Father Goriot CHAPTER IX

The next day was destined to be one of the most extraordinary in the annals of the Maison Vauquer. Hitherto the most startling occurrence in its tranquil existence had been the portentous, meteor–like apparition of the sham Comtesse de l’Ambermesnil. But the catastrophes of this great day were to cast all previous events into the shade, and supply an inexhaustible topic of conversation for Mme. Vauquer and her boarders so long as she lived.

In the first place, Goriot and Eugene de Rastignac both slept till close upon eleven o’clock. Mme. Vauquer, who came home about midnight from the Gaite, lay a–bed till half–past ten. Christophe, after a prolonged slumber (he had finished Vautrin’s first bottle of wine), was behindhand with his work, but Poiret and Mlle. Michonneau uttered no complaint, though breakfast was delayed. As for Victorine and Mme. Couture, they also lay late. Vautrin went out before eight o’clock, and only came back just as breakfast was ready. Nobody protested, therefore, when Sylvie and Christophe went up at a quarter past eleven, knocked at all the doors, and announced that breakfast was waiting. While Sylvie and the man were upstairs, Mlle. Michonneau, who came down first, poured the contents of the phial into the silver cup belonging to Vautrin—it was standing with the others in the bain–marie that kept the cream hot for the morning coffee. The spinster had reckoned on this custom of the house to do her stroke of business. The seven lodgers were at last collected together, not without some difficulty. Just as Eugene came downstairs, stretching himself and yawning, a commissionaire handed him a letter from Mme. de Nucingen. It ran thus:—

“I feel neither false vanity nor anger where you are concerned, my friend. Till two o’clock this morning I waited for you. Oh, that waiting for one whom you love! No one that had passed through that torture could inflict it on another. I know now that you have never loved before. What can have happened? Anxiety has taken hold of me. I would have come myself to find out what had happened, if I had not feared to betray the secrets of my heart. How can I walk out or drive out at this time of day? Would it not be ruin? I have felt to the full how wretched it is to be a woman. Send a word to reassure me, and explain how it is that you have not come after what my father told you. I shall be angry, but I will forgive you. One word, for pity’s sake. You will come to me soon, will you not? If you are busy, a line will be enough. Say, ’I will hasten to you,’ or else, ’I am ill.’ But if you were ill my father would have come to tell me so. What can have happened?…”

“Yes, indeed, what has happened?” exclaimed Eugene, and, hurrying down to the dining–room, he crumpled up the letter without reading any more. “What time is it?”

“Half–past eleven,” said Vautrin, dropping a lump of sugar into his coffee.

The escaped convict cast a glance at Eugene, a cold and fascinating glance; men gifted with this magnetic power can quell furious lunatics in a madhouse by such a glance, it is said. Eugene shook in every limb. There was the sound of wheels in the street, and in another moment a man with a scared face rushed into the room. It was one of M. Taillefer’s servants; Mme. Couture recognized the livery at once.

“Mademoiselle,” he cried, “your father is asking for you—something terrible has happened! M. Frederic has had a sword thrust in the forehead in a duel, and the doctors have given him up. You will scarcely be in time to say good–bye to him! he is unconscious.”

“Poor young fellow!” exclaimed Vautrin. “How can people brawl when they have a certain income of thirty thousand livres? Young people have bad manners, and that is a fact.”

“Sir!” cried Eugene.

“Well, what then, you big baby!” said Vautrin, swallowing down his coffee imperturbably, an operation which Mlle. Michonneau watched with such close attention that she had no emotion to spare for the amazing news that had struck the others dumb with amazement. “Are there not duels every morning in Paris?” added Vautrin.

“I will go with you, Victorine,” said Mme. Couture, and the two women hurried away at once without either hats or shawls. But before she went, Victorine, with her eyes full of tears, gave Eugene a glance that said—”How little I thought that our happiness should cost me tears!”

“Dear me, you are a prophet, M. Vautrin,” said Mme. Vauquer.

“I am all sorts of things,” said Vautrin.

“Queer, isn’t it?” said Mme. Vauquer, stringing together a succession of commonplaces suited to the occasion. “Death takes us off without asking us about it. The young often go before the old. It is a lucky thing for us women that we are not liable to fight duels, but we have other complaints that men don’t suffer from. We bear children, and it takes a long time to get over it. What a windfall for Victorine! Her father will have to acknowledge her now!”

“There!” said Vautrin, looking at Eugene, “yesterday she had not a penny; this morning she has several millions to her fortune.”

“I say, M. Eugene!” cried Mme. Vauquer, “you have landed on your feet!”

At this exclamation, Father Goriot looked at the student, and saw the crumpled letter still in his hand.

“You have not read it through! What does this mean? Are you going to be like the rest of them?” he asked.

“Madame, I shall never marry Mlle. Victorine,” said Eugene, turning to Mme. Vauquer with an expression of terror and loathing that surprised the onlookers at this scene.

Father Goriot caught the student’s hand and grasped it warmly. He could have kissed it.

“Oh, ho!” said Vautrin, “the Italians have a good proverb—Col tempo.”

“Is there any answer?” said Mme. de Nucingen’s messenger, addressing Eugene.

“Say that I will come directly.”

The man went. Eugene was in a state of such violent excitement that he could not be prudent.

“What is to be done?” he exclaimed aloud. “There are no proofs!”

Vautrin began to smile. Though the drug he had taken was doing its work, the convict was so vigorous that he rose to his feet, gave Rastignac a look, and said in hollow tones, “Luck comes to us while we sleep, young man,” and fell stiff and stark, as if he were struck dead.

“So there is a Divine Justice!” said Eugene.

“Well, if ever! What has come to that poor dear M. Vautrin?”

“A stroke!” cried Mlle. Michonneau.

“Here, Sylvie! girl, run for the doctor,” called the widow. “Oh, M. Rastignac, just go for M. Bianchon, and be as quick as you can; Sylvie might not be in time to catch our doctor, M. Grimprel.”

Rastignac was glad of an excuse to leave that den of horrors, his hurry for the doctor was nothing but a flight.

“Here, Christophe, go round to the chemist’s and ask for something that’s good for the apoplexy.”

Christophe likewise went.

“Father Goriot, just help us to get him upstairs.”

Vautrin was taken up among them, carried carefully up the narrow staircase, and laid upon his bed.

“I can do no good here, so I shall go to see my daughter,” said M. Goriot.

“Selfish old thing!” cried Mme. Vauquer. “Yes, go; I wish you may die like a dog.”

“Just go and see if you can find some ether,” said Mlle. Michonneau to Mme. Vauquer; the former, with some help from Poiret, had unfastened the sick man’s clothes.

Mme. Vauquer went down to her room, and left Mlle. Michonneau mistress of the situation.

“Now! just pull down his shirt and turn him over, quick! You might be of some use in sparing my modesty,” she said to Poiret, “instead of standing there like a stock.”

Vautrin was turned over; Mlle. Michonneau gave his shoulder a sharp slap, and the two portentous letters appeared, white against the red.

“There, you have earned your three thousand francs very easily,” exclaimed Poiret, supporting Vautrin while Mlle. Michonneau slipped on the shirt again.—”Ouf! How heavy he is,” he added, as he laid the convict down.

“Hush! Suppose there is a strong–box here!” said the old maid briskly; her glances seemed to pierce the walls, she scrutinized every article of the furniture with greedy eyes. “Could we find some excuse for opening that desk?”

“It mightn’t be quite right,” responded Poiret to this.

“Where is the harm? It is money stolen from all sorts of people, so it doesn’t belong to any one now. But we haven’t time, there is the Vauquer.”

“Here is the ether,” said that lady. “I must say that this is an eventful day. Lord! that man can’t have had a stroke; he is as white as curds.”

“White as curds?” echoed Poiret.

“And his pulse is steady,” said the widow, laying her hand on his breast.

“Steady?” said the astonished Poiret.

“He is all right.”

“Do you think so?” asked Poiret.

“Lord! Yes, he looks as if he were sleeping. Sylvie has gone for a doctor. I say, Mlle. Michonneau, he is sniffing the ether. Pooh! it is only a spasm. His pulse is good. He is as strong as a Turk. Just look, mademoiselle, what a fur tippet he has on his chest; that is the sort of man to live till he is a hundred. His wig holds on tightly, however. Dear me! it is glued on, and his own hair is red; that is why he wears a wig. They say that red–haired people are either the worst or the best. Is he one of the good ones, I wonder?”

“Good to hang,” said Poiret.

“Round a pretty woman’s neck, you mean,” said Mlle Michonneau, hastily. “Just go away, M. Poiret. It is a woman’s duty to nurse you men when you are ill. Besides, for all the good you are doing, you may as well take yourself off,” she added. “Mme. Vauquer and I will take great care of dear M. Vautrin.”

Poiret went out on tiptoe without a murmur, like a dog kicked out of the room by his master.

Rastignac had gone out for the sake of physical exertion; he wanted to breathe the air, he felt stifled. Yesterday evening he had meant to prevent the murder arranged for half–past eight that morning. What had happened? What ought he to do now? He trembled to think that he himself might be implicated. Vautrin’s coolness still further dismayed him.

“Yet, how if Vautrin should die without saying a word?” Rastignac asked himself.

He hurried along the alleys of the Luxembourg Gardens as if the hounds of justice were after him, and he already heard the baying of the pack.

“Well?” shouted Bianchon, “you have seen the Pilote?”

The Pilote was a Radical sheet, edited by M. Tissot. It came out several hours later than the morning papers, and was meant for the benefit of country subscribers; for it brought the morning news into provincial districts twenty–four hours sooner than the ordinary local journals.

“There is a wonderful history in it,” said the house student of the Hopital Cochin. “Young Taillefer called out Count Franchessini, of the Old Guard, and the Count put a couple of inches of steel into his forehead. And here is little Victorine one of the richest heiresses in Paris! If we had known that, eh? What a game of chance death is! They say Victorine was sweet on you; was there any truth in it?”

“Shut up, Bianchon; I shall never marry her. I am in love with a charming woman, and she is in love with me, so―”

“You said that as if you were screwing yourself up to be faithful to her. I should like to see the woman worth the sacrifice of Master Taillefer’s money!”

“Are all the devils of hell at my heels?” cried Rastignac.

“What is the matter with you? Are you mad? Give us your hand,” said Bianchon, “and let me feel your pulse. You are feverish.”

“Just go to Mother Vauquer’s,” said Rastignac; “that scoundrel Vautrin has dropped down like one dead.”

“Aha!” said Bianchon, leaving Rastignac to his reflections, “you confirm my suspicions, and now I mean to make sure for myself.”

The law student’s long walk was a memorable one for him. He made in some sort a survey of his conscience. After a close scrutiny, after hesitation and self–examination, his honor at any rate came out scatheless from this sharp and terrible ordeal, like a bar of iron tested in the English fashion. He remembered Father Goriot’s confidences of the evening before; he recollected the rooms taken for him in the Rue d’Artois, so that he might be near Delphine; and then he thought of his letter, and read it again and kissed it.

“Such a love is my anchor of safety,” he said to himself. “How the old man’s heart must have been wrung! He says nothing about all that he has been through; but who could not guess? Well, then, I will be like a son to him; his life shall be made happy. If she cares for me, she will often come to spend the day with him. That grand Comtesse de Restaud is a heartless thing; she would make her father into her hall porter. Dear Delphine! she is kinder to the old man; she is worthy to be loved. Ah! this evening I shall be very happy!”

He took out his watch and admired it.

“I have had nothing but success! If two people mean to love each other for ever, they may help each other, and I can take this. Besides, I shall succeed, and I will pay her a hundredfold. There is nothing criminal in this liaison; nothing that could cause the most austere moralist to frown. How many respectable people contract similar unions! We deceive nobody; it is deception that makes a position humiliating. If you lie, you lower yourself at once. She and her husband have lived apart for a long while. Besides, how if I called upon that Alsatian to resign a wife whom he cannot make happy?”

Rastignac’s battle with himself went on for a long while; and though the scruples of youth inevitably gained the day, an irresistible curiosity led him, about half–past four, to return to the Maison Vauquer through the gathering dusk.

Bianchon had given Vautrin an emetic, reserving the contents of the stomach for chemical analysis at the hospital. Mlle. Michonneau’s officious alacrity had still further strengthened his suspicions of her. Vautrin, moreover, had recovered so quickly that it was impossible not to suspect some plot against the leader of all frolics at the lodging–house. Vautrin was standing in front of the stove in the dining–room when Rastignac came in. All the lodgers were assembled sooner than usual by the news of young Taillefer’s duel. They were anxious to hear any detail about the affair, and to talk over the probable change in Victorine’s prospects. Father Goriot alone was absent, but the rest were chatting. No sooner did Eugene come into the room, than his eyes met the inscrutable gaze of Vautrin. It was the same look that had read his thoughts before—the look that had such power to waken evil thoughts in his heart. He shuddered.

“Well, dear boy,” said the escaped convict, “I am likely to cheat death for a good while yet. According to these ladies, I have had a stroke that would have felled an ox, and come off with flying colors.”

“A bull you might say,” cried the widow.

“You really might be sorry to see me still alive,” said Vautrin in Rastignac’s ear, thinking that he guessed the student’s thoughts. “You must be mighty sure of yourself.”

“Mlle. Michonneau was talking the day before yesterday about a gentleman named Trompe–la–Mort,” said Bianchon; “and, upon my word, that name would do very well for you.”

Vautrin seemed thunderstruck. He turned pale, and staggered back. He turned his magnetic glance, like a ray of vivid light, on Mlle. Michonneau; the old maid shrank and trembled under the influence of that strong will, and collapsed into a chair. The mask of good–nature had dropped from the convict’s face; from the unmistakable ferocity of that sinister look, Poiret felt that the old maid was in danger, and hastily stepped between them. None of the lodgers understood this scene in the least, they looked on in mute amazement. There was a pause. Just then there was a sound of tramping feet outside; there were soldiers there, it seemed, for there was a ring of several rifles on the pavement of the street. Collin was mechanically looking round the walls for a way of escape, when four men entered by way of the sitting–room.

“In the name of the King and the Law!” said an officer, but the words were almost lost in a murmur of astonishment.

Silence fell on the room. The lodgers made way for three of the men, who had each a hand on a cocked pistol in a side pocket. Two policemen, who followed the detectives, kept the entrance to the sitting–room, and two more men appeared in the doorway that gave access to the staircase. A sound of footsteps came from the garden, and again the rifles of several soldiers rang on the cobblestones under the window. All chance of salvation by flight was cut off for Trompe–la–Mort, to whom all eyes instinctively turned. The chief walked straight up to him, and commenced operations by giving him a sharp blow on the head, so that the wig fell off, and Collin’s face was revealed in all its ugliness. There was a terrible suggestion of strength mingled with cunning in the short, brick–red crop of hair, the whole head was in harmony with his powerful frame, and at that moment the fires of hell seemed to gleam from his eyes. In that flash the real Vautrin shone forth, revealed at once before them all; they understood his past, his present, and future, his pitiless doctrines, his actions, the religion of his own good pleasure, the majesty with which his cynicism and contempt for mankind invested him, the physical strength of an organization proof against all trials. The blood flew to his face, and his eyes glared like the eyes of a wild cat. He started back with savage energy and a fierce growl that drew exclamations of alarm from the lodgers. At that leonine start the police caught at their pistols under cover of the general clamor. Collin saw the gleaming muzzles of the weapons, saw his danger, and instantly gave proof of a power of the highest order. There was something horrible and majestic in the spectacle of the sudden transformation in his face; he could only be compared to a cauldron full of the steam that can send mountains flying, a terrific force dispelled in a moment by a drop of cold water. The drop of water that cooled his wrathful fury was a reflection that flashed across his brain like lightning. He began to smile, and looked down at his wig.

“You are not in the politest of humors to–day,” he remarked to the chief, and he held out his hands to the policemen with a jerk of his head.

“Gentlemen,” he said, “put on the bracelets or the handcuffs. I call on those present to witness that I make no resistance.”

A murmur of admiration ran through the room at the sudden outpouring like fire and lava flood from this human volcano, and its equally sudden cessation.

“There’s a sell for you, master crusher,” the convict added, looking at the famous director of police.

“Come, strip!” said he of the Petite Rue Saint–Anne, contemptuously.

“Why?” asked Collin. “There are ladies present; I deny nothing, and surrender.”

He paused, and looked round the room like an orator who is about to overwhelm his audience.

“Take this down, Daddy Lachapelle,” he went on, addressing a little, white–haired old man who had seated himself at the end of the table; and after drawing a printed form from the portfolio, was proceeding to draw up a document. “I acknowledge myself to be Jacques Collin, otherwise known as Trompe–la–Mort, condemned to twenty years’ penal servitude, and I have just proved that I have come fairly by my nickname.—If I had as much as raised my hand,” he went on, addressing the other lodgers, “those three sneaking wretches yonder would have drawn claret on Mamma Vauquer’s domestic hearth. The rogues have laid their heads together to set a trap for me.”

Mme. Vauquer felt sick and faint at these words.

“Good Lord!” she cried, “this does give one a turn; and me at the Gaite with him only last night!” she said to Sylvie.

“Summon your philosophy, mamma,” Collin resumed. “Is it a misfortune to have sat in my box at the Gaite yesterday evening? After all, are you better than we are? The brand upon our shoulders is less shameful than the brand set on your hearts, you flabby members of a society rotten to the core. Not the best man among you could stand up to me.” His eyes rested upon Rastignac, to whom he spoke with a pleasant smile that seemed strangely at variance with the savage expression in his eyes.—”Our little bargain still holds good, dear boy; you can accept any time you like! Do you understand?” And he sang:

“A charming girl is my Fanchette

In her simplicity.”

“Don’t you trouble yourself,” he went on; “I can get in my money. They are too much afraid of me to swindle me.”

The convicts’ prison, its language and customs, its sudden sharp transitions from the humorous to the horrible, its appalling grandeur, its triviality and its dark depths, were all revealed in turn by the speaker’s discourse; he seemed to be no longer a man, but the type and mouthpiece of a degenerate race, a brutal, supple, clear–headed race of savages. In one moment Collin became the poet of an inferno, wherein all thoughts and passions that move human nature (save repentance) find a place. He looked about him like a fallen archangel who is for war to the end. Rastignac lowered his eyes, and acknowledged this kinship claimed by crime as an expiation of his own evil thoughts.

“Who betrayed me?” said Collin, and his terrible eyes traveled round the room. Suddenly they rested on Mlle. Michonneau.

“It was you, old cat!” he said. “That sham stroke of apoplexy was your doing, lynx eyes!…Two words from me, and your throat would be cut in less than a week, but I forgive you, I am a Christian. You did not sell me either. But who did?―Aha! you may rummage upstairs,” he shouted, hearing the police officers opening his cupboards and taking possession of his effects. “The nest is empty, the birds flew away yesterday, and you will be none the wiser. My ledgers are here,” he said tapping his forehead. “Now I know who sold me! It could only be that blackguard Fil–de–Soie. That is who it was, old catchpoll, eh?” he said, turning to the chief. “It was timed so neatly to get the banknotes up above there. There is nothing left for you—spies! As for Fil–de–Soie, he will be under the daisies in less than a fortnight, even if you were to tell off the whole force to protect him. How much did you give the Michonnette?” he asked of the police officers. “A thousand crowns? Oh you Ninon in decay, Pompadour in tatters, Venus of the graveyard, I was worth more than that! If you had given me warning, you should have had six thousand francs. Ah! you had no suspicion of that, old trafficker in flesh and blood, or I should have had the preference. Yes, I would have given six thousand francs to save myself an inconvenient journey and some loss of money,” he said, as they fastened the handcuffs on his wrists. “These folks will amuse themselves by dragging out this business till the end of time to keep me idle. If they were to send me straight to jail, I should soon be back at my old tricks in spite of the duffers at the Quai des Orfevres. Down yonder they will all turn themselves inside out to help their general—their good Trompe–la–Mort—to get clear away. Is there a single one among you that can say, as I can, that he has ten thousand brothers ready to do anything for him?” he asked proudly. “There is some good there,” he said tapping his heart; “I have never betrayed any one!—Look you here, you slut,” he said to the old maid, “they are all afraid of me, do you see? but the sight of you turns them sick. Rake in your gains.”

