Father Goriot/Section 11
Ever after this conference Goriot looked upon his neighbor as a friend, a confidant such as he had never hoped to find; and there was established between the two the only relationship that could attach this old man to another man. The passions never miscalculate. Father Goriot felt that this friendship brought him closer to his daughter Delphine; he thought that he should find a warmer welcome for himself if the Baroness should care for Eugene. Moreover, he had confided one of his troubles to the younger man. Mme. de Nucingen, for whose happiness he prayed a thousand times daily, had never known the joys of love. Eugene was certainly (to make use of his own expression) one of the nicest young men that he had ever seen, and some prophetic instinct seemed to tell him that Eugene was to give her the happiness which had not been hers. These were the beginnings of a friendship that grew up between the old man and his neighbor; but for this friendship the catastrophe of the drama must have remained a mystery.
The affection with which Father Goriot regarded Eugene, by whom he seated himself at breakfast, the change in Goriot's face, which as a rule, looked as expressionless as a plaster cast, and a few words that passed between the two, surprised the other lodgers. Vautrin, who saw Eugene for the first time since their interview, seemed as if he would fain read the student's very soul. During the night Eugene had had some time in which to scan the vast field which lay before him; and now, as he remembered yesterday's proposal, the thought of Mlle. Taillefer's dowry came, of course, to his mind, and he could not help thinking of Victorine as the most exemplary youth may think of an heiress. It chanced that their eyes met. The poor girl did not fail to see that Eugene looked very handsome in his new clothes. So much was said in the glance, thus exchanged, that Eugene could not doubt but that he was associated in her mind with the vague hopes that lie dormant in a girl's heart and gather round the first attractive newcomer. "Eight hundred thousand francs!" a voice cried in his ears, but suddenly he took refuge in the memories of yesterday evening, thinking that his extemporized passion for Mme. de Nucingen was a talisman that would preserve him from this temptation.
"They gave Rossini's Barber of Seville at the Italiens yesterday evening," he remarked. "I never heard such delicious music. Good gracious! how lucky people are to have a box at the Italiens!"
Father Goriot drank in every word that Eugene let fall, and watched him as a dog watches his master's slightest movement.
"You men are like fighting cocks," said Mme. Vauquer; "you do what you like."
"How did you get back?" inquired Vautrin.
"I walked," answered Eugene.
"For my own part," remarked the tempter, "I do not care about doing things by halves. If I want to enjoy myself that way, I should prefer to go in my carriage, sit in my own box, and do the thing comfortably. Everything or nothing; that is my motto."
"And a good one, too," commented Mme. Vauquer.
"Perhaps you will see Mme. de Nucingen to-day," said Eugene, addressing Goriot in an undertone. "She will welcome you with open arms, I am sure; she would want to ask you for all sorts of little details about me. I have found out that she will do anything in the world to be known by my cousin Mme. de Beauseant; don't forget to tell her that I love her too well not to think of trying to arrange this."
Rastignac went at once to the Ecole de Droit. He had no mind to stay a moment longer than was necessary in that odious house. He wasted his time that day; he had fallen a victim to that fever of the brain that accompanies the too vivid hopes of youth. Vautrin's arguments had set him meditating on social life, and he was deep in these reflections when he happened on his friend Bianchon in the Jardin du Luxembourg.
"What makes you look so solemn?" said the medical student, putting an arm through Eugene's as they went towards the Palais.
"I am tormented by temptations."
"What kind? There is a cure for temptation."
"Yielding to it."
"You laugh, but you don't know what it is all about. Have you read Rousseau?"
"Do you remember that he asks the reader somewhere what he would do if he could make a fortune by killing an old mandarin somewhere in China by mere force of wishing it, and without stirring from Paris?"
"Pshaw! I am at my thirty-third mandarin."
"Seriously, though. Look here, suppose you were sure that you could do it, and had only to give a nod. Would you do it?"
"Is he well stricken in years, this mandarin of yours? Pshaw! after all, young or old, paralytic, or well and sound, my word for it. . . . Well, then. Hang it, no!"
