The doctor awoke next morning firmly resolved to make his fortune.
Several times already he had come to the same determination without
following up the reality. At the outset of all his trials of some new
career the hopes of rapidly acquired riches kept up his efforts and
confidence, till the first obstacle, the first check, threw him into a
fresh path. Snug in bed between the warm sheets, he lay meditating. How
many medical men had become wealthy in quite a short time! All that was
needed was a little knowledge of the world; for in the course of his
studies he had learned to estimate the most famous physicians, and he
judged them all to be asses. He was certainly as good as they, if not
better. If by any means he could secure a practice among the wealth and
fashion of Havre, he could easily make a hundred thousand francs a year.
And he calculated with great exactitude what his certain profits must
be. He would go out in the morning to visit his patients; at the very
moderate average of ten a day, at twenty francs each, that would mount
up to seventy-two thousand francs a year at least, or even seventy-five
thousand; for ten patients was certainly below the mark. In the
afternoon he would be at home to, say, another ten patients, at ten
francs each--thirty-six thousand francs. Here, then, in round numbers
was an income of twenty thousand francs. Old patients, or friends whom
he would charge only ten francs for a visit, or see at home for
five, would perhaps make a slight reduction on this sum total, but
consultations with other physicians and various incidental fees would
make up for that.
Nothing could be easier than to achieve this by skilful advertising
remarks in the Figaro to the effect that the scientific faculty of Paris
had their eye on him, and were interested in the cures effected by the
modest young practitioner of Havre! And he would be richer than his
brother, richer and more famous; and satisfied with himself, for he
would owe his fortune solely to his own exertions; and liberal to his
old parents, who would be justly proud of his fame. He would not marry,
would not burden his life with a wife who would be in his way, but he
would choose his mistress from the most beautiful of his patients. He
felt so sure of success that he sprang out of bed as though to grasp it
on the spot, and he dressed to go and search through the town for rooms
to suit him.
Then, as he wandered about the streets, he reflected how slight are the
causes which determine our actions. Any time these three weeks he might
and ought to have come to this decision, which, beyond a doubt, the news
of his brother's inheritance had abruptly given rise to.
He stopped before every door where a placard proclaimed that "fine
apartments" or "handsome rooms" were to be let; announcements without an
adjective he turned from with scorn. Then he inspected them with a
lofty air, measuring the height of the rooms, sketching the plan in his
note-book, with the passages, the arrangement of the exits, explaining
that he was a medical man and had many visitors. He must have a broad
and well-kept stair-case; nor could he be any higher up than the first
After having written down seven or eight addresses and scribbled two
hundred notes, he got home to breakfast a quarter of an hour too late.
In the hall he heard the clatter of plates. Then they had begun without
him! Why? They were never wont to be so punctual. He was nettled and put
out, for he was somewhat thin-skinned. As he went in Roland said to him:
"Come, Pierre, make haste, devil take you! You know we have to be at the
lawyer's at two o'clock. This is not the day to be dawdling."
Pierre sat down without replying, after kissing his mother and shaking
hands with his father and brother; and he helped himself from the deep
dish in the middle of the table to the cutlet which had been kept for
him. It was cold and dry, probably the least tempting of them all. He
thought that they might have left it on the hot plate till he came in,
and not lose their heads so completely as to have forgotten their other
son, their eldest.
The conversation, which his entrance had interrupted, was taken up again
at the point where it had ceased.
"In your place," Mme. Roland was saying to Jean, "I will tell you what
I should do at once. I should settle in handsome rooms so as to attract
attention; I should ride on horseback and select one or two interesting
cases to defend and make a mark in court. I would be a sort of amateur
lawyer, and very select. Thank God you are out of all danger of want,
and if you pursue a profession, it is, after all, only that you may not
lose the benefit of your studies, and because a man ought never to sit
Old Roland, who was peeling a pear, exclaimed:
"Christi! In your place I should buy a nice yacht, a cutter on the build
of our pilot-boats. I would sail as far as Senegal in such a boat as
Pierre, in his turn, spoke his views. After all, said he, it was not his
wealth which made the moral worth, the intellectual worth of a man. To
a man of inferior mind it was only a means of degradation, while in the
hands of a strong man it was a powerful lever. They, to be sure, were
rare. If Jean were a really superior man, now that he could never want
he might prove it. But then he must work a hundred times harder than he
would have done in other circumstances. His business now must be not to
argue for or against the widow and the orphan, and pocket his fees for
every case he gained, but to become a really eminent legal authority, a
luminary of the law. And he added in conclusion:
"If I were rich wouldn't I dissect no end of bodies!"