He was silent for a moment, and looked round at the lodgers’ faces.

“What dolts you are, all of you! Have you never seen a convict before? A convict of Collin’s stamp, whom you see before you, is a man less weak–kneed than others; he lifts up his voice against the colossal fraud of the Social Contract, as Jean Jacques did, whose pupil he is proud to declare himself. In short, I stand here single–handed against a Government and a whole subsidized machinery of tribunals and police, and I am a match for them all.”

“Ye gods!” cried the painter, “what a magnificent sketch one might make of him!”

“Look here, you gentlemen–in–waiting to his highness the gibbet, master of ceremonies to the widow” (a nickname full of sombre poetry, given by prisoners to the guillotine), “be a good fellow, and tell me if it really was Fil–de–Soie who sold me. I don’t want him to suffer for some one else, that would not be fair.”

But before the chief had time to answer, the rest of the party returned from making their investigations upstairs. Everything had been opened and inventoried. A few words passed between them and the chief, and the official preliminaries were complete.

“Gentlemen,” said Collin, addressing the lodgers, “they will take me away directly. You have all made my stay among you very agreeable, and I shall look back upon it with gratitude. Receive my adieux, and permit me to send you figs from Provence.”

He advanced a step or two, and then turned to look once more at Rastignac.

“Good–bye, Eugene,” he said, in a sad and gentle tone, a strange transition from his previous rough and stern manner. “If you should be hard up, I have left you a devoted friend,” and, in spite of his shackles, he managed to assume a posture of defence, called, “One, two!” like a fencing–master, and lunged. “If anything goes wrong, apply in that quarter. Man and money, all at your service.”

The strange speaker’s manner was sufficiently burlesque, so that no one but Rastignac knew that there was a serious meaning underlying the pantomime.

As soon as the police, soldiers, and detectives had left the house, Sylvie, who was rubbing her mistress’ temples with vinegar, looked round at the bewildered lodgers.

“Well,” said she, “he was a man, he was, for all that.”

Her words broke the spell. Every one had been too much excited, too much moved by very various feelings to speak. But now the lodgers began to look at each other, and then all eyes were turned at once on Mlle. Michonneau, a thin, shriveled, dead–alive, mummy–like figure, crouching by the stove; her eyes were downcast, as if she feared that the green eye–shade could not shut out the expression of those faces from her. This figure and the feeling of repulsion she had so long excited were explained all at once. A smothered murmur filled the room; it was so unanimous, that it seemed as if the same feeling of loathing had pitched all the voices in one key. Mlle. Michonneau heard it, and did not stir. It was Bianchon who was the first to move; he bent over his neighbor, and said in a low voice, “If that creature is going to stop here, and have dinner with us, I shall clear out.”

In the twinkling of an eye it was clear that every one in the room, save Poiret, was of the medical student’s opinion, so that the latter, strong in the support of the majority, went up to that elderly person.

“You are more intimate with Mlle. Michonneau than the rest of us,” he said; “speak to her, make her understand that she must go, and go at once.”

“At once!” echoed Poiret in amazement.

Then he went across to the crouching figure, and spoke a few words in her ear.

“I have paid beforehand for the quarter; I have as much right to be here as any one else,” she said, with a viperous look at the boarders.

“Never mind that! we will club together and pay you the money back,” said Rastignac.

“Monsieur is taking Collin’s part” she said, with a questioning, malignant glance at the law student; “it is not difficult to guess why.”

Eugene started forward at the words, as if he meant to spring upon her and wring her neck. That glance, and the depths of treachery that it revealed, had been a hideous enlightenment.

“Let her alone!” cried the boarders.

Rastignac folded his arms and was silent.

“Let us have no more of Mlle. Judas,” said the painter, turning to Mme. Vauquer. “If you don’t show the Michonneau the door, madame, we shall all leave your shop, and wherever we go we shall say that there are only convicts and spies left there. If you do the other thing, we will hold our tongues about the business; for when all is said and done, it might happen in the best society until they brand them on the forehead, when they send them to the hulks. They ought not to let convicts go about Paris disguised like decent citizens, so as to carry on their antics like a set of rascally humbugs, which they are.”

At this Mme. Vauquer recovered miraculously. She sat up and folded her arms; her eyes were wide open now, and there was no sign of tears in them.

“Why, do you really mean to be the ruin of my establishment, my dear sir? There is M. Vautrin―Goodness,” she cried, interrupting herself, “I can’t help calling him by the name he passed himself off by for an honest man! There is one room to let already, and you want me to turn out two more lodgers in the middle of the season, when no one is moving―”

“Gentlemen, let us take our hats and go and dine at Flicoteaux’s in the Place Sorbonne,” cried Bianchon.

Mme. Vauquer glanced round, and saw in a moment on which side her interest lay. She waddled across to Mlle. Michonneau.

“Come, now,” she said; “you would not be the ruin of my establishment, would you, eh? There’s a dear, kind soul. You see what a pass these gentlemen have brought me to; just go up to your room for this evening.”

“Never a bit of it!” cried the boarders. “She must go, and go this minute!”

“But the poor lady has had no dinner,” said Poiret, with piteous entreaty.

“She can go and dine where she likes,” shouted several voices.

“Turn her out, the spy!”

“Turn them both out! Spies!”

“Gentlemen,” cried Poiret, his heart swelling with the courage that love gives to the ovine male, “respect the weaker sex.”

“Spies are of no sex!” said the painter.

“A precious sexorama!”

“Turn her into the streetorama!”

“Gentlemen, this is not manners! If you turn people out of the house, it ought not to be done so unceremoniously and with no notice at all. We have paid our money, and we are not going,” said Poiret, putting on his cap, and taking a chair beside Mlle. Michonneau, with whom Mme. Vauquer was remonstrating.

“Naughty boy!” said the painter, with a comical look; “run away, naughty little boy!”

“Look here,” said Bianchon; “if you do not go, all the rest of us will,” and the boarders, to a man, made for the sitting–room–door.

“Oh! mademoiselle, what is to be done?” cried Mme. Vauquer. “I am a ruined woman. You can’t stay here; they will go further, do something violent.”

Mlle. Michonneau rose to her feet.

“She is going!—She is not going!—She is going!—No, she isn’t.”

These alternate exclamations, and a suggestion of hostile intentions, borne out by the behavior of the insurgents, compelled Mlle. Michonneau to take her departure. She made some stipulations, speaking in a low voice in her hostess’ ear, and then—”I shall go to Mme. Buneaud’s,” she said, with a threatening look.

“Go where you please, mademoiselle,” said Mme. Vauquer, who regarded this choice of an opposition establishment as an atrocious insult. “Go and lodge with the Buneaud; the wine would give a cat the colic, and the food is cheap and nasty.”

The boarders stood aside in two rows to let her pass; not a word was spoken. Poiret looked so wistfully after Mlle. Michonneau, and so artlessly revealed that he was in two minds whether to go or stay, that the boarders, in their joy at being quit of Mlle. Michonneau, burst out laughing at the sight of him.

“Hist!—st!—st! Poiret,” shouted the painter. “Hallo! I say, Poiret, hallo!” The employe from the Museum began to sing:

“Partant pour la Syrie,

Le jeune et beau Dunois…”

“Get along with you; you must be dying to go, trahit sua quemque voluptas!” said Bianchon.

“Every one to his taste—free rendering from Virgil,” said the tutor.

Mlle. Michonneau made a movement as if to take Poiret’s arm, with an appealing glance that he could not resist. The two went out together, the old maid leaning upon him, and there was a burst of applause, followed by peals of laughter.

“Bravo, Poiret!”

“Who would have thought it of old Poiret!”

“Apollo Poiret!”

“Mars Poiret!”

“Intrepid Poiret!”

A messenger came in at that moment with a letter for Mme. Vauquer, who read it through, and collapsed in her chair.

“The house might as well be burned down at once,” cried she, “if there are to be any more of these thunderbolts! Young Taillefer died at three o’clock this afternoon. It serves me right for wishing well to those ladies at that poor man’s expense. Mme. Couture and Victorine want me to send their things, because they are going to live with her father. M. Taillefer allows his daughter to keep old Mme. Couture as her lady companion. Four rooms to let! and five lodgers gone!…”

She sat up, and seemed about to burst into tears.

“Bad luck has come to lodge here, I think,” she cried.

Once more there came a sound of wheels from the street outside.

“What! another windfall for somebody!” was Sylvie’s comment.

But it was Goriot who came in, looking so radiant, so flushed with happiness, that he seemed to have grown young again.

“Goriot in a cab!” cried the boarders; “the world is coming to an end.”

The good soul made straight for Eugene, who was standing wrapped in thought in a corner, and laid a hand on the young man’s arm.

“Come,” he said, with gladness in his eyes.

“Then you haven’t heard the news?” said Eugene. “Vautrin was an escaped convict; they have just arrested him; and young Taillefer is dead.”

“Very well, but what business is it of ours?” replied Father Goriot. “I am going to dine with my daughter in your house, do you understand? She is expecting you. Come!”

He carried off Rastignac with him by main force, and they departed in as great a hurry as a pair of eloping lovers.

“Now, let us have dinner,” cried the painter, and every one drew his chair to the table.

“Well, I never,” said the portly Sylvie. “Nothing goes right to–day! The haricot mutton has caught! Bah! you will have to eat it, burned as it is, more’s the pity!”

Mme. Vauquer was so dispirited that she could not say a word as she looked round the table and saw only ten people where eighteen should be; but every one tried to comfort and cheer her. At first the dinner contingent, as was natural, talked about Vautrin and the day’s events; but the conversation wound round to such topics of interest as duels, jails, justice, prison life, and alterations that ought to be made in the laws. They soon wandered miles away from Jacques Collin and Victorine and her brother. There might be only ten of them, but they made noise enough for twenty; indeed, there seemed to be more of them than usual; that was the only difference between yesterday and to–day. Indifference to the fate of others is a matter of course in this selfish world, which, on the morrow of tragedy, seeks among the events of Paris for a fresh sensation for its daily renewed appetite, and this indifference soon gained the upper hand. Mme. Vauquer herself grew calmer under the soothing influence of hope, and the mouthpiece of hope was the portly Sylvie.

That day had gone by like a dream for Eugene, and the sense of unreality lasted into the evening; so that, in spite of his energetic character and clear–headedness, his ideas were a chaos as he sat beside Goriot in the cab. The old man’s voice was full of unwonted happiness, but Eugene had been shaken by so many emotions that the words sounded in his ears like words spoken in a dream.

“It was finished this morning! All three of us are going to dine there together, together! Do you understand? I have not dined with my Delphine, my little Delphine, these four years, and I shall have her for a whole evening! We have been at your lodging the whole time since morning. I have been working like a porter in my shirt sleeves, helping to carry in the furniture. Aha! you don’t know what pretty ways she has; at table she will look after me, ’Here, papa, just try this, it is nice.’ And I shall not be able to eat. Oh, it is a long while since I have been with her in quiet every–day life as we shall have her.”

“It really seems as if the world has been turned upside down.”

“Upside down?” repeated Father Goriot. “Why, the world has never been so right–side up. I see none but smiling faces in the streets, people who shake hands cordially and embrace each other, people who all look as happy as if they were going to dine with their daughter, and gobble down a nice little dinner that she went with me to order of the chef at the Cafe des Anglais. But, pshaw! with her beside you gall and wormwood would be as sweet as honey.”

“I feel as if I were coming back to life again,” said Eugene.

“Why, hurry up there!” cried Father Goriot, letting down the window in front. “Get on faster; I will give you five francs if you get to the place I told you of in ten minutes time.”

With this prospect before him the cabman crossed Paris with miraculous celerity.

“How that fellow crawls!” said Father Goriot.

“But where are you taking me?” Eugene asked him.

“To your own house,” said Goriot.

The cab stopped in the Rue d’Artois. Father Goriot stepped out first and flung ten francs to the man with the recklessness of a widower returning to bachelor ways.

“Come along upstairs,” he said to Rastignac. They crossed a courtyard, and climbed up to the third floor of a new and handsome house. There they stopped before a door; but before Goriot could ring, it was opened by Therese, Mme. de Nucingen’s maid. Eugene found himself in a charming set of chambers; an ante–room, a little drawing–room, a bedroom, and a study, looking out upon a garden. The furniture and the decorations of the little drawing–room were of the most daintily charming description, the room was full of soft light, and Delphine rose up from a low chair by the fire and stood before him. She set her fire–screen down on the chimney–piece, and spoke with tenderness in every tone of her voice.

“So we had to go in search of you, sir, you who are so slow to understand!”

Therese left the room. The student took Delphine in his arms and held her in a tight clasp, his eyes filled with tears of joy. This last contrast between his present surroundings and the scenes he had just witnessed was too much for Rastignac’s over–wrought nerves, after the day’s strain and excitement that had wearied heart and brain; he was almost overcome by it.

“I felt sure myself that he loved you,” murmured Father Goriot, while Eugene lay back bewildered on the sofa, utterly unable to speak a word or to reason out how and why the magic wand had been waved to bring about this final transformation scene.

“But you must see your rooms,” said Mme. de Nucingen. She took his hand and led him into a room carpeted and furnished like her own; indeed, down to the smallest details, it was a reproduction in miniature of Delphine’s apartment.

“There is no bed,” said Rastignac.

“No, monsieur,” she answered, reddening, and pressing his hand. Eugene, looking at her, understood, young though he yet was, how deeply modesty is implanted in the heart of a woman who loves.

“You are one of those beings whom we cannot choose but to adore for ever,” he said in her ear. “Yes, the deeper and truer love is, the more mysterious and closely veiled it should be; I can dare to say so, since we understand each other so well. No one shall learn our secret.”

“Oh! so I am nobody, I suppose,” growled the father.

“You know quite well that ’we’ means you.”

“Ah! that is what I wanted. You will not mind me, will you? I shall go and come like a good fairy who makes himself felt everywhere without being seen, shall I not? Eh, Delphinette, Ninette, Dedel—was it not a good idea of mine to say to you, ’There are some nice rooms to let in the Rue d’Artois; let us furnish them for him?’ And she would not hear of it! Ah! your happiness has been all my doing. I am the author of your happiness and of your existence. Fathers must always be giving if they would be happy themselves; always giving—they would not be fathers else.”

“Was that how it happened?” asked Eugene.

“Yes. She would not listen to me. She was afraid that people would talk, as if the rubbish that they say about you were to be compared with happiness! Why, all women dream of doing what she has done―”

Father Goriot found himself without an audience, for Mme. de Nucingen had led Rastignac into the study; he heard a kiss given and taken, low though the sound was.

The study was furnished as elegantly as the other rooms, and nothing was wanting there.

“Have we guessed your wishes rightly?” she asked, as they returned to the drawing–room for dinner.

“Yes,” he said, “only too well, alas! For all this luxury so well carried out, this realization of pleasant dreams, the elegance that satisfies all the romantic fancies of youth, appeals to me so strongly that I cannot but feel that it is my rightful possession, but I cannot accept it from you, and I am too poor as yet to―”

“Ah! ah! you say me nay already,” she said with arch imperiousness, and a charming little pout of the lips, a woman’s way of laughing away scruples.

But Eugene had submitted so lately to that solemn self–questioning, and Vautrin’s arrest had so plainly shown him the depths of the pit that lay ready to his feet, that the instincts of generosity and honor had been strengthened in him, and he could not allow himself to be coaxed into abandoning his high–minded determinations. Profound melancholy filled his mind.

“Do you really mean to refuse?” said Mme. de Nucingen. “And do you know what such a refusal means? That you are not sure of yourself, that you do not dare to bind yourself to me. Are you really afraid of betraying my affection? If you love me, if I—love you, why should you shrink back from such a slight obligation? If you but knew what a pleasure it has been to see after all the arrangements of this bachelor establishment, you would not hesitate any longer, you would ask me to forgive you for your hesitation. I had some money that belonged to you, and I have made good use of it, that is all. You mean this for magnanimity, but it is very little of you. You are asking me for far more than this…. Ah!” she cried, as Eugene’s passionate glance was turned on her, “and you are making difficulties about the merest trifles. Of, if you feel no love whatever for me, refuse, by all means. My fate hangs on a word from you. Speak!—Father,” she said after a pause, “make him listen to reason. Can he imagine that I am less nice than he is on the point of honor?”

Father Goriot was looking on and listening to this pretty quarrel with a placid smile, as if he had found some balm for all the sorrows of life.

“Child that you are!” she cried again, catching Eugene’s hand. “You are just beginning life; you find barriers at the outset that many a man finds insurmountable; a woman’s hand opens the way and you shrink back! Why, you are sure to succeed! You will have a brilliant future. Success is written on that broad forehead of yours, and will you not be able to repay me my loan of to–day? Did not a lady in olden times arm her knight with sword and helmet and coat of mail, and find him a charger, so that he might fight for her in the tournament? Well, then, Eugene, these things that I offer you are the weapons of this age; every one who means to be something must have such tools as these. A pretty place your garret must be if it is like papa’s room! See, dinner is waiting all this time. Do you want to make me unhappy?—Why don’t you answer?” she said, shaking his hand. “Mon Dieu! papa, make up his mind for him, or I will go away and never see him any more.”

“I will make up your mind,” said Goriot, coming down from the clouds. “Now, my dear M. Eugene, the next thing is to borrow money of the Jews, isn’t it?”

“There is positively no help for it,” said Eugene.

“All right, I will give you credit,” said the other, drawing out a cheap leather pocket–book, much the worse for wear. “I have turned Jew myself; I paid for everything; here are the invoices. You do not owe a penny for anything here. It did not come to very much—five thousand francs at most, and I am going to lend you the money myself. I am not a woman—you can refuse me. You shall give me a receipt on a scrap of paper, and you can return it some time or other.”

Delphine and Eugene looked at each other in amazement, tears sprang to their eyes. Rastignac held out his hand and grasped Goriot’s warmly.

“Well, what is all this about? Are you not my children?”

“Oh! my poor father,” said Mme. de Nucingen, “how did you do it?”

“Ah! now you ask me. When I made up my mind to move him nearer to you, and saw you buying things as if they were wedding presents, I said to myself, ’She will never be able to pay for them.’ The attorney says that those law proceedings will last quite six months before your husband can be made to disgorge your fortune. Well and good. I sold out my property in the funds that brought in thirteen hundred and fifty livres a year, and bought a safe annuity of twelve hundred francs a year for fifteen thousand francs. Then I paid your tradesmen out of the rest of the capital. As for me, children, I have a room upstairs for which I pay fifty crowns a year; I can live like a prince on two francs a day, and still have something left over. I shall not have to spend anything much on clothes, for I never wear anything out. This fortnight past I have been laughing in my sleeve, thinking to myself, ’How happy they are going to be!’ and—well, now, are you not happy?”