"You are a good fellow, Bianchon. But suppose you loved a woman well enough to lose your soul in hell for her, and that she wanted money for dresses and a carriage, and all her whims, in fact?"
"Why, here you are taking away my reason, and want me to reason!"
"Well, then, Bianchon, I am mad; bring me to my senses. I have two sisters as beautiful and innocent as angels, and I want them to be happy. How am I to find two hundred thousand francs apiece for them in the next five years? Now and then in life, you see, you must play for heavy stakes, and it is no use wasting your luck on low play."
"But you are only stating the problem that lies before every one at the outset of his life, and you want to cut the Gordian knot with a sword. If that is the way of it, dear boy, you must be an Alexander, or to the hulks you go. For my own part, I am quite contented with the little lot I mean to make for myself somewhere in the country, when I mean to step into my father's shoes and plod along. A man's affections are just as fully satisfied by the smallest circle as they can be by a vast circumference. Napoleon himself could only dine once, and he could not have more mistresses than a house student at the Capuchins. Happiness, old man, depends on what lies between the sole of your foot and the crown of your head; and whether it costs a million or a hundred louis, the actual amount of pleasure that you receive rests entirely with you, and is just exactly the same in any case. I am for letting that Chinaman live."
"Thank you, Bianchon; you have done me good. We will always be friends."
"I say," remarked the medical student, as they came to the end of a broad walk in the Jardin des Plantes, "I saw the Michonneau and Poiret a few minutes ago on a bench chatting with a gentleman whom I used to see in last year's troubles hanging about the Chamber of Deputies; he seems to me, in fact, to be a detective dressed up like a decent retired tradesman. Let us keep an eye on that couple; I will tell you why some time. Good-bye; it is nearly four o'clock, and I must be in to answer to my name."
When Eugene reached the lodging-house, he found Father Goriot waiting for him.
"Here," cried the old man, "here is a letter from her. Pretty handwriting, eh?"
Eugene broke the seal and read:—
- "Sir,—I have heard from my father that you are fond of Italian music. I shall be delighted if you will do me the pleasure of accepting a seat in my box. La Fodor and Pellegrini will sing on Saturday, so I am sure that you will not refuse me. M. de Nucingen and I shall be pleased if you will dine with us; we shall be quite by ourselves. If you will come and be my escort, my husband will be glad to be relieved from his conjugal duties. Do not answer, but simply come.—Yours sincerely, D. DE N."
"Let me see it," said Father Goriot, when Eugene had read the letter. "You are going, aren't you?" he added, when he had smelled the writing-paper. "How nice it smells! Her fingers have touched it, that is certain."
"A woman does not fling herself at a man's head in this way," the student was thinking. "She wants to use me to bring back de Marsay; nothing but pique makes a woman do a thing like this."
"Well," said Father Goriot, "what are you thinking about?"
Eugene did not know the fever or vanity that possessed some women in those days; how should he imagine that to open a door in the Faubourg Saint-Germain a banker's wife would go to almost any length. For the coterie of the Faubourg Saint-Germain was a charmed circle, and the women who moved in it were at that time the queens of society; and among the greatest of these Dames du Petit-Chateau, as they were called, were Mme. de Beauseant and her friends the Duchesse de Langeais and the Duchesse de Maufrigneause. Rastignac was alone in his ignorance of the frantic efforts made by women who lived in the Chausee-d'Antin to enter this seventh heaven and shine among the brightest constellations of their sex. But his cautious disposition stood him in good stead, and kept his judgment cool, and the not altogether enviable power of imposing instead of accepting conditions.
"Yes, I am going," he replied.
