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    Chapter 11

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    Chapter 11
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    For several months the old wine-grower came constantly to his wife's
    room at all hours of the day, without ever uttering his daughter's
    name, or seeing her, or making the smallest allusion to her. Madame
    Grandet did not leave her chamber, and daily grew worse. Nothing
    softened the old man; he remained unmoved, harsh, and cold as a
    granite rock. He continued to go and come about his business as usual;
    but ceased to stutter, talked less, and was more obdurate in business
    transactions than ever before. Often he made mistakes in adding up his

    "Something is going on at the Grandets," said the Grassinists and the

    "What has happened in the Grandet family?" became a fixed question
    which everybody asked everybody else at the little evening-parties of
    Saumur. Eugenie went to Mass escorted by Nanon. If Madame des Grassins
    said a few words to her on coming out of church, she answered in an
    evasive manner, without satisfying any curiosity. However, at the end
    of two months, it became impossible to hide, either from the three
    Cruchots or from Madame des Grassins, the fact that Eugenie was in
    confinement. There came a moment when all pretexts failed to explain
    her perpetual absence. Then, though it was impossible to discover by
    whom the secret had been betrayed, all the town became aware that ever
    since New Year's day Mademoiselle Grandet had been kept in her room
    without fire, on bread and water, by her father's orders, and that
    Nanon cooked little dainties and took them to her secretly at night.
    It was even known that the young woman was not able to see or take
    care of her mother, except at certain times when her father was out of
    the house.

    Grandet's conduct was severely condemned. The whole town outlawed him,
    so to speak; they remembered his treachery, his hard-heartedness, and
    they excommunicated him. When he passed along the streets, people
    pointed him out and muttered at him. When his daughter came down the
    winding street, accompanied by Nanon, on her way to Mass or Vespers,
    the inhabitants ran to the windows and examined with intense curiosity
    the bearing of the rich heiress and her countenance, which bore the
    impress of angelic gentleness and melancholy. Her imprisonment and the
    condemnation of her father were as nothing to her. Had she not a map
    of the world, the little bench, the garden, the angle of the wall? Did
    she not taste upon her lips the honey that love's kisses left there?
    She was ignorant for a time that the town talked about her, just as
    Grandet himself was ignorant of it. Pious and pure in heart before
    God, her conscience and her love helped her to suffer patiently the
    wrath and vengeance of her father.

    One deep grief silenced all others. Her mother, that gentle, tender
    creature, made beautiful by the light which shone from the inner to
    the outer as she approached the tomb,--her mother was perishing from
    day to day. Eugenie often reproached herself as the innocent cause of
    the slow, cruel malady that was wasting her away. This remorse, though
    her mother soothed it, bound her still closer to her love. Every
    morning, as soon as her father left the house, she went to the bedside
    of her mother, and there Nanon brought her breakfast. The poor girl,
    sad, and suffering through the sufferings of her mother, would turn
    her face to the old servant with a mute gesture, weeping, and yet not
    daring to speak of her cousin. It was Madame Grandet who first found
    courage to say,--

    "Where is _he_? Why does _he_ not write?"

    "Let us think about him, mother, but not speak of him. You are ill
    --you, before all."

    "All" meant "him."

    "My child," said Madame Grandet, "I do not wish to live. God protects
    me and enables me to look with joy to the end of my misery."

    Every utterance of this woman was unfalteringly pious and Christian.
    Sometimes, during the first months of the year, when her husband came
    to breakfast with her and tramped up and down the room, she would say
    to him a few religious words, always spoken with angelic sweetness,
    yet with the firmness of a woman to whom approaching death lends a
    courage she had lacked in life.

    "Monsieur, I thank you for the interest you take in my health," she
    would answer when he made some commonplace inquiry; "but if you really
    desire to render my last moments less bitter and to ease my grief,
    take back your daughter: be a Christian, a husband, and a father."

    When he heard these words, Grandet would sit down by the bed with the
    air of a man who sees the rain coming and quietly gets under the
    shelter of a gateway till it is over. When these touching, tender, and
    religious supplications had all been made, he would say,--

    "You are rather pale to-day, my poor wife."

    Absolute forgetfulness of his daughter seemed graven on his stony
    brow, on his closed lips. He was unmoved by the tears which flowed
    down the white cheeks of his unhappy wife as she listened to his
    meaningless answers.