“Oh papa! papa!” cried Mme. de Nucingen, springing to her father, who took her on his knee. She covered him with kisses, her fair hair brushed his cheek, her tears fell on the withered face that had grown so bright and radiant.

“Dear father, what a father you are! No, there is not another father like you under the sun. If Eugene loved you before, what must he feel for you now?”

“Why, children, why Delphinette!” cried Goriot, who had not felt his daughter’s heart beat against his breast for ten years, “do you want me to die of joy? My poor heart will break! Come, Monsieur Eugene, we are quits already.” And the old man strained her to his breast with such fierce and passionate force that she cried out.

“Oh! you are hurting me!” she said.

“I am hurting you!” He grew pale at the words. The pain expressed in his face seemed greater than it is given to humanity to know. The agony of this Christ of paternity can only be compared with the masterpieces of those princes of the palette who have left for us the record of their visions of an agony suffered for a whole world by the Saviour of men. Father Goriot pressed his lips very gently against the waist than his fingers had grasped too roughly.

“Oh! no, no,” he cried. “I have not hurt you, have I?” and his smile seemed to repeat the question. “YOU have hurt me with that cry just now.—The things cost rather more than that,” he said in her ear, with another gentle kiss, “but I had to deceive him about it, or he would have been angry.”

Eugene sat dumb with amazement in the presence of this inexhaustible love; he gazed at Goriot, and his face betrayed the artless admiration which shapes the beliefs of youth.

“I will be worthy of all this,” he cried.

“Oh! my Eugene, that is nobly said,” and Mme. de Nucingen kissed the law student on the forehead.

“He gave up Mlle. Taillefer and her millions for you,” said Father Goriot. “Yes, the little thing was in love with you, and now that her brother is dead she is as rich as Croesus.”

“Oh! why did you tell her?” cried Rastignac.

“Eugene,” Delphine said in his ear, “I have one regret now this evening. Ah! how I will love you! and for ever!”

“This is the happiest day I have had since you two were married!” cried Goriot. “God may send me any suffering, so long as I do not suffer through you, and I can still say, ’In this short month of February I had more happiness than other men have in their whole lives.’—Look at me, Fifine!” he said to his daughter. “She is very beautiful, is she not? Tell me, now, have you seen many women with that pretty soft color—that little dimple of hers? No, I thought not. Ah, well, and but for me this lovely woman would never have been. And very soon happiness will make her a thousand times lovelier, happiness through you. I could give up my place in heaven to you, neighbor, if needs be, and go down to hell instead. Come, let us have dinner,” he added, scarcely knowing what he said, “everything is ours.”

“Poor dear father!”

He rose and went over to her, and took her face in his hands, and set a kiss on the plaits of hair. “If you only knew, little one, how happy you can make me—how little it takes to make me happy! Will you come and see me sometimes? I shall be just above, so it is only a step. Promise me, say that you will!”

“Yes, dear father.”

“Say it again.”

“Yes, I will, my kind father.”

“Hush! hush! I should make you say it a hundred times over if I followed my own wishes. Let us have dinner.”

The three behaved like children that evening, and Father Goriot’s spirits were certainly not the least wild. He lay at his daughter’s feet, kissed them, gazed into her eyes, rubbed his head against her dress; in short, no young lover could have been more extravagant or more tender.

“You see!” Delphine said with a look at Eugene, “so long as my father is with us, he monopolizes me. He will be rather in the way sometimes.”

Eugene had himself already felt certain twinges of jealousy, and could not blame this speech that contained the germ of all ingratitude.

“And when will the rooms be ready?” asked Eugene, looking round. “We must all leave them this evening, I suppose.”

“Yes, but to–morrow you must come and dine with me,” she answered, with an eloquent glance. “It is our night at the Italiens.”

“I shall go to the pit,” said her father.

It was midnight. Mme. de Nucingen’s carriage was waiting for her, and Father Goriot and the student walked back to the Maison Vauquer, talking of Delphine, and warming over their talk till there grew up a curious rivalry between the two violent passions. Eugene could not help seeing that the father’s self–less love was deeper and more steadfast than his own. For this worshiper Delphine was always pure and fair, and her father’s adoration drew its fervor from a whole past as well as a future of love.

They found Mme. Vauquer by the stove, with Sylvie and Christophe to keep her company; the old landlady, sitting like Marius among the ruins of Carthage, was waiting for the two lodgers that yet remained to her, and bemoaning her lot with the sympathetic Sylvie. Tasso’s lamentations as recorded in Byron’s poem are undoubtedly eloquent, but for sheer force of truth they fall far short of the widow’s cry from the depths.

“Only three cups of coffee in the morning, Sylvie! Oh dear! to have your house emptied in this way is enough to break your heart. What is life, now my lodgers are gone? Nothing at all. Just think of it! It is just as if all the furniture had been taken out of the house, and your furniture is your life. How have I offended heaven to draw down all this trouble upon me? And haricot beans and potatoes laid in for twenty people! The police in my house too! We shall have to live on potatoes now, and Christophe will have to go!”

The Savoyard, who was fast asleep, suddenly woke up at this, and said, “Madame,” questioningly.

“Poor fellow!” said Sylvie, “he is like a dog.”

“In the dead season, too! Nobody is moving now. I would like to know where the lodgers are to drop down from. It drives me distracted. And that old witch of a Michonneau goes and takes Poiret with her! What can she have done to make him so fond of her? He runs about after her like a little dog.”

“Lord!” said Sylvie, flinging up her head, “those old maids are up to all sorts of tricks.”

“There’s that poor M. Vautrin that they made out to be a convict,” the widow went on. “Well, you know that is too much for me, Sylvie; I can’t bring myself to believe it. Such a lively man as he was, and paid fifteen francs a month for his coffee of an evening, paid you very penny on the nail too.”

“And open–handed he was!” said Christophe.

“There is some mistake,” said Sylvie.

“Why, no there isn’t! he said so himself!” said Mme. Vauquer. “And to think that all these things have happened in my house, and in a quarter where you never see a cat go by. On my word as an honest woman, it’s like a dream. For, look here, we saw Louis XVI. meet with his mishap; we saw the fall of the Emperor; and we saw him come back and fall again; there was nothing out of the way in all that, but lodging–houses are not liable to revolutions. You can do without a king, but you must eat all the same; and so long as a decent woman, a de Conflans born and bred, will give you all sorts of good things for dinner, nothing short of the end of the world ought to—but there, it is the end of the world, that is just what it is!”

“And to think that Mlle. Michonneau who made all this mischief is to have a thousand crowns a year for it, so I hear,” cried Sylvie.

“Don’t speak of her, she is a wicked woman!” said Mme. Vauquer. “She is going to the Buneaud, who charges less than cost. But the Buneaud is capable of anything; she must have done frightful things, robbed and murdered people in her time. She ought to be put in jail for life instead of that poor dear―”

Eugene and Goriot rang the door–bell at that moment.

“Ah! here are my two faithful lodgers,” said the widow, sighing.

But the two faithful lodgers, who retained but shadowy recollections of the misfortunes of their lodging–house, announced to their hostess without more ado that they were about to remove to the Chaussee d’Antin.

“Sylvie!” cried the widow, “this is the last straw.—Gentlemen, this will be the death of me! It has quite upset me! There’s a weight on my chest! I am ten years older for this day! Upon my word, I shall go out of my senses! And what is to be done with the haricots!—Oh, well, if I am to be left here all by myself, you shall go to–morrow, Christophe.—Good–night, gentlemen,” and she went.

“What is the matter now?” Eugene inquired of Sylvie.

“Lord! everybody is going about his business, and that has addled her wits. There! she is crying upstairs. It will do her good to snivel a bit. It’s the first time she has cried since I’ve been with her.”

By the morning, Mme. Vauquer, to use her own expression, had “made up her mind to it.” True, she still wore a doleful countenance, as might be expected of a woman who had lost all her lodgers, and whose manner of life had been suddenly revolutionized, but she had all her wits about her. Her grief was genuine and profound; it was real pain of mind, for her purse had suffered, the routine of her existence had been broken. A lover’s farewell glance at his lady–love’s window is not more mournful than Mme. Vauquer’s survey of the empty places round her table. Eugene administered comfort, telling the widow that Bianchon, whose term of residence at the hospital was about to expire, would doubtless take his (Rastignac’s) place; that the official from the Museum had often expressed a desire to have Mme. Couture’s rooms; and that in a very few days her household would be on the old footing.

“God send it may, my dear sir! but bad luck has come to lodge here. There’ll be a death in the house before ten days are out, you’ll see,” and she gave a lugubrious look round the dining–room. “Whose turn will it be, I wonder?”

“It is just as well that we are moving out,” said Eugene to Father Goriot in a low voice.

“Madame,” said Sylvie, running in with a scared face, “I have not seen Mistigris these three days.”

“Ah! well, if my cat is dead, if he has gone and left us, I―”

The poor woman could not finish her sentence; she clasped her hands and hid her face on the back of her armchair, quite overcome by this dreadful portent.

By twelve o’clock, when the postman reaches that quarter, Eugene received a letter. The dainty envelope bore the Beauseant arms on the seal, and contained an invitation to the Vicomtesse’s great ball, which had been talked of in Paris for a month. A little note for Eugene was slipped in with the card.

“I think, monsieur, that you will undertake with pleasure to interpret my sentiments to Mme. de Nucingen, so I am sending the card for which you asked me to you. I shall be delighted to make the acquaintance of Mme. de Restaud’s sister. Pray introduce that charming lady to me, and do not let her monopolize all your affection, for you owe me not a little in return for mine.


“Well,” said Eugene to himself, as he read the note a second time, “Mme. de Beauseant says pretty plainly that she does not want the Baron de Nucingen.”

He went to Delphine at once in his joy. He had procured this pleasure for her, and doubtless he would receive the price of it. Mme. de Nucingen was dressing. Rastignac waited in her boudoir, enduring as best he might the natural impatience of an eager temperament for the reward desired and withheld for a year. Such sensations are only known once in a life. The first woman to whom a man is drawn, if she is really a woman—that is to say, if she appears to him amid the splendid accessories that form a necessary background to life in the world of Paris—will never have a rival.

Love in Paris is a thing distinct and apart; for in Paris neither men nor women are the dupes of the commonplaces by which people seek to throw a veil over their motives, or to parade a fine affectation of disinterestedness in their sentiments. In this country within a country, it is not merely required of a woman that she should satisfy the senses and the soul; she knows perfectly well that she has still greater obligations to discharge, that she must fulfil the countless demands of a vanity that enters into every fibre of that living organism called society. Love, for her, is above all things, and by its very nature, a vainglorious, brazen–fronted, ostentatious, thriftless charlatan. If at the Court of Louis XIV. there was not a woman but envied Mlle. de la Valliere the reckless devotion of passion that led the grand monarch to tear the priceless ruffles at his wrists in order to assist the entry of a Duc de Vermandois into the world—what can you expect of the rest of society? You must have youth and wealth and rank; nay, you must, if possible, have more than these, for the more incense you bring with you to burn at the shrine of the god, the more favorably will he regard the worshiper. Love is a religion, and his cult must in the nature of things be more costly than those of all other deities; Love the Spoiler stays for a moment, and then passes on; like the urchin of the streets, his course may be traced by the ravages that he has made. The wealth of feeling and imagination is the poetry of the garret; how should love exist there without that wealth?

If there are exceptions who do not subscribe to these Draconian laws of the Parisian code, they are solitary examples. Such souls live so far out of the main current that they are not borne away by the doctrines of society; they dwell beside some clear spring of everflowing water, without seeking to leave the green shade; happy to listen to the echoes of the infinite in everything around them and in their own souls, waiting in patience to take their flight for heaven, while they look with pity upon those of earth.

Rastignac, like most young men who have been early impressed by the circumstances of power and grandeur, meant to enter the lists fully armed; the burning ambition of conquest possessed him already; perhaps he was conscious of his powers, but as yet he knew neither the end to which his ambition was to be directed, nor the means of attaining it. In default of the pure and sacred love that fills a life, ambition may become something very noble, subduing to itself every thought of personal interest, and setting as the end—the greatness, not of one man, but of a whole nation.

But the student had not yet reached the time of life when a man surveys the whole course of existence and judges it soberly. Hitherto he had scarcely so much as shaken off the spell of the fresh and gracious influences that envelop a childhood in the country, like green leaves and grass. He had hesitated on the brink of the Parisian Rubicon, and in spite of the prickings of ambition, he still clung to a lingering tradition of an old ideal—the peaceful life of the noble in his chateau. But yesterday evening, at the sight of his rooms, those scruples had vanished. He had learned what it was to enjoy the material advantages of fortune, as he had already enjoyed the social advantages of birth; he ceased to be a provincial from that moment, and slipped naturally and easily into a position which opened up a prospect of a brilliant future.

So, as he waited for Delphine, in the pretty boudoir, where he felt that he had a certain right to be, he felt himself so far away from the Rastignac who came back to Paris a year ago, that, turning some power of inner vision upon this latter, he asked himself whether that past self bore any resemblance to the Rastignac of that moment.

“Madame is in her room,” Therese came to tell him. The woman’s voice made him start.

He found Delphine lying back in her low chair by the fireside, looking fresh and bright. The sight of her among the flowing draperies of muslin suggested some beautiful tropical flower, where the fruit is set amid the blossom.

“Well,” she said, with a tremor in her voice, “here you are.”

“Guess what I bring for you,” said Eugene, sitting down beside her. He took possession of her arm to kiss her hand.

Mme. de Nucingen gave a joyful start as she saw the card. She turned to Eugene; there were tears in her eyes as she flung her arms about his neck, and drew him towards her in a frenzy of gratified vanity.

“And I owe this happiness to you—to thee” (she whispered the more intimate word in his ear); “but Therese is in my dressing–room, let us be prudent.—This happiness—yes, for I may call it so, when it comes to me through you—is surely more than a triumph for self–love? No one has been willing to introduce me into that set. Perhaps just now I may seem to you to be frivolous, petty, shallow, like a Parisienne, but remember, my friend, that I am ready to give up all for you; and that if I long more than ever for an entrance into the Faubourg Saint–Germain, it is because I shall meet you there.”

“Mme. de Beauseant’s note seems to say very plainly that she does not expect to see the Baron de Nucingen at her ball; don’t you think so?” said Eugene.

“Why, yes,” said the Baroness as she returned the letter. “Those women have a talent for insolence. But it is of no consequence, I shall go. My sister is sure to be there, and sure to be very beautifully dressed.—Eugene,” she went on, lowering her voice, “she will go to dispel ugly suspicions. You do not know the things that people are saying about her. Only this morning Nucingen came to tell me that they had been discussing her at the club. Great heavens! on what does a woman’s character and the honor of a whole family depend! I feel that I am nearly touched and wounded in my poor sister. According to some people, M. de Trailles must have put his name to bills for a hundred thousand francs, nearly all of them are overdue, and proceedings are threatened. In this predicament, it seems that my sister sold her diamonds to a Jew—the beautiful diamonds that belonged to her husband’s mother, Mme. de Restaud the elder,—you have seen her wearing them. In fact, nothing else has been talked about for the last two days. So I can see that Anastasie is sure to come to Mme. de Beauseant’s ball in tissue of gold, and ablaze with diamonds, to draw all eyes upon her; and I will not be outshone. She has tried to eclipse me all her life, she has never been kind to me, and I have helped her so often, and always had money for her when she had none.—But never mind other people now, to–day I mean to be perfectly happy.”

At one o’clock that morning Eugene was still with Mme. de Nucingen. In the midst of their lovers’ farewell, a farewell full of hope of bliss to come, she said in a troubled voice, “I am very fearful, superstitious. Give what name you like to my presentiments, but I am afraid that my happiness will be paid for by some horrible catastrophe.”

“Child!” said Eugene.

“Ah! have we changed places, and am I the child to–night?” she asked, laughingly.

Eugene went back to the Maison Vauquer, never doubting but that he should leave it for good on the morrow; and on the way he fell to dreaming the bright dreams of youth, when the cup of happiness has left its sweetness on the lips.

“Well?” cried Goriot, as Rastignac passed by his door.

“Yes,” said Eugene; “I will tell you everything to–morrow.”

“Everything, will you not?” cried the old man. “Go to bed. To–morrow our happy life will begin.”

Next day, Goriot and Rastignac were ready to leave the lodging–house, and only awaited the good pleasure of a porter to move out of it; but towards noon there was a sound of wheels in the Rue Neuve–Sainte–Genevieve, and a carriage stopped before the door of the Maison Vauquer. Mme. de Nucingen alighted, and asked if her father was still in the house, and, receiving an affirmative reply from Sylvie, ran lightly upstairs.

It so happened that Eugene was at home all unknown to his neighbor. At breakfast time he had asked Goriot to superintend the removal of his goods, saying that he would meet him in the Rue d’Artois at four o’clock; but Rastignac’s name had been called early on the list at the Ecole de Droit, and he had gone back at once to the Rue Nueve–Sainte–Genevieve. No one had seen him come in, for Goriot had gone to find a porter, and the mistress of the house was likewise out. Eugene had thought to pay her himself, for it struck him that if he left this, Goriot in his zeal would probably pay for him. As it was, Eugene went up to his room to see that nothing had been forgotten, and blessed his foresight when he saw the blank bill bearing Vautrin’s signature lying in the drawer where he had carelessly thrown it on the day when he had repaid the amount. There was no fire in the grate, so he was about to tear it into little pieces, when he heard a voice speaking in Goriot’s room, and the speaker was Delphine! He made no more noise, and stood still to listen, thinking that she should have no secrets from him; but after the first few words, the conversation between the father and daughter was so strange and interesting that it absorbed all his attention.

“Ah! thank heaven that you thought of asking him to give an account of the money settled on me before I was utterly ruined, father. Is it safe to talk?” she added.

“Yes, there is no one in the house,” said her father faintly.

“What is the matter with you?” asked Mme. de Nucingen.

“God forgive you! you have just dealt me a staggering blow, child!” said the old man. “You cannot know how much I love you, or you would not have burst in upon me like this, with such news, especially if all is not lost. Has something so important happened that you must come here about it? In a few minutes we should have been in the Rue d’Artois.”

“Eh! does one think what one is doing after a catastrophe? It has turned my head. Your attorney has found out the state of things now, but it was bound to come out sooner or later. We shall want your long business experience; and I come to you like a drowning man who catches at a branch. When M. Derville found that Nucingen was throwing all sorts of difficulties in his way, he threatened him with proceedings, and told him plainly that he would soon obtain an order from the President of the Tribunal. So Nucingen came to my room this morning, and asked if I meant to ruin us both. I told him that I knew nothing whatever about it, that I had a fortune, and ought to be put into possession of my fortune, and that my attorney was acting for me in the matter; I said again that I knew absolutely nothing about it, and could not possibly go into the subject with him. Wasn’t that what you told me to tell him?”

“Yes, quite right,” answered Goriot.

