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    Chapter 25

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    Chapter 25
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    Two years were past and gone. One morning in December the little
    cemetery lay slumbering in the intense cold. Since the evening before
    snow had been falling, a fine snow, which a north wind blew before it.
    From the paling sky the flakes now fell at rarer intervals, light and
    buoyant, like feathers. The snow was already hardening, and a thick
    trimming of seeming swan's-down edged the parapet of the terrace.
    Beyond this white line lay Paris, against the gloomy grey on the
    horizon.

    Madame Rambaud was still praying on her knees in the snow before the
    grave of Jeanne. Her husband had but a moment before risen silently to
    his feet. Helene and her old lover had been married in November at
    Marseilles. Monsieur Rambaud had disposed of his business near the
    Central Markets, and had come to Paris for three days, in order to
    conclude the transaction. The carriage now awaiting them in the Rue
    des Reservoirs was to take them back to their hotel, and thence with
    their travelling-trunks to the railway station. Helene had made the
    journey with the one thought of kneeling here. She remained
    motionless, with drooping head, as if dreaming, and unconscious of the
    cold ground that chilled her knees.

    Meanwhile the wind was falling. Monsieur Rambaud had stepped to the
    terrace, leaving her to the mute anguish which memory evoked. A haze
    was stealing over the outlying districts of Paris, whose immensity
    faded away in this pale, vague mist. Round the Trocadero the city was
    of a leaden hue and lifeless, while the last snowflakes slowly
    fluttered down in pale specks against the gloomy background. Beyond
    the chimneys of the Army Bakehouse, the brick towers of which had a
    coppery tint, these white dots descended more thickly; a gauze seemed
    to be floating in the air, falling to earth thread by thread. Not a
    breath stirred as the dream-like shower sleepily and rhythmically
    descended from the atmosphere. As they neared the roofs the flakes
    seemed to falter in their flight; in myriads they ceaselessly pillowed
    themselves on one another, in such intense silence that even blossoms
    shedding their petals make more noise; and from this moving mass,
    whose descent through space was inaudible, there sprang a sense of
    such intense peacefulness that earth and life were forgotten. A milky
    whiteness spread more and more over the whole heavens though they were
    still darkened here and there by wreaths of smoke. Little by little,
    bright clusters of houses became plainly visible; a bird's-eye view
    was obtained of the whole city, intersected by streets and squares,
    which with their shadowy depths described the framework of the several
    districts.

    Helene had slowly risen. On the snow remained the imprint of her
    knees. Wrapped in a large, dark mantle trimmed with fur, she seemed
    amidst the surrounding white very tall and broad-shouldered. The
    border of her bonnet, a twisted band of black velvet, looked like a
    diadem throwing a shadow on her forehead. She had regained her
    beautiful, placid face with grey eyes and pearly teeth. Her chin was
    full and rounded, as in the olden days, giving her an air of sturdy
    sense and determination. As she turned her head, her profile once more
    assumed statuesque severity and purity. Beneath the untroubled
    paleness of her cheeks her blood coursed calmly; everything showed
    that honor was again ruling her life. Two tears had rolled from under
    her eyelids; her present tranquillity came from her past sorrow. And
    she stood before the grave on which was reared a simple pillar
    inscribed with Jeanne's name and two dates, within which the dead
    child's brief existence was compassed.

    Around Helene stretched the cemetery, enveloped in its snowy pall,
    through which rose rusty monuments and iron crosses, like arms thrown
    up in agony. There was only one path visible in this lonely corner,
    and that had been made by the footmarks of Helene and Monsieur
    Rambaud. It was a spotless solitude where the dead lay sleeping. The
    walks were outlined by the shadowy, phantom-like trees. Ever and anon
    some snow fell noiselessly from a branch that had been too heavily
    burdened. But nothing else stirred. At the far end, some little while
    ago, a black tramping had passed by; some one was being buried beneath
    this snowy winding-sheet. And now another funeral train appeared on
    the left. Hearses and mourners went their way in silence, like shadows
    thrown upon a spotless linen cloth.

