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    Chapter 10

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    Chapter 10
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    Two months went by. This domestic life, once so monotonous, was now
    quickened with the intense interest of a secret that bound these women
    intimately together. For them Charles lived and moved beneath the grim
    gray rafters of the hall. Night and morning Eugenie opened the
    dressing-case and gazed at the portrait of her aunt. One Sunday
    morning her mother surprised her as she stood absorbed in finding her
    cousin's features in his mother's face. Madame Grandet was then for
    the first time admitted into the terrible secret of the exchange made
    by Charles against her daughter's treasure.

    "You gave him all!" cried the poor mother, terrified. "What will you
    say to your father on New Year's Day when he asks to see your gold?"

    Eugenie's eyes grew fixed, and the two women lived through mortal
    terror for more than half the morning. They were so troubled in mind
    that they missed high Mass, and only went to the military service. In
    three days the year 1819 would come to an end. In three days a
    terrible drama would begin, a bourgeois tragedy, without poison, or
    dagger, or the spilling of blood; but--as regards the actors in it
    --more cruel than all the fabled horrors in the family of the Atrides.

    "What will become of us?" said Madame Grandet to her daughter, letting
    her knitting fall upon her knees.

    The poor mother had gone through such anxiety for the past two months
    that the woollen sleeves which she needed for the coming winter were
    not yet finished. This domestic fact, insignificant as it seems, bore
    sad results. For want of those sleeves, a chill seized her in the
    midst of a sweat caused by a terrible explosion of anger on the part
    of her husband.

    "I have been thinking, my poor child, that if you had confided your
    secret to me we should have had time to write to Monsieur des Grassins
    in Paris. He might have sent us gold pieces like yours; though Grandet
    knows them all, perhaps--"

    "Where could we have got the money?"

    "I would have pledged my own property. Besides, Monsieur des Grassins
    would have--"

    "It is too late," said Eugenie in a broken, hollow voice. "To-morrow
    morning we must go and wish him a happy New Year in his chamber."

    "But, my daughter, why should I not consult the Cruchots?"

    "No, no; it would be delivering me up to them, and putting ourselves
    in their power. Besides, I have chosen my course. I have done right, I
    repent of nothing. God will protect me. His will be done! Ah! mother,
    if you had read his letter, you, too, would have thought only of him."

    The next morning, January 1, 1820, the horrible fear to which mother
    and daughter were a prey suggested to their minds a natural excuse by
    which to escape the solemn entrance into Grandet's chamber. The winter
    of 1819-1820 was one of the coldest of that epoch. The snow encumbered
    the roofs.

    Madame Grandet called to her husband as soon as she heard him stirring
    in his chamber, and said,--

    "Grandet, will you let Nanon light a fire here for me? The cold is so
    sharp that I am freezing under the bedclothes. At my age I need some
    comforts. Besides," she added, after a slight pause, "Eugenie shall
    come and dress here; the poor child might get an illness from dressing
    in her cold room in such weather. Then we will go and wish you a happy
    New Year beside the fire in the hall."

    "Ta, ta, ta, ta, what a tongue! a pretty way to begin the new year,
    Madame Grandet! You never talked so much before; but you haven't been
    sopping your bread in wine, I know that."

    There was a moment's silence.

    "Well," resumed the goodman, who no doubt had some reason of his own
    for agreeing to his wife's request, "I'll do what you ask, Madame
    Grandet. You are a good woman, and I don't want any harm to happen to
    you at your time of life,--though as a general thing the Bertellieres
    are as sound as a roach. Hein! isn't that so?" he added after a pause.
    "Well, I forgive them; we got their property in the end." And he

    "You are very gay this morning, monsieur," said the poor woman

    "I'm always gay,--

    "'Gai, gai, gai, le tonnelier,
    Raccommodez votre cuvier!'"

    he answered, entering his wife's room fully dressed. "Yes, on my word,
    it is cold enough to freeze you solid. We shall have a fine breakfast,
    wife. Des Grassins has sent me a pate-de-foie-gras truffled! I am
    going now to get it at the coach-office. There'll be a double napoleon
    for Eugenie in the package," he whispered in Madame Grandet's ear. "I
    have no gold left, wife. I had a few stray pieces--I don't mind
    telling you that--but I had to let them go in business."