“Well, then,” Delphine continued, “he told me all about his affairs. He had just invested all his capital and mine in business speculations; they have only just been started, and very large sums of money are locked up. If I were to compel him to refund my dowry now, he would be forced to file his petition; but if I will wait a year, he undertakes, on his honor, to double or treble my fortune, by investing it in building land, and I shall be mistress at last of the whole of my property. He was speaking the truth, father dear; he frightened me! He asked my pardon for his conduct; he has given me my liberty; I am free to act as I please on condition that I leave him to carry on my business in my name. To prove his sincerity, he promised that M. Derville might inspect the accounts as often as I pleased, so that I might be assured that everything was being conducted properly. In short, he put himself in my power, bound hand and foot. He wishes the present arrangements as to the expenses of housekeeping to continue for two more years, and entreated me not to exceed my allowance. He showed me plainly that it was all that he could do to keep up appearances; he has broken with his opera dancer; he will be compelled to practise the most strict economy (in secret) if he is to bide his time with unshaken credit. I scolded, I did all I could to drive him to desperation, so as to find out more. He showed me his ledgers—he broke down and cried at last. I never saw a man in such a state. He lost his head completely, talked of killing himself, and raved till I felt quite sorry for him.”

“Do you really believe that silly rubbish?”…cried her father. “It was all got up for your benefit! I have had to do with Germans in the way of business, honest and straightforward they are pretty sure to be, but when with their simplicity and frankness they are sharpers and humbugs as well, they are the worst rogues of all. Your husband is taking advantage of you. As soon as pressure is brought to bear on him he shams dead; he means to be more the master under your name than in his own. He will take advantage of the position to secure himself against the risks of business. He is as sharp as he is treacherous; he is a bad lot! No, no; I am not going to leave my girls behind me without a penny when I go to Pere–Lachaise. I know something about business still. He has sunk his money in speculation, he says; very well then, there is something to show for it—bills, receipts, papers of some sort. Let him produce them, and come to an arrangement with you. We will choose the most promising of his speculations, take them over at our own risk, and have the securities transferred into your name; they shall represent the separate estate of Delphine Goriot, wife of the Baron de Nucingen. Does that fellow really take us for idiots? Does he imagine that I could stand the idea of your being without fortune, without bread, for forty–eight hours? I would not stand it a day—no, not a night, not a couple of hours! If there had been any foundation for the idea, I should never get over it. What! I have worked hard for forty years, carried sacks on my back, and sweated and pinched and saved all my life for you, my darlings, for you who made the toil and every burden borne for you seem light; and now, my fortune, my whole life, is to vanish in smoke! I should die raving mad if I believed a word of it. By all that’s holiest in heaven and earth, we will have this cleared up at once; go through the books, have the whole business looked thoroughly into! I will not sleep, nor rest, nor eat until I have satisfied myself that all your fortune is in existence. Your money is settled upon you, God be thanked! and, luckily, your attorney, Maitre Derville, is an honest man. Good Lord! you shall have your snug little million, your fifty thousand francs a year, as long as you live, or I will raise a racket in Paris, I will so! If the Tribunals put upon us, I will appeal to the Chambers. If I knew that you were well and comfortably off as far as money is concerned, that thought would keep me easy in spite of bad health and troubles. Money? why, it is life! Money does everything. That great dolt of an Alsatian shall sing to another tune! Look here, Delphine, don’t give way, don’t make a concession of half a quarter of a farthing to that fathead, who has ground you down and made you miserable. If he can’t do without you, we will give him a good cudgeling, and keep him in order. Great heavens! my brain is on fire; it is as if there were something redhot inside my head. My Delphine lying on straw! You! my Fifine! Good gracious! Where are my gloves? Come, let us go at once; I mean to see everything with my own eyes—books, cash, and correspondence, the whole business. I shall have no peace until I know for certain that your fortune is secure.”

“Oh! father dear, be careful how you set about it! If there is the least hint of vengeance in the business, if you show yourself openly hostile, it will be all over with me. He knows whom he has to deal with; he thinks it quite natural that if you put the idea into my head, I should be uneasy about my money; but I swear to you that he has it in his own hands, and that he had meant to keep it. He is just the man to abscond with all the money and leave us in the lurch, the scoundrel! He knows quite well that I will not dishonor the name I bear by bringing him into a court of law. His position is strong and weak at the same time. If we drive him to despair, I am lost.”

“Why, then, the man is a rogue?”

“Well, yes, father,” she said, flinging herself into a chair, “I wanted to keep it from you to spare your feelings,” and she burst into tears; “I did not want you to know that you had married me to such a man as he is. He is just the same in private life—body and soul and conscience—the same through and through—hideous! I hate him; I despise him! Yes, after all that that despicable Nucingen has told me, I cannot respect him any longer. A man capable of mixing himself up in such affairs, and of talking about them to me as he did, without the slightest scruple,—it is because I have read him through and through that I am afraid of him. He, my husband, frankly proposed to give me my liberty, and do you know what that means? It means that if things turn out badly for him, I am to play into his hands, and be his stalking–horse.”

“But there is law to be had! There is a Place de Greve for sons–in–law of that sort,” cried her father; “why, I would guillotine him myself if there was no headsman to do it.”

“No, father, the law cannot touch him. Listen, this is what he says, stripped of all his circumlocutions—’Take your choice, you and no one else can be my accomplice; either everything is lost, you are ruined and have not a farthing, or you will let me carry this business through myself.’ Is that plain speaking? He must have my assistance. He is assured that his wife will deal fairly by him; he knows that I shall leave his money to him and be content with my own. It is an unholy and dishonest compact, and he holds out threats of ruin to compel me to consent to it. He is buying my conscience, and the price is liberty to be Eugene’s wife in all but name. ’I connive at your errors, and you allow me to commit crimes and ruin poor families!’ Is that sufficiently explicit? Do you know what he means by speculations? He buys up land in his own name, then he finds men of straw to run up houses upon it. These men make a bargain with a contractor to build the houses, paying them by bills at long dates; then in consideration of a small sum they leave my husband in possession of the houses, and finally slip through the fingers of the deluded contractors by going into bankruptcy. The name of the firm of Nucingen has been used to dazzle the poor contractors. I saw that. I noticed, too, that Nucingen had sent bills for large amounts to Amsterdam, London, Naples, and Vienna, in order to prove if necessary that large sums had been paid away by the firm. How could we get possession of those bills?”

Eugene heard a dull thud on the floor; Father Goriot must have fallen on his knees.

“Great heavens! what have I done to you? Bound my daughter to this scoundrel who does as he likes with her!—Oh! my child, my child! forgive me!” cried the old man.

“Yes, if I am in the depths of despair, perhaps you are to blame,” said Delphine. “We have so little sense when we marry! What do we know of the world, of business, or men, or life? Our fathers should think for us! Father dear, I am not blaming you in the least, forgive me for what I said. This is all my own fault. Nay, do not cry, papa,” she said, kissing him.

“Do not cry either, my little Delphine. Look up and let me kiss away the tears. There! I shall find my wits and unravel this skein of your husband’s winding.”

“No, let me do that; I shall be able to manage him. He is fond of me, well and good; I shall use my influence to make him invest my money as soon as possible in landed property in my own name. Very likely I could get him to buy back Nucingen in Alsace in my name; that has always been a pet idea of his. Still, come to–morrow and go through the books, and look into the business. M. Derville knows little of mercantile matters. No, not to–morrow though. I do not want to be upset. Mme. de Beauseant’s ball will be the day after to–morrow, and I must keep quiet, so as to look my best and freshest, and do honor to my dear Eugene!…Come, let us see his room.”

But as she spoke a carriage stopped in the Rue Nueve–Sainte–Genevieve, and the sound of Mme. de Restaud’s voice came from the staircase. “Is my father in?” she asked of Sylvie.

This accident was luckily timed for Eugene, whose one idea had been to throw himself down on the bed and pretend to be asleep.

“Oh, father, have you heard about Anastasie?” said Delphine, when she heard her sister speak. “It looks as though some strange things had happened in that family.”

“What sort of things?” asked Goriot. “This is like to be the death of me. My poor head will not stand a double misfortune.”

“Good–morning, father,” said the Countess from the threshold. “Oh! Delphine, are you here?”

Mme. de Restaud seemed taken aback by her sister’s presence.

“Good–morning, Nasie,” said the Baroness. “What is there so extraordinary in my being here? I see our father every day.”

“Since when?”

“If you came yourself you would know.”

“Don’t tease, Delphine,” said the Countess fretfully. “I am very miserable, I am lost. Oh! my poor father, it is hopeless this time!”

“What is it, Nasie?” cried Goriot. “Tell us all about it, child! How white she is! Quick, do something, Delphine; be kind to her, and I will love you even better, if that were possible.”

“Poor Nasie!” said Mme. de Nucingen, drawing her sister to a chair. “We are the only two people in the world whose love is always sufficient to forgive you everything. Family affection is the surest, you see.”

The Countess inhaled the salts and revived.

“This will kill me!” said their father. “There,” he went on, stirring the smouldering fire, “come nearer, both of you. It is cold. What is it, Nasie? Be quick and tell me, this is enough to―”

“Well, then, my husband knows everything,” said the Countess. “Just imagine it; do you remember, father, that bill of Maxime’s some time ago? Well, that was not the first. I had paid ever so many before that. About the beginning of January M. de Trailles seemed very much troubled. He said nothing to me; but it is so easy to read the hearts of those you love, a mere trifle is enough; and then you feel things instinctively. Indeed, he was more tender and affectionate than ever, and I was happier than I had ever been before. Poor Maxime! in himself he was really saying good–bye to me, so he has told me since; he meant to blow his brains out! At last I worried him so, and begged and implored so hard; for two hours I knelt at his knees and prayed and entreated, and at last he told me—that he owed a hundred thousand francs. Oh! papa! a hundred thousand francs! I was beside myself! You had not the money, I knew, I had eaten up all that you had―”

“No,” said Goriot; “I could not have got it for you unless I had stolen it. But I would have done that for you, Nasie! I will do it yet.”

The words came from him like a sob, a hoarse sound like the death rattle of a dying man; it seemed indeed like the agony of death when the father’s love was powerless. There was a pause, and neither of the sisters spoke. It must have been selfishness indeed that could hear unmoved that cry of anguish that, like a pebble thrown over a precipice, revealed the depths of his despair.

“I found the money, father, by selling what was not mine to sell,” and the Countess burst into tears.

Delphine was touched; she laid her head on her sister’s shoulder, and cried too.

“Then it is all true,” she said.

Anastasie bowed her head, Mme. de Nucingen flung her arms about her, kissed her tenderly, and held her sister to her heart.

“I shall always love you and never judge you, Nasie,” she said.

“My angels,” murmured Goriot faintly. “Oh, why should it be trouble that draws you together?”

This warm and palpitating affection seemed to give the Countess courage.

“To save Maxime’s life,” she said, “to save all my own happiness, I went to the money–lender you know of, a man of iron forged in hell–fire; nothing can melt him; I took all the family diamonds that M. de Restaud is so proud of—his and mine too—and sold them to that M. Gobseck. Sold them! Do you understand? I saved Maxime, but I am lost. Restaud found it all out.”

“How? Who told him? I will kill him,” cried Goriot.

“Yesterday he sent to tell me to come to his room. I went…. ’Anastasie,’ he said in a voice—oh! such a voice; that was enough, it told me everything—’where are your diamonds?’—’In my room―’—’No,’ he said, looking straight at me, ’there they are on that chest of drawers―’ and he lifted his handkerchief and showed me the casket. ’Do you know where they came from?’ he said. I fell at his feet…. I cried; I besought him to tell me the death he wished to see me die.”

“You said that!” cried Goriot. “By God in heaven, whoever lays a hand on either of you so long as I am alive may reckon on being roasted by slow fires! Yes, I will cut him in pieces like…”

Goriot stopped; the words died away in his throat.

“And then, dear, he asked something worse than death of me. Oh! heaven preserve all other women from hearing such words as I heard then!”

“I will murder that man,” said Goriot quietly. “But he has only one life, and he deserves to die twice.—And then, what next?” he added, looking at Anastasie.

“Then,” the Countess resumed, “there was a pause, and he looked at me. ’Anastasie,’ he said, ’I will bury this in silence; there shall be no separation; there are the children. I will not kill M. de Trailles. I might miss him if we fought, and as for other ways of getting rid of him, I should come into collision with the law. If I killed him in your arms, it would bring dishonor on those children. But if you do not want to see your children perish, nor their father nor me, you must first of all submit to two conditions. Answer me. Have I a child of my own?’ I answered, ’Yes,’—’Which?’—’Ernest, our eldest boy.’—’Very well,’ he said, ’and now swear to obey me in this particular from this time forward.’ I swore. ’You will make over your property to me when I require you to do so.’”

“Do nothing of the kind!” cried Goriot. “Aha! M. de Restaud, you could not make your wife happy; she has looked for happiness and found it elsewhere, and you make her suffer for your own ineptitude? He will have to reckon with me. Make yourself easy, Nasie. Aha! he cares about his heir! Good, very good. I will get hold of the boy; isn’t he my grandson? What the blazes! I can surely go to see the brat! I will stow him away somewhere; I will take care of him, you may be quite easy. I will bring Restaud to terms, the monster! I shall say to him, ’A word or two with you! If you want your son back again, give my daughter her property, and leave her to do as she pleases.’”


“Yes. I am your father, Nasie, a father indeed! That rogue of a great lord had better not ill–treat my daughter. Tonnerre! What is it in my veins? There is the blood of a tiger in me; I could tear those two men to pieces! Oh! children, children! so this is what your lives are! Why, it is death!…What will become of you when I shall be here no longer? Fathers ought to live as long as their children. Ah! Lord God in heaven! how ill Thy world is ordered! Thou hast a Son, if what they tell us is true, and yet Thou leavest us to suffer so through our children. My darlings, my darlings! to think that trouble only should bring you to me, that I should only see you with tears on your faces! Ah! yes, yes, you love me, I see that you love me. Come to me and pour out your griefs to me; my heart is large enough to hold them all. Oh! you might rend my heart in pieces, and every fragment would make a father’s heart. If only I could bear all your sorrows for you! … Ah! you were so happy when you were little and still with me….”

“We have never been happy since,” said Delphine. “Where are the old days when we slid down the sacks in the great granary?”

“That is not all, father,” said Anastasie in Goriot’s ear. The old man gave a startled shudder. “The diamonds only sold for a hundred thousand francs. Maxime is hard pressed. There are twelve thousand francs still to pay. He has given me his word that he will be steady and give up play in future. His love is all that I have left in the world. I have paid such a fearful price for it that I should die if I lose him now. I have sacrificed my fortune, my honor, my peace of mind, and my children for him. Oh! do something, so that at the least Maxime may be at large and live undisgraced in the world, where he will assuredly make a career for himself. Something more than my happiness is at stake; the children have nothing, and if he is sent to Sainte–Pelagie all his prospects will be ruined.”

“I haven’t the money, Nasie. I have nothing—nothing left. This is the end of everything. Yes, the world is crumbling into ruin, I am sure. Fly! Save yourselves! Ah!—I have still my silver buckles left, and half–a–dozen silver spoons and forks, the first I ever had in my life. But I have nothing else except my life annuity, twelve hundred francs…”

“Then what has become of your money in the funds?”

“I sold out, and only kept a trifle for my wants. I wanted twelve thousand francs to furnish some rooms for Delphine.”

“In your own house?” asked Mme. de Restaud, looking at her sister.

“What does it matter where they were?” asked Goriot. “The money is spent now.”

“I see how it is,” said the Countess. “Rooms for M. de Rastignac. Poor Delphine, take warning by me!”

“M. de Rastignac is incapable of ruining the woman he loves, dear.”

“Thanks! Delphine. I thought you would have been kinder to me in my troubles, but you never did love me.”

“Yes, yes, she loves you, Nasie,” cried Goriot; “she was saying so only just now. We were talking about you, and she insisted that you were beautiful, and that she herself was only pretty!”

“Pretty!” said the Countess. “She is as hard as a marble statue.”

“And if I am?” cried Delphine, flushing up, “how have you treated me? You would not recognize me; you closed the doors of every house against me; you have never let an opportunity of mortifying me slip by. And when did I come, as you were always doing, to drain our poor father, a thousand francs at a time, till he is left as you see him now? That is all your doing, sister! I myself have seen my father as often as I could. I have not turned him out of the house, and then come and fawned upon him when I wanted money. I did not so much as know that he had spent those twelve thousand francs on me. I am economical, as you know; and when papa has made me presents, it has never been because I came and begged for them.”

“You were better off than I. M. de Marsay was rich, as you have reason to know. You always were as slippery as gold. Good–bye; I have neither sister nor―”

“Oh! hush, hush, Nasie!” cried her father.

“Nobody else would repeat what everybody has ceased to believe. You are an unnatural sister!” cried Delphine.

“Oh, children, children! hush! hush! or I will kill myself before your eyes.”

“There, Nasie, I forgive you,” said Mme. de Nucingen; “you are very unhappy. But I am kinder than you are. How could you say that just when I was ready to do anything in the world to help you, even to be reconciled with my husband, which for my own sake I―Oh! it is just like you; you have behaved cruelly to me all through these nine years.”

“Children, children, kiss each other!” cried the father. “You are angels, both of you.”

“No. Let me alone,” cried the Countess shaking off the hand that her father had laid on her arm. “She is more merciless than my husband. Any one might think she was a model of all the virtues herself!”

“I would rather have people think that I owed money to M. de Marsay than own that M. de Trailles had cost me more than two hundred thousand francs,” retorted Mme. de Nucingen.

“Delphine!” cried the Countess, stepping towards her sister.

“I shall tell you the truth about yourself if you begin to slander me,” said the Baroness coldly.

“Delphine! you are a ―”

Father Goriot sprang between them, grasped the Countess’ hand, and laid his own over her mouth.

“Good heavens, father! What have you been handling this morning?” said Anastasie.

“Ah! well, yes, I ought not to have touched you,” said the poor father, wiping his hands on his trousers, “but I have been packing up my things; I did not know that you were coming to see me.”

He was glad that he had drawn down her wrath upon himself.

“Ah!” he sighed, as he sat down, “you children have broken my heart between you. This is killing me. My head feels as if it were on fire. Be good to each other and love each other! This will be the death of me! Delphine! Nasie! come, be sensible; you are both in the wrong. Come, Dedel,” he added, looking through his tears at the Baroness, “she must have twelve thousand francs, you see; let us see if we can find them for her. Oh, my girls, do not look at each other like that!” and he sank on his knees beside Delphine. “Ask her to forgive you—just to please me,” he said in her ear. “She is more miserable than you are. Come now, Dedel.”

“Poor Nasie!” said Delphine, alarmed at the wild extravagant grief in her father’s face, “I was in the wrong, kiss me―”

“Ah! that is like balm to my heart,” cried Father Goriot. “But how are we to find twelve thousand francs? I might offer myself as a substitute in the army―”

“Oh! father dear!” they both cried, flinging their arms about him. “No, no!”

“God reward you for the thought. We are not worth it, are we, Nasie?” asked Delphine.

“And besides, father dear, it would only be a drop in the bucket,” observed the Countess.

“But is flesh and blood worth nothing?” cried the old man in his despair. “I would give body and soul to save you, Nasie. I would do a murder for the man who would rescue you. I would do, as Vautrin did, go to the hulks, go―” he stopped as if struck by a thunderbolt, and put both hands to his head. “Nothing left!” he cried, tearing his hair. “If I only knew of a way to steal money, but it is so hard to do it, and then you can’t set to work by yourself, and it takes time to rob a bank. Yes, it is time I was dead; there is nothing left me to do but to die. I am no good in the world; I am no longer a father! No. She has come to me in her extremity, and, wretch that I am, I have nothing to give her. Ah! you put your money into a life annuity, old scoundrel; and had you not daughters? You did not love them. Die, die in a ditch, like the dog that you are! Yes, I am worse than a dog; a beast would not have done as I have done! Oh! my head…it throbs as if it would burst.”

