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way would vie with Louvier; the measured reserve of the financier, mortgage at 3} per cent covers more he asked, with a lively twinkle of than the estate is apparently worth. his grey eye, “ Did you never hear, Ah! but stop, M. le Marquis ; the Marquis, of a little encounter benotice is not yet served : the whole tween me and M. Louvier?" process would take six months from “ Encounter at arms—does Louthe day it is served to the taking vier fight?" asked Alain, innocently. possession after the sale ; in the “In his own way he is always meanwhile, if you pay the interest fighting; but I speak metaphoridue, the action drops. Courage, M. cally. You see this small house of le Marquis ! Hope yet, if you con- mine—so pinched in by the houses descend to call me friend."
next to it, that I can neither get “And me,” cried Lemercier ; “I space for a ball-room for Valérie, will sell out of my railway shares nor a dining-room for more than a to-morrow,--see to it, Duplessis,- friendly party like that which has enough to pay off the damnable in- honoured me to-day. Eh bien! I terest. See to it, mon ami.” bought this house a few years ago,
“Agree to that, M. le Marquis, meaning to buy the one next to it, and you are safe for another year," and throw the two into one. I went said Duplessis, folding up the paper to the proprietor of the next house, on which he had made his notes, who, as I knew, wished to sell. but fixing on Alain quiet eyes half Aha,' he thought, this is the rich concealed under dropping lids. Monsieur Duplessis ;' and he asked
"Agree to that! cried Roche- me 2000 louis more than the house briant, rising—"agree to allow even was worth. We men of business my worst enemy to pay for me cannot bear to be too much cheated; moneys I could never hope to repay a little cheating we submit to-agree to allow the oldest and most much cheating raises our gall. confiding of my friends to do so— Bref,this was on Monday. I M. Duplessis, never! If I carried offered the man 1000 louis above the porter's knot of an Auvergnat, the fair price, and gave him till I should still remain gentilhomme Thursday to decide. Somehow or and Breton."
other Louvier hears of this. HilDuplessis, habitually the driest lo!' says Louvier, here is a finanof men, rose with a moistened eye cier who desires a hôtel to vie with and flushing cheek—“Monsieur le mine!' He goes on Wednesday to Marquis, vouchsafe me the honour my next-door neighbour. 'Friend, to shake hands with you. I, too, you want to sell your house. I am by descent gentilhomme, by want to buy-the price?' The profession a speculator on the proprietor, who does not know him Bourse. In both capacities I ap- by sight, says: “It is as good as prove the sentiment you have ut sold. M. Duplessis and I shall tered. Certainly, if our friend Fre- agree.' 'Bah! What sum did you deric lent you 7000 louis or so this ask M. Duplessis.' He names the year, it would be impossible for you sum ; 2000 louis more than he even to foresee the year in which can get elsewhere. “But M. Duyou could repay it; but,”—here plessis will give me the sum.' *You Duplessis paused a minute, and then asked too little. I will give you lowering the tone of his voice, which 3000. A fig for M. Duplessis ! I had been somewhat vehement and am Monsieur Louvier.' So when enthusiastic, into that of a colloquial I call on Thursday the house is sold. good-fellowship, equally rare to the I reconciled myself easily enough
to the loss of space for a larger din. Give me a line of introduction to ing-room; but though Valérie was your Breton lawyer and to Madethen a child at a convent, I was moiselle your auntlet me have sadly disconcerted by the thought your letters early to-morrow. I that I could have no salle de ball will take the afternoon train. I ready for her when she came to re- know not how many days I may side with me. Well, I say to my- absent, but I shall not return till I self, patience; I owe M. Louvier a have carefully examined the nature good turn ; my time to pay him off and conditions of your property.
