Ralliement: Le Régiment perdu, T1 (FANTASY) (French Edition)
For when Hilperik was besieged by Sigebert in the city of Tournai and sore pressed, Fredegond saw her enemy delivered into her hand. They murdered him as he sat at table, and were instantly cut to pieces by the courtiers. Hilperik at once took advantage of the confusion to march on Paris, and the horror of Brunhilda may be imagined as she realised that the murderer of her husband and of her sister was approaching the city in which the widow and her three orphans were defenceless.
Her son afterwards the second Hildebert , was then but five years old, and by the help of Gundobald she was able to contrive his escape, lowering him in a basket through an opening in the city walls. Then began another act in this dark drama, which ended very differently to the expectations of Fredegond. For with his father had come young Merowig to Paris, and whether from fascinations that had some deep ulterior design, or whether as is more probable 29 from the natural attraction felt by the young warrior for a lovely princess in distress, Merowig fell hopelessly in love with the fair Brunhilda, who was but twenty-eight and could have been very little older than her second husband.
He saw, however, the danger of prematurely confessing his passion, and quietly went off on a foraging expedition to Berri and Touraine at the bidding of his father. But, no doubt, he was aware before starting of Hilperik's intention to send Brunhilda to Rouen; for it was not long before he marched northwards after a visit to his mother Audowere in her prison at Le Mans ,  and came to Rouen himself. The meeting cannot have been a surprise to the daughter of the Spanish Goths, and whatever may have been her intentions, she proved so willing to console herself that a very short time elapsed before she was the wife of Merowig.
Strangely enough the Bishop of Rouen at the time was the same Pretextatus who had been Merowig's godfather at his baptism. But it was not merely canonical law, or even certain sentimental precepts, that were offended by a union that was later on to cost its celebrant his life. The suspicions of Hilperik were instantly aroused. Brunhilda's young son had already been accepted as their King by the Austrasian warriors at Metz. Now Brunhilda herself had taken what was evidently the second step in a 30 deep-laid plot to reassert her own superiority and ruin Neustria.
It can have scarcely needed the hatred of Fredegond, both for her natural rival and for the son of Audowere, to urge Hilperik to speedy action. He hastened to Rouen with such swiftness that the newly-married pair were entirely taken by surprise in the first few months of their new happiness. They fled for sanctuary to the little wooden church of St. Martin, whose timbers rested on the very ramparts of the town. No entreaties nor cajoleries at first availed to make them leave their refuge.
At last, they agreed to come out if the King would swear not to separate them. His oath was a crafty one as it is given by Gregory of Tours: For after two or three days of feasting and apparent reconciliation he hurried off with the unwilling bridegroom in his train, and left Brunhilda under a strict guard at Rouen. The very first incident that followed this unhappy marriage was the siege of Soissons by the men of Neustria, and in this coincidence the King saw further confirmation of the plots of Brunhilda in which she had so nearly secured the assistance of Merowig against Fredegond and his father.
He at once ordered his miserable son, whose intellect was incapable of ambitious schemes, and whose only fault had been an unconsidered passion, to be stripped of his arms, and to have the long hair cut from his head that was a mark of royal blood. The later adventures of the wretched Merowig, an exile and an outlaw, hunted through his father's kingdom, are too intricate to follow. After a long imprisonment in the sanctuary of Tours Cathedral, he escaped only to be murdered by the emissaries of the implacable Fredegond in a 31 farmhouse north of Arras.
Meanwhile his wife, Brunhilda, had long ago been set free to go from Rouen to Austrasia. She was safer across the border, while the follies of another Merowig might make her dangerous. Her flight, at this unexpected opportunity of freedom, was so rapid that she left the greater part of her baggage and treasure with the Bishop of Rouen, who was once more unwise enough to compromise himself in order to be of service to his godchild's wife.
For Pretextatus not only supplied Merowig with money in his various efforts to escape, but was so careless in his demands upon the friendship of the surrounding nobles, and in scattering bribes to gain them over, that his treasonable practices soon came to the ears of Hilperik. That avaricious and perpetually needy ruler was not long in securing the remainder of the treasure of which tidings had so opportunely reached him, and he then immediately summoned Pretextatus to answer before a solemn ecclesiastical council in Paris, as to his relations with Brunhilda, and his disposition of the money she had left with him.
The celebrated trial that followed, of which Gregory of Tours was at once the historian and the noblest figure, was ended by the brutal interference of Fredegond, who could not be patient with the law's delays, and forced the Bishop of Rouen to fly for refuge to the island of Jersey where he lived in exile for some years, until the time arrived for Fredegond's full vengeance to be consummated.
That time was marked, as was every crisis in the blood-stained career of Fredegond, by a murder. The weak and effeminate King himself fell a victim, and was slain in by unknown assassins as he was out hunting. Leav 32 ing for awhile in peace the old ecclesiastic who had had the insolence to come back to the dignities from which she had driven him, Fredegond turned at once to plot the destruction of her lifelong enemy, Brunhilda, who was now in a position of far greater security and honour than herself.
But her emissary was obliged to return unsuccessful, and had his feet and hands cut off for his pains. A second attempt upon both mother and son failed equally, and then Fredegond, balked of her higher prey, took the victim that was nearest, and went out from Rueil to Rouen. It was not long before the quarrel that she sought was occasioned by the bishop, who seems to have added to his usual unwisdom a courage born of the hardships of seven years of exile.
Answering a taunt flung at him by the deposed queen, he bitterly drew the contrast between their present positions, and their former relation to each other, and bade Fredegond look to the salvation of her soul and the education of her son, and leave the wickedness that had stained so many years of her life with blood. She left him on the instant and without a word, "felle fervens," says Gregory; and indeed it was not long before her vengeance broke out in the usual way.
As the bishop knelt in prayer soon afterwards before the altar of the Cathedral, her assassin drove his knife beneath his armpit, and Pretextatus was carried bleeding mortally to his chamber. Thither came the queen to gloat over her latest victim, begging him to say whose hand it was had done the deed, that so due punishment might be at once exacted. But he knew well who was the real murderess. The whole town was cast into distress and bitter mourning by this pitiless assassination, and Fredegond 33 had accomplished her will with so much cunning that the crime could with the greatest difficulty be legally traced to its true origin.
For she had taken advantage of the ecclesiastical jealousy which unfortunately existed side by side with the popular reverence and love. Melantius, who had for seven years enjoyed the privileges of office and dispensed his favours in the bishopric, had seen himself deposed with very mingled feelings by the exile from Jersey. His own nominees were doubtless not unwilling to emphasise his grievance, and Fredegond found in his disappointed ambition a soil only too ready to receive the poisonous seed she was so anxious to implant.
Among the inferior clergy was an archdeacon whose hatred of Pretextatus was as great, and more reckless in its expression. By him a slave was easily discovered ready to commit this or any other crime on the promise of freedom for himself and his family. A guarantee of favours to come was provided in some ready money paid beforehand, and the blow was struck while Pretextatus prayed. Romans and Franks alike were horrified at the dastardly outrage.
The former could scarcely act outside the city walls, but the Franks felt more secure in the ancient privileges of their race, and some of their nobles at once gave public expression to the hatred felt by every citizen for the instigator of the crime. Led by one of their own chiefs, a deputation of these Frankish nobles rode up to Fredegond's palace at Rueil. They delivered a message to the effect that justice should be done, and that the murderess must at last put a term to all her crimes. Her reply was even more rapid and fearless than usual. She handed the speaker a cup of honeyed wine, after the custom of his country; he drank the poison, and fell dead upon the spot.
A kind of panic fell upon his comrades, and extended even to the town of Rouen itself. Like some monstrous incarnation of evil, Fredegond seemed to have settled 34 near their city, followed by a trail of death. Her very breath, it was imagined, exhaled the poisons of the sorcery and witchcraft that accompanied and rendered possible her countless assassinations. She seemed beyond the pale of human interference, and invested with some infernal omnipotence that baffled all pursuit or vengeance. Every church in Rouen closed its doors, for the head of their Church lay foully murdered, and his murderer was not yet punished.
Leudowald of Bayeux took over the sacred office in the interval of consternation that ensued, before another successor could be appointed, and he insisted that not another Mass should be celebrated throughout the diocese until the criminal had been brought to justice. Night and day he had to pay the penalty for his boldness by being forced to keep careful guard against the hired bravos of his unscrupulous enemy, who was now fairly started in a career of bloodshed, that she would never end until her vengeance was complete.
At last she wore out his courage and his strength alike, and the inquiry gradually faded away before the persistent and sinister vindictiveness of the royal witch at Rueil. She soon was strong enough to put her creature Melantius back in his episcopal chair, and he was content to officiate upon the very stones that were still stained with the innocent blood of Pretextatus. One more proof of the absolute mastery her intrigues had given her was afforded by Fredegond's next action.
Its heartless cynicism was but a natural consequence of so much previous guilt. For she deliberately summoned before her the slave whose assassin's knife she had bought, reproached him openly with his hideous crime, and handed him over to the dead bishop's relations. Under torture this miserable wretch confessed the full details of the murder, the names of his accomplices, and the guilt of Fredegond. The nephew of Pretextatus, apparently aware that he would 35 never get satisfaction on the principals, leapt upon the prey that had so contemptuously been flung to him, and cut the slave to pieces with his sword.