“Papa!” cried both the young women at once, “do, pray, be reasonable!” and they clung to him to prevent him from dashing his head against the wall. There was a sound of sobbing.

Eugene, greatly alarmed, took the bill that bore Vautrin’s signature, saw that the stamp would suffice for a larger sum, altered the figures, made it into a regular bill for twelve thousand francs, payable to Goriot’s order, and went to his neighbor’s room.

“Here is the money, madame,” he said, handing the piece of paper to her. “I was asleep; your conversation awoke me, and by this means I learned all that I owed to M. Goriot. This bill can be discounted, and I shall meet it punctually at the due date.”

The Countess stood motionless and speechless, but she held the bill in her fingers.

“Delphine,” she said, with a white face, and her whole frame quivering with indignation, anger, and rage, “I forgave you everything; God is my witness that I forgave you, but I cannot forgive this! So this gentleman was there all the time, and you knew it! Your petty spite has let you to wreak your vengeance on me by betraying my secrets, my life, my children’s lives, my shame, my honor! There, you are nothing to me any longer. I hate you. I will do all that I can to injure you. I will…”

Anger paralyzed her; the words died in her dry parched throat.

“Why, he is my son, my child; he is your brother, your preserver!” cried Goriot. “Kiss his hand, Nasie! Stay, I will embrace him myself,” he said, straining Eugene to his breast in a frenzied clasp. “Oh my boy! I will be more than a father to you; if I had God’s power, I would fling worlds at your feet. Why don’t you kiss him, Nasie? He is not a man, but an angel, a angel out of heaven.”

“Never mind her, father; she is mad just now.”

“Mad! am I? And what are you?” cried Mme. de Restaud.

“Children, children, I shall die if you go on like this,” cried the old man, and he staggered and fell on the bed as if a bullet had struck him.—”They are killing me between them,” he said to himself.

The Countess fixed her eyes on Eugene, who stood stock still; all his faculties were numbed by this violent scene.

“Sir?…” she said, doubt and inquiry in her face, tone, and bearing; she took no notice now of her father nor of Delphine, who was hastily unfastening his waistcoat.

“Madame,” said Eugene, answering the question before it was asked, “I will meet the bill, and keep silence about it.”

“You have killed our father, Nasie!” said Delphine, pointing to Goriot, who lay unconscious on the bed. The Countess fled.

“I freely forgive her,” said the old man, opening his eyes; “her position is horrible; it would turn an older head than hers. Comfort Nasie, and be nice to her, Delphine; promise it to your poor father before he dies,” he asked, holding Delphine’s hand in a convulsive clasp.

“Oh! what ails you, father?” she cried in real alarm.

“Nothing, nothing,” said Goriot; “it will go off. There is something heavy pressing on my forehead, a little headache…. Ah! poor Nasie, what a life lies before her!”

Just as he spoke, the Countess came back again and flung herself on her knees before him. “Forgive me!” she cried.

“Come,” said her father, “you are hurting me still more.”

“Monsieur,” the Countess said, turning to Rastignac, “misery made me unjust to you. You will be a brother to me, will you not?” and she held out her hand. Her eyes were full of tears as she spoke.

“Nasie,” cried Delphine, flinging her arms round her sister, “my little Nasie, let us forget and forgive.”

“No, no,” cried Nasie; “I shall never forget!”

“Dear angels,” cried Goriot, “it is as if a dark curtain over my eyes had been raised; your voices have called me back to life. Kiss each other once more. Well, now, Nasie, that bill will save you, won’t it?”

“I hope so. I say, papa, will you write your name on it?”

“There! how stupid of me to forget that! But I am not feeling at all well, Nasie, so you must not remember it against me. Send and let me know as soon as you are out of your strait. No, I will go to you. No, after all, I will not go; I might meet your husband, and I should kill him on the spot. And as for signing away your property, I shall have a word to say about that. Quick, my child, and keep Maxime in order in future.”

Eugene was too bewildered to speak.

“Poor Anastasie, she always had a violent temper,” said Mme. de Nucingen, “but she has a good heart.”

“She came back for the endorsement,” said Eugene in Delphine’s ear.

“Do you think so?”

“I only wish I could think otherwise. Do not trust her,” he answered, raising his eyes as if he confided to heaven the thoughts that he did not venture to express.

“Yes. She is always acting a part to some extent.”

“How do you feel now, dear Father Goriot?” asked Rastignac.

“I should like to go to sleep,” he replied.

Eugene helped him to bed, and Delphine sat by the bedside, holding his hand until he fell asleep. Then she went.

“This evening at the Italiens,” she said to Eugene, “and you can let me know how he is. To–morrow you will leave this place, monsieur. Let us go into your room.—Oh! how frightful!” she cried on the threshold. “Why, you are even worse lodged than our father. Eugene, you have behaved well. I would love you more if that were possible; but, dear boy, if you are to succeed in life, you must not begin by flinging twelve thousand francs out of the windows like that. The Comte de Trailles is a confirmed gambler. My sister shuts her eyes to it. He would have made the twelve thousand francs in the same way that he wins and loses heaps of gold.”

A groan from the next room brought them back to Goriot’s bedside; to all appearances he was asleep, but the two lovers caught the words, “They are not happy!” Whether he was awake or sleeping, the tone in which they were spoken went to his daughter’s heart. She stole up to the pallet–bed on which her father lay, and kissed his forehead. He opened his eyes.

“Ah! Delphine!” he said.

“How are you now?” she asked.

“Quite comfortable. Do not worry about me; I shall get up presently. Don’t stay with me, children; go, go and be happy.”

Eugene went back with Delphine as far as her door; but he was not easy about Goriot, and would not stay to dinner, as she proposed. He wanted to be back at the Maison Vauquer. Father Goriot had left his room, and was just sitting down to dinner as he came in. Bianchon had placed himself where he could watch the old man carefully; and when the old vermicelli maker took up his square of bread and smelled it to find out the quality of the flour, the medical student, studying him closely, saw that the action was purely mechanical, and shook his head.

“Just come and sit over here, hospitaller of Cochin,” said Eugene.

Bianchon went the more willingly because his change of place brought him next to the old lodger.

“What is wrong with him?” asked Rastignac.

“It is all up with him, or I am much mistaken! Something very extraordinary must have taken place; he looks to me as if he were in imminent danger of serous apoplexy. The lower part of his face is composed enough, but the upper part is drawn and distorted. Then there is that peculiar look about the eyes that indicates an effusion of serum in the brain; they look as though they were covered with a film of fine dust, do you notice? I shall know more about it by to–morrow morning.”

“Is there any cure for it?”

“None. It might be possible to stave death off for a time if a way could be found of setting up a reaction in the lower extremities; but if the symptoms do not abate by to–morrow evening, it will be all over with him, poor old fellow! Do you know what has happened to bring this on? There must have been some violent shock, and his mind has given way.”

“Yes, there was,” said Rastignac, remembering how the two daughters had struck blow on blow at their father’s heart.

“But Delphine at any rate loves her father,” he said to himself.

That evening at the opera Rastignac chose his words carefully, lest he should give Mme. de Nucingen needless alarm.

“Do not be anxious about him,” she said, however, as soon as Eugene began, “our father has really a strong constitution, but this morning we gave him a shock. Our whole fortunes were in peril, so the thing was serious, you see. I could not live if your affection did not make me insensible to troubles that I should once have thought too hard to bear. At this moment I have but one fear left, but one misery to dread—to lose the love that has made me feel glad to live. Everything else is as nothing to me compared with our love; I care for nothing else, for you are all the world to me. If I feel glad to be rich, it is for your sake. To my shame be it said, I think of my lover before my father. Do you ask why? I cannot tell you, but all my life is in you. My father gave me a heart, but you have taught it to beat. The whole world may condemn me; what does it matter if I stand acquitted in your eyes, for you have no right to think ill of me for the faults which a tyrannous love has forced me to commit for you! Do you think me an unnatural daughter? Oh! no, no one could help loving such a dear kind father as ours. But how could I hide the inevitable consequences of our miserable marriages from him? Why did he allow us to marry when we did? Was it not his duty to think for us and foresee for us? To–day I know he suffers as much as we do, but how can it be helped? And as for comforting him, we could not comfort him in the least. Our resignation would give him more pain and hurt him far more than complaints and upbraidings. There are times in life when everything turns to bitterness.”

Eugene was silent, the artless and sincere outpouring made an impression on him.

Parisian women are often false, intoxicated with vanity, selfish and self–absorbed, frivolous and shallow; yet of all women, when they love, they sacrifice their personal feelings to their passion; they rise but so much the higher for all the pettiness overcome in their nature, and become sublime. Then Eugene was struck by the profound discernment and insight displayed by this woman in judging of natural affection, when a privileged affection had separated and set her at a distance apart. Mme. de Nucingen was piqued by the silence,

“What are you thinking about?” she asked.

“I am thinking about what you said just now. Hitherto I have always felt sure that I cared far more for you than you did for me.”

She smiled, and would not give way to the happiness she felt, lest their talk should exceed the conventional limits of propriety. She had never heard the vibrating tones of a sincere and youthful love; a few more words, and she feared for her self–control.

“Eugene,” she said, changing the conversation, “I wonder whether you know what has been happening? All Paris will go to Mme. de Beauseant’s to–morrow. The Rochefides and the Marquis d’Ajuda have agreed to keep the matter a profound secret, but to–morrow the king will sign the marriage–contract, and your poor cousin the Vicomtesse knows nothing of it as yet. She cannot put off her ball, and the Marquis will not be there. People are wondering what will happen?”

“The world laughs at baseness and connives at it. But this will kill Mme. de Beauseant.”

“Oh, no,” said Delphine, smiling, “you do not know that kind of woman. Why, all Paris will be there, and so shall I; I ought to go there for your sake.”

“Perhaps, after all, it is one of those absurd reports that people set in circulation here.”

“We shall know the truth to–morrow.”

Eugene did not return to the Maison Vauquer. He could not forego the pleasure of occupying his new rooms in the Rue d’Artois. Yesterday evening he had been obliged to leave Delphine soon after midnight, but that night it was Delphine who stayed with him until two o’clock in the morning. He rose late, and waited for Mme. de Nucingen, who came about noon to breakfast with him. Youth snatches eagerly at these rosy moments of happiness, and Eugene had almost forgotten Goriot’s existence. The pretty things that surrounded him were growing familiar; this domestication in itself was one long festival for him, and Mme. de Nucingen was there to glorify it all by her presence. It was four o’clock before they thought of Goriot, and of how he had looked forward to the new life in that house. Eugene said that the old man ought to be moved at once, lest he should grow too ill to move. He left Delphine and hurried back to the lodging–house. Neither Father Goriot nor young Bianchon was in the dining–room with the others.

“Aha!” said the painter as Eugene came in, “Father Goriot has broken down at last. Bianchon is upstairs with him. One of his daughters—the Comtesse de Restaurama—came to see the old gentleman, and he would get up and go out, and made himself worse. Society is about to lose one of its brightest ornaments.”

Rastignac sprang to the staircase.

“Hey! Monsieur Eugene!”

“Monsieur Eugene, the mistress is calling you,” shouted Sylvie.

“It is this, sir,” said the widow. “You and M. Goriot should by rights have moved out on the 15th of February. That was three days ago; to–day is the 18th, I ought really to be paid a month in advance; but if you will engage to pay for both, I shall be quite satisfied.”

“Why can’t you trust him?”

“Trust him, indeed! If the old gentleman went off his head and died, those daughters of his would not pay me a farthing, and his things won’t fetch ten francs. This morning he went out with all the spoons and forks he has left, I don’t know why. He had got himself up to look quite young, and—Lord, forgive me—but I thought he had rouge on his cheeks; he looked quite young again.”

“I will be responsible,” said Eugene, shuddering with horror, for he foresaw the end.

He climbed the stairs and reached Father Goriot’s room. The old man was tossing on his bed. Bianchon was with him.

“Good–evening, father,” said Eugene.

The old man turned his glassy eyes on him, smiled gently, and said:

“How is she?”

“She is quite well. But how are you?”

“There is nothing much the matter.”

“Don’t tire him,” said Bianchon, drawing Eugene into a corner of the room.

“Well?” asked Rastignac.

“Nothing but a miracle can save him now. Serous congestion has set in; I have put on mustard plasters, and luckily he can feel them, they are acting.”

“Is it possible to move him?”

“Quite out of the question. He must stay where he is, and be kept as quiet as possible―”

“Dear Bianchon,” said Eugene, “we will nurse him between us.”

“I have had the head physician round from my hospital to see him.”

“And what did he say?”

“He will give no opinion till to–morrow evening. He promised to look in again at the end of the day. Unluckily, the preposterous creature must needs go and do something foolish this morning; he will not say what it was. He is as obstinate as a mule. As soon as I begin to talk to him he pretends not to hear, and lies as if he were asleep instead of answering, or if he opens his eyes he begins to groan. Some time this morning he went out on foot in the streets, nobody knows where he went, and he took everything that he had of any value with him. He has been driving some confounded bargain, and it has been too much for his strength. One of his daughters has been here.”

“Was it the Countess?” asked Eugene. “A tall, dark–haired woman, with large bright eyes, slender figure, and little feet?”


“Leave him to me for a bit,” said Rastignac. “I will make him confess; he will tell me all about it.”

“And meanwhile I will get my dinner. But try not to excite him; there is still some hope left.”

“All right.”

“How they will enjoy themselves to–morrow,” said Father Goriot when they were alone. “They are going to a grand ball.”

“What were you doing this morning, papa, to make yourself so poorly this evening that you have to stop in bed?”


“Did not Anastasie come to see you?” demanded Rastignac.

“Yes,” said Father Goriot.

“Well, then, don’t keep anything from me. What more did she want of you?”

“Oh, she was very miserable,” he answered, gathering up all his strength to speak. “It was this way, my boy. Since that affair of the diamonds, Nasie has not had a penny of her own. For this ball she had ordered a golden gown like a setting for a jewel. Her mantuamaker, a woman without a conscience, would not give her credit, so Nasie’s waiting–woman advanced a thousand francs on account. Poor Nasie! reduced to such shifts! It cut me to the heart to think of it! But when Nasie’s maid saw how things were between her master and mistress, she was afraid of losing her money, and came to an understanding with the dressmaker, and the woman refuses to send the ball–dress until the money is paid. The gown is ready, and the ball is to–morrow night! Nasie was in despair. She wanted to borrow my forks and spoons to pawn them. Her husband is determined that she shall go and wear the diamonds, so as to contradict the stories that are told all over Paris. How can she go to that heartless scoundrel and say, ’I owe a thousand francs to my dressmaker; pay her for me!’ She cannot. I saw that myself. Delphine will be there too in a superb toilette, and Anastasie ought not to be outshone by her younger sister. And then—she was drowned in tears, poor girl! I felt so humbled yesterday when I had not the twelve thousand francs, that I would have given the rest of my miserable life to wipe out that wrong. You see, I could have borne anything once, but latterly this want of money has broken my heart. Oh! I did not do it by halves; I titivated myself up a bit, and went out and sold my spoons and forks and buckles for six hundred francs; then I went to old Daddy Gobseck, and sold a year’s interest on my annuity for four hundred francs down. Pshaw! I can live on dry bread, as I did when I was a young man; if I have done it before, I can do it again. My Nasie shall have one happy evening, at any rate. She shall be smart. The banknote for a thousand francs is under my pillow; it warms me to have it lying there under my head, for it is going to make my poor Nasie happy. She can turn that bad girl Victoire out of the house. A servant that cannot trust her mistress, did any one ever hear the like! I shall be quite well to–morrow. Nasie is coming at ten o’clock. They must not think that I am ill, or they will not go to the ball; they will stop and take care of me. To–morrow Nasie will come and hold me in her arms as if I were one of her children; her kisses will make me well again. After all, I might have spent the thousand francs on physic; I would far rather give them to my little Nasie, who can charm all the pain away. At any rate, I am some comfort to her in her misery; and that makes up for my unkindness in buying an annuity. She is in the depths, and I cannot draw her out of them now. Oh! I will go into business again, I will buy wheat in Odessa; out there, wheat fetches a quarter of the price it sells for here. There is a law against the importation of grain, but the good folk who made the law forgot to prohibit the introduction of wheat products and food stuffs made from corn. Hey! hey!…That struck me this morning. There is a fine trade to be done in starch.”

Eugene, watching the old man’s face, thought that his friend was light–headed.

“Come,” he said, “do not talk any more, you must rest―” Just then Bianchon came up, and Eugene went down to dinner.

The two students sat up with him that night, relieving each other in turn. Bianchon brought up his medical books and studied; Eugene wrote letters home to his mother and sisters. Next morning Bianchon thought the symptoms more hopeful, but the patient’s condition demanded continual attention, which the two students alone were willing to give—a task impossible to describe in the squeamish phraseology of the epoch. Leeches must be applied to the wasted body, the poultices and hot foot–baths, and other details of the treatment required the physical strength and devotion of the two young men. Mme. de Restaud did not come; but she sent a messenger for the money.

“I expected she would come herself; but it would have been a pity for her to come, she would have been anxious about me,” said the father, and to all appearances he was well content.

At seven o’clock that evening Therese came with a letter from Delphine.

“What are you doing, dear friend? I have been loved for a very little while, and I am neglected already? In the confidences of heart and heart, I have learned to know your soul—you are too noble not to be faithful for ever, for you know that love with all its infinite subtle changes of feeling is never the same. Once you said, as we were listening to the Prayer in Mose in Egitto, ’For some it is the monotony of a single note; for others, it is the infinite of sound.’ Remember that I am expecting you this evening to take me to Mme. de Beauseant’s ball. Every one knows now that the King signed M. d’Ajuda’s marriage–contract this morning, and the poor Vicomtesse knew nothing of it until two o’clock this afternoon. All Paris will flock to her house, of course, just as a crowd fills the Place de Greve to see an execution. It is horrible, is it not, to go out of curiosity to see if she will hide her anguish, and whether she will die courageously? I certainly should not go, my friend, if I had been at her house before; but, of course, she will not receive society any more after this, and all my efforts would be in vain. My position is a very unusual one, and besides, I am going there partly on your account. I am waiting for you. If you are not beside me in less than two hours, I do not know whether I could forgive such treason.”

Rastignac took up a pen and wrote:

“I am waiting till the doctor comes to know if there is any hope of your father’s life. He is lying dangerously ill. I will come and bring you the news, but I am afraid it may be a sentence of death. When I come you can decide whether you can go to the ball.—Yours a thousand times.”

At half–past eight the doctor arrived. He did not take a very hopeful view of the case, but thought that there was no immediate danger. Improvements and relapses might be expected, and the good man’s life and reason hung in the balance.

“It would be better for him to die at once,” the doctor said as he took leave.

Eugene left Goriot to Bianchon’s care, and went to carry the sad news to Mme. de Nucingen. Family feeling lingered in her, and this must put an end for the present to her plans of amusement.