    Helene was awaking from her dream when she observed a beggar-woman
    crawling along near her. It was Mother Fetu, the snow deadening the
    sound of her huge man's boots, which were burst and bound round with
    bits of string. Never had Helene seen her weighed down by such intense
    misery, or covered with filthier rags, though she was fatter than
    ever, and wore a stupid look. In the foulest weather, despite hard
    frosts or drenching rain, the old woman now followed funerals in order
    to speculate on the pity of the charitable. She well knew that amongst
    the gravestones the fear of death makes people generous; and so she
    prowled from tomb to tomb, approaching the kneeling mourners at the
    moment they burst into tears, for she understood that they were then
    powerless to refuse her. She had entered with the last funeral train,
    and a moment previously had espied Helene. But she had not recognized
    her benefactress, and with gasps and sobs began to relate how she had
    two children at home who were dying of hunger. Helene listened to her,
    struck dumb by this apparition. The children were without fire to warm
    them; the elder was going off in a decline. But all at once Mother
    Fetu's words came to an end. Her brain was evidently working beneath
    the myriad wrinkles of her face, and her little eyes began to blink.
    Good gracious! it was her benefactress! Heaven, then, had hearkened to
    her prayers! And without seeking to explain the story about the
    children, she plunged into a whining tale, with a ceaseless rush of
    words. Several of her teeth were missing, and she could be understood
    with difficulty. The gracious God had sent every affliction on her
    head, she declared. The gentleman lodger had gone away, and she had
    only just been enabled to rise after lying for three months in bed;
    yes, the old pain still remained, it now gripped her everywhere; a
    neighbor had told her that a spider must have got in through her mouth
    while she was asleep. If she had only had a little fire, she could
    have warmed her stomach; that was the only thing that could relieve
    her now. But nothing could be had for nothing--not even a match.
    Perhaps she was right in thinking that madame had been travelling?
    That was her own concern, of course. At all events, she looked very
    well, and fresh, and beautiful. God would requite her for all her
    kindness. Then, as Helene began to draw out her purse, Mother Fetu
    drew breath, leaning against the railing that encircled Jeanne's
    grave.

    The funeral processions had vanished from sight. Somewhere in a grave
    close at hand a digger, whom they could not see, was wielding his
    pickaxe with regular strokes.

    Meanwhile the old woman had regained her breath, and her eyes were
    riveted on the purse. Then, anxious to extort as large a sum as
    possible, she displayed considerable cunning, and spoke of the other
    lady. Nobody could say that she was not a charitable lady; still, she
    did not know what to do with her money--it never did one much good.
    Warily did she glance at Helene as she spoke. And next she ventured to
    mention the doctor's name. Oh! he was good. Last summer he had again
    gone on a journey with his wife. Their boy was thriving; he was a fine
    child. But just then Helene's fingers, as she opened the purse, began
    to tremble, and Mother Fetu immediately changed her tone. In her
    stupidity and bewilderment she had only now realized that the good
    lady was standing beside her daughter's grave. She stammered, gasped,
    and tried to bring tears to her eyes. Jeanne, said she, had been so
    dainty a darling, with such loves of little hands; she could still see
    her giving her silver in charity. What long hair she had! and how her
    large eyes filled with tears when she gazed on the poor! Ah! there was
    no replacing such an angel; there were no more to be found like her,
    were they even to search the whole of Passy. And when the fine days
    came, said Mother Fetu, she would gather some daisies in the moat of
    the fortifications and place them on her tomb. Then, however, she
    lapsed into silence frightened by the gesture with which Helene cut
    her short. Was it possible, she thought, that she could no longer find
    the right thing to say? Her good lady did not weep, and only gave her
    a twenty-sou piece.