    "May God pardon you," she said, "even as I pardon you! You will some
    day stand in need of mercy."

    Since Madame Grandet's illness he had not dared to make use of his
    terrible "Ta, ta, ta, ta!" Yet, for all that, his despotic nature was
    not disarmed by this angel of gentleness, whose ugliness day by day
    decreased, driven out by the ineffable expression of moral qualities
    which shone upon her face. She was all soul. The spirit of prayer
    seemed to purify her and refine those homely features and make them
    luminous. Who has not seen the phenomenon of a like transfiguration on
    sacred faces where the habits of the soul have triumphed over the
    plainest features, giving them that spiritual illumination whose light
    comes from the purity and nobility of the inward thought? The
    spectacle of this transformation wrought by the struggle which
    consumed the last shreds of the human life of this woman, did somewhat
    affect the old cooper, though feebly, for his nature was of iron; if
    his language ceased to be contemptuous, an imperturbable silence,
    which saved his dignity as master of the household, took its place and
    ruled his conduct.

    When the faithful Nanon appeared in the market, many quips and quirks
    and complaints about the master whistled in her ears; but however
    loudly public opinion condemned Monsieur Grandet, the old servant
    defended him, for the honor of the family.

    "Well!" she would say to his detractors, "don't we all get hard as we
    grow old? Why shouldn't he get horny too? Stop telling lies.
    Mademoiselle lives like a queen. She's alone, that's true; but she
    likes it. Besides, my masters have good reasons."

    At last, towards the end of spring, Madame Grandet, worn out by grief
    even more than by illness, having failed, in spite of her prayers, to
    reconcile the father and daughter, confided her secret troubles to the

    "Keep a girl of twenty-three on bread and water!" cried Monsieur de
    Bonfons; "without any reason, too! Why, that constitutes wrongful
    cruelty; she can contest, as much in as upon--"

    "Come, nephew, spare us your legal jargon," said the notary. "Set your
    mind at ease, madame; I will put a stop to such treatment to-morrow."

    Eugenie, hearing herself mentioned, came out of her room.

    "Gentlemen," she said, coming forward with a proud step, "I beg you
    not to interfere in this matter. My father is master in his own house.
    As long as I live under his roof I am bound to obey him. His conduct
    is not subject to the approbation or the disapprobation of the world;
    he is accountable to God only. I appeal to your friendship to keep
    total silence in this affair. To blame my father is to attack our
    family honor. I am much obliged to you for the interest you have shown
    in me; you will do me an additional service if you will put a stop to
    the offensive rumors which are current in the town, of which I am
    accidentally informed."

    "She is right," said Madame Grandet.

    "Mademoiselle, the best way to stop such rumors is to procure your
    liberty," answered the old notary respectfully, struck with the beauty
    which seclusion, melancholy, and love had stamped upon her face.

    "Well, my daughter, let Monsieur Cruchot manage the matter if he is so
    sure of success. He understands your father, and how to manage him. If
    you wish to see me happy for my few remaining days, you must, at any
    cost, be reconciled to your father."

    On the morrow Grandet, in pursuance of a custom he had begun since
    Eugenie's imprisonment, took a certain number of turns up and down the
    little garden; he had chosen the hour when Eugenie brushed and
    arranged her hair. When the old man reached the walnut-tree he hid
    behind its trunk and remained for a few moments watching his
    daughter's movements, hesitating, perhaps, between the course to which
    the obstinacy of his character impelled him and his natural desire to
    embrace his child. Sometimes he sat down on the rotten old bench where
    Charles and Eugenie had vowed eternal love; and then she, too, looked
    at her father secretly in the mirror before which she stood. If he
    rose and continued his walk, she sat down obligingly at the window and
    looked at the angle of the wall where the pale flowers hung, where the
    Venus-hair grew from the crevices with the bindweed and the sedum,--a
    white or yellow stone-crop very abundant in the vineyards of Saumur
    and at Tours. Maitre Cruchot came early, and found the old wine-grower
    sitting in the fine June weather on the little bench, his back against
    the division wall of the garden, engaged in watching his daughter.

    "What may you want, Maitre Cruchot?" he said, perceiving the notary.

    "I came to speak to you on business."

    "Ah! ah! have you brought some gold in exchange for my silver?"

    "No, no, I have not come about money; it is about your daughter
    Eugenie. All the town is talking of her and you."