And this was the sole reparation that was ever given for the murder of the bishop. But the people never forgot the Pretextatus who lived for centuries in their memory as a martyred saint. His terrible fate has more than atoned, in their eyes, for the impolitic events of his earlier life, or his unwise affection for the unfortunate prince he had baptised.https://heaconkasecil.ml/252.php
The Story of Rouen , Sir Theodore Andrea Cook
With this last crime that part of the Merovingian tragedy with which Rouen is connected comes to a close. Nor have I space here to follow out the actors to the curtain's fall. In other pages their various fortunes and their dark calamities may be followed to a conclusion. The next chapter in the history of the town is that of the Northmen, and of the founding of that mighty dynasty which was to spread its rule across the Channel, and to gather the towns of England under the same sceptre that swayed the citizens of Rouen. But before the coming of the Northmen, there are a few more slight facts that I must chronicle if only to explain the desert and the ruins that alone were Rouen when the first pirate galley swept up to the quay and anchored close to where the western door of the Cathedral now looks out across the Parvis.
The monk Fridegode relates that it was in that the first stones of what was afterwards to be the famous Abbey of St. Ouen  were laid by the first Hlothair. Others say that a church founded nearly two centuries before was restored by the son of Hlotild 36 the holy Queen and dedicated first to the Holy Apostles, and then to St.
Its name was changed to the one it bears now in when the body of St. Ouen was moved there on Ascension Day three years after his death. But not a trace of the original church remains, and most probably it was built almost entirely of wood, like that shrine of St. Martin in which Brunhilda and her young husband fled for sanctuary in about the year Its history is chiefly confined to the airy fantasies of poets, and is completely justified of its existence by Beranger's verses:.
Early in the next century occurs the name of a saint who was destined to be famous in the story of the town 37 from its earliest days of civic life until the chaos of the Revolution, in which the old order fell to pieces and carried so many picturesque and harmless ceremonies into the limbo where it swept away the ancient abuses of despotic monarchy. For with the name of St.
Romain, who enlarged St. Mellon's primitive "cathedral" even more than St. Victrice had done, is connected one of the most extraordinary privileges that any ecclesiastical body ever possessed. The list of the prisoners who bore the "Fierte Saint Romain"  extends from to , the chapel where the ceremony was performed still stands in the Place de la Haute Vieille Tour, and the manuscripts in which the released prisoners' names with their accomplices and crimes are recorded, furnish some of the 38 most interesting and practically unknown details of the intimate life of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
I shall have occasion to refer to them so fully later on that I must for the present confine myself merely to abolishing a myth, and laying some slight foundation for the facts that are to follow—facts so astonishing and so authentic that they need no aid from legend or romance.
Yet the miracle that is related to-day about St. Romain is so persistent and so widely spread, that it must be told, if only to explain the many allusions contained in picture, in carving, and in song,  throughout the tale of Rouen, and in the very stones and windows of her most sacred buildings. The story is but another variant of our own St.
Martha and the Tarasque in Provence, of many others in almost every country. It is but one more personification of that struggle of Good against Evil, Light against Darkness, Truth against Error, Civilisation against Barbarism, which is as old as the book of Genesis and as the history of the world. It has been represented by Apollo and the python, by Anubis and the serpent, by the Grand'gueule of Poitiers, by the dragons of Louvain and of St. The general truth was appropriated by each particular locality until every church and town had its peculiar monster slain by its especial saint.
Thus at Bordeaux there was St. Martial, thus Metz had St. Vigor, Rouen had St. The emblem of eternal strife had become a universal allegory acceptable in every place and in all centuries, and so commonly believed, that until some poignant necessity arose for its assertion, 39 it was never—as we shall see—mentioned even by those historians of the life of St. Romain, who might more especially be expected to know the details of his life.
Romain, so the fable runs, delivered Rouen from an immense and voracious monster, called the "Gargouille," who dwelt in the morasses and reed-beds of the river, and devoured the inhabitants of the town. All this is a very pretty example of a holy hypothesis constructed to explain facts that arose in a very different manner; and though it is no pleasant task to undermine a picturesque belief, yet the chain of events which led to its universal acceptance are too remarkable to be left without a firm historical basis, or at any rate a suggestion more in accordance with the science of dates than that which was related by the Church throughout so many centuries.
For there is no disputing that if the "miracle" had in actual fact occurred, some mention would have been made of it after the death of St. Romain in , or at any rate after , when the historians had the whole life of St. Ouen and his times to describe. Ouen himself nor Dudo of St. In , when an assembly was held by William the Conqueror at Lillebonne, with the express object of regulating privileges, not a word was said by the Archbishop of Rouen there present about the most extraordinary privilege enjoyed by his chapter.
It is only at the beginning of the thirteenth century that the inevitable quarrels between the civil and ecclesiastical powers over a criminal claimed by both can first be traced; and it may be safely argued that while the privilege was not questioned it did not exist. It is as late as that the first mention of the famous "Gargouille" itself occurs in any reputable document. There are, therefore, far more numerous and more authentic traces of the privilege than of the miracle; the effect is undoubted; it remains to conjecture its prime cause; and as I shall show at greater length in its right place, there is every reason to believe that the origin of the privilege was one of the great Mystery Plays of the Ascension, and that it was first exercised between and Romain's firm stand against the old dragon of idolatry and paganism, whose last remnants were swept out of Normandy by his firm and militant Christianity.
This is an age of great churchmen. While the Roman Empire lasted, the Church had been dependent and submissive to the Emperors. When the Franks arrived her attitude was changed, for to these barbarous and ungodly strangers she stood as a beneficent superior, and a steadfast shield over the Gallo-Roman people. So it was that the bishops became the protectors of towns, the counsellors of kings, the owners of large and rich tracts of land, the sole possessors of knowledge and of letters in an age of darkest brutality and ignorance.
With the names of St. Romain in Normandy at this time are bound up those of St. Herbland, under whose protection was one of the oldest parishes of Rouen. His church stood until quite modern years in the Parvis of the Cathedral at the end of the Rue de la Grosse Horloge. On various islands in the stream, for the very soil of Rouen at this time was as uncertain as its chronicles, were built the chapels to St.
Eloi, and other saints. From there the line passed to the Place de la Calende and the Eau de Robec, while the fourth side was marked by the waters of the Robec itself. This was the Rouen which welcomed Charlemagne in , who came to celebrate Easter in the Cathedral he was to benefit so largely, among the canons who had only been organised into a regular chapter, living in one community, about nine years before. The great Emperor not only helped the Cathedral in his lifetime, but left it a legacy in his will, for the town, in gratitude for his benefactions, had furnished twenty-eight "ships" to help him pursue his enemies, out of the fleet which had already begun to exploit the rich commercial possibilities of Britain, and to enter into trading engagements even with the Byzantine emperors.
With the second coming of Charlemagne at the dawn of the ninth century, the next period in the history of Rouen closes. At his death the semblance of an empire, into which his mighty personality had welded the warring anarchies of Western Europe, crumbled back into its constituent fragments. His was an empire wholly aristocratic, and wholly German. After Charles Martel had driven out the Saracens from Tours and Poitiers, it absorbed Gaul also in its rule, but Charlemagne was never other than a Teutonic ruler over Franks.
He was one of the makers of Europe but not one of the creators of the Kingdom of France. It was not until his empire crumbled at his death that those persistent entities, France and Germany, made their appearance. But Normandy had much to go through before she became a part of that kingdom which she did so much to make. In a great fire had destroyed most of the city of Rouen. Thirty years later a plague had decimated her inhabitants.
The Merovingians had 43 left her ruined and depopulated. Though spasmodic efforts at prosperity and strength appeared during the great Emperor's lifetime, the town had not yet reached anything approaching to a solid basis of civic or commercial power. Its attempts were ruined by the anarchy that followed Charlemagne's decease, and there was little left for the first Danes to plunder when the first galleys of the Northern pirates swept up the Seine in Normanni, si bono rigidoque dominatu reguntur, strenuissimi sunt et in arduis rebus invicti omnes excellunt et cunctis hostibus fortiores superare contendunt.
Alioquin sese vicissim dilaniant atque consumunt. Rebelliones enim cupiunt, seditiones enim appetunt, et ad omne nefas prompti sunt. Rectitudinis ergo forti censura coerceantur et fraeno disciplinae per tramitem justitiae gradiri compellantur. THE unity of Charlemagne's Empire existed in name alone.
The agglomeration of essentially different races only served the purpose of emphasising the distinctions of blood and climate which were to be the eternal bars against unnatural union. But the residuum of separate nations was some time in making its appearance. Their various rulers would not accept the inevitable without a struggle; and in that struggle the only power that gained was the Church. France had no sooner thrown off the German yoke than she professed obedience to her great ecclesiastics.
In Neustria the only life and strength left after the Empire died was in the Church. For the land was but a waste of untilled soil, sparsely inhabited by serfs, and divided among the overlords, and of these latter the richest were the abbots and the bishops, round whose palaces and monasteries clustered the towns for their defence. But their temporal power was soon 45 destined to decay. The empire of the mind they might regain; their leadership of France was lost the instant that the Northmen's ships appeared upon the Seine.
When the serfs of Neustria first heard the ivory horns of the Vikings echoing along their river's banks, and saw the blood-red banner of the North against the sky, few men realised that the invaders were to weld them into the strongest Duchy of the West, and finally to make France herself arise as an independent nation out of Europe. They fled, these spiritless and defenceless villagers, to the nearest abbey's walls, they hid before the altars which held the relics of their saints, but neither relics nor sanctuary availed to save, as the monks of St.
These barbarians used the Christian rites merely to advance their own base purposes. Ever since Harold had won a province for a baptism each pirate chief in turn was the more eager to insist upon such lucrative religion. When they could not make capital out of "conversions" they took gold and provisions as the price of temporary peace.
By degrees they gave up going home in winter. The climate of these southern lands was tempting. In various parts of France along the river-mouths, just as they had taken the highway of the Humber into the heart of Britain, they made their scattered settlements, even as far inland as Chartres. But only one was destined to be permanent, and this was made by Rolf, Rollo, or Rou, in Rouen, the kernel of the Northern province. After him came Bjorn Ironside and Ragnar Lodbrog. Twice they reached Paris, knocking at the gates to pass through towards the vineyards of Burgundy.