So it was curiosity that drew him to Mme. de Nucingen; while, if she had treated him disdainfully, passion perhaps might have brought him to her feet. Still he waited almost impatiently for to-morrow, and the hour when he could go to her. There is almost as much charm for a young man in a first flirtation as there is in first love. The certainty of success is a source of happiness to which men do not confess, and all the charm of certain women lies in this. The desire of conquest springs no less from the easiness than from the difficulty of triumph, and every passion is excited or sustained by one or the other of these two motives which divide the empire of love. Perhaps this division is one result of the great question of temperaments; which, after all, dominates social life. The melancholic temperament may stand in need of the tonic of coquetry, while those of nervous or sanguine complexion withdraw if they meet with a too stubborn resistance. In other words, the lymphatic temperament is essentially despondent, and the rhapsodic is bilious.
Eugene lingered over his toilette with an enjoyment of all its little details that is grateful to a young man's self-love, though he will not own to it for fear of being laughed at. He thought, as he arranged his hair, that a pretty woman's glances would wander through the dark curls. He indulged in childish tricks like any young girl dressing for a dance, and gazed complacently at his graceful figure while he smoothed out the creases of his coat.
"There are worse figures, that is certain," he said to himself.
Then he went downstairs, just as the rest of the household were sitting down to dinner, and took with good humor the boisterous applause excited by his elegant appearance. The amazement with which any attention to dress is regarded in a lodging-house is a very characteristic trait. No one can put on a new coat but every one else must say his say about it.
"Clk! clk! clk!" cried Bianchon, making the sound with his tongue against the roof of his mouth, like a driver urging on a horse.
"He holds himself like a duke and a peer of France," said Mme. Vauquer.
"Are you going a-courting?" inquired Mlle. Michonneau.
"Cock-a-doodle-doo!" cried the artist.
"My compliments to my lady your wife," from the employe at the Museum.
"Your wife; have you a wife?" asked Poiret.
"Yes, in compartments, water-tight and floats, guaranteed fast color, all prices from twenty-five to forty sous, neat check patterns in the latest fashion and best taste, will wash, half-linen, half-cotton, half-wool; a certain cure for toothache and other complaints under the patronage of the Royal College of Physicians! children like it! a remedy for headache, indigestion, and all other diseases affecting the throat, eyes, and ears!" cried Vautrin, with a comical imitation of the volubility of a quack at a fair. "And how much shall we say for this marvel, gentlemen? Twopence? No. Nothing of the sort. All that is left in stock after supplying the Great Mogul. All the crowned heads of Europe, including the Gr-r-rand Duke of Baden, have been anxious to get a sight of it. Walk up! walk up! gentlemen! Pay at the desk as you go in! Strike up the music there! Brooum, la, la, trinn! la, la, boum! boum! Mister Clarinette, there you are out of tune!" he added gruffly; "I will rap your knuckles for you!"
"Goodness! what an amusing man!" said Mme. Vauquer to Mme. Couture; "I should never feel dull with him in the house."
This burlesque of Vautrin's was the signal for an outburst of merriment, and under cover of jokes and laughter Eugene caught a glance from Mlle. Taillefer; she had leaned over to say a few words in Mme. Couture's ear.
"The cab is at the door," announced Sylvie.
"But where is he going to dine?" asked Bianchon.
"With Madame la Baronne de Nucingen."
"M. Goriot's daughter," said the law student.
At this, all eyes turned to the old vermicelli maker; he was gazing at Eugene with something like envy in his eyes.
Rastignac reached the house in the Rue Saint-Lazare, one of those many-windowed houses with a mean-looking portico and slender columns, which are considered the thing in Paris, a typical banker's house, decorated in the most ostentatious fashion; the walls lined with stucco, the landings of marble mosaic. Mme. de Nucingen was sitting in a little drawing-room; the room was painted in the Italian fashion, and decorated like a restaurant. The Baroness seemed depressed. The effort that she made to hide her feelings aroused Eugene's interest; it was plain that she was not playing a part. He had expected a little flutter of excitement at his coming, and he found her dispirited and sad. The disappointment piqued his vanity.
"My claim to your confidence is very small, madame," he said, after rallying her on her abstracted mood; "but if I am in the way, please tell me so frankly; I count on your good faith."