    "What does the town meddle for? A man's house is his castle."

    "Very true; and a man may kill himself if he likes, or, what is worse,
    he may fling his money into the gutter."

    "What do you mean?"

    "Why, your wife is very ill, my friend. You ought to consult Monsieur
    Bergerin; she is likely to die. If she does die without receiving
    proper care, you will not be very easy in mind, I take it."

    "Ta, ta, ta, ta! you know a deal about my wife! These doctors, if they
    once get their foot in your house, will come five and six times a

    "Of course you will do as you think best. We are old friends; there is
    no one in all Saumur who takes more interest than I in what concerns
    you. Therefore, I was bound to tell you this. However, happen what
    may, you have the right to do as you please; you can choose your own
    course. Besides, that is not what brings me here. There is another
    thing which may have serious results for you. After all, you can't
    wish to kill your wife; her life is too important to you. Think of
    your situation in connection with your daughter if Madame Grandet
    dies. You must render an account to Eugenie, because you enjoy your
    wife's estate only during her lifetime. At her death your daughter can
    claim a division of property, and she may force you to sell Froidfond.
    In short, she is her mother's heir, and you are not."

    These words fell like a thunderbolt on the old man, who was not as
    wise about law as he was about business. He had never thought of a
    legal division of the estate.

    "Therefore I advise you to treat her kindly," added Cruchot, in

    "But do you know what she has done, Cruchot?"

    "What?" asked the notary, curious to hear the truth and find out the
    cause of the quarrel.

    "She has given away her gold!"

    "Well, wasn't it hers?" said the notary.

    "They all tell me that!" exclaimed the old man, letting his arms fall
    to his sides with a movement that was truly tragic.

    "Are you going--for a mere nothing,"--resumed Cruchot, "to put
    obstacles in the way of the concessions which you will be obliged to
    ask from your daughter as soon as her mother dies?"

    "Do you call six thousand francs a mere nothing?"

    "Hey! my old friend, do you know what the inventory of your wife's
    property will cost, if Eugenie demands the division?"

    "How much?"

    "Two, three, four thousand francs, perhaps! The property would have to
    be put up at auction and sold, to get at its actual value. Instead of
    that, if you are on good terms with--"

    "By the shears of my father!" cried Grandet, turning pale as he
    suddenly sat down, "we will see about it, Cruchot."

    After a moment's silence, full of anguish perhaps, the old man looked
    at the notary and said,--

    "Life is very hard! It has many griefs! Cruchot," he continued
    solemnly, "you would not deceive me? Swear to me upon your honor that
    all you've told me is legally true. Show me the law; I must see the

    "My poor friend," said the notary, "don't I know my own business?"

    "Then it is true! I am robbed, betrayed, killed, destroyed by my own

    "It is true that your daughter is her mother's heir."

    "Why do we have children? Ah! my wife, I love her! Luckily she's sound
    and healthy; she's a Bertelliere."

    "She has not a month to live."

    Grandet struck his forehead, went a few steps, came back, cast a
    dreadful look on Cruchot, and said,--

    "What can be done?"

    "Eugenie can relinquish her claim to her mother's property. Should she
    do this you would not disinherit her, I presume?--but if you want to
    come to such a settlement, you must not treat her harshly. What I am
    telling you, old man, is against my own interests. What do I live by,
    if it isn't liquidations, inventories, conveyances, divisions of

    "We'll see, we'll see! Don't let's talk any more about it, Cruchot; it
    wrings my vitals. Have you received any gold?"

    "No; but I have a few old louis, a dozen or so, which you may have. My
    good friend, make it up with Eugenie. Don't you know all Saumur is
    pelting you with stones?"

    "The scoundrels!"

    "Come, the Funds are at ninety-nine. Do be satisfied for once in your

    "At ninety-nine! Are they, Cruchot?"


    "Hey, hey! Ninety-nine!" repeated the old man, accompanying the notary
    to the street-door. Then, too agitated by what he had just heard to
    stay in the house, he went up to his wife's room and said,--

    "Come, mother, you may have your daughter to spend the day with you.
    I'm going to Froidfond. Enjoy yourselves, both of you. This is our
    wedding-day, wife. See! here are sixty francs for your altar at the
    Fete-Dieu; you've wanted one for a long time. Come, cheer up, enjoy
    yourself, and get well! Hurrah for happiness!"