“Tell her to enjoy her evening as if nothing had happened,” cried Goriot. He had been lying in a sort of stupor, but he suddenly sat upright as Eugene went out.

Eugene, half heartbroken, entered Delphine’s. Her hair had been dressed; she wore her dancing slippers; she had only to put on her ball–dress; but when the artist is giving the finishing stroke to his creation, the last touches require more time than the whole groundwork of the picture.

“Why, you are not dressed!” she cried.

“Madame, your father―”

“My father again!” she exclaimed, breaking in upon him. “You need not teach me what is due to my father, I have known my father this long while. Not a word, Eugene. I will hear what you have to say when you are dressed. My carriage is waiting, take it, go round to your rooms and dress, Therese has put out everything in readiness for you. Come back as soon as you can; we will talk about my father on the way to Mme. de Beauseant’s. We must go early; if we have to wait our turn in a row of carriages, we shall be lucky if we get there by eleven o’clock.”


“Quick! not a word!” she cried, darting into her dressing–room for a necklace.

“Do go, Monsieur Eugene, or you will vex madame,” said Therese, hurrying him away; and Eugene was too horror–stricken by this elegant parricide to resist.

He went to his rooms and dressed, sad, thoughtful, and dispirited. The world of Paris was like an ocean of mud for him just then; and it seemed that whoever set foot in that black mire must needs sink into it up to the chin.

“Their crimes are paltry,” said Eugene to himself. “Vautrin was greater.”

He had seen society in its three great phases—Obedience, Struggle, and Revolt; the Family, the World, and Vautrin; and he hesitated in his choice. Obedience was dull, Revolt impossible, Struggle hazardous. His thoughts wandered back to the home circle. He thought of the quiet uneventful life, the pure happiness of the days spent among those who loved him there. Those loving and beloved beings passed their lives in obedience to the natural laws of the hearth, and in that obedience found a deep and constant serenity, unvexed by torments such as these. Yet, for all his good impulses, he could not bring himself to make profession of the religion of pure souls to Delphine, nor to prescribe the duties of piety to her in the name of love. His education had begun to bear its fruits; he loved selfishly already. Besides, his tact had discovered to him the real nature of Delphine; he divined instinctively that she was capable of stepping over her father’s corpse to go to the ball; and within himself he felt that he had neither the strength of mind to play the part of mentor, nor the strength of character to vex her, nor the courage to leave her to go alone.

“She would never forgive me for putting her in the wrong over it,” he said to himself. Then he turned the doctor’s dictum over in his mind; he tried to believe that Goriot was not so dangerously ill as he had imagined, and ended by collecting together a sufficient quantity of traitorous excuses for Delphine’s conduct. She did not know how ill her father was; the kind old man himself would have made her go to the ball if she had gone to see him. So often it happens that this one or that stands condemned by the social laws that govern family relations; and yet there are peculiar circumstances in the case, differences of temperament, divergent interests, innumerable complications of family life that excuse the apparent offence.

Eugene did not wish to see too clearly; he was ready to sacrifice his conscience to his mistress. Within the last few days his whole life had undergone a change. Woman had entered into his world and thrown it into chaos, family claims dwindled away before her; she had appropriated all his being to her uses. Rastignac and Delphine found each other at a crisis in their lives when their union gave them the most poignant bliss. Their passion, so long proved, had only gained in strength by the gratified desire that often extinguishes passion. This woman was his, and Eugene recognized that not until then had he loved her; perhaps love is only gratitude for pleasure. This woman, vile or sublime, he adored for the pleasure she had brought as her dower; and Delphine loved Rastignac as Tantalus would have loved some angel who had satisfied his hunger and quenched the burning thirst in his parched throat.

“Well,” said Mme. de Nucingen when he came back in evening dress, “how is my father?”

“Very dangerously ill,” he answered; “if you will grant me a proof of your affections, we will just go in to see him on the way.”

“Very well,” she said. “Yes, but afterwards. Dear Eugene, do be nice, and don’t preach to me. Come.”

They set out. Eugene said nothing for a while.

“What is it now?” she asked.

“I can hear the death–rattle in your father’s throat,” he said almost angrily. And with the hot indignation of youth, he told the story of Mme. de Restaud’s vanity and cruelty, of her father’s final act of self–sacrifice, that had brought about this struggle between life and death, of the price that had been paid for Anastasie’s golden embroideries. Delphine cried.

“I shall look frightful,” she thought. She dried her tears.

“I will nurse my father; I will not leave his bedside,” she said aloud.

“Ah! now you are as I would have you,” exclaimed Rastignac.

The lamps of five hundred carriages lit up the darkness about the Hotel de Beauseant. A gendarme in all the glory of his uniform stood on either side of the brightly lighted gateway. The great world was flocking thither that night in its eager curiosity to see the great lady at the moment of her fall, and the rooms on the ground floor were already full to overflowing, when Mme. de Nucingen and Rastignac appeared. Never since Louis XIV. tore her lover away from La grand Mademoiselle, and the whole court hastened to visit that unfortunate princess, had a disastrous love affair made such a sensation in Paris. But the youngest daughter of the almost royal house of Burgundy had risen proudly above her pain, and moved till the last moment like a queen in this world—its vanities had always been valueless for her, save in so far as they contributed to the triumph of her passion. The salons were filled with the most beautiful women in Paris, resplendent in their toilettes, and radiant with smiles. Ministers and ambassadors, the most distinguished men at court, men bedizened with decorations, stars, and ribbons, men who bore the most illustrious names in France, had gathered about the Vicomtesse.

The music of the orchestra vibrated in wave after wave of sound from the golden ceiling of the palace, now made desolate for its queen.

Madame de Beauseant stood at the door of the first salon to receive the guests who were styled her friends. She was dressed in white, and wore no ornament in the plaits of hair braided about her head; her face was calm; there was no sign there of pride, nor of pain, nor of joy that she did not feel. No one could read her soul; she stood there like some Niobe carved in marble. For a few intimate friends there was a tinge of satire in her smile; but no scrutiny saw any change in her, nor had she looked otherwise in the days of the glory of her happiness. The most callous of her guests admired her as young Rome applauded some gladiator who could die smiling. It seemed as if society had adorned itself for a last audience of one of its sovereigns.

“I was afraid that you would not come,” she said to Rastignac.

“Madame,” he said, in an unsteady voice, taking her speech as a reproach, “I shall be the last to go, that is why I am here.”

“Good,” she said, and she took his hand. “You are perhaps the only one I can trust here among all these. Oh, my friend, when you love, love a woman whom you are sure that you can love always. Never forsake a woman.”

She took Rastignac’s arm, and went towards a sofa in the card–room.

“I want you to go to the Marquis,” she said. “Jacques, my footman, will go with you; he has a letter that you will take. I am asking the Marquis to give my letters back to me. He will give them all up, I like to think that. When you have my letters, go up to my room with them. Some one shall bring me word.”

She rose to go to meet the Duchesse de Langeais, her most intimate friend, who had come like the rest of the world.

Rastignac went. He asked for the Marquis d’Ajuda at the Hotel Rochefide, feeling certain that the latter would be spending his evening there, and so it proved. The Marquis went to his own house with Rastignac, and gave a casket to the student, saying as he did so, “They are all there.”

He seemed as if he was about to say something to Eugene, to ask about the ball, or the Vicomtesse; perhaps he was on the brink of the confession that, even then, he was in despair, and knew that his marriage had been a fatal mistake; but a proud gleam shone in his eyes, and with deplorable courage he kept his noblest feelings a secret.

“Do not even mention my name to her, my dear Eugene.” He grasped Rastignac’s hand sadly and affectionately, and turned away from him. Eugene went back to the Hotel Beauseant, the servant took him to the Vicomtesse’s room. There were signs there of preparations for a journey. He sat down by the fire, fixed his eyes on the cedar wood casket, and fell into deep mournful musings. Mme. de Beauseant loomed large in these imaginings, like a goddess in the Iliad.

“Ah! my friend!…” said the Vicomtesse; she crossed the room and laid her hand on Rastignac’s shoulder. He saw the tears in his cousin’s uplifted eyes, saw that one hand was raised to take the casket, and that the fingers of the other trembled. Suddenly she took the casket, put it in the fire, and watched it burn.

“They are dancing,” she said. “They all came very early; but death will be long in coming. Hush! my friend,” and she laid a finger on Rastignac’s lips, seeing that he was about to speak. “I shall never see Paris again. I am taking my leave of the world. At five o’clock this morning I shall set out on my journey; I mean to bury myself in the remotest part of Normandy. I have had very little time to make my arrangements; since three o’clock this afternoon I have been busy signing documents, setting my affairs in order; there was no one whom I could send to…”

She broke off.

“He was sure to be…”

Again she broke off; the weight of her sorrow was more than she could bear. In such moments as these everything is agony, and some words are impossible to utter.

“And so I counted upon you to do me this last piece of service this evening,” she said. “I should like to give you some pledge of friendship. I shall often think of you. You have seemed to me to be kind and noble, fresh–hearted and true, in this world where such qualities are seldom found. I should like you to think sometimes of me. Stay,” she said, glancing about her, “there is this box that has held my gloves. Every time I opened it before going to a ball or to the theatre, I used to feel that I must be beautiful, because I was so happy; and I never touched it except to lay some gracious memory in it: there is so much of my old self in it, of a Madame de Beauseant who now lives no longer. Will you take it? I will leave directions that it is to be sent to you in the Rue d’Artois.—Mme. de Nucingen looked very charming this evening. Eugene, you must love her. Perhaps we may never see each other again, my friend; but be sure of this, that I shall pray for you who have been kind to me.—Now, let us go downstairs. People shall not think that I am weeping. I have all time and eternity before me, and where I am going I shall be alone, and no one will ask me the reason of my tears. One last look round first.”

She stood for a moment. Then she covered her eyes with her hands for an instant, dashed away the tears, bathed her face with cold water, and took the student’s arm.

“Let us go!” she said.

This suffering, endured with such noble fortitude, shook Eugene with a more violent emotion than he had felt before. They went back to the ballroom, and Mme. de Beauseant went through the rooms on Eugene’s arm—the last delicately gracious act of a gracious woman. In another moment he saw the sisters, Mme. de Restaud and Mme. de Nucingen. The Countess shone in all the glory of her magnificent diamonds; every stone must have scorched like fire, she was never to wear them again. Strong as love and pride might be in her, she found it difficult to meet her husband’s eyes. The sight of her was scarcely calculated to lighten Rastignac’s sad thoughts; through the blaze of those diamonds he seemed to see the wretched pallet–bed on which Father Goriot was lying. The Vicomtesse misread his melancholy; she withdrew her hand from his arm.

“Come,” she said, “I must not deprive you of a pleasure.”

Eugene was soon claimed by Delphine. She was delighted by the impression that she had made, and eager to lay at her lover’s feet the homage she had received in this new world in which she hoped to live and move henceforth.

“What do you think of Nasie?” she asked him.

“She has discounted everything, even her own father’s death,” said Rastignac.

Towards four o’clock in the morning the rooms began to empty. A little later the music ceased, and the Duchesse de Langeais and Rastignac were left in the great ballroom. The Vicomtesse, who thought to find the student there alone, came back there at last. She had taken leave of M. de Beauseant, who had gone off to bed, saying again as he went, “It is a great pity, my dear, to shut yourself up at your age! Pray stay among us.”

Mme. de Beauseant saw the Duchesse, and, in spite of herself, an exclamation broke from her.

“I saw how it was, Clara,” said Mme. de Langeais. “You are going from among us, and you will never come back. But you must not go until you have heard me, until we have understood each other.”

She took her friend’s arm, and they went together into the next room. There the Duchess looked at her with tears in her eyes; she held her friend in close embrace and kissed her cheek.

“I could not let you go without a word, dearest; the remorse would have been too hard to bear. You can count upon me as surely as upon yourself. You have shown yourself great this evening; I feel that I am worthy of our friendship, and I mean to prove myself worthy of it. I have not always been kind; I was in the wrong; forgive me, dearest; I wish I could unsay anything that may have hurt you; I take back those words. One common sorrow has brought us together again, for I do not know which of us is the more miserable. M. de Montriveau was not here to–night; do you understand what that means?—None of those who saw you to–night, Clara, will ever forget you. I mean to make one last effort. If I fail, I shall go into a convent. Clara, where are you going?”

“Into Normandy, to Courcelles. I shall love and pray there until the day when God shall take me from this world.—M. de Rastignac!” called the Vicomtesse, in a tremulous voice, remembering that the young man was waiting there.

The student knelt to kiss his cousin’s hand.

“Good–bye, Antoinette!” said Mme. de Beauseant. “May you be happy.”—She turned to the student. “You are young,” she said; “you have some beliefs still left. I have been privileged, like some dying people, to find sincere and reverent feeling in those about me as I take my leave of this world.”

It was nearly five o’clock that morning when Rastignac came away. He had put Mme. de Beauseant into her traveling carriage, and received her last farewells, spoken amid fast–falling tears; for no greatness is so great that it can rise above the laws of human affection, or live beyond the jurisdiction of pain, as certain demagogues would have the people believe. Eugene returned on foot to the Maison Vauquer through the cold and darkness. His education was nearly complete.

“There is no hope for poor Father Goriot,” said Bianchon, as Rastignac came into the room. Eugene looked for a while at the sleeping man, then he turned to his friend. “Dear fellow, you are content with the modest career you have marked out for yourself; keep to it. I am in hell, and I must stay there. Believe everything that you hear said of the world, nothing is too impossibly bad. No Juvenal could paint the horrors hidden away under the covering of gems and gold.”

At two o’clock in the afternoon Bianchon came to wake Rastignac, and begged him to take charge of Goriot, who had grown worse as the day wore on. The medical student was obliged to go out.

“Poor old man, he has not two days to live, maybe not many hours,” he said; “but we must do our utmost, all the same, to fight the disease. It will be a very troublesome case, and we shall want money. We can nurse him between us, of course, but, for my own part, I have not a penny. I have turned out his pockets, and rummaged through his drawers—result, nix. I asked him about it while his mind was clear, and he told me he had not a farthing of his own. What have you?”

“I have twenty francs left,” said Rastignac; “but I will take them to the roulette table, I shall be sure to win.”

“And if you lose?”

“Then I shall go to his sons–in–law and his daughters and ask them for money.”

“And suppose they refuse?” Bianchon retorted. “The most pressing thing just now is not really money; we must put mustard poultices, as hot as they can be made, on his feet and legs. If he calls out, there is still some hope for him. You know how to set about doing it, and besides, Christophe will help you. I am going round to the dispensary to persuade them to let us have the things we want on credit. It is a pity that we could not move him to the hospital; poor fellow, he would be better there. Well, come along, I leave you in charge; you must stay with him till I come back.”

The two young men went back to the room where the old man was lying. Eugene was startled at the change in Goriot’s face, so livid, distorted, and feeble.

“How are you, papa?” he said, bending over the pallet–bed. Goriot turned his dull eyes upon Eugene, looked at him attentively, and did not recognize him. It was more than the student could bear; the tears came into his eyes.

“Bianchon, ought we to have the curtains put up in the windows?”

“No, the temperature and the light do not affect him now. It would be a good thing for him if he felt heat or cold; but we must have a fire in any case to make tisanes and heat the other things. I will send round a few sticks; they will last till we can have in some firewood. I burned all the bark fuel you had left, as well as his, poor man, yesterday and during the night. The place is so damp that the water stood in drops on the walls; I could hardly get the room dry. Christophe came in and swept the floor, but the place is like a stable; I had to burn juniper, the smell was something horrible.

“Mon Dieu!” said Rastignac. “To think of those daughters of his.”

“One moment, if he asks for something to drink, give him this,” said the house student, pointing to a large white jar. “If he begins to groan, and the belly feels hot and hard to the touch, you know what to do; get Christophe to help you. If he should happen to grow much excited, and begin to talk a good deal and even to ramble in his talk, do not be alarmed. It would not be a bad symptom. But send Christophe to the Hospice Cochin. Our doctor, my chum, or I will come and apply moxas. We had a great consultation this morning while you were asleep. A surgeon, a pupil of Gall’s came, and our house surgeon, and the head physician from the Hotel–Dieu. Those gentlemen considered that the symptoms were very unusual and interesting; the case must be carefully watched, for it throws a light on several obscure and rather important scientific problems. One of the authorities says that if there is more pressure of serum on one or other portion of the brain, it should affect his mental capacities in such and such directions. So if he should talk, notice very carefully what kind of ideas his mind seems to run on; whether memory, or penetration, or the reasoning faculties are exercised; whether sentiments or practical questions fill his thoughts; whether he makes forecasts or dwells on the past; in fact; you must be prepared to give an accurate report of him. It is quite likely that the extravasation fills the whole brain, in which case he will die in the imbecile state in which he is lying now. You cannot tell anything about these mysterious nervous diseases. Suppose the crash came here,” said Bianchon, touching the back of the head, “very strange things have been known to happen; the brain sometimes partially recovers, and death is delayed. Or the congested matter may pass out of the brain altogether through channels which can only be determined by a post–mortem examination. There is an old man at the Hospital for Incurables, an imbecile patient, in his case the effusion has followed the direction of the spinal cord; he suffers horrid agonies, but he lives.”

“Did they enjoy themselves?” It was Father Goriot who spoke. He had recognized Eugene.

“Oh! he thinks of nothing but his daughters,” said Bianchon. “Scores of times last night he said to me, ’They are dancing now! She has her dress.’ He called them by their names. He made me cry, the devil take it, calling with that tone in his voice, for ’Delphine! my little Delphine! and Nasie!’ Upon my word,” said the medical student, “it was enough to make any one burst out crying.”

“Delphine,” said the old man, “she is there, isn’t she? I knew she was there,” and his eyes sought the door.

“I am going down now to tell Sylvie to get the poultices ready,” said Bianchon. “They ought to go on at once.”

Rastignac was left alone with the old man. He sat at the foot of the bed, and gazed at the face before him, so horribly changed that it was shocking to see.

“Noble natures cannot dwell in this world,” he said; “Mme de Beauseant has fled from it, and there he lies dying. What place indeed is there in the shallow petty frivolous thing called society for noble thoughts and feelings?”

Pictures of yesterday’s ball rose up in his memory, in strange contrast to the deathbed before him. Bianchon suddenly appeared.

“I say, Eugene, I have just seen our head surgeon at the hospital, and I ran all the way back here. If the old man shows any signs of reason, if he begins to talk, cover him with a mustard poultice from the neck to the base of the spine, and send round for us.”

“Dear Bianchon,” exclaimed Eugene.

“Oh! it is an interesting case from a scientific point of view,” said the medical student, with all the enthusiasm of a neophyte.

“So!” said Eugene. “Am I really the only one who cares for the poor old man for his own sake?”

“You would not have said so if you had seen me this morning,” returned Bianchon, who did not take offence at this speech. “Doctors who have seen a good deal of practice never see anything but the disease, but, my dear fellow, I can see the patient still.”

He went. Eugene was left alone with the old man, and with an apprehension of a crisis that set in, in fact, before very long.

“Ah! dear boy, is that you?” said Father Goriot, recognizing Eugene.

“Do you feel better?” asked the law student, taking his hand.

“Yes. My head felt as if it were being screwed up in a vise, but now it is set free again. Did you see my girls? They will be here directly; as soon as they know that I am ill they will hurry here at once; they used to take such care of me in the Rue de la Jussienne! Great Heavens! if only my room was fit for them to come into! There has been a young man here, who has burned up all my bark fuel.”