"No, stay with me," she said; "I shall be all alone if you go. Nucingen is dining in town, and I do not want to be alone; I want to be taken out of myself."
"But what is the matter?"
"You are the very last person whom I should tell," she exclaimed.
"Then I am connected in some way in this secret. I wonder what it is?"
"Perhaps. Yet, no," she went on; "it is a domestic quarrel, which ought to be buried in the depths of the heart. I am very unhappy; did I not tell you so the day before yesterday? Golden chains are the heaviest of all fetters."
When a woman tells a young man that she is very unhappy, and when the young man is clever, and well dressed, and has fifteen hundred francs lying idle in his pocket, he is sure to think as Eugene said, and he becomes a coxcomb.
"What can you have left to wish for?" he answered. "You are young, beautiful, beloved, and rich."
"Do not let us talk of my affairs," she said shaking her head mournfully. "We will dine together tete-a-tete, and afterwards we will go to hear the most exquisite music. Am I to your taste?" she went on, rising and displaying her gown of white cashmere, covered with Persian designs in the most superb taste.
"I wish that you were altogether mine," said Eugene; "you are charming."
"You would have a forlorn piece of property," she said, smiling bitterly. "There is nothing about me that betrays my wretchedness; and yet, in spite of appearances, I am in despair. I cannot sleep; my troubles have broken my night's rest; I shall grow ugly."
"Oh! that is impossible," cried the law student; "but I am curious to know what these troubles can be that a devoted love cannot efface."
"Ah! if I were to tell you about them, you would shun me," she said. "Your love for me is as yet only the conventional gallantry that men use to masquerade in; and, if you really loved me, you would be driven to despair. I must keep silence, you see. Let us talk of something else, for pity's sake," she added. "Let me show you my rooms."
"No; let us stay here," answered Eugene; he sat down on the sofa before the fire, and boldly took Mme. de Nucingen's hand in his. She surrendered it to him; he even felt the pressure of her fingers in one of the spasmodic clutches that betray terrible agitation.
"Listen," said Rastignac; "if you are in trouble, you ought to tell me about it. I want to prove to you that I love you for yourself alone. You must speak to me frankly about your troubles, so that I can put an end to them, even if I have to kill half-a-dozen men; or I shall go, never to return."
"Very well," she cried, putting her hand to her forehead in an agony of despair, "I will put you to the proof, and this very moment. Yes," she said to herself, "I have no other resource left."
She rang the bell.
"Are the horses put in for the master?" she asked of the servant.
"I shall take his carriage myself. He can have mine and my horses. Serve dinner at seven o'clock."
"Now, come with me," she said to Eugene, who thought as he sat in the banker's carriage beside Mme. de Nucingen that he must surely be dreaming.
"To the Palais-Royal," she said to the coachman; "stop near the Theatre-Francais."
She seemed to be too troubled and excited to answer the innumerable questions that Eugene put to her. He was at a loss what to think of her mute resistance, her obstinate silence.
"Another moment and she will escape me," he said to himself.
When the carriage stopped at last, the Baroness gave the law student a glance that silenced his wild words, for he was almost beside himself.
"Is it true that you love me?" she asked.
"Yes," he answered, and in his manner and tone there was no trace of the uneasiness that he felt.
"You will not think ill of me, will you, whatever I may ask of you?"
"Are you ready to do my bidding?"
"Have you ever been to a gaming-house?" she asked in a tremulous voice.
"Ah! now I can breathe. You will have luck. Here is my purse," she said. "Take it! there are a hundred francs in it, all that such a fortunate woman as I can call her own. Go up into one of the gaming-houses—I do not know where they are, but there are some near the Palais-Royal. Try your luck with the hundred francs at a game they call roulette; lose it all or bring me back six thousand francs. I will tell you about my troubles when you come back."
"Devil take me, I'm sure, if I have a glimmer of a notion of what I am about, but I will obey you," he added, with inward exultation, as he thought, "She has gone too far to draw back—she can refuse me nothing now!"