    He threw ten silver pieces of six francs each upon the bed, and took
    his wife's head between his hands and kissed her forehead.

    "My good wife, you are getting well, are not you?"

    "How can you think of receiving the God of mercy in your house when
    you refuse to forgive your daughter?" she said with emotion.

    "Ta, ta, ta, ta!" said Grandet in a coaxing voice. "We'll see about

    "Merciful heaven! Eugenie," cried the mother, flushing with joy, "come
    and kiss your father; he forgives you!"

    But the old man had disappeared. He was going as fast as his legs
    could carry him towards his vineyards, trying to get his confused
    ideas into order. Grandet had entered his seventy-sixth year. During
    the last two years his avarice had increased upon him, as all the
    persistent passions of men increase at a certain age. As if to
    illustrate an observation which applies equally to misers, ambitious
    men, and others whose lives are controlled by any dominant idea, his
    affections had fastened upon one special symbol of his passion. The
    sight of gold, the possession of gold, had become a monomania. His
    despotic spirit had grown in proportion to his avarice, and to part
    with the control of the smallest fraction of his property at the death
    of his wife seemed to him a thing "against nature." To declare his
    fortune to his daughter, to give an inventory of his property, landed
    and personal, for the purposes of division--

    "Why," he cried aloud in the midst of a field where he was pretending
    to examine a vine, "it would be cutting my throat!"

    He came at last to a decision, and returned to Saumur in time for
    dinner, resolved to unbend to Eugenie, and pet and coax her, that he
    might die regally, holding the reins of his millions in his own hands
    so long as the breath was in his body. At the moment when the old man,
    who chanced to have his pass-key in his pocket, opened the door and
    climbed with a stealthy step up the stairway to go into his wife's
    room, Eugenie had brought the beautiful dressing-case from the oak
    cabinet and placed it on her mother's bed. Mother and daughter, in
    Grandet's absence, allowed themselves the pleasure of looking for a
    likeness to Charles in the portrait of his mother.

    "It is exactly his forehead and his mouth," Eugenie was saying as the
    old man opened the door. At the look which her husband cast upon the
    gold, Madame Grandet cried out,--

    "O God, have pity upon us!"

    The old man sprang upon the box as a famished tiger might spring upon
    a sleeping child.

    "What's this?" he said, snatching the treasure and carrying it to the
    window. "Gold, good gold!" he cried. "All gold,--it weighs two pounds!
    Ha, ha! Charles gave you that for your money, did he? Hein! Why didn't
    you tell me so? It was a good bargain, little one! Yes, you are my
    daughter, I see that--" Eugenie trembled in every limb. "This came
    from Charles, of course, didn't it?" continued the old man.

    "Yes, father; it is not mine. It is a sacred trust."

    "Ta, ta, ta, ta! He took your fortune, and now you can get it back."


    Grandet took his knife to pry out some of the gold; to do this, he
    placed the dressing-case on a chair. Eugenie sprang forward to recover
    it; but her father, who had his eye on her and on the treasure too,
    pushed her back so violently with a thrust of his arm that she fell
    upon her mother's bed.

    "Monsieur, monsieur!" cried the mother, lifting herself up.

    Grandet had opened his knife, and was about to apply it to the gold.

    "Father!" cried Eugenie, falling on her knees and dragging herself
    close to him with clasped hands, "father, in the name of all the
    saints and the Virgin! in the name of Christ who died upon the cross!
    in the name of your eternal salvation, father! for my life's sake,
    father!--do not touch that! It is neither yours nor mine. It is a
    trust placed in my hands by an unhappy relation: I must give it back
    to him uninjured!"

    "If it is a trust, why were you looking at it? To look at it is as bad
    as touching it."

    "Father, don't destroy it, or you will disgrace me! Father, do you

    "Oh, have pity!" said the mother.

    "Father!" cried Eugenie in so startling a voice that Nanon ran
    upstairs terrified. Eugenie sprang upon a knife that was close at

    "Well, what now?" said Grandet coldly, with a callous smile.

    "Oh, you are killing me!" said the mother.

    "Father, if your knife so much as cuts a fragment of that gold, I will
    stab myself with this one! You have already driven my mother to her
    death; you will now kill your child! Do as you choose! Wound for

    Grandet held his knife over the dressing-case and hesitated as he
    looked at his daughter.

    "Are you capable of doing it, Eugenie?" he said.

    "Yes, yes!" said the mother.