“I can hear Christophe coming upstairs,” Eugene answered. “He is bringing up some firewood that that young man has sent you.”

“Good, but how am I to pay for the wood. I have not a penny left, dear boy. I have given everything, everything. I am a pauper now. Well, at least the golden gown was grand, was it not? (Ah! what pain this is!) Thanks, Christophe! God will reward you, my boy; I have nothing left now.”

Eugene went over to Christophe and whispered in the man’s ear, “I will pay you well, and Sylvie too, for your trouble.”

“My daughters told you that they were coming, didn’t they, Christophe? Go again to them, and I will give you five francs. Tell them that I am not feeling well, that I should like to kiss them both and see them once again before I die. Tell them that, but don’t alarm them more than you can help.”

Rastignac signed to Christophe to go, and the man went.

“They will come before long,” the old man went on. “I know them so well. My tender–hearted Delphine! If I am going to die, she will feel it so much! And so will Nasie. I do not want to die; they will cry if I die; and if I die, dear Eugene, I shall not see them any more. It will be very dreary there where I am going. For a father it is hell to be without your children; I have served my apprenticeship already since they married. My heaven was in the Rue de la Jussienne. Eugene, do you think that if I go to heaven I can come back to earth, and be near them in spirit? I have heard some such things said. It is true? It is as if I could see them at this moment as they used to be when we all lived in the Rue de la Jussienne. They used to come downstairs of a morning. ’Good–morning, papa!’ they used to say, and I would take them on my knees; we had all sorts of little games of play together, and they had such pretty coaxing ways. We always had breakfast together, too, every morning, and they had dinner with me—in fact, I was a father then. I enjoyed my children. They did not think for themselves so long as they lived in the Rue de la Jussienne; they knew nothing of the world; they loved me with all their hearts. Mon Dieu! why could they not always be little girls? (Oh! my head! this racking pain in my head!) Ah! ah! forgive me, children, this pain is fearful; it must be agony indeed, for you have used me to endure pain. Mon Dieu! if only I held their hands in mine, I should not feel it at all.—Do you think that they are on the way? Christophe is so stupid; I ought to have gone myself. He will see them. But you went to the ball yesterday; just tell me how they looked. They did not know that I was ill, did they, or they would not have been dancing, poor little things? Oh! I must not be ill any longer. They stand too much in need of me; their fortunes are in danger. And such husbands as they are bound to! I must get well! (Oh! what pain this is! what pain this is! … ah! ah!)—I must get well, you see; for they must have money, and I know how to set about making some. I will go to Odessa and manufacture starch there. I am an old hand, I will make millions. (Oh! this is agony!)”

Goriot was silent for a moment; it seemed to require his whole strength to endure the pain.

“If they were here, I should not complain,” he said. “So why should I complain now?”

He seemed to grow drowsy with exhaustion, and lay quietly for a long time. Christophe came back; and Rastignac, thinking that Goriot was asleep, allowed the man to give his story aloud.

“First of all, sir, I went to Madame la Comtesse,” he said; “but she and her husband were so busy that I couldn’t get to speak to her. When I insisted that I must see her, M. de Restaud came out to me himself, and went on like this: ’M. Goriot is dying, is he? Very well, it is the best thing he can do. I want Mme. de Restaud to transact some important business, when it is all finished she can go.’ The gentleman looked angry, I thought. I was just going away when Mme. de Restaud came out into an ante–chamber through a door that I did not notice, and said, ’Christophe, tell my father that my husband wants me to discuss some matters with him, and I cannot leave the house, the life or death of my children is at stake; but as soon as it is over, I will come.’ As for Madame la Baronne, that is another story! I could not speak to her either, and I did not even see her. Her waiting–woman said, ’Ah yes, but madame only came back from a ball at a quarter to five this morning; she is asleep now, and if I wake her before mid–day she will be cross. As soon as she rings, I will go and tell her that her father is worse. It will be time enough then to tell her bad news!’ I begged and I prayed, but, there! it was no good. Then I asked for M. le Baron, but he was out.”

“To think that neither of his daughters should come!” exclaimed Rastignac. “I will write to them both.”

“Neither of them!” cried the old man, sitting upright in bed. “They are busy, they are asleep, they will not come! I knew that they would not. Not until you are dying do you know your children…. Oh! my friend, do not marry; do not have children! You give them life; they give you your deathblow. You bring them into the world, and they send you out of it. No, they will not come. I have known that these ten years. Sometimes I have told myself so, but I did not dare to believe it.”

The tears gathered and stood without overflowing the red sockets.

“Ah! if I were rich still, if I had kept my money, if I had not given all to them, they would be with me now; they would fawn on me and cover my cheeks with their kisses! I should be living in a great mansion; I should have grand apartments and servants and a fire in my room; and they would be about me all in tears, and their husbands and their children. I should have had all that; now—I have nothing. Money brings everything to you; even your daughters. My money. Oh! where is my money? If I had plenty of money to leave behind me, they would nurse me and tend me; I should hear their voices, I should see their faces. Ah, God! who knows? They both of them have hearts of stone. I loved them too much; it was not likely that they should love me. A father ought always to be rich; he ought to keep his children well in hand, like unruly horses. I have gone down on my knees to them. Wretches! this is the crowning act that brings the last ten years to a proper close. If you but knew how much they made of me just after they were married. (Oh! this is cruel torture!) I had just given them each eight hundred thousand francs; they were bound to be civil to me after that, and their husbands too were civil. I used to go to their houses: it was ’My kind father’ here, ’My dear father’ there. There was always a place for me at their tables. I used to dine with their husbands now and then, and they were very respectful to me. I was still worth something, they thought. How should they know? I had not said anything about my affairs. It is worth while to be civil to a man who has given his daughters eight hundred thousand francs apiece; and they showed me every attention then—but it was all for my money. Grand people are not great. I found that out by experience! I went to the theatre with them in their carriage; I might stay as long as I cared to stay at their evening parties. In fact, they acknowledged me their father; publicly they owned that they were my daughters. But I was always a shrewd one, you see, and nothing was lost upon me. Everything went straight to the mark and pierced my heart. I saw quite well that it was all sham and pretence, but there is no help for such things as these. I felt less at my ease at their dinner–table than I did downstairs here. I had nothing to say for myself. So these grand folks would ask in my son–in–law’s ear, ’Who may that gentleman be?’—’The father–in–law with the money bags; he is very rich.’—’The devil, he is!’ they would say, and look again at me with the respect due to my money. Well, if I was in the way sometimes, I paid dearly for my mistakes. And besides, who is perfect? (My head is one sore!) Dear Monsieur Eugene, I am suffering so now, that a man might die of the pain; but it is nothing to be compared with the pain I endured when Anastasie made me feel, for the first time, that I had said something stupid. She looked at me, and that glance of hers opened all my veins. I used to want to know everything, to be learned; and one thing I did learn thoroughly—I knew that I was not wanted here on earth.

“The next day I went to Delphine for comfort, and what should I do there but make some stupid blunder that made her angry with me. I was like one driven out of his senses. For a week I did not know what to do; I did not dare to go to see them for fear they should reproach me. And that was how they both turned me out of the house.

“Oh God! Thou knowest all the misery and anguish that I have endured; Thou hast counted all the wounds that have been dealt to me in these years that have aged and changed me and whitened my hair and drained my life; why dost Thou make me to suffer so to–day? Have I not more than expiated the sin of loving them too much? They themselves have been the instruments of vengeance; they have tortured me for my sin of affection.

“Ah, well! fathers know no better; I loved them so; I went back to them as a gambler goes to the gaming table. This love was my vice, you see, my mistress—they were everything in the world to me. They were always wanting something or other, dresses and ornaments, and what not; their maids used to tell me what they wanted, and I used to give them the things for the sake of the welcome that they bought for me. But, at the same time, they used to give me little lectures on my behavior in society; they began about it at once. Then they began to feel ashamed of me. That is what comes of having your children well brought up. I could not go to school again at my time of life. (This pain is fearful! Mon Dieu! These doctors! these doctors! If they would open my head, it would give me some relief!) Oh, my daughters, my daughters! Anastasie! Delphine! If I could only see them! Send for the police, and make them come to me! Justice is on my side, the whole world is on my side, I have natural rights, and the law with me. I protest! The country will go to ruin if a father’s rights are trampled under foot. That is easy to see. The whole world turns on fatherly love; fatherly love is the foundation of society; it will crumble into ruin when children do not love their fathers. Oh! if I could only see them, and hear them, no matter what they said; if I could simply hear their voices, it would soothe the pain. Delphine! Delphine most of all. But tell them when they come not to look so coldly at me as they do. Oh! my friend, my good Monsieur Eugene, you do not know that it is when all the golden light in a glance suddenly turns to a leaden gray. It has been one long winter here since the light in their eyes shone no more for me. I have had nothing but disappointments to devour. Disappointment has been my daily bread; I have lived on humiliation and insults. I have swallowed down all the affronts for which they sold me my poor stealthy little moments of joy; for I love them so! Think of it! a father hiding himself to get a glimpse of his children! I have given all my life to them, and to–day they will not give me one hour! I am hungering and thirsting for them, my heart is burning in me, but they will not come to bring relief in the agony, for I am dying now, I feel that this is death. Do they not know what it means to trample on a father’s corpse? There is a God in heaven who avenges us fathers whether we will or no.

“Oh! they will come! Come to me, darlings, and give me one more kiss; one last kiss, the Viaticum for your father, who will pray God for you in heaven. I will tell Him that you have been good children to your father, and plead your cause with God! After all, it is not their fault. I tell you they are innocent, my friend. Tell every one that it is not their fault, and no one need be distressed on my account. It is all my own fault, I taught them to trample upon me. I loved to have it so. It is no one’s affair but mine; man’s justice and God’s justice have nothing to do in it. God would be unjust if He condemned them for anything they may have done to me. I did not behave to them properly; I was stupid enough to resign my rights. I would have humbled myself in the dust for them. What could you expect? The most beautiful nature, the noblest soul, would have been spoiled by such indulgence. I am a wretch, I am justly punished. I, and I only, am to blame for all their sins; I spoiled them. To–day they are as eager for pleasure as they used to be for sugar–plums. When they were little girls I indulged them in every whim. They had a carriage of their own when they were fifteen. They have never been crossed. I am guilty, and not they—but I sinned through love.

“My heart would open at the sound of their voices. I can hear them; they are coming. Yes! yes! they are coming. The law demands that they should be present at their father’s deathbed; the law is on my side. It would only cost them the hire of a cab. I would pay that. Write to them, tell them that I have millions to leave to them! On my word of honor, yes. I am going to manufacture Italian paste foods at Odessa. I understand the trade. There are millions to be made in it. Nobody has thought of the scheme as yet. You see, there will be no waste, no damage in transit, as there always is with wheat and flour. Hey! hey! and starch too; there are millions to be made in the starch trade! You will not be telling a lie. Millions, tell them; and even if they really come because they covet the money, I would rather let them deceive me; and I shall see them in any case. I want my children! I gave them life; they are mine, mine!” and he sat upright. The head thus raised, with its scanty white hair, seemed to Eugene like a threat; every line that could still speak spoke of menace.

“There, there, dear father,” said Eugene, “lie down again; I will write to them at once. As soon as Bianchon comes back I will go for them myself, if they do not come before.”

“If they do not come?” repeated the old man, sobbing. “Why, I shall be dead before then; I shall die in a fit of rage, of rage! Anger is getting the better of me. I can see my whole life at this minute. I have been cheated! They do not love me—they have never loved me all their lives! It is all clear to me. They have not come, and they will not come. The longer they put off their coming, the less they are likely to give me this joy. I know them. They have never cared to guess my disappointments, my sorrows, my wants; they never cared to know my life; they will have no presentiment of my death; they do not even know the secret of my tenderness for them. Yes, I see it all now. I have laid my heart open so often, that they take everything I do for them as a matter of course. They might have asked me for the very eyes out of my head and I would have bidden them to pluck them out. They think that all fathers are like theirs. You should always make your value felt. Their own children will avenge me. Why, for their own sakes they should come to me! Make them understand that they are laying up retribution for their own deathbeds. All crimes are summed up in this one…. Go to them; just tell them that if they stay away it will be parricide! There is enough laid to their charge already without adding that to the list. Cry aloud as I do now, ’Nasie! Delphine! here! Come to your father; the father who has been so kind to you is lying ill!’—Not a sound; no one comes! Then am I to die like a dog? This is to be my reward—I am forsaken at the last. They are wicked, heartless women; curses on them, I loathe them. I shall rise at night from my grave to curse them again; for, after all, my friends, have I done wrong? They are behaving very badly to me, eh? …What am I saying? Did you not tell me just now that Delphine is in the room? She is more tender–hearted than her sister…. Eugene, you are my son, you know. You will love her; be a father to her! Her sister is very unhappy. And there are their fortunes! Ah, God! I am dying, this anguish is almost more than I can bear! Cut off my head; leave me nothing but my heart.”

“Christophe!” shouted Eugene, alarmed by the way in which the old man moaned, and by his cries, “go for M. Bianchon, and send a cab here for me.—I am going to fetch them, dear father; I will bring them back to you.”

“Make them come! Compel them to come! Call out the Guard, the military, anything and everything, but make them come!” He looked at Eugene, and a last gleam of intelligence shone in his eyes. “Go to the authorities, to the Public Prosecutor, let them bring them here; come they shall!”

“But you have cursed them.”

“Who said that!” said the old man in dull amazement. “You know quite well that I love them, I adore them! I shall be quite well again if I can see them…. Go for them, my good neighbor, my dear boy, you are kind–hearted; I wish I could repay you for your kindness, but I have nothing to give you now, save the blessing of a dying man. Ah! if I could only see Delphine, to tell her to pay my debt to you. If the other cannot come, bring Delphine to me at any rate. Tell her that unless she comes, you will not love her any more. She is so fond of you that she will come to me then. Give me something to drink! There is a fire in my bowels. Press something against my forehead! If my daughters would lay their hands there, I think I should get better…. Mon Dieu! who will recover their money for them when I am gone?…I will manufacture vermicelli out in Odessa; I will go to Odessa for their sakes.”

“Here is something to drink,” said Eugene, supporting the dying man on his left arm, while he held a cup of tisane to Goriot’s lips.

“How you must love your own father and mother!” said the old man, and grasped the student’s hand in both of his. It was a feeble, trembling grasp. “I am going to die; I shall die without seeing my daughters; do you understand? To be always thirsting, and never to drink; that has been my life for the last ten years…. I have no daughters, my sons–in–law killed them. No, since their marriages they have been dead to me. Fathers should petition the Chambers to pass a law against marriage. If you love your daughters, do not let them marry. A son–in–law is a rascal who poisons a girl’s mind and contaminates her whole nature. Let us have no more marriages! It robs us of our daughters; we are left alone upon our deathbeds, and they are not with us then. They ought to pass a law for dying fathers. This is awful! It cries for vengeance! They cannot come, because my sons–in–law forbid them!…Kill them!…Restaud and the Alsatian, kill them both! They have murdered me between them!…Death or my daughters!…Ah! it is too late, I am dying, and they are not here!…Dying without them!… Nasie! Fifine! Why do you not come to me? Your papa is going―”

“Dear Father Goriot, calm yourself. There, there, lie quietly and rest; don’t worry yourself, don’t think.”

“I shall not see them. Oh! the agony of it!”

“You shall see them.”

“Really?” cried the old man, still wandering. “Oh! shall I see them; I shall see them and hear their voices. I shall die happy. Ah! well, after all, I do not wish to live; I cannot stand this much longer; this pain that grows worse and worse. But, oh! to see them, to touch their dresses—ah! nothing but their dresses, that is very little; still, to feel something that belongs to them. Let me touch their hair with my fingers…their hair…”

His head fell back on the pillow, as if a sudden heavy blow had struck him down, but his hands groped feebly over the quilt, as if to find his daughters’ hair.

“My blessing on them…” he said, making an effort, “my blessing…”

His voice died away. Just at that moment Bianchon came into the room.

“I met Christophe,” he said; “he is gone for your cab.”

Then he looked at the patient, and raised the closed eyelids with his fingers. The two students saw how dead and lustreless the eyes beneath had grown.

“He will not get over this, I am sure,” said Bianchon. He felt the old man’s pulse, and laid a hand over his heart.

“The machinery works still; more is the pity, in his state it would be better for him to die.”

“Ah! my word, it would!”

“What is the matter with you? You are as pale as death.”

“Dear fellow, the moans and cries that I have just heard…. There is a God! Ah! yes, yes, there is a God, and He has made a better world for us, or this world of ours would be a nightmare. I could have cried like a child; but this is too tragical, and I am sick at heart.

“We want a lot of things, you know; and where is the money to come from?”

Rastignac took out his watch.

“There, be quick and pawn it. I do not want to stop on the way to the Rue du Helder; there is not a moment to lose, I am afraid, and I must wait here till Christophe comes back. I have not a farthing; I shall have to pay the cabman when I get home again.”

Rastignac rushed down the stairs, and drove off to the Rue du Helder. The awful scene through which he had just passed quickened his imagination, and he grew fiercely indignant. He reached Mme. de Restaud’s house only to be told by the servant that his mistress could see no one.

“But I have brought a message from her father, who is dying,” Rastignac told the man.

“The Count has given us the strictest orders, sir―”

“If it is M. de Restaud who has given the orders, tell him that his father–in–law is dying, and that I am here, and must speak with him at once.”

The man went out.

Eugene waited for a long while. “Perhaps her father is dying at this moment,” he thought.

Then the man came back, and Eugene followed him to the little drawing–room. M. de Restaud was standing before the fireless grate, and did not ask his visitor to seat himself.

“Monsieur le Comte,” said Rastignac, “M. Goriot, your father–in–law, is lying at the point of death in a squalid den in the Latin Quarter. He has not a penny to pay for firewood; he is expected to die at any moment, and keeps calling for his daughter―”

“I feel very little affection for M. Goriot, sir, as you probably are aware,” the Count answered coolly. “His character has been compromised in connection with Mme. de Restaud; he is the author of the misfortunes that have embittered my life and troubled my peace of mind. It is a matter of perfect indifference to me if he lives or dies. Now you know my feelings with regard to him. Public opinion may blame me, but I care nothing for public opinion. Just now I have other and much more important matters to think about than the things that fools and chatterers may say about me. As for Mme. de Restaud, she cannot leave the house; she is in no condition to do so. And, besides, I shall not allow her to leave it. Tell her father that as soon as she has done her duty by her husband and child she shall go to see him. If she has any love for her father, she can be free to go to him, if she chooses, in a few seconds; it lies entirely with her―”

“Monsieur le Comte, it is no business of mine to criticise your conduct; you can do as you please with your wife, but may I count upon your keeping your word with me? Well, then, promise me to tell her that her father has not twenty–four hours to live; that he looks in vain for her, and has cursed her already as he lies on his deathbed,—that is all I ask.”

“You can tell her yourself,” the Count answered, impressed by the thrill of indignation in Eugene’s voice.

The Count led the way to the room where his wife usually sat. She was drowned in tears, and lay crouching in the depths of an armchair, as if she were tired of life and longed to die. It was piteous to see her. Before venturing to look at Rastignac, she glanced at her husband in evident and abject terror that spoke of complete prostration of body and mind; she seemed crushed by a tyranny both mental and physical. The Count jerked his head towards her; she construed this as a permission to speak.