    Then, by way of celebrating the new year, he kissed her on the

    "Eugenie," cried the mother, when Grandet was fairly gone, "I don't
    know which side of the bed your father got out of, but he is
    good-tempered this morning. Perhaps we shall come out safe after

    "What's happened to the master?" said Nanon, entering her mistress's
    room to light the fire. "First place, he said, 'Good-morning; happy
    New Year, you big fool! Go and light my wife's fire, she's cold'; and
    then, didn't I feel silly when he held out his hand and gave me a
    six-franc piece, which isn't worn one bit? Just look at it, madame! Oh,
    the kind man! He is a good man, that's a fact. There are some people
    who the older they get the harder they grow; but he,--why he's getting
    soft and improving with time, like your ratafia! He is a good, good

    The secret of Grandet's joy lay in the complete success of his
    speculation. Monsieur des Grassins, after deducting the amount which
    the old cooper owed him for the discount on a hundred and fifty
    thousand francs in Dutch notes, and for the surplus which he had
    advanced to make up the sum required for the investment in the Funds
    which was to produce a hundred thousand francs a year, had now sent
    him, by the diligence, thirty thousand francs in silver coin, the
    remainder of his first half-year's interest, informing him at the same
    time that the Funds had already gone up in value. They were then
    quoted at eighty-nine; the shrewdest capitalists bought in, towards
    the last of January, at ninety-three. Grandet had thus gained in two
    months twelve per cent on his capital; he had simplified his accounts,
    and would in future receive fifty thousand francs interest every six
    months, without incurring any taxes or costs for repairs. He
    understood at last what it was to invest money in the public
    securities,--a system for which provincials have always shown a marked
    repugnance,--and at the end of five years he found himself master of a
    capital of six millions, which increased without much effort of his
    own, and which, joined to the value and proceeds of his territorial
    possessions, gave him a fortune that was absolutely colossal. The six
    francs bestowed on Nanon were perhaps the reward of some great service
    which the poor servant had rendered to her master unawares.

    "Oh! oh! where's Pere Grandet going? He has been scurrying about since
    sunrise as if to a fire," said the tradespeople to each other as they
    opened their shops for the day.

    When they saw him coming back from the wharf, followed by a porter
    from the coach-office wheeling a barrow which was laden with sacks,
    they all had their comments to make:--

    "Water flows to the river; the old fellow was running after his gold,"
    said one.

    "He gets it from Paris and Froidfond and Holland," said another.

    "He'll end by buying up Saumur," cried a third.

    "He doesn't mind the cold, he's so wrapped up in his gains," said a
    wife to her husband.

    "Hey! hey! Monsieur Grandet, if that's too heavy for you," said a
    cloth-dealer, his nearest neighbor, "I'll take it off your hands."

    "Heavy?" said the cooper, "I should think so; it's all sous!"

    "Silver sous," said the porter in a low voice.

    "If you want me to take care of you, keep your tongue between your
    teeth," said the goodman to the porter as they reached the door.

    "The old fox! I thought he was deaf; seems he can hear fast enough in
    frosty weather."

    "Here's twenty sous for your New Year, and _mum_!" said Grandet. "Be
    off with you! Nanon shall take back your barrow. Nanon, are the
    linnets at church?"

    "Yes, monsieur."

    "Then lend a hand! go to work!" he cried, piling the sacks upon her.
    In a few moments all were carried up to his inner room, where he shut
    himself in with them. "When breakfast is ready, knock on the wall," he
    said as he disappeared. "Take the barrow back to the coach-office."

