-ship in the cinematophote. For one thing it smelt - not strongly or unpleasantly, but it did smell, and with her eyes shut she should have known that a new thing was close to her. Then she had to walk to it from the lift, had to submit to glances form the other passengers. The man in front dropped his Book - no great matter, but it disquieted them all. In the rooms, if the Book was dropped, the floor raised it mechanically, but the gangway to the air-ship was not so prepared, and the sacred volume lay motionless.
They stopped - the thing was unforeseen - and the man, instead of picking up his property, felt the muscles of his arm to see how they had failed him. Then some one actually said with direct utterance: Inside, her anxiety increased. The arrangements were old- fashioned and rough. There was even a female attendant, to whom she would have to announce her wants during the voyage.
Of course a revolving platform ran the length of the boat, but she was expected to walk from it to her cabin. Some cabins were better than others, and she did not get the best. She thought the attendant had been unfair, and spasms of rage shook her. The glass valves had closed, she could not go back. She saw, at the end of the vestibule, the lift in which she had ascended going quietly up and down, empty.
Beneath those corridors of shining tiles were rooms, tier below tier, reaching far into the earth, and in each room there sat a human being, eating, or sleeping, or producing ideas.
And buried deep in the hive was her own room. Then the sides of the vestibule seemed to melt together, as do the passages that we see in dreams, the lift vanishedthe Book that had been dropped slid to the left and vanished, polished tiles rushed by like a stream of water, there was a slight jar, and the air-ship, issuing from its tunnel, soared above the waters of a tropical ocean.
For a moment she saw the coast of Sumatra edged by the phosphorescence of waves, and crowned by lighthouses, still sending forth their disregarded beams. These also vanished, and only the stars distracted her.
They were not motionless, but swayed to and fro above her head, thronging out of one sky-light into another, as if the universe and not the air-ship was careening. And, as often happens on clear nights, they seemed now to be in perspective, now on a plane; now piled tier beyond tier into the infinite heavens, now concealing infinity, a roof limiting for ever the visions of men. In either case they seemed intolerable. When the air-ships had been built, the desire to look direct at things still lingered in the world.
Hence the extraordinary number of skylights and windows, and the proportionate discomfort to those who were civilized and refined. Even in Vashti"s cabin one star peeped through a flaw in the blind, and after a few hers" uneasy slumber, she was disturbed by an unfamiliar glow, which was the dawn.
Quick as the ship had sped westwards, the earth had rolled eastwards quicker still, and had dragged back Vashti and her companions towards the sun. Science could prolong the night, but only for a little, and those high hopes of neutralizing the earth"s diurnal revolution had passed, together with hopes that were possibly higher.
To "keep pace with the sun," or even to outstrip it, had been the aim of the civilization preceding this. Racing aeroplanes had been built for the purpose, capable of enormous speed, and steered by the greatest intellects of the epoch. Round the globe they went, round and round, westward, westward, round and round, amidst humanity"s applause. The globe went eastward quicker still, horrible accidents occurred, and the Committee of the Machine, at the time rising into prominence, declared the pursuit illegal, unmechanical, and punishable by Homelessness.
Of Homelessness more will be said later. Doubtless the Committee was right. Yet the attempt to "defeat the sun" aroused the last common interest that our race experienced about the heavenly bodies, or indeed about anything. It was the last time that men were compacted by thinking of a power outside the world.
The sun had conquered, yet it was the end of his spiritual dominion. Dawn, midday, twilight, the zodiacal path, touched neither men"s lives not their hearts, and science retreated into the ground, to concentrate herself upon problems that she was certain of solving.
So when Vashti found her cabin invaded by a rosy finger of light, she was annoyed, and tried to adjust the blind. But the blind flew up altogether, and she saw through the skylight small pink clouds, swaying against a background of blue, and as the sun crept higher, its radiance entered direct, brimming down the wall, like a golden sea. It rose and fell with the air-ship"s motion, just as waves rise and fall, but it advanced steadily, as a tide advances. Unless she was careful, it would strike her face.
A spasm of horror shook her and she rang for the attendant. The attendant too was horrified, but she could do nothing; it was not her place to mend the blind. She could only suggest that the lady should change her cabin, which she accordingly prepared to do.
People were almost exactly alike all over the world, but the attendant of the air-ship, perhaps owing to her exceptional duties, had grown a little out of the common.
She had often to address passengers with direct speech, and this had given her a certain roughness and originality of manner. When Vashti served away form the sunbeams with a cry, she behaved barbarically - she put out her hand to steady her. People never touched one another. The custom had become obsolete, owing to the Machine. I have got into the habit of calling places over which I pass by their unmechanical names.
The Mongols came from it. The main chain of the Himalayas was revealed. It was supposed that no one but the gods could exist above their summits. How we have advanced, thanks to the Machine! These mountains give me no ideas.