“I heard all that you said, monsieur. Tell my father that if he knew all he would forgive me…. I did not think there was such torture in the world as this; it is more than I can endure, monsieur!—But I will not give way as long as I live,” she said, turning to her husband. “I am a mother.—Tell my father that I have never sinned against him in spite of appearances!” she cried aloud in her despair.

Eugene bowed to the husband and wife; he guessed the meaning of the scene, and that this was a terrible crisis in the Countess’ life. M. de Restaud’s manner had told him that his errand was a fruitless one; he saw that Anastasie had no longer any liberty of action. He came away mazed and bewildered, and hurried to Mme. de Nucingen. Delphine was in bed.

“Poor dear Eugene, I am ill,” she said. “I caught cold after the ball, and I am afraid of pneumonia. I am waiting for the doctor to come.”

“If you were at death’s door,” Eugene broke in, “you must be carried somehow to your father. He is calling for you. If you could hear the faintest of those cries, you would not feel ill any longer.”

“Eugene, I dare say my father is not quite so ill as you say; but I cannot bear to do anything that you do not approve, so I will do just as you wish. As for him, he would die of grief I know if I went out to see him and brought on a dangerous illness. Well, I will go as soon as I have seen the doctor.—Ah!” she cried out, “you are not wearing your watch, how is that?”

Eugene reddened.

“Eugene, Eugene! if you have sold it already or lost it…. Oh! it would be very wrong of you!”

The student bent over Delphine and said in her ear, “Do you want to know? Very well, then, you shall know. Your father has nothing left to pay for the shroud that they will lay him in this evening. Your watch has been pawned, for I had nothing either.”

Delphine sprang out of bed, ran to her desk, and took out her purse. She gave it to Eugene, and rang the bell, crying:

“I will go, I will go at once, Eugene. Leave me, I will dress. Why, I should be an unnatural daughter! Go back; I will be there before you.—Therese,” she called to the waiting–woman, “ask M. de Nucingen to come upstairs at once and speak to me.”

Eugene was almost happy when he reached the Rue Nueve–Sainte–Genevieve; he was so glad to bring the news to the dying man that one of his daughters was coming. He fumbled in Delphine’s purse for money, so as to dismiss the cab at once; and discovered that the young, beautiful, and wealthy woman of fashion had only seventy francs in her private purse. He climbed the stairs and found Bianchon supporting Goriot, while the house surgeon from the hospital was applying moxas to the patient’s back—under the direction of the physician, it was the last expedient of science, and it was tried in vain.

“Can you feel them?” asked the physician. But Goriot had caught sight of Rastignac, and answered, “They are coming, are they not?”

“There is hope yet,” said the surgeon; “he can speak.”

“Yes,” said Eugene, “Delphine is coming.”

“Oh! that is nothing!” said Bianchon; “he has been talking about his daughters all the time. He calls for them as a man impaled calls for water, they say―”

“We may as well give up,” said the physician, addressing the surgeon. “Nothing more can be done now; the case is hopeless.”

Bianchon and the house surgeon stretched the dying man out again on his loathsome bed.

“But the sheets ought to be changed,” added the physician. “Even if there is no hope left, something is due to human nature. I shall come back again, Bianchon,” he said, turning to the medical student. “If he complains again, rub some laudanum over the diaphragm.”

He went, and the house surgeon went with him.

“Come, Eugene, pluck up heart, my boy,” said Bianchon, as soon as they were alone; “we must set about changing his sheets, and put him into a clean shirt. Go and tell Sylvie to bring some sheets and come and help us to make the bed.”

Eugene went downstairs, and found Mme. Vauquer engaged in setting the table; Sylvie was helping her. Eugene had scarcely opened his mouth before the widow walked up to him with the acidulous sweet smile of a cautious shopkeeper who is anxious neither to lose money nor to offend a customer.

“My dear Monsieur Eugene,” she said, when he had spoken, “you know quite as well as I do that Father Goriot has not a brass farthing left. If you give out clean linen for a man who is just going to turn up his eyes, you are not likely to see your sheets again, for one is sure to be wanted to wrap him in. Now, you owe me a hundred and forty–four francs as it is, add forty francs for the pair of sheets, and then there are several little things, besides the candle that Sylvie will give you; altogether it will all mount up to at least two hundred francs, which is more than a poor widow like me can afford to lose. Lord! now, Monsieur Eugene, look at it fairly. I have lost quite enough in these five days since this run of ill–luck set in for me. I would rather than ten crowns that the old gentlemen had moved out as you said. It sets the other lodgers against the house. It would not take much to make me send him to the workhouse. In short, just put yourself in my place. I have to think of my establishment first, for I have my own living to make.”

Eugene hurried up to Goriot’s room.

“Bianchon,” he cried, “the money for the watch?”

“There it is on the table, or the three hundred and sixty odd francs that are left of it. I paid up all the old scores out of it before they let me have the things. The pawn ticket lies there under the money.”

Rastignac hurried downstairs.

“Here, madame” he said in disgust, “let us square accounts. M. Goriot will not stay much longer in your house, nor shall I―”

“Yes, he will go out feet foremost, poor old gentleman,” she said, counting the francs with a half–facetious, half–lugubrious expression.

“Let us get this over,” said Rastignac.

“Sylvie, look out some sheets, and go upstairs to help the gentlemen.”

“You won’t forget Sylvie,” said Mme. Vauquer in Eugene’s ear; “she has been sitting up these two nights.”

As soon as Eugene’s back was turned, the old woman hurried after her handmaid.

“Take the sheets that have had the sides turned into the middle, number 7. Lord! they are plenty good enough for a corpse,” she said in Sylvie’s ear.

Eugene, by this time, was part of the way upstairs, and did not overhear the elderly economist.

“Quick,” said Bianchon, “let us change his shirt. Hold him upright.”

Eugene went to the head of the bed and supported the dying man, while Bianchon drew off his shirt; and then Goriot made a movement as if he tried to clutch something to his breast, uttering a low inarticulate moaning the while, like some dumb animal in mortal pain.

“Ah! yes!” cried Bianchon. “It is the little locket and the chain made of hair that he wants; we took it off a while ago when we put the blisters on him. Poor fellow! he must have it again. There it lies on the chimney–piece.”

Eugene went to the chimney–piece and found the little plait of faded golden hair—Mme. Goriot’s hair, no doubt. He read the name on the little round locket, ANASTASIE on the one side, DELPHINE on the other. It was the symbol of his own heart that the father always wore on his breast. The curls of hair inside the locket were so fine and soft that is was plain they had been taken from two childish heads. When the old man felt the locket once more, his chest heaved with a long deep sigh of satisfaction, like a groan. It was something terrible to see, for it seemed as if the last quiver of the nerves were laid bare to their eyes, the last communication of sense to the mysterious point within whence our sympathies come and whither they go. A delirious joy lighted up the distorted face. The terrific and vivid force of the feeling that had survived the power of thought made such an impression on the students, that the dying man felt their hot tears falling on him, and gave a shrill cry of delight.

“Nasie! Fifine!”

“There is life in him yet,” said Bianchon.

“What does he go on living for?” said Sylvie.

“To suffer,” answered Rastignac.

Bianchon made a sign to his friend to follow his example, knelt down and pressed his arms under the sick man, and Rastignac on the other side did the same, so that Sylvie, standing in readiness, might draw the sheet from beneath and replace it with the one that she had brought. Those tears, no doubt, had misled Goriot; for he gathered up all his remaining strength in a last effort, stretched out his hands, groped for the students’ heads, and as his fingers caught convulsively at their hair, they heard a faint whisper:

“Ah! my angels!”

Two words, two inarticulate murmurs, shaped into words by the soul which fled forth with them as they left his lips.

“Poor dear!” cried Sylvie, melted by that exclamation; the expression of the great love raised for the last time to a sublime height by that most ghastly and involuntary of lies.

The father’s last breath must have been a sigh of joy, and in that sigh his whole life was summed up; he was cheated even at the last. They laid Father Goriot upon his wretched bed with reverent hands. Thenceforward there was no expression on his face, only the painful traces of the struggle between life and death that was going on in the machine; for that kind of cerebral consciousness that distinguishes between pleasure and pain in a human being was extinguished; it was only a question of time—and the mechanism itself would be destroyed.

“He will lie like this for several hours, and die so quietly at last, that we shall not know when he goes; there will be no rattle in the throat. The brain must be completely suffused.”

As he spoke there was a footstep on the staircase, and a young woman hastened up, panting for breath.

“She has come too late,” said Rastignac.

But it was not Delphine; it was Therese, her waiting–woman, who stood in the doorway.

“Monsieur Eugene,” she said, “monsieur and madame have had a terrible scene about some money that Madame (poor thing!) wanted for her father. She fainted, and the doctor came, and she had to be bled, calling out all the while, ’My father is dying; I want to see papa!’ It was heartbreaking to hear her―”

“That will do, Therese. If she came now, it would be trouble thrown away. M. Goriot cannot recognize any one now.”

“Poor, dear gentleman, is he as bad at that?” said Therese.

“You don’t want me now, I must go and look after my dinner; it is half–past four,” remarked Sylvie. The next instant she all but collided with Mme. de Restaud on the landing outside.

There was something awful and appalling in the sudden apparition of the Countess. She saw the bed of death by the dim light of the single candle, and her tears flowed at the sight of her father’s passive features, from which the life had almost ebbed. Bianchon with thoughtful tact left the room.

“I could not escape soon enough,” she said to Rastignac.

The student bowed sadly in reply. Mme. de Restaud took her father’s hand and kissed it.

“Forgive me, father! You used to say that my voice would call you back from the grave; ah! come back for one moment to bless your penitent daughter. Do you hear me? Oh! this is fearful! No one on earth will ever bless me henceforth; every one hates me; no one loves me but you in all the world. My own children will hate me. Take me with you, father; I will love you, I will take care of you. He does not hear me … I am mad…”

She fell on her knees, and gazed wildly at the human wreck before her.

“My cup of misery is full,” she said, turning her eyes upon Eugene. “M. de Trailles has fled, leaving enormous debts behind him, and I have found out that he was deceiving me. My husband will never forgive me, and I have left my fortune in his hands. I have lost all my illusions. Alas! I have forsaken the one heart that loved me (she pointed to her father as she spoke), and for whom? I have held his kindness cheap, and slighted his affection; many and many a time I have given him pain, ungrateful wretch that I am!”

“He knew it,” said Rastignac.

Just then Goriot’s eyelids unclosed; it was only a muscular contraction, but the Countess’ sudden start of reviving hope was no less dreadful than the dying eyes.

“Is it possible that he can hear me?” cried the Countess. “No,” she answered herself, and sat down beside the bed. As Mme. de Restaud seemed to wish to sit by her father, Eugene went down to take a little food. The boarders were already assembled.

“Well,” remarked the painter, as he joined them, “it seems that there is to be a death–orama upstairs.”

“Charles, I think you might find something less painful to joke about,” said Eugene.

“So we may not laugh here?” returned the painter. “What harm does it do? Bianchon said that the old man was quite insensible.”

“Well, then,” said the employe from the Museum, “he will die as he has lived.”

“My father is dead!” shrieked the Countess.

The terrible cry brought Sylvie, Rastignac, and Bianchon; Mme. de Restaud had fainted away. When she recovered they carried her downstairs, and put her into the cab that stood waiting at the door. Eugene sent Therese with her, and bade the maid take the Countess to Mme. de Nucingen.

Bianchon came down to them.

“Yes, he is dead,” he said.

“Come, sit down to dinner, gentlemen,” said Mme. Vauquer, “or the soup will be cold.”

The two students sat down together.

“What is the next thing to be done?” Eugene asked of Bianchon.

“I have closed his eyes and composed his limbs,” said Bianchon. “When the certificate has been officially registered at the Mayor’s office, we will sew him in his winding sheet and bury him somewhere. What do you think we ought to do?”

“He will not smell at his bread like this any more,” said the painter, mimicking the old man’s little trick.

“Oh, hang it all!” cried the tutor, “let Father Goriot drop, and let us have something else for a change. He is a standing dish, and we have had him with every sauce this hour or more. It is one of the privileges of the good city of Paris that anybody may be born, or live, or die there without attracting any attention whatsoever. Let us profit by the advantages of civilization. There are fifty or sixty deaths every day; if you have a mind to do it, you can sit down at any time and wail over whole hecatombs of dead in Paris. Father Goriot has gone off the hooks, has he? So much the better for him. If you venerate his memory, keep it to yourselves, and let the rest of us feed in peace.”

“Oh, to be sure,” said the widow, “it is all the better for him that he is dead. It looks as though he had had trouble enough, poor soul, while he was alive.”

And this was all the funeral oration delivered over him who had been for Eugene the type and embodiment of Fatherhood.

The fifteen lodgers began to talk as usual. When Bianchon and Eugene had satisfied their hunger, the rattle of spoons and forks, the boisterous conversation, the expressions on the faces that bespoke various degrees of want of feeling, gluttony, or indifference, everything about them made them shiver with loathing. They went out to find a priest to watch that night with the dead. It was necessary to measure their last pious cares by the scanty sum of money that remained. Before nine o’clock that evening the body was laid out on the bare sacking of the bedstead in the desolate room; a lighted candle stood on either side, and the priest watched at the foot. Rastignac made inquiries of this latter as to the expenses of the funeral, and wrote to the Baron de Nucingen and the Comte de Restaud, entreating both gentlemen to authorize their man of business to defray the charges of laying their father–in–law in the grave. He sent Christophe with the letters; then he went to bed, tired out, and slept.

Next day Bianchon and Rastignac were obliged to take the certificate to the registrar themselves, and by twelve o’clock the formalities were completed. Two hours went by, no word came from the Count nor from the Baron; nobody appeared to act for them, and Rastignac had already been obliged to pay the priest. Sylvie asked ten francs for sewing the old man in his winding–sheet and making him ready for the grave, and Eugene and Bianchon calculated that they had scarcely sufficient to pay for the funeral, if nothing was forthcoming from the dead man’s family. So it was the medical student who laid him in a pauper’s coffin, despatched from Bianchon’s hospital, whence he obtained it at a cheaper rate.

“Let us play those wretches a trick,” said he. “Go to the cemetery, buy a grave for five years at Pere–Lachaise, and arrange with the Church and the undertaker to have a third–class funeral. If the daughters and their husbands decline to repay you, you can carve this on the headstone—’Here lies M. Goriot, father of the Comtesse de Restaud and the Baronne de Nucingen, interred at the expense of two students.’”

Eugene took part of his friend’s advice, but only after he had gone in person first to M. and Mme. de Nucingen, and then to M. and Mme. de Restaud—a fruitless errand. He went no further than the doorstep in either house. The servants had received strict orders to admit no one.

“Monsieur and Madame can see no visitors. They have just lost their father, and are in deep grief over their loss.”

Eugene’s Parisian experience told him that it was idle to press the point. Something clutched strangely at his heart when he saw that it was impossible to reach Delphine.

“Sell some of your ornaments,” he wrote hastily in the porter’s room, “so that your father may be decently laid in his last resting–place.”

He sealed the note, and begged the porter to give it to Therese for her mistress; but the man took it to the Baron de Nucingen, who flung the note into the fire. Eugene, having finished his errands, returned to the lodging–house about three o’clock. In spite of himself, the tears came into his eyes. The coffin, in its scanty covering of black cloth, was standing there on the pavement before the gate, on two chairs. A withered sprig of hyssop was soaking in the holy water bowl of silver–plated copper; there was not a soul in the street, not a passer–by had stopped to sprinkle the coffin; there was not even an attempt at a black drapery over the wicket. It was a pauper who lay there; no one made a pretence of mourning for him; he had neither friends nor kindred—there was no one to follow him to the grave.

Bianchon’s duties compelled him to be at the hospital, but he had left a few lines for Eugene, telling his friend about the arrangements he had made for the burial service. The house student’s note told Rastignac that a mass was beyond their means, that the ordinary office for the dead was cheaper, and must suffice, and that he had sent word to the undertaker by Christophe. Eugene had scarcely finished reading Bianchon’s scrawl, when he looked up and saw the little circular gold locket that contained the hair of Goriot’s two daughters in Mme. Vauquer’s hands.

“How dared you take it?” he asked.

“Good Lord! is that to be buried along with him?” retorted Sylvie. “It is gold.”

“Of course it shall!” Eugene answered indignantly; “he shall at any rate take one thing that may represent his daughters into the grave with him.”

When the hearse came, Eugene had the coffin carried into the house again, unscrewed the lid, and reverently laid on the old man’s breast the token that recalled the days when Delphine and Anastasie were innocent little maidens, before they began “to think for themselves,” as he had moaned out in his agony.

Rastignac and Christophe and the two undertaker’s men were the only followers of the funeral. The Church of Saint–Etienne du Mont was only a little distance from the Rue Nueve–Sainte–Genevieve. When the coffin had been deposited in a low, dark, little chapel, the law student looked round in vain for Goriot’s two daughters or their husbands. Christophe was his only fellow–mourner; Christophe, who appeared to think it was his duty to attend the funeral of the man who had put him in the way of such handsome tips. As they waited there in the chapel for the two priests, the chorister, and the beadle, Rastignac grasped Christophe’s hand. He could not utter a word just then.

“Yes, Monsieur Eugene,” said Christophe, “he was a good and worthy man, who never said one word louder than another; he never did any one any harm, and gave nobody any trouble.”

The two priests, the chorister, and the beadle came, and said and did as much as could be expected for seventy francs in an age when religion cannot afford to say prayers for nothing.

The ecclesiatics chanted a psalm, the Libera nos and the De profundis. The whole service lasted about twenty minutes. There was but one mourning coach, which the priest and chorister agreed to share with Eugene and Christophe.

“There is no one else to follow us,” remarked the priest, “so we may as well go quickly, and so save time; it is half–past five.”

But just as the coffin was put in the hearse, two empty carriages, with the armorial bearings of the Comte de Restaud and the Baron de Nucingen, arrived and followed in the procession to Pere–Lachaise. At six o’clock Goriot’s coffin was lowered into the grave, his daughters’ servants standing round the while. The ecclesiastic recited the short prayer that the students could afford to pay for, and then both priest and lackeys disappeared at once. The two grave diggers flung in several spadefuls of earth, and then stopped and asked Rastignac for their fee. Eugene felt in vain in his pocket, and was obliged to borrow five francs of Christophe. This thing, so trifling in itself, gave Rastignac a terrible pang of distress. It was growing dusk, the damp twilight fretted his nerves; he gazed down into the grave and the tears he shed were drawn from him by the sacred emotion, a single–hearted sorrow. When such tears fall on earth, their radiance reaches heaven. And with that tear that fell on Father Goriot’s grave, Eugene Rastignac’s youth ended. He folded his arms and gazed at the clouded sky; and Christophe, after a glance at him, turned and went—Rastignac was left alone.

He went a few paces further, to the highest point of the cemetery, and looked out over Paris and the windings of the Seine; the lamps were beginning to shine on either side of the river. His eyes turned almost eagerly to the space between the column of the Place Vendome and the cupola of the Invalides; there lay the shining world that he had wished to reach. He glanced over that humming hive, seeming to draw a foretaste of its honey, and said magniloquently:

“Henceforth there is war between us.”

And by way of throwing down the glove to Society, Rastignac went to dine with Mme. de Nucingen.