In they made a kind of camp 46 upon an island between Oissel and Pont de l'Arche. There had been but little resistance to their advance. The fifty-three great expeditions of Charlemagne had used up the fighting men and scattered the bravest of the nobles over widely separated tracts of conquered territory.
The Frenchmen had disappeared, either in war or by a voluntary submission to the lords under whose protection alone could they find safety. No wonder that the chroniclers were obliged to account for the barrenness and weakness of the land by exaggerating the already certain slaughter at Fontenai The land was left uncultivated. Forests grew thicker between Seine and Loire. Wolves ravaged Aquitaine with none to hinder them. The South was still infested by the Saracens. France seemed given up to wild beasts.
Nor were the pirates unaided in their work of rapine. Necessarily few in number, for they came from far by sea, their ranks were recruited by every reckless freebooter in the country, who was quite ready to bow down to Thor and Odin, instead of to the shrines of his own land, which had proved so powerless to protect it. Fast on the heels of the first band of pirates came another, and another yet. Only by the strength of Theobald of Blois was the Loire closed against continual invasion, as the Seine was held by Rollo, who was to fix the true race of the Northmen for ever in the land.
He made his settlement in Neustria in exactly the same way as Guthrum thirty years before had taken possession of East Anglia. But while it was an easy task for the Danes to become Englishmen, it was a far 47 harder one for the invaders of the Seine to become so completely Frenchmen, as in fact they did. In the case of both Guthrum and Rollo, the invaded sovereign had been compelled to give up part of his lands to save the whole. Both the archbishop at Rouen and the "King" at Paris saw no other way out of their difficulties; and Rollo was as ready as Guthrum had been to go through the form of baptism and the farce of a submission, requiring as a pledge the daughter of the King, whose vassal or "man" he became.
The treaty in which Charles the Simple purchased peace was a close imitation of the Peace of Wedmore. These things became more serious to the pirate later on. But his way was at first made easy for him. At Rouen, Archbishop Franco, remembering perhaps the gloomy prophecies of Charlemagne, gave up his ruined and defenceless city without a blow. Rolf found indeed very little except the "crowd without arms" described by Dudo of St.
Quentin in a town where hardly a stone wall had been left upright and the population had been ruthlessly decimated by his predecessors. As Wace says of the expedition of Hastings the Dane:. Martin de la Roquette remained standing, 48 if, indeed, that is meant by the phrase, "Portae cui innexa est ecclesia Sancti Martini naves adhaesit," which may refer to the "Saint Morin" of Wace, or the "Portus morandi" I spoke of on page The town was still, it must be remembered, in its primitive watery condition, the chapels, not only of St.
Martin, but of St. Eloi, were on islands that are now part of the firm soil of the river's bank. The waters of the Robec itself formed one of the defences of the ruined city Rollo took. Just beyond the line of the old Gallo-Roman walls, rose the first rude monastery of St. Ouen; shrines were also consecrated to St. Vincent sur Rive; but most of the houses were still only of timber, and it was not till Rollo had closed up the wandering bed of the river between these shifting islands that the "Terres Neuves" were first formed that reached from the Rue Saint Denis to the Eau de Robec, through the Place de la Calende, down to the Rue de la Madeleine and the Rue aux Ours, and so to the Quai de la Bourse by way of the Rue des Cordeliers.
What is now merely No. Pierre du Chastel, and the name commemorates the spot where Rollo built his first square tower, the first of the many "Tours" that were built by the lords of Rouen, native and foreign, princes or pirates, from the river to the northern angle of the outer walls. Map B shows Rollo's castle and the three which followed it, one on each side beneath, and one above. It was in that Rollo thus marked the beginning of the Duchy of Normandy with the strong seal of his donjon-keep at Rouen, though he and his descendants for another century were still known only as the Pirates, and the Pirates' Duke.
In that year he was baptised by the Archbishop of Rouen, and received from the Karoling King all the lands from "the river of Epte to the sea, and westwards to Brittany," with the hand 49 of the Princess Gisela. Robert, Duke of the Franks, came back with him to Rouen to be his godfather, and for seven days the "King of the Sea" wore the white robes of innocence, and his followers eagerly joined him in the fold of Christianity, with results whose worldwide importance were only to be seen more than a century later.
For the present the wolves were quite ready to lie down with the lambs, but they kept their brutal dignity and coarse jests throughout all the solemn ceremonial. The pirate who was sent to do submission for the Duchy, embraced the royal foot so roughly that the King fell backwards off his throne, and in a roar of Norman laughter the Norman rule began that was to last for three centuries in France and spread from Palermo to the Tees. The fable of this rudely-treated monarch reflects more than the anxiety of Norman chroniclers to hide the least appearance of submission; it suggests the fact of very actual weakness in these dying Karolings.
Rollo's coming had decided for the French dynasty of Paris as against the Frankish dynasty of Laon. Both Karolings and Merovingians had been essentially of German stock. It was only late in the ninth century that Paris, the chief object of the Northerners' attack upon the Seine, arose as the national bulwark against the invader, and became a ducal city that was to be a royal.
Its Duke, Robert the Strong, the forefather of Capets, of Valois, and of Bourbons, had a son, Eudes or Odo , whose gallant repulse of the Pirates had given him a throne that was still held by his descendants a thousand years later, and he ruled in the French speech, while the Karolings of Laon still used the Teutonic idiom. When Laon was joined to Paris in by the election of Hugh, modern France really began with a French king ruling at Paris, and a German emperor as alien to the realm of the Capets as was his brother of Byzantium.
But there is still much to happen before 50 the date of can be safely reached, and the last ineffectual years of Charles the Simple gave Rollo every opportunity to strengthen his new possessions in security. The young blood, the adventurous spirit, the thirst for conquest, that his Scandinavian followers brought to Rouen, was destined to work wonders on its new soil.
For these pirates took the creed, the language and the manners of the French, and kept their own vigorous characteristics as mercenaries, plunderers, conquerors, crusaders. If in peace they invented nothing, they were quick to learn and adapt, generous to disseminate. In Rouen itself they welcomed scholars, poets, theologians, and artists.
Their Scandinavian vigour mated to the vivacity of Gaul was to produce a conquering race in Europe. At Bayeux, where a Saxon emigration had settled down long before the days of Rollo, the type of the original Norman can still be seen. The same type comes out in every famous Norman of to-day, in that "figure de coq," with its high nose and clever brow that marks the bold nature tempered with the cunning, the lawyer and the soldier mixed. To these men Rollo gave land instead of booty. Of himself and his doings little accurate is known; but from the results of his rule his greatness can be fairly judged, for he held his sceptre like a battleaxe, and increased the bounds of his dominion.
It was within his capital that his rule was chiefly beneficial. Here and there his Norman names have survived, as in Robec Redbeck Dieppedal Deepdale or Caudebec Coldbeck , but in the main he proved at once the high adaptability of his race. His first assembly was of necessity aristocratic, and without ecclesiastics, for every landowner was Scandinavian, and the remnant of the aborigines were serfs whose revolts were pitilessly crushed.
His laws were made then, and made to be respected, 51 and it is even said that the cry of "Haro! The tale of the golden bracelets he hung in the branches of his hunting forest by the Seine, which stayed three years without being stolen, is an indication of the rigour of the laws he made.
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In about he died, and was the first layman to be buried in the cathedral he had improved: His son, William Longsword, succeeded to his Duchy, enlarged by the additions which Rollo had known how to secure during the strife between Laon and Paris that had been going on throughout his rule. For Charles, with a simplicity worthy of his title, had apparently sent two gallants of his court to console his daughter Gisela for the roughness with which he heard her husband treated her, and these two were promptly hanged.
But there was more material profit to be had out of the quarrels of the country, and though he lost Eu for a time, Rollo had been able to gain from the war by which he was surrounded in Maine, in Bessin, and in Brittany; which meant that his son came into possession of Caen, Cerisy, Falaise, and that Bayeux, which had been colonised from the North in the last days of the Roman Empire, and remained Teutonic long after Rouen had been "Parisianised," where you may still see all save the tongue of England, in men and animals, even in fields and hedges.
Michael's Mount to Cherbourg. Roman de Rou, v. It was at this time, too, that Prince Alan of Brittany fled for refuge to England, and the crushing of the Breton revolt resulted in the addition of the Channel Islands to the Duchy of Normandy, which remained British after John Lackland had lost the last of his continental possessions, retaining their local independence and ancient institutions under the protection of England; a far better thing for them than any enjoyment of the privileges, either of a French Department, or of a British county represented in Parliament like the ancient Norwegian Earldom of Orkney.
His courtiers found upon his body the silver key of the chest that guarded the monk's cowl he had always desired to wear. So upon a sixteenth of December in the year of the birth of Hugh Capet , the strengthless descendant of the Viking died and was buried in the Cathedral, and the Normans did homage to his young son Richard the Fearless who was fetched from his Saxon home at Bayeux and guarded by Bernard the Dane within the walls of Rouen.
But he enticed the boy to Laon and there imprisoned him until the faithful Osmond got him out concealed in a bundle of hay and bore him off on horseback to Coucy. Then Bernard the Dane called on Harold Blacktooth of Denmark to bring his men from Coutances and Bayeux and to sail up with his long ships from Cherbourg to avenge the murder of Duke William. The King hastened to the walls of Rouen to see what could be done by treaty with the invaders, but the crafty Normans pretended that among his escort they saw the murderer himself, so they fell suddenly upon the French, slew eighteen of their nobles, and threw their king into prison from which he was only rescued by Hugh, Duke of the French, at the price of the city of Laon.