The forests had been destroyed during the literature epoch for the purpose of making newspaper-pulp, but the snows were awakening to their morning glory, and clouds still hung on the breasts of Kinchinjunga. In the plain were seen the ruins of cities, with diminished rivers creeping by their walls, and by the sides of these were sometimes the signs of vomitories, marking the cities of to day.
Over the whole prospect air-ships rushed, crossing the inter-crossing with incredible aplomb, and rising nonchalantly when they desired to escape the perturbations of the lower atmosphere and to traverse the Roof of the World. The day dragged wearily forward. The passengers sat each in his cabin, avoiding one another with an almost physical repulsion and longing to be once more under the surface of the earth.
There were eight or ten of them, mostly young males, sent out from the public nurseries to inhabit the rooms of those who had died in various parts of the earth. The man who had dropped his Book was on the homeward journey. He had been sent to Sumatra for the purpose of propagating the race.
Vashti alone was travelling by her private will. At midday she took a second glance at the earth. The air- ship was crossing another range of mountains, but she could see little, owing to clouds.
Masses of black rock hovered below her, and merged indistinctly into grey. Their shapes were fantastic; one of them resembled a prostrate man. In the evening she looked again. They were crossing a golden sea, in which lay many small islands and one peninsula. She repeated, "No ideas here," and hid Greece behind a metal blind. She might well declare that the visit was superfluous. The buttons, the knobs, the reading-desk with the Book, the temperature, the atmosphere, the illumination - all were exactly the same.
And if Kuno himself, flesh of her flesh, stood close beside her at last, what profit was there in that? She was too well-bred to shake him by the hand. Averting her eyes, she spoke as follows: I have had the most terrible journey and greatly retarded the development of my soul.
It is not worth it, Kuno, it is not worth it. My time is too precious. The sunlight almost touched me, and I have met with the rudest people.TILL WE MEET AGAIN (2016) - TRAILER
I can only stop a few minutes. Say what you want to say, and then I must return. She looked at him now. The victim is exposed to the air, which kills him. The tremendous thing has happened, and they have discovered me.
I have lately been to a lecture on the sea; there is no objection to that; one simply summons a respirator and gets an Egression-permit. It is not the kind of thing that spiritually minded people do, and I begged you not to do it, but there is no legal objection to it.
It was just what the Committee thought, when they threatened me with Homelessness. I don"t think you irreligious, for there is no such thing as religion left. All the fear and the superstition that existed once have been destroyed by the Machine. I only meant that to find out a way of your own wasBesides, there is no new way out. The Book says so. By these days it was a demerit to be muscular. Each infant was examined at birth, and all who promised undue strength were destroyed.
Humanitarians may protest, but it would have been no true kindness to let an athlete live; he would never have been happy in that state of life to which the Machine had called him; he would have yearned for trees to climb, rivers to bathe in, meadows and hills against which he might measure his body.
Man must be adapted to his surroundings, must he not? In the dawn of the world our weakly must be exposed on Mount Taygetus, in its twilight our strong will suffer euthanasia, that the Machine may progress, that the Machine may progress, that the Machine may progress eternally. We have lost a part of ourselves. I determined to recover it, and I began by walking up and down the platform of the railway outside my room. Man is the measure.
That was my first lesson. Man"s feet are the measure for distance, his hands are the measure for ownership, his body is the measure for all that is lovable and desirable and strong. Then I went further: Having paced the platform outside my own room, I took the lift to the next platform and paced that also, and so with each in turn, until I came to the topmost, above which begins the earth. All the platforms were exactly alike, and all that I gained by visiting them was to develop my sense of space and my muscles.
I think I should have been content with this - it is not a little thing, - but as I walked and brooded, it occurred to me that our cities had been built in the days when men still breathed the outer air, and that there had been ventilation shafts for the workmen. I could think of nothing but these ventilation shafts. Had they been destroyed by all the food-tubes and medicine-tubes and music- tubes that the Machine has evolved lately?
Or did traces of them remain? One thing was certain. If I came upon them anywhere, it would be in the railway-tunnels of the topmost storey. Everywhere else, all space was accounted for. It is not the proper thing, it is not mechanical, it is not decent to walk along a railway-tunnel.
I did not fear that I might tread upon a live rail and be killed. I feared something far more intangible-doing what was not contemplated by the Machine. Everything is light, artificial light; darkness is the exception. So when I saw a black gap in the tiles, I knew that it was an exception, and rejoiced. I put in my arm - I could put in no more at first - and waved it round and round in ecstasy. I loosened another tile, and put in my head, and shouted into the darkness: For Kuno had lately asked to be a father, and his request had been refused by the Committee.
His was not a type that the Machine desired to hand on. It brushed by me, but I thrust my head and arms into the hole.
I had done enough for one day, so I crawled back to the platform, went down in the lift, and summoned my bed. And again I called you, and again you refused. Don"t talk of these terrible things. You make me miserable. You are throwing civilization away. I determined to get in at the hole and climb the shaft. And so I exercised my arms. Day after day I went through ridiculous movements, until my flesh ached, and I could hang by my hands and hold the pillow of my bed outstretched for many minutes.
