The Imaginary Mistress/Chapter III

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184586The Imaginary Mistress — Chapter IIIHonore de Balzac

Clementine came home the next day, and the day after that Paz beheld her again, more beautiful and graceful than ever. After dinner, during which the countess treated Paz with an air of perfect indifference, a little scene took place in the salon between the count and his wife when Thaddeus had left them. On pretence of asking Adam's advice, Thaddeus had left Malaga's letter with him, as if by mistake.

"Poor Thaddeus!" said Adam, as Paz disappeared, "what a misfortune for a man of his distinction to be the plaything of the lowest kind of circus-rider. He will lose everything, and get lower and lower, and won't be recognizable before long. Here, read that," added the count, giving Malaga's letter to his wife.

Clementine read the letter, which smelt of tobacco, and threw it from her with a look of disgust.

"Thick as the bandage is over his eyes," continued Adam, "he must have found out something; Malaga tricked him, no doubt."

"But he goes back to her," said Clementine, "and he will forgive her! It is for such horrible women as that that you men have indulgence."

"Well, they need it," said Adam.

"Thaddeus used to show some decency—in living apart from us," she remarked. "He had better go altogether."

"Oh, my dear angel, that's going too far," said the count, who did not want the death of the sinner.

Paz, who knew Adam thoroughly, had enjoined him to secrecy, pretending to excuse his dissipations, and had asked his friend to lend him a few thousand francs for Malaga.

"He is a very firm fellow," said Adam.

"How so?" asked Clementine.

"Why, for having spent no more than ten thousand francs on her, and letting her send him that letter before he would ask me for enough to pay her debts. For a Pole, I call that firm."

"He will ruin you," said Clementine, in the sharp tone of a Parisian woman, when she shows her feline distrusts.

"Oh, I know him," said Adam; "he will sacrifice Malaga, if I ask him."

"We shall see," remarked the countess.

"If it is best for his own happiness, I sha'n't hesitate to ask him to leave her. Constantin says that since Paz has been with her he, sober as he is, has sometimes come home quite excited. If he takes to intoxication I shall be just as grieved as if he were my own son."

"Don't tell me anything more about it," cried the countess, with a gesture of disgust.

Two days later the captain perceived in the manner, the tones of voice, but, above all, in the eyes of the countess, the terrible results of Adam's confidences. Contempt had opened a gulf between the beloved woman and himself. He was suddenly plunged into the deepest distress of mind, for the thought gnawed him, "I have myself made her despise me!" His own folly stared him in the face. Life then became a burden to him, the very sun turned gray. And yet, amid all these bitter thoughts, he found again some moments of pure joy. There were times when he could give himself up wholly to his admiration for his mistress, who paid not the slightest attention to him. Hanging about in corners at her parties and receptions, silent, all heart and eyes, he never lost one of her attitudes, nor a tone of her voice when she sang. He lived in her life; he groomed the horse which she rode, he studied the ways and means of that splendid establishment, to the interests of which he was now more devoted than ever. These silent pleasures were buried in his heart like those of a mother, whose heart a child never knows; for is it knowing anything unless we know it all? His love was more perfect than the love of Petrarch for Laura, which found its ultimate reward in the treasures of fame, the triumph of the poem which she had inspired. Surely the emotion that the Chevalier d'Assas felt in dying must have been to him a lifetime of joy. Such emotions as these Paz enjoyed daily,—without dying, but also without the guerdon of immortality.

But what is Love, that, in spite of all these ineffable delights, Paz should still have been unhappy? The Catholic religion has so magnified Love that she has wedded it indissolubly to respect and nobility of spirit. Love is therefore attended by those sentiments and qualities of which mankind is proud; it is rare to find true Love existing where contempt is felt. Thaddeus was suffering from the wounds his own hand had given him. The trial of his former life, when he lived beside his mistress, unknown, unappreciated, but generously working for her, was better than this. Yes, he wanted the reward of his virtue, her respect, and he had lost it. He grew thin and yellow, and so ill with constant low fever that during the month of January he was obliged to keep his bed, though he refused to see a doctor. Comte Adam became very uneasy about him; but the countess had the cruelty to remark: "Let him alone; don't you see it is only some Olympian trouble?" This remark, being repeated to Thaddeus, gave him the courage of despair; he left his bed, went out, tried a few amusements, and recovered his health.

About the end of February Adam lost a large sum of money at the Jockey-Club, and as he was afraid of his wife, he begged Thaddeus to let the sum appear in the accounts as if he had spent it on Malaga.