The interference of Germany in the quarrel produced an alliance between Normandy and Hugh of Paris that led eventually to the independence of the Duchy and the downfall of the Karolings of Laon as soon as the German help had been withdrawn. But this did not happen until an energetic attempt had been made to crush Normandy and Paris by the new allies who failed to take either Laon or Paris, but ravaged Normandy and were only repulsed from Rouen after a siege in that is one of the most picturesque landmarks in the early story of the town.
In the Roman de Rou, and in Dudo of St. Quentin, the details of the fighting have been carefully preserved. The combined host of Germans under Otto, French under Louis, and Flemings under Arnoul, advanced together upon Rouen, and their scouts reported that 54 the town showed no signs of resistance.
But behind the battlements  the citizens were stacking piles of stones and darts. Masses of picked men were posted at various vantage-points for sallying forth. Spies were hidden in the long reeds and grass all round the city, and sentinels unseen were guarding all the walls, from the main road at the Porte Beauvoisine, round the heavy ramparts to the north and east. Upon their south-west was the river, and there was plenty of provisions stored inside. The quiet reported to the allies was but the confident repose of thorough preparation, and this the Germans discovered as soon as they drew near the city.
The young Duke Richard suddenly dashed out over the drawbridge with seven hundred full-armed Norman knights on horseback shouting "Dex Aie! They rode straight upon the German spears, cut their way through and back again taking fifteen captives with them, and slaying their leader, the "Edeling" himself who had followed them to the very bridge. Otto fainted at the sight of the dead body of the brave Edeling whose "Flamberg" and Castilian steed are often mentioned in the story though his name does not appear.
Then the braying of aurochs' horns, of cornets and of trumpets, announced the coming vengeance of the allies. Their catapults rained missiles on the town, and their men-at-arms waited impatiently for a breach to be battered in the Porte Beauvoisine. But it remained steadfastly shut, and the Duke made another brilliant sally from a postern gate with the blood-red standard waving again above his Norman knights, and swept back once more the assailing lines of Germany until the French had to bring up their reinforcements from the rear and save the field.
That evening, in Otto's pavilion, the funeral service 55 of the Edeling was held. All night he lay beneath the silk of his funeral pall with tapers burning at his head and feet, and the low chant of prayer sounded till the dawn. All night had Otto stayed awake in sorrow and unrest. At last, with the rising of the sun he heard a burst of minstrelsy. Rouen was silent no longer; the songs of triumph and defiance burst from every parapet and tower, while the very birds says the chronicler seemed to join in the chorus of happiness all round the beaten camp.
Then Otto rode moodily along the city walls and watched the waggons bringing in supplies across the bridge, and noted that the bridge-head at Ermondeville St. Sever as it is to-day , was weakly held, so he rode back determined to starve Rouen into submission. But the council of his knights refused the plan, so he was obliged to veil his anger by asking the Normans for permission to pray at the Shrine of St.
Ouen and bury his noble kinsman beyond the walls of their town. Safe conduct was immediately granted, and all the leaders except Arnoul of Flanders passed in procession to the abbey. There, after gifts of gold and precious carpets to the abbot, Otto proposed that Arnoul should be given up, but returned before the answer to these treacherous negotiations had been given. The night that followed was full of terrors and alarms. Suspecting that he would be betrayed, Arnoul took all his Flemish host as soon as darkness fell, and lumbered heavily out of the camp of the allies, his cumbrous waggons creaking noisily beneath the weight of the camp-furniture.
Both French and Germans heard the sound and started to their feet imagining a night-attack from Rouen.
La sélection fantasy du dimanche
Panic seized the camp at once. Men cut the cords of the rich tents, and scattered their spoil about the ground, rushing half clad in all directions and shouting for their arms; a fire broke out at headquarters; the 56 camp-followers seized their opportunity, dashed upon Otto's tent and plundered it of armour and of all its royal ornaments; the rest fled hastily all ways at once not seeing where they went, and in an unknown country.
As the light shone from the east they saw the rout and disorder of their enemies' camp, and loud jeers and laughter rose along the walls, and echo still in the rough verses of Dudo their historian. The Flemish had the advantage of an early start, and got clear away. The French had followed fast upon their heels, but the Germans had plunged in unwieldy panic into the labyrinth of the woods and fens. The Normans spread out at once and caught them. At the Place de la Rougemare they slaughtered so many that the fields were dyed red with their blood. At Bihorel more were massacred.
In Maupertuis, or Maromme, hundreds were butchered. Then the peasants took up the bloody task. With sharpened scythes and pitchforks, with pointed staves and heavy truncheons and ironshod clubs, they killed the miserable Germans all day long, and the line of escape was marked along the Beauvoisine road by corpses almost to Amiens itself. This strange victory seems to have pulled the men of Rouen together, and given them confidence.
The Laws of Rollo had been restored to their old strength by Harold Blacktooth, and at last Neustrians and Scandinavians seemed in a fair way to amalgamate and produce that nation of warriors and lawyers which they afterwards became. In King Louis died after a last flicker of expiring power in retrieving Laon. In the starting of this new dynasty, which is the starting-point for the true history of France, Duke Richard of Normandy had played a most important part, for it was in no small measure by his help that Gaul had been made French and had won a French Lord of Paris for her King.
At the coronation of Hugh Capet, Normandy ceased to be the Land of Pirates, and became the mightiest and noblest fief of the French crown, its most loyal and most daring vassal. In the years of Duke Richard too, Normandy was completed internally. Her army and her fleet were organised. Her frontiers, her laws, her feudal system came to perfection.
Her national character crystallised. Already in the Norman Baronage we can find English names like that of the Harcourts, descended from Bernard the Dane, on a castle-wall we can read the name of Bruce, in a tiny village trace the name of Percy. Among the elms and apple-orchards that still faithfully reflect our English countryside, the square gray keeps are rising already which were handed on by Norman builders to the cliffs of Richmond or the banks of Thames.
In Duke Richard built one of these upon the right bank of Robec near the Seine, a new Palace-Prison, another "Tour de Rouen" to replace the fallen masonry of Rollo's ancient keep. It was founded where the Place de la Haute Vieille Tour preserves its memory still, with the Duke's private chapel on the spot where the Fierte St. Romain stands to this day. Robert Wace preserves a story that indicates the close terms on which Duke Richard was with religion, and also shows that the steady growth in wealth and 58 influence of the clergy through his reign, was not unaccompanied by an immorality which was conspicuous under Archbishop Hugh II.
It appears that the Sacristan of St. Ouen fell most uncanonically in love with a lady who dwelt on the other side of the Robec. On his way to meet her one dark night, his foot slipped from the plank that crossed the rapid little stream, and he fell into the water. Whereon a sprightly devilkin seized hurriedly upon his soul and was on the point of bearing it away to Hell, when an angel mindful doubtless of the abbey's piety arrived, objecting with a nicely argued piece of logic that the sacristan had not been carried off "en male veie," but before any sin had been committed.
So the contending parties brought the case that is the body before the Duke for judgment. The ardour of the resuscitated monk seems to have been sufficiently cooled by his involuntary bath in Robec, and he hurried back to his lonely bed in the Abbey of St. Ouen, and at the Duke's command confessed his wickedness to the abbot. But his escapade remains enshrined in a proverb that lasted well into the sixteenth century, and is given by Wace in its original form:. In , the Fearless Duke himself gave up the 59 ghost, after having enlarged the Cathedral of Rouen, and given it new pavement.
The keynote of the movement is struck in the strange word used by Wace, that occurs now for the first time in history:. These downtrodden serfs, of mixed Celtic, Roman, and Frankish parentage, had actually spoken that word of fear to every feudal baron, a "commune. This was a considerably higher political organisation than the aristocratic household of their masters round the King.
And bitterly their masters resented such forward and unscrupulous behaviour. The Duke's uncle, Rudolf, Count of Ivry, crushed the "revolt" with hideous cruelty, and sent back the people's representatives maimed and useless to their hovels. These first martyrs did not suffer in vain. If you look closely at the few carvings remaining on the churches of the tenth and eleventh centuries, you will understand the terror under which all men were crushed as the thousandth year drew nearer, which was believed to be the end of the world.
Grimacing dumbly in their stiffened attitudes of fear, these thin anatomies implore with clenched uplifted hands, the death that shall save them from the misery of their life. A world so filled with ruins might well give up all hope on this side of the tomb. The revolt of the Norman peasants had been crushed in blood. The seasons in their courses seemed to fight against humanity, for famine and pestilence, storm and tempest swept down upon the land and the people died in thousands of sheer starvation.
The Roman Empire had crumbled in the dust; after it fell that of Charlemagne into the abyss. The chronicles of Raoul Glaber are full of the most gruesome details of cannibalism, of diabolical appearances, of tortures that cannot be named. The only refuge seemed to be within the walls of the churches, where the shivering congregations gathered, mute in a palsied supplication like the stone figures carved upon the walls above them.
At last the terrible year passed by, and the stars fell not, nor did the heaven depart as a scroll when it is rolled together, and the kings of the earth and the great men and the rich men and the chief captains and the mighty men and every bondman and every freeman came forth from their houses and from their dens and from the rocks of the mountain, and went with one accord to give thanks to Holy Church for their deliverance. The wave of religious feeling swept from one end of Europe to the other, and nowhere was it so strong as in Normandy. The laws of Rollo and his descendants were too strict for brigandage at home, so the more restless spirits started over Europe in the guise of pilgrims, "gaaignant," as Wace says, towards Monte Cassino, to St.
James of Compostella, to the Holy Sepulchre itself. It was as pilgrims that they travelled into Southern Italy, where a poor Norman knight had been rewarded for his fighting against the infidels by the County of Aversa. By the citizens of Rouen were already admiring the oranges, or "Pommes d'Or" which their adventurous "Crusaders" had sent back from Salerno, as the first-fruits of that Kingdom of Calabria and Sicily which a Norman, Robert Guiscard, was to make his own.