    Monsieur Rambaud, meanwhile, had walked towards them from the parapet
    of the terrace. Helene hastened to rejoin him. At the sight of the
    gentleman Mother Fetu's eyes began to sparkle. He was unknown to her;
    he must be a new-comer. Dragging her feet along, she followed Helene,
    invoking every blessing of Heaven on her head; and when she had crept
    close to Monsieur Rambaud, she again spoke of the doctor. Ah! his
    would be a magnificent funeral when he died, were the poor people whom
    he had attended for nothing to follow his corpse! He was rather fickle
    in his loves--nobody could deny that. There were ladies in Passy who
    knew him well. But all that didn't prevent him from worshipping his
    wife--such a pretty lady, who, had she wished, might have easily gone
    wrong, but had given up such ideas long ago. Their home was quite a
    turtle-doves' nest now. Had madame paid them a visit yet? They were
    certain to be at home; she had but a few moments previously observed
    that the shutters were open in the Rue Vineuse. They had formerly had
    such regard for madame that surely they would be delighted to receive
    her with open arms!

    The old hag leered at Monsieur Rambaud as she thus mumbled away. He
    listened to her with the composure of a brave man. The memories that
    were being called up before him brought no shadow to his unruffled
    face. Only it occurred to him that the pertinacity of the old beggar
    was annoying Helene, and so he hastened to fumble in his pocket, in
    his turn giving her some alms, and at the same time waving her away.
    The moment her eyes rested on another silver coin Mother Fetu burst
    into loud thanks. She would buy some wood at once; she would be able
    to warm her afflicted body--that was the only thing now to give her
    stomach any relief. Yes, the doctor's home was quite a nest of
    turtle-doves, and the proof was that the lady had only last winter
    given birth to a second child--a beautiful little daughter,
    rosy-cheeked and fat, who must now be nearly fourteen months old. On
    the day of the baptism the doctor had put a hundred sous into her hand
    at the door of the church. Ah! good hearts came together. Madame had
    brought her good luck. Pray God that madame might never have a sorrow,
    but every good fortune! yes, might that come to pass in the name of
    the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost!

    Helene stood upright gazing on Paris, while Mother Fetu vanished among
    the tombs, muttering three _Paters_ and three _Aves_. The snow had
    ceased falling; the last of the flakes had fluttered slowly and
    wearily on to the roofs; and through the dissolving mist the golden
    sun could be seen tinging the pearly-grey expanse of heaven with a
    pink glow. Over Montmartre a belt of blue fringed the horizon; but it
    was so faint and delicate that it seemed but a shadow such as white
    satin might throw. Paris was gradually detaching itself from amidst
    the smoke, spreading out more broadly with its snowy expanses the
    frigid cloak which held it in death-like quiescence. There were now no
    longer any fleeting specks of white making the city shudder, and
    quivering in pale waves over the dull-brown house-fronts. Amidst the
    masses of snow that girt them round the dwellings stood out black and
    gloomy, as though mouldy with centuries of damp. Entire streets
    appeared to be in ruins, as if undermined by some gunpowder explosion,
    with roofs ready to give way and windows already driven in. But
    gradually, as the belt of blue broadened in the direction of
    Montmartre, there came a stream of light, pure and cool as the waters
    of a spring; and Paris once more shone out as under a glass, which
    lent even to the outlying districts the distinctness of a Japanese
    picture.

    Wrapped in her fur mantle, with her hands clinging idly to the cuffs
    of the sleeves, Helene was musing. With the persistency of an echo one
    thought unceasingly pursued her--a child, a fat, rosy daughter, had
    been born to them. In her imagination she could picture her at the
    love-compelling age when Jeanne had commenced to prattle. Baby girls
    are such darlings when fourteen months old! She counted the
    months--fourteen: that made two years when she took the remaining
    period into consideration--exactly the time within a fortnight. Then
    her brain conjured up a sunny picture of Italy, a realm of dreamland,
    with golden fruits where lovers wandered through the perfumed nights,
    with arms round one another's waists. Henri and Juliette were pacing
    before her eyes beneath the light of the moon. They loved as husband
    and wife do when passion is once more awakened within them. To think
    of it--a tiny girl, rosy and fat, its bare body flushed by the warm
    sunshine, while it strives to stammer words which its mother arrests
    with kisses! And Helene thought of all this without any anger; her
    heart was mute, yet seemingly derived yet greater quietude from the
    sadness of her spirit. The land of the sun had vanished from her
    vision; her eyes wandered slowly over Paris, on whose huge frame
    winter had laid his freezing hand. Above the Pantheon another patch of
    blue was now spreading in the heavens.