Then I summoned a respirator, and started. The mortar had somehow rotted, and I soon pushed some more tiles in, and clambered after them into the darkness, and the spirits of the dead comforted me. I don"t know what I mean by that. I just say what I felt. I felt, for the first time, that a protest had been lodged against corruption, and that even as the dead were comforting me, so I was comforting the unborn.
I felt that humanity existed, and that it existed without clothes.
How can I possibly explain this? It was naked, humanity seemed naked, and all these tubes and buttons and machineries neither came into the world with us, nor will they follow us out, nor do they matter supremely while we are here. Had I been strong, I would have torn off every garment I had, and gone out into the outer air unswaddled. But this is not for me, nor perhaps for my generation. I climbed with my respirator and my hygienic clothes and my dietetic tabloids!
THE MACHINE STOPS
Better thus than not at all. The light from the railway fell upon its lowest rungs, and I saw that it led straight upwards out of the rubble at the bottom of the shaft. Perhaps our ancestors ran up and down it a dozen times daily, in their building. As I climbed, the rough edges cut through my gloves so that my hands bled.
The light helped me for a little, and then came darkness and, worse still, silence which pierced my ears like a sword. Did you know that? Its hum penetrates our blood, and may even guide our thoughts. I was getting beyond its power. The next moment I cracked my head against something. You may have noticed them no the air- ship. Pitch dark, my feet on the rungs of an invisible ladder, my hands cut; I cannot explain how I lived through this part, but the voices till comforted me, and I felt for fastenings.
The stopper, I suppose, was about eight feet across. I passed my hand over it as far as I could reach. It was perfectly smooth. I felt it almost to the centre. Not quite to the centre, for my arm was too short. Then the voice said: It is worth it. There may be a handle in the centre, and you may catch hold of it and so come to us your own way.
Till We Meet Again
And if there is no handle, so that you may fall and are dashed to pieces - it is till worth it: There was a handle, and " He paused. Tears gathered in his mother"s eyes. She knew that he was fated. If he did not die today he would die tomorrow. There was not room for such a person in the world. And with her pity disgust mingled.
She was ashamed at having borne such a son, she who had always been so respectable and so full of ideas. Was he really the little boy to whom she had taught the use of his stops and buttons, and to whom she had given his first lessons in the Book? The very hair that disfigured his lip showed that he was reverting to some savage type. On atavism the Machine can have no mercy. I hung tranced over the darkness and heard the hum of these workings as the last whisper in a dying dream. All the things I had cared about and all the people I had spoken to through tubes appeared infinitely little.
Meanwhile the handle revolved. My weight had set something in motion and I span slowly, and then "I cannot describe it. I was lying with my face to the sunshine. Blood poured from my nose and ears and I heard a tremendous roaring.
The stopper, with me clinging to it, had simply been blown out of the earth, and the air that we make down here was escaping through the vent into the air above. It burst up like a fountain. I crawled back to it - for the upper air hurts - and, as it were, I took great sips from the edge. My respirator had flown goodness knows here, my clothes were torn. I just lay with my lips close to the hole, and I sipped until the bleeding stopped.
You can imagine nothing so curious. This hollow in the grass - I will speak of it in a minute, - the sun shining into it, not brilliantly but through marbled clouds, - the peace, the nonchalance, the sense of space, and, brushing my cheek, the roaring fountain of our artificial air!
Soon I spied my respirator, bobbing up and down in the current high above my head, and higher still were many air-ships. But no one ever looks out of air-ships, and in any case they could not have picked me up.
There I was, stranded. The sun shone a little way down the shaft, and revealed the topmost rung of the ladder, but it was hopeless trying to reach it. I should either have been tossed up again by the escape, or else have fallen in, and died.
I could only lie on the grass, sipping and sipping, and from time to time glancing around me. Wessex lies above the room in which we are talking now. It was once an important state. Its kings held all the southern coast form the Andredswald to Cornwall, while the Wansdyke protected them on the north, running over the high ground.
The lecturer was only concerned with the rise of Wessex, so I do not know how long it remained an international power, nor would the knowledge have assisted me. To tell the truth I could do nothing but laugh, during this part. There was I, with a pneumatic stopper by my side and a respirator bobbing over my head, imprisoned, all three of us, in a grass-grown hollow that was edged with fern.
For the air began to fall back into it and to fill it as water fills a bowl. I could crawl about. I breathed a mixture, in which the air that hurts predominated whenever I tried to climb the sides. This was not so bad. I had not lost my tabloids and remained ridiculously cheerful, and as for the Machine, I forgot about it altogether.
My one aim now was to get to the top, where the ferns were, and to view whatever objects lay beyond. The new air was still too bitter for me and I came rolling back, after a momentary vision of something grey. The sun grew very feeble, and I remembered that he was in Scorpio - I had been to a lecture on that too.
If the sun is in Scorpio, and you are in Wessex, it means that you must be as quick as you can, or it will get too dark. This is the first bit of useful information I have ever got from a lecture, and I expect it will be the last. It made me try frantically to breathe the new air, and to advance as far as I dared out of my pond. The hollow filled so slowly.