"There's nothing surprising in your spending that sum on the girl; but if the countess finds out that I have lost it at cards I shall be lowered in her opinion, and she will always be suspicious in future."

"Ha! this, too!" exclaimed Thaddeus, with a sigh.

"Now, Thaddeus, if you will do me this service we shall be forever quits,—though, indeed, I am your debtor now."

"Adam, you will have children; don't gamble any more," said Paz.

"So Malaga has cost us another twenty thousand francs," cried the countess, some time later, when she discovered this new generosity to Paz. "First, ten thousand, now twenty more,—thirty thousand! the income of which is fifteen hundred! the cost of my box at the Opera, and the whole fortune of many a bourgeois. Oh, you Poles!" she said, gathering some flowers in her greenhouse; "you are really incomprehensible. Why are you not furious with him?"

"Poor Paz is—"

"Poor Paz, poor Paz, indeed!" she cried, interrupting him, "what good does he do us? I shall take the management of the household myself. You can give him the allowance he refused, and let him settle it as he likes with his Circus."

"He is very useful to us, Clementine. He has certainly saved over forty thousand francs this last year. And besides, my dear angel, he has managed to put a hundred thousand with Nucingen, which a steward would have pocketed."

Clementine softened down; but she was none the less hard in her feelings to Thaddeus. A few days later, she requested him to come to that boudoir where, one year earlier, she had been surprised into comparing him with her husband. This time she received him alone, without perceiving the slightest danger in so doing.

"My dear Paz," she said, with the condescending familiarity of the great to their inferiors, "if you love Adam as you say you do, you will do a thing which he will not ask of you, but which I, his wife, do not hesitate to exact."

"About Malaga?" said Thaddeus, with bitterness in his heart.

"Well, yes," she said; "if you wish to end your days in this house and continue good friends with us, you must give her up. How an old soldier—"

"I am only thirty-five, and haven't a white hair."

"You look old," she said, "and that's the same thing. How so careful a manager, so distinguished a—"

The horrible part of all this was her evident intention to rouse a sense of honor in his soul which she thought extinct.

"—so distinguished a man as you are, Thaddeus," she resumed after a momentary pause which a gesture of his hand had led her to make, "can allow yourself to be caught like a boy! Your proceedings have made that woman celebrated. My uncle wanted to see her, and he did see her. My uncle is not the only one; Malaga receives a great many gentlemen. I did think you such a noble soul. For shame! Will she be such a loss that you can't replace her?"

"Madame, if I knew any sacrifice I could make to recover your esteem I would make it; but to give up Malaga is not one—"

"In your position, that is what I should say myself, if I were a man," replied Clementine. "Well, if I accept it as a great sacrifice there can be no ill-will between us."

Paz left the room, fearing he might commit some great folly, and feeling that wild ideas were getting the better of him. He went to walk in the open air, lightly dressed in spite of the cold, but without being able to cool the fire in his cheeks or on his brow.

"I thought you had a noble soul,"—the words still rang in his ears.

"A year ago," he said to himself, "she thought me a hero who could fight the Russians single-handed!"

He thought of leaving the hotel Laginski, and taking service with the spahis and getting killed in Africa, but the same great fear checked him. "Without me," he thought, "what would become of them? they would soon be ruined. Poor countess! what a horrible life it would be for her if she were reduced to even thirty thousand francs a year. No, since all is lost for me in this world,—courage! I will keep on as I am."

Every one knows that since 1830 the carnival in Paris has undergone a transformation which has made it European, and far more burlesque and otherwise lively than the late Carnival of Venice. Is it that the diminishing fortunes of the present time have led Parisians to invent a way of amusing themselves collectively, as for instance at their clubs, where they hold salons without hostesses and without manners, but very cheaply? However this may be, the month of March was prodigal of balls, at which dancing, joking, coarse fun, excitement, grotesque figures, and the sharp satire of Parisian wit, produced extravagant effects. These carnival follies had their special Pandemonium in the rue Saint-Honore and their Napoleon in Musard, a small man born expressly to lead an orchestra as noisy as the disorderly audience, and to set the time for the galop, that witches' dance, which was one of Auber's triumphs, for it did not really take form or poesy till the grand galop in "Gustave" was given to the world. That tremendous finale might serve as the symbol of an epoch in which for the last fifty years all things have hurried by with the rapidity of a dream.

Now, it happened that the grave Thaddeus, with one divine and immaculate image in his heart, proposed to Malaga, the queen of the carnival dances, to spend an evening at the Musard ball; because he knew the countess, disguised to the teeth, intended to come there with two friends, all three accompanied by their husbands, and look on at the curious spectacle of one of these crowded balls.