    Meanwhile memory was recalling the past to life. At Marseilles she had
    spent her days in a state of coma. One morning as she went along the
    Rue des Petites-Maries, she had burst out sobbing in front of the home
    of her childhood. That was the last occasion on which she had wept.
    Monsieur Rambaud was her frequent visitor; she felt his presence near
    her to be a protection. Towards autumn she had one evening seen him
    enter, with red eyes and in the agony of a great sorrow; his brother,
    Abbe Jouve, was dead. In her turn she comforted him. What followed she
    could not recall with any exactitude of detail. The Abbe ever seemed
    to stand behind them, and influenced by thought of him she succumbed
    resignedly. When M. Rambaud once more hinted at his wish, she had
    nothing to say in refusal. It seemed to her that what he asked was but
    sensible. Of her own accord, as her period of mourning was drawing to
    an end, she calmly arranged all the details with him. His hands
    trembled in a transport of tenderness. It should be as she pleased; he
    had waited for months; a sign sufficed him. They were married in
    mourning garb. On the wedding night he, like her first husband, kissed
    her bare feet--feet fair as though fashioned out of marble. And thus
    life began once more.

    While the belt of blue was broadening on the horizon, this awakening
    of memory came with an astounding effect on Helene. Had she lived
    through a year of madness, then? To-day, as she pictured the woman who
    had lived for nearly three years in that room in the Rue Vineuse, she
    imagined that she was passing judgment on some stranger, whose conduct
    revolted and surprised her. How fearfully foolish had been her act!
    how abominably wicked! Yet she had not sought it. She had been living
    peacefully, hidden in her nook, absorbed in the love of her daughter.
    Untroubled by any curious thoughts, by any desire, she had seen the
    road of life lying before her. But a breath had swept by, and she had
    fallen. Even at this moment she was unable to explain it; she had
    evidently ceased to be herself; another mind and heart had controlled
    her actions. Was it possible? She had done those things? Then an icy
    chill ran through her; she saw Jeanne borne away beneath roses. But in
    the torpor begotten of her grief she grew very calm again, once more
    without a longing or curiosity, once more proceeding along the path of
    duty that lay so straight before her. Life had again begun for her,
    fraught with austere peacefulness and pride of honesty.

    Monsieur Rambaud now moved near her to lead her from this place of
    sadness. But Helene silently signed to him her wish to linger a little
    longer. Approaching the parapet she gazed below into the Avenue de la
    Muette, where a long line of old cabs in the last stage of decay
    stretched beside the footpath. The hoods and wheels looked blanched,
    the rusty horses seemed to have been rotting there since the dark
    ages. Some cabmen sat motionless, freezing within their frozen cloaks.
    Over the snow other vehicles were crawling along, one after the other,
    with the utmost difficulty. The animals were losing their foothold,
    and stretching out their necks, while their drivers with many oaths
    descended from their seats and held them by the bridle; and through
    the windows you could see the faces of the patient "fares," reclining
    against the cushions, and resigning themselves to the stern necessity
    of taking three-quarters of an hour to cover a distance which in other
    weather would have been accomplished in ten minutes. The rumbling of
    the wheels was deadened by the snow; only the voices vibrated upward,
    sounding shrill and distinct amidst the silence of the streets; there
    were loud calls, the laughing exclamations of people slipping on the
    icy paths, the angry whip-cracking of carters, and the snorting of
    terrified horses. In the distance, to the right, the lofty trees on
    the quay seemed to be spun of glass, like huge Venetian chandeliers,
    whose flower-decked arms the designer had whimsically twisted. The icy
    north wind had transformed the trunks into columns, over which waved
    downy boughs and feathery tufts, an exquisite tracery of black twigs
    edged with white trimmings. It was freezing, and not a breath stirred
    in the pure air.