At times I thought that the fountain played with less vigour. My respirator seemed to dance nearer the earth; the roar was decreasing. The rest will interest you even less. There are no ideas in it, and I wish that I had not troubled you to come. We are too different, mother. The sun had very nearly slipped out of the sky by this time, and I could not get a good view.
You, who have just crossed the Roof of the World, will not want to hear an account of the little hills that I saw - low colourless hills. But to me they were living and the turf that covered them was a skin, under which their muscles rippled, and I felt that those hills had called with incalculable force to men in the past, and that men had loved them.
Now they sleep - perhaps for ever. They commune with humanity in dreams. Happy the man, happy the woman, who awakes the hills of Wessex. For though they sleep, they will never die. We created the Machine, to do our will, but we cannot make it do our will now. It was robbed us of the sense of space and of the sense of touch, it has blurred every human relation and narrowed down love to a carnal act, it has paralysed our bodies and our wills, and now it compels us to worship it.
The Machine develops - but not on our lies. The Machine proceeds - but not to our goal. We only exist as the blood corpuscles that course through its arteries, and if it could work without us, it would let us die.
I forgot to mention that a belt of mist lay between my hill and other hills, and that it was the colour of pearl. He shook his head. Nothing that you say can distress me now. I know that I cannot: All her nerves were tingling with his blasphemies. But she was also inquisitive. Tell me - as briefly as possible, for this is a disastrous waste of time - tell me how you returned to civilization. Had I got to where my respirator fell down?
A Prince of Bohemia - Wikisource, the free online library
You put on your respirator, and managed to walk along the surface of the earth to a vomitory, and there your conduct was reported to the Central Committee. Then, resuming his narrative, he warmed to it again. I had mentioned that the fountain seemed feebler, had I not? As I said, I had entirely forgotten about the Machine, and I paid no great attention at the time, being occupied with other things. I had my pool of air, into which I could dip when the outer keenness became intolerable, and which would possibly remain for days, provided that no wind sprang up to disperse it.
Not until it was too late did I realize what the stoppage of the escape implied. You see - the gap in the tunnel had been mended; the Mending Apparatus; the Mending Apparatus, was after me. The sky at night was clearer than it had been in the day, and the moon, which was about half the sky behind the sun, shone into the dell at moments quite brightly.
I was in my usual place - on the boundary between the two atmospheres - when I thought I saw something dark move across the bottom of the dell, and vanish into the shaft. In my folly, I ran down.
I bent over and listened, and I thought I heard a faint scraping noise in the depths. I determined to put on my respirator and to walk right out of the dell. But my respirator had gone. I knew exactly where it had fallen - between the stopper and the aperture - and I could even feel the mark that it had made in the turf.
It had gone, and I realized that something evil was at work, and I had better escape to the other air, and, if I must die, die running towards the cloud that had been the colour of a pearl. Out of the shaft - it is too horrible. A worm, a long white worm, had crawled out of the shaft and gliding over the moonlit grass.
I did everything that I should not have done, I stamped upon the creature instead of flying from it, and it at once curled round the ankle. The worm let me run all over the dell, but edged up my leg as I ran. That part is too awful.
It belongs to the part that you will never know. Why cannot we suffer in silence? When my feet were wound together, I fell, I was dragged away from the dear ferns and the living hills, and past the great metal stopper I can tell you this partand I thought it might save me again if I caught hold of the handle.
It also was enwrapped, it also. Oh, the whole dell was full of the things. They were searching it in all directions, they were denuding it, and the white snouts of others peeped out of the hole, ready if needed.
Everything that could be moved they brought - brushwood, bundles of fern, everything, and down we all went intertwined into hell. The last things that I saw, ere the stopper closed after us, were certain stars, and I felt that a man of my sort lived in the sky. For I did fight, I fought till the very end, and it was only my head hitting against the ladder that quieted me.
I woke up in this room. The worms had vanished. I was surrounded by artificial air, artificial light, artificial peace, and my friends were calling to me down speaking-tubes to know whether I had come across any new ideas lately. Discussion of it was impossible, and Vashti turned to go. A few crawled away, but they perished, too - who can doubt it? And so with the Homeless of our own day. The surface of the earth supports life no longer.
Has any air-ship detected them? Vashti departed, nor, in the troubles that followed, did she ever see his face again. On the surface they were revolutionary, but in either case men"s minds had been prepared beforehand, and they did but express tendencies that were latent already. The first of these was the abolition of respirator.
Advanced thinkers, like Vashti, had always held it foolish to visit the surface of the earth. Air-ships might be necessary, but what was the good of going out for mere curiosity and crawling along for a mile or two in a terrestrial motor? The habit was vulgar and perhaps faintly improper: So respirators were abolished, and with them, of course, the terrestrial motors, and except for a few lecturers, who complained that they were debarred access to their subject- matter, the development was accepted quietly.