    The family did not breakfast that day until ten o'clock.

    "Your father will not ask to see your gold downstairs," said Madame
    Grandet as they got back from Mass. "You must pretend to be very
    chilly. We may have time to replace the treasure before your

    Grandet came down the staircase thinking of his splendid speculation
    in government securities, and wondering how he could metamorphose his
    Parisian silver into solid gold; he was making up his mind to invest
    in this way everything he could lay hands on until the Funds should
    reach a par value. Fatal reverie for Eugenie! As soon as he came in,
    the two women wished him a happy New Year,--his daughter by putting
    her arms round his neck and caressing him; Madame Grandet gravely and
    with dignity.

    "Ha! ha! my child," he said, kissing his daughter on both cheeks. "I
    work for you, don't you see? I think of your happiness. Must have
    money to be happy. Without money there's not a particle of happiness.
    Here! there's a new napoleon for you. I sent to Paris for it. On my
    word of honor, it's all the gold I have; you are the only one that has
    got any gold. I want to see your gold, little one."

    "Oh! it is too cold; let us have breakfast," answered Eugenie.

    "Well, after breakfast, then; it will help the digestion. That fat
    des Grassins sent me the pate. Eat as much as you like, my children,
    it costs nothing. Des Grassins is getting along very well. I am
    satisfied with him. The old fish is doing Charles a good service, and
    gratis too. He is making a very good settlement of that poor deceased
    Grandet's business. Hoo! hoo!" he muttered, with his mouth full, after
    a pause, "how good it is! Eat some, wife; that will feed you for at
    least two days."

    "I am not hungry. I am very poorly; you know that."

    "Ah, bah! you can stuff yourself as full as you please without danger,
    you're a Bertelliere; they are all hearty. You are a bit yellow,
    that's true; but I like yellow, myself."

    The expectation of ignominious and public death is perhaps less
    horrible to a condemned criminal than the anticipation of what was
    coming after breakfast to Madame Grandet and Eugenie. The more
    gleefully the old man talked and ate, the more their hearts shrank
    within them. The daughter, however, had an inward prop at this crisis,
    --she gathered strength through love.

    "For him! for him!" she cried within her, "I would die a thousand

    At this thought, she shot a glance at her mother which flamed with

    "Clear away," said Grandet to Nanon when, about eleven o'clock,
    breakfast was over, "but leave the table. We can spread your little
    treasure upon it," he said, looking at Eugenie. "Little? Faith! no; it
    isn't little. You possess, in actual value, five thousand nine hundred
    and fifty-nine francs and the forty I gave you just now. That makes
    six thousand francs, less one. Well, now see here, little one! I'll
    give you that one franc to make up the round number. Hey! what are you
    listening for, Nanon? Mind your own business; go and do your work."

    Nanon disappeared.

    "Now listen, Eugenie; you must give me back your gold. You won't
    refuse your father, my little girl, hein?"

    The two women were dumb.

    "I have no gold myself. I had some, but it is all gone. I'll give you
    in return six thousand francs in _livres_, and you are to put them
    just where I tell you. You mustn't think anything more about your
    'dozen.' When I marry you (which will be soon) I shall get you a
    husband who can give you the finest 'dozen' ever seen in the
    provinces. Now attend to me, little girl. There's a fine chance for
    you; you can put your six thousand francs into government funds, and
    you will receive every six months nearly two hundred francs interest,
    without taxes, or repairs, or frost, or hail, or floods, or anything
    else to swallow up the money. Perhaps you don't like to part with your
    gold, hey, my girl? Never mind, bring it to me all the same. I'll get
    you some more like it,--like those Dutch coins and the _portugaises_,
    the rupees of Mogul, and the _genovines_,--I'll give you some more on
    your fete-days, and in three years you'll have got back half your
    little treasure. What's that you say? Look up, now. Come, go and get
    it, the precious metal. You ought to kiss me on the eyelids for
    telling you the secrets and the mysteries of the life and death of
    money. Yes, silver and gold live and swarm like men; they come, and
    go, and sweat, and multiply--"

    Eugenie rose; but after making a few steps towards the door she turned
    abruptly, looked her father in the face, and said,--

    "I have not got _my_ gold."