It does come, and very If I see my way to save your estate, soon. M. Louvier buys an estate and give a mauvais quart d'heure to near Paris-builds a superb villa. Louvier, so much the better for you, Close to his property is a rising M. le Marquis ; if I cannot, I will forest ground for sale. He goes to say frankly, Make the best terms the proprietor: says the proprietor you can with your creditor.' to himself, “The great Louvier “Nothing can be more delicately wants this,' and adds 5000 louis generous than the way you put it,” to its market price. Louvier, like said Alain ; " but pardon me, if I myself, can't bear to be cheated say that the pleasantry with which egregiously. Louvier offers 2000 you narrate your grudge against M. louis more than the man could fairly Louvier does not answer its purpose get, and leaves him till Saturday in diminishing my sense of oblito consider. I hear of this-spec- gation." So, linking his arm in ulators hear of everything. On Lemercier's, Alain made his bow Friday night I go to the man and I and withdrew. give him 6000 louis, where he had When his guests had gone, Duasked 5000. Fancy Louvier's face plessis remained seated in meditation the next day! But there my re- ---apparently pleasant meditation, venge only begins," continued Du- for he smiled while indulging it ; plessis, chuckling inwardly. “My he then passed through the recepforest looks down on the villa he is tion-rooms to one at the far end, building. I only wait till his villa appropriated to Valérie as a boudoir is built, in order to send to my ar- or morning-room, adjoining her bedchitect and say, Build me a villa at chamber; he knocked gently at the least twice as grand as M. Louvier's, door, and, all remaining silent withthen clear away the forest trees, so in, he opened it noiselessly and that every morning he may see my entered. Valérie was reclining on palace dwarfing into insignificance the sofa near the window-her head his own.”
drooping, her hands clasped on her “ Bravo !” cried Lemercier, clap- knees. Duplessis neared her with ping his hands. Lemercier had the tender stealthy steps, passed his arm spirit of party, and felt for Du- round her, and drew her head plessis against Louvier much as in towards his bosom. “ Child !” he England Whig feels against Tory, murmured; “ my child ! my only or vice versa.
“Perhaps now," resumed Duples- At that soft loving voice, Valérie sis more soberly,—" perhaps now, flung her arms round him, and wept M. le Marquis, you may understand aloud like an infant in trouble. He why I humiliate you by no sense seated himself beside her, and wisely of obligation if I say that M. suffered her to weep on, till her Louvier shall not be the Seigneur passion had exhausted itself; he de Rochebriant if I can help it. then said, half fondly, half chid
ingly: "Have you forgotten our As this man thus spoke you would conversation only three days ago ? scarcely have recognised in him the Have you forgotten that I then drew cold saturnine Duplessis, his counforth the secret of your heart? tenance became so beautified by the Have you forgotten what I promised one soft feeling which care and conyou in return for your confidence ? test, ambition and money-seeking, and a promise to you have I ever had left unaltered in his heart. yet broken ? "
Perhaps there is no country in "Father! father! I am so wretched, which the love of parent and child, and so ashamed of myself for being especially of father and daughter, is wretched ! Forgive me. No, I do so strong as it is in France ; even not forget your promise ; but who in the most arid soil, among the can promise to dispose of the heart avaricious, even among the profiliof another and that heart will gate, it forces itself into flower. never be mine.
But bear with me Other loves fade away: in the heart a little, I shall soon recover." of the true Frenchman that parent
“ Valérie, when I made you the love blooms to the last. promise you now think I cannot Valérie felt the presence of that keep, I spoke only from that con- love as a divine protecting guardianviction of power to promote the ship. She sank on her knees and happiness of a child which nature covered his hand with grateful implants in the heart of parents; kisses. and it may be also from the experi- “Do not torture yourself, my ence of my own strength of will, child, with jealous fears of the fair since that which I have willed I Italian. Her lot and Alain de have always won. Now I speak on Rochebriant's can never unite ; and yet surer ground. Before the year whatever you may think of their is out you shall be the beloved wife whispered converse, Alain's heart, of Alain de Rochebriant. Dry your at this moment, is too filled with tears and smile on me, Valérie. If anxious troubles to leave one spot you will not see in me mother and in it accessible even to a frivolous father both, I have double love for gallantry. It is for us to remove you, motherless child of her who these troubles; and then, when he shared the poverty of my youth, and turns his eyes towards you, it will did not live to enjoy the wealth be with the gaze of one who beholds which I hold as a trust for that heir his happiness. You do not weep to mine all which she left me.”
now, Valérie !"