Those who still wanted to know what the earth was like had after all only to listen to some gramophone, or to look into some cinematophote. And even the lecturers acquiesced when they found that a lecture on the sea was none the less stimulating when compiled out of other lectures that had already been delivered on the same subject.
They are but the physical impressions produced by live and fear, and on this gross foundation who could erect a philosophy? Let your ideas be second-hand, and if possible tenth-hand, for then they will be far removed from that disturbing element - direct observation. Do not learn anything about this subject of mine - the French Revolution.
Through the medium of these ten great minds, the blood that was shed at Paris and the windows that were broken at Versailles will be clarified to an idea which you may employ most profitably in your daily lives. But be sure that the intermediates are many and varied, for in history one authority exists to counteract another. To him we owe a map of the country and the names of the seven castles which Nodier could not discover. To the modern powers that be, Bohemia is insolent in the extreme.
There was talk of calling one another out. Monsieur was born, I suppose? What is your name? Are you one of them? Then you are one of the new dukes of Gaeta, I suppose, of imperial creation? Oh, well, how can you expect my friend to cross swords with you when he will be secretary of an embassy and ambassador some day, and you will owe him respect? You are a nonentity, Godin. My friend cannot be expected to beat the air! When one is somebody, one cannot fight with a nobody!
Come, my dear fellow—good-day. The recipient had the bad taste to resent this. The assistant found the unfortunate debtor up six pairs of stairs at the back of a yard at the further end of the Faubourg du Roule. The room was unfurnished save for a bed such a bed! La Palferine heard the preposterous demand—'A demand which I should qualify as illegal,' he said when he told us the story, 'made, as it was, at seven o'clock in the morning.
La Palferine, seeing the young man on the landing, rose in the attire celebrated in verse in Britannicus to add, 'Remark the stairs! Pay particular attention to the stairs; do not forget to tell him about the stairs! All that he does is witty and never in bad taste; always and in everything he displays the genius of Rivarol, the polished subtlety of the old French noble.
It was he who told that delicious anecdote of a friend of Laffitte the banker. A national fund had been started to give back to Laffitte the mansion in which the Revolution of was brewed, and this friend appeared at the offices of the fund with, 'Here are five francs, give me a hundred sous change! The girl, not a very simple innocent, confessed all to her mother, a respectable matron, who hurried forthwith to La Palferine and asked what he meant to do.
Sainte-Beuve for his biographies of obscurities—all this, I repeat, is the playful and sprightly yet already somewhat decadent side of a strong race.
It smacks rather of the Parc-aux-Cerfs than of the Hotel de Rambouillet. It is a race of the strong rather than of the sweet; I incline to lay a little debauchery to its charge, and more than I should wish in brilliant and generous natures; it is gallantry after the fashion of the Marechal de Richelieu, high spirits and frolic carried rather too far; perhaps we may see in it the outrances of another age, the Eighteenth Century pushed to extremes; it harks back to the Musketeers; it is an exploit stolen from Champcenetz; nay, such light-hearted inconstancy takes us back to the festooned and ornate period of the old court of the Valois.
In an age as moral as the present, we are bound to regard audacity of this kind sternly; still, at the same time that 'cornet of sugar-plums' may serve to warn young girls of the perils of lingering where fancies, more charming than chastened, come thickly from the first; on the rosy flowery unguarded slopes, where trespasses ripen into errors full of equivocal effervescence, into too palpitating issues.
The anecdote puts La Palferine's genius before you in all its vivacity and completeness. He realizes Pascal's entre-deux, he comprehends the whole scale between tenderness and pitilessness, and, like Epaminondas, he is equally great in extremes.
And not merely so, his epigram stamps the epoch; the accoucheur is a modern innovation. All the refinements of modern civilization are summed up in the phrase. Walking one day arm in arm with a friend along the boulevard, he was accosted by a ferocious creditor, who inquired: Talleyrand, in similar circumstances, had already replied, 'You are very inquisitive, my dear fellow!
One day when he had nothing to give a little Savoyard chimney-sweeper, he dipped a hand into a barrel of grapes in a grocer's doorway and filled the child's cap from it. The little one ate away at his grapes; the grocer began by laughing, and ended by holding out his hand.
In the Passage de l'Opera he chanced to meet a man who had spoken slightingly of him, elbowed him as he passed, and then turned and jostled him a second time. La Palferine dropped it. Be good enough to give me another. Sainte-Beuve's tracks, recalls the raffines, the fine-edged raillery of the best days of the monarchy.
In this speech you discern an untrammeled but drifting life; a gaiety of imagination that deserts us when our first youth is past. The prime of the blossom is over, but there remains the dry compact seed with the germs of life in it, ready against the coming winter. Do you not see that these things are symptoms of something unsatisfied, of an unrest impossible to analyze, still less to describe, yet not incomprehensible; a something ready to break out if occasion calls into flying upleaping flame?
It is the accidia of the cloister; a trace of sourness, of ferment engendered by the enforced stagnation of youthful energies, a vague, obscure melancholy.