Meanwhile within the bounds of Normandy itself, the great religious revival went on side by side with growing civic and military strength. Sweyn, King of Denmark, and Lacman, King of Sweden, were in the city at the same time, and doubtless felt the same impulse to profession of the Christian faith when visiting their Scandinavian relatives.
Rouen was indeed a gathering place for all the northern royalties, for Ethelred II. It seems in fact to have already become the fashion for princes of the royal house of Britain to complete their education by a little tour in France. A curious trait of the manners of the time is recorded by Wace, who describes one of the many banquets that must have been given so often during all these royal visits.
He speaks of the long sleeves and white shirts of the barons, and relates the first instance of aristo 62 cratic kleptomania at a dinner-table, when a knight took a silver spoon and hid it in his sleeve R. The reign of this second Richard and of his son the third passed without much incident, and then came the sixth Duke, Robert the Magnificent as his courtiers called him, Robert the Devil as his people knew him.
He is chiefly famous as the father of his mighty son, and he did little in his capital of Rouen that is of interest beyond its walls, save the attempt to restore the Saxon princes Alfred and Edward to their father's throne, which failed because his fleet was stopped by persistent headwinds and could do nothing more than thoroughly subjugate the neighbouring fief of Brittany. After this, the Duke fell in, like all around, with the dominant religious passion, took up the pilgrim's cross, and died with his Crusaders at Nicaea.
And from this love-match with a tanner's daughter sprang William the Bastard in Though his father had insisted upon this child's inheritance on his departure for the East, the election of a boy of seven to the Ducal throne was naturally bitterly opposed by such great baronial houses as those of Belesme and others. A period of anarchy and assassination was the obvious result. All three were murdered, and young William himself with difficulty escaped.
Then Ralph of Wacey and William Fitz-Osbern attached themselves to the boy who must have shown promise of his greatness early to attract such faithful friendships through the twenty years of civil war that preceded his firm holding of the throne. He 63 had been knighted young, and he was soon to prove the strength of his right arm. But his first actions strangely enough are connected with the Church that overshadowed so much of public life. He made the mistake of giving the See of Rouen to the profligate Mauger though the error was sternly corrected later on just as he gave the See of Bayeux to his half-brother Odo.
Benedictine monasteries began to flourish all over Normandy, chief among which was the Abbey of Bec, which in Lanfranc and Anselm was to provide Canterbury with two prelates later on. Yet I could easily recognise this class of transgressions by the anguish of mind which preceded, as well as by the rigour of the punishment which followed them; and I knew that what I had just done was in the same category as certain other sins for which I had been severely chastised, though infinitely more serious than they. When I went out to meet my mother as she herself came up to bed, and when she saw that I had remained up so as to say good night to her again in the passage, I should not be allowed to stay in the house a day longer, I should be packed off to school next morning; so much was certain.
For what I wanted now was Mamma, and to say good night to her. I had gone too far along the road which led to the realisation of this desire to be able to retrace my steps. Mamma was asking my father if he had thought the lobster good, and whether M. Swann had had some of the coffee-and-pistachio ice. He is quite antiquated! And the others too were beginning to remark in Swann that abnormal, excessive, scandalous senescence, meet only in a celibate, in one of that class for whom it seems that the great day which knows no morrow must be longer than for other men, since for such a one it is void of promise, and from its dawn the moments steadily accumulate without any subsequent partition among his offspring.
My mother observed that, in spite of this, he had looked much less unhappy of late. Do you call that thanking him? You may be quite sure he never noticed it. I am positive he appreciated the compliment. My father and mother were left alone and sat down for a moment; then my father said: My mother opened the latticed door which led from the hall to the staircase. Presently I heard her coming upstairs to close her window. I went quietly into the passage; my heart was beating so violently that I could hardly move, but at least it was throbbing no longer with anxiety, but with terror and with joy.
Then I saw Mamma herself: I threw myself upon her. For an instant she looked at me in astonishment, not realising what could have happened. Then her face assumed an expression of anger. She said not a single word to me; and, for that matter, I used to go for days on end without being spoken to, for far less offences than this. A single word from Mamma would have been an admission that further intercourse with me was within the bounds of possibility, and that might perhaps have appeared to me more terrible still, as indicating that, with such a punishment as was in store for me, mere silence, and even anger, were relatively puerile.
A word from her then would have implied the false calm in which one converses with a servant to whom one has just decided to give notice; the kiss one bestows on a son who is being packed off to enlist, which would have been denied him if it had merely been a matter of being angry with him for a few days. I was not, however. He looked at me for a moment with an air of annoyance and surprise, and then when Mamma had told him, not without some embarrassment, what had happened, said to her: It was impossible for me to thank my father; what he called my sentimentality would have exasperated him.
I stood there, not daring to move; he was still confronting us, an immense figure in his white nightshirt, crowned with the pink and violet scarf of Indian cashmere in which, since he had begun to suffer from neuralgia, he used to tie up his head, standing like Abraham in the engraving after Benozzo Gozzoli which M. Swann had given me, telling Sarah that she must tear herself away from Isaac. Many years have passed since that night. The wall of the staircase, up which I had watched the light of his candle gradually climb, was long ago demolished.
And in myself, too, many things have perished which, I imagined, would last for ever, and new structures have arisen, giving birth to new sorrows and new joys which in those days I could not have foreseen, just as now the old are difficult of comprehension. Actually, their echo has never ceased: Mamma spent that night in my room: As for my father, whose affection for me was of another kind, I doubt if he would have shewn so much courage, for as soon as he had grasped the fact that I was unhappy he had said to my mother: Make up the big bed for me quickly and then go off to your own.
I had the consolation that I need no longer mingle apprehensive scruples with the bitterness of my tears; I could weep henceforward without sin. I ought then to have been happy; I was not. It struck me that my mother had just made a first concession which must have been painful to her, that it was a first step down from the ideal she had formed for me, and that for the first time she, with all her courage, had to confess herself beaten. It struck me that if I had just scored a victory it was over her; that I had succeeded, as sickness or sorrow or age might have succeeded, in relaxing her will, in altering her judgment; that this evening opened a new era, must remain a black date in the calendar.
And if I had dared now, I should have said to Mamma: This thought redoubled my sobs, and then I saw that Mamma, who had never allowed herself to go to any length of tenderness with me, was suddenly overcome by my tears and had to struggle to keep back her own. Then, as she saw that I had noticed this, she said to me, with a smile: The truth was that she could never make up her mind to purchase anything from which no intellectual profit was to be derived, and, above all, that profit which good things bestowed on us by teaching us to seek our pleasures elsewhere than in the barren satisfaction of worldly wealth.
She would have liked me to have in my room photographs of ancient buildings or of beautiful places. But at the moment of buying them, and for all that the subject of the picture had an aesthetic value of its own, she would find that vulgarity and utility had too prominent a part in them, through the mechanical nature of their reproduction by photography.
Accordingly, having to reckon again with vulgarity, my grandmother would endeavour to postpone the moment of contact still further. It must be admitted that the results of this method of interpreting the art of making presents were not always happy. The idea which I formed of Venice, from a drawing by Titian which is supposed to have the lagoon in the background, was certainly far less accurate than what I have since derived from ordinary photographs.
We could no longer keep count in the family when my great-aunt tried to frame an indictment of my grandmother of all the armchairs she had presented to married couples, young and old, which on a first attempt to sit down upon them had at once collapsed beneath the weight of their recipient. But my grandmother would have thought it sordid to concern herself too closely with the solidity of any piece of furniture in which could still be discerned a flourish, a smile, a brave conceit of the past.
ΤΗΙ ΜΗΤΡΙ ΔΙΔΑΚΤΡΑ
And even what in such pieces supplied a material need, since it did so in a manner to which we are no longer accustomed, was as charming to her as one of those old forms of speech in which we can still see traces of a metaphor whose fine point has been worn away by the rough usage of our modern tongue. In precisely the same way the pastoral novels of George Sand, which she was giving me for my birthday, were regular lumber-rooms of antique furniture, full of expressions that have fallen out of use and returned as imagery, such as one finds now only in country dialects.
And my grandmother had bought them in preference to other books, just as she would have preferred to take a house that had a gothic dovecot, or some other such piece of antiquity as would have a pleasant effect on the mind, filling it with a nostalgic longing for impossible journeys through the realms of time. I had not then read any real novels.
I had heard it said that George Sand was a typical novelist. Beneath the everyday incidents, the commonplace thoughts and hackneyed words, I could hear, or overhear, an intonation, a rhythmic utterance fine and strange. And to the gaps which this habit made in my knowledge of the story more were added by the fact that when it was Mamma who was reading to me aloud she left all the love-scenes out.
If my mother was not a faithful reader, she was, none the less, admirable when reading a work in which she found the note of true feeling by the respectful simplicity of her interpretation and by the sound of her sweet and gentle voice. It was the same in her daily life, when it was not works of art but men and women whom she was moved to pity or admire: And so, when she read aloud the prose of George Sand, prose which is everywhere redolent of that generosity and moral distinction which Mamma had learned from my grandmother to place above all other qualities in life, and which I was not to teach her until much later to refrain from placing, in the same way, above all other qualities in literature; taking pains to banish from her voice any weakness or affectation which might have blocked its channel for that powerful stream of language, she supplied all the natural tenderness, all the lavish sweetness which they demanded to phrases which seemed to have been composed for her voice, and which were all, so to speak, within her compass.