On Shrove Tuesday, of the year 1838, at four o'clock in the morning, the countess, wrapped in a black domino and sitting on the lower step of the platform in the Babylonian hall, where Valentino has since then given his concerts, beheld Thaddeus, as Robert Macaire, threading the galop with Malaga in the dress of a savage, her head garnished with plumes like the horse of a hearse, and bounding through the crowd like a will-o-the-wisp.

"Ah!" said Clementine to her husband, "you Poles have no honor at all! I did believe in Thaddeus. He gave me his word that he would leave that woman; he did not know that I should be here, seeing all unseen."

A few days later she requested Paz to dine with them. After dinner Adam left them alone together, and Clementine reproved Paz and let him know very plainly that she did not wish him to live in her house any longer.

"Yes, madame," said Paz, humbly, "you are right; I am a wretch; I did give you my word. But you see how it is; I put off leaving Malaga till after the carnival. Besides, that woman exerts an influence over me which—"

"An influence!—a woman who ought to be turned out of Musard's by the police for such dancing!"

"I agree to all that; I accept the condemnation and I'll leave your house. But you know Adam. If I give up the management of your property you must show energy yourself. I may have been to blame about Malaga, but I have taken the whole charge of your affairs, managed your servants, and looked after the very least details. I cannot leave you until I see you prepared to continue my management. You have now been married three years, and you are safe from the temptations to extravagance which come with the honeymoon. I see that Parisian women, and even titled ones, do manage both their fortunes and their households. Well, as soon as I am certain not so much of your capacity as of your perseverance I shall leave Paris."

"It is Thaddeus of Warsaw, and not that Circus Thaddeus who speaks now," said Clementine. "Go, and come back cured."

"Cured! never," said Paz, his eyes lowered and fixed on Clementine's pretty feet. "You do not know, countess, what charm, what unexpected piquancy of mind she has." Then, feeling his courage fail him, he added hastily, "There is not a woman in society, with her mincing airs, that is worth the honest nature of that young animal."

"At any rate, I wish nothing of the animal about me," said the countess, with a glance like that of an angry viper.

After that evening Comte Paz showed Clementine the exact state of her affairs; he made himself her tutor, taught her the methods and difficulties of the management of property, the proper prices to pay for things, and how to avoid being cheated by her servants. He told her she could rely on Constantin and make him her major-domo. Thaddeus had trained the man thoroughly. By the end of May he thought the countess fully competent to carry on her affairs alone; for Clementine was one of those far-sighted women, full of instinct, who have an innate genius as mistress of a household.

This position of affairs, which Thaddeus had led up to naturally, did not end without further cruel trials; his sufferings were fated not to be as sweet and tender as he was trying to make them. The poor lover forgot to reckon on the hazard of events. Adam fell seriously ill, and Thaddeus, instead of leaving the house, stayed to nurse his friend. His devotion was unwearied. A woman who had any interest in employing her perspicacity might have seen in this devotion a sort of punishment imposed by a noble soul to repress an involuntary evil thought; but women see all, or see nothing, according to the condition of their souls—love is their sole illuminator.

During forty-five days Paz watched and tended Adam without appearing to think of Malaga, for the very good reason that he never did think of her. Clementine, feeling that Adam was at the point of death though he did not die, sent for all the leading doctors of Paris in consultation.

"If he comes safely out of this," said the most distinguished of them all, "it will only be by an effort of nature. It is for those who nurse him to watch for the moment when they must second nature. The count's life is in the hands of his nurses."

Thaddeus went to find Clementine and tell her this result of the consultation. He found her sitting in the Chinese pavilion, as much for a little rest as to leave the field to the doctors and not embarrass them. As he walked along the winding gravelled path which led to the pavilion, Thaddeus seemed to himself in the depths of an abyss described by Dante. The unfortunate man had never dreamed that the possibility might arise of becoming Clementine's husband, and now he had drowned himself in a ditch of mud. His face was convulsed, when he reached the kiosk, with an agony of grief; his head, like Medusa's, conveyed despair.

"Is he dead?" said Clementine.

"They have given him up; that is, they leave him to nature. Do not go in; they are still there, and Bianchon is changing the dressings."

"Poor Adam! I ask myself if I have not sometimes pained him," she said.

"You have made him very happy," said Thaddeus; "you ought to be easy on that score, for you have shown every indulgence for him."