If a man has nothing to do, he will sooner get into mischief than do nothing at all; this invariably happens in France. Youth at present day has two sides to it; the studious or unappreciated, and the ardent or passionne. And meanwhile a bourgeois, mercantile, and bigoted policy continues to cut off all the sluices through which so much aptitude and ability would find an outlet. Poets and men of science are not wanted. There is a sort of relieving officer on the civil list.
This functionary one day discovered that La Palferine was in dire distress, drew up a report, no doubt, and brought the descendant of the Rusticolis fifty francs by way of alms. La Palferine received the visitor with perfect courtesy, and talked of various persons at court. If so, it is very gracious of her. La Palferine called him Father Anchises, and used to say, 'I have never seen such a mixture of besotted foolishness with great intelligence; he would go through fire and water for me; he understands everything—and yet he cannot grasp the fact that I can do nothing for him.
By the time the carriage arrived below, La Palferine had skilfully piloted the conversation to the subject of the functions of his visitor, whom he has since called 'the unmitigated misery man,' and learned the nature of his duties and his stipend. It was raining in torrents. La Palferine had thought of everything. He offered to drive the official to the next house on his list; and when the almoner came down again, he found the carriage waiting for him at the door.
The man in livery handed him a note written in pencil: Count Rusticoli de la Palferine is too happy to associate himself with Court charities by lending wings to Royal beneficence. Antonia lived in the Rue du Helder; she had seen and been seen to some extent, but at the time of her acquaintance with La Palferine she had not yet 'an establishment. After a fortnight of unmixed bliss, she was compelled, in the interest of her civil list, to return to a less exclusive system; and La Palferine, discovering a certain lack of sincerity in her dealings with him, sent Madame Antonia a note which made her famous.
Not content with rending my heart with your disdain, you have been so little thoughtful as to retain a toothbrush, which my means will not permit me to replace, my estates being mortgaged beyond their value.
May we meet again in a better world. Nay, I do not know but that Moliere in his lighter mood would not have said of it, as of Cyrano de Bergerac's best—'This is mine. I am not sure that this kind of wit was known among the Greeks and Romans. Plato, possibly, upon a closer inspection approaches it, but from the austere and musical side—" "No more of that jargon," the Marquise broke in, "in print it may be endurable; but to have it grating upon my ears is a punishment which I do not in the least deserve.
La Palferine was sauntering, cane in hand, up and down the pavement between the Rue de Grammont and the Rue de Richelieu, when in the distance he descried a woman too elegantly dressed, covered, as he phrased it, with a great deal of portable property, too expensive and too carelessly worn for its owner to be other than a princess of the court or of the stage, it was not easy at first to say which. But after Julyin his opinion, there is no mistaking the indications—the princess can only be a princess of the stage.
He followed her with a courteous persistence, a persistence in good taste, giving the lady from time to time, and always at the right moment, an authoritative glance, which compelled her to submit to his escort.
Anybody but La Palferine would have been frozen by his reception, and disconcerted by the lady's first efforts to rid herself of her cavalier, by her chilly air, her curt speeches; but no gravity, with all the will in the world, could hold out long against La Palferine's jesting replies.
The fair stranger went into her milliner's shop. Charles Edward followed, took a seat, and gave his opinions and advice like a man that meant to pay. This coolness disturbed the lady. I am going there. Charles Edward came in with the lady, every one believed that she had brought him with her.
He took part in the conversation, was lavish of his polished and brilliant wit. The visit lengthened out. That was not what he wanted.
I am the Comte de la Palferine, and I am delighted that it is in my power to lay my heart and my fortune at your feet. This happened in Luckily for him, he was fashionably dressed. I can paint his portrait for you in a few words. La Palferine saw the vibration, and shot a glance at her out of the dark depths of almond-shaped eyes with purpled lids, and those faint lines about them which tell of pleasures as costly as painful fatigue.
With those eyes upon her, she said—'Your address? Two days later, by one of the strange chances that can only happen in Paris, he had betaken himself to a money-lending wardrobe dealer to sell such of his clothing as he could spare. He was just receiving the price with an uneasy air, after long chaffering, when the stranger lady passed and recognized him. Then, proudly and impetuously, he followed the lady. Charles Edward's ideas on the subject of love are as sound as possible.
According to him, a man cannot love twice, there is but one love in his lifetime, but that love is a deep and shoreless sea. It may break in upon him at any time, as the grace of God found St. Paul; and a man may live sixty years and never know love. Perhaps, to quote Heine's superb phrase, it is 'the secret malady of the heart'—a sense of the Infinite that there is within us, together with the revelation of the ideal Beauty in its visible form.
This love, in short, comprehends both the creature and creation. But so long as there is no question of this great poetical conception, the loves that cannot last can only be taken lightly, as if they were in a manner snatches of song compared with Love the epic. For there are but two ways of love—love at first sight, doubtless akin to the Highland 'second-sight,' and that slow fusion of two natures which realizes Plato's 'man-woman.