Father Roland shrugged his shoulders.
"That is all very fine," he said. "But the wisest way of life is to take
it easy. We are not beasts of burden, but men. If you are born poor you
must work; well, so much the worse; and you do work. But where you have
dividends! You must be a flat if you grind yourself to death."
Pierre replied haughtily:
"Our notions differ. For my part, I respect nothing on earth but
learning and intellect; everything else is beneath contempt."
Mme. Roland always tried to deaden the constant shocks between father
and son; she turned the conversation, and began talking of a murder
committed the week before at Bolbec Nointot. Their minds were
immediately full of the circumstances under which the crime had been
committed, and absorbed by the interesting horror, the attractive
mystery of crime, which, however commonplace, shameful, and disgusting,
exercises a strange and universal fascination over the curiosity of
mankind. Now and again, however, old Roland looked at his watch. "Come,"
said he, "it is time to be going."
"It is not yet one o'clock," he said. "It really was hardly worth while
to condemn me to eat a cold cutlet."
"Are you coming to the lawyer's?" his mother asked.
"I? No. What for?" he replied dryly. "My presence is quite unnecessary."
Jean sat silent, as though he had no concern in the matter. When they
were discussing the murder at Bolbec he, as a legal authority, had
put forward some opinions and uttered some reflections on crime and
criminals. Now he spoke no more; but the sparkle in his eye, the bright
colour in his cheeks, the very gloss of his beard seemed to proclaim his
When the family had gone, Pierre, alone once more, resumed his
investigations in the apartments to let. After two or three hours
spent in going up and down stairs, he at last found, in the Boulevard
Francois, a pretty set of rooms; a spacious entresol with two doors on
two different streets, two drawing-rooms, a glass corridor, where his
patients while they waited, might walk among flowers, and a delightful
dining-room with a bow-window looking out over the sea.
When it came to taking it, the terms--three thousand francs--pulled him
up; the first quarter must be paid in advance, and he had nothing, not a
penny to call his own.
The little fortune his father had saved brought him in about eight
thousand francs a year, and Pierre had often blamed himself for having
placed his parents in difficulties by his long delay in deciding on a
profession, by forfeiting his attempts and beginning fresh courses of
study. So he went away, promising to send his answer within two days,
and it occurred to him to ask Jean to lend him the amount of this
quarter's rent, or even of a half-year, fifteen hundred francs, as soon
as Jean should have come into possession.
"It will be a loan for a few months at most," he thought. "I shall repay
him, very likely before the end of the year. It is a simple matter, and
he will be glad to do so much for me."
As it was not yet four o'clock, and he had nothing to do, absolutely
nothing, he went to sit in the public gardens; and he remained a long
time on a bench, without an idea in his brain, his eyes fixed on the
ground, crushed by weariness amounting to distress.
And yet this was how he had been living all these days since his return
home, without suffering so acutely from the vacuity of his existence and
from inaction. How had he spent his time from rising in the morning till
He had loafed on the pier at high tide, loafed in the streets, loafed in
the cafes, loafed at Marowsko's, loafed everywhere. And on a sudden this
life, which he had endured till now, had become odious, intolerable. If
he had had any pocket-money, he would have taken a carriage for a long
drive in the country, along by the farm-ditches shaded by beech and elm
trees; but he had to think twice of the cost of a glass of beer or a
postage-stamp, and such an indulgence was out of his ken. It suddenly
struck him how hard it was for a man of past thirty to be reduced to ask
his mother, with a blush for a twenty-franc piece every now and then;
and he muttered, as he scored the gravel with the ferule of his stick:
"Christi, if I only had money!"
And again the thought of his brother's legacy came into his head like
the sting of a wasp; but he drove it out indignantly, not choosing to
allow himself to slip down that descent to jealousy.
Some children were playing about in the dusty paths. They were fair
little things with long hair, and they were making little mounds of sand
with the greatest gravity and careful attention, to crush them at once
by stamping on them.
It was one of those gloomy days with Pierre when we pry into every
corner of our souls and shake out every crease.
"All our endeavours are like the labours of those babies," thought he.