    "You have not got your gold!" cried Grandet, starting up erect, like a
    horse that hears a cannon fired beside him.

    "No, I have not got it."

    "You are mistaken, Eugenie."


    "By the shears of my father!"

    Whenever the old man swore that oath the rafters trembled.

    "Holy Virgin! Madame is turning pale," cried Nanon.

    "Grandet, your anger will kill me," said the poor mother.

    "Ta, ta, ta, ta! nonsense; you never die in your family! Eugenie, what
    have you done with your gold?" he cried, rushing upon her.

    "Monsieur," said the daughter, falling at Madame Grandet's knees, "my
    mother is ill. Look at her; do not kill her."

    Grandet was frightened by the pallor which overspread his wife's face,
    usually so yellow.

    "Nanon, help me to bed," said the poor woman in a feeble voice; "I am

    Nanon gave her mistress an arm, Eugenie gave her another; but it was
    only with infinite difficulty that they could get her upstairs, she
    fell with exhaustion at every step. Grandet remained alone. However,
    in a few moments he went up six or eight stairs and called out,--

    "Eugenie, when your mother is in bed, come down."

    "Yes, father."

    She soon came, after reassuring her mother.

    "My daughter," said Grandet, "you will now tell me what you have done
    with your gold."

    "My father, if you make me presents of which I am not the sole
    mistress, take them back," she answered coldly, picking up the
    napoleon from the chimney-piece and offering it to him.

    Grandet seized the coin and slipped it into his breeches' pocket.

    "I shall certainly never give you anything again. Not so much as
    that!" he said, clicking his thumb-nail against a front tooth. "Do you
    dare to despise your father? have you no confidence in him? Don't you
    know what a father is? If he is nothing for you, he is nothing at all.
    Where is your gold?"

    "Father, I love and respect you, in spite of your anger; but I humbly
    ask you to remember that I am twenty-three years old. You have told me
    often that I have attained my majority, and I do not forget it. I have
    used my money as I chose to use it, and you may be sure that it was
    put to a good use--"

    "What use?"

    "That is an inviolable secret," she answered. "Have you no secrets?"

    "I am the head of the family; I have my own affairs."

    "And this is mine."

    "It must be something bad if you can't tell it to your father,
    Mademoiselle Grandet."

    "It is good, and I cannot tell it to my father."

    "At least you can tell me when you parted with your gold?"

    Eugenie made a negative motion with her head.

    "You had it on your birthday, hein?"

    She grew as crafty through love as her father was through avarice, and
    reiterated the negative sign.

    "Was there ever such obstinacy! It's a theft," cried Grandet, his
    voice going up in a crescendo which gradually echoed through the
    house. "What! here, in my own home, under my very eyes, somebody has
    taken your gold!--the only gold we have!--and I'm not to know who has
    got it! Gold is a precious thing. Virtuous girls go wrong sometimes,
    and give--I don't know what; they do it among the great people, and
    even among the bourgeoisie. But give their gold!--for you have given
    it to some one, hein?--"

    Eugenie was silent and impassive.

    "Was there ever such a daughter? Is it possible that I am your father?
    If you have invested it anywhere, you must have a receipt--"

    "Was I free--yes or no--to do what I would with my own? Was it not

    "You are a child."

    "Of age."

    Dumbfounded by his daughter's logic, Grandet turned pale and stamped
    and swore. When at last he found words, he cried: "Serpent! Cursed
    girl! Ah, deceitful creature! You know I love you, and you take
    advantage of it. She'd cut her father's throat! Good God! you've given
    our fortune to that ne'er-do-well,--that dandy with morocco boots! By
    the shears of my father! I can't disinherit you, but I curse you,--you
    and your cousin and your children! Nothing good will come of it! Do
    you hear? If it was to Charles--but, no; it's impossible. What! has
    that wretched fellow robbed me?--"

    He looked at his daughter, who continued cold and silent.