Claudine found love made complete, body and soul; in her, in short, La Palferine awakened the one passion of her life; while for him Claudine was only a most charming mistress. The Devil himself, a most potent magician certainly, with all hell at his back, could never have changed the natures of these two unequal fires.
I dare affirm that Claudine not unfrequently bored Charles Edward. La Palferine used to talk a good deal of Claudine; but, at the same time, none of us saw her, nor so much as knew her name. For us Claudine was almost a mythical personage. All of us acted in the same way, reconciling the requirements of our common life with the rules of good taste. Claudine, Hortense, the Baroness, the Bourgeoise, the Empress, the Spaniard, the Lioness,—these were cryptic titles which permitted us to pour out our joys, our cares, vexations, and hopes, and to communicate our discoveries.
Further, none of us went. It has been shown, in Bohemia, that chance discovered the identity of the fair unknown; and at once, as by tacit convention, not one of us spoke of her again. This fact may show how far youth possesses a sense of true delicacy. How admirably certain natures of a finer clay know the limit line where jest must end, and all that host of things French covered by the slang word blague, a word which will shortly be cast out of the language let us hopeand yet it is the only one which conveys an idea of the spirit of Bohemia.
There are times when I reproach myself, when I take myself to task for my hard heart. Claudine obeys with saintly sweetness. She comes to me, I tell her to go, she goes, she does not even cry till she is out in the courtyard. I refuse to see her for a whole week at a time.
I tell her to come at such an hour on Tuesday; and be it midnight or six o'clock in the morning, ten o'clock, five o'clock, breakfast time, dinner time, bed time, any particularly inconvenient hour in the day—she will come, punctual to the minute, beautiful, beautifully dressed, and enchanting.
And she is a married woman, with all the complications and duties of a household. The fibs that she must invent, the reasons she must find for conforming to my whims would tax the ingenuity of some of us! Claudine never wearies; you can always count upon her. It is not love, I tell her, it is infatuation.
She writes to me every day; I do not read her letters; she found that out, but still she writes. See here; there are two hundred letters in this casket. She begs me to wipe my razors on one of her letters every day, and I punctually do so. She thinks, and rightly, that the sight of her handwriting will put me in mind of her. I took up the letter which he was about to put to this use, read it, and kept it, as he did not ask to have it back.
I looked for it, and found it as I promised. I did not even ask for your hand, yet you might easily have given it to me, and I longed so much to hold it to my heart, to my lips. No, I did not ask, I am so afraid of displeasing you. Do you know one thing? Though I am cruelly sure that anything I do is a matter of perfect indifference to you, I am none the less extremely timid in my conduct: In so far as love comes from the angels in heaven, from whom are no secrets hid, my love is as pure as the purest; wherever I am I feel that I am in your presence, and I try to do you honor.
There was still something of the opera girl in my gowns, in my way of dressing my hair. In a moment I saw the distance between me and good taste. Next time you will receive a duchess, you shall not know me again! How many and many a time I have thanked you for telling me those things! What interest lay in those few words! You have taken thought for that thing belonging to you called Claudine? This imbecile would never have opened my eyes; he thinks that everything I do is right; and besides, he is much too humdrum, too matter-of-fact to have any feeling for the beautiful.
On Tuesday I shall be with you for several hours. I am living in hope of that morning now, as I shall live upon the memory of it afterwards. Hope is memory that craves; and recollection, memory sated.
What a beautiful life within life thought makes for us in this way! A cold sweat breaks out over me at the thought that something may happen to prevent this morning.
Oh, I would break with him for good, if need was, but nothing here could possibly interfere; it would be from your side. Perhaps you may decide to go out, perhaps to go to see some other woman.
If you take it from me, Charles, you do not know what he will suffer; I should drive him wild. But even if you do not want me, or you are going out, let me come, all the same, to be with you while you dress; only to see you, I ask no more than that; only to show you that I love you without a thought of self. And, you see, when those eyes that ask nothing but to see you are upon you, you will feel that in your Claudine there is a something divine, called into existence by you.
I am like a mother with her child; I endure anything from you; I, that was once so imperious and proud. I have made dukes and princes fetch and carry for me; aides-de-camp, worth more than all the court of Charles X. But where is the use of coquetry? It would be pure waste.
And yet, monsieur, for want of coquetry I shall never inspire love in you. I know it; I feel it; yet I do as before, feeling a power that I cannot withstand, thinking that this utter self-surrender will win me the sentiment innate in all men so he tells me for the thing that belongs to them. One single thought held me back from the arms of Death!
To stay away was to do thy will, to obey an order from thee. Charles, I was so pretty; I looked a lovelier woman for you than that beautiful German princess whom you gave me for an example, whom I have studied at the Opera.
And yet—you might have thought that I had overstepped the limits of my nature. You have left me no confidence in myself; perhaps I am plain after all. I loathe myself, I dream of my radiant Charles Edward, and my brain turns.