And then he wondered whether the wisest thing in life were not to beget
two or three of these little creatures and watch them grow up with
complacent curiosity. A longing for marriage breathed on his soul. A
man is not so lost when he is not alone. At any rate, he has some one
stirring at his side in hours of trouble or of uncertainty; and it is
something only to be able to speak on equal terms to a woman when one is
Then he began thinking of women. He knew very little of them, never
having had any but very transient connections as a medical student,
broken off as soon as the month's allowance was spent, and renewed or
replaced by another the following month. And yet there must be some very
kind, gentle, and comforting creatures among them. Had not his mother
been the good sense and saving grace of his own home? How glad he would
be to know a woman, a true woman!
He started up with a sudden determination to go and call on Mme.
Rosemilly. But he promptly sat down again. He did not like that woman.
Why not? She had too much vulgar and sordid common sense; besides,
did she not seem to prefer Jean? Without confessing it to himself too
bluntly, this preference had a great deal to do with his low opinion of
the widow's intellect; for, though he loved his brother, he could not
help thinking him somewhat mediocre and believing himself the superior.
However, he was not going to sit there till nightfall; and as he had
done on the previous evening, he anxiously asked himself: "What am I
going to do?"
At this moment he felt in his soul the need of a melting mood, of being
embraced and comforted. Comforted--for what? He could not have put it
into words; but he was in one of these hours of weakness and exhaustion
when a woman's presence, a woman's kiss, the touch of a hand, the rustle
of a petticoat, a soft look out of black or blue eyes, seem the one
thing needful, there and then, to our heart. And the memory flashed upon
him of a little barmaid at a beer-house, whom he had walked home with
one evening, and seen again from time to time.
So once more he rose, to go and drink a bock with the girl. What should
he say to her? What would she say to him? Nothing, probably. But what
did that matter? He would hold her hand for a few seconds. She seemed to
have a fancy for him. Why, then, did he not go to see her oftener?
He found her dozing on a chair in the beer-shop, which was almost
deserted. Three men were drinking and smoking with their elbows on the
oak tables; the book-keeper in her desk was reading a novel, while the
master, in his shirt-sleeves, lay sound asleep on a bench.
As soon as she saw him the girl rose eagerly, and coming to meet him,
"Good-day, monsieur--how are you?"
"Pretty well; and you?"
"I--oh, very well. How scarce you make yourself!"
"Yes. I have very little time to myself. I am a doctor, you know."
"Indeed! You never told me. If I had known that--I was out of sorts last
week and I would have sent for you. What will you take?"
"A bock. And you?"
"I will have a bock, too, since you are willing to treat me."
She had addressed him with the familiar _tu_, and continued to use
it, as if the offer of a drink had tacitly conveyed permission. Then,
sitting down opposite each other, they talked for a while. Every now and
then she took his hand with the light familiarity of girls whose kisses
are for sale, and looking at him with inviting eyes she said:
"Why don't you come here oftener? I like you very much, sweetheart."
He was already disgusted with her; he saw how stupid she was, and
common, smacking of low life. A woman, he told himself, should appear to
us in dreams, or such a glory as may poetize her vulgarity.
Next she asked him:
"You went by the other morning with a handsome fair man, wearing a big
beard. Is he your brother?"
"Yes, he is my brother."
"Do you think so?"
"Yes, indeed; and he looks like a man who enjoys life, too."
What strange craving impelled him on a sudden to tell this tavern-wench
about Jean's legacy? Why should this thing, which he kept at arm's
length when he was alone, which he drove from him for fear of the
torment it brought upon his soul, rise to his lips at this moment? And
why did he allow it to overflow them as if he needed once more to empty
out his heart to some one, gorged as it was with bitterness?
He crossed his legs and said:
"He has wonderful luck, that brother of mine. He had just come into a
legacy of twenty thousand francs a year."
She opened those covetous blue eyes of hers very wide.
"Oh! and who left him that? His grandmother or his aunt?"
"No. An old friend of my parents'."
"Only a friend! Impossible! And you--did he leave you nothing?"
"No. I knew him very slightly."
She sat thinking some minutes; then, with an odd smile on her lips, she
"Well, he is a lucky dog, that brother of yours, to have friends of this
pattern. My word! and no wonder he is so unlike you."
He longed to slap her, without knowing why; and he asked with pinched
lips: "And what do you mean by saying that?"
She had put on a stolid, innocent face.
"O--h, nothing. I mean he has better luck than you."
He tossed a franc piece on the table and went out.
Now he kept repeating the phrase: "No wonder he is so unlike you."
What had her thought been, what had been her meaning under those words?
There was certainly some malice, some spite, something shameful in it.