Eugene took the dainty little purse, inquired the way of a second-hand clothes-dealer, and hurried to number 9, which happened to be the nearest gaming-house. He mounted the staircase, surrendered his hat, and asked the way to the roulette-table, whither the attendant took him, not a little to the astonishment of the regular comers. All eyes were fixed on Eugene as he asked, without bashfulness, where he was to deposit his stakes.
"If you put a louis on one only of those thirty-six numbers, and it turns up, you will win thirty-six louis," said a respectable-looking, white-haired old man in answer to his inquiry.
Eugene staked the whole of his money on the number 21 (his own age). There was a cry of surprise; before he knew what he had done, he had won.
"Take your money off, sir," said the old gentleman; "you don't often win twice running by that system."
Eugene took the rake that the old man handed to him, and drew in his three thousand six hundred francs, and, still perfectly ignorant of what he was about, staked again on the red. The bystanders watched him enviously as they saw him continue to play. The disc turned, and again he won; the banker threw him three thousand six hundred francs once more.
"You have seven thousand, two hundred francs of your own," the old gentleman said in his ear. "Take my advice and go away with your winnings; red has turned up eight times already. If you are charitable, you will show your gratitude for sound counsel by giving a trifle to an old prefect of Napoleon who is down on his luck."
Rastignac's head was swimming; he saw ten of his louis pass into the white-haired man's possession, and went down-stairs with his seven thousand francs; he was still ignorant of the game, and stupefied by his luck.
"So, that is over; and now where will you take me?" he asked, as soon as the door was closed, and he showed the seven thousand francs to Mme. de Nucingen.
Delphine flung her arms about him, but there was no passion in that wild embrace.
"You have saved me!" she cried, and tears of joy flowed fast.
"I will tell you everything, my friend. For you will be my friend, will you not? I am rich, you think, very rich; I have everything I want, or I seem as if I had everything. Very well, you must know that M. de Nucingen does not allow me the control of a single penny; he pays all the bills for the house expenses; he pays for my carriages and opera box; he does not give me enough to pay for my dress, and he reduces me to poverty in secret on purpose. I am too proud to beg from him. I should be the vilest of women if I could take his money at the price at which he offers it. Do you ask how I, with seven hundred thousand francs of my own, could let myself be robbed? It is because I was proud, and scorned to speak. We are so young, so artless when our married life begins! I never could bring myself to ask my husband for money; the words would have made my lips bleed, I did not dare to ask; I spent my savings first, and then the money that my poor father gave me, then I ran into debt. Marriage for me is a hideous farce; I cannot talk about it, let it suffice to say that Nucingen and I have separate rooms, and that I would fling myself out of the window sooner than consent to any other manner of life. I suffered agonies when I had to confess to my girlish extravagance, my debts for jewelry and trifles (for our poor father had never refused us anything, and spoiled us), but at last I found courage to tell him about them. After all, I had a fortune of my own. Nucingen flew into a rage; he said that I should be the ruin of him, and used frightful language! I wished myself a hundred feet down in the earth. He had my dowry, so he paid my debts, but he stipulated at the same time that my expenses in future must not exceed a certain fixed sum, and I gave way for the sake of peace. And then," she went on, "I wanted to gratify the self-love of some one whom you know. He may have deceived me, but I should do him the justice to say that there was nothing petty in his character. But, after all, he threw me over disgracefully. If, at a woman's utmost need, somebody heaps gold upon her, he ought never to forsake her; that love should last for ever! But you, at one-and-twenty, you, the soul of honor, with the unsullied conscience of youth, will ask me how a woman can bring herself to accept money in such a way? Mon Dieu! is it not natural to share everything with the one to whom we owe our happiness? When all has been given, why should we pause and hesitate over a part? Money is as nothing between us until the moment when the sentiment that bound us together ceases to exist. Were we not bound to each other for life? Who that believes in love foresees such an end to love? You swear to love us eternally; how, then, can our interests be separate?