"My loss would be irreparable."

"But, dear, you judged him justly."

"I was never blind to his faults," she said, "but I loved him as a wife should love her husband."

"Then you ought, in case you lose him," said Thaddeus, in a voice which Clementine had never heard him use, "to grieve for him less than if you lost a man who was your pride, your love, and all your life,—as some men are to you women. Surely you can be frank at this moment with a friend like me. I shall grieve, too; long before your marriage I had made him my child, I had sacrificed my life to him. If he dies I shall be without an interest on earth; but life is still beautiful to a widow of twenty-four."

"Ah! but you know that I love no one," she said, with the impatience of grief.

"You don't yet know what it is to love," said Thaddeus.

"Oh, as husbands are, I have sense enough to prefer a child like my poor Adam to a superior man. It is now over a month that we have been saying to each other, 'Will he live?' and these alternations have prepared me, as they have you, for this loss. I can be frank with you. Well, I would give my life to save Adam. What is a woman's independence in Paris? the freedom to let herself be taken in by ruined or dissipated men who pretend to love her. I pray to God to leave me this husband who is so kind, so obliging, so little fault-finding, and who is beginning to stand in awe of me."

"You are honest, and I love you the better for it," said Thaddeus, taking her hand which she yielded to him, and kissing it. "In solemn moments like these there is unspeakable satisfaction in finding a woman without hypocrisy. It is possible to converse with you. Let us look to the future. Suppose that God does not grant your prayer,—and no one cries to him more than I do, 'Leave me my friend!' Yes, these fifty nights have not weakened me; if thirty more days and nights are needed I can give them while you sleep,—yes, I will tear him from death if, as the doctors say, nursing can save him. But suppose that in spite of you and me, the count dies,—well, then, if you were loved, oh, adored, by a man of a heart and soul that are worthy of you—"

"I may have wished for such love, foolishly, but I have never met with it."

"Perhaps you are mistaken—"

Clementine looked fixedly at Thaddeus, imagining that there was less of love than of cupidity in his thoughts; her eyes measured him from head to foot and poured contempt upon him; then she crushed him with the words, "Poor Malaga!" uttered in tones which a great lady alone can find to give expression to her disdain. She rose, leaving Thaddeus half unconscious behind her, slowly re-entered her boudoir, and went back to Adam's chamber.

An hour later Paz returned to the sick-room, and began anew, with death in his heart, his care of the count. From that moment he said nothing. He was forced to struggle with the patient, whom he managed in a way that excited the admiration of the doctors. At all hours his watchful eyes were like lamps always lighted. He showed no resentment to Clementine, and listened to her thanks without accepting them; he seemed both dumb and deaf. To himself he was saying, "She shall owe his life to me," and he wrote the thought as it were in letters of fire on the walls of Adam's room. On the fifteenth day Clementine was forced to give up the nursing, lest she should utterly break down. Paz was unwearied. At last, towards the end of August, Bianchon, the family physician, told Clementine that Adam was out of danger.

"Ah, madame, you are under no obligation to me," he said; "without his friend, Comte Paz, we could not have saved him."

The day after the meeting of Paz and Clementine in the kiosk, the Marquis de Ronquerolles came to see his nephew. He was on the eve of starting for Russia on a secret diplomatic mission. Paz took occasion to say a few words to him. The first day that Adam was able to drive out with his wife and Thaddeus, a gentleman entered the courtyard as the carriage was about to leave it, and asked for Comte Paz. Thaddeus, who was sitting on the front seat of the caleche, turned to take a letter which bore the stamp of the ministry of Foreign affairs. Having read it, he put it into his pocket in a manner which prevented Clementine or Adam from speaking of it. Nevertheless, by the time they reached the porte Maillot, Adam, full of curiosity, used the privilege of a sick man whose caprices are to be gratified, and said to Thaddeus: "There's no indiscretion between brothers who love each other,—tell me what there is in that despatch; I'm in a fever of curiosity."

Clementine glanced at Thaddeus with a vexed air, and remarked to her husband: "He has been so sulky with me for the last two months that I shall never ask him anything again."

"Oh, as for that," replied Paz, "I can't keep it out of the newspapers, so I may as well tell you at once. The Emperor Nicholas has had the grace to appoint me captain in a regiment which is to take part in the expedition to Khiva."

"You are not going?" cried Adam.