Yes, that hussy must have fancied, no doubt, that Jean was Marechal's
son. The agitation which came over him at the notion of this suspicion
cast at his mother was so violent that he stood still, looking about
him for some place where he might sit down. In front of him was another
cafe. He went in, took a chair, and as the waiter came up, "A bock," he
He felt his heart beating, his skin was gooseflesh. And then the
recollection flashed upon him of what Marowsko had said the evening
before. "It will not look well." Had he had the same thought, the same
suspicion as this baggage? Hanging his head over the glass, he watched
the white froth as the bubbles rose and burst, asking himself: "Is it
possible that such a thing should be believed?"
But the reasons which might give rise to this horrible doubt in other
men's minds now struck him, one after another, as plain, obvious, and
exasperating. That a childless old bachelor should leave his fortune to
a friend's two sons was the most simple and natural thing in the world;
but that he should leave the whole of it to one alone--of course people
would wonder, and whisper, and end by smiling. How was it that he had
not foreseen this, that his father had not felt it? How was it that
his mother had not guessed it? No; they had been too delighted at this
unhoped-for wealth for the idea to come near them. And besides, how
should these worthy souls have ever dreamed of anything so ignominious?
But the public--their neighbours, the shopkeepers, their own tradesmen,
all who knew them--would not they repeat the abominable thing, laugh at
it, enjoy it, make game of his father and despise his mother?
And the barmaid's remark that Jean was fair and he dark, that they were
not in the least alike in face, manner, figure, or intelligence, would
now strike every eye and every mind. When any one spoke of Roland's son,
the question would be: "Which, the real or the false?"
He rose, firmly resolved to warn Jean, and put him on his guard against
the frightful danger which threatened their mother's honour.
But what could Jean do? The simplest thing no doubt, would be to refuse
the inheritance, which would then go to the poor, and to tell all
friends or acquaintances who had heard of the bequest that the will
contained clauses and conditions impossible to subscribe to, which would
have made Jean not inheritor but merely a trustee.
As he made his way home he was thinking that he must see his brother
alone, so as not to speak of such a matter in the presence of his
parents. On reaching the door he heard a great noise of voices and
laughter in the drawing-room, and when he went in he found Captain
Beausire and Mme. Rosemilly, whom his father had brought home and
engaged to dine with them in honour of the good news. Vermouth and
absinthe had been served to whet their appetites, and every one had been
at once put into good spirits. Captain Beausire, a funny little man who
had become quite round by dint of being rolled about at sea, and whose
ideas also seemed to have been worn round, like the pebbles of a beach,
while he laughed with his throat full of _r_'s, looked upon life as a
capital thing, in which everything that might turn up was good to take.
He clinked his glass against father Roland's, while Jean was offering
two freshly filled glasses to the ladies. Mme. Rosemilly refused, till
Captain Beausire, who had known her husband, cried:
"Come, come, madame, _bis repetita placent_, as we say in the lingo,
which is as much as to say two glasses of vermouth never hurt any one.
Look at me; since I have left the sea, in this way I give myself an
artificial roll or two every day before dinner; I add a little pitching
after my coffee, and that keeps things lively for the rest of the
evening. I never rise to a hurricane, mind you, never, never. I am too
much afraid of damage."
Roland, whose nautical mania was humoured by the old mariner, laughed
heartily, his face flushed already and his eye watery from the absinthe.
He had a burly shop-keeping stomach--nothing but stomach--in which the
rest of his body seemed to have got stowed away; the flabby paunch of
men who spend their lives sitting, and who have neither thighs, nor
chest, nor arms, nor neck; the seat of their chairs having accumulated
all their substance in one spot. Beausire, on the contrary, though short
and stout, was as tight as an egg and as hard as a cannon-ball.
Mme. Roland had not emptied her glass and was gazing at her son Jean
with sparkling eyes; happiness had brought a colour to her cheeks.
In him, too, the fulness of joy had now blazed out. It was a settled
thing, signed and sealed; he had twenty thousand francs a year. In the
sound of his laugh, in the fuller voice with which he spoke, in his
way of looking at the others, his more positive manners, his greater
confidence, the assurance given by money was at once perceptible.
Dinner was announced, and as the old man was about to offer his arm to
Mme. Rosemilly, his wife exclaimed:
"No, no, father. Everything is for Jean to-day."