She came to them with the tone that they required, with the cordial accent which existed before they were, which dictated them, but which is not to be found in the words themselves, and by these means she smoothed away, as she read on, any harshness there might be or discordance in the tenses of verbs, endowing the imperfect and the preterite with all the sweetness which there is in generosity, all the melancholy which there is in love; guided the sentence that was drawing to an end towards that which was waiting to begin, now hastening, now slackening the pace of the syllables so as to bring them, despite their difference of quantity, into a uniform rhythm, and breathed into this quite ordinary prose a kind of life, continuous and full of feeling.
My agony was soothed; I let myself be borne upon the current of this gentle night on which I had my mother by my side. I knew that such a night could not be repeated; that the strongest desire I had in the world, namely, to keep my mother in my room through the sad hours of darkness, ran too much counter to general requirements and to the wishes of others for such a concession as had been granted me this evening to be anything but a rare and casual exception. To-morrow night I should again be the victim of anguish and Mamma would not stay by my side. But when these storms of anguish grew calm I could no longer realise their existence; besides, tomorrow evening was still a long way off; I reminded myself that I should still have time to think about things, albeit that remission of time could bring me no access of power, albeit the coming event was in no way dependent upon the exercise of my will, and seemed not quite inevitable only because it was still separated from me by this short interval.
And so it was that, for a long time afterwards, when I lay awake at night and revived old memories of Combray, I saw no more of it than this sort of luminous panel, sharply defined against a vague and shadowy background, like the panels which a Bengal fire or some electric sign will illuminate and dissect from the front of a building the other parts of which remain plunged in darkness: I must own that I could have assured any questioner that Combray did include other scenes and did exist at other hours than these.
But since the facts which I should then have recalled would have been prompted only by an exercise of the will, by my intellectual memory, and since the pictures which that kind of memory shews us of the past preserve nothing of the past itself, I should never have had any wish to ponder over this residue of Combray. To me it was in reality all dead. There is a large element of hazard in these matters, and a second hazard, that of our own death, often prevents us from awaiting for any length of time the favours of the first.
I feel that there is much to be said for the Celtic belief that the souls of those whom we have lost are held captive in some inferior being, in an animal, in a plant, in some inanimate object, and so effectively lost to us until the day which to many never comes when we happen to pass by the tree or to obtain possession of the object which forms their prison. Then they start and tremble, they call us by our name, and as soon as we have recognised their voice the spell is broken.
We have delivered them: And so it is with our own past. It is a labour in vain to attempt to recapture it: The past is hidden somewhere outside the realm, beyond the reach of intellect, in some material object in the sensation which that material object will give us which we do not suspect. And as for that object, it depends on chance whether we come upon it or not before we ourselves must die.
Many years had elapsed during which nothing of Combray, save what was comprised in the theatre and the drama of my going to bed there, had any existence for me, when one day in winter, as I came home, my mother, seeing that I was cold, offered me some tea, a thing I did not ordinarily take. I declined at first, and then, for no particular reason, changed my mind.
And soon, mechanically, weary after a dull day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid, and the crumbs with it, touched my palate than a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, but individual, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory — this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me, it was myself.
I had ceased now to feel mediocre, accidental, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy? I was conscious that it was connected with the taste of tea and cake, but that it infinitely transcended those savours, could not, indeed, be of the same nature as theirs. Whence did it come? What did it signify?
How could I seize upon and define it? I drink a second mouthful, in which I find nothing more than in the first, a third, which gives me rather less than the second. It is time to stop; the potion is losing its magic. It is plain that the object of my quest, the truth, lies not in the cup but in myself. The tea has called up in me, but does not itself understand, and can only repeat indefinitely with a gradual loss of strength, the same testimony; which I, too, cannot interpret, though I hope at least to be able to call upon the tea for it again and to find it there presently, intact and at my disposal, for my final enlightenment.
I put down my cup and examine my own mind. It is for it to discover the truth. What an abyss of uncertainty whenever the mind feels that some part of it has strayed beyond its own borders; when it, the seeker, is at once the dark region through which it must go seeking, where all its equipment will avail it nothing.
It is face to face with something which does not so far exist, to which it alone can give reality and substance, which it alone can bring into the light of day. And I begin again to ask myself what it could have been, this unremembered state which brought with it no logical proof of its existence, but only the sense that it was a happy, that it was a real state in whose presence other states of consciousness melted and vanished. I decide to attempt to make it reappear. I retrace my thoughts to the moment at which I drank the first spoonful of tea.
I find again the same state, illumined by no fresh light. I compel my mind to make one further effort, to follow and recapture once again the fleeting sensation. And that nothing may interrupt it in its course I shut out every obstacle, every extraneous idea, I stop my ears and inhibit all attention to the sounds which come from the next room.
And then, feeling that my mind is growing fatigued without having any success to report, I compel it for a change to enjoy that distraction which I have just denied it, to think of other things, to rest and refresh itself before the supreme attempt. And then for the second time I clear an empty space in front of it. Undoubtedly what is thus palpitating in the depths of my being must be the image, the visual memory which, being linked to that taste, has tried to follow it into my conscious mind.
But its struggles are too far off, too much confused; scarcely can I perceive the colourless reflection in which are blended the uncapturable whirling medley of radiant hues, and I cannot distinguish its form, cannot invite it, as the one possible interpreter, to translate to me the evidence of its contemporary, its inseparable paramour, the taste of cake soaked in tea; cannot ask it to inform me what special circumstance is in question, of what period in my past life.
Will it ultimately reach the clear surface of my consciousness, this memory, this old, dead moment which the magnetism of an identical moment has travelled so far to importune, to disturb, to raise up out of the very depths of my being? Now that I feel nothing, it has stopped, has perhaps gone down again into its darkness, from which who can say whether it will ever rise? Ten times over I must essay the task, must lean down over the abyss. And each time the natural laziness which deters us from every difficult enterprise, every work of importance, has urged me to leave the thing alone, to drink my tea and to think merely of the worries of to-day and of my hopes for to-morrow, which let themselves be pondered over without effort or distress of mind.
And suddenly the memory returns. But when from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, still, alone, more fragile, but with more vitality, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls, ready to remind us, waiting and hoping for their moment, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unfaltering, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.
And once I had recognized the taste of the crumb of madeleine soaked in her decoction of lime-flowers which my aunt used to give me although I did not yet know and must long postpone the discovery of why this memory made me so happy immediately the old grey house upon the street, where her room was, rose up like the scenery of a theatre to attach itself to the little pavilion, opening on to the garden, which had been built out behind it for my parents the isolated panel which until that moment had been all that I could see ; and with the house the town, from morning to night and in all weathers, the Square where I was sent before luncheon, the streets along which I used to run errands, the country roads we took when it was fine.
And just as the Japanese amuse themselves by filling a porcelain bowl with water and steeping in it little crumbs of paper which until then are without character or form, but, the moment they become wet, stretch themselves and bend, take on colour and distinctive shape, become flowers or houses or people, permanent and recognisable, so in that moment all the flowers in our garden and in M.
Combray at a distance, from a twenty-mile radius, as we used to see it from the railway when we arrived there every year in Holy Week, was no more than a church epitomising the town, representing it, speaking of it and for it to the horizon, and as one drew near, gathering close about its long, dark cloak, sheltering from the wind, on the open plain, as a shepherd gathers his sheep, the woolly grey backs of its flocking houses, which a fragment of its mediaeval ramparts enclosed, here and there, in an outline as scrupulously circular as that of a little town in a primitive painting.
The air of those rooms was saturated with the fine bouquet of a silence so nourishing, so succulent that I could not enter them without a sort of greedy enjoyment, particularly on those first mornings, chilly still, of the Easter holidays, when I could taste it more fully, because I had just arrived then at Combray: In the next room I could hear my aunt talking quietly to herself. She never spoke save in low tones, because she believed that there was something broken in her head and floating loose there, which she might displace by talking too loud; but she never remained for long, even when alone, without saying something, because she believed that it was good for her throat, and that by keeping the blood there in circulation it would make less frequent the chokings and other pains to which she was liable; besides, in the life of complete inertia which she led she attached to the least of her sensations an extraordinary importance, endowed them with a Protean ubiquity which made it difficult for her to keep them secret, and, failing a confidant to whom she might communicate them, she used to promulgate them to herself in an unceasing monologue which was her sole form of activity.
Unfortunately, having formed the habit of thinking aloud, she did not always take care to see that there was no one in the adjoining room, and I would often hear her saying to herself: The drying of the stems had twisted them into a fantastic trellis, in whose intervals the pale flowers opened, as though a painter had arranged them there, grouping them in the most decorative poses. The leaves, which had lost or altered their own appearance, assumed those instead of the most incongruous things imaginable, as though the transparent wings of flies or the blank sides of labels or the petals of roses had been collected and pounded, or interwoven as birds weave the material for their nests.
A thousand trifling little details — the charming prodigality of the chemist — details which would have been eliminated from an artificial preparation, gave me, like a book in which one is astonished to read the name of a person whom one knows, the pleasure of finding that these were indeed real lime-blossoms, like those I had seen, when coming from the train, in the Avenue de la Gare, altered, but only because they were not imitations but the very same blossoms, which had grown old.
That rosy candlelight was still their colour, but half-extinguished and deadened in the diminished life which was now theirs, and which may be called the twilight of a flower. Presently my aunt was able to dip in the boiling infusion, in which she would relish the savour of dead or faded blossom, a little madeleine, of which she would hold out a piece to me when it was sufficiently soft. On the other side her bed was bounded by the window: I would not have been five minutes with my aunt before she would send me away in case I made her tired.
She would hold out for me to kiss her sad brow, pale and lifeless, on which at this early hour she would not yet have arranged the false hair and through which the bones shone like the points of a crown of thorns-er the beads of a rosary, and she would say to me: Mamma pinched my arm sharply and said in a loud voice: And so with what joy would she welcome us, with what sorrow complain that the weather was still so bad for us, on the day of our arrival, just before Easter, when there was often an icy wind; while Mamma inquired after her daughter and her nephews, and if her grandson was good-looking, and what they were going to make of him, and whether he took after his granny.