    Then Helene told her heart that she had known nothing of Henri. For a
    year she had seen him almost every day; he had lingered for hours and
    hours near her, to speak to her and gaze into her eyes. Yet she knew
    nothing of him. Whence had he come? how had he crept into her
    intimacy? what manner of man was he that she had yielded to him--she
    who would rather have perished than yield to another? She knew nothing
    of him; it had all sprung from some sudden tottering of her reason. He
    had been a stranger to her on the last as on the first day. In vain
    did she patch together little scattered things and circumstances--his
    words, his acts, everything that her memory recalled concerning him.
    He loved his wife and his child; he smiled with delicate grace; he
    outwardly appeared a well-bred man. Then she saw him again with
    inflamed visage, and trembling with passion. But weeks passed, and he
    vanished from her sight. At this moment she could not have said where
    she had spoken to him for the last time. He had passed away, and his
    shadow had gone with him. Their story had no other ending. She knew
    him not.

    Over the city the sky had now become blue, and every cloud had
    vanished. Wearied with her memories, and rejoicing in the purity
    before her, Helene raised her head. The blue of the heavens was
    exquisitely clear, but still very pale in the light of the sun, which
    hung low on the horizon, and glittered like a silver lamp. In that icy
    temperature its rays shed no heat on the glittering snow. Below
    stretched the expanses of roofs--the tiles of the Army Bakehouse, and
    the slates of the houses on the quay--like sheets of white cloth
    fringed with black. On the other bank of the river, the square stretch
    of the Champ-de-Mars seemed a steppe, the black dots of the straggling
    vehicles making one think of sledges skimming along with tinkling
    bells; while the elms on the Quai d'Orsay, dwarfed by the distance,
    looked like crystal flowers bristling with sharp points. Through all
    the snow-white sea the Seine rolled its muddy waters edged by the
    ermine of its banks; since the evening before ice had been floating
    down, and you could clearly see the masses crushing against the piers
    of the Pont des Invalides, and vanishing swiftly beneath the arches.
    The bridges, growing more and more delicate with the distance, seemed
    like the steps of a ladder of white lace reaching as far as the
    sparkling walls of the Cite, above which the towers of Notre-Dame
    reared their snow-white crests. On the left the level plain was broken
    up by other peaks. The Church of Saint-Augustin, the Opera House, the
    Tower of Saint-Jacques, looked like mountains clad with eternal snow.
    Nearer at hand the pavilions of the Tuileries and the Louvre, joined
    together by newly erected buildings, resembled a ridge of hills with
    spotless summits. On the right, too, were the white tops of the
    Invalides, of Saint-Sulpice, and the Pantheon, the last in the dim
    distance, outlining against the sky a palace of fairyland with
    dressings of bluish marble. Not a sound broke the stillness.
    Grey-looking hollows revealed the presence of the streets; the public
    squares were like yawning crevasses. Whole lines of houses had
    vanished. The fronts of the neighboring dwellings alone showed
    distinctly with the thousand streaks of light reflected from their
    windows. Beyond, the expanse of snow intermingled and merged into a
    seeming lake, whose blue shadows blended with the blue of the sky.
    Huge and clear in the bright, frosty atmosphere, Paris glittered in
    the light of the silver sun.