Unwonted luxury graced the table. In front of Jean, who sat in his
father's place, an enormous bouquet of flowers--a bouquet for a really
great occasion--stood up like a cupola dressed with flags, and was
flanked by four high dishes, one containing a pyramid of splendid
peaches; the second, a monumental cake gorged with whipped cream and
covered with pinnacles of sugar--a cathedral in confectionery;
the third, slices of pine-apple floating in clear sirup; and the
fourth--unheard-of lavishness--black grapes brought from the warmer
"The devil!" exclaimed Pierre as he sat down. "We are celebrating the
accession of Jean the rich."
After the soup, Madeira was passed round, and already every one was
talking at once. Beausire was giving the history of a dinner he had
eaten at San Domingo at the table of a negro general. Old Roland was
listening, and at the same time trying to get in, between the sentences,
his account of another dinner, given by a friend of his at Mendon, after
which every guest was ill for a fortnight. Mme. Rosemilly, Jean, and
his mother were planning an excursion to breakfast at Saint Jouin, from
which they promised themselves the greatest pleasure; and Pierre was
only sorry that he had not dined alone in some pot-house by the sea, so
as to escape all this noise and laughter and glee which fretted him. He
was wondering how he could now set to work to confide his fears to his
brother, and induce him to renounce the fortune he had already accepted
and of which he was enjoying the intoxicating foretaste. It would be
hard on him, no doubt; but it must be done; he could not hesitate; their
mother's reputation was at stake.
The appearance of an enormous shade-fish threw Roland back on fishing
stories. Beausire told some wonderful tales of adventure on the Gaboon,
at Sainte-Marie, in Madagascar, and above all, off the coasts of China
and Japan, where the fish are as queer-looking as the natives. And he
described the appearance of these fishes--their goggle gold eyes, their
blue or red bellies, their fantastic fins like fans, their eccentric
crescent-shaped tails--with such droll gesticulation that they all
laughed till they cried as they listened.
Pierre alone seemed incredulous, muttering to himself: "True enough, the
Normans are the Gascons of the north!"
After the fish came a vol-au-vent, then a roast fowl, a salad, French
beans with a Pithiviers lark-pie. Mme. Rosemilly's maid helped to wait
on them, and the fun rose with the number of glasses of wine they drank.
When the cork of the first champagne-bottle was drawn with a pop, father
Roland, highly excited, imitated the noise with his tongue and then
declared: "I like that noise better than a pistol-shot."
Pierre, more and more fractious every moment, retorted with a sneer:
"And yet it is perhaps a greater danger for you."
Roland, who was on the point of drinking, set his full glass down on the
table again, and asked:
He had for some time been complaining of his health, of heaviness,
giddiness, frequent and unaccountable discomfort. The doctor replied:
"Because the bullet might very possibly miss you, while the glass of
wine is dead certain to hit you in the stomach."
"And what then?"
"Then it scorches your inside, upsets your nervous system, makes the
circulation sluggish, and leads the way to the apoplectic fit which
always threatens a man of your build."
The jeweller's incipient intoxication had vanished like smoke before the
wind. He looked at his son with fixed, uneasy eyes, trying to discover
whether he was making game of him.
But Beausire exclaimed:
"Oh, these confounded doctors! They all sing the same tune--eat nothing,
drink nothing, never make love or enjoy yourself; it all plays the devil
with your precious health. Well, all I can say is, I have done all these
things, sir, in every quarter of the globe, wherever and as often as I
have had the chance, and I am none the worse."
Pierre answered with some asperity:
"In the first place, captain, you are a stronger man than my father; and
in the next, all free livers talk as you do till the day when--when they
come back no more to say to the cautious doctor: 'You were right.' When
I see my father doing what is worst and most dangerous for him, it
is but natural that I should warn him. I should be a bad son if I did
Mme. Roland, much distressed, now put in her word: "Come, Pierre, what
ails you? For once it cannot hurt him. Think of what an occasion it
is for him, for all of us. You will spoil his pleasure and make us all
unhappy. It is too bad of you to do such a thing."
He muttered, as he shrugged his shoulders.
"He can do as he pleases. I have warned him."
But father Roland did not drink. He sat looking at his glass full of the
clear and luminous liquor while its light soul, its intoxicating soul,
flew off in tiny bubbles mounting from its depths in hurried succession
to die on the surface. He looked at it with the suspicious eye of a fox
smelling at a dead hen and suspecting a trap. He asked doubtfully: "Do
you think it will really do me much harm?" Pierre had a pang of remorse
and blamed himself for letting his ill-humour punish the rest.