"You do not know how I suffered to-day when Nucingen refused to give me six thousand francs; he spends as much as that every month on his mistress, an opera dancer! I thought of killing myself. The wildest thoughts came into my head. There have been moments in my life when I have envied my servants, and would have changed places with my maid. It was madness to think of going to our father, Anastasie and I have bled him dry; our poor father would have sold himself if he could have raised six thousand francs that way. I should have driven him frantic to no purpose. You have saved me from shame and death; I was beside myself with anguish. Ah! monsieur, I owed you this explanation after my mad ravings. When you left me just now, as soon as you were out of sight, I longed to escape, to run away . . . where, I did not know. Half the women in Paris lead such lives as mine; they live in apparent luxury, and in their souls are tormented by anxiety. I know of poor creatures even more miserable than I; there are women who are driven to ask their tradespeople to make out false bills, women who rob their husbands. Some men believe that an Indian shawl worth a thousand louis only cost five hundred francs, others that a shawl costing five hundred francs is worth a hundred louis. There are women, too, with narrow incomes, who scrape and save and starve their children to pay for a dress. I am innocent of these base meannesses. But this is the last extremity of my torture. Some women will sell themselves to their husbands, and so obtain their way, but I, at any rate, am free. If I chose, Nucingen would cover me with gold, but I would rather weep on the breast of a man whom I can respect. Ah! tonight, M. de Marsay will no longer have a right to think of me as a woman whom he has paid." She tried to conceal her tears from him, hiding her face in her hands; Eugene drew them away and looked at her; she seemed to him sublime at that moment.
"It is hideous, is it not," she cried, "to speak in a breath of money and affection. You cannot love me after this," she added.
The incongruity between the ideas of honor which make women so great, and the errors in conduct which are forced upon them by the constitution of society, had thrown Eugene's thoughts into confusion; he uttered soothing and consoling words, and wondered at the beautiful woman before him, and at the artless imprudence of her cry of pain.
"You will not remember this against me?" she asked; "promise me that you will not."
"Ah! madame, I am incapable of doing so," he said. She took his hand and held it to her heart, a movement full of grace that expressed her deep gratitude.
"I am free and happy once more, thanks to you," she said. "Oh! I have felt lately as if I were in the grasp of an iron hand. But after this I mean to live simply and to spend nothing. You will think me just as pretty, will you not, my friend? Keep this," she went on, as she took only six of the banknotes. "In conscience I owe you a thousand crowns, for I really ought to go halves with you."
Eugene's maiden conscience resisted; but when the Baroness said, "I am bound to look on you as an accomplice or as an enemy," he took the money.
"It shall be a last stake in reserve," he said, "in case of misfortune."
"That was what I was dreading to hear," she cried, turning pale. "Oh, if you would that I should be anything to you, swear to me that you will never re-enter a gaming-house. Great Heaven! that I should corrupt you! I should die of sorrow!"
They had reached the Rue Saint-Lazare by this time. The contrast between the ostentation of wealth in the house, and the wretched condition of its mistress, dazed the student; and Vautrin's cynical words began to ring in his ears.
"Seat yourself there," said the Baroness, pointing to a low chair beside the fire. "I have a difficult letter to write," she added. "Tell me what to say."
"Say nothing," Eugene answered her. "Put the bills in an envelope, direct it, and send it by your maid."
"Why, you are a love of a man," she said. "Ah! see what it is to have been well brought up. That is the Beauseant through and through," she went on, smiling at him.
"She is charming," thought Eugene, more and more in love. He looked round him at the room; there was an ostentatious character about the luxury, a meretricious taste in the splendor.
"Do you like it?" she asked, as she rang for the maid.
"Therese, take this to M. de Marsay, and give it into his hands yourself. If he is not at home, bring the letter back to me."
Therese went, but not before she had given Eugene a spiteful glance.
Dinner was announced. Rastignac gave his arm to Mme. de Nucingen, she led the way into a pretty dining-room, and again he saw the luxury of the table which he had admired in his cousin's house.
"Come and dine with me on opera evenings, and we will go to the Italiens afterwards," she said.