    Then Helene for the last time let her glance sweep over the unpitying
    city which also remained unknown to her. She saw it once more,
    tranquil and with immortal beauty amidst the snow, the same as when
    she had left it, the same as it had been every day for three long
    years. Paris to her was full of her past life. In its presence she had
    loved, in its presence Jeanne had died. But this companion of her
    every-day existence retained on its mighty face a wondrous serenity,
    unruffled by any emotion, as though it were but a mute witness of the
    laughter and the tears which the Seine seemed to roll in its flood.
    She had, according to her mood, endowed it with monstrous cruelty or
    almighty goodness. To-day she felt that she would be ever ignorant of
    it, in its indifference and immensity. It spread before her; it was
    life.

    However, Monsieur Rambaud now laid a light hand on her arm to lead her
    away. His kindly face was troubled, and he whispered:

    "Do not give yourself pain."

    He divined her every thought, and this was all he could say. Madame
    Rambaud looked at him, and her sorrow became appeased. Her cheeks were
    flushed by the cold; her eyes sparkled. Her memories were already far
    away. Life was beginning again.

    "I'm not quite certain whether I shut the big trunk properly," she
    exclaimed.

    Monsieur Rambaud promised that he would make sure. Their train started
    at noon, and they had plenty of time. Some gravel was being scattered
    on the streets; their cab would not take an hour. But, all at once, he
    raised his voice:

    "I believe you've forgotten the fishing-rods!" said he.

    "Oh, yes; quite!" she answered, surprised and vexed at her
    forgetfulness. "We ought to have bought them yesterday!"

    The rods in question were very handy ones, the like of which could not
    be purchased at Marseilles. They there owned near the sea a small
    country house, where they purposed spending the summer. Monsieur
    Rambaud looked at his watch. On their way to the railway station they
    would still be able to buy the rods, and could tie them up with the
    umbrellas. Then he led her from the place, tramping along, and taking
    short cuts between the graves. The cemetery was empty; only the
    imprint of their feet now remained on the snow. Jeanne, dead, lay
    alone, facing Paris, for ever and for ever.

    AFTERWARD

    There can be no doubt in the mind of the judicial critic that in the
    pages of "A Love Episode" the reader finds more of the poetical, more
    of the delicately artistic, more of the subtle emanation of creative
    and analytical genius, than in any other of Zola's works, with perhaps
    one exception. The masterly series of which this book is a part
    furnishes a well-stocked gallery of pictures by which posterity will
    receive vivid and adequate impressions of life in France during a
    certain period. There was a strain of Greek blood in Zola's veins. It
    would almost seem that down through the ages with this blood there had
    come to him a touch of that old Greek fatalism, or belief in destiny
    or necessity. The Greek tragedies are pervaded and permeated, steeped
    and dyed with this idea of relentless fate. It is called heredity, in
    these modern days. Heredity plus environment,--in these we find the
    keynote of the great productions of the leader of the "naturalistic"
    school of fiction.

    It has been said that art, in itself, should have no moral. It has
    been further charged that the tendencies of some of Zola's works are
    hurtful. But, in the books of this master, the aberrations of vice are
    nowhere made attractive, or insidiously alluring. The shadow of
    expiation, remorse, punishment, retribution is ever present, like a
    death's-head at a feast. The day of reckoning comes, and bitterly do
    the culprits realize that the tortuous game of vice is not worth the
    candle. Casuistical theologians may attempt to explain away the
    notions of punishment in the life to come, of retribution beyond the
    grave. But the shallowest thinker will not deny the realities of
    remorse. To how many confessions, to how many suicides has it led? Of
    how many reformed lives has it been the mainspring? The great
    lecturer, John B. Gough, used to tell a story of a railway employee
    whose mind was overthrown by his disastrous error in misplacing a
    switch, and who spent his days in the mad-house repeating the phrase:
    "If I only had, if I only had." His was not an intentional or wilful
    dereliction. But in the hearts of how many repentant sinners does
    there not echo through life a similar mournful refrain. This lesson
    has been taught by Zola in more than one of his romances.