"Yes, I shall go, my dear fellow. Captain I came, and captain I return. We shall dine together to-morrow for the last time. If I don't start at once for St. Petersburg I shall have to make the journey by land, and I am not rich, and I must leave Malaga a little independence. I ought to think of the only woman who has been able to understand me; she thinks me grand, superior. I dare say she is faithless, but she would jump—"

"Through the hoop, for your sake and come down safely on the back of her horse," said Clementine sharply.

"Oh, you don't know Malaga," said the captain, bitterly, with a sarcastic look in his eyes which made Clementine thoughtful and uneasy.

"Good-by to the young trees of this beautiful Bois, which you Parisians love, and the exiles who find a home here love too," he said, presently. "My eyes will never again see the evergreens of the avenue de Mademoiselle, nor the acacias nor the cedars of the rond-points. On the borders of Asia, fighting for the Emperor, promoted to the command, perhaps, by force of courage and by risking my life, it may happen that I shall regret these Champs-Elysees where I have driven beside you, and where you pass. Yes, I shall grieve for Malaga's hardness—the Malaga of whom I am now speaking."

This was said in a manner that made Clementine tremble.

"Then you do love Malaga very much?" she asked.

"I have sacrificed for her the honor that no man should ever sacrifice."

"What honor?"

"That which we desire to keep at any cost in the eyes of our idol."

After that reply Thaddeus said no more; he was silent until, as they passed a wooden building on the Champs Elysees, he said, pointing to it, "That is the Circus."

He went to the Russian Embassy before dinner, and thence to the Foreign office, and the next morning he had started for Havre before the count and countess were up.

"I have lost a friend," said Adam, with tears in his eyes, when he heard that Paz had gone,—"a friend in the true meaning of the word. I don't know what has made him abandon me as if a pestilence were in my house. We are not friends to quarrel about a woman," he said, looking intently at Clementine. "You heard what he said yesterday about Malaga. Well, he has never so much as touched the little finger of that girl."

"How do you know that?" said Clementine.

"I had the natural curiosity to go and see Mademoiselle Turquet, and the poor girl can't explain even to herself the absolute reserve which Thad—"

"Enough!" said the countess, retreating into her bedroom. "Can it be that I am the victim of some noble mystification?" she asked herself. The thought had hardly crossed her mind when Constantin brought her the following letter written by Thaddeus during the night:—

  "Countess,—To seek death in the Caucasus and carry with me your
  contempt is more than I can bear. A man should die untainted. When
  I saw you for the first time I loved you as we love a woman whom
  we shall love forever, even though she be unfaithful to us. I
  loved you thus,—I, the friend of the man you had chosen and were
  about to marry; I, poor; I, the steward,—a voluntary service, but
  still the steward of your household.

  "In this immense misfortune I found a happy life. To be to you an
  indispensable machine, to know myself useful to your comfort, your
  luxury, has been the source of deep enjoyments. If these
  enjoyments were great when I thought only of Adam, think what they
  were to my soul when the woman I loved was the mainspring of all I
  did. I have known the pleasures of maternity in my love. I
  accepted life thus. Like the paupers who live along the great
  highways, I built myself a hut on the borders of your beautiful
  domain, though I never sought to approach you. Poor and lonely,
  struck blind by Adam's good fortune, I was, nevertheless, the
  giver. Yes, you were surrounded by a love as pure as a
  guardian-angel's; it waked while you slept; it caressed you with a
  look as you passed; it was happy in its own existence,—you were
  the sun of my native land to me, poor exile, who now writes to you
  with tears in his eyes as he thinks of the happiness of those first

  "When I was eighteen years old, having no one to love, I took for
  my ideal mistress a charming woman in Warsaw, to whom I confided
  all my thoughts, my wishes; I made her the queen of my nights and
  days. She knew nothing of all this; why should she? I loved my

  "You can fancy from this incident of my youth how happy I was
  merely to live in the sphere of your existence, to groom your
  horse, to find the new-coined gold for your purse, to prepare the
  splendor of your dinners and your balls, to see you eclipsing the
  elegance of those whose fortunes were greater than yours, and all
  by my own good management. Ah! with what ardor I have ransacked
  Paris when Adam would say to me, 'She wants this or that.' It was
  a joy such as I can never express to you. You wished for a trifle
  at one time which kept me seven hours in a cab scouring the city;
  and what delight it was to weary myself for you. Ah! when I saw
  you, unseen by you, smiling among your flowers, I could forget
  that no one loved me. On certain days, when my happiness turned my
  head, I went at night and kissed the spot where, to me, your feet
  had left their luminous traces. The air you had breathed was
  balmy; in it I breathed in more of life; I inhaled, as they say
  persons do in the tropics, a vapor laden with creative principles.