    "She won't stir; she won't flinch! She's more Grandet than I'm
    Grandet! Ha! you have not given your gold for nothing? Come, speak the

    Eugenie looked at her father with a sarcastic expression that stung

    "Eugenie, you are here, in my house,--in your father's house. If you
    wish to stay here, you must submit yourself to me. The priests tell
    you to obey me." Eugenie bowed her head. "You affront me in all I hold
    most dear. I will not see you again until you submit. Go to your
    chamber. You will stay there till I give you permission to leave it.
    Nanon will bring you bread and water. You hear me--go!"

    Eugenie burst into tears and fled up to her mother. Grandet, after
    marching two or three times round the garden in the snow without
    heeding the cold, suddenly suspected that his daughter had gone to her
    mother; only too happy to find her disobedient to his orders, he
    climbed the stairs with the agility of a cat and appeared in Madame
    Grandet's room just as she was stroking Eugenie's hair, while the
    girl's face was hidden in her motherly bosom.

    "Be comforted, my poor child," she was saying; "your father will get
    over it."

    "She has no father!" said the old man. "Can it be you and I, Madame
    Grandet, who have given birth to such a disobedient child? A fine
    education,--religious, too! Well! why are you not in your chamber?
    Come, to prison, to prison, mademoiselle!"

    "Would you deprive me of my daughter, monsieur?" said Madame Grandet,
    turning towards him a face that was now red with fever.

    "If you want to keep her, carry her off! Clear out--out of my house,
    both of you! Thunder! where is the gold? what's become of the gold?"

    Eugenie rose, looked proudly at her father, and withdrew to her room.
    Grandet turned the key of the door.

    "Nanon," he cried, "put out the fire in the hall."

    Then he sat down in an armchair beside his wife's fire and said to

    "Undoubtedly she has given the gold to that miserable seducer,
    Charles, who only wanted our money."

    "I knew nothing about it," she answered, turning to the other side of
    the bed, that she might escape the savage glances of her husband. "I
    suffer so much from your violence that I shall never leave this room,
    if I trust my own presentiments, till I am carried out of it in my
    coffin. You ought to have spared me this suffering, monsieur,--you, to
    whom I have caused no pain; that is, I think so. Your daughter loves
    you. I believe her to be as innocent as the babe unborn. Do not make
    her wretched. Revoke your sentence. The cold is very severe; you may
    give her some serious illness."

    "I will not see her, neither will I speak to her. She shall stay in
    her room, on bread and water, until she submits to her father. What
    the devil! shouldn't a father know where the gold in his house has
    gone to? She owned the only rupees in France, perhaps, and the Dutch
    ducats and the _genovines_--"

    "Monsieur, Eugenie is our only child; and even if she had thrown them
    into the water--"

    "Into the water!" cried her husband; "into the water! You are crazy,
    Madame Grandet! What I have said is said; you know that well enough.
    If you want peace in this household, make your daughter confess, pump
    it out of her. Women understand how to do that better than we do.
    Whatever she has done, I sha'n't eat her. Is she afraid of me? Even if
    she has plastered Charles with gold from head to foot, he is on the
    high seas, and nobody can get at him, hein!"

    "But, monsieur--" Excited by the nervous crisis through which she had
    passed, and by the fate of her daughter, which brought forth all her
    tenderness and all her powers of mind, Madame Grandet suddenly
    observed a frightful movement of her husband's wen, and, in the very
    act of replying, she changed her speech without changing the tones of
    her voice,--"But, monsieur, I have not more influence over her than
    you have. She has said nothing to me; she takes after you."