I shall go mad, I know I shall. Do not laugh, do not talk to me of the fickleness of women. If we are inconstant, you are strangely capricious. You take away the hours of love that made a poor creature's happiness for ten whole days; the hours on which she drew to be charming and kind to all that came to see her! After all, you were the source of my kindness to him; you do not know what pain you give him. I wonder what I must do to keep you, or simply to keep the right to be yours sometimes.
When I think that you never would come here to me!
With what delicious emotion I would wait upon you! There are women to whom you say, 'I love you. Clever men sometimes ask me what I am thinking. I am thinking of my self-abasement—the prostration of the poorest outcast in the presence of the Saviour.
La Palferine allowed me to take the letter, with the traces of tears that still seemed hot upon it! Here was proof of the truth of his story. Marcas, a shy man enough with women, was in ecstacies over a second which he read in his corner before lighting his pipe with it. See now how well this is thought out, how clear-headed sentiment is'—and with that he reads us another letter, far superior to the artificial and labored productions which we novelists write.
An unlucky idea occurred to her; she put a tolerably large sum in gold into an exquisitely embroidered purse and went to him.
Claudine, in her terror, did not guess that he was joking; she shrank back, stumbled over a chair, and fell with her head against the corner of the marble chimney-piece. She thought she should have died. When she could speak, poor woman, as she lay on the bed, all that she said was, 'I deserved it, Charles! She rejoiced in the mishap; she took advantage of her suffering to compel La Palferine to take the money and release him from an awkward position.
Then followed a variation on La Fontaine's fable, in which a man blesses the thieves that brought him a sudden impulse of tenderness from his wife. And while we are upon this subject, another saying will paint the man for you. An abscess formed in the head.
The doctor—Bianchon, I believe—yes, it was Bianchon—wanted to cut off her hair. The Duchesse de Berri's hair is not more beautiful than Claudine's; she would not hear of it, she told Bianchon in confidence that she could not allow it to be cut without leave from the Comte de Palferine. Bianchon went to Charles Edward.
Charles Edward heard him with much seriousness. The doctor had explained the case at length, and showed that it was absolutely necessary to sacrifice the hair to insure the success of the operation. I would sooner lose her. Claudine, informed of the verdict, saw in it a proof of affections; she felt sure that she was loved.
In the face of her weeping family, with her husband on his knees, she was inexorable. She kept the hair. The strength that came with the belief that she was loved came to her aid, the operation succeeded perfectly. There are stirrings of the inner life which throw all the calculations of surgery into disorder and baffle the laws of medical science. It seemed that he held the bourgeoise, the nobody, in utter horror; nothing would satisfy him but a woman with a title.
Claudine, it was true, had made progress; she had learned to dress as well as the best-dressed woman of the Faubourg Saint-Germain; she had freed her bearing of the unhallowed traces; she walked with a chastened, inimitable grace; but this was not enough. This praise of her enabled Claudine to swallow down the rest.
You should have a carriage and liveried servants and a title. Give me all the gratifications of vanity that will never be mine in my own person.
The woman whom I honor with my regard ought never to go on foot; if she is bespattered with mud, I suffer. That is how I am made. If she is mine, she must be admired of all Paris. All Paris shall envy me my good fortune. If some little whipper-snapper seeing a brilliant countess pass in her brilliant carriage shall say to himself, "Who can call such a divinity his?
As a result he was stupefied with astonishment for the first and probably the only time in his life. All this shall be done, or I will die. As she stood in my garrett doorway, tall and proud, she seemed to reach the stature of an antique sibyl.
It was on this wise. His real name is unknown to the public, on the play-bills he is de Cursy. Under the Restoration he had a place in the Civil Service; and being really attached to the elder branch, he sent in his resignation bravely inand ever since has written twice as many plays to fill the deficit in his budget made by his noble conduct.
At that time du Bruel was forty years old; you know the story of his life. Like many of his brethren, he bore a stage dancer an affection hard to explain, but well known in the whole world of letters.
The woman, as you know, was Tullia, one of the premiers sujets of the Academie Royale de Musique. Tullia is merely a pseudonym like du Bruel's name of de Cursy. With more beauty than education, a mediocre dancer with rather more sense than most of her class, she took no part in the virtuous reforms which ruined the corps de ballet; she continued the Guimard dynasty.
She owed her ascendency, moreover, to various well-known protectors, to the Duc de Rhetore the Due de Chaulieu's eldest sonto the influence of a famous Superintendent of Fine Arts, and sundry diplomatists and rich foreigners. During her apogee she had a neat little house in the Rue Chauchat, and lived as Opera nymphs used to live in the old days.
Du Bruel was smitten with her about the time when the Duke's fancy came to an end in Being a mere subordinate in the Civil Service, du Bruel tolerated the Superintendent of Fine Arts, believing that he himself was really preferred. After six years this connection was almost a marriage. Tullia has always been very careful to say nothing of her family; we have a vague idea that she comes from Nanterre. One of her uncles, formerly a simple bricklayer or carpenter, is now, it is said, a very rich contractor, thanks to her influence and generous loans.