Mamma was the first person who had given her the pleasure of feeling that her peasant existence, with its simple joys and sorrows, might offer some interest, might be a source of grief or pleasure to some one other than herself. Goupil went by more than a quarter of an hour late to fetch her sister: Imbert go past with some asparagus twice the size of what mother Callot has: You know quite well that he can never grow anything but wretched little twigs of asparagus, not asparagus at all.
I tell you these ones were as thick as my arm. Not your arm, of course, but my-poor arm, which has grown so much thinner again this year. It was Maguelone come to fetch Dr. There must be some child ill. Oh dear, of course, it would be for Mme. And to think that I had forgotten that she passed away the other night. But I am wasting your time, my good girl. Rousseau, before I know where I am; but that is not why I rang.
Would you believe that I have just seen, as plainly as I see you, Mme. Run and get a pennyworth of salt from Camus. Do you think I should not have recognised M. Octave; I mean the little girl, the one who goes to school at Jouy. I seem to have seen her once already his morning. Yes, that is it.
No need to ask, she will have come over for the holidays. But then we shall soon see Mme. That will be it! You will see that the tart was for Mme. Goupil has anyone in the house, Mme. Goupil was expecting company to luncheon, though, alas, she must wait a little more than an hour still before enjoying the spectacle. Her luncheon was such a distraction in itself that she did not like any other to come at the same time. She would put on her spectacles and spell out: It would turn out to be Mme. And yet long beforehand Mme. Go and look after your luncheon.
How I loved it: The old porch by which we went in, black, and full of holes as a cullender, was worn out of shape and deeply furrowed at the sides as also was the holy water stoup to which it led us just as if the gentle grazing touch of the cloaks of peasant-women going into the church, and of their fingers dipping into the water, had managed by agelong repetition to acquire a destructive force, to impress itself on the stone, to carve ruts in it like those made by cart-wheels upon stone gate-posts against which they are driven every day.
Its memorial stones, beneath which the noble dust of the Abbots of Combray, who were buried there, furnished the choir with a sort of spiritual pavement, were themselves no longer hard and lifeless matter, for time had softened and sweetened them, and had made them melt like honey and flow beyond their proper margins, either surging out in a milky, frothing wave, washing from its place a florid gothic capital, drowning the white violets of the marble floor; or else reabsorbed into their limits, contracting still further a crabbed Latin inscription, bringing a fresh touch of fantasy into the arrangement of its curtailed characters, closing together two letters of some word of which the rest were disproportionately scattered.
Its windows were never so brilliant as on days when the sun scarcely shone, so that if it was dull outside you might be certain of fine weather in church. One of them was filled from top to bottom by a solitary figure, like the king on a playing-card, who lived up there beneath his canopy of stone, between earth and heaven; and in the blue light of its slanting shadow, on weekdays sometimes, at noon, when there was no service at one of those rare moments when the airy, empty church, more human somehow and more luxurious with the sun shewing off all its rich furnishings, seemed to have almost a habitable air, like the hall — all sculptured stone and painted glass — of some mediaeval mansion , you might see Mme.
In another, a mountain of rosy snow, at whose foot a battle was being fought, seemed to have frozen the window also, which it swelled and distorted with its cloudy sleet, like a pane to which snowflakes have drifted and clung, but flakes illumined by a sunrise — the same, doubtless, which purpled the reredos of the altar with tints so fresh that they seemed rather to be thrown on it for a moment by a light shining from outside and shortly to be extinguished than painted and permanently fastened on the stone. And all of them were so old that you could see, here and there, their silvery antiquity sparkling with the dust of centuries and shewing in its threadbare brilliance the very cords of their lovely tapestry of glass.
Two tapestries of high warp represented the coronation of Esther in which tradition would have it that the weaver had given to Ahasuerus the features of one of the kings of France and to Esther those of a lady of Guermantes whose lover he had been ; their colours had melted into one another, so as to add expression, relief, light to the pictures. And then the apse of Combray: It was so coarse, so devoid of artistic beauty, even of the religious spirit.
From outside, since the street crossing which it commanded was on a lower level, its great wall was thrust upwards from a basement of unfaced ashlar, jagged with flints, in all of which there was nothing particularly ecclesiastical; the windows seemed to have been pierced at an abnormal height, and its whole appearance was that of a prison wall rather than of a church.
And certainly in later years, were I to recall all the glorious apses that I had seen, it would never enter my mind to compare with any one of them the apse of Combray. Only, one day, turning out of a little street in some country town, I came upon three alley-ways that converged, and facing them an old wall, rubbed, worn, crumbling, and unusually high; with windows pierced in it far overhead and the same asymmetrical appearance as the apse of Combray.
A dear, familiar friend; close pressed in the Rue Saint-Hilaire, upon which its north door opened, by its two neighbours, Mme. Rapin, against which its walls rested without interspace; a simple citizen of Combray, who might have had her number in the street had the streets of Combray borne numbers, and at whose door one felt that the postman ought to stop on his morning rounds, before going into Mme. In vain might Mme. Loiseau deck her window-sills with fuchsias, which developed the bad habit of letting their branches trail at all times and in all directions, head downwards, and whose flowers had no more important business, when they were big enough to taste the joys of life, than to go and cool their purple, congested cheeks against the dark front of the church; to me such conduct sanctified the fuchsias not at all; between the flowers and the blackened stones towards which they leaned, if my eyes could discern no interval, my mind preserved the impression of an abyss.
From a long way off one could distinguish and identify the steeple of Saint-Hilaire inscribing its unforgettable form upon a horizon beneath which Combray had not yet appeared; when from the train which brought us down from Paris at Easter-time my father caught sight of it, as it slipped into every fold of the sky in turn, its little iron cock veering continually in all directions, he would say: As one drew near it and could make out the remains of the square tower, half in ruins, which still stood by its side, though without rivalling it in height, one was struck, first of all, by the tone, reddish and sombre, of its stones; and on a misty morning in autumn one would have called it, to see it rising above the violet thunder-cloud of the vineyards, a ruin of purple, almost the colour of the wild vine.
Often in the Square, as we came home, my grandmother would make me stop to look up at it. From the tower windows, placed two and two, one pair above another, with that right and original proportion in their spacing to which not only human faces owe their beauty and dignity, it released, it let fall at regular intervals flights of jackdaws which for a little while would wheel and caw, as though the ancient stones which allowed them to sport thus and never seemed to see them, becoming of a sudden uninhabitable and discharging some infinitely disturbing element, had struck them and driven them forth.
And certainly every part one saw of the church served to distinguish the whole from any other building by a kind of general feeling which pervaded it, but it was in the steeple that the church seemed to display a consciousness of itself, to affirm its individual and responsible existence. It was the steeple which spoke for the church. I think, too, that in a confused way my grandmother found in the steeple of Combray what she prized above anything else in the world, namely, a natural air and an air of distinction.
Ignorant of architecture, she would say:. If it could play the piano, I am sure it would really play. It was the steeple of Saint-Hilaire which shaped and crowned and consecrated every occupation, every hour of the day, every point of view in the town. From my bedroom window I could discern no more than its base, which had been freshly covered with slates; but when on Sundays I saw these, in the hot light of a summer morning, blaze like a black sun I would say to myself: And in the evening, as I came in from my walk and thought of the approaching moment when I must say good night to my mother and see her no more, the steeple was by contrast so kindly, there at the close of day, that I would imagine it as being laid, like a brown velvet cushion, against — as being thrust into the pallid sky which had yielded beneath its pressure, had sunk slightly so as to make room for it, and had correspondingly risen on either side; while the cries of the birds wheeling to and fro about it seemed to intensify its silence, to elongate its spire still further, and to invest it with some quality beyond the power of words.
Even when our errands lay in places behind the church, from which it could not be seen, the view seemed always to have been composed with reference to the steeple, which would stand up, now here, now there, among the houses, and was perhaps even more affecting when it appeared thus without the church. And, indeed, there are many others which look best when seen in this way, and I can call to mind vignettes of housetops with surmounting steeples in quite another category of art than those formed by the dreary streets of Combray. I shall never forget, in a quaint Norman town not far from Balbec, two charming eighteenth-century houses, dear to me and venerable for many reasons, between which, when one looks up at them from a fine garden which descends in terraces to the river, the gothic spire of a church itself hidden by the houses soars into the sky with the effect of crowning and completing their fronts, but in a material so different, so precious, so beringed, so rosy, so polished, that it is at once seen to be no more a part of them than would be a part of two pretty pebbles lying side by side, between which it had been washed on the beach, the purple, crinkled spire of some sea-shell spun out into a turret and gay with glossy colour.
But since into none of these little etchings, whatever the taste my memory may have been able to bring to their execution, was it able to contribute an element I have long lost, the feeling which makes us not merely regard a thing as a spectacle, but believe in it as in a creature without parallel, so none of them keeps in dependence on it a whole section of my inmost life as does the memory of those aspects of the steeple of Combray from the streets behind the church.
On our way home from mass we would often meet M. Legrandin, who, detained in Paris by his professional duties as an engineer, could only except in the regular holiday seasons visit his home at Combray between Saturday evenings and Monday mornings. He was one of that class of men who, apart from a scientific career in which they may well have proved brilliantly successful, have acquired an entirely different kind of culture, literary or artistic, of which they make no use in the specialised work of their profession, but by which their conversation profits.