"I should soon grow used to the pleasant life if it could last, but I am a poor student, and I have my way to make."
"Oh! you will succeed," she said laughing. "You will see. All that you wish will come to pass. I did not expect to be so happy."
It is the wont of women to prove the impossible by the possible, and to annihilate facts by presentiments. When Mme. de Nucingen and Rastignac took their places in her box at the Bouffons, her face wore a look of happiness that made her so lovely that every one indulged in those small slanders against which women are defenceless; for the scandal that is uttered lightly is often seriously believed. Those who know Paris, believe nothing that is said, and say nothing of what is done there.
Eugene took the Baroness' hand in his, and by some light pressure of the fingers, or a closer grasp of the hand, they found a language in which to express the sensations which the music gave them. It was an evening of intoxicating delight for both; and when it ended, and they went out together, Mme. de Nucingen insisted on taking Eugene with her as far as the Pont Neuf, he disputing with her the whole of the way for a single kiss after all those that she had showered upon him so passionately at the Palais-Royal; Eugene reproached her with inconsistency.
"That was gratitude," she said, "for devotion that I did not dare to hope for, but now it would be a promise."
"And will you give me no promise, ingrate?"
He grew vexed. Then, with one of those impatient gestures that fill a lover with ecstasy, she gave him her hand to kiss, and he took it with a discontented air that delighted her.
"I shall see you at the ball on Monday," she said.
As Eugene went home in the moonlight, he fell to serious reflections. He was satisfied, and yet dissatisfied. He was pleased with an adventure which would probably give him his desire, for in the end one of the prettiest and best-dressed women in Paris would be his; but, as a set-off, he saw his hopes of fortune brought to nothing; and as soon as he realized this fact, the vague thoughts of yesterday evening began to take a more decided shape in his mind. A check is sure to reveal to us the strength of our hopes. The more Eugene learned of the pleasures of life in Paris, the more impatient he felt of poverty and obscurity. He crumpled the banknote in his pocket, and found any quantity of plausible excuses for appropriating it.
He reached the Rue Neuve-Sainte-Genevieve at last, and from the stairhead he saw a light in Goriot's room; the old man had lighted a candle, and set the door ajar, lest the student should pass him by, and go to his room without "telling him all about his daughter," to use his own expression. Eugene, accordingly, told him everything without reserve.
"Then they think that I am ruined!" cried Father Goriot, in an agony of jealousy and desperation. "Why, I have still thirteen hundred livres a year! Mon Dieu! Poor little girl! why did she not come to me? I would have sold my rentes; she should have had some of the principal, and I would have bought a life-annuity with the rest. My good neighbor, why did not you come to tell me of her difficulty? How had you the heart to go and risk her poor little hundred francs at play? This is heart-breaking work. You see what it is to have sons-in-law. Oh! if I had hold of them, I would wring their necks. Mon Dieu! crying! Did you say she was crying?"
"With her head on my waistcoat," said Eugene.
"Oh! give it to me," said Father Goriot. "What! my daughter's tears have fallen there—my darling Delphine, who never used to cry when she was a little girl! Oh! I will buy you another; do not wear it again; let me have it. By the terms of her marriage-contract, she ought to have the use of her property. To-morrow morning I will go and see Derville; he is an attorney. I will demand that her money should be invested in her own name. I know the law. I am an old wolf, I will show my teeth."
"Here, father; this is a banknote for a thousand francs that she wanted me to keep out of our winnings. Keep them for her, in the pocket of the waistcoat."
Goriot looked hard at Eugene, reached out and took the law student's hand, and Eugene felt a tear fall on it.
"You will succeed," the old man said. "God is just, you see. I know an honest man when I see him, and I can tell you, there are not many men like you. I am to have another dear child in you, am I? There, go to sleep; you can sleep; you are not yet a father. She was crying! and I have to be told about it!—and I was quietly eating my dinner, like an idiot, all the time—I, who would sell the Father, Son and Holy Ghost to save one tear to either of them."