    "She'll do it if she says so!" cried Nanon. "Be reasonable, monsieur,
    for once in your life."

    The old man looked at the gold and then at his daughter alternately
    for an instant. Madame Grandet fainted.

    "There! don't you see, monsieur, that madame is dying?" cried Nanon.

    "Come, come, my daughter, we won't quarrel for a box! Here, take it!"
    he cried hastily, flinging the case upon the bed. "Nanon, go and fetch
    Monsieur Bergerin! Come, mother," said he, kissing his wife's hand,
    "it's all over! There! we've made up--haven't we, little one? No more
    dry bread; you shall have all you want--Ah, she opens her eyes! Well,
    mother, little mother, come! See, I'm kissing Eugenie! She loves her
    cousin, and she may marry him if she wants to; she may keep his case.
    But don't die, mother; live a long time yet, my poor wife! Come, try
    to move! Listen! you shall have the finest altar that ever was made in

    "Oh, how can you treat your wife and daughter so!" said Madame Grandet
    in a feeble voice.

    "I won't do so again, never again," cried her husband; "you shall see,
    my poor wife!" He went to his inner room and returned with a handful
    of louis, which he scattered on the bed. "Here, Eugenie! see, wife!
    all these are for you," he said, fingering the coins. "Come, be happy,
    wife! feel better, get well; you sha'n't want for anything, nor
    Eugenie either. Here's a hundred _louis d'or_ for her. You won't give
    these away, will you, Eugenie, hein?"

    Madame Grandet and her daughter looked at each other in astonishment.

    "Take back your money, father; we ask for nothing but your affection."

    "Well, well, that's right!" he said, pocketing the coins; "let's be
    good friends! We will all go down to dinner to-day, and we'll play
    loto every evening for two sous. You shall both be happy. Hey, wife?"

    "Alas! I wish I could, if it would give you pleasure," said the dying
    woman; "but I cannot rise from my bed."

    "Poor mother," said Grandet, "you don't know how I love you! and you
    too, my daughter!" He took her in his arms and kissed her. "Oh, how
    good it is to kiss a daughter when we have been angry with her! There,
    mother, don't you see it's all over now? Go and put that away,
    Eugenie," he added, pointing to the case. "Go, don't be afraid! I
    shall never speak of it again, never!"

    Monsieur Bergerin, the celebrated doctor of Saumur, presently arrived.
    After an examination, he told Grandet positively that his wife was
    very ill; but that perfect peace of mind, a generous diet, and great
    care might prolong her life until the autumn.

    "Will all that cost much?" said the old man. "Will she need

    "Not much medicine, but a great deal of care," answered the doctor,
    who could scarcely restrain a smile.

    "Now, Monsieur Bergerin," said Grandet, "you are a man of honor, are
    not you? I trust to you! Come and see my wife how and when you think
    necessary. Save my good wife! I love her,--don't you see?--though I
    never talk about it; I keep things to myself. I'm full of trouble.
    Troubles began when my brother died; I have to spend enormous sums on
    his affairs in Paris. Why, I'm paying through my nose; there's no end
    to it. Adieu, monsieur! If you can save my wife, save her. I'll spare
    no expense, not even if it costs me a hundred or two hundred francs."

    In spite of Grandet's fervent wishes for the health of his wife, whose
    death threatened more than death to him; in spite of the consideration
    he now showed on all occasions for the least wish of his astonished
    wife and daughter; in spite of the tender care which Eugenie lavished
    upon her mother,--Madame Grandet rapidly approached her end. Every day
    she grew weaker and wasted visibly, as women of her age when attacked
    by serious illness are wont to do. She was fragile as the foliage in
    autumn; the radiance of heaven shone through her as the sun strikes
    athwart the withering leaves and gilds them. It was a death worthy of
    her life,--a Christian death; and is not that sublime? In the month of
    October, 1822, her virtues, her angelic patience, her love for her
    daughter, seemed to find special expression; and then she passed away
    without a murmur. Lamb without spot, she went to heaven, regretting
    only the sweet companion of her cold and dreary life, for whom her
    last glance seemed to prophesy a destiny of sorrows. She shrank from
    leaving her ewe-lamb, white as herself, alone in the midst of a
    selfish world that sought to strip her of her fleece and grasp her

    "My child," she said as she expired, "there is no happiness except in
    heaven; you will know it some day."
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