    In "A Love Episode" how poignant is this expiation! In all literature
    there is nothing like the portrayal of the punishment of Helene
    Grandjean. Helene and little Jeanne are reversions of type. The old
    "neurosis," seen in earlier branches of the family, reappears in these
    characters. Readers of the series will know where it began. Poor
    little Jeanne, most pathetic of creations, is a study in abnormal
    jealousy, a jealousy which seems to be clairvoyant, full of
    supernatural intuitions, turning everything to suspicion, a jealousy
    which blights and kills. Could the memory of those weeks of anguish
    fade from Helene's soul? This dying of a broken heart is not merely
    the figment of a poet's fancy. It has happened in real life. The
    coming of death, save in the case of the very aged, seems, nearly
    always, brutally cruel, at least to those friends who survive. Parents
    know what it is to sit with bated breath and despairing heart beside
    the bed of a sinking child. Seconds seem hours, and hours weeks. The
    impotency to succour, the powerlessness to save, the dumb despair, the
    overwhelming grief, all these are sorrowful realities. How vividly are
    they pictured by Zola. And, added to this keenness of grief in the
    case of Helene Grandjean, was the sense that her fault had contributed
    to the illness of her daughter. Each sigh of pain was a reproach. The
    pallid and ever-paling cheek was a whip of scorpions, lashing the
    mother's naked soul. Will ethical teachers say that there is no
    salutary moral lesson in this vivid picture? To many it seems better
    than a cart-load of dull tracts or somnolent homilies. Poor, pathetic
    little Jeanne, lying there in the cemetery of Passy--where later was
    erected the real tomb of Marie Bashkirtseff, though dead she yet spoke
    a lesson of contrition to her mother. And though the second marriage
    of Helene has been styled an anti-climax, yet it is true enough to
    life. It does not remove the logical and artistic inference that the
    memory of Jeanne's sufferings lingered with ever recurring poignancy
    in the mother's heart.

    In a few bold lines Zola sketches a living character. Take the picture
    of old Mere Fetu. One really feels her disagreeable presence, and is
    annoyed with her whining, leering, fawning, sycophancy. One almost
    resents her introduction into the pages of the book. There is
    something palpably odious about her personality. A pleasing contrast
    is formed by the pendant portraits of the awkward little soldier and
    his kitchen-sweetheart. This homely and wholesome couple one may meet
    any afternoon in Paris, on leave-of-absence days. Their portraits, and
    the delicious description of the children's party, are evidently
    studies from life. With such vivid verisimilitude is the latter
    presented that one imagines, the day after reading the book, that he
    has been present at the pleasant function, and has admired the fluffy
    darlings, in their dainty costumes, with their chubby cavaliers.

    It is barely fair to an author to give him the credit of knowing
    something about the proper relative proportions of his characters. And
    so, although Dr. Deberle is somewhat shadowy, he certainly serves the
    author's purpose, and--well, Dr. Deberle is not the hero of "An
    Episode of Love." Rambaud and the good Abbe Jouve are certainly strong
    enough. There seems to be a touch of Dickens about them.

    Cities sometimes seem to be great organisms. Each has an
    individuality, a specific identity, so marked, and peculiarities so
    especially characteristic of itself, that one might almost allow it a
    soul. Down through the centuries has fair Lutetia come, growing in the
    artistic graces, until now she stands the playground of princes and
    the capital of the world, even as mighty Rome among the ancients. And
    shall we object, because a few pages of "A Love Episode" are devoted
    to descriptions of Paris? Rather let us be thankful for them. These
    descriptions of the wonderful old city form a glorious pentatych. They
    are invaluable to two classes of readers, those who have visited Paris
    and those who have not. To the former they recall the days in which
    the spirit of the French metropolis seemed to possess their being and
    to take them under its wondrous spell. To the latter they supply hints
    of the majesty and attractiveness of Paris, and give some inkling of
    its power to please. And Zola loved his Paris as a sailor loves the
    sea.

    C. C. STARKWEATHER.
    Chapter 25
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