Legrandin had a distinct reputation as a writer, and so were greatly astonished to find that a well-known composer had set some verses of his to music , endowed with a greater ease in execution than many painters, they imagine that the life they are obliged to lead is not that for which they are really fitted, and they bring to their regular occupations either a fantastic indifference or a sustained and lofty application, scornful, bitter, and conscientious. Tall, with a good figure, a fine, thoughtful face, drooping fair moustaches, a look of disillusionment in his blue eyes, an almost exaggerated refinement of courtesy; a talker such as we had never heard; he was in the sight of my family, who never ceased to quote him as an example, the very pattern of a gentleman, who took life in the noblest and most delicate manner.
Worldly ambition was a thing which my grandmother was so little capable of feeling, or indeed of understanding, that it seemed to her futile to apply so much heat to its condemnation. Besides, she thought it in not very good taste that M. Legrandin, whose sister was married to a country gentleman of Lower Normandy near Balbec, should deliver himself of such violent attacks upon the nobles, going so far as to blame the Revolution for not having guillotined them all. The only thing wanting is the necessary thing, a great patch of open sky like this. When, on our reaching the house, my aunt would send to ask us whether Mme.
Goupil had indeed arrived late for mass, not one of us could inform her. Instead, we increased her anxiety by telling her that there was a painter at work in the church copying the window of Gilbert the Bad. She is really the only person who will be able to tell me. Above a mantle of black cloth she wore a little white coif that seemed almost to attach her to some Order, and an infirmity of the skin had stained part of her cheeks and her crooked nose the bright red colour of balsam. One group, the worse of the two, and the one of which she rid herself first, consisted of those who advised her not to take so much care of herself, and preached even if only negatively and with no outward signs beyond an occasional disapproving silence or doubting smile the subversive doctrine that a sharp walk in the sun and a good red beefsteak would do her more good her, who had had two dreadful sips of Vichy water on her stomach for fourteen hours!
The other category was composed of people who appeared to believe that she was more seriously ill than she thought, in fact that she was as seriously ill as she said. In short, my aunt stipulated, at one and the same time, that whoever came to see her must approve of her way of life, commiserate with her in her sufferings, and assure her of an ultimate recovery.
In all this Eulalie excelled. My aunt might say to her twenty times in a minute: Octave, you will live to be a hundred, as Mme. Sazerin said to me only yesterday. And since, besides this, Eulalie knew, as no one else knew, how to distract my aunt without tiring her, her visits, which took place regularly every Sunday, unless something unforeseen occurred to prevent them, were for my aunt a pleasure the prospect of which kept her on those days in a state of expectation, appetising enough to begin with, but at once changing to the agony of a hunger too long unsatisfied if Eulalie were a minute late in coming.
For, if unduly prolonged, the rapture of waiting for Eulalie became a torture, and my aunt would never cease from looking at the time, and yawning, and complaining of each of her symptoms in turn. Anyone who refused to partake of it, saying: At length my mother would say to me: One could see its red-tiled floor gleaming like porphyry. It would be overflowing with the offerings of the milkman, the fruiterer, the greengrocer, come sometimes from distant villages to dedicate here the first-fruits of their fields. And its roof was always surmounted by the cooing of a dove.
In earlier days I would not have lingered in the sacred grove which surrounded this temple, for, before going upstairs to read, I would steal into the little sitting-room which my uncle Adolphe, a brother of my grandfather and an old soldier who had retired from the service as a major, used to occupy on the ground floor, a room which, even when its opened windows let in the heat, if not actually the rays of the sun which seldom penetrated so far, would never fail to emit that vague and yet fresh odour, suggesting at once an open-air and an old-fashioned kind of existence, which sets and keeps the nostrils dreaming when one goes into a disused gun-room.
Once or twice every month, in Paris, I used to be sent to pay him a visit, as he was finishing his luncheon, wearing a plain alpaca coat, and waited upon by his servant in a working-jacket of striped linen, purple and white. And there I would stay with my uncle until his man came, with a message from the coachman, to ask him at what time he would like the carriage. My uncle would then be lost in meditation, while his astonished servant stood there, not daring to disturb him by the least movement, wondering and waiting for his answer, which never varied.
For in the end, after a supreme crisis of hesitation, my uncle would utter, infallibly, the words: I will go and tell him. At this date I was a lover of the theatre: Every morning I would hasten to the Moriss column to see what new plays it announced. Nothing could be more disinterested or happier than the dreams with which these announcements filled my mind, dreams which took their form from the inevitable associations of the words forming the title of the play, and also from the colour of the bills, still damp and wrinkled with paste, on which those words stood out. All my conversations with my playfellows bore upon actors, whose art, although as yet I had no experience of it, was the first of all its numberless forms in which Art itself allowed me to anticipate its enjoyment.
And from what I had been told of them I would arrange them in the order of their talent in lists which I used to murmur to myself all day long: And if, in his judgment, Febvre came below Thiron, or Delaunay below Coquelin, the sudden volatility which the name of Coquelin, forsaking its stony rigidity, would engender in my mind, in which it moved upwards to the second place, the rich vitality with which the name of Delaunay would suddenly be furnished, to enable it to slip down to fourth, would stimulate and fertilise my brain with a sense of budding and blossoming life.
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I classified, in order of talent, the most distinguished: Now my uncle knew many of them personally, and also ladies of another class, not clearly distinguished from actresses in my mind. He used to entertain them at his house. And if we went to see him on certain days only, that was because on the other days ladies might come whom his family could not very well have met. So we at least thought; as for my uncle, his fatal readiness to pay pretty widows who had perhaps never been married and countesses whose high-sounding titles were probably no more than noms de guerre the compliment of presenting them to my grandmother or even of presenting to them some of our family jewels, had already embroiled him more than once with my grandfather.
Often, if the name of some actress were mentioned in conversation, I would hear my father say, with a smile, to my mother: And so — on the pretext that some lesson, the hour of which had been altered, now came at such an awkward time that it had already more than once prevented me, and would continue to prevent me, from seeing my uncle — one day, not one of the days which he set apart for our visits, I took advantage of the fact that my parents had had luncheon earlier than usual; I slipped out and, instead of going to read the playbills on their column, for which purpose I was allowed to go out unaccompanied, I ran all the way to his house.
The man-servant who let me in appeared embarrassed, and said that my uncle was extremely busy and probably could not see me; he went in, however, to announce my arrival, and the same voice I had heard before said: Do let him come in; just for a moment; it will be so amusing. Is that his photograph there, on your desk? I should so like to see the little chap, just for a second. On the table was the same plate of marchpanes that was always there; my uncle wore the same alapca coat as on other days; but opposite to him, in a pink silk dress with a great necklace of pearls about her throat, sat a young woman who was just finishing a tangerine.
My uncertainty whether I ought to address her as Madame or Mademoiselle made me blush, and not daring to look too much in her direction, in case I should be obliged to speak to her, I hurried across to kiss my uncle. It is true I only saw her for a moment, and your staircase is rather dark; but I saw well enough to see how lovely she was. You will remember it was just after your great sorrow that we got to know one another. I could find no trace in her of the theatrical appearance which I admired in photographs of actresses, nothing of the diabolical expression which would have been in keeping with the life she must lead.
But I asked myself how the millionaire who gave her her carriage and her flat and her jewels could find any pleasure in flinging his money away upon a woman who had so simple and respectable an appearance. And yet, when I thought of what her life must be like, its immorality disturbed me more, perhaps, than if it had stood before me in some concrete and recognisable form, by its secrecy and invisibility, like the plot of a novel, the hidden truth of a scandal which had driven out of the home of her middle-class parents and dedicated to the service of all mankind which had brought to the flowering-point of her beauty, had raised to fame or notoriety this woman, the play of whose features, the intonations of whose voice, like so many others I already knew, made me regard her, in spite of myself, as a young lady of good family, her who was no longer of a family at all.
I tell him that they make you jealous. How on earth could I have forgotten? It has since struck me as one of the most touching aspects of the part played in life by these idle, painstaking women that they devote all their generosity, all their talent, their transferable dreams of sentimental beauty for, like all artists, they never seek to realise the value of those dreams, or to enclose them in the four-square frame of everyday life , and their gold, which counts for little, to the fashioning of a fine and precious setting for the rubbed and scratched and ill-polished lives of men.
I rose; I could scarcely resist a desire to kiss the hand of the lady in pink, but I felt that to do so would require as much audacity as a forcible abduction of her. Blindly, hotly, madly, flinging aside all the reasons I had just found to support such action, I seized and raised to my lips the hand she held out to me.
I did not understand half the words which the lady used, but my fear lest there should be concealed in them some question which it would be impolite in me not to answer kept me from withdrawing my close attention from them, and I was beginning to feel extremely tired.
Them, and really nice men like yourself. But please forgive my ignorance. Who, what is Vaulabelle? Is it those gilt books in the little glass case in your drawing-room? You know you promised to lend them to me; I will take great care of them. My uncle, who hated lending people books, said nothing, and ushered me out into the hall.
So strong an impression had it made upon me that two hours later, after a string of mysterious utterances which did not strike me as giving my parents a sufficiently clear idea of the new importance with which I had been invested, I found it simpler to let them have a full account, omitting no detail, of the visit I had paid that afternoon. In doing this I had no thought of causing my uncle any unpleasantness. How could I have thought such a thing, since I did not wish it? And I could not suppose that my parents would see any harm in a visit in which I myself saw none. Every day of our lives does not some friend or other ask us to make his apologies, without fail, to some woman to whom he has been prevented from writing; and do not we forget to do so, feeling that this woman cannot attach much importance to a silence which has none for ourselves?
A few days later, passing my uncle in the street as he drove by in an open carriage, I felt at once all the grief, the gratitude, the remorse which I should have liked to convey to him. Beside the immensity of these emotions I considered that merely to raise my hat to him would be incongruous and petty, and might make him think that I regarded myself as bound to shew him no more than the commonest form of courtesy.
I decided to abstain from so inadequate a gesture, and turned my head away.