ONE of the effects of the individ- resolve until they fancy they have ual self-confidence which is so gen- exhausted the measurement of aderal an attribute of us Anglo-Saxons, vantages and disadvantages, until is to incline us to face marriage they have pondered over probabiliwithout calculating its cost. We ties and possibilities, until they imado it because it tempts and interests gine they have united as many eleus at the moment, trusting to luckments of success as human foresight and to our strong arms for the means can collect. It can scarcely be said of keeping our wife and children. that even in England marriage is There is something manly and vig- regarded as a purely personal arorous in this way of acting : of course rangement, concerning only the two it is rash and dangerous, of course it immediate parties to it. We admit, often leads to all kinds of worry, in our upper classes at least, that it and it sometimes ends in downright involves considerations of a varied misery; but there is a pluckiness nature, which justify and sometimes about it which commends itself to even require the intervention of our natures. Political economists and parents and families. But the philosophers go on attacking it with French carry this intervention to unavailing arguments and uncon- a length which we could not supvincing proofs. Right as they may port: they leave no liberty and be in theory, they do not influence no action to the coming couple : our practice; “ improvident mar- the whole thing is taken out of riages” are as numerous as their hands: they are treated as if We are not a prudent people in this they were incompetent in the quesrespect, and neither earnest books tion : their parents undertake the nor eloquent discourses are likely to negotiation for them, and handle change our tendencies. Most of us it as governments deal with interbelieve, in varying degrees, in our national treaties. Glaringly evident own innate power of overcoming as are the emotionality and the moobstacles as they arise. We do not bility of the French in other phases shrink from matrimony because it of their conduct, they have no apmay involve us in risks and diffi- plication here. They find their use culties; we rush at it because it abundantly in superficial sentiments, attracts us at the moment, and be- in the forms and thoughts and words cause we are surrounded by crowds of outside existence, in the maniof people who have done the same festation of already existing affecbefore us, and have struggled some- tions; but, with rare exceptions, they how through the consequences of have nothing to do with the prepartheir hurry or their error.
ation of a marriage. Their place is The process of the French, on taken, on that one occasion, by a dry, this point as on so many others, is arithmetical computation of practiin absolute contradiction with our cal results, with no excitement and own. Where we decide and act, with no distractions. Where we so they weigh, and calculate, and hesi- ordinarily listen to what we undertate, and consider. They reach no stand by love, to the temptations of
the young heart in all their forms an Englishman stamp with rage. (however transitory), to our indi- It is true that if parents refuse to vidual impressions and to our own allow their children to follow their opinions, the French consult fit- own wishes, the latter are permitted, nesses of relative situation, recipro- provided they have attained their cities of fortune and position, and majority, to go through a process harmonies of family intercourse. called a respectful summons to They seek to insure the future, in consent,” after which, if the parents some degree, in its social as well as persist in their rejection of the its pecuniary forms. They lay it down appeal, marriage may be at last that passion is no guide to perman. attained. No matter at what age a ent satisfaction, and that other peo- man or a woman marry, even if they ple than the two directly interested are sixty, they must either produce have, both in law and reason, a right the written consent of their father of judgment in so grave a case. This and mother, or show that they have does not absolutely mean that pre- applied for it in due legal form and existing sympathies are considered that it has been denied them withto be unnecessary for marriage in out sufficient cause, or prove that France; but it does mean, in the they are orphans. The object of distinctest language, that such sym- this legislation is not only to prepathies alone are not admitted there vent bigamy (which, under such as a sufficient motive for an associ- conditions, is naturally rare in ation which is to last till death. France), but, even more, to maintain Sympathies wear out sometimes; parental authority, and to insure a new ones grow up from other con. due subjection of children. So far tacts ; eternal attachments are very there is something to be said in its rare between people who have not favour, especially as, in many cases, managed to get married, and have it really does protect young people not the aid of the wedded tie to against their own folly. hold them steadily together : but after all, marriage is a complex the necessities of life never fade state, requiring something more away; they never weaken; they re- than a father's approbation to conmain in force with pitiless persist- duct it to success, it is natural that ence, and French parents pay more we, who regard the entire subject attention to them than to what may from a very different point of view, be only a passing inclination in their should have a good many objections sons and daughters.
And it must be borne in mind The question, however, is not merethat this view of marriage is not ly one of legal forms and parental solely a development of the national privileges; it contains a vast deal disposition towards prudence; it is more besides. As marriage is the also, to some extent at all events, a real starting-point of home lifeconsequence of the legal enactments the happiness of husbands, wives, contained in the Code Napoléon. and children depends, in a great The law forbids all marriages with- degree, on the conditions under out either the consent of the father which it is realised and worked out and mother, or proof that they are -it is fair, and even necessary, to both dead. It is very troublesome judge it not only in its beginnings to get married in France ; the opera- and its organisation, but in its tion is surrounded by difficulties results as well. Indeed it would be and formalities which would make rather difficult in such a case to