"No," said he. "Just for once you may drink it; but do not take too
much, or get into the habit of it."
Then old Roland raised his glass, but still he could not make up his
mind to put it to his lips. He contemplated it regretfully, with longing
and with fear; then he smelt it, tasted it, drank it in sips, swallowing
them slowly, his heart full of terrors, of weakness and greediness; and
then, when he had drained the last drop, of regret.
Pierre's eye suddenly met that of Mme. Rosemilly; it rested on him clear
and blue, far-seeing and hard. And he read, he knew, the precise thought
which lurked in that look, the indignant thought of this simple and
right-minded little woman; for the look said: "You are jealous--that is
what you are. Shameful!"
He bent his head and went on with his dinner.
He was not hungry and found nothing nice. A longing to be off harassed
him, a craving to be away from these people, to hear no more of their
talking, jests, and laughter.
Father Roland meanwhile, to whose head the fumes of the wine were rising
once more, had already forgotten his son's advice and was eyeing a
champagne-bottle with a tender leer as it stood, still nearly full, by
the side of his plate. He dared not touch it for fear of being lectured
again, and he was wondering by what device or trick he could possess
himself of it without exciting Pierre's remark. A ruse occurred to
him, the simplest possible. He took up the bottle with an air of
indifference, and holding it by the neck, stretched his arm across the
table to fill the doctor's glass, which was empty; then he filled up
all the other glasses, and when he came to his own he began talking very
loud, so that if he poured anything into it they might have sworn it was
done inadvertently. And in fact no one took any notice.
Pierre, without observing it, was drinking a good deal. Nervous and
fretted, he every minute raised to his lips the tall crystal funnel
where the bubbles were dancing in the living, translucent fluid. He let
the wine slip very slowly over his tongue, that he might feel the little
sugary sting of the fixed air as it evaporated.
Gradually a pleasant warmth glowed in his frame. Starting from the
stomach as a centre, it spread to his chest, took possession of his
limbs, and diffused itself throughout his flesh, like a warm and
comforting tide, bringing pleasure with it. He felt better now, less
impatient, less annoyed, and his determination to speak to his brother
that very evening faded away; not that he thought for a moment of
giving it up, but simply not to disturb the happy mood in which he found
Beausire presently rose to propose a toast. Having bowed to the company,
"Most gracious ladies and gentlemen, we have met to do honour to a happy
event which has befallen one of our friends. It used to be said that
Fortune was blind, but I believe that she is only short-sighted or
tricksy, and that she has lately bought a good pair of glasses which
enabled her to discover in the town of Havre the son of our worthy
friend Roland, skipper of the Pearl."
Every one cried bravo and clapped their hands, and the elder Roland rose
to reply. After clearing his throat, for it felt thick and his tongue
was heavy, he stammered out:
"Thank you, captain, thank you--for myself and my son. I shall never
forget your behaviour on this occasion. Here's good luck to you!"
His eyes and nose were full of tears, and he sat down, finding nothing
more to say.
Jean, who was laughing, spoke in his turn:
"It is I," said he, "who ought to thank my friends here, my excellent
friends," and he glanced at Mme. Rosemilly, "who have given me such a
touching evidence of their affection. But it is not by words that I can
prove my gratitude. I will prove it to-morrow, every hour of my life,
always, for our friendship is not one of those which fade away."
His mother, deeply moved, murmured: "Well said, my boy."
But Beausire cried out:
"Come, Mme. Rosemilly, speak on behalf of the fair sex."
She raised her glass, and in a pretty voice, slightly touched with
sadness, she said: "I will pledge you to the memory of M. Marechal."
There was a few moments' lull, a pause for decent meditation, as after
prayer. Beausire, who always had a flow of compliment, remarked:
"Only a woman ever thinks of these refinements." Then turning to Father
Roland: "And who was this Marechal, after all? You must have been very
intimate with him."
The old man, emotional with drink, began to whimper, and in a broken
voice he said:
"Like a brother, you know. Such a friend as one does not make twice--we
were always together--he dined with us every evening--and would treat us
to the play--I need say no more--no more--no more. A true friend--a real
true friend--wasn't he, Louise?"
His wife merely answered: "Yes; he was a faithful friend."
Pierre looked at his father and then at his mother, then, as the subject
changed he drank some more wine. He scarcely remembered the remainder of
the evening. They had coffee, then liqueurs, and they laughed and joked
a great deal. At about midnight he went to bed, his mind confused and
his head heavy; and he slept like a brute till nine next morning.