  "I must tell you these things to explain the strange presumption
  of my involuntary thoughts,—I would have died rather than avow it
  until now.

  "You will remember those few days of curiosity when you wished to
  know the man who performed the household miracles you had
  sometimes noticed. I thought,—forgive me, madame,—I believed you
  might love me. Your good-will, your glances interpreted by me, a
  lover, seemed to me so dangerous—for me—that I invented that
  story of Malaga, knowing it was the sort of liaison which women
  cannot forgive. I did it in a moment when I felt that my love
  would be communicated, fatally, to you. Despise me, crush me with
  the contempt you have so often cast upon me when I did not deserve
  it; and yet I am certain that, if, on that evening when your aunt
  took Adam away from you, I had said what I have now written to
  you, I should, like the tamed tiger that sets his teeth once more
  in living flesh, and scents the blood, and—


  "I could not go on; the memory of that hour is still too living.
  Yes, I was maddened. Was there hope for me in your eyes? then
  victory with its scarlet banners would have flamed in mine and
  fascinated yours. My crime has been to think all this; perhaps
  wrongly. You alone can judge of that dreadful scene when I drove
  back love, desire, all the most invincible forces of our manhood,
  with the cold hand of gratitude,—gratitude which must be eternal.

  "Your terrible contempt has been my punishment. You have shown me
  there is no return from loathing or disdain. I love you madly. I
  should have gone had Adam died; all the more must I go because he
  lives. A man does not tear his friend from the arms of death to
  betray him. Besides, my going is my punishment for the thought
  that came to me that I would let him die, when the doctors said
  that his life depended on his nursing.

  "Adieu, madame; in leaving Paris I lose all, but you lose nothing
  now in my being no longer near you.

  "Your devoted
  "Thaddeus Paz."

"If my poor Adam says he has lost a friend, what have I lost?" thought Clementine, sinking into a chair with her eyes fixed on the carpet.

The following letter Constantin had orders to give privately to the count:—

  "My dear Adam,—Malaga has told me all. In the name of all your
  future happiness, never let a word escape you to Clementine about
  your visits to that girl; let her think that Malaga has cost me a
  hundred thousand francs. I know Clementine's character; she will
  never forgive you either your losses at cards or your visits to

  "I am not going to Khiva, but to the Caucasus. I have the spleen;
  and at the pace at which I mean to go I shall be either Prince
  Paz in three years, or dead. Good-by; though I have taken
  sixty-thousand francs from Nucingen, our accounts are even.


"Idiot that I was," thought Adam; "I came near to cutting my throat just now, talking about Malaga."

It is now three years since Paz went away. The newspapers have as yet said nothing about any Prince Paz. The Comtesse Laginska is immensely interested in the expeditions of the Emperor Nicholas; she is Russian to the core, and reads with a sort of avidity all the news that comes from that distant land. Once or twice every winter she says to the Russian ambassador, with an air of indifference, "Do you know what has become of our poor Comte Paz?"

Alas! most Parisian women, those beings who think themselves so clever and clear-sighted, pass and repass beside a Paz and never recognize him. Yes, many a Paz is unknown and misconceived, but—horrible to think of!—some are misconceived even though they are loved. The simplest women in society exact a certain amount of conventional sham from the greatest men. A noble love signifies nothing to them if rough and unpolished; it needs the cutting and setting of a jeweller to give it value in their eyes.

In January, 1842, the Comtesse Laginska, with her charm of gentle melancholy, inspired a violent passion in the Comte de La Palferine, one of the most daring and presumptuous lions of the day. La Palferine was well aware that the conquest of a woman so guarded by reserve as the Comtesse Laginska was difficult, but he thought he could inveigle this charming creature into committing herself if he took her unawares, by the assistance of a certain friend of her own, a woman already jealous of her.

Quite incapable, in spite of her intelligence, of suspecting such treachery, the Comtesse Laginska committed the imprudence of going with her so-called friend to a masked ball at the Opera. About three in the morning, led away by the excitement of the scene, Clementine, on whom La Palferine had expended his seductions, consented to accept a supper, and was about to enter the carriage of her faithless friend. At this critical moment her arm was grasped by a powerful hand, and she was taken, in spite of her struggles, to her own carriage, the door of which stood open, though she did not know it was there.

"He has never left Paris!" she exclaimed to herself as she recognized Thaddeus, who disappeared when the carriage drove away.

Did any woman ever have a like romance in her life? Clementine is constantly hoping she may again see Paz.