    "Tut, tut! Your tongue is hung in the middle this morning. Ta, ta, ta,
    ta! You are setting me at defiance, I do believe. I daresay you are in
    league with her."

    He looked fixedly at his wife.

    "Monsieur Grandet, if you wish to kill me, you have only to go on like
    this. I tell you, monsieur,--and if it were to cost me my life, I
    would say it,--you do wrong by your daughter; she is more in the right
    than you are. That money belonged to her; she is incapable of making
    any but a good use of it, and God alone has the right to know our good
    deeds. Monsieur, I implore you, take Eugenie back into favor; forgive
    her. If you will do this you will lessen the injury your anger has
    done me; perhaps you will save my life. My daughter! oh, monsieur,
    give me back my daughter!"

    "I shall decamp," he said; "the house is not habitable. A mother and
    daughter talking and arguing like that! Broooouh! Pouah! A fine New
    Year's present you've made me, Eugenie," he called out. "Yes, yes, cry
    away! What you've done will bring you remorse, do you hear? What's the
    good of taking the sacrament six times every three months, if you give
    away your father's gold secretly to an idle fellow who'll eat your
    heart out when you've nothing else to give him? You'll find out some
    day what your Charles is worth, with his morocco boots and
    supercilious airs. He has got neither heart nor soul if he dared to
    carry off a young girl's treasure without the consent of her parents."

    When the street-door was shut, Eugenie came out of her room and went
    to her mother.

    "What courage you have had for your daughter's sake!" she said.

    "Ah! my child, see where forbidden things may lead us. You forced me
    to tell a lie."

    "I will ask God to punish only me."

    "Is it true," cried Nanon, rushing in alarmed, "that mademoiselle is
    to be kept on bread and water for the rest of her life?"

    "What does that signify, Nanon?" said Eugenie tranquilly.

    "Goodness! do you suppose I'll eat _frippe_ when the daughter of the
    house is eating dry bread? No, no!"

    "Don't say a word about all this, Nanon," said Eugenie.

    "I'll be as mute as a fish; but you'll see!"

    * * * * *

    Grandet dined alone for the first time in twenty-four years.

    "So you're a widower, monsieur," said Nanon; "it must be disagreeable
    to be a widower with two women in the house."

    "I did not speak to you. Hold your jaw, or I'll turn you off! What is
    that I hear boiling in your saucepan on the stove?"

    "It is grease I'm trying out."

    "There will be some company to-night. Light the fire."

    The Cruchots, Madame des Grassins, and her son arrived at the usual
    hour of eight, and were surprised to see neither Madame Grandet nor
    her daughter.

    "My wife is not very well, and Eugenie is with her," said the old
    wine-grower, whose face betrayed no emotion.

    At the end of an hour spent in idle conversation, Madame des Grassins,
    who had gone up to see Madame Grandet, came down, and every one

    "How is Madame Grandet?"

    "Not at all well," she answered; "her condition seems to me really
    alarming. At her age you ought to take every precaution, Papa

    "We'll see about it," said the old man in an absent way.

    They all wished him good-night. When the Cruchots got into the street
    Madame des Grassins said to them,--

    "There is something going on at the Grandets. The mother is very ill
    without her knowing it. The girl's eyes are red, as if she had been
    crying all day. Can they be trying to marry her against her will?"

    * * * * *

    When Grandet had gone to bed Nanon came softly to Eugenie's room in
    her stockinged feet and showed her a pate baked in a saucepan.

    "See, mademoiselle," said the good soul, "Cornoiller gave me a hare.
    You eat so little that this pate will last you full a week; in such
    frosty weather it won't spoil. You sha'n't live on dry bread, I'm
    determined; it isn't wholesome."

    "Poor Nanon!" said Eugenie, pressing her hand.

    "I've made it downright good and dainty, and _he_ never found it out.
    I bought the lard and the spices out of my six francs: I'm the
    mistress of my own money"; and she disappeared rapidly, fancying she
    heard Grandet.
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